The Friday Pint 2015 #8 – Beer In the USA Part 3

By the time you read this on Friday, I will have been back in the UK for a couple of days. As it is, for me writing this post, I have only been back for a matter of hours.

Thankfully, all of the bottles I brought back made it intact, including the three purchased for me by my good friend Will on a recent trip to Montana. I’ll be talking about these in a future post.

Friday night saw us head to the convention center in Pittsburgh for the Pittsburgh Winter Beer Festival. The geek that I am copied the 95% beer list that had been made available on the website, and stored it in an excel spreadsheet I could access on my phone. This helped a lot in trying most of the beers I wanted to try.

One thing that would have been nice, and that we probably missed, is some maps or floor plans. Alternatively, sticking the breweries in alphabetical order. Much of the evening was spent hunting for the beers I wanted to try (or in certain cases, try again).

The weekend took us out to Columbus, where on the Saturday night we celebrated Will’s birthday, and also his engagement to his fiancee at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. I started with a pint of their pale ale, which was a pleasant companion to the food. They offered flights of four 5oz glasses, so I took advantage of this to try their IPA, DIPA, Porter and Imperial Stout. If I’m honest, first impressions of those four weren’t overly great. If I was going to consider trying one again soon, it would be the IPA.

Sunday was the turn of Fado’s and World of Beer in Easton. Fado’s is a chain of Irish pubs, that does rather nice food (at least, the Columbus one does). We went there so I could watch the Southampton vs Liverpool game and my fiancee could meet up with some of the people she went to College with. Saints lost to a rather good goal and we ended up staying at Fado’s much longer than expected.

Eventually though we made it to World of Beer. I like World of Beer. I usually end up drinking flights (4 5oz glasses for $10) and still rarely drink all that I’d like to each time I visit. Whilst I’d quite like there to be a World of Beer nearer the Pittsburgh area, I also think the absence of one would be good for my wallet.

So, that has been my visit to America, my last before I move out there to get married. I should probably get working on that… (42)

The Friday Pint 2015 #7 – Beer In The USA #2

As I write, I am still in the USA, feeling significantly better than I was this time last week. Tonight I shall be going to the Pittsburgh Winter Beer Festival, and will probably write about this in some form in the near future.

My beer drinking this week has been somewhat thwarted by the weather. We’ve had a fair bit of snow, and temperatures have been below freezing most of the time I’ve been here. Wind chill has even had the temperatures go significantly below 0F.

Despite all this, I have enjoyed some good beers this week, such as Great Lakes Blackout Stout, Dogfish Head’s Olde School Barleywine, and Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA. I have also been consuming a few bottles of Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA, and Lagunitas Maximus.

Yesterday evening, we went out to two recently opened local breweries. Hitchhiker Brewing in Mount Lebanon, and Spoonwood Brewery in Bethel Park.

The bar at Hitchhiker is the smaller of the two, with the focus clearly on the beer. A small choice of food is available, including boards of local cheeses and meats, pretzels, nuts, and locally made jerky. I got a flight of three 8oz beers for $12. The beers included a kolsch, an amber, and a stout. Of those three, the amber was the beer that drew the most negative reaction. We ended up leaving with a 32oz growler of the kolsch, and made our way to Spoonwood.

Spoonwood Brewery is the newer of the two establishments, opening up to the public a few weeks ago. It’s much bigger than Hitchhiker, with more tables, and a bigger selection of food. One good thing about Spoonwood, is the fact they offered a sample size (5oz) glass for $2 (for most beers). This enabled me to try many more beers than I would have otherwise been able to if I was stuck to drinking 16oz pints.

Unfortunately, they only had 64oz growlers, which was too much for me, considering I won’t get much time to drink the beer until after the weekend. If I could have got a 32oz fill, I would have gone for the imperial porter. It’s that sort of weather.

On the way back, we stopped off in the store, and once again I looked in the beer section. To my excitement, I found they had bottles of Southern Tier’s Creme Brule. It’s also on at the festival tonight. I think I’ll try to finish with it.

Next week I’ll be back in the UK, and next Friday night I’ll be in Southampton, either at The Butchers Hook, or at The Wool House. If you’re not busy, you should come down yourself. Until then though, have a great weekend. (55)

The Friday Pint 2015 #6 – Beer in the USA Part 1

Hello from the other side of the Atlantic to the one I usually find myself posting from.

