Our First Tavour Haul

img_2204As dedicated online shoppers and craft beer geeks, we couldn’t resist trying out Tavour – a site that helps you gain access to rare craft beer that you may not otherwise see in your neck of the woods. Each day, Tavour sends two notifications with featured beers that day that you can choose to add to your shipping crate. These beers vary based on your location, and they favor parts of the country that you may not often visit. We are located in Pennsylvania, and we saw a wide range of mid-west and west coast beers featured, including a number from Washington and even Alaska. The range of beer styles was impressive; everything from red ales to Belgians to triple IPAs were available. We ended up with a great selection including beers from the mid-west, west coast, and Alaska.

These were our picks:

img_2206(L to R: Oakshire Brewing Drop Bear IPA (OR; $8.99); BuckleDown Brewing Citra Clencher (IL; $4.00); Bale Breaker Bottom Cutter Imperial IPA (WA; $4.00); Anchorage Brewing Company Within Us Double IPA (AK; $6.99); Anchorage Brewing Company Pie Assassin IPA (AK; $6.50); Bale Breaker Fresh off the Farm IPA 5th Anniversary (WA; $3.50); Boxing Bear Brewing Co The Red Glove Imperial Red Ale (NM; $12.99)).

img_2673As you can see, our selection skewed more towards hoppy varieties; however, there were plenty of other styles featured in Tavour. One of our favorites of the group was the Red Glove Imperial Red from Boxing Bear. It nicely married the piney hop flavor with a light malt sweetness. It’s a gold medal winner from the GABF 2016 and well-deserved. The two varieties from Bale Breaker showcased a wide range of different hop varieties, perfect for hopheads like us. The Citra Clencher from Buckledown is the quintessential crushable summer IPA with a refreshing fruit-forward profile. Anchorage Brewing clearly has their IPA game on point; Pie Assassin offered a nice creaminess to balance the bitter and citrus notes, while Within Us gave us a hefty smack of dank and juicy hops. We also enjoyed the Drop Bear IPA which highlighted Australia’s Galaxy hop varietal; the adorable bottle art definitely didn’t hurt either. If you aren’t familiar with the dangers of drop bears, be sure to protect yourself if you are ever traveling down under.

img_2617Overall, we found that the beers were excellent, the shipping was quick and straightforward, and the selection was unrivaled. We’d recommend you giving it a shot if you are interested in finding some rare beers from other parts of the country. This program is an ideal fit for people who are open to spending a bit more for rare craft beer; while buying a case at your local beer shop of course is cheaper than using Tavour, you will not see the rare options if you only shop close by. It is free to sign up and is NOT a subscription service – you simply start a crate whenever you want. You pay for the beers as you add them to the crate and then you will be charged the flat rate once it ships ($14.90). They also have a nice referral program that can give you $10 in credits per friend referred, which goes a long way! **If you click on our referral link, you will also get a $10 credit once your first box ships.** FYI, be sure to have it shipped to an address where someone over 21 can sign for it (we used a work address).

Planning on trying Tavour, or have you tried it before? Let us know in the comments!


Bethany and Mike

B1rthr1ght Brew1ng Hits the Ground Running

Something feels different in the air in the quaint, sleepy downtown of Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Could it be the throngs of new faces dipping into the local businesses along the historic main roads? Town gossip about wood fired pizzas and local beer? A subtle scent of hops and malted grains in the air? Thanks to B1rthr1ght Brew1ng Company, the answer is all of the above. B1rthr1ght Brew1ng opened at 57 S. Main Street in early February 2018 after years of planning and preparation. It is the first brewery to open its doors in the town of Nazareth, and it has already taken a lead in breathing fresh air into the historic downtown. We recently visited the brewery to check out the new space, imbibe some brews, and chat with brewmaster Wayne Milford.

