February 2000 Newsletter

PALE TALES NEWSLETTER
ISSUE #44
February, 2000

DISCOVER ANCIENT, TRADITIONAL AND HERBAL BEERS AT TRIUMPH

DATE: Monday, Feb. 21st
TIME: 7:30 p.m.
PLACE: Triumph, 138 Nassau Street, Princeton, NJ 08542
PHONE: (609) 924-7855

Tom Stevenson of Triumph will speak on ancient, herbal and indigenous beer styles, specifically Gruit beer. Stevenson recently brewed a Gruit beer, and will talk about the research he did to develop this medieval recipe, and offer samples of this beer. (NOTE: this is not quite the last Monday of the month as is the norm for our meetings).

Gruit was the predominant style in Europe for over 700 years, according to many experts. The brew uses spices (yarrow, sweet gale/myrtle, and wild rosemary) in place of hops, and is widely considered to be an aphrodisiac, euphoric and stimulant.
Although this style predates the use of hops, Stevenson has added a small amount – otherwise, federal law would require the beer to be sold as a “malt beverage” rather than “ale.” (I had a pint from the fermenter, and it has a unique herbal flavor, which kind of grows on you.)

Stevenson will also talk about some of his unusual beers being brewed in upcoming months (can you say Jewish Rye beer and a Trippel). As the theme is ancient and herbal beers, I will also be bringing a few commercial beers for consumption – perhaps a Heather Ale, Grozet beer (from gooseberries) and (if I can find commercial examples) mead. You are encouraged to bring any historical/traditional, herbal, or unusual beers. And if you have a story to tell about the beer style – better yet! Meads would be especially appropriate as well.

Handouts of printed materials, including recipes, on unusual medieval, ancient, and indigenous beers will also be provided. This should be an informational and interesting evening.

GUINESS ON TAP FOR MARCH MEETING

Why wait until St. Patrick’s Day to have a great pint of Guinness laddies and lassies? Especially, when PALE ALES is featuring a Guinness representative at our March 6th meeting, to be held at the great Irish pub Tir Na Nog in Hamilton, NJ.

Join us at 7:30 pm at Tir Na Nog in Hamilton NJ. Scott Mullen,
Guinness representative will speak on the pre-eminent beer of Ireland – Guinness Stout. And the location couldn’t be better – Tir Na Nog pours one of the best pints of Guinness you’ll have (in my humble opinion). We’ll be meeting in the dart room.

These directions are off the top of my head. You may want to call the bar to get better directions. Directions from Princeton:

1. Take Rt. 295 South
2. Get off at the exit for Rt. 33 West (Exit 64?) You are about 5-6 minutes from the bar at this point.
3. After the exit, make a left at the next light (Klockner Rd.)
4. At the next light (Hamilton Ave), make a right.
5. A few minutes later, you will drive past a cemetery on the right. Shortly after, you will a light.
6. The road sort of splits after the light. Bear right to stay on
Hamilton.
7. A few minutes later you will hit another light. The bar is located on the right hand side, on a corner shortly after that light.

The address is 1324 Hamilton Avenue,Trenton, NJ 08629-1449. Call the bar at 609-392- 2554 for more information. Thanks to Laurie Harmon for putting together this great meeting.

PALES ALES TOASTS PAPAZIAN IN APRIL
(information contributed by Joe Bair)

PALE ALES will host Charlie Papazian, homebrew guru and author of the classic best seller “The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing,” on April 8th (Saturday) 7 PM at the Suzanne Paterson Center.

The author will help evaluate local Microbreweries and local Home Brews to help brewers make better beers which has been his lifelong mission and consistent to the PALE ALES BYHB (Bring Your Home Brew) no-style beer evaluation. We haven’t
nailed down the details exactly, but we plan to hold kind of a public version of the BYHB with representatives from local icrobreweries and brewpubs to present and speak on their beers, and the audience participating in evaluating them as well.

