Lancaster County is Bursting with Beer along Philly

When I tell people I live in Lancaster County, PA, people will shout, almost without thinking, “Amish.” The correlation of Amish and the Lancaster area is somewhat of a cultural/psychological experience ingrained in the minds of people in US.amish-buggy 

If someone comes to Lancaster and doesn’t experience the Amish tours, or drive to Philly and doesn’t climb the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Arts or stand on the top to pose like Rocky, a great disappointment will take over. Some might even imagine having done things they didn’t. Instead, they merely read about it or conceptualized it based on the things they fantasized doing while they were younger. It could be considered a type of “Paris Syndrome”. This is something much more common than people realize. You may catch spouses disagreeing about what one says they did on their vacation and the other will firmly disagree, saying “no, we didn’t”. There isn’t a deception here, both truly believe what they are saying. One just imagined doing it because of a lifetime of expectations.

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Now when it comes to beer, the places that come first to peoples’ minds are places like San Diego, Denver, Michigan, Asheville…any place but the peaceful and bucolic, horse-pulled buggy lands of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. For the past decade, something new has been taking over of the eastern population of Pennsylvania. Craft Beer! Within 30 to 90 minutes of driving, one can find a more than a handful of breweries, bottle shops, and restaurants dedicated to delivering quality craft beer libations. The beer Scene in Eastern PA has grown so much, it surprises me a stronger beer tourism business in the area has not been developed. Because of taxes and regulations, Pennsylvania is far from being a “cheap” state to get a pint of your favorite brew. Never the less, the craft beer followers are multiplying and are being very faithful to the local breweries and craft beer bars.

There are some well-known breweries in the area or close to Lancaster/Philly that date back to the mid-1990s and the late 1980s:  Victory, Tröegs, Sly Fox, Stoudt’s, Weyerbacher, YardsIron Hill and some much older like Yuengling, operating since 1829. Among a newer class are some that are making some amazing beer and gaining momentum: Spring House, Lancaster Brewing Co., St. Boniface and and Tired Hands. I love knowing that I can have some friends over for a few days and the Tap Room Spring House Brewing Co.diversity of beer available will leave everyone satisfied.

Still skeptical? Eastern Pennsylvania has much more to offer when it comes to craft beer. You can experience more than just what the locals offer. With excellent beer distribution to a sizable number of bottle shops and craft beer bars, you can get brews from Stone to 21st Amendment, from Ale Smith to Six Point, from Lost Abbey to Firestone Walker…you get the idea.

One of my favorites to visit is the Federal Tap House in Lancaster. They offer more than 100 beers on tap. Also in Lancaster, is The Fridge (amazing pizza), or Hunger’n’Thirsty (great food), and a great bottle shop that you will find me in regularly, The Friendly Greek (more than 500 beers!). Take a drive through the country side toward Philly and enjoy more places with great beer. The Abbaye, The Belgian Café, and TJ’s Restaurant and Drinkery (with more than 250 beers on their list) are just some examples of this craft beer culture that has TJ'sdeveloped in Eastern Pennsylvania. (I could mention so many more bars and Breweries like Dock Street that are amazing). You can even take to the small town of Mount Joy and visit the Catacombs of Bube’s Brewery (pronounce Boobs) an intact historic 19th century brewery and museum complex and their Ghost Tours. In any case, the craft beer enthusiast won’t be disappointed in a visit to the Keystone State, and for those like me that will often travel with the wife and kids, Pennsylvania provides some great craft beer places that have wonderful food and very family friend environment. You want more. Just head to the Harrisburg?York where you will find lots of great places to enjoy craft beers.

You will enjoy the beautiful scenery and have fun exploring the numerous places to drink some wonderful craft beer. And don’t forget to take home some real whoopie pies. Cheers!!!

