Category Archives: Weekend in Review

Ja! Das Ist Gut! Oktoberfest at Penn Brewing

Last night TDY was present at the Penn Oktoberfest.  What a perfectly run event.  The party was very very packed, yet all lines moved quickly.  There  were several beer lines and they all moved tons of people through very quickly.  The food line worked like clockwork.  The men’s line was non-existant, all thanks to the porta-john trough.  This was the best porta-john system of all the beer/festivals of the year!!!  I think Mayor Luke should hire the Penn staff to organize the bus lines for the city.

So much to talk about in such little time.  Let’s start with the beer.  Penn was serving all the hits.  We personally drank the Oktoberfest all night.  Pitchers were 1/2 gallon plastic jugs.  Beer and food were cash only.  After a few pitchers it was time to find an ATM.  En route to the ATM we spoke with a salesman from Penn about the bottling line.  It was an interesting tour while waiting for the ATM.  Did you know they still handle bottles coming off the line by hand?!?!  Yep so every bottle of Penn is truly hand crafted and cared for.

The food was great.  We each had the sausage platter.  Wunderbar!  A brat and kilbasa with hot potato salad and kraut.  As beer and food pairings go, the Oktoberfest brew with dinner was a perfect match.  Those Germans really perfected the art of beer with food over the past centuries.

And of course there was entertainment.  The band wasn’t holding anything back.  We heard the Steelers’ Polka with orginial German lyrics and several more times with the lyrics we all know by heart.  “We’re from the town with that great football team, We cheer the Pittsburgh Steelers. Winning’s a habit, not only a dream, Go out and get them Steelers!”  The Pirates even added to the fun.  From Penn we had an excellent view of the Skyblast fireworks with the city skyline as the backdrop.

No worries, if you missed the fun this weekend, you can still head over to Penn for a liter, brat w/ kraut and lederhosen next weekend.  The fun starts on Friday 9/24 at 5pm.  Check Penn’s website for all the details.  http://www.pennbrew.com/data/english/oktoberfest.htm

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New Holland and Founders Tasting (Part 1)

TDY planned a great saturday to celebrate the beginning of the end to our summer!  We started off with a 2 hour paddle around the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers downtown.  The weather was absolutely beautiful, and the views of the city from the river are unrivaled.  If you are interested, Kayak Pittsburgh rents kayaks at $15/hr and no prior experience is necessary. 

After working up an appetite (and thirst), we grilled out some fajitas, complete with homemade salsa, and gathered together a large collection of New Holland and Founders selections for a tasting. New Holland is located in Holland, MI and Founders is located in Grand Rapids, MI so you can think of this as sampling the real fruits of Michigan.  Here’s a list of the beer that we tried out and some quick notes on what we thought.

  • Centennial IPA (F) 7.2% ABV, 65 IBU – very malty for an IPA with even a few hints of chocolate and caramel on the palate. a slight hoppy aroma but not much bitterness to speak of . 
  • Mad Hatter IPA (NH)  5.25% ABV – dry hopping provides more of a hop aroma (hints of something similar to Simcoe?).  The Mad Hatter is nice and crisp with still a touch of malt sweetness.  Better hop/malt balance than the Centennial.  The dry hop causes Mad Hatter to finish with a satisfying dryness.
  • Imperial Mad Hatter IPA (NH) 9.4% ABV – similar to the Mad Hatter but with the distinctive bite of a higher alcohol brew.  The alcohol actually balances the malt bill and helps bring some more of the hop character to the forefront. 
  • Red’s Rye IPA (F)  6.6% ABV,  70 IBU – Centennial with a touch of rye to create a richness of flavor that overcomes the strong malt bill.  Our favorite of all 4 of the IPAs, although nontraditional, has the most to offer in terms of flavor complexity and balance.  A rich deep red color and good head retention  create a visual experience to rival the taste.

 

 

  • Golden Cap Saison (NH) 6.25% ABV – Very sweet candy-like aroma reminiscent of a Belgian blonde ale. The flavor is sweet at first with a carbonation that feels light on the tongue and a finish that ends in a surprising sourness reminiscent of a Belgian gueze.  Golden Cap is a wonderful surprise and great on a hot summer night.  We should warn that this beer is not for everyone as many people shy away from this level of sweetness in a beer.
  • Cerise (F)  6.5% ABV, 15 IBU – Aroma reminiscent of a fresh baked cherry pie.  Fruity with a touch of sweetness but not artificial.  Finishes with a tartness that any good cherry pie should have.   Pours a beautiful light red color with a nice head.  Cerise is  truly a gateway fruit beer : introducing the style without being overly sweet.
  • Sundog Amber Ale (NH)  6% ABV – A typical amber ale that balances a bit of maltiness with just a slight touch of hops.
  • Curmudgeon Old Ale (F)  9.8% ABV, 50 IBU – Curmudgeon is all about the malt and therefore retains a characteristic sweetness that is evident even in the aroma.  With hints of roasted malts, caramel, and butterscotch, Curmudgeon seems like a dessert in a glass and so again is not for everyone.  Those that enjoy very malty or sweet beers will likely love Curmudgeon while American IPA “hopheads” will find this one hard to swallow.
  • Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale (F) 8.5% ABV, 50 IBU –  A slimmed down version of Curmudgeon which is not as malty resulting in a much smoother flavor.  The Scotch Ale has a bit more roasted malt flavor than the straight sweetness of Curmudgeon.  Excellent head retention.

