Saturday, September 26, 2009

Gold Fish

From judging at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver ...

Flying Fish's Exit 4 American Trippel, the inaugural beer in the Cherry Hill brewery's bomber bottle-sized specialty brews, picked up a gold medal at the biggest beer party in the US this weekend.

Maybe now the folks at the New Jersey Turnpike Authority will graciously accept the fact that New Jersey gets some accolades, not just sarcasm and standup comic punchlines, thanks to FF's Exit Series beers, which are a nod to the Turnpike's place in state and pop culture.

The brew that is Exit 4, as we all remember, is a fusion of Belgian and American tastes, and it won top honors in the category of that interpretation. (Belgian beer styles have been good to Flying Fish. The brewery's Abbey Dubbel went silver last year.)

Also, Flying Fish's IPA, Hopfish, won a bronze in the classic English Pale Ale category.

Meanwhile, Long Valley Pub & Brewery's Lazy Jake Porter took home a silver for brown porter. Lazy Jake has been in the winner's circle before, bringing home GABF gold nine years ago.

Triumph Brewing (which wraps up its two-day Oktoberfest blast in New Hope on Sunday) won a pair of gold medals with its Pennsylvania locations (hefeweizen from New Hope and kinderpils from Philly). Alas, no medal for Triumph's Princeton brewpub.

Similarly, Iron Hill, which opened an eighth location in Maple Shade last summer, won gold and silver with brews from its Delaware properties (schwarzbier and raspberry torte).

Congrats to all.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Benefit at Firewaters Atlantic City

A calendar item coming by way of beer writer Mark Haynie, the New Jersey correspondent for Mid-Atlantic Brewing News ...

From 2-7 p.m. on Sunday (Sept. 27), Firewaters bar in the Tropicana casino is holding a benefit to help cover medical expenses for one of their bartenders, Jackie, who has a rare digestive disorder that causes her to reject foods of almost any type.

Jackie's 26, and unfortunately as is the case with a growing portion of the country's population, she's without medical insurance. She's had surgery to treat her condition, and that's left her with some big bills.

There's a $20 cover charge with food and drink specials, plus a Chinese auction and prizes. Brewer Tim Kelly from the nearby Tun Tavern is sending over a pin of dry-hopped red ale, and Mark is kicking in some offerings from his impressive beer collection. If you're an Eagles/Giants/Jets fan (everyone's playing 1 o'clock games), fret not, there's a TV or two.

For the uninitiated, Firewaters specializes in casting a wide net for beer, bottle and draft. In Atlantic City, Firewaters and the Tun Tavern stand alone as the places for good beer.

An FYI: Firewaters isn't located in The Quarter side of the Tropicana. It's probably a little easier to hit from the casino's boardwalk entrance.

AOL dumbs down homebrewing

This is from AOL, which comes to the statistical conclusion you can save money on beer by making your own. The premise isn't inaccurate, but the presentation is so naive as to be misleading. (Obviously, it's mainstream Internet content, a lot of which you shouldn't take too serious, or serious at all for that matter).

As we know, most dedicated homebrewers aren't looking to shave 30 cents off the cost per bottle. As we know again, most seasoned homebrewers are more sophisticately equipped than our video hosts here, who, judging from their processes, are on their way to make some funky, undrinkable beer.

On the one hand, this could draw some people into homebrewing and better beer. On the other, there's no getting around it, making good beer at home (and doing it consistently) is much more involved, quite a bit of work. Coming at it from the Hints from Heloise angle of saving three dimes per serving is just dumb.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

One more real thing

It's in the comments portion of yesterday's post, but just so it gets noticed here's the update from the kind folks at Hunterdon Distributors about Saturday's cask ale event at Pizzeria Uno.

Says Hunterdon: In addition to the Nugget Nectar, Troegs is sending their new seasonal, Javahead Stout. Smuttynose should have their Big A IPA and Pumpkin Ale ... doesn't look like Yards is going to make this one.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What's old is new?

Another nod to PubScout Kurt Epps, who points out the Star-Ledger is recycling features, only this time using a video camera to do it.

The Ledger descended upon The Brewer's Apprentice in Freehold to pick some low-hanging fruit. Kurt points out he did this story 11 years ago, and the Asbury Park Press (our alma mater) did it back in the 1990s, too.

What's different now? YouTube's ascension, from 2005 forward.

