Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Christmas Eve Proposal

The PubScout has a suggestion for all those who love good beer and the special feelings Christmastide brings.

Gather your family around the living room or den. Their ages do not matter. Grab a bottle of Troeg's Mad Elf and have the best reader in the room read this poem aloud.

(If that's you, read  between sips.)

Merry Christmas!

Night Before Christmas

Friday, December 14, 2007

Joe Skelly’s I P(olitical)A

By Kurt Epps


Beer has a way of breaking down barriers between people, even if the barriers aren't really anything more significant than politics or religion. Sure, you can get into some heated arguments about politics and religion at the bar over a few brews, but only if the brews aren't the focus of the evening, which is the case with all those canoe beers.

But real beer drinkers don't usually drink canoe beers, so politics and religion are usually ancillary topics that really matter very little. Joe Skelly, a real beer drinker, can often be found barside at Uno's Grill and Brewery in Metuchen, where his favorite Mike Sella brew is the Porter. Between sips, he's usually blowing everyone away at national trivia, because the guy's a virtual repository of knowledge (which makes his liberal politics even harder to comprehend).

I mean, as fellow Democrats, we should be seeing eye-to-eye on most issues political. The problem is that I'm a conservative Democrat (OK, a staunch conservative Democrat) who voted for Reagan (a former Democrat) and who remembers when my party was the party of the workingman. Today, it seems to be the party of those who won't work, which is why my vote in the last two presidential elections went to neither Bush nor Kerry nor Gore. My vote went to a guy whose political stance was about five hundred yards to the right of The Minutemen of the American Revolution. I didn't even care that he wasn't running.

But this column is about beer, not politics. In fact, it's about Joe Skelly's beer. You never really know a guy until you drink his beer, and I'd always thought Joe was a great guy. But after downing his 2007 Homebrewed IPA, I've had to kick my assessment of him up a notch.

I'm a big fan of IPA's. I love the hops and the way the beer goes with almost every food I enjoy. Uno's puts one out that is probably my favorite year-round brew—Ike's IPA. You won't get a better meal match than Uno's Steak or Shrimp Quesadilla and an Ike's.

Unless, that is, Joe Skelly's IPA is available. Joe was kind enough to bring in a sample for me after our last beer dinner at Uno's as a Christmas present. That's the kind of guy Joe is. Even after suffering through my jokes and schtick, he had enough Christmas spirit left to give me a present.

Housed in a well-sealed plastic bottle with a hot pink label (Joe is a liberal Democrat after all) I pulled out the brew to enjoy my Friday night at home. I confess that I wasn't expecting much. Liberal Democrats usually hold Natty Light in high regard. But this was Joe Skelly, a real beer drinker, so as I poured the brew into my brand new, handy-dandy Sam Adams glass, I hadn't lost all hope. The question was, "Would a real beer drinker be able to make a real beer that was drinkable?"

Damned right, he would. This was very delightful, somewhat different example of the style. First look was that the beer was a tad darker in color than many IPA's. Its clear, dark amber was appealing to the eye in a curious way. First taste revealed that the hops were subdued more than those of the typical eye-popping IPA. Mouth-feel was extremely smooth, again somewhat atypical for the style. There was an unusual, and equally subtle, sweetness that was very pleasant, and the finish was clean. I'm guessing that the very slight sweetness was a product of the malts Joe used, but he didn't tell me what went into his creation.

I enjoyed it so much that I finished the entire quart after dinner. It must not have been exceptionally high in alcohol content either, because even after the quart was drained, I felt no effects. That's a good thing.

In sum, Joe Skelly turned out a damned fine brew, and if Uno's brewer Mike Sella ever organizes a homebrew tasting at Uno's, he should make sure Joe's IPA is entered. If a liberal Democrat can make a beer worthy of the homebrewing Minutemen of the American Revolution, I can ignore his politics.

Provided, of course, that he sends me another quart.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Uno's Holiday Homerun

Tom Corrigan, manager of Uno's Grill and Brewery on Rt. 1 in Metuchen, NJ should get some kind of recognition from Jersey beer nuts for his unfailing commitment to the craft. Here's a guy who for years has been waging a one-man battle with the corporate suits at Uno's to maintain a solid craft beer presence at his restaurant.

There are some 170 Uno's around the world and the only one with a brewery in it is the one in Metuchen. You might think that distinction would garner some special effort--if not recognition--for Corrigan and his head brewer Mike Sella, but I challenge you to find anything in the monthly or quarterly Uno's Newsletter that even acknowledges the existence of the brewpub.

