‘Ray Bucknell – 3 Cheers to Beer

Bucknell University – which I am proud to call my alma mater – publishes a quarterly magazine called “Bucknell Magazine.”  This summer’s issue had a fantastic article about food production and sustainability, and a side piece about Bucknellians involved in the wine industry.   Sadly, it was devoid of any mention of our craft beer industry, and the Bucknell grads entrenched in it.   So I voiced my opinion about it – check out the Letters section on page 3!


The Brewholder

Copyright 2017 – all rights reserved

The Day I Interviewed the original “Most Interesting Man In the World”

“Stay Interesting” available now in bookstores and on Amazon. Photo courtesy of Brian Pollack.

Every once and a while an opportunity presents itself that you just need to embrace.  Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Jonathan Goldsmith, the actor who became famous for portraying Dos Equis’ original “Most Interesting Man in the World.”  His new book, “Stay Interesting:  I Don’t Always Tell Stories About My Life, but When I Do They’re True and Amazing” was released on June 13, so I thought – because of his experience with Dos Equis – he would have some stories to tell about beer.

I had the chance to talk to Goldsmith on a phone interview, to find out a little more about the original “Most Interesting Man in the World.”  I learned that long before he became uber-interesting, Goldsmith began his acting career in Western movies and portrayed many characters in a distinguished list of 1980s television shows including Dallas, MacGyver, The A-Team, Knight Rider, and Magnum P.I. among many other iconic shows of the decade.  He explained that he decided to put the book together after a charity trip to Viet Nam.  “A reporter interviewed me about my career, and when we were done he said, ‘With the stories you have, you should write a book!’  I had already been saving things for my children and grandchildren, but I decided that a book would be a great way to pass along my stories to them.”

Goldsmith told me about his role as a villain in John Wayne’s last movie – The Shootist; his character came to his demise by being shot in the head by The Duke.  The scene needed multiple takes and the blood packets left welts on his face each time.  The producer felt so bad for him that Goldsmith was paid double in the end.  “Stay Interesting” also documents Goldsmith’s audition for Dos Equis in which he was asked to create a story with the last line “…and that’s how I arm-wrestled Fidel Castro.”  Goldsmith explained, “I channelled my friend (and fellow actor) Fernando Lamas, including his accent” and created a story that wow-ed the casting directors and landed him the spot.

The stories in “Stay Interesting” are focused on Goldsmith’s acting career and his interactions with other actors and actresses, including Tina Louise (Ginger from Gilligan’s Island); but the man who was the face of Dos Equis beer for almost a decade admitted that there are no tales in the book that involve beer.  In fact, since leaving Dos Equis, Goldsmith has become associated with Astral Tequila and even makes a brief appearance in a video on the website in which he says, “I told you – I don’t always drink beer.”  Even though “Stay Interesting” does not discuss any interesting beers, it was clear from his stories during the interview that the book will be a fantastic read, especially for anyone who has an appreciation for the Hollywood scene from the 1960s through the 1980s.


The Brewholder

Copyright 2017 – all rights reserved

Craft Beer Memories Relived: What Is Your Groundhog Day?

In my recent article in Ticket to Entertainment, I asked several people in the craft beer industry to describe a day that they could relive over and over again (beer related of course!), as Bill Murray did in the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day.”  Due to space limitations, I had to edit their responses – so below are their full, unedited responses!  Cheers!

Bill Covaleski, Victory Brewing Company, Jan. 17, 2017

“This is a great question that everyone should answer because, hopefully, it rewards a person with a backwards winding movie off all of the moments of their lives in which the experienced great fulfillment. For me there were many candidates for this honor, but one offered great clarity so I’ll go with this…

Years ago Greg Koch (Stone Brewing) had invited Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head) and I to participate in a big way in the opening of Stone Berlin, with a special version of our Saison du BUFF to be brewed there. Time went by and the day arrived, September 20, 2016. I walked to Sam’s hotel and there he was, as planned, with bikes for us to make the 45 minute trek. Greg rolled up at our arranged meeting point, Brandenburg Gate, a historic spot indeed that added some gravity to what was feeling like a very exciting day. I have to admit, the importance of this American craft beer flag that Stone had so boldly planted in Germany was thrilling me, a student of German brewing school (Doemens, 1993) whose earliest flavorful beers were German imports. I could not wait to experience it.

Along the bike path the folks from BRLO Brewery were starting another busy day of construction on their brewery built into shipping containers so we stopped in to meet them, Greg being the friendly neighbor he is rather than the American beer icon. A sense of anonymity and freedom were a big part of the blissful experience that day. The peak of which may have happened as we rode the quiet path. Just three anonymous friends sharing the path with pensioners and their pets, off to a great, secret adventure like grade school pals skipping school. The sense of promise and place were rich and immediate.