Brewery List

Sly Fox – Potstown
Stoudt’s – Adamstown
Weyerbacker – Easton
Yards – Philly
Iron Hill – Philly / Lancaster
Yuengling – Potsville
Victory – Downintown
Tröegs – Hershey
Spring House – Lancaster
Lancaster Brewing
St. Boniface – Ephrata
Tired Hands – Ardmore
Liquid Hero – York
Appalachian Brewing Co. – Harrisburg/Lititz
Bube’s Brewery – Lancaster
Dock Street – Philly
Philadelphia Brewing Co. – Philly
Triumph Brewing – Philly
Fegley’s Brew Works – Bethlehem
Rumspringa Brewing – Lancaster
Saucony Creek Brewing – Kutztown
Als of Hampden / Pizza Boy Brewing Co – Enola
Manayunk Brewery – Philadelphia
Crime and Punishment – Philadelphia
Conshohocken Brewing Co. – Conshohocken
Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery – King of Prussia

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Pints and Quarts Ep. 030 | Spring House Brewing Co.

Spring House

Live on Thursday (1/22/15) night at 9:30pm EST (and available anytime afterwards right here too), we will spend some time with Rob Tarves of Spring House Brewing Co. in Lancaster, PA Area. Rob is the Head Brewer of Spring House and we will be talking about their history, their beers, and their plans for the future.  We interviewed them a few years back, and are excited to see what delicious concoctions they have come up with since.
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You want some Pumpkin…Beer!?

Good Gourd

I’m still mowing my yard, taking my kids to the pool, spending time at the park, and my air conditioner is going full blast. Natural thinking is: “summer is here”. Well, not so for breweries. It seems that every year pumpkin beers are coming out earlier and earlier. With Southern Tier having some of their Pumpking on the shelves early July, and as far as I know, that’s when they are just planting pumpkins to harvest in the fall. I know pumpkin beers are not everyone’s favorite, but there’s no argument that there is a lot of love from most craft beer and non-craft beer drinkers. IPA’s are no doubt the big seller when comes to craft beer, but if there’s one style that will rival IPA at least for a month or two it will be the spicy flavored seasonal pumpkin brews.Pumpking

The increasing number of pumpkin beers released every year is astonishing. Some very good, and some…not so much. Those beauties come in a wide range of alcohol content. Terrapin Imperial Pumpkin Pie Porter will have a whopping 9.2%. Not for the faint of heart. I said I would not buy pumpkin beers till September that my beer budget was going for my regulars and the seasonals I’m used to buying in July/August. So far so good, but It is painful to realize that I leave the store with a risk of not getting some of the good ones before they are gone. If you are one of those people that don’t care for the style you wouldn’t understand, but if you love pumpkin like me, I’m sure you can see yourself in my shoes. You probably have a few of them sitting in your fridge already.

TerrapinIs craft beer winning my money using fear? Are they a product of their own fear of not hit the market soon enough and not selling as expected? The fact is that I was surprised with the amount of shelf space it is taking right now, and September still a few weeks away.

In any case, I will list some of 25 pumpkin beers coming out this year (new and regulars), so you can suffer or rejoice when you see them out. Happy Halloween, I mean Happy Thanksgiving, I mean Happy Pumpkin Beer Month… Hey if they can have pumpkins out now why can’t I wish you all a great fall holiday?

Here it goes, Pumpkin or nothing: This is not a complete list of this year Pumpkin Beers since some breweries are still announcing their fall beers.

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Flooding with New Beer Release

Modern-Times-Oneida-Hoppy-Pale-Ale

The pace of which craft breweries are releasing their beers is crazy. The push from the market for innovation and the desire of craft beer drinkers to try something new all the time allied with the social media interaction and beer database apps like Untappd has turned the craft beer production into a fast pace release world. Every time I look on one of my social media accounts, where I share info of what I drink with fellow beer lovers, I see more and more often people posts of badges and high marks drinking achievements like “1000 Unique Beers on Untappd”. Is this Good or Bad for the craft beer world? I don’t really know the answer, but sometimes I get overwhelmed when I get to my bottle shop to get something I was waiting for, and I find myself staring at the cooler trying to decide what to take home. With not-so-big of a budget, and so many beers to choose from, it’s getting difficult.

