Dogfish Head Simul-cask @ Memphis Taproom

Last Thurs­day was a ban­ner night for this beer lover. I met my friend Adam and we strolled on over to Mem­phis Tap­room to enjoy a great Dog­fish Head stunt tap­ping for their 75 Minute IPA. We got there a lit­tle ear­ly think­ing we might have to twid­dle our thumbs for a minute before they tapped the cask, but no, we were just in time to knock down a few pints of this great IPA.The 75 Minute IPA blends their trade­mark 60 and 90 Minute IPAs, result­ing in a remark­ably smooth IPA that will still knock you flat if you’re not care­ful.

Adam and I end­ed up hav­ing a won­der­ful con­ver­sa­tion with my friend Der­rick, anoth­er Mem­phis Tap reg­u­lar and ama­teur beer afi­ciona­do like myself. We dis­cussed the mer­its of Dog­fish Head­’s approach to brew­ing and how great it is to be sand­wiched between so many great brew­eries, all of which are doing dif­fer­ent, dis­tinc­tive things. Dog­fish Head real­ly does a great job of brew­ing sig­na­ture IPAs, com­ple­ment­ed nice­ly by great sea­son­als. I think their spring and sum­mer beers, both of which fea­ture great fruit fla­vors, are among the most refresh­ing I drink, with­out being sick­en­ing­ly sweet.

As an aside, I want­ed to take this oppor­tu­ni­ty to men­tion Jay Hin­man’s great beer blog, Hedo­nist Beer Jive. Some of you may rec­og­nize Jay from his leg­endary music blog, Agony Short­hand. Now, instead of debat­ing issues of race with Black to Comm, he’s telling you why he won’t pony up for expen­sive bombers of Russ­ian Riv­er Con­se­cra­tion (and I don’t blame him!) Jay’s always been a great read, and his beer writ­ing is just as fun and engag­ing as his music writ­ing ever was.


A.C. Newman @ Johnny Brenda’s

A.C. New­man
Orig­i­nal­ly uploaded by J T. Ram­say

I went out to see A.C. New­man at John­ny Bren­da’s Tues­day night. I had a great time. I’m going to write about the man and his new album, Get Guilty, over at my work blog, Blind­ed by the Hype, today (hope­ful­ly.)

It was an amaz­ing show. Regard­less of how you feel about his most recent stuff with the New Pornog­ra­phers, or his solo work, he’s an unde­ni­able show­man who must be seen to be believed. I can think of few song­writ­ers whose body of work has been so con­sis­tent­ly strong since he came back on the scene with the New Pornog­ra­phers near­ly a decade ago.

If you’re not at SXSW and you’re look­ing to hear some great music, make sure you get your­self out to see A.C. New­man when he comes to town. You won’t be dis­ap­point­ed.


Food: It’s All Good in the ‘Hood

When Helen and I left our Mum­mer’s Row apart­ment for our house here on Let­ter­ly St. in Decem­ber 2006, it was a sad affair. We left behind a deli­cious world of Ital­ian bak­eries and restau­rants, as well as some great sand­wich­es, too, for a new neigh­bor­hood where the most obvi­ous food options were Jovan’s Place, a quaint Yugoslav restau­rant around the cor­ner, and Key Foods Piz­za across the street. It pains me to tell you that one evening we were so des­per­ate for din­ner we got take­out from — gasp — Apple­bee’s. It was prob­a­bly our culi­nary rock bot­tom.

But there was light at the end of the tun­nel. In the two years we’ve lived up here we’ve found some great food, whether it’s Mem­phis Tap­room around the cor­ner when we’re just look­ing for a quick bite and some­thing to drink, or Bistro Juliana for the delight­ful Ital­ian food we loved so much in our old neigh­bor­hood. But that’s not all! I recent­ly made an ear­ly morn­ing run to Czer­w’s on Tilton St. for sev­er­al pounds of smoked kiel­basa and fresh-made piero­gies. If there is a heav­en, I hope it smells like Czer­w’s. There’s great Mex­i­can at Las Cazue­las, or quick Mex­i­can at Taco Rien­do. We’ve even found some decent piz­za, hav­ing recent­ly tried San­tuc­ci’s upside-down square pie. Now we feel like we have more options than we ever did back in old Pennsport.

We’re not alone. Our neigh­bor­hood has recent­ly been a new focal point in local cui­sine, fea­tur­ing both new­com­ers and old. The amaz­ing Rick Nichols recent­ly ven­tured up Rich­mond St. in Port Rich­mond, high­light­ing all the won­de­ful Pol­ish food the neigh­bor­hood offers. Think that sounds deli­cious? Then you should spend a Sat­ur­day after­noon with him on his Edi­ble World Food Tour that’s being orga­nized by First Per­son Arts! (I’ll add that you should check out the oth­er New Wave Cafe up on Alleghe­ny Avenue for a few rounds of strong Pol­ish beer and more than your fair share of kiel­basa and piero­gies.)

