Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Brewery Tour Series: Yuengling

Okay this is a very retroactive review, as my wife took me to Yuengling's historic brewery two summers ago for my birthday (after promising it the birthday before...)

Yuengling has become a huge brand.  It doesn't rival the sales of BudMillerCoors, but it is sold up and down the east coast with plans to expand beyond.  Their lager was the go to beer of my college years, and I've shared many a case of it with close friends on weekend visits.  If you are a craft beer geek, you know that Yuengling brews with corn in addition to barley, a no-no in the craft beer world as corn is viewed as an additive.  Yuengling says they use the corn grits to lighten the body of their beers.  Whatever.  I know it's not "all malt," as it were, but I still enjoy a "Lager."  I know it's not complicated and thought provoking, or big and rich, but I also know you can drink a bunch of it during a football game, try doing that with your high octane imperial ipa or Belgian trippel.  It sure beats Budweiser, which throws in some rice in addition to  corn, and at the same price point, how can I complain?  I like some of their other beer offerings, too.  I also love the idea of drinking beer from America's oldest brewery.  After being a fan for a while, I figured I had to make the pilgrimage to Pottsville, PA.

For the record, Pottsville itself is horrible.  We had a hard time finding a decent hotel and there was almost nothing open as far as dining options.  We finally found a half decent restaurant that didn't even have Yuengling on tap.  The brewery tour was great, though.  Yuengling has long since outgrown the capacity of the quaint historic buildings that they show you on the tour.  Any Yuengling you drink from a tap comes from the Tampa facility and they have a brewery in the next town over from Pottsville as well.  But the old brewery is still operational, and very cool to see.  Yuengling dabbled in the ice cream business to stay afloat during Prohibition, but there were some shady goings on as they had cases of beer ready to deliver to the White House the minute the law was repealed.  The coolest part of the tour was seeing the underground caves where they used to store the beer before modern refridgeration.  The walls in the mash room have this cool old mural of which I unfortunately don't have a picture.  But here is one of the caves:

The tasting room is a cool looking bar area, and they let you choose one of their signature beers to sample.
They would probably allow for more than one sample but for the hordes of people on the tour.  I chose the Porter.

The Yuengling brewery was the high point in my brewery visits.  So much history, a brewery on a mountainside...if only the town wasn't so dead.  Pretty, but dead.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Hot Toddy

This is about the only thing I've been drinking since I fell ill about 3 weeks ago.  The first time I had a hot toddy was several years ago.  It was made by my mother-in-law when I was sick on a visit to Indiana, and it was about the strongest drink I'd ever had.  It put me on my ass for about a 5 hour nap.  And I still slept well that night.  I've heard that some folks drink them even when well, on a chilly winter's night.

The toddy is so simple yet so useful.  The warm liquid soothes your throat, while the alcohol helps rock you to sleep.  Or in the case of my mother-in-law's version, knocks you out with a sledgehammer.

The Hot Toddy
1 jigger (1.5 oz) of the cheapest whiskey you have on hand
boiling water to fill the rest of the mug
a squeeze of lemon
a spoonful of honey

Sweet dreams.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Beer List Update

I just added around 20 beers to the list.  I'm averaging about 10 new beers per month, which isn't bad.  I've read articles about guys who have had 10,000 different beers.  I doubt I'll ever reach that pinnacle, but I am approaching 500, which is a number to be proud of in its own right.  Some of the notables from the most recent beers and breweries I've sampled:

Furthermore Beer (WI)-Fatty Boombalatty, Knot Stock
The Knot Stock is a beer made with black pepper.  I don't know that I'd get it again but pretty interesting stuff.  Fatty Bombalatty is one I've seen on tap before but never ordered it.  It's a Belgian White with ramped up flavor and alcohol content.  Fantastic.  I can't name a beer I've had only once as a favorite, but I would definitely seek this out.

Lakefront Brewery (WI)-Wheat Monkey, White Ale
A buddy and I, along with my wife, recently did a mix six pack at the newly opened Bottle Shop on East Passyunk a few minutes walk from my house.  Instead of each picking two beers, we decided to do a tasting of all six.  These two from Lakefront were chosen bc/ we like wheat beers and they had cool packaging, but we all thought they both sucked.  Low on flavor.  Blah.

Michelob's Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale
While on the subject of crappy beer...I was hesitant to try a beer by a major producer, but I love bourbon cask aged beer and this one was aged with vanilla beans, which I also love.  The beer sucked.

Breckenridge (CO)
I really enjoyed their Agave Wheat with mexican food over the summer, and quite enjoyed their Vanilla Porter this fall.  A better use of vanilla than Michelob's.

Miscellaneous Pumpkins
This fall I had a few pumpkins, some I've had before some not.  I really liked both Weyerbacher and Riverhorse's Imperial Pumpkins.  Dogfish makes a solild pumpkin but I don't think it's as good as these two.  I also had Roy Pitz Pumpkin on tap, it was fine I don't remember it too well, but I was happy to support a PA brewery I hadn't had before.  I also had Southern Tier's Pumpkin entry on tap.  It was fine but I think the Weyerbacher and Riverhorse were my two favorites of the bunch.

Philadelphia Brewing Co.
Harvest from the Hood-This is a fresh hopped beer made by PBC using hops that they've grown as well as some from a local farm.  I'm not a hophead but I thought this was quite good, and definitely had a very fresh taste.  It looks according to the website that they have a few more seasonals coming out over the winter.

Arcadia (MI)
Whitsun Ale is a British wheat ale made with honey.  It is delightful, a bit sour, a bit sweet, a lot refreshing.

Tommyknocker (CO)
Just because I haven't been drinking beer the past couple of weeks (I've been on antibiotics and it tastes bad, I know it's a tragedy), I feel like ending on a down note.  Tommyknocker Maple Nut Brown Ale made with maple syrup sounds delicious but isn't.  It really made me want to try some of The Bruery's Autumn Maple but I think it is out of season now.  Oh well, on to Christmas beers.