Monday, June 21, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
In addition, a Flip Video of a very accomplished, multilingual beauty named Christina is in the processing stage. Check my FaceBook page for updates, and don't forget to become a Fan of the Pubscout!
In all, another nice night at Uno's Grill and Brewery, made that way by the food, the grog, the folks in attendance and the hospitality of the pub. Lenny's talking about an outdoor BBQ for the next one, so stay tuned to this channel for details. The pics are here. Hope to see you at the next one!
Cheers till next time!
Saturday, June 12, 2010
By Kurt Epps--The PubScout
So my sons and I had one last night together before my eldest went off to Harrisburg, PA to start his adult life and a new job. (Not a bad place, Harrisburg, either—Troeg's is there.) To do a proper sendoff, we went out to a place that I have reviewed before, and to which I have often returned—the Brick House Tavern and Tap in South Plainfield. It's a Man-cave with eye-candy everywhere you look, pure and simple.
Fortune smiled on us immediately by guiding us to an empty parking space right near the Famous FirePit, which was packed with revelers. Apparently cognizant of the solemnity of the occasion, Fortune also guided us to four empty Naugahyde Barcaloungers in front of two widescreen HDTV's, where a very comely lass named Kelly waited on us hand and foot. It was her first week after training and she was working very hard to impress and become a "regular" Brick girl. Since I have never seen a Brick Girl who has performed poorly (and I've seen and met many), Kelly will have no problems establishing herself as a star server.
Marie, Autumn, Taylor, Jamie, Brittany, Lindsay, DJ and a host of others stopped by our Barcaloungers to pay their respects. Nor am I naïve or conceited enough to ever think they were coming to talk to me. Three young studs with rugged good looks (from their mother) and the solid builds of wrestlers were the chick magnets on this night.
Man-food—big sloppy, artery-clogging burgers and cheesesteaks-- was served to us on trays that stuck right into the arms of our Barcaloungers, with a well for our beers or sodas on the opposite side. With the caliber of feminine pulchritude serving and visiting us, it was, quite simply, Heaven.
In all, it was a most delightful night and a good sendoff to my first-born, who snapped a picture of me standing in the ladies room loo line. The loud music, the exceptional camaraderie, the ambience of a great place, the magnificent, efficient and drop-dead gorgeous servers all combined to make it a memorable, albeit bittersweet, night.
I'm happy my eldest has a job and wants to start his own life, but he's my first-born, and I just kind of thought I'd have him around forever. I know, I know. You have to let them spread their wings and fly. But I always thought he'd be flying around my house. The Victory Brewing Golden Monkey had me waxing nostalgic for the old days, when I was his hero.
No matter. We had a great time, and I'd recommend the Brick House Tavern and Tap to anyone who calls himself a man.
Even if there's a trace of a tear in your eye as you drive home.
©Kurt Epps 2010 All rights reserved.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Chilled Potato Leek Soup
Mussels in White Wine and Fresh Herbs
Mesclun Salad with Chevre Crouton, Apples and Whole Mustard Vinaigrette
Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine
Apple Tart with Cream Anglais
Of course, the beers are a surprise, but they are sure to complement that avant-garde menu. If you want to go, reserve a spot by calling Uno's at (732) 548-7979
Cheers till then!
Monday, June 7, 2010
By Kurt Epps—The PubScout
The GABF it wasn't. But it wasn't intended to be.
A grand total of twelve beers were entered in Metuchen's Hailey's Harp and Pub First-Ever Homebrew Contest. But the paucity of beers was hardly a factor when it came to judging. Five Judges—Keith, Dave, Nate, Jim and Eddie—(their last names are under lock and key to deter any potential homebrew stalkers) gave every submission a thorough, detailed and scrupulous look as though it were in the final judging at that classic American beer festival. The first submission alone, evaluated at about 11:30 AM was subjected to an analysis so thorough-going that I fully expected the whole event to last till sunset. It didn't, of course, but I mention the dedication of the judges to fairly judge each beer because I was duly impressed.
Were any of these beers going to make Sam Adams' Longshot Series? Nope. But every one of the judges treated each beer as though it might. Moreover, the comments they made on their evaluation sheets were as constructively critical as they were honest. The consensus of all judges was quite simple: evaluate honestly, but, in the process, give this beermaker guidance as to how to make better beer. That approach revealed much about the judges and their commitment to good beer.
Each entry was the subject of extensive commentary about what the beer had—and didn't have. The judging sheets and the style books the judges consulted to make their determinations were excruciatingly involved. Comments about diacetyls, phenolics, fusel alcohol, oxidation, etc., were beyond what most average joes—including yours truly-- know about this beverage. Guys like me know basically two things: what we like and what we don't. Which is fine, because that's what beer is all about. No one should tell any beer drinker what he should or shouldn't like. If you like it, run with it.
