Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Yorktoberfest 2011 Follow-up

Here's a follow-up to my "live" post from Yorktoberfest.  I said I was aiming to try all the varieties of craft beer at the festival...and I was close.  Looking back, I only missed one - Tröegs JavaHead Stout - which I already know is an enjoyable brew.

I took my pint glass from tent to tent, and the barkeeps faithfully filled it up.  Each 2 to 3 oz sample provided just enough to fill up the bottom of the glass and for me to savor the flavor.

Here's a comprehensive list of the beers they proffered and some quick tasting notes*:
  1. Tröegs JavaHead Stout
  2. Tröegs HopBack -- "hoppy"!
  3. Tröegs Dead Reckoning Porter -- amazing! not as smooth as a typical porter; it has a bit of a bite
  4. Stoudt's Scarlet Lady Ale -- surprisingly not as complex as other ales
  5. Stoudt's Oktoberfest -- strong-ish and fizzy
  6. Stoudt's Heifer-in-Wheat -- clever name, great taste (banana!)
  7. Stoudt's Gold Lager -- classic golden liquid
  8. Springhouse Brewery Seven Gates Pale Ale -- bitter aftertaste
  9. Spoetzl Brewery Shiner Bock -- not as dark as I expected
  10. Spaten Dunkel -- smooth, almost like you're not drinking anything; would make a good session beer except for the 5.5% ABV
  11. Sixpoint Vienna Pale Ale -- the right amount of hoppiness, just the way a beer should taste!
  12. Sixpoint Brownstone -- similar to a porter but has more of a mild, nutty flavor
  13. Rogue Dad's Little Helper -- a black IPA (mmm!) strong on the hops!
  14. Magic Hat Circus Boy -- a good summer brew, light and refreshing
  15. Lancaster Brewing Company Shoo-Fly Porter -- smooth; light flavor of shoo-fly (my favorite pie!)
  16. Hauser Estates Jack's Hard Cider -- "local Adams County apples put to good use", said the vendor
  17. Dogfish Head Festina Pêche -- love Dogfish Head, didn't love this brew (tart, juicy)
  18. Anheuser-Busch, Inc. Shock Top -- an always enjoyable summer beer

Also, I did some digging into why York's own LiquidHero and Mudhook breweries were not represented at Yorktoberfest, much to my (and I'm sure others') chagrin.  The organizers of Yorktoberfest were not immediately available for comment, but it was rumored that the "big boy" distributors may have pulled rank over the newbies and blocked them from the event (politics, ugh).  LiquidHero was undeterred.  A representative commented, "we supported this fest and we also made alot of new friends this weekend from people coming over to our brewery after this beerfest...we love the revs and we love york county...and we are here to stay".  That's the spirit, fellas!  You truly are our LiquidHero!  Prost!

* BeerAdvocate.com recommends not reviewing beers at fests for a variety of reasons: "small sample sizes...loud environments, slew of smells, and tasting of numerous beer styles back-to-back. [...] Doing so does a disservice to the brewer and could mislead others." (Source: http://beeradvocate.com/articles/637)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Yorktoberfest 2011

I'm coming to you "live" from the 1st Annual Yorktoberfest in York, Pennsylvania!  The event is being held at Sovereign Bank Stadium, home of the York Revolution baseball team.  Let me tell you - it is a blast!  There are lots of people here enjoying vendors, music, food, Pennsylvania wines, and best of all, craft beers from the region.  There are brews here from Tröegs, Lancaster Brewing Company, Magic Hat, Shock Top, Stoudt's, Sixpoint, Rogue, Dogfish Head, and Spaten.  I'm aiming to try them all!  As part of the beer pass, I received a free pint glass and access to limitless samples of great craft brew.  If you're in the area, you should stop by - the festivities are going on till 5 today.  If you can't make it today, you can stop back tomorrow between noon and 5.

I was looking for beers from York's own Mudhook and LiquidHero breweries, but to no avail.  Both of these breweries are very new to York, and I think it's very exciting that York is being infused with some beer culture.  But I'm very disappointed that they are not represented here.  Why would the very city's own breweries not be represented?  Regardless, I love that the "craft brew scene" seems to be gaining momentum in South Central PA, just as it is everywhere in the US right now.  I'm hoping that it lasts! (Relevant side note: DRAFT magazine has indicated that there are plans to open 600 brand new craft breweries in the US by 2013!)

