Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A Nice Beer Tour of Pennsylvania (Part II)

see below for Part I

Fri Jan 2: I went on another road trip to visit some friends down East. After having lunch with my wife in Johnstown, I hit the Turnpike and headed East. First I stopped off in Mt. Joy, where one can find Bube's Brewery (pronounced boo-bees). Tried their five samples and while all were fine, I enjoyed the seasonal Santa's Helper the most. From here, I stopped by the Iron Hill in Lancaster. Iron Hill always offers up solid beers and I tried the seasonal sampler. Standouts included the dark saison Permanent Midnight, an Imperial Coffee Porter, and a Schwarzbier.

From here, I went to my final destination of the night, my friends The Meyers. Dave was a college roommate and fraternity brother and it'd been a couple of years since we'd gotten together. His two girls were waiting at the door for me and I got a warm welcome. That night, we drank quite a bit of Allagash Dubbel from Dave's kegerator in the basement.

Sat Jan 3: First order of the day was a trip to State Line Liquors in Elkton, MD. This is a beer Mecca and I always find way too much stuff that I can't buy. Sigh. In any event, I walked out of there with a dozen good bottles of stuff and a case of Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen for my wife. For lunch, we went to a nice little pub called The Whip - very English themed and I had a couple of pints (Tetleys, Smithwicks) over lunch of Scotch eggs and bangers and mash.

We had some running around to do and ended up driving quite a bit. I was able to sneak into Victory for their Abbey 6 and see how things had changed since the renovation - good job, Victory.

Sun Jan 4: After bidding the Meyers au revoir, I headed up to Phoenixville for lunch at Sly Fox. Good food, and the standout beer there was definitely the Rauchbier. It's hard to find smoked beers on tap, let alone really nice ones.

Next, I drove over to General Lafayette Inn. What a cool place - I'd love to stay here some time. Sampled a few here (unfortunately the Framboise was kicked!) and enjoyed the Sunset Red on cask and the Raspberry Mead. Great ambiance!

Killed some time hitting some book stores and a few other places before heading to dinner at Earth Bread + Brewery in Mt. Airy (Philly). Our "local boy makes good", Jon, works there now supervising the kitchen and helping out Tom Baker in the brewery. I tried Earth's four offerings, including Jon's pseudo-eponymic Santos L. Halper. The pizza is really good, despite the fact that Jon made it ;)

After Jon was done working, I got the nickel tour of the place. I'm only sorry that I'll not get to taste the Sahti or the Wee Heavy currently bubbling away. The final stop of the evening was McMenamin's, just down the street. Quite a lively Sunday night crowd, and between conversation with Jon and some locals (including Doc Holliday), I was able to try both Affligem Nöel and Long Trail Triple Bag on tap.

Mon Jan 5: One last stop before driving home - lunch with Jon at Manayunk. Had a nice salad and tried the Title Bout Stout. Jon got a sampler of stuff which looked decent.

All in all - not a bad few days of beer and travel. Apologies to the folks who regularly write about the Drafting Room and some other places down that way ... many of the visits were 'spur of the moment' and not planned. Next time, I'll try to coordinate better and perhaps we can meet up for a pint.

A Nice Beer Tour of Pennsylvania (Part I)

It's that time of year ... some time off between semesters. This is the time I get to catch up on stuff around the house, hang with the families, and do a little touring with my beer geek friends to get our 'fix'. The shower is tiled and ready to be grouted and we should be showering again by Sunday (fingers crossed). We had a nice Christmas and got to spend time with both families - and my brother even decided last minute to come in from Idaho.

Tues. 12/30: But on to the beer! On the Tuesday after Christmas, we (me, Dave and Justin) drove up to Williamsport by lunch time. We started at The Bullfrog Brewery, where we met up with Bill (of Marzoni's) and Mark (homebrewer and regional beer writer). The funny part was that Bill was in Indiana just the day before delivering yet more Avalanche IPA to The Coney (he's now bringing over half kegs instead of sixtels, so it's selling well) and over lunch we each found out the other would be at the Bullfrog the next day. Anyway, Terry (Bullfrog brewer) had given Bill and Mark a tour and we got a round on him. Thanks, Terry!

I tried a few new beers over lunch, including Bruggetown Blonde, XXXX Quad, Fast Eddie's Pale Ale, and a Coffee Cream Stout. I bought a book of Busted Lawnmower to go and a growler of the Quad.

From Bullfrog, we drove across the river to Duboistown to have a few samples at Abbey Wright - once again running into Bill and Mark. I tried another sampler here, including two new ones - a Kölsch and a saison. After the samples, we chatted with Bart (the brewer) for a few minutes before getting back on the road.

Next stop: State College. Neither Dave nor Justin had ever visited Zeno's. If you've not been, you must! One of the best beer bars in PA, and I'd put it up against Eulogy and Sharp Edge - maybe not as many Belgians on draught, but quite a selection. Here, I sampled Otto's Scottish Ale (on cask), De Ranke XX Bitter, Hair of the Dog Ruth, 3 Fonteinen Doesjel, Deus Brut des Flandres, and Voodoo Big Black Voodoo Daddy. Fantastic!

Our trip finished out at Otto's, where we once again ran into Bill and Mark. Here I picked up a growler of the Apple Tripel and enjoyed a glass of Jolly Roger.

Wed 12/31: Did have a couple of pints of Avalanche IPA for lunch at the Coney with my good friend Mike (also former college roommate and my best man). He was in the region for Xmas, having driven all the way from Santa Fe. He brought me a 20th anniversary wooden collectors box from Santa Fe Brewing containing: Sangre de Frambuesa, State Pen Imperial Porter and an Imperial Yippee IPA. I look forward to trying these soon. Thanks Mike! I of course sent him home with some goodies.

More to come in Part II.