8th Annual Fool Circle Beer Tasting

July 10th, 2010

Yesterday, 07.09.10, was the 8th Annual Fool Circle Beer Tasting, and it was an amazing time!

You can view all of the pictures here, just CLICK.

Tradition stands strong. For the 8th year in a row I was able to host and participate in the annual Fool Circle beer tasting. This is a rare occasion when great friends get an opportunity to come together and sample a small eclectic variety of homebrewed beer. In attendance this year was Todd, Richard, Dave, Robert, Erik, and myself. This was Erik’s first year so he was the rookie. I had decided this year that I was still going to participate in the guessing, but was pulling myself out of the competition aspect, as in I couldn’t win regardless of the outcome.

The tasting itself was streamlined in comparison to last year. Last year we had 24 beers to sample which we determined was too many. So this year we had 12 beers which was just the beer since the last tasting. Well, actually there were 14 beers since the last tasting, but I forgot to bottle 2 of them, oh well. In the tasting this year were the following beers: Cluster Wheat, Sum Bra Pale Ale, Roby’s Red Rye, Kitchen Sink Amber, Kitchen Sink Dark, FCX Sticky-Icky IIPA 10th Anniversary Ale, Dubbel, Dubbel Dragon – Chinese 5 Spice, Anxious Amber, Perle Wheat, Grilled Pineapple Wheat, and the California Red. The two that missed the cut were the Harvest Ale – Freshy Fresh and the Twenty Pound Pale Ale. The highest number of beer guessed correctly out of the 12 was 8 and the lowest was 1. The 8 was guessed by myself so it didn’t count towards the competition and the winning of the the status of Grand Poo-Bah for the next year, and to be fair the 1 was guessed by Random Robert, which was just us filling in Roberts guesses at random since he was going to be late, but he still got 1 right!

In the end it turns out that Dave and Erik both guessed 5 correctly so we had to go into a tie breaker round. I had previously put 24 different vintage Fool Circle beers in the fridge, so for the tie breaker I was going to pick a beer and pour them off a sample, and who ever guessed correctly first would win. I chose the Scottish 70/- beer because it was distinctive, yet could be slightly confusing because of the two varietal Scottish beers also included in the vintage list. They BOTH guessed it correctly on the first guess, I was amazed. So now we had to go into double over time tie breaker style. I had to decide was I going to try and go obvious, or difficult, I think I went slightly down the middle maybe towards the more difficult side and chose the Simcoe Brown. After some deliberation the guys turned in their guesses and one of them guessed it right on the first try, again I was impressed. It turns out the rookie rocked the vets and walked away with the title of Grand Poo-Bah for the next year, that being one Mr. Erik. Congratulations, good job.

After that things went smoothly and I think we all had a blast. Some awesome dinner was had: great homemade guacamole with some snacky food, grilled chicken, tomato and cucumber salad, cheesy orzo, and black bean and corn salad. Then we jumped on some new beers to try, the Perle Wheat, Pineapple Wheat, and CA Red were all on tap, and Richard had brought some of Garrett’s ESB with him to share, Erik brought some old school Roxy Rolles he found, plus there were all the vintage Fool Circle’s to share. Todd wound up leaving first because he had work the next day and had to get up early, but everyone else hung until about 12:30AM or so and either rolled with a driver or crashed, most responsible year yet.

Overall it was once again a great time. If you’re interested in previous years activities you can check them all out here, all but the first year: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004. Also, per usual, here’s some more than flavorful quotes from the night to keep you smiling, or cringing:

  • I heard they put a needle in your nut.
  • I think one of’em’s three of’em.
  • I don’t want you guys to think I’m weird or anything, but I got an AK-47 this year.
  • You will shit your spleen!
  • They make it in the radiators.
  • You’re like the Blackadder bitch.
  • They’ve gone plaid.
  • Were you smelling his fingers? – I was measuring his head.
  • Apparently my right ball is called “Columbo”.
  • I wanna see what my balls are called.
  • Give me a camera, I gotta snake coming out of my crotch.
  • Hey look, Erik and Dave had a sword fight in Robert’s mouth.
  • Rape him in the face holes.
  • Deuce Poose Grand Poo-Boose.
  • Simmer down Rookie!
  • If you took a 70’s porn star chick and her homeless Vietnam vet husband and mixed them together, that was your face.

American Brown Ale

July 3rd, 2010

Yesterday, 07.02.10, was the perfect day to brew some beer!

American Brown Ale

Yesterday I was able to take the day off from work extending the already long three day July 4th weekend into a four day weekend. My plans had changed twice already, but in the end I was able to revert back to the original plans, which were to brew a batch of beer. This time around it was an American Brown Ale. I have brewed this recipe twice before, once with Garrett and once alone. Each time there were slight tweaks to the recipe based on available inventory, but this third batch was almost identical to the original with Garrett.

