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Earth Day

Thursday, April 17, 2014 | Beer News, Distributors, Events, Fun, Local Favorites, Long Trail, Restaurants, Retailers, Spring, Sustainable, Victory

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As spring comes into full swing and trees and plants put forth their blooms, we find that it’s a perfect time to really take a look at our planet and all she has to offer; we’d never have the flora needed to make delicious beers without our environment being as it is, and it’s important to take a day out of the year to appreciate all the beauty in the natural world. So celebrate Earth Day (April 22) with some environmentally conscious brews this year, and go find a forest to stroll through, a beach to walk along or simply sit out on your front porch and take in all the awe-inspiring beauty that is Mother Nature.

Long Trail has held the tradition of commitment to maintaining the environment for many years now. Between their spent mash and cow power programs, and their water conservation efforts, they gained Vermont’s Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence in 2009 and continue to do all they can to keep our planet healthy. This Earth Day, certain bars and restaurants will be giving a special pint glass away with the purchase of a Long Trail brew, as well as a seedling, with the goal of planting 10,000 trees in the U.S. You can find distributors here and participating bars here.

Long Trail isn’t the only brewery that’s stepping up to the plate this Earth Day, though.

Victory Brewing, who won the Sustainable Agriculture Business Award earlier this year, is joining forces with the Brandywine Conservancy in a reforestation initiative in East Brandywine Township, planting trees provided by the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society’s TreeVitalize program. Over the last five years, the group has been planting trees throughout the Brandywine Watershed, and they hope to meet the milestone 25,000th tree at this event, which takes place Saturday, April 19th, starting at 9 a.m.

For information or to volunteer, please call Wes Horner at 610.388.8124.

Troegs Sunshine Pils

Thursday, April 17, 2014 | Featured Beer, Troegs

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A German-style pilsner with a floral scent, Sunshine Pils is a straw-gold beverage with a creamy white head that’s color and flavor speak to warm weather. Light malt builds the body of this lager, followed by lemon and floral hops. The hoppy bitterness finishes this beer make it extremely refreshing, and at 4.5%, it’s a great spring and summer session beer. Perfect for sitting on the porch, doing yard work or cookouts.

World Beer Cup 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014 | 5 Rabbit, Contests, Old Dominion, Redhook, Starr Hill Brewery, Uinta, Widmer

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Last week was the World Beer Cup in Boulder, CO, with judgements over 96 different styles on a global level, with only three top beers named in each category and often dozens of entries into each. Starting in 1996, hundreds of brewers have entered their creations every two years, with more breweries entering with each competition. However, only a few come out on top, named best in their styles. This competition is considered the most prestigious beer competition in the world, and is not to be taken lightly.

Here’s a list of some of the brews that won that are available in our area.

Widmer Hefeweizen – Won Gold in the American Style Wheat Beer with Yeast category.

Starr Hill Whiter Shade of Pale – Won Gold in the American Belgo Style Ale category.

Redhook Audible Ale – Won Gold in the Classic English Style Pale Ale category.

Dominion Candy Belgian Tripel – Won Gold in the Belgian Style Tripel category.

Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier Dunkel – Won Silver in the German Style Dark Wheat Ale category.

Uinta Bristlecone Brown - Won Bronze in the English Style Mild category.

For more information on the World Beer Cup, visit their website.

The Pineville Tavern

Thursday, April 17, 2014 | Bars, Local Favorites, Restaurants, Rogue, Victory

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The Pineville Tavern’s building has been around since the 18th century, undergoing many changes of use from mill to general store to hotel. The place is so old, there are even rumors of hauntings. In 1969, it changed owners again and the kitchen and bar were expanded to make room for a full-service restaurant. Now, their entrees include pastas, ribs, burgers, pizza, steak and seafood, and there’s a lot of delicious tavern fare to choose from. In terms of beers, they’ve got all the bases covered with breweries such as Victory and Rogue. And not only is the atmosphere friendly and inviting, but the Tavern also features an extensive takeout menu for when you just want to get home, take your shoes off and enjoy a good meal.

