Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Black (Velvet) Ops

What better way to finish off a Christmas Day than with a bottle of this Black Liquid Velvet Stout. As indicated in my previous post, this beer does not exist--officially. But unofficially--Wow!

It pours like black velvet. Smooth, with a chocolate/coffee/toffee nose and a most distinctive and delightful vanilla finish, this is without a doubt a fine sipping, fireside beer for a chill winter's eve. Best sampled at home (a 10.7% ABV in a 1 pt. 9 oz. bottle makes that a smart move), this is perhaps the finest stout I've ever tasted--and I've had some knockouts. That bourbon-barrel aging is clearly detectable on both palate and in the nose.

It's a big, satisfying, warming beer that will be at home apres ski or apres Wii. Drinking it during Wii or Xbox 360, however, is NOT recommended, as you will be too distracted by this baby to fight off any attackers in Call of Duty--World at War. In fact, the world wouldn't even BE at war, if the citizens of all countries (except maybe the equatorial ones) could be provided with a bottle of this peacemaker.

If there's a stout-lover on your Christmas list, pick him or her up one of these, and you'll never be forgotten. Tell them to curl up in their Barcalounger, pop the cork top, pour into a nice beer glass, put on "It's A Wonderful Life," and sit back. Your own personal angel will be along shortly.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Mama is in her kerchief, and I'm in my cap getting ready to settle down for a long winter's nap...a nap that will likely be brought on by my ceremonial opening of a Christmas Eve bottle of Brooklyn Brewing's "Black Ops."

What is "Black Ops" you ask?

According to its label, "it's the beer that doesn't exist...if it did exist, it would be a robust stout concocted by the Brooklyn brewing team under cover of secrecy and hidden from everyone else at the brewery. Supposedly, "Black Ops" was aged for four months in bourbon barrels, bottled flat and re-fermented with champagne yeast, creating big chocolate and coffee flavors with a rich underpinning of vanilla-like oak notes. They say there are only 1,000 cases. We have no idea what they're talking about."

Me neither.

But I'll have a better idea by midnight. After all, Santa's the classic "Black Ops" model. I'll pour a flagon for him.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's Jimmy D time soon!

Mark your calendars for Sunday, January 18, 2009. That's the date for the Annual Jimmy D fundraiser at the Harvest Moon Brewpub in New Brunswick, NJ. The event honors the memory of Jimmy D'heron, the New Brunswick firefighter who, four years ago, gave his life so that 15 others could live.
Jimmy D's Firehouse Red Ale will be flowing, along with many more of Brewer Matt McCord's malt masterpieces, and a portion of all the proceeds will go to helping burn victims. Here's the site with the info.
Just a word of warning: go early and reserve your spot on the floor. Once it starts filling up with revelers, you might not be able to see the floor, and you sure won't be able to fall down. Sure an' it's a site to behold when the Middlesex Pipe and Drum Corps comes a-marching in! Ah, it's a party that needs the likes of you to help us celebrate!

Cheers! (Click "Cheers" for a pic!)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Suspicious Preposition and a Winter’s Ale

bY Kurt Epps—The PubScout

Winter's the time for big, warming beers in my house, and whenever I see one that I haven't added to my regular winter repertoire, I pick up a sixer and say, "What-the hey!"

So I brought home some Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale (it's supposedly been available for a few years, though I'd never seen it) and popped the top. The label advises: "An auburn-colored brew with a smooth robust taste, full of rich aromas, hints of vanilla and flavorful hops." The description is apt, as the beer delivers on all counts. In fact, the more the beer warms up, the more it delivers to the palate.

On the main front label I read, "Winter Ale Aged on Bourbon Oak Casks and Whole Madagascar Vanilla Beans." I do not doubt the Vanilla Beans , as they were definitely—although not cloyingly—present in a very nice taste experience. Nor did I doubt the Bourbon Oak Casks addendum, as I distinctly tasted the lovely pirouette of Oak and Bourbon as they danced through the finish. In all, a very nice beer, and proof that when Busch brewers want to make a good beer, they can. For this beer is made by Michelob Brewing Co. (AKA AB), and it's very well done. Again, I think it's best warmed a bit, but it will easily find a spot as a winter session beer in my house—especially at $6.99 a six.

But I was bothered a bit by a preposition. "Winter Ale Aged ON Bourbon Oak Casks…"

ON? ON Bourbon Oak Casks? Not IN Bourbon Oak Casks? What's this? Some sort of trick by AB? They're just putting this beer on top of an oak barrel to trick us?

Not really. To learn more about barrel aging, visit Jill Perillo's site. It's essentially a wine site, but the info is good. Another good site for barrel aging of beer is CHOW. From what I can determine, "on" and "in" are used pretty much interchangeably when discussing aging of liquor in barrels. In fact, the whole subject of barrel aging could make a fascinating topic for a term paper requirement. One source even cites a renewed interest in oak barreling as a "Viagra" for many spirits. This column's not going there, but wood and the effects of Viagra have indeed been linked in popular idiom for hundreds of years.

The bottom line here is not the wood, but the beer. This beer is delightful to look at, has a very interesting and complex nose, is as smooth as advertised, delivers a pleasant taste to the palate and is certainly worth a try. There is not much appreciable hop presence though Hallertau and Alsace hops are purported to be in there, and the beer checks in at 6% ABV. No one is suggesting Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale as a replacement for a Belgian trippel. It might not elicit ooh's and aah's from those who see St. Louis as anathema to "real" microbrews, but the fact is this beer is very drinkable and worth its price.

Cheers and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

‘Tis the Season!

The Important Things in Life

This anonymous piece is at least six years old, but worth reading every so often—just to keep things in proper perspective.

Merry Christmas!

A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, rocks about 2" in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The students laughed. The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

"Now," said the professor, "I want you to recognize that this is your life.

The rocks are the important things - your family, your partner, your health, your children - things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else. The small stuff." "If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

But then a student took the jar which the other students and the professor agreed was full, and proceeded to pour in a glass of beer. Of course the beer filled the remaining spaces within the jar making the jar truly full.

The moral of this tale is: No matter how full your life is, there is always room for a BEER!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Big Beers in Big Beer Bottles

Don Russell (Joe Sixpack) is not only a great beer writer, he's a great guy to quaff with. His column this week on Big Beer Bottles is timely--what with the holidays approaching, and it features one of my all-time favorites for the dark winter season--Pranqster. I link to his column this week in the hope that you'll not only find some great beers for the holidays, but that you'll find some great beers to give as gifts to those who point you to great beers for the holidays...Click below.

Joe Sixpack - Reporting and drinking beer in Philly and beyond

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dick's Dock Oktoberfest another SRO hit

Dick's Dock, on Main St. in Metuchen, NJ, is not a big place by any stretch of the imagination. But it was certainly big enough to house a rollicking good time for the nearly seventy O-Festers who came to celebrate Prince Ludwig's marriage to Princess Therese.

Their spirits buoyed by Bob Dick's incomparable cuisine, a lineup of exceptional beers and an atmosphere ringing with the drinking songs of the Fatherland, the attendees ate, drank, sang and partied till nearly midnight.

Two local brewers, Mike Sella of Uno's Grill and Dave Hoffman of Climax Brewing, donated their superb beers to the event to help keep costs down. Mike Sella's fine Gust 'N' Gale Porter accompanied the dessert course, and Dave's Gold medal-winning Nut Brown Ale (Real Ale Festival, Chicago 1998) was served along with a hearty, tasty potato leek soup.

As usual, the waitstaff hustled all night long to serve the Festers, and Sandy, Mary Ellen, Juan and Javier got a well-deserved round of applause for their efforts. Yours truly made some feeble attempts at humor and gave valuable life lessons--like how to say "brassiere" in Deutsch. Sorry, no free lessons on this site.

The festgoers were obviously satisfied, as these pictures will attest. One table not only celebrated a special birthday, it sported two REAL Germans in Reiner and Laura, an au pair with a future in a dirndl (see photo above). Festers were in fine fettle all night long, and they appreciated the giveaways that Bob and Sandy provided. In all, a most satisfying and enjoyable night was had by everyone fortunate enough to have a seat in the sold-out restaurant.

Oh, and Mike Sella took the opportunity to remind everyone that his restaurant will be hosting its own beer dinner on November 17. Call Uno's for reservations--732-548-7979.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ein prosit to Oktoberfest - NJVoices: Paul Mulshine

The Star-Ledger's conservative columnist was in attendance at Basil T's in Toms River last week for the annual Oktoberfest celebration. Click below for his take on the evening. (Keep in mind that young folks haven't heard "old" jokes...)


