Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Holidays - Have a Beer!

Ho Ho Holidays!

Just wanted to drop a quick note on here. Check out great events at both the Farmhouse and Prohibition Pig tonight (doomsday 12/21/12) featuring crazy good beers on tap from many breweries like Hill Farmstead, Lawson's Finest Liquids and more.

I think I'll be breaking some good ones out of the cellar, just in case the world does end (yeah right!).

Anyways, mostly just wanted to say happy holidays, be safe, get a designated driver!!

Check out my 12 beers of Christmas article over on We Are VT a new site from Vermonters about Vermont. I'll be a regular contributing writer on that site as well. So give it a read, bookmark it, and see what other fine folks from the 802 have to say!



Saturday, December 8, 2012

Chasing the White Whale | The Hunt for the Elusive Beer

As the holidays approach and the days get darker, I've been thinking a lot about the great brews sitting in my cellar waiting for consumption. This time of year I tend to gravitate towards my bigger brews. They go great with a nice big snowfall. Nice way to warm up.  However, I've also been thinking about all the brews that I'll need to obtain to replenish my stash. There are so many that I want (need, who am I kidding) but often it is a never ending chase for the white whale.

Pliny the Elder & Heady Topper
As an avid instagram user, member of the Beer Advocate and RateBeer communities it's interesting to see what people are drinking across the country, and even globally. Being a Vermonter, I have access to some of the best beers available in the world. Heady Topper from the Alchemist, brews from Hill Farmstead, and Lawson's Finest Liquids are not difficult to get. The demand for these beers worldwide is incredible. Vermont is to be home to a lot of "white whales."

This year we had a huge increase in the available beer from new breweries nationwide thanks to distributors like Craft Beer Guild. Just this week the Beverage Warehouse and the Farmhouse Tap & Grill got Ballast Point from CA, they have such a tasty portfolio of nautically themed beers. Check out Sculpin, a nice IPA and Victory At Sea a phenomenal Imperial Porter perfect for this time of year. As a result of all this new beer, some of my "wants" have have landed at my local store. Typically I'll have to trade or find other ways to fulfill my wishlist. Sometimes though, the price is too steep and many of the rare beers will still evade me.

It's a great time for beer lovers, new breweries are opening all the time and the quality of craft beer is growing so even though Surly Darkness, Kate the Great, and many more still seem far away it's nice to know that great beer is truly all around us. Drink it in!

So what is your "White Whale?"

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Been awhile.....

Many great beers have been had since I last wrote, too many to count. However recent highlights that I would advise you to find if possible include Rogue's "Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale", a really fascinating brew that must be tried to believed. Granted, not for everyone but a really unique example of what beer can be (in this case breakfast, no joke it is a bacon delight!) I also believe that Sierra Nevada's "Narwhal" is the "best bang for your buck" IRS available to the masses right now. At less than $3 per bottle I  think this is a steal, and suspect it to age like a champ.

Anyways, not much of a topic today. Just want to reflect on some things happening in the industry, and mention some "grinds my gears" things that I just can't let go of.

First of all, dear Magic Hat. Please make sure beers are available to the local market before the left coast gets it? I was fighting to find Heart of Darkness (exceptional stout by the way, get it in the winterland variety pack.) I saw via Instagram buddies and untappd that folks around the country were enjoying it, but the #BTV market could not get it on the shelves or at the Artifcatory until several days, in some cases a full week later. I've been looking forward of the return of this beer for a long time! Magic Hat has grown, I get that and they aren't what they once were. However, they still have a great local appeal here and this was a disappointing experience. Then they released a special VT only brew (Maple Chocolate Stout) and posted a picture of a growler on Instagram. Excited to try, and drove to the Artifactory after work only to find it was a fail at marketing, wasn't up yet. I know logistics and shiz get involved but come on. Really?  Still looking forward to try it nonetheless.

Next, yes it's a bummer what is happening at Goose Island. Sad to see Hall cross the party line into the darkside with InBev. However, having recently had this years Bourbon County Stout, and Christmas Ale. They are really tasty, and if they keep producing quality beer like that you won't see me foolishly boycotting them in some holier than thou statement of beer snob righteousness. Hopefully the small batch stuff stays small, and the big guys keep feeling the pain of the craft-beer growth.

