Tickets are still available for this Saturday’s Downtown Beer Festival

Including, yes, VIP

This Saturday, August 12th marks the inaugural Downtown Wilmington Craft Beer Festival. The festival will be located right on Main Street in front of Wilmington beer fixture the Chelsea Tavern.

Attendees can expect the usual beer festival fun, including music, vendors, food trucks and of course, beer – over 100 to be exact representing some 40 regional breweries.

The festival itself runs from 12 noon (for VIP ticket holders) or 1:30 (for GA ticket holders). Taps close at 5:30pm, but the music portion of the event will still continue until 7:30pm.  Attendees who wish to continue in the festivities will have two outside bars and of course, Chelsea Tavern available to them.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit John Medkeff’s Jr’s “Restore the King” project which is raising money to restore the 135-year old Gambrinus statue that once stood on the side of the Diamond State Brewery.

The links that matter:

For information on the event including times, musical guests, etc; the event’s Facebook page is here.

You can purchase tickets here.

Downtown Brew Festival

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Other dates of note:

Delaware:A Brew Story returns to the Blue Ball barn on September 2nd with a ‘roaring Twenties‘ theme.

The Historic Odessa Brew-fest returns September 9th.

Kennett Brew-fest returns for it’s 20th session on September 30th.

It’s Beer, Wings, and BBQ at the 2017 Colonial BBQ Competition!

CBC TagThe Colonial BBQ Competition in Historic New Castle returns this Friday/Saturday for its second year.

The event last year left a sour taste in some attendee’s mouths due to some first-year road bumps that Michael Quaranta and a group of hard working volunteers have been trying very hard to fix for their second go around of the Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned competition.

The two-day event kicks off Friday evening  at 5pm with a combination craft beer/chicken wing event on The Green that will see 12-15 BBQ teams via for the People’s Choice Award for best BBQ, and YOU get to be the People. For $5 you’ll get to sample five wings of your choice and don’t be afraid to purchase another five because the event managed to acquire 225 pounds of wings for the event thanks to Mountaire and The Restaurant Depot.

The craft beer event will feature some local favorites such as Twin Lakes, 16 Mile, and Third Wave, as well as Grand Rapids, Michigan favorite Founders Brewing, which just recently started to distribute in Delaware. For those who like something light with their BBQ, Miller will also be on tap.

Saturday’s big event has the gates open at 12 noon, entry fee is $10 and Michael and his team have worked hard to ensure that there is adequate food available for all the BBQ lovers who attends.

“Saturday we’ve got 4 food vendors, including two locals (Locale Post, Philippine Smoke), and two retired competitors selling BBQ. In addition, the Restaurant Depot and Mountaire contacted 125 pounds of chicken leg quarters, so the good kids at Howard High and the culinary program, will cook and sell these as a way to make the school program a few bucks. We had 3 bbq vendors last year, and this year we have 5…and the two that [are coming back from] last year are bringing much more food”, Michael told me in a Facebook conversation.

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Pork and chicken await the crowd at last year’s Colonial BBQ Competition.

Saturday’s beer lineup will be similar to last year with $5 still getting you a 16oz pour, with the highlight being local Smyrna brewer Blue Earl on hand offering their Blues Power, Honey Suckle, and Walking Blues brews. Bud, Bud Light, Goose Island IPA, and Blue Point Toasted Lager will also be available and Michael want me to inform everyone that last call is at 4:30!

Michael and his team seem to have really put time and effort into evolving their event past the obstacles and problems of last year. With any new event like this, there are bound to be growing pains, and Michael even conceded that there will probably be new ones this year, but asked people to be patient, “It will be fun. We’ll have screw ups again this year, and it won’t be until year three or four when we have worked out most of the kinks….but we’ll get there!”

Live music for the event will be provided Backlash, Federal Street and Blue Cat Blues Band.

The Colonial BBQ Competition supports the New Castle Charities, a nonprofit organization that assists area homeowners and improvements to Battery Park.

As always I would like to thank Michael for taking some of his valuable time to talk to me!

