Zwanze Day: What is it anyway?

This Saturday is a special holiday for beer lovers around the world. If you're not into sour beer (yet!) you may have never heard of Zwanze Day. Trust me, it's worth all the hype you are seeing in your twitter or instagram feed. Plus, there is still time to make plans to go to an event that doesn't require tickets! So here's everything you need to know about  Zwanze. 

A Zwanze Day Explainer 

The world-famous lambic brewery, Cantillon, created the celebrated and cherished series of beers called Zwanze in 2008. The series was (and still is) a creation of brewer John Van Roy that allowed him to release an experimental, limited quantity beer.  

 A barrel at Cantillon from my visit to Belgium in 2017.

A barrel at Cantillon from my visit to Belgium in 2017.

From 2008 to 2010 Zwanze beers were released under cover to various undisclosed locations and very, very lucky drinkers. In 2011, the world-wide release party known as Zwanze Day was born. 

The toast and party holiday was created for many reasons, the first was to help dedicated lovers of spontaneous-fermented beer find these special brews and the second was to combat resellers. Van Roy said he was informed of Zwanze being sold on eBay for 600% mark ups. 

The 2011 world-wide Zwanze release party had 22 locations. In 2017 Zwanze Day locations have tripled to include 66 worldwide. 

The last special thing about Zwanze Day is that event goers are bonded together in a world-wide simultaneous toast! Bartenders and owners tap their kegs of the special Zwanze blend at the exact same time no matter the time zone. So when you're feeling excited as the beer is passed around - know that their are beer lovers all over the world that feel the exact same way. 

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Zwanze Day 2017

The 2017 Zwanze will be a lambic, tea blend inspired by John Van Roy's son's love of iced tea. The label art is inspired by another of his son's loves - Game of Thrones. And c'mon how cool is this label?! 

My favorite part of the 2017 Zwanze announcement post was Jon Van Roy's care to explain what Game of Thrones would be like in Cantillon's world, "But in our version, no one dies and everyone has a good beer!"

 via Brasserie Cantillon's  Facebook page .

via Brasserie Cantillon's Facebook page.

As awesome as this label art is my favorite Cantillon Zwanze Day 2017 graphic comes from a brewery just outside of Austin, Texas, Jester King. They make a shirt for their event each year and 2017 is so funny to me. Below is their Instagram post with the shirt art. 

This year, NYC is lucky to snag two coveted spots on the Zwanze lineup both Fool's Gold and Spuyten Duyvil will host events. (Full list of locations below.) I'll be at Fool's Gold bright and early so let me know if you'll be there too! 

List of 2017 Zwanze Day Locations 

Note: Some of these events require tickets so check with the venue before making plans.

AUSTRALIA
- NOLA -- Adelaïde
- Bitter Phew -- Sydney

AUSTRIA
- Tribaun -- Innsbruck

BELGIUM
- Moeder Lambic Fontainas -- Brussels
- Moeder Lambic Saint-Gilles -- Brussels
- Mi-Orge Mi-Houblon – Arlon
- Rose Red -- Brugge

CANADA
- Dieu du Ciel -- Montréal, Québec
- Birreria Volo -- Toronto, Ontario
- Bells and Whistles – Vacouver, British Columbia

DENMARK
- Himmeriget -- Copenhagen

FRANCE
- La Fine Mousse -- Paris
- La Capsule -- Lille
- Brasserie du Mont-Salève – Neydens
- Au Poêle de la Bête -- Toulouse

FINLAND
- Stadin Panimo Baari – Helsinki

GERMANY
- Café Herman – Berlin
- Mon Petit Café -- Stuttgard

GREAT BRITAIN
- Kernel Brewery – Bermondsey
- Beermerchants@Unit 101 -- Manchester
- Six° North – Aberdeen
- Moor Beer -- Bristol

