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29 October 2005
So, here's the thing...
I'm moving. As our beloved pres-nint might say, I got a job to do and I'm doin' it by getting out of town.

Fear not. I'm not going all that far, about 15 minutes up the road, but it's gonna be a task. I tell you, if I ever find the guy who accumulated all this stuff I've got, I just might punch him in the nose.

I've enjoyed the multi-acre glory of my present digs for eight years now, but the property is being sold out from under me. Or we think it is. There's been a deal on the table from a buyer who wants to turn the property into a wholesale nursery for almost two years, and the landlord thinks it's finally gonna get done. Let's put it this way: he's moving and I figure that's a pretty good hint that it's time for me to as well.

I came thisclose to making a serious error when I started looking around a few weeks back, so close that it ended up costing me a few bucks because I'd begun the rental process, but--as was the case in finding this place, I suddenly realize--I followed up on a listing in the Sunday papers two weeks ago and found a much better situation, especially considering my need to care for two aging dogs.

It's smaller, so lots of stuff I've been lugging around for, I dunno, a quarter century, has to go, which means ramping up my eBay sales, holding a big yard sale next weekend, carting boxes of books to this great place and making some hard decisions (i.e., tossing things away).

Pieces of my life and all that...

Moving will go on between now and Thanksgiving, with the big weekend being the one before that holiday. What that means is that LDO is signing off today until...well, just until. December I hope, maybe that'll get pushed off to January. I'll still be posting all the beer news and events you need to know about at The Beer Yard, of course (somebody's got to keep Bryson on his toes), so be sure to check in there to keep abreast of things.

Wish me luck, and tolerable lower back pain and hoist a couple for me as well, since I'll be embracing more sobriety than I'd like over the long days ahead. I already had to pass on beer dinners at Iron Hill West Chester and Victory, so you know I'm serious (given our pay scale, beer writers suffer serious angst when we miss out on a free dinner). Heck, I even dismantled my kegerator and turned it over to Steve (the Other One), along with a quarter sixtel of Dogfish Head Chicory Stout. He will presumably put it to good use (and maybe bring me a growler now and then).

Before I start the Herculean task, though, a couple of quick notes to whet your appetite for my return. Always leaving 'em wanting more, isn't that the rule?

Go north, young man.
Brandon Greenwood's promised return to the Philadelphia area following his leaving The Lion last month appears to be no longer operable (for now). Word comes from a Good Source (but not him) that he's signed on as Technical Brewer at High Falls Brewery in Rochester, makers of the Genesee, J. W. Dundee and Michael Shea brands, among others. Ah, I remember the days when Genny Cream Ale and, especially, Genny 12 Horse Ale got me through the night. If fact, I have a great story about the latter I'll have to remember to tell when I get back.

Bet you never expected to hear this.*
My good buddies at Anheuser-Busch (*told ya) sent me their new Marzen, Pale Ale and Pumpkin Spice Ale, which introduced at GABF this year, last week so I could try them out. Some poor guy from

Penn Distributing, after searching hither and yon for my place, showed up at the door in the late afternoon with a Michelob winter 12-pack and a confused who the hell are you and why am I doing this? look on his face.

I gotta tell you, both the Marzen and Pale Ale (each of which garnered a Gold Medal at GABF, part of A-B's winning Large Brewery of the Year honors) are right good brews. I've certainly had ones not as good at more brewpubs than I'd like to recall. The pumpkin beer? That I found less than appealing, but it's not a style I care much for anyway. On the other hand, Don Joe Sixpack Russell--who's taking a buyout and leaving the Daily News but will still continue the column there on a freelance basis (another bit of news)--kinda liked it.

A-B is clearly taking a serious look at the craft side of the business, likely inspired by decreasing sales and the sector's being the only part of the beer industry that's growing. And they just as clearly have the brewing expertise to produce good beers if they're so inclined. Their introduction of styles beyond American Bland Lager into the mass market can only be a good thing for increased recognition of craft beers and breweries, I'd think.

Meanwhile, I'm anxious to see how Michelob Brew Master's Private Reserve, an 8.5% abv Winter Warmer, and Michelob Celebrate, a 10% abv holiday lager which was aged in bourbon barrels, turn out.

These things are worth a try, beer geeks. Sneers optional.

That's it. I am so outta here....

[Posted 10:40 am edt]

19 October 2005
As promised...
...this month's Atlantic Ale Trail from Celebrator Beer News is now posted on site. It begins with this paragraph:

Triumph Brewing Company executive brewer Jay Misson will be getting married in his Jersey shore hometown on the afternoon of October 1 rather than standing in Denver's Colorado Convention Center Festival Hall to see the 2005 Great American Beer Festival medals awarded. "I left simple instructions with my guys," he laughs. "You can call me if we win a medal; otherwise, never mind."
We all know how that turned out, right?

