Saturday, October 17, 2009

Beer Advocate's Belgian Beer Fest - Night of the Funk

This past weekend, my best beer geek friend and I went to Beer Advocate's "Return of the Belgian Beer Fest!" Night of the Funk in Boston. My friend and I planned this trip back in July. It was only a 2 hour drive for me, but for her, it was a flight from DC. Yes, this how serious we are about beer.

We started out at 21st Amendment. We had limited time before the event started, so we were stuck with something in the neighborhood of our hotel. I wanted to get to Deep Ellum or Publick House, but they just weren't close enough.

This bar was pretty amusing. It really can't be classified as a beer bar. The only craft beer on draft was Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale. So of course, we had that instead of 5 pony bottles of Coors Light for 5 dollars. We were there (fortunately, and unfortunately) during happy hour. The post-work business suit and Burberry clad crowd, crappy beers in hand, was all too entertaining. We were doing alright until they turned on the music and Michelle Branch's "Game of Love" came on.

Luckily, we were on our way out. The clam chowder was, by the way, spectacular.

Soon we arrived in beer geek heaven. It was very much like all the beer events I've been to in this format: two ounce taster glass, and lines for beer. However, I have to give BA credit, it wasn't too crowded. We were able to get to all of the best beers.

Perhaps the best and most geekiest part of the night (besides when we out beer geeked two guys while in line for the most delicious sugar coated waffles ever), was the "Night of the Funk Panel" with Tomme Arthur (The Lost Abbey), Mike McManus (Brewery Ommegang), Will Meyers (Cambridge Brewing Co.), David Yarrington (Smuttynose Brewing Co.) and my all-time favorite, I'm so in love with you, plaid-wearing Harry Potter look-a-like, Rob Tod (Allagash Brewing Co.).

For about an hour, the panelist took questions on brewing, marketing, and tasting funkified beers. The level of geekiness was fabulous. I enjoyed the home brewer question: "How can I barrel age when most wine barrels hold 50 gallons or more?" And the two part question that every brewer forgot the second part of: "When did you start brewing? And why did you start brewing?"

Quote of the night goes to Rob Tod, the man knows how to work a crowd: "It depends how you want to funk it up." However, Tomme Arthur came a close second: "I'm waiting for Bud to make Bud Lite Lime with Brett. So I can say I had Brett in a can last night."

And yes, the beers were awesome. Sour beers are by far my favorite style of beer. Yes, I love my double IPAs, but there is something so complex and titillating about sour beers. Almost four years ago, when I had my first sour, Allagash Interlude, I was hooked.

At the event we tasted the following: Allagash Vagabond, Allagash My Brother Daryl, Russian River Temptation, Russian River Consecration, Lost Abbey Cable Car, Lost Abbey Cuvee de Tomme, Lost Abbey Sangria, Brooklyn Wild 1, Ithaca Brute, Cambridge Om, De Proef Les Deux Brasseurs, Petrus Pale, and Lindemans Cuvee Renee.

The winner of the night, and not just because I love Rob Tod, was Allagash Vagabond. They are actually releasing it at their brewery on Monday. They made just 500 bottles. It's a beer aged for four years in the only barrels that moved with them into their new brewery. The nose was reminiscent of Allagash Curieux, with bourbon and port notes. The palate was winey with subtle red fruit flavors, a touch of tartness, and a smooth finish. It was classic Allagash. And, a new beer to add to my top 5.

All in all, an awesome night of beer. After this experience, I'd highly recommend any similar event done by BA in Boston. And I certainly know I'll be there again next year.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Newick's Lobster House, NH

Fall here in Massachusetts is lovely. I have to say, the foliage has been one of the best parts of moving here (yeah, certainly not the food).

Last weekend I had the chance to go out to dinner with my family up in New Hampshire. Somewhat of a tradition, whenever in Portsmouth, we end up at Newick's Lobster House.

It's a rather crazy place. It probably seats about 200 people. There service is really non-existent. They take orders, never clear plates (which by the way are all plastic and paper, this place is an environmental nightmare), and that's about it.

But, on a Friday night, it was packed with people of all ages.

I started out with classic New England clam chowder. It was very thin and unexciting. There was no depth of flavor. But, the pieces of clam were plentiful.

Next, I went with steamers. I just can't seem to get them in Philly. They aren't the same unless you're in New England. They were pretty good, but then again, you can't so much mess them up.

And then, the reason we had all come to Newick's. A 1 and 1/4 lb. boiled lobster. The lobster, was, well, lobster. But, it seemed a bit dirty, as if they don't change the water enough. The lobster was of course enjoyable, but it wasn't the perfection I had hoped for that night. It actually taught me an important lesson: you can't just put lobster on a plate and have it be wonderful. There's a bit more to it.

On the whole, Newick's is what it is. It's a New England lobster house that draws a crowd. It's unpretentious. It's simple. It'll give you what you're looking for, as far as seafood goes. But, it seems to lack the love required to make simple food good.

Newick's Lobster House
431 Dover Point Rd
, NH

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"I Am a Home Brewer"

Back in April, I and many other people, fell in love with the "I Am a Craft Brewer" video that debuted at the 2009 Craft Brewers Conference.

This response video, that speaks just as seriously about home brewing, has just come to my attention. It seems to have come out in July.

And I'm not going to lie, I also get chills when watching this video. I have my brother to thank for my first adventures in home brewing. Since his first extract brew a few months ago, he has since moved onto all-grain brewing, and has even built his own system at this point.

He has certainly made me a better beer geek; there are just things you can't know unless you brew your own beer. Thanks dude! This one is for you.