(Just a quick note, late addition on this, this is going to be a two-part article. First part a look-back at The Beer Thrillers articles of 2019, and the second part about our top beers, top breweries, and other happenings of 2019 for myself personally and the blog, and some of our friends in general. So make sure to check out both parts.)
So its the end of the year… end of decade even…. and thus its time to reflect back on where we came from, how we got to where we are, and where we are going. Humanity, since the inception of time, and creating of calendars and years and New Years Eves and New Years Days have always taken the last few days of each year to look back on their year, their life, and reflected, and thought about how they could better themselves, come up with “resolutions” for the upcoming year, and join in with friends and families as they ring in the new year. “New Year New You.”
We here at The Beer Thrillers are going to do something …. similar. Not fully introspective though, because we don’t take ourselves that seriously. But just a fun look back at the year that was 2019. I can’t speak for my co-writers, but I can say for me, personally, 2019 had its fair share of ups, downs, in-betweens, lefts, rights, diagonals, crosses, bounces, turns, jukes, and jives. But I’m still here and better for it all. But I’m not going to go on and on too much about myself personally.
Rather, I’m going to write about how the blog has done, where we started from, where we’re headed, etc. And yea, I’ll probably get a little personal. But nothing deep or philosophical or introspective. More along the lines of what were some of the best beers, breweries, or events I’ve done of the year. So don’t worry, the blog will uphold the Seinfeld idea of “Nobody learns, nobody grows, nobody hugs”.
I started this blog back on May 17th, 2019. (This year!) It was a Thursday, my girls (my daughters) were at school, I was bored, and trying to figure out what I’m doing / was doing. I needed something for my days off while the kids were at school, something that was fun, something I was passionate about, something that let me feel like I was being creative, using my talents, and something I knew about. I’ve been reading blogs, and news sites, and all kinds of things about beer for so long, and I have a lot of experience drinking… …and writing… that I figured why not combine the two? I was feeling like I was in a rut, my job is the same its been for the past seven years, I wasn’t doing anything outright ‘creative’ and needed an outlet for it, and we are in a review culture. I do all kinds of reviews all the time, in small nondescript and unimportant ways. Like reading books when I’m finished, I write up a review of them when I check them off on GoodReads. Same with Untappd, when I drink a beer, I write up a small (Tweet size) review of it. I also felt, I was in a unique spot to start this up. I was getting to a spot where I knew enough people “on the inside” or “in the business”, and I was also doing stuff beyond just being a consumer; like home brewing, growing hops, helping can at Tattered Flag, being engaged in conversations with home brewers and professional brewers a lot, that I felt like I could provide some interesting conversations and articles to the world.
Mainly…. I was looking to not be bored, and to do something I love doing – writing and drinking beer.
So I started the blog up on May 17th, 2019. Basically having no clue what I was doing. I started up using WordPress and here we are. Its still WordPress, albeit the ‘weaker’ version (fingers crossed come sometime the new year, I switch over to the more advanced version, where I have more control over the site and the appearance). I did a little bit of research, chose a name – which to be frankly speaking – the name “The Beer Thrillers” just popped up to me. Nothing too deep or crazy or interesting behind it. I was honestly conjuring up the idea that it would be me, and a few of my friends writing, thus the “Thrillers” and not “Thriller”. I thought me, Drew, Dan maybe, and a few others would all writing all kinds of blog posts and contributing. Maybe some of the insiders in the business I know too… …while this hasn’t happened exactly; I have enlisted friends and other writers over the year to help out. (More on that as I get to their participation.)
Outside of creating the home page and starting up the site, my very first article on the blog was a beer review of Troegs’ Scratch 375 – The CocoNator. As far as first time articles go, I have no problems with it. Counting the writing of my colleagues and fellow contributors and cowriters to the blog, we’re now up to 130 blog posts (this being #131). I definitely think I’ve come a long way from that first blog. But I also like to think I laid the foundation there. I set up a system for how the beer reviews (I do) are written, presented, and I hope they are written in a fun, interesting, educational, and most importantly entertaining way.