I currently find myself a couple of days into a short trip to Pittsburgh to spend time with my fiancee. (Yes, I purposefully timed it to coincide with Valentines Day).

So far I haven’t been doing much in the way of drinking. This has mostly been due to suffering from the dreaded lurgy, which has now thankfully cleared for the most part. Being ill also postponed the fourth (and what would have been final part before opening night) of my series on Dancing Man Brewery’s new venue, The Wool House. That should appear at some point in the next week.

Back to now, and beer. I arrived on Wednesday night to a rather drinkable pint of Southern Tier’s 2xIPA. It was paired by a tired and still rather ill me with some cheese sticks.

Yesterday, after picking up four packs of Brooklyn Chocolate Stout and Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA, I opened bottles left over from previous visits. Of the bottles I opened, the best was by far the 2012 Sierra Nevada Hoptimum. It still packed a mighty hop punch three years later.

Later today I’ll be off to spend a couple of hours at the bar in the restaurant where my fiancee. I’m sure some of you will read on twitter or untappd what I’ve been drinking.

Next week I’ll be at the Pittsburgh Winter Beer Festival. The beer list goes up at noon tomorrow. I’m rather looking forward to it.

Until then though, have a great weekend. (63)

The Friday Pint 2015 #5 – You Thought I’d Forgotten, Hadn’t You

Okay, so probably not, but it is only a quick post this week to say a few things.

1. Tickets for the third Birmingham Beer Bash go on sale on Monday. If you’re not already following the @birminghamcubed twitter account, go and do so now. It’s your best source of news on all things Beer Bash related.

2. The Wool House opens on the 27th February. You should totally come down and drink some beer, or just admire the building. Actually, you should at least buy some beer, even if you don’t drink it. I’ll drink the beer if you don’t want it. Buy me beer.

3. I’ll be in the USA next Friday, so by UK time standards, the next couple of Friday Pints may actually be posted in the early hours of Saturday. There’s a lot of new breweries in and around Pittsburgh for me to visit. The following Friday will see me at the Pittsburgh Winter Beerfest too, so that should see me with something for the Friday Pint post after that, when I’ll be far too busy drinking beer in Southampton.

4. Part four of the Wool House series will be coming hopefully on Thursday.

 

Until then, have a great weekend. (72)

The Friday Pint 2015 #1 – New Beginnings

So, 2015.

This year will be my fourth year of writing Friday Pint posts. Unlike previous years however, I’m not going to explicitly decide on a theme for this years posts. I will however be trying to make sure I do post something every Friday, even if there’s nothing beer related about it. After all, one of the main purposes of The Friday Pint when I started doing it back in 2012 was to keep my brain active and improve my writing.

As I write this post, I am currently sat in The Wheatsheaf, a Fuller’s owned pub in Slough, opposite Herschel Park. Prior to being sat here. with a pint of London Pride by my side, I walked around the park, and the nature reserve that is situated just to the side of it.

I then paid a visit to The Old Red Cow, where outside a man, possibly 50 something in age, was looking up towards a red kite hovering majestically in the sky above. He told me that there are usually two of them, and that they come from the parks behind us.

Inside I order a pint of Twickenham’s WInter Cheer. The man from outside is offered the usual, and a conversation begins between the man from outside and the man behind the bar. At a guess, I’d say the man behind the bar is probably a couple of years younger than me.

Through sitting at the bar, in the middle of their conversation, I learn that the man from outside has been living in a tent in the park recently. He tells the man behind the bar that he has been evicted from the park. The man behind the bar questions if you can be evicted from a public space. The man from outside seemingly still has a lot of posessions. He spoke of a TV and DVD player, and DVDs back in Reading, and also of trying to get rid of a lot of stuff.

Not long after the man from outside and I entered, another man entered with news that someone had broken their ribs. A brief conversation ensued about how they can’t do anything but let them heal natuarally. The man from outside got the man behind the bar to feel a spot on his chest, from where his ribs had broken. He then went on to talk about how his collarbone healed.

