I have written about Party Source in the east end of Syracuse before, last time noting that I thought the shelves were a bit thin. Well, I am happy to say that when I popped in this evening I was very pleased. While the soda pop section is now cleared out, there was lots of excellent stock in the beer side including:
- North Coast Acme IPA,
- Geary's London Porter,
- Endurance Pale Ale,
- Green King Abbot Ale,
- Lagunitas IPA,
- Coopers Stout and Vintage, and
- Dales Pale Ale.
As Mike Myers memorably stated "if it's no Scottish, it's crap". I will be spending time this week with some Scots, and so I decided to choose a beer that fit the bill, as it were, to get in the mood. Living now by Ithaca, I can shop at the rather fantastic Ithaca Coffee Co. which roasts and sells coffee, obviously, desserts too, and fabulous and amazing cheeses. The best part of the deal is the FREE cheese on the sample plate, so I dug in fast and furiously, as it was the lunch hour, and I didn't feel guilty for the free lunch (smoked Swiss! creamy Gouda!) cause I knew I was gonna spend some money on coffee, and of course, BEER. This store has LOTS of beer, maybe not the biggest selection in the world, but a terrific collection of six packs, big bottles and singles, and who knows what they have in the big cooler in back, cause I haven't looked yet. You know what? Their prices seem reasonable, too.
I bought many beers this week. Today's beer choice was Belhaven Scottish Ale and, folks, it is not crap. My companion in life, hereafter referred to as "the wife", was making a smashing dinner, thankfully nothing Scottish, and I poured some for her and got into some for myself. The first sip told me I had made a mistake: I should never have poured some for the wife, as I could have hogged it all for myself. I told her something like "if you don't start drinking that, I will have to drink it myself". She took my threat seriously.
Anyway, I am Alan's worst reviewer because generally all you get from me is "I really like this beer!" along with a lot of nonsense, and so far, that is all you have read so far. I do really like this beer, and would drink it everyday in Scotland, or Ithaca, it is that yummy. It is a very dark amber color, almost brown, with not a lot of fluffy foam. Here's the kicker. The wife and I have recently (and often before) enjoyed Smuttynose Scotch Ale from New Hampshire, and it is a hairy old dog, so strong it is almost scary. A challenge for the taste buds. Belhaven is its mellow old uncle from the old country, relaxed and tasty and friendly, and as I say, here is the kicker, to this unschooled palate: it tastes kinda like a porter. Pour it for me blindfolded, and that's what I would say. The wife and I finished off her excellent dinner (you people would be jealous if you knew how good it was) and had a chocolately thing for dessert, with shots of that other Scottish import, Scotch. I am ready for my Scottish visitors....
Just a reminder to join up with the Good Beer Blog Nation. Eighty-one have done so already with new recruits from the Philippines and northern India, the latter being the author of the newly minted India Brew, a blog about beer in India which has just started up.
There are no member privileges yet but, who knows, if I can ever figure out an advertising scheme I can live with for this here blog there might be.
An exceptionally lush brown. From the other Harvey.
Balanced cocoa, licorice and molasses notes along with sweet brown breat crust graininess - Boston bean brown bread crust that is. Soft water coddled with the slightest baracing of hop. Dry fruit dates as well which open up into more dates with citrusy orange peel. A long finish that ends drier and a bit sour.
Some 7% of BAers misguided when faced with an excellent southern English brown. $4.29 USD for 500 ml at Tullys in Wells, Maine.
Another week, another bundle of news about the health properties of moderate beer consumption. The Times of London published a report on a group of scientists who met in Brussels under the chairmanship of Professor Jonathan Powell, of the Medical Research Council human nutrition unit in Cambridge:
Professor Powell said that the media and the public had tended to focus on the advantages of wine drinking in moderation. In his opinion there is increasing evidence that the benefits of moderate drinking are more related to the alcohol, whatever the nature of the drink, than to a particular beverage. Beer also contains nutrients and other properties that encourage good health.Remind me to send him a Christmas card. Good fellow all around. But that is not all as The Daily Mail reported on how beer is good for your bones:
New research shows that the alcohol in beer appears to suppress the hormones that promote bone loss. And researchers say it may have a better effect on preventing bone loss than calcium.And what else is foisted upon us to help with calcium that beer now can replace in a sensible diet? Broccoli! That is my kind of science.
