Breweries

Pumpkin Brews for Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 20, 2014 | Long Trail, Magic Hat, Rogue, Shock Top, Starr Hill Brewery

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You may think that pumpkin ales go out with Halloween, but they are actually the perfect addition to any Thanksgiving meal. Try pulling any of these out for the family, and they’re sure to please everyone.

Starr Hill Boxcar Pumpkin Porter – This traditional English-style porter has a twist of pumpkin to add the flavor of the harvest season. Its light spicing allow the flavors of the pumpkin itself to really shine through. Great for hearty main courses, or an after-dinner drink. 4.7% ABV

Shock Top Pumpkin – When talking pumpkin beers, one doesn’t usually think about witbier, but the combination is surprisingly good. Goes great with lighter desserts or fruit salads, like ambrosia. 5.2% ABV

Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin – The perfect warming brew for these cold, November nights. A blend of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cloves spice this finely crafted brew, and there’s just enough hops to make a clean finish. 8% ABV

Uinta Punk’n – Pumpkin, spice and hints of vanilla and honey make this truly one of the best and most interesting pumpkin ales of the season. Goes great with roasted turkey, squash and pumpkin dishes. Plus, it’s got organic ingredients. 4% ABV

Rogue Pumpkin Patch Ale – Made with pumpkins out of their own patch, this ale is chocked full of pumpkin pie flavor. Great with any dessert, and pork, if you’re wanting to stray from the traditional turkey. 5.6% ABV

Long Trail Farmhouse Sampler Case

Thursday, November 20, 2014 | Long Trail

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This variety case is packed with four mouth-watering IPAs.

Blackrye IPA: Three types of rye malt and dry-hopping give this drink a peppery, piney flavor. 6.3% ABV

American IPA: Chocked full of hops at every opportunity, this beer won’t disappoint. 6.4% ABV

Session IPA: If you’re looking for a full-flavored IPA that doesn’t pack so much ABV, look no further than this. 4.5% ABV

White IPA: Citrus comes through brilliantly in this half IPA half Belgian-white mix. 6.2% ABV

Plan Your Spookiest Halloween Party

Friday, October 17, 2014 | Evolution, Fall, Fun, Ithaca, Long Trail, Rogue, Starr Hill Brewery, Victory

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Halloween is one of the few holidays that is celebrated in many different countries across the world, and has evolved into a huge cultural phenomenon here in the U.S. Whole stores dedicated to costumes and decorations, movies and TV shows drawing on the themes of this scary night, and of course, many beers that pay homage to the traditions of this day. You may have stopped trick-or-treating some years back, but you can still treat yourself and guests to an All Hallow’s Eve party you aren’t likely to forget with a few of these tricks.

Beverages: The clear choice here is pumpkin ales, given the importance of Jack-O-Lanterns in traditional Halloween lore, but cider, and harvest ales are also appropriate.

Rogue Dead Guy Ale: This beer-fan favorite’s name is scary enough to serve at this spookiest of holidays. Great balance between hops and malt makes for easy drinking. Looking to try it before you buy some for your party? 6.5% ABV Click here to find a case, and here if you’re looking to try it on draft.

Evolution Jacques Au Lantern: This deep orange brew is full of pumpkin and spicy clove, cinnamon and nutmeg flavors without being over-the-top. Sweet, and goes down easy. 6.3 % ABV

Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin: A touch of hoppy bitterness balances the sweet pumpkin and pie spice notes in this Brush and Barrel series brew. It’s also a little higher in the alcohol content than others on this list. 8% ABV

Ithaca Country Pumpkin: Natural-tasting pumpkin flavors are the backbone of this brew, with just enough cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and hop to keep it interesting. 6.3% ABV

Starr Hill Boxcar Pumpkin Porter: This hybrid brew mixes a sweet pumpkin taste with the caramel and coffee notes of a porter. Definitely not your usual pumpkin beer. 5.2% ABV

Victory Festbier: Marzen’s aren’t only for Oktoberfest. The deep-roasted malts in this beer go well with all sorts of hearty harvest foods, and it’s the perfect choice for anyone who isn’t too into pumpkin ales. 5.6% ABV

An easy way to make these beers even more festive is to serve them in a pumpkin keg. If you have more than one beer, paint the pumpkin festively with the name of the brew, or cut out a coffin from cardboard, paint it black and add the name.

