I almost feel like I should re-introduce myself.  I'm not even totally sure who I have been over the last few months.  Truth is my beer tasting and experimenting has been abysmal.  My name is Mike Edleblute and I drink Cheap Beer.  Ok, so if you read all my old blogs that is not a complete shocker.  I never really labeled myself as a 'beer snob'.  My last post was February and I see I talked about 4 posts a month this year.  Well, that obviously has not happened.  I remember when I started this blog I was wide eyed and excited about all the beer world had to offer.  And it had a lot to offer.  I got started at a brew on premise brewery which was a lot of fun.  Met a lot of people, drank truly exciting beers from exciting locations.  In the process of drinking those beers I learned things about the regions/stories/history that went in to making each and every ounce of those beers.  After all, that was sort of my point of the site to begin with - You can't think about beer with out having numerous stories.  Jimmy Buffett has a song entitled "All the stories we could tell"... thinking about the stories you can tell - how many of them have some level of brew involved in them:
  1.  so there we were, Jim just opened the second case of 
  2. well Johnny had to be on his 7th or 8th beer and before you know it
  3. This one time we were camping and ran out of beer
  4. So we were out fishing one night... and Sam showed up with a case of Dogfish Head

Anyway, you get my point - beers are to stories as pages are to books.  Well, I've done my fair share of drinking over the last few months.  I got to visit Dogfish Head brewery finally.  We took a family trip to Ocean City Maryland in July for a few days.  On the way back from the beach to my parents we made it a point to stop in for a late lunch early dinner.  I gotta say, the comments online were not very flattering to the brewery so I was nervous.  I went there for the beer, food, and ambiance; 1 of 3 isn't bad right?  HA, the beer was awesome, as I knew it would be.  Unfortunately, my wife and I did not think super highly of the food that we ordered.  It was OK, but sort of held true to my own opinion/theory "A brewery can have GREAT FOOD or GREAT BEER but hardly ever has both".  And sadly, I didn't think the wait staff / or employees were all that exciting and fun either.  They were not rude, but I guess I see Dogfish Head with a certain personality; I assume (ass out of u and me) that all its employees would have that same kind of personality.  Maybe we were just there on an off day?  Who knows... either way - I think I would have a slightly different opinion if:
  1. I was staying over night
  2. I could enjoy the bar/restaurant a bit longer then just 45 min to an hour we were passing through
  3. didn't have the kids with me so I could unwind and enjoy

Also, I have to give a shout out to SHORE BILLY Beers down in OC MD on the boardwalk.  This place was pretty cool.  We stopped in for a sampler of their beers and catch a little shade.  I'm not even sure if we ate at this place or not - mainly just had a few beverages.  The sampler came out on an old plastic skateboard which touched on my inner child a bit.  I have to say - if I were younger, would be hanging in OC more often and not have kids - I think I could spend a lot of time at this place.  Hell, if my kids were a little older and we were going to be spending more time down in OC I would be here more often.  Hell - the family may be getting a place in OC MD next year for the week and I will be coming back to this place.  Anytime I can sit in/at a brewery and be on the beach and have the ocean/waves/water as a back drop... this is an all time favorite for me.  And this place has those things.  Nice Job Shore Billy - congrats on opening and best of wishes!

Lets see, I think I rambled enough for this post.  I have to have something to motivate me to come back tomorrow or next week to write.  And I just thought of something.  I realized in my last post I had talked about brewing my Irish Red again, I didn't mention how that turned out.  I bet you are all waiting with baited breath to hear.  Well there will be more about that in the next installment; Along with that - I'll be talking about my first 2 experiment batches with ALL GRAIN Brewing.  I took the plunge.  No longer will I be brewing extract beers if I can help it.  Its all grain from here on out.  That was a goal and I have achieved it - now I must perfect the goal!

Well cheers to you all!  And I'd love to hear about any/all of your summer drinking story adventures - please comment back with any that you care/dare to share!
My last post was on Sept 18, 2012.  That is more days then I care to sit here and do the math that have passed by.  Many days I've thought about coming back in here and posting.  I'm sad that there have been so many beers that have come and gone with no words on my site.  I've been checking in from time to time and there are still folks that pass by my site.  For that I am grateful!  I have put a lot of energy and time on this site.  Trust me if my calculations are right in 2012 I probably logged at least 200+ hours easily on my site.  All for the love of what I was doing.  But then life stepped in, we luckily sold and were able to buy in a great neighborhood.  Had to live with the in-laws for almost 3 weeks which I am completely grateful for the chance to have them close enough for that to be an option.  Then life started slowing down again; we settled in the new house, went through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and yea, things were starting to slow down.  Sure we busted our rump cleaning the new house, painting, organizing, re-organizing, installing double doors on a new office for myself, adding storage, painting, oh - you get the point.  But still life started slowing down.  I started getting 'bored'; maybe the word 'grumpy' would be used if you asked my better half.  But something was missing.  I had stopped drinking beer every day; heck for January I actually made it a point - NOT TO DRINK during week nights!  YEA... ME - I did that... it wasn't that hard, thankfully.  I just kicked back and relaxed and started running again.  But something was missing...

Time to start brewing!  Yes... that is it - I haven't worked over at the brewery for sometime.  I'm not sure I wanted to go back to that so I decided it was time for another 365 Original Home Brew.  As I type, I have 5 gallons of Irish Red fermenting away.  Can't wait to see how that turns out...

What else happened?  Oh yea, the family and I just got back from a little weekend get-a-way to Kalahari Resorts in Sandusky, OH.  Nice little resort if I do say so myself.  The beer selection was rough!  But they did have a drink there called the 'Captains Revenge' which I HIGHLY recommend.  Nice little weekend to escape and forget about it all.  If  you get a chance to escape for a weekend this is a great little place.  Great water park, arcade, restaurants, food, staff was nice, hotel was clean... Nice!