3rd Wave Brewing’s 1st Wave IPA

One night, no one quite remembers exactly when or why, a brewery vanished. To be more accurate, the people working in the brewery vanished, leaving the building and the equipment to sit silently like a long forgotten shipwreck serving as nothing more than a reminder of the life and activity that had once filled its abandoned structure.

Where the old brewery workers went to, no one knows, but some say that they were whisked away to the far off realm of Mary’s Land.

And all remained quiet, until one night the brewery came to life with sound, and light, and smells. Once again the parking lot was a buzz with delivery trucks. The air smelled again of hops and malt. And the blur of activity could once again be seen in the dimly lit windows.

But who was responsible for this resurrection? Who had brought the brewery back to life? Well, locals whispered of two woman who had moved into the brewery and made it their new home with the intention of bring finely crafted beer back to the once silent structure.

Legend also says that one night, under the light of the full moon, these woman slipped into a nearby brewery and enticed a young man to follow them back to their home, a young man who had a gift of making good beers. The young man followed them back, and some say that he still wonders the brewery at night to this very day.

Or so it is said in legend.

………………………………..

OK, not really, but there is always an amount of truth to fables and legends. Lori Clough and Suellen Vickers did in fact buy the Delmar, Delaware brewing space that had been vacated by Evolution Brewing when that brewery decided to move up the road into Maryland.

They then reached out to John Panasiewicz who was brewing for the Iron Hill chain at the time and brought him on board to help brew their beers, many of them based on recipes that began on Suellen’s back porch.

The rest, if not legend, is at least history.

Tracey and I finally made it down to the brewery last October for our first Southern Swing (I probably should write about that someday, it was an awesome trip) and it’s just a quaint little place on a quiet road (that day, other days may vary) through the southern most town in Delaware.

3rd Wave started hitting the shelves in bottles, but after a while they started including beer in cans, something that I know long time readers know I’m a big fan of.

The beer I chose to hangout with this time is one of their bottled offerings, 1st Wave IPA, and since it’s 1st Wave, I decided to enjoy it while participating in some of the many firsts that have come around this time of year.

As always click on a photo to enlarge and cycle through them. You’ll find my thoughts on the beer after the gallery.

THEM: From their website – “Our American style IPA has a deep golden color and a great hop bitterness balanced with a malty sweetness. Brewed with American 2-row barley, Warrior, Northern Brewer and Cascade hops. The name stems from this being the first IPA beer we attempted.” 1st Wave clocks in at ~6.2ABV and ~63IBU.

BUZZ: Ratebeer (3.09/5), Beer Advocate (3.78/5), Untappd (3.36/5)

DE AVAILABILITY: Most fine beer outlets.

ME: My first two six packs of this were very enjoyable. 1st Wave pours a very pleasing orangish color with a topping of white fluffy foam.

The interesting thing that struck me about this beer is that although it’s billed as “American” I though it had a very English vibe to it. Maybe because of the northern brewer hops.

Malt/caramel are highly predominant in both the nose and the flavor, with the hops tucked in there nicely. This is not a “hop bomb” IPA, the flavor is well balanced on the malt base with the ending bitterness being a little more harsh than crisp, but just at the right level.

The interesting thing that struck me about this beer is that although it’s billed as “American” I though it had a very English vibe to it. Maybe because of the northern brewer hops. Anyway, at one point I found myself wondering how this beer would work in a cask, maybe with a handful of Northern Brewer hops tossed in for good measure (no hot peppers or gummy bears, please).

The third six-pack was a mystery. The first two beers were dead on 1st Wave, but the next three tasted completely different. The beer had a more floral/Belgian note to it, and I though maybe the beer had started to turn (bottling date was October of 2016). But to be honest, if it did, it turned into something that was enjoyably drinkable as the beer showed no normal signs of infection – in other words a nasty, foamy mess. The final bottle of the six was back to normal.

Based on the first two six-packs I’d recommend checking 1st Wave IPA out. It’s a pretty solid beer.

Time for another beer….

Marvel Finally Misses with Iron Fist

Better late then never?

At one point in the later part of its 13-episode run, Davos, fellow K’un-Lun citizen and longtime friend of Danny Rand drops a line that is so on the nose, I’m surprise that it made the final cut.

“You’re the worst Iron Fist ever!”