Ein prosit to Oktoberfest - NJVoices: Paul Mulshine

Saturday, October 4, 2008

O-Fest 08

SRO-Fest at Basil T's

By Kurt Epps—The PubScout


If you run it right, they will come.

And come they did, to Basil T's in Toms River. The Gregorakis Brothers, both named Pete (due, no doubt, to some arcane Greek tradition called "momandouzo"), have managed to make this event better each year. So it should not be surprising that last year's count of 58 ballooned to 98, forcing the Petes to turn away fifteen folks and forcing the fun-loving guys in the Firehouse Polka Band to set up and play amid three tables full of O-Festers.

As they did last year, Beermeister Dave Hoffman and Chef Steve Farley crafted a beer and food extravaganza that had this year's attendees in awe. "The food this year was absolutely awesome," said Bob DePow , who has twice made the trek from his home in Perth Amboy. Some came from even farther away—like Branchburg—to participate in the revelry.

And revelry there was, including celebrating June's 65th birthday and the arrival of a first grandchild, courtesy of the Russell family. Andrew Russell entered the world at 6lbs., 8 oz. while his grandma and grandpa hoisted some Dunkel Weizen and ate Schwaibische Maultashen (a German ravioli with veal, vegetables and crisp onions). There were unconfirmed reports that, given the venue, the grandparents were lobbying for a German baby name.

There were even celebrities on hand this year, from Star Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine (which kind of looks and sounds like Maultashen after a few of Dave's Oktoberfests) and Gregg Hinlicky, beer artist extraordinaire. Jeff Linkous of The Beer Stained Letter blog was also on hand to enjoy his First Fest at Basil's.

The pairings of food and beer worked exceptionally well, from the Barnegat Light (which isn't light at all) and the Bavarian Shrimp, to the Pumpkin Porter and the Black Forest cake. The porter was malty, rich, toasty, and smooth. Colored a deep ruby/brown with the pumpkin notes gracefully understated, the Chocolate and Caramel malts in this 5.2% ABV delight worked well for those who don't like their pumpkin beer tasting like liquid pumpkin pie.


The Wurst course, with the most delectable weisswurst I've had so far this season, was accompanied by German mustards, gherkins and Dave's IPA.


The main course, heralded by the tapping of a traditional wooden keg of Dave's Oktoberfest, drew plaudits from every table, as the Pork Loin with beer sauce, potato pancakes and spaetzle was enhanced by Hoffman's classic Oktoberfest offering. There are some fine Oktoberfest beers in NJ this year, and Hoffman's always ranks exceptionally high for lovers of the style—like yours truly.


The oompah music, the singing of multiple "Ein Prosits," the fine food and beer and the general jollity of this very loud crowd (which is exactly what Oktoberfests are meant to be) all combined to produce a most festive occasion. The crowd was in such fine fettle that when door prizes were being picked and "Tina Fey" picked her own number, it erupted in cheers instead of "Fix! Fix!"


There are those who say Basil T's O-fest is the best in the state.

Surely no one at SRO-fest 08 would have disagreed.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fine (?) Living Network Beer Pairings

During a commercial of the Ravens/Steelers game, I surfed around (as is a guy's wont, prerogative and duty) and came upon a show called Beer Pairings. It was on a channel up in the 120's, I think, called FLN--the Fine Living Network.

There was this knockout blonde gal named Stephanie (Metzdorf?) in some lady's crab shack in Florida, getting ready to sample her Stone Crab Claws. If you were a guy, Stephanie was definitely worth watching, though her comments about the beer pairing were eminently forgettable. If you were a stone crab claw fan, they, too, were worth gawking at--big, fat and succulent.

But if you were a true beer aficionado, you couldn't have been blamed if you gagged when they paired the dish up with Corona--complete with lime. Most beer geeks would have immediately paired that crab with a good hefeweizen, kolsch, helles or pilsner.

Later segments, to the show's credit, used Sam Adams with filet mignon and Pilsner Urquell with a rib-eye. Though there were certainly other choices that would have worked, those pairings weren't unacceptable.

Since Stephanie was clearly a beer neophyte, and since it is likely that few true beer nuts ever heard of this show, and it may have been designed for the neophyte interested in how beer works with food. In that sense, the show deserves credit.

They even had Stone Brewing's Greg Koch on sharing his insights about beer and food, and he was, as expected, spot on. He touted, appropriately, Victory Prima Pils with one dish, and he scoffed at wine and cheese, claiming correctly that most cheeses are disasters with wine, though I hear almost any merlot goes exceptionally well with Velveeta... (Just kidding, winies.)

If you really know your beer, you'd probably think this show was pretty elementary. But let's not criticize to harshly any honest attempt to get average people to think about beer and food pairing. There should be more shows like this.

And maybe Stephanie would consider having a true beer nut accompany her on her travels?

That would be Fine Living for my Network.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Think Jersey, Drink Jersey!

Here's a neat little video from colleague Jeff Linkous over at

Cheers to Jeff and to all those who came out to the Central Jersey Charity Beerfest 2008 to help Kelly Mahon!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dick's Dock Oktoberfest Beer Dinner 10/20/08

If you're a seafood lover and you've never had the pleasure of dining at this little Metuchen restaurant, you're doing yourself a disservice. You simply won't find better, fresher seafood anywhere soon.

And when Bob Dick does a beer dinner, he brings the same style and panache to it as he does to his regular cooking Tuesdays through Sundays. His Oktoberfests are particularly noteworthy, not only because of the caliber of clientele they attract; but Bob shows he can strut his stuff just as well with the Food of the Fatherland as he does with the Flounder and the Fillets.

Check out this menu for Monday, October 20:

1st course: Beer and Brats on the Bar--Light and dark bratwursts, assorted homemade mustards and

Bob's Fabulous Crab Meat Mousse with assorted flatbreads and bagel chips

2nd course: Meat-Stuffed Cabbage with Special Sweet and Sour sauce

3rd course: Potato Leek Soup with Shredded Cheddar Cheese

4th course: German Cabbage Salad (cole slaw, no mayo) cucumber, carrot, onion, cabbage, red pepper in a vinaigrette.

5th course: German-style Sauerbraten with Vinegar Gravy and Vegetable Group (homestyle), Carrot Souffle, Potato Pancakes, apple sauce and sour cream

6th course: Dessert--the PubScout's Beer Float with Vanilla ice cream

As usual, I will be on hand to select the beers that accompany each course, as well as to provide special, um, insights to beer and world matters. We'll be singing some German songs, so come in good voice. Bob and Sandy usually always have a few great giveaways, too. One is a dinner for two at Dick's Dock (it's a BYO), so it's worth showing up just to get in that drawing.

Call Dick's Dock 732-744-1274 for reservations, and be a part of that heavy-hitting clientele! Hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

CNJ Beer Fest 2008

We Have a Winner!


By Kurt Epps—The PubScout

Talk about a perfect day, not to mention a worthy cause. This year's Central Jersey Beerfest 2008, spearheaded by JJ Bittings owner Mike Cerami, must have had the blessings of all the beer gods and their Boss.

Crystal clear, perfect weather, a shaded venue that seemed tailor-made for the event and crowds estimated above 1,000 made Parker Press Park the place to be on the last full day of summer 2008.

Eight breweries/brewpubs were on hand to proffer their beers. Bittings, Uno's, Climax, Cricket Hill, Tun Tavern, Boak's, Stone and River Horse were kept hustling, drawing brews for the sunsplashed and convivial crowds, as a band played boomer favorites on a stage at the far end of this compact park hard by the NJ Transit tracks in Woodbridge.

The purpose of this year's event was to raise money for a young lady, Kelly Mahon. You can read about her issues here. The proceeds will go to make her home handicapped-accessible. Woodbridge Mayor John McCormack, an all-around good guy, was even drawing beer at the Bittings taps, and his presence added a nice sense of panache and purpose to the event.

For the beer fancier, it was a bit of heaven dropped into a pocket park. Bittings Bad Boy Oktoberfest (Lager) and Uno's Oktoberfest (Ale) saw a huge amount of action, as did Stone's Arrogant Bastard and a blowaway barleywine called Hairy Eyeball. At 9% ABV, one might expect his orbs to become a bit hirsute after a few of these. Tun Tavern (with their model-caliber Miss America Pourers), Climax and Cricket Hill also saw substantial action with some very solid offerings. River Horse's Double Amber had people coming back for more in their four-ounce glasses.

But the prize for longest lines at the fest had to go to Boak's. With Brian Boak himself pulling a knockout Russian Imperial Stout called Monster Mash (10% ABV), an Abbey Brown (7% ABV) and a Belgian-style Tripel called Two Blind Monks (7% ABV), beer lovers were queued in lines of twenty-five or more all afternoon. So far back did the lines extend that they often mingled with the food vendors' lines on the other side of the park. Considering that this was Boak's first beer-fest ever, it was an impressive and auspicious beginning for this youthful-looking grandfather who got his start with a homebrew kit from Linens and Things. He was one of just two homebrewers invited to NYC's Brewtopia last year, and it's not hard to see why.