Thankfully, enough of the Uno's brewpub faithful are fully aware that there is good stuff to be had here, and that's due to Corrigan's commitment and Sella's product. Some healthy numbers-about 24--turned out to sample Corrigan's menu magic and Sella's ever-evolving Seasonal Scotch Ale and legendary Porter. I was on hand to provide my usual contribution of lame jokes and half-witty repartée, and the dinner was thoroughly enjoyed by all despite my efforts.

A Mozzarella--wrapped prosciutto with special mustard was accompanied by Mike's solid 32-Inning Pale Ale. Corrigan then sent out Uno's Good Guy Lenny with trays of Pineapple-Orange Shrimp and Mango-Ginger Shrimp to be enjoyed with a classic wit known as Hoegaarden. The match was superb according to the assembly. Uno's piping hot French Onion soup appeared next, joined by Spaten Oktoberfest (hey, who said Oktoberfest beers can only be drunk in August?). Then a Mesclun Salad with Blackberry and Pomegranate dressing made its appearance, linked with Great Divide's (Rasp)Berry Ale.

These outstanding dishes, however, served only as a warmup to the star of the show entreé--a Cab Crusted Pepper Steak that was melt-in-your-mouth good. The steak was a clear hit with the crowd with nearly everyone exclaiming of its virtuous qualities. (Beer drinkers tend to exclaim as the night wears on.) Though everyone was pretty well full after the main course, most bit the bullet to find room for the Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae dessert, trundled out to ooh's and aah's--and Mike's Gust 'N' Gale Porter. That brew always brings a wide smile to the face of Uno's regular Joe Skelly, who will very likely one-day be firmly ensconced in the White House as an adviser, though probably not to a Republican president.

The evening concluded with a story of how angels became fixtures atop Christmas trees and a "12 days of Christmas" visual interpretation by 12 sated volunteers. Two lucky interpreters--five golden rings and eight maids a-milking-- walked home with growlers of Mike's brews. The rest of us walked out to the bar to extend the festivities.

The beer dinners--at $45 (less tip) are a bargain and a boon for both food and beer lovers. Maybe if enough of them e-mail Uno's website and say as much, Corrigan's and Sella's efforts may get some well deserved R & R.

As in Recognition--and Raises.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 26, 2007

The James D'heron Memorial Foundation

Jimmy D's story is a powerful and heroic one--so much so that a beer--Jimmy D's Firehouse Red--was created in his memory by Brewmaster Matt McCord at the Harvest Moon brewpub in New Brunswick, NJ.

If you've never been to the Moon when they celebrate Jimmy's life, you're missing an incredible event. This year's bash is on January 20, 2008. But here's a hint: get there early--and tell them The PubScout sent you! But there's even an uspide to getting there gets so crowded, you couldn't fall down if you tried!

Explore the site, learn about Jimmy D and the great work going on in his memory, and check out the events! See you there!


The James D'heron Memorial Foundation

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Box of Beer? Novel idea!

Beer in a boxdOur friends at the Ship Inn (NJ's FIRST brewpub, located in Milford, NJ) have come up with a way to buy fresh beer in bulk and keep it fresher longer...

Take  a box of freshly brewed Milford Ale .
Our Price:   5 liter   $17 
                   10 liter  $27
What we like about the new Boxes of Beer:
More Beer: the 5 liter box works out to around $2.00 per pint . It's even less for the 10 liter box.
Lasts Longer after Opening:
The collapsible bag inside allows you to pour the beer without letting in air. The flavor will keep for weeks rather than days. it's perfect for our cask- conditioned ale.
Toss the box when you're finished. Keep the tap for your next box.

Visit the site at

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Blast from the Past

 USA Today writes up The PubScout at the start of his career!

Breaking Beer News!





on Wednesday, November 28, owners Kevin Finn, Kevin Davies and Mark Edelson of Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant will celebrate the opening of their newest location on the 781 Block of Harrisburg Pike, across from Franklin & Marshall College's campus, with a festive toast.  Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Baldrige, Franklin & Marshall Vice President for Administrative Services and External Affairs Keith Orris and James Street Improvement District Deputy Director Marshall Snively, along with the Iron Hill founders, will join together in pouring the first beer from the award-winning brewery.  The restaurant will open for business at 5 pm.


