Monday, February 18, 2008

Extreme Beer Fest 2008

This past weekend, Mike and I took a trip over to Boston for their Extreme Beer Fest. Ithaca Beer Co. was one of the breweries to partake. Here's a little blurb:

100+ Extreme Beers from at least 27 American brewers. Quite possibly the best fest on planet Earth, and now in its fifth year, this is the original fest that helped define what "Extreme Beer" is all about. Expect a most awesome and epic celebration of American brewers who push the boundaries of brewing with a stellar line-up of creative and unique beers.

This was such a great time! We left early Friday morning and met up with Chief to embark on our exciting weekend. Once we got to Boston, we took a quick trip to the venue to drop off all the gear and then headed over to Sam Adams. We got a VIP tour from one of Chief's good friends, Bert, who just began working there a few months ago. This place is awesome! It's actually not where they do their brewing for their mass production. It's their pilot system where they come up with new recipes and do a lot of experimenting. Bert is the head brewer there.

Here is their brewhouse

Mike, Mike, Chief & Bert

Old oak barrels with lots of different types of aging beers.

Mike & Nicole with Bert in the grain room.
Mike and Nicole are also from Ithaca and came for the whole weekend. We've gotten to know them from our weekly outings to Pixel - they are so much fun!

After that, we headed over to the venue (The Cyclorama / Boston Center for the Arts). This place was really neat - a round room with a huge skylight on top. The first session was called Night of the Barrels. These were all wood-aged beers. Ithaca brought three different beers to serve this night:

Old Habit
A preview of the 2008 release of Ithaca's big Rye beer, aged in Heaven Hill Rye Barrels, served from a cask. 9.0%

Grape Ape
Belgian Brown, spiked with Brettanomyces Lambicus and aged 1 year in a 3rd use Tennesee Whiskey Barrel. Finished with hand-crushed wild grapes from the woods next to Ithaca's loading dock. 6.0%

Tastes Like Burning (Ralph Wiggum's Revenge)
Our "Gorges Smoked Porter" aged 4 months in a Tabasco Sauce Barrel. HOT! HOT! HOT!

And this beer was crazy!!! I could only handle a TINY sip. But it sure got everyone talking and coming over to our table. It was so fun just to watch people come up and get some then take their first sip. Oh the faces!

Here's Chief, Bryan (Mike's old boss from Dogfish Head) and Mike

Nicole & Mike

We ran into a couple we knew from Delaware - Jess & Terry!

Mike, Nicole, Mike, Chris

After the first night's session, we got to go out with some people from Sam Adams. We had some amazing food at a restaurant (that I cannot remember the name of) and then headed over to Flash's. I just had to take a picture because of Flash our turtle - and it was funny because the doorman also had a turtle and there was a picture of a turtle inside! Wow :)

Day 2 - They had two sessions on Saturday. There was a whole line-up of different beers everywhere. Here are the ones that Ithaca served:

This Imperial American Extra Strong and Special Double Red Ale, is a double version of our flagship American Red Ale, brewed this year only for our 10th Anniversary, and premiering at the EBF. 10.%

400 Pound Monkey
Sure, any monkey can throw 400 pounds of hops in the kettle, but does he know how to cask-condition, dryhop and Oak-Age a beer? 100% New York State grown hops. 9.5%

Freeze-distilled version of our Double Espresso Bock, Kaffinator. Not for the feint of heart. 14.0%

Bottle-conditioned interpretation of this emerging style. Rather than dryhopping a Belgian-style beer, like some, we fermented an American Double IPA with a Trappist yeast strain. Wonderful clove-like phenols with big fruity Simcoe and Amarillo hops. 9.0%

Here are two tap handles from the second day. I got to design the labels to use at the festival.

This is a panel that they had discussing "Extreme Beers" and what it means to be extreme. There is Chief (2nd from the left) sitting next to Jim Koch (founder of Boston Beer Co.). Then to the right of Chief is Matt Cohen from Magic Hat, Todd Charbonneau from Harpoon, and Jeremy Cowan from Shmaltz Brewing.

Mike & Chief at their table

It was a long weekend - I was feeling a little violent by the end - ha (just kidding mum!)

