Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

For the NYC Good Beer Nut in July

It is said that Life is too short to drink bad beer, though many folks are still unaware that there is a plethora of good beer awaiting them if they'd just take the chance. July is officially Good Beer Month, though I confess that at The PubScout's house it's a year-long celebration. However, there's a very sweet deal for those in NYC who are true Beer Nuts. And, even better, it's good for TWO months! The PubScout's next pint is raised to Tom Moore for sending this my way! You can thank him any way you want.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A-1277 advances

A-1277 is making gains in the assembly. The question is how much pressure the big boys bring to bear when it's Crunch Time...stay tuned!

Pass me a beer?

The passing is cool...the drinking, not so much.  Check this out...Pass Me a Beer

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Mike Kivowitz, beer lover extraordinaire of New Jersey Craft forwarded this information to me so I could share it with you:

You've all been patiently waiting for the details and tickets to go on sale. Well the time is now. We've been working hard to get the agenda to make this first ever NJCB road trip event memorable and we think this is perfect. We will be opening ticket sales for 30 seats on a first come, first serve basis.
Price includes round-trip transportation from Newark Penn or Metro Park to 2 Breweries and 3 bars/restaurants. Also included will be 2 beers and some food* 
Target times:
9:00am - Pickup at Newark Penn Station
9:40am - Pickup at Metro Park
10:45am - Kane Brewery (private) Tour and Samples
12:15pm - Brickwall Tavern 1 beer
2:00pm - Carton Brewery Tour and Samples
3:30pm - Twin Light Taphouse 1 beer and shared food trays
5:45pm - Maloney's Pub & Grill
7:15pm - Metro Park drop-off
8:00pm - Newark Penn Station drop-off

For more info, go to

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Two-For-Two at The Fox and Hound

Any ball player who gets a hit every time up during a game is widely praised and celebrated with headlines. That’s because hitting a small baseball approaching you at 90 mph with a rounded surface like a bat  is considered the most difficult act in sports.
Beer dinners are pretty demanding in terms of coordination, too Why should the host of a Beer Dinner—who’s currently batting 1.000--  get any less recognition?

This is the second time Fox and Hound bar Manager
Michael Scofield has gone into the kitchen, donned his chef’s hat and stepped up to the plate(s).

Partnering with Ommegang Brewery, Scofield and crew put out some fabulous fare with some very solid beer pairings to make his second at-bat another hit.
Attended by forty, up from twenty-five last time, this dinner showed why Ommegang has been so successful since 1997, and why Scofield may require more area for the next dinner. You can see the menu here, and Scofield even added an extra beer to the mix—the original Ommegang Abbey Double—to tide the guests over through a very minor entrĂ©e delay. That’s in perfect keeping with the Fox and Hound tradition of customer satisfaction, and will probably account for a larger guest list next time around.

Scofield’s serving staff, comprised of Sarah, Nicole and Erica, did yeoman’s work throughout the night. It was most heartening to see so many younger folks (most of them comely lasses) there trying and learning about good beer. And it’s always good to see old friends.
As always, there were varying opinions about which beer or which pairing was best, and that’s as it should be. In the beer world, you like what you like. But I was very impressed with the Cavatelli and Rare Vos combo. But in The PubScout’s view, you can’t go wrong with anything from Ommegang—especially when the Three Philosophers are in the house.
The only current question is can Scofield go three-for-three? We’ll keep you posted when his next at-bat occurs.
You can check out the pics of the event here, or click on the Gallery to your right.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Mohawk House: All The Right Stuff

Sparta, NJ is a considerable hike for the PubScout, unless it’s by motorcycle. Because when you’re on two wheels, it’s usually about the ride, not the destination. Except in this case, it’s about the destination, too. Mohawk House is simply a gorgeous facility, and their entertainment schedule (for those who actually require more entertainment than beer) is impressive.
Steve Scro now has the largest number of beer taps in northern NJ, and his marketing has resulted in packed houses for quite a while. His last effort on behalf of the Sussex County farmers yielded 2,000 poured pints. But marketing alone does not guarantee success. You also have to deliver on product—in this case products, which means the beer and the food.
As for the beer, if a beer nut can’t find something he likes at Mohawk House, he should switch to wine—which they also have. The food is absolutely incredible, and Steve’s relatively new chef, Kenneth Salmon, is as dedicated in the kitchen as Steve is to the taps. I caught up with Kenneth yesterday as he was outside working his magic over a wood-fired grill for Father’s Day.