Food: Whether you’re having a sit-down meal, or just want to serve some ghoulish treats for your guests, we’ve got you covered.

Not-so-tricky treats: Disembodied hands, caramel apples, spider bites, finger sandwiches, pumpkin cheeseball, roasted pumpkin seeds, bloody tomato soup & munster sammies, and deviled eggs are all good choices of finger foods to set out on a spooky spread.

Harvest Meal: These foods stick with the theme of the autumn harvest, using such ingredients at squash, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, parsnips, pears, carrots and apples for a number of hearty dishes. Garlicky sweet potato fries, roasted acorn squash with mushroom, peppers and goat cheese, butternut squash and mushroom lasagna, pork roast with apple and sage, Thai pumpkin and chicken curry, fennel-crusted pork loin with roasted potatoes and pearsporcini and pumpkin ale mac & cheese, apple dumpling, spice-roasted chicken, red onions, carrots and parsnips, pumpkin beer bread, apple-pumpkin muffins and of course, don’t forget the pumpkin pie.

Decorations: Atmosphere is all-important when it comes to this holiday. Even if you’re not looking to right-out scare any of your guests, you at least want to maintain an eerie mood. Since there are so many things that can be done with your decorations and we’re sure you’ve already got tons of ideas, let’s cover a few basics and list some things that you might like to try this year.

Outdoors: Fire is a must. If you have a fire pit or room for a chiminea, use it. The heat will keep everyone cozy, and the flicker from the flames add a lovely ambiance. Tiki torches can also be used for this effect, and to light walkways in a spooky manner. Just be sure that trick-or-treaters won’t be in danger of getting burned. For the garden or yard, homemade tombstones can add some fright, and adding a mummy can take it to the next level. Chicken wire can also be used to create ghostly figures in the exterior. This is especially effective in darker corners of the yard, and a fog machine can really bring these life-size figures to afterlife.

Indoors: If you’re hosting your party indoors, there are lots of things you can do to bring a little spook into your home. Candles offer the same benefit of mood-setting as the fire does outside, but without all the heat and minimal fire hazard. Set lights to off or dimmed in certain rooms to complete this effect, or replace bulbs in certain rooms with colored ones, like red, purple or green. Cobwebs are a cheap and easy way to give your home an ancient vibe, and cheesecloth ghosts are a fun craft to do with the kids beforehand to add some haunters in. Silhouettes of bats, cats, rats and freakish figures cut from black construction paper can be set into windows for a scary view inside or along walls to add a bit of flair. Try making a whole swarm of bats flying along a wall.

Activities: Other than the usual trick-or-treating, there are a number of activities for all ages. Contests can be awarded with candy for the kids and a six-pack of a pumpkin ale for the adults.

Costume Contest: Any Halloween party should be full of costumes, so a contest is a fun idea to get people really into the spirit of things. You can divide the contest by a number of categories; age, gender, spookiest, funniest, most creative, or best group costume.

Bobbing for Apples: This old game was once considered a fortune teller, revealing the marriage and financial fates of the players. Now, it’s just a fun game that kids and adults can both have fun with.

Mummy Wrap: Divide guests into twos, give each team a roll of toilet paper, crepe paper or thick ribbon, and have them race for who can mummify their partner first.

Pumpkin Carving Contest: The tradition of carving jack-o-lanterns can be made into a fun party sport, either by having guests bring their pre-carved pumpkins to be judged, or setting up a table with pumpkins and carving sets and judging the freaky creations at the end of the night.

Widmer Omission Pale Ale

Friday, October 17, 2014 | Widmer

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Golden in color, this beer holds a bready nose with fruity hop notes. Floral, grassy, grapefruity hops complement sweet malty flavors in this gluten-free brew. A good drink, whether you have a gluten intolerance or not. It won silver in the 2012 great International Beer and Cider competition on the gluten-free category. 5.8% ABV

Great American Beer Festival 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014 | Old Dominion, Sierra Nevada, Troegs, Uinta, Victory, Widmer

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It’s time for our roundup of notable Great American Beer Festival competition winners for 2014. If you aren’t familiar with the festival, it’s one of the largest beer fest in the states, started in 1982 by nuclear engineer Charlie Papazian in Boulder, CO, though now it takes place in Denver. It also hosts one of the most prolific beer competitions, with over 2000 brews entered annually, seeking to be named one of three brews that best exemplifies its style.