On the way home we decided to stop by Fat Head's Cleveland.  Now, I've always been one to be a bit "upset" that Glen allowed this to happen.  It was more of a pride thing that I loved Pittsburgh and I thought Fat Head's was a TRUE Pittsburgh gem (I remember going to the South Side location over 10 years ago thinking the place was incredible).  But I think I have a good understanding of what/how/why it is the way it is and though I don't totally love the idea of Cleveland and Pittsburgh being "married" in anyway; if they are ever going to do it this place may be the best marriage ever.  What Matt Cole, the head brewer, does with Yeast, Barley, Water and Hops is truly magical!  And the food itself is well, incredible.  Glen puts together an atmosphere and beer sampling list straight from heaven!  In general if Glen and Matt are not married - well they should be - they would make an INCREDIBLE couple.  And if they are not doing their part to bring Cleveland and Pittsburgh together as one happy family, they should.

Then I get home to Pittsburgh and begin to relax, and what to my eyes do I read a comment/post about my Sept 18 2012 "New Beginning" post.  I want to thank Pavel Feynberg for their nice comments about my post.  I never wanted my site to be a BEER SNOB site.  Or a Beer Experts opinion of the beer.  I wanted it to be about my life, about my journey, about the stories and lives that I have changed or have changed me as a result of beer.  Beer is more then a liquid substance created to alter our egos, kill some brain cells and otherwise make us see the world a bit hazy; ney, it is a substance of community, friendship, and togetherness.  It is the substance that can bring a white colored Republican and blue colored Democrat together at the bar to talk about their children's school problems and not even know each others first name.  Pavel made me realize that I can/do write with honesty and gut.  Its not about the beer - its about the journey.  And for someone to come in here looking for beer but to stay for the story - THANK YOU... that is what I really wanted this site to be.

Tonight's beer was a Fat Head's original - Antagonizor Doppelbock growler from the Cleveland Tap.  I brought it home last night and my wife and I sat and drank it tonight together.  This beer pours a nice redish tint in the glass.  Its clean, clear and ruby red tint it tantalizing from the start.  The first impression on the nose is big and fruity esters.  Almost a banana/black cherry kick that I got but again, I'm no expert here.  The first impression of the first sip is big sweet malty background with the yeasty goodness almost to "Belgium-esque" to be a German beer.  In reading a bit about this Doppelbock style at German Beer Institute I found great information about this style ( you can too by clicking here ).  In general, I found this beer spicy and flavorful with strong fruity esters that on my palate were uber enjoyable ( my 4 year old has been using uber lately a lot - I plan to bring it back in style for her sake!).  Its carbonation was a nice bubbley sweetness on the tongue that constantly left the mouth wanting more.  My wife and I both truly enjoyed this one.

So, am I back?  Not a beer a day for 2013 - I can tell you that.  But I would like to start updating this blog - 4 or more times a month.  It really does make it easier to do if I know people like Pavel are out there not only reading the blog but enjoying what I have to say.  Remember, every beer you drink should have a story, otherwise, you may have to look in the mirror and ask yourself why your drinking it!

Good night for now.  Please come back again soon.

So, here is to new beginnings!  Sept 18, 2012 one day after we sold our townhouse.  Its been a long time coming (or a short time depending on your view of time continuum).  I as usual will ride the fence and say it feels like forever that we've been selling but it is good to sell and be done in 4 weeks.  The guy that bought our place is young.  That is about the only thing I know about him.  I saw him at signing for about 30 minutes and I didn't get much more then that.  He had his grandmother with him and he paid cash.  Both some what rarities in this day in age I would say.  But neither wrong in any fashion.  GOOD FOR HIM!  The hard thing for my family is now we sit and wait (only 11 days but still) across the street with windows that view our old house.

It is a strange feeling.  The first house I sold is about 8 miles away and almost 8 years ago.  I drive by it from time to time and notice the changes.  Most changes have been minor, but some are less minor.  In this case, here we sit with our in-law's front windows over looking our very own "old windows" that we once lived in.  I sit here and see the lights on in the evening.  I see he is working inside painting the walls, cleaning the carpet, basically removing any trace of existence that once was myself and my family.  Try as he might he can not and will not clean up and remove the memories.  What a weird experience in life this is proving to be.  We moved in as a "young couple" with a family on the way; we moved out a well seasoned family with experiences/memories to treasure and more to come around each corner.  It is a right of passage or a passing of the torch if you will to give this house over to a "young man" starting his journey and experiences in a new world.  Of course he will paint the walls, hang new pictures, put new furniture, and otherwise change a place that I have called home for over 7 years; for it is now his home, and my home is yet to be taken over.  Good luck to the new owner, I can only wish him the same best memories and ownership of the town home that I have had in that same place.  Incredible memories were had, hard times were fought, friends were made, and friends were lost... the place I have laid my head for the last 7 years has served me and my family well but it is time to move on; and so we do!  Farewell.

And with that, I think it is time for me to get back to beer.  I've been drinking; that much is clear.  I have had good beers and bad (mostly the later as I am living with the one and only Billy Bags - self proclaimed lover of Busch and Busch lite/Michelob and Michelob light/Budweiser light - but to hell with that damn Miller Lite).  Some good beers has crossed my path, worthy of writing yet time has escaped me to sit down to write.  Not to mention the same laptop that had problems on family vacations has once again reared its ugly head to problems.  Yes, the hinge has broke and the laptop is relativity useless once again.  I've been looking for that one beer; that diamond in the rough; that pearl in its oyster that I thought would be a GREAT beer to break back into blogging and I believe I've found it.  I can with out a doubt say marketing and packaging had EVERYTHING to do with this purchase.  Hats off to Sam Adams for finding a cooler then cool bottle to package this gem in.   Check the bottle in the picture - it comes across as a bottle of rum or aged bourbon more so then a bottle of beer right?  Well, the flavors and experience rank right up there with that of a bourbon or rum.  It does not cross your palette as a regular beer.

