Saturday, August 2, 2008

See, beer enjoys a rich, comedic heritage

OK, it's not a Jersey beer thing, really doesn't have much to do with the Garden State, beyond the Howard (Horwitz) brothers being from New York and Larry Fine hailing from Philadelphia, with Jersey in between. (Funny how the proliferation of craft brewers in the region fits that pattern, that polarity.)

But it is a Stooges thing.

Seems like there's some really bad edits in this episode to get it down to five minutes, like key parts of the set-up or transitions have been chopped.

And if memory serves, this was the Stooges installment in which Curly, sneaking a barrel of beer past a suspicious authority figure, attributes the conspicuous bulge under his clothes to a "goiter! nyuk nyuk!"

Oh well.

We still have an unopened bottle of Panther Brewing's Three Stooges Beer. It's long past its prime, and we can't remember what it tasted like when it was fresh. Probably tastes funny now.

Friday, August 1, 2008

It's all about the beer (and the book)

Some scenes from the first Garden State book signing Friday evening for New Jersey Breweries. A good time at J.J. Bitting brewpub in the heart of Woodbridge, in the heart of Jersey. Are New Jersey beer drinkers thirsty for some words with their pints? Well, in a word, yes. The book, fresh from Lew Bryson and Mark Haynie, was the must read of the evening. OK, maybe the must browse, read later, drink now ... And it's always a bonus if you can hoist that pint with the authors and talk beer. Cheers!

Published images, imagine that

Check out the new issue of Beeradvocate. Our photos of Dan Weirback run with his first-person account of jumping into hop yarding (pages 32 and 33).

And unlike some publications we know of (we're looking at you Ale Street News – ya did it to us again),
Beeradvocate obliged us with a credit for the images. Thanks, Jason and Todd. And nice work, Dan.

It's still fun to see our byline or photo credit, even though we've had plenty of pictures published before and been paid for 'em (all of us here at the blog have spent 20-plus years in the news or advertising business in New Jersey; we supplied the images of Dan's hop yard for free, which is why Ale Street's brain fart kind of annoys us).

Anyway, nice way to start the day with the fresh copy of
Beeradvocate in the mailbox. Good mag, Alströms; keep earning that umlaut. The rest of you get back to respecting beer.

PS: A storm last weekend postponed picking our hops. Should happen this Sunday with the help of South Jersey homebrewer Julian Mason, who makes great beer and will use our Centennials in some of his brews when the weather turns cooler.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Lew Bryson and Mark Haynie will be at J.J. Bitting brewpub in Woodbridge on Friday for their first Garden State appearance to support their just-released book, New Jersey Breweries. Look for 'em from 5-8 p.m. or so.

If you miss that appearance, they’ll be at the Tun Tavern in Atlantic City 1-4 p.m. on Saturday. The actual kickoff for the book promotion was last Sunday at the Grey Lodge in Philly, a few books sold and some elbows bent in slàinte and salut!

Lew, whose other pursuits are writing for a CondeNast mag, his blog and web site (not to mention his staring contest with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board) was kind enough to take some time and talk about New Jersey Breweries in an on-camera at The Ship Inn in Milford on Tuesday, a trip that’s not too far – but also not a run to the corner grocery – from his home in Pennsylvania.

If you’ve wondered why just about every corner of the mid-Atlantic region has had its breweries showcased by Stackpole Books except New Jersey – land where the drive-in theater was born, the home of Thomas Edison, heck, the place where George Washington scored a win to make the post season in that armed dispute we call the American Revolution – well Lew has some answers.

Lew's an affable guy with a hearty laugh and an appearance that vaguely resembles James L. Brooks (one of the subversively creative minds that jump-started TV comedy with The Simpsons all those years ago, and who grew up in Hudson County, by the way). Lew and Mark, who's from Somers Point down in Atlantic County, have been on the beer scene in the New Jersey-Philadelphia area (and, for Lew, the rest of Pennsylvania) pretty much since the region caught the craft beer wave. They know their worts-worth.

A word about the brewery books …
They aren’t instant books, done by some trend-sniffing writer who parachutes in, takes a few notes and beats a retreat to his desk to bang out a requisite number of pages to make the publication look viable and sell a boatload of copies, get rich and move to Hawaii.

It’s more like there’s a lot of legwork, some of it inconvenient and not exactly budget friendly; there's time away from family, whether on the road or in that headspace that shoves out all extraneous voices so some serious writing can be done. And the dividends come less from sales, but more from the satisfaction of accomplishment, bragging rights and, if you’re into craft beer, maybe a sense of duty to the movement.

So, support the book, go to a signing, buy a copy and have a beer, or two. You’re also helping to raise the profile of the good beer brewed in the Garden State.

Postscript: A special thanks to The Ship Inn for letting us use their space for the video. (By the by, if you board the Ship any time soon, we do recommend the Black Death stout. Take some home; we did.)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Stirred, not shaken

We're heading to Milford, hometown to New Jersey's first brewpub, The Ship Inn, tomorrow, so this is something we gotta ask about at the bar: a 2.1 magnitude tremor with an epicenter a mile north of town.

Here's the story, courtesy of WPVI-TV in Philly.

Wonder if the barware shook, or if jostled folks put their pint glasses down and thought "enough for today, I'm going home ..."

Actually, the quake happened just before lunch, so presumably no imbibing yet. And apparently 2.1 magnitude isn't much of a shaker, just enough to stir a little attention.

Coincidentally enough, we were just in Milford on Thursday for a quick dinner after a pass through Flemington and other Hunterdon County environs.

The ESB is good, but the Black Death stout is to die for.

In the glass

“Pffftttt!!! Honey wheat ... You should put on a nice helles instead.”

– Jay Misson 1962-2008
(Seen on beer board at Triumph, New Hope, Pa.)

If you’re a regular at Triumph (Princeton, New Hope and Philadelphia), you’ve probably noticed a honey wheat on the beer board just about every time you go in.

Pick a location, it’s usually on everywhere they pour. We’ve been at the New Hope location loads of times lately, owing to a video project we’re producing on River Horse Brewing, which is just a bridge stroll away in Lambertville.

When we popped in at Triumph late last week, we saw the wheat was gone. We weren’t exactly looking for it, but rather a Bohemian pilsner that we’d read was on the board. We drained a pint of the pils to great satisfaction and saved the usual take-home order for something else – Munich helles, a 5% ABV charmer that, never mind the great flavor, the aroma alone had you convinced you’re having seconds.

Bartender Dan talked up the helles (he didn’t have to do much convincing) and noted it was on in place of the wheat. Then he pointed out why, an homage to Jay Misson, Triumph's director of brewing and a champion of lager beers who died in June.

What better way to pay tribute to a well-respected lager enthusiast, whose brewing talents served Triumph well, than to take home four pints of a great-tasting, thirst-quenching beer like that helles? So we did, with a return trip in mind.

Oh, and by the way, that Czech pilsner, well let’s say it’s crisp and inviting, and maybe we didn’t take a growler of that home, but we’re glad it was the beer that drew us in this time.