Monday, July 28, 2014

Philly Beer Camp- August 2


Sierra Nevada has packed the sleeping bag, readied the tent, topped off the gas tank, filled the cooler with great beers and is slowly making its way across the country with this year’s Beer Camp, which stops in Philadelphia on Aug. 2.

The brewery has also invited every craft brewery in the country - more than 2,700 - to participate in the event that will culminate in Mills River, NC, where the business is opening its second facility. The festival has a total of seven stops along the way and began at the current facility in Chico, Calif. on July 19. Proceeds from each stop go to the brewers’ guilds of the host states.

Not only is this a tour celebrating great craft beers, craft beer culture, and brewery relationships, it also has produced 12 brand new brews as collaborations between Sierra Nevada and several participating breweries that have been released in a celebratory Beer Camp 12-Pack. Here is just a small sampling of some of the beers and breweries who have collaborated with Sierra Nevada on this project: Allagash Brewing Company, Myron’s Walk Belgian-Style Pale Ale; Ballast Point Brewing Company, Electric Ray India Pale Lager; Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Torpedo Pilsner; Ninkasi Brewing Company, Double Latte Coffee Milk Stout; Russian River Brewing Company, Yvan the Great Belgian-Style Blonde; 3 Floyds Brewing Co., Chico King Pale Ale; and of course Philly’s very own Victory Brewing Company, Alt Route Altbier.

The excitement around Beer Camp and what comes with is very palpable within the craft beer industry, and with so many breweries participating in it it’s easy to see why. The stop in Philly is also great for some of our local breweries who will join the event.

Local breweries Berwick Brewing Company, Susquehanna Brewing Company, Old Forge Brewing Company, and Barley Creek Brewing Company will make appearances alongside numerous other breweries, proudly representing the growing craft beer culture within our area.

Beer Camp is not only great to attend if you are a craft beer fanatic - after all, many great breweries will be attending this event and some may be quite difficult to find outside of it - but there is much more to Beer Camp than tasting delicious beer. It is really a celebration and has been organized by one of the true pioneers of craft beer, Ken Grossman.

Ken Grossman has seen the craft beer landscape drastically change since opening the doors at Sierra Nevada in 1980. Back then the idea of craft beer was a mere novelty when compared to the sheer dominance of mass-produced beer that flooded store shelves; since that time the dynamic has certainly changed.

Beer Camp is as much a celebration and a tip of the cap to the man who waved the craft beer flag before many of us even knew of craft beer as it is a celebration to all the men and women who have paved the way for us to drink good beer and have it readily available.

Beer Camp is a must-attend event for all of those who love craft beer and want to honor the industry that has truly shown what craftsmanship is all about.

Beer Camp will be at Penn Treaty Park (1341 North Delaware Ave., Philadelphia) on Aug. 2 from noon to 5 p.m. The event is 21 and over and tickets are $65. Designated driver tickets are also available for $30.

For more information about Beer Camp visit

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bouncing with Flavor

Beer: Bouncy House

Brewer: Smuttynose Brewing Company

Style: American IPA

ABV: 4.30%

Description: Bouncy House pours a delightful pale gold color with white rocky head that leaves behind a very thin layer of lacing. The aroma is full of hops with notes of pine, herbs, grass, pears, tangerine, and biscuit malt in the background. The taste follows the nose with hops up front, again bringing notes of pine and herbs with a variety of fruit as well tangerines, pear, and hints of grapefruit followed by sweet biscuit and bread malts before a crisp dry finish takes over. The balance in this beer tips a bit towards the hops, but it still is a very enjoyable session beer. The light body and moderate carbonation aid in giving this beer it’s very crisp mouthfeel and dry finish. The session IPA is not an easy balancing act to pull off, but Smuttynose has created an easy-drinking and highly sessionable IPA with Bouncy House.

