Monthly Archives: June 2010

Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, MI)

 Last Visit : June 12, 2010

I had the pleasure to visit the Founders Brewery this past weekend in Grand Rapids, MI. This visit is important for the Pittsburghers  because Founders has only been available in the Pittsburgh area since late last fall.  Right in a beautifully restored downtown area of Grand Rapids, this fairly new location (opened in 2007) has a great laid back vibe with good views into the brewery.  A great location combined with a whole lineup of great brews made for my favorite of the four Michigan breweries I visited this weekend. 

I tried a couple of things that you won’t normally find out in the stores.  The Devil Dancer is an excellent imperial IPA weighing in at 12% ABV.  The alcohol is not overpowering but there is a residually sweet flavor with a wonder ful bitterness.  Sarah enjoyed the Cerise (Michigan Cherry Beer!) which is very much like a cherry cider.  For a nice summer brew, try the Endurance Ale (4.8%) which is bursting with Cascade hop aroma and flavor.  Sarah and I both enjoyed the Curmudgeon Olde Ale (9.8%) which has a wonderful malt bill giving it the flavor of a much darker beer.  The food is mostly sandwiches but there are a lot of choices.  It’s the little touches on the sandwiches that make them so good here.  I enjoyed the Big Easy sandwich which is sort of like an italian sandwich served with an olive tapenade on sundried tomato bread.  Sarah thoroughly enjoyed the Turkey/Bacon/Gouda on Ciabatta bread.  I highly recommend the sandwiches!

My favorite brew from Founders is probably the Double Trouble Imperial IPA (avail. Jan-Feb).  Since you won’t be trying this one this summer, I highly recommend the Centennial IPA and the Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale.  I have not even encountered a mediocre beer from Founders (one of only a handful of breweries that I can say that about).  Wait around for the late fall for a special treat: one of the best breakfast stouts you may ever drink!  Try it now!

http://www.foundersbrewing.com/

***Brewery Visits are a biweekly post about our favorite tours and taprooms all over the U.S..  Check back to see where we are going next!

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Soccer and Beer

Like most sports, beer goes extremely well with soccer.  I’m slightly biased because I really enjoy both.  Even if you aren’t the biggest soccer fan use this opportunity, of the World Cup, to explore beers from far away places.  There is a fun article on ESPN’s Page 2.  Here is the link to the beers from Group B & C, http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?id=5274173.  Can you guess what beer they picked to represent the USA?  Noooo it’s not Iron City, but it is brewed in PA at America’s oldest brewery.  The games have been on kinda early, but it’s past noon in South Africa so I think it’s ok to sample a few.  I decided to pick my own beers for tomorrow’s games.  Remember I didn’t do all my homework for this post.  If you happen to find a bottle of any beer below PLEASE PLEASE let us know.  I plan to do a little bottle shopping tomorrow.

Game 1: New Zealand  vs Slovakia

New Zealand is a land that exports 80% of its hop crops.  Mac’s Sassy Red was a “New World Best Bitter”.  Mac’s was the first microbrewery in the country to break up the two big macrobreweries.  Slovakia will put Topvar Svetle on the field.  Topvar is another brewery SABMiller bought up!  Svetle is a lager with a fruity aroma and rumored to have 11.5% alc by vol.  Advantage: New Zealand

Game 2: Ivory Coast  vs Portugal

Neither one of the countries are very well know for their beer.  Better yet I’m 99.9% sure we will never find a beer from either country in the states, let alone western PA.  If you have had a beer or know where to get beer in the local area from these countries let me know.  Advantage: Push

Game 3: Brazil  vs N. Korea

Well it’s funny I am unable to obtain any information on North Korea through the internet.  So instead I will use my grandparent’s circa 1950 encyclopedia’s to unearth some North Korean beers.  North Korean will put Beer 12 fl. oz. on the pitch.  I’ve never had it but looks interesting.  Eisenbahn’s Vigorosa (Weizenbock) from Brazil isn’t close to Pele but it received great reviews.  It is a south German style dark wheat beer with 8% alc, roasted and chocolate malt tones along with the typical German yeast that brings a banana clove taste to the forefront.  I hear it goes well with duck, beef goulash and trout.  Advantage: Brazil

Weekend Preview: 6/11

First and most importantly, The World Cup begins today. As soccer players and fans, The Drunk Yinzer is incredibly excited for the next month. Be sure to catch the USA vs. England game Saturday at 2:30pm.

