On Friday, Beer Blotter offered its 300th post! Over less than a year has elapsed since we first went public on BeerBlotter.com. We have a had a blast so far, and we look forward to much more ahead.
In almost 11 months, we have managed to put up more than 300 stories (this article is #302). From our editor’s first beer review of Lazy Magnolia’s Jefferson Stout to Mark Leavens’ review of sandwich board art over at Atlantic Crossing – we have come a long way.
While we look forward to big changes over here, we wanted to take a look into the past and discuss the three biggest, and most memorable, moments in our short history. We have visited Belgium, Holland, France, Canada, San Diego, San Francisco, New Orleans, Cleveland, New York, Washington DC, Portland, Chicago and more – all in that 11 month period.
These three moments stick out the most:
#3 — Beer Blotter Spawns From the New Orleans Beer Arrival & A Chicago Surprise
If you have ever visited New Orleans, you are probably aware that its almost impossible to find a good beer. You are almost assured of being stuck drinking some fruity concoction of a massive amount of liquor. Not anymore.
We visited New Orleans in the beginning of last November with little knowledge of any beer scene. But, we stumbled our way through bar after bar and discovered that craft beer does exist. In fact, we were floored with what we found; hope for a good future was established.
While we were in New Orleans, our editor was surprised with a no notice flight up to Chicago. It was her first visit – and a great opportunity to see an amazing world of craft beer. We visited the Publican, drank Three Floyds at the Map Room, bought a bounty of beer at Binnys and took in a Browns v. Bears game, before returning to New Orleans.
Upon returning, we decided to launch this site. Beer Blotter was born over a pint of Lazy Magnolia Jefferson Stout and NOLA Hopitoulas at the Avenue Pub. From that moment – 300 articles followed.
#2 — The Crew Visits West Flanders
The entire crew decided to throw down and take an excursion to Belgium, back in March. We planned the trip for a period of 12 months, holding epic Belgian beer tastings once a week until we left. As part of the trip, we decided to visit Germany, France and Holland as well.
Every day was filled with splendor. From the iconic bottle shops, to the revolutionary brewers, Belgium brought us to our knees. We saw Cantillon in Brussels, visited Moeder Lambis during its opening week, drank gallons at De Molen, sorted through bottles at Paters Vaetje, and gifted a Pliny the Elder to Hane at De Gans.
But, nothing was more epic than a one day visit to West Flanders. I had caught a pretty vicious cold that had put me out of commission for a few days, but I refused to allow it to defeat my trip to Westvleteren to catch Westy 12. I sucked it up, chugged some orange juice, bought some nose spray (so i could taste again) and we took off for West Flanders.
When we arrived at the Saint Sixtus Abbey in Westvleteren – my cold cleared up. Whether this was an amazing intervention of the almighty himself or simply an incredulous recovery – we will never know. But, it all came together as my first Westy 12 was placed in front of me.
From there, we trucked on to St. Bernardus, visited a brewer’s cottage in Woesten, drove to France to sample Escambeq’s best (with a brewer who could not speak English), drank De Struisse’s finest in a living room at De Zon and enjoyed splendid wonders from the private collection of Alvinne’s owner. I’m unsure that this day could ever be eclipsed.
#1 — The Closing of Water Street Brewing & Alehouse
The number one moment is not a happy one. But, it certainly had a profound effect on me.
For days I labored over visiting my favorite beer spot before it would shut its doors, for the final time. In the end, I didn’t go. The horror was too much for me to handle.
If you never got a chance to read the hardest post I ever typed, take a gander now. For purposes of brevity, I will not relive the words that came to mind when I head that Water Street Brewing would close down. But if you were around me for those few days – you know it was always in my mind.
Bars come and go – that is for sure. Some bars leave way too early; that was the case with Water Street. Because of a legal spat that keeps the former Water Street brewing space vacant to this day (we just saw the space this past weekend and its still not even close to re-lease), Water Street was forced into early retirement.
But, like all great combatants, Water Street may rise again. Their Facebook page has provided snippets of hope to those of us who yearn to have Queen Nina pour us another IPA. Recently, Nina announced that Strange Brewfest would return this year! This was an amazingly welcoming sign that Water Street is still alive and kicking – somewhere.
300 posts of Beer Blotter has brought us this far and we vow to keep it going. In the next month, we hope to have our new site running, filled with gobs of media and more user friendly resources.
Stick with us, please. We’ve enjoyed your company.
So……Friday is the day where we will be introducing the Taplist – an adventure into America’s top tap lists. Beer Blotter did a survey (no we didnt), and we tallied the votes (certainly did not) and we decided in unanimity (eh…maybe) that there are 8 epic beer cities in the U.S. of A.
Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Denver won out. Thus, they will be routinely displayed here every Friday (morning from now on) so that you know where to go to get a beer in your city, your vacation spot, the place where work stuck you with that guy, the place you got stuck on a layover, the place your in-laws live and you tentatively visit, and/or the place you bought that stuff from that dude that knew that chick.
We will try to get to all 8 cities each week…but this week we only get to 6.