[Posted 3:30 pm edt]

16 October 2005
For reasons beyond my control...
...or, at the very least, pushing that control to the very limits, I've been unable to spend much time here at LDO for the past several days. That's a condition that will only worsen soon, but I'll get to explaining all that a bit later in the week unless something goes awry, in which case I may soon be coming to a cardboard box near you. Yes, that's a hint, and it's all you're getting at this point.

Meanwhile, based on my unlikely but ego-soothing conviction that there are those among you who find your lives noticeably less satisfying by not having the opportunity to read my deathless prose, I've now posted The O'Hara Identity, my story in the current Celebrator Beer News about visiting Carlow Brewing last spring, here onsite. And Mid- Atlantic Brewing News has arrived here in the Delaware Valley, with the story on Kennett Square's Half Moon Saloon which I mentioned last time I posted (scroll down).

Finally, turns out there was a major error in the GABF results as first announced. I've posted the corrected information here.

[Posted 12:20 pm edt]

5 October 2005
GABF Stuff.
I've posted a slew of stories, seven at last count, over at the Beer Yard site in the last couple of days. At least five of them are currently headlined on the Home Page there so the above link will get you right where you need to be to learn who brewed what and where (at least in the immediate area) and how it all breaks down for the East Coast. Plus you'll meet the young mystery brewer who garnered a Gold Medal his first time out. Good stuff, if I do say so myself.

George says it's other people's fault too.
One of the neat stories to come out of this year's Fest is that of George's Fault, a Gold Medal winner for our friends at Nodding Head. Our pal George Hummel (Ghumm to his fellow athletes), sent me a note in which, in attractively modest and self-effacing mode, he reveals the story behind the story:

Originally this recipe came from Charlie Papazian. It appeared in his column in Zymurgy and was later added to an updated edition of Complete Joy of Homwbrewing.

As is my way, it morphed over the years to my own creation, as I tweaked it. It's won several best of show ribbons, and always at least places if entered in a homebrew competition. The pilot batch was homebrewed by myself and Brandini. He worked the recipe up to their scale.

Gordo did the work of brewing the winning batch at the 'Head with assistance from Brandon (he made me add the hops to the kettle so we could say I helped brew that batch)...

Officially it was the last batch brewed under Brandon's reign. In reality the butt load of the work was done by Gordon. As you can see all three stooges had a hand in it. "Send in those three men..."

"Gordo" is NH head brewer Gordon Grubb; "Brandini" is former NH brewer Brandon Greenwood.

Dead tree update.
The new Celebrator Beer News arrived at the Beer Yard on Monday and I'm mucho happy. In addition to Atlantic Ale Trail, this issue contains my story on visiting Carlow Brewery in Ireland and my review of Michael Jackson's Whiskey: The Definitive Guide, both postponed from the August/September issue.

I said here a post or two ago that I'd put the column up online right away since the opening section was about Triumph and its GABF preparations and they won an impressive four medals so I figured I could ride on their coattails a bit.. But I think I'll wait a week or so, to give the print edition some breathing room and then post it (together with the other two pieces).

Ale Street News is also out, but they were apparently unable to squeeze in my 300-word, last-minute piece on the Dogfish Bocce Event. Damn. They did use my photo of the winners though, dropping it in the middle of Bryson's column. Hey, anything I can do to help upgrade the Big Fella's stuff, y'know?

I'm also returning to the pages of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News this month for the first time in a few years, with a one-page feature about Kennett Square's Half Moon Saloon. The paper isn't out yet, but MABN has an admirable practice of sending out PDF files of stories to the writers and I've seen the results and am much pleased. If the stars are aligned just right, maybe we'll see copies in time for Saturday's Kennett Brewfest. Or not.

Urthels of the world, unite!
Another (ho-hum) grand beer dinner at Monk's Cafe last night, as Hildegard Van Ostaden, one of only two female brewers in Belgium, and husband Bas were in to five of her wonderful brews. Here, from a Michael Jackson interview (scroll down) is Hildegard, explaining Brouwerij De Leyerth and its wonderful Urthel beers:

[Bas] had his illusions before he met me. So he started to write some stories, but not in a book form, just some stories that he told himself and people around him. And when we met I was brewing for other breweries, and he said, “Why don’t we make our own beer? Why don’t we call it Urthel, named after those little guys, Erthels?” Now he is writing the book about the Erthels, so I hope next year we also will have the book.
There were some scary moments last night early on. Don (Joe Sixpack...or D-russ to his fellow athletes) Russell and I were seated with the Big Guy and long-suffering wife Cathy at a table just behind where Hildegard sat. And every time one of my incredibly witty and incisive remarks drew one of those booming Lew Laughs, the poor woman would nearly jump out of her seat in fear. We finally had to bring her over and show her that Lew was not actually dangerous. I'm not sure she was totally convinced.

