Monthly Archives: March 2011

Iron Hill Brewery-Pi 3.14 Beer (Pt 2)

As promised, here is the second part of the review of Iron Hill-Lancaster on 3/14 where my mathematically oriented buddy and I drank 3.14 beers…clever chaps that we are.  It is getting to be almost two weeks now. On tap for next week, Spring House’s Tap Room in downtown Lancaster.

The third beer I had this night was the Bonzai (above). It is a Belgian Saison and spiced with the kitchen’s secret Asian spices. Reminds me of the Calgon ad…”Ancient Chinese secret, eh?” Most of you all are probably too young to remember that TV commercial.

Used to be when I watched TV, I was younger than most of those on the box…now I am the elder.  Pretty soon I will be standing with the Pa. State Lottery official at the drawing. No, I won’t. Although I am getting to be old enough for AARP membership, I can’t stand the Lottery (the stupid tax) or the state owning liquor stores. How the government got into the numbers and booze like the Mafia is peculiar.

I asked our server, before I had a chance to review the I.H. website, whether the Bonzai had Asian spicing because I had thought I had read something about it previously on the Iron Hill Facebook post. She seemed flummoxed and noted that there was another brew that had that spicing but not the Bonzai. That was a little bizarro…you know, kind of a tip off with the name of the beer being Japanese and all. Fortunately, this beer was not small in stature. Excellent!

Bonzai trees are amazing things. Several years ago, when my wife and I were in Montreal for a vacation (in the summer) we went to some Japanese Gardens and it was cool to see trees 75 years old, fully mature, but like  less than a foot tall.   Sort of freakish.

I also watched a documentary about how  Saki is made. Almost a religious ritual…that night, my wife and I went out for some awesome sushi and warm Saki. I commend Montreal for a visit. We have to get back…it is the most bike friendly city I have ever ridden around in. All week that we were there, we didn’t use the car once. Off course, the car was parked like 50 stories below our hotel.

But speaking of small, I finished out the evening with a small sample glass of the Barleywine. Nice…almost like sweet cognac.

I wanted to give it some scaling, so I brought into the pic the Dortmunder. It was kind of like my buddy and me. He is on the smaller size, I am a white man Watusi. This Barleywine has almost 10% alcohol by volume which definitely packs a warming wallop. It was a perfect Apertif even though it was after the other beers and not with a meal. So, it really wasn’t an Apertif…but it is cool word. I make no sense sometimes. Plus, it is 1:14 am Sunday morning and I plan to go to 8:00 Church in about 7 hours.

Iron Hill Brewery has it all. Great beer, cool styling and architecture, and good food (not great, but better than  most microbreweries). Be prepared to lighten your wallet though. 3.14 beers, with the tip, cost $ 20.00. When I think that for twice that price, I can homebrew four cases of Belgian Dubbel, with some sweat equity, I know someone is raking in the gold.

So be it…better to them than Bud. Although the price ain’t Bonsai small, I do enjoy getting to Iron Hill every so often. It is a good experience all-around.



On Monday, March 14, I was driving up to school and was listening to a segment on NPR about a musician who put 3.14 or Pi to music. It was interesting.

I started to do some calculating on my own. Hmmm…how about drinking 3.14 beers somewhere tonight? Yet with whom? My buddy Tom came immediately to mind. He loves Math and Great Beer. He even has Pi 3.14 as part of his email address. Now, that is hard core.  He was the natural choice.  Iron Hill-Lancaster was the classroom. The beer, the blackboard. Time to solve some equations!

So, I started off with The Costanza (above), a Rye Beer, inspired by George himself who apparently had a penchant for Pastrami and Rye. No bits and piece of pastrami in the brew but it nailed the rye part. Fantastic…like Rye Bread, it is spiced with some caraway seeds. Poor Jason Alexander, he will never escape the George character.  I was never really a fan of Seinfeld. Although I do think Kramer is one of the great loony characters in all of TVdom, along with Jim from Taxi.

Next in line, # 2, was the Dortmunder (below). I have wondered about the long tall glass for quite some time. The tall glass is aesthetically-elegant and functionally-appropriate for a crisp clean taste with the carbonation level of the Dortmund-style beers. Here is some background on the history of the Dortmunder beer style. History comes alive with this review of pubs in Dortmund, Germany.