The brew day got started between 10:30 and 11 and wrapped around 6-ish or so. My friend Heather was able to join me for most of the day, in particularly during the more interesting first couple hours, and my other friend Robert was able to sit in for an hour or so in the middle, so it was nice to have company on a beautiful July afternoon – 83′, sunny, and low humidity – that’s my kind of day! There were no major cliches during the brew day, so that was good. I suppose I had a minor brain fart in the beginning because I swore I had ordered a particular base malt (Marris Otter) for this batch, yet couldn’t find it anywhere, only to realize that I had ordered it, yet used it on the last batch with the California Red, doh! Really not a big deal, I did have other English two-row base malt (Crisp) so I just made a substitution on the fly. Other than that I hit my mash in and mash out temps on the nose, there was no major waiting for water to heat, and no major mishaps with the boil. Though my original gravity was much higher than anticipated, actually my last couple batched have been … it may be time for a new hydrometer, this one may no longer be accurate.

But then there was the cooling … Oh summer-time cooling, oh how I hate thee. An hour and a half later and the beer is only down to 80′. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s because the ground water is so warm, but there are things I could do to help this be more efficient. For example, I am still using the same immersion wort chiller that I used for five gallon batches as I do now for ten gallon batches, I believe it is a 25ft 3/8″ unit, I should really be using something closer to a 50ft 1/2″ unit if I choose to continue to use an immersion chiller. Additionally I could add a pump to the system and pump ice-water from a cooler through the unit which would totally increase the efficiency OR I could upgrade to a counter-flow chiller or even better a plate chiller and really cut down the time. The current desired end chiller would probably be a Blichmann Engineering Therminator plus a March Pump plus a cooler of ice water. The thought would be to run the wort through the plate chiller while ice water passed in the opposite direction essentially cooling the wort as quickly as possible. And to avoid acquiring the cold break material in the fermenter, I think if the cooled wort was pumped back into the brew kettle again before being put into the carboy the false bottom/whole hops would help filter that material out, thus chilling ultra quick and still retaining clear wort. I bet I could easily shave an hour off my brew day. When the money tree blooms, you know what I’ll be buying.

California Dreamin’

June 18th, 2010

On Friday 06.11.10 I brewed a California Red beer, plus it was my first night brew in a while too.

The CA Red brew night went well. I got started about 6:00PM and finished up about 1:00AM, seven hours isn’t too bad. I have had a tough time committing to weekend brew days recently so I decided to see if I could pump out a brew night in a reasonable amount of time, really to see how feasible a week day brew night would be. I think as long as there were no mistakes and kept about that same pacing, I’d say it’s quite feasible, especially considering I am usually just getting to bed around that time anyway.

This is the second time I have brewed this style of beer and I decided to duplicate the same recipe, only changing the bittering hops on account of what was available in house, from Horizon to Chinook. This is actually a really tasty beer, it comes off like candied hops. I also re-pitched the yeast from the American Wheat. I feel as if this is both a smart move and a risky move. Smart in the sense of I save $8.00 from the batch by not buying any new yeast, but risky because if there happen to be any problems with the first beer it will be carried over to the second beer. So far I have not run into any noticeable problems using this procedure, though the most I have ever flipped yeast is twice, and I’ll probably flip this yeast one more time too.

I think I am going to leave all 10 gallons of this batch the same, but I am also slightly leaning toward lightly oaking five gallons of it too. I think the next brew is going to be an American Brown beer. This is a recipe that Garrett and I have brewed together before and that I have brewed on my own too. It’s actually quite tasty. For that batch I think I will split it as a traditional batch and maybe add chocolate to half. We’ll see what happens when we get there I suppose.

“All the leaves are green, and the sky is blue, I’ve been for a brew, on a summers day … California dreamin’ …” Haha, whateva!

Grilled Pineapple Wheat Beer

June 16th, 2010

So the other day I split the 10 gallon batch of Perle Wheat into two secondary carboys, one to remain a traditional American Wheat and the other to have fruit added to it.

So for this years variation I decided to go with a Grilled Pineapple Wheat Beer. Sounds weird right? Well, I also thought it sounded kind of summery, so I went for it. I really had no idea how much pineapple was going to be necessary, so I guessed at one pound per gallon, or five pounds of pineapple total. Originally I was going to use fresh pineapple, but the ones I was looking at were about $5.00 per pineapple at about 4-ish pounds a piece. I figured I’d probably need two pineapples after they were skinned and cored. So instead I looked at my options for canned pineapple, which happen to be on sale, four 20oz cans for $5.00, nice! So I opted on five cans to go on the safe side, assuming I would loose some weight after the juice was removed. Speaking of which, I meant to pick up all the same style pineapple, preferably whole slices in juice. Some how I grabbed whole slices in juice, in syrup, chunks in juice, and chunks in syrup … I guess I REALLY wasn’t paying attention.

