My Own Hop Fest Thank You Very Much

The Cider Stalker

I admit it, I am an online cider stalker or better yet, just call me a cider nerd.  I can take it.  I recently came across a cool event that Reverend Nat’s is hosting on Saturday March 29th. The Oregon cidery, located in Portland’s Rose Quarter, is playing host to a one of a kind, Hopped Cider Festival.

This is a perfect representation of collaboration at its best.  Hop heads can chose between 18 different hop-infused ciders.  For specific details see Reverend Nat’s event page here.  Just like all NW cider events, I cannot make it, mainly because I live on the East coast- damn big country of ours.  I’ll have my own damn hopped cider festival.  I knew I had at least one hopped cider at home and low and behold I have three.  I had four but that went down last week.  Sure enough, I have two of the ciders featured on the festival’s tap list. Continue reading

Cider Review – Farnum Hill Summer Cider

Farnum Hill Summer DryYes, I have been slacking recently but since I have taken a position with Great Shoals, I truly feel a part of the cider industry even though my cider cyber presence has been lacking.

Don’t bury me yet!  I am still breathing apples and to prove it I have two posts awaiting your approval.  Here is the first.

I want to give a holler out to Merideth Collins on her new position with Bellwether up in NY.  Looks like we both are riding the cider wave. Like we are becoming the Rat Pack of Cider.  Oh hell, let’s call us the “Cider Pack.”   What a good idea for my next post…

I recently reviewed a cider from Farnum Hill.  It was their Extra Dry and what a cider it was.  After visiting their web site and browsing their other available ciders, I noticed they had a summer selection.  I had to have it so I asked Merideth if she would send one over and like a true player, she did.  The weather will be breaking soon so I wanted to get my summer fix out-of-the-way.

I confess, up until the last 2 years I have dedicated most of my time toward craft beer and have seen a lot of changes over the years.  One of the things the brewers have mastered is the art of seasonal releases.  It reminds me of the produce markets.  Local tomatoes and corn in the summer, pumpkins and apples in the fall and citrus in the winter.

Will the cider folks follow the same path?  I hope so and it looks like some already are.  Strawberries and rhubarb are hitting the blend, Pumpkin and  Spices in the fall. But when I found Farnum Hill’s summer, I just knew this would be my first of many summer seasonals to come.

This is what I expect from a summer cider.  A lighter but not weak body.  Approachable but not bashful flavors. Softer tannins and balanced acidity though I wouldn’t mind a more acidic forward cider.  A quick but not premature finish.  And finally a mature carbonation. Not gassy but not still either.  Lets see how Farnum Hill’s Summer fares.

Summer pours with a champagne appearance, tight and rapid bubbles.  This looked and reminded me of a grand finale during a 4th of July fireworks.  A white thin mousse forms and quickly dissipates.

The bouquet lived up to Farnum Hill’s reputation.  A fresh and clean nose with subtle notes of apple skin, green grape and when I concentrated enough I pulled out a bit of coriander. In the end I was surprisingly hit with a bit of booziness.

I admit I spent a ridiculous amount of time whiffing this amazing cider. Like other Farnum Hill’s ciders, the body was full and creamy.  Carbonation was softer than I expected, probably because I took so long smelling the damn thing.  I bet the following pour will be different.

This reminded me of the ciders from Distillery Lane. The acidity is less intense and gives the body more texture and therefore slows the overall drinking experience.  I got citrus  in the middle and back palate. Well actually, it was lemon only.  Tannins are there but not intimidating.  Complexity is enough to remain a badass cider but light enough to drink as a summer quencher. It definitely had those familiar farmhouse qualities.  The finish was clean and crisp, just as I anticipate a summer style to be.

My overall experience:

When I poured a second glass, the acidity and carbonation was more evident and created a perfect balance.  Lemon and farmhouse qualities stole the show.  Farnum Hill’s Summer had that outside warm weather attitude.  The cider was complex enough but did not over stimulate the senses. Left enough room to enjoy the hot heat and BBQ banter.  If it had a voice, it would have tapped the other ciders on the shoulder and said “Step aside fellas, I got this one.”

Hobbits, Dragons, Pinball And Beer

8272636292_e1820642c7_tThe question I have lost sleep over for 2/3rds of my life…In the ultimate battle, who would reign supreme, Gandolf or Darth Vader?  I may finally have the chance to sleep a full night.

About a year or so ago Ed Morgan from The Dogs Of Beer and I started a local group called Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers. We manage to get together about once or twice a month visiting local bars or attending festivals. A pretty good time if I must say so.

Not only am I a beer geek but I am also a wanna be Sci Fi and Fantasy geek. So taking advantage of the highly anticipated Lord Of The Rings prequel, The Hobbit, I decided we combine the movie with one of the Hobbits favorite past times, beer of course. Continue reading

Punting For Pints – A British Story

Drinking for me is much more than just throwing down a couple beers or getting a quick buzz.

