Breweries Beyond: A Few of My Favorite Places

[Tom and I would like to welcome Jared Whalen (Hoperative #14) as a new official contributor to! Enjoy Jared’s first post as a contributor!]

Here’s a couple of great places to check out if you are traveling. If you are anything like me these are the kind of great local places you will love to seek out.

Dragonmead Brewery
Warren, MI

I will simply define this place as paradise.

par·a·dise  n.

1. A brewpub that has over 40 beers on tap which include 2006 World Beer Cup gold medal Belgian tripple (Final Absolution), 2008 World Beer Cup gold medal English Style Mild Ale (Crusader Dark Mild), and a host of other award winning brews.
2. A brewpub whose menu consists of 12 food items from popcorn to a burger but if you prefer, bring in your own food and eat away or order delivery to the pub.
3. A brewpub with a knowledgeable staff full of wonderful suggestions and a brewer who frequents the place most nights.
4. A brewpub that is tucked away on an unassuming corner next to an expressway in an industrial area that, had you not known it was there, you surely would have driven past and never seen.

If you are in Detroit make the short drive and try the sampler (Final Absolution and Crown Jewels should be on your list) it is truly a hidden paradise that should not be missed.

Turoni’s Pizzery & Brewery
Evansville, IN

Turoni’s is one of the great things that I miss from my days in Evansville. They have 5 regular brews and one seasonal on tap. Amongst these the Honey Blonde Ale and the Blue Eyed Moose IPA should not be missed. You don’t need to worry though just order the sampler and all will be right with the world when you decide on a pitcher of your favorite. The beer is also available in refillable growler form should you deem it necessary to have at home (and you will).

Oh yeah this is also a pizza place and the pizza is amazing. It is some of the best thin crust pizza I have ever had. Favorites include the Hawaiian Delight, the Buffalo Chicken, and Vinny’s Pepper Planet. If you are driving through Evansville (2 hours west of Louisville on I-64) and find yourself in need of beer and sustenance check out Turoni’s.

This Week in Beer: February 9 – 15, 2009

Tuesday, February 10 at 6:00 pm – Beer Tasting at 20 Brix
5 different high end Belgian style beers and food pairings – Cost $30.00

Wednesday, February 11 at 6:00 pm – Beer & Cheese Tasting (featuring Goose Island Brewery) at UC’s Catskeller
We visited the Catskeller for the first time last month and loved it. Really looking forward to this tasting!

Thursday, February 12 at 6:30PM – Bockfest Poster Signing Happy Hour – Mr. Pitiful’s, 1323 Main Street
We decided we needed to hit this event too. It means that Bockfest is getting close!

Thursday, February 12 – Firkin Tapping at Rock Bottom Brewery

Friday, February 13 from 6:00-7:00 pm – Friday Night Flights at Party Town in Florence
Stop by and see what Joe (and Eugene Champion) have in store for tasting this week! Cost: $1

Friday, February 13 at 5:00 pm – Bier Dinner at Mecklenburg Gardens
All-you-can-eat German buffet with German import beers and wines specials. Cost:
$25, reservations recommended. (Thanks to Michelle at My Wine Education [Hoperative #6] for the heads up on this one.)

Quickie Review: Kelly’s Public House

It’s always fun finding something unexpected.  Because Carla and I did the tasting at Party Source on Friday night and the Midwinter Beer Festival on Saturday afternoon, we decided that staying at the Radisson might just be the way to go.  We got back from Party Source and wanted food, and — go figure — one more beer for the night.  With Mainstrasse just a couple of blocks away, there’s no shortage of great places to go.  Carla had noticed, however, that the Radisson has a place that does a Pint Night on Thursdays.  Sure, we were there on Friday, but if they have a Pint Night, they must have something on draft.

Did they ever.

I’ve been in lots of just-off-the-lobby hotel pubs, but I have to say Kelly’s Public House is one of the best I’ve seen. Here’s what they have on tap:

  • Guiness
  • Smithwick’s
  • Sierra Nevada Brown Ale
  • Fuller’s ESB
  • Bitburger
  • Rogue Dead Guy Ale

I was told the lineup hasn’t changed in about a year.

In bottles:

  • Blue Moon
  • Kentucky Ale
  • Dos Equis
  • New Holland Mad Hatter
  • Sam Adams Boston Ale
  • Shiner Bock
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • Amstel Light
  • Heineken
  • Bass
  • Beck’s
  • Strongbow
  • Bellhaven Scotch Ale
  • Corona
  • Newcastle

They had Bud, a couple of Michelobs, Coors Light and Miller Genuine Draft in bottles, but not on draft.

