Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Saturday, April 28, 2012

To Beer, or Not to Beer?

Dude, is that even a legit question?

There aren’t many pubs that could pull off live Shakespeare instruction on a busy Friday night, but thanks to the efforts of Bard-and-bookophile Andrea Taylor, Krogh’s Brewpub in picturesque Sparta, NJ did just that.
In fact, the Friday evening performance of a visiting “RichardBurbage” was the culmination of a week’s worth of activities dedicated to the memory of Stratford-upon-Avon’s most famous resident. Those activities saw a variety of cultural events, including a visit from a troupe of Shakespeare Players and an event called World Book Night, which endeavors to put free books into the hands of twenty thousand non- and light readers. Donna Fell of Sparta Books was the prime force behind that effort, and she and Andrea worked together to set up what looked to be a small bookstore along the back wall of the pub.
And what better place than Krogh’s, which is startlingly and comfortably  Elizabethan in interior décor and decidedly Elizabethan in its focus on ale? What the patrons of the pub learned last night—for free, mind you—is just why Elizabethan society was so often “in its cups.” They drank ale for breakfast, lunch and dinner because it was far safer and healthier than the water available to them.  That it made for a rather raucous society which included “groundlings” at the theater who might pickpocket and brawl occasionally during performances was just added “spice.”
The very British-sounding Mr. Burbage held the Krogh’s diners enrapt with little-known facts about Shakespeare, like the possibility that he may have secretly signed the 1610 King James version of the Holy Bible, and the likelihood that his marriage to Anne Hathaway (some eight years his senior) was officiated by a gun-toting father, if you catch my drift. Burbage even included a memory recitation of Macbeth’s famous “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” speech with its pessimistic view of life itself. The presentation ended on an up-note however, with the classic Irish prayer that includes the line: “That we might recognize them by their limping.”
The patrons within earshot of Burbage gave up a solid round of applause, and those at the bar who couldn’t hear quite as clearly raised their pint glasses in appreciation—which they would have done had there been no presentation at all.
Because in some of those pint glasses, The PubScout’s included, was a delightful maibock which had won a homebrewer’s Contest as Best of Show at the NJ State Fair in Sussex County in 2011. Produced by Dave Pobutkiewicz, a Shakespearean name if ever there was one, it was very nicely balanced with a sweetish, though not cloying, taste. Dave himself was supposed to be on hand to oversee the “unveiling” of his beer at 5 PM, but was unable to attend. So the rest of us “unveiled” it for him. Stage Manager Larry took home a growler, as many others likely did, so if there’s none left when you go there, just remember the classic dictum by Shakespeare—“If thou snoozest, thou losest.”
Andrea Taylor allowed that this was her first attempt at melding a very cultural theme with the storied brewpub, and she promised to do the event again next year, perhaps on a grander scale which may include live performances of more Shakespeare scenes by costumed actors.
Shakespeare, good beer and good food in an Elizabethan-looking pub?
Count The PubScout in. 

Check out the pictures here.

Want a Beer at the Ballpark?

Then get ready to pony up. This article will give you some prices at various ballparks around the country. But the bigger question is what kind of beer are you getting for that price? I remember attending a Phillies game in midsummer at the old Veterans Stadium  years ago on a 100 degree (in the shade) day. The cost for a cold Coors Lite back then was $4.50. A cold bottle of Poland Spring was $4.00.

That speaks volumes to me.
And the Poland Spring had more flavor.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ben Harris, R.I.P.

My next pint gets raised to Ben Harris. Prayers and condolences to his family.

Hailey's Harp & Pub Beer Dinner

Dynamic Duo Back in Action

When Moshe the Barman and Chef Johnny of Hailey’s Harp and Pub get together, magic happens. It did again last evening, and the twenty-five beer and food devotees were both dazzled and fully sated when the night ended. Servers Brigitte and Colleen kept the courses and their matching beers coming out with efficiency, and the pairings on the table worked as well as the pairing in the kitchen.
Many of the attendees were repeaters from Hailey’s successful Oktoberfest event, but there were many new faces on hand as well. That’s actually one of Owner Chris Flynn’s goals. “These dinners are not about making money. They are about exposing people to new beers and wonderful foods to go with them. It helps that I’ve got a couple of Houdinis in the kitchen and at the bar to make it successful.”
The first course set the tone for the rest of the dinner, as a truly incredible ricotta sauce made the figs and starfruit sing and the Saranac Blueberry Blonde beer joined in for a duet.
Yard’s Saison accompanied the Orrechiette and Mushroom  dish, and a magnificent sausage-stuffed poblano pepper and salmon gravalax  dish was paired with Carton Brewing’s highly quaffable Boat. Doug Edwards, Carton’s rep, sat with us and told us this beer was designed to be a hoppy, low-alcohol session ale that should  “dance out of the glass with a whack of grapefruit and open into a crisp, stony tangle of white and yellow fruit with pine and moss notes.” That it did.Climax Brewing’s tasty Golden Ale, escorted by the legendary James Larkin, matched up with Moshe and Johnny’s  Spring Salad, and the very-hard-to-get (and very high octane)Dogfish Head 120-Minute IPA accompanied a delectable Hangar Steak ka-bob entree.
Moshe and Johnny’s Banana Split a-la Hailey’s, reportedly sans ANY calories (yeah, right), was a work of art and Wells Banana Bread Beer worked well with it.
In all, a most enjoyable dinner made that way by two masters, an owner who cares about quality and a distinguished and fun-loving group of beer nuts. Rumor has it that the summer will see another seafood-based beer dinner, too, so stay tuned.

