As you may know, a group of us started a homebrewers club in NE Philly last fall as we felt there was a need for such a group in this area as it was lacking one. With the help of Scoats, the owner of The Grey Lodge (http://greylodge.com/), we got a small group of brewing minded individuals together and created the Lucky 13 Homebrew Club (http://lucky13homebrewclub.ning.com/) named as such because our first meeting was on September 13, 2011.
It's been an informal atmosphere where we get together and talk about the beer we brew, what methods we use, swap recipes and ideas so that we can brew beers that our friends and others will enjoy. Scoats lets us use the top floor of his "oasis" of a bar, that's what I call it, every second Tuesday of the month and we enjoy his full line of beers on tap as well as the excellent cuisine that he offers. I say this because it is not bar food that he serves there, sure you can get a cheesesteak or a flipping excellent pork sandwich, but it really is a diverse menu and the daily dinner specials will knock you off your feet. I had a plate of clams and mussels in white wine last Tuesday that is still making my mouth water. So I'd like to say thanks to Scoats!
So we've been having these gatherings in a really nice place in NE Philly and have also been lucky enough to be getting a multitude of support from the local beer community in the form of guest speakers! I have been lacking in blogging about them! So this is really my first attempt in blogging about our guests and unfortunately it doesn't do our many past speakers much justice. I also missed a few key meetings so if any readers remember who I left out, please let me know! I know I left one guest Speaker out from the fall/winter crew, for the life of me I can't remember his name! He even made some excellent reference recommendations that I made notes of, but I never made a note of his name! I have tried mining all my emails and communications about meetings and no luck. Scoats, help me out here!
First, I feel inclined to write a bit about our host at the Grey Lodge, Scoats. The man has been a mystery to me as I have lived in Portland, OR from the mid 90's to late 2000's. In fact, the Philly beer scene is not one that I know so that is why I am like a newbie. I am finding out that Scoats is well known and respected in the Philly beer scene or more like the underground beer scene. Each meeting I learn more about the man behind what I call "Northeast Philly's Beer Oasis" and my respect for him grows. He is a cool character who is laid back but very attentive to his surroundings. Those are the makings of a perfect Publican and a supporter of the community, not only the beer community, but of everything in general. It is very generous of him to let us gather at his pub and we all, not only Lucky 13 I'm sure, appreciate what he does for us. I'm sure his honesty and generosity stems from a compassion for his fellow peeps and that is admirable in my book. Thanks Scoats!
Our first guest was Steve Hawk co-founder of Aleians Homebrew Club and 2010 Philly Beer Geek winner! He is a very personable guy with great beer knowledge and gave us some excellent advice on how to maintain our homebrew club! It was quite some time ago so specifics are a bit vague much to my chagrin but I would like to thank Steve for coming out! I think we may be seeing Steve again for this April 10th meeting as he, "The Beer Fox" Carolyn Smagalski, and Jason Harris the owner of Keystone Homebrew Suppy may be out to meet us and talk about this years Philly Beer Geek competition.
Nick Less, the man at Barry's Homebrew was also a guest last fall and he brought some of his posse with him as well! This was one of the meetings that I missed and I can't really comment on it, but I did manage to meet Nick soon afterward as I have found Barry's Homebrew to be the store for me! Sorry George, Barry's is just too darn convienent AND he gives you beer! George and Nancy at Home Sweet Homebrew were my mentors. George and Nancy taught me everything and truly are great people. I will pick their brains to see if they would like to join us for a meeting. Nick came out to last Tuesdays' meeting with two growlers full of Nick's ESB ( I could session this beer easy) and he brought his partner in crime Jimmy who brought a truly fabulous English Ale if I remember correctly. By the time we got to the brews of the "two beards", I was already buzzing, I could still taste beer, but am fuzzy on what I actually drank of Jimmy's creation. I am fairly positive that it was and English Ale, but 100% positive that it was flawless!
In January Ben Potts now with Dogfish Head Brewery came to visit us. I believe he was transitioning from Nodding Head Brewery to Dogfish Head Brewery at the time and had nothing but great praise for both! It was really cool to meet Ben! I had read some local articles in the past in Philly Beer Scene and such and knew of Ben but never realized that he was so laid back and cool! This dude is like a 50 degree English Ale, cool and as he got warmed up got even better! I don't know, I was just trying a metaphor. Forgive me! I really respect Ben. He was down to earth, completely knowledgeable as a practical homebrewer and as a commercial brewer, as well as exceptionally generous with his own cellar stored creations! We didn't get to all of them and when we departed he wanted to give me four huge bottles of what he had left over, I settled for one, and imperial stout that knocked me out! It was so smooth and rounded with no overpowering flavors. I'm not good at judging beer yet and don't know many of the terms involved but I when I think of that Imperial Stout a description of complex yet not overpowering comes to mind. Maybe it wasn't overpowering because the bitterness was on the lower end of the scale. Just how I like it. Ben if you read this, thanks my man! I enjoyed that beer and I hope we get to see you again soon!
This leads me to Tuesdays meeting March 13th. Jeremy Meyers co-owner and head brewer of soon to open Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company joined us for some good timey revelry. Jeremy came to us full of knowledge and vigor. He's a down to earth guy with a full love of homebrewing and an energy that is unsurpassed! Jeremy is a BJCP beer judge and will be teaching a course in that this spring at the Hulmeville INN as well (contact him or I if you are interested in becoming a judge yourself). He brought to us true judging of our homebrews and even helped our members try to recreate some of those lost beloved beer recipes that they had been looking for. I found our meeting with Jeremy not only illuminating for me in so many different topics but helpful the whole group as well. The meeting went on longer than usual and personally, I thought it should have gone on longer as talking with someone so stoked about the project he is taking on and the style of the project that it is as well as what it means to him was like a Tesla Coil going off! He's that stoked about Neshaminy Creek! From his description of the direction that the brewery is taking is that of one of a true beer lover and I found that refreshing. NCBC will be up and running soon and I can't wait to be able to sample some of the beer that we had talked about! Jeremy, thanks for coming out! We look forward to seeing you!
Unfortunately I don't get out to the bigger gatherings where some of the new craft brews have been already sampled like that of Neshaminy Creeks line of craft beer, but I'd like that to be something that I can work on in my own life. Maybe Lucky 13 can open up some doors for me in that respect and for the other members! We have a good core group of eager members just itching at the beer scene and I feel lucky to be a part of what we have to offer the community. If you feel so inclined, come out to the Grey Lodge on the second Tuesday of the month around 7:30 and introduce yourself, it's way relaxed.
Have a great weekend!