April 17, 2015
THIS IS my year for beer travel, with group tours planned to Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria, as well as several Eastern U.S. destinations. I got things started earlier this month by leading about 150 beer lovers on a very cool river cruise to the Netherlands and Belgium. Eight breweries, two lectures, a beer dinner and many onboard bottle-shares later, and I'm left with exactly what I look for in travel: a sense of surprise. Here are a few discoveries that caught me off guard.
April 15, 2015 |
DUMB AND DUMBER were at the Mets' home opener against the Phillies yesterday. Bottom of the fourth. One out. Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy hits a double deep to rightfield. The Phillies' Grady Sizemore chases it down when two idiots, sitting field level in the first row behind a chain-link fence, try to douse the outfielder with beer. Idiot No. 1 was clearly visible on the television feed. Wearing a Mets jersey, he propelled the liquid from his cup with a feeble underhanded motion.
April 10, 2015
WOULD YOU enjoy drinking beer as much if it didn't give you a buzz? Those bitter hops, that toasty malt - do we really need the alcohol to enjoy the flavor of a glass of ale? It turns out, yes, we do. In his new, utterly fascinating book, Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat (Scribner), Pulitzer Prize-winning author John McQuaid writes that ethanol - itself essentially flavorless - changes and improves the very chemistry of flavor. First, the process of fermentation produces a host of byproducts that, although not themselves alcoholic, have flavors that are both "complex and provocative.
March 27, 2015
UNDER a leaky roof in a tired corner of Camden, there's a single barrel of whiskey quietly aging and mellowing toward what might be the next frontier for American craft beer. It's marked "IPA-skey. " James Yoakum, the owner at Cooper River Distilling, pulled a sample for me the other day and handed it over. It was smooth and a bit smoky, with the delicate yet unmistakable bitterness of hops. The spirits began life as a batch of India pale ale from North Philly's Saint Benjamin Brewing.
March 20, 2015 |
Editor's note: Beer or wine? We posed that question to Don Russell, whose "Joe Sixpack" beer column appears weekly here, and Marnie Old, a local sommelier and wine author who writes the "Cheap Buzz" column in the Daily News with Assistant Managing Editor Gar "Buzz" Joseph. With Buzz as referee, let the games begin. B UZZ: Hey, Marnie, I read that you're going to debate Pennsylvania beer vs. Pennsylvania wine on Tuesday at World Cafe Live. Marnie: Yes, it's a "people's choice" dinner during Philly Wine Week to determine which drink is the best food partner, loosely based on my first book, He Said Beer, She Said Wine . Buzz: How's it work?
March 13, 2015
YIPPEE! Pennsylvania beer drinkers can finally buy 12-packs at distributors, thanks to a ruling last week from our pals at the Liquor Control Board. Well, yes . . . but before you start celebrating, there are good reasons to be worried. * Unelected bureaucrats are rewriting the rules. The LCB calls its 12-pack opinion an "interpretation" of the existing law. But that's just lawyerspeak for "we finally found a way to make this happen. " For the past 80 years, Pennsylvania has been living under a fairly iron set of bizarre rules.
March 9, 2015
YOU KNOW all those lawyer jokes? Forget 'em. Starting today, Pennsylvania beer drinkers can buy a 12-pack at a beer distributor, thanks to a loophole in state liquor code discovered by a sharp-eyed lawyer. Elsewhere in America - in New Jersey, for example - purchasing a 12-pack is no big deal. But since the end of Prohibition, Pennsylvania, distributors have been forbidden to sell anything less than a case of 24 12-ounce bottles or a "single container" (namely, a keg) holding 128 ounces.
March 6, 2015
IF YOU WORKED at Sacchetti's Bakery, in Ardmore, you learned two things. You learned to duck when Rearo, the hotheaded Italian who owned the business with his brother Tony, headed your way. That S.O.B. had a handshake like a bench vise and a fist like a ball-peen hammer. If he was happy, he'd squeeze your knuckles into mangled pulp; if he was pissed, he'd plant a hard one to your bicep. And you learned it was hard work to bake bread. There were 100-pound sacks of flour to be hoisted into a massive mixer, and heavy metal racks to be rolled into a proofing box where the temperature was a constant 100 degrees and the humidity registered 100 percent.
February 27, 2015
THE CRAFT-BEER world's fixation with India Pale Ale shows no sign of fading. Just last month, for example, Philadelphia welcomed a new portfolio from California's Knee Deep Brewing that includes no fewer than five different IPAs, including a double, a triple and a heretofore unknown "Quad IPA. " Which is all perfectly fine if you're a hop addict, craving your next big fix of Simcoe, Citra or some other variety of the famously bitter, aromatic plant....
February 13, 2015
LEHIGH VALLEY Beer Week starts Sunday, and among the assortment of festivals, tastings and tap takeovers that will draw beer lovers to Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton is a seven-course dinner with Garrett Oliver, the author, engaging lecturer and debonair brewer at Brooklyn Brewery. The lavish menu pairs the likes of truffled prosciutto, foie gras and aged strip steak with Brooklyn's most exotic beers, including K is for Kriek and Wild Streak . Oliver's one-night appearance on Tuesday, though, won't be taking place at a swank restaurant or prominent craft beer bar. This $70-a-plate affair is at a supermarket.