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Monday, March 22, 2010

A tale of two towns


For all of you who live here in Maine, I am sure if I say Naples to you, you may think, “Oh that is such a nice place to visit during the summer.” Or perhaps, “I drive through there all the time when I head up to the mountains.” One thing I bet you don’t think is, “I love stopping through there any time of the year.” Well I am here to tell you that perhaps you should. A couple of weeks ago right in the middle of Lion’s Pride Belgian Festival (I will get back to that in the second half of this post) Porter and I went up to Shawnee Peak. It was a rather nice day and Porter really wanted to snowboard. I hauled my cast covered foot up many, many stairs and sat in the bar while he was out. I was able to do some studying and a bunch of people watching so it was pretty easy to keep my mind off the fact that I wasn’t able to board myself. Once Porter was done we headed back towards home but had two places we knew we just had to stop at. The first is a place called Heroes. The owner, Mike, is one of my readers and knew just how much I love Portland Pie Buffalo Chicken Pizza. Shortly after I posted my write up on them he messaged me on facebook and told me I had to try his. He was right. It was very tasty. It definitely gives Portland Pie a run for their money. Heroes’ version is quite mild and all the flavors are balanced. The crust is amazing! They put some garlic deliciousness on it that adds something really amazing. The thickness is perfect too. For people who may have been afraid to try buffalo chicken pizzas because of the heat should try this one. I put a little extra hot sauce on mine and it was perfect. While we were waiting for our pizza Mike came over to our table and told us all about his business. Things haven’t been all that easy for him because winters are slow (go, have wonderful pizza and support a great business!) Mike also donates a lot to various things in the area. His children are big into sports and he is a big supporter. I know that if you stop by you will first want to go back for the pizza but you will then want to go back for the conversation. (Heroes Pizzeria, Route 302 Naples, where the batting cages used to be.)

After leaving Heroes, Porter and I went down the road to Bray’s Brew Pub. Bray’s has a great beer garden that I have visited in the past. Seeing it was winter we didn’t venture out there but we will be going back once the weather gets a bit nicer. (They allow dogs in the beer garden.) Bray’s is in an old house. Once inside you can’t really tell until you go to some of the dining rooms. They are each in different rooms of the house. The bar and main dining area are in an open area. We were there just for beer so we cozied up to the bar. They have a number of their own brews and had a Sheepscott on draft as well. Porter and I had just started our second when Mike came in. He ordered a Bud (Mike you have got to give some of Bray’s a chance, they are very tasty!) and we continued talking like we were old friends. This time we talked about education reform. Attention Maine Education: Talk to this man he has some great ideas. Once we finished our second beers we left for home. The next time we go through Naples, which will be sooner rather than later, we will be stopping at both Bray’s and Heroes. They are both well priced and delicious.


As I was saying earlier, Lion’s Pride was having their Belgian Beer Festival two weeks ago. In addition to the kick off that Porter and I went to, we also went to two additional evenings. On Tuesday night, Allagash Brewing was there. Jason, the head brewer, brought in some of the Cool Ship beer for us to try. It was very yummy. Jason and Naomi, (another Allagash employee) were both so friendly and talked to us about some of their processes. I asked about their greenness and I was very impressed by the answers I received. They recycle, compost (employee food scraps), upcycle. SO much. It is great to see companies who really care about the environment. In addition to the Cool Ship there were a number of other Allagash beers on tap that we tried. It was a great evening.

We also went on Thursday. Thursday the owner returned from Belgium and had brought back some gifts for some of his friends. He brought me a bottle of Jolly Pumpkin. Each person got such different types that we all decided to share them right then and there. Porter and I got to try some very delicious beers that night. Thank you Chris and thank you everyone for sharing. I am sure I have said this before but for all beer lovers you need to check out Lion’s Pride.

Let me start a checklist for all of you:

Go to Naples.

Eat pizza at Heroes.

Drink beer at Bray’s.

Go to Brunswick.

Drink beer at Lion’s Pride.

Don’t be afraid to try something new. You just might like it.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Things I am thinking and things I have thought

It is amazing to me just how much I have learned in such a small amount of time. (I know I still have SOOOO much more to learn.) I have learned a lot about Belgian beers lately, about lambics and guezes and instantaneous fermentation and so much more. Upon entering a beer store I feel like I have a slight idea what I am looking at. My biggest teachers in this piece of my journey have been Chris, the owner of both Ebenezer’s and Lion’s Pride, Leigh and Ryan, some of the lovely bar tenders at Lion’s Pride and my fellow blogger Jim Flanagan. Porter has also been a huge help. We have gone through this adventure together and his love of research has really helped me out. (I am impulsive while he likes to take his time to look things up.)

