Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How good do you look in a dirndl?

H/T to George D. for alerting me to this opportunity. I post it in the hope that a lovely, out-of-work madchen will find some gainful employment. Let your friends know, too. After all, Oktoberfest is no time to be dirndl-free...or beer-free, for that matter.

German Beer Girl For Oktoberfest

Monday, August 29, 2011

Kilkenny House Inundated, but Undaunted...

Our friends over at Kilkenny House in Cranford seem to have suffered the full effects of Hurricane Irene's rudeness, but a recent post from their FaceBook page shows that they are not easily deterred from their holy mission of hospitality.

The PubScout wishes them Godspeed and luck in their repairs, and he anxiously awaits the "Hoolie That Will Follow!"

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Buffaloed by Beer?

Who's got the rights in your view? The guy with the label approval or the guy who got his beer to market first--by two days? I say, send me a sample of each, and I'll decide...


In Wyoming, a Beer Brawl Breaks Out Over Buffalo Bill -

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Try drinking beer like a girl at the Breckenridge Beer Festival...

Been there...done that...and it's simply a GREAT place to enjoy beer (but I, of course, drank like a man...standing up. Cheers!


Try drinking beer like a girl at the Breckenridge Beer Festival - Dispatches - Breckenridge - Telligent

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Beer Around the House...

In keeping with my goal of finding interesting beer related stories to share, I came across this article. Pretty clever, some of 'em. My only advice is NOT to use the "good stuff." Cheers!


14 Household Uses for Beer -

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's New-Ark, not Newark

Spent a day at the University of Delaware on a college visit, and came across a neat little gem of a pub called Kildare's. Actually, it's part of a larger chain with locations in four other PA cities, including Manayunk, West Chester, Scranton and State College. The other, besides the one in Newark, is in Chapel Hill, NC. But if they're all as cozy and welcoming as the Newark site, they've got a good thing going.

Another thing they have going is a very extensive and ever-expanding beer list, well beyond the requisite Guinness and Yuengling. Rikki Goren is the Ass't Manager, and based upon some quick email communication, one that knows the value of a varied list of quality beers.

We only stopped in for a quick pint and a bite, so beyond the beer offerings, it wouldn't be fair to evaluate the whole place in terms of food, service, etc., though our server, Jordan, was a most likeable chap. And the view (it's a second-floor establishment) overlooking Main Street was pretty cool.

I will be heading back down soon, especially if my youngest becomes the "Third Bird." The eldest was a Blue Jay (Elizabethtown), the middle one is a Red Hawk (Montclair State) and the youngest wants to be a Fightin' Blue Hen. Me? I'm just broke from paying to feed the birds.

So I need a good pub to help me put things in perspective, and Kildare's looks like it can fill that bill. Speaking of bills, I hope they understand when the tab comes and I have no money.

Anyway, check it out if you're in one of those cities, and, as usual, tell 'em The PubScout sent you.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Pilsener Haus Biergarten: Ein Prosit!

By Kurt Epps—the PubScout

You would think a torrential downpour (which caused major flooding) might dampen a grand opening of a Hoboken Biergarten—and you would be wrong. Not only did Andy Ivanov and Co. get the flood cleaned up, they opened their doors after the storm passed—and another storm came in, this time of customers. The 402 person capacity may have been exceeded, but it was also matched during my visit there tonight, as the local gentry just kept coming in to see what this Biergarten business was all about. The building itself may have been an old warehouse, and entering through a gate to what looks like a big backyard was novel.

Set aside the very impressive beer list and Thomas Ferlesch's outstanding food for a moment. This Biergarten, located in "the mature end" of Ol' Blue Eyes' city, is authentic in many ways, and, if you have a good eye and ear, you may well believe that you've gone back to the 1930s or 40s somewhere in Austria or Germany where the Biergarten is a way of life. No fancy tables with window seats and white glove waiter service…just long benches and long block tables designed to accommodate crowds and enable people—even perfect strangers to engage each other, over some of the finest beers Europe and America have to offer.

