Monday, April 7, 2014

Local Libations at the Philly Farm & Food Fest

The 3rd Annual Philly Farm & Food Fest is this Sunday, April 13th at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. This event is put on by your friends at Fair Food and PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculure) and while I've never been, seems like it should be a great time. The fest is a showcase for local, sustainable foods and businesses including some of my favorite breweries.

If you plan on attending, be sure to check out the Local Libations Lounge where you'll be treated to guided tastings from Dock Street, Sly Fox, Victory and Weyerbacher. There will also be some other liquids (yes, they exist) from Dad's Hat Whiskey, Frecon Farm's Cidery, Paradocx Vineyard, Stonekeep Meadery and Philadelphia DIstilling, makers of Bluecoat American Dry Gin - a favorite of mine. This is one of those great opportunities to celebrate just how spoiled we are when it comes to local beer.

A seemingly exciting addition to the 2014 Fest is the Shellfish Salon where Sam Mink, owner of Oyster House, will lead a guided tasting of delicious East Coast oysters and clams. The Heritage Shellfish Cooperative will be shucking some briny beauties from Cape May Salts and Choptank Oyster Company and freshly cooked clams.

If you're reading this, it's safe to assume that local food and local beer is of some importance to you. If you're anything like me then throwing shellfish into the mix only sweetens the deal. General Admission tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door on Sunday. A limited number of tickets are still available for the timed and guided tastings in the Local Libations Lounge and Shellfish Salon for $15 per person. More details and tickets are available at

Maybe I'll see ya there on Sunday, cheers!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cooking With Beer: Pale Ale Grilled Cheese

Ever since the wife and I (oh yeah, I got married - there was a lot of beer involved) bought a house last June, I've been doing a lot of cooking. Luckily, I also happen to have a lot of beer around the house so it has been making its way into many of the recipes. The latest attempt at culinary prowess was last night's Brown Butter Grilled Beer Cheese, a recipe a nabbed from The Beeroness. Her site has a vast collection of beer-infused recipes which include some fantastic photography as well. I've tried my hand at a few of her recipes and they've all been delicious so make sure you bookmark that site. This grilled cheese was such a success that I thought I'd try to get back into the habit of writing here and share the recipe. I swapped out the mozzarella for a heaping of pepper jack instead and used some of Lagunitas' New DogTown Pale Ale for the spread. The cheese is a bit runny but it all came together quite gloriously with a bowl of homemade tomato soup. Check out the recipe below and thank me later.

  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup Pale Ale
  • 4 oz cheddar
  • 8 slices bread
  • 4 tbs butter
  • In a blender or food processor add the cream cheese, mozzarella, cornstarch and beer. Blend until smooth, about 3 minutes. Spread the beer cheese generously onto 4 slices of bread. Top with about 2 tbs of cheddar and then top with a clean slice of bread.
  • In a skillet with a lid melt the butter over medium heat (don't allow the butter to get too hot or it will burn) until just starting to turn a golden brown. Carefully add the sandwiches, and replace the lid allowing the sandwiches to steam in the pan until the underside is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip the sandwiches, replace the lid and allow to cook until the other side is a light golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 3 additional minutes.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Shiner Makes Its Philadelphia Debut

The beer landscape here in the Philadelphia area was radically changed today with the arrival of Shiner Beers out of The historic Spoetzl Brewery located in Shiner, Texas. I just got home from the official launch down at Percy Street BBQ where I had my first taste of Shiner. I'm still in a bit of a food coma so I'll keep this short with the press release that went out earlier today announcing Shiner's arrival to our humble beer market. These guys know what they're doing.

You'll start seeing these fine Lone Star brews on tap and on the shelf starting tomorrow.



May 7, 2013
Philadelphia, PA
Shiner Makes its Philadelphia Debut;
All the way from Texas to you.

