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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Yes, I know... It's weeks later, but ol' Presidente has been goofing around with his other life again.  But as the Frantic Midlantic is expecting super rains and mega floods, this recap of the Pourapalooza 2012 will  provide shelter from the storm:

The fine folks at The Pour House in Haddon Twp, NJ have once again put on a groovy #craftbeer event!  "Pour" was an appropriate tie-in, considering the torrential rains that invaded South Jersey on Saturday, July 14th, 2012.  The rain dampened the party-goers but not their spirits--Tents kept everyone as dry as they needed to be.  Of course no one was going to be scared away by some bum weather.  Not me, anyway.

I was sorry to miss the #BBC12 Beer Bloggers Conference in Indianapois, IN that same weekend, but we the drinkers of New Jersey had our own version of a bloggers conference when the @NJCraftBeer folks along with @Hopheadheath got to drink some brews with yours truly from @FermentNation.  Cheers, guys!  Thanks for spending time with El Presidente.

Here are some pictures of the mayhem.  Enjoy!

And let's get an idea of what kind of brews were hanging about...

So there you have it.  Another successful #Pourapalooza under our belts.  What was the last #craftbeer festival YOU attended?  Do you have pics, tweets, or reviews?  Send them to president@fermentnation.com  Cheers!!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! Route des epices

Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! Route des epices (Spice Route):

You may be thinking if this brewery really uses an exclamation point in their name?  They do!  You can check them out at their webpage: www.dieuduciel.com.  

You may also be thinking, "Pepper?  In beer?"  Yes!  And it is quite good.  This "trade route" beer is a rye beer and it comes in at a very drinkable 5.3% abv, which is great, because this is a quite flavorful beer for a relatively low abv.  
Here is my review as listed in my 33 Bottles of Beer book.
The nose is peppery and so is the taste and the finish.  It has a nice caramel color, and the spice of the beer lingers on the palette.
This is a spice-tasting beer, so it is not something you chug during the summer months as you lounge in the sun, but I think this is a great beer to stand up to bold flavors of food as well as jazz-up smooth buttery foods like mild cheeses.  This would be an interesting beer to pair up with a fabulous pepper chocolate I had at Iron Hill in West Chester with Eclat Chocolate (also from West Chester).

And to be honest, I enjoy the "warming" aspect of this beer much better than Winter Warmers distributed during the Winter and Holiday seasons.  While I conjure up visions of Marco Polo bringing back pepper from the East, I can see myself drinking this beer again in the future.
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Duchess de Bourgogne (Summer of Sours)

Here is another installment in the Summer of Sours series of reviews.  This Gold Medal Winner of the World Beer Cup is brewed in Belgium and weighs in at 6% abv.  I really like how this beer has that traditional sour nose and flavor.  And at a tolerable and nicely drinkable 6% abv, it has already won me over more so than some other sours.

This beer has a nice deep copper color and an "expansive" mouthfeel.  It seems to seek out and find every last nook and cranny of my tastebuds.  I find it to be crisp, and refreshing, with just enough sour flavor.  It is well-balanced and refreshing.  It scores a 91 on Beer Advocate, and I would definitely place it in one of my "top tier" lists of beers.  This is very nice.

Something about the bottle, its label, its shape, perhaps, and maybe the price, which in NJ was about $9 and change, give this beer a luxurious and classy style.  From SpecialtyBeer.com:

DUCHESSE DE BOURGOGNEfrom Brouwerij Verhaeghe is the traditional Flemish red ale. This refreshing ale is matured in oak casks; smooth with a rich texture and interplay of passion fruit, and chocolate, and a long, dry and acidic finish. After the first and secondary fermentation, the beer goes for maturation into the oak barrels for 18 months. The final product is a blend of younger 8 months old beer with 18 months old beer. The average age of the Duchesse de Bourgogne before being bottled is 12 months. [See their page]
Like Petrus, this beer is aged in oak barrels.  I see a trend here, a trend I like.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Maine Beer Company Zoe

It’s not everyday that you walk into the Whole Food’s Pub and find a beer from a brewery you have never heard of before.  Enter Maine Beer Company, and Zoe, self described as “Our Happy, Hoppy, Amber Ale.”  And they mean it.

I must admit, I was drawn in by the label.  The very simple, almost homemade look made me pick up the bottle.  Reading the brewery’s statement on the back of the bottle made me take it home with me.  Well, that and the name of the beer.