I decided to "go green" to this event, and I rode my bicycle from my home in Perth Amboy to Woodbridge, a distance of about five miles each way. I was glad I did when I saw the parking situation, and I was able to pay my fee and pedal my, um, self right into the park. I was also glad I had biked it when the event had concluded, because that Monster Mash and those Oktoberfests were really good, and, though I had filled my belly with two Doo-Wop special hotdogs, the bike was the more responsible ride. I will confess, though, that the ride home did seem as if it was all uphill.

Mike Cerami, who organized this event, was pleased. "It's a great day and a great cause," he said. The PubScout concurs, but has some recommendations for next year.

First, invite more food vendors to allow for more variety and choices. There is plenty of room to accommodate more.There was a pizza stand that sold cheesesteaks ($6) and other subs. I loved my Doo-Wop hot dogs, and the $2.50 price was right, but not everybody is a hot dog fan.

Second, when you treble the number of breweries, you should also treble the number of porta-potties. Those people standing in those long lines may have been shifting their feet from side to side, but I guarantee they weren't dancing to the music.

Third, whatever prayers or sacrifices you're making to the weather deity should be continued, because days don't get better than this.

In all, as Mike Cerami said, it was indeed a great day for a great cause.

And I can't wait to pedal to next year's.

Check out the pics here.

Caffeine-laced beer?

Brewers add many different things to their beers to give them flavor. The results are sometimes spectacular, sometimes mundane. But caffeine? Looks as though Ben Franklin's classic saying about beer might be in for some alterations. Instead of "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy," we get "Caffeine is proof that God loves us and wants us to be jumpy." Click the link below for the story.

MillerCoors to put Sparks Red on hold

Sunday, September 14, 2008

If you cask it, they will come...Uno's Cask Fest

Brewer Mike Sella at Uno's Grill and Brewery on Rt. 1 in Metuchen, NJ racked the eight casks up yesterday for Central Jersey Beer lovers, proving once again that good beer is a magnet for good people. A variety of casks slaked the thirsts of many for hours. From Mike's own outstanding--and unorthodox--Oktoberfest, to Dave Hoffman's Classic ESB, to Weyerbacher's Old Heathen, patrons returned again and again to sample some exceptional brews at Uno's.

With barman Lenny and Mike pulling the suds, and appetizers specially reduced for the event, guys like big Dave (Bruneyko) Joe, Kai, Bruce, Harvey and a host of others made the southeast corner of this excellent bar buzz with activity. In fact, after 4:30, the place got mobbed, and Sella told me people were still there today--24 hours later. You can see a few pics here.

Also available were two choices (a pale ale and a smoked porter) by Captain Lawrence (Pleasantville, NY), a very drinkable British-style pale ale courtesy of Chelsea, the outstanding Troeg's HopBack and Mike's own Ike's IPA. No it was not produced to commemorate that monster storm that hit Galveston, and in fact has been my favorite non-seasonal Uno's beer for many years. One of my favorite seasonals at Uno's is Mike's Oktoberfest, unorthodox as mentioned above because it's an ale rather than a lager. He's been brewing this style for some years because "it's less expensive for the customer." It's a yeast thing, he says. Whatever. It's an outstanding beer, pedigree be damned. Sella says he's also planning the next Uno's beer dinner, though a firm date has not been fixed. But staying tuned here will allow you to be among the first to know.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cask Fest at Uno's!

Brewer Mike Sella, who makes a wicked O-fest and a Hefeweizen, announces a Cask Fest at Uno's Grill and Brewery on Rt. 1 South in Metuchen this Saturday, Sept. 13.

Here's the deal, in Mike's words:

"The fest is a pay as you go deal, no admission or anything like that, just pay for what you want to drink.  I'll have 8 casks, my IPA and Oktoberfest, Climax ESB, Troegs Hopback,  Weyerbacher Old Heathen, Chelsea English Pale Ale, and Liquid Gold and Smoked Porter from Capt. Lawrence.
Goes from noon until whenever.............."

Looks like I'll be wending my way there this Saturday!

Drinking by college kids is good for the Constitution - NJVoices: Paul Mulshine

The other day, a nice young man I know turned 21. he was heading to AC to celebrate the milestone. To think that he was going to have his first drink there would have been naive beyond belief.

But one thing is certain about the magical 21 mark: after you reach it, much of the thrill of drinking is gone. I told him so, and he concurred. When strapping a funnel to your head and imbibing until you vomit loses some appeal, then what do you do? Maybe it's time to learn how to "enjoy" a beer rather than the effects of drinking too many of them? Why haven't we been teaching our progeny the former long before they get to their binge-drinking years?

Star Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine, a devotee of good beer, weighs in below.


Drinking by college kids is good for the Constitution - NJVoices: Paul Mulshine

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

JJ Bitting Brewing Co.... One of the PubScout's first reviews!

I take pride in being the first beer writer in the country to review this fascinating, fun brewpub, hard by the NJ Transit tracks in Woodbridge. Must have been ten years ago.

I missed this event last year, but I will not make the same mistake. Neither should you. Click below for info!


JJ Bitting Brewing Co.

Monday, August 25, 2008

R.I.P Antone's of Cranford, but....

Antone's of Cranford is no more (RIP to a truly great beer bar), but rising from the major reconstruction will be the Kilkenny House, an Irish pub run by former Brooklynite Barry O'Donovan.

With 16 beers on tap--Brewmeister Dave Hoffman's of Climax Brewing among them-- and standard Irish food fare like Shepherd's Pie, Chicken Pot Pies, Bangers and Mash and other pub-grub, O'Donovan seems to be making all the right moves to insure a successful replacement of the legendary Antone's. He should be up and running by late September, if not earlier.

You may recall that in one of my earliest reviews, this outstanding beer bar had no fewer than 45 taps ( a state record) extruding from its tap wall (which bore a closer resemblance to a rock wall made from beer taps).
The Bartone Brothers, blessed with a healthy dose of business acumen and a commitment to great beer, ran that magnificent Antone's operation, and they have not, thankfully, left the business. They have acquired The Ark in Point Pleasant, and will very likely increase that establishment's business and revenue, especially considering that an Ark Ale will be produced by none other than Brewmeister Dave Hoffman.

Looks as though I'll have my beer and food work cut out for me in Cranford at Kilkenny's and in Point Pleasant at The Ark.

It's a tough job, but someone has to do it. Sometimes I find the need to deputize SubScouts to assist me. Leave a comment and your e-mail if you want to join me when I go. Maybe you'll get the nod this time!

100 more bottles of beer on the wall and campus

Q: How many Chuck Norrises does it take to open a beer?


A: NONE. It should be open when you bring it to him.

Apparently, the man, the myth and the legend has some strong feelings about lowering the drinking age. Read them below.


100 more bottles of beer on the wall and campus

Sunday, August 24, 2008

NJVoices: Paul Mulshine

The Star Ledger's Paul Mulshine, himself a fancier of good beer, weighs in on the drinking debate with a novel idea. Click below.


NJVoices: Paul Mulshine


America has struggled for decades with its approach to alcohol for young people. Here's one view. Personally, my feelings about our progeny and exposure to beer are on record here at the bottom of the page under Pubscout Pontifications. But after reading these, check out this story.

Feel free to weigh in with your comments.



Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Retro Revolution

It all started when I asked the North Carolina barkeep what kind of beer he had available. "Peebeeyar" was the first beer he said. "Huh?" says I.

Read about Peebeeyar by clicking below. > News > Metro -- The beers of our fathers are back in fashion

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's that time again!

Basil T's in Toms River has just announced the date for their annual Oktoberfest Celebration--Friday, Oct 3 at 7 PM. If you're a fan of exceptional German fare and equally outstanding beer, mark the date and make your reservations.

Chef Extraordinaire Steve Farley is prepping for yet another memorable evening, and Biermeister Supreme Dave Hoffman (who brews an Oktoberfest beer to die for) is hard at work making the beers that will complement FarleyFare. The Dirndl Beauties, those pulchritudinous porters of magnificent jugs of fine brew, will be in their usual spectacular, authentic array, and the Firehouse Polka Band will put the oomph in the oompah which enthralls a crowd so primed that they sing "Ein Prosit" as they pull into the Basil T's parking lot.

You can see the pictures from last year's fest here.

