Sunday, December 09, 2007

NJ Beer Passport Stop 2: Harvest Moon Brewery/Cafe, New Brunswick

Harvest Moon is a brew pub in New Brunswick. This was my second stop on the passport. Since it is not a brewery tour (where tastings have minimal, if any, cost), I came prepared to spend money.

The food was good. Really good nachos, I had a huge burrito, and my girlfriend enjoyed her entree as well. Since I'm more interested in the beer, though, we'll discuss that. They currently show nine beers on draft, and me and my girl each knocked back three pints of different varieties to sample their wares.

Hops2 Double IPA - Decent hop character, definitely the hoppiest beer they serve. It lacks balance though, there is not a start to the beer to offset the hops, so the finish is not as crisp as I like. 5.5/10.

British Nut Brown - My girlfriend's first beer, and one of the best of the bunch. Nice deep amber color, sweet start, smooth finish. 8.5/10

Jimmy D's Firehouse Red - My second beer, and my favorite of the day. I like balance to beer, and this one delivers a good balance of malt and hops to deliver a sweet start and a crisp finish. 9/10

Elmes' Mild Manor - Mild definitely describes this beer. Very little in terms of flavor. Amber color, but nothing unlike what you can buy in a six pack labeled "Yuengling Lager". Both my girlfriend and I noted that this beer reminded us a lot of Yuengling. Not necessarily a bad thing, since Yuengling is usually my beer of choice, but not what I expected from a craft brew. 6/10

Oatmeal Stout - Good head, very dark in color. Bitterness is definitely the hallmark of this brew, as the pub notes its coffee accents. Once again, this beer lacks in achieving the balance I enjoy, but it is a pretty good after dinner beer to help pack all the food into your stomach. 7.5/10

Full Moon Pale Ale - A reasonable pale ale offering, given mostly towards sweetness. Much lighter in character than most of the other beers we drank, and only the IPA came close in terms of color. Very good initial taste, but not enough hops for my liking. Definitely a beer I would recommend for people who have drank the Bud/Miller/Coors macros and wanted a microbrew that wouldn't overwhelm their taste buds. 7/10

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New Jersey Beer Passport stop 1 - Flying Fish Brewery, Cherry Hill

I got my New Jersey Beer Passport this past Saturday. The idea behind this passport is to visit each of the craft breweries/brewpubs in New Jersey, and get your "passport" stamped by each business. After receiving 12 stamps, you qualify for a prize. I'm shooting for all 16. For more information on the New Jersey Beer Passport, visit here. I'll use this space to give my own (rather unrefined yet strong) opinions and reviews of the brews I sample as I visit breweries and brewpubs around the Garden State.

My visit to Flying Fish was actually the second stop on my quest for a passport. I had gone to the River Horse Brewery in Lambertville in September to get my passport and a stamp, but they were out of passports. Oh darn, guess I'll have to go back and drink more beer!

But anyway, the Flying Fish Brewery puts on a fairly decent tour for being a small brewery. They only run tours on Saturday afternoons, but it's a pretty nice setup. You go in to the brewery, ask questions, get to see their operation, and then (best part) taste their beer! Well, we did the beer tasting part first, because we got there while they were running another tour, so we spent time in the gift shop sampling their brews.

They have about 4 or 5 brews available at any given time. The four I sampled were their flagship Extra Pale Ale, their ESB ale, their Grand Cru Winter Reserve, and a Belgian Style Dubbel. They also had HopFish, a very good IPA, available to sample, but I had a sixer of that in my fridge, so I was more interested in tasting what I didn't have.

Grand Cru Winter Reserve - Fairly light in color, which was somewhat of a surprise to me, as most of the "winter" styled beers I've come across are darker and heavier. Very smooth, nice blend of hops and malts. I picked up a fruity taste, which the Flying Fish website attributes to the temperature the beer ferments at, not any actual fruit in the beer. Still, I like my winter beers to be a bit heavier and have a little more body. 6.5/10.

Extra Pale Ale - Yellow in color, as was to be expected. Has a very good smell to it. The aromas of malt and hops are immediately distinctive, which is important to get the flavor right in any sort of light-colored beer. Very well balanced, with a light, sweet start but a good, bitter finish. This brew is probably the one most readily available in a bar setting, and is also available at Citizen's Bank Park and is one of my favorite beers to drink there. 9/10.

ESB Ale - A pretty good offering in the ESB category. Darker than the EPA, with a good blend of malts bringing the color to a copper hue. Fine smelling. The taste is a little on the light side. Neither the first Flying Fish I'd reach for (give me their IPA) nor the first ESB I'd go for (Red Hook, please), still a good beer to have every once in a while. 7/10.