ITALIE
- Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fà -- Rome
- The Dome -- Nembro
- LambicZoon -- Milano
- The Drunken Duck -- Quinto Vicentino
- Ristopub Margherita -- Quartu Sant’Elena
- Ottavonano -- Atripalda
- TryBeer Room – Castiglione d’Adda

JAPAN
- Dolphins Ueda – Osaka
- Lembeek – Nagoya
- Favori -- Tokyo

NEDERLAND
- De Bierkoning -- Amsterdam

NEW-ZEALAND
- Garage Project – Wellington
NORWAY
- Camera Storyline -- Oslo

SPAIN
- Masia Agullons -- Sant Joan de Mediona

SWEDEN
- Ölrepubliken -- Göteborg

SWITZERLAND
- Bière Café Au Trappiste -- Bern

USA
– Anchorage Brewing Company — Anchorage, Alaska
– Armsby Abbey — Worcester, Massachusetts
– Avenue Pub — New Orleans, Louisiana
– Bagby Beer — Oceanside, California
– Beachwood BBQ — Seal Beach, California
– Crooked Stave Barrel Cellar — Denver, Colorado
– De Garde Brewing — Tillamook, Oregon
– Fools Gold NY — Manhattan, New York
– Green Bench Brewing — St. Petersburg, Florida
– Holy Grale — Louisville, Kentucky
– Jester King Brewery — Austin, Texas
– Jolly Pumpkin Brewery — Dexter, Michigan
– Laser Wolf — Fort Lauderdale, Florida
– Mikkeller Bar SF — San Fransisco, California
– Monk’s Cafe — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
– Novare Res Bier Café — Portland, Maine
– The Porter Beer Bar — Atlanta, Georgia
– REAL a gastropub — Honolulu, Hawaii
– Russian River Brewing — Santa Rosa, California
– Schera’s Restaurant and Bar — Elkader, Iowa
– Seymour, the pub — Greenfield, Massachusetts
– Side Project Brewing Cellar — Maplewood, Missouri
– Slow Boat Tavern — Seattle, Washington
– The Sovereign — Washington D.C.
– Spuyten Duyvil — Brooklyn, New York
– Thin Man Brewery — Buffalo, New-York
– Trillium Brewing Company — Canton, Massachusetts
– West Lakeview Liquors — Chicago, Illinois

Find a location, don't let the long lines get to you, and raise your glass with beer appreciators the world round. 

Cheers! 

Boston Brewery: Trillium Brewing Company at Canton

By the end of this post you'll be ready for the perfect visit to Trillium Brewing Company's Canton location because you'll know what to expect and how to set yourself up for the most fun!

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Trillium Brewing Company has two year-round locations in the Boston area: One at Fort Point, and their main location outside the city in Canton. My visit to the Fort Point shop left me wanting more from my Trillium experience. So I booked a very long uber out to Canton. 

Canton is a pretty quintessential north-eastern suburb. Big houses, snow covered yards, novelty mailboxes, everything you would expect. I was pretty surprised to find that the Trillium Taproom was tucked in this neighborhood. 

Pulling into the parking lot I was met with lots of dudes carrying boxes of cans out to their cars.

“Uh oh, the beers all gone!” one joked with me. Judging by the packed parking lot, I almost believed him.

I continued on past the retail door to the taproom door and wowza - look at that line. Upon walking through the door you all but collide with the center of the line to order beer by the glass. I took my place wayyyy at the back and suddenly wished I had brought a book - or at the very least that I had more phone battery. 

As the line inched forward I passed many groups huddled around barrels or leaning on the small bar that ran along the wall. There is not much in the way of seating in this taproom. I then past the “food truck of the day,” severing oysters, but at 3pm there were not many takers for their fresh-ish shellfish sitting out on ice. 

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Finally, I came into view of the tap list which was extensive and offered more options than the Fort Point location. The GABF medals dangling from the board were an obvious reminder of the quality that made the line so. so. long. 

