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Archive for the ‘Beer’ Category

This Week in Baseball

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Gosh, it’s been awhile since I posted. I need to do better. But I’ve been busy with the usual things—work [insert eye roll here], Phillies games, beer, rooting my Fly-boys into the next round of the NHL playoffs, and spending way, way, way too many hours working on [dang, this is kind of embarrassing] my fantasy tennis games.

On Tuesday, I caught my second game of the baseball season from my perch in Citizens Bank Park’s Section 211, accompanied this time by a different co-worker. Yes, the plan to use my season tickets as a man trap is still a work-in-progress. Instead, I keep inviting colleagues—men, mostly straight, who are sports fans but not a single one who’s likely to evolve into the beer-drinking, baseball-addicted boy toy of my dreams. It is good to spend time at the ballpark with a friend, though. And since it’s not a date, I don’t have to worry too much about how my hair looks…. [That was a joke. Really.]

Anyway, Tuesday night’s game was a chilly affair, but the hometown fans who stuck it out were rewarded with an almost unbelievable, come-from-behind victory in the bottom of the ninth. Trailing 3-0 to the Astros, the Phils strung together a comeback with an improbable home run from a just-added player; a hit batsman; a homer from hunky [see, it’s always gay when I’m at the ballpark] Pat Burrell; a stolen first base after a strikeout by Geoff Jenkins; and a probably unwise trip home by Jenkins, who missed the third base coach’s stop sign after Pedro Feliz’s game-winning double. Wow. After all that, the teeth-chattering I’d suffered for the last half of the game suddenly didn’t matter so much.

Yesterday afternoon, I was back at the ballpark, catching my first Phillies-Mets game of the season. I met yet another colleague [this one gay, if not at all a likely candidate for the man trap]. It was a gorgeous day for a game, springlike and sunny, and I even broken open the sunscreen for the first time this year. The Phillies’ offense was pretty lackluster, though. Half the team, it seems, is injured. And Chase Utley, who went two-for-four and homered, just can’t carry the whole team. The Evil Mets won, 4-2. Bummer, huh?

What else did I do this week? Well, there was some beer—not all of it at the ballpark. [<Digression>The beer selection at the ballpark is better than you’d think, but it’s not superb. I usually stick to Victory’s HopDevil. I normally rail against hops-heavy American craft beers, but HopDevil is good—and it’s one of the best things I’m going to find at Citizens Bank Park.</Digression>] On Monday night, I was at another beer-tasting at Tria’s Fermentation School. The session was devoted to La Trappe Brewery, one of the seven remaining Trappist breweries in the world and the only one in the Netherlands. [The rest are in Belgium, of course.] In the States, La Trappe beers are sold as Koningshoeven beers for reasons attributable to church politics…. I was smitten with the Koningshoeven Bock, the Koningshoeven Tripel, and the Koningshoeven Quadrupel—which was my favorite of the night, all caramel and goodness. I was also smitten with one of the brewers [not a monk, Mom!], Gijs Swinkels, but even the slightly buzzed me recognized the futility of making a pass at a straight man from another continent.

So that’s pretty much what I’ve been spending my time on. Baseball and beer. And, well, perfecting my entries in Tennis Channel and ATP fantasy games. [Hmmm, this could explain why I’m still single.] My picks for this week’s U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship were, I thought, stunningly good. I even correctly put the way unheralded Marcel Granollers Pujol into the final on my bracket. [I did not have him upsetting James Blake to take the title, however.] And despite this prescience, I still only barely finished in the Top 200 [190th out of 1733 entries]. How good do I have to be, anyway?

Written by Jimmy

April 20th, 2008 at 6:40 pm

Posted in Beer,Jay,Sports

Philly Beer Week

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Downtown Philly
I spent the past week getting slightly toasted—over and over again. Why? Well, just to prove that this is America’s best beer city, Philadelphians have been celebrating Philly Beer Week. So getting slightly toasted was my civic duty. Woo hoo!

I started things off last Saturday at Tria Cafe’s Fermentation School with a session devoted to porters and stouts. The class was led by beer writer Lew Bryson. I’d like to be able to tell you what I particularly enjoyed that night, but I seem to have misplaced my notes. And my memory. Er, in my defense, I’ve had a lot of beer since then. I do remember that Bryson was entertaining, though, and I wallowed a little bit in the malty goodness he presented.

The rest of my week was devoted to Belgian beers—fitting since Philadelphia is so crazy for Belgian beers. (Apparently we drink more Belgian beer than anywhere except Brussels.) On Tuesday night, I was back at Tria’s Fermentation School for a session devoted to the Van Honsebrouck family’s Kasteel Beers. Xavier Van Honesebrouck, representing the seventh generation that his family has been brewing, was there, aided by Bruce Wright, an entertaining and informative importer. I have to say that Van Honsebrouck’s beers were a revelation. The Kasteel Donker, a classic Belgian-style ale, was absolutely my find of the week. It was malty and balanced, and—despite its 11% ABV—didn’t have any alcohol burn at all. I’ll be hitting my local beer distributor soon for some more.

I was also taken with another Kasteel beer, the St. Louis Peche. I’m a big fan of fruity Lambics, and the St. Louis is among the the best peach beers I’ve tasted. It’s just gueuze and fruit, but that’s all it needs to be. Admittedly, I’m a sucker for sweet beers, and some traditionalists will never accept the idea of sweet Lambics. But if you’re open to sweetness and, er, to peaches, the St. Louis Peche is worth tracking down.

Friday and Saturday saw me at the Fermentation School again and again (I started to feel like a conspicuous weirdo fixture there) for two more classes on Belgian brews. The first was led by Don Feinberg, the co-founder of both Vanberg & Duwulf Importers and America’s well-respected Brewery Ommegang. That night, I quaffed one of the world’s great beers (and one of my favorites), Saison Dupont, but it was the interesting grapefruitiness of the Boon Gueuze that really struck me. I just can’t get enough Lambic anymore.

Saturday’s session was led by Armand Debelder of Belgium’s Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen and importer Don Shelton. I particularly enjoyed two Cantillon beers that night, the Broucsella 1900 Grand Cru (which I’d had before) and the Iris (which I probably hadn’t). I have a crush on Brasserie Cantillon, and I’m sure I’ll be blogging about that again sometime soon.

Sandwiched between all of these sessions at Tria was a Wednesday evening beer dinner at Philly’s Belgian Cafe. A friend and I sampled some tasty dishes designed to complement five different Lindemans beers. Lindemans beers are what got me interested in Belgian beers in the first place. And I haven’t changed my mind—despite repeated exposure to “experts” who bemoan the brewery’s emphasis on sweetness (accomplished by adding fruit juices to the beers). As I’ve blogged before (at the old place), Lindemans Framboise is my perfect combination of sourness (Lambic) and sweet (raspberries).

Somehow, I now have to face the fact that I won’t have four or five beer events to get me through the days ahead. That is so depressing! I’ve been spoiled by Philly Beer Week, and I don’t want to go back.

Written by Jimmy

March 17th, 2008 at 12:53 am

Posted in Beer