The beer poured with a nice deep, almost brown amber color, with not too much head.  It had an IPA-like nose, just how I like my amber ales.  Great refreshing flavor, similar in many ways to Tröegs Hopback, but still quite unique.  Very clean flavor, slightly lighter in the hops than Hopback (but still aggressively hopped), but also somewhat more roasted notes.  7.2% ABV, so right in that Goldilocks zone, not too low, not too high.  Also a great fresh flavor (bottled on May 31) - and the brewery itself encourages you not to age their beers, but to enjoy them fresh.
Only problem - I wish I had gotten two bottles so I could share one!  I would also love to get to try their IPA (Lunch) and stout (Mean Old Tom).
(Photos from this review were provided by Citizen Elizabeth)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

De Proef Reinaert Wild Ale (Summer of Sours)

De Proef Reinaert Wild Ale:

This wild ale is the first review of a series of "sour" beers I have enjoyed in 2012, primarily since this extremely hot summer.  I put the word "sour" in quotes, because although it is very recognizable style of beer, it is one that likes to hide from itself.  With the exception of a beer like Monk's Cafe Sour Ale, sours tend not to advertise the term "sour."  They tend to say "wild," meaning they use a wild yeast strain, or probably if the word "Flemish" is used (brewed in the Flanders region of Belgium), it is probably a sour, too.

Putting my nose to the bottle, Reinaert definitely has that sour nose to it, which is nice.  People who know me have heard me say that I like sours, because in some ways, they don't taste like beers at all.  This doesn't mean I dislike what I perceive to be a traditional "beer" smell.  In fact, I have also commented how much I like Stoudts Karnival Kolsch, because it has so much traditional beer flavor.  In fact, it reminds me of the beer of my youth, the first beer I ever had, Philadelphia's own Schmidt's.  But when I think of awesome sours like Russian River Supplication or Jolly Pumpkin's Madrugada (which they categorize as an imperial stout), it's like you are drinking some kind of otherworldly elixir.

This beer does not hit me like a Russian River beer, but what other beers do, right?  For being 9.0% abv, this wild ale is smooth.  If you taste the alcohol at all, it is on the tip of the tongue, and not unpleasant.  For me, this beer is yet another step of wrapping my head around the grand tradition of Belgian beers.  There are some Belgian dubbels and tripels that I just can't stand anymore because they are so cloying and syrupy.  This wild ale is crisp, with a nice off-white head, decent effervescence, and a nice balance of tart flavor with some hoppy bitterness.  "Finished with a surprising and pleasant bitterness" is what is says on the bottle, and they credit it to the dry hopping they employ, and I agree.  It is surprising and bitter, and I think in that finish is where you get a hint of the alcohol too, which as I said, isn't bad.

Again, I think this beer is at a disadvantage since I have a strong affection for Russian River sours.  I also had this year Iron Hill's Flemish Red, and that was really great.  Great sour flavor.  I will need to get another bottle.  Reinaert does not have that luxurious, decadent flavor that a Russian River beer provides, but it is nice and smooth, and has a nice overlap into the realm of hoppy beers.  I could see this becoming a gateway beer for drinkers unfamiliar or unwilling to drink sour beers.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Greetings, Citizens!

It is indeed July 4th.  Without a truly patriotic post yet this fine day, I'll invite you to check out some past Independence Day posts from the Ferment Nation:

Sorry it's been so long since I've posted anything worth reading.  My "other" life has been quite hectic, but I haven't stopped sipping the nectar of the gods...  Please bear with me and check out this Storified collection of brews I've been sampling lately.  Please feel free to share your experiences with us: simply mention @FermentNation in a tweet with a brief citizen review of a beer you're drinking.  Heck, make it any fermented beverage.  If you have a picture, even better.  Or a food pairing.... Just give our readers some ideas and inspiration for their next adventure.

By the way, for a truly patriotic toast (in an ancient Chinese black magic sort of way) check out what Jack Burton and Wang have to say: http://youtu.be/RR7q-qf3VSQ

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dark Horse Round-Up

I am finally getting around to writing up a trio of Dark Horse beers enjoyed by me and the VP.  All three were purchased in the bottle shop at Capone’s Restaurant, in Norristown, PA.  Don’t let the location scare you, this place is diamond in the rough for beer lovers, in bottles and on draft alike.
The line up was Dark Horse’s Too Cream Stout, Double Crooked Tree IPA, and Tres Blueberry Stout.

Too Cream Stout - a milk stout coming in at 8% ABV.  Starting with a nice, almost smoky nose, it poured without much head for a stout.  Not too much in the way of mouthfeel, but it has more body than a porter.  As for flavor, it was quite roasty, and had little in the way of chocolate or coffee notes so common in many stouts - this was actually a nice aspect of this beer.  Also, it was not overly sweet as many milk stouts are.  Overall, an interesting beer.