And finally, did you watch the Stone Vertical Epic live tasting? Very jealous, no doubt but man does the owner seem very fittingly like an Arrogant Bastard. Good thing he still makes killer beers.  I was impressed that the panel felt most of them held up, but wonder what there real opinions might be. I'm sure those will come out soon. In the meantime, if you are in #BTV hit up the Beverage Warehouse. A bunch of the Stone 12 oz bottles like Chipotle Porter, Vanilla Bean Porter, and one of the collaborations are on sale for $1 and $2 dollars.

That is all for now. Heading to Hill Farmstead for some new brew, and old favorites (Twilight of the Idols!)

Until next time, cheers!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Beercationland - Exploring Maine's Craft Beer Scene

Recently my wife and I retreated to the coast of Maine for what I called a "sanity break" but it quickly turned into quite the "Beercation!" Vacationland, as its know is one of my favorite places in the universe. Something about the cold Atlantic ocean, crashing waves, and coastal communities is such a draw for me. I figured we would have our fair share of brews while on our little 4 day excursion, but the weather was not amazing so we had everyone elses share as well :)

A couple months ago we hit Portland and visited spots like Gritty's, Sebago, and a couple others but discovered one of the great beer bars of the east, perhaps anywhere. Novare Res Bier Cafe! Wow! If you find yourself in Portland, this is a must. Phenomenal Euro heavy draught list, and a bottle list so vast they even have a section for "beer geeks." How awesome is that? We of course, hit the place again on this trip and again was can't miss. Had some very unusual and hard to find brews from the UK, Spain, and the Netherlands.

Earlier in the trip we discovered Boothbay Craft Brewery thanks to a sign in the harbor that just said "brewery" and pointed left! A little 3 beer brewery and resort (great idea!) We sampled a couple of delicious options and spoke with the owner and his wife both apparently good friends with Sam Caligione of Dogfish Head fame.  Great people, very good beer! Look forward to going back and staying with them sometime, check them out. We grabbed a growler to go, which I later enjoyed on top of Cadillac Mountain (among other places).

Somewhere along the way, we drove a bit south to Brunswick. Not much of a town, but I had heard about this place call the Lion's Pride. From the outside, it looks like an Asian Restaurant that might only serve cheap Sake and Sapporo but I could not have been more wrong. This place is phenomenal and rivals some of the best beer bars I've ever been to. 30 plus on draught, nothing bad at all. Again, just like Novare a great bottle list. We were in a rush, but wish that wasn't' the case I could have stayed there all day. Can't wait to go back.

Next up we went north to Bar Harbor, and thanks to my new favorite beer app, Beerbuddy (more on that in a blog to come) I was able to quickly locate the best bars and spots in town. We had a great time at the Atlantic Brewing company, worth a visit for sure. Beers are all tasty, not amazing but the BBQ joint attached certainly was! A brewery and pit BBQ is a match made in beer heaven. If you go, be sure to try the Manly Men series, especially the braggot. Awesome!

Later, again thanks to my new app BeerBuddy we found craftbeer glory at a unassuming spot called Blaze. The bartender was super knowledgeable, and we sampled a few other local offerings I had not heard of like a Demon Stout from Black Bear Brewing company out of the Orono, ME area. Delicious.  A couple others as well that were great, I would have to look back in Untappd (another kick ass beer app) to find out what they were. We also visited Bar Harbor brewing company, which is pretty much the same as Atlantic and as I understand are owned by the same place. Beers very similar with the edge going to Bar Harbor for Cadillac Mountain Stout. Mighty tasty!  

Finally back in Portland we got the chance to tour the Allagash Brewing Company, that was fantastic. I have never in my life seen such generous sample pours. The tour was thorough, and fun. Best part was checking out the barrel room. The Beeradvocate collaboration was visible, as was Curieux the delicious barrel aged Tripel. One of the better brewery tours I've been on, worth reserving tickets (free) for online. Just outside of the Old Port, but an easy drive. Was surprised to learn that they get 120 Jim Beam bourbon barrels a month, among other cool facts!  After the tour we hit the Great Lost Bear, another sweet beer bar/restaurant. Liz and I rocked samplers that were very well priced and continued to tour the regional beers including Oxbow, and Rising Tide both from Maine. Food was quite good as well. Highly recommend this spot.

Bottom line, if you know where to look Maine can be more than just a coastal vacation it is a solid beer destination. They have a lot of tasty breweries, something for everybody.  Look forward to going back.  What are your favorite Maine beers? What spots did I miss? Love recommendations, I'm only 3-4 hours away by car so I'll be back.