Dubbel - Very, very good brew. Strong smell, very thick head when poured. It is very complex in its flavors, and leaves more of a sweet aftertaste than a bitter one. This is pretty interesting to me, because I don't get much of a sweet taste at the start of the beer. 9/10.

HopFish IPA - Excellent IPA. I am a huge IPA fan, and am always looking for different brewers' takes on this classic English style. This one brings a very strong hop character to the table. The malts used do a lot to bring a nice start to this beer, but the hops definitely take over to provide that strong, bitter kick that is a hallmark of this style of brew. Perhaps a bit too sweet for some IPA enthusiasts, I still like the range of flavors this brew provides, and at time of sampling, this is my favorite brew produced by this fine Cherry Hill brewery. 9.5/10

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Random sporting thoughts of the week

Good Riddance, Asshole, Part 1
Terrell Owens is writing a tell-all book about how the Eagles disrespected him. He got "$10 mil up front", which equates to about $3 million less than he had the potential to earn in Philadelphia in '06 ($5 million roster bonus, $770,000 salary, $6.5 million in bonuses; source), but good for him. Who needs to work for money when some moron is willing to give it to you just for the hell of it? I'd love to see the book in another year and a half when he gets disrespected by the Cowboys for not paying him as much as the Eagles would have.

The one thing that really excites me about this is that Dallas' front office is hardly the clandestine organization that the Eagles' is. You'd think Jeff Lurie was running some kind of illegal government wiretapping, instead of an NFL franchise. Jerry Jones won't be so quiet when TO flips his lid. And you know it's going to happen. Bill Parcells likes to run the ball first. Terry Glenn needs touches, and Jason Witten is one of the better tight ends in the NFL. Add in the fact that Dallas' offensive line wasn't that good last year and won't be any better, and Bledsoe isn't any less immobile than he was last season, and you'll be lucky (or fortunate, depending on whether or not you're a Cowboys fan)to see TO make it a full season before he's doing sit-ups in his driveway in Arlington.

Good Riddance, Asshole, Part 2
Billy Wagner signed with the Mets to be their closer this offseason. Apparently he had issues with how "knowledgeable" Phillies fans are (source). You'd think someone like this, who has played in Shea plenty the last couple seasons would have noticed the morons there. I can't wait until they jump on his back after his second stint on the disabled list this season.

I'm not sure what the context of this comment was, but one theory floating around message boards is the way some fans would act disappointed when Wagner would "only" hit 97-99 on the Citizens' Bank radar gun. After years of Jeff Brantley's smoke and mirros act, along with watching the likes of Heathcliff Slocumb, Jose Mesa, and Ricky Bottalico closing games, some fans got excited about having an elite closer with 100mph stuff, and liked to see it.

Wagner may have also had issues with how often "Eagles!" chants pepper Phillies games. Given the way the Phils have mismanaged their organization since the strike, and the success the Eagles have enjoyed (for the most part) since '01, this shouldn't be much of a surprise. The Eagles have made five playoff trips, along with four division titles, since the turn of the new century. The Phillies haven't been in the playoffs since '93. Fan frustration does not equate to knowledge.

Granted, there are tons of idiots on sports talk radio in Philadelphia, on both ends of the phone. If Wagner thinks that will change on the other end of the Turnpike, he's in for a not-so-pleasant surprise when he turns on the Fan. But whatever.

Basically, fuck both you assholes. I can't wait to show my lack of knowledge towards Wagner when I get to boo him at CBP this season, and I hope the Eagles re-sign Tim Hauck and re-install the Veterans' Stadium turf before Dallas comes to Philly this season.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

We are completely insane

Okay, is it normal for two totally sober (I'm going to assume sobriety on Kurt's part) mid-20s guys to have a debate on the outcome of a cage match between Bigfoot and a grizzly bear? This took up a good ten minutes of phone conversation tonight.

Kurt thinks that Bigfoot's size will play into its advantage. He says that some woman in Tennessee claims to have seen one that was 8'12" (that's nine feet everywhere outside of Tennessee).

I say that the mere fact that there are tons of bears all over the place, and maybe only a couple pussy little Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) hiding out in the woods from the bears, shows who the truly dominant species is. A grizzly would whup Bigfoot's ass, like the bears do on a regular basis.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Drinking Story: New Year's Eve '03-'04

This New Year's was interesting, in that I was finally able to hang out with friends of legal age at bars. The '01-'02 New Year's, Aidan and I were dodging bouncers on South Street, and I was stuck on campus with the basketball team during the '02-'03 New Year's, and they were all underage. The '03-'04 New Year's Eve also started what has become a holiday tradition: drinking with Kurt and Dan.

