Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mohawk House "Growing" Again

Hawk's Nest--NY's Rt. 97
After two hundred motorcycle miles on an absolutely sparkling summer day (and with seventy more to reach home), I found myself within range of one of my favorite beer stops--Steve Scro's Mohawk House in Sparta, NJ. With fifty constantly-changing beers on tap, Steve has built a legend in the hills of Sussex County.

Christie, Rick and Jessica at Mohawk House
But he's clearly not content with success. I chatted with Christie, Rick and Jessica (right), and long-timer Rick informed me that Steve is getting ready to expand the Mohawk House, not only in serviceable area, but quite possibly in adding an extensive bottled beer collection, kind of like rolling-ladder "library" style setup.

In addition to its fine beers and exceptional food, Mohawk House already has more nooks and crannies than a Thomas's English Muffin, so I'm arranging a full blown interview with Steve ( who was AWOL yesterday ) to get the full scoop.

And with scenery like that at the top of this page, transport will be by motorcycle.

Stay tuned to this page.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Eat, Drink and Donate (painlessly) at Uno's on August 3

Another installment of positivity linking good beer with a good cause takes place at Uno's Rt. 1 near Menlo Park Mall this Saturday, August 3. The fundraiser runs all day, so pick your time.

Visit Uno's ONLY brewpub to have 15-20% of your bill donated to the Jimmy D Fund, which supports the Art Luf Burn Camp for Children.

Chow down with friends and family while enjoying the fruits of Brewer Chris Percello's labors in the brewhouse!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Them's Fightin' Words, cuz...

Dude, you serious?
Aaron Goldfarb lays a hurtin' on Jersey beers, though he has words of praise for two Garden State brewers. He also lays justifiable blame on NJ's archaic-but-changing beer laws as part of the problem.

Read his column and take a stand.
Or not.

Personally, I think he needs to get out more.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Captain Craic and Crew: The Senate Sojourns to Stoudt's

One of Stoudt's many dining areas
Two words can explain why Hailey's Harp and Pub in Metuchen is thriving. 

Captain Craic.

Always working the customer-pleasing angles, from food to beer to Beer Senators, to Hailey's Hockey, the Captain (Chris Flynn) runs a fun ship. 

One of his best moves was making Mo his XO, a knowledgeable, loyal Spock who knows his way around the kitchen and the bar.
Together they generate ideas to make Hailey's Harp and Pub a fun place for customers, from beer dinners to Beer Senators and shuffleboard to Hailey's hockey, all the while offering great beer with great food in a classic Irish pub.

Their most recent brainstorm was to run a bus trip for the Beer Senators--totally free, mind you--to the legendary Stoudt's Brewery in PA. In true craic fashion, there were Bloody Marys and Vodka and Cranberry cocktails to enjoy on the two-hour ride there, and the 33 pilgrims aboard enjoyed free wireless access and DVD movies all the way there and back.
"It was just an idea we had to have some fun," says the Captain.
And fun it was, not even counting Caddyshack and Animal House during the ride.

Mo ensures that all seat belts are fastened
Stoudt's (Adamstown, PA) is a truly iconic, must-visit place for the beer lover (and the artisanal bread and cheese lover and the good food lover. Ed and Carol Stout are two of the nicest, friendliest folks in the business, and, because of the quality of their products, their establishment has grown from the first microbrewery in PA to a mini-city. Sales Manager Jack Sweeney is cast in their mold: a down to earth, knowledgeable guy who loves what he does.

Ed and Carol Stoudt
The Bus from Metuchen arrived in the fore-noon, and during the ride the Senators were somewhat subdued. Ed Stoudt took a break from shucking oysters and promptly bought everyone on the bus a beer. "Subdued" was over. Then he took us on a most engaging tour of his brewery, cracking jokes, offering advice and providing knowledge of just how Stoudt's produces their outstanding beer. He's fun to watch and listen to as he becomes very animated when sharing his tidbits, and the group offered extended applause for him when the tour ended. At 73, he has no plans to retire because "I don't know what I would do, and I love what I'm doing."