Food pairing: This is a great beer to have on hand for summer cookouts and goes well with a variety of meats, but is absolutely perfect with pork. Try pairing with a pulled pork sandwich, roasted pork, and also ribs, and do not be afraid to slather on the BBQ sauce. Bouncy House will pick up on all those wonderful spices sprinkled throughout the sauce and the crisp carbonation will cleanse the palate every time! The other great pairing for this beer is fish, specifically mahi mahi. The best way to prepare it is to give the fish a spicy-sweet combination for the beer to really showcase itself and sink its teeth into. Try preparing Maple Cajun mahi mahi, as the sweet maple syrup is complimented by Cajun spices and the beer brings everything together harmoniously. If you are looking for something a little lighter, try pairing with a Waldorf goat cheese salad. If you want an exquisite dessert experience with your beer, try preparing a peach and goat cheese tartine, as either of these pairings will make you truly feel like its summer any time of the year.

The final word: The session IPA has become something of a goal for many American craft brewers. The explosion of craft beer has made many drinkers realize that after one or two - especially when compared with non-craft beer drinking friends - the night typically comes to an end early. This issue has led craft brewers to try long and hard to find the right balance of malt and hops to deliver a full-flavored IPA, but with less ABV. Smuttynose did several test batches of this beer and asked craft beer lovers for feedback to find the perfect balance, and it has finally dialed it in with this recipe. The hops are present enough for many hopheads to still enjoy their favorite beer style, and actually weighs in at an impressive 86 IBUs, but the ABV is perfect for a beer to enjoy for a long night out with friends. It also makes a perfect summer beer to enjoy by the poolside!


Where can I get it? Currently available in 12-ounce bottles at Backyard Ale House- Scranton, PA and Krugel’s Georgetown Deli- Wilkes-Barre, PA. Currently available on tap at Cooper’s Seafood- Scranton, PA; Beer Boys- Wilkes-Barre, PA; and Tiffany’s Tap & Grill- Eynon, PA.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

What is a Belgian Pale Ale?

Style: Belgian Pale Ale

Brief history: The Belgian Pale Ale style has roots dating as far back as the mid-1700s. The style has changed quite a bit over the years, with the biggest change occurring during World War II when more Belgian brewers brewed and experimented with the style to compete with pilsners. They differ from other regional Pale Ale varieties, by traditionally being less bitter, using aged hops for a delicate hop finish, and boasting sweetish to toasty malt overtones. The style as we now know it stems from the influence of English hops and yeast strains.

Standard characteristics: As with American or India Pale Ale, balance is the key to brewing this style of beer with no one characteristic being more dominant than the other. The overall impression of the beer should be fruity, moderately malty, somewhat spicy, easy drinking, and typically copper to amber in color with an ABV range between 4.8 to 5.5 percent, with some exceptions,and  are considered Belgian session beers.

Nose: The aroma should have malt present with subtle fruit and hop character as well. The malt aroma should be toasty and biscuit-like with subtle orange or pear-like notes. The hop aromas should lean more towards being floral or spicy without being too dominant, and have subtle spicy pepper-like notes in the background.

Body: A medium to medium-light body is standard for the style with very little alcohol heat present due to the typical lower levels of alcohol within the beer. The carbonation should also fall well within the medium range for a smooth, easy-drinking mouthfeel.

Taste: The overall flavor profile for the style should be fruity and lightly to moderately spicy with soft, smooth malt and relatively light hop character. The hop bitterness should also be low to keep the beer in complete balance and enhance the drinkability.

Food pairing: Almost any pork dish is perfect for Belgian Pale Ales: sausages, roast suckling pig, pork chops, roast loin of pork, pork tenderloin, or pork shoulder. This beer is also ideal with roasted chicken, lamb, turkey, and a wide array of white fish.

