Tonight is Tuesday, June 26 and vacation is officially 7 days away.  We are unsure if the family mini-van's (yes 365 travels family style if you haven't guessed before) departure time will be Tuesday evening, Sunday afternoon, or possibly even Wednesday July 4th.  There are reasons why ALL of them make sense.  And of course reasons why none of them do.  If I had my way I think I would be leaving tonight.  I am so ready for this 2.5 week vacation I don't know what I will really do with myself.  We are in the midst of a LONG house showing and I feel like it will never end.  We have had over 55 showings in approximately 14 months.  Though this number is a great number of showings we have heard all sorts of replies.  Surprisingly, and almost as equally upsetting, most of the replies start out "We love the place but..." - the list is endless on why they don't love it.  Either way, at this point, I need to escape.  The entire family needs an escape - and this vacation could not come soon enough!  I just hope to be able to find a few breweries along the way!  I will be in Orlando, Miami, then possibly some beachy town area on the way up the East Coast... hard to say which yet.  Depends on how the week goes.  Anyway, enough of my rambling - on to the beer:
Dogfish Head - Burton Baton - Ale flavored with Oak Staves - Grade 4.25
So, I wasn't sure what Oak Staves were I looked it up - turns out they are basically just the oak planks used in Oak Barrels - of course only highest quality oak will do.  I also wondering what exactly the process was to "flavor with oak staves".  I did some quick googling to find that many many bloggers have blogged about this beer; now I am officially added to that list.  This was a tasty brew.  I enjoy this one every time.  Sort of sad to see they made it year round as now it isn't "as special" as it once was.  But happy because I could possibly find this selection anytime I like.  This beer gives many notes of a strong IPA.  It has notes of heavy alcohol with bold citrus flavored hops.  The head of this beer lies gently on top.  The liquid is thick and clings to all sides of you mouth similar to a chip of hop pellet if you have ever attempted to chew on one.  The thickness reminds me of the oils from the hops as they coat my mouth.  The smell has lemons and grapefruit through out the nose.  I always have enjoyed this robust beer and of course am enjoying tonight.  Last nights beer was also aged with Oak but was very different.  Dragon's Milk was definitely good but much more Stout like and/or Dark.  It was good but not quite as balanced as the Burton for sure.  They are both find beers and both high in alcohol.  This beer falls in at 10% which would make it perfect for a spring night, a fall day or this surprisingly cool June 26 evening!  Cheers!

Thanks again for stopping by.  We'll see you on the next post.

So here is this past weeks line ups...
5/7/2012 - So my 4 day weekend is over and its back to work tomorrow.  Not looking forward to that so I might as well get my last few minutes of rest now.  Sitting back and watching a little television and drinking my beer of the day.  Today was my wife's decision to do her version of "Cinco de Mayo" since we didn't since we didn't celebrate on Saturday for a few reasons.  So, she made some guacamole and chicken tacitos, and a mini-margarita that was not to shabby.  I didn't have any more Mexican beers but I did happen to find a Presidente down in the basement.  This beer pours a nice bold yellow with a medium level of carbonation.  The head is light on top and just enough to coat the top of the beer.  I have not grown any fonder of the pilsner smell of beers.  They just have a smell that I can't put my finger on yet.  If I could actually label the smell as something with a positive connotation it probably would appeal to me more.  I chilled this down extra cold tonight as I don't remember being a HUGE fan of this beer.  Drinking this ice cold I could have a few of these.  It is actually a nice crisp pilsner.  It has a nice malty sweetness in every sip with a low hop profile.  Its crisp and fresh from the bottle.  And actually quite refreshing.  I think I was plesantly surprised the last time I drank this beer as well.  I am going to sit back and enjoy the last of this beer before my real job starts up again tomorrow.

5/6/2012 - Bell's Brewery - Oberon - This is by far one of my favorite wheat beer's out there.  It is also by far one of my favorite summer beers out there.  When I say, this beer is SUMMER in a bottle I'm not kidding.  It is fruity and sweet and refreshing and citrusy and down right balanced and good.  It holds all the characteristics of a wheat beer with the smooth wheat sweetness.  It throws in some banana and citrus sweetness with the ale yeast that is being used to brew this sun shine in a bottle.  It is a crisp orange color in the bottle though I drank this one out of the bottle. 

Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of this beer as I wasn't going to pick this one as my beer of the day.  I was going to save this one for its own blog with a glorious picture.  But my wife had just finished the Pittsburgh Marathon with her team.  She completed her longest run to date at her fastest time.  Her distance was 5.5 miles in 61 minutes and change.  I am extremely proud of her accomplishment.  I actually did make it down to the city and probably ended up walking over 4-5 miles in the day back and forth.  We did go out to celebrate for dinner but unfortunately the beer selection was a bit low for what I was interested in drinking.  And by the time I got home, I was really to tired to sit and drink a new beer.  So, luckily I had drank this beer earlier that day at our friends house who also ran that day - she ran the half marathon and in a PR time as well!  Congratulations to all Pittsburgh marathoners out there.  You guys ricked that city yesterday and inspired me to go out and get a new pair of shoes.  Yes, I have to get back on the training schedule.  Thank you for that.