Stone Berlin exudes a calm confidence. It is impossible not to be impressed with the way grand spaces lead to cozy nooks and interesting views, all designed to enrich the experience of flavor and conversation. The artist in me found delight in the facility at every turn. We were joined that day by friends and guests from the UK and America and eventually got to work sorting the rosemary, sage, lemon thyme and parsley that make this winning collaboration beer so delicious. The staff were wide-eyed as well, only one week into the brewpub’s operation. All around was sense of promise, and risk, an intoxicating combination that we entrepreneurs can’t get enough of. Speaking of risk, I recall that the menacing traffic at more than one intersection nearly claimed Sam though we laughed right through it with shouts of encouragement.

Similar to the Stone staff an incredible and close-knit bunch of beer lovers gathered throughout the day, culminating with magnificent beer dinner in which a commemorative boot of Saison du BUFF was passed around and enjoyed by each dinner guest in a somewhat irreverent take on a highly codified German beer drinking tradition.

We shook ourselves from this dream to remount our bikes, this time a larger group including friends and family. At one point I dashed ahead into the darkness to live a moment within my own thoughts. I wondered what force brings busy friends, competitors some might insist, together to a foreign place to add vitality to the vision of a friend It is friendship itself, and the promising energy that flows from a group on the same mission. That’s how you should drink beer, with friends on a mission of discovery. Doing so will make each day different, better and memorable.”

Sam Calagione, Greg Koch and Bill Covaleski celebrate after brewing Saison du BUFF in Stone’s new brewpub in Berlin, September 20, 2016. Photo courtesy of Bill Covaleski.

Julius Facenda, The Brick & Barrel, Jan. 21, 2017:

“Something I’d love to relive every day….One of my most enjoyable beer experiences:  When I started working at Iron Abbey, I had a lot of friends that were judgmental to craft beer scene at the time – it was fancy for them.  And I was getting into it because we had 36 lines on and 300 bottles – so I’m tasting 40 different liquids every day – sour, hoppy, imperial stout, all this crazy stuff.  The boss plans a trip to Sly Fox Bock Fest.  Bock Fest is at Sly Fox, in the parking lot of a shopping center.  We took a bus there – we had 5 cases of Sly Fox “113 IPA” and a good selection of the Sly Fox cans (this is before cans were cool, too!)  So we’re on the bus with a whole bunch of people and I brought a bunch of my non-craft friends – cause they like to party.  Everyone is singing on the bus, and we pull up to Sly Fox and there’s 1000 people in the parking lot – it maxed out at 5000 people!  There’s busses from all kinds of bars and god knows – just random people!

There’s trailers and people with their goats for the goat races.  When we get off the bus, the first interaction we have is with a bunch of goats who are just standing around with no one watching them!   We look at the goats, and one comes out and head butts my leg!  Not vicious, a black goat with huge horns – my friends start laughing;  they are not used to drinking this stronger beer, so they are starting to have a good time.  We came across this beer called EisBock – I was not aware of it prior to that day.  I went into the brewpub – they served the Eisbock in 5 oz servings – so I ordered a few for me and my friends.  It’s different but it’s good – I think it was 14% ABV.

I remember there were people in the trees watching the goat races; I was sitting on a bench with some regulars from Iron Abbey.  Meanwhile, I’m sipping this 14% beer – and my boss comes up and says, “Let’s go – you’re racing this goat!”  I said “I’m drunk bro – I’m not doing that.”  But I chugged the beer and went to get the goat.  It was cool because I have a little salt and pepper in my beard and I got a goat that was salt and pepper too!  One of the guys that worked at Na Brasa also got a goat, and before the race began, the goat took off on him.  He chased it down and finally got the goat back.  I was in the second heat, and I was watching the first heat.  I learned  after the fact – there’s a trick to racing goats – you can’t get in front of your goat, because if you do your goat stops.  Whichever goat wins, that name is used for that year’s bock beer.  Peggy was a three legged goat that may have won a few years in a row and was racing the year I was there.

It was an amazing time – and it wasn’t just all about craft beer.  It was more about the camaraderie with my friends between the beer, the event – Bock fest – being an old german festival.  And my friends were really into this idea because they were partying but there were still people drinking PBR cans.  As I was waiting for my turn in the second heat of the goat race, I look over and my friends are standing next to some random guy with a cooler of PBR cans and they are waving PBR cans! On the way home on the bus the whole bus was singing.  It was such a cool event because it brought non-craft beer drinkers to the real craft beer world where its like every one was just enjoying the time together.  And it was one of my first beer events, to tell you the truth!