img_1879Wayne has an impressive resume when it comes to brewing. He has over 20 years of brewing experience under his belt, including a long stint with Dogfish Head, a tour of brewing with some heavy-hitting European breweries, and designing and establishing six different craft breweries around the country. As if that wasn’t enough, he also has a degree in Intensive Brewing Science from Vermont’s American Brewers Guild. At long last, B1rthr1ght Brew1ng represents Wayne’s time to fully embrace his knowledge and passion with a brewery of his own. Ask Wayne about his brewing technique, and his love for all things beer becomes immediately palpable. His expertise extends to all aspects of the brewing process, including harvesting, testing, and utilizing his own yeast for brewing. Although he considers himself an “IPA guy,” his brewing skills extend to many varieties of beer, ranging from lagers to sours to Belgians. img_1876The philosophy behind B1rthr1ght Brew1ng encompasses not only excellent beer, but also sustainability and contribution to the local community. Wayne and his family are now Nazareth locals; the three “1s” in the brewery name represent Wayne’s three children who were a part of the brewery from its very beginnings. Similarly, B1rthr1ght Brew1ng embraces family and community through developing the “Birthright Cycle,” which will create a symbiotic partnership with local farmers and vendors to minimize waste and maximize the grassroots community feel of the brewery and Nazareth as a whole. Tasting the local flavors through freshly brewed beer is one of the greatest parts of local craft brewing, and B1rthr1ght Brew1ng is truly capitalizing on it. Wayne is currently brewing off-site and is (im)patiently waiting for his brewing equipment to arrive at B1rthr1ght within the next five weeks or so. We can’t wait to see the Cycle fully in action.

img_1871We found ourselves in hop heaven while sampling their draft beers. We tried three varieties of IPA and a pale ale. One of our favorites was The Constable, their double IPA. This beer captured everything we love about IPAs — a bright juicy snap that quenches your thirst with a floral bitter finish, coming in at 8.4%. Endlessly quaff-able. We also loved Mosaic Mirrors, a double dry hopped double IPA at 8.2% ABV that showcases big fruity flavors, a soft, smooth mouthfeel, and a hefty dose of dry hopping with mosaic, citra, and moteuka hops. The beers all showed maturity in flavor profile and reflect Wayne’s decades of brewing experience. He spoke mysteriously of some more exciting brews to come in the near future, but for now we will have to wait and see what he has in store.

img_1880Now, on to the pizza. Oh, did we not mention the pizza? Yup, they have skilled chefs, a big open kitchen, and a wood-burning oven serving up thin crust, perfectly crispy gourmet pizzas that are top notch. We tried the “Sir Mallard Newton” (that name!) which features duck confit, figs, caramelized onion, baby arugula, balsamic, and lardons. It was stellar. You can also find some salads and sammies on the menu.

img_1878B1rthr1ght Brew1ng truly captures the spirit of craft brewing through its impeccable beers, delicious food, and commitment to the local community. Swing by for a beer (or three) and chat with any of their friendly and passionate staff to hear about it for yourself. Their official grand opening ceremony and ribbon cutting will be Wednesday, April 18th from 5-7pm. Congratulations to Wayne and his team on this new adventure!


Bethany and Mike

Bitter is Better at Trillium Brewing Company

This past weekend we traveled to Boston, MA for Bethany’s grandfather’s 90th birthday party. On our way up north, we enjoyed a great pit stop at Two Roads Brewing Co. in Connecticut. Our second pit stop before reaching our AirBnB in East Boston was Trillium Brewing Company in Canton, MA, about 20-30 minutes outside of Boston. We had heard a great deal about Trillium lately but haven’t seen much of their product down here in PA. We were excited to experience their brewery and beers and finally felt like we can be  part of the popular kids in school. Trillium is a relative newcomer to the craft beer world, having established themselves in 2013 at their original Fort Point neighborhood location in South Boston. Since then, they opened their large brewing facility and taproom in Canton, with the Fort Point location currently focused more on bottle distribution and piloting small batch beers. However, they have plans to expand the Fort Point location to include a restaurant and brewery set to open in 2018.

Upon arrival, we were impressed by the size and busyness of the Canton location. The parking lot was filled beyond capacity — we ended up parked a block away on a side street. Expecting a long wait to get our beers, we were surprised to see that we could walk right up to the bar and order straight away. We’re still not certain where they put all of those people parked outside, but we are definitely not complaining about it. The facility is divided, with the right side serving as the taproom and the left for purchases of growlers, crowlers, and beer-to-go. The building was modern with rustic elements, including old barrels for seating. It is dog friendly, so if you love bringing your pooch on your brewery visits, this is a great place to go. The brewing area is to the side of the taproom, offering a commanding presence from their huge steel tanks — it is quite an operation. They had a wide selection of beers, with the hoppy New England varieties the most prominent along with a few darker beers and some funky sour options. We tried two IPAs – the Farnsworth Street IPA and Heavy Mettle Double IPA, two pale ales – the Double Dry Hopped Fort Point Pale Ale and the Launch Beer Pale Ale, and the PM Dawn American Stout with Cold Brew Coffee. We were blown away by the hoppiness of their IPAs — incredibly full flavor and massively bitter with loads of citrus. They really pay homage to the New England hop-forward tradition! Our favorites of the hop varieties were the Farnsworth Street IPA and the Launch Beer — we found them to be well balanced and refreshing. We grabbed a four-pack of the Launch Beer to share with our family, and it was very well received. The PM Dawn stout was also delicious; the cold-press coffee was a prominent flavor and provided a refreshing change of pace from the hoppy beers. However, we’d recommend having the stout BEFORE the hoppy beers, as the bitterness of the IPAs can dampen the taste of the stout. All in all, Trillium is very hip, very hoppy, and a great place to experience true New England-style beers.

