Filling My 12 Ounce Bucket List

Ballantine IPA

A while back an older friend, who had just gone through some serious health problems and was having to face those inevitable questions that trouble all of us–inquired as to the contents of my bucket list. Other than my wish to have spent more time with loved ones that had already passed on, or my unrealistic hopes of getting the definitive photograph of the Loch Ness Monster, or having an actual encounters with alien beings, I realized that for the most part my bucket was empty.

But then I did recall that there was one experience (even though it seemed even less attainable than the alien or lake creature thing) that I had always told people that I wanted to repeat before permanently giving up my allotted space at the bar–and that was to enjoy at least one more encounter with my first true American ale infatuation–the Ballantine IPA!

During the past seven plus years of publishing American Public House Review, it seems that whenever beer was the topic of discussion my longings for that superlative pale ale would be exuberantly voiced, and on occasion, as noted below, those passions would find their way into the final draft of an article.

  • Here was a world-class recipe that rivaled my long lost and much lamented first true beer love – the Ballantine India Pale Ale. Since the 1983 demise of that well hopped heavyweight, (60 IBUs during its prime recipe years}), I’ve been on a personal quest for the next great IPA. Thankfully, we live in a time when so many American brewers are emulating the style and techniques of those early masters of the craft…     From a 2010 article about Wagner Valley Brewing in Lodi, New York
  • In the February-March 2000 edition of“Celebrator Beer News,” Fred Eckhardt wrote, “Ballantine IPA would be a good choice for the greatest and most enduring American brewing triumph of the early and mid-20th century.” From a more personal perspective, Ballantine IPA continues to this day to be the most memorable and pleasant beer drinking experience of my life.  From a 2008 article about the Trinity Brewhouse in Providence, Rhode Island

So it is with many a heartfelt thanks that I raise my glass to the memory of Peter Ballantine, and those very talented, present day brewers at Pabst whose efforts and expertise  have reshaped and resurrected this American classic. Because of you my bucket list is now full–and my recycling bin is overflowing!

Posted by: Chris Poh

Blue Tag


The Road to Damascus by Way of Easton, PA

 Easton, PA

It had been quite some time since David and I had the opportunity to pull off that lazy afternoon one-on-one brew and chat session. And we mutually agreed that Two Rivers Brewing Company in Easton, Pa would play host to our late summer tete-a-tete. By the time I embarked upon my second pint of  Rastafarye Ale from Blue Point, we had already cleared the small talk about family, friends and the circumstances of our personal being. So as it has been at other such encounters, we quickly moved the conversation into our version of progressive political and philosophical thought. Pint number three brought on the usual, easy to be heard from the other side of the room, bout of preachy pontifications. A well-mannered gentleman at the other end of the bar inquired if he might be allowed to join  the discussion.  

We welcomed Paul, whose accent and appearance suggested a Caribbean connection, into our friendly give-and-take.  After about an hour of  hashing out the current state of relations between humankind within our own borders and beyond, Paul interjected a bold pronouncement.

He declared that he would gladly give up all of his civil rights in exchange for true equality, justice and brotherhood. Once again a man of some insight had come to the conclusion that our most complex of problems would be better served if we adopted and adhered to those simpler virtues.

In that world, there would be no reason to remember December 7th and September 11th. In that world, there would be no call to take the high ground at Gettysburg and Normandy. In that world, there would be no reason to march on Washington or Tiananmen. And in that world, the road to Damascus would not be feeling the pain of the fallen, and those fleeing the ruthlessness–but only the gentle footsteps of fellow pilgrims seeking a better way to treat all of humanity.

he Bar at Two Rivers Brewing Company

Until such time, we can at least work out our differences and misperceptions over a few lazy afternoon pints!

Posted by: Chris Poh

Blue Tag

Top Shots from American Public House Review

Sunset Over Seneca Lake, from the Deck at Two Goats Brewing in Hector, New York

From the onset of our publication, it has  been our goal to capture the heart and spirit of each featured location with good copy and great images. As it is with any work in progress, there is always room for improvement. As I look back over our labors during the last four years of producing American Public House Review, there are many instances when I wish I would have said things differently or that my photographic skills were a bit more adept. But there were those moments when the prose was up to par, and that which was in my mind’s eye was captured  by the camera. The above image taken from the deck at Two Goats Brewing on Seneca lake is one of those moments when a picture is truly worth a thousand words.

In order to better share those twinklings in time when the light was just right and the hand was actually steady, obviously during an earlier point in our session at the bar, we’ve launched a new page called Top Shots. And we invite our readers to send us their favorite pub photos for future possible  posts.

