Beer Review – Shipyard Brewing Double Old Thumper Ale

Shipyard Old Thumper

While in Cape Canaveral, Florida. I found a need for liquid refreshment and turned to the Liquor store next to the local Publix. As I have noted a number of times, I don’t really do any research and usually select a bottle based on its label art and name; the prettier the bottle or more dramatic the name, the better. Of course, along the way I have picked up a couple of truly dreadful beers that apparently invested all of the funding in the bottle design and didn’t save much for the actual product. In other instances, I have purchased a beer where the label really didn’t match the content and the beer didn’t have the enormous hop character that the name might have suggested or despite the pretty bottle art, jasmine shouldn’t ever be added to a beer. Anyway, I saw this bottle of Double Old Thumper Ale from Shipyard Brewing Company and it fit my requirements: shiny bottle with fancy art and a cool name.

Before we get to my review, here is what Shipyard has to say about the Old Double Thumper:

The big brother of the British Grand Champion beer Old Thumper. Double Old Thumper delivers a spicy hop aroma and brilliant deep copper hue. This beer has a complex malty finish with a dry Simcoe Hop bite.

I found the beer to be…

  • Appearance: Cloudy amber with lots of lacing.
  • Aroma: Hops, citrus (grapefruit) with blasts of caramel and syrup; almost a sweet sauce that you could put on ribs.
  • Taste: Mild carbonation with too much sweetness on the front end and just too sour in the finish.
  • ABV: 11.2%

This is a perfect example of where my lack of research comes back to bite me. A quick check at Beer Advocate or Rate Beer would have indicated that the Double Old Thumper is an English barleywine. While this might be a good representation of that style (it was really too out of balance to be anything better than good), I am not a fan of the style. I would like to say lesson learned, but I’m sure I’ll be back to buying the shiny bottles without due research again.

Beer Review – Brauerei Heller-Trum Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock

Aecht Schlenferla Rauchbier - Urbock

A while ago, G-LO came over with his boys. While they scampered around the yard, G-LO and I took up our post on The Barthenon (I mean as good parents keeping a watchful eye over our children, where else would we go?). Anyway, we sat around the table and mused about how to pass the time. I suggested we discuss a means to end world hunger; G-LO suggested a beer. Clearly, his was a better suggestion. I reached deep into the beer fridge and pulled out a bottle of Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock. I picked this beer as G-LO has a fondness for smoked beers and I am trying to expand my palate (at least, beyond fruit shandies). The Urbock is produced by Brauerei Heller-Trum / Schlenkerla in Bamberg, Germany. A quick trip to their website reveals that the Urbock is one of the 50 best beers in the world and the only rauchbier on the list. At long last, my penchant for fancy bottles has paid off and I picked up a more than middling beer.

Before we get to my review, here is what Schlenkerla has to say about the Urbock:

A full bodied smoked bock beer for Bamberg’s strong beer season (October through December) in fall. Brewed already in the summer time, it is matured for months in the ancient Schlenkerla rock-cellars underneath Bamberg. Tapped freshly from the oakwood cask and the Schlenkerla brewery pub. Similar to, but much bigger than the classic Maerzen style.

And now for my thoughts…

  • Appearance: Chocolate brown with red highlights and lots of tan foam.
  • Aroma: Smoked meat; bacon, beef jerky, dog treats.
  • Taste: Full-bodied, meaty stout with great flavor and balance.
  • ABV: 6.5%

I’m not sure what I was expecting other than a heavier, smoky beer. This was a fantastic diversion from my usual beer. This had the consistency of a stout but became a veritable Hillshire farm gift pack in a glass. This obviously isn’t a session beer but if you are looking for a diversion or a beer to pair with a heavy meal or some charcuterie, the Urbock will not disappoint.

