Friday, December 17, 2010

Do Hops Gather On a Rolling Barrel?

Terrapin Brewing So Fresh, So Green Green
Dogfish Head Sahtea
Russian River Pliny the Elder
Green Flash Brewing Co. Imperial IPA
Port Brewing Hop 15
Great Divide Fresh Hop Ale
21st Amendment Hop Crisis!
Einbecker Winter Bock
Emelisse Black and Tan
Mikkeller Red/White Christmas
Porterhouse Wrasslers XXXX Stout
Weihenstephan Doemens 1809 Berliner Style Weisse

-Boris Pasternak (1890-1960)-Moscow/Russia

Beneath the willow wound round with ivy
we take cover from the worst
of the storm, with greatcoat round
our shoulders and my hands around your waist.

I've got it wrong. That isn't ivy
entwined in the bushes round
the woods, but hops. You intoxicate me!
Lets spread the greatcoat on the ground.

On November 27th, we diverted our path from the usual Union Jacks on the Mantawny for new territory 23 miles west in Barto, PA. I live in Philly, but I find myself in the sticks once a week so that a few of us can talk shop, eat real potato fries and enjoy a mighty tasty elixir. This week we had an agenda. A trip with a special purpose. It was Hopsgiving.

Let's back up a few days before Hopsgiving. On Thanksgiving we polished off a few bottles of my favorite beer of the year, Terrapin's Side Project #13: So Fresh, So Green Green. If you love Outkast, then I'm sure that you love the name of this one. It's a wet/fresh hopped IPA that is amber in color, super clear, piney, citrusy and an overall mess of Amarillo hop greatness.

Okay, back to Hopsgiving. The tap list included:
Port High Tide
Green Flash Imperial
Stone Ruination
Port Hop 15
Dogfish Head 90 Min
Nogne O IPA
Russian River Pliny the Elder
Southern Tier Unearthly
Rogue XS IPA
Great Divide Fresh Hop Ale
Bear Republic Racer X
Avery Maharajah
Victory Hop Wallop

That is a pretty nice list. How to choose. RR Blind Pig was supposed to be on as well, but 21st Amendment Hop Crisis! took its place. I've written about nearly all of these beers before. I did learn a lesson though when there is a hop menu like this. Drink Pliny last. Your palate will thank you.

By Candlelight 
-Sylvia Plath

This is winter, this is night, small love --
A sort of black horsehair,
A rough, dumb country stuff
Steeled with the sheen
Of what green stars can make it to our gate.
I hold you on my arm.
It is very late.
The dull bells tongue the hour.
The mirror floats us at one candle power.

This is the fluid in which we meet each other,
This haloey radiance that seems to breathe
And lets our shadows wither
Only to blow
Them huge again, violent giants on the wall.
One match scratch makes you real.

At first the candle will not bloom at all --
It snuffs its bud
To almost nothing, to a dull blue dud.

I hold my breath until you creak to life,
Balled hedgehog,
Small and cross. The yellow knife
Grows tall. You clutch your bars.
My singing makes you roar.
I rock you like a boat
Across the Indian carpet, the cold floor,
While the brass man
Kneels, back bent, as best he can

Hefting his white pillar with the light
That keeps the sky at bay,
The sack of black! It is everywhere, tight, tight!
He is yours, the little brassy Atlas --
Poor heirloom, all you have,
At his heels a pile of five brass cannonballs,
No child, no wife.
Five balls! Five bright brass balls!
To juggle with, my love, when the sky falls.

Part 2 of this post takes place at the most impressive bar that I may have ever been to. Who would think that would be in East Falls, Philadelphia. Fork and Barrel opened up months ago. I knew that the beer list was entirely European. I love all beer, but there are so many American Craft Brewers out there constantly brewing new madness that I let this place slide off my radar. Mistake, mistake.

Let's start with the atmosphere of F&B, inside and out. The actually building used to be home to The Pour House. It was your regular neighborhood bar, with a basic draft list that you were able to find something on, but nothing exciting and certainly nothing to go out of your way for. The outside is now painted dark two-toned, almost black on black with nothing but a cask hanging near the window. Very simple and snazzy. Inside you are engulfed in flames. Literally. There are hundreds of candles that provide the only light and warmth. Mason jars housing tea lights hang from the ceiling and candles are placed everywhere. It is quite beautiful, intimate and the most different experience that I have ever had. The draft list was a bit of a new language to me. I need to brush up on my beer knowledge from across the Atlantic. Beer styles, however, were plentiful. There were plenty of imperial stouts, bocks, doublebocks, interesting IPAs, all providing an ABV teetering at 10% +/-. If you put your back to the bar, you can gaze at a beer bottle wall that is something of a mosaic of colors and sizes. Their bottled beer list is a novel. I don't remember how many beers they have, but the staff was great at providing a bit of help once they saw a perplexed look on my face. It was so hard to choose. A few of us shared a flight, and chose a bottle. It was a great way to introduce myself to this place. I look forward to checking out the upstairs. There is an American Style Cask pub that has a few handpumps and some nice looking bottles that are all American. And for the All Americans there is a huge flag taking over the window.

I look forward to writing one more post before 2011 strikes. With the holidays approaching, that should be no problem.

Cheers for now.


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