Double Crooked Tree IPA - a double IPA with a powerful ABV of at least 12%.  Bright citrus flavor typical of good IPAs, and a nice carbonation but not overly fizzy.  It stands up well against your run of the mill double IPAs, but tastes a little ordinary after having tasted things like Pliny the Elder, or even 90 Minute IPA.  The nose was the only time the high ABV really comes through, which is surprising for an over 12% beer.  Overall, a perfectly drinkable, tasty double IPA, but nothing particularly special.

Tres Blueberry Stout - a stout made with blueberries with an an ABV of 7.5%.  Well, when Dark Horse says blueberry, they mean it!  The nose on this beer is nothing but blueberry, almost jam-like.  It has a good chewy mouthfeel and body, but it was a little over-carbonated for my taste.  You have to be in the mood for something a little weird and off the norm to try this beer.  It has a true, blueberry flavor along with a nice bodied stout.  Not a great aftertaste, but nice up front.  I am glad I tried it once, but I would probably not pick it up again.

A complex, diverse lineup.  I am glad I tried them all, and will keep picking up different Dark Horse beers when I get the chance.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Haddon Pub Fest (Philly Beer Week 2012)

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mussels in Craft Beer Cream Sauce (Tastin' the Nation)

Yum, yum, yum: the three words that best describe mussels.  I have always loved eating mussels, either in red or white sauce, or just simply dunked into melted butter, but making a batch of mussels and sharing them with your equally mussel appreciating girlfriend, well it doesn't get any better.  So, Citizen Elizabeth and I went to the food store, got the ingredients, and got to work.

Making mussels is pretty easy.  You essentially steam them.  You can use plain water, or wine, or a great craft beer.  I also recently saw an episode of A Taste of History, and based this simple mussels recipe off that one, with some old-fashioned, family-learned cooking skills thrown in.  Here is what you will need:

  • 2-3 pounds of mussels
  • shallots
  • celery
  • garlic
  • mustard
  • beer
  • cream
  • scallions
  • parsley

What You Need to Do: Heat up a dutch oven or other lidded pot nice and hot.  Add some olive oil while it is heating up.  When you start to see some slivers of smoke rising from the oil, it is ready.  Thrown in a tablespoon of butter, three minced shallots, about a 1/4 cup of minced celery and three minced cloves of garlic, and some small slices of scallions.  Add 2 Tablespoons of a mustard of your choice, and about 3/4 of a beer of your choice.  Dump in the mussels and pour about a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cream over them.  Let them steam on high for about 5 minutes, stir them up, and then add the remainder of your beer.  Steam for another 5 minutes or so, and you are done.  Serve in a large bowl, and top with scallions and parsley. Enjoy.

We used Piraat beer, a really nice unfiltered Belgian ale.  What is great about this very simple recipe is that you can customize it all you want, pick a mustard of your choice, a beer of your choice, use heavy or light cream, or no cream at all.  Prefer regular onions over shallots?  Go for it.  Here is how it turned out.

Photo supplied by Citizen Elizabeth

Monday, April 30, 2012

Blue Monkey Spring Beerfest 2012

@BluMonkeyTavern has hosted another successful Beerfest!  The Spring Beerfest 2012 featured 83 beers, and since the samples were sensibly tiny, I got to try quite a few of them.  But the cool thing was talking to fellow beer geeks about their favorite offerings of the night.  Speaking of beer geeks, Tom and Sherry were there along with Mike and Kelly and a few of the local homebrew clubs in the area.  Barley Legal and B.O.M.B. (Brotherhood of Merchantville Brewers) were represented and kicking a few back with ol' El  Presidente.  Good to see you guys!  Check out the brews on tap, won't you?

And now, check out some of the live tweets from the event, including some Citizen Reviews from partygoers:

Thanks for hanging with us!  We are happy to share our experiences with YOU, why don't you share them with US... Email, comment, tweet, or Facebook us.  We hope to catch up with you soon, dear Citizens--perhaps I'll throw my own festival one of these days ;)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Wanna see some laziness? How about foreshadowing... Here is last year's grilling preview (Grilling 2011). Never fear, dear citizens! Grilling 2012 is on its way, with some very special pictures and crazy tangential stuff to boot. But for now, just keep reading until you're finished the post, then get away from the computer (or put the phone back in your pocket), go outside and fire up the grill. Meat. Fire. Beer.

