Why do they spell Garden with a “t” and Bier with an “e”?

Posted in beer on August 15, 2009 by thepinchedpintglass

In the UK pubs are a part of the social fabric.  Young to old, everyone has their “local”. Pubs are social hubs.  They are places for family and friends.   I have many fond memories of going to pubs with my parents for basket meals and shandy. Shandy is a mixture of beer and 7-up, usually in a 1:1 ratio.

Here is an interesting tid-bit; the legal drinking age in the UK is 5. However, you must be 18 to purchase alcohol. If you are sixteen, you can drink beer or wine in a pub with a meal, but a parent must be present while you drink and purchase the drink for you.

“Local” is a proxy for a small bar that is very close to your home. One of the things that I have always missed about the UK is the fact that I don’t have a local.

IBG outsideAbout a year ago a bar opened in Lutz about five minutes from where I live. It’s called the International Beer Garten or IBG for short. They have over forty craft beers on tap and lots more in a cooler that extends the length of the bar. The bar tenders know what they are about.  You can ask for suggestions and they will bring you free samples until you find something you really like. It’s the closest thing I’ve had to a local since coming to the States twenty years ago.

On weekends, they offer live music.  Unfortunately, the music is usually so loud it makes it hard to have a conversation.   I don’t think people go to IBG for the music at all it just detracts from the experience.  My suggestion to the owners: have unamplified acoustic music or turn the volume way down. Folks that want to listen can move closer and for those of us who go there to hang out and talk with our friends, we can do that without being drowned out.

IBG has lots of events and these include showings from local breweries. Recently, the Dunedin Brewery and Cigar City Brewing have both hosted tastings. I have reviewed Cigar City Maduro Brown, but have never tried Dunedin Brewery Beer. A few nights ago, I decided to rectify this insufferable situation.

Dunedin Brewery has an interesting selection of beers from sweet wheats to dark porters; however I was surprised to see that they do not make a Scotch Ale. Scotch Ale is as ubiquitous to Scotland as Stout is to Ireland. I’ve never been in a Scottish pub that did not sell “heavy” as it is called there.

The beer I really wanted to try was the Beach Tale Brown Ale. Unfortunately, this was not available so I settled for a pint of Redhead Red Ale. The Red Head is a lighter than usual red ale.  I would describe its flavor as bright and refreshing with a little malt and a spicy hopped finish, all in all very drinkable, very good.

If you have a thing for redheads, try a fling with Redhead Red from the Dunedin brewery.  You might just find it to be the love of your life.

As for me, I’ve still got an eye out for that Beach Tale Brown!

Cheers!

IMG_0970

Advertisements

Suds in the City!

Posted in beer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2009 by thepinchedpintglass

There are many great pubs in The City, but I have to say my absolute favorite is McSorley’s.  This little tap house has been serving its own beer in this location since 1854.  The opening of McSorley’s was the only notable event in 1854. Ok yes well there was the Crimean war and the Formation of the Republican Party, but these events pale next to the opening of McSorley’s!

IMG_8858Lots of people have written lots of things about McSorley’s so rather than repeating what others have said, I thought I might simply provide the ground rules for the place.

Don’t ask for Wheat or a Maibock and definitely don’t ask what kind of beer they have. They have two beers: light and dark. The light appears to be a red ale and the dark is a darkish American brown. Both are excellent, but the dark is generally considered a better beer, even by those who drink lighter beers.

IMG_8867

Don’t ask them to top up your glass.  You will probably get a glass of beer that is at best ¾ full. Don’t bother asking them to fill it to the brim. If you want a full glass order two and combine.

Order quickly or they will move on to someone who knows what they want.  The beer menu simple, you should be able to order fast.  If you can’t, there are those who can!

Much like Four Green Fields in Tampa, McSorley’s has that smell and feel of an ancient pub.

IMG_8880

The atmosphere is palpable.  Walk in and you can tell people have been drinking and telling tales for a hundred and fifty years. There is that slight smell of stale beer so beloved by Europeans and the floors and furniture are well worn. It’s intimate and inviting. The chandeliers have not been cleaned in fifty years. Run DMT wrote a great little review back in May you can check out her review here.

