Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Of Water, Beer and Watery Beer

In my never-ending search for news about beer, I stumbled upon this.
The King of Beers is being accused of "watering down" its product.  I confess that I chuckled at the headline, but I regained my composure long enough to do some thinking.

I have always maintained that beer is not a snobby drink. Sam Adams chief Jim Koch's motto is "All beer is good; some beer is better." And "Drink what you like" has always been The PubScout's motto.

Those effete beer snobs who look down their noses at Bud and Bud Light drinkers are no different than the snickering wine snobs who criticize me as a ruby rube for enjoying "Three-Buck Chuck" Cabernet Sauvignon with my Pasta, Chicken Parm, Meat Lasagne and Nush-Kum-Smush. I know what I'm getting at Trader Joe's and I'm satisfied with it.

But I'd like to think I'd also know when it's being cut with water, in which case I'd have to switch to Gallo, Carlo Rossi or boxed reds.

My questions about this possible deception are very simple. First, why didn't Bud drinkers detect the change?

The report says the doctored beers included "Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Bud Light Lime, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, regular old Budweiser, and even the new brew, Black Crown."

Lots of folks enjoy those products, and no one noticed a decline in flavor and alcohol? How come?

Worse, according to the article, it was not Bud devotees who detected this "thinning" of the products, but brewery workers themselves who dropped  a dime on the Company. Is it because those Bud drinkers were so used to the watery, flavorless fizz that projects itself as The King of Beers that the addition of more (mere) water escaped their tastebuds? 

The article also shares this interesting tidbit: 
In San Francisco, lead attorney Josh Boxer, said, “Consumers are paying good money for beer that they think has a certain quality and characteristic that it doesn’t have.”

Second question: What quality/characteristic is that? There's a reason (though I will not explain it here) that craft beer folks have referred to BudMillerCoors as "canoe beers." To this palate, their watery tastelessness has always been their hallmark. But apparently, those qualities satisfy enough people to make Bud the third best-selling beer in the country, according to the article. It is interesting to note as well that the article claims Bud is losing market share to "the rise of richer, tastier, higher-alcohol craft beers." 

Final question: When (or if) they do water it down, are they using Evian, Poland Spring or tap water?  

You guess.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Roll Out Your Barrel

The PubScout doesn't usually submit double blog posts within an hour of each other, but beer stories which catch my fancy don't appear on a set schedule, either. I saw a pic on FB today from the makers of one of my favorite beers--Innis & Gunn--and decided to follow the link.
It led, eventually, to the rather out-of-focus picture above; but some pictures, even out of focus, still stimulate the, um, senses. There are more for your enjoyment at this link.

Fear not; Spring WILL arrive...eventually

Brewfest Set for May 11

It may seem like the nicer weather is a long way off, but it will arrive, and that means outdoor activities for normal humans can resume. One of the best for The PubScout last year was the 2nd Annual Brewfest in historic Washington's Crossing State Park, PA, just south of New Hope. The Motorcycle Men and Mamas of the CJMRG went down in a caravan on an absolutely sparkling May day to sample the wares of 65 brewers from across the country. Food, fun, re-enactors and a chap who looked very much like the most revered of the Founding Fathers made the day a great success. The good news is that they're doing it again. The bad news is that, as you might expect, tickets go fast. Use the links below to gather info and make your plans. This is a PubScout Recommended trip, whether on two wheels or four. Or two legs or four. See you there!
WASHINGTON CROSSING, Pa. – The 3rd Annual Washington Crossing Brewfest will be held on Saturday, May 11 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Washington Crossing Historic Park. The brewfest – which sells out each year – will feature beer sampling from more than 60 national and regional breweries, live bands and food. Proceeds benefit the Friends of Washington Crossing Park.

General admission tickets are now on sale for $40 (designated driver tickets are $10). Tickets are available at and the following locations: Isaac Newton’s in Newtown; Continental Tavern in Yardley; Bucks Ship & Print in Yardley; and the temporary Washington Crossing Historic Park Visitor’s Center at the corner of Rts. 32 and 532. The brewfest will be held on the river in the upper part of Washington Crossing Historic Park, behind the Thompson Neely House and across the street from Bowman’s Wildflower Preserve.

To keep up-to-date on the latest news about the brewfest, including bands, food vendors, and attending breweries, “like” it at   

Since its founding, the Friends of Washington Crossing Park has helped reopen the park for guided interpretive tours and educational programming. The group’s mission is to pursue and create fundraising, membership and volunteer opportunities. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Boak's Magnificent Seven

Brian Boak is not only an excellent brewer, he's a helluva nice guy. His Monster Mash has been knocking them dead since its inception. So when he sends word that he and his beers will be in the area, the PubScout takes notice--and, as his is wont, shares it with you. If you make it to any of these, be sure to chat Brian up and tell him The PubScout sent you.


