Attention to Detail the Key at Keystone Homebrew Supply

Photo courtesy Keystone Homebrew Supply.

When I’m not drinking beer or writing about beer or dreaming about beer, I try brewing beer. But let’s be clear: extract only (One of these days I’ll find the extra time to brew all grain).

At last count I’ve brewed 18 five gallon batches over the past 4 years (I’m not counting the two I brewed sometime in 1995/1996), with only 3 that were pretty much undrinkable – and those 3 failures were the result of simple process mistakes. Not too bad of a ratio for an amateur – but it’s the small mistakes that kill your beer, and paying attention to detail is extremely important.  I have to note – every single one of those Brewing kits have come from Keystone Homebrew Supply in Montgomeryville (even the 2 in 1995 & 1996, when they were located in a tiny little shop on Route 309)!

I was reminded of the importance of attention to detail in brewing the other day when I stopped in to Keystone Homebrew Supply in Montgomeryville to pick up my next kit. Usually I run in, get my prepackaged kit, grab the hops and yeast out of the fridge myself (because I can’t help myself – I usually tinker with the recipes), pay and leave. But the other day was different – I needed help because my favorite kit (called “Emperor Pale Patine”) wasn’t on the shelf.

So one of the Keystone employees named Alan put the kit together for me using the Emperor Pale Patine recipe that they keep in a three ring binder for just this kind of situation. When he brought me up to the counter to check out, he took the time to double check that all the ingredients of the kit were in the box (including my extra hop additions). As Alan went through the box, he scrutinized the recipe, and the first reaction in my head was “Come on man, I gotta go.”

But at each step in the recipe he asked “Do you do this?” Or “How do you do this step?” As Alan asked me these seemingly innocuous questions, he pointed out a few things that I could do (or not do!) to make my beer better. And those few simple things made so much sense that it blew my mind.

I’ve always heard that about Keystone homebrew Supply – in fact, they announce in their email newsletters – “If you have questions, feel free to ask anyone.” But I am usually on the run and don’t ask. So I’m glad Alan took the time to ask ME the questions! I’m stoked to try this next kit and just wanted to thank Alan and the Keystone staff!

And PS – if you are a Forest & Main fan, Keystone sells a kit of their “My Analog Brain,” an English bitter. That’s definitely on my list to brew – maybe it will be my 20th batch!

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2017 – all rights reserved

Happy Belated 21st Birthday to River Horse!

 

Happy 21st Birthday! Photo courtesy of River Horse Brewing Company

It’s hard to believe that River Horse Brewing is 21 years old!  I remember the days (probably around 1999) of buying a variety case of River Horse and unfortunately each variety tasted like liquid pennies!   Things started to get better – I’ll never forget the  filtered Summer Ale and my first Belgian Freeze.  But in 2007 it definitely turned around – Processes were enhanced and the fun began!

River Horse has absolutely gotten better with age.   I’ve especially enjoyed their varieties I’ve tasted recently – like their tart but very drinkable Cranberry Sour.

So Cheers to River Horse!  Here’s to another 21 years!

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2017 – all rights reserved

Yards Celebrates 10 Years of Real Ale Fest this Sunday!

Unfiltered goodness at Yards’ 10th Annual Real Ale Invitational! Photo courtesy Yards Brewing Company.

Yards Brewing Company will be hosting its 10th Annual Real Ale Invitational this Sunday, April 30 from 1-5pm.  According to the Yards website,

 This year, there will be over 60 cask-conditioned beers from breweries around the world, the biggest selection ever! Regular admission tickets are $55 in advance. If available, tickets will be $65 at the door but please note that Real Ale has sold out prior to the event for five years in a row.

Check out all the details and purchase tickets online here!

Hope to see you there!

Cheers!

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.

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2017 – all rights reserved

National IPA Day!

Troegs Perpetual IPA is a solid IPA worthy of celebrating National IPA day - or any day for that matter!

Troegs Perpetual IPA is a solid IPA worthy of celebrating National IPA day – or any day for that matter!

There was a time not so long ago when celebrating National IPA Day meant you needed to search out a West Coast IPA.  It’s a great time we’ve living in when you can find excellent IPAs across the country from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon, to Tampa, Florida to Tempe, Arizona!  Cheers to IPAs everywhere!

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2016 – all rights reserved

Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant to Open 12th Location in Huntingdon

Iron Hill announced this week that it will be opening another location – in Huntingdon Valley, PA.  Here’s the press release:

IRON HILL SET TO OPEN 12TH LOCATION

Owners Kevin Finn, Kevin Davies and Mark Edelson will open their doors on 
Tuesday, August 2, at 5 p.m. in Huntingdon Valley Shopping Center

HUNTINGDON VALLEY, PA – On Tuesday, August 2 at 5 p.m., the region’s most-awarded and fastest-growing collection of brewpubs, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurantwill add a new location, their 12th across DE, NJ and PA, in Huntingdon Valley Shopping Center (785 Huntingdon Pike, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006). The newest Iron Hill will focus on serving hand-crafted beer and from-scratch food, using only fresh, high quality ingredients designed to delight customers, all with the invitingly casual service and welcoming setting that have become the company’s signature over the past two decades. Co-FoundersKevin FinnKevin Davies and Mark Edelson will continue Iron Hill’s company-wide commitment to giving back to the communities where their brewpubs are located through a range of ambitious and worthy charitable initiatives.

 

Head Brewer Doug Marchakitus will guide brewing operations in Huntingdon Valley after spending the past three years at Iron Hill North Wales, and will open with Iron Hill’s six house beers on draught. In addition, Iron Hill Huntingdon Valley will serve the brewery’s most award-winning beers spanning their 20 years in business, including BedotterCrusher and Mahalo, Apollo! Following Iron Hill’s forward-thinking brewpub model, where each individual location has their own head brewer, Marchakitus will be free to experiment with interesting ingredients in the brewhouse and will debut Hopicana, a brand new IPA brewed with Chinook hops and infused with orange zest.