I highly recommend McSorley’s tap house.  If you are in New York and are looking for a great place to grab a beer there is no better place.

Cheers!

IMG_8861

Make beer not wine!

Posted in beer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2009 by thepinchedpintglass

If you are looking for an interesting place to have a craft beer, make a point of stopping by Wine Design at the Channel Side Mall in Tampa.

I can hear it now…

Sacrilege!  He’s fallen off the edge! He’s gone bonkers!  He’s lost it!  He’s left the reservation!  Good God man!  Anywhere but a wine shop! I hate the buttery Range Rover types that frequent wine shops!  I really hate wine and I thought Allan did too!

Take heart dear reader, this wine shop is different.  This wine shop has uncommon courage.  This wine shop welcomes, dare I even say it, craft beer drinkers!

WineDesignFrontDoor

So friend, fellow patriot, colleague, member of the disenfranchised proletariat…walk into Wine Design with your head held high and turn immediately to your right.

There in a refrigerator sits an oasis of bottled craft beers. Beer from Stone shares its cold domicile with others from the likes of Rogue, Sea Dog, Abita, Spanish Peaks, and Lost Coast Brewery to name but a few.   You can buy a bottle for $2.80, much cheaper than a Macro Beer in any of the many bars in the area.

There is a movie theatre at Channel Side, so do what we do. Show up an hour early.  Pay Wine Design a visit, crack a cold craft beer and hang out with your friends pretending to be interested in the wine, all the while cupping a cold bottle of liquid pleasure in those weathered hands!

Cheers!

WhineDesignCheers

Tap of the morning to you!

Posted in beer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2009 by thepinchedpintglass

Of all the places in the world to find a truly authentic Irish Pub, downtown Tampa would probably be the last place you might look. Nevertheless, there it sits, an authentic, thatch roofed, Irish pub.

FourGreenFieldsBuilding It is called Four Green Fields.  If you are a Tampa local, you have almost certainly spent your share of Saint Patrick’s Days there.

The atmosphere is genuine Ireland. So many Irish Pubs in America are glamorous affairs with polished brass, polished wood, stuffed potato skins and franchise furniture. Anyone who has seen the inside of a pub in Ireland knows that they are often dingy little places where unpolished brass sits over dusty mantles.  Most true Irish Pubs have a subtle and inviting atmosphere that only centuries of drinking and engaging Saturday night conversations can create. There are such pubs in America, but they are hidden little gems with small, yet loyal clientele. Four Green Fields is one such place.

Open the door and an organic blend of stale beer, unfinished wood and thatch assails your senses. It is the smell of untold barrels of consumed beer, of spilled beer, of good times.  To the many Irish and Brits who frequent its hallowed walls, it smells like home.

FourGreenSign

On a recent visit, I had a pint of Smithwick’s. Smithwick’s is an award winning Irish Red Ale. It is available in almost any Irish pub and anywhere Craft Beer is served. Personally, I prefer American Brown Ales, but Smithwick’s goes down smoothly and it is an authentic taste of Ireland.

There is a common misconception that the Irish drink only Irish Stout. Irish Red Ale is also very popular and Smithwick’s is one of the very best. Despite being mass-produced and distributed worldwide, Smithwick’s has retained the character of a craft beer.

So, if it an authentic taste of old Ireland you are seeking, stop by Four Green Fields for a pint of Smithwick’s.  I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

Cheers!

FourGreenFieldsCheers

Would You Tap That?

Posted in beer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2009 by thepinchedpintglass

There is a great little pub in Oldsmar; the Oldsmar Taphouse. It’s a small hole in the wall of a bar with barely enough room to turn around in. But, it has a large selection of Craft Beer. Although small, it is intimate and inviting and I for one really like the atmosphere of the place.

On a recent visit, I was browsing their selection of craft beers and came across Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale. This beer is brewed locally here in Tampa.

Cigar City may seem like a strange name for a beer brewed in Tampa. At least until you learn that Tampa has a rich history of cigar making. Tampa is home to a large population of Cubans, who brought a rich heritage including fantastic food and cigar making skills to the city.