When I started this in May, I had just gotten a couple of cans from my shift manager at work – Jordan and used them a the base for my first few beer reviews. The CocoNator was quickly followed by two South County beer reviews – Painting with Light (May 19th) and Sundrifter (May 30th). Also during this time, from my recent volunteer work helping can at Tattered Flag I worked with and gotten quite a few of their cans (hard work and sweat at their brewery resulted in many cans of whatever beer was being canned that day, as well as lots of other cans they still had from past canning runs). Two of these resulted in the beer reviews of Boulangerie Stout – Imperial Churro (May 22nd) which was a collaboration between Derek Wolf of Wolf Brewing Co. and Tattered Flag and You Hoppin’ On Me? (May 24th).
I was trying to write fast, furiously, and get some articles out there as a starting blog, I knew content was going to be the main driving force (and still is). Quality content even better. Hopefully I provided the quality content. I guess thats all up to you guys to decide, but I like to think I did (or at least, like I said, hope I did). As you can see from my picture of the Imperial Churro; often times in the background or foreground or beside the beers you’ll see some of the recent books I’m reading, as well as my dog Leela – especially if I’m drinking at home where she typically has to get her nose into the business of all involved. On May 27th, I conducted a bit of a science experiment when I found an old (over a year old) Black and Blue Tastee from The Veil. I had gotten a four pack from one of my favorite bartenders – Chris – who had traveled down and muled some back up. I wrapped up May, my first month of writing for the blog, with my first beer review from a bar – Warwick Hotel – on May 31st with a beer review of Cinnamon Toast Crunch by Collusion Tap Works.
May finished, and my first month done; even if I had only started late in the month on the 17th, I felt accomplished with the blog. I published 9 total blog pages; which included the home-page, the author-bio page, the contact page, and other necessary background pages. Word was slowly trickling out about the blog, I was up to 59 visitors and 121 views. Not a bad first month – especially considering it was basically just two weeks (the 17th through the 31st). Lets say I was “pleased as punch” with the start of the blog. June was looking bright!
On June 13th, I did my first multiple beer review, and my first beer flight review – from Troegs Independent Craft Brewing – of course. What other place would I do my first beer flight review? Troegs was basically my initiation into the craft beer scene when I was ….cough turning 21…. and was the start of my craft beer love. Troegs is still a wonderful brewery, a fantastic venue there in Hershey, and overall holds a definite soft spot in my craft beer loving heart.
June 14th ended up being my first “double blog post” day. Earlier in the day I had stopped in at Tattered Flag to pick up a four-pack, had a beer, and when home, wrote a review, and later that night, with my daughters, I stopped in at Boneshire Brew Works, had a beer, and did a review before bed. At Tattered Flag I had the Abra Collabra beer, and at Boneshire I had the Sunburst beer. A week later I did my first brewery review, when I took my oldest daughter to Gettysburg for the day to visit the battlefields and monuments. Before visiting the sites, we stopped for lunch at the Battlefield Brew Works. A day later I was back at Warwick for another beer and review – Manayunk’s King Crunch.
Around this time, looking to expand, I enlisted the help of a buddy and fellow craft beer aficionado and enthusiast, and Boneshire lover – Josh Doncevic. We had a few talks at Boneshire Brew Works, and we chatted on the Central PA Whalerz group, and discussed this and that and everything beer related, and I thought he’d be a perfect fit for the blog – and he is and still has been. And on June 27th, he took his plunge into the world of blogging with his first beer review Northmont by Yellow Bridge.
A flurry of beer reviews followed – Should Have Put Him in Custardy, a beer flight from Hershey Biergarten, helped close out June and start July with Josh’s review of Ectogasm. June saw the blog grow by massive leaps and bounds, we went from 59 visitors in May to 848 visitors in June with 1100 some views. July was looking to be a great month for The Beer Thrillers, and it certainly delivered some amazing beer reviews! Pink Guava, Inexplicably Juicy, Miami Vice, Old 51, Dillston, Saison and Hurry up and Wait, a beer flight from Tony’s travels up north at the Black Gryphon, Wolf Prints, and Mango Guyabano sWheat Tart.
On July 19th we launched our Twitter page. Which just a few days ago, we hit our 100th follower! (Time for me to plug in here and suggest everyone head over there briefly to follow us, then come back here.) On July 23rd we also started our Instagram page. I will be the first to admit that we don’t do as much with Instagram, primarily because I don’t know enough about it yet. Looking to learn more about it in 2020 and get that page going a lot more.
