Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Fruit Beer worth trying

Fruit beer has its place, both in my cupboard and on my table. The holidays are perfect times for fruit beer, especially when trying to lure visiting non-beer drinkers into the fold. I usually preface an offering of same with, "I have something I want you to try." And after the inevitable pleased look or comment, I hit them with, "That's beer."

As for those whose tastes run to mainstream swill, the rule in my house is simple: Hide and Have (Hide the good stuff; have the swill available).

But I make an exception for the Canoe Beer Folks, if they're willing to try a fruit beer. And certain guests have been pre-screened--and good targets-- by their preferences for Mike's Hard. Usually it's an offering of Lindemann's in either Framboise or Kriek that does the trick, but Sam Adams Barrel Room American Kriek is outstanding. It is a tad more expensive, maybe, with the Linde coming in around $9 for a big bottle, and the SA at $10 or more depending on your local liquor locker.

But, with the holidays past, I unexpectedly found a super fruit beer the other day in a local store dedicated mainly to wine, with the rather unusual name of Wine-O-Land. Growing up, all the guys in my neighborhood knew that Wine-O-Land was mostly found "under the train bridge," but who am I to criticize a name choice, especially when the beers they carry are pretty impressive?

I digress. I sauntered into Wine-O-Land to pick up some Sam Adams Alpine Lager (Excellent!) and noticed a section of another Sam brewery--Smith's to be precise. And having enjoyed many products from Tadcaster, I was intrigued by this one label: Samuel Smith's Organic Cherry Ale. It's actually a two-step process, with the brewing and fermenting taking place at the nostalgic Melbourn Bros. Brewery in time-warped Stamford, England, after which it's blended, conditioned and packaged at Tadcaster.

About $10 a bottle, but totally worth it, this beer pours a cloudy reddish-orange with a modest, but decidedly pink, head. Its nose is quite impressively aromatic and the taste is wonderfully augmented by olfaction and retro-olfaction. Perfectly balanced, Sweet and Sour perform a delicate ballet on the palate, leaving you craving more after the first taste. A dry, distinctively cherry finish tops off this ale, which will go well with cheeses before dinner, or as a stand-alone afterwards. I'd even put this one in my Lawnmower Collection, which is reserved for those beers that reward a bloke for mowing his lawn in the hot summer time. And because it checks in under 4% ABV, you can treat yourself to two.

Or three.

But leave some for your guests, who claim they "don't like beer."
And watch their opinions change.

Cheers! The PubScout

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Gypsy Brewers

They are called the "New Beer-Makers" in this very interesting and well-written article. And their strategy is not only spicing up the craft beer scene in Europe, it's having the same effect here. As the article will show, it's their penchant for experimentation that drives the movement. And experimentation is critical to the beer consumer as well, as it drives beer lovers like us to explore new horizons.

H/T to Patty for the heads up. It's nice to know that my former students are reading publications called "More Intelligent Life."

The PubScout

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stouts: like the season, dark

The Wall St. Journal has a nice article about one of the PubScout's few reasons for loving winter: Stouts.

For those who have heretofore shied away from the dark side because of a misperception that darker is stronger, read this piece and learn. Stronger in flavor, surely, but not necessarily stronger in ABV. Guinness, for example, weighs in at a much lower ABV than Budweiser. And it's far better for you.

That's not to say that all stouts are pusillanimous. Far from it. A good strong stout before bedtime almost always insures a snoring repose. Some may knock your socks off. But why are you wearing socks to bed in the first place?

What are the other reasons The PubScout loves winter? Only two. Christmas and Wrestling Season.

Naz Dorovya!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Raising a Pint to Poe

Today I raise my glass to a favorite American author of mine whose birthday is today: Edgar Allan Poe. His famous poems are legion: The Raven, The Bells, Annabel Lee...His short stories are indelibly stamped on the national fabric: The Tell-Tale Heart, The Fall of the House of Usher, Hop-Frog, The Cask of Amontillado...this troubled and oft-maligned inventor of the detective story was found face down in a Baltimore gutter in 1849 and died after just 40 short, but tempestuous, years on this earth.

