Saturday, September 16, 2017

Broken Goblet: good back story, good beer

In a business park in Bristol, PA, a few miles NW of Philadelphia, the intrepid beer-tourist finds Broken Goblet Brewing, a fairly new (3 years in) startup,  The road there from the SEPTA station at Croydon winds along Neshaminy Creek, sidewalks give out after a few blocks and a ride via Lyft or Uber begins to look good.  Whatever.  My feet got me there and Lyft got me back.
  This is one of those plucky startups I love.  The barman, Righteous, pointed out the founders wall of fame and said the first 18 names had given the business so much in-kind stuff (drywall, plumbing, etc.) that they would have $3 pint fills for life.  He said the business has prospered to the point that they are building out a 10-bbl system three miles away, boosting what they can produce on a 2 1/2 bbl system now,  Broken Goblet--what's in a name?  Here, plenty.

Hope you can enlarge the sign on the wall of the taproom..They started out brewing life under the name brewta(umlaut over the a)t.  Got sued for trademark infringement by a heavy hitter brewer they call Voldemort (It was Rogue, I learned).  So they got out-lawyered, had to change their name, and smashed a goblet full of imperial stout when the news came.  I had to share the story of
Foggy Noggin's #Cease and Desist IPA (Go Hawks).
  So now they are Broken Goblet and they make some nice beer.  I had a taster flight of five of the eight on tap,  Worthy sips for their Bubba's Tea Bag (five teas blended into a Rote Grutze base), fruity and sweet, and a good coffee stout on nitro they call Diane's.  But the winner, the one I asked for a quart growler fill of to take home, they call Can't Wait One More Minute, a wheat ale wet hopped with three of our good Yakima hops.
  Hope they place more kegs in Philly taverns!
(Visited 09/16/17)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Drop In to this brewery in Middlebury, Vermont

   The name is in my title: Drop-In Brewing Co. in the super-quaint town of Middlebury in the middle of the Green Mountain State.  If Congress were ever tempted to add National Boutiques to the National Park System, Bernie's whole state would be the obvious first candidate.  This brewery and brewing school is several miles south of the town and its eponymous college, along Otter Creek. It shares space with the Grapevine Grill, an eatery run by a couple of ladies from Maryland, who brought their crab cake recipes with them.
The school side is the American Brewers Guild, an organization founded in Davis, CA and purchased by Steve Parkes, a native Scot who crossed the pond in the 80s.  He is now the brewmaster for Drop-In and head educator for the Guild.  A classroom for sit-down note taking is in the back of the building, while I surmise most of the learning takes place in the 15-bbl system that turns out the Drop-In beers.
    Heart of Lothian was the first beer that caught my eye.  I remembered the Heart of Midlothian, a mosiac set in an Edinburgh sidewalk along the Royal Mile, which one is supposed to spit on for good luck  Mr. Parkes and his students forego the expectoration as they make a deliciously malty Scottish Ale.  The abv is 5.6%, the hops are Fuggle and Kent Golding, and the malts and yeast are also Brit.
  One of the IPAs has a catchy label.  Dude Are You OK? features a photo of a guy (one of the brewing students?) dangling from a chairlift. My friends Paul and Linda and I went through a tray of and liked the Scottish Ale best. (Visit date 09/01/17)

Friday, August 4, 2017

This brewery IS in a farmhouse--Haywire Br., Snohomish

Farmhouse is not just a style of beer here at the Haywire Brewing Co outside Snohomish, it's a description of the premises. It hasn't been a working dairy farm for close to thirty years, but it has been refurbished as the Dairyland event center, used for wedding receptions and the like, and now the milking barn houses the brewing operations.  Bryant Castle, brewer and co-owner, started home brewing about ten years ago and got his father-in-law, David Jez, hooked on the home brew fun five or six years ago; David also brews and is the other co-owner. They work on a 2-barrel system and figure to stay under the legal definition of a nano-brewery, under 1,000 bbl/yr.

The taproom comes with tractor seat barstools and a convivial vibe.  The brewers have named their beers with a bow to agriculture: I tried Hen Pecked Amber (6.9% abv, balanced taste), U-Pick Strawberry Pale (5.6%, do you like tart strawberries?), and Fox Trail, a malt-fwd Irish Red with 5.4% abv.
Haywire is just off the Snohomish-Monroe Road, which runs all the way into Monroe, good to know on those days US 2 traffic is just impossible between those towns. It looks to be a fun stop for families, with treats like a ride on an antique tractor and a christmas tree show in the winter.
(Visited 07/21/17)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Des Voignes: a new twist in Woodinville

   He Said Beer, She Said Wine: a really fun book by Sam Calagione (yes, the Dogfish Head founder) and Marnie Old, a top wine sommelier in Philadelphia. riffs on badinage and pairings, like "what could you possibly uncork, Marnie, for a pepperoni/feta/black olive pizza that would go half as well as my 90-minute IPA?"  And she has lots of put-downs, too.
   I was reminded of this cross-cultural mix when I went into the Des VoigneCellars and Brewery in Woodinville recently.  The wine culture is, let's face it, striving for a retail shopping experience a la Nordstrom, with elegant tasting rooms in buildings Louis XIV would have been at home in. While the prevalent mode of a craft beer startup is a metal building in an industrial business park (or in Snohomish Co., a garage).  So when a winery, around for eleven years, decides to jump the culture gap and make some beer, it's news.
  This is the opening scene going into Des Voigne, tasteful furniture and art. Turn right for wine, straight ahead for beer. The Des Voignes, Darren and Melissa, started making upscale wines eleven years ago.  Darren studied winemaking at UC Davis and handles that side, but they hired brewer Bob Thorpe when they began making beer a couple of years ago.
   The culture cross carries over into our flexible beverage of choice.  My pint was a Fusion Barrel Aged Red Ale, 6.2% abv and 23 IBU, aged in barrels that previously held Des Voigne Cabernet Franc (a great wine, usually blended).  Hopped with Fuggles and Golding, you know it's beer but that sweet grape note lingers on the tongue.
  The seven-barrel system, presented here by Anna, a bartender from Bellingham, is modern and busy.  The plant is in a business park, typical for newer Woodinville wineries given the pricey real estate there.