You've probably tasted Shiner Bock and the rest of the brewery's beers while traveling out west. It's practically the official state beer of Texas. You wished you could enjoy them at home in Philadelphia, and now you can.Origlio Beverage, a wholesale distribution company of fine beers, ciders and malt based beverages located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, proudly announces its partnership with the Spoetzl Brewery for the distribution of the entire Shiner portfolio. The beers will be available in the metro Philadelphia marketplace on the 8th of May. 

Craft beer is all about genuine authenticity. And it doesn't get anymore authentic than the beers coming out of the Spoetzl Brewery of Shiner, Texas. The brewery celebrated its 100th anniversary about four years ago and it's the oldest independent brewery in the Lone Star State.  The brewery's flagship brand, Shiner Bock, is a smooth-drinking dark lager with a fine malty backbone. Since the 1980s, this beer has developed a fan base all its own that has grown well beyond Texas. This beer and the others in the Spoetzl portfolio are brewed in the German-Czech tradition. One of the original brewmasters from the early 1900s, a German immigrant named Kosmos Spoetzl, was trained in Bavaria and he set the bar for craftsmanship very high.  The brewery's beers have received many awards no doubt by sticking with Spoetzl's authentic brewing methods.

Origlio's Vice President of Sales and Marketing, 
Grant Barrett, is excited about representing Shiner. "Philadelphia is an established craft brew town and our customers know a great beer when they taste it." Shiner offers an interesting variety pack called Family Reunion. This six-pack contains the BockShiner Bohemian Black LagerShiner BlondeShiner HefeweizenShiner Brewer's Pride (a limited edition rotating selection) and Shiner Kosmos Reserve, a hop-jacked lager that's a real tribute to the founding brewer. Two of the brands, Shiner Bock and Bohemian Black Lager, received gold medals at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival. Barrett added, "Shiner also has a summer seasonal called Ruby Redbird that blends craftsmanship with some Texas terroir. It's brewed with Texas Rio Red grapefruit which makes it refreshingly tart. And it gets a touch of heat from natural ginger.  These brands are a really nice addition to our lineup."

Shiner's beers are a taste of Texas grounded in old-world, Bavarian tradition. The Spoetzl Brewery is passionate about beer and there's a taste of Lone Star independence in every drop.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Adventures in Homebrewing: Red RyePA

Judging by the frequency of posts here, it would be reasonable to surmise that I had given up homebrewing and drinking all together but rest assured - that is most definitely not the case. Over the past few months I've brewed a coffee porter with the guys I started brewing with in college and started doing test batches for a beer that I'll be serving at my wedding in the fall. The first batch of that wedding beer actually nabbed second place in the Belgian Pale Ale category at the 2012 Monk Melee. All sorts of exciting beer things have been going on but I just haven't had the time to write any of it down.

Despite the lull in posts, I got an email from someone at Midwest Supplies who had come across my blog and was interested in having me write up my thoughts on one of their brewing ingredients kits. I haven't used a kit since my first couple brews back in college, it's much more fun to put together your own recipe and see what happens. Having said that, a kit like the ones that Midwest Supplies sell offers some confidence to your brew. You can trust that the recipe is tried and true, if your beer comes out tasting like crap you'll know it was your fault basically.

They were kind enough to let me pick any kit that they sold and I had been wanting to do some sort of rye beer for a while now so I opted for their Red RyePA. I was even able to pick my own yeast type so I chose the Wyeast smack-pack which ended up being their Headwaters Ale strain. The kit arrived quickly and safely on my doorstep which was great to come home from work to.

Specialty Grains:
2 oz Chocolate Rye
3 oz Crystal Rye
3 oz Crystal 50-60
4 oz Rye malt
4 oz Flaked Rye

6 lb Gold Liquid Malt Extract

1/2 oz Columbus (60 min)
1/2 oz Columbus (20 min)
1/2 oz Centennial (20 min)
1/2 oz Columbus (10 min)
1/2 oz Centennial (10 min)
1/2 oz Columbus (5 min)
1/2 oz Centennial (5 min)

Included, of course, were very thorough instructions that walked you through their recommended process in relatively simple terms. I followed them closely and imagine they would be pretty easy to stick to even if you were a first time brewer. The brew went smoothly without incident, no boiling over or anything of that sort. My OG reading was a bit lower than I would've hoped (or that they projected) but I've had that issue with a couple of my past brews as well, something to work on. There was some very aggressive fermentation going on in less than 24 hours which is always reassuring to see no matter how often you brew.

