Monday, November 06, 2006

Cask Head Cask Ale Festival

A local pub in my neighborhood holds several Cask Ale Festivals every year. This was their tenth tri-annual festival and the third of the year, if I am not mistaken. For some reason I usually miss them either because I am busy or I don't find out about them until it is too late. This one lasted three days and to make up for lost time I visited each day.

The Brazen Head

The Brazen Head normally has two Real Ales available but for this event they were going to have between 25 and 30 over the three days. Needless to say this required the addition of several more barrels.

Helping out with this even were a couple of friendly and knowledgeable guys.


Although Andy seemed to know a lot about the Real Ales he was pouring, the only thing I saw him drink was Pabst Blue Ribbon out of a can. I guess he didn't want to over-tax his palate.

The other fellow, Alex, was willing to quaff the Real Ale on occasion though.

Bar Man and Alex About to Quaff

Alex also had the job of mopping the floor and ceiling when one of the tapping jobs went a bit awry.

Alex Mopping The Ceiling

The regular bartender, Joy, kept busy behind the bar where two of the Real Ales were available as well as their usual fine selection of beers and other potables.

Barman and Joy Enjoying A Real Ale

On Friday I met a couple of congenial fellows who stopped in for the Festival and we shared a few beers.

Art, Jay, and Bar Man

Jay didn't care for the Cask Ales though so he had to content himself with one of the other offerings, of which their were plenty available.

Jay had such a good time that he came back on Saturday with his wife, Lorraine.

Jay and Lorraine

The Mysterious Chinese Woman and Lorraine hit it off, probably because the could commiserate over how much their men-folk were imbibing. They graciously agreed to pose in front of the list of the offerings.

Mysterious Chinese Woman and Lorraine

On Saturday the four of us headed to Pete's Waterfront for ribs and then stopped in at Montero's for a few beers and tequila shots. I should have taken more pictures but, for some reason, lost my focus.

The Brazen Head has a small outdoor area where you can sit if the weather is nice, or pop out for a smoke. I thought it was put to excellent use this weekend.

On Friday I had:

Hoptical Illusion - 6.2%
A good IPA type of beer.

Legacy Hoptmus Prime - 9.5%
A bit of a perfume nose to it, but in a good way.

Heartland Smiling Pumpkin 5.5%

Not a bad pumpkin ale and kind of appropriate for this time of year.

Sixpoint Ginger Righteous Ale - 7.2%
A bit on the thin side with only a hint of ginger flavor. I will have to try this one again because my palate wasn't at its sharpest at this point.

Captain Lawrence Pleasantville Smoked Porter - 6.4%

This was a really good smoked porter, lots of smoky taste which I tend to like

Brooklyn Brewery Blast IPA - 8%
This is what I thought I had a Peter's Waterfront Ale House the other day, but it wasn't. This was more of what I expected, a very hoppy and quite tasty IPA.

On Saturday I had:

Chelsea Cream Stout - 7.5%
Heavy and chocolaty with a nice creamy head.

Stoudt's Juniper Scarlet Lady - 5%

On the thin side with almost no head at all. It did taste like juniper berries though.

Warwick Valley Doc's Cider Cherry - 4.5%
A surprisingly refreshing cider with a hint of cherry to it. Not overly sweet. It tasted really fresh, like something you might find at a roadside stand, if you were lucky.

Paper City Winter Palace Wee Heavy - 7.6%
This had a dark color to it but had a very nice crisp dry taste.

Sly Fox IPA - 7.2%
Really dry, too dry to be much of a thirst quencher, but pretty good.

Defiant ESB - 6.5%

This was a really dark brew with a strange head, almost like little soap bubbles that never really accumulated but kept building and popping for a long time. It was dry and very hoppy.

On Sunday I had:

Butternut Pork Slap Pale Ale - 4.2%
This was very heavy and sweet with almost a butterscotch flavor. Would have been good for desert. The little kids would love it.

Thomas Hooker Imperial Porter - 7.8%
Very heavy and dark and very hoppy.

Rogue Brutal Bitter - 6.5%
This was very good. Rogue seldom disappoints. It was a dark golden color and was very dry and bitter.

Paper City Blonde Hop Monster - 9%
I guess this would qualify as a barley wine. Quite potent but the alcohol didn't overwhelm the flavor. It was very hoppy and had a nice floral nose to it.

Captain Lawrence Captain's Reserve Double IPA - 8%

Very hoppy and, considering the alcohol content, went down way to easily.

Defiant Christmas Ale - 8.4%
This was quite heavy and sweet but the high alcohol content kept it from being cloying.