Some folks fancy calling this new media, which is accurate enough if you're in the industry or academics and need a term to wrap your mind around. But you can also take it as a euphemism for how the Internet has upended newspapers and eaten their lunch.

The Ledger and some others have inanely called it video journalism. Accurate again. But we can't help but remember that at the time of JFK's assassination 46 years ago, folks in television news were witnessing their slice of the broadcast journalism pie grow exponentially. (You can almost hear the broadcast veterans grinding their teeth at the phrase video journalism; what were they making from Dallas, slides? Animations? Cave paintings? Never mind the news reel footage shown in movie theaters back during World War II and before.)

Whatever. The nomenclature evolved because of short memories and tunnel vision. We're taking a swipe at the Ledger for a few other reasons, too.

One, Kurt's right. And two, the Ledger's production (and it must be stressed, we're not picking on Brewer's Apprentice) is just gathering apples from the ground, no ladder in the tree. All it does is talk about going to make beer outside the traditional brewery setting, i.e. homebrewing by proxy. There are plenty of homebrew clubs – folks who actually brew at home – in New Jersey with some seriously talented and innovative brewers, including one who was a national finalist in the 2007 Samuel Adams LongShot homebrew contest (something we pointed out, to no avail, to an editor at the Ledger back then).

Also, making beer – whether at home or in Butler, Roselle Park, Cherry Hill or Lambertville – is no mystery. There are boatloads of how-brewing-is-done videos on YouTube, and some are from New Jersey. If the Ledger were looking to do some real video journalism, it could have focused on the fact that New Jersey requires homebrewers to get an onerous annual permit, which practically no one does (except Brewer's Apprentice won't make your beer without it), and which practically no other state requires (according to the American Homebrewers Association in Boulder, Colorado). The permit is 15 bucks; it used to be 3, and requires your homebrew to not leave your home, something else that doesn't happen.


But we're not just griping for gripe's sake. We've shot plenty of newsy video about New Jersey beer. So here's where we blow our own horn:

The real thing

Cask ale was the real thing long before Coca-Cola ever thought about it as a marketing slogan.

And the real thing will start pouring at Pizzeria Uno (Metuchen) on Friday evening as a warm-up to Uno's third edition of its cask ale event, which is officially timed to start at noon on Saturday (Sept. 26th).

It's pay as you go, priced by the pint, and there's Uno's pub fare menu you can order from. As far as the beer goes, there are a some gems on the lineup (this is from the Beeradvocate posting):

Jersey brews

  • Climax ESB
  • Flying Fish Abbey Dubbel
  • River Horse Hopalotamus Double IPA
  • Cricket Hill's American Pale Ale
  • and a brace of brews from the host's playbook: Station House Red and Oktoberfest.

Keystone State brews
  • Troeg's Nugget Nectar
  • Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA and Imperial Pumpkin Ale
  • and some offerings from the ever-respectable Philly brewer, Yards.

Brews from afar
  • More flying wildlife: A duo from Colorado brewer, Flying Dog (Gonzo Imperial Porter and Snake Dog IPA).

Cask ale is a real treat, lots of flavors come rolling out when the carbonation is natural and dialed to the gentle setting. Not to mention the great aromas that really emerge.

Uno is on Route 1 (on the southside of the highway), and easy to find. Just point your car toward the Menlo Park and Woodbridge Center malls.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Beer in Woodbridge

PubScout Kurt Epps has a report on the 2009 Central Jersey BeerFest.

We didn't make it up to Woodbridge this year, owing to a prior commitment. Looks like the festival at Parker Press Park is building on its momentum from the past two years.

The news from Kurt's post is August Lightfoot will be leaving as brewer at J.J. Bittings brewpub.

Speaking of brewpubs, Basil T's south will be changing its name. The restaurant and brewery in Toms River will soon be known as Artisan.

The new moniker will be good for the establishment. It allows for genuine separation from its similarly named progenitor in Red Bank. (A lot of folks who have been around the craft beer culture in New Jersey for some time already knew about the two Basils, the history and the eventual different ownership. But there are new recruits to the beer culture ranks practically every day. So you could say the shared name was a bit confusing.)

Plus, Basils in Toms River ably moved beyond its founding roots long time ago, and gained in brewer Dave Hoffmann, who, as many know, also owns Climax Brewing in Roselle Park, a cornerstone on which to help build the new identity. It's been awhile since that happened.

(And if you've been in the brewpub latley, you know it has been undergoing some remodeling. The work should be done by the start of October.)

The future is bright. Like a fresh pint of beer.