Anyway, I essentially drained the juice/syrup and retained it, not sure at the time if I was going to use it, though I didn’t. I then got the grill nice and hot and scraped down all the chunkies, last think I needed was for a bit of hamburger or something gross to get in my beer. The whole slices were pretty easy to grill and looked (and tasted) pretty good. The chunks were a little bit more of a challenge, trying not to loose them between the grill and to still try and get a nice caramel to them. After they were grilled I chilled them out in the fridge as to not change the beer’s temperature too much. Before adding them to the carboy I also slightly pureed the bits together to help them fit into the fermenter and to increase the surface area.

As I began to add the fruit to the beer I realized how much room there wasn’t going to be in the fermenter. I was using a 5 gallon jug where I really should have been using a 6 gallon or larger, knowing I was adding fruit, plus room for a secondary fermentation of the fruits sugars. After I reapplied the air-lock I hoped that it would still be attached in the morning and not blown across the room with beer and pineapple everywhere. When I came down in the morning to check I was lucky to find the air-lock still in place, but there was sanitizer/beer coming out of the holes on top. I quickly tried to clean things up by removing the airlock and relieving some of the pressure, which turned out to kind of be a bad idea as it released too much pressure and beer and pineapple started splooging all down the sides of the fermenter. I quickly grabbed the fermenter, threw it in a big-ass Rubbermaid-type container, tented the opening with some foil, and gave the beer a little anti-contamination blessing and left for work.

The beer was rolling pretty strong for about 48 hours, then I was able to clean things up proper and apply the air-lock again. Since then the beers been bubbling away. It’s pretty cloudy, I assume from the pectin in the pineapple, hopefully it’ll clear some, if not it’s a wheat beer so it won’t be completely unexpected. I may do a tetrary phase just to help with clarification, we’ll see. With any luck, this will be a lovely summer time sipper, with any bad luck I’ve got the potential for one hell of a drain pour, haha.

Blues, Brews, and BBQ

June 14th, 2010

OK, scratch that last post, 2 out of 1,000 events for PBW ;).

Saturday 06.12.10 was the Blues, Brews, and BBQ event at Iron Hill Wilmington. I knew about the event for a while, and had mostly planned on going as long as I was in town, but I hadn’t realized it counted as a PBW event since it was in Wilmington, go figure. Regardless, Iron Hill Wilmington had an event Saturday afternoon from 1PM-5PM which included blues music from Docta D and the Infirmary, brews from a couple Iron Hill (IH) locations, Stewarts, and DFH, and in-house special BBQ platters for the day. Overall, great time.

I had seen Docta D once before, last year at the Brandywine Craft Brewer’s Fest (I think that’s what it is called, the one Iron Hill does at their Media location …). They’re a pretty decent blues cover band, the band is real tight, and the lead guy plays a nice harp. But my problem is with me, I’ve been tainted by Nate Myers and the Aces. They are a similar blues cover band, but with move of a good-times flair than full on traditional, and I guess for me that’s what I wanted, a little more eccentric energy. I’m not trying to take anything away from Docta D, I’m just giving my two cents.

The brews were picked to pair well with BBQ/smoked flavors, let me see if I can remember the six specials, there was: IH’s Wee Heavy, IH’s Munich Dunkle, IH’s Smokin’ Blonde, DFH’s Palo Santo, and Stewart’s Dark and Smokey Weisse. There actually was one more from IH but I can’t remember it at this point. The beers were good, they were doing 12oz pours for like $5.75 or a sampler of all six for $6.00, guess which direction I went in … of course! Some quick reviews of some, the IH Munich Dunkle was possibly my favorite which is surprising because I’m not always the biggest fan of the style, the IH Smokin’ Blonde was really good too, it was a Belgian Blonde brewed with smoked malts. I thought the Belgian characteristics came through well and the subtle smoke was a nice addition, good style for the kind of weather that day.The Stewart’s beer was definitely the smokiest, being almost overwhelming on first impression, but grew as you continued to sip the brew. After the smokey sampler I needed a palate cleanser, and the seasonal American IPA was just what the docta ordered, with all the lovely hops scrubbing my palate clean.

And the BBQ was what was up. I had the impression the IH was going to be BBQin’ outside on the deck, especially since it was such a beautiful day and the breeze coming off the river was perfect, but instead they were doing things in the kitchen. Additionally I had the idea that there would be more lunch type items, more sandwiches perhaps, or even small bites like hamburgers and hot dogs, like a picnic flair, but instead it appears as if they focused on dinner type platters, which I ordered anyway. They had a “smoked” accented pizza special, a half chicken, brisket, and pork loin special all available that day. I went with the pork loin and Robert went with the brisket. The pork loin was nice served with a homemade coffee bbq sauce, blue cheese potato salad, which could have used a bit more blue cheese, and grilled summer vegetables. The brisket was better and was served with a different homemade bbq sauce, cheddar mashed potatoes, and grilled zucchini. I don’t remember the details as well for the brisket, but I also didn’t order it. Overall I had a great afternoon at Iron Hill once again and hope that these types of events continue into the future.

