Friday, May 29, 2009

New England vacation

The wife and I headed up to New England for a little post-wedding celebration that my parents were throwing us. While we were there we got to visit some of the great beer spots in the New England area. Of course time was short and I didn't get to hit up every place that I wanted to but the places I did get to visit were all great.


We got in at about 10am and after some trouble with the rental car headed straight into the heart of Boston to Newbury St. The wife got her bangs trimmed while I enjoyed a bagel at the coffee shop downstairs. It was a little early still for a beer but it was nice to see that even the coffee shop served good local craft beer from Harpoon and Sam Adams. After much discussion of where to have lunch (I lost out on both The Publick House and Sunset Grill) we ended up at Charley's. Had a great burger that I would add to my top burger places.

After dropping off the little lady off with members of my family, I met up with an old friend I hadn't seen in years and we headed into see the Red Sox/Mets game at Fenway. I hadn't been to Fenway in probably close to 15 years so it was great to see it is still the great ball park I remember. The beer selection at Fenway was a welcomed surprise compared to what was available at Land Shark Stadium (Miami) a few days prior. They had Sam Adam's Boston Lager, Sam Adam's Summer Ale, Amstel Light, Harp, Guinness, Smithwicks, Heinekin, Budweiser American Ale, Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Light and Coors Light. Both Sam Adam's beers had the longest lines out of any of the others. Hopefully the people running the park notice this and get some more craft beers into the park. Though the Red Sox lost, I still had a great time and it was nice to have a Sam Adam's Summer Ale while watching the game. We headed back to the house and called it an early night.


We spent most of Saturday morning running around doing a few errands before we ended up at Rosebud's Diner in Somerville for some late breakfast. Because I was having breakfast I felt it was still a little to early to have a beer but I did see that they had Harpoon Rootbeer on the menu so I decided to give that a try. I must say Harpoon makes a pretty fine rootbeer. This is something we should be able to get in Florida so I will be asking for it at our local establishments. I didn't notice until we were walking out that Rosebud's had five different taps of Harpoon beers. I love Boston for the fact that they don't feel that they need to cater to the Bud/Miller/Coors crowd all of the time.

We decided we had a couple of hours to kill before our wedding celebration and that since we were so inspired by all the Harpoon at Rosebud's that we should take ride over to the Harpoon Brewery for a tour. We arrived at the brewery at about 1pm and thought we would have plenty of time for the hour tour before the 5pm party. Unfortunately, when we went to purchase our tickets for the tour they were sold out until the 3:30pm tour which didn't leave us enough time for the tour. We were told we could go check out the gift shop that was open to everyone. I got to purchase some of the Leviathan Quad that I had been looking for and also got a bottle of their new 100 Series Helles Blond Bock as well as a beautiful new glass to drink it from. Although we weren't able to do the tour, Michael, one of Harpoon's Field Promotions Specialists and the cashier of the gift shop, hooked us up with some samples of the Helles Blond Bock and the new UFO White on tap. Both were quite good. I was told by Michael that we should start seeing the UFO White in FL at anytime now, so keep a look out for it.
After the wedding celebration (which was lots of fun so thanks to everyone who came), we headed out with some family and friends to Charlie's Kitchen (different place than the place we went to on Friday) in Harvard Square. My Dad told me he used to go to this place all the time when he was in school and has been an institution in Harvard Square for decades. This was my first time getting to go and check it out. They had just recently added a bier garden which had about 10 beers on tap. I settled on a Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA. It was good to see it served in the correct glassware. This was the first time having this bitterly hopped beer. I let my cousin try it, who was having a Sam Adams (the only beer he really drinks), and he didn't care for it at all. It is not a beer you would want to drink every day but it was a nice strong beer to end a rather long day. One of the best things about Charlie's Kitchen are the great prices. I got my beer and my wife's Red Bull for only $8. In Miami, either of those would have been $8 by themselves at a bar. The food was also very inexpensive. The curfew in Boston is one thing I'm not so used to living in Miami but it helped bring the night to an end at a reasonable hour.