Speaking of Porter I must admit to you all that this blog and what it stands for has brought us closer together. I have heard people talk about taking classes together and how it strengthens your bond. Porter and I aren’t traditionalists so we are finding our own “classrooms” to help teach us beer. I highly recommend to all of you that you and your partner find something you both like and really learn more about it together. I was looking through my camera the other night and got that warm fuzzy feeling thinking about all of the good times we have had so far and how many more we have already planned.

Another person I care a good deal for has a website that helps with finding good bar deals in Boston. The website, is moving into the Portland area mighty soon and I suggest you all jump on the wagon now so you can say you were in the know before anyone else.

It seems that there is so much I want to tell you all then I get on here and get so excited I forget nearly everything. Let’s see…..oh I need to tell you about the Belgian Beer Fest at Lion’s Pride. We are currently in the middle. It lasts for 9 days, Friday through Saturday. When Porter and I saw the schedule we had to decide which events we wanted to go to the most as everyday was sure to bring something new and wonderful. There were three days we knew that we HAD to go to: the first night, Allagash night and the night Chris came back from Belgium with special little goodies. We figured three trips to Brunswick were probably enough. Allagash night and Chris night have not occurred yet but the first night has and it was awesome. We tried so many wonderful things. We even got to try Kabert. It is this really rare beer that was made from a combination of Kate the Great (remember her?) and Black Albert (a special beer brewed especially for Eb’s). This is what I wrote in my handy little note book:

“Some people are strong and powerful on their own but become much better when the right person comes into their lives.”

Ok, cheese fest I know but I was feeling in a very loving, romantic mood.

Porter and I decided that we would only give point values to the beers we tried so that we could also enjoy that atmosphere and not get lost in our beers. I think I should get tape recorder because I talk about my beers as I try them but taking the time to write everything down sometimes ruins the flow of an evening. Here they are: (all out of 5)

Katy:                                                       Porter:

‘t Smisje Kerst              3.5                      La Rulles Triple                 4

Cantillon Lou Pepe       4                         St. Bernardus Abt 12         4
07 Kriek

DeGlazen Torren          3.5                     ‘t Smisje Plus                     3.5
Jan de Litche                                            Double IPA

BFM Bon-Chien          3.5

The BFM beer has quite a funny tale. Based on my little French knowledge I see chien and think dog but somehow it translates to something to do with a good cat. (I can’t remember exactly.)

I have a couple of final thoughts and I think the best way to address these are bulleted as they don’t really have anything to do with much except that they are important to me:

• Porter and I went to Novare Res and had a few very delicious beers. I enjoyed a vanilla bean stout by Maine Beer Company. It was poured out of a trash can. I had called to see if they had it but they said they were out but within 20 mins they called me and told me the MBC guys had just rolled in some more. (Thanks for the call back guys!) I also tried a Brooklyn Brewmasters Cookie Jar. OMG you guys. It was crazy good. (Please excuse my teenage outburst but it was that good!) It tasted like a spicy oatmeal raisin cookie made with apple sauce. The very nice lady sitting next to me helped me figure out some of the aromas I was smelling. (Thank you.) Our bartender, Shahin was great. He even put up with some of my over top trading requests. I am now officially a HUGE fan of Novare.

• I have been in contact with the Three Guys Brewing guys. I hope to have their story for you in the near future. I am really starting to love knowing the back story of all the beers I am drinking. I have yet to try any Three Guys beers but I am one of their facebook friends and quite intrigued.

• And finally: I need to better with my reviews. I need to put them on more often but I love the free-flowing-ness that I can write in and reviews are soooo much more structured. Perhaps I have to fix that. I need to come up with a system that works well for me so I can use this as a resource. I will work on it and get back to you.

Don’t forget to try something new, you might just like it!