Ordering was efficient and by the time I swiped my card I had a beer in my hand. The perfect beer in hand for getting back in line - ha! Is it just me or does a line move faster when you have a drink involved. I got the Double Dry Hopped (DDH) Summer Street for the line and it was a perfect waiting beer. Light, floral, and fruity, not too heavy of a mouth feel and a clean finish. No wonder this place is so crowded! 

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By the time I made it to the registers again, I had a plan. I wanted to order three very different beers. Again, a quick ring up and this time I found myself a spot leaning against the divider between the “taproom” and the active brewery. 

I tried, Trillbomb!, DDH Scaled, and the Free Rise Nelson. They were all great and definitely in the style of Trillium. The IPA was sweet and ended with the gypsum bite I have found characteristic of East Coast IPAs. The stout was big and strong with a potent nose of Bourbon. The free-rise, while slightly funky was more of a pale ale than a saison. 

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After considering another trip to the back of the line, I decided against it and summoned yet another car back to Boston. I had fun and I learned a lot. 

Is the trip to Trillium's Canton Brewery Worth It?

I pondered this on my long ride home from Canton - still thinking about that zip up sweatshirt I decided not to buy again. I think the answer is it depends! Boring...but true. 

If you're a big beer fan that doesn't mind standing for a while Canton is the only place that you're guaranteed to try several Trillium beers in one spot. You can even skip Fort Point and just head to Canton for both your beers on tap and to-go. 

If you have someone in your group that needs to sit down, this might not be great. You can hope for a friendly stranger to give up their seat, but I don't gamble on friendly strangers often. If you are on a trip to see Boston - it's a tough call! Canton is quite a way out of the city and there are many great locations in Boston that carry all kinds of beer and have a little more scenery, plus you can go to Fort Point for your to-go beer needs! 

Tips for visiting Trillium Brewing Company at Canton:

  • Check the food truck for the day. I wasn’t about to eat oysters. I wished I had a meal in me or a snack so I could go on sampling. 
  • Expect a line. It’s not a let down if you’re expecting a wait. Bring a friend, or three and wait together time flies when you’re waiting in line with a beer in hand. 
  • Wear comfortable shoes. As someone who doesn’t follow this rule in my day-to-day life it’s worth putting in here. You’re standing on concrete and, yes, you’ll be standing. 
  • Bring your pup if you want! There were several dogs in the taproom when I was there and they definitely provided some entertainment while waiting in line. 
  • Don’t drive or dedicate a driver. Their stouts are great, you’re going to want to try them, and trust me, one is enough to knock you on your butt. 
  • You can get cans, bottles and merch to-go! While the major attraction of the Canton location is getting to sample multiple of the famed breweries beers, there is also a line for to-go items. 

Are you headed to Trillium or the Boston area? Find @beerswithmandy on twitter. I love nothing more than talking about beer trips! 

Getting Your Hands on Trillium Brewing Company's Crazy Hazy IPAs AT FORT POINT

My mission was simple. Get to Boston acquire the beers. Get home without drinking them all. 

Why the mission? I, like every craft beer drinker recently, have heard SO MUCH about this East Coast IPA (also called the NEIPA or North Eastern IPA). It seemed to be like The Alchemist's Heady Topper by sweeter. No like a pale ale, just cloudier. It's harder to make than a West Coast IPA. No, it's for lazy brewers who don't filter. I'd heard to many contrasting opinions and read about one too many think pieces. Trillium consistently came up as an example for a brewery that was in the North Eastern IPA game for the technique, not the trend. 

 Trillium Brewing Company's Scaled IPA fresh and hazy off the tap.

Trillium Brewing Company's Scaled IPA fresh and hazy off the tap.

So back to the mission: the get to Boston part was easy. JetBlue has amazing sales on tickets from NYC. $40 each way? Don't mind if I do!

I stayed at the Boston Seaport Hotel (which by the way was fabulous) located just a short walk from Trillium's Fort Point location. It's denoted by a small chalkboard sign out on the sidewalk and the entry is on the side of the building. I walked by a few times so keep your eyes out!

