Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Monday, April 29, 2013

Beer-flavored Ice Cream?

WASHINGTON CROSSING, Pa. – Sixty seven local, regional, national and international breweries are confirmed for the 3rd Annual Washington Crossing Brewfest, to be held 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, live bands and food. Proceeds from the event are used by the Friends of Washington Crossing Park to provide educational and historical programming.

Confirmed breweries include: Allagash Brewing Company from Maine; Appalachian Brewing Company from Harrisburg; Avery Brewing Company from Colorado; Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits from California; Bear Republic Brewing Company from California; Bells Brewery from Michigan; Boulder Beer Company from Colorado; Breckenridge Brewery from Colorado; Brooklyn Brewery from New York; Bullfrog Brewery from Pennsylvania; Clown Shoes Beer from Massachusetts; Coronado Brewing Company from California; Crispin Hard Cider Company from California; Innis & Gunn from Scotland; Dark Horse Brewing Company from Michigan; Dock Street Brewing Company from Pennsylvania; Dogfish Head Brewery from Delaware; DuClaw Brewing Company from Maryland; Elysian Brewing Company from Seattle; Evil Genius Beer Company from New York; Fegley’s Brew Works from Pennsylvania; Firestone Walker Brewing Company from California; Founders Brewing Company from Michigan; Free Will Brewing from Pennsylvania; Full Pint Brewing Company from Pennsylvania; Great Divide Brewing Company from Colorado; Great Lakes Brewing Company from Ohio; Green Flash Brewing Company from California; Harpoon Brewery from Massachusetts; Konig Ludwig from Germany; Lagunitas Brewing Company from California; Lancaster Brewing Company from Pennsylvania; Left Hand Brewing Company from Colorado; The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company from Wisconsin; Lost Abbey from California; Manayunk Brewing Company from Pennsylvania; Naked Brewing Company from Pennsylvania; Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company from Pennsylvania; Old Forge Brewing Company from Pennsylvania; Brewery Ommegang from New York; Oskar Blues Brewery from Colorado; Otter Creek Brewing from Vermont; Port Brewing Company from California; River Horse Brewing Company from New Jersey; Round Guys Brewing Company from Pennsylvania; Sam Adams from Massachusetts; ShawneeCraft from Pennsylvania; Six Point Craft Ales from New York; Sly Fox Brewery from Pennsylvania; Smuttynose Brewing Company from New Hampshire; Southern Tier Brewing Company from New York; Stone Brewing Company from California; Stoudt’s Brewing Company from Pennsylvania; Terrapin Beer Company from Georgia; Thomas Creek Brewery from South Carolina; Three Heads Brewing from New York; Triumph Brewing Company from New Jersey; Troegs Brewing Company from Pennsylvania; 21st Amendment Brewery from California; Uinta Brewing Company from Utah; Vault Brewing Company from Pennsylvania; Victory Brewing Company from Pennsylvania; Weyerbacher Brewing Company from Pennsylvania; Wolaver's Organic Brewing from Vermont; Woodchuck Draft Cider from Vermont; Yards Brewing Company from Pennsylvania; and Yuengling Beer Company from Pennsylvania.

“We’ve included some popular national and international breweries but have also put a strong focus on the vibrant Pennsylvania craft-beer scene,” says John Godzieba, president of the Friends of Washington Crossing Park. “Two highly rated and unusual breweries at this year’s brewfest include Bull Frog Brewery from Williamsport, Pa., and Firestone Walker from California.”

Notable food vendors at this year’s brewfest include: Nomad Pizza, which was voted “Best of Philadelphia” in 2012; Princeton-based artisan ice cream maker The Bent Spoon, which will offer beer-flavored ice cream among others; and Bitter Bobs barbecue from New Hope. In addition, reenactors from Pennsbury Manor will demonstrate how beer was brewed by William Penn in the 17th century, over an open fire.  

New this year: For the convenience of attendees, brewfest organizers will post real-time updates on Facebook when specialty kegs are tapped. This will help improve communication and give everyone a chance to taste these specialty beers. To receive these updates, attendees must “like” the brewfest Facebook page at and then be able to access Facebook using a smart phone.

