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.

So, life has been catching up with me - and this website not "saving nicely for me" is frustrating.  So I had a couple things on here about things - but I'm just going to get right to the beers cause I lost all that on a non-save event.  UGH.  Anyway - so here goes:
3/26/12 - Breckenridge Brewery - Pandoras Bock.  I love this style of beer.  I did a little poking and found this site Madison Dining that talks about Bocks being Lent beers.  I wish I could get to the link to show you more - maybe you can.  Looked like it was going to be a nice read.  Anyway, this is a Jan-March Beer.  I always love this season of beer.  It is right up my alley - and always a refreshing change from all the dark stouts and porters that came from Christmas.  This beers are crisp and a bit spicey.  They are fully of thick malty goodness in the glass.  There was light head retention in the glass.  I really really enjoyed this beer.  I love the brewery in general and the style of beer so there is no surprise I would love this beer.  I hope to get a few more of these before the season is completely out (as it already may be gone).  I didn't really notice anything to revealing about the smell but I'm never great with this anyway.  In general - I love Bock Beers and I think if you've never tried one - GO OUT NOW AND TRY IT!  Don't wait till next year... find one and drink one and fall in love like I have!

3/25/12 - Samuel Adams - Irish Red.  This beer poured a nice dark red pour in the glass.  A nice aggressive pour left a pillowy dirty white 2 finger head on top of this beer.  The malt stuck around and clung to the sides of the glass the whole way down the drink.  In general this was a nice beer.  It gave out nice caramel notes.  It had a nice light spicy note to it that I believe came from the hops in the glass.  It had a nice silky texture to the drink as comes with these styles of beers.  This beer was the day after a large drink so I drank this a little later in the evening and enjoyed it slowly.  It was probably just a bit warmer then it needed to be but all told was a nice beer.  As I've found with Sam Adams in general - I have found it hard to say anything bad about their beers.  They make a great beer for every style.  They may not always make the best of the best nor do they often make the most exciting.  But they do make a great quality beer to sit around and drink.  Thank you for a consistent quality in your beer Sam.

3/24/12 - Troegs Brewery - Troegenator DoupleBock Beer.  At 8.2% alcohol this beer brings A LOT to the table.  The definition as per German Beer Institute Site states a DoppelBock as:
Definition:  Doppelbock (literally "double bock") is a stronger and usually darker version of the Bavarian Bockbier. It is exceptionally malty, with very little bitterness. Standard Doppelbocks may have as much as 7% alcohol by volume. In the strongest versions (around 10 to 13%), you can actually taste the alcohol.
So, it is no surprise this is right up my avenue.  There is not a great head retention on this beer.  But the flavor and the malts SHINE through.  The bitterness levels are low and the beer is smooth.  I do get some nice malty notes of smell from the glass (maybe even some hints of cherry).  In general this is a great beer.  I had to cheat and drink this beer once again tonight as the beer from the picture from Saturday is later in the evening after several others and well, lets just say I knew my notes would not be great.  As I said, my best friend was in from out of town and we received a surprise visit from another one of my friends that lives close by.  All 3 of us had some GREAT catch up time Saturday night.  Good times.

3/23/12 - Flying Dog Ales - Road Dog Porter.  This was a great beer.  This beer ways in at a nice 6.0% alcohol.  I didn't save great notes from this Friday night - so going by memory.  I remember I liked this beer.  It was a nice roasty malt flavor.  I don't remember to dark and burnt of a flavor but a nice medium roast.  I remember the head retention stayed with the glass nicely and it drank smooth.  I think the one thing I remember for a porter it was a very light beer in texture.  This lightness really made this a drinkable beer.  Made it nice and enjoyable.  A friend of mine recommended this one and though it was good - it wasn't one of my favorites.  Again, I'm not really a porter or dark stout type drinker so this shouldn't surprise.  All told it was a nice drinkable beer.  And the beer was enjoyed as the kickoff to a great weekend with my best man/best friend/buddy from high school.  It was a good time, Friday night was even another Wine Cupcake making session for my wife and a friend of hers.  So the lightness of this beer when really well with the winey goodness of her cupcakes.  Text me if you want her recipes and/or more information on those cupcakes.

Wow, so this was a long post - I'm going to hold of posting today's beer (blogging this on 3/27/12) till at least tomorrow.  But I had an enjoyable weekend and am glad I stayed with the challenge.  I am excited about tomorrow as I am checking out the call from last Friday - again - if the news works out I'll talk more about this later.  There is a lot to be considered and discussed.  In the end if it works out and I move forward with it.  This blog will be the FIRST (well second as my wife will probably be the first ;) ahah) to know!  Thanks for listening and until the next blog!
What incredible vessel this must have been; weighing in at 13,632 tons empty, a whopping 729 feet long - a true modern marvel of its age in 1958.  Sadly, it met its demise in 1975; I will never have the pleasure of meeting this beautiful girl.  I think I've always had a fascination of ships, be it boats/planes/barges.  With all the incredibly bizarre stories of the Bermuda Triangle, Amelia Earhart, people trying to circle the globe, the 'Perfect Storm' (still one of the few books I've read cover to cover).  All of these have such passionate stories; many such bizarre and unanswered endings.  These people had a passion far greater then most people I know have for anything.  It takes a special person to be in the air flying from city to city, country to country; or be in a boat for 4-6 weeks or longer at a time never seeing land trying to make a living.  These people risk their lives every day to provide a service to all of us "land lovers".  Well, the Edmund and its story are similar but unique as all these stories seem to be.  Please visit this site I found at SSEFO.COM to read more about this beautiful vessel and the demise of 29 captain and crew.  To this day, no one is really sure of the last few minutes/hours of the crew and ship's life.  I can't fathom the concept of what these people and their families have gone through and my heart and prayers go out to them.  As Gordon Lightfoot wrote:
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called 'Gitche Gumee'
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy

The only parallel I can draw in my life (all be it small and weak) to this that even remotely makes me wonder why I am interested so, is that I grew up on the mighty Susquehanna River.  I can tell you that my father and I logged 15-20 hours a week at least 30+ weeks of the year between my ages 11-17'sh.  That is a lot of my life ( doing the math roughly 2250 hours or just shy of 100 days of my life were spent on or beside or in this river).  Sure, as many of us do that time is probably slightly exaggerated but there is no fish tale when I say my father and I had the best times of our lives on that river together.  Those times that will never be forgotten easily.  The one rule, the one lesson that my father instilled in me then that lives with me today and probably will never be forgotten is that you must ALWAYS respect Mother Nature.  She is more powerful visibly then maybe any other force out there.  I believe the captain of the Edmund had respect.  But no matter how much respect you have - when Mother Nature gets Angry and god makes his calling - it will be your time.  My heart and prayers go out to the 29 men on that ship and the families they left behind.  I have so much respect!
The Great Lakes Brewing have paid their own tribute to the Edmund in a Porter style beer named after the wonderful ship.  At 5.8% this is not a large alcoholic beer so you could definitely drink a few of these with out worrying to much.  This beer pours into the glass a pitch black color; I'm wondering how much inspiration of this black color came from thinking of the black night and dark waters that this ship went down in that cold November night in 1975.  I have to believe the smokey taste was completely inspired by the coal burning lady of the '50's that was eventually converted to oil in 1971-72.  The DEEP BLACK coffee taste that comes in EVERY sip of this beer quickly turns my mind to the coffee that the captain and crew surely brewed and drank every morning and night to stay alert and sharp during the operations of this fine vessel.  The complexity of this beer attempt to educate us on the 17 years of crews and captains and cargo that this ship must have shipped up and down the rivers and through the great lakes.  There is NO WONDER this is a Gold Medal Winner from the GABF from everything I find.  It is a bit bitter smokey and roasted coffee smell to it.  My self personally I didn't like the bitterness to it but I think that is true to the porter style.  But this beer was nice and drinkable and I enjoyed every last sip.

I don't typically do this but I wanted to leave this last tribute to the ship.  As frankly, it is a story that I found a bit of interest in while reading through it.  I've heard this song many times and never really knew it was about a real ship (not to mention how many times in the past I drank the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter not knowing of its history).  So beer really can be educational and I just proved it.  Anyway, I leave you with this - listen to the words as it is a tragic yet incredible story:

PS.  In case those cupcakes look to tastey - my wife has the recipe that she created/used to master these beasts on her blog at Butter is Better!  Please check it out for your viewing pleasure.
My wife's uncle passed me a link to the Miami Herald about the recent Jimmy Buffett Concert in Miami, FL that just got kicked off - The Wino and I Know.  Sounds like the concert was incredible.  I haven't been to a Buffett concert in a few years and reading this article made me nostalgic.  I doubt I'll get to the show this year which is sad but my wife and I recently stated that we need to put it on the SHORT list to see him on location in St Any Where.  I don't care where we see him it just needs a few requirements:  A)  there is sand B) water is close by C) it takes an airplane ride to get there.  Its been to long Jimmy and for that I am sorry!  I haven't even listened to your music as much as I once did!  I am greatly sorry.  Life has gotten a bit hectic with work and parenting and such.  The thing that I love from the article is that it sounds like Jimmy really tried to cater to the enthusiast this year.  Cheeseburger in Paradise and Fins - sure you have to play those; but this year it sounds like he is hitting some grass roots type songs like an acoustic version of Trying to Reason the Hurricane Season and Everybody's got a Cousin in Miami.  Sounds like he was happy to be back in Florida again.  Can't say that I can blame him.  Jan 30 in Pittsburgh and though the weather has been unseasonably warm I'm still starting to get cabin fever.

Part of the cabin fever I'm experience must be from all these HOLIDAY/CHRISTMAS style beers I'm drinking lately.  Samuel Adams - Holiday Porter is chocolatey, rich and maybe even a little iced coffee like.  It is a nice balance of English Fuggle and East Kent Golding hops with a nice match of the caremel munich and chocolate malts.  The smell gets a nice roasty spicey malt kick.  It pours a DARK Brown almost black pour in the glass.  The head sticks to the side of the glass like chocolate milk mustaches stick to your lips after drinking it.  The head is a nice silky chocolately color when you stir the beer vigorously.  It almost has a chocolate milk texture to it (maybe a little chalky).  I recommend this beer (again in the right time and season).  But I do not think I would enjoy drinking more then one or two of these.  The 5.8% alcohol though not big almost makes me feel the hangover coming in the morning if you drink more then 2 or 3 of these.

I think this beer is the last of the Christmas/holiday beers.  There is still a winter beer or two down there but this is the last December beer that I'm drinking in January.  For that I am thankful, I don't know how many more of these I could take.  Porters and Stouts are not one of my normal favorite beers.  Its not that they are bad I just enjoy a lighter more refreshing beer.  And I can't wait to find one tomorrow.