Beer Review – Wachusett Blueberry Ale

Wachusett Blueberry Ale

With the warm weather hitting us hard, I was looking for something a little more refreshing than my typical bottle of stout. Not one to shy away from fruited beer, I picked up a bottle of Wachusett’s Blueberry Ale. I’ve had other blueberry beers (the Bar Harbor comes to mind) and some of the Samuel Smith Fruit Ales (raspberry and apricot) and some of the Leinenkugels (including the very sad, Shandy). So, I wasn’t in unfamiliar territory. I was looking for something with a decent amount of sweetness and a crisp, clean finish. Wachusett Brewing is a Massachusetts brewer that was founded in 1993 by three Worcester Polytechnic Institute graduates. They are known for a wide variety of beers including the Larry (an Imperial IPA), the Milk Stout and the Nut Brown Ale.

Before we get to my review, here is what Wachusett has to say about the Blueberry Ale:

Our Blueberry Ale defines the style. The slight aroma of blueberry is balanced by a subtle flavor that gets fermented into this delicious wheat ale. It’s the perfect, refreshing beer for any season.

I found the beer to be…

  • Appearance: Clear golden with light foam.
  • Aroma: Sweet malt and blueberries.
  • Taste: A little thin and little fizzy. Not as sweet as I had expected but not as much berry flavor either.
  • ABV: 4.5%

This was a very average fruit ale. It was very drinkable and very light but I don’t know that I would go back for another. On the plus side, it does come in a can so if you are traveling somewhere that prohibits glass (like a pool) it might be the best of what is available. For my money, I think I’d rather try another blueberry beer or go back to the Samuel Smith Apricot or a Magners Pear.

Days of Wine and (Four) Roses

I was a little intimidated when the Booze Dancing crew asked if I would guest post on their blog. I’m no whiskey, beer or really “anything” blogger, I just blog about what I like. But after reading many posts on “It’s just the booze dancing…” and seeing how often they referred to WWD, I felt like I was in my wheelhouse. Any blogger who regularly refers to Women’s Wear Daily, THE fashion newspaper, is a kindred spirit. And one I would like to write for.  And without further adieu…

whiskychoc-14The subject here:  Whiskey and Chocolate.  Specifically, Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon, Templeton Rye and the Vosges Mash Bill Truffle Collection.  I brought my generous supplies provided by the Baddish Group to a BBQ hosted by Stacey Snacks for an impromptu tasting.

whiskychoc-3The beautiful box was promising.

whiskychoc-5And it wasn’t long before Stacey and I broke into the chocolates.  Stacey forewarned me that she does not like truffles.  Then after she ate one she proclaimed, “Mmmm! Mmmmm! Mmmmm! I don’t like it!  I love it!”

whiskychoc-4The Whiskey truffle infused with Templeton Rye, tart cherry and tobacco was our favorite.  I can’t say I was able to really taste the rye, but it was delicious and complex.

As far as pairing them with the whiskey, that didn’t happen.  There was a lot going on in the food department thanks to Stacey’s great cooking.

whiskychoc-1That’s not to say they weren’t imbibed.  They were.  And for me, there will always be something reminiscent of Maraschino Cherries when I drink bourbon or rye.  Maybe it’s the memory of stealing that little red beauty out of the bottom of my parents’ Manhattan as a kid, but I always feel that there is one lingering nearby when I’m drinking one of those whiskeys.

whiskychoc-10And as coincidence had it, Stacey made a cherry cake.  Which was fabulous with the whiskey.

whiskychoc-11And the chocolate.

whiskychoc-12She even brought me a Maraschino cherry to enjoy along with it.

 These happened to be beautiful pink ones that have no red dye or corn syrup.

whiskychoc-9We also enjoyed a delicious Barbaresco with our cake which was very fruit forward – specifically, cherries!  As you can see above, bourbon, rye and Barbaresco may lead to talking with your hands.

And a night of whiskey, wine, cake and chocolate may lead to a very fun evening with friends.


Thanks to the Booze Dancing crew for letting me ramble on their blog, and thanks to the Baddish Group for the delicious samples!