Have you been to Trillium before? Let us know in the comments! Check out our other brewery reviews here.


Bethany and Mike

Ella, You Had Me at Barrel-Aged Quad!

Beer release alert! Free Will Brewing Co. in Perkasie, Pennsylvania released some heavy hitters this Thanksgiving weekend – the Ella, a Belgian-style quad ale aged in apple brandy barrels, and the Ralphius, a bourbon barrel-aged Russian imperial stout. Ella and Ralphius are named after two of the brewers adopted dogs (awww!), and both are high gravity, barrel-aged animals with a serious kick. We didn’t want to spend our Saturday night on the floor, so we went for Ella tonight and will spend some time with Ralphius tomorrow.

When I saw that Ella was a Belgian style quad I started to get excited. However, when I saw it was barrel aged for one year in apple brandy casks and weighed in at 14.9% ABV, time stood still. To be fair, I haven’t met a barrel-aged quad that I didn’t like, but I must say that this beer is truly impressive. I expected an overwhelmingly alcohol-forward character with that high of an ABV, but the Ella’s complex and rich flavors play out much smoother than expected.


Upon opening, the beer releases a very distinct nose of sweet Marsala wine and toffee. The first sip is smooth, decadent, and crisply carbonated. There is a hint of apple in the finish but mostly big roasty caramel flavors paired with sweet and earthy fig and raisin. This is a complex, well crafted beer that will go straight to your head. We can’t be alone in our assessment — this beer won gold in 2015 and bronze in 2016 at the Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer (say what?! A trip to Chicago might be in order!).

Free Will is selling Ella and Ralphius in big 750ml bottles so get yours while you can (and find a friend to share it with….or not). Keep an eye out for our post tomorrow on the Ralphius. To see our other beer reviews, visit In Our Fridge.


Mike and Bethany

Two Pints Takes the Road Less Traveled

img_0542This past weekend we found ourselves trekking up to New England once again, though this time heading to Boston for the weekend to celebrate Bethany’s grandfather’s 90th (!) birthday. It wouldn’t be a Two Pints trip without a smattering of brewery visits interspersed with family time. One of our favorite past times is seeking out local breweries in areas we pass through on our way to our various destinations — it helps break up long drives and gives us an opportunity to visit breweries we may not otherwise get to see. We were excited to see that Two Roads Brewing Co, located in Stratford, CT, was just a few minutes off Route 95 north, about a third of the way through the state and just under three hours from the Lehigh Valley. Looking back over our extensive Instagram collection, we were surprised by how many Two Roads beers we have enjoyed and shared – they have been consistently solid with top-notch flavors.


The brewery itself did not disappoint! It is housed in the former Baird press manufacturing building which was erected in 1911. The brewery makes great use of the space, stylishly blending a modern, open-air taproom overlooking the brewing area while maintaining the historic feel of the original building. The large, rectangular bar sits in the center of the taproom with seating on all sides, surrounded by some smaller tables spaced throughout. The taproom creates a jovial inviting atmosphere perfect for enjoying their beer. Speaking of beer, we didn’t have a beer we didn’t like from the ten we sampled in our flights. We tried most of the year-round options, including their best-selling Honeyspot Road IPA, Worker’s Comp Saison, Road2Ruin Double IPA, and the Nitro Espressway Cold-Brew Coffee Stout — out of this group, the Double IPA and the Coffee Stout were our favorites. It’s not east to find a perfectly balanced double IPA that doesn’t leave you feeling punched in the mouth by hops, but is bitter enough to leave you craving your next sip; however, Two Roads has absolutely mastered that art in the Road2Ruin.  The coffee stout was also a delight — strong and flavorful cold-brew taste with a clean finish, perfect for the chilly weather.  We also imbibed some of their more limited releases.  img_0540-1We were impressed by the Miles 2 Go, an unfiltered pale ale brewed using decoction mashing, an intensive multi-step mash process thought to be the best method to fully release the malt flavors. The labor paid off in this beer, as it had an incredibly full flavor of hops as well as the sweeter malt taste — it was far more complex and interesting in taste than your standard pale ale. We love our history, so it is exciting when brewers pay homage to old methods of the craft. We also sampled a pilot release beer, the Field Yield Pale Ale. This beer was brewed with fresh citrus and floral-forward hops grown and harvested from the brewery’s own hopyard. It is described as having “fresh and hoppy effervescence,” which is accurate — the freshness of the hops give it a bright, bursting, yet light bitterness with clear notes of citrus and grapefruit.

