Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Blue Canoe Brewpub - Now Open

The taps are flowing once again at the previously defunct Four Sons Brewery, now brewing under the moniker of Blue Canoe Brewery. Matt Allyn is back at the helm of the Titusville, PA brewpub, and has put together a solid lineup with a promise of more to come. Having opened this past Tuesday, there are currently 6 beers on tap, 5 regulars and a seasonal.

I was in luck to happen through Titusville on the way home from a business trip, and to my surprise, BCB was open and ready for business. Needless to say, I was pumped. I had always enjoyed my unfortunately infrequent stops at Four Sons, loving the atmosphere as much as the food and the beer. Now with this new incarnation of a truly local brewpub, there's plenty to look forward to in northwestern PA.

As for this visit, I was excited to see my favorite Four Sons brew still on the menu under a new name, Heavy Kevy, a heavy Scottish Ale. Malty, Biscuity, with a mild choclate note and a crisp, clean finish. I only sample said libation, opting instead for the Class 5 APA, a solid pale ale with good bitterness and hop character, and a goblet, or chalice if you will, of the current seasonal Big Sky, which is a Saison-esque Belgian Pale Ale. It was estery as all get out, but did have a nice biscuity background. As for food, the name escapes me now, but the turkey sandwich on the pretzel roll was killer, along with the homemade chips.

To sum it up - GO THERE! It may be a hike from everywhere in PA, but it's worth the visit.



Saturday, August 16, 2008

Colorado Update: Boulder and Fort Collins

So I'm back in PA (finally), and I'm sure you're wondering how the rest of the Colorado trip went. Oh, I'll feed you, baby birds. Here we go.

After a long work day on Wednesday, I ended my day in Boulder to set myself up for the next morning. Even though I got into my hotel late, I was still able to check out Avery Brewing's tap room for a few samples. The Maharajah IIPA and the Hog Heaven Barleywine were the real highlights of the place, but the most enjoyable part of the evening was the conversation with Peter, Avery's Sales/Marketing/Events Coordinator and self-titled Beverage Facilitator who knew way to much about his product, for that matter, beer in general. He was a great host and it made for a fantastic start to the evening. I then headed down to Mountain Sun Brewpub on Pearl St. for a couple pints (their Colorado Kind Red Ale was passable, but the FYIPA was pretty much a spot on American Style Pale Ale) before heading to the local Old Chicago for some pizza and a pint.

Thursday was another work day between Boulder and Ft. Collins, before having to head back to Denver to return my rental car. While in Ft. Collins, I did get to meet up with Dave from Fermentedly Challenged, a Colorado-based-and-focused beer blog. Dave suggested that we meet up at Choice City Butcher and Deli, which makes a fantastic sandwich and has an incredible beer list, with the likes of Fantome, Jolly Pumpkin (in Ft. Collins!), a plethora of saisons and sours, oh, and St. Bernardus Abt. 12 on tap. . . . all at a Deli! I opted to try one of hometown brewery New Belgium's employee beers, Lips of Faith Jessica's Ale, which was spiced with Cinnamon. Unlike Muckney's own Dark and Mysterious Cinnamon Porter, this incarnation wasn't over spiced, with a gentle roast and caramel quality to it. Pretty well done. Oh, and the Corned Buffalo Reuben was insane.

After lunch, I popped in to New Belgium's brewery for, say, 3 minutes, to see if I could find NB's Flander's-style Brown ale, La Folie. They, were out, but I got a lead on some bottles at a local liquor store and was able to procure one, along with some Avery and a Fat Tire for good measure. I wish I had more time to spend in Ft. Collins, it seemed like a fun place to be for more than lunch, but that will have to wait for another trip.

Overall, CO was crazy. Lots of work, lots of brewery-hopping, great food, and even better people, you know, the kind that ACTUALLY have conversations with you when you make eye contact.



Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Greetings from Denver (Sans luggage)

"It has been a long day - one full of home brew housekeeping, beer bars, flights, and lost luggage. I got into Denver at 10:30 PM local time to find that my luggage wasn't on the plane, which is awesome because I have no clothes."

That was the beginning of the post I started writing on Sunday night/Monday morning from the Quality Inn next to the Denver International Airport. Did I mention that at the time my luggage was still in Chicago? No? Well, it was. Luckily it showed up Monday afternoon. But such is life, and has no bearing on reporting this business trip that I'm on that just so happens to take me to one of beer Meccas of the US.

Ah, Colorado - the state with more microbreweries per capita than any other state in this great Union, and I'm currently trying to hit them all. The perks of being an outside salesman. I've been in Denver for just over 48 hours, and have hit no less than a half dozen beer destinations. It started Monday night after a long day of working and worrying whether or not I'd be wearing a wardrobe from Target all week. well, about 2 PM on said workday my luggage arrived at my hotel, putting an end to any worrying, and allowing me to concentrate on beer that evening.

After my last call on Monday, I hit up Bubbles Liquor Mart in Castle Rock, no less that 20,000 sq. ft. of booze with a moderately adequate beer selection. I picked up a bomber of Alaskan Amber Ale, which for a reason that escapes is somehow a fan favorite according to some locals. It was average at best. I guess it popularity is attributed to its novelty, since the likes of Fat Tire is so readily available. I then began the evening at Falling Rock Tap House, which, by any estimation is the best taproom that I've ever been in. Sixty plus on tap, and an unknown number of rare bottles helped satiate my thirst after a long day. Highlights of the evening included Duchesse de Bourgogne Flanders Brown and New Belgium Lips of Faith Eric's Sour Peach Ale on tap, and an at length conversation with Mark, GABF's assistant Cellar Master, concerning all things beer. That got me primed for a long night of a decent Pale Ale at Rock Bottom Denver while watching Alan Rodgers prove his worth in Green Bay and Michael Phelps winning gold in Beijing.