Ed Stoudt holds court
The assembly then moved to a specially prepared room for a delicious lunch accompanied by Stoudt's famous brews. The PubScout opted for the maibock, as did Jack Sweeney, who allowed that the brew should be offered year-round instead of seasonally. The PubScout heartily concurred, and ordered another to accompany his perfectly done Black Angus Burger. 

From there, it was out to the patio for an Alvarez cigar and some chatter. Captain Craic also lit up a cigar whose ring gauge was wider than the brown Newfoundland Lucy's forepaw. A few other senators enjoyed stogies as well.
In all, it was an excellent sojourn to an excellent place with some excellent pilgrims put together by an excellent team.
Hopefully, this trip will be repeated soon, and it wouldn't hurt to stop into Hailey's any night and speak to Captain Craic himself, just to put the bug in his ear.
He'll be the camera-shy one with the hat on. And because he's the captain of the craic, he shouldn't be hard to convince.

More photos here including one of Donna tasting her first (and possibly last) oyster...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Foaming at the Mouth

My pal Larry is a 2013 NJ State Champion Baseball Coach, so when the talk turns to baseball, I listen to him. Conversely, when it turns to beer, he usually listens to me. He sent me this news story because he knows The PubScout is committed to keeping my readers abreast of the latest in beer news.

I share it now.

Whether this is a good idea or not is for you to decide.

But I can think of  a few reasons why I wouldn't want this concoction on top of my beer. The first is that the colder a beer is, the less taste it has. (Hence those commercials for Silver Bullets.) The second is that while it may keep the top of your beer colder, your hand will warm up the sides. The third is that if you're nursing your beer so long that you need to put a cooler on top of it, you ain't drinking it right. People are also reporting that when they're thirsty, they need to poke a hole in the foam to get enough liquid to slake their thirsts.

And lastly, if you want a Carvel, get a Carvel.

But, to each his own. I'm just putting Larry on notice that Bob Sheppard did not drink his beer this way. And if the old ways were good enough for the Voice of the Yankees, they're good enough for me.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Good News, Bad News, Good News

Mere mortal men should not be put in predicaments like this.

Tickets went on sale today for the sure-to-be-fabulous Newtown Beerfest.  That's the good news.

The bad news (for me) is that I will be away on the day it takes place. I asked the missus to change our plans to accommodate this festival, but the look she shot me frightened me a bit, prompting me to add an "only kidding!" So away I'll be.

But you don't have to be. The good news (for you) is that you can get your tickets now.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Good People, Good Beer

The PubScout, a self-admitted geezer, spent a delightful, hot afternoon and evening at a very special private beer-tasting. It was held at the home of  The Costive Columnist, Paul Mulshine.

Mulshine and Betty
 That's not an insult, because Paul wears his parsimony like a badge of honor. He loves good beer, and loves it more if it's a bargain. Since I was the first to arrive, he and Betty (L.) greeted me with a Tatra, which he proudly proclaimed was $18.99 for a 24-case of 16 oz. cans. Decent Polish beer, too, although with the temps in his back yard hovering around 100ยบ, his crystal clear pool water would probably have qualified as good. Still, having the opportunity to sit and chat one-on-one with a journalist of Mulshine's experience, perspectives and knowledge (even while adjusting our chairs to get some shade) was most illuminating.

We were joined by two of Paul's buddies. One was The Famous Captain Rich,  a very interesting, fascinating chap who flies big airliners around the globe. More importantly, he lands them safely.
The other fellow was Paul the Second, a former horticulturist, current marine biology teacher and long-time schoolmate of the Star Ledger's last remaining conservative columnist.