General admission tickets for the brewfest 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; Cold Spring Beverages in Yardley; Bucks Ship & Print in Yardley; and the Washington Crossing Historic Park Visitor’s Center.

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. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Less is More For Everyone

The Beer Dinner Room

Chef Steve Farley is the consummate pro. Along with Dave Hoffman and Artisan's, he still holds the NJ single beer dinner attendance record--115. But that number didn't start out that high. In fact, it bloomed yearly from rather modest beginnings, because once word gets out about well run--and fun-- beer and food pairings, attendance grows.
And that's where Steve is starting now in his new role as head chef at Molly Maguire's in Rumson. A very welcoming pub with a great selection of artisanal beer, it has a "back room" which is ideal for beer dinners. It also has what any good Irish pub should have--a "snug"--which is essentially a small room off the main bar designed for more intimate, serious conversation and quaffing.
Twenty beer and food lovers showed up to see if Farley actually knows what he's doing when it comes to beer and food.

They found out he does. You can check out the menu here.
Pairing his culinary creations with special beers from Jersey's Cricket Hill, he also introduced a new (to me, anyway) and most welcome platform--the four-course beer dinner. Most beer dinners deliver a five-course, or even six-course, platform, but the demands on the kitchen, floor staff and the customer's wallet increase as the courses do. Not to mention that so many chefs offer really huge portions which fill not only the belly but often the doggie bags. And when you are pairing those portions with beer not known for being "less filling," guests often wind up waddling out stuffed, sometimes, like yours truly requiring a day to recuperate.
Smaller courses mean a smaller cost, and that translates to less discomfort and more enjoyment for the guest, less hassle for the floor and kitchen staff--ergo Less is More. And everyone who paid just $40 for the event scored big time, in the PubScout's humble opinion.

Steve Farley "ramps" it up...

Farley did a good job in matching up the beers with his menu, too. The Jersey Devil Red Ale, despite its relatively high ABV (8.2%), seemed tailor-made for the wheat berries in Steve's first course. Likewise, the Hopnotic IPA worked well with Steve's huge, perfectly done "Viking" Scallops. The Lamb Loin entree was matched with American Reserve Brown Ale (which was one of the lightest colored browns I've ever seen). But the star of the show was Steve's Dessert, Irish Soda Bread pudding with a Maker's Mark Creme Anglaise and Cricket Hill's outstanding Bourbon Barrel Imperial Porter.
In all, the consensus of the folks at the table was very positive, with one offering a cryptic warning that "we're gonna need a bigger room" once word of this gets out.
That means more people, more plates and more prep.It will be interesting to see if the "Less is More" theory will still apply, but the smart money says Farley will handle it ably.
And The PubScout will surely visit Molly Maguire's again--for the beers, the ambiance and The Snug.
And, of course, to visit my buddy Steve.
Check out more photos here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Cool Pub Picture Book

The oldest pub in England?
There's more than one reason I'm friends with Aussie Kenneth Hart of The Thirsty Swagman. 

Here are 86 of them, including the photo at right.

Alas, so many cool pubs, so little time.
And even less money.

The PubScout

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Nordic Rock Ready to Roll

My young Aussie mate, the stunning Tash Marti, who has written for this blog before, advises me that time is running out to qualify for the "Mate Rates" offer that this trip allows. You can get all the info you need about Nordic Rock right here. Her boss, Kenneth Hart of The Thirsty Swagman promises a memorable trip...if you're up to the task.
Caution: This trip is for BIG Beer Dogs!
If you're not one, stay on the porch.

The PubScout

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Jersey Shore Beer Fest Coming to Neptune

My beer buddy Chris DePeppe informs me of  another beer fest he is producing at the Jersey Shore. He allows that this particular event may well be a "moveable feast," using different venues from time to time. But this one is in Neptune--and for a good cause besides. If past is prologue, the event should be a memorable one, and the nice thing about Chris's fests is that food is included in the price. Flying Fish, Smuttynose, Cricket Hill, Starr Hill, Brooklyn, East Coast, Tuckahoe, Ithaca, Carton, Yards, Blue Point and more will be on hand. Info is below.