Walk in by yourself, with your date or with twenty friends ( I doubt the Pilsener Haus takes reservations), and you're sure to find a comfortable place to consume your food and grog. Enjoy the conversation or just "people-watch." It's all good.

Note the lighting and the fixtures—old fashioned ceramic stays and exposed wires, giant lanterns with soft lights and candles everywhere, while music that sounds like Edith Piaf plays in the background. The walls, taps, barstools and art will all transport the sharp-eyed observer back in time, and most wouldn't be surprised if Bogie himself sauntered through the door.

Order up a Stiegl and a Sausage Platter (large enough for two), or quaff an Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen with any meat dish in either of the two inside rooms or out on the umbrella'ed patio. You'll find yourself doing exactly what Andrei Ivanov had in mind when he concocted the idea of filling this niche.

Though the premise of social quaffing may be similar, a biergarten experience is different from that of a pub or tavern. Having been in biergartens in Die Faderland and here in America, it's a very special ambience, and Ivanov and Co. have captured it. My two quaffing partners on this visit—Mike Clayton, head wrestling coach at Stevens Institute, and Rob Dickerson, newly appointed SubScout, were both very impressed and vowed to return. Clayton has special plans for his wrestling alumni that I'm sure will please them.

But simply beer alone can't do it. There has to be hearty, delicious food, too and Chef Tom Ferlesch has seen to that. He began cooking school at the age of 14 in Austria. Three years later, he struck out to look for work and found it. He even did a stint at the prestigious Southampton Princess Hotel in Bermuda. But, at age 21, he set his sights on the Big Apple and has built a fine reputation for his food. Be sure to ask for the wurst he created…it is killer, especially in the dark brown sauce.

And speaking of "killer," take a gander at the waitstaff. Besides Leslie, Chris and Erica--imagine my surprise to see Gina (from The Brick) beautifying the floor of yet another great place. The barstaff knows their beer, too. Rick, who is related to one of the Alstroms of Beer Advocate, was friendly, knowledgeable and on target with his recommendations.

The food menu, like the beer menu, is extensive, and charcuterie-style. If you want, you can just get up and visit one of the grillers and tell him what you desire. It will be at your place in minutes. The beers come in a variety of Old World glassware, too, from "shorty" mugs to Huge HofbrauHaus mugs you could bathe in, to oversized weisse bier glasses. Don't expect the waitresses to heft five of those big mugs per hand, like their counterparts in Munchen often do. Their muscles aren't that big yet, as they've only been open two days. What's important is that they bring one beer—yours. The Pilsener Haus even has its very own beer, made in Germany by Bitburger.

Andrei Ivanov and Ladi Sebestyan have taken a big gamble in the hopes that Americans will warm to this European style of drinking and dining. If the crowds on the first two nights are any indication, they may have hit the jackpot.

Oktoberfest season here should be off the charts. The Pilsener Haus Biergarten will be on The PubScout's charts, hopefully for many years to come.

Don't forget to check out the downloadable pics on the right. And here's a live video of owner Andy.

Copyright 2011 Kurt Epps All rights reserved

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lagunitas Comes to Mohawk House

By Kurt Epps—The PubScout

Steve Scro is a driven man. He's driven to making his Mohawk House one of the premier food and beer destinations in the state, if not the tri-state area. And, judging by the lines of cars waiting to be valet-serviced before his special Lagunitas Night, much of the tri-state area was there.

Speaking of drives, Scro's Mohawk House, located in Sparta, NJ was more than an hour's drive for The PubScout, up 287 and Rt. 80 during rush hour. But it's one I make without complaint or reservation, because I know what's waiting for me when I get there: great beer, exceptional food, wonderful service and a mountain house atmosphere that just says, "Welcome to the family."

