Tag Archives: craft beer

5 Reasons to Attend the Lancaster Craft Beerfest

Update: Lancaster Craft Beerfest tickets have sold out! But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still go for the food and music. Hope to see you there!

If you’re a craft beer, food, and music fan in the Lancaster, PA, area, this weekend’s Lancaster Craft Beerfest will be an event you won’t want to miss. The main event will happen from 2pm-5pm on Saturday, September 7, 2013 in the 100 block of North Queen Street. That’s right – the street will be closed and it will happen through Lancaster Square Park and Binn’s Park. 

Here are 5 reasons to attend the Lancaster Craft Beerfest!

1. The Beer 

From foreground to background: Mikkeller/To Ol Betegeuze, Bockor Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge, Brouwerij Dilewyns Vicaris Tripel Gueuze, Birra del Buttero Marsilia Gose with Sea Sa.t

The beer always takes center stage at a beer fest and this one will be no different. With local breweries like Tröegs, Spring House, and St. Boniface, you will be supporting your hometown favorites. A few breweries I’m stoked to check out are Peabody Heights Brewery, Snitz Creek Brewery, and The Shed – they’re all new breweries to me! You can check out a full list of breweries represented right here

 

2. The Music

Brethren – local minstrels from Lancaster

Saint Sycamore – has some groove, looking forward to seeing what else they do

The Big Dirty – funk and jazz doin’ the big ol’ dirty in a jam band tent

 

3. The Food

Food trucks and local eateries will be vending during the beer fest and we all know it’s not good to drink on an empty stomach so I know I’ll be eating up. Eating up – is that a PA Dutch expression or do you say it where you live? Check out my friends at The Fridge (and head over to their 2nd anniversary party at their shop on Friday) for what is always delicious pizza. I’m particular stoked to try Baron von Schwein’s wares. I follow them on Instagram and oh.my.gawd. My phone needs a bib when I’m checking out their feed. You don’t have to be on Instagram to look. You know you wanna. There will also be sweets provided by vendors like Miesse Candies among others. The food, you guys. Even if you don’t dig your craft beer (you strange bird, you), go for the food.

 

4. The Weather

I mean, enough said.

5 Reasons to Attend the Lancaster Craft Beerfest

 

 

5. The Cost

Technically, this event is free and for all ages! There will be two separate areas, one where the food and music will be happening and the other is a beer garden where the beer will be flowing like milk and honey in the Promised Land itself. A few rules. Food can go into the beer garden but beer cannot leave the beer garden. Kids can eat the food and get their little groove on to the music but if they try entering the beer garden, this will happen: 

5 Reasons to Attend the Lancaster Craft Beerfest

Everyone knows not to mess with a wizard on the first Saturday of the month. I find the segregation silly but we live in a state with silly laws and people with silly notions. So, obey the rules or you will be escorted out. Don’t get sloppy drunk or you will be escorted out. To enter the beer garden you’ll need a ticket. VIP tickets ($55) to the Lancaster Craft Beerfest will get you in early to try beer samples and meet the brewers, nosh on food samples, and will score you a koozie. General Admission tickets ($35 in advance, $45 at door) will give you entry to the beer garden from 2pm-5pm, a 5 oz. sample glass, and all the samples your thirsty little heart desires. Just don’t over-sample or you will be escorted out. Mind your p’s and q’s. If you’re the DD, there is a ticket for you ($12) and it gives you entry into the beer garden and all the non-alcoholic root beer you can consume in 3 hours. It’s not like the Amish-made root beer our family bought roadside when I was a kid…

All in all, it sounds like a fab event and I’m looking forward to it. Plus I’ll have a new ‘do from my friend Ryan at Odyssey Salon so that’s exciting. Make sure to give a holler if you see me! 

For more information, go to Lancaster Craft Beerfest’s webpage.

Breweries + Wineries + Distilleries | Fine Craft Living

Craft Beer in Ocean City, MD – Shorebilly Brewing Company

Hot sticky bodies jostle and bump into one another under a cloudless and sun-soaked sky. Seagulls wheel and scream overhead and I instinctively duck every time the bombers go past because I’ve seen what these scavengers are capable of dropping on innocent heads. Waves crash like persistent thunder and the occasional sharp whistle blasts mean that someone isn’t obeying the rules and a lifeguard has to step in. I’ve already walked from the end of the boardwalk at the Pier and I’m ready to plant my own sweaty body on a seat somewhere and have something refreshing to drink. Luckily for me, I already had a destination in mind: Shorebilly Brewing Company.

Ocean City, MD, has lost a lot of luster for me over my 31+ years. It was once a childhood wonderland, with promise of days spent drinking Capri Sun slushies on the beach and not caring how much crunchy, gritty sand passed into my mouth with the leftover meatloaf sandwich pulled freshly from the cooler. After the beginning blossom of youth began unfolding into hormonally charged and fragrant petals, it became a time of displaying myself to the opposite sex like a Bird of Paradise (awkward, really) anywhere and everywhere: the boardwalk, the beach, early bird specials at the seafood joint down the road (because everyone knows moms and dads dig saving a buck or two), and even sitting by the road in front of my grandma’s trailer with my cousin, grinning mischievously at boys passing by.

All of this wonder and magic disappeared at some point. Maybe it was growing up and realizing that I don’t enjoy the bar scene that I so wanted to experience when I was young. I’m not into meat markets, I wasn’t even into them when I was single and much less so than ever since I’m married with two preschoolers. I am not a MILF, people. I’m a Mrs. I’m a mama. I’m not a bar or club scene junkie. 

I don’t order rum buckets or Corona buckets and you’ll never see me order a {insert name here} Light/Lite. I don’t walk around in bikinis on the boardwalk anymore. Who am I kidding? I don’t even wear bikinis anymore. So where do I go when I want to let my freak flag fly? I find myself a brewery or other such purveyor of craft beer and sit down and sip some seriously good beer and have a little something to nosh on. 

