Thursday, December 29, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
By Kurt Epps, The PubScout
At Delicious Heights, the menus are lit. The tap handles on the "Maya Bridges" are lit. And, if you're not careful with beers like Delirium Tremens and Mad Elf, you will be, too.
On the word of fellow biker and beer-lover Larry Deahl, I made the short trek to the three-month-old Bedminster pub and restaurant for a thorough review. Formerly known as Willie's Tavern, this 1780 structure (with a horse supposedly buried somewhere out back) was thoroughly gutted and refurbished in fine fashion by Alex Rubinstein along with co-owners Dominic and Ralph Acquaviva. It's the second Delicious Heights in the area, with the first one having opened in Berkeley Heights on the day the Giants won their last Super Bowl. While the original Heights may have produced a learning curve, it's clear that curve was instructive, as the Bedminster facility is running on all eight cylinders and is rather fabulous in many areas, not the least of which is the beer offerings.
Managing those offerings is a former record store employee turned crackerjack beerman named Jason Turon. With a sound beer knowledge, a very winning personality and a seemingly endless supply of energy and good humor, Turon keeps the twenty-four drafts lines humming, pumped, as they are, through a system known as a Maya Bridge. Said device circulates glycol through all taps and that means probably the coldest beer you can get on draft in NJ. So efficient is the system that any beer less than 4.6%--which means all "light" beers-- cannot be tapped as they would freeze. The Guinness line, therefore, has a special device surrounding it which allows it to flow freely. There's even an "ice rail" that separates the bar drinking area from the servers which allows quaffers to keep their beer cold. One of those servers, the sultry Sarah can be seen posing with her favorite PubScout in the pics on the right hand side.
Cold beer has its devotees, for sure, especially in the summer months, but what about the plethora of Winter Warmers on draft, like Sam Adams Winter Lager, Mad Elf, Celebrator, Brooklyn, Smuttynose and Anchor OSA that must pass through the lines? "There's not much we can do about that, except to pour them and let them warm up a bit," said Turon. And warm up, they do, especially when the beer drinker can pause to order some of the best food you can find in any NJ restaurant while chatting with a very friendly and very comely serving staff. Take Denise (in the pics), for example. Two kitchens run 24/7 to keep up with the demand for this high quality/medium-priced fare. I had a Panko Shrimp appetizer that came with five huge Panko-encrusted shrimp and dipping sauce for just $12. The missus gave her Panko Shrimp Salad a hearty thumbs up, not being able to converse with her mouth full. The Guacamole was fresh-made and the chips used to scoop it were still warm.
The clientele at Delicious Heights is as varied as its beer list. Twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings, heck all the way up to geezers like The PubScout pack the place, which Jason says, "…is crazy on the weekends." Not hard to see why.
But what you're not likely to see is the "Depths" of Delicious Heights. Jason took The PubScout and two thirty-something stunners in his party—Susan and Brooke—on a tour of the bowels of the place to see the engines that keep the place running smoothly. Wells Banana Bread Beer and selections from Innis and Gunn were patiently waiting their call to duty upstairs. There was even a crate of Infinium in the queue. If you have to ask, google that baby. Fascinating to me was the main beam of the Revolutionary War era house which was a large, wide and long tree trunk set in place to, well, hold up the place. Inasmuch as my own home has the keel of a last-century sailing ship as its main beam, I found the tour quite fascinating.
Appealing to the eye, palate and ear, dotted with flatscreens and actually somewhat labyrinthine in layout, Delicious Heights will not disappoint. There's even a separate bar room in the back just for those who prefer liquid sustenance.
Turon allowed that his beer lines are cleaned every 28 days and his beers are rotated frequently to keep up with the demands of that eclectic clientele. Constantly searching for new beers to offer, Turon abides by the message of the small tattoo on his right forearm which reads, "Stop Wasting Time."
Apparently the whole operation abides by it as well, because in just three months, Delicious Heights has been on fire, not waiting for another Giants Super Bowl win. Its ample parking lot is almost always full. You can't make a reservation here, but you should have no problem getting a seat or a table, as the place is quite large.
Bottom line is that if you like good beer, good food, friendly staff and an exceptional ambience, put Delicious Heights of Bedminster on your must-visit list, and tell them The PubScout sent you.
Even those credentials however, will probably not get you the "Depths Tour." But you can take it by seeing the You-Tube videos that yours truly was kind enough to upload here.
Cheers and Merry Christmas!
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Chris Percello took over the brewing duties at Uno’s from Mike Sella a few months ago. But he “made his bones” last night.