This is the first blog post I'm publishing via my smartphone, so please forgive me if there are any issues - I just wanted to post this "live" in order to bring you the breaking beer news here in York, PA.  I'm going to attempt to attach photos. (Edit: After publishing this post, I found that all the pictures were at the top. I've since edited them using my PC so that they are now in-line with the text.)

For more info, check out www.yorktoberfest.com. Prost!

The glass is half full, my friend.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bocktown - The Place to Beer

This past weekend, my in-laws introduced me to a wonderful restaurant in the Pittsburgh, PA area called Bocktown (apparently affectionately known as B-Town). They claim that they are "The Place to Beer" and tout many such quippy sayings. I have to say, I totally agree with them. I was impressed by their vast beer offerings. (Oh yeah...their menu was pretty good too. I went with the Bocktown 'Burgher.) From their About Us page:
"We love the artisan efforts of America’s craft brewers. We are completely dedicated to bringing you their products. When you visit, you will find a great variety of beer styles on draft, 16 rotating taps ranging from India pale ale, to imperial stout, as well as fruit beer, and other seasonal offerings. We do not ever offer Coors, Bud or Miller on tap. You will also find 400 different better bottle choices including some once a year offerings! We love rare beers, so don’t hesitate to call us to see if we have something you have been searching for." (emphasis mine)
B-Town's Seemingly-Endless Bottle Selection
Here, here - pass the craft beer! I took the liberty of taste-testing three brews before choosing one for a pint. I tried:

  1. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin - 8.0% ABV Pumpkin Ale, brewed in Easton, PA
  2. East End Hop Harvest - 7.4% ABV American IPA, brewed locally in Pittsburgh, PA - definitely tasted the hops, which I love, as well as a citrus / grapefruit flavor - readers may recall that I am not a grapefruit fan, as related in this post about Sam Adams' Summer Ale; however, East End's brewski was pretty darn good (i.e. the grapefruit flavor wasn't very strong!)
  3. Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale - 6.5% ABV American Brown Ale, brewed in Portsmouth, NH - this one hit my mouth hard with an absolute burst of flavor (a real ale!) - it had a burnt sugar / caramel aftertaste, which was delightful (is it appropriate to use the word "delightful" for a beer? hmm...)
(From Left to Right) Weyerbacher, East End, and Smuttynose Samples
For the pint, I chose door beer #1:  Weyerbacher's seasonal Imperial Pumpkin.

Its wonderful pumpkin pie flavor mixed nicely with the caramel, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I was pleasantly surprised that our server had dipped the rim of the pint glass in brown sugar - mmm, mmm good! RateBeer.com rates this beer as a 96 overall, and BeerAdvocate.com rates it as a B+. I give it a solid A. There is no doubt that this delectable pumpkin ale trumps (the only other pumpkin ale I've ever tried) Shipyard Brewing's weakly-flavored Pumpkinhead Ale, which I recently reviewed in this post.

If you are ever in the Pittsburgh area, you'll definitely want to check out Bocktown. I certainly plan on going back. Prost!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Love the "Summer Love Ale"

In tribute to the passing of summer, this review is about Victory Brewing Company's "Summer Love Ale".  It's the first Victory brew I've ever tried, and I have to say, it was a great start!

A light, white frothy head crowned the hazy golden brew, and a fruit smell wafted from the glass.  I was impressed with the complexity of this 5.2%-ABV ale -- the lemon flavor mixed very well with the hoppy taste which yielded an extremely quaffable beer.  The first sip and each subsequent taste was a delight.  I love tasting the hops in a beer, and the mixture of hops and lemony-fruity-goodness in this particular libation was extremely satisfying.

Based on my limited sampling of other beers, I would compare this ale to Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat or Brewery Ommegang's Hennepin.

Overall, I would rate this beer an "A".  Beeradvocate.com rates it a "B+", and www.ratebeer.com gives it a 91 overall and a 99 for style.  I was a big fan, and even though I love the fall, I now have a reason to look forward to next summer.  Also, can't wait to try some other Victory brews -- any suggestions?