Drinking with the Devil (Dick), by Tommy Southard

Posted in Columns on June 6th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Hail and kill, beer geeks and aficionados of that which is sudsy! Tommy Southard of the soon-to-be-reviewed The Disease Concept and the soon-to-reunite-at-DaysoftheDoomed-fest Solace has returned with an all-new “Drinking with the Devil (Dick)” column, covering a trip to Philly’s Dock Street Brewery.

Also, is it too late to change the name of this column to “Beer Shits” — or better yet, “Tommy Southard‘s Beer Shits?” Got a real nice ring to it…

Please enjoy:

Tommy's all class.Drinking with the Devil (Dick)
by Tommy Southard

Hello and greetings, Obeliskers…

As I sit to write to you on this fine morning Philly Beer Week is just getting under way and I promise to keep you informed on my exploits.

As for now I want to tell you of my recent visit to another Philly beer staple: Dock Street Brewery.

Dock Street is in West Philly at 701 South 50th St., just a few miles from my house. It is owned by Rosemarie Certo who by what I’m told was one of the first female craft brewers, opening Dock Street in 1985. That is all fine and good but to be honest with you I am not the biggest Dock Street beer fan. For the most part I find their beers to be a bit overrated. The few times we have visited, the staff seems overwhelmed and a bit under-knowledged. For the most part again this was true at this visit. I asked one of the bartenders about a certain beer and he looked at me and said, “I don’t know much about the beer…” Ouch.

The exception this time to what I think is usually lackluster beer was that Dock Street was doing a very limited bottle release of some special beers, with a bunch also being available on tap. We only went at the urging of out good friend and beer aficionado Amy Bullard. Amy is the former guitarist of Philly’s Hatchetface and a great home-brewer herself. When she said we should really come and try the sour beer, we listened.

The festivities were supposed to start at noon and we got there early because we didn’t want to miss out on the first-come/first-served only-while-supplies-last deal. But as usual with Dock Street it was SNAFU, and doors didn’t open until 20 after 12:00, leaving the sidewalk overflowing with an array of beer geeks.

As soon as the doors open it was like a Who concert in Cincinnati in 1979.

We found a nice little spot at the bar and waited for a while as the staff was already overwhelmed. Par for the course. Running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

After a long wait, we ordered a few of the limited Flemish Red Sour Ales (aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels) – man, it was it worth it. This beer was good. I must have drunk five or six of them before I ventured out to try anything else. If you’ve read any of these beer shits before you will know that I am slowly being converted from a dark beer, stout and porter guy into a big sour beer fan.

As for this beer, it was definitely funky, which I like. A light reddish brown with very little bubbles, sorta flat with some slight alcohol and acidity. And at 6.5 percent, I could drink five or six of them and move on to some other things without blacking out. I will say this; I bought two bottles of Sour for take-home enjoyment. The Lady and I cracked one at home and it was not as good bottled as on tap. Seemed sort of lifeless, flat and not nearly as fresh.

We tried the Caliente Golden Ale brewed with agave nectar and chiles. It’s a collaboration w/ Four Seasons, and pretty interesting. You can actually taste and get some heat from the chilies but it is not overpowering. Drinks really smooth too for a 9.5 percent. I guess the alcohol burn is masked by the chilies. There was a sweet flavor, too. I wish they had this in a bottle. I would love to see how it aged a bit, as it was a real nice beer. I wish Dock Street had more things like this on tap from time to time.

I went in for an ABT 12 Abbey-Style Quad next. I don’t know if the other beers were kicking in yet or what but this was really good as well. I mean it wasn’t on the level as St. Bernardus ABT 12 (but what is?) but this was very enjoyable I was actually enjoying all the beers. I was really worried that there was going to be a clunker or two among the beers, but I actually walked away with a little more faith in Dock Street. I had sort of written them off but this event has renewed my faith in them. I will now go back and give them another try. If they can only get the staff to know a bit about the beers they are pouring.