1 in 1,000, PBW

June 11th, 2010

So last night, 06.10.10, was the one and only Philly Beer Week (PBW) event I got to attend, Older Bud No Weiser, at World Café Live.

The event was kind of pimped as a class reunion for the class of 1996 local brewers. In attendance was Tom Kehoe of Yards, Gene Muller of Flying Fish, Mark Edelson of Iron Hill, Bill Covaleski of Victory, and Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and it was hosted by Greg Koch of Stone. That’s some serious brewing power-house-age right there, and they all basically opened within a year of each other, crazy. The event was more or less set up like a panel with the five guys behind a long table and Greg off to the side emceeing. He would basically lob easy questions up that all five would answer, like: tell us how you started, what piece of advice would you give yourself in 96 if you knew what you knew now, and tell us a funny/embarrassing story kind of thing. After Greg was done with his questions and everyone was warmed up he turned the questions over to the people on the floor, us. We then were able to ask direct questions to a single person or ask the panel a question. They were cool and kicked down bottles of beer to the people who asked questions. Not knowing what you would get, the beers varied from 11 year old barleywines, to 750mls of specialty brews, to unlabeled secret stash brews. The event ran for about three hours.

While the event was going on we also got to sample beers from all five breweries. From Yards I believe we had their ESA, Abbey Dubbel from Flying Fish, Pig Iron Porter from Iron Hill, HopDevil from Victory, and Shelter Pale Ale from DFH. All of the beers were 12oz pours, so it was a nice bit of beer in that three hour time frame. It would have been nice if some small bites were available with the beers, but for $25 I already felt as if it were a bargain price. Also, I was smart enough to eat prior to the event, the website only indicated ‘light fare will be served’, but I didn’t trust it.

I think overall for only being able to go to one event I was able to go to a pretty decent one. Don’t get me wrong, I would have rathered have gone to one every night for all 10 days of PBW, but alas it wasn’t in the stars this year. Plus with 1000 different events, it was a little daunting to figure out which event(s) were going to be the best to go to. I think it may benefit PBW to stream line some next year, for example the event last night was maybe only half sold out, and I think that was because people had so many other options of great things to do to choose from.

BUZZ Off 2010

May 30th, 2010

Last Saturday May 22, 2010 was the 2010 BUZZ Off homebrew competition held at Iron Hill Brewery’s West Chester location.

For many of the local homebrew competitions I try to judge or enter beers or both. This was one of the examples where I was both able to judge and enter beers. The beers I entered were an American Amber Ale as an American Amber, the FCX as an American IPA, and Vader as an Imperial Stout. I’ll talk about how the beers did and what the judges had to say in second, but for now I’ll talk about my day judging a little bit first.

So a “typical” judging day (is there such a thing?) is suppose to start around 9AM and wrap up around 5PM with the awards to follow. So I drove up to West Chester and got to Iron Hill around 8:45, with judging not starting until almost 9:30. In the morning I was to judge Belgian and French Ales with 36 entries. We were suppose to have six judges, thus three pairs, so 12 beers per pair. That’s a pretty big flight, but not outrageous. Two of the six judges didn’t show … So now we’re at 18 beers per pair, much bigger. In the category fell Witbiers, Saisons, Biere de Gardes, and Belgian Specialty Beers. The Belgian Specialty Beers were over half of the entries, ugh. Basically a Belgian Specialty Beer can REALLY be anything, as long as the brewer feels it has merit to be there. In my opinion, and for what I can remember, the Wits were OK, the Saisons were good, the Biere de Gardes were meh, and the Belgian Specialties were all over the place with the clear winners/favorites being some of the nicer Brett infused beers. I believe 2 out of 3 of the winners were Brett Beers. I must note though, the table next to us had Larry Horowitz the head brewer from that Iron Hill location, and his partner and himself  hopped over and did about 6 beers with us lightening our load, that was cool.

Our table ran late since we had so many beers, so lunch was a little light and a little fast, buffet style with some pizza, pasta, and salad. Not bad, but when we used to be able to get sandwiches that was cooler, but hey lunch is lunch. In the afternoon I judged Wood-Aged and Smoked beer, oh no, the palate destroyer … I was with four people for this one with I believe 20 entries, so 10 per pair. I was paired up with this guy Chris I hadn’t met before, but after we had talked for a while I realized that we had very similar senses of humor and before I knew it we had everyone within earshot baggin up at out shenanigans. The wood and smoked beers were all over the place; from tasting like cookies, to table leg, to vanilla, to camp fire, to bacon … it’s a tough category. And there was at least two beers that basically tasted like bourbon. In the end the afternoon went quicker than the morning, though neither category was easy. After judging I tried to hang for a bit to see how long things were going to go and to grab my score sheets, but it was already about 5PM and they still needed to do the Best of Show round which easily takes an hour. So I tried to get my sheets, but they weren’t ready so I dipped.