As always, yours truly will be on hand to lead the singing, take some incriminating photos, give away prizes, pick on unsuspecting revelers and to provide stark counterpoint to the beauty of the Dirndl Girls. I may even talk about the beer and food.

Also as usual, The Brothers Gregorakis (both named Peter after some bizarre Greek custom and a vat of Ouzo consumed by their parents) will be on hand to lend their special brand of hospitality to the evening.

But make your reservations early and plan your travel south on the Parkway accordingly. This classic sells out pretty quickly. For info, call (732) 244-7566 and tell them The PubScout sent you.

Bring your wife, your girlfriend (though not both), your parents and your pals. This is one you don't want to miss.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Jimmy D Memorial 5k Run/Walk

One of my favorite events (to watch) for one of my favorite causes. And there's always the chance to quaff a few when it's over! If you've got the shoes and the stamina, this one will do your heart and conscience good!


Jimmy D Memorial 5k Run/Walk

Friday, August 1, 2008

Beer--From the mouths of babes…


7-year-old Tim - 'I think beer must be good. My dad says the more beer he

drinks the prettier my mom gets.'

7-year-old Melanie - 'Beer makes my dad sleepy and we get to watch what we

want On television when he is asleep, so beer is nice.

7-year-old Grady - 'My Mom and Dad both like beer. My Mom gets funny when

she drinks it and takes her top off at parties, but Dad doesn't think this

is very funny.'

7-year-old Toby - 'My Mom and Dad talk funny when they drink beer and The

more they drink the more they give kisses to each other, which is a good


7-year-old Sarah - 'My Dad gets funny on beer. He is funny. He also wets his

pants sometimes, so he shouldn't have too much.

7-year-old Lilly - 'My Dad loves beer. The more he drinks, the better he

dances. One time he danced right into the pool.'

7-year-old Ethan - 'I don't like beer very much. Every time Dad drinks it,

he burns the sausages on the barbecue and they taste disgusting.'

7-year-old Shirley - 'I give Dad's beer to the dog and he goes to sleep.'

7-year-old Jack - 'My Mom drinks beer and she says silly things and picks on

my father. Whenever she drinks beer she yells at Dad and tells him to go

bury his bone down the street again, but that doesn't make any sense.'

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Monticello Report: Jefferson and Beer

Inasmuch as I trace my ancestry back to Thomas Jefferson--and the connection is not a blood one, though a most interesting one--I am compelled to post this delightful article about Jefferson and beer. Many thanks to my drinking buddy Joe Skelly for tippling tipping me off...


Monticello Report: Jefferson and Beer

Thursday, July 24, 2008

New Philly destination for Beer Nuts!






PHILADELPHIA, PA – This September will bring a transformation to the corner of 20th and Lombard Streets in the city's gracious Rittenhouse Square area with the opening of Pub & Kitchen (1946 Lombard Street), a new neighborhood drinking and dining destination.  Entrepreneur-owner Dan Clark has brought in some of Philadelphia's most exciting restaurant talent to create Pub & Kitchen's comfortable atmosphere, enticing selection of wine, beer and cocktails and affordable menu of seasonal dishes and classic pub fare. 

 "We simply want to offer a great neighborhood spot to eat and drink, inexpensive enough that our guests will join us whenever they feel like it," says Clark.  "And we're going to serve a late-night menu until 1 a.m., in order to accommodate as many of their needs as we can."

Clark is joined by managing partner Ed Hackett whose Philadelphia restaurant resume includes stints with Daniel Stern, Neil Stein and Stephen Starr; he will run the front of the house, alongside bar manager Mike Ojeda and pioneering chef Jonathan McDonald.

 Affectionately known as "Jonny Mac," McDonald was named "Chef of the Year" in 2007 by Philadelphia magazine and has worked in kitchens as diverse as Gilt, Snackbar, Marigold Kitchen and Brasserie Perrier.  For Pub & Kitchen, he crafted a menu that will be updated weekly and includes his own interpretations of classic pub fare alongside the freshest seasonal dishes.  The menu is broken into simple categories: Starters, Mains, Bar Snacks, Sides and Desserts

Menu highlights will include:  Fresh East and West Coast Oysters, a selection that will rotate daily;  Fish and Chips, a beer-battered filet of hake with house-made fries and lemon aioli;  Roasted Striped Bass with apple potato cakes and a cider broth;  Bangers and Mash with mustard green beans;  and Lobster BLT, a classic updated with the addition of succulent lobster meat.  Bar snacks will include:  Warm Walnuts, served in the shell with a hand-cracker, and a Domestic Cheese Plate served with house-made condiments such as Guinness caramel.  In addition to the constantly evolving menu, McDonald plans to offer daily specials in each menu category based on ingredients in season.  Menu items will range in price between $6 and $24.

"It was really important to me that our menu be accessible," says McDonald.  "I want to serve people foods that they enjoy, to create flavorful renditions of familiar favorites that everyone knows and loves.  Whether it's stopping by for dinner and a great bottle of wine or a quick pint and a sandwich at the bar, this is a place that will serve the kind of food you want after a long day."

As for the pub side of Pub & Kitchen, it relies on the same formula of delectable favorites, and includes a carefully crafted selection of domestic and imported wines and beers and perfectly poured, traditional cocktails, often made from house-infused liquors such as vanilla bourbon, blueberry vodka and melon rum.  Bottles of wine will all be priced under $50, with glasses ranging from $6 to $9.  Their 12 tap offerings will include local and imported craft brews, such as Breckinridge and Sly Fox, alongside more mainstream beers, all for $3 to $5. 

Entrepreneur Dan Clark initially met with Hackett to sketch out ideas for a bar or restaurant that they might like to open.  Baffled by the absence of an outlet in the Rittenhouse area where they could comfortably meet for a drink or a great meal while making plans for their project, they developed a strategy for opening just such a place.  When the space that had long housed Chaucer's Tabard Inn became available, Clark leapt at the opportunity to revitalize the cozy corner spot.

"We plan to work really hard to keep the great 'corner bar,' neighborhood feel of the old Chaucer's, but also to brighten everything up," Hackett explains.  "We love the outdoor seating area, and we added landscaping to create an even more inviting sidewalk café.  We will also interject that airy, open quality to the interior with large picture windows."  The breezy space will accommodate about 120 seats, including the outdoor tables.

Pub & Kitchen will serve food from 4 p.m. until 1 a.m., seven days a week.  Pub & Kitchen will open early this fall, for more information, please visit them online at


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Latis Imports scores Rodenbach

Latis Imports Gets RODENBACH Portfolio

RODENBACH Grand Cru and a Limited Batch of 2004 Vin de Céréale

Will Also Join Belgium's PALM Ale at the Connecticut Specialty Beer Importer


Ridgefield, CT (July 22, 2008) Latis Imports, founded by two former InBev executives David van Wees and Anthony Giardina, is growing its Belgian portfolio with an announcement today that it will gain import rights to the coveted RODENBACH brand. The company will also have import rights to RODENBACH Grand Cru and 2004 Vin de Céréale, a limited run, high-end sour beer.


"This is an exciting day for us since RODENBACH is such an important brand in the beer world," says van Wees, CEO of Latis Imports. "PALM Breweries is a great patron of the Belgium brewing industry and saving the RODENBACH brewery is just one example. Its portfolio is the quintessential Belgian beer experience because it brews using all four different fermentation types – top, bottom, mixed and spontaneous."


Over the last century, the number of breweries in Belgium dwindled from 3,349 around the turn of the century to just 112 in 1999. That's when the Roeselare, Belgium-based RODENBACH brewery was purchased by PALM Breweries and its passionate shareholder and brewer Jan Toye.


"Beer lovers appreciate RODENBACH for its distinct sweet and sour taste, the result of a unique mixed fermentation brewing process and oak cask aging," says Rudi Ghequire, brewmaster for RODENBACH, who calls it the "missing link between beer and wine."


Recognized as an official regional product of the Belgian Province of Southwest Flanders, the brewing of RODENBACH is a tradition that's here to stay. RODENBACH is praised by the late beer expert Michael Jackson as the "most refreshing beer in the world," while RODENBACH Grand Cru picked up a Gold Medal at the 2006 World Beer Cup in Seattle.


Latis signed an agreement to be the American importer for a rich selection of PALM Breweries' brands in September 2007. The company launched PALM Ale – its U.S. debut – in Manhattan in November 2007 and subsequently San Diego, northern New Jersey and Connecticut.



