Beer Fest Review: Hibrewnation Harrisburg

by: Chelsie

IMG_2597Tierney and I hit up the Hibrewnation Festival of Beer this past Saturday (Dec 13) at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. It’s the first of three Hibrewnation fests in the series.

We had a blast exploring craft beers, listening to Shane Speal’s Snake Oil Band, hanging with friends and meeting some of our S&S fans.

The festival had a little bit of everything. Kegs of beers from local and popular breweries. Bottles of rare and highly sought after beers (these samples were in extremely limited quantities and were on a first come, first serve basis). Local vendors selling t-shirts, growlers, steins, jars of pickles, soft pretzels and such.

We attended the VIP session that ran from Noon until 2pm and the General Admission session from 2-5pm. I mean… we had to sample everything. Or almost everything. Truth is there were many beers we didn’t get to in that time frame but we made an honest effort!

OUR FAVS OF THE DAY


Tierney at HibrewnationTierney’s Picks

Yards Coffee Vanilla Love Stout Firkin
Anchor Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Spring House Dean Saison

 

Chelsie at HibrewnationChelsie’s Picks

Rogue Ales Morimoto Imperial Pilsner
Deschutes Not the Stoic Belgian Quad (2014)
Spring House Blood Lust with Cacao Nibs & Jalapenos


Spring House brews were pretty darn popular since there were some interesting selections for us to try. Just check out this line to get a taste of Dean Saison, two variations of Blood Lust, Satan’s Bake Sale, Egg Nog Stout and Seven Gates.

Fans of Spring House Brewing Company
Baron Von Schwein Mac 'n Cheese

In between sampling, we hit up Baron Von Schwein for some super duper yummy mac ‘n cheese. This stuff is like brew fest crack. It’s creamy, savory and just a touch spicy. They also had 1/4″ thick bacon on a stick, their famous pork buns and many other tasty and reasonably priced items.

York City Pretzel Company was also in the house with their famous soft pretzels.

TIP: OK. I know I’m going to sound like your mother. But, please, when beer-festing, stay hydrated with plenty of water and eat the carbs… “all of the carbs” (before and during the fest!!!). If you don’t eat, you could find yourself reeling from some of the higher ABV brews.

 PHOTOS FROM THE DAY

 

NEXT HIBREWNATION DATES

  • January 17, 2015 (Saturday) in Gettysburg, PA at the Allstar Complex
  • February 7, 2015 (Saturday) in York, PA at Memorial Hall, York Expo Center

WHY GO TO HIBREWNATION  |  > GET YOUR TICKETS


(Follow Me On: Twitter & Untapped: @dzyngrl | Instagram: @dzyngrl14)

Iron Hill Bedotter in Cans, Holiday Bottle Reserve Releases

by: Tierney

iron hill

Just in time for the holiday, Iron Hill Brewery is releasing their Bedotter, a Belgian-style ale, in 4 packs of 16 oz. cans for a limited time. This GABF silver medal winner is perfect for gifting or enjoying with loved ones (or keeping for yourself, let’s be honest here). This golden ale boasts complex aromas and notes of plum, spice and banana, with refreshingly balanced bitterness.

In addition, their Bottle Reserve Beers are also available in 750 mL cork-and-cage bottles individually or in multi-bottle gift packs. The Belgian Abbey pack includes Abbey Dubbel, Belgian Tripel, and Belgian Quadrupel and the Gold Medal pack includes The Cannibal, Russian Imperial Stout, Saison, and Wee Heavy.

“During the holidays, it seems each day brings a new reason to raise a glass with family and friends – and we’re thrilled to fill each and every one of those glasses with small-batch craft beer from our talented brewers,” says Director of Brewing Operations Mark Edelson.

Cans of Bedotter and Bottle Reserve 750’s are available now at all Iron Hill locations. All are in limited quantities, when they’re gone, they’re gone!

