Friday, February 25, 2011

Washington Crossing Brewfest

Washington Crossing is the historic area of Pennsylvania where George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night with a surprise attack on the Hessian troops in 1776. Over the years the grounds have been preserved and protected but lately the organizations that do so have come under hard times which has resulted in some cut funding for the park. What better way to help save this treasured landmark than to throw a beer festival later in May?!?
The 1st Washington Crossing Brewfest will take place on Saturday, May 14th from 12:30-4:30 pm and is boasting a pretty impressive list of breweries for their first time out. The event is being sponsored by Friends of Washington Crossing Park and all proceeds from the festival will be going directly towards saving the park and traditions like the reenactment of the crossing of the Delaware on Christmas Day. There will also be some live local music and plenty of food to get you through the afternoon. Here is the list of confirmed far:
  • Allagash Brewing Company
  • Arcadia Ales
  • Avery Brewing Company
  • Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits
  • Bells Brewery, Inc.
  • Boulder Beer Company
  • Breckenridge Brewery
  • BrewDog
  • Brooklyn Brewery
  • Central Waters Brewing Company
  • Cigar City Brewing
  • Climax Brewing Company
  • Coronado Brewing Company
  • Cricket Hill Brewing Company
  • Dark Horse Brewing Company
  • Dock Street Brewing Company
  • Elysian Brewing Company
  • Firestone Walker Brewing Company
  • Flying Dog
  • Flying Fish Brewing Company
  • Franziskaner Weissbier
  • Great Divide Brewing Company
  • Great Lakes Brewing Company
  • Gritty McDuff's
  • Harpoon Brewery
  • Lagunitas
  • Left Hand
  • Lindeman's
  • Long Trail Brewing Company
  • Nebraska Brewing Company
  • Otter Creek Brewing
  • Philadelphia Brewing Company
  • Riverhorse
  • Samuel Smith
  • Sierra Nevada
  • Sixpoint Craft Ales
  • Sly Fox Brewing Company
  • Smuttynose Brewing Company
  • Southern Tier Brewing Company
  • Spaten Brewery
  • Sprecher Brewing Company
  • Stone Brewing Company
  • Terrapin Beer Company
  • Triumph Brewing Company
  • Troegs Brewing Company
  • 21st Amendment Brewery
  • Weyerbacher Brewing Company
  • Wolavers
  • Yards Brewing Company
  • Yuengling Beer Company
That may have been excessive but I'm really impressed when a smaller beer festival has such a far reaching brewery list.

Tickets can be bought online here, Isaac Newton's in Newtown, or Triumph Brewing Company in New Hope. Regular admission is $40 and designated driver tickets are only $10. The brewfest itself will be held in the upper park behind Thompson Neely House, click here for a map and directions. If you are in the area and need something to do on a May afternoon this event should be on the top of your list.

See ya there!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Victory Turns 15 With Headwaters Pale Ale

Yesterday I made the much-longer-than-I-recalled trip to Downingtown for Victory's big Fifteen Years of Character Anniversary Party where their new year-round brew, Headwaters Pale Ale, would be flowing. The lively brewpub was the place to be yesterday for any local craft beer lover. I made my way through the crowd to the bar and proudly ordered a couple pints of Headwaters from the hand pump and toasted to one of the most consistently awesome breweries in the area.

I was thrilled to see that Victory was releasing an anniversary beer that would not require camping out at the brewery just to get a bottle or one that called for slow and steady drinking. Instead they've added a fully flavored and sessionable pale ale to their already solid year round line up to celebrate their fifteen years of brewing. This is a beer that will appeal to the masses, loved by hop heads and beer geeks but accessible to those who are little less adventurous. The two pints I had were both from the hand pump so I'm not sure how it is on tap or from the bottle but I really enjoyed this new brew. I can see myself really loving this once the weather warms up a bit. It is a golden pale with a creamy helping of head and a fresh and hoppy aroma to go with it. There was some underlying malty character that finishes up with a very light but noticeable hop bitterness, I loved the slight Citra presence at the end. Headwaters surprised me with some strong earthy flavors as well. It's clocking it around 5% ABV which is wonderful to see because you'll want more than just one of these. It's a uniquely satisfying pale ale, I especially enjoyed the balance that came out with the German malts. I for one can't wait to have some of these in my fridge, definitely a case-worthy brew.