Dan worked at the ABC (liquor) store that year, so he was in charge of the pre-party arrangements. We were going to use my house as our home base, because there were a bunch of bars and a club of sorts all within relative walking distance of my place. Kurt came by first, and naturally we started drinking. Dan came by with a bunch of airplane bottles of booze, so we also each did two shots before we left.

We hit up two of the bars by my place, which were both totally dead. We were walking to the next place when Kurt realized he lost his driver's license. So we had to walk all the way back to the parking lot, and start looking around. We found it pretty quickly, and then went to the clubbish spot, Lucky 32's. For some ungodly reason, Lucky's was treating New Year's Eve like a regular night, in that they were closing like it was a regular weekday. We were all incredulous. Biggest drinking night of the year, and this place can't be bothered to stay open.

Undaunted, we decided to make the 10-minute drive downtown to the other clubs. We got into one place just before midnight, and there were at least girls in this one. We got drinks, and went to work. I saw Kurt talking to a group of three girls, and then just walk away. Considering they were all at least reasonably attractive, I figured I'd see what the deal was. I went over, and started talking. I don't remember exactly how the conversation went, but I remember they said something about Kurt claiming to go to Duke (and not Guilford, like he really did), and so I just jumped right into the game, and said something about doing postgrad work (possibly law school) at Duke. Keep in mind, I was working some bullshit jub at the time. What really makes it funny was that these girls all went to Virginia Tech. That's not the funny part. What's funny is that when Kurt found out about this, according to the girls, he put his thumb down and walked away. I tried not to break out into hysterical laughter right there. I talked to the girls for a while, and was doing reasonably well for myself. Dan noticed, and walked over as I went to grab a drink. When I came back, Dan was there by himself. Given that Dan wasn't set up with an easy fastball like I was (the girls asked me if I went to Duke like Kurt said he did), he didn't know the bullshit Kurt had gotten us into. The girls asked Dan where he went to school, and he said Guilford. When asked how he knew us, he said that we all went to school together. So much for those girls.

The rest of the night can be pretty much summed up as the three of us all having varying degrees of success meeting girls. Kurt met up with some chick he used to go to High Point U. at the club, and they spent a good while dancing. I vaguely remember that. I got some girl's number. I think she had a kid, maybe two. That one didn't get much further than that.

Leaving the bar was an absolute nightmare. Kurt apparently left before both of us. He got in touch with Katy, his girlfriend of sorts, who came and picked him up. We still aren't sure why Kurt didn't come back with me and Dan, since he had to make it back to my house that night anyway. Dan left the bar a couple minutes before I did, and when I tried to call the number he gave me, it wound up being his apartment number, as opposed to his cell phone number, so that obviously was no help finding him outside the bar. I tried calling Kurt, and found out that he had taken Katy the complete wrong way to my house, and was in fact taking her by our old apartment on the other side of town. Apparently, some of Kurt's "directions" were "Fuck it, just go straight" and "Let me out here, I'll walk the rest of the way". I have no idea how he or Katy found my house that night.

I had a relative moment of clarity at this point, and decided to walk to where Dan had parked his car. I figured this way I'd at least run into him, or figure out if it was time to call a cab at that point. Dan's car was still in the lot, so I headed back to the bar, where I ran into Dan standing outside. We went back to his apartment to pick up booze, and then went to this girl's apartment so Dan could smoke weed. I think Kurt called me at like 3 in the morning to let me know he'd made it back to my house. In case you can't tell, a lot of that night is REALLY hazy for me.

I think Kurt had to work at like 8 the next morning. Sucked to be him.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Drinking Story: Binford Hall Crawl

Guilford College changed its alcohol policies drastically during my four years on campus. When I graduated, you could only drink in public out of a sippy-style cup, and only if you were 21. My freshman year, entire dorms were involved in throwing parties for anyone who could stand up straight enough to drink. Those were good times.

Second semester of my freshman year, Binford Hall had a hall crawl. The "hall crawl" got its name from two things: one, the entire hall got involved; two, you were crawling to the next room by the end of the night.

The fact that this was during the second semester is important due to the fact that I was still on the baseball team at the time, and we had a doubleheader the next day. I somehow talked myself into believing that I could party there until about 12 or 12:30, and be fine to wake up at nine and be on time for batting practice. Nothing else really mattered, I was buried deep on the depth chart at catcher, so it wasn't like I was in danger of having to play.