I did an experiment these last 2 weeks. I went to my bottle shop every other day and I found a new beer every time. Crazy right? It used to get a new shipment 2 to 3 times each week, but recently it has been getting new beers in as many as 5 times a week! When I questioned the owner about all this, he looked at me and said: “I don’t know how to keep up with all those seasonal beers, man. It is what it is”. His struggle is that if he doesn’t get everything his distributor is selling he might not be at the head of the line when high demand releases like Bourbon County Stout come out. At the same time he needs to sell all those beers to keep his business afloat. He loves to have so many beers to offer to his customers (about 140 unique beers) but he is aware the margin of profit per bottle have to be high to keep such inventory on the shelves, and he has the best prices in the area, to keep folks coming through the door.

Founders-Nitro-Oatmeal-Stout

Below you can find just a sample of all the great beers being released, or that are coming out soon, just to get you guys going. Run to your bottle shop and stare at that cooler like I do every single time. Like a dog watching a chicken on a rotisserie, or a cat looking at a fish bowl. Hypnotized by all that beauty. Good thing at my bottle shop I can have a pint while walking around the shop. In any case, it is a wonderful thing to see that the creativeness and skills of the brewers have no limits. It makes me feel so good to watch the art of craft brewing aiming high and not set in old ways. It is always evolving and, as far as I am concerned, it has evolved to better and better beers everyday. You know I love to have a reason to raise a pint. Let’s drink to that. Cheers all!!!

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Dark Horse Nation Hits The Small Screen

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If you are like me you probably try to read and watch as much stuff as possible about the craft beer world. If you do, you’ll probably remember
Sam Calagione (founder and owner of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery) 2010 Brew Masters on The Discovery Channel. It was cancelled with no explanation to its viewers and Sam abstained from any comments, but In March 2011, Anthony Bourdain (TV Star Culinary Chef), who shares a production company with Brew Masters, wrote on his Twitter that Brew Masters was cancelled due to pressure by a large beer company who threatened to pull advertising. (You can watch old episodes of Brew Masters at Netflix.com)

But, craft beer advocates have come a long way since 2010, and with a consistent growth on social media, it has urged a new Channel owned by NBCUniversal and Hearst Corporation, Esquire Network (which is focused on travel, food and fashion segment) to jump start a new project in 2013. A show called Brew Dogs is hosted by the Founders/Owners of Brew Dog Brewing Co. in Scotland.  They travel the US trying to convert what they call the “Craft Beer Virgins” into drinking craft beer. The owners/stars James Watt and Martin Dickie do crazy, one of a kind brewings, with some of the stars brewers from around the US. Their success has landed them a second season that is currently airing.

Now, The History Channel has decided to start their own craft brewery style show and tonight (tuesday, July 29th) @ 10pm EST is the series premiere of “Dark Horse Nation”.

Brew DogsDifferent from Brew Dogs, The Dark Horse Nation will be a more familiar format used by The History Channel. Watching the Sneak Peak of the Show you can get a vibe of Duck Dynasty and American Chopper where they will follow the daily happenings of the brewery and Founder/Owner of Dark Horse, Aaron Morse.  His real friends and crew bring their passion to life while managing their Michigan base business on more of a “reality show” format.

I’m very excited to see another Craft beer show on a main-stream channel in prime-time. Hopefully the show will be as good as Brew Masters and Brew Dogs. I’m Keeping my fingers crossed since I’m skeptical about reality shows. Best of luck to the Dark Horse folks. We are all happy to see them hitting the small screen.