The organizers of several area craft beer fests have announced that they will be launching the Jersey Shore Beer Fest on May 18th and that the venue for the first year of this annual event is The Headliner in Neptune, NJ. The Headliner, ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, is undergoing extensive renovations and the interior has new bars, new flooring, and a new kitchen, and the outdoor bars and beach volleyball courts will be opening just in time for the beer fest.
The event, which will feature more than 30 craft breweries from around the region and across the country, benefits the Richard S. Bascom Scholarship Fund, a local nonprofit organization that helps Neptune kids pay for college.
The event organizers see this event as a way to showcase the variety of flavors that distinguish craft beers from the mass-produced light lagers and a chance for local beer enthusiasts to taste the fresh local products from smaller craft breweries, several of them based here in New Jersey.
“I am convinced that New Jersey is one of the next hot spots for craft beer in the US,” says Chris DePeppe, owner of TotalBru Marketing LLC, the event’s producer.
“It feels here like it did in Philly ten years back,” he added, “ with a lot of energy around the beer scene and a rapidly developing beer culture where more and more people appreciate the craft of brewing and want to experience a wider range of beer flavors.”
The Jersey Shore Beer Fest will feature breweries from the state such as Flying Fish, Carton, Cricket Hill, Tuckahoe and East Coast, as well as regional favorites like Brooklyn, Blue Point, and Yards, and award- winning American breweries like Stone, Smuttynose and Ommegang. There will also be a specialty beer bar featuring fruit beers and wheat beers and an IPA Happy Hour Bar.
Local food vendors including Fins and The Happy Clam will be present and general admission ticket includes a meal voucher that can be redeemed at any vendor.
The Jersey Shore Beer Fest ( will be held on May 18, 2013 at The Headliner on Hwy 35 in Neptune from 2-6PM. Tickets are $45 until May 1 and $49 after May 1 and will include a 5 oz tasting glass and freedom to try 2 oz. samples from any exhibiting brewery AND food from local food vendors. Designated driver tickets are $15 each with meal ticket and non-alcoholic drinks included. Everyone must be 21+ with valid ID for admission.
The event is produced by TotalBru Marketing and (

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Farley's First Beer Dinner--(at Molly Maguire's, That Is)

Chef Steve Farley has wowed his share of palates, having served as Head Chef at the outstanding Artisan's Brewpub in Tom's River for many years. His culinary talents were part and parcel of the famous annual Oktoberfest Beer Dinners which still hold the record--115 attendees-- for beer dinner attendance in the state of NJ.
Chef Steve has since moved further north and is now tickling tastebuds and exercising enzymes at Molly Maguire's Blackpoint Inn in Rumson. 

As he promised, and now that he knows his way around his new scullery, he's serving up his first-ever Beer Dinner to welcome Spring in his new digs on Wednesday, April 24 at 7 PM--and, with the rarest, limited batch beers of Cricket Hill in the house, it looks to be a doozy.

Here's the menu:

1st Course
Warm Spring Asparagus and Mushroom Salad
Hop pickled spring garlic, wheat berries, Irish brown bread
Jersey Devil Red Ale 8.2% ABV

2nd course
Seared Viking Village Day Boat Scallop
Grapefruit, wild ramps two ways
Hopnotic IPA 5.2% ABV

3rd course
Pan Roasted Lamb Loin
Fingerling potato hash, fiddle head ferns, lamb jus, toasted hazelnuts
American Reserve Brown Ale 5.7% ABV

4th course
Irish Soda Bread Pudding
Makers Mark creme anglaise, fresh whipped cream
Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Porter 6.7% ABV

$40.00 per person plus tax and gratuity

Sounds like a great deal to The PubScout!  Make your reservation today by calling 732-530-2882. 

Make no mistake. This guy can cook (the lass in the picture appreciates that), and you won't want to miss this dinner! I'll see you there!