Dinner started with Steamed Mussels, a Monk's standard, and Urthel Amber, which Lew kept calling his favorite beer of the night. Good as it was, I enjoyed each of the others a bit more. That's something of a distinction without much difference as, top to bottom, I can't recall offhand as uniformly excellent a lineup of beers at one of these dinners.

Course two was a double delight. The Urthel Flemish Bock (which it's not, a "bock," that is, in the traditional sense of the word, but who's to quibble) was my favorite brew of the night; this was its US debut on draft. It was served with a Grilled "Belgian" Pizza, a wonderful concoction of crisp thin pizza crust topped with carmelized onion, thin slices of sweet pear and Corsendonk cheese, "with a splash of truffle & chiffonade of basil." I can't begin to tell you how absolutely delicious this was. Really.

Urthel Tripel, which I'd had before, was then nicely matched with Local Green Salad, topped by oven-dried Prosciutto and a creamy "Hildegard the Goddess Dressing," followed by another US draft debut, the new Urthel Hop It ("arguably the hoppiest beer brewed in Belgium," says Tom Peters, who hangs out over there quite a bit and should know), accompanying Duck Two Ways (Szhechuan Crusted Duck Breast and Potato Pancake "Duck Balls" made with Duck Confit). Man, that was one big duck...

Dessert was yet another phenomenal closer from Theresa, Monk's Dessert Lady, a sugar-crusted Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse with Sauteed Apples. Urthel Samaranth was served with it.

By the way, kegs of all five beers just cleared Customs and arrived at Monk's a few hours before dinner. Talk about fresh....

You know what else they do in Belgium?
It's not all just beer and chocolate and cheese, you know, although would certainly be enough. The Belgians are also famous for the their affection for this colorful form of literature.

[Posted 1:45 pm edt]

2 October 2005
Iron Hill Triumphant.
I've put up a brief listing of all the local GABF Medal winners at the Beer Yard. A big Shout Out to Triumph, Nodding Head, John Harvard's (Springfield), Dogfish Head and most especially to Mark Edelson and the guys at Iron Hill.

In Iron Hill's honor, I've added my lengthy Atlantic Ale Trail column from the October/November 2004 Celebrator Beer News to the Celebrator Archives here on site. The Iron Hill section was originally done as a separate feature but when it missed two issues in a row for space reasons, I suggested it be run as part of the column the next time (this meant one less check for me, understand, so it was a noble gesture, not many of which I can claim). Long, as I said, but lots of history and information and worth checking out.

As soon as the latest Celebrator arrives in these parts, I'll post the column that's in that issue, which has several paragraphs devoted to Triumph and their GABF plans. Good timing there, if I do say so myself.

I'll have more stories and updates up on the Beer Yard site this coming week, with specifics about who brewed what and all that other good stuff, plus a complete rundown of East Coast Medal winners.

The Nodding Head Gold for George's Fault, by the way, is for a 10.5% abv brew based on a recipe of Home Sweet Homebrew's George Hummel, incorporating ingredients such as orange blossom honey and Chouffe yeast. This was the final brew done by Brandon Greenwood at the Head. I tasted it only once, at the Eric Tucker Vegan Dinner at the brewpub during The Book & The Cook last March, enjoyed it a lot and told this story behind the name:

"Hey," the guy complains, "why is my date so drunk?" (Do guys really complain about this?) "Well," says the bartender, "it's George's fault."
Hummel is going to impossible to deal with from here on out. Way to go, GHumm (his Bocce/Rap name).

I now regret missing this year's GABF more than ever. I've been grousing all week because I've either somehow worked my way onto some A List somewhere or the stars were aligned just right, because this year I had to turn down invites to more great sounding parties out there than ever before. But the Iron Hill and Nodding Head/Monk's contingent? Man, those guys know how to PAR-TAY. And when they have particularly good reason to do so? Missing one or both of those evenings is something close to a major crime.

C'est la vie, I guess.

Archived.
The complete September 2005 postings have been archived here.

[Posted 10:05 am edt]




Malt does more than Milton can
To justify God's ways to man.

--A. E. Houseman

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