The party started on the third floor of Binford. One of my friends had tequila shots and margaritas in her room, so of course I have a couple shots and a margarita. Another girl was serving Sex on the Beach. Me, my roommate Adam, and my friend John were all in her room when she ran out of mixers. She threw out all the empty mixer stuff, and headed out into the rest of the party, leaving Adam, John, and I staring at about half a bottle of vodka. The wheels started churning right away. Somebody mentioned that taking the rest of the bottle would be an asshole move, so we decided to compromise and only fill up a red Solo cup with vodka. The vodka went straight back to my room, where we started doing carbonated shots (half vodka, half orange or grape soda, shaken up).

I kept one eye on the clock all through this. It was now around 11pm, still plenty of time. We went back to Binford. The party had since moved down to the first floor. The room we wound up in was chock-full of alcohol. There were four handles of Cuervo on the table, and the bookshelf on the wall was lined with pre-mixed two-liter bottles of Captain Morgan and Coke. Me and my friends set gleefully into the tequila, chasing the shots with the traditional lime, and then with Captain and Coke. Needless to say, that hour flew by pretty quick.

The rest of the night is pretty much a blur. I remember leaving the party, going home, and passing the fuck out. There aren't any other details. Apparently there was a fire drill that night. The jury is still out on whether or not I made it out of the room for that, as Adam didn't make it back to the room that night. I woke up in what would have been plenty of time to make it to batting practice on time, but I had one major issue: I was still drunk. I damn near passed out in the shower trying to sober up a little before I went out there, and wound up being about 10 minutes late. As I said, though, I was in no danger of playing. I spent most of that doubleheader sitting by the water cooler, drinking as much water as my body could take in. Warming up pitchers was a bitch that day. My eyes had issues with trying to see out of the mask while it was on, but had no problem with "seeing" the mask in front of my face after I took it off.

I also had one of the best rounds of BP in my life that day. Go figue.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

One humble fan's NFL predictions

Just my $.02 on the NFL this season. As an Eagles fan, I'm just happy that football season is upon us, so I can finally stop hearing Redskins fans talk about the Redskins winning the division this season. It's actually happened. And I don't think it was the liquor talking, either.

AFC East
1) NY Jets (10-6): This is the toughest division in football, but I think the Jets are ready to dethrone the Pats. Chad Pennington absolutely has to stay healthy though, or the division champ could well be the...

2) Buffalo Bills (9-7): That's right. This team is that good. Great defense and a good ground game. JP Losman is the only real question on this team, but quarterback is also a fairly important position. Willis McGahee is obviously the key to this team's success.

3) New England Patriots (9-7): Too talented to fall completely out of the playoff hunt, but too many questions in the coaching department. Bill Parcells hasn't won a playoff game without Bill Belichek coordinating his defense. I don't see how Belichek is going to get over the loss of both of his coordinators that quickly. Quick, who were his coordinators in Cleveland?

4) Miami Dolphins (5-11): Gus Frerotte or AJ Feeley? Ricky's curveball only crowds the backfield, and doesn't help them at QB. They'll stink for another year or two.

AFC Central
1) Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3): The best in the conference last year, except for the "any given Sunday" at the end of January. Roethlisberger is the real deal. He should get this team back to another AFC Championship game.

2) Cincinnatti Bengals (9-7): People are writing off the Bengals because of the preseason. I'm not buying it completely. Cincy has too many weapons to not finish above .500. The Johnsons (Chad and Rudi) alone keep this team in any game.

3) Baltimore Ravens (8-8): Good defense, just don't know how quickly they'll take to the 46 defense. The biggest problem with this defense is that it can lead to big plays for the opposing offense. The Ravens' D better gamble right a lot, because their O won't keep them in many games.

4) Cleveland Browns (3-13): The Big Dawg lost a lot of weight. And the Browns are bad.

AFC South
1) Indianapolis (12-4): Hey, Peyton Manning, guess what? Bill Belichek won't beat you up and steal your playoff lunch money this season! Bill Cowher will instead. The Peyton Manning Face will be seen this January as he walks to the visitors' sideline at Heinz Field.

2) Houston Texans (9-7): Let the David Carr coming out party begin! This is Carr's make-or-break season. He's got the weapons on offense, and a reasonably competent defense. If the Texans aren't in the hunt at the end of the season, look for them to begin the hunt for a new franchise QB.

3) Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10): Some people think these guys are good. I don't.

4) Tennessee Titans (4-12): The Titans have been hit hard by cap woes, injuries, and free agency. Jeff Fisher will build this team back. If the front office lets him.

AFC West
1) Oakland Raiders (11-5): These guys are the outdoor version of the Colts and Rams. Lots of firepower, both on and off the field. Randy Moss admits to smoking pot. So he gets sent to California! What are the odds that Moss drives Kerry Collins back to the bottle?