Iron Hill does a great job with properly serving their beers in anatomically correct glasses. One size does most definitely not fit all. Here is a informative tutorial on beer and glassware .

Being served in next week’s Saturday blog, are the last two beers enjoyed on 3/14: Bonzai and Barleywine. Unlike the obnoxious characters from Seinfeld (that is one trait that all of the characters shared from what I could discern), this cast of beer characters were quite pleasing. It has even made me a little more affectionate towards mathematics.

This Way to St. Boniface

As promised, here is the tale of the visit to St. Boniface in Ephrata, Pa. last Saturday.

First, a brief story about St. Boniface. He was an English Christian missionary to now is what Germany way back in the day. The Teutonic tribes worshiped gods such as Thor. As  such, there was a tree that symbolized Thor’s might and power. St. Boniface chopped it down to show that Thor was a phantom and not to be feared or given adulation. After the Germanic peoples saw that St. Boniface was not destroyed by his insolence, it open the door to hear the message of the Gospel.

Sr. Boniface Brewery has appropriated both the name and the spirit of the story to slay the American sans Belgian beer god Bud and other macrobrewery deities.  It is fitting such a nanobrewery is located in Ephrata for on the east side of town is one of those Death Star Wal-Marts that has decimated the town and left a bunch of Consignment and Pizza shops in its wake. The old hardware store is gone as is the lifeblood of the town. Frankly, it is depressing. It is such a sad irony that those who predominantly shop at Wal-Mart, the working class, are cutting their own throats when spending their cash. That cash goes to Arkansas and to China predominantly. Good jobs be gone!

Here is one of the would-be tree slayer owners:

As I noted in my 40/40 Tour (see last May 2010 postings until July 2010 for all of the glorious details), microbreweries are a return to craftmanship to beer-making. St. Boniface is a case in point (actually they only fill growlers now).

Quite nice to drink some of this after chopping down a Tree Idol for sure. Funny that St. Boniface slapped its label onto my Spring House growler.  No doubt I am going to have to scrub off this pesky label before going down to the Tap Room of Spring House. I am sure they are not going to take too kindly to this upstart upstaging a more established brew. A nanobrewery taking on a microbrewery who are both taking on the macrobreweries. The idea of a small fish, a larger fish, and a shark come to mind. The shark is losing its way but still has sharp teeth. Once the big boys start to make better beer, the smaller breweries are going to have a real fight on their hands. There will be a strong temptation to sell the label and brand to a beverage conglomerate and who will then drain the taste and equity out, so that the big boys can go back to make so-so beer. The beer at St. Boniface is strong and flavorful…the Belgian Dubbel tasted a little yogurty which I think means it might have been served slightly before it was ready. Belgians need to be aged a bit and this seemed a little premature. I am not sure that is the scenario but that is my working and drinking hypothesis. The Stout was both strong and mild. Interesting. The beer that I took home was an Ale that would have been an IPA if they had hopped it more. Not sure what that makes it name-wise. Nonetheless, by judging how my buddies were filling their glasses at the barbecue on Saturday night, the beer was a hit.

May these axe-wielders at St. Boniface be victorious in their tree-felling mission!

Field Trip to St. Boniface

Ah, remember school field trips? A day off of school, hanging out with friends, and eating ice cream sandwiches upon return to school.

My favorite place to go for a field trip was always the Philadelphia Zoo.  I still feel bad about feeding a large cardboard Cracker Jack box to the old elephant and him chomping away on it. Not admirable to be mean to animals.

Well…today my wife and I are heading up to the newly-opened St. Boniface up in Ephrata. I worked in the Ephrata School District for a year, about the worse year in my professional life ever. God redeemed the town for me by my attending church at Reformed Presbyterian for about a decade afterwards.

It is important for married couples to do fun stuff together and I am blessed to have a wife who likes good beer. She actually introduced me to Belgians. But, the student is now more learned than the teacher.

Now with the microbrewery in town, I might even relish further a return to Cloister-land. Search for St. Boniface on Facebook and “Like” ’em. Next week I will post about the experience.  I am heading to a barbecue this evening with some buddies and I plan to bring a growler of St. Boniface plus some of my Homebrewed Belgian Quad.  Getting ready to brew some Wit once the weather warms up.