Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Uno's Percello Sets Next Beer Dinner

Chris Percello and the Uno's Gang have established the date for the next Beer Dinner. The menu is below. They are starting to sell tickets for that beer dinner, set  for Monday December 10th beginning at 6:30.  Chris will collaborate with  KaneBrewing Company, (Hint: Natalie's Scotch Ale ice cream alone is enough to make a reservation.)  Tickets will be $50 dollars, available at the bar.

Uno Chicago Grill and Brewery Presents
Winter Beer Dinner
Featuring Kane Brewing Company
Monday December 10th 2012
6:30 PM

First Course

Assorted Cheese Platter Paired with Stationhouse Red Ale

Second Course

Mushroom and Mozzarella Arancini Paired with Driftline Oatmeal Brown Ale

Third Course

Mesclun mixed salad with Apples, Figs, Gorgonzola topped with Balsamic Vinagrette paired with Kane Single Fin Belgian Blonde

Fourth Course

 Spicy stewed beef with Cheddar cheese grits served with Head High IPA

Fifth Course

Scotch Ale Ice Cream served with Uno’s Scotch Ale.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Spiritus" of the Holiday Season

Three things to consider, today, class:
1.The Latin word for "breath" is "spiritus."
2. People, being human, drink (more?) alcohol during the Holidays.
3. The combination of these two yields the phrase "Spirit of the Holidays."
Without waxing too philosophical about the interconnectivity of the soul, the breath and the spirit, the ancients (and not-so-ancients) would often pass a mirror under the nose of a suspected dead person to see if his "spirit" had truly left him. If he did not fog the mirror with his exhaled breath, he was considered "gone." CPR had not yet been invented; hence he was consigned to the poetically-named "narrow house." A coffin.

It appears the more things change, the more they stay the same, as modern-day law enforcement relies on a breath test to determine whether a person--especially a driver--is intoxicated. Like it or not, the instrumentation is pretty sophisticated--and rarely in error. While failing that test won't send you to a narrow house, it could well send you to the "big house."

What to do? What to do?

Simple. Give yourself a breath test before you hit the road to learn whether you are "in the clear" or "in the bag." On the lower right side of this column is a link entitled "Home Breathalyzer Test." It will take you to the same page as the link before this sentence. Clicking that link will take you to a site where you can match technology with 5-0. In fact the first link on that page will take you to a product I am currently testing via two subjects who are very likely candidates for developing ticket-worthy BAC levels--two NJ college men. They will, of course, remain anonymous for the duration of the field test of the two devices I have given them, but they have promised to report on the efficacy of the devices. I, in turn, will report their findings to you; but for $22, the device, if it works as advertised, is a steal. Clearly, its purpose is noble--to alert you as to what your BAC content is on a pocket-sized instrument that local law enforcement will likely employ if they suspect you of driving while impaired--and to hopefully prevent you from making a stupid choice to drive if it is higher than allowed.

Tragic deaths due to drunk driving always hurt.
But they seem to hurt more during "The Holidays."

Check out the links, then check back here in late December for the report on those devices by my field testers.

And let me be among the first to say, "Merry Christmas!"

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Long-Awaited Touch of Class...

The new PubScout business card unveiled, front and back...let me know what you think!

Friday, November 16, 2012

No Hatchet Needed at the Mohawk House

My buddy Steve Scro at the Mohawk House in Sparta, NJ appears to have a dazzling array of holiday beers waiting for you--and an ambitious menu to accompany them. I always enjoy his place when I visit, as you won't find a friendlier place anywhere. If you're in the area, stop in and enjoy--and tell 'em the PubScout sent you!


Local Farm Fresh Turkeys Served TODAY Through Sunday November 25th!!!