Metro con­trib­u­tor and Foo­booz writer Arthur Etchells also reps for our ‘hood in his recent arti­cle, “Riv­er Ward Steps Up.” He talks about some of the restau­rants I men­tioned above, as well as The Pick­led Heron, a restau­rant that will bring fin­er din­ing to Frank­ford Avenue lat­er this spring. They also hope to take part in Riv­er Ward Restau­rant Week! That’s real­ly excit­ing, espe­cial­ly since there was some spec­u­la­tion about whether or not they would still be open­ing as the econ­o­my took the plunge. I can’t wait to try their menu!

When our friends Rick and Grace recent­ly moved up to Let­ter­ly St. just two doors up the block, we assured them it was a great neigh­bor­hood that we’d been beta-test­ing for over two years. It’s a great area that blends old favorites like Jovan’s Place and Mem­phis Tap­room. We have Greens­grow Farms and Philadel­phia Brew­ing Com­pa­ny around the cor­ner, too! Now when you think of Port Fish­ing­ton, think food!


Geeking Out at Memphis Taproom

Weyer­bach­er Fire­side
Orig­i­nal­ly uploaded by J T. Ram­say

I met Kei­th Fitzger­ald at Mem­phis Tap­room last night to talk about blogs, apps, and all the oth­er fun geek stuff our wives tell us “sounds fun” as we walk out the door.

Our won­der­ful con­ver­sa­tion was aid­ed and abet­ted by some deli­cious beer as the No Repeat Beer Week rolls on! I start­ed the night with a smoky Weyer­bach­er Fire­side (pic­tured) before delv­ing into a bunch of beefy IPAs. Here’s last night’s list:

I took it easy since it was a school night, but I can assure you I had no dif­fi­cul­ty get­ting up this morn­ing for a quick three-mile run.

Our con­ver­sa­tion end­ed with an inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion about how RSS is the blood cours­ing through the veins of the Inter­net, yet we still find our­selves join­ing every known social media plat­form that comes down the pike. Isn’t RSS sup­posed to make our lives real­ly sim­ple?

Speak­ing of which, we also chat­ted about Pitch­fork’s head­scratch­er of a redesign. It remind­ed me of Paper Thin Walls after it was redesigned and made ready for a social net­work that nev­er took off. Ouch. I told Kei­th that Pitch­fork should’ve looked to’s redesign and focused on their video pro­duc­tion. Why they’re still mar­ried to the con­cept of a music webzine escapes me.

Kei­th also shared his pet project with me: a run­ning app for the 3G iPhone that should blow Map­MyRun and its ilk out of the water. I’m con­sid­er­ing buy­ing a new iPhone just to beta test it against my Garmin watch. It sounds great for begin­ners and advanced run­ners alike. There’s a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for an iPhone app like this to meet the needs of Garmin cus­tomers who’re still wait­ing for Garmin to roll out their Mac fea­tures.

It was a great night for geek­ing out on beer and the Inter­net. I’m look­ing for­ward to work­ing with Kei­th on tweak­ing and adding fea­tures to Kens­ing­ton Blues over the next few weeks. To that end, can any­one rec­om­mend a clean, free, 2‑column Word­Press theme?


No Repeat Beer Week @ Memphis Taproom

Lest peo­ple start to think that this blog is going to focus exclu­sive­ly on the issues fac­ing the music indus­try, I’m writ­ing today about anoth­er one of my pas­sions: craft beer! In the past year or so I’ve got­ten very seri­ous about the beer I drink, thanks in no small part to Bren­dan, Leigh and every­one at my amaz­ing local bar, Mem­phis Tap­room. We Philadel­phi­ans are also for­tu­nate to have Lew Bryson and Joe Six­pack, two of the coun­try’s best beer crit­ics, right in our own back­yard! So while I’m not going to attend any of the offi­cial Philly Beer Week events, but I’m mak­ing the most of Mem­phis Tap­room’s No Repeat Beer Week…and then stum­bling home hap­py.

Last night Helen and I were joined by our friends — and new neigh­bors! — Rick and Grace for a nice din­ner, which ulti­mate­ly evolved into the girls going home and us boys geek­ing out to some new beers. I can’t think of a bet­ter way to wel­come them to the neigh­bor­hood!

What did I drink? Jess was kind enough to loan me a pen and I used one of their handy beer menus as a check­list. I tried one of each of the fol­low­ing:

What did I like? I’m par­tial to every­thing Elysian does. I enjoyed their Bifrost Win­ter Ale immense­ly and look for­ward to try­ing more of their stuff. My local dis­trib­u­tor’s even stock­ing it now! The Loki Lager had an amaz­ing fin­ish that demands your atten­tion.

Any­one who knows me knows that I’m a suck­er for an IPA, even though I’m try­ing to break the habit of default­ing to these some­times over­pow­er­ing beers. What can I say? I’m a total hops-head!

Dog­fish Head makes some of the most nuanced beers I’ve ever tast­ed, and the Red and White was no excep­tion. They’re always work­ing on anoth­er lev­el in my opin­ion.

My sur­pris­ing favorite? The Ipswich Orig­i­nal Ale. I know! I’m shocked, too! Lew Bryson says it’s going to be a big year for ses­sion beers, and if they’re as sat­is­fy­ing as this one, who could deny him?

Let’s just say it was an amaz­ing way to cel­e­brate Philly Beer Week in my ‘hood! Be sure to stop by and sam­ple some of the great stuff they’re tap­ping this week at Mem­phis and Cum­ber­land!