Gold

Victory Golden Monkey – Belgian-Style Tripel

Troegs Troegentaor – Bock

Silver

Widmer Bros. Hefeweizen – American-Style Wheat Beer With Yeast

Old Dominion Spiced Harvest – Pumpkin Beer

Uinta Cutthroat – Ordinary or Special Bitter

Be sure to raise a glass to these winners, and try any of the brews you haven’t gotten a chance to yet. And if you want a chance to try the gold-winning brews by Troegs and Victory, this is the perfect excuse to make the way to their breweries to try the beers right at the source. They’re both a great spot to grab a bite if you’re out holiday shopping, too.

Troegs Tasting Room & Snack Bar: Located in Hershey, Troeg’s tasting room offers visitors the chance to try their various brewed offerings while taking a self-guided tour through the brewing process. And just adjacent to the tasting room is the snack bar, where Troegs partners with different local farms, meat-providers and creameries to bring you delicious foods inspired by their beers.

Victory Brewpubs: Victory has two brewpub locations, one at the original brewery in Downtingtown, one in Kennet Square. Their menu includes regular pub fare with their own twist, sandwiches, soups, and daily menu additions that their chefs come up with. Not to mention, all their brews on tap.

A Brief History of Cider

Thursday, October 2, 2014 | Bold Rock Cider, Cider, Johnny Appleseed, McKenzie's Hard Cider, Stella Artois, Uncategorized

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We’re right in the middle of apple season, so let’s take a minute to talk about a very important fruit and beverage in the history of civilization and particularly our country.

Wild apples have been around for up to 65 million years, appearing around the same time as primitive primates. The modern varieties originated in central Asia, where you can still find domesticated apple’s (Malus domestica) sole ancestor, Malus sieversii. Apple trees, a relative of the rose, have an incredibly complex genome (57,000 genes, as compared to our own 30,000), meaning that a seed planted may produce wildly different apples than those of the tree that begat it. Still, it was for this highly variable fruit that apple trees were one of the first trees to be cultivated by man. They have long held importance in a number of religions, mythologies and stories around the world, being a symbol of anything from forbidden knowledge to fertility. Being an autumn fruit with some varieties that can be kept over-winter in sub-freezing conditions, the apple is one of the most important fruits in Asia and Europe for millennia.

Where exactly cider was first created is up for debate, but we’ve managed to narrow it down to southern England, France and Spain, where cider was being enjoyed by the time the Romans invaded. The oldest orchards, which were made up of planted seeds rather than grafted cuttings, often held such an array of apples that some of them proved to be too bitter for eating. These were the apples that were chosen for the production of cider. Eventually, these varieties were reproduced through the science of grafting, gaining names and known properties in the areas of acidity, tannins, sweetness and aromatics. Many of the most popular cider-making apples originated in Normandy.

When colonists spread through the new world, cider took on a new importance. It was difficult to produce the crops needed for the production of beer in New England, but European apple trees did very well in the climate. Seeds were planted, then wood grafted to create the best cider-making apples, and eventually it became the drink of choice of early American settlers. Because of the dangers of drinking water, everyone drank cider, including children, who got a less-alcoholic version of the beverage.

John Chapman, better known by the moniker Johnny Appleseed, did his part in the spread of apples throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Rather than grafting to create orchards, Chapman seeded nurseries as he went, which lead to many uniquely American varieties of apples, of which the tartest were used to make cider. During the settlement of the Midwest, there were periods when it was required by law to have apple or pear orchards on land in order to hold right to it, because the need for cider was so great. This made land seeded by Chapman high in demand.

The decline of cider only came in the early 1900s, when an influx of German and Eastern European immigrants arrived with a taste for beer over cider. By this time, the land in the Midwest, where barley could be grown easily, had been settled, and refrigerating technologies were improving, making way for a budding beer industry that thrives today.