I found this beer at Market District in Robinson PA.  It was on a stand by the register.  Nothing was really standing out to me but for some reason; yet this and another version of Sam Adams in a similar bottle crossed my eye.  I decided to purchase this one because:
1.  The bottle was cool (lest it be known this was the number one reason by far)
2.  The name Stony Brook Red struck a chord with my home town (Stony Brook was a town right near my home town, there was a drive in movie theater that I saw Bambi at for the first time in my life at age 6 or 7)
3.  Ale Aged in oak barrels - needs no explanation - if its Oaked I'm in!
4.  On the bottle it reads -  "A unique Belgian Style Red with a Hint of Tart Fruit and Toasted Oak Character"

OK, these were the reasons - of which I attribute all to the the extremely seasoned marketing team Sam Adams has acquired through all their experience.  But, I sit back and poured it tonight to some surprises.  As I opened the bottled I began to worry.  What if I just paid $10 for a bottle of Sam Adams AGAIN that I really just didn't enjoy!  What if this beer comes across skunked/bad/terrible and I for the second time by Sam Adams.  Not so... this beer is UNIQUE.  OH, it isn't a pour in your glass sit back and drink and enjoy beer kind of beer!  NO!  That isn't what I was looking for... and that isn't what I got.  And you will not either!  This beer is unique.  And Spectacular!  It is aged... and experienced!  It is at its best mature.  Is it beer?  YES!  Is it a "beer"?  that is for you to decide.

What do I mean by this?  Well, most people I know that drink beer come to expect certain things.  This is not that beer.  Do not expect the norm!  Most beers have a strong barley malt sweetness... with a very unique hopped backing... and man do they taste GOOD.  Is that this beer - in my opinion Not even CLOSE!  This beer is different. It is funky... it is Strong... it is sweet.  I don't get a HUGE amount of malt!  I don't get really ANY hops in my own experience.  What I get is funk!  What I get is bitter!  I get sour Green Apple in huge volumes!  I get a super huge dry finish.  I get a Flemish style funk going on that I can only attribute to the yeast Sam Adams must have used in their beer.  I would 'liken' this to a more sparkling wine beverage if you want the simple answer.  But the more complex explanation is much deeper.  The color is a dark yet see through cherry red brown.  The head is not very strong.  It has a bit of a head that lingers but only a bit more then what a glass of champagne may have on a glass.  It holds a huge amount carbonation.  Every sip comes across bubbly and large.  On the cover you taste the bitter dark cherry notes and HUGE green apple flavors.  It takes a bit of experience and patience to fight through and find the malty strength this beer holds in the background.  There takes an even stronger will to hunt and search for the earthy and spicy kick of the hops on the back of the tongue but they are all present.  The most pleasing taste to me rounds out this whole beer and makes me appreciate it completely for what it is and that is the layers of oaky goodness through out each sip.   Well done Sam... Well done!

This beer is not for the faint of drinking.  This beer will NOT be enjoyed by all.  But for those of us out there that really find this beer and its complexity unique and enjoyable I say HELL YEA!  Here is to us!  Here is to change!  And here is to a NEW BEGINNING!  In 9 more days I will be in my new place of residence ready to make new memories and new experiences and ready to drink new beers!  Until then... I say Cheers and thanks for following.

OK, so I wrote this a few days back - so tonight I sit here drinking a glass of wine and extremely satisfied with my decision.  I have a lot of things going on in my family life and being the bread winner in the family - well being a parent and person takes sacrifices in life to grow and learn.  And this is my sacrifice.  But the reward I am reaping is much greater.  Anyway - here goes my blurb from a few nights ago:

I sit here tonight with a slightly disappointing thought on my mind.  I should note that I am sitting with a Sea Dog Hazelnut Porter that I got from my wife as my "Beer of the Month Club" gift.  God I love that women.  It is because I love my wife and girls so much so that I bring you the some what sad news tonight.  For some of you, you will not be surprised!  Many said I was crazy and this can't be done.  Others thought, I was foolish and selfish and it shouldn't have been attempted.  Well, what ever you thought, who ever you are, sad or happy, I'm coming to you tonight to inform you that the 2012 Blute 365 Beer Challenge is over.  It will not be completed this year.  I had not completely prepared myself for the journey ahead.  The physical readiness to drink 365 beers in one year.  Nah it will have to wait another year.

It has been a GREAT Journey.  One that I will not easily forget.  It has opened knew doors and passages that I hope to keep open for years to come.  It has already got my foot in the door of the beer industry as I continue to work and brew at the Copper Kettle Brewery in Greenfield, PA.  I have many new and great friends from this journey that I hope to keep for years to come.  I am not going to stop drinking beer in 2012 or the future.  And this blog will transform a bit but hopefully continue (though slowly in the next few weeks for sure).

Let me explain, I have come across a path in this life today that has made me choose.  Do I continue to "challenge" myself which would be for the good of me?  Or do I break the challenge, allowing my girls see that I am a quitter?  I have decided for reasons that revolve mostly around finances and preparation for me and my families' next BIG STEP that it is wiser for me to stop for now.  I have learned a lot.  I have had very generous friends along the way provide many a good beer for me to review.  But financially it is not in the cards for me to continue.  I am folding and stepping away from this table to play another hand in another time.  I know I am making the right reasons so I am not sad.  I know I have chose for the right reasons so I do not care what the nay sayers may say.  I KNOW I will be back to do this challenge again soon and when I do I'll be more prepared.

I just returned home from a work trip where I heard two motivational speakers; Cal Ripken Jr and Neal Peterson.  I assume most know who Cal Ripken Jr is.  Like him or not - he did accomplished something amazing.  I am not here to try to relate my 365 beer challenge to Ripken and his game streak.  Neal is a little less known maybe and I had not been aware of his story till I heard it just yesterday 8/15/2012.  I also am not here to compare my story of drinking 365 beers in one year to Neal and his journey to circle the world alone on a sail boat.  I mention these guys because their words are still ringing in my head.  Cal spoke about a few days where he thought maybe he wouldn't play a specific day and how that would not be good for the industry - and that made me feel like I needed to not quit.  But he also mentioned that you learn each and every day and you do what you need to do to get to the next step.  Neal spoke about learning and preparing all your life.  Sometimes you can gain knowledge from more experienced people to not make their same mistakes but sometimes you also have to make mistakes to learn.  I considered for a moment maybe I was weak if I didn't keep it up.  But I've got a goal - I have a mission.  I am not quitting that mission.  The goal is to find my way into the beer industry and make a living off of it.  Maybe just maybe make a good living off that.  This goal has been started.