Damn, dude. Words hurt! But sadly, so does the truth,  because depending on what you read/who you listen too, Iron Fist is not as good as it was hoped to be – for a wide range of reasons.

I say depending, because although the series dropped to some critical and fan lashing, highlighted by rotten tomatoes scores of 17 and 79% respectively, it actually fared very well when compared against other Netflix series  when analyzed with the network’s own metrics.

I’m going to ignore all the Who-Struck-John that dusted up when Loras Tyrell (aka Finn Jones) was cast to play Danny Rand – mostly by those who wanted an Asian in the role, even though Jones in the comics is Caucasian – because I think the series would have caught grief from people regardless of which way they went with their casting choice.

All of which would have gone away if it ended up that the casting decision was a good one. Unfortunately, although Jones seems to be a  fine actor, he was woefully behind the curve on this fight choreography skills when Iron Fist started filming – a fact that is sadly very apparent in the final production – apparently because he had little time to train before filming began.

With dazzling martial arts scenes popping up regularly on Into The Badlands, some flashy action sequences in shows like Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, and hard hitting, gritty fight scenes from Iron Fist’s sister show Daredevil, not having top notch fight scenes from your star in a series based on the “Living Weapon” is borderline criminal. Especially when you factor in that co-stars like Colleen Wing and Lewis Tan are more than bringing it.

But let me push all that to the side and list three areas where I thought Iron Fist really missed the boat.

THE BIG BAD

I’m going to say it now, I’ve never been a fan of The Hand, which is TOTALLY hypocritical of me, because I’m usually all for anything that fills my TV or movie screen with katana wielding ninjas.

But to be honest, I just haven’t warmed up to them, sorry. I know, long time readers of the comics will point out that the Hand are pretty big players in the Marvel world and longtime adversaries of Daredevil. Given.

But to me, the Hand have always been the under card with other villains and anti-heroes carrying the more interesting parts of the story forward. In the first season of Daredevil they had the unenviable task of trying to out shine Edgar the Bug’s (AKA Vincent D’Onofrio) King Pin and for that show’s second season, the plot line of the Hand I felt weighed down the second half of the series mostly because it diverted focus away from Shane Walsh’s (AKA Jon Bernthal) Punisher.

The would be main bad guy for Iron Fist I guess would be the whole Meachum family, siblings Joy and Ward, and their father Harold who is dead, except that he’s not. Together Joy and Ward spend a lot of time not believing that the returning Danny Rand is indeed Danny Rand because they believe he’s dead, except that he’s not.

Problem – there isn’t a shred of menace in these three together. Not one iota of the quiet rage, or singular focused aggression that made The King Pin or The Punisher so compelling, respectively.

Harold meanwhile spends a lot of time hiding in his penthouse because people believe he’s dead, except he’s not, abusing is assistant and hoping the Hand doesn’t drop by for a visit. In the real world, only his assistant and Ward know that he’s not dead (except that he is, but he’s not) which assists Harold as he attempts to figure out if Danny Rand is dead or not. Got it? Groovy.

Problem – there isn’t a shred of menace in these three together. Not one iota of the quiet rage, or singular focused aggression that made The King Pin or The Punisher so compelling, respectively. Nope, they just kind of wade through the plot, adding obstacles when Danny needs them, and opening doors for the same reasons. But as far as lifting the show up to another level as other villains have in the past? Never happens.

Now, I’ll balance that with this – the inclusion of the Hand has brought some cool boss level fighters for our heroes to overcome. There was Nobu Yoshioka in both seasons of Daredevil, and Iron Fist gave us the very interesting (and sadly underutilized) Zhou Cheng (The Drunken Master) and the Bride of Nine Spiders.

And who doesn’t love Madame Gao? I want her on my fireplace mantle to act as my own personal version of Google Home. “Gao, What’s the weather going to be today?”

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“Ok, so…partly cloudy, then?”

If Iron Fist showed me anything, it’s that if there isn’t a very complete and interesting big bad to help carry the story, then for me the story doesn’t work, and the Hand are unable to do it by themselves, and sadly, Iron Fist is woefully lacking in complete and interesting big bads.

NOT ENOUGH K’UN-LUN.