With the man behind the bar reading a newspaper, conversation between the man from outside and him switched to news. There was a story about Banksy giving someone a drawing after they helped him pick up his art stuff, and another about a nurse who helped an old man with a heart attack.

I left The Old Red Cow and made my way to The Wheatsheaf. When I enter, Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance video is playing on the TV. Seemingly, the man behind the bar here is playing youtube videos. I can’t be sure if it’s related to having a customer or not, but the television gets changed to the sky box. Several channels get put on before finally settling on Sky News.

Over the speaker system, what sounds like mid to late nineties R&B plays, drowning out the sound from the television. A pool table takes up a large amount of space just inside the door. The interior of the pub is reminiscent of an old Tudor pub. It is also rather red, with red leather seats, red patterned carpet, red chairs, and red painted walls.

The London Pride here is passable, but still doesn’t match up to the London Pride I could enjoy whilst living and working in Chiswick.I should try and go back there at some point this year.

As for this year, it’s going to be a busy one for me. I already have 12 days of overtime lined up as I save up for my wedding in October. Before then though, I have my 30th birthday, which I shall be belatedly celebrating at the Maltings Festival in Newton Abbot. Also this year will be my Dad’s 60th birthday, and my Best Man’s 30th birthday.

Going back to the subject of that wedding, I’ll be moving to America for it, providing they let me in of course. Back in Southampton I have two shelves worth of beer I won’t be taking with me, and can’t really store back here. Needless to say, this year is going to see some rather good bottles being opened.

I shall return next week, until then dear reader, have a great weekend. (81)

The Friday Pint 3 #14 – Researching the past.

Earlier this week I sat down with Aidan Lavin to talk about The Wool House. My intention was to go through from the initial planning stages up until the opening night. That was before I started actually writing.

Aside from the history of the building itself, from wool storage to museum, via prison, it seems that Southampton has a rich brewing history, though much has now unfortunately disappeared through redevelopment.

One thing I am intrigued to know more about, is how The Old Bond Store, just off East Street, was used. It must have had some link to brewing to feature in an article published in the Brewing History Society journal No. 62 back in 1990.

From research I’ve done previously, I already know that there is one book of brewing records from a former Southampton brewery. Hopefully with a bit of digging, I’ll be able to find some more.

Those posts on The Wool House will appear soon. For now though, I have research to be getting on with. (17613)

The Friday Pint 3 #13 – Beer, Blues and Bangers

Sat once again in his office, in a different location to last time. The writer of this blogpost takes on the persona of a narrator, allowing him to describe a fictional situation in which the writer and a fictional editor discuss the wrters lack of professionalism recently. The writer sits, typing on a netbook, with a pint of Bowman’s Quiver beside him. Selfishly, he doesn’t even consider buying a pint for his editor, who doesn’t sit across from him, due to the editors non-existence.

“Now that you’ve finally written a post about the Birmingham Beer Bash, can you finally start writing Friday Pint posts with a bit more regularity” The fictional editor asks the writer. The writer ignores him as he thinks of what the editor, for who he is writing the dialogue, will say next. The editor looks at the writer, or at least would if he actually existed and was actually in front of the writer.

“huh?” uttered the writer, vaguely aware of some sort of conversation.

“The quality of the blog has been slipping. I know it, you know it, the readers know it. I mean, half the time it’s not even about beer any more. Do you know how many posts in the last year have been about a lack of posts, or about needing some sort of editor to force you into writing more often” The editor asked, with a gap of silence where the writer half expected him to go “hmm?”

“Erm, no”, replied the writer, hesitantly”

“Well, I’ll tell you,” said the editor, “I don’t know how many it is myself, but I do know it’s too many, it’s in danger of becoming a cliche.”

“So you’re saying I should write more, and not just about the fact that I haven’t been writing recently” asked the writer, knowing full well what the answer would be.

“Exactly,” exclaimed the editor, “You can start by writing a post about this festival that’s set up over there”

“I could do, I suppose” replied the writer, still sat in front of his netbook, typing out the fictional conversation that was currently taking place between himself and the fictional editor that sat opposite him.

In reality, the writer’s office was a pub. A small, warm coloured pub near the water in Southampton. It was a pub the writer had used as his office many times before, and today, a beer festival began. The pub had a name, and that name was The Platform Tavern. A short walk along the road and the writer would pass The Wool House, where outside, fences have been put up, with building site safety notices hanging from them.