About Latis Imports:


A collective 25 years of experience in the U.S. and global markets leading brands like Rolling Rock, Labatt Blue, Beck's, Bass, Stella Artois and Hoegaarden drove David van Wees and Anthony Giardina to create a company that mirrored their passion for developing premium beer brands. And so the idea for Latis was born and given life in Connecticut's diners and well-equipped, free wireless public libraries. At the heart of Latis is a mission to build a portfolio of authentic, craft beers from independent brewers with rich history, traditions and pride. Latis imports PALM Ale, Belgium's best selling amber from the country's largest independent brewer. The company is headquartered in Ridgefield, CT. For more information or    

Saturday, July 12, 2008

"Kirkland Hefeweizen?"

You may recall an entry in this blog that spoke about Trader Joe's beer, and what a pleasant surprise it was. Now it looks like Costco may be ready to launch its own beer under the Kirkland label. Click the link below to the "Brew Blog," a publication of, um, MillerCoors.


"Brew" Blog - Beer Industry Market Analysis, News and Commentary: Costco to Sell Private Label Beer?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Jimmy D Memorial 5k Run/Walk

Want to get your exercise AND help a great cause? Click below!


Jimmy D Memorial 5k Run/Walk

Joe Sixpack - Reporting and drinking beer in Philly and beyond

Before you get yourself in high dudgeon about InBev's hostile takeover of Anheuser-Busch, read what Don Russell has to say about the machinations of the world's big brewers. And if you get a chance, go meet Don (Joe SixPack) himself at McGillin's Old Ale House on July 16. Should be a wild time!


Joe Sixpack - Reporting and drinking beer in Philly and beyond

Friday, June 20, 2008

Joe Sixpack - Reporting and drinking beer in Philly and beyond

My colleague Don Russell (Joe Sixpack) takes South Jersey to task about beer--or, rather, the paucity of it. A very worthwhile read from one of the best in the business....

Don't forget tomorrow's NJ Craft Brewers' fest on the battleship New Jersey!


Joe Sixpack - Reporting and drinking beer in Philly and beyond

Monday, June 16, 2008

NJVoices: Paul Mulshine

Read Paul Mulshine's blog for two very interesting stories about beer: one from Cuba and the other from Belgium.

The fact that he's a true conservative has nothing to do with this link.



But you may notice there's no link to Al Franken, Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid, either.

Click below.

NJVoices: Paul Mulshine

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tierney’s Tavern Redux

By Kurt Epps—The PubScout


The year was 1968. A lot of serious, crazy stuff was happening in the US. But the college guys I ran with were pretty much oblivious to it, preferring to focus on more important issues.

Like going to Tierney's Tavern on Valley Rd. in Montclair.

A group of us Montclair State students who would graduate in 1969 would convene regularly at this classic Irish pub to suck down a brew or two, gorge on the delicious cheeseburgers, talk sports, girls and engage in what we considered high philosophical debate. (I once proved that we don't exist because "now" is too infinitesimal to measure. It's amazing how smart college students think they are.)

But outside of our apartments, Tierney's was the place that the song from Cheers talked about, where everybody knows your name.

Fast forward forty years. I'd taken my 17-year-old middle son to scope out MSU (it was only a state college when I went) as a potential college choice. My alma mater had changed considerably since I trod its footpaths. Beyond changing its mascot from a noble, proud and revered Indian to some bird, a politically correct act for which I have never forgiven it, the number, newness and size of the buildings was astonishing. There's even a 24-7 diner and an NJ Transit station right on campus. And the dorms are co-ed. What's up with that? I got kicked out of mine for wrapping a comely, willing lass up in a rug and transporting her to my boudoir to see my itchings etchings. And now it's officially approved by the college? Just shows how forward-thinking I was.

The tab to attend was also a tad larger than I remember, but, in terms of what some colleges are charging for a "liberal" [emphasis mine] education, it's pretty much a bargain.

But our tour and my nostalgia being done, I told my hungry teen (is there any other kind?) I was introducing him to my old favorite pub, just in case he decided to attend MSU. We sidled up to the bar right in front of the flag that says: Ireland—United—Gaelic—and Free.

Things were not much different in Tierney's in 2008 than they were in 1968—unless you count that, Cheers song be damned, NOBODY knew my name. I didn't feel too badly about that, considering some friends my age I see regularly can't remember my name either. But Tierney's constancy came through. Same buff colored walls done in ersatz wattle and daub, same huge American flag dominating the back wall, same hustle and bustle near the kitchen door, same long hardwood tables and chairs for twelve on either side.

The HD TV's positioned in key locations around the walls were a far cry from the mounted TV I remember over the bar that had only six channels—and dials on it that had to be turned to change channels. "Clickers" hadn't been invented yet.

Also interesting is that Tierney's has incorporated some far better beers than what was generally proffered in my heyday (you know which beers I'm talking about)—not that any in my circle gave a damn back then.

TJ, the burly, friendly and welcoming bartender at the top of the page (another thing about Tierney's that has remained constant) is part of the ancient Tierney clan that has run this iconic pub since 1934. He allowed that in the beer category, Pabst was making a big comeback. Go figure.

He had 10 taps running, and a few of the beers were worthy of a beer geek's attention, like the Blue Point Toasted Lager (above right), which was perfectly poured. He also noted that the pub was going to acquire four more lines very soon.

I ordered one of my old standbys from yesteryear to accompany my Blue Point: Liverwurst on rye with mayo and raw onion. Still big, thick, fresh and tasty as I recall. And the Toasted Lager worked magnificently with it.

I asked TJ if I could snap his mug shot, and he said, "Absolutely no problem. The Sopranos shot an episode here in Tierney's and I was in it, serving beer, of course.

Forty years ago, when we'd leave Tierney's, it was a foregone conclusion that we'd return. Forty years later, the conclusion is the same, whether my son attends MSU or not. Of course, if he does, that would make visits to him and Montclair far less burdensome.

And far more frequent.

Pizza, pop and PALM

By Kurt Epps—The PubScout


It's time for me to come clean. I love good beer, and I love good pizza.

I do not, however, mix the two. There's just something about pizza that matches up perfectly (for me) with "pop" like Coke, Pepsi or Sprite—and NEVER the diet kind. I mean what's the sense in that? Diet sodas all have that greasy aftertaste that conflicts with the greasy aftertaste I seek in my pizza. It may be sacrilege, but I've always felt that beer and pizza just don't make a good match.

At least, I felt that way until yesterday. That's when I was introduced to a new (to the US, anyway) beer from Belgium called PALM. I arranged a meeting at The Sun Tavern—renowned for its pizza-- in Roselle Park, NJ with one of the youthful, energetic co-founders of Latis Imports named Anthony Giardina. He and partner David van Wees joined forces with an idea to introduce Belgium's best selling ale to us Yankees. For the uninitiated (which of course, doesn't include YOU, dear reader) Belgium is to beer what France is to wine. So the title of Belgium's best selling ale is not one to be, um, sniftered at. Giardina and van Wees introduced PALM to the NY region only last November, and according to Connecticut native Giardina, "PALM is taking off!"

Anthony has a respectable beer pedigree, having worked for many years at InBev. You might recognize that Belgian corporation as the one that just yesterday laid down a $46 billion dollar bid for a small St. Louis brewery named Anheuser-Busch, offering the company $65 a share when its current high is about $56. But I digress.

Like InBev knows acquisitions, it's clear Giardina knows his beer, and more importantly, he knows what his game plan is. Currently, he said, “15 markets make up approximately 80% of the Euro import draught business and we will focus our efforts on PALM in these markets over the next 4 or 5 years.”

PALM isn't available except in draft form, and in Jersey, 16 of the 17 bars that are permitted to carry it (The Sun in Roselle Park being the southernmost) are in "North" North Jersey—like around Jon Corzine's hometown of Hoboken. Proximity to NYC and its upscale market is neither accident nor happenstance.

Nor are the training sessions required of wait staff in businesses who would sell this eminently drinkable, surprisingly versatile and very satisfying brew. To be most appreciated, PALM must be served in its own special glass—a snifter-style, logo-emblazoned one provided by the brewery, which obviously also understands the importance of branding. It's the same glass you'd be served in Belgium, so the theme of authenticity is always present.

The head should be about two-fingers high and devoid of the bigger bubbles that might affect the nose; a nose, by the way which is delightfully floral. According to Giardina, the Kent-Golding hopped PALM is crafted to act like a pilsner/lager but remain true to Belgian ale style. It does that with an exceptionally smooth mouthfeel—and more.

Properly poured, PALM is a beautiful beer to behold (despite the fact that beauty is always in the eye of the beerholder, which may account for the old saw that says "no one's ugly at closing time"). Still with an ABV of just 5.4% and 18 BU's, PALM can serve respectably as a session beer. Bear in mind that it's going to cost you more per snifter than Natty Light, but there are few Belgian beers not worth what they cost.

