Thursday, October 25, 2007

Shoreline Mug Club Party

On Sunday, Shoreline Brewery held a party for the mug club members at Washington Park in Michigan City. We were wondering how they were going to get all the mugs over to the park without breaking them, because that would be unfortunate if someone's mug got broken. Sure, you could always get another mug, but since the mugs are so unique, it would be kind of sad if one did break.

No worries, once we got there everyone was drinking out of pint-sized white plastic cups. Made sense. They had a four keg set up with the Beltaine (Scottish Ale), Li-Ko-Ki-We (Kolsch), Queen Mum (Double IPA), and the Dim-Wit (Uh, Wit Ale).

Plus, they had all you can eat ribs and chicken, as well as a really good crab dip with some sweet crackers, and some pasta salad. I think there was some smoked salmon and chocolates for desert. My wife, at one point, asked Sam, the proprietor, what was for desert, and he said, "Beer."

There were two sets of bags (or for you rural Indianans, "cornhole") games set up, but other than that, it was set up for people to meet and talk to each other. It was a nice day, as well.

On a Busman's Holiday

Sporting New T-Shirts

The Gathering

Close Up


Sam The Brewer in Shades and Visor

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Beer #1

My friend John has been talking about brewing beer for a while now. We got together about three weeks ago, and when I say we I mean my friend Adam, John, me, and the kids. The kids didn't really help out except for playing in the backyard and letting the process happen. And, of course, taking off all their clothes and running around naked.
We've tried the beer in all of its stages. On Saturday night, we loaded it up with CO2 and put the keg in the fridge. So it should be good to go any day now.

It's a pale ale, but not so pale. Smells very hoppy and kind of musty in a good beer way. The taste is smooth, just a tiny bitterness. Pretty good for a first beer, I think.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Magic Hat

They have a brewery in South Burlington, Vermont called Magic Hat. I haven't gone to the brewery, but on a recent vacation to Syracuse, New York, I discovered a few of their beers.

Whenever I go to a new region, the first thing I do, beerwise, is find out where they sell beer. Not all states sell beer in liquor stores. Some only sell wine and liquor, as is the case in New York. Beer is thus considered a "grocery" if you live in New York. The second thing I do is go to where the beer is and see what is there.

There was a lot of good beer at the P&C Grocery near where Aunt Helen lives. However, it was only scratching the service, once I discovered Wegman's. Anyhow, I just wanted to get a sixer, and there it was, Magic Hat #9. I couldn't remember where I read about this beer, only a statement like, "and up in Vermont, they like their beer with a little bit of apricot, such as the Magic Hat #9." So I was pretty excited about being able to try this beer. Only thing is I hate getting six of something I've never tried. I thought maybe I should get the Saranac sample, but I really wanted to try the #9, so I got it instead.When I tried it, I was a little disappointed. It was neat, but I didn't think it was really anything that special.

Also, when I got to the house where we were hanging out that evening, they also had a couple of bottles of the Circus Boy hefeweizen there. Usually, I am leary of American hefeweizens and wheat beers. Except for Three Floyd's Gumballhead Wheat, I've usually been less than impressed. So, overall, I wasn't too impressed with Magic Hat.

Not that I was willing to give up on them. While there, we went to Dinosaur Barbecue, which in itself is an experience. They had Magic Hat Jinx on tap there. Abbe had tasted both the #9 and Circus Boy, and enjoyed them. She ordered a Jinx while we were waiting for our table. I got it for her, and when they poured it, I thought, "It sure looks kind of dark." After I tasted it, though, I thought she would like it. Sort of smokey flavor with a little annis and fruit aftertaste. She did like it.

On the way out of town, we picked up 2 twelve-packs of their Night of the Living Dead samplers. The sampler contained 3 each of the Circus Boy, Jinx, #9, and a Mystery Beer. After we got back, I did some research and it appears that they were serving this Mystery Beer on tap at their brewery, and it was a Double Abbey. I tried it without knowing this, and thought that it was some kind of IPA with a sweeter aftertaste, like many of their beers.

click for larger image Last night I had another Mystery Beer (still great) and a Circus Boy. I really wasn't looking forward to the Circus Boy, but this time I drank it slowly while editing the genres of the songs on iTunes. I really like it. It's got a nice, wheaty taste, with slight banana hints, and a smooth honey flavor, almost. I could really have gone for putting a lemon in the glass for a final enhancement.

It's funny, because Magic Hat appears to be very good at making light, drinkable ales. A lot of brewers are going for big beers these days. "This is a double imperial IPA that has 21% alcohol by volume (ABV)." Which, is nice, if you want to share it or just take a nap. But I really can appreciate what Magic Hat is doing, and I would totally recommend trying anything by these folks, especially if you want an enjoyable sipping beer. I'm glad Magic Hat isn't trying to bash me over the head with their product, but provide very tasty and flavorful beer.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Shoreline Brewery

I work in Michigan City, Indiana. When I first moved here, I was told that a new brewery had just opened in Michigan City called Shoreline Brewery. The guy I replaced, who moved on to a corporate job in Houston, Texas, told me about it. He appreciates good beer. Luckily, for me, my family was still living three hours away in Illinois, so I was able to partake in the goodness of this locale for about a week.

I highly recommend Shoreline. During that first week, I met Sam, the owner and brewer. He's a good guy, and definitely a businessman. He's not interested in putting out an inferior product and cruising under the craft beer name. Motherfucker won the Silver Medal at the 2006 World Beer Cup for Best Scottish Ale. And the Beltaine, as it's called, my friends, is well worth the visit to this fine establishment.
On my first visit to this place, I was sitting at the bar next to the head food guy of the restaurant. He gave me the menu, and I was impressed with his concoctions. He told me I was sitting at the most interesting spot at the bar, the "cut". They actually pulled the bar out of an old speakeasy that was made during prohibition, but had to cut the bar to get it out of the basement where it was located.

