Monday, January 21, 2008

Two sides of one river

We’ve been spending a lot of time on the other side of the Delaware lately, Philadelphia in particular.

That’s where some commitments have taken us, and in the process, allowed us to enjoy the great beer (and food) that Philly taps to back up its boast of being the cradle of the American beer experience.

(Note to Philly Beer Week organizers – Our suggested catch phrase: “America’s best beer drinking city… And yes, it is the beer talking.”)

Philly and beer are among some of the projects we’re working on, namely some promo clips for White Dog CafĂ© and its fund-raiser, The Brewer’s Plate (March 9 at the Independence Visitors Center), an event we heartily endorse.

But for our purposes here, we have some video features coming, namely a look at Tria Fermentation School and In Pursuit of Ale, the women’s beer group formed by Beer Lass Suzanne Woods of Sly Fox Brewing.

Suzanne, a spritely soul with a cool whiskey voice (and we think we saw mention of Tom Waits on her blog site, so award points there), unified craft beer enthusiasm under a banner that was probably a bit overlooked, reminding folks – who may have forgotten for a moment about Carol Stoudt of Stoudt’s Brewing; Rosemarie Certo of Dock Street; and Gretchen Schmidhausler of Basil T’s in Red Bank – that women do the beer thing with the same gusto as the guys. Too cool. (Bye the bye, our favorite Sly Fox beers are Phoenix Pale Ale and Pikeland Pils. For now, anyway. And for the uninitiated on this side of the river, Sly Fox is the craft beer in cans. Lots of styles, too. We're hoping their Dunkel lager turns up near us.)

We caught up with up IPA at their Christmas party last month at Johnny Brenda’s in Northern Liberties. A shout-out goes to Kirsten Henri of Philadelphia Weekly for conducting the interviews. Look for the video in mid- or late February.

The Tria session we shot is from November, when some fine cheeses were matched to some great beers. And this being in Philadelphia, you can guess that Belgium was well represented in both categories.

We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again. Tria is a fun time, a place where beer lovers (wine lovers, too) can talk beer with a sample in hand. The video is targeted for early February.

Back on this side of the river, we’re working on two other video features.

River Horse Brewing in Lambertville has been producing beer under new owners for several months now.
River Horse has a decade-plus of brewing under its belt, and we expect the new hands guiding it will make the next 10 worth beer drinkers’ while.

They’re part of the lineup for the Brewer’s Plate, one of five Jersey beers that are expected to be served there. Look for the video to be done some time around that event.

This next one is a longer project we’re working on. It’s quite a bit of fun and spans both sides of the Delaware.

For years, advertising artist Gregg Hinlicky of Toms River has painted portraits of brewers. His mural work also adorns the walls of the original Basil T's in Red Bank and the Basil T's in Toms River (which most Jersey brewpub followers will probably remember are separately owned). Gregg’s now working on a portrait of the Trogner brothers, Chris and John, of Troegs Brewing in Harrisburg, Pa.

Gregg has already been featured in Ale Street News brewspaper (a couple of times, years back as we understand it), but there are a couple of things to point out: One, this is Web 2.0. What was put into print years ago can be, and sometimes should be, brought back around for an online audience. Two, a good story ought to be told now and then.

Gregg is a great painter who regularly chronicles what he sees, using oils in basic colors, not a panoply of hues some art supply house mixed and tubed for sale (Gregg says he can, and does, make the color gradations himself, thank you), applying the colors heavy (impasto, as it’s called) to symbolize the hands-on hard work brewers do.

His portraits include Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery, Gretchen of Basil T’s, Carol Stoudt, and Dave Hoffmann of Climax Brewing in Roselle Park. (Gregg also created the labels for Climax.) Soon the team that brings you Troegs’ great beers will be on canvas. Look for the video in April or May.

(If you haven’t tried their Dead Reckoning Porter, grab some while it's still on the shelves. It's getting late for that seasonal, but it’s a great beer, one that's been in our glass a lot lately. Or reach for Long Trail Ale, an exceptional brown ale, and Troegenator, a solid double bock that wins awards and a permanent spot in our fridge.)

All about New Jersey beer? Yeah, that's still the mantra. However, sometimes you can't help but look through the bent-back tulips, to see where the other beers live.