But, my score sheets came in the mail yesterday so now I can see how I did, and here’s the breakdown for you too:

  • Amber Ale – American Amber – 31/33 = 32 – Very Good – Judge #1: “Very good beer, but may be oxidized a bit.” Judge #2: “Pretty nice drinking beer. Malty sweetness is prominent, but tempered by a very long bitterness of citrus and resin.”
  • FCX – American IPA – 25/20 = 22.5 – Good – Judge #1: “This is a hop bomb! The high bitterness isn’t supported by the malt, try cutting back on bittering hops.” Judge #2: “Good color, lots of hop flavor and bitterness, though you may want to decrease bitterness.”
  • Vader – Imperial Stout – 43/44 = 43.5 – Excellent- 2nd Place for Stouts Category (30 entries) – Judge #1: “If this was my beer I would horde it to myself without sacrificing bottles to competitions – thanks for sharing this excellent beer.” Judge #2: “Wow!! Awesome beer. Well aged, this tastes like it was conditioned for well over a year. Well done!”

So basic break down: cool, weak, and pretty rad :). The Amber’s scores are kind of what I expected, it’s a decent beer just not a shining example. It’s actually one of my favorite types of beer, slightly sweet with Crystal Malt and still nice and hoppy. The FCX was beat up points-wise a little bit, but the judges comments weren’t very off. So it makes me wonder if it was just a low scoring pair of judges. And finally, Vader, was well recognized for what it was, the judges really liked it which made me happy. Those are actually the last 2 bottles I am going to sacrifice, since I am down to only 4 bottles I think. I suppose it could have been worth the sacrifice. Guess it’s time to brew another Imperial Stout soon!

Capper Style

May 24th, 2010

As in a little re-cappage for everyone. I know it probably appears I’m asleep at the wheel here, but truth be told, I just haven’t found the time to update the site. SO, here’s five small updates of things I’ve been into. Hope you enjoy.

On April 24th Robert and I ran in the Trail Dawgs Half Marathon. This was our fifth (I think) year participating. This also happened to be my personal best time for the half marathon, finishing up at 2H 12M 36S. I know it’s not fast compared to some other people, but it was fast for me for 13.1 miles. If you look at the picture you can see my number for the race, 420. Ha, it felt like a joke being the guy with dreadlocks wearing the 420 number, haha. After the race we tried a 5 year old Sly Fox Odyssey and a Stone Black IPA (forget the name). Then we made a pit stop at Twin Lakes Brewery to see what was new there. Overall it was a good little morning.

The day after the Trail Dawgs run on April 25th was the results for the DUH Homebrew Competition. DUH is Delmarva United Homebrewers, and it was only open to homebrewers in the Delmarva area. The cool thing about this competition was the grand prize was Dogfish Head Brewery would brew your beer on the brew pub system, which is an 8 barrel capacity. So the only real criteria was to enter something creative that DFH didn’t already make something similar to it. I entered the Belgian Dubbel infused with Chinese Five Spice, or Dubbel Dragon as Erik started to call it. It didn’t win, but we had a great time sampling all the other homebrews available at Dogfish Head’s upstairs room. I think something with ginger and lemongrass actually won.

The following weekend saw more stoopidity, because on May 2nd was the Sly Fox Goat Races. These are always a ridiculously good time. This year was Sly Fox’s first year at the new location, like seriously open less then a week at this point. The people really showed up in numbers with goats, and kids, and dogs, and beers just about everywhere. This year also saw a first in a back-to-back repeat winner, Dax. So once again we had the Dax Maibock poor at the end of the festivities, and it was delicious. In the bad picture to the left you can see the little goat I wanted to win, her name was Peggy, and she had three legs. Peggy made me smile and I wanted her to win, but alas it wasn’t meant to be.

Another good thing happened later that week, on May 6th I received my first new shipment of ingredients in quite some time. I had already arranged things so that I had around 150 lbs of base malt, and still lots of extra hops from the order that was placed for the 1oth Anniversary Batch, but now I needed more specialty ingredients so that I could make a more diverse line up of beers. So I ordered enough for seven batches plus, and they are: an American Wheat, an American Brown, a Saison, two different Pale Ales, and two different IPAs. All of these will be 10 gallon batches, and realistically all of these should be brewed by the end of the summer. There should be enough “extra” specialty malts to squeeze out one or two hodge-podge beers too afterward, though I will probably need more base malt by then.