Daniel Endicott, Forest & Main Brewing, Jan, 22, 2017

In January of 2009 I traveled to England to study brewing at the University of Sunderland. After a long over night flight and a day of exhausting traveling I arrived in York, where I would spend a few days before classes began. After a quick nap I set out to enjoy the history and beauty of York. I wound up in the Minister Inn, a little bar that makes our bar look enormous. Over pints of bitter I made friends with the locals. Over pints of bitter I watched the inauguration of Barack Obama. It was a momentous time, both for my country and myself. It was a night full of optimism, joy, and pride… and some of the best beer I’d ever had. I returned to the Minister Inn the next night and enjoyed more pints with my new friends, it was one of the most welcoming pubs I’ve ever set foot in. If I could relive one beer related day of my life I think I would choose that one.  It was a big inspiration for our pub.

John Remington, Founder, Conshohocken Brewing Company, Jan. 22, 2017

“This is an easy question for me!  May 2016 – when we won the Silver at the World Beer Cup right here in our backyard in Philadelphia for our ‘Puddlers Row ESB.’  It was amazing to win at the world level, but to do it in Philadelphia made it that much more special to us.  The festivities afterward got a bit hazy after hitting several of our favorite Philly local spots into the early morning.  Definitely worth reliving a few times!”

Jim Carter, Ambler Beverage Exchange, Jan. 22, 2017

“Hahahaha….the one day I’d relive over and over is when I went to Monks Cafe for the 1st time…I could live with doing that for the rest of life…hahaha.  The beers that I had were unbelievable …each one was better than the next ( can’t even remember how what they were but definitely Belgian) the food was spot on and the atmosphere was perfect…I would do it everyday if I could…”

* * *

As Covaleski said, “This is a great question that everyone should answer because, hopefully, it rewards a person with a backwards winding movie of all of the moments of their lives in which they experienced great fulfillment.”  And truly, the question helps one recognize the real value of beer; it should not just be a liquid consumed in a vacuum, but a vital part of a social experience that becomes inexorably intertwined with our life experiences.


The Brewholder

Copyright 2017 – all rights reserved

Wait – is it 2017?

Apparently I enjoyed the holidays with my friends and family a bit too much – no activity on this website since November?  Tsk, tsk.  Well, if you haven’t been following along on Facebook or Instagram, here’s a short recap of what The Brewholder’s been up to:

Lazaris straight from the tank!

I visited Boneshire Brewworks – a few miles down the road from Troegs – before their grand opening and I liked what I tasted!  Read about my trip on Philly Beer Scene’s Online Exclusives

I checked out the new menu at The California Pizza Kitchen for Philly Beer Scene – that was a tasty visit!

Prism Brewing moved to Lansdale – here’s my article about it in Ticket.  It’s a great space with lots of potential!

My Elfs on the shelf – yum!

Christmas was helped along with several elfs on my shelfs – read about them in Ticket.

I recapped 2016 in the Beer Year in review article in Ticket

I announced my favorite new beer of the year – Braddock-Pennsylvania, based The Brew Gentlemen General Braddock Pale Ale.  I first ran into this brew at the Meeting of the Malts in March, and then again at the Craft Brewers Conference in May.  Needless to say, a road trip to Braddock in high on my list for 2017!

Goose Island “Sofie” and Karamoor wines during the Chrysos release event in December.

And today you can read about local winery Karamoor Estate’s collaboration with Goose Island Beer Company – “Chrysos” – essentially Goose Island‘s “Sofie” aged for 3 and a half months in Karamoor wine barrels.  Pretty cool that a small winery from the Philly area would be approached by a big brewery like Goose Island.  But don’t get your hopes up – most of the Chrysos is probably gone by this point – only about 4 beer barrels of the brew was made, and it is exclusively served at the Vetri restaurants.  We were told that they are going to keep a keg or two for future events, so keep your eyes open and maybe you’ll be able to try it….Philly Beer Week perhaps?

So now we’re all caught up.  But stayed tuned – 2017 looks to be another great beer year for me, with visits scheduled to Ft. Lauderdale (Funky Buddha, anyone?); St. Petersburg / Tampa, Florida (Cigar City, Angry Chair, Coppertail Brewing); Denver (Do I really need to drop names here?); and Seattle (mic drop)…


The Brewholder

Copyright 2017 – all rights reserved

Oktoberfests in the region – Prost!

Oktoberfest is upon us again, with the official dates in Germany from September 17 – October 3.  Check out my list of Oktoberfests in our area on Ticket to Entertainment:

Lift ein Mass and sing Ein Prosit – it’s Oktoberfest!

And for you who subscribe to Comcast / Xfinity TV – the “Sounds of the Seasons” channel is all Oktoberfest music, all the time!  Ja!