Here's some food for thought:

There's a certain barbecue warrior spirit that awakens within a man as he lights that grill.  And as a warrior arms himself for the battle, so does a grillmaster take up a beer.  He charges into the fray, mounted high atop his mighty fermented steed to general the conflict between meat and fire... Actually almost any beer will do, but there's something magical that happens when you pick just the right brew to accompany your bbq.  Dale's Pale Ale is mostly magical anyway, but drinking out of a can somehow enhances the grilling experience.  It somehow just feels right, the aluminum, I mean.  Lots of picking up and putting down, switching plates, tongs and spatulas everywhere, the bustle of tools and lots of repositioning ... Keep in mind that canned #craftbeer is also perfect for putting up Christmas lights on the other side of the year.

It helps that Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale matched up perfectly with the grub on this storied day.  We had some marinated beef, peppers, scallops, onions, and mushrooms on the skewers.  The kabobs were extremely flavorful (and cooked to perfection, I might add) but there was nothing overwhelming in the dish that competed with the voluminously hopped mutha of a pale ale that I was drinking.  Sometimes the beer and food compete for flavor dominance, but Dale's is so well-balanced that it accompanies almost any meal with grace.

 bbq 2011

So here in the "Frantic Mid-Lantic" a good #craftbeer to accompany some nice grilled food seems to be the forecast from late March til about Thanksgiving.  Here are some pics of other really nice canned brews.  Recognize the #IPADay challenge?  You may also recall some of these from my can-ping trip review a few months back, but it's always nice to think about barbecuing and camping when you're definitely staring at a phone or computer screen right now, and you're probably stuck inside.

Let's not forget about our bottled friends.  Cans are great, but the vast majority of craft brews out there still served in glass.  Keep in mind that the beers may get progressively lighter as the weather gets warmer as well; See Also  Victory: Summer Love, Prima Pils, Hop Devil;  Flying Fish: XPA, Farmhouse Summer: Troegs: Sunshine Pils, Pale Ale, Dream Weaver; Yards: Philly Pale, Saison; Bear Republic: Racer 5, Hop Rod Rye; Ithaca: Flower Power, Cascazilla.  These are just a few of my go-to brews for grilling up your grub.  What's your favorite brew for cooking outdoors? Do you prefer cans or bottles?  It is certainly more important to acknowledge what's inside the vessel, but all the senses are involved when you enjoy a nice #craftbeer, especially when you are the one doing the cooking.  Let us know, and don't forget to use a pot holder or something.  Cheers!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Station Taproom Anniversary

On yet another beer adventure, Citizen Elizabeth and I attended the 2-year anniversary of The Station Taproom in Downingtown, PA. We arrived 20 minutes before opening, and we were something like 10th in line!
Be on the look-out for more in-depth reviews of some of the specific beers mentioned above as well as a review of their food.  SPOILER ALERT: The food is delicious!  Here's to a fine 2 years of The Station Taproom! Can't wait for their 3rd birthday! Email the VP

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Cape May Brewing Company

Cape May Brewing Company
As mentioned before, the Vice-President and I went down to Cape May for Easter weekend.  The weather was lovely, the food was delicious, the architecture delightful - but what weekend would be complete without beer, or even visiting a brewery? So we decided to check out the Cape May Brewing Company.  
I had read only good things about this small brewery, but was still pleasantly surprised by it when we got there.  Tiny would be a better word to describe it, and the setting was quite unique.  Situated in a small strip of stores/garages near the airport, we were greeted by a simple door, opening into a garage/hangar area which turned out to be the entire brewery.

Upon entering, we were greeted with merchandise to purchase, or the option to sample their four current brews.  You could either pay $5 to sample in a plastic cup, or $11 to sample in and keep a lovely pint glass... which of course both the VP and I did (as if either of us need any more pint glasses.)  You could also purchase or have growlers filled.

To sample the beers, we headed to the back of the brewery and got into line, because despite the small low-key environment, it was quite busy.   We tasted each of their four current beers -  Wheat, Honey Porter, Dunkelweizen, and the Cape May IPA.  The porter and the IPA were our favorites, but both the VP and my tastes generally fall that way.  The Honey Porter is made with local Cape May honey, and had a great dark color and roasty flavor.

Off to one side, was the entire current Cape May brewing operation, which is not large or fancy, but obviously gets the job done.  However, while there we heard that the operation would soon be expanding, and that was just confirmed on the blog pictured below (click the pic to visit their site).