Paul offers beer advice to an appreciative audience
In a very organized fashion, and because he believes that only a totally blind tasting can provide accurate assessments, Paul the First laid out five different beers in numbered cups. The only info he shared was that these beers were all bocks, which generally are cooler weather beers, but none of us registered a complaint as we set about tasting and testing. They ranged in color from blonde to amber to black. We learned after the test that the bocks were Zywiec, Narraganset, Sagres, Anchor and Yuengling. The Anchor topped my list.
Paul the First will compile and analyze the stats, and very likely share them with the world in one of his columns.

Paul and The PubScout at "work."
While the beers were the centerpiece of the session, I found the company to be most enjoyable. There's just something about older guys sitting around kibitzing, reminiscing and sharing stories that puts the world on an even keel, if only for a few hours.

It confirms two of The PubScout's favorite sayings:

1.Good People drink Good Beer.
2. Better People Host Beer Tastings


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hoboken and The Boot Boss

Today's Hoboken is a vibrant city with a host of positives. It has quality pubs and restaurants. It has elegant brownstones, reminiscent of a bygone era. It has Stevens Institute of Technology, which may have the prettiest campus with the best view in the country. It has Carlo's Bakery, and a mile-long line of people waiting to get into it. It bustles with young, upwardly-mobile professionals, many of them stunningly handsome or beautiful, depending upon your perspective.
Not bad for a plot of land purchased by Colonel John Stevens for about $100,000 in today's money.
Today, that amount might buy you an apartment with a view of Manhattan. For a year.

Or it could help you pay for parking--and parking tickets, which seems to be a major source of funding for the city government. The city is friendly in many ways, but not to cars or their drivers. The roads are old, narrow and uneven. Take Ninth St. up to the Stevens Campus for proof.

Parking anywhere is at such a premium that many Hobokenites (?) shun cars altogether, opting for two wheels, two feet or mass transit. Hence, the city describes itself as "a densely-populated pedestrian-friendly urban oasis" which is another way of saying, "Leave your car elsewhere." The city says that walking is easy around this "mile-square" city, but it is decidedly not pedestrian-friendly during the type of heat wave we are currently experiencing. 

To make matters worse, there are no meters per se, especially on the main drag of Washington St. There are these skinny little inconspicuous towers that will ingest your money if you know where to go to feed them. That's if they are working properly, like the one at the legendary Pilsener Haus that wasn't.

At one famous pub, The Tilted Kilt, for example, there is no parking lot and patrons must use the street. No one will tell them that parking on the left side of Jackson St. is verboten and only for residents, while parking on the right side might be ok for four hours, depending upon the  mood of the parking patrol.
And while The Cake Boss may be a real nice guy, his counterpart, The Boot Boss, is not and will slap a boot on your tire and pinch your wallet faster than you can say Frank Sinatra.

The comely lasses at the Tilted Kilt strongly advise using the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Route which stops, conveniently, right in front of the Kilt.
Which, by the way, is a great pub to visit. Nicely laid out with a spacious, yet somehow intimate, feel, the pub runs a special on Tuesdays at 5 PM called "Half-Off Everything." Hence, yours truly enjoyed a big juicy, perfectly done-to-order burger, a mound of fries and an excellent Goose Island Pale for a grand total of $8.44.

Manager Jose Mejia has nurtured The Kilt since its birth two years ago, and is very proud of its progress. But he, too, laments the parking situation, and with good reason. This place would pack out regularly with ample nearby--and free--parking. Mejia just opened The Kilt's Patio Service yesterday in a large sunsplashed area.

Another unique Hoboken place that warrants a pub-lover's attention is  called Elysian Cafe. There's some history here as a meadow called Elysian Fields was a popular recreation spot two hundred years ago. Elysian Cafe can now make the same claim. It's the oldest continually operating bar in Hoboken--although it hasn't always been just a bar. The interior was completely restored by current owners Eugene and Joyce Flinn.

If you're a baroque fan, this place is your heaven. But it's not so fru-fru that you will be asked to leave if you don't dance a minuet. The bar is stocked with some exceptional beers (like Carton and Kane offerings) and staffed by friendly barkeeps like Josh and Dave, and the floor, by classically pretty waitresses.