All in all, we were downright bummed to have to leave Two Roads to continue on our journey. It is a fantastic brewery to visit with a great vibe and even better beers. Excitingly, Two Roads recently broke ground on Area Two Experimental Brewing which will be built adjacent to the current brewery and will feature Brett, sour, and spirit-based beers. It is set to open in Fall of 2018, so keep an eye out for their new releases.

Stay tuned for our upcoming reviews of Trillium Brewing, Downeast Cider, and Harpoon Brewing! Check out other brewery reviews here.


Bethany and Mike

Local Brewers Collaborate Earlier than Planned

Eight minutes earlier, to be precise. When two of our favorite local breweries come together for a collaboration beer, we get pretty damn excited. The intrepid minds behind Bonn Place of Bethlehem and Lost Tavern of Hellertown got together and released Eight Minutes Early, a full bodied double cream ale with vanilla, cocoa, and Monocacy Creek Coffee served on traditional draft or nitro. On its own, it is rich and smooth with a strong coffee backbone brewed with the rare and difficult to find Souther Star hops from South Africa. However, this beer shines brightest when each brewery introduced their own unique twist to a cask version with variations aptly named Fire and Ice. Bonn brewed the Fire version which introduced cinnamon and cayenne peppers to finish it off. The additions really round out the beer and add some kick. The spice is subtle but builds slowly on the palate and after a couple sips you will notice a pleasing burn.

Lost Tavern brewed the Ice cask, which added spearmint and peppermint to the original brew. This one is truly unique and complex akin to a peppermint mocha coffee. You can definitely skip that piece of gum for the ride home.

To try both cask varieties, you’ll have to visit both breweries, so be sure to plan ahead. While you are at Bonn Place, also give the Nice Item Northeast Pale Ale a try. It’s a cloudy and dank pale ale loaded with hoppy goodness and represents a rare departure from Bonn’s typical English-style beers. At Lost Tavern, be sure to also check out the recently released Udderly Lost – a toasty, chocolate-forward milk stout.

Check them all out at Bonn Place and Lost Tavern and let us know what you think! It’s always a blast to have a beer and chat with Sam from Bonn and Tony of Lost Tavern. And don’t forget – it’s BYO pink flamingo at Bonn Place, so follow the flamingo link to find the cheesiest lawn ornament to add to Sam’s burgeoning collection.

Check out our other posts featuring our favorite local (and not so local) breweries here!


Mike and Bethany

Adventures in Homebrewing: Getting Started

After years of drinking, researching, photographing, writing, and obsessing about craft beer, we have finally decided to brew some beer of our own. Looking back, we aren’t quite sure why it took us so long to take a stab at homebrewing. I remember some vague concerns about it being too sciencey, too expensive, too time-consuming, and a high chance of having to pretend to like 48 bottles of sub-par beer that we spent weeks brewing, all the while secretly wishing we had just bought some quality beer made by actual professionals. Despite our early hesitations, we somewhat impulsively decided to homebrew on a random Friday evening.


Citra hop pellets

We made a quick trip to our local homebrewing store — Keystone Homebrew Supply — located in south Bethlehem, PA. For out of town readers, they also have a great online shop! The staff were incredibly helpful (and patient) with getting us set up with a starter kit, which included fermenting and bottling buckets, sanitizing powder, airlock, bottle capper, bottle caps, siphon, hydrometer, and bottle brush. At $65, it is a great set to get you going with the basics of homebrewing. We also picked up some liquid sanitizer, a couple cases of bottles, and our first ingredient kit. There are a few different complexity levels when it comes to homebrewing. The most basic are all-extract kits, which eliminate the need for adding hops and grains during the brew process, instead involving water and a pre-made extract that you simply pour into your boil pot.