I challenged myself to become a better writer this year.  I still need practice here.  I still have many years to learn and possibly even read more to experience more.  But, I have had several strangers that I've never meet come to me and explain to me that they loved my stories.  They loved the history and experiences I brought to them.  I've even had a few that liked the descriptions of my beers and the education that they learned from it.  This has made me stronger and happier.

I have become a better photographer from this mission.  This was yet another goal.  I've learned a few tricks of the trade.  I've dabbled in different settings and even a bit of post processing of pictures.  I'm not great.  I have a long way to go.  But it is definitely a hobby I will not put away and forget about.  Not with the subject matters of my beautiful daughters growing every day.

I have experienced GREAT beer and BAD beer.  I have enjoyed good times with friends.  I have laughed.  And I have made people laugh.  It is because all of these things that I have succeeded this year.  I am not quitting.  I am learning.  I will be back again another year to fight the fight.  Thank you all for stopping by to read what you have.  Understand that the blog site will live on - it just may be updated less frequently the rest of the year.  If I get a GREAT beer or a good story I'll update it.  I have some beers that I have yet to catch up on.  I'll try to post those as I can as well.

Thanks for stopping by and keep up drinking.  Please keep in touch on Facebook and stop back to see i
So, tonight I decided to begin a new chapter in my life.  I can't really give great detail in it now.  Suffice to say it is a journey that leaves me a bit nervous.  It puts new pressures on my family that I'm an unsure of what the future holds.  I think about it now and I have a bit of calming over me.  Though, I know that calming feeling will only last for a short period of time.  The butterflies in my stomach are not unlike those you get from your first day heading to school, or maybe the decision you have to make on which college to attend, or maybe like those interviews you've been on, or the first day of a new job.  I think it is the necessary thing to do.  I also think we'll be OK with this decision.  At this point, only time will tell my outcomes.  I also sit here and think if you always do what you've always done then you'll always get what you've always got.  So, that said, bring it on world... what do you have to throw at me.  I'm here and I'm ready!  Oh yea... and girls beach volleyball in Olympics is on now.  I must go relax.  Here are my beers of the blog:
7/21/2012 – Lonerider Brewing Company – Shotgun Betty Hefeweizen – Grade 4.25
“Ales for Outlaws” – My nose was totally closed up the night I had this but I got a hint of banana and cloves.  My wife did not in fact like the smell of this one actually.  It was a nice medium body wheat liquid.  This beer is brewed in a German Hefeweizen style.  It had a very unfiltered almost fluorescent yellow color in the glass.  There were nice amounts of carbonation and bubbles flowing through out.  It had an almost orange sickle cream taste to it.  It had strong fruity esters of cherry and banana throughout the beer.  I wish I had bought more of these to bring home with me.  I enjoyed drinking this one all night.  Check out the BJCP’s description of the German Hefeweizen and see if what I described came close?  This was the day we finally got home from our 3800 mile journey; several states, multiple beds; more beers then I care to count – was very glad to get home and get some sleep in my own bed this night for sure.

7/22/2012 – Lonerider Brewing Company – Sweet Josie Brown Ale – Grade 3.5
This beer weighted in at 6.1% alcohol.  It contained a nice malty medium body beer with a light roasty goodness on the back of the tongue.  There was a nice thin layer of thick light brown head that laid on top of the beer in the glass.  My first taste impression contained a bit of bitter hop bite.  It finished very chocolatey crisp coffee dryness in the back of my mouth.  This brewery hales from Raleigh, NC.  On one of my next trips down there for work I hope to try to find this brewery.  The labels have different Cowboy and Cowgirl type outlaws on the bottle.  The motto from the website states Ales for Outlaws.  The two beers that I happened to bring back with me had female outlaws on them which was even more interesting.  I really did like these beers and would love to check out the brewery.

Anchor Brewing Company - Liberty Ale - Grade 4
I have always liked Anchor Brewing.  They always have the slightly off bottles with more of a tear shape bottle.  The beer had a nice white head on top of the beer.  It wasn't large and robust but just nice and clean.  Definitely got a west coast hoppy smell coming from the glass.  It was floral and citrusy and much more like a West Coast Hopped beer.  I'm not saying it was super hoppy but definitely had those characteristics.  It was a very strong malty alcohol balance to even out the hops for sure.  The beer had a very nice carbonation to the beer.  I believe this beer would really be enjoyable with a nice meaty steak.  Or maybe a really meaty fish.  It is nice and enjoyable.  Not something I would drink often myself but in the right situation and right place it was very good.  It would definitely be an enjoyable beverage to enjoy at a nice meal to replace a fine wine for sure.  The bottle had a nice little quote on the side that spoke of Anchors unique style and brewing techniques.  It spoke of being dry hopped and classic ale.  It states that it is "uncommonly delicate and unique carbonation".  This beer made to celebrate the 200 year anniversary of Paul Revere's ride.  It made in April of 1975 for the 200th anniversary of the ride.  Very nice tribute if you ask me.

Just finishing up a great weekend all around.  Hung out with good friends most of the weekend.  Got to actually run the floor at Copper Kettle Brewing (hope I served the customers and CKB well).  I had a great time hanging out and assisting several great customers make great beer.  Now I plan to sit back and relax a bit before getting ready for my day time gig at work tomorrow.  Another day another dollar.  A week from today I'll be in Baltimore MD teaching at an annual convention called Innovations.  I look forward to catching up with some old friends and great customers.  I do NOT look forward to being away from home and the family.  I'll do my best to have a good time and just hope I can find a few good beers while down there after work of course.  Nothing else really important to report so lets get to the beer.
Native Brewing Company – The Eleven Brown Ale – Grade 2.25
This beer was one I brought back from south Florida.  It is another one that is not brewed in Florida but instead this is brewed by Shipyard Brewing Company.  This is one of many beers I found like this.  The beer poured a very dark brown with a deep red tint.  It had a peppery spicy hoppy aroma.  The beer was a bit colder than it should have been served I’m sure.  I found this beer to be light in body.  It could be from the temperature as this seemed to get a bit thicker in body as it warmed up.  It had an average malty backbone.  But the problem I noticed is it produced a very metallic taste.  It also seemed a bit too dry and acidic for my likes.  It felt like a somewhat low beer that would lead to a harder hangover the next day.  The one plus to this beer was that the head was nice and thick and stayed with the beer through the entire drink and that is always a plus in my book.  I’m still a bit confused why these breweries do not brew local beers.  Is it a Florida Law?  Is it the environment?  I may need to email them and ask the question.  If anyone has this answer or has any thoughts feel free to let me know.