A can from Austria. This is one of those beers I really don't know anything about, just an odd can sitting around the cheap seats in the LCBO cooler next to the malt liquors. Nice tan and red can design, though. Red and tan is a very under considered colour combo. Except maybe in WWII British desert rat shoulder badges.
Anyway, I suppose I ought to open the can and see what it is. Plenty of others seem to have been here before me, though. Maybe it's the Labatt Blue of Austria. Says Stiegl-Goldbräu (with the umlaut) in the fine print...sounds like it's going to be a light straw lager under a quickly dissipating white foam. Hey! I'm a mystic! Bit of richness to the malt, balanced and recessed astringent steel hops. A little juicey. Bit of grassiness to the finish. Not overly carbonated either. The BAers call it a marzen which they describe as:
...full-bodied, rich, toasty, typically dark copper in colour with a medium to high alcohol content...So when it is 4.9%, not dark copper, not toasty...it's...umm...the Labatt Blue of Austria?
- Pitchfork Bitter: White merenge stiff whipped head over medium straw ale with a light floral and grainy nose. The mouth feel is light, full of pale malt graininess, bright with pear and unripened peach fruit from the malt. Dryish with significant but not overwhelming hopped. Well balanced and refreshingly clean. A very attractive lighter pale ale. Here is what the brewery says. Here is what the BAers say.
- Thomas Paine Original: white foam and rim over amber. Black china tea hops plus fruity malt with caramel and a hinty molasses note. The fruit is raisin and fall apple. Heavier again, clearly an ESB, some way to Chas. Wells Bombardier but just one wee step down that path. Yes, here is what the brewery says and, yes, here is what the BAers say.
- Burton Bridge Empire India Pale Ale: Woah, Nelly! I had a Burton Bridge Porter in 2001 and this is its somewhat nicer twin cousin. White whipped egg white head over cloudy deep straw. Unique Burton Bridge hops along with that Burton Bridge unique tang. The hops are sharp, green and like a marigold-based drink from the blender. The only brewery's hop profile which is beyond my descriptor of the smell and taste of driving a lawn mower into a patch of weeds in June. Tangier than that. So tangy it is tongy, like licking a cast iron pot coated with plain yogurt. [Not really but no other ale I have had could plausibly have that image in the review.] Yet underneath is grainy malt and creamy yeast. Black pepper at the dry finish. Again, here is what the brewery says and here is what the BAers say.
- Duchy Originals Organic English Ale: Light tan foam over orange ale with no notable aroma. Soft water, quite flavourful watery water. Some sweetness but not yet up to raisiny. Some thought of orange marmalade but nowhere near Special London Ale. Hints - all hints. A tiny notch heavier than Pitchfork above, more tangy white grapefruit hoppy. This beer is brewed by Wychwood for Prince Charles:
When the Prince of Wales created Duchy Originals in 1990 it was because of his belief in the clear advantages of organic farming: the production of natural and healthy foods and sound husbandry which helps to regenerate and protect the countryside. Profits from sales of Duchy Originals products are donated to The Prince of Wales's Charitable Foundation, which has to date raised more than £1.7 million.Imagine that! It reminded me a bit of St. Peter's organic. Finalissimo and once again, here is what this brewery says. Here is what the BAers say.
Can these guys make a bad beer?
This ale pours a light tan foam and rim over bright cherry-amber ale. You pick up heat from the first whiff. Check the bottle. Yikes 11%. I thought it was a Double IPA - but no...it's an Imperial IPA. Good thing the Mets and Braves went to 14 innings. Another sniff adds rich greens and stone-fruit malt. Sip. Spicy hops over big body heat. It is creamy yet hot saucey. And a pile of weedy greens. And, yes, its 11%. Wow. Lots of graininess and fruit-juiciness even with the hot hot heat.
