Saturday, October 27, 2007
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
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?
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?
Friday, October 12, 2007
One of Perth Amboy's best and brightest ...my prayers and sympathy for his loved ones....
Thursday, October 11, 2007
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.)
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….