Appalachian Brewing Company – Espresso Stout Small Batch – Grade 4
We had some extra days in York and decided it would be nice to get to Harrisburg to visit a buddy of mine.  One of these days I’m going to visit other locations but I just love ABC Brewing so much this is always first on my list.  We stopped here for dinner and drinks and hung out with an old high school buddy.  It was great catching up and drinking great beer.  The food we ordered was really good.  My wife and I have grown custom to splitting a meal and sharing an appetizer lately and the chicken sandwich we ordered turned out really good.   We did order a sampler here as protocol would have it and found a mix of good and average beers.  I noticed on the board a “small batch” Espresso Stout.  This beer poured a DARK BLACK in the glass.  It was strong and smelled of coffee from the table below my nose.  When I put the glass to my mouth the roasty goodness of black and chocolate malts were BIG but the COFFEE notes were BIGGER.  This beer was HUGE on coffee and light on beer.  It really was quite enjoyable (if you like coffee that is).  It was actually refreshing and heavy on the body.  The head was light and not much to speak of but as I remember this was a great night out with a good friend and good beer.

Iron Hill Brewery - Tailgater Ale – Grade 3.75
The description read a top fermented beer brewed with a percentage of corn… the perfect session ale for summer.  I had been growing tired of beer at this point from so much on vacation.  So for this lunch I wanted something light and watery (all beers have a place).  This beer at 4.0% I believe seemed to fit right in.  It was light pale yellow almost watery looking.  The beer was crisp on the tongue and had a smell of yeasty bread.  It seemed very much like a lager beer but of course with the top fermentation is Ale.  It was light and refreshing with a light hop note.  It was perfect with the lunch that we had in Lancaster at the Iron Hill.  If you get a chance to visit this location you should definitely stop.  The staff was all very friendly and nice.  As I took the picture you see the waitress came by and asked if I wanted to stop in and take a look around.  OF COURSE!  Kevin one of the 3 brewers that were in the back gave me the 5 cent tour of the brewing area.  They had a few cask beers with some “FUNK BEERS” laying around in the back.  I think the event they were working on that evening may have had something to do with the Funk Beer; sort of sad I was not going to be around for that.  Kevin and the guys were incredibly friendly guys showing me the shop and talking about what they do at Iron Hill as a chain brewery.  They have to have 5 Iron Hill Regulars on at all times but then get to do their OWN stuff on the rest of the taps.  It seems like a great place to work and everyone seemed happy.  I have liked Iron Hill since I first visited one back in roughly 2001 in West Chester when I was living there and the second one opened up.  Cheers to Iron Hill – Glad to see the you have a firm grip on the chain brewery concept.

Thanks again for stopping by and PLEASE continue stopping back.

I don't know about anyone else but we've been watching A LOT of the Olympic coverage.  Its the first time in a long time my living room TV hasn't had kids programs on for an extended period of time.  It is inspiring to watch the worlds ELITE athletes compete in sport after sport.  It is amazing to watch how some step up and some choke for apparently no reason.  Both of these athletes have spent most of the lives for this moment, for this chance!  I can't imagine the drive that is in someone that strong to get to that level.  I wish I could.  Often times, I kick back and wish I had a drive or goal to be THE BEST at something.  I'm sure I did when I was 7 or 8.  My mom always talks about how I could never lose as a child.  Now I watch as my children are the same way about losing.  I sit here and wonder what that "driving force is" to KEEP that desire to win, to be the best at what ever you want to do at any cost.  I hope I can impart courage into my children for them to keep that drive.  I wonder what slowed that drive down in me; what made me be OK with OK.  Some people are afraid to admit that they will settle for adequate.  They feel the NEED to be the best, the smartest; as I grow older I am beginning to feel the need for this once again.  Where has that drive been the last 20 years of my life?  My last major driving force that I had a passion for was probably skateboarding.  Even in college I didn't strive to be best - I tried to be better then average and get through college.  I tried to be sufficient enough to get me a comfortable job.  And even today I do not feel I strive to be the best at work.  This beer challenge has sparked something to make me want to learn and be an expert in the field of beer.  The beers I bring you tonight a far from adequate:
Aviator Brewing Company – Steamhead California Common – Grade 4.25
The waiter explained to me that it was a sort of cross between lager and an IPA.  He explained that out in California they do a lot of IPAs and not a lot of lagers.  Up front I got a large amount of sweet juicy like quality from it.  I didn’t notice very much normal fruit juices but instead more of a “Hawaiian fruit punch” type of taste in it.  It was very nice and medium bodied.  The carbonation made this a nice bubbly refreshing drink.  The head was nice and thick and stuck around for the duration of the beer.  It had a light red almost dark yellow color in the glass.  With all of this going on it actually finished nice and dry in the end.  It was definitely a different style beer then I’ve had in the past or ever really remember trying myself.  I had several of their beers and I enjoyed them all tremendously.  This one was the most unique and new to me based on style.  On doing some surfing online I found that it is brewed with a Lager Yeast at Ale temperatures.  From BeerAdvocate, I learned that this is a truly 100% unique American style lager which is pretty cool.  I guess the most common of this is Anchor Steam Beer which I have had and heard of; but I guess I never realized this was its own unique style.  Well played Aviator!  You taught me something new and made me do some research.  Thanks for that pleasure.
All this talk about the specific beer and I almost forgot to mention - OMG the pork bar-b-que you see on the plate!  WOW!  It made me make noises out loud that were actually a bit embarrassing.  It may not look like much but it was juicy and bitey and a clear bbq sauce.  It was a vinegar base sauce that was INCREDIBLE.  Needless to say if you ever get with in a few miles of this place DO STOP HERE!