Craft Beer in Ocean City, MD - Shorebilly Brewing Company

Craft Beer in Ocean City, MD - Shorebilly Brewing Company

Shorebilly Brewing Company fit the beer, er, the bill. In a town driven by commercialism, t-shirt shops, Scopes, and frat boys on the prowl, Shorebilly Brewing Company is an oasis. Walk right in off the boardwalk and sit outside or at one of five barstools at the bar inside. The stools? They’re made from kegs. I was greeted with shelves of pretty growlers overhead, shiny Blichmann brew vessels and fermentation tanks lining the walls, and music that threw me right back to my youth: Bush, Alice in Chains, and Jane’s Addiction. Aw yeah! This is a place that feels like home and nary a Corona in sight.

Craft Beer in Ocean City, MD - Shorebilly Brewing Company

 

Craft Beer in Ocean City, MD - Shorebilly Brewing Company

I ordered a full flight of all five beers they had on tap: Sun’s Out Guns Stout (light in body but with a deliciously strong roasty finish), Happy Camper Amber Ale (fruity and malty with a beautiful caramel-amber color), Intergalactic IPA (first, I keep hearing Beastie Boys whenever I see or write Intergalactic IPA. Nicely balanced hop profile with some spicy and woody notes), Downtown Sugar Brown (is this an MTV reference? beautiful brown ale with a surprising hint of cinnamon. It wasn’t too spicy or too sweet or too strong … it was just right), Four-Ten Kolsch (pale and straw yellow in color with a slight cloud, this one is refreshing and crisp with a light hop in the nose and a decided malt backbone).

Craft Beer in Ocean City, MD - Shorebilly Brewing Company

Craft Beer in Ocean City, MD - Shorebilly Brewing Company

The flight arrived on a rad old school mini skateboard and I even got to choose my color: blue like the ocean just a short distance from the comfy barstool on which I sat. There were four holes drilled into the skateboard which fit the sample glasses perfectly. My fifth glass sat on top of the skateboard and everyone should be very happy to hear that I didn’t knock it off or spill it. Shocked, aren’t you. After sipping, chatting with two fellows from the Air Force on vacation for the first time on the East Coast, and asking the very kindly bartender a thousand and one questions about the brewery, I decided to order lunch from the menu and a glass of Downtown Sugar Brown. The glasses are basically a handled mason jar with the Shorebilly Brewing Company logo – maybe not “appropriate” glassware for certain styles of beer but it suits the atmosphere at the bar and the beach beyond. I settled on sriracha duck tacos and would order them again. And again. And again. There were three of them in the basket and I added extra sriracha on top the duck/slaw/sauce mixture because my taste buds aren’t satisfied unless they feel like I’m chomping on miniature fire ants. The duck was tender and the tacos were stuffed nicely for the price I paid.

Craft Beer in Ocean City, MD - Shorebilly Brewing Company

The merch at Shorebilly Brewing Company is great and someone in their marketing department knows what they’re doing. I walked away with two handled mason jars, a t-shirt for my husband (and he says it is already his new favorite shirt because it is so comfortable), a half-growler with a flip-top filled with Downtown Sugar Brown, a couple stickers and a skateboard keychain bottle opener. Nothing is priced extravagantly, the quality is top notch, and the presentation is professional. 

Craft Beer in Ocean City, MD - Shorebilly Brewing Company

It sounds like the Four-Ten Kolsch and Downtown Sugar Brown are the flagship beers at Shorebilly Brewing Company and the others may rotate. I definitely want to check them out again next time we’re in town to see if there is anything new to try. I often order flights at new breweries so I can try a variety of what they’re crafting. This was one flight that didn’t disappoint at all. I’m not even a huge brown ale fan and the Downtown Sugar Brown would have knocked my socks off if was wearing any. 

Craft Beer in Ocean City, MD - Shorebilly Brewing Company

If you’re in Ocean City, MD, and on the prowl for craft beer to quench your thirst, definitely check out Shorebilly Brewing Company. It’s conveniently located on the Boardwalk and 10th Street.

Craft Beer in Ocean City, MD - Shorebilly Brewing Company

They also have a wide variety of moonshine. I can direct you to the cinnamon moonshine with confidence. Oh, and the adorable mermaid? She’s proof that the craft beer here is so good it draws the sirens from the sea.

If you’re just learning about craft beer, head on over to Character Pub’s website where I’m writing a Craft Beer 101 series. 

Find Shorebilly Brewing Company on Facebook and Instagram.

Some of My Other Brewery and Beer Reviews

A Very Hipstamatic Troegs Brewery Tour

Magnolia Pub and Brewery

Sweetest Pint: A Craft Beer & Chocolate Tour in Downtown York, PA

The Monk’s Kettle - San Francisco

Sampling the World at Max’s Taphouse in Baltimore, MD

Touring the Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, NC

Sour & Stinky Fest at The Fridge in Lancaster, PA

Sour and Stinky Fest at The Fridge in Lancaster, PA

Some of you may grimace when you hear the words “sour” and “stinky” in terms of a food and beverage festival. I assure all the doubters out there that there is absolutely nothing distasteful about this combination. In fact, the Sour and Stinky Fest at The Fridge in Lancaster, PA, was nothing short of an outstanding event and treat for the taste buds.

Two flights and two slices
Two flights and two slices

We arrived early on in the day, around noon. The tables were mostly full and there was a pleasant chatter filling the space. Sunshine flooded in through the windows but despite a week-long heatwave, it was comfortable and cool inside. As always, the staff was friendly and knowledgeable and my husband and I chose to get a two flights of five beers each, giving us the opportunity to try each of the nine beers available and providing a full flight glass of the Birra del Buttero Marsilia Gose with Sea Salt for both of us. 

The cheese table was lovely. Wheels and wedges of colors ranging from creamy white to a rich golden orange were on display and carved into 1 oz. portions by Bill Mandros from Mandros Imported Foods in Lancaster (remind me to look that business up, will ya?!). The menu for the beer offered suggested pairings of cheese, based on the flavor and body profiles of the sours. I tell you what, pairing like that is far beyond my skill level and I was impressed with the carefully selected matches. 