Beer Review – Shipyard Brewing Pugsley’s Signature Series XXXX IPA

Shipyard Pugsley's XXXX

Recently, I was in Florida for Spring Break. Once, I had Spring Break visions of Ft. Lauderdale and bikini contests. Now, Spring Break is a trip to Cape Canaveral with three kids and a stay in a condo complex with an average age of Social Security. I’m not sure how things went off the rails but I digress. Anyway, I was in Florida and found myself in need of some libations and turned to the Liquor store next to the local Publix. Not much in the way of selection and certainly not as crafty as any place in South Jersey, but they had a number of pretty shiny bottles (when it comes to packaging, I’m your huckleberry) so I had a number to choose from. I picked up a bottle of XXXX IPA from Shipyard Brewing Company’s Pugsley’s Signature Series. The series is named after Alan Pugsley, the Master Brewer at Shipyard who was trained at the Ringwood Brewery in Hampshire, England before moving to the United States. The XXXX IPA is an American Double or Imperial IPA and is one of four beers in the Pugsley series with the Smashed Blueberry, the Smashed Pumpkin and the Mint Chocolate Stout.

Before we get to my review, here is what Shipyard has to say about the XXXX IPA:

XXXX IPA is a non-traditional American IPA with a brilliant copper color and the classic citrus nose of Cascade hops. This beer demonstrates a unique balance of malt-inspired, delicate red grapefruit sweetness and lingering hop dryness. In 2009, XXXX IPA won Silver Awards at the United States Open Beer Championships and Stockholm Beer & Whiskey Festival.

I found the beer to be…

  • Appearance: Orange honey with light foam and lacing.
  • Aroma: Not much; sweet malt, a little doughy and a little bit of hops.
  • Taste: Smooth and refreshing but not as crisp as I would have thought. There is decent balance from the front sweetness to the hoppy finish.
  • ABV: 9.25%

Overall, I think I was expecting a bit more. This wasn’t a bad beer by any means, it just didn’t wow me. I was looking for a Weyerbacher Double Simcoe or a Founders Double Trouble. Instead I found an average beer.

Beer Review – Cigar City Hopped on the High Seas

Cigar City Hopped on the High Seas

Over the past five years, I have been to the Sunshine State (aka Florida) on five occasions, and the closest I’ve come to visiting the Cigar City Brewery was their mini brewpub in the Tampa Bay airport (sadly, there was no time to partake of their offerings). Thanks to my very positive experiences with their Jai Alai and Maduro Brown beers, I am ALWAYS looking for something new to try from this brewery. I’m currently on the hunt for Florida Cracker, but as of this writing, I haven’t been able to secure a can in Philadelphia. That being said, during a recent lunch time beer run to The Foodery, I saw something new in the refrigerator case from Cigar City that I’d never heard of , i.e. the can of Hopped on the High Seas that you see in the above photo, so I just had to pick one up for an eventual review.

Here’s the somewhat complicated story behind this beer taken directly from the Cigar City website:

This 60 IBU Caribbean-style IPA was brewed at the Cervezas del Sur Brewery in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The mango tree-lined streets of Ponce put us in a tropical mood and Hopped on the High Seas is the result of that Caribbean feeling. High Seas is a 7% ABV IPA dry-hopped exclusively with one variety of hop; 165 lbs of them in fact! And since we wanted to put this beer in our favorite container, the 12 oz can, a sea journey was required to get the beer back to Tampa for canning. We took the opportunity to add the dry-hops to the refrigerated shipping container prior to racking. Which means this beer truly was Hopped on the High Seas. As the beer made its way home, the gentle motion of the ocean worked to infuse the luscious aromatics of the hops. The result is big tropical aromas and flavors, light balancing malt backbone and a clean bitter finish.