One of the glaring omissions in my mind is the almost painful lack of back story into what makes Danny Rand tick. He just fancy walks into the building that bares his family name after a 15 year absence and starts to bring confusion to everyone who now works there.

But why? Why did he train all his life to  face and defeat the dragon, Shou-Lao the Undying, securing his role as the immortal Iron Fist, only to skip out and go walk about the first chance he got?

The show doesn’t investigate this part of Danny’s life very deeply, only showing an occasional glimpse of K’un-Lun, (where he apparently spent much of his time being whipped with a cane, because, plot!) and none of his show down with Shou-Lao.

Having that back story could have greatly fleshed out Danny’s motives, and maybe even have been used to explain why he doesn’t yet have the fighting skill level, or indeed the basic knowledge of other powers, one would associate with the Immortal Iron Fist.

Did Danny decide to face Shou-Lao even though his masters thought he wasn’t worthy or indeed, ready too? Did he beat the dragon using some Kobayashi Maru type cheat? Was his goal simply to be come the Iron Fist because he knew that would be the only way he could leave K’un-Lun, which was a long time plan of his?

So much backstory and motivations for Danny could have been filled in by focusing on this part of his story, and since it didn’t we don’t have it, and Danny just seems to do things because he does.

LONILINESS

No, I’m not talking about Danny’s alienation when he returns to New York or his love life (I’ll never feel sorry for a guy who winds up at the end of the day with Colleen Wing), I’m talking about the fact that Danny Rand is the only Defender to show up in Iron Fist.

From a production point, it takes some of the “he met, she met” that needs to happen out of The Defenders

I can understand why, the producers probably wanted the show to fully explore and flesh out the Danny Rand character, and probably felt that the inclusion of another Defender would somehow take away from that goal. My question back – did including Luke Cage diminish Jessica Jones in any way? No.It.Did.Not.

Adding another Defender would have helped jump start the formation of the titular group as well as allowed the show to have a path with which to move into The Defenders. From a production point, it takes some of the “he met, she met” that needs to happen out of The Defenders thus allowing that show to have more time to devote to story (consider The Defenders appears to only be 8 episodes), plus puts a very interesting aspect into Iron Fist allowing them to remove some of the slower moments of that show.

Who would not have wanted to see Madam Gao once again irritated by the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, or even a nick-in-time save by Jessica Jones. And don’t tell me fans wouldn’t have fist pumped or left their seats the first time they saw Luke and Danny, the team that in the comics becomes known as “Heroes for Hire”, standing next to each other ready to demolish a Handful (get it) of ninjas in a classic battle.

No…whoever made the choice to make Iron Fist only about Danny Rand…I feel they made the wrong one.

And that’s it. That’s the three bullet points I took away after watching Iron Fist. The show is OK at best, but sadly flawed, and really hurts when compared against the shows that have come before it.

Bring on The Defenders.

The Defenders drops on Netflix on August 18th, 2017.

McCain’s Craft Beer Battered Fries – Really?

A little different post today.

If I was asked to name my favorite cuisine, I think I’d have to say – pub. Oh, don’t get me wrong there’s nothing wrong with Italian, Greek, Asian or other culinary classics, but give me a place that makes a great burger or a killer plate of wings and I’m there.

Even outside of pubs I still look for those tavern comforts. I’m not above going out to nice places for lunch whether for work, or play, and still scanning the menu for what the place may offer as far as pub-like fare.

And along those lines if you see me intently contemplating the menu I’m usually not looking for the newest special, or gourmet cucumber, chicken wrap. No, my mind is usually locked in the complex, calculus laden calculation designed to compute what I can order that will get me the most french fries.

As most people will concur, at their basic core- fries rock. Not just because they’re versatile starch bombs that not only work well on their own paired with your condiment of choice or piled high with all kinds of calorie increasing craziness, but let’s face it, it’s because it’s so hard to make a good one at home. Ok, it’s not hard, a few potatoes, a sharp knife, some hot oil, and you have…well anything from oily, limp potato sticks to charred, charcoal like chaff depending on your attention span.