 

Our Favorite Beers 

Tim :  Founders Red’s Rye IPA – It’s really a unique beer with a great hop/malt balance and a flavor profile that is truly enhanced by the touch of rye.

Look for our  continuation of the New Holland and Founders Tasting  including New Holland’s Night Tripper Imperial Stout, Wheat Wine, and Poet Oatmeal Stout.

Brew at the Zoo Wrap-Up

Despite the rain, Jake and I made the trip out to the Pittsburgh Zoo for last weekend’s Brew at the Zoo fundraiser for the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.  Apparently a large part of the city of Pittsburgh also attended as lines were pretty long, but there was beer and exotic animals so we still had a good time.  There was a good mix of beer and several live music acts.  Interestingly, there was plenty of free food from chips/pretzels to mini pulled pork sandwiches to a chocolate fountain in the main atrium of the PPQ aquarium.

Several homebrew clubs were in attendance lending another dimension to the brewfest experience.  Sixth Circle Brewing offered a variety of homebrews including Piss Water (American Cream Ale), a well rounded Dunkel, and a nice stout (which they use to make ice cream too!).  Shubrew was also in attendance with several selections including a creamy stout with some hints of chocolate and coffee.  The final tent boasted several Belgian selections including a framboise, Piraat, and St. Bernadus. 

As we ran into a few great old friends we kept tabs on all the beer gossip .  The homebrew tents kicked quickly and lots of people missed out, bummer dude.  Same thing happened at the last tent.  Did anyone else get Dragon’s Milk?  I’m pretty sure we drank most of it.  Others really enjoyed the Framboise served from Beet Nutz.  A few had high praises for McSorley’s, Sierra Nevada Summerfest (Pilsner) and the range of fruity wheat beers.  In talking with a few co-workers I heard a terrible terrible terrible rumor.  Can anyone verify if Miller was present?  I understand their beer is triple hopped brewed, but seriously WTF?!?!  Can’t you also triple hop brew piss?  Riddle me that Miller!

Brew at the Zoo attracts a wider audience than the typical brewfest, and it is nice to see people getting out and trying new beer.  However, this can result in a bit more of a mob mentality, without much order in the lines.  Additionally, the sheer number of people (and the downpour) make it difficult to get many discussions going with brewers/pourers.  With this in mind, Brew at the Zoo is a fun night out complete with zoo animals, good beer selection, and live music.  Where else can you sip on a glass of mead and watch a polar bear take a swim?

What We Drank at Beer and Gear…..

We tasted a lot of beers at the Beer and Gear festival.  Here’s what we thought about a few of them…

  1. Voodoo Pilzilla (Tim) – really is a pilsner on steroids.  Crisp and refreshing lager with a wonderfully dry finish.
  2. Voodoo Brown (Jake) – little roast/coffee flavor, dry and a touch of bitterness but still smooth.  a great fall beer!
  3. North Country Pale Ale (Tim) – nice coppery/caramel color. a bit light on hops but an interesting aftertaste which is an interesting mixture of the malt bill and a touch of the hop aftertaste.
  4. Erie Railbender  (Tim) – light on the aroma but with a complex oaky flavor.  a nice hop/malt balance.
  5. Voodoo IPA (Jake) – most likely dry hopped with several hop varietals as the aroma is complex but the IPA is not overly bitter making this a very smooth beer.  (Tim) – complex hop pallet with a dry aftertaste. 
  6. Mtn. State Cold Trail (Tim) – clean and crisp golden brew (think kolsch)
  7. Mtn. State Amber (Jake) – a very solid amber entry.  a smooth brew that has a well balanced malt bill.  does not end with an overly malty taste like so many ambers do.
  8. Mtn. State Seneca IPA (Tim) – great aroma with some cascade and other varietals.  very good bitterness profile at the end.  a nice complete IPA. 
  9. Otto’s Apricot Wheat (Tim) –  lots and lots of apricot flavor. reminiscent of a pyramid apricot ale but a bit light on the wheat/malt flavor.
  10. Great Lakes Blackout Stout (Tim) – smooth as velvet with a hint of roast malt and a nice thickness ending in a creamy aftertaste.  great stout!
  11. Voodoo Love Child (Tim) – a complex summer fruit beer.  people seem to either love it or hate it due to the residual sweetness. 
  12. Erie Misery Bay IPA (Tim) – crisp but not too hoppy.  a dry aftertaste with lingering hop residue (on the tongue not the back of the jaw)
  13. Victory Sunrise Weissbeer (Tim) – nice belgian style white beer.  a spiciness reminiscent of coriander comes through.    a good beer but perhaps not all that aptly named.
  14. Fatheads Coffee Stout (Tim) – all about the coffee flavor which is really overpowering.  not much body or head retention.
  15. Voodoo White Magic (Tim) – spicy aftertaste reminiscent of black pepper which makes this a very interesting take on the Belgian White style.
  16. North Country Breakfast Mild (Tim) – similar malt bill to the NC Pale Ale but with a less obtrusive hop profile.