Cue the Salsa music because it’s time to get to my impressions of this beer…

  • Appearance: Lightly cloudy pale amber color with a thick off white head that rises to about an inch. The foam dissipates slowly and leaves a good bit of lacing behind.
  • Aroma: Tropical indeed! I can almost hear Tito Puente and his band in the background as the mango, pineapple, and citrus aromas tickle my olfactory. All I need now is a beach or pool side hammock, a palm tree, and a girl named Maria to keep filling my glass!
  • Taste: Lightly carbonated with a medium mouthfeel. Starts off with a subtle honey sweetness and transitions quickly to a soothing hop bitterness. From start to finish there’s a subtle sweetness in the background that keeps the hops from dominating the palate. The finish is somewhat dry with a lingering bitter aftertaste.
  • ABV: 7%

Hopped on the High Seas is definitely a tasty IPA. Well balanced and oh so drinkable, this is a beer that I would love to try on tap. The only question is, how does it stand up against their Jai Alai which is much more readily available in these parts? Perhaps yet another side by side tasting is in order!

Event Review – The Art of Hibiki. A Blend of 24 Seasons.

Itty Bitty Bottles of Hibiki 17

On May 8, 2014, Miracle Max and I attended an event in New York called “The Art of Hibiki. A Blend of 24 Seasons”, the official launch of Hibiki 17 and Hibiki 21 in the United States. Much like last year’s Suntory 90th Anniversary event at the Noguchi Museum, the organizers had something very special for us to experience which made the same day roundtrip journey from Philly to New York so so worth it! Here are just a few of the highlights…

A Deconstructed Tasting of Hibiki

Three years ago, the Booze Dancing crew did a “deconstructed” tasting of the Sam Adams Latitude 48. In a nutshell, the Boston Beer Company released a 12 pack which contained their Latitude 48 IPA (made with several different hop varieties) along with a series of single hopped IPAs. The whole point of this release was to showcase the strengths and weaknesses of each hop variety when used on their own, and to show how they work together to make a better IPA when used to make the Latitude 48.

This “deconstructed” Hibiki tasting, which was led by Seiichi Koshimizu, Suntory’s Chief Blender, was very similar to the “deconstructed” Latitude 48 tasting, but with one significant difference: while a few of the single hop IPAs were rather ho-hum, the component whiskies that go into the Hibiki blend are like a Japanese Whisky All Star team (think 2012 USA Olympic Basketball Dream Team) that join forces to take on the best in the world when blended together to create Hibiki.

This wasn’t the first time that I’d heard of the Yamazaki single oak whiskies that are used to make Hibiki (click here to see what Miss Whisky had to say about these whiskies back in 2012), but it was the first time that I had the opportunity to actually experience them. During this tasting, we sampled the Chita Grain Pure Whisky, Yamazaki American White Oak Malt Whisky, Sherry Cask Malt Whisky, and Mizunara Cask Malt Whisky (the  Hibiki 17 and Hibiki 21 served as the grand finale). While all four component whiskies were delicious, I was most intrigued by the Chita Single Grain Pure Whisky which smelled and tasted absolutely fantastic (luscious vanilla buttercream comes to mind). When you first start learning about whisky, you are led to believe that grain whisky is like adding breadcrumbs to meatloaf, i.e. it’s just a filler or binding agent. Take a sip of Chita or Compass Box Hedonism and you will quickly learn that beautifully crafted grain whisky can easily hold its own against many a Single Malt. In case you couldn’t tell from my not so random keystrokes, this tasting was a truly eye opening experience which not only taught me the importance of blended whisky, it also taught me to appreciate all of the care that goes into balancing each of the individual elements that go into the finished product.

Water and Ice Matters

If you’ve read any of my whisky reviews or heard me talk about my whisky drinking habits on a WhiskyCast Virtual Tasting, then you already know that I rarely add water or ice to my whisky, regardless of ABV. There are two reasons for this: (1) I really like the intensity of whisky served neat, and (2) adding water or ice makes the whisky way too easy to drink, which leads to me drinking way too many of then in too short of a time. Basically, drinking it neat helps me pace myself and not get COMPLETELY schnockered.