Blue Mountain Brewery - Evil 8 Belgian-Style Dubbel Ale – Grade 4
We got into Richmond, VA earlier in the day and had hoped to hit up a local downtown brewery.  I had read up about Legend Brewery and Hardywood Brewery as locals.  There was also on the GPS a brewery about a block away from our hotel which was where now the Sam Miller Restaurant is now located.  Well, since we walked there we decided to eat at Sam Miller for lunch.  Though, it wasn’t bad – I think we could have found better lunch.  I had read some reviews about Legend that I decided to avoid for lunch and I think Hardywood was not opened on Monday for me to check out.  Lunch at Sam Miller wasn’t bad – but I got a Burger with crab meat left me slightly disappointed.  I also tried some Legend brews that were OK – I’ll review another time.  Instead, when I got to my friends house before going out to dinner with them he had this gem of Evil 8 in a growler at his house that he shared with me.  I thanked him tremendously.  This beer rings in at 7.7% alcohol.  It had a very sweet Belgian candy flavor to it.  It was extremely thick and heavy in the mouth.  The head of the beer was thick and brownish in color.  I picked up lots of dark cherry notes in the beer.  It had some nice citrusy fruity hop characteristics.  I thoroughly enjoyed this beer.  We followed up this growler by heading to Bottom’s Up Pizza right down from our hotel once again.  This place was intense.  If you ever make it to Richmond I highly recommend this place.  If you go – PLAN ON SPLITTING A SLICE OF PIZZA.  Yes, I said splitting a slice – this may have been the largest slice of pizza I have ever seen!  And great flavors – along with New Belgium Beers at the ready!  This was definitely my kind of place.

MudHook Brewery – Black IPA Midnight Cast – Grade  3.75
This beer poured very dark with little head to speak of.  It had a huge coffee roast smell and flavor characteristics.  It had nice balance of citrusy grapefruit hops which finished a sort of dry.  The large flavors of roasty goodness alongside the heavy amounts of citrusy bang made this a well balanced big flavored beer.  With huge flavors, colors and aromas this beer is not for the weak!  We finally made it back to my home town of York, PA.  Since we had a few days in town my wife and I decided to finally hit up this place I had heard about.  It is a little hard to find (not marked as well as it could be).  But what they are doing a lot with downtown York and it is looking great.  There is still a lot of local crazies all around (they are hard to avoid trust me).  But this place is worth braving it out to get down there.  The brewery is located in the alley way behind the York Market Place near the square of York.  The history is pretty cool so definitely check that out on their website.  We didn’t eat their food but I hear it is good.  Unfortunately, for my wife and I they must have had a “ventilation” issue the night we were there because it had huge smells of smoke and grease for wing night.  I think this was probably a problem with the night though and would definitely give it a second go to try some food.  And with the sampler I tried most of their beers were pretty enjoyable; only one that I really sort of thought was a bit to light and out of character for the style.  Other than that I thought they were pretty good.

So, Happy Birthday to my mother in law - otherwise known as Mimi.  I don't make a lot of noise or issue with that sort of thing on Facebook or anywhere really.  It just isn't my thing.  But tonight we hung out at Aunt Erica's (my sister-in-laws) and had a great night.  We hung out and drank some beer, ate some burgers, and played some yard sports (frisibee, wiffle ball, and corn hole to name a few).  It was a great relaxing evening and I think the family enjoyed.  We also did a Family Hike today that I was super proud of to be honest.  On my wife's suggestion I took the family out to Raccoon State Park today for a nice hike.  We had a blast.  Both little girls took some "injuries" but stayed strong through the 1.7-2 mile hike.  We even "double timed" it back to the car towards the end.  Had a great time and really enjoyed the family time I got to spend today.  Score big family points for the Blutes today!  Now onto the beer:
Organic Brewing Company - Wheat Ale - Grade 3.5
These guys are relatively new (7 months old I believe the lady behind the bar said).  We found these guys sort of by accident as we walked the "broad walk" of Hollywood Beach, Miami, FL.  We got here as a family around 11 or so in the morning.  We really were not sure what we would find or do.  We planned on hanging at the beach a bit and maybe moving to a kids museum.  Unfortunately for the kids, fortunately for me the storms moved in and we couldn't get back to the car soon enough.  We took shelter in this place and watched the storms roll past us to the south of us.  I am guessing these storms HAMMERED Miami Beach for sure.  It sort of missed us.  Meanwhile, we hung on the deck of this brewery and ordered an appetizer and a few beers.  I settled in on the Wheat Beer that they served.  It was nice and cloudy in the glass.  I nice bright yellow cloudy liquid in the glass.  I got some sour fruit and big banana in the flavor.  The smell was super fruity and flowery ester.  It smelled great.  It was a nice medium bodied beer with some hints of cherry flavors.  I would love to brew beer at this establishment.  Brewing beer on the beach.  How does it get better then that?  The interesting thing about this place is I talked to the lady behind the counter and I believe she was of Russian decent.  The brewer also was from Russia.  The brewed organic beer in the German style which was quite interesting.  They had German Schnapps behind the bar (home made flavorings).  And German foods on the menu - lest not you worry - there was some nice Vodkas on the menu as well.  I would have liked to talk to the Brewer a bit but could not find him during my visit.  Either way, an incredible place to have lunch and if you happen by this place.   Please visit it... good people making good beer!

Kirkland Brand - Indian Pale Ale - New York Brewing Company - Grade 2.75
This is Costco's brand.  For those of you in PA that may not have gotten out of the state much - or those that do that don't make it to grocery stores while you are out you are missing out!  My wife and I make it a point to make it to local and not so local grocery stores while we are in different areas.  Who knows what you might find.  On this trip to Costco (which was actually on the 12th coming back from Hollywood beach) we found that they sell wine, liquor and beer; not to mention their own "brand".  Now, I will not call this the best beer I've had but what I've drank of it for $20'sh a case of variety pack.  Costco does has a good name!  It pours nice and medium in the glass.  The flavor has some peppery notes in the bite.  It has some smooth clean malty body in the glass.  It is of course a very hoppy beer and the bottle talks about Cascade, Centennial and Amarillo hops in the mouth.  I didn't get a lot of smell out of the glass but that was probably more my person smelling issues then the beer.  The head clung to the side of the glass and did not want to leave the glass.  It definitely gives a nice amount of spicy hop on the tongue that tingles the senses nicely.  For the price of the case it will not win many 1st place finishes but it is well worth the drink if you get a chance.  I drank this beer quietly solo in Miami as my last night.  We head to Raleigh North Carolina tomorrow and I/we needed our rest.
NOTE: I linked to the Costco website above - they didn't have a specific link for their beer that I found.  BUT if you google Kirkland beer there is a ton of information about them.  I will also note that we bought SEVERAL bottles of wine here way cheaper then PA wine.  And we bought their Kirkland Red and White Wine.  The White Pinot Grigio was pretty good for the $4-5 I think we paid for it.  Also, I found Kirkland brand Bourbon (and Rum, Vodka and Tequila).  I bought and tried the Bourbon.  I don't know that it will compete with some of the best bourbons but for $20 a bottle it holds its own.  It is a bit watered down and not quiet as bodied as I like in a bourbon but still mighty tasty.