July continued with some more beer reviews like Enigma, Green Zebra and Next Coast, Good Walk Spoiled, another beer flight from Troegs, and Road Less Traveled. I ended the month by discussing my upcoming road trip with my daughters.
July also saw some fun and interesting events I got to do for the first time. I lost my Ffej of July cherry, getting to make it out to possibly the biggest, baddest, most sickest birthday bash / lawn party ever. Me and Drew also attended the Moo-Funk Home Brew event as well. July was certainly a fun month, but August was looking to be even better.
August started off with a bang, I took my daughters up north PA to visit Elk Country, then we visited Straub Brewery, then we went to Kinzua Bridge and after that stopped at Logyard Brewery and next door to it was Twisted Vine Brewery. That was Day One. Day two saw us hitting the Pittsburgh area. First at dawn we hiked McConnell’s Creek, then went to ShuBrew before going into Pittsburgh proper and visit the city where we did a whole slew of things like see Fort Pitt, take the Duquesne Lift, check out medieval Catholic relics, stop by a Jewish synagogue, see the outfield wall still standing, and we also checked out a few breweries like Cinderlands Warehouse, The Church Brew Works, and we finished the day staying at a motel right next door to Yellow Bridge Brewing. Day Two was a lot busier than day one, but just a much fun.
We didn’t slow down for Day Three. We had a whole host of driving to do on day three. We started at Bushy Run to watch the reenactment and check out the events, then went to the Alleghany Portage and Railroad Museum, and then went into Johnstown to see the Johnstown Flood Memorial and there we checked out the brewery Stone Bridge Brewing. From there we Staple Bend Tunnel Trail and then we stopped and paid our respects at the Flight 93 Memorial. On the way back home to the Hershey area we stopped at Olde Bedford Brewing.
Was a fun three days where we got to see lots of cool places, museums, memorials, monuments, and nine breweries to boot. Can’t beat that!
The beer reviews weren’t going to slow down in August either. Ghost in the Machine by Josh, a beer flight at Twisted Bine, Juicy Fruit sWheat Tart, and Caucus Race 6.0. Then shortly before my oldest daughter’s birthday I took her and my second oldest down to Antietam to see the battlefield there and on the way back home we stopped at Cushwa Brewing. Which I did a brewery review of.
They have since moved out of that building but they are still close by to the location. August still had plenty more beer reviews for you guys starting with Harrishire, Kettle Sour Series – Raspberry, Ghost in the Machine by B. Kline, Good Vibrations, and then I did a dual beer review from two beers I had at a Harrisburg Senators game – a Pineapple Kolsch and a Dry Irish Stout, Reve Coffee Stout, Rye for an Eye (my birthday blog post and beer), and that closed out the month of August. As for events in August, me and my friend Ming went to the Lancaster Brewfest and afterwards went to Mad Chef Brewing (my first time there) which was an overall fun event.
Moving onto September started with my cashing in my birthday taco coupon at Newfangled Brew Works and had a really tasty Kettle Sour from them. In September I wrote a piece for Breweries in PA and also posted it on my blog – the version on the blog is found here: Breweries Around the Outskirts of Harrisburg (9.6.19). It has become one of the most popular pieces on our blog, and I believe it has done very well for the Breweries in PA crew as well. Beer reviews certainly didn’t slow down: a flight of Levante and Tattered Flag beers, a flight of Troegs beers, Fresh Fest and Trail Day Pale Ale, a flight of beers from Mount Gretna Brewery, and Spundae.
September also saw me do our first listicle articles. With two – one celebrating our oldest posts – and one celebrating our most viewed posts. Followed by, as always, more beer reviews – Key Lime Pie, They Burn Them All Away, AuZealand, a flight of Ever Grain beer, Vanilla Ice Cream Stout, and a Sour Blueberry wrapped up September.
October started off with a couple of Boneshire Brew Works beers – Tried and True (Mango) and Iscariot. I then got to attend Dr. Alison Feeney’s seminar and event at Mid-Town Scholar “For the Love of Beer“. Afterwards I went to The Millworks and had a flight. I did a book review of Dr. Alison Feeney’s book – For the Love of Beer. We finally joined Facebook on October 17th, you can find our Facebook page here. We are now up to 154 followers on Facebook, hoping to grow more! Did a beer review of Salted Caramel Moo-Hoo next.