From upper left-hand corner, clockwise: Morbier, Sottocenere Al Tartufo, Gorgonzola Piccante, Beemster Goat, Aged Beemster Gouda
From upper left-hand corner, clockwise: Morbier, Sottocenere Al Tartufo, Gorgonzola Piccante, Beemster Goat, Aged Beemster Gouda

We settled on five cheeses, morbier, sottocenere al tartufo, gorgonzola piccante, beemster goat, and aged beemster gouda. These were a collection from France, Italy, and Holland and from cows and goat, some pasteurized and some unpasteurized. My two favorites were the sottocenere al tartufo, an unpasteurized beauty both visually and to the taste. This cheese is made from cow’s milk and what sold me on choosing it in the first place was the words black Umbrian truffles. There was a distinctive black truffle presence throughout and with a layer of spice-heavy ash coating the outside of the cheese, it was a super complex and sensory delight. The other cheese I was especially fond of was the Aged Beemster Gouda, a pasteurized cheese from cows in Holland. Holland has happy cows and they make happy humans when their milk is turned into cheese which we then eat. This cheese was a vibrant golden-orange and although it was a firm cheese, it turned to velvet on the tongue. There were crunchy bits in the cheese, too, and while I haven’t a clue what causes crystallization in a cheese, I do declare it to be a wonderful thing. The creamy melting mixed with crystals was supremely enjoyable.

Sour beer menu
Sour beer menu
Stinky cheese menu
Stinky cheese menu

 

The Birra del Buttero Marsilia Gose with Sea Salt was one of only 15 kegs to hit Stateside. Anytime I stumble across a beer so rare and hard to find that I may never see it locally again, I jump on the chance to try. This one had a creamy and persistent head and it was a cloudy lemon-colored yellow, appropriate since to taste it one can definitely pick out an almost briny and lemon tone. I wanted a dozen raw oysters with this. At 4.5% ABV, this is a session style that I could have definitely had more of before heading out. It was sour but not too much so that it puckered my lips. It was a gentle, soft sour … again reminding me of the tang in the air by the sea.

From foreground to background: Cantillon Iris, Round Guys Saison du Pomme, Jolly Pumpkin BAM Biere, Jolly Pumpkin Baudelaire Beer iO Saison, Verhaeghe Duchesse de Bourgogne
From foreground to background: Cantillon Iris, Round Guys Saison du Pomme, Jolly Pumpkin BAM Biere, Jolly Pumpkin Baudelaire Beer iO Saison, Verhaeghe Duchesse de Bourgogne (and Kevin Brown – hi!)
From foreground to background: Mikkeller/To Ol Betegeuze, Bockor Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge, Brouwerij Dilewyns Vicaris Tripel Gueuze, Birra del Buttero Marsilia Gose with Sea Sa.t
From foreground to background: Mikkeller/To Ol Betegeuze, Bockor Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge, Brouwerij Dilewyns Vicaris Tripel Gueuze, Birra del Buttero Marsilia Gose with Sea Sa.t

Verhaeghe Duchesse de Bourgogne is always a go-to for me in the Flanders red style and it didn’t disappoint. What surprised me was that I actually preferred the Bockor Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge even more than the Duchesse. Both are Flemish reds. Both are sour. Both are about the same color, a rich and deep reddish-brown. Both originate from Belgium and are aged in oak casks. One noticeable difference for me was that the Jacobins Rouge was more complex, drier, and more sour than the Duchesse, which seemed soft and fruity-sweet to me in comparison. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with either but I may be a Jacobins Rouge convert now.

There was only one beer that I wasn’t fond of and it wasn’t bad, it just didn’t tickle my fancy. That was the Round Guys Saison du Pomme. I didn’t get any saison from this sample at all because it was so overpowered by sour apple flavor. This one was aged in apple brandy barrels and I think that just pushed it way over the edge for me. It was like sipping on a Jolly Rancher sour apple candy. I don’t like my beer to taste like candy (or my liquor). I am not into the whole line of liquors like whipped cream or cotton candy vodka. With all that being said, my taste buds are different than everyone else’s taste buds. I’m sure there are plenty of folks who tried the Saison du Pomme and completely enjoyed it. This is merely my opinion.

Sour and Stinky Fest at The Fridge in Lancaster, PA

All in all, it was a great event put on by a group of great people at The Fridge and I hope they do another one in the future! Check them out on Facebook and give them a like to keep up with their many events, including live music.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for this post and it is not sponsored by anyone.

Sweetest Pint: A Craft Beer & Chocolate Tour in Downtown York, PA

You may not have heard but this is American Craft Beer Week (ACBW). This week (May 13-19) has been set aside by the Brewers Association as a week to not only celebrate the small craft breweries out there but to also celebrate those who love and support the industry. Throughout the country this week, there will be events, educational opportunities, and a chance to vocalize your appreciation for the craft beer community. We’re in this together. Suppliers, purveyors, brewers, drinkers, get out and make sure you support your own local favorites this week and every week!

I kickstarted my personal pre-ACBW celebration by going on a brewery tour at Troegs on Friday and going on a Sweetest Pint craft beer and chocolate tour in downtown York, PA, on Saturday. This wasn’t the first Sweetest Pint that has happened but it is the first one I’ve gone on. In fact, this may be the first pub crawl I’ve ever been on.

You’re all shocked, I know.

While not all the beer styles were what I would order from a beer menu, all of the beer was paired beautifully with the food presented at each establishment. Each of the foods we sampled had some sort of chocolate or sweet quality to it. I also had the opportunity to check out some places in York that I’ve never dined or drank at before so it was a successful adventure into the tiny urban unknown in the city.

Sweetest Pint sounds like it is going to be held twice a year, once in the Spring and once in the Autumn. The last one was held in November 2012 and it must have been a great success since they organized another one! Indeed, there were what seemed like over 100 of us who congregated at the historic Yorktowne Hotel on Market Street for registration and pairing into one of six different groups. Each group had a volunteer leader who made sure we stayed on time so as to not gunk up the works for any of the other groups. My group’s leader was excellent and I spent much of my time chatting with her about food, travel, beer, and kids.