Red Oak Brewery - Hummingbird Golden Lager - Grade 2.25
This is a local Raleigh, North Carolina brew.  It was very light yellow in color with lots of carbonation in the glass. It was a nice medium bodied "light beer".  It had a bit to be desired in my opinion.  It was a bit metallic in taste.  Though, I attribute this to many other lagers that I've had.  I'm not sure it is "metallic" as much as some bi-product of the yeast that is used.  I didn't review this in great detail as I drove 12.5 hours this day from Miami, FL to Raleigh, NC.  After a long vacation in Miami, I was tired.  I can tell you that the hotel we stayed at in Raleigh was not the best but we got it for $50 a night on HotWire.  It was supposedly a 3.5 star Radisson.  The pool was broke and they used Sleep Number beds in their rooms.  In my opinion, these beds are glorified air mattresses that do not deserve the glorification!  I will not talk badly about either of these but I will say we asked for a regular bed the next night and luckily the hotel accommodated us.  I will only also say that the door man at the Radisson set me in mind of the hotel on "Hot Tub Time Machine" and sort of freaked me out a bit.  That all said, we stayed the two nights and will have a family memory to remember for ever.  I will also say that the Buffalo Wild Wings by the South Point Mall was interesting.  We had a some what not good experience but THANKFULLY the waitress and the manager took care of EVERYTHING for us.  It was a crappy deal that was a mistake I'm sure.  But thankfully they did good on us.  And I want to thank the Store Manager and the Waitress for their kindness to us for sure.

Thanks again for stopping by.  Please stop back when you get time.

Looking out my window on this fine Saturday evening the sun is setting over the neighbors house.  This house is proving to be a challenge for my wife and family.  We've had this house for sale now about 18 months now.  We have had people through - 60 to be exact and yet no interest.  We have had people complain about almost every aspect of this house.  It has been an extremely trying struggle for us.  As I look around, I'm still baffled at what these buyers are seeing that make my house not an option.  I know it just takes one and that is the trickiest part.  At the price we are listed at now we are in the whole and yet people still pass it by as if there are ghosts roaming the halls.  60 different strangers have come through our house in the past 18 months (with out us here) to look at our place.  I'm speechless - I wish I could talk more about this but I'm not sure what else more there is to say.  We bought high and are "selling" low.  I'm exhausted.  Lets talk beer:
Cigar City Brewery – Jose Martin Robustly Hopped American Porter – Grade 3.75
This beers color was dark brown with a light chocolaty head.  It had a nice roasty porter aroma from the glass.  The taste was creamy and smooth on the tongue.  It was nice and CRISP with robust burnt and highly roasted malts.  The Hops actually nicely complimented this beer and added a spicy sweet kick to the beverage.  I enjoyed this Tampa Florida Beer with some Fresh Florida mangoes that were picked right out of Uncle Wayne’s back yard Mango tree.  It was fresh and sweet.  It definitely gave a nice tropical smell in the fruit.  It was unlike any mango I’ve had before.  It was a bit soft in texture.  It was very good with the beer.
ON A SEPARATE NOTE:  Vacation was long and I had many a variety of beer.  I changed things up a bit this night with some sipping Rum I found.  If you are a rum drinker and haven't tried this - I highly recommend it.  If you are not a rum drinker - you should try this one out and see if it changes your mind.  I tried to find a website and came up short.  Look for this one out and about, you will not be disappointed.

Blue Point Brewing Company – Summer Ale – Grade 2
Coming to us from Long Island, NY this is Blue Point Brewing.  I’ve had a few of their beers in the past.  It’s nice to finally sit down and drink one to actually review.  This summer ale is very light as beers go.  The color in the glass is light yellow and very clear.   There is little head to speak of on the beer from the pour and even after it sits awhile.  The carbonation is low and the bit of the hops is probably the largest kick coming from this; though even that bitey hop kick is very light and almost none existent.  I get a small bit of sweetness from this beer and it does have a refreshing characteristic to it.  My opinion is that the refreshing part of this beer comes from the fact that it is very light.  I wouldn’t put this in the same category as a Miller or Coors Light though it does have many similar characteristics.  In general, I wouldn’t call this a bad beer but for the money I probably wouldn’t drink it unless I physically located close to the brewery.  Try it for yourself and let me know what you think.

Florida Beer Company - Hurricane Reef Caribbean Style Pilsner – Grade 2
I find myself drinking this beer tonight.  My “keeper” (aka Uncle Wayne) for the week is a firm non-believer in this crap.  He feels there are about 3-5 different beers from the region that are about the same “crap” that are re-branded/labeled with different names/ect and as per his quote:  “Bunch of tourists come down and think they are cool – trust me THEY DON’T DRINK IT!”  My response – Yea, I can see and agree with that.  This is not great beer.  It is ‘a beer to drink’ while in the area but it isn’t grade A quality stuff.  It just doesn’t contain that “heart” that most micro-brewed beers I’ve drank in past seem to have.  This particular beer is light and golden in the glass.  It carries a very light almost non-existent head in the glass.  I’m drinking it a bit warmer then it probably should be actually which particularly hurts this beer.  But in general, it has a sort of bad lager taste of aluminum and light blah malt.  It is surprisingly medium in body and may be the most redeeming quality of the beer.  It has a bit of malt to it with barely any noticeable strong hops in my opinion.  As for smell, I get little on cent from this beer.  Tomorrow is Thursday and my vacation in southern Florida is coming to an end.  I’m sad that this is happening as the family down here is very accommodating and fun.  And seeing the girls play with other family in their age range has been refreshing as well.  Though they have been a handful, this has been a great trip and I haven’t thought about work in what feels like 2 weeks.  I am feeling very refreshed.  Now I must focus.