The beer just seems to get better at this place. I seem to only visit on average once every 3 months, but when I do, I'm never disappointed. Sam made a beer called the Drunken Toad once. It was a total experiment in hop-headiness. I could barely get through a 5 oz sample before moving on. It was that hoppy.

There is also the Singing Sands Oatmeal Stout. A very nice, dark, brown beer that has an awesome palate and is beautiful to look at in the glass. This year, Sam took some of the Drunken Toad, mixed it with the Singing Sands, and put it in a bourbon barrel. For at least 5 months, if not 6. Served in a 10 oz glass, this will rock your world. This may not be Three Floyd's Dark Lord, but it is soooo nice. I don't know if it was the Singing Sands or the bourbon barrel, but the mixture mellows the Toad out very swell-ly.

This very evening, I was dining there with my family, mother-in-law, and wife's aunt when my wife asked if I would like a Shoreline Brewery t-shirt for my birthday. I told her that would be nice, but I would really like to become a member of the mug club, which costs $100 cash. To make a long story short, both the wife and myself are now mug club members. Check out the sweet mugs we got:

This is Abbe's mug. I kind of think the bubbles in the bottom are sort of girly. It's a nice mug and I think it fits her personality well. All the mugs hold more than a pint, but you only paint the pint price when you are in the mug club. The actual cost of each mug is $65, so if you move away, the mug is yours. I should have taken a picture of the mug with the beer inside because it actually enhances the color of each mug. I got a wit beer in mine, and the bartender and waitresses were like, "You should get a darker beer, because that would really bring out the color in your mug." All I know is that these mugs are really awesome to drink from. Nice works of art, not heavy, and they fit your hand very nicely. The mug you see here is a 20 oz mug. Not bad.

My mug was a little larger at 22 oz. That means I should be able to pour a whole bomber into the thing. Unfortunately, they don't pour bombers at Shoreline. Oh well, looks like I'll just have to drink more beer from the tap! I got a real cool swirly bottom on mine that I forgot to photograph. The bottom of the mug is the killer part. You think you're almost done with it, and then you hit the well at the bottom, which is like a whole 'nother 6 ounces. It's creeper!

This was the sweetest gift I think I ever got from my wife, and I am so glad she went in on the deal as well. She really is my best friend and we both love drinking beer.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

My Beer Philosophy

My Beer Manifesto. My Beer Goals. My Beer Philosophy. Beer, beer, beer. Other than my family, a few sports, and music, beer is my favorite thing to talk about, study, and admire.

My first real beer experience came as a teenager living in Germany. I had swore as a youngster when my dad offered me a drink of his Coors that I would never touch beer. I thought, at the age of 8, that it tasted "gross." Fast forward to 1983. I was in 8th grade, hanging out with my friend, Robert DiNardo. We went to the movies with a bunch of 9th graders. I think it was "Zapped" with Scott Baio. After the movies, we went down to the American Arms hotel in Wiesbaden. Our friend, Lars, had a roll of quarters. In the basement of the American Arms there was a soda machine which also carried cans of BUDWEISER. One of the kids produced a white pillow case and went downstairs with Lars. Another couple of kids stood at the top of the staircase as "lookouts." Lars either used up the entire roll of quarters to buy 50 cent cans of Budweiser or pushed the button until no more Bud came out. There were about 30 of us, so I think I got a sip. It didn't do anything for me. Some kids were drinking it, closing their eyes and spinning. To this day, I'm not sure if that did anything except make them dizzy.

Eventually, we moved on to the bars about a year later (no drinking age in Germany. Well, there is, but at 10 p.m. the bartender comes around and asks, "Are you 18?" and you answer, "Ja." He brings you another beer.) and drank our fill of pils, export, and a few weizen beers.

I'm sure I'll continue with the history and development of my beer tastes in other posts, but I want to get down to the nitty gritty.

My Philosophy

There are so many kinds of beer in the world today, that it's a shame that there isn't a beer store with every kind of beer in it, so you didn't have to search for it.  But someone once said that "It's not getting there, it's the journey itself, that makes life worth living."  Or something like that.  Good philosophy to live by, good beer philosophy.

So my goals on this blog are to share my feelings on the beers I drink and brew, but to also discuss how I came by the beers.  I will discuss my favorite kinds and the merits of each.  I will try new kinds and suggest that you also expand your palate and try different kinds of beer.  Because, although its okay to drink Miller Lite all the time, it's not very interesting.  Or original.  That would be like listening to AC/DC all the time.  AC/DC is not a bad band, in fact, I quite enjoy all the stuff Bon Scott did with them.  However, AC/DC was a good starting point for me to jump off into the world of music.

I used to say I only had three beers I liked:

1. Free
2. Cold
3. Everything Else

While in theory, this remains true, the fact is that over the past year I've sort of tried to get away from drinking typical beers (those that are easily available from any small town grocer), and try to drink something different every week, while falling back on the really good stuff I've found.

Every time I travel somewhere, I will seek out and bring back beer from the region I visit, if possible.  With restrictions on liquid in airplanes, this may be a bit more difficult.

I also hope to invite other bloggers (or could we call them, "bLAGERS?") to post here every once in awhile.  Hopefully, this will be people in regions I can't quite get to.  

I want to develop a network of people who appreciate good beer in the NW Indiana region.  Hopefully people who have families and are at the same place in their lives as I am.  Not that I have anything against single people or people without kids.  It's just that family is priority to me, not going out on the night on the town.

So like Jeff Tweedy said in Hell is Chrome:  "Come with me."