During prohibition, cideries might have made it through better than their beer and liquor-making counterparts, except that not only was their hard cider production brought to a halt, but producing sweet (non-alcoholic) cider was limited to 200 gallons a year. Prohibitionists took it so far as to burn hundreds of orchards of cider trees, leaving only sweet, eating apple trees in their wake. After the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment, breweries could go back to brewing relatively quickly simply by importing grains and waiting for the next year for their barley to grow. However, it takes decades for a tree to begin producing apples, and by that time, Americans had lost their taste for the drink in favor of beer.

This did not spell the end for cider entirely, though. Since cheap apples are often imported from all around, orchards have begun looking at other ways to stay profitable, including the production of cider. And thus is the resurrection of cider in America. Today, there are a growing number of cideries within the United States, and demand for foreign ciders is also on the rise. A few examples of this new wave of ciders are listed below.

McKenzie’s Hard Cider – Their Original cider is sweeter with a bigger body than ciders of old for a bold apple flavor, but their Green Apple variety has a tart kick to it. They also have a spiced Seasonal Reserve variety perfect for autumn. Additionally, they have Black Cherry, a step away from traditional ciders.

Bold Rock – Their flagship Virginia Draft is brightly flavored and crisp, while their Virginia Apple variety has more of a bite.

Stella Cidre- For an Old World style cider that has a burst of fruity flavors, try Stella Artois’ cidre (no, that is not a typo; it’s pronounced see-druh).

Johnny Appleseed Cider – Named for Mr. Chapman, this cider does not disappoint. Sweet and fizzy, it’s greatly drinkable.

McKenzie’s Black Cherry

Thursday, October 2, 2014 | McKenzie's Hard Cider

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McKenzie’s has turned cider on its head by adding bold black cherry taste over an apple base. Daringly tart over sweet, this pale cider is packed full of flavor and well-bodied. If you’re looking for a cider that’s doing things a little differently, this will certainly not leave you wanting for rich flavor and a juicy, lip-smacking finish. 5% ABV

Cheese and… Beer?

Thursday, October 2, 2014 | Anchor, Beer News, Evolution, Goose Island, Hoegaarden, Lancaster Brewing, Magic Hat, Victory

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Last year, Philly Beer Scene made a whole feature on the topic of beer and cheese pairing. Victory is taking it to a whole new level when they created beer-infused Wisconsin cheddar cheese spreads with Key Ingredient Market. HopDevil and Golden Monkey have been paired with cheddar spread, and Headwaters with cheddar dip for something really special.

And if you’re looking to pair some of your own, try these on for size.

Hoegaarden pairs well with fresh cheeses like feta and gooey, fragrant cheeses like brie, with its fruity, citrus notes and spicy finish. Another one to try alongside these would be Magic Hat’s Circus Boy

Hard, aged cheeses like sharp cheddars and gouda need a strong flavor to match. Goose Island’s IPA and Evolution Lucky 7 stand up to the challenge.

Bleu cheese is varied, and thus, can be paired in a variety of ways. Try it with Lancaster Milk Stout or Anchor’s IPA.

Hoppy Fall

Thursday, September 18, 2014 | Evolution, Ithaca, Prism, Rebates, Troegs, Uinta, Victory

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Hopheads, we’ve got some great news for you! From now until the end of October, there will be a $5 rebate on cases of select IPAs and DIPAs purchased at your local Delaware, Bucks, Montgomery and Berks County Beer Distributors. Simply fill out and mail in this rebate form with the UPC from the case and a dated receipt, and you’ll receive $5 back on up to 2 cases per household. If you’re having trouble deciding which of these fantastically hoppy beers to get, take a look at the descriptions below to get a better feel for them.

