The Local Tap – Two Stones Pub Namaans Opening and my 500th Beer

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, I don’t need to tell you anything about Two Stones.  There are articles about beer events held there written all over this blog.  Michael Stiglitz and Ben Gumbo opened their beer temple at the old Piece of Ireland location and they’ve been serving the craft beer community well ever since.  So well in fact that just about a year and a half after opening the first location, the guys went out and opened up a second Two Stones Pub on the corner of Foulk and Namaans road.  Knowing that this was going to be an event, I of course drove up for the  opening.

If you’ve been to the original Two Stones, than a lot of things will be familiar at the new location.  The food menu and specials are pretty much the same (hey, if it works, don’t fuss with it) as is the dedication to serving a great diversity of craft beers.  Heck, even some of the faces will be the familiar as some of the staff from the original Two Stones have made the transition up north (I’m going miss Patrick, Kevin and Jill).  Heck, you still have to walk through a hallway full of kegs to get to the bathroom.

The decor of the new location, which tends toward a dark, industrial look with it’s metal cage enclosed lights and its metal accents makes it look very different from the original location.   I think that was a good call by the guys because I’m not a fan of “cookie cutter” establishments.  The beer board has been upgraded, evolving from the standard chalkboard at the original location to a video screen at the new location.  The nondescript black taps are concealed behind box like structures, which gives the bar a nice clean look.  Although I hope after the commotion of this week they start using standard tap handles again.  What can I say?  I love the look of a long row of colorful tap handles.   The new place has added a second beer engine over the single one the Newark location has but sadly, there wasn’t anything on cask that first night while I was there.

L – The crowd waiting for the doors to open.  R – The opening day crowd at the bar.
L – Jill pours a beer with a smile.  R – A table gets their food plus some Stone Brewing swag.
The New Beer Board
L – One of these is the Budda who looks over Two Stones, and the other is the Co-Owner.  I’ll leave it to you to decide which is which.     R – Not in the mood for a beer? That’s fine, Two Stones has great cocktails as well as kick ass bloody marys for Sunday Brunch.
L – It wouldn’t be a Two Stones pub location if you didn’t have to walk through a hall of kegs to get to the bathroom.  R – Congrats guys!!

To celebrate the opening week, the guys decided to do a tap take over every day, with the opening day being Stones Brewery (Ommegang, Allagash, Evolution, Troegs, Victory, Yards and Dogfish Head, were to follow).  I was second in line, and when the doors opened, I walked into the new place with more than just the excitement of the opening on my mind.

It just happened that as the opening of Two Stones Namaans drew near, I also was closing in on a milestone of sorts.  I was only a few beers away from my 500th unique check-in on Untappd, so I timed it to get it at the opening.  And since it was a Stone tap take over, I couldn’t think of a better beer to do it with than Stones’ 16th Anniversary.

Stone’s 16th Anniversary and my 500th check-in

Now I’ll be honest, I’ve found Stone’s Anniversary beers pretty hit and miss in the past.  But the 16th I thought was pretty decent.  Nice tropical fruits notes with plenty of lemon in both the nose and the palette, leading up to a nice crisp finish.  I’ll probably pick a bottle up for review later, at that moment I was just enjoying a nice beer at a great beer bar.

If you’re in the North Wilmington area and haven’t stopped in yet, there’s still time to catch some opening week events.  Check their website or Facebook page.  And even if you don’t make it for the opening, stop in sometime soon and check out what’s going on.  You won’t regret it.

The Local Tap – Belgian Week at Two Stones Pub

“The Board” – Day 5, Belgian Beer Week

While Wilmington Beer Week was in full swing, Newark DE wasn’t exactly lacking in beer happenings itself.  The guys over at Two Stones Pub had (they say by accident) also declared that week their “Belgian Beer Week”, twenty-four taps, all Belgian or American Belgian style, all week long.

The week started with what could pretty much be described as a Brewery Ommegang tap take over.  Co-owner Ben told me the previous week that Ommegang had really helped them out a lot as far as beers were concerned, and from what I saw as I perused the draft menu,  I could not have agreed more.

Through out the week such notables as Liefman’s, Timmerman’s, North Coast, DFH, Flying Dog, Allagash,  and Lefevbre went up on the chalkboard.  As kegs of Ommegang were killed they were replace by breweries such as 21st Amendment and Goose Island.