Sweetest Pint Craft Beer & Chocolate Tour in York, PA | Tickling My FancySweetest Pint Craft Beer & Chocolate Tour in York, PA | Tickling My Fancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What can you expect if you go on the next Sweetest Pint craft beer and chocolate tour? Other than colder weather, here is an idea of what you’ll see, drink, and eat.

Mudhook Brewing Company

Sweetest Pint Craft Beer & Chocolate Tour in York, PA | Tickling My Fancy

Attached to Central Market, Mudhook is a newer brewing company here in York, PA, that actually has its brewhouse right in the corner of this spacious and beautiful market. The owners of Mudhook take an active role in supporting the market community and also the larger community around them. They host many benefits and if you’d like to hold an evening for charitable work here, they’ll be happy to talk to you about it.

Sweetest Pint Craft Beer & Chocolate Tour in York, PA | Tickling My FancySweetest Pint Craft Beer & Chocolate Tour in York, PA | Tickling My Fancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pairing 1: Chocolate Lager with ham-wrapped cantaloupe with chocolate and cayenne on top. The chocolate lager was superb. It wasn’t overly sweet and the lager still shines through. It is brewed with cocoa nibs and noble hops. I’m not sure if I ever had a chocolate lager before but would order this again and again! This amuse-bouche was interesting. The cantaloupe was ripe and sweet, the ham was salty, the chocolate was firm, and I didn’t get the cayenne at all. It is entirely possible that my mouth has just been desensitized to heat.

Sweetest Pint Craft Beer & Chocolate Tour in York, PA | Tickling My Fancy

Pairing 2: Papa Ganoush Pils with strawberry mini-cupcakes. The pilsner was good, malty, and with a low hop profile. It was refreshing and paired nicely with the absolutely amazing strawberry mini-cupcake. These pretty little beauties had what looked to be some sort of vanilla bean icing and there were actual chunks of strawberries in them. This cupcake reminded me that warm weather is here to stay.

Mudhook Brewing: WebsiteFacebookTwitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bistro 19

Sweetest Pint Craft Beer & Chocolate Tour in York, PA | Tickling My Fancy

This was my first trip to Bistro 19. Apparently, the brunches here are delicious and at $10.99 all you can eat, they’re affordable. I haven’t had a brunch in over 5 years because, well, preschoolers. I think they’re old enough now to enjoy it so I think it is high time we head here for a brunch. And a mimosa for Mama. Or two. There was some fun, quirky art on the walls that was for sale. The one I fancied the most was a smaller canvas with a clam painted on it, eyes peeking out of its shell, and it said “clamdestine”. Ha! The bar atmosphere reminded me of something you’d see in a large city and I digged the heck out of it.

I didn’t take any food and beer photos in here because it was too dark. Mobile photographer does have its drawbacks.

Pairing 1: Elysian Dragonstooth Stout with cocoa & chipotle rubbed pork tenderloin. Holy cow, this pork tenderloin was incredibly moist and flavorful. If you cook, you know how pork can dry out fairly easily. This beautiful slab of meat was done just right. I’ve had the Dragonstooth before and it’s a solid beer with a nice chew from the oats.

Pairing 2: Wells Banana Bread Beer with chunky chocolate banana muffins. I’m not a fan of this beer. I don’t like bananas to begin with but can handle it in a well-made dessert like these muffins. They were delicious. Chunks of banana that I didn’t even mind, nicely spiced, moist, and warm from the oven. Moist and warm desserts are the best, what say you? And the beer paired well with it … but I’m so not a fan. Liquid banana bread just ain’t my thang.

Bistro 19: WebsiteFacebook

Elysian Brewing: WebsiteFacebookTwitter

Liquid Hero Brewery

Sweetest Pint Craft Beer & Chocolate Tour in York, PA | Tickling My Fancy

This was also my first time at Liquid Hero. It’s located out by the ballpark which I’m sure is a great spot for them before and after games. I’m also not a baseballer but if I was I’d be looking to wet my whistle somewhere and Liquid Hero is right there.

Sweetest Pint Craft Beer & Chocolate Tour in York, PA | Tickling My Fancy

I like the atmosphere and would like to go back to try more of the beers they offer because we only had one small sample glass (like, two sips worth) of a strawberry wheat along with a teensy tiny sample of a chocolate-covered cheese curl. I am not into fruit beers unless they’re sours. I think they often taste like fake syrup, are overly sweet, and don’t even taste like beer. If I want juice, I’ll drink juice. If I want beer, I want to taste hops, malt, and yeast (which can give off some fruity feelings, I know, I know). Anyway, from murmurings around me, the strawberry wheat beer was delicious, so if you like fruity beers you’ll dig this. The chocolate-cheese curl came from Sharon’s Sweet Shop – I can’t say much at all about this because it was there and gone so quickly I couldn’t really tell what it tasted like or what I thought about it. It was chocolatey. It was crunchy.

Hey, Liquid Hero, I’m not trying to dog your strawberry wheat, by the way. I’ll be back in sometime soon to try all your liquid lovelies and give you a proper review!

Sweetest Pint Craft Beer & Chocolate Tour in York, PA | Tickling My Fancy

 

Liquid Hero had its start as a homebrewery. As a member of the Pink Boots Society and homebrewer myself, I admire all these successful stories. Huzzah!

