Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vessel for the Gun Nut

If you're looking for that very special gift for the Beer Loving Gun Nut in your life (or The Beer Nut who's addicted to the Military Channel, like me), this is your lucky day. The Battle Mug is made from a solid block of aluminum, features a handle from an AR-15 rifle, and has mounting rails for accessories like night-vision scopes (though, like bric-a-brac on doilies, why those would be necessary is up for debate).

Anyway, check it out here.

Personally, it doesn't appeal to me as much as a clear glass or mug, especially when served by a dirndl-clad madschen.

But whatever floats your Zodiac boat, Seals. And the Night-Vision attachment may help in finding your way to the loo in the dark.

Cheers! The PubScout

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

FlyBoys on a Mission

Look under the wings of this WW2 Spitfire. Are those some new kind of bombs? Well, no. But they could lay you out if you're not careful.

Much is often written about the beer-loving Germans, Czechs and Belgians. But when it comes to beer, Great Britain takes a back seat to no one. Herewith, a WW2 story, the likes of which I have not seen reported by either the Germans, the Czechs or the Belgians.

Hat tip to Brewer Tom Paffrath for the link!

The PubScout

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fox and Hound Makes Promising Run at Beer Dinner Market

February 21, 2012

There is a big difference between having a beer with dinner and having a Beer Dinner. While the former can be delightful with the right choices, it is usually more mundane than special, and far less social. The latter is—and has to be-- a special occasion. The sly folks at the Fox and Hound near Menlo Park Mall, launching its inaugural beer dinner voyage, seem to know this.

Descriptions—in color—of all the beers served awaited guests at their tables, as did professionally printed menus with beer selections included. The seating arrangement was designed—smartly—to enhance the convivial aspect of the evening. It seemed clear to The PubScout that management knows what’s needed to spark interest in a pub as a welcoming place, especially in pubs that offer a variety of good beer along with normal pub-grub.

Manager Mike Scofield, who did all the cooking for the Fox and Hound’s First-Ever Beer Dinner, made sure that the menu was a special one, not just the normal fare one can get any day at this spacious and comfortable pub. Normally, Mike is the general manager, and does none of the regular cooking, though he allowed that cooking is his passion. Judging by the comments of the crowd of thirty that gave this experiment a try, he should be given more access to the kitchen. The crowd, by the way, was the largest crowd ever for a beer dinner launch in the central Jersey area—at least in The PubScout’s extensive experience. And all with whom I spoke were impressed—impressed enough to promise a return to the next one in three months.

A good third of the crowd were good-beer-and-food devotees from neighboring establishments that have hosted special beer dinners. The F&H used its social media connections like FaceBook , Twitter and an email blast to alert customers to the event. That kind of corporate cooperation is critical to both launching and maintaining a credible--and creditable--beer and food operation.

Scofield, a reader of The PubScout’s blog, was coming back from a session with his F&H District Manager Mike Simpson, when he suggested that the company begin doing beer dinners. To Scofield’s surprise, Simpson said that the company was about to begin doing just that. The green light was on.

While Scofield clearly knew his way around the scullery, he was smart enough to seek professional help on the beer side by enlisting the aid of Rachel McAdams, an upward-bound distributing exec with star-quality looks, to provide the Sam Adams beer and the ancillary goodies that make beer dinners special—like hats, key-chains and quality glasses the guest can take home. Jim Koch would have been proud of her as she advised the crowd to “romance” their beer, rather than just slug it back, as the “Guys from Brooklyn” wanted to do—at first.

A rousing game of Presidential trivia, in honor of President’s day got the NJ Devil’s table two free tickets to the next beer dinner, tentatively set for each quarter, thanks to the ingenuity of Erick Bollinger, a bar manager in training who served effectively as maitre d’ the entire event. The waitstaff of Ashley, Leesha and Erica were friendly and efficient in serving the food, and they became expert beer pourers as well.

For a first attempt, the Fox and Hound has much to be proud of, and Scofield’s creative wheels are already turning with themes of future dinners. Given the plethora of good beer that lies waiting in his taps, future dinners could see a very nice variety of combinations. With the promise of corporate cooperation, as well as a solid quarterly commitment to regularly scheduled beer dinners, the future looks bright indeed. While the recipe for success is not difficult, implementing it properly is, and the Fox and Hound has done that admirably.

Other establishments might soon be chasing The Fox and Hound for Beer Dinner market share.

Check out the pictures at right. Click on any picture in the Photostream or on View My Gallery, then Fox and Hound Dinner 1.

Cheers! The PubScout

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Man (and woman) kind's debt to beer

"Back in the day" ( as my students used to say, usually eliminating the word "old" and the plural of day), I would begin my senior World Literature unit by telling stories of early humans as "hunter-gatherers." At the conclusion of my tales, with my students either rapt or nodding off (especially if it was a morning class or a class immediately after lunch), I would tell them that when these nomads eventually decided to settle down, nothing less than civilization began. Then I'd give an assignment by asking them to think about this question: What momentous, cataclysmic event could it have been that made these nomads decide to forgo their "nomading" and settle down? Then I'd tell them that a close friend of mine was the curator at a very prestigious museum, and he would be allowing me to bring into class tomorrow (so you don't want to be absent, boys and girls!) the very valuable item that was responsible for the birth of civilization.

The next day, after reviewing the assignment and building up the pending revelation with sufficient drama, I'd very carefully and slowly reach into my lower desk drawer and extract an item wrapped in velvet cloth.