2) Kansas City Chiefs (9-7): I wonder if Dick Vermiel is thanking the knee that it decided to get injured (That's a thinly-veiled jab at recently released WR Freddie Mitchell). Kansas City's defense still has a lot to prove before we pencil them into a playoff spot.

3) San Diego Chargers (8-8): The Chargers come back to earth a little this year. I just don't think Drew Brees is really as good as he played last year. He's not as bad as he was in '03, but I think last year was just a flash in the pan.

4) Denver Broncos (6-10): Jake Plummer sucks. And Ashley Lelie is the only weapon in the passing game, but he can't do anything other than run straight down the field. The Broncos will still be able to run the ball, however.

NFC East
1) Philadelphia Eagles (12-4): The most substantial loss this team has taken so far is the injury to WR Todd Pinkston, who was relatively unremarkable last year. The TO soap opera has died down some, but just wait until the first loss. Still, the only team in the NFC that's any real threat to the Eagles isn't on their regular season schedule.

2) Dallas Cowboys (9-7): Some people have anointed the Cowboys as Super Bowl contenders. I don't see this team as any better than the '03 team that got stomped by Carolina in the first round of the playoffs. The players and the coordinator are not used to the defense Parcells wants to run. Dallas will get off to a fast start, but fade down the stretch.

3) New York Giants (6-10): Dear Tom Coughlin, Thank you for choosing the wrong quarterback. Sincerely, Eagles fans.

4) Washington Redskins (5-11): Joe Gibbs should get back to NASCAR. Or get the hell away from the train wreck in Northern Virginia. Washington wasn't good last year, and they'll be worse this year.

NFC North
1) Minnesota Vikings (10-6): The defense is bad. The offense has to deal with the loss of two major weapons in Onterrio Smith and Randy Moss. The rest of the NFC North is abysmal, though, so Minnesota should be able to win the division.

2) Green Bay Packers (8-8): The best of the trash. Brett Favre better retire before his offensive line gets him killed.

3) Detroit Lions (7-9): Joey Harrington is on a much shorter leash than David Carr. If only the Lions hadn't drafted a WR in the first round, like they have the past 18 drafts, they might be able to really get some pressure on Joey.

4) Chicago Bears (4-12): Bringing in Chad Hutchinson as an insurance policy at QB backfired big-time on Chicago. Grossman is out for most of the season, and rookie Kyle Orton is now the starting QB, as Hutchinson got cut. In fairness to the Bears, though, there wasn't much else out there.

NFC South
1) Carolina Panthers (13-3): The most complete team in the NFC this season. Injuries robbed them of a chance to defend their division crown, and bad officiating robbed them of a chance to make the playoffs and defend their conference title. Carolina should roll through the division.

2) Atlanta Falcons (10-6): The Eagles and Panthers have shown teams the light: take away the run, and make Mike Vick throw. Vick can make plays with his arm. It's almost even money on whether the play will be good or bad, though.

3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): Tampa is on the right road with rebuilding. They will begin to see payoffs this year, and they should be playoff contenders in '06.

4) New Orleans Saints (5-11): The Saints have nowhere to call home. That's going to loom big for these guys. One of their "home" dates has already been given to the visiting team. Gee, I wonder if there will be more Giants or Saints fans at the Saints' home opener in Giants Stadium?

NFC West
1) Seattle Seahawks (10-6): Mostly on the back of Shaun Alexander, who is playing for a big payday in '06. After watching teammate Walter Jones get the franchise tag for seemingly the last ten offseasons, Alexander got the 'Hawks to agree not to tag him next year as part of his signing the tender.

2) Arizona Cardinals (9-7): Laugh all you want. The Giants were in the playoff hunt until the Eli Manning Experiment started. Kurt Warner is now under the tutelage of a guy who resurrected old gunslingers like Jeff George and Randall Cunningham. Arizona has a slew of good young WRs too.

3) Saint Louis Rams (8-8): Could be higher. If their head coach wasn't Mike Martz. Some people think Tice is the worst coach in the league. I think Tice might be the dumbest, but he knows his limitations. Martz is worse in my book, simply because he doesn't realize quite how dumb he is.

4) San Francisco 49ers (2-14): Wow. These guys used to be good. I mean, really good. Now, they're horrendous.

Wild Card
Oakland over Buffalo
Kansas City over NY Jets
Pittsburgh over Kansas City
Indianapolis over Oakland
Conference Championship
Pittsburgh over Indianapolis

Wild Card
Atlanta over Minnesota
Seattle over Dallas
Philadelphia over Seattle
Carolina over Atlanta
Conference Championship
Carolina over Philadelphia

Carolina over Pittsburgh