 Check out these pics of a very memorable event!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

You Say Tomato, I say, "Shower?"

My Down Under Beer pal Kenneth Hart--aka the Thirsty Swagman-- is world-renowned for his over-the-top beer ventures. They are weeks' long tributes to beer and the party lifestyle, usually attended by the Young and the Beautiful, like his sidekick Tash Marti. 
He graciously invited yours truly to attend one of his Oktoberfest Bacchanals, but , so far, logistics have prevented my attendance. Those logistics may just be my self-preservation drive kicking into high gear, if photos like the one above are any indication. If you fancy yourself a beer drinker, a party animal, and, in this case, a lover of tomatoes you'll want to check out this next trip.

Warning: This trip is for the Big Dogs. Small dogs may want to stay on the porch.

Spain Pub Tour (25 Aug - 3 Sep, 2012)

Get ready for an incredible pub tour through Spain, incl. La Tomatina 2012.

You'll kick off your adventure in Barcelona, Spain's hottest nightlife destination.

Then it's off to Valencia incl. a day at the world famous La Tomatina festival held in neighbouring Buñol.

Finally, the world's most famous party island awaits you: Ibiza, the Mediterranean equivalent to Rio.

5-star VIP bus, flights from Valencia to Ibiza, 3-star accommodation throughout, with no early wake-ups... and absolutely zero boring sightseeing!

1. Barcelona, Spain
2. Valencia / Buñol, Spain
3. Ibiza, Spain

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Percello's Cask Event a hit

Chris Percello, Uno's brewer, put together a star-studded lineup of brews on cask today at the Metuchen Uno's, and the event was attended by an equally star-studded clientele. Mark Haynie, Jeff Linkous and Karl Mende represented the beer cognoscenti, while regular Joes like Dave Bruneyko, Gary McGrane and a reinvigorated Uncle Frank himself lined the bar to sample Chris's wares. Mike Kivowitz of  the beer savvy site was on hand with sidekick Ozzie, wife Lori and three-month-old son Holden. Natalie, Alexis and Alina were there to add a distaff touch to the affair, and they performed their roles superbly. Chris had two of his own beers on hand--the outstanding Ike's IPA and his own Weizenbock, which rang in at 8.3% ABV. Three other IPA's were available as well: Kane's Overhead IPA, Flying Fish HopFish IPA and Cricket Hill's Hopnotic IPA. Cricket Hill also offered and American Ale and Colonel Blides Cask Ale. Sixpoint Brewing sent an outstanding Otis Oatmeal Stout and a brownstone Brown Ale, while old Faithful Dave Hoffman proffered his clean, crisp Golden Ale.
In all, it was a quality selection, and all who attended seemed to concur. Now all Uno's needs to do is bring back those legendary beer dinners. Check out the rest of the pictures here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Alabama Slamma

Looks like the folks down in Alabama take their cussing seriously. Check out this story. Founders Dirty Bastard is a darned good brew, too. I once dated a gal from Alabama. She had a nice tooth. That's her on the right  at the Walmart.

Hailey's 4/24 Beer Dinner Menu

First Course
Baked figs stuffed with ricotta and walnuts served with an apricot vinaigrette
and fresh starfruit
Second Course
Some type of light pasta
Third Course
Fresh spring salad with a chickpea and tomato dressing
Fourth Course
Hanger steak kabobs in a horseradish marinade served with a smoked
Gouda sauce and roasted cherry tomatoes
Fifth Course
Stuffed jalapenos with a cream cheese and breaded crumb stuffing
wrapped in a homemade salmon gravalax along with pickled beets.
Banana split Hailey’s style
Hailey’s ale ice cream with Guinness battered bananas served with an
Irish knot caramel sauce.

Beer accompaniments to come! Hope to see you there!
Cheers! The PubScout

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Two Quick Hits

Don't forget Chris Percello's Cask Beer festival this Saturday at Uno's on RT. 1 South near Menlo Mall. Festivities start at  noon, and Chris has a host of good caskers lined up.

Also, Hailey's Harp and Pub in Metuchen moved their beer dinner from tonight, April 17, to next Tuesday, April 24. McMoshe and Johnny LaBarbera never fail to satisfy the food and beer nuts in Hailey's Back Room. Call the pub to reserve a spot.
400 Main Street  Metuchen, NJ 08840
(732) 321-0777

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Beer: healthy, we knew...but this, too?

The health effects of moderate consumption of good beer have long been lauded here and in other, oft-consulted scientific journals of repute. But who would have guessed that beer makes men smarter?

Let's see, now. Beer is very healthy, makes men smarter and, in scads of research and testimony from those who have experience, beer has the uncanny ability to make normally ugly people attractive, especially at closing time.

With a resume like that, there just has to be beer in heaven.

The PubScout

Friday, April 13, 2012

Got $7G's laying around?

For the beer drinker who thinks he has everything, comes now the Brew-Cave Walk-in Beer Cooler and Kegerator. Of course, such a device obviates the need for the kind of social interaction that taverns from time immemorial were designed to encourage. But, I suppose the owner of this baby would have no shortage of Beer Nuts in his basement at any given time. In fact, getting them to leave might be a problem. If you order one, send The PubScout an invite!