So I bought bottles of the Sour, ABT 12 and the Belgian Black IPA to sit on for a while, so maybe when I crack them I will report back to you all with my findings!

And stay tuned: Philly Beer Week is upon us I have a bunch of events planned! First up, a Mikkeller event!!! Until then, stay thirsty my friends.

Tommy Southard

Tags: ,

Drinking with the Devil (Dick), by Tommy Southard

Posted in Columns on April 24th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

In his third “Drinking with the Devil (Dick)” column, Tommy Southard puts his palate and his liver on the line against a range of craft brews in various locales and lives to tell the tale of a night spent with Schaefer and Thin Lizzy, which is about as close to an ideal evening as I can think of. Please enjoy:

Putting his liver to the test.Drinking with the Devil (Dick)
by Tommy Southard

Well greetings, Obeliskers…

It’s been a while but it seems like only yesterday I was trying to get the last installment of “Drinkin’ w/ the Devil” together. Man, where does the time go?

I’ve been way busy with lots of things, but still had time to sample plenty of beers. But let me say that beer in Pennsylvania is expensive! With that in mind, I’ve been tending to stick with some of the things I’ve liked, so I’m not spending money I don’t have on things I’m not sure about. A couple of the brews I’ve been frequenting has been stuff by Dark Horse, Southern Tier, Duck Rabbit (the dark beer specialists) and Dogfish Head. I’ve also been out and about drinking at some local joints. One around the corner from my house is Mickey’s Tavern.

Mickey’s is a bit of a dive bar and my kind of place. Full of locals and working class types who come to have a few beers after work and before they go home to the wife and kids. Recently we found out that they were trying to improve their beer selection. And when we drove by and saw a sign that said “Now Serving Over 100 Beers,” we had to go in and check it out. I’ve been there many times before, but always just for a cold bottle of PBR on the cheap. Well, the selection wasn’t all that I was hoping for so I went with a Revel Red, which was okay but nothing great, and then a Fuller’s London Pride and we hit the bricks. I give them an A for effort but when I go to Mickey’s it will be for the cheap PBR in bottles. I snapped a few pics with their plastic doggie tip jar…

Dark Horse is easily one of my fave breweries out there now and all of their stuff has been to my liking lately. We (that’s me and the wifey) always pick up some when we are on the beer hunt. Looks like they changed the label on their Perkulator Coffee Dopplebock, which is pretty fantastic, by the way. If you like coffee and beer this is a nice one if you have not had it before. Hell, even if you don’t drink coffee, you should try this. Nice and malty and the coffee doesn’t overpower the brew.

We also had some Dark Horse Too Cream Stout, which a milk-style stout (made with milk sugars). This was dark and smooth and sweet. Just like I like my ladies… Heh. And at 8.0 percent ABV, it packs a bit more wallop than one might expect. Another fine brew by this fine brewery.

Another brewery that I have not had a bad beer from is Southern Tier. The Imperial Choklat Stout is no exception. Brewed with chocolate, this is pretty awesome. Totally dark chocolate sweetness and drinks so smooth for an 11 percent beer. I could drink one thousand of these! If you have not had anything by this brewery I STRONGLY suggest you do so, post haste.

That brings me to Duck Rabbit, “The Dark Beer Specialists,” or so they say. But I won’t argue.

Duck Rabbit Brown Ale was a pretty typical American brown. This is an average brew, methinks. Nothing really stands out, but then again nothing screams, “This sucks!” Kinda weak in flavor compared to all the other Duck Rabbits. If I see this next to the porter or stouts, I’m going with the others…

Holy crap, their Milk Stout actually tasted a bit like milk. It was kinda off putting at first sip, but it got better and better with each. I guess it was a bit of a shock when it actually tasted like milk. A very smooth and drinkable milk stout that got better as it went down.

The Duck Rabbit Porter was exceptional. I love porters and this one was/is a fine example. If you are down with porters get your hands on it ASAP. A way above-average porter, in my humble opinion.