No wonder the frozen section of your local food market chain is chock full of all kinds of choices to help you conveniently get to fry Nirvana. But to be honest, I seldom go this route because let’s face it, most of those options are lacking and resemble nothing like the fries you can get out – even at those fast food joints.

https://thedogsofbeer.wordpress.com/But someone at work recently asked if I’d seen McCain’s Food’s craft beer batter offerings, and I was intrigued. Not because I’m always looking for the next great frozen side dish, but because…oh, come on, you know why.

Certain segments of the beer world are still (rightly or wrongly) holding tight to the term “craft” and what it should exactly connote to anyone inside or outside of that world. The Brewer’s Association still conveys a very clear (if abet, fluid) definition of what a craft brewery is, even going so far as to recently condemn Walmart for attempting to blur the lines with their recently offered company brewed beer.

So for some company to plaster the words “craft beer battered” across their bag of cryogenically suspended spuds I thought was pretty daring, so I picked up a bag of fries and onion rings (because if it’s not fries … it’s onion rings) and did some sleuthing.

The bags state “Made with finest quality American Pale Ale” which is nice bit of initial encouragement, but from there it wane’s fast, much like a third act in a horror movie where the heroes are sure they’ve destroyed the monster, only to watch it rise from the smoke and ashes.

There’s no mention of whose beer McCain specifically uses, which seems like a lost marketing opportunity for both McCain’s and whoever makes their beer. I mean, if you had company that makes frozen breaded confections, you’d want customers to know that you were using Stone’s or Bell’s, wouldn’t you?

I was impressed to see that beer is actually listed as an ingredient whose components are broken down as: Water, Malted Barley, Corn Syrup, Hops, Salt. Close. I mean you could make beer out of those ingredients but the corn syrup isn’t something you’d expect to see on the grain bill from your local brewer who you would associate making a “craft” product. Also, water treatment not withstanding, salt?

No, this just doesn’t seem right.

A little digging finds that McCain indeed has a page on their website dedicated to Brew City, but it seems to be more about a marketing brand set up for their products in the food service industry than having anything truly to do with craft beer.

The product itself is pretty good entry in the home fry market. Battered fries aren’t something I come across much and as for these, well let’s just say I think they were using the term “battered” pretty liberally. The onion rings were pretty good and to be honest I’d spring for a bag again the next time I’m in the mood for a quick fix and don’t feel like battering up a batch of my own.

Bear in mind however, that I say that about both products having used the deep fry option for both. You’re mileage my vary in an oven, which is why I tend to forego it.

I didn’t start this article to rip on McCain or put their products down. To be honest, I was hoping to find a craft beer connection that I could hold up as another example of how craft beer is working its way into different aspects of our lives. But sadly, I have to conclude after some sleuthing and contemplation that I’m pretty confident that the closest thing to craft beer in these commodities is the one you open when you sit down to dinner.

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The Final Sip: Two requests to McCain for clarification on the craft beer used in their products went unanswered.

Fordham’s Rosie Parks Oyster Stout

– Still one of my favorites.

As I wrote in last week’s post, I’ve changed up my beer drinking habits lately in an attempt to get back to the simple pleasure of enjoying beer, while stepping away from all the usual frenzied brand snatching I’ve tended to do over the past couple of years.

This time I want to talk about Fordham’s Rosie Parks Oyster Stout, a beer that is no stranger to me as I named it as one of my six picks for Brian Roth’s Six-Pack Project as well as making no apologies for declaring it in the past as one of my favorite beers brewed in Delaware.

This hangout happened on a bit of a whim as I was getting ready for our yearly St Paddy’s day celebration, mulling over the possibility of adding some oysters to the menu. I loved the idea, but wasn’t digging the added expense or possible hassle of finding good oysters at the last minute when I remembered that I’d seen this very metaphorical (but adequate) substitute on one of my locals’ shelves.

So spending nothing but a quick stop after work the next day, plus the price of a six pack and bingo – “oysters” for St Paddy’s day.

Of course there was plenty of Murphy’s and Guinness as well, but Rosie didn’t seem to mind hanging out with the boys. This was a short hangout, just a couple of days, but it was very pleasurable.