The food menu was pretty straightforward pub fare, but with one nice twist.  There were several dishes that are regional favorites elsewhere ( a Walleye sandwich, the original Club sandwich as made at the Saratoga Club in Saratoga Springs, NY) .  The one that caught my eye was “Beef on Weck,” a favorite in Buffalo and all of Western New York.  I fell in love with them in another lifetime, but it’s never gotten the love the Buffalo-style chicken wing has gotten.  It’s a roast beef sandwich served a jus on a Kimmelweck roll.  That’s basically a crusty kasier-roll with caraway and very coarse salt sprinkled on top.  The version at Kelly’s was more of a soft bun with caraway and a bit finer salt.  Not quite the same effect, but it’s better than no Beef on Weck at all.

Kelly’s Public House is a couple of cuts above your typical hotel lobby pub.  The staff is quick and friendly, and our server seemed to know her stuff.  My bet is that it doesn’t get too crowded (and it’s a good-sized space).  I think it would be a good choice on a night when you just want something good in a hurry, but for whatever reason don’t want to deal with Mainstrasse.  It’s no Cock & Bull, but Kelly’s Public House is a pretty nice little pub.

Beer (and Burger) Thursdays coming to Party Source

Last night, at Party Source’s “Won’t You Beer My Valentine?” event, Danny Gold let us in on some pretty big beer news. Starting April 23rd from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, Party Source will be hosting Beer Thursdays out on their patio. For $15, you get to sample five beers from a featured brewery (3 oz pours) and you get a different type of burger each week. There will be voting on the best beer of the night and you get to take the winner home! The inaugural event will focus on Louisville’s Bluegrass Brewing Company and, most likely, a Kentucky hot brown burger.

Here’s the schedule so far (subject to change, of course):
Thursday, April 23rd – BBC
Thursday, April 30th – Goose Island Brewery
Thursday, May 7th – Bell’s Brewery
Thursday, May 14th – Magic Hat Brewery

Danny said that they were also in the process of lining up Dogfish Head and Schafly for future Thursdays.

In addition, Party Source Private Label beer will be coming soon. They’ve already done Party Source Private Label wine and spirits and decided it was time to do beer too. More information on this coming soon too!

Session #24 — A Tripel for Two

Note: The Session is a monthly collaborative effort when beer bloggers write their own perspective on a single theme. On the first Friday of the month, bloggers and commenters discuss a theme chosen by a volunteer blogger. This month’s theme was chosen by David at Musing Over a Pint. You can find summaries of past sessions here.

Maybe because they’re often brewed by monks in abbeys, Belgian Tripels hold an almost religious significance for the serious beer drinker. The Session theme this month sets out this description for the challenge:

Beer is best when it’s shared, and a strong beer is just right for sharing. Belgian Tripels are big beers with a flavor profile that is enjoyed by both experienced and new beer fans. Be it an intimate evening, or watching a ball game on TV, a Tripel is made for sipping and sharing. For Session #24 the theme is “A Tripel for Two.” What Tripel would you pick to share with that good friend, family member, or lover?

Truth be told (as I said, monks are involved), Carla and I don’t seek out tripels all that often. It just doesn’t come up. We love the idea of the first Friday beer tasting, though, so when this topic was posted back in January, we decided that we needed to try more than one.

We chose two nearly at random. Both were true Belgian Tripels: St. Bernardus from the abbey of the same name in Watou Province in West Flanders, and Tripel Karmeliet from the Bosteel Brewery in Buggenhout. Both bottles were cellared at 57 degrees (F) and sampled on different evenings.

Given my obvious monk obsession, the St. Bernardus was chosen because it had a monk on the label, and the bottle itself was dusty (an inspection of the cork covering yielded a July 2006 bottling date).  The Karmeliet?  Pretty label.  We’re suckers for pretty labels.

The St. Bernardus poured very, very cloudy with a thick head.  A muddy dark gold is the best I can describe it. Lots of yeast and floating protein residue was visible.  Both the aroma and the taste were spicy, but the taste had mellowed nicely.  The taste had strong notes of banana, but aging had been very kind to this bottle in this respect  (it was the taste that inspired me to seek out the bottling date).  While I could look past the appearance, Carla was much more critical of it, and she didn’t care for the taste.  What neither of us could really get past was the graininess of the mouthfeel.  There was a lot of suspended gunk in this beer.  If I were ever to get this beer again, I’d want to make sure it had aged at least as much as this one, and I’d strain it through cheesecloth.  Seriously.

The Karmeliet couldn’t have been more different.  It poured a  brilliant gold, crystal clear, crisp and balanced, with an aroma and flavor much suggestive of lemon and citrus.   Best of all, it left a spicy tingle on the tip of the tongue.  The head was thick and creamy, leaving a fine lacing on the glass.  The bottle is green, which can be an invitation to disaster, but in this case it had been kept from the light, so it was fine.  Better yet?  The word is that Dilly Deli is currently featuring this on draft.  This is A Very Good Thing™.

Our choice for a Tripel for Two is the Tripel Karmeliet from Bosteels:  A.