"We're simply thrilled to be opening in our latest location in Lancaster," says Finn. "We pride ourselves with creating a comfortable, casual, worry and hurry-free dining experience for our customers. These simple standards are the key to our success."


After the "first pour," all PRESS are invited to enjoy a complimentary dinner featuring Iron Hill's inventive menu of New American cuisine and award-winning handcrafted brews.


For press who wish to attend the First Pour and then sit down for dinner, please rsvp to or call 215.985.2106 by Tuesday, November 27, so that we can make a reservation.


Monday, November 19, 2007

You're the Pro!

Beer is not an elitist beverage, and you don't need someone else to tell you what you should like. If you enjoy it, that's enough. What's more, you can tell everyone else why you liked a particular beer by going to

Membership is free, and the site is LOADED with information about beers. Don't delay...just go! It's fun and informative. Maybe you'll come across the beer that will make this holiday at your house a memorable one!

(Just don't get cocky and think you can have MY job....)

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

 You might need to settle down with a good Old Chub (Oskar Blues), Old Fezziwig(SA) or Oatmeal Stout after this....

YouTube - Trigger Happy TV - Chimneysweep

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Like Philly Cheese Steaks?

I'm a Philly Cheese Steak fanatic as well as a beer nut. Tonight I tasted what may be the finest Philly Cheese Steak in NJ. Had it at a little oldies bar in Sayreville on Washington Rd. called Wally's.

Big soft roll, real thin-sliced steak--not Steak-ums, perfectly done onions and peppers and riddled with a super cheddar cheese--absolutely delicious. It matched up very nicely with a Sam Adams Boston Lager. It came with a side of what may be the best homemade cole slaw I ever had as well.

Friendly folks, clean place, nice oldies-type crowd--a great bar to hit if you're in Central NJ, into oldies and want outstanding, reasonably priced food and drink. I'll be back for sure. Wally's Bar, Sayreville, NJ.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The History of Beer

Want a nice site for some basic information about the history of our favorite beverage? Click below! Foster's sponsors the site. 

History of Beer

GABF 2007-WTF?

By Kurt Epps—The PubScout

October 21, 2007


Let's get something straight right off the bat. Everyone who loves beer should make at least ONE trip to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Seriously. Just like Muslims should make at least one trip to Mecca for the religious experience, though finding any beer there might be tough.

It certainly isn't difficult to find in Denver in mid-October, though. Hundreds of breweries, thousands of beers, but only three days to sample them all. It's a religious experience, for sure.

The problem is many beer lovers, especially those from New Jersey, don't always have the time or money to make the trek. New Jersey requires that our time is spent working, and the money we make from working is sent mostly to a large golden-domed toilet in Trenton, where it is re-distributed to special plumbers known as Legislators and their friends, known as cronies and hacks, who keep the toilet operating.

But I digress. Unable to make the trip this year, I had to satisfy my GABF craving by going to the website to find out which beers won top honors this year, hoping to see some of my Jersey brews named as winners. Jersey has had multiple winners in the past and deservedly so. Jersey brewers make some great beer.

But imagine my surprise when I got to the site to see the winners, and not only was there no evidence of any NJ brewers entered in the competition, Jersey wasn't even listed as a state in the "Search" drop-down menu!

WTF? (Where's the Foam?)

I know at least one brewer in our state sent some of his excellent beer out there to compete. What happened to it? Did it get lost? Waylaid? Mishandled and spoiled?

[Gasp!] Rejected?

More importantly, were there no other entrants from the Garden State?

As I get older, I admit my memory is not what it used to be. Nor is my memory what it used to be. But I can't remember a GABF without a single Jersey representative—ever.

Is it possible that Jersey brewers opted out of this year's contest? Maybe our Garden State Craft Brewers Guild can shed some light on this puzzlement?

Because the only explanation I can come up with for no Jersey brewery or brewpub entrants is they were all working too hard to produce more beer to make more money to send to the Golden Loo in Trenton.

WTF is the question of the day. Anybody have an answer?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thank God for guys like these

I'd be honored to have a beer with these the link below for a truly inspiring--and unbelieveable--story...


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Gotta try this Bad Boy…

By Kurt Epps—The PubScout

October 9, 2007

The sacrifices we beer writers make in pursuit of excellence in our craft often go unsung. You folks who read our stuff figure we have perhaps the best job in the world (considering how many of you have offered to be our "assistants"). And you won't get much of an argument from me. But every job has its drawbacks, and beer writing is no exception.