Baked Granny Smith Apple Filled With Whipped Sweet Potatoes, Riesling Pear Brioche Stuffing, Sweet Corn Pudding, Classic Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans Amandine, Cranberry Sauce, Sly Fox Christmas Ale Brown Gravy

Grilled Petit Black Angus Filet Mignon & Maine Lobster Tail & Claws, Whipped Potatoes, Asparagus, Lemon Hollandaise

Baby Carrots, Celeriac, Asparagus, Roasted Pumpkin, Puff Pastry Cap

Butternut Squash Risotto, Pomegranate Glaze

Bacon Potato Leek Pancake, Sauteed Kale, Chanterelle Mushrooms, White Wine Demi

Sweet Potato Crab Hash, Shaved Zucchini, Cranberry Beurre Blanc

Roasted Whipped Sweet Potatoes, Baby Brussel Sprouts, Pumpkin Beer Battered Fried Apples, Brown Butter Sage

Apricot Red & Black Quinoa, Haricots Verts Amandine, Parsnip Chips, Melted Blackberry Brandy Sauce

Creamy Pumpkin Polenta, Orange-Cinnamon & Cabernet Red Cabbage




Choose From 20 Different Christmas Brews!!

• Troeg's Mad Elf Holiday Ale 
• Goose Island Christmas Ale
• St. Bernardus Christmas Ale 
• Sam Adams Merry Mischief Gingerbread Stout 
• Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper 2012 
• Ramstein Winter Wheat 
• Mikkeller From/To/Via 
• Port Santa's Little Helper
• Southern Tier 2Xmas 
• Dupont Avec Les Bons Voex (Best Wishes)
• Anchor Christmas Ale 
• Sly Fox Christmas Ale 
• N'ice Chouffe 
• Lagunitas Brown Shugga' 
• Delirium Noel
• Anderson Valley Winter Solstice 
• Southern Tier Old Man Winter 
• Sierra Nevada Celebration 
• Corsendonk Christmas Ale


I Don't Want To Work. I Just Want To Bang On The Drum All Day!

"SUPERNOVA" ~ Super-Charged & Ready to Rock!! These Guys Will Leave You Wanting More!!

"OVERBOARD" ~ Let Flipper & The Overboard Band Entertain You!!

We're Crazy For Thanksgiving ~ It's Too Awesome To Enjoy For Just 1 Day!
From Your Friends at Mohawk House,
A Very Hearty "Thank You" To Our Loyal Patrons!
It's Our Honor & Pleasure To Serve You!
(973) 729-6464 ~

Monday, November 12, 2012

Behind the Tilted Kilt: Those Sacral Dimples Ain't Goin' Nowhere

Three young Indian entrepreneurs looked at the stretch of Rt. 18 from Rt.1 south to Rt. 9 and discovered an interesting logistical fact: There were only two places which could offer serious competition to a new pub/eatery. One was Hooters (and we all know what that indicates) and the other was a place called Gusto. So Mihir Kothari (L.), Tito Shah (C.), Vishnu Seetharaman (R.) and Chicago-based Mansi Chaudhari decided to plunk down The Tilted Kilt, one of 60 now in operation in the US, in the Brunswick Square Mall. There is another Jersey Kilt up in upscale Hoboken, a bustling burg with no shortage of beer bars.

It would not be unfair to say that, in some respects at least, The Tilted Kilt and Hooters play on the same field, offering scantily clad female servers whose main job after serving is to offer affable, friendly eye candy to the male clientele, though The Kilt goes one better and offers kilt-clad male servers for the distaff patrons. No contest there, if you ask me, but keeping the fair sex happy is vitally important.
According to Mihir, who, with his partners went west to company HQ in Tempe, Arizona, the two most vital components of a successful pub are its food and its entertainment, and he does not deny that the plaid kilted lassies are part of the latter. He clearly knows what attracts the male clientele. 
The Kilt establishment also boasts 31 TV’s (as opposed to the 14 at Hooters), and a couple of VERY large Projector Screens, all with a variety of sports to keep the attention of the patrons (when they’re not ogling the staff).

The food is pretty standard pub/sports bar fare, and the Lunch Special I had was a delicious Half-Turkey sandwich on a sub roll accompanied by a bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup. I washed it down with a T-K Lager, a house beer made by Killian’s. Also offered is a beer unique to the East Brunswick pub called TK Cold Ass 33 made by—take a guess—Rolling Rock. One of my neighbors at the bar commented as to the high quality of his Big Arse Burger—which is what they’re called at The Kilt, and the menu offers a nice variety of sides, entrees, pizzas and other mixed drinks. One was called a “Paddy Bomb,” made by taking Three Olives Orange Vodka and Blue Curacao and dropping it into a glass of Red Bull. Go for it if that’s what floats your boat, but The PubScout will stick to good beer, thanks.