After that, we will hold the final QUALIFYING round of the BYHB. This is a change of plans from the original idea to hold the FINAL BYHB party/competition at this event. After much discussion, we felt that having both events on the same day would split our
resources and enjoyment of this event. Furthermore, holding the final qualifying round of the BYHB will serve the objective of showing Charlie and the public what our club is doing. It should be a unique, great event that will showcase our clubs strengths.

The cost of admission is $5. The Susan Paterson Center is located behind Princeton Borough Hall on Monument Drive. The center is right near Borough Hall at the juncture of 206 and Nassau St. Also, Charlie will be at Princeton Homebrew (148 Witherspoon
St) for a book signing (4-6PM) before his appearance at the Suzanne Paterson Center. Please call (609) 252-1800 or e-mail paleales@a… for directions.

Also, at our last meeting we circulated a sign-up sheet for volunteers to help out with the event – BYHB, setup/cleanup and publicity. Although we had a good response, there is always room for more participation.

ROGUE’S BEERS ROCK AT JAN MEETING

The beers of Rogue were a great hit at our Jan. meeting at Issac Newton’s. Sebbie Buhler, marketing consultant for Rogue, ran us through their impressive portfolio of beers. Starting off with the lighter Artisan Lager, Sebbie took us from the sumptuous Shakespeare Stout, to the smoky Smoked Rogue, the new Imperial Lager, the Mogul Madness (Imperial Stout), and finishing up with the classic Old Crustacean Barley Wine. (I’m sure I missed a few beers in between – sorry).

A crowd of 30 or more members enjoyed the many shades of Rogue. My favorites were the Shakespeare Stout, Mogul Madness, and Old Crustacean. I definitely enjoyed the hoppy, full-bodied Imperial Lager as well. Sebbie was a very dynamic and engaging
speaker, and provided us with valuable information on these great
beers.

We also tasted two club member Barleywines (thanks to Clay Spence and Mark Graham) and selected one to send on to the AHA club-only Barleywine competition sponsored by Rillito homebrew club (Arizona) in Feb. The majority of tasters chose Mark Graham’s English Style Barleywine to move on.

We have since received the results of the competition. Unfortunately, although we had an excellent beer representing us, we did not place in the competition. As this is one of our first club-only competitions, it would probably have been a bit ambitious to expect that we would win. We were competing against 36 other entries from over 23 states! The good news is that the Rillito Creek club said very complimentary things of all the entries.  A direct quote from the “Results” section of the web page: “It was clear from the response to this competition that there are some phenomenal barleywines being made by home-brewers throughout all parts of the country. The finest of these rivalled the best commercial examples.” Check the Rillito homebrew club website at www.goodnet.com/~eb21571/bwhome.htm for more information on the competition and results.

Thanks to everyone who submitted entries and was involved in the process. We will probably look at doing more of this sort of thing in the future.

TRIUMPH’S BREWER MARKS FIFTH YEAR

Triumph marks its fifth year this March, making brewer Tom Stevenson one of the longest brewing brewers in NJ. Sipping a pint of Triumph’s Winter Wonder, I recently talked with him about his tenure as a brewer at Triumph.

Like many of his professional brethren, Stevenson entered into brewing via the homebrewing route. Working as a botanist/horticulturist for well over a decade (ask him
about Humulus lupulus), Stevenson discovered homebrewing. Six years and many homebrew batches later, he heard about a brewpub opening in Princeton, and decided to approach the owners about brewing for them.

In his first year at the six-barrel brewhouse, Stevenson found the learning curve from homebrewing to professional brewing to be fairly steep. “The first thing I learned is what a bad homebrewer I was, so there wasn’t much of a transfer of technical knowledge
there!” he laughed.

Five years and 51 beers later, Stevenson has expanded and honed his brewing palette quite a bit – recent offerings included a Rauch beer (98% smoked malt), Berliner Weiss, Buckwheat Ale, and a Coffee Milk Stout.