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The Fort Point location is really more of a shop than a taproom. There is no consumption allowed onsite, but there are growler fills, cans, bottles and stacks of merch. 

If you're in Boston for business, or on a trip with people who don't want to spend hours with craft beer, the Fort Point shop is perfect for you. It is truly an in-and-out experience, even if there is a line. The cans aren't too heavy to carry around if you're being a tourist for the rest of the day so there's really nothing holding you back. 

We left with what seemed like a pallet of cans and two bottles. Plus a set of snifters and a tshirt because c'mon that flower logo is so great! It was hard to leave behind the zip up sweatshirt but suitcase space required me to make decisions. 

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Even with this smashing success, my Trillium experience in Boston wasn't over yet. First, I still had to taste the product!! And we still had to head out to Canton. I'll get to that in the next post. 

Tips for a Trillium Brewing Company, Fort Point visit: 

  • Bring something to carry your cans and growlers in. They give you a box but that's not ideal if you plan on exploring the city for a little while.
  • Row34, which has my favorite lobster roll in Boston, is right next store. Row34 also serves a well-curated selection of local and international craft beer and a raw or cooked seafood menu to die for. 
  • City Tap House is kitty-corner from Row34. If you're looking for a big ol' beer list, more of a nightlife scene and some interesting twists on bar-food standards this place is worth a stop. When I was there they were working to get Trilium on tap, so keep an eye out for that! 

Perfect Beer Pairings for Chocolate Chip Cookies

The chocolate chip cookie is a dessert standard. They'll hold up on the trip to the office or potluck, they're a crowd pleaser, and hey they aren't all that hard to make!

In fact, I have my favorite super easy recipe for a small batch of chocolate chip cookies right here.

But if you really want to bring the party, don't offer cookies alone! Bring a beer pairing along with you. Pairings not only make your favorite foods taste just a littttle better, they are also fun to try because they work for everyone a little differently.

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If Dessert Is Feeling A Little Heavy, Try a Weizenbock Or Belgian Dubble

Suggested beers: Schneider Weisse Aventinus and Westmalle Dubble

Weizenbock and Belgian Dubble styles both feature some wonderful stone fruit flavors that lend a richness to the pallet, but their body and carbonation are a lighter than other dark beer counterparts. You'll notice more of the brown sugar sweetness in your cookie that pairs beautifully with the breadcrust flavors in these darker ales.

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If You're Looking for the Perfect Nightcap + Dessert Combo, Try A Belgian Quad

Suggested Beer: Rochefort 10

My favorite pairing with chocolate chip cookies is the Belgian Quad. This style is sweet and rich and boozy. The dark fruit flavors of fig and dried cherries bring out the vanilla in the cookies for an indulgent dessert experience. This style tends to be more than ten percent alcohol making it the perfect way to end a dinner, or a night in!

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If You're Feeling a Little Crazy, Try a Brett Ale

Suggested Beer: Allagash Little Brett

This pairing is not going to give you the classic dessert flavors you may expect, but it will wake you and your pallet up a little. I imagine the perfect place for this pairing is eating chocolate chip cookies outside at a summer picnic. Instead of pulling out deeper sugar and chocolate flavors from the cookie, the funky Brett flavors and high carbonation effectively wipe the heavy sweetness from your pallet. This experience instantly makes dessert feel lighter and let's you get your sugar fix without needing a nap.

What?! No Stout?

I know, I know you were expecting to see a stout! Stouts are definitely a good pair with chocolate chip cookies the light roast flavors compliment the sweetness in the cookie without overpowering it. Semisweet chocolate also stands up to that roast, which make the semi-sweet flavor shine on your pallet. But come on, everyone pairs chocolate chip cookies with Left Hand Milk Stout, I wasn't going to do that to you!

Ok...so what did I miss? Or what did you think? Anything you absolutely have to eat your cookies with?

