Yes, indeed, I am still alive and still drinking beer. Blogs wither and wane. This blog lives if only in my dreams. One of the great developments since 2010 when the 40/40 blog was flowing like a kegger is that there are more microbreweries than ever in Pa. I recall about a decade ago that the Valley Forge Brewing Company was one of the first microbreweries in operation. I loved it tagline” “Join the Revolution!”
Alas, Valley Forge Brewery didn’t survive. Like most revolutions, it was one of the casualties. It was a large venue in an expensive retail location. The Fridge, where I visit on a fairly often rotation, is on the smaller side but it fits the scene in Lancaster very well. The Federal Taphouse in Lancaster City on the other hand seems doomed like a dinosaur. I just can’t see it making it over time. After the romance wears off of being the new place, establishments settle down to the status quo. And very large venues just seem poorly equipped to survive. Better to start small and then expand if the market seems to be catching onto the vibe. Avoid the expensive lease and staffing costs. The whole “build it and they will come” is usually B.S. and really bad advice.
One of the few Micros that I never visited in my 40/40 travels was Weyerbacher. Located in Easton, Pa., it puts out bruising beers. Easton’s favorites son is former heavy-weight boxing champion Larry Holmes. Thus it is fitting that Weyerbacher packs a punch with its brews. I made a serious mistake a couple of years ago when I brought a sampler case from Weyerbacher to the Jersey Shore. Not summer beers. All more suited for deep winter. Not cool. I knew better. I couldn’t drink the beers until the sun went down, like Dracula. I have had the goal to get to Easton for a visit but I fear the drive back and there is not a whole lot else that I find interesting about Easton so I wouldn’t been keen about staying over. Since the beers are heavy, and the distance over two hours away, it just stays out of reach.
As mentioned, the other night I did grab the Weyerbacher Verboten at The Fridge. The Fridge is the local beer establishment favored by many in my circle. It has over 400 beers, mostly in bottles, available for consumption. It is like that old kid’s song, “How much is that puppy in the window?” The beers sit eagerly in the fridge behind the glass waiting to be picked. It is a great place to try stuff out. There is nothing less disheartening in the world of beer purchasing than buying a case where one does not enjoy the brew. It winds up becoming a marathon of drinking down the bottles in a reverse Chinese Water Torture. Every drip is painful. I am far to cheap to dump out beer, although I am thinking about pouring down the drain a Frankenbrew that I recently made.
I had bought a gallon beer kit at Staples of all places on the bargain table. It was like 24 dollars with all of the equipment plus the malt and hops. I decided to convert the Pale Ale to a Belgian Pumpkin by adding pumpkin filling like one makes pies out of, spices, and sugar. I wanted to hike up the ABV. Well, it turned out pretty bad. It is thick like soup. I am convinced that Pumpkin Beers are only a dash of vanilla, a slight amount of nutmeg, and maybe some pumpkin oil essence. Let me put it this way…the brew is so thick it doesn’t even filter through a cheese cloth, it literally just sits in the cloth like a bathtub. No drainage. None. Besides the thickness, the brew tastes decent. It is far hoppier that I imagined. I am thinking that all of the pumpkin sludge kept the hops in the brew rather than allowing them to filter out. When the wort was warm, the thickness had not set in but I think that the hops fused with the pumpkin and caused the hops to stay in the liquid.
On the plus side, I discovered that Mason Jars make a decent container to carbonate the brew after most of the fermentation is finished in the priming tank. The jar top did buckle a bit but the seal held, the glass did not explode, and the jars are easy to clean and replace. So, I may use mason jars again in the future when bottling. It seems like the jar tops can be used again besides the slight kinking.
So, there you have it. The 40/40 blog is still punching and off the mat. Not knocked out, still swinging. Happy 2015. Long live the revolution!