From Top Left (L,R,B) Ommegang BPA, Gnomegang, and Art of Darkness

However, as much as I enjoyed Ommegang and the rest of Belgian beers, I had one particular beer in my sights, a beer I love, one that you don’t normally see on tap around here.  So I kept an eye towards the Facebook page hoping to get a glimpse of it on an uploaded picture of their chalkboard or a mention of it in a status update.   I even asked Ben when he thought it would be on tap.  Then finally, on Friday, I found the following tweet on my phone at lunch time:

If one of the owners of your favorite local beer bar sends you a personal invite, it is totally rude not to accept.  So even though I’d just been in there the night before:

Two Stones Pub co-owner Ben, updating the board with Delirium Tremens
One of a few Deliriums I had that evening.

Thanks to the guys at Two Stones for once again tapping it up right.  Time for another beer….

The Local Tap – Tröegs Tap Take Over at Two Stones Pub

The Board at Two Stones Pub for the Troegs’ tap take over.

On July 17th, a few members of the Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers met at Two Stones Pub for a Tröegs Brewing tap take over.

I started with Perpetual IPA.  In this case the “I” stands for “Imperial”, as the alcohol comes in at 7.5% ABV and the beer utilizes an impressive list of hops throughout the brewing process: Bravo, Chinook, Mt. Hood, Nugget, Citra, Cascade,  and Amarillo.

It’s a big beer, but well balanced.  I was debating on another but decided to go with a Dreamweaver Wheat  instead.  This beer, brewed in open top fermenters, hits all the check boxes; spice, clove, pepper and bananas.   Open top fermentation allows the brewery to skim off and collect the foam, or krausen, from the top of the wort during the fermentation process.  This krausen, containing yeast and wort proteins, is then used to start the fermentation of the next batch of Dreamweaver Wheat.  The brewery states on their website that this gives the beer stronger pepper and clove notes than traditional closed fermentation.  Seems to work!  Very refreshing.

Perpetual IPA. Cask on the left, keg on the right.

Two Stones Pub Co-owner Ben then asked if I wanted the first pour of Perpetual IPA on cask (who wouldn’t?), so after a toast between me, him and Troeg’s rep; I turned my focus to the cask ale in front of me and and a taster glass of the keg version for comparison.  I enjoyed the smooth creaminess from the cask version, although bartender Anna preferred the crispness of the keg.

Next up was Dead Reckoning  Porter.  I’m very fond of porters and this is a nice one.  From a pure “style” stand point, the light hop that peaks out behind the cocoa/chocolate malt might not be to everyone’s liking, but I didn’t mind it that much.

The final three beers were from Tröegs’ Scratch Beer Series.  This series is Tröegs’ way of doing small batch experiments with new processes and ingredients; and the beers are quiet often only available in Tröegs’ tasting room.  The beers are often simply refer to by style, but the series is also numbered with a code, xx-yyyy; with xx being the number of the batch in the series (starting at 1 and now sitting at 72) and yyyy being the year the beer was made.  The beer that started out as #4-2007, at first simply labeled “barleywine”, is now doing duty for the brewery as their Flying Mouflan.

The first was More Helles, Less Bock (#69-2012) a Helles/Bock/Maibock amalgamation that showed a complex nose and flavor; laced with malt, bread and maybe some honey.  This illustrates one of the sad things about hunting around for great beers, sometimes when you find one, you have to accept the fact that it will probably (sometimes definitely) be the last chance you have to enjoy it.  Really, really good.

The true “Clash of the Titans”

The final two beers have the distinction of being created as a result of a friendly(?) challenge by Tröegs to two legends in the craft beer world (and indeed, the PA/DE/NJ craft beer scene); Jack Curtin, beer columnist and the man behind Liquid Diet; and Lew Bryson, beer author and the man responsible for Seen Through the Glass , The Session Beer Project , and fellow survivor of the REC.FOOD.DRINK.BEER usenet group.   Each was challenged to brew a beer as part of Tröeg’s Scratch Beer Series, which was to be presented head-to-head as part of this year’s Philly beer week.  And of course, bragging rights were on the line.

First up was Jack Curtin’s Beire de Grouch (#66-2012), a Beire de Garde made with fresh cracked black pepper.  The French/Belgian influence was all over this beer with earthy notes amongst malt and yeast.  But the pepper was the real star here.  Both in the aroma and in the taste where it was just enough to give a warm pepper finish without over powering the rest of the flavors.  Awesome balance.  Great beer.

Finally, it was time for Lew’s beer,  Zwickel Licker (#68-2012) (note, the beer is WAY more fun to order when you are surrounded by women who have a great sense of humor) an unfiltered Dortmunder.  The beer is a pocket german lager with good amounts of malt, and a hop finish that’s crisp and clean.   There would be worst things in the world than sitting around a grill and drinking this all day long.

