Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Another Victory for the Fox & Hound

Running a successful beer-and-food pairing event is not easy. Coordination of all the facets requires sound planning, and delivering the services from kitchen to glass to table requires a near military precision, if it’s done right. When Michael Scofield, general manager of the Fox & Hound in Edison, undertook the task of putting together his first beer dinner many months ago he really didn’t know what to expect.

It’s clear he does now. At the third Beer Dinner he’s orchestrated, he has the system down. Making exceptional food? Check. Cooperating with well known breweries? Check. Getting the beers poured in time for the course? No problem. Delivering exceptional food? Got you covered. Educating your customers about beer, food and how they match up? Bingo. Giving customers something to take home besides beer recommendations and memories? Bravo.

That probably accounts for why Scofield has seen his guest numbers balloon from 24 at the first dinner to nearly 60 at last night’s. He had to expand the dinner to two rooms just to accommodate the crowd, but since it was well planned and put into effect by a cute  little dynamite stick named Jessica, it worked fabulously. Jessica and her crew—Sara, Erica, Alicia, Mary Ann and Dan—functioned like a well-oiled machine, bringing food and beer exactly when it needed to be there. And they did it with a smile. Even though Sara still pours beer backwards.

By all accounts, Scofield’s food was once again exceptional, and Victory’s beers never disappoint. Victory rep Steve Gates was both personable and informative. His participation should make Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski (Victory’s Founders) proud.

In all, yet another superb night at The Fox & Hound, which, due to NFL football, will probably happen again in early January, according to Scofield. After all, he’s got the formula down pat now.

What are the chances of having a handsome, smooth, friendly, witty, knowledgeable emcee to keep the evening fun and relaxed?

Um, we’re working on that. 

For more pics, check here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I might drink to that!

Check out this unusual request under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act).

While I admire the guy's moxie, I think I'd need to taste it before I asked for the recipe. It's not like Barack Brewing is in the same league with Sam Adams, Yard's or even most brewpubs, after all.

And he's certainly not the first Prez to hop into brewing. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were brewers, and even wily Ben Franklin had a recipe for spruce ale. Interestingly, Yard's Ales of the Revolution Series pays homage to them, and Jefferson's is a PubScout fave.

If this guy gets the recipe and writes a review of the beer, The PubScout will keep you posted.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

“Formidable Beast” or C’est Magnifique?

The subtle, almost imperceptible  changes in sunlight and temperature serve notice that my favorite season of the year—Autumn—approaches. Apart from the meteorological changes, the Fall also heralds a change in beer to perhaps my favorite style—Marzens. There’s just something about that malty lager that strikes a primeval chord in these aging bones, and it almost always occurs in mid-August. We start to notice that it’s getting darker sooner, and that wakes some ancient rhythms in us as well—a longing for heartier fare, heartier beer and a glowing hearth itself.
But it also kindles an ancient fear—fear of the dark. Not the dark in beer, of course, but the dark outside, because that is where the creatures of the night lurk, waiting to do us psychological, if not bodily, harm. Bogeymen on an October night seem much more plausible than those same chaps in Spring and Summer.
So if I’m waxing poetic  about the lagery pleasures of Autumn and Marzens, what the heck is that beer that odd-looking fellow above  is brandishing? It’s a “Blood Red Ale” called The Werewolf, and therein lies the tie-in. I sampled this brew at—of all places—a Wegman’s liquor store during a special beer-tasting event held in Woodbridge, and The Werewolf, with its clawed artistic label and its “Escaped From Britain” stamp drew me in visually. Billed as a “dual character” ale for Fall, this 4.5% ABV brew is actually a perfect session beer, and not only for Fall. I was struck immediately by its malty nose, its smooth, chewy mouthfeel and a sizable malt presence on the palate. Perhaps some will detect the sweet berry fruit notes indicated on the label, and they may notice a “bite” of bitterness as well, though I suspect any bite is “Comin’ through the Rye” as it’s made with Rye Malt.
I’m happy to see that Newcastle made this attempt, because they have excellent brewers as anyone familiar with their Flagship Brown knows. They may have to get to work by crossing the moors that surround Newcastle, possibly inviting one of Lon Chaney’s relatives for dinner, but if they're making beer like this, I say, "Run like Hell."
Regardless, it’s a great-tasting beer you can enjoy all through the Season of the Witch. The word “formidable” means one thing in English, and yet another in French.  Far from  being an English “Formidable (dreadful or fearsome) Beast,” this beer does deserve to be called “Formidable” in French—great or terrific.
Don’t be afraid, even if its blood red color reminds you of full moons and wolf howls. If this is what the Werewolf drinks, he won’t have the time or inclination to rip out your innards.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Link to the Jimmy D form

For those of you beer lovers who are planning to attend the August 23 Jimmy D fundraiser at Uno's Grill and Brewery in Metuchen, here is the link to the form you need to bring to the event. Just hand it to your server and you'll be donating to a very worthy cause!

The PubScout

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Victory is not just a Motorcycle

Manager/Chef Michael Scofield has announced the last beer dinner of the Summer season at The Fox & Hound in Edison. It looks to be killer, based on the menu and the fact that one of The PubScout's favorite PA breweries--Victory--will be participating. Call the Fox & Hound to make your reservations before this baby sells out! With attendees like those on the left, it should be a great night for lovers--of good beer and good food, of course! Michael says the food alone will be the best he's ever offered! Just one caveat: treat that Golden Monkey with great respect...