On Being a Craft Beer Blogger and 2014

by: Tierney

Why I'm a Craft Beer Blogger

As I get closer to the end of another fantastic year for Stouts and Stilettos, I’ve been getting a little more introspective and sentimental. It feels like just yesterday that I started blogging, yet it’s been over 3 years.  A lot has changed, yet one thing still remains the same: I absolutely love doing this.

I read Bryan Roth’s post about what one perceives their role to be in this community, their goals, and why do you blog. It was perfectly timed as the night before I was discussing this same topic with a friend of mine. I like to think of my role, personally, as an educator. Educating others comes naturally to me (I was a certified teacher at one point in my life). I like to think that I’m telling everyone about craft beer, but not shoving it down your throat. I try not to be ‘judgy’ of those who aren’t interested and respectfully gush to those who are. I’m trying to tell you what I know because I want you to know it too. I’m sharing these things with you not to brag but to open dialogue. I don’t know it all and am hungry thirsty for knowledge right there with you. I read beer news daily, if not multiple times a day, because I want to be the one to tell you about what’s happening. At the same time, I want you to tell me what you know too. It’s a beautiful thing in my eyes.

I don’t know how craft beer became ‘my thing’. Sure, I could say things like, “I love craft beer, I love trying new beers, I love talking about beers,” but that’s just so basic. I can’t put my finger on why I love craft beer, the community, and blogging about it so much. I’m naturally a social butterfly, which could be an understatement honestly. I’m technically a millennial (shhh) and I like to share my life with the world. I geek out and sometimes I’m a total craft beer fan girl. It has become my true passion. The one community that has always felt like home.

angelo pomone draft card

There’s one fact about it all that I can’t deny. It’s my heritage. A few years back right after I started the S&S, my dad sent me this email about craft beer being in my blood (beyond my ABV) with an attachment that almost brought me to tears. I’m welling up right now just writing about it. It’s the draft card belonging to Angelo, my great-grand father, the first family member on my father’s side who came to America from Italy. On the draft card I learned a lot: that he was short (which is funny because I’m 5’10), that he had gray eyes, a stiff left hand, and that he worked at Graupner’s Brewery. Graupner’s used to be located at 10th and Market Streets in Harrisburg well before my father was even born. It’s a really cool piece of a family history in a family where details like these are few and far-between. This has helped to mold me into me who I am. I feel like he would be proud to know that I’m starting Harrisburg Beer Week and that this identity, this persona, is who I’ve become.

I can’t wait to see what 2015 and beyond will bring to both myself and to the website. Everyone who knows me personally knows that I’m not the best at planning for the future, but instead I like to live in the moment. I don’t know where we’re headed or where I’m headed for that matter, besides to the next glass of beer.

A Visit to Night Shift Brewing

by: Colleen L.

NightShiftSign (600x800)

A little over a week ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Night Shift Brewing in Everett, MA. I had been hearing about the brewery since the opening in 2012 and made a pact with myself to get there on my trip to Boston this year. I can tell all of you, it’s worth the trip! What I find most interesting about this brewery is that the location is a bit off the beaten path, but they still get the foot traffic to their brewery and taproom.

The brewery and taproom are quite minimal in decor, but you are surrounded by owls, which is an integral part of their branding and logo. Most of their beer is offered in sample size pours or full pints based on style and ABV. I opted to sample the entire line-up with a colleague of mine to get the best of all worlds. As you may or may not know, Night Shift has become ever popular among sour beer fans and their Barrel Society has become an ever growing project for them. Tara, one of the bartenders at Night Shift, was a previous The Bruery employee who helped with their Reserve Society prior to joining Night Shift. Tara now is an integral part of the Barrel Society and really enjoys being a part of every area at Night Shift.