After the last session, Bert invited us all back to his place where we enjoyed good company and amazing beers! He shared some special beers with us that he had been saving for years! One was a 14 year old Saison de Pipaix and the other one was a Classic Gueuze from Cantillon. Thanks Bert!

Taughannock with Spikes

Last weekend, Ryan and Sarah went to NYC to celebrate Sarah's birthday! They had a great time and got to visit so many cool restaurants. But since they couldn't take Spikes too easily, Mike and I got to dogie-sit. So on Saturday we decided to take her to Taughannock for a hike. It was actually pretty nice out, only in the 30's, but unfortunately VERY muddy!

Here's Spikes in the car - getting so excited!!

The water had such beautiful shades of blues and greens.

Taughannock Falls

This is the limestone streambed. It's got all these divots because of acid rain that has collected and evaporated over the years - it just eats away at it. A neat illusion though.

This is off to the side of the waterfall where all the mist collects and then freezes. It's really so beautiful!

And here is a dirty Spikes belly! Oh well, she actually cleaned up quite nicely :)

Ithaca Beer Bowling Party!

Let's see, I guess it was about a week and a half ago, Ithaca Beer Co. had the holiday party for their employees. (See, I'm not the only one behind on this holiday stuff :) It was a bowling party and we went to a bowling alley on Cornell's campus. This place is awesome, it's old school - no computers keeping score for you here - it's all done by hand. I personally like it better this way because you play by the hour and not the game. That way you can free-bowl as much as you like. Take practice rolls and just mess around. It was so much fun because we hadn't gone bowling for so long!
For those of you who don't know, I used to work at the bowling alley in State College - I wore many hats there - but my most prized position was as a mechanic. It was such a great experience and I learned so much. I really got into the "bowling scene." And although I never became a good bowler, it's still so much fun to go bowling. The sights, smells, sounds - it's a full-bodied experience :). The machines they had there were the same as the ones I used to work on, just a bit older. I was hoping for a tour, but it just didn't work out. But I can say now, with much confidence that we will definitely be heading back there in the very near future. Anyway, here are some goofy pictures from the night.

Yay - Presents! Dan got everyone some new gear. Mike and Chief got these cool overalls!

Then the guys on the bottling line got these coveralls - here's Zach being crazy as usual.

This is Mari (Dan's wife) with two of their kids - Kelsey & Skylar
(I think that's how to spell all their names :)

Here's Kelsey getting ready to bowl!

Alex & Denise

Patina & Bill

Zach, Bill, Alex, Jim, Amanda, Mike

Heather, Ginalola, Zach

Chris & Patina intently keeping score

Bill & Mike go head to head

Hi Heather! (Chief's wife)

I made friends with Dan and Mari's kids, Kelcey & Skylar

Kelcey, Chris, Skylar, Zach, Mike & Bill (Denise in the back)

Bill and Chris bowling
(if you look closely at this picture - you will see that I have super powers!)

Dan going for the strike - yes, he got it :)
Thanks Dan & Mari!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Ten

Last week, Mike's work was bottling the "Ten" for their 10 year anniversary. It's a double Cascadilla. I decided to stop by after work to check out the process and to get a little sample. I even got to try my hand at bottling a couple!

Here is the bottling machine

Here's Zach, capping the bottles (I got to do this a couple of times too).

Mike & Zach

Time for a new job???

And I must say - the Ten is tasting FANTASTIC!
We'll keep you posted on when its available.

Super Birthday Fun!

Thursday was Sarah's birthday! Ryan was working, so she decided to have a girls night out. Good times for sure!

More beads for her growing collection!

Here we are at Simeon's drinking "Turbos".
(Chris, Patina, Sarah, Ashley)

Sarah and Ryan reunited towards the end of the evening!

Happy Birthday Sis :)

Super Bowl Sunday

Look at me - I might actually get caught up with this blog!
So for the Super Bowl, Ryan and Sarah had us over and then Bill, Patina, Dylan, Ashley and Chief came over too. It was an awesome time - good company, tons of good food, football (I THINK I could tell you now who played), and just an overall good time. Thanks Sarah & Ryan :)

Sarah was quite festive with her Super Bowl chalk board drawing!

Huge homemade sausage by Ryan - everyone brought such good food!

We even had some towel snapping!

Ryan & Dylan with Patina in the background


Silly Dylan :)