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The Beer Spot Blog - September 2010 Archives

Official TBS Blog

My East Coast Beer Trip Part 2, Lumfest
Posted Thursday, September 9th, 2010 by Tip Top

We drove into Ithaca and stopped off into Ithaca Beer Company.  As we opened up the door, someone is coming out and says, "you look like people going to Lumfest."  It's Chief, aka Jeff O'Neill, head brewer at Ithaca.  We chat real quick and head inside.  Mike Benz is behind the bar to greet us and asks us what we'd like.  Had to go with my first Flower Power right from the source.  What people say is true.  Fresh, Flower Power is one of the very best IPAs out there.  Top notch hoppiness that just won't quit.  The next sample was last year's Ground Break (yum) and then the just released Gorges Smoked Porter.  I can confidently say that this year's version of Gorges is by far my favorite.  Rich and chocolaty, the smoke is there to highlight the beer rather than dominate it.  If you have the chance, buy some.  I picked up a hat and we figured we better get over to Lum's since we were already later than we thought we would be. 

We drove along and are looking for 218.  215, 220...there is no 218!  We turn on the GPS and see we aren't on the right road.  Back track a bit and see that one of the signs had been turned and we should have taken a turn earlier.  We pulled up at Lum's place at just the right time.  You could smell the pig and it was ready to come off the heat.  Lum greeted us right away, as did a not too happy to see us Haley (Lumdog).  Introduced ourselves to Gilly (evertends), Tara, and Pete (Steve Tasker).  Say hello to Mark (decoman).  Then we grabbed our stuff, coolers most importantly, and set up the tent so we didn't have to do that in the dark when we were already a little drunk.  Aliza (Naproxen) showed up a little after we got there.

Lums Flower PowerI grabbed a pull of the fresh keg of Flower Power (or Flower Owlet, as some might say).  Love the home-made tap handle, Lum!  Got back to the fire just in time.  Off came the pig, venison and lamb.  Paul (Lum) carved them under the powerful light of the flashlight and then we gorged.  There was enough meat for a small army, yet there were only 8 of us.  Try as I might, I couldn't finish what I took.  We cleaned up some, and then it was time to start digging into everyone's coolers and sit around the fire.  After a bit of drinking, Nick (nchrist) and Jess (Farmhousewench) show up.  They set up their tents and then join us for beers.  So much beer.  Chief and Mike Benz from Ithaca showed up and joined in on the good time.  If I tried to recount the whole night, I would be typing all day, so I'm going to list the beers I can remember and recount some highlights of the night...

The beers...

  • Super Friends IPA growler
  • Willimantic Saison growler
  • Brown's Whiskey Porter growler
  • Bullfrog Belgian Golden growler
  • Supplication batch 3
  • Old Habit (new unreleased batch)
  • Upland Raspberry Lambic
  • CL Castleton Batch 1 and 2
  • Darkness 07,08,09
  • Cynic
  • Bitter Brewer
  • Bakes 14 year old lambic
  • Barrel Aged Imperial Stout Trooper
  • Bakes 14 Year Old Lambic
  • Half Acre Gossamer
  • Surly Four
  • Ithaca LeBleu
  • Sweetwater Donkey Punch
  • Lawsons Maple Nipple
  • Founders Deco Tenth Anniversary
  • Weyerbacher Riserva
  • Williamantic Barrel Aged Old Kentucky Sour
  • Midnight Sun Uranus
  • 2009 Cable Car
  • Surly Smoke

I'm sure I left something off the list, but as you can see, we went through a metric shit-ton of top notch beers.  There were many memorable moments throughout the night, among which were...

  • Paul, why does your fire suck, it needs pallets.
  • Hearing, "Oh shit, shit, oh fuck", etc coming out of the bathroom, and not from being sick
  • Nick's call to Gator where he talked more to Leslie (I remember the conversation getting odd but can remember what was said at the end...)
  • Jess passing out first, without saying she was going to bed.  It looks like there was a disco ball in her tent for a while the way the flashlight was bouncing all around.
  • Looking for the chickens to put in someone's tent.
  • Gilly somehow staying awake and hanging by the fire despite being up for 40 hours straight or something.
  • Bakes laying down in front of the fire which we all knew would lead to photo ops later.  He didn't fall asleep until he got back in the chair though.
  • Messing around outside Bakes' tent and hearing, "I'm still awake you know!"
  • Lum joining bakes in la la land by the fire so he could get some photo op's.

All the great food, beers, and chat around the fire were the big highlight though.  This was another night that proved to me that the community here at TheBeerSpot has to be the best group of people on the internet.  Extra special thanks to Paul for hosting.  The food and hospitality was top notch!

The next morning and Ithaca Brew Fest as soon as I can find time to blog a little more here...