I'm pretty anxious to see how this one turns out because if I really like it I might end up basing another wedding beer off of this kit. I'm also just excited to have a rye beer under my belt and most importantly, in my fridge. Look out for a follow up post in a few weeks.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vault Brewing Co. Unlocks in Yardley

After more than a year's wortth of trials and tribulations, James and John Cain have finally opened Vault Brewing Company in Yardley, PA. Last Thursday's soft opening spawned a flurry of excitement throughout Bucks County where thirsty throngs have been waiting for the small brewpub's doors to swing open. I for one have been anxiously awaiting Vault's opening because quite frankly, Yardley doesn't have much else to offer. Meridith and I stopped by on Saturday afternoon only to be greeted by a locked door, the damn place didn't open til 5.
Oh well...we would return.

Being opening weekend and all, we knew it would be packed but the place was actually filled to capacity. We ended up having to wait a couple minutes at the door for people to leave before we could head inside. It's no fun to watch other people drink. Once we were allowed in we bellied up to the bar for a couple beers to enjoy while we waited. I won't get into the specifics but their whole table waiting system needs a bit of an overhaul, if you were there this weekend you'll know what I'm talking about.

I went for their Cask IPA which I had a sip of at the Washington Crossing Beer Fest earlier this year, freshly pulled by James himself this one went down very quickly. Solid offering here but not my favorite style to have on cask and could have been  bit more balanced out. Went with their ESB next which was also on cask and should have been my first choice, really liked this one's slightly toasted and creamy body. Mer stuck with their Dry Stout which was on nitro, she loved it and I reaaaally liked it myself...may have snuck an extra couple sips while she went to the bathroom.

As for the grub, we started with the hot abruzzese sausage and French feta platter was delicious and just the thing you want to pick on between sips. Vault has a beautiful copper wood-fired pizza oven which is their only real kitchen implement but they aren't your everyday pizza pies. They have a selection of savory as well as sweet pizzas. I couldn't resist the brown sugar buffalo pie which also had some prosciutto. This thing was out of this world and I'm going to have a hard time branching out when I return. The dough is all made in house with some of the beer if I'm not mistaken. The last beer of the evening was their Belgian Blonde which was really bright, zesty and just a little sweet. With that, I left pretty satisfied with the latest addition to the Bucks County beer scene.

We actually enjoyed ourselves so much that we found ourselves back the next day for some lunch, few things are more enjoyable than some Sunday afternoon brews. The beautiful weather had me hankering for their Bavarian Hefeweizen which didn't quite do it for me but was by no means unpleasant. Their hummus plate and butternut squash pizza were much more memorable, I didn't think I would enjoy any of the sweet pizza options but this proved me wrong. I also snagged a pint of their IPA before we headed out and found it to be a whole lot more impressive than the cask offering, could have sat there for a couple more of this one. We sat in the upper room on Sunday in which they use two of the banks old vaults, one for their wine rack stocked with bottles from Crossing Vineyards and the other locked up with kegs. Nice touch.

I'll be the first to admit that I was a bit skeptical walking into Vault but was very impressed with the whole operation. The whole look and feel of the place is spot on, sleek but laid back while playing up the old bank features. They had great music playing both visits including the band that came in (live jazz is a big selling point for these guys). I was especially impressed with the staff who really couldn't have been nicer or more helpful despite the madhouse crowd. Once the initial excitement wears off and the crowds die down, I can't wait to head to the Vault more often to see how brewer Mark Thomas really comes into his own. Don't let the crowds keep you away though, I say you head right over and see what you think for yourself.