Follow me on Twitter and instagram @metallidan

Until next time, Cheers!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Waterbury, VT | Craft Beer Heaven

me at The Alchemist 
Updated on 09-16-2013

Have you heard? Craft Beer Cellar is coming to Waterbury soon. Making the already booming beer scene even more impressive. It just keeps getting better baby! Have you visited any of the Craft Beer Cellars locations in New England? Love these stores. Amazing people, great products, filling a nice need in the #VTbeer scene. Glassware, beer, other swag will fill the shelves. Give them a follow over on Twitter to keep up with the progress. Can't wait to see the shop.

Since this last post Alchemist is still killing it and has tripled brewery production, still can't keep Heady in stock. It's amazing the success they have had. Oh yeah, and the Pig is brewing now? Huge win! I'm sure I've missed some other developments in town but bottom line, go to Waterbury ASAP and enjoy.

the following was posted originally back in May of 2012: heard me, little old Waterbury, VT a mere 40 minutes south of Burlington, VT is a glorified and righteous craft beer goldmine. With a small population of around 5K this is not your average beer town, but they know what is up.

Iconic home to Ben & Jerry's and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters the town has a great vibe, community spirit, and culture that I love. I had been going to the Alchemist Pub & Brewery for years, in fact my last meal and drink I had there was the night before Tropical Storm Irene changed everything. The days and months that have followed Irene have set in motion many changes in the town, and although recovery continues there is still a long way to go.

A big loss for the craft beer community and in general was The Alchemist, and although poised to reopen months later, owner John Kimmich opted to focus on the cannery and closed up the brewpub for good.  I miss it dearly, as do many however, just over a year later the town is heading in the right direction and the craft beer scene is HUGE!

Within just doors of each other exist 3 of the best beer spots in the State. Prohibition Pig,  The Reservoir Restaurant & Taproom, and Blackback Pub & Flyshop.

The Pig, recently opened in the former home of the Alchemist is finding it's groove and with 24 taps and servings available in full or half-sizes it is a must visit. Chad has done a killer job. Some folks wanted it to be the Alchemist again (time to move on), but the only reminder is the familiar stained glass beer on the back wall. Otherwise its a whole new feel, with many of the former Alchemist staff. The food is outstanding as well. RecentlyI visited for a  Dieu Du Ciel tap takeover, which in my opinion was a great success. More events like this are on the way including Hopfenstark and Allagash (on my birthday no less)! See their Facebook page for more details on those events!

The Rez, former home of Waterbury Wings has 38 taps, a bomber menu, and a ton of tasty food (get the stupid hot wings, you won't regret it!) Great selection, you never know what they might have on tap! Last night for example I was delighted to see Art of Darkness, a Belgian Dark Strong by Ommegang Brewery. Vermont beer lovers can get a sampler on the cheap, and in general the draft prices are exceptional. ($5.50 for Old Rasputin? yeah!) Check the website for updated list, or follow them on Twitter @thereservoirvt

Hill Farmstead - What is Enlightenment? - Blackback Pub
Last but not least is a little gem for beer lover and anglers alike, with a double-digit tap list and a love for Hill Farmstead and Lawson's Finest Liquids this bar is not to be missed. Right now (05/12) their Facebook page shows they are pouring 6 HF and 4 Lawson's Finest, a completely UNHEARD of opportunity for lovers of the craft.  Generous pours in beautiful glassware and great conversation with the owner makes this a favorite of the locals (and me!).

Waterbury is full of life again, and has so much to offer in such a small town, especially for craft beer lovers and fans. Make sure you stop in and say hi, have a drink or two and support the local economy as it continues to rebuild and rebound from tragedy. Stop by the cannery (on your way to Ben & Jerry's perhaps) and grab some Heady Topper, it's just a mile or so away from it's former location.

Until next time, Cheers!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Goose is Loose in the 802

Today I interrupt my irregularly scheduled blogging for a glorious announcement. The Goose has landed in Vermont. Run, don't walk to The Bevy and get you some! Goose Island is one of my favorite breweries, we are all in for a treat.

Recently new distribution from The Craft Beer Guild has created an influx of some of the most fantastic breweries around the country, and beer enthusiasts like myself have had a great start to the new year. Founders, Green Flash, Lagunitas, Sixpoint, and many other great new to us brands are now available at great beer stores like the previously mentioned Bevy as well as at the finest watering holes around town. So head down to The Farmhouse Tap & Grill and start sampling (of course, available all over but the FH is where my homies are at.