Sunday we got up early to get on the road to Maine. My good friend Tim picked us up at my parent's house and we were on our way to Lovell, ME and Ebenezer's Pub. Ebenezer's is rated the top beer bar in the world so I had pretty high hopes heading up there. It was a beautiful hour drive that reminded me of what I've always liked about Maine. It should also be known that Ebenezer's is in the middle of nowhere. You would think a bar with such a reputation would be in a big city but it makes perfect sense to be right where it is. As we walked into Ebenezer's the size was one of the first things I noticed. There were only about 10 tables in the place and the bar area was also quite small. We were sat by our lovely waitress, Hanna. She let us take our time looking over the extensive beer and food menus. It took her a few back-and-forths, checking on us before we had decided on what we would be drinking. You can sample anything they have one tap for half the cost of a full glass. I started with a sampler of Cantillion Kreik '06, Brooklyn Blunderbuss Old Ale, Smuttynose S'muttonator, Dogfish Head Palo Santo and Black Albert. The wife had a sampler with Rogue Imperial Ale, Hapt Kappitel Abt, Hops Injour, Bier du Boucanier Red, and Avec Les Bon Veux. We sipped those while I decided on the Chimay Cheeseburger. Not only were the beers amazing but the food was also out of this world. I would say another one of the best burgers I've ever had. While we were enjoying our beer and food, we talked with the very friendly staff who told us that the owners, Chris and Jen, were getting ready to open another new bar in Brunswick, ME and that some of the staff that was working today were training for the new bar. I had heard what an extensive cellar Enebezer's had and I asked our waitress Hanna if there was any way we could possibly see it. She said she would give Chris a call and see if he was around to talk to us down in the cellar. He fortunately was and would be heading over in a few minutes to show us around. While we waited I decided to try a sampling of the Scadlis Noel and Val Dui Triple; two great beers that I had never had on tap. Both were amazing. Chris showed up a few minutes later and swooped us away to the cellar. Just walking down the stairs into the cellar made my jaw drop. Two magnums of Stone Double Bastard just sitting there. I barely got in the door of the cellar before I was once again floored with a whole shelf of Russian River Beatification and another of Russian River Concecration. We weren't more then a moment into the cellar before Chris started pouring beers for us. I wish I could remember exactly what he had poured for us but I was so overwelmed by his amazing collection of beers that I didn't make a mental note of what he was serving us (I was also about 4 beers in by this point as well). He told us all about the new bar and showed us some of the artwork that had been handpainted for it and the glassblown tap handles he had just got in as well. We also talked about our similar musical backgrounds. He told us he was going to have to make it quick when we went down into the cellar because he needed to get over to the new bar but he was more then generous with his time and and his beer. He also was very kind by giving us each a bottle of Black Albert to take home with us. The guy could not have been more nice or humble. We returned to the bar as Chris took off in his old-ass Altima that he joked was "his Corvette" from all the money he makes off of Ebenezer's. We all finshed off the day with one of the best blueberry pies any of us had ever had. We said bye to Hanna and the other very friendly staff at Ebenezer's and headed back to the car for the ride back to my parent's house. Being at Ebenezer's was like being at a friend's house and it made me kind of sad to leave. I am greatly looking forward to visiting again soon. Tim dropped us off at the folks house and we just stayed in and visited with them before calling it a night.

On Monday, we just visited with the family before heading back to Boston for the airport. Once again while we were out getting something to eat, it was good to see that the resturants in Maine also support their local brewery's by having Allagash, Shipyard, Seadog or one of many fine Maine brews on tap. When we got to the airport while we were waiting for our flight, we tried to grab a beer at the brewpub in the airport. They wouldn't let us sit at a table without ordering food and the bar was full so, we had to miss out on one last beer. Overall, we had a great trip and I look forward to doing it again soon.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Savor Craft Beer and Food Festival

I am leaving once again. This time to fly to Charlotte, NC to meet up with my friend Alex and head up to Savor Craft Beer and Food Festival in Washington DC for the weekend. This should be a great experience with some of the top brewers in the country attending and sharing some of their rarest beers. Once again, if anyone has any suggestions on places we should stop between Charlotte and Washington DC please let me know. I'll have a full report when I get back. Cheers.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Review: Full Sail LTD Series #2 Pale Lager

Full Sail really is a brewery that I don't give enough recognition to sometimes. It's never the first beer I reach for at the store or order at the bar but whenever I do end up having one, I'm usually pleasantly surprised. The LTD Series #2 is yet another pleasant surprise from Full Sail. It pours nicely with not very much carbonation, giving it a very thin head. It's a nice light clear amber color. The aroma of the sweet maltiness cannot be missed. It drinks a enjoyably smooth, slightly-sticky feel in your mouth. It has a taste of sweet malt with only a very slight bitterness at the end, that dissipates quickly. This is the beer that the every day Bud drinker wishes they were drinking. It doesn't have too much complexity to overwhelm some people but it does have enough taste to make you want to drink more.