As a tribute I added the picture of my wife crossing her leg of the marathon on Sunday.  This makes me warm and happy like a fine summer day or a Oberon in a glass!  Congrats baby!

5/5/2012 - Grupo Modelo - Pacifico - Clara - From this site I found on line -
Cinco de Mayo—or “Fifth of May”—is a Mexican holiday that commemorates the victory of the Mexican army over an invading French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It is not, as many people mistakenly believe, Mexico’s Independence Day. Although the Mexican army was eventually defeated, the Batalla de Puebla became a symbol of Mexican unity and patriotism. With this victory, Mexico demonstrated to the world that it was willing to defend itself against foreign intervention.
I actually am one of those that thought it was Mexico's Independence day.  I also mistakenly wished a Spanish friend of mine once Happy Cinco De Mayo in all seriousness.  I have never said my global historic education on wars and geography have been the best.  And I guess this proves it.  So, on that note I decided to pick up a Mexican beer in celebration.  I asked the guy at Market District for his recommendation and this was the beer he suggested.  Very nice light pour in the glass.  This beer really was a nice crisp pilsner beer.  It had a little bit of an off taste for my tastes but if served nice and cold I could definitely enjoy a few of these on the Mexican Riviera or anywhere in Riviera Maya or anywhere else for that matter.  I think this would be a great beer to share with some friends for a nice warm sunny day.  May have to revisit this one again.

5/4/12 - Hardywood Reserve Series - Mocha Belgique - Belgian Chocolate Porter brewed with locally roasted coffee.  As you can see I actually shared this with a few of my friends; always a good time to do this.  This beer had a lot going on.  This beer was very robust with flavors.  Huge hits of chocolate and coffee go through this beer.  It talks about on the bottle a coffee tasting session with local coffee brewers to determine the one that they would collaborate with their beer.  This was a very nice touch.  To me, this beer was like drinking iced espresso.  It was very robust and smacking you in the face with flavor.  I'm sure this beer partners well with someone's palate out there.  Or there may even be a great dessert out there waiting to be paired with this reserve series.  But this beer was not for me now.  It is a 7.2% alcohol volume and a "reserve series" so maybe this beer was intended to be aged for a bit.  It seems like it could definitely benefit from some mellowing in the bottle over a few months possibly.

5/3/12 - Dogfish Head - Noble Rot - Before I get to this beer, I tried a Brooklyn Monster Barelywine from Brooklyn.  I was torn on whether I could use it or not as they used an infuser to infuse the beer with Cabernet soaked oak chips.  Since it was a barley wine, I found the chips hard to decipher through all the other richness going on in that beer.  I'll definitely be looking to try the Brooklyn again sometime.  Not to mention try Bocktown's Infused Beers again another time.
Now onto the Noble Rot; their site describes this as a saison-esque brew.  I've been intrigued by this beer for sometime.  I've seen it out and was hoping to get a glass of it.  The beer came to me in a snifter as a bright yellow beer.  I actually had it sit in front of me while I finished my meal.  I wanted to enjoy this beer solo.  The bubbles were flowing through the beer almost like champagne.  It had a nice silky white head on top of the glass that hung around for the whole beer.  The smell gave a definite sour kick right of the top.  Maybe a little green apple smell to it.  At first, I didn't think I noticed the carbonation - but what I came to learn through the drink was that the carbonation was so robust that it caused the liquid to explodes into air.  Almost a dry champagne like consistency.  I got notes of green apple and pairs in every sip.  It was a sweet flavor but dry texture if that was possible.  Over all, a very unique beer that I enjoyed immensely.

5/2/12 - Starr Hill Brewery - Northern Lights IPA - This beer poured a yellow orange in the glass.  As I held the glass in the air my wife asked if I was "Wishing on a star" and I probably was.  Its been to long since our family has been to Disney.  And we have to get back.  This beer had a large kick of citrus and hopy spice to it.  The malty sweetness was a little on the light side to really balance out the hoppy bigness in this glass.  I got a lot of citrus notes such as grapefruit and lemon kicks to it.  The body was a decent medium body for drinking but definitely was not my favorite as beers go.  This one to me is to hoppy and rich for my blood.  In general, I would recommend this beer to the hop heads of the world that haven't tried it.  But for my tastes, I'll back away from this next time I see it.  This was another beer brought to me by my friend Aaron.  Thanks again for the contributions.