The Pineville Tavern
1089 Durham Rd,
Wrightstown, PA 18946
(215) 598-3890

Ithaca Green Trail

Thursday, April 3, 2014 | Ithaca

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If you’re looking for an easy-drinking IPA, then Green Trail might be the one for you. It’s got all the hoppiness of the style, but with a full and smooth malt body to balance it. A mix of pine and citrus give this beer a juicy flavor and the malt slightly softens the flavor for enjoyment of a wider profile of tastes. And at 6% ABV, it’s easy to session with. The new addition to the Ithaca lineup is appealing to both hopheads and new craft drinkers alike.

Boxcar to Add Brewpub

Thursday, April 3, 2014 | Boxcar, Local Favorites, New, Restaurants, Up and Coming

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The folks at Boxcar have begun the process of opening their own brewpub in the heart of West Chester. The aim is to provide the community with good beer, fresh local food and adult and kid-friendly entertainment in the form of weekly events, live entertainment on the fully-equipped stage and arcade games. They hope to give the community an environment where they can hold events such as business meetings, parties, or public events.

“The inspiration for the brewpub is rooted in our desire to create a living, breathing space where our passion for beer and the arts can integrate with our community in a meaningful and lasting way,”said Kymberly Robinson, co-owner of Boxcar Brewing Company.

The brewpub, which will be located at 142 E Market st., should be completed by the end of June. Boxcar will provide monthly updates on the progress on their website.

Victory Tours and Brew Pub

Thursday, April 3, 2014 | Local Favorites, Restaurants, Retailers, Sustainable, Victory

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Have you anxiously been waiting for Victory to reopen their tours? Well, wait no further. Not only can you visit the original Downingtown brewery and stop by the pub afterwards for a drink, you can also take a bus from the Downingtown location to tour the new Parkesburg brewery. So whether this would be your first Victory tour, or you’re coming back for a second, third or fourth visit, they’ve got you covered, and it’s just another excuse to visit their brewpub at their Downingtown home.

Tours of the Downingtown brewery are free and available Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The twenty minute all-age tour takes you through the brewhouse and fermentation room, and is limited to fifteen people.

There are two 3.5 hour Parkesburg tours each Saturday. Two buses take up to 40 people from the Downingtown location to the new brewery, where you will receive a welcome beer in the catering hall before embarking on a full-guided tour of the entire facility. The tour takes you through the brewhouse, fermentation room, hop cooler, packaging line and more before trying seasonal beer and food pairings. All that, plus you get to leave with a special Parkesburg glass. Tickets cost $58, and this tour is only available to those 21 and over.

And if all that  touring makes you a little hungry and thirsty–or if you’re just in the area–the Victory Brew Pub has a whole array of delicious foods that are made to be perfectly paired with their various brews. Their menu ranges from bar fare with a twist to sandwiches crafted as carefully as their beers to the ever-changing daily menu additions inspired by seasonal foods and beers.

Location:

420 Acorn Lane
Downingtown, PA 19335

Hours:

Brew Pub:

Mon-Sat 11:30am-12am

Sun 11:30am-10pm

Downingtown Tours:

Friday 3pm, 4pm, 5pm

Sat-Sun 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm

Parkesburg Tours:

Saturday 11am-2:30pm, 3pm-6:30pm

More Information on the Tours

Brew Pub Menu

Magic Hat Dream Machine Release

Thursday, April 3, 2014 | Beer News, Magic Hat, New

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Magic Hat just released a India Pale Lager that’s sure to get your lips smacking. This hoppy lager blends two styles–IPA and amber lagers–to make a beverage bright copper in color with a citrusy nose and a flavor that follows with smooth bitterness and a slight spice. The malts bring this brew home with a crisp, lager finish that dials in at 5.7% ABV.

As the latest of Magic Hat’s year-round brews, Dream Machine enjoys the company of many other artful craft beverages from the brewery.