For example, if we're not careful, our craft will permanently force us to do all our shopping in the Extra Large Men's Section of Walmart. And tasting sessions that last a long time are usually accompanied by the concomitant rise in the volume of our voices (why is that, anyway?)—which is probably why we write instead of speak.

And few people think of the Herculean restraint we need to evaluate a beer, especially when it's a great one. The beer writer is, after all, a beer lover, and when he finds one that hits all the right notes, it takes the patience of Job to limit our intake so we can be fair and focused in our evaluation. Also so we can write legibly enough to translate our tasting notes when we get back home.

Such was the case when I went to fulfill a promise to you, dear reader. In my last blog, I waxed orgasmic over Mike Sella's (Uno's of Metuchen) magnificent Oktoberfest—2007 Edition. I claimed that it was definitely Mike's best O-Fest so far, and maybe the best in Jersey, which these days, is saying something. I qualified the praise by admitting I had not yet sampled the Bitting's Bad Boy Oktoberfest concocted by JJ Bitting's hard-working brewer Augie Lightfoot.

So being the dedicated beer writer that I am, I found my way to Bitting's to see if Augie's Bad Boy could match Mike's, not to mention live up to the Bad Boy that won a Bronze at the GABF some years ago.

It does both. This is a slightly sweeter marzen than Mike's, possessing a beautiful orange/amber color and a rich, toasty, malty nose. Augie allowed that he brewed this batch with extra malt. The Bad Boy registers a tad above 6.5% ABV. The head disappeared pretty quickly, but the flavor more than compensated for it. At just $2 a pint during Happy Hour, which comes with free hot munchies, this beer is a definite winner. It would probably earn a medal at the GABF had Augie been able to find the time to organize the process. But Augie's a busy man these days, wearing more than just a brewer's hat at the Woodbridge pub hard by the NJ Transit tracks and Woodbridge train station.

Bad Boy is not just a good beer—it's a great beer, exceptionally smooth and true to style. The problem with it, as with Mike Sella's or Dave Hoffman's, is the one I mentioned at the top of the story: You don't want to stop at one.

The good news is that you don't have to. Both Bitting's and Uno's have growlers available for take out so you can enjoy as many as you want at home. This way you avoid causing problems on the roads and running afoul of the law.

But you won't avoid the Large Men's Section at Walmart.

And on a beer writer's pay, that's where you'll be buying your wardrobe. Unless there's a sale at Target.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Speaking of Octoberfest Beer

October 3, 2007

By Kurt Epps—The PubScout

Back in mid-September, by which time Prince Ludwig's Munchen sated revelers have begun to loll along the cobblestone streets, I stopped by Uno's in Metuchen, NJ to see if Brewer Mike Sella had presented his seasonal Oktoberfest. To my chagrin, he had not, which I found somewhat odd, since his Fest is usually available by then. Mike makes some great beer, but his Oktoberfest is usually brilliant.

Today I found out why it was delayed. GM Tom Corrigan discovered that last year's early release was so popular with beer drinkers that they ran out before Mike's Annual Oktoberfest Beer Dinner—which he runs (very un-Germanlike) in October. Had Mike not had the foresight to squirrel a keg away, our 2006 Ein Prosit! Dinner would not have been the blast that it was.

Anyway, in an attempt to avoid running out too soon this year, the beer cognoscenti in Uno's (Mike and Tom) decided to hold off a few weeks. Having just tasted the 2007 edition of Mike's Oktoberfest, I can tell you this was very likely a prudent move.

The 2007 version is, in my humble and besotted opinion, the absolute best batch of Oktoberfest he has yet created at Uno's. This beer, with a beautiful amber color, a sweet, bready nose and a very smooth malty taste can rival any Oktoberfest made in the state of NJ. And that's saying a lot, because a German/Jersey boy from Roselle Park named Dave Hoffman has a Climax O-fest will knock your lederhosen off. (I haven't yet sampled Augie Lightfoot's version at JJ Bittings in Woodbridge, but I heard it's also outstanding. Give me time.)

Bottom line?

If you're anywhere near Uno's on Rt. 1 South in Metuchen, NJ, make a beeline for the bar and ask for Mike's Oktoberfest. I had it with a wonderful dish called Honey Crisp Chicken Salad and the pair worked perfectly. Having the salad made me guilt-free enough to pick up a growler of the Oktoberfest to enjoy at home tonight.