The taps, invisible if you sit facing the outside window due to glare, offered a wide range of beers and cider. The PubScout would suggest printing out a simple tap beer list to give to those seated on the sun side, which would obviate the need for the bar-server to turn around and rattle off which are currently on tap. No biggie, though, as there are other things to catch the eye.

My server, Sara (below), a mahogany-haired stunner who’s studying criminal justice, was a delight to chat with—and look at. She and her Mary Jane –wearing cohorts are required to pass a role-play test before hiring which gauges their friendliness level, because in addition to their serving duties, customer relations plays a major role. And with their tasteful, albeit skimpy, kilts helping them to bust out all over, most guys would have no problem sitting and chatting with any of them. Kothari said that those costumes are an integral part of the business mode, so lovers of visible sacral dimples need not fear. Christina’s currently the champion, by the way, but a few return visits might yield other candidates. Just remember: hands off. I spoke to a few of the girls, and without exception, they all “loved” working at The Tilted Kilt.

As mentioned in my earlier column, the owners expect to be able to enclose and heat the outdoor patio area soon, pending municipal approval and the unraveling of red tape. They are aiming to have it done before the Super Bowl, but it’s going to be close. No matter, though. Whenever it’s done, it will add another dimension to the already-pleasant pub ambience.

Interestingly as well, the owners were very warm to the idea of The PubScout hosting beer dinners at The Tilted Kilt once that work is done and Monday Night Football is concluded. Spread the Beer Cheer, I always say.

As for regular old-fashioned pub cheer, there’s plenty of it at The Tilted Kilt, and the owners are all about spreading more. They’ll be hosting a Hurricane Sandy Relief Fundraiser Wednesday which will be broadcast on WDHA 105.5, and—get this—not just a PART of the proceeds will go to Sandy victims. ALL of the money raised will go there—and to help the staff members whose homes and families were negatively impacted by the storm. Perhaps that attitude explains the affinity the staff has for the place.

The PubScout recommends a visit—especially for the Wednesday affair—but really, at any time. The Tilted Kilt follows my precepts of Good Pubs, Good Beer and Good People. More pics here.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Beneath the Tilted Kilt

A cancelled Amtrak train required that I drive the missus to Allentown, PA late Friday so she could keep a commitment to our eldest son. As I got back on I-78, I passed a pub called The Tilted Kilt. Always interested in new pubs, I made a mental note to check it out, perhaps on a future motorcycle ride out PA way. Lo and behold, when I got back to NJ, I learned that there's a Tilted Kilt right here in East Brunswick. So, with the weather a balmy 60+ degrees, I hopped on the Blue Eagle after a three-week weather/power outage hiatus and found the place in the Brunswick Square mall on Rt. 18.

 Packed it was, on a football Sunday afternoon, and bustling it was with very bonnie lassies (like Christina, L.) bedecked in very short plaid skirts, Mary Jane shoes and all scurrying about delivering food and beverage to the the hungry, thirsty, boisterous clientele. Most of those eyes, when not gawking at the lassies, were fixed on one of the many TV's which had various NFL games in progress, including the Giants. And every one of those lassies had rather ample cleavage busting out all over. The server laddies are also required to wear kilts, albeit black ones. But nobody was looking at them.

It's no secret that men like cleavage, and the Tilted Kilt is obviously market-savvy in that area. But cleavage alone does not a gold mine make. Good food, good beer, friendly efficient service and a man-cave type ambience all combine to make the cash registers sing. It's a formula that  worked wonderfully for places like The Brick House Tavern and Tap for two years--until, that is, corporate decided to go "family-friendly" at that fine establishment, with a concomitant drop-off of big-eyed male patrons. Happily, The Tilted Kilt has no plans to alter the original success formula at their place.