Secondly, The Drunk Yinzer will be short-handed this weekend as Tim “The Palette” will be in Michigan for a wedding but will still be fulfilling his duties by visiting Arcadia, Bell’s (Kalamazoo), and Founder’s (Grand Rapids) breweries in Michigan. Quite the trip, look for his brewery reviews in the coming weeks.

FRIDAY

Don’t call yourself a Pittsburgher until you’ve seen Joe Grushecky live. Grab an Iron while you’re at it. Altar Bar. 9pm.

SATURDAY

England vs. USA 2:30pm

Good luck getting a seat at Piper’s Pub or Harp and Fiddle for the game. There will be big screens at Schenley Park showing the game. We also recommend befriending someone with a nice TV and bringing over a six-pack of Stoudt’s American Pale prominently featuring the American Flag on the front.

New Holland Brewery’s Mad Hatter Bar Crawl – South Side – 4pm-6pm

After the game, celebrate with your countrymen on Carson Street and enjoy some excellent offerings from New Holland. For specific bars and beers go here.

Rock the Streets: Summer Jam 2010

Great cause, great music and a great looking, informative website.

Three Rivers Arts Festival: final weekend

We’re particularly excited for local bands The Harlan Twins and Lohio, both performing Saturday night at 7pm on the main stage.

Did we miss any notable beer-related events? Let us know in the comments. Check our Flickr and Twitter throughout the weekend for updates on what we’re drinking.

Inclined to Brew : Kegging Your Homebrew (Part 1)

 Bottling is one of the most frustrating and time consuming parts of homebrewing.  It’s a lot of work to clean and sanitize 50 beer bottles.  Then you have to fill and cap each one.  For each batch, bottling represents at least half of your actual time as a homebrewer.  

All that Bottling IS Exhausting!

Since most homebrewing is done in 5 gallon batches, the 5 gallon soda kegs (Cornelius kegs) work out perfectly.  These are actually very simple to use as they come with quick connect fittings as shown at the top and bottom of the picture to the right.  The center opens up for filling and has a relief valve to allow the CO2 out in case the beer is over-carbonated.  

Cornelius Keg

Top of a Cornelius Keg

Refurbished Cornelius kegs go for between $30-$40 or used ones for about $10-15 less.  You can easily save a few bucks by doing the refurb by yourself.  For about $3, you can purchase the necessary gaskets to replace and purchase a new relief valve for another buck or two.  Start the refurb by removing the posts on the outside of the cornelius keg.  

Beer Out/CO2 In Posts

Then remove the dip rods: the long beer dip rod and the short CO2 in (red) dip rod.  Remove the two gaskets on the posts and any gaskets on the dip rods  and discard.  Don’t forget to remove the gasket on the lid and the relief valve too!  Soak the pieces in a sanitizer solution for at least 20 minutes.  It’s also a good idea to scrub out the beer dip rod to make sure there’s no soda residue hanging around.  I’ve found my snake brush which I bought for my camelbak works really well for this.  Fill the keg with a sanitizer solution that won’t cause corrosion (I use PBW).  Once everything has been sanitized put the new gaskets and relief valve on and your keg is ready.

   

Once you have the keg, you’ll need a CO2 system.  A 5 lb CO2 bottle should be more than sufficient.  A new bottle costs about $60-70  and about $15 to fill up.  A good pressure regulator will cost about $50 or $60.  I highly recommend the regulator with separate gauges on the bottle and the outlet which allows you to see both the bottle pressure and the keg pressure.  You can buy CO2 bottles and get refills at welding supply stores.  I use Jackson Welding Supply on the south side.   http://www.jacksonweldingsup.com/    Tubing and quick connect fittings will also be needed and can be found at any homebrew store.

