The Shoestring Catch

Shiner Fan
June 10, 2009, 4:45 pm
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The Joy of Sharing Beer

The Joy of Sharing Beer

As a Native Texan, Grayson is a big fan of Shiner Bock.  He has asked his local liquor stores to do anything they can to start stocking it, but so far he hasn’t had any luck.  Needless to say, his eyes lit up like Christmas morning when I told him I was leaving him a six pack.


Philadelphia Beers
June 1, 2009, 3:41 pm
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After Cheesesteaks at Pat’s, Greg took us to a South Philly bar called the Tap Room.  We were stuffed from our cheesesteaks, but Greg says their food is phenomenal.  The Tap Room was very nice and sort of reminded me of a bar we frequent in Austin called the Gingerman.  They had about 20 beers on tap and a good bottle selection that included the nearly sacred Brooklyn Local 2.  This is supposed to be one of the beers in the country, but it also costs over $20 a bottle.  I would like to bring one or two back home to Texas, but we will have to play that one by ear.

I had two beers at the Tap Room: The Philadelphia Brewing Company Walt Wit and the Flying Fish Farmhouse Ale.  The Walt Wit was a cleverly named wit bier that was very refreshing without being too sweet.  I also enjoyed the Farmhouse Ale, which is brewed in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  I had never had this style of beer before, and I can’t really think of a way to describe it, so I will borrow some words of wisdom from Eric, who also ordered one: “it tastes like a beer”.

Shiner Exchange
June 1, 2009, 3:39 pm
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Apparently Kendra’s father is a bit of a beer buff.  He used to homebrew and has several good beers in his fridge.  I gave him a pair of Shiner Bocks to thank him for letting us stay in his home.  He was familiar with the beer, but confirmed it was not readily available in Maryland.

Maryland Beers
May 30, 2009, 5:49 am
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Quarry House Tavern

Quarry House Tavern

We did all of our drinking on this leg of the trip at the Quarry House Tavern in Silver Spring, MD. It bills itself as “Silver Spring’s favorite dive for over 70 years”. I don’t feel comfortable speaking for an entire city, but I certainly thought it was a quality establishment. The Quarry House is a basement bar with low ceilings and lower lighting that attracts an upper 20s to lower 30s crowd. There were some hipsters and colorful characters, but the bar was mostly packed with young professionals. On this particular Friday night there was no space available at the bar and all of the tables were filled with patrons enjoying their favorite brews and the company of good friends.

The Quarry House only has five beers on tap, none of which are local. This greatly disappointed me, and I thought about leaving… until I realized they had a bottled beer selection over 150 strong. I felt a bit like a kid in a candy store. I wanted to try everything, including some pricey Beligan brews, but I stuck to my guns and picked out only local beers to sample. I had two pints, both from the Clipper City Brewing Company, which is based out of Baltimore.

My first beer was the Loose Cannon IPA. It was a strong beer (7.5%) but I did not find it particularly hoppy for an IPA. I could definitely taste some subtle fruity flavors. It was a good beer, but nothing to get too excited about. The other beer I had was the Marzen Lager. This beer was rather average, but almost all lagers are, aren’t they? One of the most exciting things about this bar experience was the beer temperature. Different styles of beer should be served at different temperatures, but few bars I have been to bother with this (especially with bottles). My lager was ice-cold, while my IPA was significantly warmer (as it should be). It was a nice touch that I was not expecting from a “dive bar”.

Atlanta Beers
May 28, 2009, 3:37 am
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Manuel's Tavern in Atlanta

Manuel's Tavern in Atlanta

Disclaimer: I am not a professional beer critic, nor do I claim to be one. I know what I like and I know what I don’t like, but some of the subtleties of judging beer still elude me. This portion of the blog is designed more to document my experiences drinking good beers than to critique the beers themselves.

The first local beer I had on this trip was at John’s house. It was the Terrapin Brewery‘s Sunray Wheat Beer. According to the label it is brewed with Tupelo Honey from the Savannah Bee Company. I have tried a lot of wheat beers, and I can’t say that this was one of my favorites, but it was exactly what I needed after 14 hours in the car. It also paired quite nicely with the amazing burgers that John made.

The rest of my Atlanta beer experience took place at Manuel’s Tavern on Highland Avenue.  Manuel’s is a great neighborhood bar that has been an Atlanta institution since 1956. The first beer I had here was the SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale. The 420 is SweetWater’s flagship beer and their best seller. I thought it was quite good– not very bitter for a pale ale, easy to drink, with some very slight fruity undertones. Apparently most of SweetWater’s beers have somewhat provocative names, including 420, Motor Boat, Hummer, and Dank Tank. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is one of the reasons we do not get SweetWater in Texas (the TABC has incredibly arcane labeling restrictions). The other pint I had at Manuel’s was the Atlanta Brewing Company‘s Red Brick Amber Ale. This beer was also delicious. It had a beautiful dark red color and I believe it had some subtle coffee undertones.

Our bartender, Brandon, was a really cool guy. He saw me taking notes and jokingly asked if I was cataloging all of the beers I was drinking. When I replied “yes” he got really excited and brought us tasters of two beers that he thought should not be left off of a beer tour of Atlanta. The first beer was Terrapin’s Rye Pale Ale. It is Brandon’s favorite Atlanta brew, and from the four ounces I had, I can see why he likes it so much. He also brought us samples of Sierra Nevada‘s India Brown Ale. Sierra Nevada is not brewed anywhere near Atlanta, but apparently the current owner of Manuel’s teamed up with Sierra Nevada and this beer is made with a recipe that he developed. Truth be told I had never even heard of an India Brown Ale before tonight. I was just excited to try a new style of beer, so I was pleasantly surprised when it tasted great.

The first day of the trip has been an unparalleled success. I hope that the rest of the journey can follow in its footsteps.

May 26, 2009, 11:47 pm
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Shiner Bock

One of the goals of my trip is to drink as many different beers that I cannot get in Texas as possible; however, this does not mean that I don’t like Texas beers. In fact, I think Texas has some of the best craft brews around. I am a big fan of Live Oak, 512, and Real Ale, but the standard in Texas is still Shiner. Shiner Bock is the 4th best selling craft beer in America (according to an uncited wikipedia entry), but it is still not readily available to most of the country. As a personal Johnny Appleseed style quest, I am bringing a case of Shiner on my trip and giving away singles to the good people of the east coast and midwest who are deprived of this beer. Most of these beers will be gifts to our couchsurfing hosts, but if you feel like you deserve one and will be near us, let me know in the comments section.