Now one of the things that I liked about this festival is that you buy tickets for either $3 for a 10 ounce glass or $5 for a 16 ounce glass. No little sippy cups here. You can exchange your glass for a clean one when you switch your drink so you don't get any of that hated taste overlap. It really is a great way to spend a day or two or three and learn something about Cask Ales in the process. I don't really think of it as drinking, I think of it as furthering my education.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Buck Fever

I walked by this bar on Atlantic Avenue and had to do a double take.

Bucks Lodge

The reason for the double take was that just a week or two ago Bucks was


The interior underwent a bit of a change as well. Kind of like from Geisha House

to basement rec-room.

The owner's are the same, I guess they just decided to go with a change. Soju was a primarily gay bar with a Japanese theme so I guess it was natural to switch to a rustic, cabin-like decor with poker tournaments and chili contests. I will have to stop in some Thursday when ladies in cowboy boots get $1 off all liquor drinks.

I was told to come back after they get the deer-heads mounted. You can be sure that I will.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween at Peter's

I guess I am a bit too old for trick and treating so I decided to visit one of my old haunts in the neighborhood, Peter's Waterfront Ale House. It does look a bit spooky at night.

Peter's at Night

Nothing to crazy going on here except for the usual eclectic menu that included a Buffalo Flank Steak Salad (that I ordered) and TexMex Turkey Meatloaf (that the Mysterious Chinese Woman ordered). Both were very good but man, you had to be ready for some heat if you ate the meatloaf. It started out hot from the first bite. Not burn your tongue hot, but a good mouth hot. Then it built from there. By the time you ate your third bite you were just beginning to feel the full extent of your first mouthful. It was just right, in a forehead and nose sweating kind of way.

Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale

I generally like Rogue products so I thought I would give this a shot. It is also known as Rogue Buckwheat Ale. Rogue has a line of "Signature" Morimoto products, having hooked up with Chef Masaharu Morimoto, who you may remember as one of the Iron Chefs.

Soba is just another name for buckwheat, which is not actually wheat, but a member of the rhubarb family and therefore a fruit. I keep telling you, read my blog and you learn something new every once in a blue moon (the second full moon in a single calendar month).

Morimoto Soba Ale is brewed with Roasted Buckwheat, Pale malt, Munich Malt, 13-17 Carastan Malt, and Crystal Hops. The flavor is toasty-nutty with medium body and good hop bitterness. I quite enjoyed it.

I also had a Brooklyn Blast Pale Ale. It is a fairly strong beer, 8% I believe, and is marketed as an IPA. This is, I think, unfortunate. My palate was prepared for the typical dry, hoppiness of most pale ales so I wasn't prepared for the somewhat heavy and sweet flavor that I got. It did have a hoppy back-taste, but somewhat subdued. Knowing what to expect I would order it again, but to me it was not an IPA.

(Note about Brooklyn Blast Pale Ale; that wasn't what I was served, even though it was what I ordered. I had a Brooklyn Blast Pale Ale at the Real Ale Festival at Brazen Head and it was very good indeed and tasted like an IPA should taste. Not sure what I actually drank here.)

Peter's has been covered by scaffolding for over a year now so I thought I would take a couple of shots of the place now standing naked in the sunlight. I think they still need to put up their sign.

Naked Peter

As usual at Peter's, we had a good time and headed back home before it got too spooky outside.

Waterfront Ale House in Brooklyn

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Up North

I haven't had much of a chance to post anything lately because I was up in Northern Minnesota visiting friends of mine who live on Dove Island in Rainy Lake. The closest town is Rainier and the closest "large" town is International Falls, population a little over 7000.

My friend, Bruce, had made some spruce beer and was eager for us to try it. He used the green tips of spruce branches either instead of or to supplement the hops. He should market it as Spruce from Bruce, or something like that.

Chris, Bruce, And Bar Man Sampling Spruce from Bruce

As you can see, the beer had a bit of a head on it, but it did settle down after about five minutes or so. We are enjoying our beer on Bruce's deck.

The weather was a bit mixed but we did have several very nice days and managed to do a bit of fishing. Chris caught this nice Northern, 31 inches and about 10 pounds.

Chris With His Catch

The Mysterious Chinese Woman busied herself in Bruce's basement kitchen and brewery but, alas, it was not to make trimmings for our fish dinner.

Mysterious Chinese Woman Busy In The Kitchen

After being whacked in the head with a hammer the fish made a brazen leap for freedom as it was being placed on a table by the lake to be filleted. Oh, what tales he will have to tell to his children, at least the ones he doesn't eat.

There was a bit of sad news though. You may recall my review of Sha Sha's from the last time that I visited up here. It was a very nice bar that had all kinds of hand-made furniture, a lovely bar, and all kinds of mounted trophy fish. Sadly, it burned down and the owners have put up a large tent and a Tiki bar to get them through the season.