For centuries drinking has been a way to celebrate, mourn, release stress, compliment food, and to accompany socializing.

The latter has been my favorite.  I prefer to imbibe with friends or family.  It is not that much different then eating.  And not many people enjoy eating alone.

But one of my favorite ways to drink is one that follows a memorable experience. Continue reading


For The Love Of Beer And Cheese. Worth A Strip Search?

One of my favorite things about meeting new friends is I can tell those old cool stories that everyone else is sick of.  My blog post is perfect for this so let me tell you how I got myself in the most unusual predicament during a culinary trip to France.

About fifteen years ago,  just before I graduated from The Restaurant School of Philadelphia, the class took a trip to France to experience the amazing food and drink culture in the Burgundy region.  We visited wineries, chateaus, escgarot farms, foie gras farms and ate and drank like kings. Continue reading

Drinking Songs = Crafty's Top Five

Drinking Songs – Crafty’s Favorite Five

If you are meeting me for the first time you will quickly learn how much I love music. I will be honest, I have a hard time doing the simplest tasks sans music; cleaning, working, eating, the computer and especially drinking.

I never really thought about why music and drinking go so well together. Let me clarify what I mean by music and drinking. When I think about pairing booze and music, it is usually in a social setting such as a cookout or at a bar. Even a dinner with friends require music to stimulate the mood.

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Oktoberfest – A Delawarean’s Favorite

Sing Along

“Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit
Ein Prosit,  ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit”

For almost 22 years I have put on my invisible lederhosen, and made my way to the annual Delaware Saengerbund Oktoberfest.

When I hear this repetitious drinking song sung by the traditional Bavarian  folk band,  I just know I have officially arrived. It’s catchy, it’s loud, and it’s fun but what the hell are they saying?

Although I sang my own battered version for years (how sad!), I always got the point.  What do these lyrics mean?  Although this is not a direct translation, you will also get the point.

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Flying Dog

Dogs – A Beer’s Best Friend

A very geeky friend of mine often talked about how cool Dr Who was. I never gave it much thought until earlier this year. I don’t watch much tv but I decided I was in the mood for some Sci Fi,  so I decided to see what the big deal was with Dr Who. Thanks to Netflix, I was able to go back to the first season of the new Dr Who series. I got hooked immediately and watched all 6 seasons in just 2 months.

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How much would a pitcher cost now?

A Day At The Beach – Without Dogfish Head

Say Goodbye To Summer

Well, Pumpkin Beers are out and the evenings are getting cooler so the beach days are pretty much gone but we did manage to get down to the beach recently.   Nothing like the beach right?  Not.  The beach sucks.  I know what you are thinking. What could possibly be wrong with the beach? Let me rephrase.  The way my wife enjoys the beach sucks. 
Here is a typical beach day.  First of all, let me tell you all that we live in Wilmington, DE and usually trek down to Rehoboth, DE, about a 2 hr drive or if you have three girls, 2.5 hours. We get up early enough but here is where the fun, or shall I say the unnecessary tasks, start.  My wife believes in packing the car as if we are camping for a week.  This is what we take:

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“Beer Is Not Good For Your Health”

I have always felt that the best experiences were the ones you don’t expect.

Saturday in Dover, DE at Fordham Brewery, my local Beer Group (Delaware Beer Geeks and Wine Lovers) will be setting up a vender table at The Hogs and Hops Beer Festival.  This was something that was never really planned but my clever co-organizer managed to make a deal with the Hogs and Hops Organizer.

So after procastinating, I finally decided to get a sign. The gentleman that waited on me was a lanky white haired fellow with a serious but friendly expression.  So I enthusiastically told him  we were attending a beer festival Sat and needed a small no fuss sign.

The clerk, very seriously said “Don’t you know drinking is bad for your health?” WTF, did he just say that? I thought good God, a Prohibitionist asshole. But before I knew it, he repeated himself and reached behind the counter and pulled out a cold beer and took a sip. A Grolsch as matter of fact. I just smiled and thought “how cool”, is that allowed?  Who cares.  I am not saying anything. Well I guess I am now. Oops.

He told me people call him “Mr Grolsch”.  From what I gathered, this is the only beer he drinks.  Apparently he and his wife traveled to Holland 30 years ago and tasted a Grolsch  and he hasn’t drank anything else since.

For those of you who don’t know, Grolsch is a premium lager from the Netherlands that comes in a gren bottle with a swingtop lid. Grolsch is a subsiduary of SABMiller. I actually have never had a Grolsch so I can’t say much about it.

Now you know as well as I do that drinking at work is typically frowned upon but not so much in Europe. Well at least it didn’t used to be that way. Just 2 years ago, the workers of Carlsberg in Amsterdam went on strike because they were no longer allowed to drink on duty. They still left them the right to drink one bottle at lunch time. 

So before you jump to conclusions like I did, just pause for a second and wait for the punchline.  “Mr Grolsch” may have one hidden behind his counter.

So what do think? Should drinking be allowed in the office? At lunch?

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