I asked Giardina how he viewed the Ommegang Brewery, which, in this writer's opinion, makes outstanding Belgian-style beers, and other potential competitors like Blue Moon (Coors) and Shock Top (AB). He had nothing but praise for what those breweries are doing, stating that if they can assist in tuning in the American market's palate to Belgian-style beers, they might just be curious enough to want to see what a real Belgian tastes like.

Giardina and Van Wees are patiently pacing their first progeny—whose symbol is not of a palm tree, but of a Belgian Draft horse—hoping that American tastes will come around to PALM. That should come to pass once beer lovers savor a PALM. Currently, PALM is available in NY, NJ, CT and San Diego, with plans to expand into a few other key European import markets. If PALM takes off the way they expect, there are more PALM varieties waiting in the wings to take flight across the pond to the US.

But don't get the idea that this is a snooty beer—we ain't talking wine or Flemish sours here, dude. In fact, my biggest surprise of the afternoon came when Giardina ordered up two of the Sun's outstanding pizzas—a White Clam Pizza and a regular Sausage. He ordered two because Pat Rafter and sidekick Bill Laverty of Peerless Beverage Co. were in the house (all these beer dudes, like realtors, insurance guys and wrestling coaches, run in a pretty tight circle).

I hesitated to join the feasting, due to my previous aversion to coupling pizza—especially White Clam—with beer. But lo and behold, the PALM worked magnificently with both pizza styles! And it would very likely perform as admirably with many dishes, from chicken and chops to game meat, to fish and shellfish. But probably not White Castles.

However, with a rap sheet like that, PALM could well do what Giardina expects—bridge the gap between craft beer geek and Joe Six-Pack. That would serve to propel Latis Imports to another long-term goal: to seek other small European breweries that might want to test the American market.

After all, if an American icon like Bud can go Belgian, why couldn't the guys who drink it do likewise?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Misson’s Mission

By Kurt Epps—The PubScout


I didn't know him personally, but Jay Misson was buried today. Most of the clientele at Princeton's Triumph brewpub were probably unaware that one of the great beermen in the state of NJ had passed away. Therefore, the mood among them was markedly different from that of the staff, especially those who knew and worked with Jay Misson.

Triumph was the second brewpub up and running in NJ. From Sales and Marketing Manager Eric Nutt, to GM Doug Bork, to young bartender Christine, it had been a rough day. In fact, Nutt told me that most of the staff from all three of Triumph's brewpub locations--Princeton, New Hope (PA) and Philadelphia-- found a way to get to Misson's funeral services, so large was his impact on the company's operations, its employees, and, from what I could gather, everyone who knew him.

Misson's Mission

Nutt, savoring a glass of Misson's favorite pilsner, waxed nostalgic, though not maudlin, about his friend and colleague's passing. "His mission was to increase beer knowledge across the world," said Nutt. While Nutt was obviously emotionally drained, he smiled with every sip of the lager that Misson so loved. Nutt commented that while Misson was in charge of brewing operations for all three sites, it was the Philly site that Misson helped to build that was his protégé.

Bork, a nephew of famous jurist Robert Bork, was much more emotional when describing the void that Misson's passing left. His emotions ranged from smiles to tears as he described his working relationship with Misson. "Jay wanted to produce the most perfect beer ever," said Bork. "His dedication to the craft is what I most remember."

Twenty-five year old Christine (pictured above right), who began working at Triumph at the tender age of 19, spoke of Misson with reverence and respect for his beer knowledge. "On my first day, when some customer asked me what the difference was between a lager and an ale, I replied that one was dark and the other was light. Jay overheard the exchange and when I got finished with my shift, he called me over and sat me down. He educated me for two hours about this liquid he loved so very much. He knew so much. His knowledge of beer, his passion for it and his desire to share it with others is what I remember." Bartender Christine raises a glass to Jay Misson.

As a beer writer, I was familiar with Misson's status, work and reputation among the beer cognoscenti, though I never had the pleasure of a face-to-face. After hearing from Misson's co-workers, that was my loss. But two things are certain besides death and taxes:

  1. Misson's Mission is clearly imprinted on every glass of beer that comes from a Triumph tap

  2. As long as there are lagers, he will not be forgotten.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Dream Job--Where it began...

Without a beer resumé, I can guarantee I would NEVER have been invited to the Fifth Avenue home of the Belgian Consul...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Big Doings at Basil T's (Toms River)

Basil T's Annual Mug Club Membership Dinner
Friday June 27th, 2008
6:30 pm

Maibock, English Special Ale, Dopplebock, Barnegat Lite,
West Coast IPA, Toms River Red

Passed Appetizers:
Wild Mushroom and Black Summer Truffle Bruschetta
Fried Shrimp with Aguacate Salsa
Beef Empanada's
Sesame Tuna on Crisp Wonton
Turkey Meatballs with Mole Pueblano

Grande Buffet:
Homemade Bell and Evans Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Grilled Jersey Corn
BBQ Beef Brisket
Grilled Parmigiano Polenta
Pork Carnitas with Tomatillo Salsa and Blue Corn Tortilla
Green Bean Salad
7 Cheese Mac-n-Chee with Applewood Bacon
Potato Salad a la Hoffman
Jersey Summer Salad

Menu subject to change

Executive Chef Steven M Farley
Brew Master Dave Hoffman

Entertainment by the Bonnie Boland Band

Click below to buy tickets via Paypal!
Mug Club Dinner Only $34.95

Mug Club Dinner & Membership $50.00

Steven M Farley
Executive Chef
Basil T's Brewpub and Grill
1171 Hooper Ave
Toms River, NJ
732-244-7566 work

Garden State Craft Brewers Guild - Microbrewery and Brewpub Information for New Jersey

What's hoppening with Jersey Beer? Go here! Beerfest on the Battleship NJ on 6/21! Check it out.


Garden State Craft Brewers Guild - Microbrewery and Brewpub Information for New Jersey

What’s brewing at AB?

By Kurt Epps

Shocked, I tell you. Shocked.


On Memorial Day weekend, I took my youngest son (15) down to Salisbury, MD to wrestle in the NHSCA Duals, and we got a nice, cheap room at the Super 8. (I got the senior citizen discount rate.) But the digs had a TV, a microwave and a big fridge (and an indoor toilet for those of you who look down on Super 8's). So the lad and I went out for some goodies to tide us over for three days.


Just down the road was a place called Tiger Mart which was a gas station linked to a combination of a MacDonald's (except down there they're called Hardee's), a WaWa and a liquor store. Actually a beer store, since "liquor stores" in Maryland don't even carry beer, as we found out. Here in Jersey, that would require three different visits to three different places, but Maryland's system worked for me.


As usual, I scanned the beer coolers to see if there was anything remotely palatable for relaxing after the grueling tournament schedule. After the canoe beers section, I saw Blue Moon's Honeymoon (reviewed below last month), so I figured I had a least one safe choice. Then I saw a beer called Shock Top. The logo had a picture of a guy who looked like his father, in a drunken spree, had made love to an equally soused cockatiel. But the words "Belgian White" jumped out at me. I tried like heck to see who brewed it, but, interestingly, that info wasn't prominent. I committed to the buy, and then I saw another sixer called Wild Blue. Brewed someplace in NY, it said, and I was up for some beer-experimentation, so I got both—plus the Honeymoon as a fall-back.


The Shock Top was unexpectedly good. Refreshing, yellow-gold with a fluffy head, this beer had some graceful orange and spice notes. True, I was drinking it out of the Super 8's bathroom plastic glass, but it still held up nicely. So nicely, I decided to see if I could find the brewer.


AB. (Anheuser-Busch)


Damn. After my nice experience with their Bareknuckle Stout, it was time for me to be re-impressed with what's happening at the palace of the King of Beers. I drank three and brought the rest home to share with friends.


I didn't try the Wild Blue at all in MD, but when I got home, it was time to see what this NY Brewery had going for it.


Lots, apparently, even before I discovered that the NY brewery was AB—again. But the Wild Blue Blue me away. Reminiscent of Lindemann's fruit lambics, but with a fuller body and sweeter taste, this Wild Blue is a summertime winner for sure, though not for everybody. Very likely, lambic "pureeists" will sneer, which is their right. But I thoroughly enjoyed it, though I wouldn't give up Sea Dog Blueberry Wheat, either. Some might try to categorize this beer as an "alco-pop," but if they do, beware that its alco is 8% and it provides quite a "pop." Be prepared for its grapey color, as well as its pink head.


Something's going on at AB, though. And, so far, I'm liking it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Making one’s civic duty palatable….

By Kurt Epps—The PubScout

Whenever I got my summons for jury duty in the past, I'd just tell them I was a teacher, and they let me go. Somehow or other, that free pass got revoked (probably late one night) by the same state government that is currently doing its level best to empty NJ of its productive citizens, who are escaping the state in record numbers for more tax-friendly states.