Be sure to take a look at their video below. Turn on. Hop in. Take off.

Dream Machine Video

Spring is Here

Thursday, March 20, 2014 | Fun, Ingredients, Spring

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Today is the Spring Equinox, the official first day of spring. And we sure are looking forward to the warmer weather after this winter we’ve had. Spring isn’t just a time for cleaning or short sleeves, though. It’s also the beginning of growth, when farmers and gardeners all across the northern hemisphere begin to prepare the earth for life and sow their seeds. Flowers, vegetables and fruits all start a new generation, so it stands to reason that the ingredients for beer–malts, hops and any adjuncts–are also beginning their new lives. Troegs’ Cultivator Helles Bock (now in season) signifies the starting of the hop-growing season with delicate floral notes. This is the first brew in the Hop Cycle series, which tracks the three steps of the growing season. Over at the Rogue Farms, their beer and spirit growing season has started.

In this very special GBOTW post, we’ll share the life cycle of several plants used to brew, and take a look at how different breweries are preparing for this very important stage of beer-making.

Malts

Barley, as a type of grass, is a relatively easy plant to grow. People have been growing it for thousands of years, and it has been used in brewing for almost as long. Although it’s grown on a primarily commercial level now, it’s fairly simple to grow in small plots on your own.

First, the soil must be prepared for sowing. Barley doesn’t like very acidic soils, so if the land has a low pH (anything below 6), lime or compost is spread in the autumn to ensure the soil is right. Phosphorus and potassium are also important to produce good malting barley. Once the chemical makeup of the soil has been amended, it’s time to turn up the dirt and loosen it for planting. This is done right after the thaw in spring, once the ground is soft enough to work with.

Sowing starts in slightly different times for different climes, but around these parts, it would be early to mid-April, around when you start your peas. Commercially, it’s grown about 60 to 90 pounds of seed per acre, which is usually just scattered on broken earth, then raked over so it’s slightly covered by the dirt to deter birds. Grains and grasses are easily taken over by weeds, so removing unwanted vegetative trespassers is important. On a farm, herbicides are usually used to kill off weeds, but sometimes flame weeders are used. If you’re growing your own plot, it’s best to try to sow your seeds in lines so that there is room to hand-weed between the plants. Buckwheat can also be grown the year before and tilled under during flowering season to hold the nutrients and smother all weeds. Bugs and pests are too much of a problem, and birds can be driven off by a good dog.

Unless the spring is abnormally dry–which it seems this one is not shaping up to be–irrigation isn’t usually necessary. Grasses usually hold up well in drought or flood–that’s part of the reason they cover 20% of the land on Earth. Six row types of barley–the most commonly grown in the U.S.–don’t tend to need as much water as two row types. If irrigation is necessary, it should be done soon after the heads appear.

About three months (90 days) after it’s sown, barley is ready to be harvested. Around here, that would set it to be ready in June or very early July. The straw becomes dry and brittle, the seed firm, and the plant takes on a golden color. On a small level, harvest is easiest with a light sickle and the seed is separated by simply beating on it over a receptacle, but large farms use specialized machines to cut and separate the seeds from the plant so that they may be malted for use in brewing.

Hops

Hops, unlike barley, are perennial plants, meaning they come back year after year, so there isn’t a spring sowing period. In fact, hops are grown from rhizomes, the so-called heart of the plant’s root where nutrients are stored. Hop rhizomes look a bit like a stick-like bulb. Like aspen, many hop plants are connected through a single root system, and cut up appropriately, this root system can be used to start new plants.

In early spring, sometime between February and April, rhizomes are planted 4″ deep in a sunny area with well-drained soil, with rhizomes spread at least 3 feet apart for like-varieties. Too much waterlogging can result in the roots rotting, so it’s important to plant in soil that does not have a lot of clay in it, and overcrowding leads to less productive plants that are more susceptible to disease and pests. Humulus lupulus (that is, the common hop) are bines that need something to climb, such as a string, trellis or pole. This plant can grow up the 25 feet in a single season, so having enough climbing space is very important, and stunting the plants can result in over-crowding and mildew. 10-20 ft. is suggested for climbing space. Hops aren’t too picky about pH balance, enjoying anything between 5.5 and 8.