Eyeing the beer menu, I noticed Elysian Immortal IPA (Seattle, WA), and other than name similarity, it had no direct link to the bistro. But I gave it a try. It was a beautifully balanced beer with a light, silky mouthfeel, and the hops did not steal the show. The spicy floral finish did that. Clearly, this baby warrants an IPA lover's attention. Paired with a very unique Grilled Cheese Sandwich (new to the menu) and some perfectly done Pommes Frites, this IPA is worth your time. If you're lucky, you'll find a place to park on Washington St. or 10th St.

Of course, no trip to Hoboken is complete without a visit to The Pilsener Haus. There's not a bad beer in the Haus, the food is authentic (especially the brats) and decor-wise, you'll think you've been transported to 1940's Austria. Yesterday's beer special was Hacker-Pschorr Maibock at $6 the half-liter. I paired it with some very good weisswurst, and I would have stayed for more, but I had had a disagreement with one of those skinny little inconspicuous parking towers.
It's supposed to spit out a receipt that you put on your dashboard for the Boot Boss to see, but after taking $4.00 from my credit card for four hours of parking, it refused to spit out any receipt. I decided to chance it and stay to enjoy my dinner, but the Boot of Damocles was hanging over my head, making it a less-than-optimal experience. Thankfully, any experience at The Pilsener Haus is at least a good one.

Bottom line is that Hoboken is a neat place to visit.
But you shouldn't have to be like the guy who went out and bought a car because he finally found a parking space.

Of course, it's all subjective, but...

According to this competition, they're the best!

Stay cool!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Summer of Our Discontent

Being a beer lover who drinks responsibly usually doesn't have many downsides. You visit great pubs, drink good beer and usually meet great people. But apart from the increase in adipose tissue and dreaded DUI threat--which a responsible beer lover usually does not encounter--there is one major PITA for beer lovers during summer.

The Mosquito.

Because according to a recent story, mosquitoes are beer lovers, too. Of course, there are other factors which may make you a more likely target for the annoying bugs, and the story delineates what they are. The bad news is that if you are a beer drinker, you're a target just like those other potential victims, and if you have more "attractants," you're an even bigger target.

To make matters worse, we've all been hearing about this summer's more ferocious, voracious mosquitoes. 

And only female mosquitoes, despite their sometimes innocent appearance like those above, bite humans.

What to do? Simple. Drink your beer in the comfy confines of your home or a cool dark pub. Avoid the patio, porch and other outdoor venues until, at least, October.

Cheers! (SLAP!)
The PubScout

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A War Eagle's Flight Fights the Light

If you've never heard of Dale Katechis (Auburn U.--'92), it's not really your fault. After all, a guy who got his start in beer from a homebrew kit and who once brewed beer in his bathtub doesn't seem likely to catch the attention of the beer cognoscenti.

At least, that is, until they taste his beer--and that you may have very well done. If you've ever had the outstanding Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale, you have had the "bathtub" beer Katechis brewed. And if you've had it, you know it comes in cans. Read this story about Katechis and learn why more and more brewers (including Jim Koch of Sam Adams) are adopting the can over the bottle.

And while you're reading, check out the analogy he makes for fine wine in corked bottles or screw caps. Maybe the boxed stuff I buy for my wino-friends is better after all?

The PubScout

Friday, July 5, 2013

Mad Men Marketing, Inc.

It used to be only the drinker that would get lit while imbibing. But if you know where to look, your bottle can join you.
My buddy Al Smith found an interesting site and forwarded it to me for my perusal. It's all about beer marketing gimmicks. from bottles that light up when you clink them with your buddies, to beer bottles that can be "played" like a Thomas Edison-era cylinder record (provided you have the original phonograph), to bottles with rifled necks that allow your beer "to flow right out," (don't they all do that?), you'll find some interesting, if not totally successful, ideas on this page.

Cheers for a continued safe July 4 weekend!