Recommendations: Belgian Pale Ales are beers that can be enjoyed from a vast array of beer drinkers ranging from someone drinking his or her first craft beer to the most jaded of craft beer drinkers. The easy drinkability of these beers is important to the style and many have lower ABV’s and have been brewed to be enjoyed by the pint during a night out. Here are just a few recommendations:

Brewery Ommegang- Rare Vos

Russian River Brewing Company- Redemption

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales- Luciérnaga; The Firefly

Weyerbacher Brewing Co.- Verboten

Brasserie d'Orval S.A.- Orval Trappist Ale
Brooklyn Brewery- Local 1

Goose Island- Matilda

Brouwerij Palm NV- Palm

The Lost Abbey- Devotion Ale

Brouwerij De Smedt/Brouwerij Affligem- Affligem Blond

Good Karma

Beer: Karma

Brewer: Avery Brewing Company

Style: Belgian Pale Ale

ABV: 5.20%

Description: Avery’s Karma pours an amber hue with fluffy white head that leaves behind a fine lacing on the glass. The aroma is a mixture of bready and caramel malts, spicy and herbal hops, and Belgian yeast, bringing notes of bubble gum and that wonderful Belgian funk aroma. The taste is very balanced and simple, yet complicated at the same time. The strong flavors of bready and caramel malts linger throughout with the spicy and herbal hops appearing in the middle; the Belgian yeast is more of a background note, imparting a faint taste of pears and oranges. The medium body and medium-light carbonation give the beer a semi-dry finish and does not cause any amount of palate fatigue. Karma is a wonderfully light and refreshing beer that is great to have on hand for hot summer days spent lounging by the pool.

Food pairing: The light body, subtle hop aroma/flavors, and fruity characteristics from the yeast make this beer a prime candidate for a wonderful array of light summer foods. Try pairing Karma with grilled pork chops or seasoned chicken, as the spicing from the hops and yeast will add a layer of flavor and meld with the seasonings, while the malt sinks into the fat and the carbonation easily cleanses the palate. Also try pairing with any traditional Belgian dishes, such as Chicon Au Gratin, a dish made with endives.Each piece is wrapped in a slice of ham, topped with béchamel sauce and covered in melted cheese, and is a particularly fantastic pairing. If you are more of a meat fanatic, try pairing this with another Belgian dish called Boudin Blanc, a white sausage that’s made with milk and has particularly delicate flavors and fine texture unlike any other sausage. The traditional Belgian dish of mussels is also wonderful and light making for an enjoyable pairing.

The final word: Avery Brewing Company has grown to be one of the most dependable breweries through consistently brewing well-made beers, and Karma is no exception. The balance between the hops and the Belgian yeast can be a difficult act to pull off, as some flavors may mesh well together and can contribute to a wide array of “off” flavors in the beer, which are certainly undesirable to all. However, when that balance is refined and in check - as it is with Karma - the result is a light and refreshing beer that quenches thirst and has a wide array of flavor combinations that occur at the same time. If you are on the lookout for some good karma in your life, pick up a six-pack of Avery’s Karma and drink up the good vibes.


Where can I get it? Currently available in 12-ounce bottles at: Backyard Ale House- Scranton, PA; Cooper’s Seafood- Scranton, PA; Wegmans- Dickson City, PA and Wilkes-Barre; Krugel’s Georgetown Deli- Wilkes-Barre, PA. Currently available on tap at Cooper’s Seafood- Scranton, PA.

Also check availability in your area here

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sam Adams Gives a Lesson in IPAs

Sam Adams is a brewery that has garnished quite the reputation over the years in the craft beer market as one of the industry’s true pioneers. Some craft beer “fans” have begun to complain that the brewery has gotten too big to still be considered craft, but despite its size, the company still brews great craft beer and is not shy of experimenting or imparting knowledge about beer to its loyal customer base.

Case in point: the Deconstructed IPA variety pack. Within this wonderful 12-pack, the brewery has put together a fantastic learning experience for craft beer newbies and die-hards, as well as some extremely enjoyable IPAs. Sam Adams has been brewing its delicious Latitude 48 IPA for several years with great success. However, the average drinker may not realize the complexities of the beer and that it contains five different hop varieties.

Sam Adams decided not only to discuss the hop varieties involved in the beer, but also to brew an IPA using each hop exclusively. Each IPA takes on unique qualities from the individual hop and also gives the drinker an idea of what specific flavors are being imparted into the beer from the hop. This is a fantastic and very unique educational experience that is typically reserved for the homebrewer to experiment with on a small scale. Thanks to Sam Adams, though, this educational – and delicious – variety pack is available to the masses.