A few hours sit between the writer and the ten festival beers sat on a stillage in the part of the pub that looks onto the brewery. In the meantime, he sits with his beer, and decides that here would be a good place to stop writing. In a few hours time, he will return, and beer will flow.

Halfway between last writing and the start of the festival, the writer returns to the half written post that he is working on. Beside him is an empty glass. Does he really want another beer now when there’s at least ten he could be drinking later on? To the other side of the writer’s netbook lies a copy of Boak and Bailey’s Brew Britannia. Having read the physical comics the writer picked up before walking down to the pub in which he sits, the writer has now begun reading that, alternating with issues of the 1985 DC comics series Crisis on Infinite Earths on his tablet.

“There must be something I can write about to pass the time” the writer thinks to himself. He looks up for inspiration and sees the wind blowing the branches on the trees across the road. When he entered, the writer had noticed a gathering of grey clouds in the sky, which made him wonder if rain was due soon. As long as it doesn’t rain as he’s walking back to the train station, he should be fine.

Throughout the pub, blues music plays over the speakers, as it usually does. This time however, it feels a tad on the loud side. There was a period of silence inbetween albums. It seemed nice. The writer thinks to himself “I don’t mind music in pubs, as long as it suits the time, location, and most importantly, my mood.”

“I don’t think I’m in the mood for music with my beer this afternoon”

With the main part of the pub getting busy, the writer decides to move out to what he would call the restuarant part of the pub. He is planning on eating some of the sausages on offer after all. In front of him sits the stillage, with last minute preperations being made to have it ready for the start of the festival.

To the side, a pile of A4 sheets of yellow paper have the list of beers available, with notes on each one. The writer peruses the list and sees a few that stand out. Quantock he recalls as being the brewery that won the overall gold at the Maltings festival back in April. Nightjar wasn’t the beer that won though, and as the writer didn’t particuarly like any of the Quantock beers that weren’t Wills Neck, he’s not going to bother with this one.

There are three Dancing Man Brewery beers on the stillage. Geiger’s Tanz, a version of Fiddler’s Jig brewed with a German wheat yeast, Sea City Gold, the beer brewed to celebrate Southampton’s 50th year as a city, and winner of first place at the Southampton Beer Festival in June, and Organ Grinder, a 6% IPA hopped with Chinook, Centenial and Amarillo. The writer plans on having all of them.

Elsewhere on the stillage, Arbor are also represented by three casks. Triple Hop, Beech Blonde, and Why Kick A Moo Cow. Derventio Brewery’s Et Tu Brutus, Bristol Beer Factory’s Independence, and Bowman Brewery’s Sarva make up the rest of the offering for the weekend.

Having finsihed describing the list, the writer now sits and waits, wondering what to drink first.

The festival begins, and the writer returns to his table with his first half pint of beer, and a menu of the sausages on sale. The beer in question is the Dancing Man Geiger’s Tanz, a beer the writer isn’t particuarly a big fan of (Fiddler’s Jig), brewed with German wheat yeast. To the writers palate, this version is much nicer than the regular version.

The writer looks at his watch. About 15 minutes away, his friend should be arriving into Southampton Central. The writer ponders over what he should buy his friend, so that he doesn’t have to wait for a drink when he arrives. He’ll come to a decision eventually. For now though, there is undrunken beer on the table.

The writer finishes his beer and places his netbook away in his bag, not wanting to be distracted from the conversation and beer with his friend, who by this time had arrived. As a result, everything the writer describes from hereonin is in his past, and so he adjuists his use of tense accordingly.

The two of them start with a half of Dancing Man’s Organ Grinder. It’s nice, but not overly memorable. The writer followed this with a Sea City Gold, during which he tried to remember if he had actually had it on draft before. He’d definitely tried it from a bottle, and had rather enjoyed it, as he did this half pint of it.

At some point during the evening, the writer and his friend shared a sausage platter, with Bison, Elk, Springbok and Zebra sausages. The writer’s favourite was the Springbok. The platter came with bread, and cheese, and a selection of pickles. For £12.50, it was a good accompaniment to the beer.

