Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Monday, March 26, 2012

Beer: It's Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

You send a child off to college in the hope that he or she will find a satisfying, respectable, legal mission in life--one that hopefully will allow them to put food and beverage back IN the refrigerator after they graduate, while allowing enough to pay for your assisted living care.

And what do they do? They send you information like this.

Which will not, admittedly, do any of those things above.

But it did bring a smile to my face. H/T to son Kazzy for finding these gems. Now hit the books, lad.

Assisted living isn't getting any cheaper.

The PubScout

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Beers on the Boards a Huge Success

Not that anyone expected a Chris DePeppe production to turn out otherwise. DePeppe, who does about nine of these events a year in PA and NJ, including Beer on the Pier at Belmar, had his engine firing on all 12 cylinders for this first-ever event at Martell’s Tiki Bar in Pt. Pleasant. The place is perfect for this type of event, too.

The weather, which looked promising early on, took a chilly, rainy turn hard by the gray Atlantic, but no one demonstrated any displeasure as the entire event took place inside the cavernous space known as Martell’s. Twenty-six brewers were on hand to share their wares, and share they did, to the delight of the crowd. What set this beer fest apart from so many others, however, was that food was included in the price. And I’m not just talking overcooked pigs in blankets. Martell’s put out a buffet that was worthy of any gourmand, most being made with some of the beers being served. Selections included Macaroni topped with Crab, Beach Haus Hot Dogs, Cricket Hill Kielbasa and Kraut, Beef Brisket made with Yard’s Philadelphia Pale Ale, Fish and Chips made with Yard’s Brawler, Blue Point Tipsy Chicken, Balsamic Chicken with Bleu Cheese and Apples made with Winner Rental from Beach Haus, Scalloped Potatoes and a fruit and Cheese Italian Antipasto.

I spoke to many attendees, and while all praised the number of beer offerings and the variety of same, every single one commented specifically about the caliber of the food in the buffet, so Martell’s deserves great credit. So does DePeppe, for where do you get a buffet like that included with the admission ticket to any Beer Fest? And let's not forget the other co-sponsor, the Point Pleasant Beach Chamber of Commerce. It's nice when entities work together on projects that benefit the public and the community.

That could account for why both sessions of the event—afternoon and evening—were sold out. There could be close to a thousand palates passing through Martell's today. I was fortunate enough to be standing near the blokes who were unpacking Palm and Steen Brugge—two excellent beers—when I noticed a case of Rodenbach on the floor behind the bar.

“Are you putting that out today?” I asked the barman.

“Not till later,” he said with a wink. Needless to say, I was there when “later” happened, and the Rodenbach and I got along famously. But that’s not to say I eschewed the other offerings. Just the opposite. Using my handy two-ounce glass, I worked my way around to various tables—Carton, Kane, Tuckahoe, Beach Haus, Brooklyn, Staropramen and others—and enjoyed the samplings immensely, as did everyone else on the place.

With entertainment both inside and out, conviviality was the order of the day, and I even ran into my beer buddy Paul Mulshine, who makes his home at The Point. We chatted beer, politics, beer, government, beer, elections and beer. The beer discussions were the most memorable, and yours truly may have turned him on to Rodenbacher in a big way. I even got a chance to meet the “Captain” though his image will not be seen in any photos to your right.

Chris DePeppe and Martells’ did a masterful job with Beers on the Boards. The Pubscout can’t wait for the next one. Check out the pics here.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Homebrewers: The New Terrorists?

This article should concern everyone who homebrews.

Got your ears on?

Quick Hits!

Two beer events on the, a beer dinner at Hailey's Harp and Pub in Metuchen on April 17, and the other, a Cask Ale Event at Uno's Grill and Brewery near Menlo Park on Saturday April 21. More details will follow as they become available, but mark your calendars now!

And don't forget Beers on The Boards in Pt. Pleasant this Saturday!

The PubScout

Thursday, March 15, 2012

On St. Patrick's Day...

The PubScout has some surprising news.

While there are few boyos who enjoy an Irish pub more than I do, the headline is that I do not frequent them on St. Patty's Day. It's not because the fiddle doesn't thrill me; it does. It's not because real Irish Step-Dancers aren't fascinating; they are. And it's surely not because the sound of a bagpipe playing Danny Boy doesn't bring a tear to my eye; it does.

The real reason I don't frequent an Irish pub--or any other pub-- on St. Patty's Day is that there are too many amateurs out drinking who lose sight of what the day is about. March 17 is not, and should not be, an orgiastic festival of drunken revelry. It should be a day which celebrates brotherhood, conviviality, song, pleasant thoughts and reverence to a higher power. And not the power that has in its ingredients the ability to coax a bloke into debauched tomfoolery, if not lay him low entirely.