As discussed previously, it was quite busy.  The brewery does have very limited hours - it is only open on Saturdays from noon to 4:00pm.  It was so busy in fact, that three dogs were even part of the crowd.  Were the dogs partaking of the brews you may ask?  No, don't worry; they were just enjoying the good company.  And that seemed fine with everyone else there too.  This small brewery was very unique, like no other I have visited before, and certainly worth a stop if you are in the area on a Saturday.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tasty Seafood and a Tried-and-True IPA (Tastin' the Nation)

Ah!  Yet another tasty edition of "Tastin' the Nation" here at The Ferment Nation.  Over Easter Weekend, Citizen Elizabeth and myself had the pleasure of spending some time in Cape May, NJ.  Located at the southern tip of New Jersey, it is a scenic destination for anyone who likes white sand beaches, Victorian architecture, and seafood!

For the first night in Cape May, we had the luck to walk by The Merion Inn (pictured left in a watercolor painting by Patricia Rainey). Reading over their menu, their unique combination of flavors, a penchant for Asian flair in their cuisine, and seafood selection intrigued us enough to come back and eat there.

I ordered the flounder in a sauce whose name I forget, but it was delicious.  The fish was topped with artichoke hearts and capers.  Truly memorable.  I also had the one good craft beer on their menu, Dogfish Head's 60 Minute IPA.

In my mind, the 60 Minute IPA is a true classic.  It has just enough hoppiness, just enough body, and plenty of flavor.  Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA can cause issues as they are very easy drinking and 9.0% abv, and let's not even talk about the 120 Minute.  But I thought the 60 Minute IPA had enough bite and body to stand up to the flavors of the fish and sauce, but it didn't overpower the meal.  It let the dish speak for itself.  

Citizen Elizabeth enjoyed scallops with really tasty sides of wasabi mashed potatoes and a spicy Asian slaw.  You can see the 60 Minute IPA bottle in the shot below.  I have to admit that I tasted her food, and it was quite delicious, too.  I will let her tell her own version of the story, but maybe I will let Citizen Elizabeth take the lead in an upcoming review of The Cape May Brewery (will be posted soon!)

The Merion Inn had an "adult" elegance to it.  They had a beautiful bar, live piano music, we had great service, and it was lovely looking.  The one criticism of the place is that they need to invest in more craft beers for their menu!  Your patrons will thank you for it, Merion Inn.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

@VictoryBeer to Expand! #CraftBeerNews

Victory Brewing Announces Expansion Plans

Second brewing facility will create more beer and more jobs.

DOWNINGTOWN, PAVictory Brewing Company is opening a second brewery in Chester County, Pa., which will allow the company to continue to create new, innovative beers and additional employment opportunities.

In 2012, Victory’s current brewery in Downingtown, Pa. will reach capacity. In order to keep up with consumers’ demand for full-flavored, high quality beer, Victory is forging ahead with expansion plans.

“Our thirsty fans have been asking us for more,” said Bill Covaleski, President and Co- Brewmaster of Victory Brewing Company. “In order to give them what they want, we need more space to make it happen.”

The new brewery location was chosen because of its similarities to Victory’s home in Downingtown. Just as the home brewery recycled an old Pepperidge Farm factory, the expansion brewery is being built within an existing complex in Parkesburg, Pa. The Downingtown location is situated a mere 14 miles from the headwaters of the east branch of the Brandywine Creek and the Parkesburg brewery will be just 17 miles from the headwaters of the west branch.

See the map on Victory's announcement page.
Environmental impact and water quality were major considerations for this expansion. Nearly eight months of water-quality research found that the mineral composition of the west branch water is nearly identical to the east branch.

In keeping with Victory’s “locally brewed, locally loved” motto, the choice to expand was not made lightly. The Parkesburg location will allow Victory to produce even more locally brewed and locally loved beer.

“Growing into a new facility will have some growing pains,” said Ron Barchet, CEO and Co- Brewmaster of Victory Brewing Company. “But once we are up and running, it will allow us endless opportunities to experiment with new flavors and re-create old favorites.”

Check out Victory's announcement page
Victory Brewing Company is a privately held craft brewery headquartered in Downingtown,Pennsylvania. Begun by Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet, childhood friends who met on a school bus in 1973, the brewery formally began operations in February of 1996. Victory, Pennsylvania's widely acclaimed brewery and restaurant, now serves fans of fully flavored beers in 29 states with innovative beers melding European ingredients and technology with American creativity.

To learn more about Victory Brewing Company visit us on the web at www.victorybeer.com.

Victory Brewing Company
420 Acorn Lane | Downingtown, PA 19335

Contact: Karen Noonan