And, hold on to your flagons folks, they’ll be serving a Gruit-style beer (Gothic Ale) through Feb. Gruit was the predominant style in Europe for over 700 years, according to many experts. The brew uses spices (yarrow, sweet gale/myrtle, and wild rosemary) in place of hops, and is widely considered to be an aphrodisiac, euphoric and stimulant. Although this style predates the use of hops, Stevenson has added a small amount – otherwise, federal law would require the beer to be sold as a “malt beverage” rather than “ale.” (I had a pint from the fermenter, and it has a unique herbal flavor, which kind of grows on you.) Upcoming beers will include a Belgian Trippel in Feb/March and a “Jewish Rye” beer made with 25% rye, and caraway seed, which should taste like “a loaf of Jewish Rye bread.” Of course, Stevenson is quick to credit owner Adam Rechnitz for supporting and maintaining a beer culture at the brewpub that allows these unique beers to be brewed and enjoyed. (Certainly, a Gruit-style beer is not something you’d EVER see in most brewpubs.)

Located in downtown Princeton (bordering the famous university), the spacious, modern brewpub is home to an eclectic mix of students, professionals, old money, artists, international visitors and blue collar workers. On any given night, you may find amongst
the regulars and newbies – a poet, a Wall Street trader, an Internet guru, a homebrewer, a millionaire, a group of visiting Germans, an archeologist, an award-winning screenwriter, and (on this particular evening) someone dressed like the lead singer of Motley Crue. This eclecticism carries over into the brewpub itself. Nuevo-cuisine shares space with pub grub (Stevenson subsists on the Spicy Calamari), art shows hang on the walls, live music (Jazz, Swing, Zydeco, Pop and more) is featured weekly, and Gambrinus beer dinners are held several times a year.

It is a mix that Stevenson enjoys greatly, although it’s no easy task catering to such a diverse group. “The customer complaining that his favorite regular beer isn’t on tap is also the same person asking: ‘By the way, what do you have that’s new?'” And, yes
people still ask: “What do you have that tastes like Coors Light?”

Triumph does a good job balancing variety and consistency with its seven taps, though. The Honey Wheat, IPA, and Amber Ale are complimented by four rotating beers: a Lager style, a nitro-dispensed Stout of some sort, a British style on the hand pump, and one other “wild card” beer – enough to satisfy both beer geeks and regular drinkers.

On a similar note, Stevenson feels that customer perception is actually one of the biggest challenges facing brewpubs today: “We (brewpubs) are not taken seriously.” Customers perceive commercial beer a “real product,” while brewpub beer is typically viewed as “glorified homebrew,” he explained. “People should come to expect quality from a brewpub as well,” he argued. “The great thing about a brewpub, for a customer and a brewer, is that you can make a small batch without spending mega dollars (on marketing). Some unique products can see the light of day that might otherwise not.” And, certainly this has been true of
Triumph.

What keeps Stevenson brewing? It just meshes in well with his personal drives: “I like to be busy, feel necessary, and make something – and brewing meets all of those needs,” he said. “I really like the job. You couldn’t ask for a nicer work environs or a more interesting mix of people.”

WHAT THE HECK ARE THE GUIDELINES FOR BYHB AGAIN?

To ready for the next round of the Bring Your Home Brew (BYHB) (and since we haven’t published them in a while), I thought it might be a good idea to repost the guidelines for the competition (thanks to Joe Bair for putting them together):

RULES:
1) Each brewer can only bring one of his/her beers in a 36oz. container of their choosing. (please, do not bring beers that have been awarded a prize in other competitions) The brewer must be present, no mailing in the beer. Cups will be provided.

2) If you are going to bring a beer, e-mail Joe Bair ASAP (schd@p…) include; the OG or (how many pounds of fermentables), whether it is hoppy or malty, and if you added anything that would cover up (i.e., if you used any fruit, spices, or strange yeasts) the fresh taste of the barley and hops.