As well as the three Dancing Man Beers, the writer also drank two Arbor beers. Triple Hop, which on reflection was probably the beer he’d drink again, and Beech Blonde, which the writer can’t remember much about, other than it being the last beer, and it being pale and drinkable.

Inbetween those two beers though, came a ruby ale from Derventio brewery called Et Tu Brutus. The description made it sound quite nice. The reality though was something much different. The writer tried the beer and felt disappointed, there seemed to be something not quite right with how the beer tasted. He passed the beer to his friend, who commented that it smelt like a sour, and had a strawberry aftertaste. The writer took the beer back and put it to his nose, this time realising that it smelt like a Flemish Red. Was this how the beer supposed to be, or was it, as he suspected, off. In these situations where you have no frame of reference, it’s difficult to know. It had a taste you could get used to, but when there were enough beers there that were enjoyable from the start, is it really worth bothering about?

The writer sat in his flat pondering over how to finish the post. Did he finish with an inspiring final paragraph, one that would perhaps provoke discussion, or did he just let it ramble out into a disappointing conclusion before siging off.

Maybe, he should just let it come to an abrupt stop.

  (3323)

The Friday Pint #12 – This isn’t doing my job prospects any good

I’m back! In a pub! Writing a new Friday Pint post which is well overdue.

In some cases I have an excuse. Certainly two weeks ago I was busy selling people beer from the bottle bar at the Birmingham Beer Bash. In most cases though, the lack of post has been through to a combination of sheer laziness, and not really wanting to do anything resembling work outside of actual work (the thing I do to get money so I can buy beer and stuff).

The fact I’ve missed several Friday Pints after intending to return to a more weekly format this year doesn’t really bode well for me if I wanted to move into a job which involved writing regularly to a deadline. It may be the case that if you were to pay me to do this, I’d find a new found determination to get these things in on time. Alternatively, I could end up referring to the words of the late author, Douglas Adams, the ones about deadlines making a wooshing sound as they go past.

The thing with having not written a new post since early July, is that I’ve done several things which would be worthy of a blog post. In terms of local beer, I’ve visited and drunk beer from four breweries since my last post.

Vibrant Forest moved to their new premises in Lymington earlier this year, and have recently started opening up on Fridays and Saturdays for draught and bottle sales. It has always been my plan to write a more focused post on the new Vibrant Forest brewery. Hopefully I’ll manage to get down and do this before the year is through.

The Marlow Brewing Company, in Marlow is set in a nice location. I bought two litre bottles of beer from there, which were prepacked in clear pet bottles stored in a fridge. I’m not sure when they were packaged, which resulted in a voice in the back of my mind wondering what effects to the flavour there may have been. Personally, I didn’t really like the beers I bought from Marlow. They weren’t awful. They just weren’t to my taste.

Prior to the set up of the Beer Bash, I took the chance to head out to Lye and return once again to The Windsor Castle, home of Sadlers Ales. Those of you who have read previous entries about Sadlers by me, or indeed my twitter feed at certain points, will know that I have a particular fondness for Mud City Stout. Having had a couple of bad pints of it in The WIndsor Castle, I’m pleased to say that this time round it was tasting as good as it’s ever been, if not better.

Last, but not least, I finally made the trip up to Henley On Thames last weekend to visit the Lovibonds Brewery. I’ve tried a number of their beers before, and finally got to try Sour Grapes at the Beer Bash the week previously. This though, was a chance to try the full core range, and discover that Amber is the beer I’d choose to session drink if I had to. I left Lovibonds with a growler filled with Sour Grapes. It may have cost me £13 for just under two pints, but it was worth it.

As for now, I am currently sat writing this post in a Wetherspoons, the closest pub to my flat in Slough. I’m drinking a pint of Bingham’s Doodle Stout. It was an easy decision to make as a) Bingham’s are local. They’re based in Twyford, which is a short half hour train journey away, and b) Doodle Stout is one of my favourite beers that is easily available to me.

I did consider including the Beer Bash within this post, but I feel that such a thing requires it’s own separate little home. I’ll try and get that post written and up in the next few days. As for the near future, there’s apparently a tonne of beery stuff happening in London over the next week or so, with some “Great British Beer Festival”, at which a bunch of beer geeks will be going mad over some imported cask from Belgium or America.