(Visited 07/01/17)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

River Time passes muster in Darrington

The small, extremely scenic town of Darringon, Washington won't draw many tourists on their way to somewhere else. State Route 530, rebuilt after the tragic landslide in 2014, may lop a few miles off a journey coming up from Seattle to the North Cascades National Park, but that's just a summer route.  The first effort to brew beer in the old city hall, by the Whiskey Ridge Brewing Co., couldn't sell enough the rest of the year to justify staying open, and they eventually moved to Arlington.
But brewing has returned to Darringon, as the River Time Brewing Co..
A couple of guys down in the Seattle area, Lon and Troy, loved hanging out on the nearby Sauk River, and got to know Neil, a guide who has built his home on said river.  Lon and Troy came up with the idea of starting a little brewery here with Neil to handle the brewing.  And when he is doing that, Kristin is behind the bar pulling pints.
The backers found  a nice 3-barrel system, so River Time misses out on the nano category.  They have a 7-barrel fermenter for the times Neil feels like double-batching.

The most popular style here, as it is most places,. is the IPA, so that is likely to go in the bigger fermenter (there is a 3-barrel tank for that function, too).   I chose a Scotch Ale for my pint, 6% abv and malty all the way, a rich mouthfeel.
Summer having shown up nicely, it was not a day for stouts or porters, but Neil gave me a little sample of each. His stout, in the drier Irish style, had a spicier aroma but the porter won the battle of the taste buds. Neil gave some of the credit for the porter's flavor to Liberty hops, which he described as way underrated.

 Did I start out saying Darrington was kind of scenic, even by Washington standards?  Look out the front door of the pub and you see Whitehorse Mountain, the most jagged of several peaks that surround the town.

(Visited 06/22/17)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Evil Genius: Under the El

North of the city center, Philadelphia gets industrial in a hurry.  The Market-Frankford transit line emerges from subway mode as it heads north, an elevated train over Front Street.  This is where
#EvilGeniusBrewing opened a taproom around the end of February.  Large-scale manufacturing is long gone, shuttered brick buildings five stories high and a block long, mark the landscape, but plenty of commercial and small fabrication firms remain.  This is where two guys who met in accounting classes at Villanova ten years ago hatched the idea of starting a brewery.  Luke Bowen and Trevor Hayward set out to learn the business of brewing and this is their result.  Their head brewer, Jon Defibaugh, learned his craft at two distinguished local breweries.
Evil Genius has a sort of partnership with a Connecticut brewery, Thomas Hooker, which brews and bottles the only packaged product, Hooray, Sports, a pale ale. There is a wide array of beers made here on tap.  Whimsical naming is the rule--"This One Time At Band Camp" (a double IPA), "Shut Up, Meg" (farmhouse IPA).  I tried a pint of "You Mad, Bro?", billed as a straight farmhouse ale (5.8% abv) with white peppercorns and juniper berries added to the wort.
The tab for that one pint was $6.50, and a 32-oz. small growler could have been filled for $12.00. The last time I bought a half-growler fill here in Philly was for a really fine saison at Tired Hands, for $10.50.  I will have to write a separate post on this topic, but have to observe that many craft breweries seem to operate as if the precepts of economics don't apply to them.  Like cross-elasticity of demand.
If you can pack the house like Evil Genius did on a recent Saturday afternoon, first nice sunny day in a while. maybe your price point doesn't matter.
(Visited 04/08/17)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Benjamin's a Saint in Philly

Ben Franklin, born in Boston, made his mark in Philadelphia and invented all sorts of stuff here,  He liked a drink as well as the next Colonial and is remembered in a number of Philly watering holes, like the Kite and Key pub and the taproom at #St.BenjaminsBrewingCo.  This small brewery began
 producing in 2014 and added a pub last year.  The location is about four blocks east of Temple University. on the ground floor of an industrial building labeled the Sewing Factory and being converted to loft apartments.  The website states that the building was originally the carriage house of the Theo Frankenaur Brewery.
 The tap lineup on a chilly day late in March featured a pair of cream ales. The Inca Cream Ale is so called, founder Tim Patton explained, because the cream ale recipe ended up a tad hoppier than planned (50 IBUs and 5.4%), so they took the first two letters of India Pale and put them in front of cream ale's initials. It has become popular enough to be one   smoothof the standard styles here and one available in 16-oz, cans. Another standard, also in cans, is the Wit or Witout (reference to the only choice a Philly cheesesteak consumer is offered at one of the classic joints in the Italian Market district; the choice is onions).  This is a Belgian wheat beer (4,6%, 17 IBUs) with a very  smooth flavor.  The other two standards are a second cream ale, not tasted, and an English
dark mild called Foul Weather Jack (4.5%, 20 IBUs), which balances a dry finish with a roasty mouthfeel.
A couple of seasonals completed my flight of tasters.  Transcontinental is a California Common (5.6%, 20 IBUs) with some rye in the grains, giving it that bit of spice in the finish.  And Le Bon Bock, released on Fat Tuesday and presented as a Lenten beer the monks in Belgian abbeys could enjoy during Lent, was the strongest at 7.4%, rich and full in the mouth.
The taproom affords a nice view of the brewery in the back.  It has a comfortable feel and would no doubt fill up later in the day.

(Visited 03/28/17)