Join Brian Boak Celebrate BOAKS 5th Anniversary, Feb. 28 at Bistro 55 on Rt 17 in Rochelle Park. 7pm till….

This is a One Time Opportunity to have 7 BOAKS Beers on Tap. It is also the only time in NJ you will be able to taste Vintage Monster Mash.

We will bring 2008, 2009 and 2013 Monster Mash, Wooden Beanie, Abbey Brown, Two Blind Monks and Double BW

Come Join us for a Beer or Seven!!



Brian Boak

February 22nd 5th Anniv Party, Grey Lodge Pub, Philly, PA 7pm
February 28th 5th Anniv Party, Bistro 55, Rochelle Park, NJ 7pm
March 2nd Philly Craft Beer Fest @ The Navy Yard, Philly
April 5th & 6th AC Beer and Music Festival
May 11th Mt Hope Brewfest Two Sessions: 11AM - 3PM & 4:30PM - 8:30PM Mt Hope Estate Manheim PA
June 15th Crystal Springs Resort Brew Fest Hamburg NJ

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Can Koch Can? Can Due!

Filmmaker Rob Dickerson and Jim Koch

After years of resistance to a beer industry trend towards canning craft beer, none other than Jim Koch has decided to take another look.
But true to his purist form--and  the dedication that made his beer company successful-- he will do so on his terms--and with his own can. read the link above.

It's a fascinating story, as well as a credit to the guy who many believe to be the catalyst of the American Craft Beer Movement. The PubScout dubs him "The Cartographer" simply because, in my humble estimation, he did nothing less than put American Craft Beer on the map. But, more than that, I have found that every SA product I have sampled in the years since I helped Koch sign The Beer Drinker's Bill of Rights in Philadelphia, whether it's on my favorite list or not, is true to style. And master brewers have shared that sentiment with me. That kind of commitment deserves kudos. (Hint: pick up some of his outstanding Double Agent IPL.)

Koch, however, would not have even made the attempt if he weren't convinced the beer could retain its authentic taste in its new digs, which is why he resisted for so long. Recent developments may soon find him a supporter of cans, but an interesting note from the article highlighting the importance of olfaction and retro-olfaction deserves mention here:

  • The big discovery: Conventional cans don’t allow enough air into people’s mouths as they drink. Turns out, much of what consumers believe they taste is actually smell — that’s why food tastes so bland when people are congested. Increasing exposure to the beer’s aromas of hops and fruit can make a big difference in taste, said Roy Desrochers, a professional beer taster at GEI Consultants in Woburn.
Of course, neither do long neck bottles, which is why beer tastes best in the proper glassware.
We'll see if "better beer" can stay that way, but I wouldn't bet against  "Can-Can Koch."

Friday, February 8, 2013

Trackside Switches

I stopped in to the Rail House Pub in Rahway the other night to take in the first of their “Guest Tap” series. That’s a program initiated by Alan Maslo in which  a different brewery is invited into the pub to take command of some of the taps. The program occurs on the first Tuesday of every month. Since the first guest brewery was one of my favorites—Yard’s—I figured to grab some of my favorite Thomas Jefferson Tavern Ale or two and a big juicy burger. The TJ, to my great disappointment, was unavailable. Still, my other favorite, George Washington’s Tavern Porter was up, along with the very unique Ben Franklin’s Spruce, and Yard’s Brawler, a very solid session beer.

During my visit, I learned that Maslo, who “gave birth” to the Rail House Pub concept and who has been its constant caregiver, will be picking up stakes and heading south—way south, as in Georgia—to pursue a new career opportunity.
“It’s very painful,” said Maslo. “My heart is here, and I often have debates with myself about whether I’m making the right move, but I have to do what’s best for my family.”

Taking Maslo’s place will be Jennifer Orlando, an amiable brunette stunner who takes the train to her new place of employment. “It’s so convenient,” said Orlando. “No driving or parking hassles, and a fifteen minute ride drops me right off at the Rail House front door.”

She, at least, knows where to go. In discussing ways to make the relatively new pub more visible, owner Larry Fishman, Subscout Gonzo, Maslo and I put our non-beer heads together to brainstorm about signage. With no handsome “Rail House Pub” sign hanging perpendicular to the building to attract passersby on the sidewalk, the only things that indicate there’s a pub are some of the neon signs in the window. And by the time a passerby sees them and the pub, he may be past it.

Gonzo and Larry Fishman

That’s a shame, because this intimate, brick-lined, friendly place should be—could be—a real destination, and not only because NJ Transit riders can hop off to enjoy a pint (or two) with a scrumptious burger and still have change from their 20-spot.
And with more guest breweries on tap in the coming months, the beer offerings will proliferate even further. Troeg’s from Hershey (formerly Harrisburg) will be up in march, with Six-Point and River Horse following respectively in April and May.

Here’s hoping that Jennifer and Larry can find the right formula to put the Rail House Pub on the map for more than just the locals.

And me.