An empty bottle of beer.

Pete's Wicked Red, to be precise, because it had a picture of Ninkasi, the Beer Goddess, on the label.

I taught mostly seniors in high school. And when you begin your school year by praising beer in a class of seniors, you've got them on the hook until June. Let them discover that you get paid to go to bars and drink beer, and you've got Facebook friends for life. And some of them, nearing retirement age, still call you "Mr."

Yes. Beer can do that. And it seems that what I taught is now being verified by professionals.

The picture and motto on this very blog is testimony to how important beer was. And is.

Enjoy the article! H/T to Carl for the heads-up!

Cheers! The PubScout

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Beer on the Boards

Beer on the Boards

The inaugural Beers On The Boards festival makes it debut on the Point Pleasant Boardwalk on Saturday, March 24th.

The organizers are the Point Pleasant Beach Chamber of Commerce, Martell’s Tiki Bar and TotalBruMarketing/ and the event is billed as a showcase of the quality of our local and regional microbreweries and a craft beer celebration.

“Microbrewery is not really the right word for many of these guys anymore,” says organizer Chris DePeppe, owner of TotalBru Marketing and (and a Wall H.S. graduate).

“There has been such amazing growth in the world of craft brewing in the US that a lot of the breweries that started in a garage are now regional or national brands, so it’s hard to call them ‘micro’ anymore. But they are still making quality beer with quality ingredients and are not some mass-produced, flavorless commodity, so it makes sense to refer to them as ‘craft breweries’ now.”

The growth of brands like Brooklyn and Sierra Nevada, DePeppe explains, are indicative of the industry’s remarkable success.

“Ken Grossman was selling cases out of his trunk in 1980 and maybe doing 2000 barrels a year in the mid 80s, and they brew over 700,000 barrels a year now,” DePeppe says, referring to the founder and CEO of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

On a more local level, breweries like Kane, Carton and East Coast are attempting to replicate on a smaller scale just what Grossman did 20 years ago.

“I love what these guys are doing and I think that the best advice for anyone who loves good beer is to support your local breweries,” DePeppe emphasizes. “You always have to respect that the very best beer flavor will always be derived from a fresh product and that the freshest beers should always be the local ones, so if you love great fresh beer, you should demand it from your local pub or retail store. Or make your own.”

The event at Martell’s Tiki Bar is the first ever on the Point Pleasant boardwalk and will feature over 20 craft breweries, an all-day gourmet buffet, live music, and some boardwalk games and prizes. There are two sessions, in the afternoon from 12:30 to 4:00 PM and in the evening from 6:00 to 9:30 PM. Tickets are limited and are likely to sell out. For online ticket information, go to

Call Carol Vaccaro at the Point Pleasant Beach Chamber of Commerce for more information or to be part of the event as an exhibitor or sponsor.

This event will be a true craft beer tasting and a celebration of the unlimited flavors of beer. You will get to talk to the brewmasters, owners and brewery reps and see what is behind the rapid growth of craft brewing in New Jersey.

The beers will not be the standard flagship flavors from each brewery. We will be featuring one specialty beer from each brewery and we have added two additional tasting areas that will feature Belgian and German beers as well as some crazy super-hoppy beers.

The buffet will feature beer-inspired classics, like brats cooked in brown ale, beer-battered fish and chips, and more, each prepared with a beer from one of our participating breweries (see menu page for an updated menu).

Buy Tickets Early for this one though because we have VERY limited space and will not oversell this event and expect to sell out both sessions.

The value of this event compared to other beer fests:







Buy Tickets Before February 21st and get $5 off.

Enter the discount code SEAGULL.

Sounds like The PubScout's kind of event!


Monday, February 13, 2012

A First at The Fox and Hound

Mark your calendars for Monday evening, Feb 20 at the Fox and Hound Pub in Menlo Park. The pub will be hosting a first-ever beer dinner and The PubScout is happy to participate in this ground-breaking event. Many of the old (and young--see photo L.) familiar faces will be on hand.

The menu:

Course 1- Bruschetta paired with Sam Adams Alpine Spring
Course 2 Wedge Salad paired with Sam Adam Cherry Wheat
Course 3 Pesto Pasta served with Sam Adams Pale Ale
Course 4 Roast Pork Tenderloin served with Sam Adams Irish Red
Course 5 NY Style Cheescake with Blueberries paired with Sam adams Blackberry Witbier

The festivities start at 7 PM. Call 732 452 9100 at the Pub to reserve your spot.


The PubScout

Friday, February 10, 2012

Listen to Dr. Manny

Dr. Manny Alvarez holds forth on the many health benefits of beer. Nothing new, of course, to those of us who truly know the beverage, but nice for the laity to learn.

Reminds me of the story of the 98 year-old woman who thanked the Funeral Director after the wake of her 99 year-old husband.

"How old are you, Mrs. Dinkelacker?" asked the director.

"Ninety-eight," she said, dejectedly.

Then added, "Hardly worth going home, is it?"

Bottoms Up!
The PubScout

Uno's Dinner "Postponed"

I had heard some rumblings about changes being considered for the pending 2/27 Uno's Beer Dinner, so I contacted Brewer Chris Percello to get the skinny. Chris confirmed that the dinner will indeed be postponed, but details about why are sketchy. Chris added that another Cask Event is slated for early Spring, however.

Meanwhile, word has it that a nearby local tavern/eatery has a Beer Dinner in the works for February 20. I have few details at the moment, but when I know them, so will you. Stay tuned!

The PubScout