Posted by: Chris Poh

Parting the Partisan Waters

As President Obama prepares for this week’s historic healthcare summit at Blair House, there are some slight glimmers of hope beginning to shine through the murky waters of partisanship on the Potomac. One might automatically assume that I was referring to Scott Brown’s part in the filibuster breaking vote by Northeast Republicans in favor of the recent Senate jobs bill. But in fact there is something of much greater consequence coalescing in the congressional currents.

The staff of American Public House Review applaud the decision of New Jersey Republican Congressman Leonard Lance to join the House Small Brewers Caucus, the bipartisan organization founded in 2007,  and co-chaired by Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) and Dennis Rehberg (R-Montana).  Furthermore, we wholeheartedly support the Honorable Gentleman from the Garden State in his efforts to roll back the Federal tax on small breweries.   

Perhaps while the senators are in conference at Blair House, the members of the Brewers Caucus should gather at a more suitable location in order to conduct a serious session on behalf of the American People. I would suggest the historic Postal Square Building, which just by chance happens to house the Capitol City Brewing Company

Because let’s face it – we can solve our gallon sized problems…with pint sized solutions!

Posted by: Chris Poh

Looking for Signs from Above

Since the time of our primordial ancestors man has attempted to discover his fate by turning his gaze toward the cosmos. The marking of any new year  seems to heighten our inate need to chase the comet’s tail or  attach undue importance on the alignment of heavenly bodies

As we embark on yet another cycle of the Gregorian calendar the staff of American Public House Review would like to share some of the intriguing, if not downright mystical, signs that have guided our journey during the past year, and that will undoubtedly help to shape the course of future events.

Click on each sign below to take an unparalleled  journey through time and space!


Can choosing the right beer help White House avoid political nightmare?

So you have all heard by now that President Obama plans to meet with Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge police department and Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard University at the White House over a couple of beers and hash their problems out…okay, well maybe its intended to stop a media firestorm, but I digress.  Either way, the meeting is scheduled for this week and all attention now turns to the details.

Over this past weekend, America Public House Review editor Chris Poh offered a most noble of public services by suggesting some brews that might help ease the tension of said meeting.  Yes, suggesting they serve Loose Cannon Ale may seem to the White House staff to be, on the surface, somewhat snarky.  But perhaps a little humor and self-deprecation should be on the menu. 


According to this morning’s Boston Herald, none of our suggestions seem to be at the top of the list.  But there still is time…

The beer selection for Thursday’s meeting is not known. Crowley prefers Blue Moon beer. Gates likes Beck’s and Red Stripe. The president drinks Budweiser.

First of all, I find it hilarious that some reporter actually cared enough to ask Gates and Crowley what beer they like.  (I also find it somewhat sad that these same reporters felt their time was best spent asking such a question…)  And I suppose taking their tastes into account may be a good way to break the ice.

However, there does seem to be a potential political disaster here for President Obama.  Doesn’t the president or at least someone in the West Wing realize that Budweiser is no longer an American company?  Couldn’t this lead to rumors that Obama was actually born in Belgium and not Honolulu??  Maybe he should switch to one of the fine beers offered by the Kona Brewing Company…just another public service from your friends at the American Public House Review.

by David McBride

What Beer Goes Best With Crow?

Pesident Obama at Bethlehem Brew WorksThe staff of American Public House Review are well aware of President Obama’s penchant for a good brew. We chronicled that particular predilection during his campaign visit to the Bethlehem Brew Works in 2008. We are pleased to discover that his fondness for the juice of the barley has been incorporated into public policy. The latest beneficiaries of his beer tap diplomacy are Sergeant James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department and Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.. Both gentlemen have been invited to the White House for a beer.

The question is which selection of suds will best  smooth over the  ruffled feathers, and what beer goes best with crow?

Here are three offerings from the editors of American Public House Review:

  • We suggest beginning the session by serving Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale from Yards Brewing of Philadelphia. What better way to begin any meeting at the White House, than to honor the man whose very words helped to establish the rights and freedoms of this great nation. And with an ABV: of 8.0%  one can quickly undo any prevailing tensions.
  • Next we recommend some Loose Cannon Ale from Baltimore’s  Clipper City Brewing. This is the perfect mea culpa malt beverage, when one needs to atone for expressing themselves without the benefit of having all the facts.
  • And finally we would close this historic gathering with a pint of  Benevolence, a unique variation  of a Belgian lambic from the Cambridge Brewing Company. Not only would this properly honor the contributions to the  community by both Sergeant Crowley and  Professor Gates; but with an ABV: of  12.6%, that which some might be reluctant to forgive – will most certainly be forgotten!

