Sunday, May 20, 2007

Hennepin Clone Bottled (Finally!)

So, after two months in secondary, I finally got to bottle the Hennepin clone today. It was certainly clear. Had a final gravity of 1.019 (right on target) and tasted pretty darned good. I got 11 bombers filled and 28 12oz bottles out of the batch. I had two Jolly Pumpkin 750mL bottles that I wanted to fill, but my capper would not fit around the neck. Bummer.

I'm hoping to brew my third batch of the year sometime next week. An all-grain recipe, but I have to decide what style yet.

Friday, May 11, 2007

More of Burlington

Today we decided to get up and get going. We had a lot of little things we wanted to do, including shopping (gifts for family, etc.). After another great breakfast at the B&B, we drove downtown and parked, then hit Church Street. For those who've never been, Church Street in Burlington is a 4-5 block-long pedestrian street in downtown, with all of the major shopping and dining within several blocks of that street. Great place to people watch, especially with all of the eccentric types hanging out in Vermont.

Had lunch at Leunig's Cafe - sort of a french bistro, and enjoyed a duck confit salad along with a pint of Leunig's Ale (which is really just Long Trail Hit the Trail Ale). More shopping after lunch, then we stopped for a quick pint at a local, slightly seedy joint called JP's Pub. We stopped to try the Long Trail Blackberry Wheat on tap, which we'd not seen elsewhere. Back to the car, then up to the B&B.

Dana decided to chill out for a bit, but I was ready for more beer exploration. I drove back downtown and stopped in front of the American Flatbread. I walked in to find no one ... they don't serve any food after 2 and before 5pm. However, the bar was open, so I came in to try the limited beers on tap (by limited, I mean they happened to only have 4 of their Zero Gravity beers, rather than the usual 9-11). There were plenty more taps and bottles to sample if I chose. So, I had samples of Zero Gravity IPA, Fruehfest, D'Kinna Bock, and Old Schtick. All of them were very nice and I would have loved to stick around for the tapping of the schwarzbier and the Friday cask - however, I had one more place I wanted to visit before leaving town...

I got in the car and drove to South Burlington (close to Shelbourne) and took the 4pm tour of the Magic Hat Brewery. There was only me and two other people on the tour at 4pm, and it didn't take very long - though I got some interesting history and some pictures. Afterwards, I retired to the tasting room and sampled several beers on tap that, unfortunately, aren't available in bottles here in western PA. Several good ones I got to sample included the Braggot made with honey and chamomille, the Single Chair Ale, and the Roxy Rolles. I picked up a hat, too.

Had there been time, I wanted to stop by Switchback Brewing and check out their operation. But alas, it was 5pm and time to head back to meet my wife and make dinner plans. We decided on a neat Indian place up by the University (UVM) and I got some really spicy chicken tikka masala.

Tomorrow - it's time to go home, but I'll be leaving with a few extra pounds of weight brought on by great beer and food from Vermont, many memories, and a cooler filled with bottles that I bought at stores during our trip!

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Today was a bit more relaxed. Took a long walk along the causeway north of Burlington - the old rail bed that stretches out into Lake Champlain. Very nice morning stroll. For lunch, we were going to hit the American Flatbread Company, but it was closed (Fri-Sun only for lunch). Ate next door at the Pacific Rim Asian Cafe - fair, but nothing special. While there, had a Rock Art Whitetail Ale and a Trout River Rainbow Red.

Bummed around most of the day, including a nice siesta in the afternoon heat. I got most of the way through Harris' "Hannibal Rising" before we decided to get cleaned up and try American Flatbread for dinner. We parked a block away and walked down, only to find that there was an hour long wait to eat. Screw that - no pizza is that good.