The winner?  Sadly, I’ve been informed by my editor that since I was not contacted to serve as an official judge in what was obviously a very serious competition, I can’t say.  But he has agreed  to put up a picture.

The Winner!!

Thanks to Two Stones Pub for another great tap take over.  Thanks to Tröegs for the great beers.  And thanks to Tröegs’ rep for the beer swag (pint glasses, key chains, etc).  Shout out to new DCBaWL member Mike for stopping by.  Always great to meet new members, especially when they’re a fellow Doctor Who fan.

Time for another beer…..

The Local Tap – Allagash Tap Take Over at Two Stones Pub

The Board at Two Stones

Last week the Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers group met at Two Stones Pub, Newark for an Allagash (WEB:FACEBOOK:TWITTER) tap take over.  Thirteen different beers were on tap that night plus some special bottles floating around.  It was great to meet three new members of the DCBaWL as well as spending some talking to craft beer friends both old and new.

I’m not going to try and hide our fondness for Allagash, I think they make solid beers.  Their Four is always a go to beer for me, and Tracey is happy anywhere that has their White on the beer menu.  But tonight was about getting the chance to taste some beers that we normally don’t get to see (and some we may never see again).

I started the evening with a mug of the White.  One, because it was the only Allagash beer they were serving in mugs and I needed to wash the taste of work out of my mouth, and two, so I could send Tracey a picture of it to encourage her to ditch work ASAP and come get some.

After that, time to switch to tasters and try some beers.  First up was a side by side of Thing 1 and Thing 2 an attempt to brew two beers from the same base wort.  Thing 1 is styled as a Belgian table beer at about 5% ABV.  From the wort of Thing 1, 7 bbls were diverted to another tank to which regular sugar, dark candi sugar were added and some dark grains were added to steep.  Both beers were good but I liked Thing 2 better, having a little more depth in the flavor.  We’re off to a good start.

Saison Mihm

Next in line for some side to side was Victor and Victoria.  Both beers are part of Allagash’s Tribute Series with moneys from both beers going to two different charities.  While both beers are described as “Belgian Strong ales brewed with grapes”, they’re actually quite different.  Victoria is brewed with a Belgian yeast and has over 200lbs of Chardonney grapes added to the mash, while Victor has over 100lbs of cabernet franc grapes added and is fermented with a wine yeast.  Between the two I had to give the nod to Victoria as I found Victor to have a slight “Welch’s grape juice” note that is not a favorite of mine.  Tracey waved me off however, stating that she liked the flavor of Victor and finding more complex than Victoria’s.

Next we decided it was time to take a break from the taste comparisons, so I ordered a Saison Mihm a beer brewed with honey, juniper berries, and lemongrass.  I’m always dubious of beers brewed with juniper beers because I don’t like when the beer gets to “ginny”.  But Mihm was nice, with a nice sweetness, none of the flavors over powering the other, and a bright finish.  It would have be interesting to try this side by side against Four to see if it could displace it as my favorite beer.

Can you tell which on is Bourbon barrel aged.

Back to side by sides we go as we compared their Belgian stout Black, against its bourbon aged twin.  Most of you know my feelings on bourbon beers by now, but I actually felt confident going into this tasting since Allagash makes one of my fav bourbon beers, Curieux.  Indeed, I liked the bourbon Black as I didn’t find it over powering, but the normal Black is pretty good as well.  Tough call here.  Might be a draw.

After that I needed something to bitch-slap my palette so I went with Old HLT.  What do you do with a large stainless steal tank sitting in the corner doing nothing?  Why you put 30 barrels of beer in it along with 2000lbs of cherries and let it sit for 2 years, what else?  This was very nice, with tart cherries and earthiness.

Next was Yakazu, a Belgian triple dry hopped with Cascade and Sorachi Ace.  Definite tropical fruit notes mingle with the Sorachi Ace in the style of the triple.  Nice beer.

Sometime during all this, co-owner Ben opened a bottle of Prince Tuesday and slid me a taste.  The beer is a collaboration beer between Allagash/Maine Beer/Rising Tide and brewed with Maine Rye.  It was a nice tasting beer and I wish I could have had a little more.  Apparently it was only distributed in Maine, so thanks to whoever brought the bottle.

Pretty much beered out at that point, I grabbed a glass of the Four and walked around touching base with some craft beer and twitter peeps.  The Allagash tap take over ranks up there is the best Two Stones have done, which is a testament to the quality of beers Allagash is producing.  Troeg’s is on tap for next month, and they’re going to have a tough act to follow.

