Monday, February 18, 2013

A Happy (or Hoppy) Wednesday

2013-02-13 MR WO
In which an ancient wrong is righted, and a missed opportunity is now opportune (and then some).

As time permitted on this glorious day, it was a quick shot down the MA Pike to Pioneer Brewing before a meeting in CT.

Pioneer occupies a special place in several Club Belgique member's heart. We'll never forget the very cute, young barmaid who said the IPA was an "Industrial" Pale Ale. (N.B. to non-zymologists - the "I" stands for "India" - look it up). Anyway, it was so cute and sweet of her to say that, no one had the heart to tell her otherwise. And frankly - she was cute and sweet.
Imagine the surprise when it's discovered it's mere wordplay: a Pale Ale called Industrial, for "IPA"! Well, colour me SRM 12, or surprised.

While there enjoyed the new, larger bar, and a sampling of the offerings:
Belgian IPA [#3,563]
EBB (Extra Special Bitter)
The New Frontier (double "California" IPA)
American Nitro Stout
Into the Woods (Vienna lager) - really nice representation of a Vienna-style lager. Having been to Vienna and tried the lagers, trust me.

Also took a growler of the Blueberry ale home. As the Campbells soup ad says: "mmm mmm good!"

From there it was a short drive to the Tullycross Tavern, which as luck would have it was like 6 minutes from the meetingplace. As regular readers may have noted, some Club-Belgique members had a brief tour of the brewpub earlier in 2013. However, the keyword is "brief" as we did not have a chance to sample anything. Now we could - or at least some of us could -  rectify that omission. Brewer Brian was there, and seemed genuinely happy to see some of us again. Was able to sample the:
Ghost RYEder Pale Ale
Tully's Irish Red
1672 ESB
IPA (very expressive, in a sea of IPAs this was really good)
Siberian Winter Imperial Stout 
The pièce de résistance was of course the
Cask Barrel Aged Imperial Stout (hints of oakey vanillin, quite a good result)
which was - as one might guess - spectacular. And one has to admit that one could not cajole a 1/2 growler out of Brian! Evan after promising a taste of Sink the Bismark or Armageddon, he did not budge. We can appreciate that.

Did take home a 1/2 grower of the
Agent Romanoff Black Lager  [#3,575]
which almost made up for it (well, maybe 20%).

Feb 2013 NJ

Escaping NJ from the storm - MR

During the trip stopped at a few places before escaping the Feb 2013 blizzard.

The first in a relatively new place near Bridgewater NJ - the Stoney Brook Grille. Have been here several times when traveling and it is always just a nice pace to go to. Never too loud, never packed beyond gaining entry, and their beer selection - while somewhat limited - never fails to surprise. What is great about the place is the bar is nice and open, and never too crowded. The food is always fresh and hot and the bartenders are quite friendly. What is a sure bet is the calamari as an appetizer. the burgers are good, and the chicken parm is an armful.

Beers sampled were the
Blue Point - RastafaRye Ale
Bass - Stout (seems pedestrian, but had not tried before) 

The next night was at another spot - Delicious Heights - that has a dazzling array of beers on tap, as well as good bottle selections. They also have a crazy menu that lights up.

Again  due to a lot of constraints, this was a limited beer night. Could've ordered a sampler but rather fancied just a pint or two. But do not let that deter you - they have a varied selection and the bartenders and waiters are always ready to help. Ordered a:
Otter Creek - IPA
Terrapin - Side Project 16 Phlux Capacitor (strong ale)
Full Sail - Wassail FS pub series (choice wassail beer)

As the blizzard of early February 2013 was a-comin' I knew it was time to "get outta Dodge" and take the train back to CT. When the driver dropped me off at Newark Penn (as opposed to NY Penn) I came to the realization that I had 2 hours to kill to get a train. So quick Google map for iOS - oh look - Edison Ale House.

For a place so close to the Jersey Devil's stadium - where one might assume it's a Bud/Miller fest. Well one could not be more wrong. Really.