NightShiftBrewingRoom (800x600)

I am a big sour beer fan, so I was ready to pucker up for some good sour brews. The Barrel Society brew is only available for members, however a very nice member offered to buy me one, which made me very happy. Orion was the name of the beer, it is a barrel-aged sour dark ale. The brew has a malty base with a lot of fruity flavor. The ale is incredibly complex. As directed by the bartender Mike, I let the beer warm a bit, which just intensifies the flavor of this beer. The other beer worth mentioning is called Root. This saison is brewed with purple carrots, parsnips and aged on sorrel leaves. For those of you interested about sorrel, it has a texture like spinach, but with a sour flavor profile and often times is referred to as sour grass. This one-of-a-kind beer has a beautiful red color to it and tastes along the lines of a dry wine. My colleague and I were most surprised by this beer as we weren’t too sure about even tring it, but ended up really enjoying it. The moral of this story is to give things a try because you might be surprised!

One of the best parts about Night Shift Brewing is the BYOF policy – Bring Your Own Food. We ended up ordering a pizza from a local pizza place, which the bartenders were quick to recommend. In less than 30 minutes, our food arrived and the staff at Night Shift were quick to offer napkins for clean pizza enjoyment.

Between the friendly staff, inviting environment, and the great beer, Night Shift is a must stop if you are in the Boston area.

MeNightShift (800x600)

The Year in Beer: 2014 Review via the Brewers Association

by: Tierney

image
Can you believe we’re just a few weeks away from 2015? This year flew by! With the end of the year comes a lot of industry analysis, but trust The Brewer’s Association the most. Without further ado, check out 2014 in review’s key points:

U.S. BREWERY COUNT RETURNS TO HISTORIC LEVELS. In November, the United States passed the mark of 3,200 brewers in the country and the number of brewery licenses reached the highest ever, topping 4,500 in the first sixth months of the year. Thirteen states (CA, CO, WA, OR, MI, NY, PA, TX, FL, WI, IL, NC, OH) now have more than 100 breweries each.

BREWERIES ARE OPENING AT A RATE OF 1.5 PER DAY. In addition, there are more than 2,000 breweries in planning.

CRAFT BREWERS WERE THE GROWTH POINT IN THE OVERALL BEER INDUSTRY. Through June of 2014, craft brewers enjoyed 18% growth by volume. Numerous data channels are showing continuing double-digit growth for craft in the second half of the year.

INDIA PALE ALES (IPAS) REMAINED THE MOST FAVORED CRAFT BEER STYLE. According to retail scan data, IPA is up 47% by volume and 49% by dollar sales, accounting for 21% volume share of craft and 23% dollar share of off-premise beer sales. Additionally, the style was the number one entered category at the Great American Beer Festival®.

VARIETY PACKS HAD A STRONG YEAR WITH CRAFT BEER LOVERS. Retail data also indicates that variety packs are up 21% by volume and 24% by dollar sales, equating to 9% volume share of craft and 7% dollar share.
image

CRAFT BEER APPRECIATORS ARE BECOMING AS DIVERSE AS CRAFT BEER ITSELF. Data indicates that 38% of households bought a craft beer in the last year versus 29% in 2010. Additionally, women consume almost 32% of craft beer volume, almost half of which comes from women ages 21-34. Hispanic populations are demonstrating increased craft engagement as well.

Figures are a compilation of data provided by the Brewers Association, Symphony IRI and Nielsen. The Brewers Association will release a comprehensive annual analysis of craft brewer production in March of 2015

Don’t Tell Me How to Rate My Beer!

by: Chelsie

Untappd Social AppAs of late, I’ve been hearing a lot of folks who use the Untappd app say they rarely rate or comment on the beers they check-in because they’re afraid of how the brewery might react if they don’t give a favorable review. And, that makes me sad. Sad that they feel intimated by brewers and breweries. Sad that they are being bullied on social media for their very real experience with a beverage.

NOT ALL BEERS ARE CREATED EQUAL
To be honest, there’s a lot of really bad beers out there. By “bad”, I mean sub par. Sometimes it’s quite simply a flawed recipe. Other times, something didn’t go right during the brewing or fermenting process. Or perhaps inferior ingredients were used to cut costs. Bottom line, if a beer doesn’t taste good – it doesn’t taste good. Plain and simple.