This last week was unusual in that I made it to three of Long Island's four brewpubs. Last Friday at lunch I ran over to the Black Forest Brew Haus in Farmingdale to sample Joe Hayes's Hefeweizen and his delicious Chocolate Doppelbock. After lunch I stopped off at Kedco to visit Brews Brothers. The friendly and attentive staff assisted me with procuring approximately 75 pounds of grain for my cottage brewing efforts. The liquid yeast selection at Kedco was limited. I brought home 5 Wyeast smack packs. On top of that I grabbed about 30 oz of various hops.
I decided to brew a batch of beer on Sunday. My intention was to brew 10 gallons of mild, but instead I ended up with 5 gallons of Double Mild. This beer will be served at the grand opening of my cottage brewpub on May 13th.
Don't forget that May 6th is National Homebrew Day and the day of the Big Brew (look on The Spirit World for my short article on the subject; the article should appear sometime on the 5th). I emailed Mike Deinhardt, president of B.E.E.R., to see if any of the homebrewers on Long Island would be celebrating National Homebrew Day and he informed me that nothing had been planned by the club. So I'm staging an impromptu celebration at my house. I'll be trying to brew that double batch of mild again. I'll start the brew early Saturday morning. Anyone who wants to help with the brew can show up around 8 am, otherwise if you just want a preview of what will be on tap at my cottage brewpub, then drop by at noon. We'll be toasting the hobby of homebrewing at 1 o'clock with pints of a wheat beer I brewed in early April.
My friend Daniel and I organize informal Wednesday evening beer outings. The destination last Wednesday was John Harvard's Brew House in Lake Grove. Both Daniel and I are on the short list to join the Mug Club. We paid our $50 membership fee and on June 1st we will have our very own stoneware mugs hanging in John Harvard's. If you weren't on the waiting list already, you can join on a first-come-first-served basis after June 1st. The bar maid estimated that only about 10 of the 100 slots would still be available on June 1st.
I had a couple of beers at John Harvard's. The Barbarian Bock was excellent. I followed that with the Strong Scotch Ale. Other beers on tap include: Bohemian Pils, West Coast IPA, JH's Pale Ale, Altbier, and Pinstripe Porter. I did a quick inventory of what's in the fermenters and saw that Mad Tom's Old Ale is bubbling away. I didn't see the bourbon barrel in the glass brewing case. I'll have to ask DJ Swanson, the brewmaster at John Harvard's, if he's going to bourbon cask condition the Mad Tom's again. I had a glass on of the bourbon conditioned Mad Tom's on New Year's Day and have been dreaming about it since.
When my wife announced last night that she wanted to eat out, I floated the proposal that we drive out to the Southampton Publick House. She agreed immediately. The food is always excellent and the beers superb. The service is a little slow, so we always plan to take our time.
In addition to the regular beer lineup, there were four special beers: Extra Stout, Extra Special Bitter, May Bock, and Abbey Double. I started with the May Bock and finished with the Abbey Double. I brought home a bottle of the Abbot 12 (quadruple) to put in the cellar.
We had the dining room to ourselves so I wandered around with my son looking at the stuff hanging on the walls. I read a news story from November 2000 that said Long Island once had 10 brewpubs. This was back in the late 90s. According to the article, four of those ten went out of business during the same year because of "mismanagement." That's too bad. The four that did survive though are all top quality brewpubs.
Hanging on a pillar near the brewery end of the dining room was a recipe for Phil Markowski's Abbey Single. I had a couple of pints of the Abbey Single at the end of March (see the Long Island Brewsletter #1). The recipe and the beer is based on Westmalle Extra (a beer I've never had). Now I know how to make an Abbey Single, I'll have to brew it and serve it in my cottage brewpub. I'll post the recipe on my web site in the near future once I transcribe it from my notes.
Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery will speak about the co-evolution of the new American beer and food cultures from 7:30- 8:00 and Phil Markowski, Brewmaster of Southampton [Publick House] will speak from 8:30 - 9:00 on the history of modern farmhouse ales compared to those of 100 years ago.