St. Bernardus Tripel:  B+ (Tom)  B- (Carla)

Short Hops

  • This week’s Friday Night Flights at Party Town in Florence will feature a selection of beers from Schlafly of St. Louis, Missouri. At their growler station, they are featuring Great Divide Beers including Denver Pale Ale, Titan IPA, Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Espresso Stout, Old Ruffian Barleywine, and a barrel of brewery aged ’07 Hibernation Winter Ale.
  • Over at Party Source in Newport, their growler station now has Van Steenberge Klokke Roeland, Kasteel Rouge, Bell’s Christmas Ale, Dogfish Head 90 Minute, Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter and Goose Island Bourbon County Stout on tap.
  • Hoperative #14 Jared Whalen found this interesting story on Sierra Nevada Brewery working to turn their beer yeast into ethanol fuel.
  • Jared also found this great cartoon from Geek and Poke.
  • UPDATE:  Laura Turner of Cincinnati Nomerati has a most excellent post on Dilly Deli, with the current tap lineup and wonderful photos.  She’s now Hoperative #29.  Want to be a Hoperative? (It might get you some swag at some point. Mmmm…swag….)  Drop us a line and tell us who you are and where you live.

This Week in Beer: February 2 – 8, 2009

Thursday, February 5 – Firkin Tapping at Rock Bottom Brewery

Friday, February 6, 2009 from 6:00-7:00 pm – Friday Night Flights at Party Town in Florence
We’ll let you know what the featured brewery is as soon as we hear!

Friday, February 6, 2009 from 6:00-8:00 pm – Won’t You Beer My Valentine Tasting with Danny Gold at Party Source – Cost: $20.00
We’ll be at this! Anyone else?

February 6 & 7, 2009 – 2nd Annual Midwest Winter Beer Festival
We’ll be at the Saturday afternoon session for this and we’re staying at the Radisson for the weekend (just for convenience). If you’re attending the Friday or Saturday night session and would like to meet up, we could do a gathering at Kelly’s Public House (the bar at the Radisson). Just let us know!

Saturday, February 7, 2009 – 1st Annual Winter AleFest Dayton
Any Hoperatives going to this event? We would love a report on it!

Digging Out, Looking Ahead

So Carla and I picked a heck of a week to leave town.

There was a time when I used to secretly regret missing big winter storms (hey, I grew up in Texas.  They didn’t happen that often).  Then a weird thing started happening.  As I moved around the country, I’d live through the local version of the “Storm of the Century” the first winter I lived there.  It happened three times.  The biggest was 1996 in Philadelphia.  27.6 inches in a 24-hour period.  After that, I didn’t feel so cheated if I missed the big snow.

So while the Ohio Valley was getting pounded with snow and ice, Carla and I were in Nassau, the Bahamas.  I’ll admit to giggling a little when I thought it was just snow.  Then we heard about the ice and it wasn’t a laughing matter anymore.  For what it’s worth, we were thinking of you.  Hope you got through it all safely.

I expect no sympathy for the fact that it was too cool in Nassau to swim the first couple of days we were there.

One of the things we decided for this trip is to go off the grid.  No laptops.  No wi-fi. We left the blog on auto-pilot. If you sent something in, we weren’t ignoring you!

And  now we’re back.  It’s good to be home.  Of course, we have to dig out, but luckily it’s more metaphorical than actual (though we can’t thank the folks at CVG FastPark enough for helping us dig out our car last night!)

The blog will be busy this week.  Hoperative #14 Jared Whalen has contributed a review and has made a fine suggestion regarding our grading scale that should make it easier for everyone to contribute reviews that have some internal consistancy.  Hoperative #13 John Lavelle let us know what was on tap at Dilly Deli, which we’ll update (but is likely already out of date.  Which means we just need another report!).  Carla and I sampled Bahamian beers, and came across a local stout that was out of this world.  And, finally, the Midwinter Beer Festival is almost upon us!  We’ll preview it.

Oh, and have a beer.  You deserve it after the week you’ve had.

Review: Mt. Carmel Brewery Winter Ale

The term ‘craft brewing’ has a number of different meanings.  The Brewers Association has a nice writeup on the topic, summing it up as denoting an independent brewer who brews relatively small amounts of beer using traditional methods and ingredients.

Somewhere from in the mists of my formal education I remember video production (my chosen discipline) being called a craft because it requires the practitioner to constantly balance the demands of technology with the needs of art.  Given how large a part beer played in my undergraduate education, it’s not surprising that I think of this when I hear the term craft brewer, especially when considering Mt. Carmel Brewery.  There’s something special going on out on Mt. Carmel-Tobasco Road.  A craft is being well-practiced.

Mt. Carmel’s Winter Ale is a deep amber brew that pours with a small, tight head and exhibits light lacing on the glass.  The aroma is fuity with overtones of spice.  The taste is smooth, light caramel with allspice and cinnamon topnotes.  It’s smooth and full-bodied.  It’s balanced from beginning to end.

This beer is a winner.  Get it before it’s gone.

Mt. Carmel Brewery Winter Ale: A+