Friday, May 22, 2009

On The Road Again...

I'm off to do some traveling for Memorial Day weekend. We are heading up to Boston for a Red Sox game and some good beer bars tonight. I'll see how Fenway's beer selection measures up to Land Sharks'. On Sunday we'll be heading to Maine to head to what is rated the top beer bar in the US, Ebenezer's. If we have time I'm going to try to hit up some of the great breweries in the New England area as well. Does anyone have any other suggestion of places I should check out while I'm up in New England?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Land Shark Stadium

As most of you in South Florida are probably aware, Dolphin Stadium has been taken over for the year by Jimmy Buffett/Anheuser-Busch's Land Shark Beer to become Land Shark Stadium. I made my way over to the stadium last night for a doubleheader between the Marlins and the Diamondbacks. The games were fairly good, the crowd was non existent, and the beer selection was just OK. The beers that I could find in the stadium were little more than the usual ballpark fare of Bud, Bud Light and Miller Light with a few better ones to be found mixed in (Yuengling, Amstel Light, Heineken, Stella Artois, Presidente and of course Land Shark). The one good thing was that all the domestic and import beers were the same price, $7 (not that $7 is a good price for any of these). Though the prices aren't as crazy as they are at American Airlines Arena, I'd still prefer to do a little tailgating in the parking lot before the game to save a few bucks.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lakefront Brewery- Fuel Cafe Coffee Flavored Stout

I'm going to start doing reviews of beers that are available here in South Florida and the one that I have decided to start with is one I have been sitting on for a bit: Lakefront's Fuel Cafe Coffee Flavored Stout. I got this one a little while back in a sampler pack but for some reason hadn't tried it yet. My friend from Milwaukee swears by Lakefront so who am I to not try it out? Most of the other beers I had in the pack were quite good.

I cracked the beer open and poured it into a pint glass. The initial smell of coffee was quite evident so the name wasn't a lie. It gave a pretty big light brown head that stayed throughout the time I drank the beer. The color of the actual beer was jet black. The mouth feel was not what I was expecting at all from a stout. Very watery. It didn't give me that nice roll-around feel in my mouth that I usually like from a stout. The taste of coffee and malt disappeared quite quickly and just left a slighty bitter aftertaste.

Overall, I was pretty disappointed by this beer. The other Lakefront beers that I have had were much better than this one. I would even say this is the worst of the Lakefront beers I've had. It's really too bad that the other beers in the sampler pack only seem to be available in the pack and not separately. I would gladly trade in the Fuel Cafe for their River West Stein any day.

Did anyone have a similar or different experience?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cook's Inc. Host Beer vs. Wine Dinner Saturday Night

This Saturday night(5/16) Chef John Carlino along with Ray Nicholaus from Fresh Beer Inc. and Zach Thoden from Republic Wine Distributors will be hosting a Beer Vs. Wine dinner at Cook's Inc. in Jupiter. The event has become such an overwhelming success that they have added an additional 9pm seating. Here is what the menu is looking like.

Craft Beer vs Wine Dinner Menu
First Course
Roasted Tomato and Garlic Gazpacho Granita with Marinated Grilled Shrimp
Wine: Robert Oatley Rose of Sangiovese
Beer: Avery White Rascal

Second Course
Grilled Clams, Chorizo Sausage, Corn and Garlic Bundle
Wine: Senor da Folla Verde Albarino
Beer: Orval Trappist Ale

Third Course
Hand-Carved Roasted Beef Tenderloin Filet, Demi Glace Reduction, Creamy Gorgonzola Wild Mushroom Polenta, Grilled Asparagus
Wine: Taltarni Three Monks Cabernet Merlot
Beer: Westmalle Dubbel

Fourth Course
Banana Bread French Toast, Chocolate Mascarpone, Vanilla Black Pepper Syrup Drizzle
Wine: Tosti Brachetto D'Acqui
Beer: Celebrator Doppelbock

This great dinner will run you $45pp and seats are going fast. You can call and make a reservation at (561)429-8020. The Alley Pub will also be open before, during and after the dinner any more of the fine beverages they will be serving.

Check out this little feature on Cook's and a past Beer Dinner they had. You can also check out some of the other local watering holes around Palm Beach County.