For his birthday, one of his lesser-known quotes: “Filled with mingled cream and amber I will drain that glass again. Such hilarious visions clamber Through the chambers of my brain -- Quaintest thoughts -- queerest fancies Come to life and fade away; What care I how time advances? I am drinking ale today.”

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Hero Remembered--A Cause Promoted

The annual tribute to hero firefighter Jimmy D’heron is a celebration of his life—and his sacrificing of it to save fifteen people he did not even know. Except for some appropriate moments during the festivities, the Harvest Moon Brewpub in New Brunswick is decidedly not a place of quiet reflection during this event. From the familiar strains of the Middlesex County Fife and Drum Corps coming through the gloaming, to Corps Leader Mike Campbell’s stirring introduction, to the pub noise that usually accompanies a packed house for a good cause, quiet is just not on the agenda.

But for five minutes yesterday, you could have heard a pin drop as a trailer for an upcoming movie about burn victims was shown. The name of the film, which will be released for free, is Trial by Fire: Lives Re-forged and it’s the brainchild of Megan Smith-Harris and her husband Bill. Megan and Bill are allied with Erin Varga, Jimmy D’s “firecracker” daughter, who spearheads a plethora of events and causes in her father’s memory. One of those causes is raising money for the Art Luf Children’s Burn Camp, and a big portion of the proceeds from yesterday’s sale of Jimmy D’s Firehouse Red Ale—brewed especially in Jimmy D’s memory—goes to that camp, as well as to the burn center in St. Barnabas. Year round, fifty cents of every Jimmy D's pint goes to The Cause as well. And anyone who sees that trailer will understand why, and why this event has donated more than $80,000 to the cause.

Fire does not discriminate. An equal-opportunity marauder, it will kill or, perhaps even worse, permanently disfigure anyone, regardless of race, creed, nationality, social status, political party or gender. Many burn victims not only have to suffer through the excruciating pain of treatment and recovery, they often face incredible hurdles in the area of social stigma after they are “healed.” Because fire marks you forever.

And that realization became apparent to everyone who stood in rapt silence to see the living victims of fire tell their stories. Fortunately, the film also gave the audience a way to help and to get the message out. You can see the trailer and read the message here.

Fifteen people are alive today—and not scarred-- because Jimmy D sacrificed his life in the line of duty eight years ago. It’s the same sacrifice all firefighters are prepared to make every time they put on the gear and get on the rig.

That’s why Frank Kropf’s place was packed yesterday. And there isn’t a better reason to raise a glass.

What’s even better is knowing that you’re draining it—and refilling it-- for a good cause.


The PubScout

Look for pics up on the right-hand side, and an interview with Harvest Moon Owner Frank Kropf is on YouTube here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

You in?

The PubScout will belly up to the bar at the Harvest Moon Brewpub in New Brunswick near 1PM on Sunday January 15. Although the event is set to start at 2PM, The PubScout advises an early arrival to secure a spot. He will order the first of his Jimmy D Red Ales in honor of the firefighter hero Jimmy D'heron, who, some years ago, gave his life so that 15 others could live. Proceeds from the sale of Jimmy D Red go to a children's burn camp.

The Giants will play the Pack at 4:30, and I'm told the pub will have the game on. If you're standing next to me when the game is over, I'll buy you and two friends a pint each if the Giants win. If the Pack wins, you buy a pint for me, my son and Erin Varga, Jimmy D's daughter.

You in?

Cheers! The PubScout

Sunday, January 8, 2012

One Week Away!

Lock your calendars up for this annual tribute at the Harvest Moon Brewpub in New Brunswick, NJ. Great time for a great man and a great cause! Click on the link below! Cheers! The PubScout!


James D'heron Memorial Foundation | Supporting Burn Survivors