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Homemade Rx Bars!

So, this is a little off the beaten path here. Making RX Bars doesn't have anything to do with drinking beer, other than the fact that I have to eat RX Bars to stay at a reasonable weight - because I drink so much beer! 

I'm OBSESSED with the Chocolate Coconut RX Bars but at more than $3.00 a pop I had to stop snacking on these before work outs or at work. Or I could figure out my own way to make them. After a couple (like five!) tries, I found a recipe that I love even without the chocolate. 

Before you go shopping! I have to tell you, I got all the ingredients for these bars from Trader Joe's. Living in New York City, Trader Joe's is a regular savior for both my wallet and my travel time, so finding every. single. thing. I needed was really exciting. 

Ok! Now lets get down to making these things!



This all seems really easy because it is! But I have a few tips from my trials perfecting this recipe. 

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I have a tiny Manhattan kitchen with no room for a food processor, so I just dumped everything in my Vitamix. One thing I learned is that it is much easier to use a blender if you make a double batch! With a single batch I was scraping the bottom with a spatula constantly.

 Look at all that bar trapped under the blender blades! 😱

Look at all that bar trapped under the blender blades! 😱

I also learned that you can cut the sheet of bars into individual bars right through the plastic! This also help keep the bars from sticking together while they are being stored, and keeps your hands clean. All good things people, all good things! 

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Beer Pairing! 

What, since it's a healthy-ish snack recipe you don't get a beer pairing? Heck no! 

I recently discovered the Ultimate Light from Omission Brewing and was SO EXCITED. These beers are gluten free, but even better just 99 calories. You can literally drink a six-pack for less calories than a frappauccino. (Omg frappuccinos are so many calories??!) 

This beer is nice and light, with some soft carbonation on the pallet and a nice grain backbone. (I wrote all about if for October.) 

So it pairs nicely with an active day and a gluten free, dairy free, protein packed snack bar!

Allagash Saison Day in NYC

I'm obsessed with Allagash, especially the stuff they do with brett. So when I found out they were sponsoring an event at Threes Brewing here in NYC I knew I wanted to get involved. 

Lucky for me, a homebrewing competition was part of the event. I entered, was excited to be selected for the first round and then was EXTREMELY excited to be slected to pour my beer at the People's Choice Competition (sponsored by our local homebrew shop Bitter & Esters). 

This was my first time doing an in person competition. I had never poured my beers for strangers before so I was pretty nervous about the reaction. 

I showed up on competition day with a very classic saision (all Belgian pilsner with some oats and wheat for mouthfeel, saaz hops, the whole thing!) and was floored by how creative the competition was! Everything from rye to limes and even brett were in the competitive saisons. I had fun trying everyone's and pretty quickly it was time for the "people" roll in and make their "choice."

I met so many great people and was overwhelmed with the positive feedback about my beer. This experience definitely taught me to stop questioning myself. One of the other brewers even said to me, "Don't describe your beer as a 'plain old saison' its great!"

When it came time to pour for the Judges Choice I was so busy talking to people at my table that I poured the bottom of a bottle into the cup. Oops!! I hope the judges like yeast!

By 4pm all my beer was gone and we went back to hanging out with the other homebrewers. When the representative from Allagash, Karri, came out to announce the winners, I didn't even pay attention! I was up against so many people that had competed before that I had no expectation. 

So you can imagine my surprise when she announced I had WON People's Choice. I got back to my place in the back of the pack, ecstatic about my gift card to Three's and thinking about how great it felt to know people truly enjoyed the beer. When Karri announced I had ALSO won Judge's Choice. Whatttt?! I was thrilled. 

 I also got this very cool Allagash Patagonia bag aka my new laptop bag!

I also got this very cool Allagash Patagonia bag aka my new laptop bag!