So what hops are used in Latitude 48 and what do you have to look forward to with purchasing this variety pack?

No. 1: East Kent Goldings IPA: The East Kent Goldings hop imparts a strong floral aroma and taste with subtle citrus background notes and is a hop that can get a little lost in the shuffle with the sum total of all the hops in Latitude 48, but on its own, it truly stands out and creates a very easy-drinking and balanced IPA that treads the line towards being more like a Pale Ale in character.

No. 2: Mosaic IPA: The mosaic hop is a newer addition into the beer (added in 2013) and also a newer and very sought after hop in the craft beer industry. The hop imparts flavors of mango, lemon, citrus, earthy pine, tropical fruit, and stone fruit notes. This is a very complex hop that, when isolated, truly showcases the abundant amount of intricacies in one hop and is a very drinkable IPA.

No. 3: Hallertau Mittelfrueh IPA: This German noble hop is traditionally used in many German lagers and has a very nice mellow spicy hop with great flavor and subtle citrus tones. It is another hop that is not very aggressive, and on its own, the beer drinks more like a pale ale, but showcases yet again the subtleties of these hops.

No. 4: Simcoe IPA: The Simcoe hop is the darling hop to many hop heads and is used by a vast majority of brewers as a base hop when creating IPAs – and for good reason. It is powerful, bitter, and delicious and holds within it many of the qualities we associate with IPAs. The dominant flavors and aroma of pine and grapefruit are on display here and make for a highly drinkable IPA.

No. 5: Zeus IPA: The Zeus hop is another aggressive hop that has a lot of qualities that we love in IPAs, imparting very strong notes of pine and that wonderful West Coast IPA dankness, along with a subtle earthy citrus characteristic. This beer on its own is another great IPA for hop heads.

Finishing this beer experiment with Latitude 48 IPA makes for a much richer and enjoyable drinking experience now that our palates are acclimated to the specific hop flavors. Within this beer, we can easily identify the pine, grapefruit, floral tastes, and aromas. Once you are able to deconstruct a beer, it makes it much easier for your palate to do this task going forward with other beers, making all beer drinking experiences richer and more engaging.

The Latitude 48 variety pack is not only extremely educational for craft beer lovers, but is also delicious and very enjoyable for all fans of IPAs. Grab yourself a variety pack today and raise a glass to thank the good brewers at Sam Adams for a job well done!

Packs A Punch

Beer: Sculpin IPA

Brewer: Ballast Point Brewing Company

Style: American IPA

ABV: 7.00%

Description: Sculpin IPA appears a deep copper in color with a bright white frothy head that hangs on for a while, leaving behind a hefty spider web-like lacing on the glass. The aroma is full of hop goodness, with strong notes of mango, peach, lemon, apricot, and grapefruit with a sweet malt aroma dancing in the background. The taste follows the nose with a strong hop perception up front – mainly dominated by flavors of grapefruit, mango, and peach – and is quickly followed by a sweet caramel malt note that is coated again by hop flavors of pine and grapefruit before a crisp, dry finish ends the experience and leaves you wanting more. The moderate carbonation and body provide the perfect vessel to hold the strong hops in check, and there is not the slightest hint of the seven percent ABV hidden within. This is an absolute world-class IPA that can certainly be enjoyed in large quantities without the slightest bit of palate fatigue.

Food pairing: Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA is a fairly aggressive IPA, but it does hold enough sweetness within to make it a fantastic beer to pair with a very wide variety of foods. It is great match with any number of spicier Mexican, Thai, or Indian dishes. However, it is also a dream pairing with your next pepperoni pizza. The malt selection will pick up on the crust to help squelch the spicy heat that comes forth when the hops and pepperoni lock horns, and the perfect dry finish of the beer will cleanse the palate between each bite. The sweetness of the malt in Sculpin also makes it a great beer to pair with desserts. A really delightful pairing is with carrot cake. The spices within the cake will gravitate towards the hops while the malts will simply melt into the cake and cream cheese icing to bring forth a creamy sweetness on the palate that will elevate the hop presence and then leave the palate perfectly dry at its finish. Sculpin IPA is a beer to experiment with as far as pairing foods goes, as it is a true workhorse and can handle many dishes thrown at it.