As you can see, a Tiki bar on the Canadian border at the end of September doesn't do a lot of business.

Maybe the troll scared everyone away.

Well, it didn't scare everyone away.

Bruce and Bar Man at the Tiki Bar

The bartender said they lost a lot of business because women didn't like using the porta-potties that had been put up to replace the bathrooms that were destroyed in the fire. This also cut down on a lot of the bigger parties that they host during the year. They plan on being back in business next year though.

Sadly, even the chipmunk that guarded the old bar suffered in fire.

Here he is guarding the old bar:

Now he has a butt-crack, although it goes the wrong way.

One neat place that we went to for dinner was called the Y and it is out of town a bit at a place where the highways do form a bit of a Y.

The Y

It had kind of a typical "up North" look to it and a friendly crowd at the bar where I had a drink.

Bar Man at the Bar

The restaurant had recently changed hands and the new owner, Suzie, was very friendly. I certainly wish her and her husband well, the food was not only plentiful, but delicious. They do a great job smoking ribs and I would like to go back for their smoked prime ribs one day.

Suzie and Bar Man

Just remember, if you come up here for the fishing, you need a big worm to catch a big fish.

Bar Man, Big Worm, and Mysterious Chinese Woman

We had a wonderful trip and managed to watch The Twins tie with Detroit for the lead in their race for a division title. It was an extra innings game that I watched with my friends Rico and Sandy in the cozy Bob's Bar.

Sandy, Bar Man, and Rico (AKA Bob)

Sadly, I didn't have enough time to visit Nye's in Northeast Minneapolis. It was just selected by Esquire Magazine as the best bar in America. It wasn't one of my thousand bars either, although I have visited it many times when I was living in Minneapolis. Their ribs and sauerkraut is to die for but their specialty is a prime rib. Next time I am in Minneapolis I will visit it for sure and take plenty of pictures while I am there.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Help For Stacey

This is a bit of a different post for me, but a friend of mine asked me to put this up on the off chance that someone reading this might respond. Thank you.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Coney Island Cyclones

MurphGuide, one of my favorite sources of information about goings on in New York, offered a special deal today; a ticket to a Cyclones game, free beer, hotdogs, and hamburgers at Peggy O'Neill's before the game, and a free post-game drink to send you on your way afterwards. And all for just twenty bucks. Needless to say I couldn't pass up such a deal.

It is a bit late in the season so on a lovely Thursday afternoon there really wasn't much going on.

I headed towards the beach from the subway and was presented with this teaser.

Of course the answer was yes but, sadly, the place I wanted to stop into was closed.

I think the Freak Bar is still open on the weekends though so I may try again one of these days.

I headed to an old reliable though to find solace.

How much longer Rudy's will be here is questionable. All the land that it sits on has been sold and more than likely any new development will not take into consideration the historical significance of Rudy's. If it was up to me it would be declared a historical landmark.

I wanted to buy a tee-shirt in case the place wouldn't survive into next year. The manager Sam assured me that it would have at least one more year to go though. He was out of tee-shirts for sale but had an old one with some kind of a stain, mustard, probably, that he couldn't quite remove. He said I could have that tee-shirt for free.

Hey, this was better than just buying a souvenir, this had an authentic stain.

As I headed toward Peggy O'Neill's I passed by Cha Cha's and the Shoot The Freak game.

Cha Cha's is another favorite of mine but it too, is probably doomed. As I have said before, I love the concept of sitting in a dark dive bar having a beer and looking out on a beautiful beach.

After another quick beer I did head down to Peggy O'Neill's which is built into the Keyspan Stadium complex, so it is handy.

I got there a bit early so I stopped inside for a beer before the festivities begand to have a beer which was cheerfully served up by Paul, the bartender.

Soon enough though the free beer began to flow as well as the hotdogs and hamburgers. I had one of everything.

They even had live entertainment.

We headed into the game and it was a beautiful evening. You can see the old parachute jump that has been repainted and relit, but not reopened, in the background.

We stayed until the moon rose high before heading home.

The Cyclones were losing when we left but managed to pull out a win in extra innings and clinched a playoff berth. Maybe we should have stuck around.

On the way back to the subway Nathan's was tempting, but the temptation was resisted.

I didn't even stop in to pick up some hotdogs to go.

The subway terminal here has been totally remodeled and it looks more like you are entering an opera house than a subway station.

The subway home was almost empty, but very clean. The Mysterious Chinese Woman decided to ride with me instead of poofing tonight.

All in all it was a very fun night and I want to thank Sean Murphy for putting this together. Check out his website, a link is on my blog here, and try to attend some of the events he puts together. They are always a good time and usually a good deal as well.