With the amount of breweries popping up across the country, the bar continues to be raised on taste and quality. We beer enthusiasts have tried hundreds… even thousands of craft brews. Through that process we are refining our palettes and becoming educated about the nuances of each beer style. We know when a beer doesn’t taste as it should because we have extensive tasting experience.

Untappd User Comments & RatingsWE SHOULD BE ABLE TO VOICE OUR OPINION WITHOUT FEAR
I’ve yet to personally experience a brewery engage in a heated debate with me using an inflammatory tone over how I’ve rated a beer. In fact, I’ve had quite a few thank me for my honest feedback.

But I have had several friends tell me that they were reamed out by a brewery for their less than favorable comments or rating. And, now they are fearful of using these social beer apps the way they were intended. They simply check-in the beer then turn to me and tell me why it sucked. I’ve even had one friend get banned from a local brewery for rating their beer as poor on Untappd. What?! Banned? That’s ridiculous.

I’m taking a stand right here and now against these bullies. Listen up breweries! If you can’t take the God’s honest truth about your product then maybe you should consider another career path. You apparently have no respect for your customers or would be customers. I understand that some folks may use harsh words to comment on your beer but let’s be frank, when you work as a craftsman in any industry you need to learn to accept criticism and turn it into a positive. I know first hand by working in the advertising industry that you need to get thick skin when dealing with reactions of customers to your work. We can’t win them all. We just keep our heads high and strive to grow and improve our craft.

THE RALLY CRY
I empower you, my fellow craft beer drinker, to be confident in your ratings and not shy away from commenting. Don’t let the immaturity of a few brewers deter you! There are way more breweries that know the value of your opinion and understand how to positively interact with their customers and fans.

And with that empowerment, I ask that you make your criticism constructive so a brewery knows specifically what could be improved… the taste.. the texture… the packaging design… etc. Don’t just say “this sucks” or “worst beer I ever had”. Speak as you would like to be spoken to. Don’t be nasty or harsh with your tone. But most importantly, be honest and straight forward. Be free to exercise your right to your opinion!


(Follow Me On: Twitter & Untapped: @dzyngrl | Instagram: @dzyngrl14)

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party 2014 with Hop Hedz Gear & Pierce Brewing @ The Batdorf

by: Tierney

image
In a special announcement made this week, Bart Kaminski of Hop Hedz Gear and Dean Pierce of Pierce Brewing Company released the long-awaited details of their Ugly Sweater Party, happening next Friday, Dec. 12 at The Batdorf Restaurant in Annville, PA. The event’s proceeds will support the Patty’s Pub Relay for Life team, supporting the American Cancer Society.

The event will feature a large variety of holiday festivities, most of which you will need a ticket to participate in. A $25 ticket gets you:

-Official Limited Edition “Ugly Sweater Holiday Party” T-shirts by Hop Hedz Gear (other Hop Hedz Gear will also be available)
-$2 pints of Troegs “Blizzard of Hops” and Sam Adams Seasonal
-Buffet style dinner featuring wings, wraps, and Stone IPA chili
-Contests for best “Ugly Sweater”
-Much more!

image

There will also be a special tasting of Pierce Brewing Company’s annual Christmas Ale, “Ugly Sweater II”, available to all restaurant patrons. Purchase your tickets now, as they will sell out!

Patty’s Pub is a Norlanco Relay for Life team and the official charity organization of Pierce Brewing Company. The mission of Patty’s Pub is to fund cancer research through the kindness and generosity of the craft beer nation.

Click here to purchase tickets for this event

For more information regarding this event, check out their Facebook event.

