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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It has been dark and dreary as of late. The weather has been warm enough but the sky has been piled thickly with clouds in various shades of grey (more than 50, I’m sure) and fog has been blanketing low-lying areas like a living, breathing creature. Yesterday was my birthday and I didn’t want to sit in the house all day long. The kids have been stir-crazy and needed to get out of the house. We decided to don wet weather gear and head to a park, despite the rain.
Getting outside, no matter what the weather, is nearly always the best choice to make.
We wended our way to Susquehannock State Park in beautiful southern Lancaster County, PA. This park offers over 200 acres of outdoor opportunity for your family. There are various hiking trails, ranging from easy to difficult. It is a just a short walk from the parking lot to Hawk Point Overlook, recognized by the Audubon Society as an Important Bird Area because of its importance to the bird population (makes sense, huh?). From the overlook, you will see the Susquehanna River flowing through the land as it winds through an area once inhabited by a small tribe of Native Americans who Captain John Smith called the Susquehannocks, the people at the falls.
Of course, like many Native Americans who lived in this newly “discovered” land, the Susquehannocks were eventually chased off of their land or killed. That’s a post for another time.
What else is there to do at Susquehannock State Park?
Play baseball. Hike one or several of the trails. Hike them all! Be still and watch for eagles – Mt. Johnson Island can be seen from Hawk Point Overlook and it was the world’s first bald eagle sanctuary. Take your horses, these trails are equine-friendly, except for the Rhododendron Trail. Picnic at one of the 100+ tables scattered throughout the park. Take your dog (on a leash, please).
There are even complimentary doggie doodie bags at the park information sign. Take your kids and point out moss on trees, ask them to listen to the many birds singing, and encourage them to touch the dirt. It’s okay! Make sure you keep an eye on young children at the overlook, as the drop off is nearly 400 feet and quite steep. Bring some quarters to use the optical viewer, at least on a clear day. Camp.
Get out and enjoy the beauty around you.