Now back to the Goose....I'm surprised it took this long, I started to see Honkers Ale around the new year but haven't seen anything until today otherwise. I should say this is an AB-In-bev product now, they were bought last year and the internets went "Rage Quit" on them but I can tell you the beers haven't suffered a bit so don't be shy or weary. They make great stuff.

The basic brews are good standbys for BBQ, or a softball game (312 now available in cans) but the cream of the crop brews you might have to hunt for. They make amazing sours, Belgians, and big beers but the winner for sure is. Bourbon County Brand Stout, in my humble opinion the best beer on this green Earth. Not available in Vermont just yet, but it is only a matter of time.

BCBS is available in a few varieties, but none compare to the original which is the easiest (not easy) to get hold of. I've traded for many, and am thrilled with the thought that I might be able to stroll in and pull it of the shelf myself without traveling to another state.

'Nuff said, this was impromptu and born from sheer excitement. BCBS was "the beer" that turned me on to the great joy of craft brewing (more on that story another time perhaps? involves being alone in a bar and getting hit on with no idea what do do....) so get out there, it's the weekend! Spring is nearby, and the Goose has landed just in time.


Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @metallidan

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Year in Beer | 2011 Recap

2011 had it's up and downs like any other year, but without question it was a fantastic year in beer for this guy. It started right out the gate as I rang in 2011 with Infinium from Sam Adams. And saw the ball drop (vague recollection) with the always tasty and only recently available in Vermont Goose Island Honkers Ale.

The story however, is the beers between. And there were many, as my weight gain clearly attests to. I can't very well lay them all out on here, so I'll hit the highlights but if you really want to dig in please follow me at Untappd and Twitter (metallidan) to get more updates than you would like.

Kicked off the beer season in 2011 going to the Extreme Beer Fest in Boston, hosted by Beer Advocate and Dogfish Head this was a blast. Got to try some great beer from afar from breweries I otherwise might have missed. For example Shorts? WOW they know what extreme is about, and geting some World Wide Stout Randalized was phenomenal. I want one! In fact, this years EBF is coming up this weekend. Can't wait! I'll be hitting up Night of the Barrels this time and couldn't be happier about that. I'm sure I'll have some words in a week or two about that.

2011 we lost a landmark, RIP Alchemist Brewery. I unknowingly had my last meal, and beers the night before Irene devastated Waterbury and much of my home state. Later next month my friend Chad opens up Prohibition Pig in it's place, and I wish him great success but he has big shoes to fill. I was lucky, and able to scoop up some of the last remaining bottles of Luscious, a big Russian Imperial Stout that survived the storm. One of the highlights of 2011 for sure. Yes, I have a never ending supply of Heady Topper thanks to the now open cannery, but I argue that Luscious is the greatest beer John ever made. I regret that I did not buy more.

I also had a successful year of trading, and was able to get ahold of many beers I otherwise had no shot at. Drinking a Maui brewing company Coconut Porter right now actually, dang tasty. No where near the level of a couple others though. Three Floyds Baller Stout, Dark Lord, Parabola, and many more that were standouts. Thank you internets for faciliating this glorious service. Beer in the mail is pure joy. I wish I'd thought of it sooner!

2011 also saw the return of an old favorite locally, thank you Magic Hat for bringing back Ravell, one the best they have ever done. Looking forward to trying Fiddlehead Brewing company soon, a new brewery born from the talanted hand of Matt Cohen who split up with MH went they were sold. I hear he makes a mean IPA.

So many beers were had, in several states, several countries, many were great, very few were bad, and some I don't remember (litterally) but all in all it was a great year for beer. It is not hard to see my style alegiance here, but I'm open to anything. Hit me up if you want to trade or would like to make suggestions. I'm game.

Hard to pick favorites, but in 2011 I'd put my top ten as follows. Not as exciting as Letterman's list, and although I consider a video and special guest host, but my offers were all declined. This list does not mean they were made this year, only that I consumed them.

Honorable mention to this tasty treat from Lawsons, not one of my faves but it was the most expensive beer I bought in 2011. Not his best by far, but he makes some killer beer. Seek it out! And he is a stand-up wicked nice guy, that is always a bonus.