Live Crafty: A Visit to Wyndridge Farms

by: Chelsie

Wyndridge Farms Laughing Crow IPA

Where can you find house-made, hand-crafted: hard cider, wine, beer, soda and food all in one place? Why, Wyndridge Farm that’s where! Located at 885 S Pleasant Ave, Dallastown, PA, Wyndridge Farm is a beautifully designed facility in the midst of farm fields and breathtaking views of the country side. It houses a brewery, a store where you can buy takeout beverages and merchandise, a private banquet room as well as a tasting room which includes a bar and restaurant. Owners Julie and Steve Groff spared no detail when they turned their 120 year old barn into a well appointed yet cozy experience.

THE TASTING ROOM
Even though we arrived at an early 5:45pm on a Saturday night, there was a 2 hour wait for a table of six. The place is so popular that I highly recommend arriving earlier than you plan to dine because they do not take reservations at this time.

But no worries. Our group bellied up to the granite topped bar and ordered a few drinks. I selected the Laughing Crow IPA. It’s a crisp, hoppy beer with a bright yellow color, mild foam and notes of pine, grass, lemon and grapefruit.

Wyndridge Farm Draft List

The ambiance is warm and inviting. There is just so much to take in visually when you look around from the fiery brick oven just behind the bar to the wooden beams in the vaulted ceilings.

Wyndridge Farm Dining Room FireplaceIt was a chilly evening when I visited and the brick fireplace just behind us in the dining room was glowing and crackling.

The open concept kitchen was bustling with food preparation: burgers were sizzling, lobsters were steaming, salads being chopped. It’s a well choreographed site.

Check out the menu to see all of the tasty farm to table food options. Daily specials are also available.

Once seated in the dining room, everyone at our table ordered another round of drinks. This time I selected a hopped cider to continue my hoppy beverage theme. Yum! Dry and crisp with just a touch of hop bitterness.

Next, the group ordered a variety of items from the menu (burger, pizza, salad, etc), the daily quiche special and the daily fish special. Once we dug in, I heard nothing but rave reviews all night as we dined and sipped. I’m a bit of a foodie as well as a beer geek and I was impressed with both my meal and beverages. Wyndridge Farm is definitely going on my “must visit often” list.

I do have to point out that one of the fish filets was slightly undercooked but the server quickly whisked the dish away to be corrected. The kitchen staff responded with a new dish in under 10 minutes. And, they didn’t just reheat everything. A completely new meal was prepared… the fish filet, the butternut squash risotto and the steamed broccolini. It was quite extraordinary.

THE BREWERY
After dinner, we got a special insider’s look at the brewery accessible from the tasting room. Steve gave us a little history of Wyndridge Farm, as well as explained the various equipment housed in the room. But, I must say, the styling of the space had my attention. Not because I wasn’t interested in the dialogue, but I’m so used to most breweries being all industrial and starkly utilitarian with no thought to interior design elements. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the place was. Here, you’ll see what I mean in these photos.

Brewery Ceiling

TIPS:

  • The parking lot is small and was full when we arrived. There is free valet parking where they park your car in the field across the street. Just pull up to the front door and give the attendant your keys. Please, do take advantage of this service. We were glad we did!
  • Remember, they do not take reservations at this time.
  • Be sure to peek in the brewery as you’re waiting for your table. You can peer through the glass door located to the side of the dining room.
  • The bar generally has more beer and cider selections than the couple of options listed on their website. And, the list continues to grow.

(Follow Me On: Twitter & Untapped: @dzyngrl | Instagram: @dzyngrl14)

Chelsie’s Winter Craft Beer Picks

by: Chelsie

Winter Craft Beer Picks 2014

I know it’s not even winter… technically. But here in the Northeast, we’ve already had a few snow storms. One being the day before Thanksgiving! So I couldn’t help take this snowy photo as well as shift gears with my beer selections. Something about the cold, crisp air and a touch of winter wonderland that makes me want to drink chocolate stouts, funky saisons, goses and the ocassional IPA.

Here are 5 selections that I’ve stocked up on but won’t last long in my beer fridge: (more…)

1 2 3 27