I must say that I have been somewhat disappointed with most of what I have tasted from the Cigar City Brewery. Their Brown Ale is a notable exception. It has a nice balance of malt with a slight hop character that I really like. This is a great beer and I urge you to try it.

If you find yourself looking for a new place to try that is just a little off the beaten track, I recommend the Oldsmar Tap house and if Brown Ales are your thing you cannot go wrong with a pint of Maduro Brown!

Cheers

TapHouse

Nothing Notable; A Beer for a Florida Sunset

Posted in beer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2009 by thepinchedpintglass

About a block from RC Otters is the Mucky Duck. The Mucky Duck is a restaurant on the beach. It sits at an unlikely angle as if just washed up. Any closer to the beach, and it would need a spinnaker! How this place has survived thirty years of Florida hurricanes and tropical storms is anyone’s guess; but survive it has.

Mucky Duck

 The Mucky Duck has average food, average beer and average entertainment. If it were located anywhere but the end of Andy Rosse Lane Captiva Island, Florida, it would have gone out of business years ago.

 

That said, you do not come to the Mucky Duck for its food, beer or entertainment. What you come for are the amazing sunsets. Because of location, location, location, the Mucky Duck does a roaring trade. There is always a wait. My recommendation; eat at RC Otters or Key Lime Bistro, then stroll down the lane to the Mucky Duck and order a beer at their bar.  They will put it in a plastic cup, which you can take out and onto the beach.

 

We showed up forty minutes before sunset and finding nothing on the beer menu appealing, I opted to try Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale. Nothing notable comes to mind about this beer, it is not particularly complex or flavorful, no sign of hops or malt. 

 

But what the hell I had two and the sunset was amazing!

 sunset 1

sunset 2

sunset 3

Cheers!

Kona

The Best Damn Grouper Sandwich on the Planet!

Posted in beer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2009 by thepinchedpintglass

OK, so what does a grouper sandwich have to do with Beer? Plenty read on…

My family and I have an annual tradition of going to Captiva Island for a week during the off-season. (Off-season in Florida happens to be in July.) Captiva, a fantastic little island west of Fort Myers, is quaint like Key West prior to its commercialization. There is a random hodgepodge of little houses and cottages mixed in with beautiful mansions. Captiva Island is about a half mile wide and you can walk across it in less than ten minutes. If you are looking for a place that has the feel of Key West without the crazy street drinking, college kids just turned twenty-one on their first legal binge and street bums then Captiva is your place.

Located on Andy Rosse Lane about a block from the gulf, you will find our favorite spot, RC Otter, with a decent selection of beer, favoring wheat and pale ales both of which are good summer beers. Darker beer can also be found on tap.

 During our recent visit, that dark beer happened to be Wolverton Organic Oatmeal Stout. Stouts tend to have too much mouth feel and a strong molasses taste, which I typically do not care for. When I do drink very dark beer, I favour porters that are lighter in body. However, as there was nothing else on the menu that really drew my attention, I went for the stout.

Allan_RCOtters

  

 

The beer arrived and here was a surprise: much less body than I had anticipated a little chocolaty which I did expect, but with no bitterness to it at all. I would call it closer to a porter than a stout. In the end, Wolverton Organic Oatmeal was a very quaffable beer for a hot afternoon.

 

 

 

Allan_GrouperRuebenA local favorite, RC Otters has a Crunchy Grouper Reuben Sandwich that is NOT on their menu, you have to ask for it. Fried grouper fillet is served on Rye Bread with Coleslaw and Thousand Island dressing. I add a few drops of Tabasco, which finished it nicely. Having lived in Florida for twenty years and having eaten grouper from the panhandle to Key West, take my word for it that there is no better grouper sandwich in the Sunshine State. It is worth the drive to Captiva for this sandwich alone.

 

grouper

 

RC Otters has a final attraction. Bimini Ring game,  a simple, yet highly addicting game, it comprises a steel ring suspended on a piece of rope. There is a hook at exactly the length of ropes distance. You swing the ring and try to catch it onto the hook. Simple, right? The kids will play this game endlessly keeping themselves occupied while the larger kids drink Oatmeal Stout!

Cheers!

Ring Toss