The Japanese have a very different view of water and ice as it relates to whisky drinking. Throughout the evening, we were schooled on the art of drinking whisky with water and ice. In addition to the ice ball carving demonstration by Hidetsugu Ueno of Tokyo’s Bar High Five that you saw in the above YouTube video, we were also given the opportunity to sample Hibiki 12 Highballs, which were a refreshing change of pace from my usual whisky drinking habits. While I still prefer to drink my whisky “as is”, I have definitely learned to appreciate the subtle flavors that come through when you dilute your whisky a bit (I was enjoying a Cutty Sark Prohibition Highball during the photo editing process. Yum!). Watering and cooling it down also makes it much easier to pair your whisky with food, which leads to the next highlight of the evening…

Finger Food Pairing with Bouley & Brushstroke

The first rule of drinking is that you gotta eat! Thankfully, the event organizers thought of everything and had us covered on the food front. They once again secured the services of Chef David Bouley and Chef Isao Yamada of NYC’s Brushstroke (they handled the food/whisky pairing at last year’s Suntory event). We were treated to ten different snacks that were walked around throughout the night by a cadre of well dressed and highly professional waiters. “Slow Poached Pink Shrimp with Ginger Aromatic”, “Canadian Fuji-Pork Belly Confit with Peach, Sweet Ginger Vinegar Sauce”, “Barcelona Anchovy with Artichoke Puree, Aged Balsamic Reduction on Toast” (my favorite of the night! I must have had around 20 of them. I’m not kidding!), “Kuzu Crisp with Aligote, Black Truffle”, “Wagyu Sirloin Beef Jerky”, and “Hibiki 17 Infused Vanilla Macarons” were my personal favorites of the night, but truth be told, everything was beautifully prepared, beautifully presented, and absolutely delicious. A drink in one hand and a delightful, bite sized snack in the other. It was like I died and went to food and whisky pairing heaven!

Spending Time With the #WhiskyFabric

While the whisky and food was an absolute delight to taste and experience, what makes every trip to NYC truly special is spending time with the #whiskyfabric family. All of the usual suspects were in attendance: Mark Gillespie of WhiskyCast, Josh Feldman of The Coopered Tot blog, Susannah of the What Tastes Good blog, and Allison Patel of Brenne and The Whisky Woman blog. In addition to these wonderful people, we also had the pleasure of finally meeting Sarah of the Beautiful Tangible Things blog. Without people like this to share in the experience, this event would have been just another whisky tasting!


In keeping with the Hibiki inspired themes of harmony and balance, I would like to give my #whiskyfabric family members an opportunity to chime in with their impressions of the event. Here’s what they had to say..

Miracle Max

It was a great event with everything being practically flawless, i.e. the space, the whisky, the people, the food, the generosity, and the hospitality were all excellent, but to me that wasn’t the most important part of the evening. I used to believe that the master blender’s job was to miraculously take a variety of ingredients that were a bit “off” and magically hide their flaws to create something at least “drinkable”. “This is too dry. This is too sweet, blend them. This is too woody, this is too flavorless, blend them!” Similar to how I try to make a meal using left-overs, a little of this. A little of that. OK! That’s “good enough”.

Don’t get me wrong, in the past I’ve been very pleased on numerous occasions by a blended whiskey, but my preconceived notion was that the ingredients were flawed, and that the blend was a great solution to their underlying issues. Those ideas of mine are now gone! Sure, that may be the case with many blended whiskeys, but not with Suntory’s Hibiki whisky. It was all laid out before us. Here are the component whiskies used to make the blend, they are great on their own, now we use them to create an even better product (and that’s saying something based on those component whiskies). This wasn’t hiding flaws, this wasn’t using left-overs, this was assembling an orchestra using the best musicians. A supergroup of kick-ass rock stars! I can’t believe we have to wait until the fall to get more of these great whiskies, but I’m sure glad they’re on the way. Maybe I’ll get a bottle of the 12 for the wait. :)

Sarah of the Beautiful Tangible Things Blog

Being a “newbie” to whisky events, I think I’ve been set up for disappointment in the future because this whisky tasting was just phenomenal!. It was so special to taste all of the components of Hibiki, and to hear Allison and Josh’s tasting notes (Max & G-LO kept their thoughts to themselves). I really loved the variety (and quantity!) of the passed finger foods (pork belly!!! Anchovies!! Truffles!!!). And of course, the company shared trumped it all. I was honored to be able to travel to Tokyo with you, friends, for the evening!