First of all the bartender was quite gregarious and an overall pleasant conversation. One look at my bag and it was "trying to escape the blizzard?" As it was near dinner and I was peckish, tried the hummus appetizer. Also tried
Summit - IPA
Chimay - Blanche Cinq Cents Tripel on tap
Sixpoint Sweet Action cream ale (gotta love a brewery who lists the colour in SRM units on the can!)

Unfortunately, I could not stay all night. It was out to the train and - as the saying goes - "home again home again jiggity jig"

Yes, it snowed...


The Office (not)

2013-02-04 MR
This is definitely not the TV show "The Office". Apparently a boutique chain in NJ area, The Office has a very beer selection; and a pleasant food menu to boot.

Was not there super long - as it was a work night - but had a pleasant conversation with the manager and the bartender. We initially laughed as one beer desired was out, and the tap for Harpoon el Triumpho Coffee Porter chose to die at the moment of pour (but was still able to secure a taste). 

Very surprising, they had on a 2012 Brooklyn Brewing Monster Ale barleywine. Recommended to the manager to keep 1 keg until 2014 (if they can) and serve as aged or vintage barleywine.

For dinner, had a high protein low carb steak salad, nice and rare, even joked it would be consumed raw if need be. Pricing was more than fair, as it turned out part of the evening was the "happy hour".

Beers sampled were:
Brooklyn Brewing - Monster Ale barleywine (vintage 2012) [#3,577]
Harpoon - El Triumpho Coffee Porter (100 Barrel Series #44)
Neshaminy Creek - Tribute Tripel (nice Belgian Tripel style from PA)
Cricket Hill - Reserve Ale - Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter

ending the night with a
Kane - High Head IPA

Unfortunately, next day was the "real office" (although truth be told, they do pay the bills)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Stomping Good Time

2013-01-06 MR IC

One of the problems with any good review of a good place, is everyone will want to go there. Well, the Stomping Ground is the place to go in Putnam CT. Many other fine restaurants are in the area, but this place offers a cozy environment, live music on weekends, fantastic food and a kick-ass beer menu.

Actually over 3 visits, the beers sampled have been
Berkshire - Holidale American Barleywine [3,517]
Lagunitas - Daytime Fractional IPA [3,518]
Heavy Seas - Loose Cannon Hop3 IPA [3,519]
Widmer - Old Embalmer 2012 barleywine [3,520]

Our server commented that the Widmer was kept at the proper temperature for a barleywine; too bad we forgot out iCelsius!

The food is amazing, fresh, local, inexpensive. Even if you are not a vegetarian you will love the MCA eggplant burrito.

On subsequent visits have tried the
Goose Island - Bourbon County Stout (14%)   [3,537]
Allagash - Yakuza 2012  [3,538]
Grey Sail - 1st Anniversary Imperial Pilsner   [3,539]
and oddly enough
DuPont - Foret Organic Saison  [3,540]

And even later:
Brooklyn - Blast IPA  [3,544]
LaGunitas - Sucks Brown Shugga Substitute  [3,545]
Dogfish Head - Hellhound on my Ale  [3,546]
Green Flash - Palate Wrecker (Hamilton's Ale)  [3,547]
Widmer - Rotator Series IPA

Also - the chocolate covered, bacon brownie (yes) is to die for.

Portsmouth NH

What trip to Portsmouth NH does not include the Portsmouth Brewing Company?

With great food, and a beer menu from both them and Smuttynose, how can one go wrong!

Tried the following beers:
Portsmouth - Project X
Portsmouth - Black Cat Stout
Smuttynose - Finestkind IPA
Portsmouth - Winter Rye

Also went to the Coat of Arms,

tried the
Moat Mountain Brewery - Smoke House Porter (aged in Gosling rum barrels)
Geary's - HSA Hampshire Special Ale
Peak Organic - Hop Noir

Then the motley crew

headed to a new beer bar called the Thirsty Moose; talk about selection - and they card one and all!

Tried a
White Birch Brewing - Ol' Cattywhompus
Throwback Meadow - Mirth Fennel Flower Stout
Blue Point - Hoptical Illusion