The PubScout

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Where Patriots Quaff

As the Long Winter of our Discontent finally yielded to better temps, it was time for an extended motorcycle ride. One of my favorites is down to Washington's Crossing State Park on the Pennsy side and up PA 32. Scenic, tranquil and devoid of the usual weekend traffic, the route I take through Somerset and Mercer counties has me crossing on the Jersey side, and just before that neat little bridge to Pennsy lies a pub aptly called "Patriot's Crossing." I had never stopped in, but decided to do so yesterday. It's not fancy, for sure, but it had a clean bathroom--and I noticed there were plenty of good beers on tap as I passed the small bar on the way to "dehydrate."

I decided to "re-hydrate," and was delighted with a tap choice called Ramstein Double Platinum. Technically a hefeweizen, this refreshing delicious beer from Greg Zaccardi hit the spot. Fruity, with apple notes predominating, this ever-so-slightly cloudy beer comes in at 7%, and since I was on two wheels, one would be sufficient. That allowed time for an outdoor Alvarez cigar while lounging in the parking lot, enjoying the river view in the (finally) warm sun. Life is good.

The PubScout

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Charm of Pubs in Old Homes

I usually make the Tewksbury Inn in Oldwick, NJ a waypoint during motorcycle season, where its pub and fine beers offer cooling respite from the beautiful but summer- sunny roads of Somerset and Hunterdon counties.
I visited the Inn, with its distinctly different dining and drinking areas formed by the layouts of such old houses, for dinner with friends during The Longest Winter this year. The Tewksbury Inn is an architecturally charming, neat and wonderful place to visit. That its beers and food are worth enjoying in such bygone ambience is icing on the cake.
But at that visit, I happened to sidle up to the ancient bar next to the Inn’s proprietor, Mark Marrazza, pointed out to me by a dining partner. With shyness not being my calling card, I complimented him on his beer selection as well as the ambience of this old pub.

One thing led to another, and he learned about my avocation. He suggested I visit another of his restaurants in Basking Ridge called the Ridge Tavern, as its general manager, Steve Prince was working hard to offer quality craft beer to his clientele.
Never one to turn down an invitation from an owner to visit his pub, I arranged with Steve to pay the Ridge Tavern a visit.

 Like its sister establishment in Oldwick, the Ridge Tavern sits on the corner of a main drag which no doubt at one time saw considerable horse-and-buggy traffic. Another former grand home, the view from the cozy, glassed in porch commands a fine view of S. Finley Ave, its shops and other fine homes.
The interior of the restaurant is divided into various dining rooms, because, well, that’s the way houses are built when the builders have no idea there will be a restaurant here someday. To the PubScout, however, such character is a plus. The bar area, with its flat screen TV’s and somewhat louder pub hubbub, is some distance from the cozy porch where we dined and drank. Steve Prince, busy as all get out this night, stopped by and allowed that he has his ever-changing beer lines cleaned faithfully every three weeks.

The missus ordered and enjoyed a Stella Artois, served correctly and picture-perfect in its own chalice; and I, anticipating a meat or game dish, opted for the dunkelweisse Doomsday from Evil Genius Brewing. It was good, and it went well with my delightful Meat Loaf and Mashed Potatoes with Mushroom Gravy, but the best was yet to come.
Generally speaking, The PubScout eschews desserts, opting instead for “liquid chocolate and coffee,” if you catch my drift. But something on the dessert menu cast a hypnotic spell, and with Wolaver’s Alta GraciaCoffee Porter on the beer menu, I gave in. The dessert was called, simply, Apple Crisp. But, far from simple, it came with homemade Honey-Cinnamon Ice Cream, and in a portion large enough to share—thereby obviating the caloric guilt. The pairing with the coffee porter was absolutely perfect—so much so, that I took the liberty of advising Steve to have his servers suggest that beer whenever that dessert is ordered.

The PubScout and GM Steve Prince
The Ridge Tavern advertises itself as a casual establishment and it is, but on this night I was amazed at the number of families—especially those with children—in attendance. That might turn some geezers like me off, but the layout of the house and smart seating by the staff seemed to avoid the generational conflict.
Which is why old houses had different rooms in the first place—to provide sanctuary from each other.
The Ridge Tavern will definitely be put on the Spring/Summer Motorcycle itinerary as a pub stop.