Susannah of the “What Tastes Good” Blog

Suntory brought together a disparate crowd of whisky buffs, media people, and Japanese ex-pats with surprising grace and elegance. The industrial space worked well, incorporating a nifty video installation and killer bar setup (with beautiful, Godzilla-sized, hand-chiseled ice cubes) and encouraged conversation among attendees. Passed hors d’oeuvres, focusing on simply presented seafood, nodded to Japanese culinary tradition and paired very well with the Hibiki, available in the 12, 17, and 21 year old expressions. Especially classy: the 21 year old Hibiki (rather than a younger, less expensive pour) was the “passed whisky” that roving servers brought around.

Even though I missed out on the educational part of the evening, I enjoyed hearing from the Master Blender and brilliant, entertaining bar owner who was overseeing the drinks (both of whose names escape me at the moment). And Josh Feldman (The Coopered Tot) had saved a few drams of the component whiskies that go into Suntory’s 17 year old so I could taste them. I particularly enjoyed the spirit aged in mizunara oak—a brand new set of flavors and aromas for me that I hope I’ll get to taste more of in the future. I’m looking forward to Suntory’s brands becoming more widely available now that they’re moving more deeply into the US via Beam Global.

Also: the theme of balance that pervades Suntory’s whiskies perfectly underpinned the evening to the point that I didn’t even overindulge! That’s how you know it was a superb event.

Allison of “The Whisky Woman” Blog

Suntory is a name that, to me, is becoming synonymous with: extreme attention to detail, elegance, and fun. No detail was too small to overlook and all seemed to be done with absolute perfection for a seamless and truly fantastic event. A few things of note: the origami tied silk scarfs around the press kits, the perfectly angled spot lights-meet-dim-mood-lighting, the music that was never too loud or jarring to take too much notice, but was never too quiet to make the event feel stuffy … it’s easy to think of every detail and be in awe (should we talk about the food!? Delicious and plentiful!), but at the end of the day, what we were all really there for was the whisky. And it was fantastic!

I most appreciated the guided tasting hour prior to the party. I found it extremely fascinating to explore the various whiskies as individuals that go in to making the Hibiki blend and certainly liked some more then others, though it would be hard to choose a favorite (however, let’s not pretend the ample pours of Hibiki 21yr weren’t divine!!!). Very grateful to Suntory and the amazing people at Exposure for inviting me to participate in such a special evening. It’s always wonderful to have some time to hang with members of the #whiskyfabric! I’m talking to you, G-LO, Susannah (What Tastes Good), Josh (Coopered Tot), Mark (WhiskyCast), Miracle Max, Sarah, and Bram! Can’t wait for Hibiki 17yr to be available in the US!


Many thanks to the good people at Suntory USA and Exposure for inviting us to this outstanding event!

Beer Review – Stone Brewing Enjoy By 02/14/14 IPA

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Well, I purchased a bottle of Stone’s Enjoy By IPA and placed it in the beer fridge without paying a whole lot of attention to its location. Apparently, the label didn’t really sink in either. So, on 04/20/14, I cracked open the Enjoy By 02/14/14 IPA and split the bomber with G-LO. His first comment questioned my ability to read; not just the big letters on the bottle but my actual ability to read. His next comment concerned his reluctance to participate in the review as he wondered what a “fresh” bottle might taste like.  His final comment revolved around his love of West Coast beers and how this old, dated bottle with questionable handling might ruin that for him. At this point, I once again confirmed that I need to put up a bigger fence. Anyway, I am a big fan of Stone Brewing and was intrigued by the pretty bottle with the scripted lettering. I guess I should have taken the label seriously and drank it immediately but my procrastination knows no bounds.