3) The brewer will be able to pour their own beer and vote. All others homebrewers with beer present will also be allowed to vote. It does not matter what style (if any) the beer is. They will be evaluated on how they compare to the other beers (fresh taste, no off-flavors from fermentation or sanitation problems) Simple evaluation sheets will be handed out (everyone, please bring writing tools and clipboards!), in which evaluators will write what they remember about the beers and when they have sampled all the beer – each evaluator will privately decide which ones will advance. All entering will live with the results of the winners.

4) There will be four quarterly competitions and a final. You can only have one beer in the finals. You can enter any homebrew you want into the finals (not necessarily the one you brewed to advance). If your beer is selected to advance, you must become a member of PALE ALES or forfeit your chance to be in the finals. To become a member, please bring a check made out to PALE ALES for the amount of $24 to the competition.) If you don’t advance, you can try again in the next quarterly competition. All present and past officers of PALE ALES have final authority in settling any dispute, ties or determining if a beer is infected and thus disqualified.
No meads, ciders, or wines will be evaluated.

PALM TO RETIRE BELGIAN CLASSIC?

I recently read in several beer publications (Brewsgrams, from
www.happyhour.com being the first) that Palm brewing, new owner of Rodenbach, may be planning to retire the classic Flanders Red Ale Rodenbach Grand Cru. The beer is losing ground in Belgium apparently, and is being put on probation for a year to determine its future status.

To say that Rodenbach Grand Cru is a classic is an understatement. Personally, this is one of my favorite Belgian beers – it is just a great of example of how complex and sophisticated a beer can be, and how unique the Belgian styles are. And if you don’t believe me, Michael Jackson has described Rodenbach as THE Flanders Red Ale. Better yet, try it for yourself!

In addition, if Rodenbach is shut down this could also impact another brewery I’m fond of – De Dolle Brouwers (makers of Still Nacht and Oerbier) in Essen, who apparently utilize Rodenbach yeast for some of their beers.

Let Palm know what you think. Contact the distributor for Rodenbach – Vanberg and Dewulf (www.belgianexperts.com), or contact Palm brewery directly at:

PR@p…
Brouwerij Palm N.V.
P.R. Department-Peter Buelens
Steenhuffeldorp 3
B-1840 Steenhuffel
tel: 052/31.74.67
fax: 052/31.23.44

VOLUNTEER YOURSELF – MARCH MARKS COMING ELECTIONS

That’s right folks – March is election month for PALE ALES offices.
Several officers have expressed an interest in serving another term. If you are interested in running for office, the current positions are:

–President – Steve Rowley
–Vice President – Andy Koontz/Laurie Harmon
–Treasurer – Steve Ashton
–Secretary/Newsletter Editor – Kevin Trayner
–Program Director/Coordinator – Roland Pena

We are also considering creating two new “Members at Large” positions. Member at Large would be involved in activities such as helping find speakers for the monthly meetings, planning club activities and trips, competitions, etc. Members serving in these positions would be involved first hand in all decision-making and planning meetings for future club activities.

Speaking of volunteering, if anyone is interested in working on the PALE ALES web page, or possibly serving as the webmaster, there is definitely some work to be done there in the coming months. Roland Pena has bought and donated the domain name paleales.com to the club. We need to do some technical work to hook up this domain name to our existing page, and, additionally, I would like to see the web page utilized more as a central source of meeting and other information.

BOOK AND THE COOK FESTIVAL COMES TO PHILA AGAIN

The Book and Cook festival highlights great cuisine and beer. See the www.bookandthecook.com website for a complete list of vents. Use the Search to locate a specific event.

One of my favorites (for the past five years) is the Univ. of Penn Museum of Archeology beer tasting on March 4th (Sat). Great food, beautiful surroundings, stellar beers, and a tutored tasting by Michael Jackson make this an event to go to.

