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 fishtownhxc@yahoo.com.


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. BOOM...you have your rub. If you brine your meat, forget the salt. Oh and don't use the same grinder you use for your coffee.