Oh, and I spied this there. Nerds will rule the world! <3

Sweetest Pint Craft Beer & Chocolate Tour in York, PA | Tickling My Fancy

Liquid Hero: WebsiteFacebookTwitter

Sharon’s Sweet Shop: Facebook

Maewyn’s

Sweetest Pint Craft Beer & Chocolate Tour in York, PA | Tickling My Fancy

If you’re searching for an Irish-style pub in York, this is where you should go. The female servers look like naughty Catholic schoolgirls in their skimpy little Tartan plaid and the male servers wear kilts, so no one was complaining. I mean … kilts. I was super pleased that they served a glass full of Dogfish Head Chicory Stout. It made up for the teensy taster I had a few minutes before. It’s a beer tour! I want beer! Chicory Stout is always an enjoyable beer. It is dark, strong, and has a bit of coffee here and a bit of chocolate there. It tasted quite nice with the mole chipotle chocolate chili with chocolate cornbread.

Sweetest Pint Craft Beer & Chocolate Tour in York, PA | Tickling My Fancy

I never thought of chocolate cornbread before! It was moist, subtle, and was completely enjoyable, especially with the chili and the beer. The chili was full of complex spices and I not only would order this again but I want to recreate it in my own kitchen. The entire meal, along with the chicory stout. Yum!

Maewyn’s: WebsiteFacebookTwitter

Dogfish Head Brewery: WebsiteFacebookTwitter

White Rose Bar & Grill

Sweetest Pint Craft Beer & Chocolate Tour in York, PA | Tickling My Fancy

Chocolate-covered bacon. I waited my entire life for this moment and I was almost scared to take a bite in case I felt let down. I shouldn’t have been so silly! It was everything and more I ever imagined it would be. Salt crunch marries sweet creaminess and heaven is momentarily held in your mouth. It was paired with a Gunpowder Falls Dunkel, which is a dark lager made in New Freedom. I really like this Dunkel and though it isn’t the first style I choose from a beer menu, this is a smooth, balanced, deliciously brewed representation of the style. I’d like to visit the brewery someday soon to see their operations, as well as try their other beer, which is a pilsner.

I didn’t get any photos of the food and beer because we were pretty much given standing-room only. It was busy in there! (always an indication of a well-loved business)

White Rose Bar & Grill: WebsiteFacebookTwitter

Gunpowder Falls Brewing: WebsiteFacebookTwitter

Holy Hound Taproom

Sweetest Pint Craft Beer & Chocolate Tour in York, PA | Tickling My Fancy

If you’re looking for a wide variety of craft beer in a warm atmosphere in downtown York, this is where you want to plant your bottom for a few hours. I really love this place, from the choices of beer they serve, to some fantastic food like their pulled pork, to frequent live music. We were given Atwater Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale along with a cup of from-scratch Cincinnati-style chili made with sirloin tips, bacon fat, kidney beans, chocolate stout, and chocolate.

Sweetest Pint Craft Beer & Chocolate Tour in York, PA | Tickling My Fancy

Heart. Be. Still. The ticker is still thumping heavily over this chili, in a good way. The beer paired beautifully with the chili. I want some right now. There should really be a growler and chili delivery service. Get on that, you entrepeneurial types!

Get in to Holy Hound and try one of their 30 drafts. Support local business – drink good beer!

Holy Hound Taproom: WebsiteFacebookTwitter

Atwater Brewery: WebsiteFacebookTwitter

Sweetest Pint Details

Cost: $35 for early bird with a guaranteed shirt size, $40 standard ticket price

Duration: 3 hours long but registration began 30 minutes beforehand

Next Sweetest Pint date: ? TBD! Keep an eye on Downtown York’s website, Facebook, or Twitter. Sign up for their newsletter and get it all right in your inbox.

 

{Disclaimer: I paid for my own ticket and was not compensated by anyone for writing about this event. All thoughts and opinions are, and always will remain, my own.}

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A Very Hipstamatic Troegs Brewery Tour

My collection of Mother’s Day gifts this year all came before the actual day of Hallmark celebration and tasted and sounded delightful. A few weeks ago we went to see GOAT, a groovy psych-rock band from Sweden that I absolutely love.

 

This past weekend I enjoyed the Sweetest Pint tour in York, PA, where we hit 6 different establishments and sampled beer and food samples with an emphasis on chocolate as an ingredient. I’ll be reviewing that tour later this week.

On Friday, my husband and I headed up the road to the sweetest town on Earth, Hershey, to tour Tröegs Brewery.

Hershey Chocolate Smokestacks

We’ve been on quite a few brewery tours and they’re basically all the same because the process of making beer is the same wherever you go. What differs is the facility and the tour presentation.

A Very Hipstamatic Tröegs Brewery Tour | Tickling My Fancy

Tröegs is a family business and has been growing steadily in size and volume since their beginning in 1997. I used to serve John and Chris Trogner coffee now and then when I worked at Sparky & Clark’s in downtown Harrisburg back in the early 2000′s. I was too young to drink beer at the time (so of course I didn’t) but I remember how kind, happy, and humble the brothers were. Tröegs is a brewery that has won many awards for its beer, which comes as no surprise to me. Even if I didn’t have the affinity for them as a fairly local brewery, their beer is consistently excellent and they deserve any accolade that comes their way.

Our tour was given by Bob, who has been with the company from the beginning, helping and volunteering as he was able. Now that he is in his second retirement (after traveling the world with the US Army and then working as a pharmaceutical rep), he gives tours at Tröegs and the passion he has for their product and love he has for beer is evident. He has been a fan of finely crafted beer for over 50 years! He knows what he’s talking about!

A Very Hipstamatic Tröegs Brewery Tour | Tickling My Fancy

For the tour we took through the Tröegs facility, I used the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone with the Americana lens and US1776 film. These are all b&w with a light grain and softness around the edge of the photos. This is the first time I’ve documented an entire tour in b&w and I’m happy with how it turned out.

Okay! It’s time to don your safety glasses, watch your step on any wet floors, and follow Bob through the brewhouse.

Tröegs - you know you're here when you enter the front door!
Tröegs – you know you’re here when you enter the front door!