A graduate of the Culinary Institute, Kenneth, a local chap, has gained valuable experience by working in food venues as varied as New Orleans, New York and Italy. He has also prepped his culinary staff to the point where they can adequately handle the regular menu duties as well as he can, which frees him up to tackle more creative dishes. Hailing from a family that traces its roots to the Mayflower, it’s a safe bet that he knows American cuisine, too.  That the Mohawk House gets most of its produce from local farmers is an added benefit which insures absolute freshness.
I asked Kenneth what his recommendation to a steak-loving guest would be, and he answered, without hesitation, “The Rib-eye.” As for the seafood lover, his response was, “Anything and everything.” It seems when your last name is “Salmon,” that’s a good answer.
One other point deserves mention, and that’s the fact that I have never spoken to an employee there who doesn’t LOVE working for Steve. “It’s all about family for me,” said Scro. “And we’re a family here.” That you could eat off the floors in the beer cellar also speaks volumes to me.

I didn’t have time to dine there yesterday, but I have in the past and found it exceptional, though decidedly not cheap. Quality, however, never is. But the next time I visit, the Rib-Eye will definitely get my attention.
And with fifty taps, I can guarantee it will not be accompanied by wine. Especially if Miss America, Kasey, is pouring.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

(Innis &) Gunn Control


The First Beer Maker To Salute and Truly Celebrate The Fourth of July
Press Contact:
Ana Jovancicevic/ 917‐379‐5939 Shannon Fischer / 914‐420‐5758
New York, NY – June 12, 2012 This Summer, pioneering Scottish craft beer maker,
Innis & Gunn, launches its NEW limited edition ‘Independence Day’ beer in celebration of
Scotland’s centuries‐old ties with the USA. Never before has a beer maker dedicated a
brew to this specific day and, as Dougal Sharp, CEO of Innis & Gunn, explains, the
brand would not exist without the American Oak that is used to flavor the beer.
“When we first produced Innis & Gunn Original in 2003, its wonderful flavor resulted from
the interaction between our beer recipe and the American Oak in which we aged it. And the
success we have had internationally has only been possible because the USA has been the
trailblazer for craft beer for over a decade. So we owe a great deal to the USA and we have
brewed this special Independence Day beer to celebrate this.”
The lineage between the Scots and Americans go way back— to 1776 and earlier — and the
history of both countries is deeply interwoven. It all began at the very beginning, when 21
of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence were of Scottish descent and
two others had been born in Scotland, only to come to the Americas later in life. Even
America’s favorite relative, ‘Uncle Sam’, was actually based on a real man, Samuel Wilson,
whose parents were native Scots.
Today, about 30 million US citizens can trace their descent from Scotland. And now, just in
time for the Fourth of July, the Innis & Gunn ‘Independence Day’ beer has arrived as a
summer‐long toast to Americans and Scottish Americans everywhere.
In making the Independence Day Limited Edition, Dougal gave himself a challenge to create
a beer that was both refreshing but complex ‐ something that would quench the thirst over
a long, hot summer but that would not lose any of the unique flavor attributes the awardwinning
brewer is known for.
He added: “Independence Day is quite unusual in that it marries two characteristics:
complexity and refreshment, which you don’t often find in a single beer. So it both satisfies
thirst but also has a full and rounded flavor, which comes from the oak maturation. The
taste really evolves on the palate and we’re delighted with the result.”