A plethora of fine beers, what seems to be very palatable food (according to the two random diners I interviewed), a delightful ambience--with an outdoor seating area that peers into the bar, and eye candy combine to make an enjoyable experience. The layout and business model would seem to project a fine future for yet another Irish-style pub, and I heard talk of plans to enclose and heat the outside seating area in time for the Super Bowl.

As fate would have it, I met kilt-clad, big Mike (Soupy) Campbell (L.), who leads the Middlesex County Fife and Drum Corps at the annual January Jimmy D bash at the Harvest Moon brewpub in New Brunswick. If you've never heard Big Mike's stirring introductions at that event, you haven't lived.

The PubScout's guess is that the Tilted Kilt, open just six weeks, not counting a five-day power outage shutdown, will be a magnet for pub-goers. Cozy, it's not. But Happening, it is. And definitely worth the trip.

And if you wear a kilt the proper way (sans gotchies), they might have a special seat designed for you. (L.)

I'll add to this story after tomorrow, when I complete my interview with the principals. Yes, I'll just have to go back. The weather looks promising for another MC ride, and when you're committed to sound reporting, you do what you have to do.

More pics here.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Rebuilding Hoboken

Just got word that one of The PubScout's favorite places--The Pilsener Haus Biergarten-- is up and running again. And true to the ideals of community, they're going the extra mile for their neighbors. If you're in the area, give the Pilsener Haus folks some support. And if you're not in the area, give them some love, because at times like this, we could all use a little more.

Cheers! And don't forget the victims of Hurricane Sandy!

NJ's Premier Brewmistress Charts a New Course

Gretchen Schmidhausler took Basil T's beers to the top of the craft beer podium while laboring in the brew room of that fine restaurant in Red Bank. Her duties have since been assumed by Mike Sella, who continues the tradition of fine craft beer in Vic Rallo's classy pub. But Gretchen, recently married, has embarked upon a new career. Always one of the most personable and knowledgeable in the beer arena, The PubScout encourages you to check out this new site of hers. Her beer calendar is a must-have for any NJ beer nut (makes a great Christmas present, too!), and you can order it directly from her site. When it comes to beer, she's "been there, done that." 
Ya gotta respect a woman who actually shared a pint with Norm from Cheers. If he tasted her beer, I'm sure Norm did. 
The PubScout wishes Gretchen all the best!

Cheers! And don't forget the victims of Hurricane Sandy!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

No more watery fizz for Bud?

One of the criticisms of many beers in the mainstream--like Bud, Miller, Coors and Corona--has been the lack of real flavor. That may be changing. Of course, Bud and the others have outstanding brewers capable of producing magnificent beer, if only their marketing departments didn't demand the watery fizz that gets big ad bucks. 

But a recent story about a new Bud beer--dubbed Black Crown--may indicate that those bean counters have finally detected a change in the market. Jonathan Berr, author of the linked piece, writes: "Data from the Brewers Association shows that the market share for craft beers has climbed from 3.8% in 2007 to 5.68% in 2011."

And a site called Advertising Age dares to ask the question: Can Higher-Alcohol Beer 'Black Crown' Turn Around Bud? Citing dropping sales, the piece quotes AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito, who suggests that the Bud Light line may have stolen share away from the flagship brand. The PubScout suspects that the increase in Americans' appreciation for flavorful, fresh craft beer may have had just as much to do with those numbers as Bud Light. In any event, the article predicts a Super Bowl ad for Black Crown ( I may get cable TV back by then), and even though the ABV jumps just one percentage point (to 6%), I will sacrifice myself to try it. Then I'll report on my findings.

I'll try to taste it on a Tuesday, so the title of the blog will be either "Black Crown" or "Black Tuesday."

Cheers! And don't forget the victims of Hurricane Sandy!

Monday, November 5, 2012

NY breweries try to weather the storm

I picked up this news from Having enjoyed one of Garrett Oliver's outstanding beers the other night--Sorachi Ace--while playing Scrabble by candlelight, it's good to know his Brooklyn Brewery is relatively unscathed. And after Sandy, that "sunshine in a glass" was most welcome, greatly appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed. Saison lovers of the world...rejoice!