Malted grains for steeping

The mid-range option is partial-extract brewing, which uses extract with the addition of fresh grains and hops, often providing a better flavor but with a bit more effort than the full-extract version. The most complex form of homebrewing is all-grain brewing, during which you don’t use any extract and make the beer entirely from scratch. Typically, all-grain brews have the best (and most versatile) flavor profile and are definitely cheaper than extract brewing, though they require a bit more effort and knowledge.

For our first brew, we grabbed one of Keystone’s partial-extract kits for a citra pale ale. It came with a set of straightforward directions and all the needed ingredients. They set us up with the fresh grains and hops, and a malt extract was included in the kit. Overall, the brewing process went smoothly, and before long our 5 gallons of pale ale was happily fermenting in the basement. img_0320A week or two later, we bottled our first batch. Homebrews need time to further condition in the bottle prior to drinking to build up carbonation. After a long week of anticipation, we finally were able to drink our first homebrewed beer – the Perkwiler Pale Ale. We were pleasantly surprised with how it turned out — the hops gave it a nicely bright and bitter bite, and it had a clean finish. We wished it had a bit more fullness to the flavor profile — something that all-grain brewing will likely improve upon.

Since this first batch, we have continued to stick with partial-extract brewing as we continue to learn and tweak our methods. So far, we have also brewed a Belgian quadrupel, which is fermenting for a few more weeks as Belgians tend to have a longer fermentation period due to their higher sugar content. Most recently, we brewed and bottled a milk stout; it was supposed to be ready to drink this weekend but the low temperatures in the garage seems to have delayed the bottle conditioning. We’re giving that one a bit more time to build up carbonation before we try it out. We are also working on an experimental growler of wassail using our homebrewed pale ale with brown sugar and spices. It might be delicious, but it also might be terrible — that’s the fun of homebrewing!

On the whole, it has been incredibly fun and rewarding to practice homebrewing. It is an unreal feeling to get a buzz going from beer brewed in your own kitchen. As long as you’re up for a little bit of science-ing and with an open mind for experimentation, it can be an awesome hobby to pick up (and your family and friends will love you for it — if you end up sharing!). Here are some takeaways from our early forays into homebrewing:

  1. Your homebrew is only as good as your attention to the sanitation process — that is by far the most important part of brewing beer.
  2. Make sure you have a good thermometer to keep an eye on your boiling pot and the temperature of your mash.
  3. Throw some metal serving utensils in the freezer before you start. If your boil pot looks like it might end up boiling over, chuck a frozen spoon into the pot to quickly cool it down.
  4. Don’t forget to activate your yeast an hour or so before you start brewing so that it is ready to rock by the time it goes in.
  5. There are some extra homebrewing toys that are not huge investments but make your life a lot easier. We recommend a glass carboy secondary fermenter (helps a great deal with clarifying your beer), some extra airlocks (they can break pretty easily), a bottle drying tree, and a bottle washer. Find links to some of our picks below.

Plan a Beercation to Vermont and Maine

Hey, Lehigh Valley! Looking to take a beer-inspired vacation in Vermont and Maine? We have a plan for you to make the most of your trip, including where to stay, what to do, and of course, what to drink. We took a trip a couple weeks ago and whittled down our adventure to the perfect plan for a 5-7 day beercation in beautiful New England, home to the best of the ubiquitous NE-style IPA. If you time it right, you can also get some great hiking and fall foliage in, or you can hit the slopes at one of the many nearby ski resorts. Here’s your itinerary:

Day 1: Hit the road and head up to Woodstock, VT. Look for a historic New England-style bed and breakfast, a local ski resort, or even one of many campgrounds in the area. If you have enough time,  you’ll be able to hit some breweries on your way north. Newburgh Brewing Company and Keegan Ales are just a few minutes off 87, as well as a flurry of other breweries in New York State. Choose your pit stops wisely since you have to get back in your car and drive a few more hours. Don’t drink and drive, kids.


Enjoying the Rock Art Brewing’s Ridge Runner at the top of Mt. Ascutney

Day 2: Enjoy the village of Woodstock! Woodstock is quaint, historic, and full of New England charm with a heavy dollop of artsy, free-range organic pottery types. They are also home to a noteworthy beer store that has lots of unique finds and a load of local Vermont beers – Woodstock Hops and Barley.  Once you’re stocked up on beer, cruise over to Mt. Ascutney and either hike the full climb or drive up the mountain and hike the 1 mile to the summit and observation tower for stunning 360 degree views. If you are interested in museums, the Billings Farm & Museum offers history on Vermont’s rural life, with farming demos and livestock. After your exercise and/or education, Head over to Harpoon Brewery Riverbend,, which is about 20 minutes southeast of Woodstock.