My East Coast Beer Trip Part 1, Troy and Syracuse
Posted Thursday, September 9th, 2010 by Tip Top

A while ago, I was having a big time hankering for making another trip to Las Vegas.  I've made the trip a bunch of times and it's always a good time.  Looking through prices for the times I could find available, I was surprised at the increase over what I was used to paying.  With all the talk related to Lumfest, I thought I'd look into that too.  I was surprised to see prices to Albany over Labor Day weekend at about the same price as going to Vegas.  Being the beer geek I am, I decided to go to New York instead.  I contacted Bakes, knowing that I'd need to figure out things with him, and he was all for it.  Fast forward to last weekend...

Browns TaproomAfter work I ate a quick dinner and got to the airport.  On the plane to Albany.  There was a short day, but before you know it I was getting in Bakes' Volvo and we headed to Brown's in Troy.  Brown's had some decent music on, even allowing me to hear some of the rock stuff I love from the mid-90s.  Sat down at the bar and ordered a Harvest Ale, which had just gone on tap not too long ago.  This was the third time I had the beer, but the first time that I got to drink it right at the source.  While it may not blow your socks away, it's a nice easy-drinking sessionable brew that I quite enjoyed.  I had another beer or two, then ordered the Whiskey Barrel Porter.  The bartender pours my beer then warns me that they had been pouring pitchers earlier, but people stopped ordering it so I would have to finish it off.  Tough job, but I'm just the guy to do it.  We hung out for a while and chatted.  I guess it was more than a while, as we ended up closing down the bar. 

If you have the chance, check out Brown's.  Nice and mellow with really friendly staff.  The beers are solid and most of them are sessionable, which is a nice change.

Then it was back to Bakes' place.  I have the honor to say I am the first TBSer to stay at his place.  We cracked a few beers and he showed off his stereo.  Yeah, Bakes likes his music.  Vintage JBLs all around with a massive 6 foot tall subwoofer panel built into the wall.  We put it through the paces and it delivered.  Worked up to a nice buzz and finally called it a night after some pinball at 3:45am or so. 

The next morning, we were obviously moving a little slowly, but we eventually got on the road.  On the way to Syracuse, as Dinosaur BBQ was calling my name.  I'd heard about it plenty and have used some of their sauces and rubs, so I was pretty excited, but after watching it on Man vs. Food, I was really ready to experience it first hand.  We drove up and it looked like there was actually a line around the building in the mid-afternoon!  Could that be so?  When we walked up we were relieved to see it was mostly people just eating outside.  We walked in and put in our name.  Only about a thirty minute wait. 

We walked up to the bar to get a couple beers and all the sudden Bakes says, "don't drink anything that Tim Butler brews."  Sitting there at the bar right where we were ordering was Tim Butler, brewer for Empire Brewing Company.  We chatted for a while about all sorts of things beer; Middle Ages, Empire's future plans, online beer rating, etc.  Tim is one hell of a nice guy with all sorts of opinions and he doesn't believe in hiding them, which is aok in my book.  I grabbed him a couple cans of Surly and before I got back he had already bought our first round, Empire Pale Ale.  Thanks Tim!  He gave us the lowdown for what Empire was bringing to Ithaca Brew Fest and then our table was ready. 

Dinosaur BBQ RibsI sat down and stared at the menu for a bit.  What did I want?  One of everything.  All sorts of yummy sounding BBQ and sides.  I was tempted with the Porkskett Sandwich, but went with my standby for any good BBQ places and got a half rack of ribs along with sides of mac and cheese and chili.  Setting up a good base for later in the night.  I ordered another beer, and shortly after the food was there.  A couple quick pictures, one wigh Santa and then I dug in.  It was as good as advertised.  The dry rub on the ribs was tasty enough that you didn't need to use any sauce.  The chili was so thick that I ate it with a fork and the mac and cheese was creamy goodness with a nice little crunch of bread crumbs.  The place was great.  Top notch Barbecue along with 20 or so taps, mostly featuring craft beer with a big emphasis on the locals, Empire and Middle Ages.

Empire Tap ListWe decided to take a walk and grab another beer or two.  No need to go to Middle Ages since I have had most of their beers.  We walked by Syracuse Suds and passed up the Blue Tusk to hit Empire Brewing.  Downstairs, we walk into the pub.  It's a nice place with a pretty laid back feel to it.  Par for the course, we sat down at the bar and ordered a beer.  Again, Bakes knows the bartender here.  She serves up my IPA, and it's rock solid.  Definitely East Coast IPA, but not everything has to be West Coast style.  Empire is another place that is definitely worth the stop.  I don't know how the food is, but it smelled good and bakes confirmed that it is, so I'd assume it's pretty good. 

Chatted a while and had a second beer, then it was time to go.  Hell, we haven't really started the trip yet.  We were, after all, on our way to Lumfest with Ithaca Brew Fest looming the next day.  Flower Power on tap and tons of roasted meat awaited us.  On we go to Ithaca...