The Brewholder

Copyright 2016 – all rights reserved


Wrap-up: Craft Brewers Conference 2016 in Philadelphia

Holy cow!  In case you missed it, last week the Brewers Association held its 2016 Craft Brewers Conference right here in Philadelphia.  My preview was in Ticket to Entertainment last week – read it here.

Check back soon for a summary of my experience during #CBC2016 – from the first tasting of the Brotherly Suds 7 “Rye Bock Lager” to my interview of Greg Koch, founder of Stone Brewing Company, to the GEA event at XFinity Live! to the winners of the World Beer Cup…and everything in between!

It was truly an amazing experience for a beer fan, that is for sure!


The Brewholder

Copyright 2016 – all rights reserved


Post-Valentine’s Blues…

Here’s my Valentine’s Day article that was in print, but didn’t make it out to the interwebs….

THE BREWHOLDER:  After Valentine’s Day, Don’t Give Up Hope – the Beer of Your Dreams is Still Out There

Ticket to Entertainment, February 19, 2016

Once again Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and maybe you did not meet the beer of your dreams.  Even if you tried but could not find the right Valentine’s beer for you, don’t worry – there are still many local beers available and looking to give beer lovers that Valentine’s spirit!

Based on its name alone, Yards Brewing Company’s “Love Stout” is a good first step when attempting to find your beer soulmate.  This dark stout smells like coffee and has wonderful flavors of coffee and chocolate.  It is hard not to fall in love with Love Stout;  and be careful when drinking it for the first time – Yards refuses to “apologize for any amorous affairs resulting from the consumption of this beverage.”  http://www.yardsbrewing.com/signature-ales

What is better than a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day?  Beers with chocolate flavor, of course!  A beer that is truly playing hard-to-get is Victory Brewing Company’s “Java Cask.”  Picked as The Brewholder’s Favorite New Beer of 2015 (http://www.tickettoentertainment.com/blog/2015/12/31/the-brewholders-2015-beer-year-in-review/), this limited special release, barrel aged imperial coffee stout is quickly disappearing. Like drinking liquid dark chocolate and bourbon, Java Cask impressed many beer aficionados.  Chris Steltz, host of beer review website beergeeknation.com, gave Java Cask an “A+.”  When asked why he rated it so highly, he explained, Java Cask is “…the true definition of what a barrel aged imperial coffee stout should be.  Massive chocolate and dark fruits balanced out by sweet vanilla and oak from the barrel.  All tied together with a finish of fresh pressed coffee flavors.  It is a phenomenal beer!”  Check out his Java Cask review (and 900 more!) at http://www.beergeeknation.com/admin/victory-java-cask-imperial-barrel-aged-coffee-stout-beer-geek-nation-craft-beer-reviews/

If you like assorted chocolates in a big red heart-shaped box, then maybe you are also a fan of chocolate covered cherries? If so, then you need to get to Iron Hill Brewery as soon as possible – the beer version of that confection was crafted by their brewers for Valentine’s Weekend.   Each Iron Hill location served a special a la carte dinner menu and brewed a “Cherry Vanilla Porter,” which is their award-winning Pig Iron Porter dressed up for a date with whole vanilla beans and concentrated Michigan sour cherry juice.  Just like Victory’s Java Cask, this is sure to go fast; it may not even be available by the time this article is published!  http://www.ironhillbrewery.com/valentines-2016.htm?utm_source=homepage&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=valentines-day-2016

Even if Iron Hill’s Cherry Vanilla Porter has left with someone else by the time you get there, you can still get the flavor of cherries in Barren Hill Tavern and Brewery’s “Good English.”   This “gooder than average dry stout” has the flavors of  “roast coffee & chocolate covered cherries.” It is currently on nitro draught, which ensures that this will be a smooth – and flavorful – beer. http://www.barrenhilltavern.com/menu/

Finally, if you are just bored of your predictable beer, Prism Brewing Company’s “Love is Evol” is a brown ale brewed with strawberries and jalapeño peppers, which adds just the right amount of heat to spice up your beer and your taste buds.  As explained by its description, “Some say that Love is evil. We say if you spell love backwards it’s evol. This brown Ale represents that notion with the love of strawberries and the evil nature of Jalapenos.”  If you want more heat, then head to Free Will Brewing Company for their “Safeword,” an imperial IPA brewed with mango and habanero peppers, currently available on draft at their tasting room in Perkasie.  http://freewillbrewing.com/index.php/beer/

Maybe Cupid’s arrow missed its mark on a beer for you this year.  But don’t worry – our local brewers will melt your heart with their Valentine’s concept beers.  So get out there and mingle – you never know when you’ll meet the beer that steals your heart forever.  Cheers!



The Brewholder

Copyright 2016 – all rights reserved