And finally on May 15th I brewed my first batch of been since the beginning of March, I think. I started with the American Wheat, all Perle hops, sort of based off of my Cluster Wheat recipe from last year. For this beer I believe I am going to keep 5 gallons traditional and then add fruit to the other 5 gallons. I was trying to think of something different but still appealing to try and then it hit me one morning at work. A Grilled Pineapple Wheat Beer. I know, it sounds funky, but it also sounds summery, and I think it may just have a chance. I think the grilling will add a cool caramel flavor and will mellow out the pineapple bite a bit. The other thought was similar, Toasted Coconut Wheat Beer, but unfortunately I’m not a huge coconut fan and 5 gallons of that could be a little much for me.

So I promise I’ll keep posting if you promise you’ll keep reading, that goes for you all of you: Dave, John, Scott, Erik and Robert 😉

DFH Off-Centered Film Fest 2010, pt2

May 3rd, 2010

So, I’ll try to pick up where I left off and make this as coherent as possible.

You can see all the pictures from the trip here, just CLICK

We woke up late on Saturday, probably close to noon. We were all a little out of it, but no one was broken. First thing we had to do was contact the car rental company and make sure everything was in order, of course we weren’t able to get a hold of anyone so our consciouses were not at ease. We decided that going into Austin for the day and walking around would be a good idea. I can’t remember the name of the street now, but it was a definitive thoroughfare sort of like Main Street in Newark or Rehoboth Avenue in Rehoboth. Lots of food, lots of nitchy stores, lots of people watching, you know, lots of everything, but Austin-ized. As we were be-bopping around in one of the stores Erik realized he had lost a credit card. So now we had that to worry about too. We were hoping he left it at the Draft House or the Draught House, but we could not get a hold of anyone at either. We figured we’d score some lunch, call again, and if nothing else pay each a visit before a full on freak out occurred. Lunch was kind of a long decision, no one had an opinion on what they wanted only what they didn’t want. We settled on pizza slices which I think was a good choice, and it was good pizza too. After lunch we tried calling the two bars again in hopes of scoring the credit card, and we did! Erik accidentally left it at the Draught House the night before, so off we went to rescue the credit card and see how much of tab was put on it. When we got there Erik ran in, picked up his card, paid the tab, and ran back out. We were all waiting for some sort of end-of-the-night-tab-that-wasn’t-ours to be charged on there, but it was only $4.25, haha. I asked if he left a good tip, and I believe he responded that he didn’t leave any because he was pissed they didn’t look for him at the end of night :).

We then left the Draught House and went back to the hotel to chill out for a couple hours and clean up before the movie premier. On the way to the theater we stopped and re-upped on non-alcoholic beverages, specifically Gatorade, we needed to make sure we were going to have an OK flight home, right? When we got to the theater Erik was interviewed by the local Austin newspaper (check that … now that I think about it I believe that was Friday, but regardless, it happened) about the film fest and our movie. The picture above is the four of us with Sam from DFH which was in the paper. Of course we couldn’t find a copy of it before we left, but here’s a LINK to the article if you care to read it. The movie premier was of course a ton of fun. Sam and DFH filmed a short film of their own for the fest, plus they showed like the top ten honorable mention films which I thought some of them were pretty good, and then they showed third, second, and first. After the honorable mentions and before they showed the top three, they called one person up by name from each group to come up on stage and talk about the film. Erik went up and said a little bit, but as he said he didn’t want to say too much to ruin the film or anything. I liked all of the top three, though third was my favorite of the other two. Ours got a pretty good crowd reaction too, which was cool. We filmed the whole movie premier, so it should be interesting to watch that version of our film and see what a bunch of Austin beer-geek strangers thought were the “good parts” versus which parts didn’t get the pop we thought they might. Below are You Tube links to the DFH movie, third, second, and third.

After the premier we wound up hanging at the theater, which has a bar in the lobby, I love this place. We probably stayed at the theater drinking different DFH beers until about midnight, and then it was time to go, we had one more stop to make. From the theater we went to Pluckers, which is a local TX wing bar, think ala Hooters but without the scantaly clad waitresses. We wanted to go back to Pluckers more because we be-friended a bartender, Deuce, last year and wanted to see if he was still working there, which he was not. Though he was no longer there his protege was. He was a goofy young kid who had been there about a year and was trained by Deuce. He was OK, but didn’t hold our attention enough to stay longer then a couple of local beers. When we got back to the hotel we were all giddy for some reason. We got the giggles real bad on the car ride home and it never really stopped. So from like 2AM to 4AM we were loud as shit in our room, bumpin music, drinkin beers, throwing shit around, it was a hot mess. We started to fall out around 4AM with Roby and I falling out first, and Mitchell and Wooly still rolling. Supposedly they went outside around that time and the second and third place teams were actually leaving the hotel to catch their flight, talk about different time frames. Eventually they must have gone to bed too :).

