A Nice Refreshing Weekend, And Beer

It was a good weekend. It was a good beer weekend. I drank a lot of beer.


The beer wasn’t why it was good, but it was certainly a happy companion. It started with a trip to Connecticut for my cousin’s, once removed, birthday party. There was some swimming, there were some snacks. There was a keg of beer.


Specifically, there was Norbrook Farm’s Mount Pisgah, a 6.8% American IPA. This was about as local as you get, clocking in at a mere 1.23 miles, as the crow flies, from where I drank it. Their website says they have a fire pit–with the right wind conditions I might even be able to smell that fire pit from where I was. 

top of a kegerator, one tap, with the label for Mount Pisgah IPA. Some Red solo cups and a glass boot of straws

Was the beer good though? I was drinking with family and friends, many of whom I had not seen in quite a while. So, low bar, but the beer was good. I don’t know if it was a pint I’d have a second of sitting at a bar somewhere, but a nice solid IPA while wandering around chatting with friends and family? Perfection. The American IPA style fits it pretty well, it had plenty of that caramel malt backbone that felt like a throwback, but plenty of friendly and tasty hop flavor too. I’ll be back on July 3rd, and hopefully the keg is tapped and I get to try something else next time, or else I’ll just have to help tap this one. 


The weekend continued the next day with some friends and their children. Everyone Is vaccinated and mostly safe, so we didn’t worry too much about the kids getting some much needed socialization, we even set up the bounce house. The LOL Surprise Doll themed bounce house.


As is my style, I had too much beer. We drank a rather nice Zwickel from Jack’s Abby, and finally tried Gumballhead from 3 Floyds, but you know those are great breweries and beers, the one I want to talk about is the Breadwinner by Upward Brewing Company. 


Upward Brewing Company is a relatively new brewery in the Catskills, Livingston Manor, NY.  They’ve got a large plot of land, something called Beer Mountain, and a hiking trail. And beer. A friend was up there this weekend and brought a growler of Breadwinner to the party, and we finished that growler. 


Breadwinner is a 5.5% American IPA, which appears to be the style of the weekend. At 5.5% it doesn’t hit as hard as many IPAs, which gives it a very crushable feel. Standard Citra & Mosaic hops, but not overdone and just enough malt backbone to fit the style and ‘balance’ it. I found myself happily topping off my glass as I grilled up some burgers and talked nonsense and chased the kids around. Then it was empty. How’d that happen? 


I’d put up a pop-up tent when we got a brief spattering of rain that didn’t really bother anyone. It was still rainy in the morning, so I took my coffee outside, sat under the tent in the comfortable morning, drank my coffee and watched the birds dodge a drizzle to eat at the birdfeeder, reflecting on what ended up being a nice refreshing weekend. 

Ceetar drinking coffee out of a blue and white 'Best Dad Ever' mug in front of a swingset and a bird feeder

 Ceetar can be found on Twitter and Untappd where he’s probably still sitting out in the rain drinking coffee.  You can also email him at beer@ceetar.com.

Your BBQ’s Beer Selection: A Challenge

I’ve been told that when you’re hosting a party, that’s not a bottle share among beer-nerds, you shouldn’t only have double IPAs available. Also leaving the 18% Dogfish Head Raison d’Extra with the normal strength beer is also not wise. That’s a really good beer though.

The composition of your crowd matters a bunch. If you know everyone pretty well, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what people like. Even if you just have a few people that you know are into beer as much as you, you can get away with some craftier beers in there, but if you don’t, people aren’t really going to know what to do with your bomber can of New England IPA with a name like 100K Juicebox.

In a recent situation, I was hosting a five year old’s birthday party, which would include some of her daycare friends and their parents. I had no idea of their drinking preferences. (The adults. The kids were fine with apple juice and water) I wanted to have beers on hand that were drinkable, somewhat light in ABV, but also still rich and flavorful and enticing. None of this “I’ll just have a seltzer or something” nonsense. Don’t even get me started on hard seltzer. 

I probably went overboard. Every time I saw an interesting beer that seemed broadly appealing I told myself to get a six pack for the party. This led to the following list:

  • Jack’s Abby Smoke & Dagger Black Lager
  • Alementary #IslandLife Lime Gose
  • Alementary Literary Trope Raspberry Witbier
  • Dogfish Head SuperEIGHT Super Fruit Gose
  • 21st Amendment Sparkale Sparkling Rosé Ale
  • Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
  • Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest

I also made about five liters of sangria.

The last two were last minute additions, though you might say I was already going overboard. I wanted the 60 minute on hand to have an IPA, and I also want to do an experiment with it to try to recreate 61 minute IPA, a beer brewed with Syrah must that they’re not making anymore but was delicious. More on that in the future. I know Oktoberfests are pretty crowd pleasing, so despite it being early August I picked up a case. 

When you have that much beer, and that much variety, you have to expect leftovers. You have to fine with leftovers. Or you have to be planning another get together soon. I’ve already talked about being an accidental beer hoarder, and the last thing I need is more beer collecting dust in my basement, especially beers like this that don’t seem like they’d age that well. 

So let’s talk about taste, because I’ve rambling on too long about buying beer, and not enough about DRINKING beer. Though, to be fair, this IS a beer blog and rambling about beer is sorta what we do right? The Jack’s Abby is really good. Jack’s Abby is a top-flight brewery, making amazing lagers. Buy their stuff. Drink their stuff. I don’t have as much experience with their ale project, Springdale Beer, but I’m sure it’s excellent as well. America, even craft America, still seems to equate dark beer with winter and cold, but a deliciously roasty black ale like this is a joy. 

I trust Alementary, my local brewery of which I’m a member of their exclusive Order of the Atom, to make good beer, and they’re particularly good with some of these lighter styles. The #IslandLife features Kalamansi lime, which gives the tartness a bolder more complex taste and is fun. The Literary Trope is standard raspberry wheat, something that always goes well together. 

Dogfish Head. You know these guys right? Their SuperEIGHT is a gose, but loaded with super fruits. It’s red. It’s delicious. Drink it. 60 minute is a classic.

21st Amendment was one of breweries I really was into when I first started getting into craft beer. I really enjoyed their black IPA, and Hell or High Watermelon has been a great summer beer for decades. The Sparkale is very much like a white sangria. It’s fizzy and fruity. My wife likes it, and it’s very gentle and pleasing.

Oktoberfests rock. Sierra Nevada collaborates with a German brewery every year, and this year it’s Bitburger. I had this one later in the evening, and as such remember very little about it. But I’m sure it was delicious and on-style. I have more. I will be drinking them.

It POURED the night of the party.
When they float, they’re ready to drink.

I’ve been drinking the sangria leftovers this week, as it’s going to go bad soon. This included spilling sangria all over my kitchen, and then spilling sangria IN the fridge when I opened the tap and set the cup down to refill while I was cleaning the floor. I’ll transition back to the beer shortly and I’ve got some work to do. Who wants to come over and help?