 

Finn, Davies and Edelson enlisted Street Sense, a design firm with offices in Bethesda, MD and Washington, DC, to create their new Huntingdon Valley restaurant, featuring comfortable dining areas, an open kitchen and an exposed microbrewery. The architects have created a brighter, more contemporary design allowing for all-access views of the brewery, which is highly visible behind the bar and enclosed in glass. Iron Hill Huntingdon Valley’s open footprint also showcases convivial communal tables and reach-in refrigerators at the host stand, permitting guests ample opportunities to take home their most popular and award-winning seasonal beers in both 16-oz cans and 750mL reserve bottles.

 

Huntingdon Valley will also feature Iron Hill’s first-ever Beer Garden, an outdoor bar and patio area with 40 communal seats and tables, complemented by free-standing Adirondack chairs, that will remain open in the brisker months (except winter), with the addition of heaters. The outdoor bar, covered by a canopy, will include 16 draft taps and a thoughtful selection of house wines. The restaurant’s full menu of tantalizing shared plates and composed dishes will be offered to guests choosing to dine al fresco. The Beer Garden will open in early August.  

 

Iron Hill Huntingdon Valley marks another massive step in the careful growth of the company, after announcing their partnership with A&M Capital Opportunities, a private-equity firm. With a sterling reputation for great beer, Iron Hill collected five medals at the 2016 World Beer Cup held this past May. Company-wide, their beers have accumulated 44 medals from the Great American Beer Festival (GABF)and 30 medals from the  World Beer Cup (WBC), the nation’s top beer festivals, including WBC top honors of “Champion Brewery and Brewmaster” on three separate occasions (2010, 2012, 2014). In addition, their restaurants have earned more than 100 “Best of” nods from local and national publications. 

 

About Iron Hill … Founded by home brewers Kevin Finn and Mark Edelson and restaurateur Kevin Davies in Newark, DE in 1996, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant has blossomed from one restaurant and brewery to 12 locations across the mid-Atlantic. Each restaurant is dedicated to producing and serving top-quality hand-crafted beers and cuisine in a warm and hospitable setting, and all are open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. In 2014, Zagat honored Iron Hill by naming them the most popular restaurant in Philadelphia, and their beers have earned 44 medals from the Great American Beer Festival in an unbroken 19-year winning streak that continues today. In November 2016, Iron Hill will celebrate their 20thAnniversary.

 

Locations include … Newark, DE (147 East Main Street, 302-266-9000);  Wilmington, DE (620 Justison Street, 302-472-2739);  Media, PA (30 East State Street, 610-627-9000);  West Chester, PA (3 West Gay Street, 610-738-9600);  North Wales, PA (1460 Bethlehem Pike, 267-708-2000);  Phoenixville, PA (130 East Bridge Street, 610-983-9333);  Lancaster, PA (781 Harrisburg Pike, 717-291-9800);  Maple Shade, NJ (124 East Kings Highway, 856-273-0300); Voorhees, NJ (13107 Town Center Boulevard, 856-545-9009);  Chestnut Hill, PA (8400 Germantown Avenue, 215-948-5600); Ardmore, PA (60 Greenfield Avenue, 610-228-2280);  and Huntingdon Valley (785 Huntingdon Pike, 610-602-9255).

Victory Brewing’s Prima Pils Updated For Summer 2016

Prima Pils by the Pool!

Prima Pils by the Pool!

Victory Brewing recently refreshed its Prima Pils by updating the label with a classic look and putting it into a can for easy transport this summer.  According to a press release from Victory:

“With the decision to put Prima in cans, creating ‘portable Pils perfection,’ we decided to refresh the label, too,” said Victory’s co-founder and Brewmaster, Bill Covaleski.  “The liquid is the same as it’s been for 20 years but we wanted to brighten the label and boldly state what our loyal fans have been saying for decades: “PRIMA PILS PERFECTION SINCE 1996.”

Prima Pils on the go in the summer!

Prima Pils on the go in the summer!

I’ll be honest – it had been a long time since I’d had Prima Pils, but when I saw the new label (and needed cans vs. glass for poolside), I figured I’d circle back and try it again.  Let’s just say I’m hooked.   Prima Pils – in a can – is perfect for throwing in a cooler and taking with you on your summer excursions (or just to your backyard pool!)  My friends and I have already been through a few cases and it’s not even July yet!

prima2

If you haven’t had a Prima Pils in a while, try it again – I think it’s a perfect compliment to the heat of summer picnics and sitting on the beach.

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2016 – all rights reserved

Pizzeria Felici in Horsham – Craft brew and craft pizza

Craft brew and craft pizza!

Craft brew and craft pizza!

Pizzeria Felici, the newest restaurant from the Feliz Restaurants, opened in October and does not disappoint with its well-paired selection of craft beer – including a dedicated Forest and Main Brewing Company tap.  Read about my recent visit to Pizzeria Felici in Ticket to Entertainment!   Craft brew and craft pizza – you can’t beat it!

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2015 – all rights reserved

Saint Benjamin Brewing Hosts “State of Craft Beer” Panel

"State of Craft Beer" at Saint Benjamin Brewing Company

“State of Craft Beer” at Saint Benjamin Brewing Company

Last Thursday I enjoyed a few craft brews at Saint Benjamin Brewing Company during the “State of Craft Beer” panel discussion as part of Brooklyn Brewing’s “Brooklyn Mash.”  Read about the event on Philly Beer Scene Online Exclusives!

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2015 – all rights reserved