Tickets are 40 bucks, and have a tendency to sell out. I may have an extra ticket, if one of my various beer buddies doesn’t pick it up. I and a few friends are going to the 3:30 tasting. And if you have a wad of money burning a hole in your pants, there is always the black tie beer dinner and roast of Michael Jackson for $150 per person (proceeds to charity).

FRESH BREWED IN THE GARDEN STATE:
Brewery and Brewpub News in NJ

HOP PHISH INDIA PALE ALE RETURNS FOR 2000

Flying Fish’s I.P.A. with its deep golden color and plenty of hop bitterness balanced by malt sweetness. Because of the extensive dry hopping, there’s a spicy, fruity hop finish. Lightly filtered to maintain the appropriate body and flavor, the HopPhish is then keg conditioned for extra character. The beer features a combination of 5 malts plus a percent or two of wheat for an extra creamy head. The HopPhish also uses five hop varieties and has also been dry-hopped with a special “hop tea” made of the rare and unique Ahtanum hop.It will be shipping February 7 to NJ, PA and MD/DC.

BEER DINNERS IN SO. JERSEY

Fellow ASN correspondent Gary Monterosso, author of Tap Line, has two beer dinner events scheduled for March. A dinner at East Bay Crab & Grille in Egg Harbor Township, NJ for a Mardi Gras-theme dinner on March 3. On March 30th, the Race Car Cafe in Malaga, NJ will host its first beer dinner with Gary. Check
http://hometown.aol.com/whatzontap/Goodbeer.html for more information.

OTHER NEWS

Triumph is pulling out all the stops for its Mardi Gras celebration this year. Festivities begin on March 2nd with a special Creole menu. The party kicks into high gear on March 7th, with Snapperhead, a seven-piece band, which plays a mix of Zydeco,Swamp, Pop, Blues and Cajun music. Magicians, jugglers on stilts, tap dancers, balloon artists, and psychic readers will also be featured. Cover charge is $5. St. Patrick’s Day will feature live music from Paddy and the Pale Boys, Irish Stout, and doorprizes – $5 cover.

In international beer traveling news, Beers International and Ale Street News are hosting a beer tour through Belgium March 30th. For more information, call 973-853-BEER or check the web site at www.beersinternational.com. For more information, call 973-853-BEER or check the web site at www.beersinternational.com.

BROOKLYN BREWING COMPETITION SET FOR END OF MONTH

Just a reminder that the Malted Barley Appreciation Society, a homebrewers’ club based in New York City, will be hosting its third annual “Best of Brooklyn” homebrew competition, which will take place on Saturday, February 26th, 2000. They are still looking for judges and stewards.

Last year over 70 judges and stewards worked hard evaluating over 400 entries, making it the largest homebrew contest ever held in NY state.

You can register electronically at http://hbd.org/mbas/bob2000.html. For more details, see the above website or contact Andrew Henckler; (718) 626-3978 – (917) 452-0717w, henckler@m…

You must register to judge or steward by FEB. 18. Only evaluations by judges that are active in the Beer Judge Certification Program will be used to decide awards, but apprentices are welcome to sit with the judges and learn beer evaluation.You will be notified of your category assignment the week prior to the competition.

Judges may bring pre-registered entries with them on the day of the contest only if they do not live near a drop-off point, in order to avoid a delayed start of the contest due to large numbers of walk-ins. (Call if you have any questions.)

WHALES COMPETITION SET FOR APRIL

J.J. Bittings (Woodbridge) will host its 2nd Annual Gold MedalCompetition on April 16th. This AHA-sanctioned homebrew competition is sponsored by the Woodbridge Homebrewers Ale and Lager Enthusiasts Society (WHALES).

For competition information, check the J.J. Bittings web page at www.njbrewpubs.com.

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Princeton and Local Environs Ale and Lager Enthusiast Society