As always, thanks for following me and look for the winner to the Photo Contest.  I've almost got it all compiled and ready to show.
My original concept of this site was to do a beer a day.  I really wanted to be able to blog about it every day as well.  That is most definitely the trickiest part of this whole adventure.  I just can't seem to take 30 minutes a day to write up a blog.  I don't think this is a problem for the site as I'm getting my point across that I'm learning more and more about beer.  This new part time job I picked up is there to help me learn more about brewing while teaching newbies how to brew as well.  Quite frankly I love the concept and am having a great time.  Just one more avenue opening up in my quest for the ever perfect job.  This weekend started with great weather on Friday night enough to hang out side with some good friends; Saturday then brought some crappy weather which created a perfect day to work at the brewery; and on to Sunday a truly inspirational day.  To be discussed in my next blog.  So for now, on to the catch up brews.
4/21/2012 - Church Brew Works - Pious Monk Dunkel - Again, this picture is not the best.  It was taken at Rockefellar's Bar in Kennedy Township on an iPhone after a long day at the brewery.  This beer was in honor of me getting to meet one of the brewers from Church Brew works in person.  During this Great Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week there are tons of activities going on around the city with tastings and meetups all over the town.  It is really turning out to be an incredible week.  I'm terrible with names and I couldn't find it on line but I thought it was Steve.  Great guy and I remember he talked about brewing at several breweries - starting at Kona and working in Coors for sometime and now currently at the Church.  It was great to have him share his knowledge and hang out for a bit.  So, on my way home I picked up dinner and while I waited I sat and drank the Pious Monk Dunkel.  This beer was a nice darker brown in color in the glass.  Poured with a nice clean white head on top of the glass.  It was crisp and clear as a good lager is.  As I've stated before, Lagers seem to have some sort of quality that doesn't really work for me as much as many also in general.  And this beer is no exception.  It seemed nice clean and crisp but left me thinking it was a little light and watery.  As I'm no expert this maybe exactly what they are going for with this beer and to that if they are they achieved.  But to me as a dunkel I thin little more malty goodness and medium bodies beer.  This is just my opinion though - if you do see this beer or any other of the Church Brew Works beers please check them out.  And even better - get over to the brewery and enjoy an incredible meal paired with one of their fine beers.  It is a nice experience to be had by anyone for sure.

4/20/2012 - Dogfish Head - 120 Minute IPA - I have been excited to get my hands on this so naturally when I found the bottle at a spot in York I picked up two; one to try now and one to age for a nice long time (How long?  Not sure).  I had expectations to put this one on a pedestal and make a large fuss about it and a grand blog about it.  And would have done that had I been keeping up with blogs on a day to day basis - but alas, I'm just trying to keep u with the pace.  So, to that end, I bring you the "holy grail" of IPA's as it is affectionately called at the brew house.  This is a brew that is boiled for 2 hours and continuously hopped for those 2 hours.  Now, it is typical for a beer to be brewed for about 60-75 minutes and hopped nicely at the 60 minute the 15 minute and 2-3 minute boil roughly.  Generally, these three stages are for Bittering, Flavor, and Aroma in that order.  But in 60, 90 And the ever elusive 120, they are continuously hopped from start to end getting all the acidic oily nectar from the beautiful hops that are used.  This beer pours a nice light to medium brown in the glass, the head retention is low as is common in many higher hopped IPA type beers.  The thing that grabs you by the face and smacks you twice about this one is the high percentage of alcohol in every pour.  I believe this ranks in around an impressive 18% abv.  It is large and in charge!  It is almost a whiskey alcohol type of a flavor to it.  It warms your innards with every sip.  One surprising thing to me about this beer was that the hop content was some what "low" or maybe a misleading as this was an extremely SWEET beer.  I was thinking the heavy amount of malts used to balance the hops and create such large amounts of ABV would be the root cause of this.  As this beer is made to age, I think it was very young to be drinking now.  But I did enjoy this together with a friend as this beer really should be.  I hope to be able to enjoy the second bottle I own in a few years with that same friend so we can look back and discuss the experienced journeys this bottle has traveled.  In general, this was a very strong beer.  Not for the weak of mind or palate.  But if you muster up the kahunas to partake in such a beer; do as I did and share the wealth with a friend or two of your choice.  This is not a beer that should be traveled alone!