We decided to hop in the car and make the 25 minute drive down the interstate south to Waterbury, where we found immediate seating at the Alchemist Pub and Brewery. My, oh my. First, the owner/brewer is from Pittsburgh and there was a Steelers pennant above the bar. Brownie points right there. There were seven beers on tap, and you can get 3oz samplers for $1 a piece. All of them were delicious and made very well - not a loser in the bunch. My wife particularly enjoyed the Tweiss (sort of a weizen-bock), and while I tried all of them, I had a full pint of Pappy's Porter with dinner. The food is wonderful, and we really enjoyed the fries - coated in a spicy dry rub and served with garlic mayo and homemade spicy ketchup. The reuben panini was great and Dana's margherita pizza was top notch. The only thing I didn't care for was the dim lighting - I like ambiance as much as anyone, but when you have a hard time reading the menu ... that's a bit too dark. Makes it hard to see the beer you're drinking, too.

In all, however, I highly recommend the Alchemist. Great beer and great food!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A Trip up through the Center of Vermont

This morning we checked out a few places in Brattleboro, including a nice bakery and a used bookstore. The we hit the Brattleboro Co-Op for a few local bottles of beer for the road and grabbed a sandwich at Breuggers. From Brattleboro, we took route 30 north, up the river until we hit route 100.

We stopped to eat our sandwiches at Lowell Lake near Magic Mountain ski area. Very nice, though a bit buggy at this time of year. Also, the abandoned summer camp on the edge of the lake was a bit too Friday the 13th.

After that, we checked out the Vermont Country Store and then wound our way over to Rutland to catch Route 7. From there, we headed north until we made it to Middlebury. Here, we took a slight break and visited the Otter Creek brewery. We didn't make the right time for the tour, which wasn't a problem, but we were able to sample several beers on tap, including Wolaver's Witbier and the Oatmeal Stout, and Otter Creek 15th Anniversary IPA, ESB, and others. I took a few bottles for the road and we took off.

After checking out the town for a few minutes, we got back onto the road and headed up to Burlington, which was our final destination for the trip. Checked into the Willard Street Inn and chilled out for a while.

For dinner, we walked down to Church Street and ate at Smokejacks. While there, I had a Smuttynose IPA and a Orlio Organic IPA by Magic Hat. Finished up with a nice Armagnac.

All in all, not a bad day.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Brattleboro, VT

So, for the first time in a while, my wife and I were able to get a few days off at the same time and during decent weather! We decided to head up to New England for a few days, and the timing couldn't have been better.

We hit the road about 9am on Tuesday morning, and made our way to I-80 at Clearfield. From there, we traversed the state until the merge with I-81, then up to I-84. We took I-84 over to the Taconic State Parkway, then north on that until Rt 23. That took us through the Berkshires in western Massachusetts until the meet up with the Mass Pike. After one exit, we were on I-91 north until Brattleboro.

We stayed the night at the historic Latchis Hotel, an interesting if not slightly worn out joint right in downtown. Our dinner was some light fare at the Flat Street Brewpub, which really isn't a brewpub, per se, but rather a purchase point for most of Berkshire Brewing Company's draft options. The menu is limited and not that impressive. Right before we got our food, my wife noticed a mouse scurrying across the floor. Good times. I grabbed a sampler tray of five Berkshire Brewing beers, including the Pale Ale, River Ale, IPA, Draymans Porter, and a milk stout. Dana had a Ommegang Rare Vos on tap.

In all, the place wasn't that impressive, though we were happy just to get some beers in us after spending almost 10 hours in a two-door Honda!

After dinner, we walked up the hill and around the block until we happened upon McNeill's Brewpub on Elliot Street. Very low key, but there were about 10-12 beers on tap, including 2 on hand pump. I opted for the Alle Tage Altbier and the Imperial Stout, while Dana had the Ruby Ale and the Slop Bucket Brown.

We had a very nice discussion with a gent named Bill, who's a nurse? at the local hospital. If you go, try the chips and salsa - very good. Also, you can get most of the McNeill's line in bottles to go - but at no discount over local food co-ops. They're also available at a few local food co-ops, such as the ones in Brattleboro and in Burlington. I brought home several other McNeill's to try in the coming weeks.

Until tomorrow,