 

So, a few things I learned from this whole competition thing:

  • One, I need to do it more! Sharing my homebrew is so fun and rewarding. 
  • I need to be more confident in my skills. I'm always apologizing for my beer not being perfect, but what is perfection anyway?? 
  • I'm so thankful that Allagash made Saison Day a holiday! It will definitely be on my calendar next year. 
  • Three's is an awesome brewery. So much space for NYC and lots of different styles - a dream!!

Cheers guys! 

Visiting Tired Hands Brewing - The Beer Cafe

Nestled in what can only be described as the adorable town of Ardmore, Pennsylvania, Tired Hands Brewing Company is a comfortable yet eclectic spot for great beer.  We visited the Brew Café and had such a great time we didn't make it around the corner to the Fermenteria (we'll be back!) 

Tired Hands serves two kinds of beer classic French and Belgian farmhouse brews and crazy American IPAs. 

We started off with one of the crazies - the Bill Braun's Ass Kickin IPA. The name was a reference to the hot sauce added to the beer and it does not lie. This beer quickly kicked my ass and my pallet and was promptly set aside. 

Next up was Chat Room which was a substantially less ass-kicking and substantially more interesting IPA brewed with spelt and 100% equinox hops. It was my first time to try an all-equinox beer and it was not exactly what I was expecting. I got a lot of fruit pith and grass on the nose and citrus pith in the taste. The spelt gave a creamy mouth-feel to top this captivating IPA.

 BEST BEERS OF THE DAY: SAISON HANDS & HOP HANDS - YOU CAN SEE HERE WHAT I MEAN ABOUT THE MURKY COLOR ON HOP HANDS. 

BEST BEERS OF THE DAY: SAISON HANDS & HOP HANDS - YOU CAN SEE HERE WHAT I MEAN ABOUT THE MURKY COLOR ON HOP HANDS. 

Signature Beers

Before getting too many beers deep we wanted to taste the breweries signature beers - Hop Hands and Saison Hands. These two earned their place as signatures. Hop Hands is a 5.5% pale ale brewed with a high percentage of oats. While the color is a turn off ('grayish pee' was a descriptor used at the table) the silky mouth feel more than makes up for it. The beer holds on to a sweet fruity nose and lots of floral and fruit flavor with a dank bitter finish so well it was hard not to chug my whole pint. This was my personal favorite of the day. Saison Hands is one of the most well-done examples of a French farmhouse beer I have tasted in a brew pub. An exciting prickly mouthfeel paired with a classic lemony hay flavor made for a seriously enjoyable beer.

Tips for Your Visit:

  • Come with an Open Mind: The ingredients and brewing styles are eclectic, but well worth the try! Tired Hands doesn't do flights but they do have smaller glasses for sampling - try them all! 
  • Parking: There is a lot right next to the beer café, DO NOT park there. You will get towed. Then you will be sad.
  • The Food: HOLY CRAP! Do you like delicious house-made bread, handpicked local cheeses and meats and rustic preparations? Of course you do! The food here is awesome. Come ready to snack or come hungry and get a sandwich. You won't be disappointed. 
  • Bring a Growler: They sell growler fills of pretty much everything on tap and you are going to want to share these brews with your friends at home!

Raise a Toast with Beer Instead of Champagne

I feel so lucky because at least two or three times a month, I have something to celebrate. A birthday at work, an engagement of a friend, a holiday toast. As people would say, "What better for a toast than a glass of bubbly?!" To which I say, "BEER!" The worst feeling is deciding if you should get three bottles of crappy champagne or one bottle of nice champagne. Well, no more my friends.

A few other great things about subbing out beer for champagne:

  • Less sugar. Guess what, less sugar leads to less of a hangover. So you can celebrate tonight and not regret it tomorrow. 
  • Plenty of bubbles. All of these beers are highly carbonated and some of them even come with a cork. I know you don't want to miss out on that cork pop. 
  • It's cheap. A top-of-the-line beer is going to run you $9-$20 aka the same price as an ok bottle of champagne. 
  • Get your buzz on. If you're looking to party and you're worried beer won't get you there, don't fret! All of these beers have abv comparable to that of champagne. 
  • It's out of the ordinary. Most people haven't tried the high-quality, golden, bubbly champagne-like beers that exist out in the world. If you bring along a sparkling beer, not only will everyone enjoy what they're drinking, they'll also get to try something new! 