That's why The PubScout has a St. Patty's Day tradition that has remained unbroken for more than two decades. This tradition requires:

  1. A good Irish beer. For some suggestions, go here. or pick up some Flying Fish Exit 9.
  2. As many of your family as are available, especially the little ones. But even if they're no longer little, they should be there.
  3. A DVD or movie of the Walt Disney Classic "Darby O'Gill and The Little People."
  4. Your snack of choice.
Pour the beer into the pint glasses of those old enough to drink it. The little ones can have Seven-Up or Sprite, made more festive by green food coloring. Spread out the snacks. Turn off the lights. Turn the DVD on, and enjoy the experience. Especially marvel at the youthful appearance of Sean Connery. Laugh at the antics of King Brian of Knocknasheega. Try to determine if the female lead is not blind. Quake before The Banshee! Resist the temptation to shoot Pony Sugrue. And his mother. And of course, take Darby into your heart. And buy him a denture.

And, when it's over, try not to sing, "Oh, she's my dear my darling one, her eyes so sparkling like the sun, I love the ground she walks upon--my pretty Irish girl!"

I have the DVD, the family (most of it anyway) and the snacks. I just need to go out and get the beer.

Because it wouldn't be a St. Patty's Day without that.

Cheers! The PubScout

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bittings, Buddy pack the Old House

Bittings brewpub, Cake Boss draw overflow crowds
I had stopped into JJ Bittings brewpub in Woodbridge in the early afternoon to grab a sample of their anniversary Belgian Ale. Found a parking place right outside the front door, too. When I met Mike Cerami inside, he asked if I was coming back for the “party” celebrating Bittings’ 15th Anniversary at 4 PM. Having done the very first review of Bittings fifteen years ago, how could I decline?
So I had a pint of Brewer Sheehan’s very fine Belgian Abbey, sampled his Vintage Cherry Stout and left to do some errands and returned around 4:30.
Forget a front parking spot. In fact, I had to weave around a phalanx of video cameramen and photographers who had come out to chronicle the arrival of TV’s The Cake Boss (Buddy Valastro), who provided the special cake for this very special event. It was not only a celebration of Bittings’ tenure, but a hefty chunk of the proceeds on the day were targeted for a special foundation to a scholarship for a Woodbridge Marine who died in Afghanistan this year. Cpl. Kevin Reinhard of Colonia was one of six Marines killed on Jan. 19 during a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
Even after dodging the paparazzi, as dignified and important a guest as yours truly (!) was relegated to a parking space way down in the NJ Transit parking lot behind the brewpub.
A party atmosphere inside was already in progress—free buffet with delicious foods, a band, the Cake Boss and his entourage, balloons and plenty of iPhone-wielding customers who wanted a keepsake of Buddy. Considering that the lines outside his Hoboken store often wind down into Jersey City, this was probably the closest they would ever get to the legend. Buddy was congenial and accommodating, giving everyone a chance to pose and he even signed autographs. One of those who posed was legendary Woodbridge Mayor John McCormack, a good friend of Bittings owner Cerami and an equally good friend of the craft beer scene. And cake, I suspect, by the smile he flashed standing next to Buddy.
Spirits were high throughout the afternoon with roving bands of cameramen following the celebs around this more-than-100-year old edifice hard by the NJ Transit tracks. Most of those in my immediate area, far from the madding crowd, had words of praise for the anniversary ale. Opinions were mixed on the Vintage Cherry Stout—which I enjoyed. Sheehan’s Barley Legal barleywine, on tap for about a month, also got good reviews from most. I’m sure its 9% ABV had nothing to do with that.
Having midwifed Bittings’ birth, I was quite proud to see how it has evolved under Cerami’s steady hand. It has surely seen its share of brewers, but Cerami has been fortunate to seek out and acquire some of the best available. Bittings is a neighborhood place, quaint and very much like the Cheers bar, where everybody knows your name. And that’s a major reason for its success.
The PubScout raises his glass to Bittings and its crew, wishing them at least another decade of success. The 25th anniversary party however, might necessitate my parking in Perth Amboy just to find a spot.
Check out more pics here!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Clever Commercial, and worth a toast!

H/T to Bruce on FB for steering--nay, herding me-- into watching this commercial from Guinness. You have to love the UK sense of humor--not to mention the size of their wallets, because, at two minutes in length, this commercial in the US would have cost a pretty penny.

Good fun, though, and a reminder that March 17 is not that far off.

Cheers! The PubScout

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

That's the genteel way of using just the first letters of these words (as I might on FaceBook) when I read news like this.

Nothing like encouraging folks to go after quality craft beer.

Samuel Mambo Holiday.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What a beer can can do...

No that isn't a double-word typo in the headline. But here's a good-humored link for those who might want to boost their wireless router range using a spent beer can. Supposedly increases the power by 2-4 bars, by the way.

I'm guessing it works with soda cans, too, but what sorry soul, given a choice of sugary, tooth-rotting pop or health-inducing, palate-pleasing Dale's Pale Ale would choose the former?

The nice thing, of course, is that the contents of the can cannot be in it when attempting this.

But you knew that, right?


Oh, and one other caution for any potential Darwin Award winners out there. Glass bottles do not work here.

Though they make far better musical instruments when empty.

Still, this idea is enough to prompt a visit to the local liquor locker to check out quality, canned craft beers. Hope it works!

Cheers! The PubScout