Kegging Cherry Stout

Unlike bottling which relies on the continued fermentation to carbonate the beer, kegging relies on CO2 saturation under pressure.  For this reason, you may need to turn the pressure up higher at first then bring it down later.  I typically start out at about 15 psig for the first couple of days then turn it down to 10 psig for the long haul.  After the beer is sufficiently carbonated, I adjust the pressure to get the right volume flow on the tap.  I try to plan for about 30 – 40 seconds to fill a pint glass.  For those looking for a bit more exact way to predict carbonation, many tables exist that correlate temperature, pressure, and duration.
I’ll continue looking at issues around kegging your homebrew in Parts 2 and 3.   Part 2 – Kegerators.  Part 3 – Finding a Leak

*** Inclined to Brew posts give a broad introduction to many aspects of the homebrewing process.

Weekend Preview : 6/4/2010

Friday Night

Church Brew Works is opening their patio for the summer season.  Show up for an island menu including crocodile pierogies and drink some Cherry Quadzilla or Pious Monk Dunkel.  You just might see a few Drunk Yinzers there….     http://www.churchbrew.com/

The Thunderbird Cafe in Lawrenceville is hosting local blues group, The Pawnbrokers at 10:00 PM with a $5 cover.  The Thunderbird is a cozy place to see live music and enjoy an impressive tap list usually including a few selections from East End and Victory.   TDY will also be in attendance!        http://www.thunderbirdcafe.net 

Saturday

The Pennsylvania Microbrewers Fest 2010 hosted by the Penn Brewery is the main event on Saturday.  I know Jake and I here at TDY have been excited about this one for a long time.  There are going to be some great craft brewers there.  I’m especially looking forward to Ommegang which is slated to bring Three Philosophers, definitely in my top 10 favorite brews.  Local favorites such as Troegs, Victory, and Southern Tier will be in attendance as well as some bigger names like Magic Hat.  $40 will get you in with beer, food, and a free tasting glass.

http://www.pennbrew.com/data/english/microbrewersfest.htm

Point State Park (cour. Jim Orsini)

Saturday is just packed full of events this week.  You can grab a paddle or just head down to The Point to watch the more than a thousand boaters break the Guinness World’s Record for the largest kayak and canoe flotilla.   The record attempt is at 12:30 PM and should be interesting to see more than 1000 canoes and kayaks on the river.   http://www.paddleatthepoint.com/ 

The Three Rivers Arts Festival starts on Friday and runs through June 13.  In addition to all of the arts and exhibition tents, there are several musical acts throughout the weekend.  Local band Good Brother Earl opens for Guster (6:45 PM and 7:30 PM) at the main stage.  Guster is a pretty good live show and it’s a free concert.  As long as the rain holds off, it should be a good time complete with the Drunk Yinzers.

http://www.jainteractive.com/traf2010/

***Weekend Previews are posted every Friday to showcase what’s going on around the ‘Burgh.  Where’ s the beer?  Where are you going to find TDY?

The Legend of The Craft Beer Bandit

Is he anywhere or is he everywhere? Is he one or is he many?

Breckenridge Tap House (Denver, CO)

Last Visit : July 18, 2009

Breckenridge’s brewery is of course in the ski resort town of Breckinridge, CO, but to cater to the beer drinking public they have opened a pub/restaurant in Denver.  This location is just down the street from Coors Field and the Sandlot brewery.  This looks and feels like a typical brewpub .  We had the place to ourselves at 11 AM on a Saturday morning, but struck up some good conversation with the bartender and some local patrons.  Breckenridge tends to brew some pretty unconventional beers so I recommend starting with a sampler and trying a few of the brews that you won’t find anywhere else. 

Sarah enjoying a stout at Breckenridge

At the urging of a local patron, I tried a pint of the 471 IPA.  I was assured that this was one of the best IPAs that he had ever had.  It was pretty good but lacked the essential hop character to make one of the truly great IPAs.  I have a hard time trying to explain to people the sensation that I get from an IPA.  The hop character should hit me in the back lower part of my jaw but still needs to maintain some subtleness.  There are really only a select few that can accomplish this effect.  I also had a pint of their summer ale and while good fell somewhat  short of my expectations.  Another good session beer but lacks some of the uniqueness of O’Dell’s St. Lupulin Ale.

An Impressive Collection of Vintage Beer Cans

 http://www.breckbrew.com/

***Brewery Visits are a biweekly post about our favorite tours and taprooms all over the U.S..  Check back to see where we are going next!