I was contacted back in September by Midwest Coast Brewing Company to do an advertisement article and announcement article about their brewery opening. And I think it turned out very well. This was the first time a brewery reached out to us and asked us to do a piece for them and I think it turned out very well. I did a bit of an interview with the owners / brewers, and talked about their brewery’s opening. This has led to Mellow Mink reaching out to us and inviting us to their place to check them out and do an article (January 2nd we’ll be doing that).
J. Doncevic did a review of Ekaunot by Barebottle. We then covered Rotunda Brewing Company’s rebranding of Irv’s Pub into Rotunda Brew Pub. Also did a news article on Pennsylvania breweries that won at the 2019 GABF. That was my first straight up news article for the blog.
More beer reviews: Athena, Sour Me Peach, Irish Table, Envie and Envie 4X, Yuengling’s Hershey’s Chocolate Porter, and to wrap up the beer reviews of October I did Fatum Series: Member Berries. We also covered Boneshire Brew Works’ 3rd Anniversary Celebration.
November was a crazy month for me. I challenged myself to doing 30 blog posts, one per day – MINIMUM, and I am proud to say I achieved that and met my goal. It was certainly daunting a task, but I did achieve it.
Here’s the list of my articles in November: Pumpkin Stout, St. Thomas, Walker Station Stout, a flight by ZeroDay, King Sue, Intergalactic Warrior, s’Mores LazaRIS, There’s Nuttin Butter Than a Nice Pair of Camo Pants, Secret Machine, Broken Heels, Animal Adjective, 556 Stout, Boat Drinks, a flight of Tattered Flag – Newfangled Brew Works – and Cox Brewing beers, Alpha Abstraction, Double IPA, Lager, Birra Di Levante, Tickle Parts – Passionfruit, a flight of beers from Appalachian Brewing Company, Default Brewing, Darwin’s Salted Forehead, Newfangled Pils, Gotta Get up to Get Down, Paradise Lost, Moon of Vega, Citraquench’l, Azathoth, a flight of Troegs including Mad Elf, and finally a review of Official BBQ and Burgers – Pizza Boy’s second location. WHEW! That was a lot to get out, you can read about it in the November Recap.
November also saw Default Brewing join us here at The Beer Thrillers. Headed by AJ Brechbiel, they are a group of home brewers who will be providing home brewing articles for the blog from time to time. They gave us a welcoming post in November: Cheers from Default Brewing.
I also started up a collaboration with Let Us Drink Beer blog. Where we would be guest writing and contributing to each other’s blogs occasionally. They are down south, and with us being here in PA, it seemed like it’d be a nice fit. Provide some information and beers and breweries that readers might not normally get to see. They posted their first article “Five Must See Breweries in Atlanta” in November.
December started off a little slower here for us, probably because I was a bit tired from November, or perhaps just because its the holiday season, I don’t know. But my first beer review was Ice Dreamz. I did a few more beer reviews in December – My Watch Has Ended, The Hog, Scrooge IPA, Sap, and Autumn.
Default Brewing gave us an introduction to their crew: “Meet The Crew at Default Brewing“.
Finally, the last article posted in all of 2019 (outside of this one now) was a travelogue of me and Drew brewery hopping around Harrisburg. Starting at Boneshire Brew Works, and going to The Vegetable Hunter, The Millworks, The Sturges Speakeasy, and ZeroDay Brewing. Was a fun day jumping around from place to place.
Hopefully you enjoyed this look back on 2019 with The Beer Thrillers. The second part of this article will most likely be posted January 1st, possibly before work, possibly after work. I have to leave for work now, and work until (at least) 8PM, and will most likely be going right out to enjoying New Years Eve festivities with my daughters. Tomorrow I work 10-6, and afterwards will be doing a podcast with Esteban about LOST.
The second part of this series will cover top beers, top breweries, and other things about the year for The Beer Thrillers and myself. For example – podcasting.
So make sure you check out part two then as well!
As always, I hope you have a Happy New Year, enjoyed the blog, and continue to do so! Without you, we don’t need to write, so we hope you are having as much fun and entertainment with this as we are!
-B. Kline on behalf of The Beer Thrillers staff.