Before we get to my review, here is what Stone has to say about the Enjoy By IPA:

You have in your hands a devastatingly fresh double IPA. While freshness is a key component of many beers – especially big, citrusy, floral IPAs – we’ve taken it further, a lot further, in this IPA. You see, we specifically brewed it NOT to last. We’ve not only gone to extensive lengths to ensure that you’re getting this beer in your hands within an extraordinarily short window, we made sure that the Enjoy By date isn’t randomly etched in tiny text somewhere on the label, to be overlooked by all but the most attentive of retailers and consumers. Instead, we’ve sent a clear message with the name of the beer itself that there is no better time than right now to enjoy this IPA.

I found the beer to be…

  • Appearance: Golden and opaque, with a quickly dissipating foam
  • Aroma: Sweet (like honey), citrus and a little hoppy.
  • Taste: A bit syrupy with a fair amount of sweetness (cane sugar) and a faint, hoppy and bitter finish.
  • ABV: 9.4%

Overall, I found the Enjoy By IPA to be quite refreshing and easy drinking. I’m not sure if the bottle lost a little of its character drinking it over two months beyond the Enjoy By date, but I liked it.

Beer Review – Southern Tier Blackwater Series Crème Brûlée Stout

Southern Tier Creme Brulee

The other day, G-LO stopped over for a quick beer (I seem to start a large number of posts this way. I’m starting to think that he might have a problem). In any event, G-LO stopped over and since we were only having one beer, we went with a more dessert type of beer and opted for the Southern Tier Crème Brûlée. As we picked up a couple of glasses and a bottle opener, we were joined by our better halves (I say this not so much because I believe, but because they might be reading this and am somewhat obligated to refer to the Benevolents in such a fashion). As we poured out the beer, we passed the glasses on to our spouses, and after a quick nosing, we lost our glasses. Apparently, the Crème Brûlée had that fantastic first note that forced their hands and left G-LO and I empty-handed. As a consequence, G-LO suggested that if they wanted to drink the beer then they would also have to review it. Sadly, this proposal did not deter them and they also took our pens and paper.

Before we get to their review, here is what Southern Tier has to say about their Crème Brûlée:

We are not the harbingers of truth as some may suggest but it may indeed be argued that our brewing philosophy is tantamount to a dessert with a bellicose past. How, you may ask, would a brewery determine a likeness to hard-coated custard? Our response is simple; it’s all in the power of history, and of course, the extra finesse needed to top off a contentious treat with definition.

By comprehending the labyrinthine movement of time, one would not think it strange to trace the errant path of an ordinary object such as a cream dessert only to discover that it has been the cause of cultural disputes since the middle ages. The British founders of burnt cream and from Spain, crema catalana, both stand by their creative originality and we respect that, but it was the French Crème Brûlée, amid the strife of contention, that survived to represent our deliciously creamy brew. .

Here’s what the ladies thought of this beer…

  • Appearance: Deep, thick black with a quickly dissipating tan foam and lots of lacing.
  • Aroma
    • Benita: Butterscotch, molasses, mocha and caramel with a hint of cherries.
    • Madame Rouge: Huge butterscotch notes with hints of vanilla latte, chocolate chip cookie batter; like a mocha frappuccino.
  • Taste
    • Benita: Smooth, softer than the dark appearance would suggest. It tastes just like the aroma would suggest .
    • Madame Rouge: Much like the aroma; almost like a cheesecake with a bit of bitterness on the back end.
  • ABV: 9.6%

The Verdict

G-LO and I would like to offer our opinions on the Crème Brûlée, but all that was left were dregs. Overall, the ladies found this beer to be very enjoyable and certainly something to be paired with a good dessert. Vanilla ice cream or a big slice of cheesecake; maybe even a dark chocolate cake. While certainly not the kind of beer to over indulge, the inclusion of this beer in the dessert course of any beer pairing dinner would not disappoint.