That said, the Baltic Porter was a bit of a bummer for me. I have heard people rave about it, but each and every bottle tasted of metal. Not sure if it was from the cap of the bottle but something went wrong in the bottling of this batch. A real shame because I know this is not how this should taste. I will revisit, hope for better results, and for now give it an incomplete until I’ve tried another batch.

Oh la la… Duck Rabbit Barley Wine. At 11 percent, this one packs a punch and has a bit of a booze smell and burn but the fruit and malty flavors balance this one out nicely! A+

One of my all time faves has been Dogfish Head Chicory Stout. I was lucky enough to find a few remaining six-packs of this luscious brew. It’s seasonal, and it disappears as soon as it hits the shelves, so I was lucky to find it. I’ve talked about it before, but this beer it is just awesome. This is the official description: “Chicory Stout is a rich, dark beer made with a touch of roasted chicory, organic Mexican coffee, St. John’s Wort, and licorice root. It is brewed with roast barley, crystal malt and oats and hopped just right with Glacier hops. We use fair trade Organic Mexican Coatepec beans roasted to our specifications by Notting Hill Coffee Roastery in Lewes, DE.”

I also spent a little time in my old stomping grounds of Jersey a little while back and hit an old spot that I wasn’t even sure was still there as it had been years and years since I last was there, but lo and behold another dive bar that still exists! “The Not Yet Famous” Sudsy Mug. Here is a pic of my good buddy and oldest friend on earth, Timmy Schoenliber, out front of the bar where we went in and had mug after mug after mug of Yuengling on tap. We then went back to his house and drank a shit-ton of Schaefer beers, Sailor Jerry Rum and root beer, built a fire and jammed Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, The Kinks, Neil Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd till the wee hours of the morn… That’s what friends are all about! Till the next time!

Tommy Southard

Tags: ,

Drinking with the Devil (Dick), by Tommy Southard

Posted in Columns on March 13th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

In his second column for the site, Tommy “Devil Dick” Southard leads the way through a night of excellent beer and music pairings that’s sure to put you on your ass, one way or another. Some tracks from Tommy‘s new band, The Disease Concept, have been posted in the news forum, and they rule, so please consider them recommended listening, whatever beverage you happen to have on hand at the time. On with the show:

Mr. Southard, hard at work.

Drinking with the Devil (Dick)
by Tommy Southard

Hello there Obelisk-ers,

Devil Dick here to talk a little beer and maybe a little music…

I’ve been sampling plenty of different and new beers but I’m gonna start with a fairly new all-time favorite. I spent a lot of time drinking darker beers, as my first love has always been stouts and porters, but since I’ve been introduced to sour beers, they have slowly but surely crept up the chain near the top and this one might be the best of the bunch. I always try and pick up and keep a bottle or two on hand: Monk’s Café Flemish Sour Ale. My buddy Paul Vismara turned me on to this with a trip to Monk’s Café right here in Philadelphia, where it is brewed. Ever since then it’s been a staple. As the name says, this is “sour” and that word used to turn me off — I mean who wants to drink something sour? The word makes one think of turned milk and all curdly-type nasty stuff but this beer is amazing. It’s light copper in color with a million bubbles and it’s so carbonated it sort of drinks like seltzer… The sour taste is all fruity with no earthly-ness really and pretty tart. At 5.5%, it’s way easy drinking and you can put a bunch of these back and still think straight…. While drinking a few of these I cranked up The Difference Engine from Dutch stoner rock band Beaver. An important and oft-overlooked album from 1997. Great heavy riffs à la some Wino-type riffery… Nice.


Next up is St. Bernardus Wit Belgian Abbey Ale Pierre Celis Signature Selection. This poured cloudy with an almost cider look, with a minimal head that didn’t last. Nice carbonation with a bubbly citrus smell and flavor, with a hint of some kind of spice. Very smooth and drinkable. A very tasty wit. I’ll grab this one again for sure. I suggest some classic doom metal à la Candlemass, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, to accompany this classic-style beer. Both very classic and both very enjoyable.