After you enter the brewery, make your first right into the gift shop and tour area. Make sure you reserve a spot on the tour before you arrive to ensure room in the group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is an option for a self-guided tour but you’ll miss out on a lot of the personal and detailed information about the brewery, its history, and the process of making beer. Here is a sample of what you’ll see on the self-guided tour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you opt for the $5 guided tour, expect it to run 45-60 minutes and include samples of beer. Don’t wear heels or open-toe shoes. Think sensible and comfortable. The floors may be wet in spots and you will be walking up and down stairs. Still photography is permitted but video is not (for safety reasons). Also, be polite and don’t take or make phone calls or text during the tour! There is no potty break during the tour so keep that in mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are interested in learning more about how beer is made, I recommend you head over to Character’s Pub’s website and read a Craft Beer 101 series I’m writing for them. It should answer many of the questions you may have. If you have any others, feel free to drop me a line and I’ll do what I can to answer them for you!

A trip to Tröegs Brewery isn’t complete without sitting down and having a pint or two and ordering some food from the snack bar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a brewery worth traveling to see! Which breweries are in your neck of the woods that I should visit?

The Details

Address: 200 E. Hersheypark Dr., Hershey, PA  17033

Phone: 717.534.1297

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SAVOR: Interview with Kevin Brown, co-owner of The Fridge

Last year I interviewed Kevin Brown, co-owner of The Fridge in Lancaster, PA, on his experience at SAVOR. SAVOR is “an American craft beer and food experience” and has been building steam since its debut in 2008 in Washington DC. Since then it has sold out festivals in 10 minutes, had exciting collaborations between breweries like Boulevard Brewing and Sierra Nevada, and had Chef Adam Duyle (from one of my favorite spots for beer and food in San Francisco, The Monk’s Kettle) consult on food and craft beer pairings.

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It’s the creme de la creme of industry awesomeness. It’s a refined and sophisticated event, always held in a gorgeous location. This year, SAVOR will be in NYC on June 14 and 15 at the Metropolitan Pavilion and Altman Building in Manhattan.

So what does someone whose career is in the craft beer industry have to say about this event? Read what Kevin Brown thought about SAVOR and whether he’d go to the festival again. Make sure you check out his business, The Fridge, when you’re in Lancaster (details at the end of the interview). With a collection of over 400 bottles and drafts that are carefully chosen by owners who are passionate about craft beer, and lovely pizzas that are made from-scratch and with local ingredients, this will be a place you’ll want to go to again and again.

Interview with Kevin Brown

Amber: In your own words, how would you describe SAVOR?

Kevin: SAVOR was a very exclusive, high-end craft beer and food festival. There were 70 different brewers and each of them had anywhere from two to four beers so there were a lot of really good beers to try. It was in a beautiful location, the National Building Museum, and most of the people who were pouring were the brewers themselves so they were very knowledgeable. The whole venue had a great vibe and feel. The food itself was kind of difficult to get to, even though they tried to pair the beers with the food at each table, because it was crowded, a little oversold, in a sense. There was a very short, pressed period of time to try everything, 3.5 hours when it should have been 5 to 6 hours. You had all this beer to drink and you didn’t get a chance to try nearly as many as you could have, should have and wanted to. You also didn’t get to spend as much time with the brewers. For example, I would have liked to stop to talk and make some connections but even though I’m in the industry and selling a lot of their products, they were crushed for time and crushed with people. As far as beer and food festivals goes, it was one of the nicer ones I’ve been to. The quality of the beer was exceptional. I would have done something different with the food, maybe more buffet style, because it was almost impossible to juggle that and beer. For this area, it’s probably the premier festival or event for craft beer and food.

Amber: Did they have the food prepared and on plates on the tables?

Kevin: Yeah, they had large square tables set up and each table had two different kinds of food on the corners. They were on platters and you just had to go up and grab what you wanted, hors d’oeuvres-style, so it was kind of difficult to manage getting your food and your beer without spilling. There was no one there to talk to about the food either. It was put out there and although there was a decent description of what was paired with the beers, it was a little awkward in the presentation and the style. They did have a seafood raw bar with oysters but it was so crowded! That’s one of my favorite things to eat and I couldn’t even get to them. I really didn’t even get one single oyster.

Amber: That’s disappointing.

Kevin: It was definitely a little too crowded in the short period of time that they had it. Even planning ahead of time, you couldn’t do and try everything you wanted.

Amber: Did it live up to your expectations?

Kevin: Yes and no. The quality of the food, the people, and the beers that they had were phenomenal but you just couldn’t get to them. I didn’t get to eat nearly as much as I would have, or wanted. So the event on paper and what they actually had met my expectations but the ability to work through it and get to everything did not. It was a little disappointing in that regard.

Amber: What were a few beer highlights or food highlights that you had?

Kevin: The beer highlights were definitely the Avery Uncle Jacob’s Stout which was an 18% bourbon barrel aged imperial stout. That was ridiculous. The Stone Ruination 10-Year Anniversary, which I got to try before we had it here {at The Fridge}, was definitely a standout. The Stone Highway 78 Scotch Ale was mind-blowing. The Fat Heads Head Hunter IPA was incredible, and surprisingly, the Sam Adams Oyster Stout was really delicious. Jim Koch served it to me himself and it was great!

Amber: Very nice!

Kevin: Yeah! The Uinta Labyrinth was also a really nice surprise. Cigar City had an imperial porter that was just fantastic.

Amber: Did you walk away feeling inspired? And if so, how will attending SAVOR help you in your own business?

Kevin: I think the inspiration came from the crowd itself at the venue, seeing how people were dressed and realizing that we’ve elevated craft beer to a new level. You know, beer festivals you usually go to are sloppy outside drunk-fests and this definitely wasn’t. There were people in formal wear who were enjoying craft beer like you would at a wine festival. Just the excitement of it in that formal venue, in that setting, made me really proud to be part of the industry. It made me want to work harder to seek out connections with brewers directly and build relationships to get some of the beers that they’re really proud of. There is a little bit of disconnect in the middle, between brewers and going through distribution. The tiered system just doesn’t work. I was inspired to work directly with the brewers and kind of force the distributors to get the beers we need to have.

Amber: Will you go again?