Great Taste Of The Midwest 2010 Review
Posted Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 by James Kitchens

1822The 2010 version of the "Best Fest Not Only In the Midwest" was a big success this past weekend. Being a veteran of three fests, as of this year, I was obviously immune to the siren call of the "special releases" as well as the Real Ale Tent. I was likewise not at all distracted by the wave of fantastic sour beers at the fest this year. Nope, none of that stuff made any difference to me this year.

Actually, this year the hallmark of this fest (to me) was the increased presence of the sour beers in their many forms. Being a big fan of sours, this certainly did not disappoint me. I must admit that the best of the bunch were the Pooka Boisenberry Sour from Brugge and the Raspberry Wild One from Bell's. I also liked the Central Waters Exodus on Friday at our pre-party.

My favorite non-sour was probably the Blood Orange Wheatwine from Short's, AKA their Anniversary Ale. My favorite "odd" beer had to be Kuhnhenn's E.T.'s Reece's Pieces. That one was special in my opinion, with a solid amount of peanut butter and chocolate on the nose. The taste was much less peanut butter, and much more chocolate along with a bit of coffee. Having said all that, keep in mind that I did in fact miss most of the special releases.

Otherwise, this was actually a fairly tame fest for me personally. I certainly did not go after the special releases as vigorously as years past. Not sure why, but a lot of them weren't styles that I personally wanted to test on a somewhat moist August Saturday in Madison. I do regret not getting the Vanilla BCS from Goose Island though. As well as a few others.

Once again this year I managed to miss entirely the Presentation Tent. Next year, I have to make a commitement to get there. The "Beer and Food" and "Beer and Cheese" presentations were on my early radar screen, but I failed to make it. I really need to fix that mistake next year. I did attend the TBS 2010 Great Taste Cheese Off! though. As noted in the thread on the forum, I was big fan of the Camembert from Bakes and McBruver's triple cream Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam. Those were my top two, with the smoked Bleu in third place.
I have to say that I am already excited about the Great Taste of the Midwest 2011 weekend. The fact that it is 51+ weeks away makes me somewhat sad, but hopeful. Now I have something to look forward to every day. The Beer Spot is already considering some ideas for the fest next year, as well as securing the same spot for the pre-party at Brickhouse BBQ.
Speaking of Brickhouse did a great job on both Friday and Saturday nights. The third floor space for the party was fantastic. The brewery lineups were also great. Although with only one sour beer in the lineup, it seems that list didn't follow the impression I took away from the actual fest. I will say that the Central Waters Exodus was great though. Note for next year: more sour beers.
If you didn't make the events on either night of the weekend at Brickhouse, I recommend trying it next year. The food was great, on top of the special beers from Central Waters and Short's. I had the burger on Friday and the ribs on Saturday. Both were top notch, although the burger had bacon on it. As we all know, EVERYTHING is better with bacon, so they may have cheated on the burger. The ribs, though, were outstanding on their own. We are absolutely looking forward to seeing everyone there again next year.

Thanks again for everything at the fest to the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild and all the breweries and their employees and volunteers. As usual, they put on a first-class fest. Thanks to Brickhouse for the great pre-party on Friday. Next should be even better.

--- James Kitchens, AKA Nucular George



Great Taste of the Midwest Event Map
Posted Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 by Tip Top

GTOMW 2010Today, one of our members posted something that was so good that I thought we had to share.  Thanks to MacBruver for putting together an event map that shows where all the Friday Night Festivities are, where a couple of hotels that a lot of the members here are staying, and of course where the festival itself takes place. 

In additon to the event locations, he added spots where the shuttle picks up along with public parking spots.  All in all, a great tool for anyone heading to Madison this weekend to take part in the best beer festival around.

Heck, John even got the Great Taste logo up for the festival grounds and The Beer Spot's logo for our Pre-Party location.  Click on each icon, and you'll get more details for the events.

To check out this great tool, follow this link.


What the Great Taste of the Midwest Means to Me
Posted Sunday, August 8th, 2010 by Tip Top

GTOMW 2010I've written about the pre-parties and the preparation for the Great Taste, but I've never really mentioned what this event means to me.  There seem to be two major things that make it one of the highlights of my year each and every year. 

One is just the Festival and all that surrounds it.  The Pre-Parties are top notch.  The Festival itself is the best and most organized I have been to.  The Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild seem to have perfected the art of throwing a beer festival.  Perfect venue.  All of the brewers come to it trying to impress.  Hell, even the port-o-let situation seems to be under control.  I can set camp and feel comfortable during the whole thing.

The other thing I look forward to each year is seeing so many good people that I just don't get to see enough.  I've come to meet so many people that I call friends through beer it's ridiculous.  This is the one event I know I will see people that I haven't seen for a year.  I have some people come stay at my home on Thursday before we drive the next morning.  Then when I get to Madison it's like a class reunion.  So many good people that I haven't seen in too long.

Oh, there's great beer at Great Taste too I guess, but believe it or not, that's not what makes the weekend.