Next up we have Brasserie de Rocs Brune’s Belgian Brown Ale: This is a strong brown ale at 9% and a bit boozy (brandy). Kind of syrupy and thick mouthfeel, with brown sugar with molasses and malt flavors. Poured brown…. heh… with little head. This was okay, but for the cash I think I’ll pass next time. I put on some archaic punk from the NY band Nihilistics for this, which was a full-blown noisy blast of hardcore punk aggression. By the time you drink the 1 pint 9.4 fl. oz. bottle you can pretty much listen to their entire 1983 self-titled album from start to finish.


Ah, more familiar territory here — an Oatmeal Stout by McNeill’s Brewery. This is the shit I love most of all. There is something about a beer so dark that no light can even get through the other side of the glass. I had not had this before, but when I was buying this and the tag said winner of 13 national awards and had a beer rating of 98, I had to give it a go. I was not disappointed. This poured black with virtually no head. Big coffee smell with a slight alcohol taste and some chocolate. Not a lot of carbonation and easily drinkable. This is the stuff I love. For a familiar taste like this one (at least for me), go with some Grand Funk or Uriah Heep. If you’re feeling adventurous try some Cain, A Pound of Flesh, which is a bit more obscure but still has a familiar vibe.


Next we have Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery, an imported dark English ale. This was a gift from my cousin Mike. Thanks Mike! I’ve seen this one around but never got around to trying it, so the gift was very welcome. This poured a dark brownish red with not much head. It had a slight smell of prunes with not much carbonation. This was very smooth, almost watery in the same vein as say, a Newcastle Ale. Actually was quite pleased by this overall. I might not have gotten around to trying this one on my own but now that I’ve had it, I’ll be back for more. As for music with this one, it’s English & its “goblin,” so go get the new Orange Goblin record, A Eulogy For the Damned!!! Might be their best since The Big Black.


And last but not least let me tell you about my new favorite cheap beer: Lionshead. Being a Jersey boy and recently landing in Philly, I never had this cheapy, but I dig this much better than most others out there. Has a more malty taste than others with a slightly sweet taste. These go down fast and furiously and at seven bucks and a few pennies a 12 pack, they don’t break the bank. I can’t drink fancy shit all the time — as my body and brain want to, my wallet just don’t allow it — so after you have a few good ones and you want to sustain the beer buzz, these always do the trick. By the time you get a few more of these down the gullet and it’s a little later in the evening it might be time for some classic thrash à la Slayer or Exodus!!!

Tags: , ,

Drinking with the Devil (Dick) by Tommy Southard

Posted in Columns on February 7th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

In his first column, guitarist Tommy “Devil Dick” Southard of Solace, Social Decay and The Disease Concept heads to Delaware to visit the Dogfish Head brewery. Enjoy:

Hello there Obelisk readers! So I’ve been asked to do a little beer report for the site. I got an email from JJ asking me to do this just about the time I had plans to visit the Dogfish Head Brewery with my wife and a few friends of mine, so I figured what the hell, why not.

First of all, let me say that I am in no way an expert on beer, but I do LOVE to drink the stuff! And I started out like many a beer drinker does: A snot-nosed little punk drinking the cheapest stuff just for a buzz. But over time (as I’ve, ahem, matured), Ive gotten to love the higher-quality products and man, is it a good time for beer! So anyway here is my little trip to Dogfish Head

For those that don’t know anything about this place, and I would imagine many reading this don’t, Dogfish Head is in Milton, Delaware, and specializes in creating some pretty wild craft beers, including a series called Ancient Ales, where they use chemical analysis to create recipes from residues found in ancient pottery. Pretty wild stuff.

They also make one of my favorite seasonal beers, a Chicory Stout, which is a stout brewed with roasted chicory, organic Mexican coffee, St. John’s Wort and licorice root (thanks Wikipedia). Yum yum. We didn’t have this at the brewery, but I have a case of it in my fridge as I type.