Katy Too

Friday, March 5, 2010

Kate & Katy

This tale starts as any might I suppose. There once was a grand woman named Catherine the Great. Ok, may be it’s not like any old story might start as this woman has a beer named after her, Kate the Great. The second heroine in this story isn’t so typical either. Katy (that’s me) has a cast and is in on crutches. The setting isn’t so typical either; on the streets of Portsmouth, NH in the wee hours of the morning in a cold winter drizzle. But I am getting ahead of myself.
I started hearing about Kate as soon as I started my journey to learn about beer. Before her I never realized that there such events as beer release days. I knew that in order to fully learn about beer I would need to attend, however I was quite naïve, thinking that I would be able to go down after work. Oh how silly I was. I started checking out BeerAdvocate posts and twitter and facebook and, and, and. I became a bit obsessed with all things Kate. I soon discovered that I would be getting no sleep on the eve of Kate’s big debut. After my surgery I was concerned with my ability to accomplish such a task but I knew I would have to man up. Porter was a bit worried about the whole thing….would my cast be alright? Would I be alright? Would we even get to meet Kate?
The week before Kate’s release we devised a plan: We would go down the night before and stay at Portsmouth Brewery until they closed. (They have a great bar and restaurant there. I highly recommend it.) After closing we would stay in our car and periodically check until people started getting in line and then join ourselves.
As the date got closer the weather began to take a turn for the worse. There was rain in the forecast all the way until after Kate Day. This added to Porter’s concerns. (Casts ARE NOT allowed to get wet!) On Sunday after we had finished watching Canada beat us in OT we started getting things together. It quite honestly looked like we were going camping. We packed nearly the whole house. Blankets and pillows for sleeping. My elevator pillow for my foot. Food and snacks to help us keep going. Rain clothes and layers to help us fight the weather. And chairs. I can not stand up very long these days and we had no idea how long we would have to wait in line. The car was packed and we were on the road by 8:00. The drive down we discussed how some of our friends think I have no other hobbies these days other than beer. Which they are mainly right. There isn’t a lot to do when you are laid up so I do lots of research and participate in lots of beer related discussions. I do not however drink all that often most of the time. (This week is an exception as there was Kate and then there is this festival but I will tell you more about that later! I get to try many different beers at a time because I very rarely have a fully pour. I generally have a half pour or a sampler of some sort.) We arrived in town at 8:45. We decided to drive by the brewery before finding a spot and good thing we did because there was a spot right in front! Later in the evening one of the guys that worked there said we currently resided at 56 and half Market Street. Portsmouth Brewery is at 56 Market Street. We parked and went in and had a delicious meal. I had Milk Stout and Porter had Flanders Red. I have reviewed them both be sure to check them out. Once dinner was done we played UNO at the bar while enjoying more beer. The bar closed at one and we headed back to our car there were already people in line. There is a video of them if you want to check it out. We sat in the car watching the line and playing more card games. There was an awning over part of the sidewalk so we decided to wait until the line got there in order to help keep my cast dry. At 1:30 ish three more people got in line. At 1:45 another person got in line. At 2:00 another four got in line. This is when we started getting ready. On went the rain pants and every layer I had brought. I covered my foot in a Hannaford shopping bag to help it stay dry. Porter got out our chairs and set them under the awning. We were both bundled and seated by 2:30. People started filling behind us and we got to meet some really great people. (One decided to start a blog so as soon as I get his blog address I will be sure to share it with you.) By 4:30 my toes were thoroughly cold as shopping bags don’t offer much in the warmth department. But that is just when they started handing out calendar pages. (If you watch the video from above and look way in the background under the awning, the girl on the crutches is me.) Porter received February 5 and I received February 6/7. (I didn’t receive two the weekend dates shared a page.) We hopped in our car and drove off. We had 4.5 hours to wait until they gave us our bottles. We found a parking lot and snoozed for about 2 hours. We grabbed breakfast at a local bagel place and then finished our waiting parked by the water. All we could seem to find on the radio was Indian music. At 8:30ish we started back towards the brewery and amazingly enough there was another parking spot right out front. At 9:00 in the dot they started calling us down by calendar date to buy our Kates, two per person. The nice folks at Portsmouth didn’t make me hobble down the stairs and pick it up so Porter went and grabbed both of ours. We jumped back into the car and headed home. Total wait once they started handing them out: 9 minutes. We had originally thought about sticking around for a pint afterwards but the line for that wrapped around the block and there still was 2 hours before anyone would be allowed in. We also had thought about hitting up a few beer store down there or going to Redhook but we were so exhausted we went straight home.
It took us 2 days to recuperate from Kate Day and we didn’t even drink any. We finally tried her on Wednesday night. Here is the sad news; I didn’t find it all that great. I love Portsmouth’s Milk Stout and the Flanders is really good and many of their others I love too, just not Kate. This is definitely a personal thing though because nearly everyone else raves about her. Even Porter likes her a whole lot more than I do. Oh well. Kate Day was a real beer adventure and I am glad I was there. I am not so sure how many more beer release events I will attend but it is more my love of sleep that would keep me away than anything else. I would recommend it to everyone to try at least once-
-because you don’t want to be afraid to try something new. You might just like it.

Katy Too

I will have all reviews from last weekend through the weekend by the end of the day Sunday. I also have lots of little tid bits that I need to put together in some sort of random things blog. Perhaps that will get up this weekend too.