4/19/2012 - Williamsburg Ale Works - Washington Porter - Right off the bat I am going to apologize for the photo.  This one might as well not even show a picture being this bad.  This is by far the worst picture so far.  But luckily for me not the worst beer.  Thank you to the site for showing the make-up of this beer:
Composition:2-row, Caramel, Chocolate, and Biscuit malts with a touch of Roasted Barley. American Fuggle hops.
I enjoyed this a bit more then I expected I would as a porter.  This poured a dark brown to black in color.  I believe I enjoyed this a little cooler then it should have been as the flavors were a bit off in the beginning.  I think as the beer warmed up the chocolate, coffee, and biscuity bread like recipe shined through.  It was nice and rich in those flavors and maybe a little bit lighter then expected.  In general, a nice porter for those darker beer fans out there.  For me, these beers definitely have their time and place and that isn't usually often for me.  But in general I enjoyed this one.  Thanks again Aaron for your contributions to my challenge.  They having been helping me nicely this past few days.  This actually went really well with a peice of that chocolate cake in the background.  If I could just get my wife to stop making such goodies like this I may have a chance to lose a pound or two.  She seems to like to blame the beer but I'm not so sure!

4/18/19 - Tsingtao - Lager Beer - So, my wife and I took our oldest on a little dinner date to P.F. Chang's for something a little different for her to experience.  In the background, I have the Hockey Game on - Sad to say the Penguins couldn't get through to the next round.  This night was great.  Jordan loved her chicken and noodles and my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our meal - Pepper Steak and Kong Pow Shrimp if I remember right.  Well, a perfect pairing for the spicey meal was this crisp clean lager.  The first sip of this beer was nice and refreshing.  It is a light body low alcohol kind of beer.  It is refreshing and crisp with a hint of nutty sweetness.  I thought I got some hints of corn but the site does not talk of corn in the recipe at all.  This drink very much complimented the spicy dinner nicely just as the website said that it would.  Please try this when you are out and about.  An interesting fact on this beer is that the site states that it is the number #1 consumer export of China!  And I can see why, it was really good.

On location for the first beer in 2012, I enjoyed this beer at the Pine in Kennedy Township.  A nice little place that has been making great strides in upgrades and enhancements.  When I first moved to Kennedy, this place was at best a dive bar that my father-in-law and I tried to go in one time.  It was to smokey and sort of dirty the way I remember.  Of course, I'm sure the locals that have been here for ever may have loved it.  Then just in the last few years the bar has gone under new ownership.  They closed it down revamped it and moved the bar to the other side of the establishment.  They setup a nice out side area that is open air in the summer and closed in with heat in the winter (nice touch).  The restaurant is separated from the bar ( originally I think this was to allow the bar goers a chance to smoke their cigs - BOO ).  Now it is a smoke free establishment and the smokers need to go outside ( YAY!)

One other thought before I get to the beer.  There is some sort of serenity or calmness going into a bar alone in the middle of the day.  It usually isn't that crowded.  You can usually pop right up to the bar.  The bar tenders tend to be a bit more social since they are not crazy busy chasing down orders.  I know some people would seem appalled by the idea.  Some may even think that people that do this have "problems".  Well, I'm sure some do.  And some, maybe many like me are trying to get 30-45 minutes of solitude inside their own mind to relax and enjoy the taste of a cold fresh brew.  I don't make this a common occurrence since family (especially children) I get even less time to accomplish this task.  But I will tell you - there is nothing like bellying up to a bar with no obligations to talk to anyone.  If the mood strikes you and there is a conversation worth engaging... have at it - no telling where the morning/day/night may take you!  Ok, enough about that - I just thought that it was worth mentioning 45 minutes alone at a bar relaxed with a beer is sometimes better then most any pampering that you may throw my way.

Now on to the brew; so, Dogfish Head hasn't made a beer I haven't liked.  That being said, not every beer that comes from their shop can be hit out of the park!  This beer at 5.2 % is one that I feel falls short.  OK, hold on - before I get hung on a cross - its good!  I mean it has a small bit of  'woody/toasty' taste to it.  But for calling itself Chicory one would think your fingers and hand would get sticky just from holding the glass because of the sap from the tree.  Not so in this brew.  It is a mild mannered stout for the most part.  Has a sort of dryness to it that I feel is a typical stout quality.  Over all I have nothing exceptionally exciting to say about this beer.  There was no special hop notes for me to speak of, or huge malty goodness.  The texture on the tongue was surprising light.  That was definitely a nice quality to the brew.  All told, it is a good well mannered, well balanced brew.  Nothing to write home about (but I will write this blog about it); and surely nothing to shatter the world.

All that said, I'm a huge fan of Dogfish because of the BIGNESS of each of their brews.  You can't find a "lite" beer on their menu.  From what I can see and tell they don't do "regular" on their menu.  That said, all their brews are not going to pour out of the tap and smack you in the head to say it is there.  They make great beer.  So, when I say this beer is average - it sounds harsh but in reality it is average/standard/regular for Dogfish.  It is still exceptional in the midst of most brews I drink.  So, if you are surprised to see the 3.5 star rating its because it was still really a clean crisp beer.  I would definitely drink it again and again and again.  Thank you Dogfish for your dedication to making everything you do GOOD!