Now for the tour: Basically, they whisk you through the facility and show you the various areas, holding tanks, and explain a little bit about the brewing process and tell the tale of how the brewery got its start. Most of it is pretty standard stuff and I snapped a few pics to remember the place, but the most interesting part was checking out the brewing tank made from Paraguayan palo santo wood. The palo santo (“holy wood”) is a wild tree native from Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula to Peru and Venezuela and such a super-dense wood that supposedly when Dogfish Head owner Sam Calagione tried to cut a limb off a tree with a machete to further inspect the wood, could not do so because of the strength and density. Then, to prove the strength of the tree, the South American guide he was with took out a gun and shot it and the bullet bounced off. At least that’s the story they gave us…

In 2006, they built the largest wooden brewing tank in America since prohibition. The 10,000-gallon tank is used to brew their Palo Santo Marron brown ale, imparting caramel and vanilla complexity to the beer. And at 12% ABV (alcohol by volume), it packs a bit of a wallop!

All very interesting but the real reason we were there was for the beer! So after the tour was over, we headed to the bar! We got to check out a few samples of what they were brewing. Nice. Now by law or something they can only serve four three-ounce glasses of beer to try. (Or so they said.) Lucky for us the Palo Santo Marron was one of the beers they were letting us sample. GREAT! I’ve had it in the bottle before, but never on tap. The beer pours dark with a cream color head and an amazing amount of flavor and smells. Vanilla, chocolate (slightly sweet) and coffee come to mind. It is pretty low in carbonation and is easy to drink, pretty smooth for a 12% beer. I like this beer a lot but you can hurt yourself if you drink too many!

Before we had the Palo Santo Marron, we had the 60 Minute IPA. I’m not the biggest IPA guy in the world, but this one is good. Clean and crisp with a frothy white head, with notes of citrus, hops and pine. At 6% ABV you could down a river of these!

Tweason Ale, which is a gluten-free beer, was also on tap. Sounds weird but this was kinda good. Very tart with fruit and citrus flavors going on and slightly sour. Poured a gold color with a white head. Not something I would buy on a regular basis, but an interesting taste and also 6% ABV.

Next up, Burton Baton is an Imperial/Double IPA that comes in at 10% but doesn’t taste that strong. A nice copper color and off-white head, strong hop and citrus flavors with a bit of bitterness and pretty good carbonation. This is good but I would have rather had another tug at the Palo Santo Marron.

Finally, as a special treat, we were offered up some World Wide Stout. At 18%, this stuff kicks major ass! It’s an American Double/Imperial Stout. This one is black as night, with what one would expect at such a high ABV, a very boozy smell and finish. Not unpleasant just strong. Taste of prunes or plums and sweet, almost port wine-ish. Man, I wanted to buy a case of this to take home but at $140, it was out of my price range!

The best part about the tour is while we were at the bar sampling some of the beers, we noticed another group of people at the other end of the bar cracking open all these different bottles of beer. Next thing we know, Sam Calagione is offering our group to join in on the sampling! It seems a guy just happened to come by the brewery with a cooler full of beers that he has been cellaring for years and decided to share them with the staff at Dogfish Head!

Of course, this all took us a little by surprise and since we were not really part of what was going on, we just kind of got random pours of beer, so I was not really able to take notes, but I know we had a cellar-aged 10-year-old Raison D’extra that is 18% and Cornholio — a collaboration with Three Floyds and Dogfish Head. So needless to say we left the brewery slightly more buzzed than supposedly allowed by law!

I dig this brewery on a whole. Some of the beers are bit pricey, but they are always taking chances and trying new and bold things (to differing degrees of success), so if you get to try any of their beers and you consider yourself a beer fan, chances are even if you don’t love the beer you can appreciate what this fine little craft brewery is attempting to do down in the tiny state of Delaware.

And as a post-script, let me apologize for the lack of pictures for the beer we sampled, as it’s always nice to have a peak at what people are talking about, but as I said, these were only three-ounce samples in plastic cups and not very appealing to the camera or eye.

So there you have it. My first beer installment. Please let me know if you have had any of these beers and share your experiences with them!

Till the next time, PROST!!!
Tommy Southard

Tags: , ,