Sunday morning seemed to come out of the blue. We started waking up around 10ish and had to be checked out by 12 and be at the Gospel Brunch at Stubb’s BBQ at 1PM. While we were packing up our stuff we wanted to secure our film fest posters. Last year we ran to a FedEx/Kinko’s within walking distance and bought a 1″ diameter mailing tube for the posters. It was an OK idea, though the tube was a little tight and a little long, but it kept them safe. So, this year I brought down a 3″ diameter poster tube cut to fit the posters from last year. Guess what? They changed the poster size and the tube was too short. In all honesty in retrospect it probably would have worked OK with only about two inches of poster hanging out, but instead we tried to source a new poster tube. Of course we spent way too long looking for a tube we never found, similar to how I’ve already typed way too much about something no one even cares about. After the poster tube search we were off to Stubb’s BBQ to enjoy one last bangin’ Austin meal and listen to some blues-gospel music. We did this brunch last year and knew we wanted to come back. Last year they had us tucked in some corner were we couldn’t see the stage, this year we made reservations plenty of time in advance and requested a seat downstairs so we could watch the performance. After we got situated we headed up to the buffet line, which includes authentic BBQ including brisket, chicken, sausage, and smoked bacon, plus biscuits and gravy, pecan pie, eggs three ways, breakfast burritos, fruit … all sorts of stuff. I tried not to eat until it hurt, but it was the only meal I had that day, so I’m sure I had plenty.

We really had nothing left to do at this point, plus were were all burning out on booze and food, and wanted to see what’s the haps on the craps for the rental car. So we went to the airport about three hours before our flight. When we filled up the rental car on gas it cost only $20 for four days of driving around TX, I guess that Prius does get good gas mileage. We then went to Alamo to turn in the car. The guy actually made it seem like it was no big deal since we had the renters insurance, so hopefully we have heard the end of that and won’t get hit with some crazy bill months after the fact. In the airport it was pretty boring with all of us pretty much just staring at each other trying not to fall asleep. We had one layover in Dallas but didn’t even need to get off the plane, so that’s a cool layover, and the Temple Female Gymnastics team boarded and were sitting near us, so that was entertaining too. We arrived back in Philly about 12:30AM-ish and I was home by about 1AM. Morning came fast again and work went slow on Monday, but it was all totally worth it, AND I hope to have the opportunity to do it all again in 2011 :).

I think that pretty much wraps the trip up in a nutshell. If anyone has any direct questions that I didn’t address feel free to ask and I’ll give you my two cents. Otherwise, go check out those pictures, the newspaper article, and short films from the trip! (now)

DFH Off-Centered Film Fest 2010, pt1

May 1st, 2010

Better late then never I suppose … but Austin 2010 was AWESOME!

You can see all the pictures from the trip here, just CLICK

This may be a little briefer than it could be, but we’ll see… So this years Dogfish Head Off-Centered Film Fest was April 16/17, 2010. We had gone last year because of our award winning movie World Wide Clout which came in third place AND we got to back again this year because of our new award winning movie Burton Baton and the Legend of the Ancient Ales which came in first place – unbelievable! So this year Erik (Klaus Von Hommelbier), Robert (Burton Baton), Wooly (Johnny Squall), and myself (Sah’Tea) all went down from Thursday to Sunday to get our Austin rock star on! To say the least we had a blast.

So Thursday we had a reasonably timed flight, we left Philly around 9:00AM and arrived in Austin around 3PM-ish. DFH had us booked at a pretty nice hotel for Fri and Sat but on Thurs we decided to book at a different hotel down the street to save a few bucks, it was pretty ghetto. Mental note: next time front the extra couple bucks for the nicer digs. When we got to the hotel we all kind of fell out without saying anything to each other, before I knew it we were all basically asleep for a little over an hour. When we came to we wanted to go out and buy supplies for the room, like beer, water, snacks, and then head out for the night. So we went to our favorite spot the H.E.B. (which we call the heeb) and stocked up, got some decent shit, and some weird shit, like pickle juice, HEB-buddy grape body wash, and some snack that made Roby’s fingers all red that looked like death wiped off on a white hotel towel – I can’t remember what that shit was! After the HEB we wanted food and beer. Erik had pulled up some breweries/brewpubs on his phone and we went on the hunt. After our second one came up permanently closed we needed to punt. Since we were all tired and hungry we decided to go with a reliable choice, the Gingerman. The Gingerman has like 90 taps and probably almost as many bottled beers too. We all got something to munch on and tried a few local TX beers, good times. We weren’t out too late, probably made it back to the room like 1AM-ish and sat up bull shitting and drinking Full Sail Session Lagers out of stubby bottles until about 3AM or so.