95f416ea-f7cd-46db-a8e5-5cb0c61beb7a-1This is an outpost from Harpoon’s main gig in Boston, MA. It sits right along the Connecticut River at the border of VT and NH. It is delightfully quiet and low-key during the mid-week, off-season time and has excellent beers and delicious house-made soft pretzels (mmmmbeercheese). Head back to Woodstock for dinner at Worthy Kitchen which focuses on farm food and craft beer. We sipped on some local New England beers and Vermont hard cider while munching on poutine and wings.


Another Vermont brew at the Quechee Gorge

Day 3: Head east and visit the Quechee Gorge, which sits along the Connecticut River at the divide between Vermont and New Hampshire. Pull over and walk onto the bridge that spans the gorge for a beautiful (and slightly terrifying) photo opportunity. The Quechee Gorge Village is adorably kitschy (and it’s fun to say “kitschy Quechee”) and houses a Cabot cheese store (yum!), alpaca store (with live alpacas you can pet), bakery, souvenir shops, and most importantly, Vermont Spirits distillery. We were impressed by the distillery’s unique gins and spirits infused with Vermont maple syrup and honey. Once you get your fill of kitsch, cruise a bit farther east to River Roost Brewery, which is a small brewery with free (!) samples of 4-5 beers on tap. They had a great selection of NE IPAs when we visited. They don’t pour full pints, but across the road at Big Fatty’s BBQ, you can grab a pint and some amazing barbecue – we recommend the brisket mac ‘n’ cheese.

Day 4: Time to make your way over to Ogunquit, Maine. We found a great bed and breakfast in the oldest building in Ogunquit and had a wonderful stay – Black Boar Inn. Heading east through New Hampshire, you can make a pit stop or two at some fantastic breweries on the way. Don’t miss Henniker Brewing Co. which was one of our favorites of the trip.  It is tucked away in rural NH and we loved its friendly staff, cozy and comfortable vibe, and delicious brews. You can also find a number of breweries in Manchester, NH — however note that many of them don’t open until 4pm, so you’ll have to time your visits accordingly. Once you’re settled into your room in Ogunquit, you can ditch your car and get around the town and beach on foot. It has a stunning walking path right along the water that takes you through Ogunquit and up to Perkins Cove, where you can find the ultimate lobster roll for a classic Maine meal.

Day 5: Depending on the length of your stay and willingness to drive around Maine, one option would be to spend the day in Ogunquit and enjoy the boutique shops, restaurants, and ice cream shops while relaxing on the beach. Another option would be to make the 50-minute drive up to Portland, ME, which is one of the meccas of craft beer in New England. There are loads of them — you could spend a whole weekend there and not run out of breweries to sample.  Prior to heading into Portland, we had chatted with some locals about their favorite breweries to visit in Portland, and Bissell Brothers was mentioned quite a bit. One local said that it will probably be mobbed, as it is the “hot brewery” this year. Portland apparently has one brewery every year that all the cool kids go to, and this is the year of Bissell. Well, sometimes we want to feel like cool kids, so we planned our first stop to be Bissell Brothers. We arrived five minutes after they opened, walked in the door, and immediately walked back out. It was a big, airy space that was positively swarming with customers. If you’re up for a long wait and crowds to get a killer pint, it may be worth it. We didn’t want to spend half the day waiting in line so instead headed into Old Portland. We grabbed a lobster melt (so good) at Eastender and imbibed from their small but mighty list of Maine brews, finally getting a pint of Bissell Brothers (it was delicious) and an IPA from Maine Beer Company (also delicious). We then made our way to Liquid Riot Bottling Co. in Old Portland along the waterfront and nabbed seats that overlook the wharf. They had an awesome DIPA – the Beer Has No Name (+1 for Game of Thrones reference) that went down perfectly with a bowl of New England mussels and cockels. You may run into signs for Sebago Brewing Company — this would be one to skip. It was impersonal and felt like the Applebee’s of craft beer, housed in a Comfort Suites in Portland. Driving home from Portland we’d recommend two pit stops – one for lobster rolls, and another at Barreled Souls Brewing Co.. We loved the atmosphere at Barreled Souls — cozy, dark interior and a lawn area outside with Adirondack chairs and cornhole. They boasted some of the most unique beers we saw on the trip, with lots of funky sours and barrel-aged monsters.  Finish up your evening with artisanal pizza and craft beer at Cornerstone, a walk on the gorgeous Ogunquit beach at sunset, and some hilarity at the local piano bar.