Kevin (with no hesitation): Absolutely. It’s in NYC next year. I’ll probably try to go every year. I don’t know if SAVOR would change anything but if I could I would just lengthen the time period. It’s too much in too short a period of time. I thought I went in with a good plan but I didn’t. Now that I’ve been to one I’ll definitely go in with a short list. When you get an 18% stout poured, it’s only a 3 oz. pour but you’re like – I gotta sip on this thing – you know, it kills time! You want to and have to have it, but that’s a high ABV!

Amber: And if you drink it too fast, then …

Kevin: Oh yeah, at the end of the night people were dropping like flies because they were so drunk and it shouldn’t be that way. You had so much high alcohol, good beer, and everybody was manically trying to go through their list. You had to slam down your taster and move onto the next one when you really should have slowed down and enjoyed, but you had to drink fast to try everything you wanted to have.

Amber: Did they just have one session or were there multiple sessions?

Kevin: There was just one session, I mean there was one Friday night and one Saturday night but you could only buy one session.

Amber: Ah. It does seem strange to me that if there is only one session allowed that they’d smoosh it into 3.5 hours.

Kevin: Right. There were some educational salons throughout the day for brewers to educate and offer presentations but I don’t believe they were tasting during that time. It definitely wasn’t a “get in early and start drinking” type of setup at all. And when it was 11 o’clock it was done. I mean, there was no more. People just shut down. It was Philly Beer Week the week prior and you could tell a lot of the brewers were just worn out. And they had another night to go after that. so they were kind of cooked. I’ll tell you what, though, even though I couldn’t get to the oysters and raw bar, I could get to the cheese. There was an incredible spread of cheese, so I just circled back and used that as my main source of nourishment for the evening. The people who worked that table were excited about it and really knew their stuff, they spent time with every single person who was there and were able to work the crowd and it was great.

(end of interview)

What was Kevin’s final thought on SAVOR?

“It’s definitely worth going to.”

 

Details on SAVOR

Date and location: June 14 & 15 at the Metropolitan Pavilion and Altman Building in Manhattan, 125-135 West 18th Street. 7:30pm-11pm

Cost: $170 for Grand Tasting, $195 for Grand Tasting + Salon Package

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Details on The Fridge

Location: 534 N. Mulberry St., Lancaster, PA 17603

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the fridge lancaster pa pizza craft beer restaurant

Funky Sour Fest at Iron Hill Brewery in Lancaster, PA

A few weekends ago we went to a Funky Sour Fest at Iron Hill Brewery in Lancaster, PA. Iron Hill remains one of my favorite local breweries and the food and service is always excellent too. I had the very great pleasure of brewing with their former head brewer Paul Rutherford a few years ago – you can read all about that experience over on Huffington Post. Paul is now the head brewer at Iron Hill’s Chestnut Hill location. Some of the beer we had at this particular fest was actually brewed when Paul was still at the Lancaster brewpub.

I don’t get to Iron Hill nearly as much as I’d like since we’ve moved over the river and through the woods, so I was extra excited to have the opportunity to attend their Funky Sour Fest.

Sour beer makes my mouth happy. Pucker up, buttercup, that acidity is gonna hit you right in the kisser and leave you asking for more.

When you hear that a beer is sour, it doesn’t mean it has gone bad. It’s not spoilt, like milk. It is, in fact, delicious and refined. Sour as in tart. Acidic. Sometimes grassy. Other times fruity.

Always delightful.

We haven’t brewed any sours yet but it’s in the planning. We recently purchased a used whiskey barrel that we plan on using for sour beer at some point in the future.

There were five different sours available and I went for the flight so I could sample some of each.

Oak Aged Saison

Flemish Red

Funkadelic Cherry Brown Ale

Oak Cherry Quad

Biere de Mars

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any tasting notes on each of the beers but I do know that I enjoyed the Oak Cherry Quad the most. I got the oak, the cherry, and the distinct quad-characteristics, all beautifully woven through with a tart sour thread.

I should have bought a bottle for the cellar.

If you live in the area and haven’t been to one of the Iron Hill locations before, I recommend you remedy that soon. I always appreciate the care that the company puts into training its employees and recognizing them for their hard work. Also, if you haven’t heard about the recent PLCB (Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board) debacle regarding Iron Hill and their mug club, then check out this short excerpt from Kevin Finn’s meeting with the PLCB and read the entire transcript after the jump. Mr. Finn is the President and CEO of Iron Hill.

We are currently allowed to offer one free drink per customer per visit under our license but we are not allowed to offer a larger portion of beer to a paying customer? This does not seem to make sense.  Additionally, the casinos in the State are allowed unlimited free drinks to customers. While the PLCB seems concerned that loyalty clubs are enticing customers to drink too much, the law allows casinos to use unlimited amounts of alcohol to entice customers to gamble.  Hardly seems like we are all playing by the same rules.  - Kevin Finn of Iron Hill Brewery, as testified to the PLCB on August 21, 2012

Let’s make sure to support our local breweries, even when it goes beyond buying a pint and actually sending an email or calling up our local representatives. Our government should be working for us and supporting our views – they won’t know what we think if we don’t speak up and tell them.

Do you enjoy sour beers? If I had to choose one favorite, it would be Duchesse de Bourgogne.

Sampling the World at Max’s Taphouse in Baltimore, MD

You can travel around the world while sitting in the same barstool. It’s true.

Start out in Scotland (Harviestoun), move on to Japan (Hitachino Nest), then United States (Russian River), and end in Belgium (Brouwerij Bavik).

Short of actually traveling to those countries - and who wouldn’t want to do a world craft beer tour? - this is as close as some may get to planting two cheeks firmly in Brussels. Although a two-week trip may not be in this year’s budget, surely a couple quality bottles of beer from those bucket list destinations can be.

It's me! Photo by Michael DeGrace

I travel for beer. I mean, I travel, but whenever I travel I seek out local breweries and establishments that sell beer that I may not be able to find back home. Drinking and dining are two of my favorite things about any destination and I find that so many others pieces of the cultural puzzle fit in neatly around those two focal points. One can learn so much about a place through experiencing its food and drink and it is one of the easiest ways to strike up a conversation with locals (that and, “Where’s the bathroom?”).