AUGUST 27TH 2012

1st Course- Chicken and Andouille Sausage Strudels
Freshly baked dough packed with a blend of seasoned chicken, Andouille sausage, onions, garlic, and breadcrumbs seasoned with cayenne pepper, parsley and parmesan cheese, baked and drizzled with a scratch made barbeque sauce.
Paired with Victory Prima Pils

2nd Course- Strawberry Summer Salad
Tossed iceberg lettuce, fresh spinach leaves, and diced red onion, topped with a poppy seed vinaigrette and juicy strawberries.
Paired with Victory Whirlwind Wit

3rd Course- Cajun Pasta Fresco
Fresh angel hair pasta tossed with chunky authentic tomato sauce, finely chopped parsley, sautéed garlic  and al dente zucchini and squash; topped with spicy Cajun seasoning shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.
Paired with Victory Hop Wallop

4th Course- Sautéed Chicken in a Shaved Portabella Crème Sauce
Finely sliced portabella mushrooms sautéed with minced shallots and butter, combined with a creamy red wine sauce and spooned over juicy, sautéed chicken breasts and hand made mashed potatoes.
Paired with Victory Summer Love Ale

5th Course- Bananas Foster over Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Bananas flambéed in a brown sugar, cinnamon and rum reduction drizzled over a homemade vanilla bean ice-cream. 
Paired with Victory Golden Monkey

Looks like Shawn is going!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Jimmy D Fundraiser at Uno's

New Brunswick firefighter James D'heron unselfishly gave his own life to save fifteen people he did not even know in a fire some years ago. His family, led by daughter Erin, commemorates his sacrifice in various ways throughout the year, from the upcoming Jimmy D 5K Run set for September 2 in New Brunswick to an annual Jimmy D Firehouse Red Ale fete at New Brunswick's Harvest Moon Brewpub in January. Proceeds from these events are targeted for the Art Luf Children's Burn Camp, a favorite charity of Jimmy D.

Add now to that list a special fundraiser that will allow lovers of good beer and food to do their part--painlessly. Erin Varga is sponsoring a Jimmy D Fundraiser day on Thursday August 23 at Unos' Chicago Grill and Brewery on Rt. 1 near Menlo Park Mall. If you have the proper form, Uno's will donate up to 20% of your tab to the Cause.

That's doubly good, because Uno's Brewer Chris Percello tells us: "We will have our usual staples-- Bootlegger Blonde, Stationhouse Red, 32 Inning Ale, Ike's IPA, and Gust-n-Gale Porter.  Along with those we should have a bit of Double IPA left and will definitely have Hoppy American Wheat available.  Also, don't forget about Rainbarrel Rootbeer for those not indulging that evening."  

If you have Thursday, August 23 cleared on your calendar, block it in now. And raise a glass or twain to a true local American hero--Jimmy D'heron.

So why is there a picture of me with the Budweiser Clydesdales?
Because I like the picture. 
And the horses.
And that's all.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Uno’s Beer Dinners: Back ( in the High Life) Again

After a nearly eight-month hiatus, determined Uno’s Brewer Chris Percello and his committed Uno’s Brew Crew managed to resurrect what had been a successful staple of the Rt. 1 brewpub for the better part of 15 years. Assisted  by Rick Stype, Flying Fish beer rep, Percello and Co. proved that they haven’t lost their touch—and may, in fact, have become even more proficient. Meals and beers came out with military-like precision under the direction of Sergeant Lenny Giuliano, and used plates, glasses and silverware were removed just as efficiently.
And the food choices, well beyond what a regularly good Uno’s menu offers, were superb and thoroughly enjoyed by those who climbed back on board the Uno’s Beer Dinner Train last night.
The usual Fruit and Cheese plate, attractively arrayed (though not for long) was accompanied by two beer offerings. One was Chris’s standard 32-Inning Ale and the other was a very complex American Wheat in a keg, hopped with Citra and Galaxy hops. Both went well with the dish. The second course, made by Chef Percello himself, was a Creamy Dill and Cucumber Crostini, joined by Flying Fish’s XPA, and again the match worked very well. The third course was a Mixed Greens salad  with Strawberries and Feta (pictured), and it was paired with FF’s  delightful Farmhouse Summer Ale. The main course saw Pan Seared Chicken Breast topped with Chimichurri served with Grilled Asparagus, Wasabi Mash, and Corn on the Cob, and Rick Stype matched it up wonderfully with Flying Fish’s HopFish.
Perhaps the star of the show, though, was a variant on a beer that has been a staple at Uno’s since the tanks were assembled—the Gust N’ Gale Porter—but this time delivered on a smooth layer of raspberries. Chris’ experiment with the Raspberry Porter was a solid win, at least in this reviewer’s eyes, and my only regret is that my buddy Joe Skelly wasn’t on hand to sample it. For what it’s worth, Chris’s creation should be a regular offering, as this well made beer was exceptionally smooth and the raspberry was neither cloying nor overpowering. Debbie Wevers, Head Heck’s Angel of a local motorcycle group, allowed that she “does not like porters, but this is really good.” Paired with a  Cheesecake topped with White-Chocolate-Dipped Raspberries, it was a most fitting end to a most memorable feast.

In the end, it should be good news to local craft beer lovers that Uno’s dinners are back—big time. For that, we need to raise a glass to Chris and Crew, because if not for their diligence it might not have come to pass. On this day—which also happens to be his birthday—I therefore raise my glass to Chris Percello and the Uno’s Brew Crew.

More pics HERE!