If you can’t get to London though, or like me, don’t really want to travel into London, you can always pop down to Southampton for The Platform Tavern’s annual Blues and Booze festival over the bank holiday weekend. Apparently it now has sausages as well. It kicks off on the evening of Thursday 21st August. I’ll be there either then, or on the Friday.

Hopefully it won’t be too long before I write something again. Until then though, have a great weekend. (397)

The Friday Pint 3 #6 – Festivals Galore

A bit of a different approach to The Friday Pint this week, with me using it to promote a few events happening this weekend, next weekend, and in the future.

Firstly, Happy Easter everybody. As it’s a bank holiday weekend in the UK, there’s a good chance there’s a beer festival of some size somewhere near you (if you’re reading in the UK).  I’m working this weekend, so won’t be able to get to any of them, but here’s what I’d consider if I wasn’t…

The Brodies Bunny Basher festival is worth a visit if you’re in or near (or willing to travel to) the Leytonstone end of London. Chances are this is where a number of the countries beer geeks will be this weekend, so like previous years, it will get busy.

If I’m honest, making the trek to East London from Slough doesn’t really appeal to me, as much as the chance to savour a glass of Elizabethan does, I don’t think I could be bothered with navigating tube trains and buses on an Easter weekend.

The Platform Tavern Easter Cider and Blues Festival, and The Rockstone Easter Beer Festival in Southampton would involve a just as long (timewise) journey, and would probably be enjoyed by myself much more.

Next weekend The Rockstone have a Cider festival of their own, which is possibly where I’ll end up on the Sunday, after spending the previous three days at the Maltings Beer Festival in Newton Abbot.

Last year was the first time I went to the festival, and I was won over by the quality and condition of the beer available (perhaps a result of the festival being SIBA’s South West beer competition). This year I have yet again booked the whole weekend down there, and plan on following a similar approach to last year, where I worked my way through breweries.

As for my tip for the overall competition winner, I’d bet on Rebel Brewery’s Mexi-Cocoa if there was a book running on it.

As for the future, it’s about time I mentioned this year’s Birmingham Beer Bash on here. Tickets for individual sessions are now available here.

Whilst I’m part of the organizing team, I’m not part of the much smaller part of that team in charge of organizing and revealing the exciting line up of beers, food and fringe events that we have this year. There’s some returning favourites from last year, including Wild Beer, Siren, Thornbridge and Magic Rock, alongside some breweries making their beer bash debut. The full list of breweries can be found here.

In terms of food, the only announcement so far has been that of The Original Patty Men. Last year they sold out within the first hour of each session they were serving at, and with good reason. Their burgers were very, very nice. I’m certainly looking forward to getting to have another this year.

As well as great beer and food, the Bash also has some great fringe events lined up, information about which will be revealed via the festival’s social media feeds on Facebook and Twitter.

I’ll be doing a similar preview to the Bash as I did last year closer to the event. As for now, I’m going to try and keep myself awake. Until the next time reader… (2544)

The Friday Pint 3 #4 – A post which isn’t really a Friday Pint post, but is being posted on a Friday, so it might as well be.

I like kids.

Allow me to put that into a little more context. I like the inventive and inquisitive nature of kids. I like their lack of cynicsm. I like the joy and hope that they represent. I like the idea of kids playing and having fun. It’s what they should do. Playing and having fun is what being a child (or being childish if you’re somewhat older), is all about.

I hate parents who allow their children to play in restaurants, pubs, supermarkets, and anywhere else that is highly inappropriate for a child to be running around.

I’ll be honest, I know I shouldn’t, but whenever I’m somewhere that a child is running around when they shouldn’t be, a part of me hopes that they fall, trip and hurt themselves. Of course, whatever the circumstances, it wouldn’t be an accident, or the child’s fault for running around when they shouldn’t be. It’s your fault for walking into the path of that child, or for having your chair out a bit.

I say the following to all parents of young children, present and future. Allow your children to play. By all means, encourage it, but realize that there are appropriate and inappropriate places for them to do so. If others in your vicinity scowl or tut at you whilst trying to avoid your child, it’s probably a good idea for you to tell them to calm down.

  (24631)