Evolution Lot No 3 IPA – Fruity citrus and sharp pine notes sit heavily on a quiet but firm malt backbone in this vigorously hopped brew. 6.8% ABV

Uinta Hop Nosh IPA – Grapefruit is the flavor at the forefront of this IPA, with earthy hops and fruit inflections over a smooth, malty base. 7.3% ABV

Ithaca Flower Power IPA – The flavor starts with rich malts, which flow smoothly into herbal hops in this five-times-hopped ale. 7.5% ABV

Prism Felony IPA – At 100 IBUs with ten different hop varieties, this DIPA isn’t messing around. Hoppy fruit and pine notes dominate, balanced by maltiness. 10% ABV

Victory DirtWolf Double IPA –  Robustly hopped, this ale holds floral nectar, herbal and pine flavors amongst the pleasant bitterness, with slight citrus traits intermixed. 8.7% ABV

Troegs Perpetual IPA – Peppery, piney and grassy. This bold IPA (that’s Imperial Pale Ale) serves up a healthy serving of hops with every sip. 7.5% ABV

Oktoberfest

Thursday, September 18, 2014 | Goose Island, Old Dominion, Susquhanna, Victory

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Can’t make it over to Munich? Want to try your hand at hosting your very own Oktoberfest this year? Well, we’ve got the tips to help you make that happen. This is our official Oktoberfest Party Guide.’

Beverages

Victory Festbier – A favorite local marzen, it’s perfect for this event with its pleasant German malts. 5.6% ABV

Susquehanna Oktoberfest – Another local marzen with caramel and toffee notes, and Bavarian hops to balance the flavor. 6.2% ABV

Goose Island Oktoberfest - Sweet dried fruits, burnt sugar and earthy hops make up the flavor profile of this lager. 6.4% ABV

Dominion Octoberfest Maerzen – Smooth caramel, honey and bready flavors are followed by crisp hops, creating a warm yet refreshing beverage. 5.7% ABV

For the little ones or anyone else who doesn’t drink, you could always serve hot or chilled apple cider, seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg for a perfectly autumnal flavor.

Food

Apart from beer, food is the most important thing about Oktoberfest. Pretzels are a must, the salt and breadiness coupling perfectly with malty beers. This pairs well with mustard, obatzda and weisswurst, a mild, pale sausage made of veal and pork. Of course, you can always use your favorite sort of wurst. For appetizer or buffet-style servings, make or purchase small pretzels, cut one-inch lengths of sausage, and arrange with a dish of mustard and/or obatzda and toothpicks on a fall leaf-colored platter.

For a heartier meal, you could make Bavarian style burgers, using traditional Leberkäse or ground beef with German-style fixings like sauerkraut, pretzel or kaiser rolls, tasty cheeses and of course mustard. Goes great with potato salad.

The natural dessert option here is Lebkuchen hearts, a style of gingerbread cookie decorated with icing, but you could also go with the fall-appropriate apple strudel if you’d rather.

Decorations

Blue and white are the traditional colors of Oktoberfest, typically seen in a lozengy pattern as they are in a variant of the Bavarian flag. This can come in the form of tablecloths, flags, paper plates, hats, etc., all readily available at many party stores and online. For splashes of color that won’t overload the senses, fill beer steins with blue and white flowers, or tie blue and white ribbons around silverware or mug handles.

Speaking of mugs, it’s important that you aren’t drinking out of bottles or plastic cups, since that just isn’t in the spirit of Oktoberfest. Beer steins in glass, ceramic or plastic are perfect for this event, adding to an authentic atmosphere.

The backyard is the perfect spot for your Oktoberfest, and the addition of a pop-up tent or canopy can make it feel less like a yard and more like the fest itself. Using smaller tents, you can designate a biergarten, buffet and dining areas with festive signs.

Activities

Stein Race: Fill a stein with beer (or any liquid), and have contestants race from one side of a field to the other, spilling as little of their beverage as possible. Whoever can fill a most of a bucket at the end of the line in the allotted time wins.

Chicken Dance: Great for kids and adults alike, this silly dance actually started as a German tradition, originally called the Duck Dance.

Barrel Roll: Another traditional Oktoberfest event. Use an empty barrel or keg, and have participants roll it through an obstacle course. The fastest time wins, and points are deducted for losing control of the barrel and crashing into spectators.

Beer Tasting: Set up a table with a variety of the beers you’ve purchased for the occasion and small tasting glasses, allowing party-goers to try a few beers before they pick what they’d like a full glass of. For the full tasting experience, include pretzels and cheeses that pair well with the different brews.

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