Event Review – 2014 Philly Farm and Food Fest


2014 Philly Farm and Food Fest

This past Sunday, Mrs. G-LO and I dropped the kids off with their grandparents and headed in to Philly for a couple hours of grazing at the Philly Farm & Food Fest (the organizers were kind enough to give us a couple of media passes). For those of you that are not familiar with this annual event, here is a bit more information taken directly from their website:

In 2011 Fair Food Philly and PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) teamed up to create a new annual marketplace for farmers and local food producers. Our shared goal was to assist small businesses in growing their bottom line by providing a low-cost venue accessible to a diverse audience of potential customers.

Fest is also a fundraising event for Fair Food and PASA, with proceeds going to support our non-profit educational and technical assistance programs for food producers.

The first Fest was held in 2012 and drew nearly twice as many visitors as expected. Since then Fest had grown exponentially each year. 2014 marks a doubling in size from our first show, and will feature:

      • Over 150 exhibitors
      • Libations Lounge guided tasting of local spirits, beers, wines
      • Shellfish Salon guided tasting of local oysters and clams
      • A distinguished speaker and panelists
      • Cooking demonstrations
      • A Marketplace of select restaurants supporting local farms
      • Health & beauty products, sustainable service providers, and much more

The event was held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Annex on North Broad Street and was spread out across three different areas on the ground floor. It was essentially a huge Farmer’s Market with an incredibly diverse selection of food and drink made in and around the Philadelphia area. Cookies, bread, ice cream, popcorn, popsicles, coffee, tea, soups, pickles, cheese, jerky, jam, candy, and so much more was available to sample. If you’re the type of person that likes to sample a wide variety of food, then this is definitely the event for you.

Going from vendor to vendor and sampling their wares was great fun, but what intrigued me most about the event was the Shellfish Salon and Libations Lounge…

The Shellfish Salon was an opportunity to sample oysters and clams from South Jersey and the Chesapeake Bay via a tasting seminar hosted by Sam Mink of The Oyster House. During the tasting, we were able to try several different oyster and clam varieties while we listened to representatives discuss the many different aspects of oyster and clam farming. Topics ranged from the health benefits of shellfish to the environmental impact of what they do. It was a very well run tasting and as an added bonus, we were able to sample some truly delicious shellfish.

The Libations Lounge took place on the other side of the room and was essentially four different tastings led by representatives from various Philadelphia area based “adult beverage” producers. Our 3PM session featured Dad’s Hat Rye Whiskey, Frecon Farms Cider, Sly Fox Brewing Company, Stonekeep Meadery, and Weyerbacher Brewing Company. Each representative was given around 10 minutes to talk us through what we were tasting and to tell us a bit about their company.

While the Sly Fox and Weyerbacher beers were tasty, the most interesting parts of the session involved the cider, mead, and rye whiskey, mostly because they all offered something that was very new to both me and my better half. Dad’s Hat brought a barrel aged Manhattan, Frecon brought two different sour ciders, and Stonekeep brought two different types of mead. All were really interesting and we definitely enjoyed the opportunity to expand our “adult beverage” horizons. My only quibble (love this word!) would be with the format of the Libations Lounge. While I truly enjoyed listening to all of the presenters and sampling their products, I thought that it was a bit too formal. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word lounge, I think comfy seating, dim lights, and a big bar, not banquet tables and upright chairs. Here’s hoping that they tweak the format a bit for next year so that fussy, spoiled, and overindulged people such as myself will have one less thing to whine about.

Overall, Mrs. G-LO and I enjoyed our time at the Philly Farm and Food Fest. It definitely gave us a greater appreciation for all of the hard working and imaginative people that are helping to cement Philadelphia’s reputation as a destination for superb food and drink. We are definitely looking forward to attending it again next year!


 Many thanks to the good people at Fair Food for providing us with media passes. Cheers to all of you!