The outcome is a light and fruity beer with notes of candied apple and marzipan. The
combination of biscuit malt and citrus hops tingle the palate only diminishing after the first
sip to allow the signature Innis & Gunn vanilla and oak notes to shine through. Because of
this combination of Scottish malted barley and mouth‐watering zesty American hops,
Independence Day is a great partner to BBQ dishes. Innis & Gunn Independence Day is now
available for a limited time only on US shelves and is priced at $11.99 for a 4‐pack.
Innis & Gunn Independence Day is the second Limited Edition beer to be released in the US,
following Innis & Gunn Irish Whiskey Cask which was introduced in January and sold
through the trade almost immediately. Over the past nine years, Innis & Gunn has won
an international following for its innovative limited editions as well as the core range of
Innis & Gunn Original and Rum Cask.
Follow us on twitter @InnisandGunnUK and join us on Facebook: Innis & Gunn Oak Aged

Friday, June 8, 2012

An Idea Will Rise...

A Hero Will Rise...(Gladiator)
A Champion Will Rise...(NBA)
and now...An Idea Will Rise.

The PubScout received an unsolicited email recently. This was not from some Nigerian prince asking for my vital information so he could send me my share of the inheritance he claims is mine. This was from one Zach Luczynski of a company called JackHawk 9000. Though I had heard of neither entity, I rolled the dice and clicked the link Zach claimed was a "shameless plug."

And it is. But it's funny, too, which is why it's here.

I'll say no more than this: There's a new product available, probably just for guys, which will not only shield your eyes from harmful UV rays, it will serve as a utilitarian way to get you in good graces with those you seek to impress.

And Zach claims he's looking for Craft Beer brewers who may want to join his crusade.

His phone is 925.323.7998.

Your move.

Let me know how it works out.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Magic at McGillin’s

It’s Philly Beer Week, and while that means many things to many people, to The PubScout it means a trip to the one “must-visit pub” in the City of Brotherly Love—McGillin’s Old Ale House.
Parking is sometimes a problem around Philly’s oldest pub, especially when Drury St. is being both gutted and blocked by a massive bulldozer in mid-street. But a very nifty automated, computerized parking system just ten steps from the old pub makes it easy, if not necessarily cheap, to park. Pull into a small “garage,” shut your car off, put the e-brake on, take your keys and lock it. Then tap a computer screen a few times, swipe your credit card and take your registration slip of paper. The car gets sucked up into the “Mother Ship” and comes down again when you’re ready to leave. Just scan your bar code and the car appears from behind a door. Freakin’ magical, if you ask me.

And all to facilitate your stay at “Ma” McGillin’s, the museum-like home of a plethora of good beers and fantastic pub-grub. During Philly Beer Week, the offerings can boggle not only your mind, but Chris Mullins’ as well. Still, the friendliness and sincere welcome for which McGillin’s is known far and wide never falters and never fails to please. It’s part of that old McGillin’s Magic, an attraction so powerful it can suck whole bulldozers up to the front door. Let me tell you, when those babies are cranking, they make heap big noise.
Loud enough to drive a man to drink, which is fine with Chris and the McGillin’s crew, I’m sure. Personally, I require no such persuasion to be driven to have a seat at the historic old bar and quaff.
I just have to know it’s open and convenient to cool parking. See you there.

Announcing The Short Stay Series: Newtown, PA Pubs

For the past sixteen years, I have endeavored to visit and recommend good pubs and beer bars to my readers. This new series, dubbed the SSS (Short Stay Series) will attempt to suggest more pubs that are close to central NJ, and accessible by an easy day trip that can involve—but doesn’t require—an overnight in one of the quaint and charming communities that host said taverns. No need for lengthy and involved trip preparations, TSA pat-downs, passports or extensive travel beyond your vehicle, be it four-wheeled, three-wheeled or two.
The first in this series discusses three delightful pubs in the historic Bucks County town of Newtown, PA. Each is loaded with character as well as a raft of good beer and food choices. None should break the bank, though your own tastes may impact the final bill if you opt for very expensive beers and food—and that possibility surely exists at some of these establishments.