There were tours given throughout the party so I was making my way up to the bar to order a pint of  Milltown Mild to take with me on the tour when I nearly dropped my glass, I hadn't noticed the bagpiper behind me who began playing without any sort of notice. He lead a small procession to an oak barrel of Headwaters that was ceremoniously tapped by Bill and Ron to great delight of every one there. Unfortunately I missed getting a pour from the barrel but the kilted bagpiper would suffice.

Our tour group had a very curious and enthusiastic senior citizen who really took advantage of the question portion but other than that entertaining addition it was a bit of disappointment, since they were actually brewing last night we couldn't get inside the hop cooler...possibly my favorite aspect of any brewery tour. After the tour there was a screening of the short film 'Fifteen Years of Character' which featured interviews with folks from Victory's early days as well as Sam Calagione and Greg Koch. Bill and Ron said a few words, everyone raised their glass, and then at this point I was starving and was dying for something from their throwback menu. I ended up with the Lombardy Pizza and a big soft pretzel which went quite harmoniously with some cask Hop Wallop.

 One of the highlights of the whole event was of course the gigantic cake designed and painstakingly put together by Victory Chef Lynn Tilyou. I got to talk to her a bit and her pride was just shining through. She wanted to create a cake that represented the entire brewing process...and also had beer running through it. Unfortunately she couldn't get real beer to run through since it would have foamed up too much but she succeeded in every other aspect. All of the structures were made out of rice krispie treats covered in fondant which rested on a massive cake split into three sections, chocolate, vanilla, and beer spice. Even the flames under the brew kettle were made out of melted candy sugar. After going through the whole process with me she did let me know that she actually did pour some HopDevil into the pitcher while her boss wasn't looking...the lady knows what she's doing. I had a slice of the delicious beer spice cake later and while I didn't even know that was an actual kind of cake, I left wanting to take some home with me.

There was also a short meet and greet with Bill and Ron who were signing some posters for the crowd. I figured I had to thank the two of them and let them know that the Victory Variety Case was really one of my first craft beer experiences. I usually credit HopDevil with being the first beer to open my eyes to the wonderful world of craft beer so I was grateful to get to meet the two guys behind it and so many beers that I love.

I'm so glad I decided to make the trip out to Victory yesterday, they know how to throw a party for beer lovers. They have so much to do with why I started seeking out interesting and higher quality beers and was glad to be there to celebrate with them. Headwaters should be out everywhere by the end of the week so make sure you give it a shot...I highly doubt you will be disappointed. Unlike most anniversary brews this one isn't going anywhere anytime soon so we all have plenty of time to enjoy it...a Victory in and of itself.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Adventures in Homebrewing: Saison du Senegal Is Bottled

I bottled up my Saison du Senegal a few days ago after only two and a half weeks in the fermenter...that yeast went absolutely nuts in there. It was a great yield, six 22 oz bombers and thirty-eight 12 oz bottles. I wasn't expecting this to reach it's Final Gravity so quickly but am hoping that it will now be ready for my Peace Corps-bound friend's going away party on the 19th. Only time will tell.

Last time I was at the homebrew shop, Joe gave me a pack of Wyeast's Belgian Saison strain in case the French didn't work out. Luckily it did and now I have this extra yeast chilling...I suppose I'll be brewing up a Belgian Saison in the near future. I thought about using the same recipe to see what the difference would be but am getting excited about coming up with something completely new and different from this one. I'm going to be all saison-ed out after the next batch though, I'll have a nice stockpile for the summer I guess.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Homebrewing at The White House

If you're anything like me...I'm sorry.

But if you're actually anything like me, yesterday's game meant absolutely nothing to you. I was working for most of the game but did manage to catch a couple mildly amusing commercials and was rather excited for a couple of the big movie previews. I mean who wouldn't want to see a movie titled 'Cowboys and Aliens' that stars Indiana Jones AND Jams Bond???

However there was some news that came out of the Super Bowl that caught my eye.

President Obama decided to buy a homebrewing kit in order to serve some homemade beer at The White House's Super Bowl Party. This story would be much better if the President had brewed the batch himself but he gave that job to The White House chefs. They used honey from some bee hives found on the property to brew their own White House Honey Ale. There weren't many other details released but the Obamas paid for the kit themselves which is pretty cool in and of itself I think.

This administration has had their share of beer-centric headlines over the past couple years but so far this is my favorite and not as contrived as that damn Beer Summit. I think the Founding Fathers would be proud.