Saturday, March 27, 2010

Week 12: Man's Best Friend

1. Victory Storm King
2. Green Flash West Coast IPA
3. Southern Tier Unearthly Imperial IPA
4. Flying Dog Raging Bitch
5. Philadelphia Brewing Co. Kenzinger
6. Dogfish Head Burton Baton
7. Flying Dog Snake Bite IPA
8. Dogfish Head Theobroma.

How did that Storm King make it into this week's list?

Oh yes, this was basically an IPA week, but a couple of homebrews and cloans coupled a few elixirs from the list. Out in what is known as the "hillier" side of Philadelphia, I enjoyed a clone Imperial Stout, a la Storm King, from a good friend, great brewer and now neighbor. Consensus was that it might not have had the hops like The King, but it still commanded authority. Boozy in the nose, malty at the mouth. Basically just rich and roasty. There was also a homebrew Kolsch tapped. I have only had a couple of Kolsches, ever. I am not even sure if I can compare it with, say, a Philadelphia Kenzinger, but there was a crispness to it followed by a dry bitterness. I think some people feel the same way about Philly.

If you look at this list closely, then you notice the recurring word, dog. Swimming dogs and flying dogs: these can be your best friends. I was pretty stoked to see Dogfish Head's Burton Baton on the shelf at my local beer spot. Burton Baton is a unique brew. It's an oak aged English Strong Ale, blended with their 90 Minute IPA. It's a big beer, with big hop flavor and big on the malt to back(bone) it up. It goes down as smooth as silk though, but with a 11% ABV, it can be dangerous.

From a Delaware brew we soar down to Maryland's Flying Dog. Their Snake Bite IPA had less bite than I expected, but their Raging Bitch...well, the name speaks for itself. A Belgian-Style IPA that is well balanced to boot. Sweet, flowery and citrusy. If you love these two styles then you are in for a real treat to say the least.

There is another special beer on this list that deserves a special post. I have had more on my plate this week than in my glass, so look for another post in a few days.

Cheers for now.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Week 11: Smoked Fruit

1. Jolly Pumpkin Bam Bier
2. Port Brewing Co. Hop 15
3. Dogfish Head Aprihop
4. Clipper City Heavy Seas Loose Cannon
5. Springhouse Smoked Porter
6. Stone Smoked Porter
7. Roy Pitz Ludwigs Revenge
8. Iron Hill Roggenbier

Like a sunrise to sunset, these beers seemed to fall naturally in appearance from light to dark. For months upon months I have been trading in my IPAs for the deep dark pools of temptation, but taste buds are riding up the hop vine.

In terms of the porters this week, I must say that it seemed like barbeque season. Springhouse Smoked Porter was like liquid bacon. This may sound gross unless you like rauch biers or smokier beers in general. I, for one, have a weird fondness for them even though I'm of the vegetarian persuasion. I have indulged in my fair share of them lately, and I must say that the Springhouse had the most fire underneath it. It is everything that you would expect from a quality smoked porter, dark in color, spicy on the nose, very smokey with a bit of a bitter backbone. I look forward to trying this again in the fall next to a campfire or quoit pit.

Let's now move to the fruit and vegetable aisle. Yes, Aprihop is back. I was a bit unimpressed with this beer last year, and I never feel that way when it comes to Dogfish Head. It seemed a bit weak for fairly big IPA. The hops weren't quite there and the apricots weren't noticable. Well...that is not the story this year. Basically this was like one of those flower arrangments made of fruit and dosed with alcohol. Are you with me? The apricots sail into your senses immediatly. And like any DFH IPA, the hops are perfectly well-balanced, never too sweet. A nice hazy orange appearance, piney, fruity and pleasant throughout. If you were disappointed last year, try and try again.

Cheers for now.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Victory is near.

While searching the blogosphere, I happened to come across a nice tidbit of information about out great friends at Victory Brewing. This isn't even a tidbit -- it is great news in the form of 3 new beers. I was just mentioning a few posts ago about the lack of Belgian Style beer from PA locals. Low and behold Victory is putting out a Belgian style triple (a la Golden Monkey), a Belgian Pale Ale and a Bavarian Pale Ale. All I can say is Mmmm Mmmm.

Read the full article here.

Cheers till next time and find yourself some Spring Seasonals. Warmer weather is here.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Week 10: Swear to tell the truth

1. Lancaster Brewing Hop Hog
2. Sly Fox Gang Aft Agley
3. Steamworks Brewing Conductor Imperial IPA
4. Magic Hat Vinyl
5. HeBrew Bittersweet Lenny's RIPA
6. Yards General Washington Porter
7. Philadelphia Brewing Co. Newbold IPA
8. Yards Thomas Jefferson Tavern Ale

This week's selection of beer was divided between a few that I haven't had in awhile and a couple of others that I have had sitting patiently for a few months/weeks. Or was it me that has been sitting patiently?

Before I get down to business I will just mention that the Yards Ales of the Revolution will have their own blog post dedicated to them in a few days. Also, I had a mini beer tasting/dinner the other night with a few friends where we raided the fridge and enjoyed 3oz tasters of a Southhampton Porter and a Yards Porter, IPAs from Smuttynose and HeBrew, and stouts from Founders and Brooklyn. A couple random Pale Ales and Wits were in there too. It was a good night.