What qualifications does The PubScout seek in terms of the character of a good pub?  Bruce Aidells, a renowned chef, writes: You sit back in the darkness, nursing your beer, breathing in that ineffable aroma of the old-time saloon: dark wood, spilled beer, good cigars, and ancient whiskey - the sacred incense of the drinking man.

Yep. That about captures it. And while Pennsy Pubs usually allow smoking—including cigars in some places like The Temperance House in Newtown--Jersey does not.
Of course, the pub should have good beer offerings with regularly cleaned beer lines. But many large chains can fill that bill, and while they’re worth visiting and enjoying, they don’t necessarily qualify as “pubs” in the strictest sense of the word. Pubs usually are small, often dimly or fireplace-and-candle lit local institutions, preferably with at least one stone wall and dark wood. They usually have a dedicated, naturally suspicious, yet non-threatening  clientele and a barperson who knows his beers as well as his clients. As a good pub should be an aesthetically welcoming place, said barperson also makes the stranger feel immediately comfortable.
The three pubs in this column, all within a short walk of one another, qualify on all counts, and one (Isaac Newton’s) boasts a barman named Tim Gannon who is more steeped in good beer than most grains.
Having recently attended the very successful 2nd Annual Washington’s Crossing Brewfest with its fabulous array of sixty-five breweries, I was delighted to learn that it was through the efforts of Isaac Newton’s Gannon and owner Glenn Blakely that the fest was born. Gannon assembled the brewers’ guest list, and Blakely—in period uniform—was the affable host of the event.
Blakely’s pub, which suffered a serious fire in 2002 and had to be rebuilt, is Isaac Newton’s, situated conveniently adjacent to a Newtown municipal parking lot. But it is Gannon who is the beer engine of the place. With a head-spinning repertoire of exceptional beers on tap and in bottles, Isaac Newton’s is like a mini-brewfest all by itself. There's a reason it was named the #1 Beer Bar by Buck's Happening. You’ll see beers you have heard of and some you’ve never heard of, but the discerning beer drinker will surely find something here to his liking. (Don’t ask for the Monk’s Blood, however, as the PubScout finished that baby off during his visit.) The pub-grub is excellent and reasonably priced, and the pub, which ranked #9 in the World’s 50 Best pubs, fits all the qualifications above. There’s even an outside dining area for nice weather days. And when it comes time to allow yourself some room to add more beer, descend into the depths of the place to one of the johns—aptly named Elton and Olivia Newton.

The second pub which qualifies is the nearby Temperance House. Located in an ancient stone building (c. 1772), it, too, fits all the qualifications. The pub is separate from the more sedate dining room, reached through a sliding wood and glass door, and, as mentioned, allows cigar smoking. It also has an impressive beer list, though not as deep as Isaac Newton’s. There is entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights, and, should you find it necessary to recover from your dancing and reveling, it has nicely-appointed guest rooms.
It, too offers solid, reasonably-priced pub-grub, but worth mentioning is its pricier formal dining room. A massive stone fireplace and an equally massive hewn wood beam dominate this room, but it is the food which commends it. I dined on a very large—and very delicious—chicken pot pie, while the missus thoroughly enjoyed a succulent and flavorful Vegetable Risotto. It earned her high praise, as well as thirty-two “O-my-Gods.”
The third pub in the one-block area is in another of Newton’s oldest buildings and is called The Black Horse Tavern established in 1747, and in ambience it is the quintessential pub. Stone walls in both sections (there are two separate bars in two separate rooms)  and dark wooden beams in the ceilings make this pub a model for Bruce Aidells’ aforementioned description. We did not sample the solid fare, but there were quite a few good beers—and unusual beers--on tap. Kind beer and Love is Evol were just two of them. The latter is a strawberry and jalapeno brown ale, in case you’re adventurous. Barwoman Nikki gave us samples of each, and her fellow employees will do the same for you upon request.
The Black Horse, unlike the other two sits catty-corner on a corner with inviting steps that one can’t help but climb. Those who do will be rewarded in all five senses:  sound, sight, smell, taste and touch. How in sound, say you? Listen for the pour, and then clink your pint with the person next to you.
The following are hyperlinks to all three places where you can check out the beers and the menus to see what suits your fancy:
Cheers! The PubScout