It was Chris’s first attempt at what has become a treasured tradition at the Metuchen brewpub—the Uno’s Beer Dinner. Handled ably by Mike Sella and Co. for 14 years, Chris, knowing he had big shoes to fill, stepped up to the plate for his first real at-bat—and he went “yard.”
He had help, to be sure, and he’s the first to acknowledge it. From a history-making female duo in the kitchen, to Lenny and Alexis’ efficient and attentive waitstaff duties, to the presence of Chris’s own tutor—Die Biermeister Dave Hoffman, to the assistance of a blonde beauty named Natalie who made the knock-your-socks-off Scotch Ale ice cream, Chris’s support was solid.
It’s called a beer dinner for two reasons: the beer and the dinner. And in the dinner category, Chef Doreen De Paolo had some tough acts to follow herself. But the petite blonde with the perennial smile, along with female assistant Migna in the kitchen, put out dishes that were second to none—and judging by some comments—a new bar was set. Everything that came out was delicious, and the assembly of 39 ½ (Georgia counts for the half) proclaimed their approval with every course.
From Stephanie: “Love this salad, especially the cranberries.”
From Kurt Hoffman: “This pork is absolutely delicious. Bring me another lager.”
From Dave Hoffman: “I never thought pumpkin and shrimp would taste this good, but it’s “bangin!”
Also from Dave Hoffman: “Is there another one of these Scotch Ale ice creams?”
Which brings us to the beer. The standard practice is to have three Uno’s beers and three guest beers, and having Climax beers pretty much assures success. But Chris’s own interpretations of the Uno’s classics (the IPA and the Scotch Ale), stood on their own merit, as did his own, relatively new, creation of a dark lager which accompanied some incredible cheese steak rolls. Climax was represented by three beers which have earned worldwide, national and statewide recognition: Climax E.S.B., Nut Brown and Helles, in that order. But Dave Hoffman, playing Santa, brought a special gift in the form of his exclusive Bavarian Dark Lager, available only in three places in the metro area—NY (Brooklyn), NJ (Jersey City) and PA (Philadelphia). Malty, “Munich-y” and with a nose that had some guests swooning, it was a delightful and delicious surprise.
Of course, when you hit a home run in your first at-bat, people expect you to do it every time. But because there are more variables you can control, it’s a lot easier in brewpubs than in baseball, where just a hit every three at-bats is considered excellent.
Ah, the pressure of greatness.
Check out the pics above right to see some of the night’s action.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Coors Light is always promoting its coldness in commercials--you know, the Silver Bullet Train that roars through wherever, or the label that changes color when it's cold enough. What the commercial doesn't say is that the colder a beer is, the less you can actually taste of it, which, in the case of Coors Light, may be a blessing.
The article below doesn't say whether the guy who survived by "eating" Coors Light enjoyed the taste, but at least he's alive. Check it out.
(PS: There was no comment on the color of the label...)
Sunday, December 4, 2011
We shared a bomber of Mad Elf (just to set the mood) and eventually had some dinner after the shoot. The missus' outstanding NushKumShmush (my favorite) was accompanied by some San Tan (AZ) Hop Shock IPA, and then it was time for dessert.
We decided to try the G&I Highland Cask, a beer aged in malt whisky oak casks--single malt, 18 years-old-- for 71 days.
A very pretty beer, its nose was redolent with oaky, woody notes and yielded some vanilla as well. In mouthfeel, it was medium bodied, but very smooth and silkier than it looked. The taste was exceptional and the finish malty.
It would make a fine dessert beer by itself, but the missus produced a loaf of her classic banana bread, and the pairing was exceptional. As Rob put it, "They complemented each other, making each different and better than it had been alone."
The kid, who's just taken the plunge into craft beer, is learning his lessons well, I'd say.
Because they had to drive back to school, I did not open the second bottle, which was Innis & Gunn's Original. Also oak-aged, it claims to be a "honey-hued beer with aromas of vanilla and toffee, and a malty, lightly oaked finish."
We'll see. I'd like to keep this baby around until Christmas, but if its brother is any indication, it probably won't make it that long.
Especially if the banana bread is still here tomorrow.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
"Take a peek at the Sam Adams Winter Classics Variety Pack. They finally got the mix right by dumping fizzy Cranberry Lambic and the out-of-season White Ale and replacing them with a warming Chocolate Bock and the new Black & Brew coffee stout."
That's great news concerning those new replacements. The Chocolate Bock is a goodie, though my buddy Ty in AZ pans it. And in honor of my Jewish beer-nut friends, I will have to try He'Brew's (The Chosen Beer) Jewbilation 15, which sounds positively scrumptious.
You can read more of "Joe's" Christmas suggestions here.
Cheers! And Merry Christmas!