What to do with your Thursday night?....Beer and wings

Every Thursday night from 7pm to 9pm Angelo and Maxie's Steakhouse in Coconut Grove hosts a great happy hour. For only $20 you will get unlimited chicken wings and a sampling of a selection of 15-20 great craft beers. You can't find a better deal.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"So you want to be a beer Judge?" - Style Guideline Tasting

The next meet up of the "So you want to be a beer judge?"-Style Guideline Tasting is tonight at Abraxas at 8pm. The style this week is Stouts and as always the event is hosted by Chris Montelius from Fresh Beer. This meet up happens every other Wednesday at Abraxas. It's a great way to taste some beers you might not usually taste and to meet some new people that also have a love of beer.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Craft Beer Week

This week is national Craft Beer Week. Make sure you take a moment sometime this week to enjoy a great, flavorful, brewed-with-love craft beer. Also try to head out to one of the fine local establishments that support craft brewing.

Remember tonight at The Abbey on South Beach is a special tapping of Dogfish Head's Burton Baton on the handpump. This will be a good event to start off Craft Beer Week with. Comment if you'd like to meet up.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Yard House Beer List

I made it over to the opening of the Yard House today. The huge bar in the middle of the restaurant, with its 130 taps, was quite a site. They had a great selection. A lot of the beers are beers that I haven't had (nor seen) on tap before and can't wait to make my way back to try more of them. The food was pretty good. The one complaint about the food was that it was a bit greasy for my liking but overall, was good. The service is what is to be expected for the first day being open. Waiters still learning the menu, mix-ups in the kitchen, but everything was fixed with great apologies from the manager.

Here is the full list of the beers that they have on tap as of right now.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Rare Dogfish Head Burton Baton on Tap

I was very excited when I got an email from Chris over at Fresh Beer letting us know about a very rare tapping of Dogfish Head's Burton Baton. It is happening at The Abbey on South Beach on Monday. As if that wasn't good enough, it is going to be on the handpump. This is a very limited and rare thing you won't want to miss out on.

Here is a little more info about the beer.
ABV:10 IBU:70
A blend of oak-aged English strong ale and our 90 Minute I.P.A..
Citrus notes from Northwestern hops meld with vanilla notes from the oak.

Yard House (Coral Gables) opening tomorrow

The Yard House at Merrick Park in Coral Gables finally opens tomorrow. Just in time to take your Mom for a nice Mothers Day beer. If you are unfamiliar with the Yard House it is a restaurant/bar with 130 beers on tap. I have been to the Yard House in West Palm and thought the food was really good and the beer selection was better than most. I will be going to the opening tomorrow so I'll let you know what the selection at this one is like.

Here is some info on their Happy Hour.

Monday - Friday
3PM - 6PM
Sunday - Wednesday
10PM - Midnight
Select Half-Priced Appetizers
Domestic Pints $3.50
Craft/Import Pints $4.00
Goblets $4.25
Well Drinks $4.25
House Martinis $5.75
Wine By The Glass $2.00 / OFF
Limited selection of appetizers available.

Friday, May 8, 2009

New May Beers

Here is a list of beers that will be being released in May that are carried in FL. Some of these may not make it down here from the brewer but you can keep an eye out for them.

-Avery Sixteen
-Boulder Flashback
-Smuttynose Baltic Porter
-Dogfish Head Immort Ale
-Dogfish Head Squall IPA(this is a limited release but maybe we'll get lucky)
-Laqunitas A Little Sumpin Sumpin
-Shipyard XXXX IPA (part of the Pugsley Signature Series)
-Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale
-Smuttynose Summer Weizen
-Stoudts Weizen
-Weyerbacher Muse
-Weyerbacher Riserva
-Left Hand St. Vrain Tripel
-Sierra Nevada Kellerweis
-Terrapin 90 Shelling (Side Project #6)
-Weyerbacher Foxtrot

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I finally did it

So, after much pushing by my wife I have finally decided to start a blog on beer in South Florida (also other places I visit too).  Since I have lived in South Florida, my love of beer has grown with the beer scene in South Florida. There are many great places that have been around for years now and some newer places as well. There are also some people that have helped greatly in making the South Florida beer scene worth something to travel for. I'll be trying to cover as much of those places and people as possible, as well as all the great beers that are now available in South Florida. I travel from time to time and I'd like to share the great beers and places I get to visit then as well. If you have anything you think I should check out please let me know. I always love finding anything new that's beer-related. More to come soon.