I still was able to skip the jury duty thing, though, because they give you a special number to call the night before to see if you were still needed. I'd call only to receive a recorded message that "jurors from pool so-and-so with numbers higher than so-and so were excused."

Fine with me. Don't get me wrong: our justice system works because of the service of the average citizen whose duty it is to serve every so often. But it's a PITA…a necessary and compulsory PITA, but a PITA nonetheless.

But my luck ran out this month, and I hied myself to New Brunswick to do my duty. I was less than ecstatic, despite the government's willingness to pick up my parking tab and offer me the princely sum of $5.00 a day for serving. The five-spot would cover the gallon of gas I put in my car to get there, but I won't get that bank-breaker check for two weeks, when gas will probably be twice that.

But I digress. At the County Courthouse, my fellow lemmings and I shuffled in as dutifully as the old people in Soylent Green
(It's people! Soylent Green is people!). We donned our JUROR badges, watched a movie about jury duty, and sat (dutifully) until called by a judge for jury selection. That's where the judge explains the process again, reminds you of its seriousness and of the absolute need for impartiality and fairness. Then he seats eight (ours was a civil case) and asks questions of each prospective juror until the attorneys find the jury members acceptable. They can dismiss any juror they want without reason, and it's probably one of the few times arbitrary rejection feels good. Then the judge has to replace the dismissed jurors with new Soylent Green, asking them the same questions as the ones who got kicked out.

Eventually, they let you out for lunch (on your dime, of course). And once sprung, I immediately headed down to one of my favorite watering oases, the Harvest Moon Brewpub on George St. I hooked up with Brewer Matt McCord, shot the breeze and ordered one of his outstanding brews, a Hops2 Double IPA, to go with my Peppercorn TurkeyBurger Platter. The burger was delicious, though the $9 price tag was sobering enough to partially counteract the 8.5% abv of the brew. But, hey, it's Jersey and a Double Whopper with Cheese at Burger King easily breaks the $7 barrier now. Talk about some expensive gas….

The Moon's beers are really quite good, and this IPA was no exception. A bit cloudier than most, it was hoppy, crisp and refreshing, owing much to the English First Gold hops with which it was dry-hopped. If I hadn't needed to go back and seem reasonably coherent in the jury room, I would have definitely had another; but I opted instead for a sampler of Matt's Amberweisse. A full-bodied, darker wheat beer with a magnificent nose, this beer deserves more of my—and your--attention. Of course, Jimmy D's Firehouse Red was on the beer menu, but I consumed more than my fair share of that at the January Jimmy D Hoedown, where the proceeds go to a Burn Camp for kids. Elmes' Mild Manor is also an absolutely outstanding session beer that goes with just about any food. Matt also had a Raspberry Witbier, a Helles Bock Lager, a Moonlight Kolschbier and his best seller, Full Moon Pale Ale, on the menu.

The sad part of my visit to The Moon was that I had only about 45 minutes to spend before I had to get back to my rather less-than-exciting duty. I strolled back smiling, thinking that if I had to serve on a jury, at least I could come here for sustenance. At 3:45, though, I was informed that the juries for the upcoming trials had all been selected, and I didn't make the cut. I felt so bad.


They also informed me that I would be haled before the court again three years from today to start the process all over. That's three years before I have to do my civic duty again.

But I assure you I will not be waiting anywhere near that long to hit The Moon again. In fact, The Moon is proof that doing one's civic duty has its benefits.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Beer, Food and ANOTHER great cause!

Basil T's in Toms River, NJ is a beer and food lover's delight. If you haven't tasted the food of Chef Extraordinaire Steve Farley, or the beers of Brewmeister Dave Hoffman, you can do both at this most worthwhile event.

Just check out the flyer below! Increase the font size if it's too small for your beady eyes. Or you can click on the words "Flyer for Posting" underneath the flyer itself.

Read this doc on Scribd: Flyer for Posting

Tell them The PubScout sent you! Cheers and Bon Appetit!

Thursday, May 22, 2008 » Pee & Play: Belgian Beer Fans Invent Interactive Video Game Toilet

In keeping with my commitment to bring you only the best in news about beer and its residual the link below.

The "joystick" comment cracked me up. Click below. » Pee & Play: Belgian Beer Fans Invent Interactive Video Game Toilet

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Brewer's Apprentice - New Jersey's Premiere Homebrew Supply Shop & Brew On Premise!

Looking for a unique Father's Day gift for your beer-loving dada? Look no further than this place--the only one of its kind in NJ, to my knowledge. And a visit here also makes a great Christmas, Birthday, anniversary, bar mitzvah, confirmation, christening, graduation, divorce, engagement, shower, going-away, coming-home and anything-else-you-want-to-celebrate gift.

Of course, parents must accompany any kiddies, but I took mine there when they were tykes, and they helped me make a superb IPA. They mashed grain, added malt and yeast and--about two weeks later--they helped me bottle and label my brew.



The Brewer's Apprentice - New Jersey's Premiere Homebrew Supply Shop & Brew On Premise!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The James D'heron Memorial Foundation

I used to golf often. Wasn't bad, either. Shot in the 70's. If it got any hotter, I didn't play. But if you still enjoy the game--and want to help a most worthy cause, click on the link below.



The James D'heron Memorial Foundation

Saturday, May 10, 2008

What's with the Ugly Mug?

You may have been startled to see that horrifically ugly image on the bottle of Stickenjab as this page opened above. Some (most notably those on the left of the political spectrum) have postulated that it's none other than GWB. But it isn't.

Here's the story. A few years back, when Tom Baker had Heavyweight Brewing running on all 12 cylinders, he collaborated with the NJ Ass'n of Beerwriters--NJAB, for short--on a special beer. It was an alt and a stickebier (secret, usually shared by brewers only within the fraternity), and combining its name and the name of the organization that helped him brew it resulted in Stickenjab. The beer, while brewed, received many highly favorable reviews from the many malt mavens who tasted it.

Tom was seeking ideas for an appropriate label for this master brew, and I offered to don some pugilistic attire and pose for a picture. Bill Coleman, cartoon-meister par excellence from ASN drew the caricature that graces the label from the photograph. There are those wiseguys who say it's not a caricature at all, and it more accurately reflects my actual looks than the original photo. But they're either drunks or good-looking women in their 20's and 30's.

Heavyweight Brewing filled a very special niche in the beer world, developing an excellent reputation for big, creative beers (and a devoted, if not rabid, clientele), but has since passed into history, though Tom and his delightful wife Peggy are back in business in Philadelphia,

Anyway, that's the story of the pic on the bottle. I'm told that unopened bottles of Stickenjab are fetching amazing prices on E-bay (the most recent bid being upwards of, um, $6,000,000), so if you're lucky enough to come across one, snap it up. In a few months , you'll be able to use the proceeds from it to buy a tank of gas for your Hybrid. Empty bottles in superb condition fetch slightly less--about $1.89.

Happy Mothers' Day to all those moms who keep the world running on a somewhat even keel. That reminds me; I have to go out and get my missus a gift.

Weedwhackers are on sale at Home Depot.


PS: She loved the gift and is using it as you read this.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Uno's Announces May Beer Dinner

Uno's brewer Mike Sella has announced that the next Uno's Beer dinner will take place on Monday, May 19 at 7 PM. A measly $45 gets you an outstanding six-course meal, a nice selection of beers to accompany each course and the witty repartee of yours truly.

It's always a night of great fun, food and fellowship, so contact a bartender at Uno's, plunk down the ridiculously low ticket price and set May 19 aside. Bring a friend or a significant other and enjoy a relaxed night out.

Good Food, Good Beer, Good People!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

It’s almost THAT time again…

Project Graduation? Try Project Education


June is graduation time for high schools throughout the country. To counter what some parents fear is a night of unfettered revelry, Project Graduation, usually organized by a group of caring and concerned parents, is designed to allow graduates to celebrate their graduation night in a controlled, alcohol and drug-free setting. 


To its credit, Project Graduation does what it was designed to do: keep the children alive. 


For one night anyway. 


What happens the next night, and the nights thereafter (like those in college), when the party urge is still there, but there is no controlled environment? 

The answer? Tragedies, usually. Some are immediate and some don't happen until months or even years later. The reasons for the tragedies are many, but principal among them is what our society teaches its youth about alcohol--and especially about beer. 


While wine coolers and malternatives (like Zima, hard lemonade and hard cola) are also frequently abused, the beverage of choice seems to be beer. Few high school or middle school kids would strap a funnel to their heads that was loaded with Smirnoff Ice. 