Please stop back any time.  I love the people and the comments.  It has been a great journey so far and only 5 more months to go.  Thank you and Cheers.

Wednesday night here July 25.  Yes, I'm still behind on the blogging.  As I started out, I knew the blogging was going to be tough but never quite this tough.  Building these links/thoughts/pictures/ect and organizing them into something semi-readable is a bit trickier then I thought.  My props to people that do this for a living.  Though, if my day job wasn't spent on a computer all day and I didn't quite despise technology as I do it may be easier for me.  I'm half way through the first week of work from vacation and things are going pretty smooth.  The weekend can't get here soon enough.  I should say happy birthday to my sister in law as we were over at her house tonight to celebrate her b-day from yesterday.  Also, August is closing in quickly on us.  Will not be to much longer till I start talking about Turkey Beers and Santa Clause brews!  Lets talk about some beer:
Landshark - Lager - Grade 2.5
First FUN day of vacation we hit Universal Studios Island of Adventure for the day.  I have had a strong desire to get my glimpse of Hogwarts and the castle since it opened.  Also, the Orland Margaritaville is one of the Margaritavilles my wife and I have been trying to get to together in some years.  We have been to Las Vegas, Myrtle Beach, Jamaica (2 there), and of course Key West.  We decided to make this the stop for dinner.  As you can see from the picture I did as the song suggests: "I like mine with lettuce and tomato; Heinz 57 and french fried potatoes; Big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer".  What more appropriate beer to drink here then the Landshark Lager?  In my opinion, this isn't a bad beer.  But just like a girl that was "bad looking and has a great personality" it isn't a keeper.  In general, everywhere I see it it is overpriced.  It is thin and refreshing and cold.  It pours a nice gold yellow in the glass.  It’s hard to give me a COLD lighter lager style beer in 97 degree weather with 50% humidity that would not be enjoyable.  As a side, we did get the Butter Beer in the Harry Potter attraction and it was good.  It was different.  I think the definition would be a mix of cream soda and butterscotch ice cream it was then topped with a thick layer of heavy whipping cream whipped to a very thin creamy consistency.  We bought the frozen ones and they are non-alcoholic so all ages can enjoy.  I was a "bit" disappointed in Universal but then we are a Disney World family so that is hard to top in our book.

Rogue - Voodoo Doughnut - Bacon Maple Ale - Grade 0.5
The one nice thing about this beer was that it had many of the ingredients on the side of the bottle.  It was showing roughly 3 brands of smoked malts.  This beer was "extreme" even from the beginning with the PINK LARGE bottle that had a New Orleans Black Magic type person on the front of the bottle.  The other nice thing about this beer was the company/family were were in enjoying the beverage beside.  We were visiting family in Miami and they were throwing a Bacon & Beer party.  I think someone got a little to literal with this as the original intention was to have food cooked with bacon and GOOD beer that would go with that food.  Well "lucky for me" someone found this gem of a beer that seemed to be the epitome of the party.  Those two were the only two nice things about this beer.  It was rough to drink.  I thought the Billy's Chili beer was rough well this was equally rough.  The grain bill on this recipe had 3 different sets of smoked malts: Briess Cherrywood Smoked Malt, Weyermann Beechwood Smoked Malt, House-Smoked Hickory Malt and a few other none smoked.  The smoke comes across huge.  Forget the german purity law - this beer has 13 different ingredients you can find on the label; not only the smoked malts above but you can also find Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Pure Maple Flavoring.  There was a huge amount of sweetness coming from the "doughnut" that it is talking about on the bottle.  I got a lot of anise and clove spices coming through in the body of the beer.  The flavors were big and intense.  There was little head to speak of on this beer.  True to my point of this blog, many beers have a great story and this beer will always remind me of some of the great new friends I met.  Also, I got to hang out with good family and friends.  Other than this beer, the party was a HUGE success.  Good times; thanks for hosting us for the week Uncle Wayne and Aunt Nancy.

Florida Beer Company - Key West - Sunset Amber Ale - Grade 2
This beer "hails from" Melrose, Florida.  I found while down in Florida that there are not many breweries in the area.  I ran across 2 or 3 that I could find.  I did find a few "brewery" beers like this one that CLAIM Florida residency but that were out source brewed in other states (North East seemed popular with the one or two I saw).  I guess they want tourists to THINK they are drinking local.  I'm not sure how I feel about this and would like to do a bit more research on this to find out really what the story is here.  My original thought is that the water sources down there are not very good.  Though there is a lot of water down there the drinking quality of said water has some things to be desired.  The waters of Orlando and mid-Florida have a very sulfur smell coming right out of the faucet.  This amber beer was enjoyed at lunch at Alabama Jack's (the site was not accessible at www.alabamajacks.com which is a shame as I wanted to give them some props on my site) down in the Key's.  There was something big going on because AJs was packed.  We had to wait for a seat and Uncle Wayne said that is not usually the case.  The food was alright (the Conch Fritters are a MUST GET) but the atmosphere was the Key's.  There was a local band playing some blues/country type music in the corner while 2-3 70+ aged girls danced on the floor inviting anyone that wanted to join them for a spin up to the floor.  It was fun and relaxing and enjoyable right on the water way.  I'm talking about everything else here as the beer was not the "refreshing enjoyable" part of the day.  It was not bad.  It was average at best.  It weighed in as a light bodied beer that seemed to be trying to be medium.  The head of the beer was light and the smell was a copper metallic nose.  It was medium malt with a sharp lager flavor.  It was clean and refreshing and cold with a bit of creamy background.  Not a beer that I would enjoy often but while in the Key's it is fun to have one just to say you had a 'local' beer.  I guess their marketing worked on me.

Once again, thanks for stopping back and please post what you are drinking if you have a minute.