Fair warning, folks. Don't wait. Because if you do, you'll miss an exceptional beer-tasting experience.

And, even under pain of death, Mike and I will not reveal where the spare keg for the November Oktoberfest dinner is stored….

Saturday, September 29, 2007

O-Fest 07

The more things change…

Basil T's Toms River Oktoberfest 07

Saturday, September 29, 2007


By Kurt Epps—The PubScout


Much of what made the Basil T's 2004 Oktoberfest a smashing success remained in place for Oktoberfest 2007. I could probably save myself some time by just digging up and republishing my story about that 2004 Blast from the Past, but even that story couldn't capture accurately the upbeat atmosphere of the 2007 edition. The "Petes" (if you need to ask, you weren't there…sorry) proclaimed that this year's was "the best ever." They also proclaimed that from now on "we're going to do this every year." That's good news for great beer and great food lovers.


Nor would republishing the old column recognize some changes that have taken place at Basil's since I last hosted Basil T's O-Fest. Paramount among them is the name of the brewer. It's a name most US beer lovers will recognize—Dave Hoffman of Climax Brewing.


Anyone who has tasted Dave's handiwork (and that includes the late, great Michael Jackson) knows that the Hoffman name on a beer label pretty much guarantees satisfaction, regardless of style. And now Dave performs his alchemical wizardry on a regular basis about 60 miles south of his home base in Roselle Park. Dave and the GSP have become fast friends, except perhaps for last night when a monumental traffic jam started at about 4:30 PM near the 109 exit and became nearly impassable from Asbury Park to exit 82 where The "Pete's" place is located.


That tieup actually forced Master Chef (not Master Chief, Halo 3 fans) Steve Farley to postpone his 6:30 planned start for 45 minutes to allow those caught in the mess to enjoy the whole show from the start.


And enjoy it they did, regardless of start time. One of the "constants" from last time was the culinary magic of Steve Farley, whose fare never fails. A delectable Bavarian Shrimp Cocktail was followed by an outtasight German Veal Ravioli and a traditional O-Fest Wurst platter which included Brat, Bock and Bauern varieties.


Dave Hoffman paired those choices with his Hefeweizen, his Helles and a to-die-for Vienna Lager respectively. One wag suggested Dave call his Vienna XXX (Triple Equis) in a nod to the Mexican-made but German-brewed XX (Dos Equis) which is also a Vienna Lager.


Farley's Main Course--Smoked Pork Loin with Beer sauce, spaetzle, homemade apple sauce, sweet and sour red cabbage and potato pancakes--was exceptionally flavorful and succulent. It was accompanied superbly by Dave's Oktoberfest. If there's anyone who can make a true-to style Marzen, it's Bavarian Dave, son of Bavarian Kurt.


The Black Forest Cake (also known as SchwarzeWald Kuche) was so heavy the Dirndl Girls needed two hands to hold one plate. Farley winked slyly when he said this was the calorie-free version. It was absolutely wonderful, and it went well with the only non-Basil's beer of the night—Spaten Optimator. This double bock will match pretty well with any chocolate dessert, and, on chill fall and winter evenings, it's great as a standalone.


So the menu was classic, the beer choices were very complementary and the fact that they flowed in a seemingly unending bucket brigade staffed by those delightful Dirndl Beauties made for a most memorable event.


It was nice to see Brewer's Artist Gregg Hinlicky and his wife Celeste on hand for the event, and former Basil's brewer Tom Paffrath—who founded the Basil T's O-Fest—was also on hand with his wife Patti for some well-deserved recognition.


The Dirndl Beauties, as essential to the success of the night as yours truly and the Firehouse Polka Band, also changed. They are kind of like Radio City Music Hall's Rockettes. Replacements come and go, but the legend remains. For this dinner, only one Dirndl Beauty was a veteran of the last dinner—HS teacher Margaret Wilkins—and she hasn't aged a bit since she started. In fact, like a good barleywine, she gets better with age and she could pass for a student.


She was part of an efficient, friendly (not to mention gorgeous) team which consisted of Mandy Melo, Stacie Cirrincione, Tara Williams, Heidi Scamperino (hey, I don't name them, I just report them), Antonette Martinez (who's Irish…go figure), Theresa Skowronski, and Kim Azaceta. Their efficiency, great sense of humor and dedication to their customers were major reasons for the success of O-Fest 07.


