This is Why We Love Weekends...

A little Troegs Nugget Nectar action.
Let's face it, when Friday hits, a collective sigh can be heard around the world. What makes some weekends better than other is what kind of beer goodness we can get into, this past weekend being no exception! Eric gets to work from home from time to time, and this past Friday was one of those days. I feel as though it is my duty to take full advantage of him not having to deal with his hour long commute home, and encourage us partaking in the Friday afternoon ritual of happy hour. Our bar of choice this time around: Ulysses American Gastropub in North Wilmington. This place has exceeded our expectations from visit number one. The bartenders are awesome, the food is always spot on, and the beer selection rocks. Friday night's visit was no exception.
They had just tapped
Troegs Nugget Nectar earlier in the day on Friday, and that's exactly what I decided on for my first beer. There are some serious hops going on in this beer, and I like it! Eric's went with my suggestion (quite possibly a first!), 21st Amendment Brewery's barleywine, Lower da Boom. Side note: The more I try barleywines, the more I like them. Some are smoother than others, some have a little more bite to them. Lower da Boom definitely falls into the smoother of the two categories. 

In addition to their extensive beer list, the pub also has a great menu, as well as some pretty awesome happy hour food options. We went with the "Phils Game," two warm soft pretzel stuffed with cheesesteak meat, caramelized onions and peppers and smoked cheddar fondue sauce. Holy crap, it's awesome. Like,
really awesome. And it was only 5 bucks! We also got our go-to appetizer at Ulysses, the Butternut Squash Hummus, which is served with veggies and grilled pita points. Seriously, this hummus is like fall in a bowl. It's so, so, so good. The only problem we found was that we ran out of veggies and pita before we ran out of hummus! Not a bad problem to have if you ask me!

Round two, I went with 16 Mile's Old Court Ale. I couldn't have agreed more with our bartender - Old Court Ale is a great go-to beer, especially for this time of year. The citrus hops come through on this beer, making it really refreshing. For beer #2 of our happy hour excursion,  Eric opted for Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA, which is part of Harpoon's Leviathan series. The Leviathan Imperial IPA, unlike some of the other beers in this series, is available year round. After drinking the Leviathan, Eric said he's really looking forward to touring Harpoon during our trip to Boston in May!

All in all, I don't think either of us could have asked for a better way to kick start what was going to be a very, very awesome weekend! Especially considering our Saturday was going to be starting rather early....

Saturday's are often our day to catch up on things around the house, heading to a Philadelphia Union game, or to get a good bike ride or hike in. Not this Saturday. This Saturday revolved around beer and a very cool event we heard about - a rare tapping of Russian River Brewing Company's Pliny the Younger at the Iron Abbey Gastropub in Horsham, PA. This was, as good ol' Delaware native Vice President Joe Biden put it so eloquently, a B.F.D.!

At the end of last week, Philly Beer Scene shared the info about this tapping on their Facebook page (thank you!!!) The Iron Abbey was only selling SIXTY tickets, and then reserving 20 additional pours on a first come, first serve basis. Thankfully we were able to still the $10 tickets (good for one 8 ounce serving!)   Russian River's Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger are beers we've only read about here in Delaware, since they aren't distributed to our state. Here's a little background on both beers in case you don't know much about them. Pliny the Elder is an 8% ABV Double IPA with a balanced taste of malt, hops and alcohol. I loved the taste we got from the hops - it's a great combination of citrus, floral and pine. This beer is LIMITED, so we took in every drop in our glass! Pliny the Younger is a Triple IPA, which Russian River considers almost a true Triple IPA, as it has triple the amount of hops as a regular IPA does. The hops are alive in this beer, and we like it! It's balanced and smooth - making it hard to have just one! It boasts a 10.5% ABV, so sticking to just one so early in the AM is probably a good thing. The Younger is also very limited, available for just two weeks a year. Whoa.
Waiting on Pliny the Younger to be tapped - so we enjoyed Pliny the Elder and Supplication.
Here it is, ladies and gentleman, the reason we drove a little over an hour - Pliny the Younger.
So worth every minute in the car!

You would think having Pliny The Elder and The Younger on tap would be enough, Iron Abbey also had Blinded Pig IPA and Supplication on for this event. So cool. Wanting to try something different, we went with Supplication, Russian River's 7.0% Sour Brown Ale Aged in Pinot Noir Barrels with Sour Cherries. Boy could you taste those cherries! It was a different, welcomed changed from what we normally drink. It also went well with the breakfast we were having. Speaking of breakfast, with all the exciting over all the amazing Russian River beers we had a chance to try, I almost forgot to mention the awesome breakfast we had! Iron Abbey opens early on Saturdays and Sundays for soccer with a breakfast and beer menu available. Eric and I both went with the create your own omelette choosing spinach, tomatoes and bacon (plus cheese on Eric's). They omelettes were so good, and were served with home fries and what seemed like homemade bread - all for $6. For 3 bucks more, you can add on a beer from a selected list during the soccer matches. Nice. Did I mention as we were finishing up our breakfast I figured it couldn't hurt to ask our server if there was any Pliny the Younger left. Turns out there was, and I got the last of it. It was a pretty awesome way to end what was already turning out to be a way awesome Saturday. And it was barely 12:30pm!