The St Paddy’s celebration? Well long time readers know that I’m a bit of a St Paddy’s Day snob due to some culture programing by a Irish Jedi. So every year we get together with the kids and rock some Irish inspired food, drink and music. I’ll embed a couple of songs we added to the playlist this year at the bottom of this post. For now, let’s talk beer – and a little something else.

As always click on a photo to enlarge and cycle through the gallery to read a little comment or two about each photo

THEM: From a press release:

“Making a triumphant return, the Oyster Stout was formerly in the Fordham Brewing portfolio and retains a loyal group of followers. Containing Chesapeake Bay oysters and shells, contributing to a slight briny taste in the beer, this stout contains pale, torrified wheat, caramunich, roasted barley and chocolate malt. In addition, it is hopped with Bravo and Glacier hops. Black and 5.2% ABV, this beer is very distinctive.”

THE BUZZ: Ratebeer (3.18/5), Beer Advocate (3.55/5), Untappd (3.44/5)

DE AVAILABILITY: Most fine beer outlets.

ME: I’m going to admit, I didn’t really crawl into the glass during our celebration to re-analyze a beer I’ve had dozens of times. I simply enjoyed it throughout the day, which is what these types of reviews are all about. So let’s just go with my thoughts from my six-pack project post:

“Rosie is pure smooth drinking from front to back, with light chocolate and (even lighter) roasted notes, along with that kiss of mineral that comes from the added oyster shells.  The finish is clean and not bitter (24 IBUs) and the after taste is simply a slight roastiness.”

Yeah. Seems right. Don’t let the oyster thing turn you off, this is one fine beer and was a nice change of pace from the traditional dry stouts poured throughout the day.

Time for another beer….sing us out boys!

Fordham’s Dilated Pupilz Golden Pils

Dark Eye Glasses Not Required.

I’ve been changing my drinking habits lately. Running around trying to grab every beer that one has never tried is a young man’s game, and I just don’t seem to have the energy for it like I used to. And yes, you can do the logic problem and conclude that I’m not a young man anymore.

Instead, I’ve been grabbing some local beers off the shelf and just kind of hanging out with them. Whether it be a six pack over a long weekend, or a couple (or maybe three) over a period of a couple of weeks (or months). I’ve been just hanging out with the beer, kicking back, relaxing, experiencing it at different times and in different situations, while trying not to let too many other beers distract me.

What is this beer? Does it have a story? Does the story change over time?

Will this improve my reviews? Probably not. But they’ll be changing a bit as well as the wordy intros will probably be whittled down to a few words so that the review is more concise and quicker for you to read.

I also want to use this beer ‘quality time’ to take some photos of the beer and let you all have a peek at what the beer and I are doing in our lives. And the truth is, I’d rather be playing in Lightroom and Photoshop lately than writing long, rambling reviews.

So  with that, let’s check out the first beer in this new format, Fordham Brewing’s Dilated Pupilz.

THEM: From the website – “Dilated Pupilz has a solid malt backbone and well balanced hop character.  This golden pilsner showcases a distinct hop nose and malty flavor up front but finishes with a floral bitterness. A great beer to enjoy any time of the year.”

The grain bill includes Vienna and Caraform malts, while Bravo, Tradition and Saaz hops balance the load. Pupilz clocks in at 5.0%ABV and 38IBU.

THE BUZZ: Ratebeer (no ratings), Beer Advocate (one rating), Untappd (3.4)

DE AVAILABILITY: Most fine beer outlets.

ME: As you can see by the below photos I’ve been drinking this one for a little while now. I’ve found it mostly to be a beer that drinks pretty nice in most situations without demanding too much attention on itself.

When stored in my super turbo beer over-chiller (aka, my fridge) Pupilz has a clean nose and a just apparent malt taste with some classic Pilsner hop flavors. Every now and then the beer tosses me a citrusy/lemon notes towards the end, not sure if that’s really there, or if it’s my palate doing some of that slight-of-hand stuff that it does sometimes. The end is pretty crisp and doesn’t linger.

I wasn’t sure I liked this beer at first, but in the end it really started to grow on me. In fact, once I had everything I needed for this review, I found myself picking up one last six-pack – you know, just for the hell of it.

As always click on a photo to enlarge and cycle through the gallery to read a little comment or two about each photo.

Time for another beer.