Red Tag

Posted by: Chris Poh

Beer and Baseball in America

Beer and baseball.  Can you think of two things in this country that go better together?  The two have lived a symbiotic relationship for decades.  I grew up a Yankees fan, thanks be to God, and I remember after a homerun Phil Rizzuto would declared it “Miller Time”.  In the 1950’s, a giant Ballantine Ale banner adorned centerfield at the big ballpark in the Bronx declaring itself the “Stadium Favorite”.  Despite the exorbitant cost, and missing at least a half an inning on line at the concession stand, a game just ain’t a game without a beer.

IronPigs Outfield

So you can imagine my delight last night as I entered Coca-Cola Park, the home of the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs, and while strolling to my seat saw a stand selling beer direct from the Bethlehem BrewWorks.  A pint of a delicious red lager, followed by a pint of the Pig Pen Pils, and I was a man enjoying life the way it was meant to be!

Minor League baseball does a lot of things well.  The tickets are priced right, the games are fun and exciting, and stadiums usually attempt to bring in a bit of the local culture.  Whoever decided to go get this beer deserves my thanks and admiration.


Posted by: David McBride

Is that place really a brewery??

The staff of the American Public House Review took a field trip a few weeks ago to our nation’s capitol.  After a few hours of driving, I was ready for a drink.  Our plan was to head straight to the Dubliner, but as we drove past Washington D.C.’s Union Station that plan expanded quite a bit.

Capitol City Brewing Company

Not being from the Capitol, none of us knew what this giant and gorgeous building was next door, but we all were more than a little surprised to find signs that read Capitol City Brewing Company hanging outside.  This building looked like a museum or federal building, anything but a brewery.  So after a jaunt to the Dubliner, we meandered up the street to see if this really was a brewery.

Capitol City Brewery entrance

What we found was a unique and wonderful place, full of friendly people, incredible visuals, and fine brew.  The building in question is the old Federal City Post Office which now houses, along with the brewpub, the National Postal Museum.  I can’t imagine anywhere else in the world where you will find a brewery sharing space with a museum inside a building that looks like something that stood next to the Parthenon.

Prohibition Porter from Capitol City Brewing Company

We had a chance to talk for a while with Head Brewer Ryan Curley, a man who truly knows his stuff.  The fact is that this place does it right.  Besides the incredible surroundings, Ryan and his staff knows what really brings in the crowds…good beer.  And that, along with an indescribable urge to get on the bar and declare opposition to the latest bill in the senate, is exactly what you will find at the Capitol City Brewing Company.

Posted by: David McBride

Trouble A-Brewin’

One of Pennsylvania’s true destinations, the beloved Penn Brewery and Restaurant in the Deutschtown section of Pittsburgh’s North Side, is on the verge of closing its 19th century doors due to failed rent negotiations with its landlord, E & O Partners.


The Penn Brewery, Pennsylvania’s first and largest “craft” brewer, was founded in 1986 by “Mr. Beer,” Tom Pastorius. In 1990 Pastorius spent millions of dollars installing a custom-made German-style brewery — complete with locally made fermenters and storage tanks — in the former Eberhardt and Ober Brewery Building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Pastorius’ award-winning beers and accompanying restaurant featuring traditional German dishes turned the architectural jewel into a Pittsburgh icon.

Tom Pastorius, Image © The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Tom Pastorius, Image © The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

But Pastorius now has to close the brewery and restaurant due to a 360% rent increase by the historic building’s owners, E & O Partners, who have been unwilling to negotiate. In an interview with reporters Bob Batz and Bob Hoover from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pastorius said, “E & O decided to increase the square footage that the company’s responsible for. It more than doubled the space from 13,000 square feet to 28,000 by including the outdoor beer garden and loading dock. It also tacked on a bunch of other operating expenses for the entire building on the company’s rent.”

The Penn Brewery is searching for a new location.  In the meantime, the large and heavy brewing equipment must be dismantled and stored – not an easy task – and most of its 50 employees laid off, very difficult news in an area that has closed three additional brewing companies in 2008: John Harvard’s Brew House, Hereford and Hops and the Johnstown Brewing Company (website dismantled).

penn_oktoberfest_web3The last batch of Penn beer was made this week but Penn Brewery has contracted with the Lion Hill Brewery in Wilkes-Barre to continue making its beers with the same recipes and ingredients.  At issue may be maintaining Penn’s hallmark quality in a different and larger facility — Penn won gold and bronze medals at the 2008 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado, for its Kaiser Pils and Oktoberfest.

For more reading on brewing and microbrewing in Pennsylvania and America, check out Pennsylvania’s Breweries and The American Brewery: From Colonial Evolution to Microbrew Revolution .

— Written & Posted by Kathleen Connally

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