Monday, June 4, 2012

A PSA from The PubScout

Jersey brewers over at the NJ Craft Brewers Guild have two very important news items for you. The first is the announcement of their annual festival on the battleship New Jersey on June 23 where they will help you enjoy beer. The second deals with how you can help them by contacting legislators regarding bill A-1277. Click on the link to learn more! Use your voting power to effect change!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fox & Hound take Ommegang out for Dinner

Preparing for just his second beer dinner ( after a most successful debut ), Michael Scofield has provided the PubScout with a beer dinner menu that few beer and food lovers can resist. Scofield, bar manager by day, but master chef by beer dinner night, has enlisted the aid The PubScout and one of the PubScout's favorite breweries--Ommegang--to complement his food. For those unfamiliar with this beer or its products, it's a remarkable operation in Cooperstown, NY that focuses on doing things the Belgian way. Built in 1997 on a former hop farm, the brewery will serve at least four award-winning beers at The Fox and Hound  in Edison on June 18.

Herewith the menu:

Course 1--Stuffed Portobello Mushroom
Baked Portobello Mushroom stuffed with sauteed broccoli rabe and finely sliced pancetta, topped with
buttered breadcrumbs---paired with Ommegang Witte

Course 2--Greek Salad with Seasoned Flat Bread
Crisp Romaine lettuce tossed in red wine vinegar and olive oil with cherry tomatoes, red onion, fresh
cucumbers and kalamata olives topped with feta cheese crumbles, served with seasoned flatbread--paired with Ommegang BPA

Course 3--Caramelized Onions and Garlic with Cavatelli
Succulent sweet onions, browned to perfection, mixed with zucchini halves and minced garlic, atop a tender
bed of cavatelli, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and garnished with thyme--paired with Ommegang Rare Vos

Course 4--Chicken with Prosciutto and Sage, Sauteed Spinach with Golden Raisins
Juicy chicken cutlets layered with sage leaves and thin slices of savory prosciutto prepared in white wine and
olive oil, served with a side of trimmed spinach sauteed with golden raisins--paired with Hennepin Farmhouse Ale

Course 5--Strawberry Shortcake
Flaky, golden brown pastry lightly dusted with powdered sugar. Layers of freshly whipped cream and
sweetened strawberries complete this delicious treat--paired with Three Philosophers Quadrupel

Now if the beer is served the Belgian Way--in approriate glassware--this could really be a night to remember.
Contact the pub for reservations and details.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Pied Pipers of the Economy?

More than once during my normal, old-fashioned two-parent-plus -grandma upbringing, my exasperated grandmother would exclaim that I was "driving her to drink." I could never understand what she meant, because, one, I couldn't drive at 8 years old, and two, if she wanted to drink, the kitchen faucet was right there.  She also said "Jesus, Mary and Joseph" a lot, at least when I was around.As a parent, however, I have come to understand what she meant.

There are many things which can "drive a person to drink," including our current national and state economic malaise. Finding a job could be one of them. But according to this article "people being driven to drink" are actually creating jobs. A short history of brewing (with some astounding numbers) in the US is here. Perhaps if NJ's legislature would remove some of the roadblocks to craft brewers interested in building up their local communities, we here in the Garden State might see a bright spot on the economic horizon.

I don't know if Governor Christie is a fan of craft beer, (no puerile wisecracks here, folks) but President Obama supposedly is, despite the offerings at his vaunted "Beer Summit." And Obama drank Bud Light. (No puerile wisecracks here, either.)

The bottom line here is just that--the bottom line. And that line says we need to spur the economy and create jobs. It appears the craft beer guys are leading the way.

There could be worse Pied Pipers to follow.