The final word: Sculpin IPA is a beer that built up quite a legend for itself in the years since it was first released and has long been an IPA that craft beer lovers have searched hard for, although many of these IPAs cannot live up to the hype created. However, as this beer becomes more available, more craft beer fans are able to see that this is most definitely a beer that lives up to the hype and actually surpasses it. It is also a beer that inspired Ballast Point to continue making delicious brews and has been winning the brewery gold medals repeatedly at many beer events, most recently winning gold again at the World Beer Cup this past April! The final word on Sculpin IPA is this: stop reading and go pick some up, and if they are sold out, demand that more is ordered. It is an absolute must-try beer!


Where can I get it? Currently available in 12-ounce bottles/cans at: Backyard Ale House- Scranton, PA; J & H Beer- Plains Township, PA; and Krugel’s Georgetown Deli & Beer- Wilkes-Barre, PA.

To search near you try using

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Summer Beer Reading

Of course we all love drinking beer in the summer, but the season is also a great time to catch up on some reading, so why not combine two favorite summer activities?

The endless array of craft beer available can be a bit overwhelming when it comes to ordering at a bar, so a little knowledge goes a long way. Reading informative beer books will not only teach you more about some of your favorite beers, but you may grow to appreciate them even more when you discover great pairings, how the brewery works, or even if the beer is better with a bit of aging. There are plenty of new beer-related books to expand your mind – and palate – this summer.

“The Great Northeast Brewery Tour” by Ben Keene: If you are looking to go on any beer adventure trips this summer, this is the book to check out first. If you were not planning any beer adventure trips, this book may just change your mind. Within it is great information about the breweries and drool-inducing photos of the beers and food. From Maryland to Maine, this book has you covered with some of the best breweries in those states discussed along with all the info you need, like hours of operation and addresses for the tasting rooms.

“Vintage Beer” by Patrick Dawson: We are all familiar with the notion that aged wine typically tastes better, but did you know that this is also true for a wide range of beers? There are certainly beers that are better enjoyed fresh, but this book gives the reader a fantastic breakdown of what beers are great to age and for how long. Properly storing beer to age is also discussed, as well as tasting notes on some beers that were aged and tasted over time. “Vintage Beer” is a fantastic reference guide for those interested in getting into the hobby of aging beer.

“American Sour Beers” by Michael Tonsmeire: The sour beer style is one that is continuously gaining popularity among craft beer drinkers. It is a style that many either love or hate immediately, but over time, as one adapts to the mouth-puckering qualities, it becomes something of an obsession. While this book leans more towards the technical aspect of the beer, it is full of great information for brewers and drinkers alike. If you are a fan of this style, this is a highly recommended book that will really give you a new appreciation for sour beers.

“Craft Beer for the Homebrewer” by Michael Agnew: This is the must-have book for homebrewers who are looking to recreate their favorite beers at home. This book is packed full of beer recipes straight from the brewmasters themselves. Within this book, you will receive the recipes for Lagunitas’ Hop Stoopid, Allagash’s Black, Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown and Dead Guy ales, and Tröegs’ Nugget Nectar. The recipes are given in both liquid malt extract and all grain recipes so they can be used by brewers of all skill levels. This book alone will occupy a great deal of your summer.

“Cheese & Beer” by Janet Fletcher: Beer and food pairing has become all the rage as of late due to the wide range of flavors at play, but if you take a step back and examine simple beer and cheese pairings, a whole new world will open to you. The cheese world has long been full of wide and exotic varieties, ranging from simple cheddar to the stinkiest of French cheeses. However, this book breaks down all the subtle nuances of the cheeses and beer and examines what makes a great beer and cheese pairing. This is a great book to pick up to plan a lovely evening party at home.

Reading these books will not only give you a greater depth of knowledge about beer, they will also make your experience of eating and drinking even more enjoyable, which is perfectly timed with summer just beginning.