And to his already burgeoning family of beers, Scro added seven from Lagunitas (Petaluma, CA) last night. That Lagunitas was in the house this night made the drive even more acceptable. If you've ever had a Hairy Eyeball, you know what I'm talking about. On this night, though, the Eyeball was nowhere to be seen, but the blind hophead needn't have feared. After getting a neck pass from the affable Trevor, standing mountain-like in the door, he could just follow his nose to the bar where Maggie and her girls would gladly pour three IPA's—including one imperial/double called Farmhouse Hop Stoopid. The hophead could also revel in Lagunitas IPA (6.2%), A Little Sumpin' Sumpin'(7.5%), Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale (9.75%), my favorite Lucky 13.Alt(8.9%), a Pils (6.1%) and a Pale ale, New Dogtown with the lowest ABV in the mix at 5.3%.

Scro is also driven to do everything the "right" way, and that's why the crowds were out the door last night. When they did get in, they were served plattered foods, no doubt designed by the creative Chef Sabo, that were just as unusual and delicious as the beer. Spiced Pork belly Tacos were first, followed by a very tasty Liverwurst Baguette. A most unusual—and unusually good—Date Wrapped in Bacon Stuffed with Peanut Butter came next, and on its heels was a fit-in-your-palm Sweet Potato Danish. A delightful Tumbleweed Cheddar with a Fig on a Chocolate Oat Cracker was offered, and the last dish was called Turkey Bacon, Goat Cheese and "Goslowski" Sauce. I don't know who Goslowski is—or was—but he makes a good sauce.

While I schmoozed among the beer nuts, both neophyte and cognoscenti, the missus sat at the bar and enjoyed an "awesome Crab Cake, one of the best I've ever had." We befriended a mother-daughter couple named Anne (mom) and Peggy (daughter). I have often said that beer brings good people together (the subtitle of this blog says it, too), and Anne and Peggy proved it true. Anne, an old-fashioned, charming Irish gal from Vevay, IN (with a leprechaun's twinkle in her eye) was a delight in conversation, and she didn't look a day over 50. Her doting, statuesque daughter Peggy was cut from the same cloth. Meeting folks like that is perhaps the greatest benefit of beer events like this—after the beer, of course.

Because most of us were there "after the beer." But I noticed something unusual. The place was packed to the gills between 6 PM and 7:30, when, after my third Lucky 13, I saw that the bar suddenly had seats available. It was as though all the "Lagunitas People" had been transported. Which they had been, to the "backyard" of the sprawling Mohawk House near the bocce courts, enjoying the cool, fresh mountain air, a beautiful night, each other's company, and, naturally, the beer.

In all, a great night at the Mohawk House.

When's the next one? Whenever you can get there.

Don't forget to check out the pics to the right.

©Kurt Epps 2011 All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Thrill May Be Gone, but

the real adventure has just begun. Most kids who turn 21 exult when they can finally drink legally, and they celebrate big time--sometimes, sadly, in excess. But they may also find that their previously illegal beer drinking was part of the allure. After all, pounding BudMillerCoorsNattyLites furtively does seem to thrill many of the college set, a feeling generated by "I'm not supposed to do this, so it's cool." But many have confessed to me, privately, that the verboten aspect of beer drinking was part of its attraction. That their college wallets usually didn't allow for purchases of better beer may have also been part of the equation. But as beer sages have told us from time immemorial: Life is too short to drink bad beer.

With his reaching of the milestone of his 21st birthday, Rob Dickerson, a most engaging and intelligent young man, has entered the Hallowed Halls of Hops. A whole new world of craft beer awaits him as he flexes the four senses he will use to become a discerning SubScout. I hereby congratulate him, as well as deputize him to search his world for quality beers and pubs, and relay the information to me. When he is accomplished enough, I may even allow him to guest-column here, in which case we will use our fifth sense--hearing--by clinking our pints together at a convenient time and place.

Welcome aboard, Mr. Dickerson, and a very Hoppy Birthday!

The PubScout