And now for the list……
- The Map Room – Updated 12/11/09 – Founder’s Red Rye Ale is up and seriously lacking a response in the beer community. The reviews are spicy with a great caramel balance. Worth a look. Also, appearing are Cleveland’s Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald, Montreal’s McAuslan St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout (99 on RateBeer), Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Life & Limb (10.2% with maple syrup and birch) – best for last Three Floyds Alpha Klaus (beer of the month = $4)
- The Publican – Get the pig ears. order beer. Green’s Quest is brewed at Mikkeller’s De Proef Brouwerij (8.5% tripel); the list has Port Brewing’s Panzer Imperial Pilz and Older Viscosity (taste like hot pretzels – 2nd at Big Wood); you might want to save your cash and get a Matilda from Goose Island, a beer full of funky yet citrusy belgian flavor while adding a smooth but strong hoppy note.
- The Hopleaf - Updated 12/11/09 – they win for today’s list. The list includes localites Tyranena Rocky’s Revenge (Barrel Aged Brown), Bell’s Two Hearted Ale (quintessential IPA), Two Brothers Heavy Handed IPA (wet hop!), Metropolitan Generator Dopplebock (who makes these? – 8.2% is just right), Half Acre Magnus Schwartz and Point Brewing Cascade Pale Ale. But the show stoppers here are (a) Stone/Brewdog Bashah (8.6%, get this – Black. Belgian. Double IPA – i love these guys) and (b) Goose Island Pere Jacques (9% – banana monster that will turn you upside down)
- Ginger Man – Weyerbacher Quad. enough said. This went up today. Also going up are Abita Christmas Ale (New Orleans favorite), and Smuttynose Big A IPA; but the king has to be Harpoon’s Leviathan Imperial IPA – we sampled this down in New Orleans and were floored. This is an extremely well bittered IPA with perfect smooth sugars. The beer is comparable to Ruination.
- Rattle N Hum – Updated 12/9/09 – Woo. Wow. 40 taps and 4 Dark Star (England) Casks. This list is incredible – we will just rattle them off: Allagash Burnham Road, Smuttynose Finest Kind Kind (2x IPA – no ratings – rare as hell), Captain Lawrence Freshchester Pale, Dogfish Head Burton Baton (2x IPA), Stone Sublimely Self Righteous, Southern Tier Old Man Winter, Brooklyn Back Breaker, and Sixpoint Otis – – but the champs are here Brooklyn Monster ’07 and Cigar City Hunaphu (got to love the NY and FL connection – thank NYC shitty taxes and FL no taxes) . Hunu is a RateBeer Top 50, aged in cigar box wood and severely limited in production. Get it now.
- Monk’s Cafe – East Coasters – they still have Port Brewing High Tide – go get it. Its your last amazing taste of fresh hops for the season. You want a Belgian – get the Nogne O Tiger Trippel.
- Eulogy – Austria’s favorite is Samichlaus (14%) Dopplebock, aged for 10 months and ready for the Holidays. Very rare on tap. The Belgians here are the fare; there are plenty you will like.
- Toronado – Updated 12/11/09 – Unlike the SF version, these guys maintain an ever changing tap list online. Holiday beers on parade. Today you can grab a Lost Abbey Gift of the Magi. This beer is biblical in theme and in effect. An incredible Biere De Garde that has been reviewed as having “hints of egg nog” – really? They also have Mikkeller’ Santa’s Little Helper 2009, Oggi’s- Freakin’ Awsome (SD brewer with some amazing IPAs), Port Brewing Santa’s Little Helper, and Santa Cruz Mountain’s Ginger’s Winter Warmer
- Stone Bistro - Stone Brewing’s own brewpub/bistro has probably the most consistently-impressive tap list in the city. Right now you can grab any of Stone’s brews, including Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, as well as Avery duganA (one of the more impressive new 2x IPAs), a winter ale offering from Bootleggers of Fullerton, CA, and Mission Brewing’s Armada Imperial IPA (collaboration with San Diego Brewing @ 9.2%). We would love to try and get our hands on that Mission offering.
- Toronado - These guys do not keep an updated taplist. But, they do have a pleasant surprise for you – Speakeasy is holding an Old Godfather Release Party today at this pub. This beer is a tasty caramel barleywine (10.2%). But the versions on tap today will be Barrel-Aged and extra special.
- The Trappist – OK OK we know its in Oakland, but this bar is incredible. They are hold KerstBier Festival right now, with some amazing Belgians. De Struise Tsjeeses (10%), Mikkeller To From, and Brouwerij De Regenboog‘s Catherine the Great Stout.
- Latona – UPDATED 12/12/09 – They just put up their new tap list. Big Time Malaprop 8 is very intriguing. This abbey style ale (7.2%) has excellent reviews and an interesting spiced malt. Check this beer out.
- Naked City Taphouse – UPDATED all the time. Naked City’s use of Twitter has been an excellent tool for beer lovers. Now you can be sure to know what is running on their taps at all time. Its a must follow. Right now they are pouring Speakeasy Brewer’s Reserve Old Godfather, Snipes Diminished Returns Double IPA and Diamond Knot Industrial Ho Ho. We were especially impressed with Snipes’ 2x IPA. The beer is not too bitter, very floral and extremely smooth, while maintaining a high alcohol content (9%). Snipes has been getting a lot of attention for hoppy beers over the past year. Take a trip to Greenwood people!
- Brouwer’s Cafe – UPDATED 12/11/09 – Brouwers put some good beers on last night, notifying us via Twitter.
Let us know if we are missing something. Next week expect to see a post about all 8 cities!