Tuesday found me ending my work day in Golden at the town's "second largest brewery", Golden City Brewing. "Largest" would have to be the most exaggerated statement I've heard in a while. Located in two houses that total no more than 2000 sq. ft., this little gem puts together a surprisingly delicious IPA, skunky and bready, and the perfect primer to an evening of brewery-hopping, with a baseball game thrown in the middle. I started at Great Divide Brewing's Tap room, a rather sterile tasting room attached to the brewery, with windows looking in on said libation manufacturing facility. This could be the best deal in the city, with up to 4 samples for free, and only $5 for every 4 following. I sampled seven, including Oak Aged Yeti, Hades Golden BSA, and two brewery-only small batch beers, Bee Sting Ale, which is GD's Samurai with honey and raisins, and an oak-aged coffee stout, which is said Yeti aged on espresso beans. I swear this brewery can't miss. A must visit when you're in town. Afterward I strolled down to Coors Field to watch The Big Unit lead the Diamondbacks to a victory over the Rockies. OK, I only stayed for three innings due to some crazy lightening, but while there I hit up Blue Moon Brewing's Sandlot brewpub at the ballpark for their seasonal Alt. I then headed across the street to Breckenridge at the Ballpark for dinner and a pint of 471 IPA. I then found myself at Falling Rock again for some more Duchesse, Oskar Blues Gordon, and some St. Bernardus Abt. 12 on tap.

This trip has been insane beer-wise so far, with much more to come over the next 48 hours, so stay tuned.

On the homebrew front, I transferred both the Dark IPA (MB0021) and the Saison du Muqunee (MB0022) to secondary before I left, the former dry-hopped with an ounce each of Amarillo and Cascade hops. Also, Justin informed me that he procured an ounce of homegrown hops this evening at the homebrew club meeting. I guess we'll have to make another IPA. Darn.

Have a good night. I'm off to bed.



Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Homebrew Week Update

Tonight I checked in on the Saison du Muqunee (MB0022) and the Stone Soup XXI Ale: The Mustachioed Dark IPA (MB0021). Both have had about 12 days to ferment out. The Saison was all the way down to 1.010, which is straight awesome. Some quick tasting notes:

Hazy yellow. Nose is wheat and slight funk. Taste is light and citrusy with dry peppery finish. Light alcohol flavor with lots of warmth. Slight spiciness. Mild wheat notes and a good dose of bitter.

This guy's pretty tasty so far. He'll be in secondary tomorrow.

Next I moved to the XXI Dark IPA. The SG on this guy 1.019, which is just a few points high, so I figured I'd let it go for a few more days before transferring, but it'll be a carboy before I leave for CO on Sunday. Tasting notes:

Pours Murky brown with amber hues. Nose is slight roast with caramel and mild hops. Flavor is subtle roast with lots of caramel and a weird mixture of fruits, cherry, raisin, lemon, grapefruit, slight apple. Moderate to high bitter and good grassy/piny/citrusy hop flavor. Slightly mouth puckering.

This will age in secondary for a few weeks on an ounce each of Amarillo and Cascade whole leaf hops to give it a hop-errific nose. Love it.



They *MAY* be coming around

Guess what MSN.com is featuring today?? BEER! Not the biggest surprise, of the day, though. The article actually focuses on CRAFT BEER that's not Blue Moon, Hoegaarden, or Sam Adams. Instead, the author, Bret Stetka, actually did some research on US breweries and came up with some great candidates for brewery tours, including Great Divide, Bells, Troegs, and even Brewery Ommegang! I almost fainted. Kudos to him, though.

Just had to share. Check it out. Not a bad read.



Sunday, August 3, 2008


Hopefully there are a few out there that actually get the Strongbad reference. So, I don't think it is any secret to my friends that I love RateBeer. In fact, it has been enumerated as one of the possible sources that could lead the the demise of my marriage. At the beginning of writing this, I was not able to access the page. Of course, now that I am actually writing something about it, it is working again. But I don't care, the words are already on the page, so I'm going ahead with it. To you wonderful people who started the site... Please make it work well again. My first few months were great. I never had any problems. I know you were trying to make it better with new servers. I would like to submit that I am willing to pay a little bit extra for some consulting on how to set up your new environment. I can't tell you all the server errors that I have experienced in the past month. RateBeer is one of the few things that keeps me sane, almost as much as beer itself. It is a nice cathartic outlet. However, it has the inverse effect (1 / cathartic) when I try to add a new beer and I get some SQL error. Actually, I don't even know if they use SQL, but it is some sort of server error. That is why I am officially announcing my candidacy as a RateBeer quality assurance specialist. I am leaving my current QA position to pursue other educational ventures. That leaves the obsessive/compulsive tester in me very under nurtured. I will find ways to break the site so that others may not have to feel the frustration that I do every time my browser times out. Please, just tell me what you want from me! In other news more important to Muckney Brewing, Dave and I no longer get to hang out. He had to do 'our' first all grain batch without me because my company has seen fit to make me do 4 months of work in my last 2 weeks. Hopefully once I start my new position, I'll have a little more time on my hands. Now that I feel I have vented most of the steam caused by 10 Firefox time outs, I'm going to go and check my latest RateBeer stats. I have a case of 8/8/08 at Vecenie's with my name on it so I'm pretty sure that is going to be big number 400. I love being me.