Friday we woke up around 10AM-ish to the dilemma of Erik’s iPhone breaking. It sounds kind of lame, but honestly we relied on that thing as our calendar, our GPS, our contacts, and general interwebs connection to find shit in Austin. So we looked up the nearest Apple store which was at a mall like 30 minutes away, actually, everything seemed to be like 30 minutes away from everything else, go figure. Anyway, we got to the mall and found the Apple store and had to wait. Robert, Wooly, and I basically cruised the mall for like two hours. It was actually a half way decent mall, but when you’re just killing time two hours at a mall is too long. Fortunately Erik was able to get his phone “fixed”. Actually, it was three weeks out of warranty and the phone died, but the little Apple dude was cool and basically kicked down a refurbed one for free. So though the phone was wiped of all personal stuff (suckage) we did have access to the world again. After the mall we went for some lunch at a BBQ brewpub, Uncle Billy’s,  that Wooly’s cousin had recommended. BBQ + brewpub together, genius idea. The place was pretty cool, roll-up doors all the way around, so when they’re up (which they were) you kind of feel like you’re sitting outside. The house Pale Ale was pretty good, though their seasonal hop handle was empty, which I was a little disappointed about. The BBQ wasn’t bad either, I had brisket, coleslaw, and fries, though their sauce was a little weird for me, kind of a cross between a tomato based BBQ sauce and a vinegar based. When we were getting ready to leave we stuck our heads into the brewery door to see if the brewer was around. He was, and was brewing, but still made time to chat us up a little bit. He was a really nice guy, though I can’t remember his name, and totally gave us some recommendations of places to check out while we were in Austin, nice. After lunch we went to our other hotel, which was much nicer, thanks DFH. We kind of just lazed around the hotel from like 3-6PM, drank some beers, ate some snacks, listened to some tunes, and watched TV on mute while overdubbing our own commentary (So many rooms …) – you know dumb boy stuff.

Around 6PM-ish we got our asses in gear and headed over to the Alamo Draft House to get ready for the DFH beer pairing/tasting. This year they decided to kick it up a notch from last year, so that was awesome. It was 15 beers paired with 15 small bites, all while this great local jazz band, Torch, played while old school black and white cartoons silently played over top on the big screen – really neat. We ran into a bunch of people from Austin from last year too, it was really cool, it kind of felt like we all picked up right where we left off, like it was the next weekend not a year later. Here’s a list of what we had, both appropriate for foodies and beer geeks alike, and since I’m into both, well, score!

  • Aprihop w/ Chicken, corn, and black bean fried mini burrito
  • Raison D’Etre w/ Medjool Date stuffed with gorgonzola, Marcona almond and wrapped in bacon
  • Black & Blue w/ Crab wonton with blueberry sauce
  • 60 Minute IPA w/ Full Quiver farms white cheddar
  • Burton Baton w/ Prosciutto, melon, and lime
  • 120 Minute IPA w/ Blue cheese soufflé puff
  • Chateau Jiahu w/ Pulled pork slider, with house pickled red onions, and spicy mustard
  • Pangaea w/ BBQ Bison slider with cheddar
  • Punkin Ale w/ Chorizo/ beef slider with avocado mayo, lettuce, and tomato
  • Indian Brown Ale w/ House made smoked duck sausage
  • Palo Santo Marron w/ Chorizo, jack, and cojita quesadilla with roasted tomato salsa
  • Immort w/ Truffled parmesan cheese fries
  • Midas Touch w/ Midas Baklava
  • Raison D’ Extra (no pairing)
  • Fort w/ Fort Sherbert

They served the pairings in 5 courses, three at a time. In between each course Sam, owner of DFH, and Paul, chef at Alamo, would get up and talk about their beers and food respectively and then discuss why they thought they would make a good pairing. It was actually interesting and you could tell they really cared about what they were saying. I think my favorite pairings were the Raison D’Etre with the stuffed date (called the “Date Rape” by the chef), the Burton Baton with the prosciutto, and the Immort with the fries. All of them were delicious, I don’t think there was one stinker in the bunch. Wooly wasn’t eating and drinking all of his pairings, so we all got to have a little bit extra of certain ones too, so that was nice. After the tasting we were still ready to go, so we went to the Draught House in the city. We really had no idea where we were going, so thank goodness for the iPhone. We did happen to make one wrong turn, so we had to make a U-turn in a parking lot. The problem with driving in the dark, in an unfamiliar town, and being in a hurry is that sometimes you don’t see things, like the pole we backed into making the U-turn. Yup, jacked up the rental car, a 2010 Prius. It wasn’t horrible, but I bet the bumper and the rear quarter-panel will need to be replaced. We did purchase the renters insurance, so fingers crossed there won’t be any repercussions because of it. At the Draught House we ran into this cat Pliny who we met last year, super chill dude. The funniest part is he is originally from Delaware but now lives in Austin, WTF! So we pretty much saddled up with Pliny and his crew and hung until like 2AM when the bar closed and they kicked us out and then we all hung out front for like another hour. We got back to the hotel like 3:30AM-ish, grabbed another beer, and hit the hay.

Overall Thursday and Friday flew by, but were great times. The DFH tasting that night was superb. And we still had two more days of kickin it in Austin to go! Stay tuned and hopefully I’ll have part two with Saturday and Sunday up soon. Saturday was the actual film fest and Sunday was gospel brunch and the flight home. Until then …