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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.

Email the VP