No, the main propellant in party fuels seems to be Bud, Miller, Coors, Corona, et al. And when their parents and nearly everyone else in authority tells them not to do it, you have a recipe for guaranteed abuse. 


We have made beer, an ancient, nutritious beverage, taboo rather than an adjunct to our lives. Regulation of the use of beer is absolutely essential; regulation does not mean abstention, but that's what we've been saying to young people for generations.


The effects of that policy are evident in the headlines--and obituaries--of our newspapers. No one denies that abuse of beer or other alcohol has negative consequences. How, then, to educate against its abuse while accepting the many benefits beer can provide?


We are simply not educating American young people about the proper purpose and use of alcohol. Their ignorance of proper alcohol use compels us to initiate things like Project Graduation. Perhaps if we took a different tack--from very early on in youth-- a Project Education, if you will, we could obviate the need for one-night, stopgap measures like Project Graduation, which, for all its success, is simply a temporary feel-good measure.


In Belgium, for example, where beer occupies a status much as wine does in France, young school children are given beer during their recesses instead of milk. To be sure, it's not a strong alcohol beer. In fact, it's usually around three or four percent, but it is beer and it is far more nutritious than milk. More importantly, its distribution by the authorities is a clear message that beer has a legitimate place in society. That's an important lesson for youth to learn, and it's not one that American youth are usually taught.


Telling youth to "Just Say No" means all beer use is by definition illicit. Perhaps that is why most Europeans, especially those who have grown up with wine and beer readily available "en tabella" (on the table), see alcoholic beverage as an accompaniment to meals rather than as an illicit drug designed to encourage--and excuse-- asinine and often dangerous behavior.


Beer has a 6000 year written history of being used as a social lubricant and as an important part of celebrations. Very likely, it was used that way before writing was even invented. Like it or not, graduation falls under the heading of celebration. No responsible person suggests that kids be permitted to celebrate with booze in an unsupervised setting, but that's what they're doing after Project Graduation is over.


Rather than send their progeny to the seaside for an unsupervised weekend binge (hoping against hope that they'll do the right thing), wouldn't parents be better off to have taught them at an early age what beer is for, how to enjoy it, and when to say when? Hoping they do the right thing at least has a better chance that way. 


American culture waits until the magical age of twenty-one to say that beer is OK, which guarantees nothing beyond taking the excitement out of procuring and drinking beer, unless you count procuring it for underage drinkers. It would be far better that children learn about the pleasures, benefits and dangers of alcohol from their parents (who may need to be re-educated themselves) or responsible adults, rather than by watching and laughing at their buddies' antics after downing a case of Milwaukee's Best in a half hour.


Simply put, America needs to rethink its approach, because the one we're using has failed. Does that mean that we should substitute beer for milk at every American elementary school? No--at least--not yet. For one thing most people would say beer doesn't go as well as milk with cookies. But that's only because they don't know that there are beers that go very well indeed with cookies.


Like our funnel-headed adolescents, these folks need Project Education, too. It's time to move from "Just say No" to "Just say KNOW." 


Wednesday, April 9, 2008



After my recent delightful surprise with AB's Bareknuckle Stout, I guess I was feeling adventurous. So when I saw a new Blue Moon beer on the shelf called "Honeymoon," I figured it might be worth a try. Oh, I knew that Blue Moon (not a bad beer, IMHO) was a Coors product, but I was game. And thirsty. So I picked up a sixer. The bottle says that it's a "classic Summer ale made even better with real clover honey, fresh orange peel and both pale and white wheat malts."

My studies in Norse lit revealed an interesting origin for the word "honeymoon,"  In a nutshell, the word derived from the ritual use of mead (honey-based) by newlyweds for a month--supposedly right after the bride was kidnapped, but before her family stopped looking for her. (Hey, "sensitivity" is not a word usually associated with the Vikings.) Anyway, the newly weds supposedly drank large amounts of mead and did whatever such consumption led to (use your imaginations here, or recall your college days) for a month. Thus "honeymonth" or hjunottsmanathr came into being. Though there are several etymological explanations for the word, they're not as cool as this one.

But I digress. The beer, brewed in Canada by BMBC and imported by Coors, is actually a very decent summer ale. Pale yellow, almost straw-like, the beer is light and refreshing. The honey is not cloyingly sweet, nor does the orange peel dominate the palate. Both flavors kind of "dance" through the mouth and nose, and, interestingly, the beer improves with each swallow. While it could qualify as a "Lawnmower" beer (drunk greedily after a mowing session on a hot summer afternoon) it actually deserves more attention. Tasting, rather than slugging, can bring nice rewards with Honeymoon. Kind of like a Viking bridegroom taking some time with his kidnapped wife rather than doing the old wham-bam.

I pulled out some Meier's multigrain crackers--the big suckers--and spread some of the missus' newly made tunafish salad on them. Voila! The beer and the food made a perfect pair, kind of like those Viking newlyweds on holiday.

Wouldn't be a bad choice for newlyweds to have this at their nuptial celebration, IMHO.

Blue Moon Honeymoon Summer Ale is worth your time. Just be gentle.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


April 7, 1933--a date which will live in infamy (if you were a member of the WCTU or the Anti-Saloon League)-- marked the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition--but only for beer. Other liquors got their freedom about eight months later.

OK, so today is April 8. But I say better to celebrate a day later than never. And just to see if you're up to snuff history-wise, click below for a comprehensive Prohibition Quiz. The PubScout will be the tester and you will be the, um, testees. And while you're testing, have a glass of your favorite brew, say a silent "Thanks" to Herbert Hoover and all those who worked to allow you to have that brew--legally, of course.




Sunday, March 30, 2008

That's Dr. PubScout to you, pal!

Congratulations are in order, dear readers, for me. After many years of arduous study and heart-wrenching self-sacrifice, I have obtained my Doctoral Degree, (Thank you, thank you!)

Now before you get all verklempt in your unbridled joy at my achievement, let me explain. My doctorate is not in medicine, philosophy or even education. It's in "Stoutology."

Yes, Stoutology. And what it means is that I know my stouts. Here's the story of how I got there.

The missus and I stopped for brunch at a roadside diner on Rt. 1 in Edison called the Skylark Diner. Though the design and the decor make it look like it's right out of the old Jetsons TV show, the food was very good and pretty reasonable, too.

And it has a bar.

And on the bar was a taphandle, among others, that said Bareknuckle Stout. It was a unique looking taphandle, so I ordered a pint with my breakfast of Virginia Ham and eggs. I watched it come from the tap and it poured like Guinness does out of a nitro-tap or when you empty one of those cans with the nitrogen widgets in it. Reverse bubble flow and all that, you know. Looked pretty appealing.

Tasted pretty good, too, even before the sweet ham. Nice, smooth, rich mouthfeel, decent nose and black as pitch (once it settled) with a creamy off-white head about a finger and a half high. It got better as it warmed, too.

But--call me ill-informed-- I hadn't heard of it before, so I resolved to look it up when I came home, because, while it wasn't Mackeson's Triple X or Lancaster Milk Stout, it was definitely very drinkable.

As Gomer Pyle would say, "Surprahz, suprahz!

It's made by Anheuser-Busch in Merrimack, NH. And it only comes from a tap, according to its blurbs.

Anyway, my research led me to the site below. Click on it, enter your birthdate and then a picture and some Lounge Lizard music will come on. Click on the group of people on the far right sitting at the bar, and take the final exam to see if you can get your Doctorate in Stoutology. I didn't miss a question. How about you?

If you get your doctorate, I'll buy you a Bareknuckle Stout at the Skylark someday. Go anytime. Just wait for me there.

(Hint: you might do better on the test if you click on the group of people on the far left of the scene first.)



Bare Knuckle Stout

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

McGillin's Olde Ale House

My friends at McGillin's (nee The Bell in Hand) are celebrating a special anniversary--a 75th--in honor of the repeal of Prohibition. While you never need an excuse to go to this classic pub, keep in mind that your taxes are due a week later....


McGillin’s Olde Ale House threw open its doors the year Lincoln was elected president. That’s shortly after the Liberty Bell cracked and long before ground was broken for Philadelphia City Hall. The beer taps have been flowing since 1860 -- making it the oldest continuously operating tavern in Philadelphia. It has outlasted Strawbridge’s, the Civil War and even Prohibition.
What’s the secret? McGillin’s has become just like the fictional “Cheers”- with comraderie, good food at a reasonable price and the best selection of local & regional beers on tap.

Prohibition Repealed -- Join us for 75th Anniversary party on Mon, April 7.

Trip to Ireland - Join us for a 7-day adventure in the Emerald Isle. Our longest road trip ever!

McGillin's Olde Ale House