10 South Main Street
Yardley, PA


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Monk Melee II: The Second Coming

So my homebrew club of choice, The ALEiens, is hosting their 2nd Annual Monk Melee Belgian-Style Homebrew Competition on Saturday, December 1st at the good ole Hulmeville Inn. I'm doing my part in organizing the whole shebang again so while we don't have all the details worked out I can tell you I know so far.

This is a BJCP sanctioned competition restricted to the following categories:

BJCP Category 16: Belgian and French Ales
   16A) Witbier
   16B)  Belgian Pale Ale
   16C)  Saison
   16D)  Biere de Garde
   16E)  Belgian Specialty Ale

BJCP Category 17:  Sour Ales
   17A)  Berliner Weiss
   17B)  Flanders Red Ale
   17C)  Oud Bruin/Flanders Brown
   17D)  Straight Lambic
   17E)  Gueuze
   17F)  Fruit Lambic

BJCP Category 18: Belgian Strong Ale
   18A)  Belgian Blonde
   18B)  Belgian Dubbel
   18C)  Belgian Tripel
   18D)  Belgian Golden Strong Ale
   18E)  Belgian Dark Strong Ale

If you've got any beers that fall into these categories, feel free to submit them. We realize that we're not giving you a whole lot of time so that's why I wanted to get some info out ASAP. Drop-off locations are not yet finalized but you can expect the standard local homebrew shops and the like, the guys at Neshaminy Creek will also be accepting submissions. Anyone can submit, you do not need to be an ALEien or part of any homebrew club but you should definitely join one anyway. There will be a fee of $6 for the first entry and $5 for any entries after that, go ahead and submit as many as you want. Bottle specifics and entry forms will be worked out soon. We're looking at the last weekend in November as a likely deadline but I will send out an update once everything is finalized.

Just like last year, the Hulmeville will likely tap a bunch of delicious Belgian beers the day of judging which means you get to come hang out, drink some great beer and await your homebrew's fate. All of the prizes are TBD but you'll be able to grab any winnings that evening after the awards ceremony. Stay tuned for more details as they come out but until then, spread the word and get to brewing!

We are definitely looking for some more sponsors to donate prizes so if you're willing to contribute something please let me know. If you'd like to volunteer to judge or stewart, please contact Jeremy Myers at


Thursday, October 4, 2012


Another Mancation has come and gone. This biannual camping trip is the stuff that legends are made of involving a lot of smoked meats and beer. Last year I took it upon myself to combine these two great things in my Mancation Maple Bacon Porter but the 2012 trip saw yet another coming together of smoked meats and beer this time in the form of my dad's famous BBQ sauce. Every year this sauce is lathered upon racks of ribs, steaks, chicken and even pasta. For some reason I never recommended that he add some beer to the recipe but I got my act together this year and suggested that Dogfish Head's hybrid Indian Brown Ale make its way into the mix. As always the sauce was a finger lickin' hit and was made only better by this latest addition so if you're a fan of the 'cue (is that a thing people say?) then I would highly recommend giving this recipe a shot the next time you fire up the smoker or are planning a big BBQ spread. This is a very rare glimpse into the inner workings of Mancation.
You're welcome.

Mancation Meat Sauce:
2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 finely chopped chipotle peppers
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp mustard
1 tbsp tabasco sauce
2 tsp liquid smoke
4 cloves finely minced garlic
2 bottles of Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
1 tbsp of Mancation Rub

Combine all ingredients in a nonreactive saucepan and bring slowly to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and gently simmer the sauce until dark, thick and delicious.

Mancation Rub:
1 tsp whole cumin seed
1 tsp whole fennel seed
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp whole coriander
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder

Place cumin seed, fennel seed and coriander in coffee grinder and grind fine. Transfer to a small jar and add the rest of the spice then shake. have your rub. If you brine your meat, forget the salt. Oh and don't use the same grinder you use for your coffee.