Day 6: Try to quell your state of depression when realizing it is time to head home after such an idyllic beercation. Heading back down to PA, you can make one or two more pit stops at breweries in NH. We visited the largest brewery of the trip, Smuttynose Brewing Company. It’s a great choice to stop if you are in the area and interested in checking out a larger production system and a range of high quality beers (and lots of cute merch with the Smuttynose seal logo). They have a great on-site restaurant which is perfect for lunch. If you have more time, you can also visit the fishing village town of Portsmouth, which is home to a few craft breweries and a lovely waterfront. Five hours later, you’ll arrive back in the Valley, ready to brag to your friends about your amazing beercation.

This trip is easily adjusted for length of stay/activities/time of year. We can’t wait to visit the area again, especially Portland, ME to check out more of their craft beer scene. Thinking of having your own NE beercation? Tell us about it below!

Local beer and beautiful beach. What more do you need?

Ommegang Barrel Aged Three Philosophers 

In the realm of Belgian-style beers, the quadrupel is king. I love the big roasty malt flavors, the dark stone fruit nose, and the port-like finish. They are not for everyone though, and for many, one goblet will probably make you wobble a little bit. But what exactly is a quadrupel? If you are already well versed in the lexicon surrounding Belgian beers then go ahead and skip on down a paragraph or two. If not, allow me to bore you with useless knowledge that I read about in pretentious, pseudo-academic books about my favorite beverage.

The taxonomy of Belgian beers, more specifically Trappist beers, is often obscure, sometimes perplexing, and frequently random, but the quadrupel name has a simple meaning as do the dubbel and the tripel. In short, they are so named based on the potential alcohol content which you may see measured in terms of “gravity.” A beer’s gravity is the measure of how much sugar is contained in the wort before fermentation. It is not an exact measure of final alcohol content by today’s standards and fairly rarely used for that purpose. Traditional monastic breweries used the Belgian degree system but a more contemporary measure of gravity is expressed using the unit “Plato” which is something you may see on beer cans or brewery chalk boards on occasion. The Belgian degree and the Plato are not equivalent, but you get the idea.

So when it comes to Trappist beers you may frequently see numbers prominently displayed on labels. For instance, one of my favorite beers, the St. Bernardus Abt 12, has a specific gravity of roughly 12 under the Belgian system. You may also be familiar with the Rochefort 10 which is another high gravity quad. La Trappe originally coined the term quadrupel to describe a strong, dark ale and other breweries have followed suit. In general, it is simple enough to think of dubbels, tripels, and quadrupels in terms of increasing gravity respectively. Curiously though, dubbels and quads tend to be dark beers while tripels are golden in color – which I often experience as more yeasty and spicy. There is no real reason for this other than simple stylistic tradition. There is no reason that there couldn’t be a dark tripel or a golden dubbel. Some American breweries have started brewing lighter colored quads such as the Victory V12 which is a gorgeous deep amber quad as smooth as it is potent.

With all of that said the original Ommegang Three Philosophers has a great deal in common with the Abt 12. It has an unmistakably luxurious, dark cherry character that melds beautifully with the sweet malts. It is vinous in an intoxicating and pleasing way. You will not need any silly numbers or plato units on the label to know that this is a high gravity beer.

The Barrel Aged version takes the Three Philosophers to a whole other level of smoothness that is uncharacteristic of traditional Belgian, or Belgian-style quads. It retains its deep color and the strength of a Belgian strong ale but it is mellowed and rounded out by the casks. The dark fruit abdicates to the warming subtle notes of bourbon and tobacco. The head is lacy, luxurious, and thick. It is a refined and complex enough to be loved by quad drinkers but smooth and drinkable enough to be enjoyed by less experienced palates

The Barrel Aged Three Philosophers is a very limited release that first hit the market in February of 2016.  We were fortunate enough to be in Cooperstown, NY, home of the Ommegang Brewery, around that time for a beer festival and just happened to find this poured in their taproom. I fell immediately in love. I bought a couple of bottles and determined that I would make another pilgrimage the next year. We watched for the release and spent a cold and snowy weekend in Cooperstown to stock up again. Except for some very limited distribution to select retailers in NYC, it is only available at their brewery in Cooperstown beginning in late winter/early spring (which is still pretty much just winter in Cooperstown). If you can find some, it is a great beer to age in your cellar. I am trying to retain a bottle from each year to age if I can resist drinking it all tonight.