  • History Channel Show Description: In small town Marshall, Michigan, there is a group of life-long friends living out their version of the American dream. Led by rebel entrepreneur and fearless visionary, Aaron Morse, Dark Horse is a thriving business set amongst a rural paradise. Morse and his team have been making a name for themselves since 1997, when Dark Horse started bottling their unique line of craft beers. Now distributed in 12 states, the Dark Horse crew is determined to turn their business into a household name. Its die-hard fan base even has its own nickname: Dark Horse Nation. However, DARK HORSE NATION is not only about crafting great beer, it’s a way of life. Their recipe for success is as much about experimentation and trouble-shooting as it is self-taught skill and determination. Every week, there’s some new project, from creating outlandish inventions to building additions to their ever-growing compound. Around there, everything is done by hand, the old-fashioned way, or as they like to put it, “The Dark Horse Way.” source: History Channel

 

Watch the Sneak Peak at:

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GABF – No Brewery Left Behind

gabf_medals

The Great American Beer Festival (GABF) is a three-day annual event hosted by the Brewers Association, in Denver, CO since 1984 moving from its original place in Bolder(1982), CO. The GABF has come a long from their original 22 Bbeweries and 800 attendees. This year the GABF will have more than 3200 volunteers and over than 200 judges and will judge 90 beer styles. See beer styles

The Festival happens every year on the second half of September to early October.  The 2014 GABF is scheduled for October 2-4.

As an example of how important this festival is; last year’s tickets were sold in 20 minutes (Tickets runs around $80.00 per day) and the brewery spots filled in the first 2 hours. Between brewers and attendees there were more than 49K people attending and they served over 48,000 Gallons of beer, more than 3,100 unique beers.  (“GABF” Website.)

Such popularity among breweries and craft beer aficionados has caused the number of people willing to participate, breweries and attendees alike, to increase at an amazing rate. This year’s brewery registration opened on June 17th and runs to June 26th. Only legally operating commercial breweries in the U.S. are allowed to enter the Great American Beer Festival.

The GABF organizers have looked into ways to make sure every brewery that applies can participate in the 2014 festival. They announce that this year The BA will be able to judge around 5,400 beers; an increase comparing to 4300+ in 2012 and 4800+ in 2013.

According to BA’s Barbara Fusco, some changes were put in place to include every brewery willing to participate.  They decide to use a similar format to the World Cup of Beer, which also happened in Denver a few months ago and was successful model. They think this will avoid all the hassle from last year’s competition and alleviate the fear of breweries have of missing the chance to participate.

I’m sure they are also hoping to not have to issue another apology statement for all the inconvenience the attendees trying to get tickets had to go through with the so called “technical difficulties” on the 2013 pre-sale through Ticket Master.

They raised the cap for participation to 1400 breweries this year (they expect to be way under this number since last year they had 750 breweries applying and many didn’t make into the Festival). The idea is that will allow every brewery to be accepted.

So here is how it will work:

They will take the number of breweries that apply to the competition and divide by their total capacity of judging (more or less 5400). The way they explain on the GABF website is with a simple math.

5000 beers able to be judge /1000 breweries competing = 5 beers per brewery.

If for some unknown reason more the 1400 breweries apply, the registration will close at that point before the due date.

 Award Criteria

Gold A world-class beer that accurately exemplifies the specified style, displaying the proper balance of taste, aroma and appearance.
Silver An excellent beer that may vary slightly from style parameters while maintaining close adherence to the style and displaying excellent taste, aroma and appearance.
Bronze A fine example of the style that may vary slightly from style parameters and/or have minor deviations in taste, aroma or appearance.
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Category 1: Light Lager – BJCP Review Session | Craft Beer Nation

Tune in to watch some Certified BJCPs of various ranks hangout with some +Craft Beer Nation folks as they review a category of the style guidelines. There will be drinking and conversation, but we will be keeping more to the subject at hand for these than we traditionally do for our Friday Night Hangout.

These sessions are a way to review and prepare for the BJCP exams. Ask questions here in this event.

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