But these guys were technicians. It's like me looking at an HD flat screen TV and deciding whether the picture is good or not. An HD TV technician will tell you WHY it is or isn't good.
They avoided written comments about personal preference and offered only comments about whether a beer was true to style or not—and why. And their assessments were always close to each other. They were unanimously convinced that prospective homebrewers should start simply, making good, drinkable, normal beers before branching off to more challenging specialty areas, however. Judge Dave said, "Make me a beer I want to drink ten of. Then try something more complex." Sounded like good advice to me.
Beermeister Tom Paffrath was the moderator, and Chris Flynn, Hailey's Publican, had it all organized to perfection.
The winners were: 1st Place—John Zirkel; 2nd Place—Keith Seguine; 3rd Place—Ben Bakelaar.
The top prize was $200 worth of homebrewing supplies.
An old friend of mine, Steve Gale, once told me that unless you make beer, you can only love it. To become intimate with it, you have to make it. It's a daunting task, I can tell you, having tried myself. So I suppose I have to relegate myself to the "Lovers" category.
Ben Franklin's famous quote about beer being proof that God loves us is still true. But the guys who make it must be on God's A-List. And the guys who judge it (like these guys judged it) must be God's deputies.
Hailey's will be hosting another fest in the Fall, this time opening it up to entries from more counties and possibly statewide, according to Chris Flynn. Check this blog to see when that event will be going off.
It's an education in beer the average joe should see once in his life. Maybe I'll video the next one, provided I have more than two hours of filming available on my Flip Video.
And by all means, try brewing your own, if for no other reason than to appreciate what goes into it.
By Kurt Epps—The PubScout
June 7, 2010
Let's be clear at the outset. McGillin's is The PubScout's favorite Philly pub. Its age has a lot to do with that, because age and character often go hand in hand when it comes to pubs. When you come into the Drury St. ale house, you not only feel that character, you get the feeling that you're quaffing with all those who have sat in the room raising pints since it was the Bell-in-Hand.
And yesterday's No-Holds Barred, all-out Gala Bash celebrating 150 years of welcoming thirsty visitors was completely fitting, showing very clearly that the McGillin's folks know how to party. With Drury St. tented and shut down completely (at considerable expense, mind you) , revelers came from far and wide, attired in everything from formal wear to underwear. (See pic).
The food was plentiful and good, from bangers and mash, Shepherd's Pie (outstanding), Seafood Newburg, Pierogies, fat pretzels with mustard and Lord knows what else. The grog flowed freely, with McGillin's 1860 IPA (made by Stoudt's Brewing) seeming—and deserving-- to get the lion's share of attention. The Irish fiddler, Boston's Patsy Whalen, his partner on guitar and Bagpiper Sharon (a dead ringer for Carol Stoudt, I thought) set the tone for a wild Irish party, and their music seemed to captivate, as well as motivate, everyone, inside and out.
At least until the special guests showed up. With a Philly Police escort, up Chestnut St. they clopped majestically, their gold-studded harnesses, collars and traces sparkling in the late afternoon sunshine. Steered by two horsemen and guided by special handlers and perhaps the most recognizable Dalmatian in the country, the magnificently huge Budweiser Clydesdales turned onto Juniper St. to a loud roar of approval from the fest-goers at McGillin's who spilled out of the pub to witness the approach, and the awestruck astonishment of pedestrians who were unaware of the event. Say what you want about that pro football team from Texas, these horses are the real "America's Team." Chris Mullins, Sr. clad in a spiffy white tux jacket, salmon vest—and Bermuda shorts and sandals—leapt into the driver's seat to deliver a rousing call to celebration—if not sartorial creativity.
Everybody who was anybody was there, and I met and chatted with some delightful folks, from Joe SixPack (the inimitable Don Russell) himself, to Miles Moser and Jessica, Lance and Katrina, Kevin and Tricia. I also had the distinct pleasure of (finally) meeting Irene Levy Baker, the Spotlight PR whiz kid who looks like she just graduated high school. The self-effacing Irene had much to do with the success of this event, though she steadfastly refuses to take any of the credit. So It's up to me to give her some.
The party lasted from 5 PM until 8, supposedly, but I probably wouldn't be going out on a limb to say it was likely longer than that, and may still be going on. Even the weather, which had caused some early consternation about tornados, cooperated properly. In all, it was a well-planned, well-organized apt tribute to a Philly Phixture, attended by those for whom McGillin's holds a special affection.
Which presents a problem.
If McGillin's waits another 50 years to party like that, most of those present will already be at Pa McGillin's side at The Publick House in the Sky. So I pulled aside an excited, exasperated and emotionally spent Chris the Younger and suggested to him that he do a 151-year celebration.
He may still be laughing.
©Kurt E.Epps All rights reserved 2010