Sometimes our best days are ones that we just don't plan. And this past Sunday was one of them. We got up early and headed down to Lum's Pond to get a good bike ride in (10 miles and 1,000+ calories later, I'd say mission accomplished!) Now the problem with some of our longer, more grueling rides is that we are star-ving by the end of it, and Sunday was no exception. The second problem is our route home from Lums Pond takes us way too close to one of our other favorite places, Two Stones Pub.  The thing with Two Stones is, not only do they have a great craft beer selection, with a ton of it coming from Delaware, they have great food, in particular, great Sunday brunch. Oh, and it was also the start of Delaware Beer Week at Two Stones. We didn't fight it, we just went there, and enjoyed every minute of it! 

Two Stones' DE Beer Week Brunch

The great trend that we're seeing at so many craft beer pubs that are popping up throughout the state is that not only are they serving us great beer, the food is pretty outstanding too. Two Stones is right up there in that statement (as Ulysses was on Friday night). We've been to Two Stones for brunch before, and really enjoyed it. This time around we decided to split a bowl of gumbo (a menu staple) and the Little Italy Wrap, which consisted of garlic-herb chicken, roasted red bell peppers, balsamic-marinated portabella, basil pesto, Parmesan crusted eggs and tucked into an herb wrap. It was awesome. Just the refueling we needed after our ride. 

As I mentioned, Sunday was the start of Delaware Beer Week at the pub, and they were featuring Iron Hill Brewery. It's pretty cool that they were able to bring in a few brews that you can only get at Iron Hill (this also holds true for Twin Lake's Taylor's Grog that they specifically brew for McGlynns throughout the state, The Deer Park in Newark, and the newly opened Cantwell's Tavern in Odessa). I decided to go with a Delaware Beer Week feature, and try the Iron Hill Riverfront IPA, and Eric went with one of his top Delaware beer's, Evolution Lot #3. The Riverfront IPA has a fruity, citrus background, that paired well with the hops. It was a lighter beer, which totally worked post-workout! Eric always goes back liking Lot #3 because it's such an easy drinking beer, without compromising flavor. 
One thing I love is when pubs offer two pour sizes. On a day like Sunday, when there were a few things I was really looking forward to trying, I like getting the small 5 oz pours so I can get more of them, which is exactly what I did. In addition to the Riverfront IPA, I also had Dogfish Head Saison du Buff and Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA on cask.
Eric, on the other hand, sticks with the big boy pours, and went with Old Dominion's Hop Mountain for his next beer. That was one of the beers I contemplated getting, so I was glad he went with Hop Mountain. The simplicity of this American Pale Ale is what makes it so good.
Although I'm not typically a Saison lover, I like trying this particular beer because it is a collaboration between Dogfish Head, Stone Brewing Co. and Victory Brewing Company.  Dogfish does a lot of collaborations, but this one may be my favorite. You also have to love how they came up with the name - the three guys from each of the breweries - Sam from Dogfish, Greg from Stone and Bill from Victory, formed the BUFF alliance - Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor. I mean really, how can you not love it?! The result is the 6.8% Saison that was brewed with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. The cool part? This beer is brewed three times, once at each of the collaborating breweries while using the same recipe. The flavors are amazing how they meld together.
Dogfish 75 Minute IPA is pretty awesome. Combine 60 Minute with 90 Minute, and add maple syrup, and you get a pretty amazing tasting beer. This year marks the first year that they're bottling it (with a pretty humorous label I might add!) It was the perfect way to end our time at Two Stones...until the next time we're there, which we know won't be very long - especially with Delaware Beer Week going on through Saturday! 

Bet you thought our weekend o' beer ended there, didn't you?! It didn't. After chatting with a fellow bar patron while still at Two Stones, somehow Lagunitas came up in conversation (oh wait, I probably brought it up!) This reminded me that we were only about 5 minutes from
State Line Liquors in Elkton, who just so happens to carry Lagunitas. And I knew for a fact that Wilco Tango Foxtrot (or more comically known as WTF!) was out and possibly there for us to buy. After scouring the shelves, we didn't see any. But we didn't give up - after asking if they had any in stock (or if they would be getting it in) we were told they had it in the back. Oh, happy day! This is how my already awesome Sunday and already awesome weekend was made even better. We secured four bottles of WTF, and all was right with the world. 

If you happen to stumble upon WTF, do yourself a favor, and try it! You can currently find it at a handful of bars in Philly (check out Philly Tap Finder to see where it can be found) or of course,  you can hop over to State Line and grab a bomber of it. It's just awesome. It's even better when you're listening to a little Wilco in the background! 
If you need a suggested tune, try something off of Wilco's album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I'd start off with "Heavy Metal Drummer." Check it out:

Now if only all weekends could be as awesome and craft beer related as this one - life would be good, life would be real good!