Some of my favorite champagne substitutes: 

  • Duvel (Belgian Golden Strong)
    Beautiful beer with tons of bubbles and widely available. I popped one right after getting engaged.
  • DueS (Brut Des Flanders)
    Yep, it's called "champagne beer" and comes with champagne flutes in some stores, so it's a pretty spot on substitute.
  • Tripel Karmalite (Belgian Tripel)
    A brilliant golden beer with a rocky white head and the scent of a floral bouquet with a few pine cones...TELL ME you don't want to welcome the new year with this?!
  • Saison Brett (Brettanomyces Fermented Saison)
    Are you a little adventurous? This beer has familiar crisp apple and light pear flavors that are accented with Brett's famous "sweat horse blanket" funk.
  • Tank 7 (Farmhouse Saison)
    My favorite "starter beer" for those that confidently proclaim, "I just don't like beer." It is a total crowd pleaser, perfect for a toast. Sweet, highly-carbonated with a dry clean finish...cheers!
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How This "Beer Thing" Got Started

Ok, if a human could have an FAQ section (can we?) this is my number one. "How did you even get into beer??" so it just fits. My very first post is the answer to this question. 

I have enjoyed eating and cooking my whole life but I truly fell in love with the idea of what food could be as the hostess of The Lonesome Dove, Tim Love's restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas.

Every week or so the whole staff would get to try the new items on the menu and at nights sometimes the pastry chef would share leftover desserts with us. It was the first time I tried many things, including rattlesnake and kangaroo. It was also the first time I met people fully dedicated to food. Not just the chefs, but the entire staff was totally committed to  providing unforgettable meals and food experiences. Working among them taught me what food could be and inspired me to try everything and attempt to replicate it when I can. 

A true passion for beer came later in my life. I had never been a fan of the light American lagers I was offered at tailgates and I sort of wrote-off beer as a way to get drunk on the cheap (not something I was so interested in.) I can point to three specific beers that changed my view forever. The first is Magic Hat #9. I now think of this beer as totally tame, but the first time I tried it I was home from college and share one with my dad. "Woa," I said, "this is beer?" Naturally, he laughed at me inquiring what else it could be. I had never tasted a beer that had fruit and bread flavors. I wanted to try more. 

 June 2010. My hair was too blonde and Golden Monkey was too good. 

June 2010. My hair was too blonde and Golden Monkey was too good. 

Back in Texas I tried out my local breweries and random things I spotted at the liquor store. I found these far more enjoyable than those tailgate beers, but still nothing too thrilling. Once again, back in Pennsylvania, I visited Victory Brewing and tried Golden Monkey, a Belgian Tripel style brew. I was floored by the aromas, flavors, carbonation, and even the appearance of the beer. My father and I talked with the waiter for a long time about the beer style and what else to try.

 January 2017. A little freshen up in the Victory branding still lookin' good. 

January 2017. A little freshen up in the Victory branding still lookin' good. 

After this brewery tasting...I really went nuts. No beer was too strong, too dark or too hoppy. I would occasionally go out of my way to special stores to find new beers. In 2013, I went to Monks Cafe in Philadelphia and tried the Guez from Drie Fontinien. I can specifically point to this as the moment I went from curious to obsessed. I couldn't understand why a beer would taste so sour, and be so 'rare'?

Well I spent a long time researching, eventually going all the way to Belgium to find the answer. This journey led me to where I am today, making beer, studying for my Cicerone exam, and traveling far and wide to try beers at their freshest and best. I'm so happy you're here with me!

Do you have a specific beer that changed the way you drink - or make beer?! Share in the comments!