If you want to try to find some this coming February you can check out Ommegang’s beerfinder on their web page. If you do, let us know what you think.

Lehigh Valley Brewer’ s Guild Beer Festival



Lost Tavern’s Cloud 7 NE Style IPA. Yum!

Wow! The Lehigh Valley Brewers guild Brewfest was another smashing success. This year it was hosted by the awesome folks at Lost Tavern Brewing in our little home town of Hellertown, PA. For those of you who don’t know, this was the second annual brewfest held by the LVBG. All of the breweries in the Lehigh Valley join forces to put on an awesome festival with great music, food, and of course beer. The representative breweries were Yergey Brewing, Weyerbacher, Two Rivers, Hijinx, Sole, Hop Hill, Cave, Funk, Fegley’s, and Lost Tavern. (One of our favorites was unfortunately absent). Colony Meadery and Hardball Cider were also there with some great options just in case beer is not your thing. But beer should always be your thing.

The Lost Tavern crew: Kenny Rampola, head brewer Anthony Gangi, and cicerone Derek Lutz

The breweries turned out some of their flagship beers as well as a large sampling of some often surprising concoctions. Our favorite of the day was the Mosaic Dutchtown DIPA from Two Rivers Brewing in Easton, PA. While all the beers at the festival were great, this one was just a cut above the rest in terms of complexity and a full and rounded flavor profile. It is crisp with plenty of floral, citrus, and banana notes. The finish is predictably hoppy with just enough bitterness to round out the fruity, tropical, flavors from the Mosaic hops. The fun of this beer is that Two Rivers uses the same Dutchtown DIPA recipe and experiments with different hop variations. This one is triple hopped with exclusively mosaic hops. Two Rivers hit the mark on this one!


Sole is super serious about beer

One of my other favorites was the Blurred Lines, a Zwickelbier  from Sole Artisan Ales. If you’re anything like me, you have no idea what the hell a Zwickelbier is. (pronounce tzv-ick-el) Being a little bit of a beer nerd, I had to do some research on this one. According to that most reliable of sources, the internet, a Zwickelbier is a type of Kellerbier (although some sources use Zwickelbier and Kellerbier  interchangeably.) No idea what the hell a Kellerbier is either? You are not alone. A Kellerbier (‘cellar beer’ in German) is a traditional German lager from the Franconia region of Bavaria. It is aged unbunged in, you guessed it, a cellar.  This beer is on the lighter end of the spectrum and is a pleasant departure from the bold and biting IPA’s that tend to dominate a lot of craft beer lineups. It is very refreshing and sessionable at 5.0% ABV, but still incredibly complex. It’s light-bodied and pilsner-like but with a fruity, slightly tart middle. The finish is delicate and crisp with a pale ale level of hoppiness at the end. I loved this one and I really appreciated the nod to traditional German flavor profiles that do not lean so heavily on huge bold flavors and high ABV that American craft breweries seem to favor. The refined brewing skill that people have come to expect from Sole are boldly on display with this one. Not sure if they are selling this in at its taproom in Easton, but if they are it is a must-try.

Hijinx Brewing Co. from Allentown may have had the best overall lineup with three beers that were all very well executed.  The Far Darrig Irish Red Ale was dark amber with chewy caramel malts and a hint of bitterness at the end. The Imperial stout was exactly what you want and love about imperial stouts with a coffee/chocolately nose and alcohol finish. The Kung Fu Gnome was a Belgian blonde with a little sweetness and peach flavors. All three were very tasty and demonstrated that Hijinx can excel at a variety of styles.

Some other great beers that we had were the Funk Double Citrus Imperial IPA and the Lost Tavern Cloud 7. If it needs to be said the Funk Double Citrus is, well, citrusy! It’s a west coast style IPA, jammed with plenty of juicy hops! Lost Tavern’s Cloud 7 was more of a New England style IPA with a piney, aromatic nose and tropical notes. Both are awesome and absolutely warrant a trip to the brewery!

What we loved about this beerfest was that at 3 o’clock many of the breweries brought out new special beers. Unfortunately, we could not stay after three so you are going to have to visit the breweries if you want to try them. But we love the idea and hope that is a feature that continues in future fests.

Overall, we had an awesome time and had some awesome beers. The Lehigh Valley brewing community is a vibrant one and it continues to grow so keep supporting your local breweries!


Whoa! Big bottles of Belgian style dark ale from Weyerbacher, D’Tango Unchained. If you like tart, black cherries smothered in malts, this beer is for you!



Hampton Ave, Hellertown


Poutine anyone?