Time for another beer…

The Local Tap – Flying Fish Tap Take Over at Two Stones Pub

Last Thursday members of the “Delaware Craft Beer and Wine” facebook group meet at Two Stones Pub for a tap take over from NJ brewers Flying Fish.  The group turn out was good, with some frequent attendees making an appearance as well as some new faces.  The crowd was lively and the place was ready to try some beers from Flying Fish.

The Chalk Board at Two Stones.

Flying Fish from Camden NJ, caught my eye awhile ago by virtue of their “Exit” series.  An ambitious multi-year project, the brewery hopes to brew a beer for each exit of the NJ turnpike.  Each beer being its own distinct style based on something interesting from  the area around the exit.  I really wanted to try all these as they came out, but sadly I’ve been lax in keeping my eyes open for them.  Being an “Exit 1” born and raised NJ boy, I of course had to try their Exit 1 Bayshore Oyster Stout which I remember enjoying.


But tonight was all about their recent release, Exit 8 – their Chestnut Brown Ale.  This was its Delaware premiere.  Our state got two kegs, and guess who got’em? From the brewery:

To celebrate Exit 8, one of our big farming areas, we’ve brewed a beer that
uses a lost local ingredient: chestnuts–and a popular current one: local honey.
This full-bodied hybrid Belgian-style brown ale brings forward a nutty character
from the chestnuts, accented by the flavors of honey, roasted barley and oat
flakes. There’s a nice spiciness from the Mt. Rainier hops while Chinooks add a
touch of pine. Fuggles and Columbus round out the hop profile.

While we sipped it, much discussion ensued.  I thought the beer was ok, but a little off to be a brown (maybe that’s where the term hybrid comes into play).  I got hints of honey and spice in it, as well as something that probably was the chestnuts.   It didn’t blow me away, but there was definitely enough there to warrant a focused revisit when I get my hands on a bottle (I’ll be fair to the brewery and post a better review when I do).  As a matter of fact, I found most of the beers from Flying Fish solid but nothing extraordinary.

I went into the take over believing that Exit 4, their American Triple, is far and away the best beer they make.  And nothing I had that night (Extra Pale, Farmhouse, ESB and Exit 8) changed that opinion.  Exit 4 is simply awesome, with it citrus notes and hint of cloves.  It won a Gold Medal at the 2009 at the GABF, and Flying Fish was smart enough to make it a year round offering.  And luckily, it was on draft that night.  Great stuff.

Another awesome event from the guys at Two Stones.  I can’t wait to see who they’ve got coming in next.

Time for another beer.

The Local Tap : Evolution Brewing Tap Take Over @ Two Stones Pub

The Tap Board at Two Stones - Evolution Heavy!!

On January 4th Two Stones Pub continued its tap take over series with Delaware’s relative newcomer, Evolution Brewing.  Evolution sprang up in Delmar, Delaware when Tom and John Knorr brought in Boston brewmaster Geoff DeBisschop and quickly built up a brewing line that produces about 3500 barrels a year according to their website.  On this evening, Tom Knorr showed up to hang out with craft beer lovers and showcase 12 of Evolution’s finest.  And the dogs were there.  Chuck and I arrived around 5, with The Beer Goddess and Tracey joining us shortly after.  After a bit we were joined by Patrick from Beer Delaware and the evening got rolling.

I started with a mug of Lucky 7 porter.  I love porters, and this is a nice one with its chocolate tones.  Next I had a Secret Spot.  From what I gathered this is a tap only winter beer.  Pity, because this malty beer with a light floral hop ending was very good!  I hope one day it will make its way into bottles, because I’d take it to some Christmas parties for sure.  Next up was Menagerie #3, a scotch ale blend where part of the blend is aged in bourbon barrels for 6 months.  You should know by now that I’m not a fan of the whole “bourbon barrel” craze.  Mostly because I feel a lot of brewers are heavy handed with it.  But if any beer style was meant to marry well with a touch of bourbon sweetness and smokiness, I believe that it’s scotch ale – and this was a nice one.  The bourbon flavor was evident amongst the maltiness of the the ale which included some nice vanilla notes.   After that it was time to switch up a bit so I ordered a glass of what Evolution brought on cask – Lot #6, dry hopped with Williamette and Chinook hops.  This can only be described as a mouthful of hops, and it indeed cleaned my palate of the dark beer I’d just had.  Next up was Morning Wood, an oatmeal stout with coffee aged in bourbon barrels.  Yes, there was those damn barrels again and coffee, another flavor I’m not fond of.  But this was pretty tasty.  All the flavors balanced well together and brought out the best of each other.  I’d have this again.  Maybe bourbon beers are growing on me.  Nahhhhhh.