10. The Alchemist - Heady Topper - Canned, hard to beat.
9.. Hill Farmstead - Birth of Tragedy - You want this <insert mens warehouse voice> I guarantee it </mh voice>
8. The Alchemist - Luscious - as I mentioned, best from John ever in my opinion
7. 3 Floyds - Baller Stout - Anniversary beer with Mikeller and Surly
6. Foothills - Sexual Chocolate - had both the barrel aged, and non at the same time WOW.
5. 3 Floyds - Zombie Dust - I could drink this all day, so well balanced. Perfect beer for a hot day.
4. 3 Floyds - Dark Lord - The hype is legit
3. Cigar City - Hunahpu's Imperial Stout - So much going on with this one, can't wait to have again.
2. Founders - CBS - yup no surprise, phenomenal this is amazing.
1. Goose Island - Bourbon County Brand Stout - this is the beer I judge all others by, and still my fav. The 2011 version is amazing, a little stronger but just as good

So there it is, for all 7 of you to read and ponder.

Here is hoping that 2012 is even better. I have a lot in the cellar  closet that will come out this year.

What were your highlights of 2011?


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Social Drinking Revisited, with Flair!

I spend a lot of time in my day job talking to partners in the automotive industry about social media, and other ways to increase awareness of their business, and I often think to the successes I see in the beer industry through my hobby trying to find ways to tie them together. However, ultimately that is just a recipe for drinking and driving so avoid it. Not many ways the two are related, however the importance of social is equally important.

A year ago (ish) I blogged a bit about it and at that time two competing "check-in" services existed and were courting fans. RedPint eventually lost that and merged with the standard that is Untappd and everyone benefited. Much like foursquare it lets you track and log your beers all while keeping a dialog with friends locally and across the world. And like the 4SQ model you can earn badges for reaching various milestones. It's a lot of fun. Today thousand of hop-heads are linking twitter, facebook, foursquare and untappd to #drinksocially ( a popular hashtag that Untappd uses on  ) Beer geeks, snobs, and J6Ps alike are tweeting about everything from Bud Light to holy grails like Kate the Great from the Portsmouth Brewery (jealous I am)

So whats the point? The hook? The bottom line is breweries are getting it. In fact, following in the vein of Facebook Untappd recently began to allow breweries to "Claim" their brand on the site. Kudos to the untappd team for recognizing the value of their platform and to forward thinking brewers (most are) for getting in on it. Now they have access to a database of thousands of beer geeks, and casual fans so they can see trends and such via analytics. Brilliant!

Another growing trend I've seen, and use regularly is the very popular which is only available on mobile devices, making us all great photographers with the use of filters, and other apps that let you frame up your brews in classy way.  Popular hashtags include #craftbeer, #beerporn, and of course #beergasm. Clever right? I'm not sure what value this might have to breweries, but I have seen contests and such put on by breweries, tied into facebook and such. Post your pint and what-not. No idea what the future will hold, but damn it's fun to look at all that beer. Especially the ones I could only get via trading.

The point? Not really sure, but social matters. Regardless of your business. Anyone who doesn't see it's value is in a box, or just not thinking it through. So step back, crack open a brew and evaluate what your position is on social media. Where do you see it going? Set goals, have fun with it and see where it can take you.

Hundreds of breweries and bars the world over recognize the value of social, and the often FREE advertising and awareness it can raise. So why don't more auto dealers? Maybe they just need a drink.

Keep an eye out for my 2011 year in beer review coming soon!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Truth about Beer Trading

Sure this video is a few months old, and I'm certain any fan of craft beer or trading has seen it. However I feel compelled to share it because it speaks such truths about trading.  I have done a few very lucrative trades on Beer Advocate and could not be happier. I've also found a great Chicago hook up via twitter strangely enough that has been keeping me up to snuff on the latest from one of my favorite breweries Goose Island.

Thanks to Heady Topper, I can virtually get anything I want. Love me some Alchemist, so sad to see it go but more on that another time as we prep for the opening of the Prohibition Pig in its place. In the meantime pick up the latest collaboration from Alchemist, Stone, and Ninkasi. Last I new it was still available at The Bevy in the newsk so go out and support two local business at once!

More to come on trades, until then, crack open a cold  room temp one and enjoy the video.


I'll be back........

Among this years resolutions is to try and effectively use my blog for space I sometimes crowd other walls with....Lots to write about, and plan to simply review some quality brews over the course of the year. And documents my musings in beer, bourbon, and whatever else ales me.

So keep an eye out for some updates, soon. I've got a lot of beer in my belly that needs discussing.