Unless the season is particularly dry, frequent watering need only be light, but fertilizers can be added occasionally to increase yield. Because your soil should be well-drained, it’s best to use a non-chemical fertilizer so it doesn’t just run off into the soil. As stated before, overcrowding is a problem with hops, so pruning is important. Weaker shoots should be cut back so only 2-3 per rhizome remain. Aphids and mildew are the most common problems associated with hops. Mildew can be stopped by trimming away the effected area and aphids can be taken care of by using a variety of different natural solutions, such as buying ladybug eggs or planting garlic or onions near the plants.

Mid-August to September is around when hops are ready to be harvested, just when the feathery bracteole (leaves/petals) are beginning to turn brown. The cone should be easily crushed and fragrant, and the lupulin gland should be sticky and yellow when the cone is split. If this is the first season, there shouldn’t be a very big yield, but plants come back next year hardier and more productive without all the preparation over again.

Adjuncts

There are so many additions to beers that we hardly have time to go over them all. So we’ll just name a few common adjuncts, and give a short explanation of when to plant and when to harvest.

Cherries*: Cherry trees are not only beautiful in the spring, but they can produce fruits in July if you have several of them.

Apples*: Apples are great for ciders and can also be added to beers, and there are so many varieties, you can find apples that will ripen anywhere between July and early November.

Pears*: These should be picked in the late summer to early fall, and allowed to ripen off the tree.

Tomatoes: A strange but tasty ingredient, tomatoes usually ripen in late July or early August, and should be planted sometime in late April, after the weather has warmed.

Peppers: Peppers can be started indoors as early as April and then transplanted later to ripen in late summer and early fall.

Pumpkins: A favorite of autumn, pumpkin seeds should be started late in the season, like late May or June. The fruit ripens in October.

Chestnuts: Sometimes added to nutty brown ales, these tree nuts are ripe when they fall, sometime between mid-September and mid-October.

Pecans: These tasty guys ripen between October and December.

*Fruit trees should be planted in the spring if they are bare-root, and in autumn if they are in a container.

Here is some information on how to grow your own hops or barley. Here is a specialized article on how to harvest hops.

Let’s Drink Saisons

Thursday, March 20, 2014 | Ithaca, Long Trail, Starr Hill Brewery, Victory

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The weather might not quite have let up yet, but we’re getting there. So let’s try to bring spring into full bloom with some seasonal brews; saisons are spicy enough for the chill of early spring, but the fruity flavors speak of better, warmer times ahead. And anyway, tomorrow is Saison Day, so you might as well grab a glass while the season’s right. Here are some of our recommendations.

Victory Swing Session – Slight herbal hops balance the orange rind and fruity esters of this pale brew, and peppery, clove-y spices warm the flavor and add complexity. Great for serving with soft pretzels, oysters and pork loin, and at 4.5% ABV, you can afford to have a couple.

Starr Hill Starr Saison – Deep golden color and a candied aroma introduce this beer, and the taste follows with citric notes, slight breadiness and a slight bitterness to dry off the end. A full-flavored saison, weighing in at 6% ABV.

Long Trail Brush and Barrel Saison – The newest addition to the Brush and Barrel flaunts a fruity, funky bouquet provided by Belgian yeasts, with spicy hops to sharpen the flavor. It finishes dry with plenty of carbonation to make it crisp and refreshing. 7.1% ABV.

Ithaca Ground Break – This farmhouse ale has plenty of hops to give the beer that spicy, citrusy flavor, and the yeast adds the usual esters indicative of this style. It’s slightly thicker than most in this style, and stands at 6.2% ABV.

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