When talking to Tom Knorr it was obvious that he was proud of his product and happy to see Two Stones packed with craft beer lovers enjoying Evolution’s line of beers.  When I asked him about the brewery’s up coming move to Maryland, Tom didn’t seem too phased by the prospect.  “We’re just moving down the road a bit,” he said with a sly smile.  Sounds good Tom, as long as we can still get your beers here in Delaware.

Time for another beer.

The Local Tap : Two Stone Pub’s Dogfish Head Happy Hour


Recently Two Stones Pub held a happy hour for Dogfish Head brewery.  Not only were 12 DFH beers featured on tap, but owner Sam Calagione stopped by for awhile to talk to people in the crowd.  And a crowd there was.  By the time I showed up at 4:30 the place was packed with thirsty customers.  By the time Tracey showed up (Twitter: @malinoisgirl) she had to wait 15 minutes before they would let her in.

As I waited for 5:00 to come around (the time when they would start serving the DFH beers), I grabbed an Arrogant Bastard and checked out the beer list.  Most of the beers I’ve had before but I was glad to see that they had brought their recently released Faithfull, another beer in their music series that celebrates the 20 year anniversary of the band Pearl Jam and their release of the album “10”.  At first I found the beer to simply be OK.  But by the time I could see the bottom of my mug, it had grown on me.  I was tempted to order another to see if my appreciation for it would continue to grow, but there was a chalkboard full of DFH beers to chose from and and I’m not a “same beer twice” kind of guy normally.

Tracey and I enjoying some DFH beers!

I continued on my musical journey with a mug of  Hell Hound on my Ale.  A  beer brewed in honor of famous blues man Robert Johnson.  As usual I found the beer excellent and tonight was no exception.  I really think the beers in the music series rank as my favorite DFH offerings.

I mug of  the aptly named Black and Blue was next.  The blackberry/blueberry combo marked a stark contrast to the previous beers.

Next up was the Burton Baton, a blend of English Old ale and Imperial IPA which is then aged in oak barrels.  I tend not to be a big fan of oaked beers but since the beer only spends a month in the wood the notes picked up from it are not overwhelming.  This is quickly becoming on of my favorite DFH beers.

And of course no evening of DFH would be complete without a sample of the 75 minute IPA on cask.  I’m a cask beer fanatic, and when people ask me “is cask beer really that good” I point them in this direction.

Two Stones vs Dogfish Head

Another event that highlighted the evening was the Two Stones/DFH randall verse randall competition.  If you’re not familiar with a randall,  you can get the background from this previous blog entry.  DFH set up Palo Santo through vanilla beans and chocolate vodka strawberries.  Two Stones answered with Midas Touch through fresh sage, ginger and cranberries.  This was to be our last beers of the night so Tracey got one and I got a glass of the other and we set out to see who won.  Unfortunately, all we could detect were slight traces of the infusions in each beer.  The amount of beer being pulled through the randalls either took all the flavors out, or the beer was being pulled so quickly that it did not have time enough to sit in the first chamber to get properly infused.  However, there was enough in both the beers to determine that we liked the Two Stone randall the best, which is saying a lot because I’m not a big Midas Touch fan.  Take that DFH!

Patrick Huff (@BeerDelaware) right, enjoying the evening with a fellow beer lover.

Another great thing about the night was the chance to meet some fellow local craft beer lovers.  I got a chance to talk with Patrick Huff  (Twitter: @BeerDelaware) who is starting what I’m sure will be an excellent blog on the beer scene in the state of Delaware.  This guy knows his stuff and you can find his blog  here.  I also got a chance to meet Jay from Beer Thursday (Twitter: @BeerThursday) the leader behind a local group of guys who are regularly organizing some amazing beer tastings.   You can see what these insane guys are doing here.  By the looks of things, I’d say Delaware craft beer is well represented in the blog universe.

A few other twitter folks were in attendance as well, but the bar was so crowded we just didn’t connect.  But by the end of the night Tracey and I agreed that it was an awesome evening.  We’re looking forward to the next Two Stones event.    Hope you are too.

Time for another beer.

Coming up: Two Stone Pub’s “Black Friday” and (hopefully) The Dogs of Beer reunite for a pub crawl through NYC.