Every year there are more and more craft breweries popping up everywhere. Thanks to education and availability of craft beer, the industry continues in an upward movement making it easier to find when traveling.

Whether you’re traveling far and find yourself in Baltimore, are going a short distance like I do, or are a Charm City native, Max’s Taphouse is one of the types of places where it would be a shame to not slake one’s thirst.

Fells Point in Baltimore, MD

Fells Point in Baltimore, MD

Let’s talk about the location. Max’s Taphouse is located in historic Fells Point, right along the harbor and a quick water taxi ride from Inner Harbor. Fells Point is full of independent businesses, from brick oven pizza, thrift shops, and the famous Bertha’s Mussels. Be advised that streets in this section of the city are cobblestone and can wreak havoc on heels or even flip flops if you’re not paying attention. I may know this from experience. Maybe.

There is inside and outside seating at Max’s Taphouse. We sat inside. It’s not that it wasn’t a beautiful day but we wanted to check the place out and, well, drop some jaws at the tap and bottle list. There are 140 taps that are constantly rotating, 5 cask options, and about 1200 bottles.

1200 bottles.

Signs at Max's Taphouse

Quote at Max's Taphouse

The walls are covered with beer signs, beer art, beer quotes, and more beer-related paraphernalia. There are rows of cans along the walls by the ceiling (kind of reminded me of our bottles at home).

Prescriptions at Max's Taphouse

Walk up to the bar and let the bartender know what prescription you need. Watch baseball, football, or golf on one of the big screen tv’s above the bar.

Busy bar at Max's Taphouse

There are many seats in Max’s Taphouse, both at the bar and at tables but when we arrived on a Friday evening around 7pm it was packed. Luckily, I was only sardined against the dating couple in front of me for a few minutes before a bar table opened up. 

I snagged that table like it was the last blender on the shelf during a Black Friday 4am mobbing.

ps: I do not go out on Black Friday, for any reason whatsoever.

Draft menu at Max's Taphouse

I enjoyed a New Belgium Brewery Lips of Faith Brett Beer and an Oliver Breweries Spruce is Loose. I’m ready to go back and try more. I doubt I’ll be ordering one of the $120 bottles of beer any day soon but a girl can dream and this one does.

Max’s Taphouse also serves food but we weren’t there to eat this time around. Max’s Tater Bowl has tots with house pulled pork, melted cheddar, sour cream, and bacon on top. Dear God, I want that in my mouth. They also have burgers, salads, and other standard pub fare.

The bathrooms are clean, the service is efficient, and that beer sure is flowing. I do recommend Max’s Taphouse and think you should check it out and recommend it to your friends. With over 1200 bottles, there is more than enough to go around while drinking your way around the world.

The Details

Address: 737 South Broadway Street, Baltimore, MD  21231


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Phone: 410.675.6297 or 888.675.6297

Hours: Monday through Sunday 11am-2am

Parking: Street

Credit cards accepted

Private parties welcome

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Touring the Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, NC

You know I like beer finely crafted beer. We make it a point to research any new area we’re traveling through and see what breweries and craft beer bars are in the area. A few favorites we’ve hit in the past few years are Toronado Pub in San Francisco, Porterhouse Brewing Company in Dublin, and Max’s Taphouse in Baltimore.

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Of course you can imagine my excitement when I saw that Highland Brewing Company was going to be part of our guided exploration of Asheville, NC, on a recent trip hosted by the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau. {This was a sponsored tour but all thoughts and opinions are my own.}

Highland Brewing Company building

Entry at Highland Brewing Company

I’ve toured quite a few breweries and every one has the same basics: grain gets milled, put in a mash tun with water, transferred to another tank where it boils for a little while with ingredients like hops, put into a fermentation tank until the yeasties stop working their magic, then put into kegs or bottles to enjoy. That’s a basic-like, in-a-nutshell explanation of the process. In reality it’s hard work and hot work, but best of all is it’s rewarding work.

Brew boots!

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We had the privilege of having our tour hosted by Oscar Wong, the owner and founder of Highland Brewing Company. The first beer at Highland was kegged in 1994 and the business continues to grow in size and popularity but Oscar has no desire to grow too much too quickly. He doesn’t want to lose any of the quality of the products they put on the market and I find that commendable.

Oscar Wong gave us the tour

Highland Brewing Company’s name comes from the local history of the Asheville area, largely settled by Scots-Irish. This was Oscar’s way of paying homage to those courageous settlers and this dedication to cultural preservation in Asheville was a common theme I saw over my days there. The mascot in the brewing area is jovial, memorable, and perfect for the company. Highland does their own bottling and kegging in-house and are currently brewing on a 50-barrel system, eight times a week.

Highland Brewing Company mascot

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The brewery has a tasting room, merchandise counter, tables, and a stage for live musical performances. There is an area inside the front door where one can play cornhole with a few drinking buddies. Tours are offered for interested patrons and I highly recommend taking the tour. There are dining tables on the deck outside and a view of an old silo for Blue Ridge Motion Pictures, the production company that once owned and operated from the building that Highland Brewing Company and Troy & Sons Distillers currently use.

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I sampled the Oatmeal Porter, Kashmir IPA, and Little Hump Spring Ale. All fit the appropriate flavor profiles and were quite enjoyable and refreshing on a hot day in the mountains. You can currently find Highland Brewing Company beers in seven states and Pennsylvania isn’t one of them. If you live in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, or Virginia and haven’t tried their beer yet, you should remedy that today.

An interesting note to homebrewers out there: Highland Brewing Company uses a special type of label on their bottles that peel right off without having to soak and scrape.

Details

Address: 12 Old Charlotte Highway, Suite H, Asheville, NC  28803


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Phone: 828.299.3370

Hours: Brewery tours are Monday through Saturday at 4pm. Contact them for specific hours of operation.

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