And speaking of good humor, I have to mention one guy in particular. Gary. What a great sport! He took a ribbing all night—not just from me, either. And he handled it like a champ. His wife is a lucky woman, no matter what she says. I think Gary's last name was Gherkin….


Based upon last night's comments, this was the Best O-Fest yet. If you weren't here, you should order your tickets for next year's Fest as soon as they become available. And whatever date it's set for, leave a day early to avoid the Parkway traffic.


For a link to the pics from the Fest go here:


©Kurt Epps 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007

Beyond the Pale—on the passing of Michael Jackson

Beyond the Pale

By Kurt Epps

August 31, 2007


Michael Jackson, the Beer Hunter, has been called home--probably for consultation-- by the Head Brewer.


The Beer World will miss him, though it will not forget him. The many current tributes will, properly, chronicle his titanic presence (now absence) on the world beer scene. Wonderful and appropriately laudatory commentaries will be penned, and that's as it should be.


But let's keep this in mind, too.


Michael Jackson was a regular guy. I mean that in the highest sense of the word. Because regular guys are the salt of this earth. At the risk of sounding ungrammatical, he was the type of guy that Everyman would enjoy hoisting a brew with. To me, that's what the whole beer business should be about--good beer and good people to share it.


Sure, he had his patented shtick when performing, and most of us, who sat at his feet like Socrates' students, knew all the lines and when they would come. And, like children who ask for the same bedtime stories, we enjoyed the show. Who can forget the classic pairing of Richie Stolarz and Jackson at any beer event?


Did he know his beer? Yup. Did he have a wealth of knowledge and experience? yup. Was he revered? Yup.


But after it all, he'd sit down with any of us, hoist a glass and just shoot the sh!t without pretense or show. He knew that with beer there are no experts, though he was considered one. While he may have enjoyed the celebrity, he enjoyed life more, and that enjoyment was marked by his love of the average guy's beverage.


To me, Jackson's legacy will not be his monumental importance to the Beer World. It will be the fact that his life was a testimony to the importance of the regular guy.


So now another regular guy goes home. We all shall follow in our own time, because perfect health is, after all, merely the slowest way to die. But what lessens the import of that sad fact is that, while we're here, we can follow Michael Jackson's lead and enjoy the life alloted to us.


I'm raising my next pint to The Beer Hunter--and all the regular guys he represented.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Don't Miss This Baby...

Basil T's Toms River is firing up another of its highly acclaimed Oktoberfest Beer Dinners. The date is set for Friday, September 28, 2007 at the upscale Hooper Ave. location.

The last time this event was held it was an overwhelming success, and this year's should be no different. No less a beer dinner authority than the ubiquitous and knowledgeable Mark Haynie claimed in his review of the event that he had been to many beer dinners, but this one was without a doubt the best he had ever attended.

There's good reason for that, too. BTTR goes all out, as a quick look at the menu in the post below will attest. Steve Farley is a wizard in the kitchen. The Firehouse Polka Band, the stunning, efficient and friendly "Dirndl Beauties" who serve, the top-notch food and the beers of Dave Hoffman (Climax Brewing) combine to produce what should be a memorable night.

I'll be on hand for my usual schtick and comic relief, maybe even with a few new jokes. So gussy yourselves up, bring your most photogenic smiles (your smiling face could easily be featured here) and be prepared for a great time.

Bring a big appetite, and don't forget your singing voice, because "Ein Prosit der Gemutlichkeit" is the featured song of the night. But remember that seating is limited, so you want to make your reservations early.

See you down at Basil T's Toms River!

Basil T’s Toms River Oktoberfest 07



































"Gut Essen, Gut Trinken"



Sunday, July 22, 2007

An interesting addition to your Lawnmower collection

Just finished washing and waxing the Santa Fe. Hit the fridge and saw a Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat. It wasn't yet sunset, but I figured, "What the hey?"

Poured it slowly into a clean pint glass and sniffed. Hmmm...interesting methinks.
Sipped. Hmmm...what is that taste? Clove? Nah. Bubblegum? Nah. I couldn't nail it, even though the glass was now drained. What to do?


Pour another. (Hey. car washing is hard work, pal. I earned it.)

And then I found the flavor....
Yep. Pepper.
Or at least that's what it tasted like to me. No problem, though. It was different and real good.
Does Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat make my Lawnmower Beer list?
And it should make yours, too.
Now get out there. There are lawns to be mowed and cars to be washed.