OK, so HeBrew's Bittersweet Lenny's Rye IPA was a delicious Imperial IPA dedicated to the man of controversy, Mr. Lenny Bruce. Just like Mr. Bruce, this beer had a lot to say. A cloudy beer for a warm night, its abundance of rye was evident when I dipped my nose toward the rim of my glass. A bit grapefruity, like all my favorite IPAs, this hopped giant also had a few more fruits circling around it. There was a very attractive floral finish to this overall pretty well-balanced beer. At 10% ABV, it never really hit you over the head.

I also enjoyed Steamworks Conductor Imperial IPA. Orange in color with a citrusy taste to follow, it was an incredibly easy to drink Imperial. However, I can't say there was a whole lot of complexity to it. It was maybe missing a few hop varieties to get its engine moving, though it was still a treat for the mild hop-heads out there.

Cheers to the weekend ahead. It is Philly Beer Weekend, so there is a whole lot going on throughout the city, including an IPA weekend at Side Car at 22nd & Christian (there will be a firken of Bell's 2 Hearted) and a Stout Brunch at J.B's in Fishtown.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Week 9: Feeling a bit Boozy

1. Philadelphia Brewing Co.
Rowhouse Red
2. Weyerbacher Hops Infusion
3. Flying Fish Abbey Dubbel
4. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2010
5. Dock Street Illuminator
6. Dock Street Rye IPA
7. Smuttynose Finestkind IPA
8. Iron Hill Bourbon Porter (on nitro)
9. Iron Hill American IPA (on cask)
I'm jumping the gun and declaring that Spring has arrived. Philadelphia has 50˚temperatures in the forecast all weekend and into next week. I am sure that the crowds are going to be buzzing throughout the streets in search of good times, good eats, and good brews.

I sought out a wildebeest this week and sure enough found the mighty Bigfoot stronger than the year before. This gigantic Barleywine from the craft brew veterans in Chico, CA, lifted me off my feet and wreaked havoc on my senses. Its sweet piney hops, citrus finish and malty backbone were a bit stronger than in '09, but also more complex. A sweet caramel and maple syrupy taste midway through gave way to almost a booze-like floral finish at the last few sips. Very tasty indeed.

I like a good Barleywine, but I love a great Porter. Iron Hill Brew Pubs have popped up in every county around Philadelphia. Part of me started to think that they were beginning to taste a bit formulaic with their seasonals, but I was happy to be proven wrong last night. They had roughly six or seven seasonals on tap, one hand pump and one nitro included. The Bourbon Porter was a velvety treat. Very heavy on the bourbon, it took their flagship Pig Iron Porter to a new level. Poured a very dark brown, it had a nice smooth malt taste throughout that was laced with vanilla, chocolate and coffee. The beer was creamy as can be and way too drinkable for being aged in bourbon barrels. I would steer clear of Iron Hills on the weekend unless you love an hour long wait, but worth it...of course.

Cheers for now.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Buy Fresh, Buy Local

If you read this blog often, like I hope that you do, then you frequently see names like Yards, Sly Fox and Victory. If you keep this blog bookmarked, then you are sure to read about other gems like Nodding Head, Manayunk Brewing Co., Iron Hill and Earth, Bread and Brewery. Lucky for us, buying local never tasted so good.

Over the weekend, I indulged in a few other favorite local brews from our neighbors to the north in Easton, PA, Weyerbacher; our friends across the river to the east in Cherry Hill, NJ, Flying Fish; and the much closer brewery, from the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia Brewing Company

For a small craft brewery, Weyerbacher will always reign as Pennsylvania’s Big Beer Brewery. They have a year round line of beers that all pack in close to or above 10% ABV. With fun brew names like Blithering Idiot or more “to the point” names like Double Simcoe IPA, it is apparent they are out to hit you with a tremendous amount of ingredients.

With some warmer weather in the forecast and a weekend nearing its end, I enjoyed a nice pint of Weyerbacher’s Hops Infusion IPA. Not as big as their other beers, Hops Infusion is a complex IPA with seven different hop varieties. The head on her dissipates quickly; however, the fruity nose lasts throughout. Orange in color and grapefruit in taste, she is a bit a hazy and a wonderful treat. A definite session beer, she boasts a nice 6% ABV.

There are not a lot of area breweries that make an Abbey Dubbel in year round rotation, but Flying Fish have it covered pretty well. This Belgian style brew pours a nice, dark amber with a pretty little head. Very evident of dark fruits and very sweet yeast, these New Jersey folks do it right. With a 7% ABV, this beer should be taken slow and enjoyed over a long conversation with friends.

For a fairly new brewery, Philly Brewing Co. has pumped out an extensive lineup over the past three years. They keep their beer names local and kitschy like Kenzinger, Walt Wit, Newbold, Fleur de Lehigh, Shackamaxon, Biberry and plenty more. With winter coming to a close, I enjoyed a few pints of their Rowhouse Red. Rowhouse is a ruby farmhouse ale, some say an Irish Red, but I say possibly a bit of both with some rye on the side. This is just a great beer to enjoy all winter long before Fleur de Lehigh hits the pubs.

And to let you all know just how local this blog is, we have been picked up and sponsored by a local, suburban Philadelphia newspaper, The Delaware County Daily Times. With an online newspaper that keeps you up-to-the-minute on what’s happening just west of the city, they will now let their readers know what is happening with the local beer scene. Check us out at