Lawnmower Beers


First, I need to define what a "Lawnmower" beer is. Simply put, it's a beer you sit down to after you've done physical labor, like mowing the lawn, yard work, a workout at the gym or on your bike--anything which requires the the expending of physical energy, which , in turn, creates a sweat.

For those sessions, I reach for a beer that is, first of all, refreshing and thirst-quenching. A hefeweizen, flavored or otherwise, is usually a sound choice. But a good Kolsch or quality pilsner can also serve.

I'm particularly fond of SA's Cherry Wheat, Hefeweizen or Summer Ale, but Sea Dog's Blueberry Wheat is also a great choice.

Of late, I have discovered Harpoon's Summer Beers, and there are a few that can qualify as good choices.

Most of us recognize the term UFO, and you might qualify as one if you have too many Lawnmower Beers in succession, but Harpoon's definition is for UnFiltered Offering. Both of these are worth your time. The first, with a blue label, is just UFO. It's a standard hefeweizen, true to style though perhaps a bit lighter in color than some hefes. Crisp and refreshing, it will slake that yardwork thirst pretty effectively while delivering nice wheat notes in both nose and palate. A nice bitter finish rounds out the experience.

The second is Raspberry Hefeweizen, distinguished by its red label emblazoned with a ringed framboise. Like its sister, this beer is crisp and refreshing, and the raspberry nose is definitely present, though it doesn't overpower on the palate. The raspberry notes are not sweet, but tantalizingly tart, and it, too, will quench that workout thirst. Raspberries will linger on the tongue in the finish.

The third suggestion is named simply Summer Beer, and it's served up in the classic Kolsch style. With its smooth mouthfeel, this golden light-bodied beer should please both beer nut and newbies alike. It makes a nice transition beer for those who are tentatively venturing into the world of craft beers.

So get out the mower, clippers and weedwhackers, spruce up your property, put the gear away and relax with one of these as you contemplate your handiwork.

That's what summer is for.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Birthday America::By Armstrong Williams

French Writer and politician Alexis de Tocqueville noted over a century ago:

"I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there; in the fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good – and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."


Inserted from <>

Independence Day

Worth recalling on July 4, below Day Messages From John Adams::By Michael Medved

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Written April 19, 1860; first published in 1863 as part of "Tales of a Wayside Inn"

Listen my children and you shall hear

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,

On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;

Hardly a man is now alive

Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march

By land or sea from the town to-night,

Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch

Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--

One if by land, and two if by sea;

And I on the opposite shore will be,

Ready to ride and spread the alarm

Through every Middlesex village and farm,

For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar

Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,

Just as the moon rose over the bay,

Where swinging wide at her moorings lay

The Somerset, British man-of-war;

A phantom ship, with each mast and spar

Across the moon like a prison bar,

And a huge black hulk, that was magnified

By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street

Wanders and watches, with eager ears,

Till in the silence around him he hears

The muster of men at the barrack door,

The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,

And the measured tread of the grenadiers,

Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,

By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,

To the belfry chamber overhead,

And startled the pigeons from their perch

On the sombre rafters, that round him made

Masses and moving shapes of shade,--

By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,

To the highest window in the wall,

Where he paused to listen and look down

A moment on the roofs of the town

And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,

In their night encampment on the hill,

Wrapped in silence so deep and still

That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,

The watchful night-wind, as it went

Creeping along from tent to tent,

And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"

A moment only he feels the spell

Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread

Of the lonely belfry and the dead;

For suddenly all his thoughts are bent

On a shadowy something far away,

Where the river widens to meet the bay,--

A line of black that bends and floats

On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,

Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride

On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.

Now he patted his horse's side,

Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,

Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,

And turned and tightened his saddle girth;

But mostly he watched with eager search

The belfry tower of the Old North Church,

As it rose above the graves on the hill,

Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.

And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height

A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!

He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,

But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight

A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,

A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,

And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark

Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;

That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,

The fate of a nation was riding that night;

And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,

Kindled the land into flame with its heat.

He has left the village and mounted the steep,

And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,

Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;

And under the alders that skirt its edge,

Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,

Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock

When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.

He heard the crowing of the cock,

And the barking of the farmer's dog,

And felt the damp of the river fog,

That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,

When he galloped into Lexington.

He saw the gilded weathercock

Swim in the moonlight as he passed,

And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,

Gaze at him with a spectral glare,

As if they already stood aghast

At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,

When he came to the bridge in Concord town.

He heard the bleating of the flock,

And the twitter of birds among the trees,

And felt the breath of the morning breeze

Blowing over the meadow brown.

And one was safe and asleep in his bed

Who at the bridge would be first to fall,

Who that day would be lying dead,

Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read

How the British Regulars fired and fled,---

How the farmers gave them ball for ball,

From behind each fence and farmyard wall,

Chasing the redcoats down the lane,

Then crossing the fields to emerge again

Under the trees at the turn of the road,

And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;=

And so through the night went his cry of alarm

To every Middlesex village and farm,---

A cry of defiance, and not of fear,

A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,

And a word that shall echo for evermore!

For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,

Through all our history, to the last,

In the hour of darkness and peril and need,

The people will waken and listen to hear

The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,

And the midnight message of Paul Revere.










Historical Documents


National Center Home Page




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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

American Colonial Beer

Below: As the nation prepares to celebrate its 231st birthday, check out these interesting facts about America's Colonial brewing days...

American Colonial Beer

History of Beer

Foster's has a nice, concise history of our favorite beverage. Click the link below: 

History of Beer

Theodore Roosevelt on Immigrants and being an AMERICAN

Theodore Roosevelt on Immigrants and being an AMERICAN


"In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."


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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Raritan Bay, Perth Amboy, NJ after a passing storm 
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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The PubScout Archives

To read some of The Pubscout's early ruminations, go here:

Monday, June 18, 2007


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Hallmark's He-Man Father's Day Card

McGillin's is a must visit!

The new Sam Adams glass

Cognizant of my love of good beer, my family gave me a Father's day present of beer glasses. That's glasses, as in drinking; not goggles as in post-drinking. The new, interestingly and pleasingly shaped vessels are touted by Sam Adams and Jim Koch as a new way to fully appreciate beer, with a strong suggestion that his product be the one to fill them. That product sure looks good in the promo pics.

I've got no problem with that, as SA beers have been among my top choices for many years. It's Summer as I write, and if there's a better after-yardwork or exercise beer than SA Cherry Wheat, I've yet to have it. There are others equally satisfying, of course, but none better. So I was looking forward to my first Cherry Wheat in Sam's new glass after my afternoon bike ride.

According to the neat little booklet that accompanies the glassware, every component of the glass's anatomy is specifically designed to perform a certain function that enhances the beer sensory experience. At the very top of the glass, the "Bead" is designed to "create turbulence" which releases flavor and aroma as the beer enters the mouth. The narrowing at the top of the glass supposedly retains hop aroma and sustains the head. The rounded shape (which you probably wrap your top two fingers around when drinking) collects aromas. And laser etchings on the bottom of the glass--like the kind in some of those real fancy Belgian style glasses--create bubbles for constant aroma release. The "Outward Lip" of the glass is supposed to deliver beer to the front of the tongue which is where sweetness is tasted, and the thinner walls and rounded shape are supposed to maintain proper beer temperature longer.

The experts who analyzed the glass all came away praising what it does, at least for Sam Adams Boston Lager, the company's flagship beer. The booklet didn't say what effect all the nuances of the glassware had on other beers.

But I can tell you. None.

It did allow for an effortless "perfect pour," and it is an elegant and handsome design. But those two things may have been the demise of my glass's efficiency.

Sweating from my ride, I hung up my bike and removed my helmet and gear. I went to the fridge and grabbed a cold Cherry Wheat. I poured it into this culmination of the glassblower's art. With its perfect head and aesthetically pleasing shape, the beer was absolutely beautiful.

I sniffed, as is my wont, and the redolence of subtle cherry struck my olfactories. Bingo!

I started to drink. And never stopped.

Before I knew it the glass was empty, though I could still smell cherries when I tried to reach the remaining drops of beer with my tongue. I got no sense of the Bead, because the only turbulence created was the rush of the beer into my thirsty maw. Nor could I appreciate the Narrowing, the Rounded Shape, the Thinner Walls, the Outward Lip or the Laser Etchings (though I tried to touch them with my tongue).

My lesson was simple. This new glass is no good for chugging. But that's Jim Koch's fault for making his Cherry Wheat so damned appealing on a hot summer afternoon.

I promise, therefore to try again...this time with a beer I can savor at a time when I'm not overly thirsty.
Whew! All this writing is taxing work. I'll get to my experiment later.
Let me just try this SA Hefeweizen first.

©Kurt Epps 2007 All rights reserved
Kurt Epps
The PubScout

You've got to hand it to the Sumerians--inventing BOTH writing
AND beer!