Pale Ale happens to be my preferred style of beer, so I was excited to try Pennsylvania’s own Victory Brewing Company’s Headwaters Pale Ale. The claim to fame here is the purity of the water utilized to brew this beer. It pours a glorious orange/copper cloudy glow into a pint glass. It settled to barely an inch of head that was a bit on the weak side, that did not really stick to the sides of the glass well.
The initial aroma hits you with a more of sweet flowery hoppy aroma, but you can initially taste the malts of mocha/toffee notes. It follows with a dry spicy hoppy finish that falls somewhat flat in a slightly bitter aftertaste.
Overall, this beer hits all of the characteristics of a classic American Pale Ale to perfection. Although, the malt & hop combination may not be my favorite as compared to others, it may hit the sweet spot for you!
By Pat Smith, Matt Goldstein & Sommelier Tom Pittakas
For Philly Beer Week, our staff hit eight events and about 30 different bars overall in celebration of craft beer in one of the best beer cities in the world, Philadelphia. From IPA’s to imperial Stouts, dopplebocks and fruit beers, Philly Beer Week had a profusion of many styles by the best breweries in the world. Below is our top 10 beers of the 2011 Philly Beer Week. Pick up a few these beautiful brews and let us know your thoughts.
1. Ballast Point Victory at Sea Barrel Aged Espresso Vanilla Imperial Porter:
An American Porter with 10.0% ABV, the Ballast Point Victory at Sea is a deep dark beer with notes of mocha, chocolate, vanilla and complex full bodied smooth porter. This is simply one of the best porters in the world and Ballast Point continues to prove it’s one of the best breweries in the world. This is an absolute must for dark beer lovers. Served at the Khyber Pass Pub.
2. Hitachino Espresso Imperial Stout
From the Kiuchi Brewery in Japan, the Hitachino Espresso Stout stands at 7.50% ABV with great malts and crisp finish. It’s rare finding a stout this flavorful and crisp at the same time. Dark black in color with dark head, the Hitachino is a classic imperial stout and proves that the Japanese can brew a hell of a beer. Served at the Side Car Bar.
3. Dogfish Head Festina PecheBerlinerWeisse
The Festina Peche is fermented with peaches that hints of a sour beer. Not made like traditional sour beers, this fruit beer is crafted with very ripe peaches to get it’s sour flavor. Very crisp and refreshing, the Dogfish Head Festina Peche is the perfect summer beer. Not too sour without many hops at all, the Festina Peche is about 4.5% ABV. Purchased at Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting.
4. Fegley’s Hopsulutely Triple IPA
The Fegley’s Brewery is getting a lot of buzz in the Philadelphia area and proving to be one of the best brewers in the city area. Considering this is one of the best craft beer cities in the U.S., Fegley’s is of course creating some great crafts. The Hopsolutely Triple IPA is made with Cascade, CTZ, Summit, Amarillo and Chinook hops, then dry hopped with Chinook and Amarillo. At 100 IBU’s, this triple IPA is still balanced enough to challenge the best IPA’s in the country. We challenge you to try it out. Allentown and Bethlehem are making a real name for themselves and deservedly so. 11.0% ABV. Purchased at Whole Foods in Plymouth meeting.
5. Nebraska Samarican Brown Ale
At 5.3% ABV, this American Brown Ale is slightly sweet, slightly malty, crisp and well balanced. Overall one of the best brown ales you will find. The Nebraska Brewing “cornhusker juice” was in major demand throughout Philly Beer week, especially the oak aged Black Betty Imperial Stout. Colorado isn’t the only Midwest state making excellent craft beer. Served at the Sidecar Bar.
6. Russian River’s Pliney the Elder
8.0% ABV. American Double IPA. Purchased in a growler from the Hulmeville Inn.
7. Port Ole Viscosity Whiskey Barrel Aged
12% ABV by Port Brewing. Served at the Resurrection Ale House.
8. Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel
5.0% ABV Ayinger Brewing from Germany. Served at Eulogy Belgian Tavern.
9. Ballast Point Navigator Dopplebock
8.9% ABV barrel aged by Ballast Point. Served at the Khyber Pass Pub.
It’s the economy stupid! With a dismal jobs report in the last couple weeks that has Obama’s poll numbers in the toilet, alcohol sales have jumped by almost 10% over the last 12 months. Sweet! Are people just drinking their problems away? I know I am. People are also just drinking better quality craft beers. Sales of IPA’s, a.k.a. India Pale Ales, have increased by 40% over the last year. 40%! Holy Crap, that is insane. The American style craft beer has taken the United States and the craft beer world by storm. The bitter hoppy grapefruit flowery style beer has taken over the beer world and seems to be crushing the legendary Belgian style. Beerfests, beer weeks and brewfests are popping up all over the place and the IPA is dominating. Even Pizza Ria Uno is serving an array of craft beers with a handful of IPA’s to boot.
Wine and spirits have also seen a solid increase in sales but the American macro brew seems to be the loser with a solid chunk being taken out of Budweiser, Coors and Miller. Of course, this will lead to the inevitable, the Macro brews buying out all of the profitable micro & craft breweries all over the country. In fact, it has already started. I know, I know, horrible right? Whatever you say beer geek. There’s nothing wrong with a little Miller High Life now and then. After all, it’s the champagne of beers.
Alcohol is saving the economy and we love it. This is the best news the Whiskey Goldmine heard since the last 330 articles we posted. After all, all of our articles are amazing.
The name CascaZilla is a play on both the name of a gorge in Ithaca called Cascadilla and the monster amounts of Cascade Hops we use to make the beer. The predominant flavor and aroma of this beer comes from fresh American hops. Made with 2-Row, Crystal, and Black malts, Cascade, Chinook and Crystal hops, then dry hopped with Cascade, Amarillo hops, the Ithaca Caskazilla has 50 IBU’s and 7.0% ABV.
Ithaca Caskazilla Tasting Notes: WOW! Deep thick Brown in color, thick and cloudy with sediment, a scent of fruit, scent of yeast, and sour taste. The Caskazilla flavor is heavy in hops, sour, dry and slightly bitter. With notes of fruit with a sweet taste, the dry crisp yeast and hops with slight malt give it a great balance. This is a great ale!
The Ithaca Ground Break American Style Saison
An Americanized hoppy Saison, the Ground Break is brewed with generous amounts of Amarillo, Crystal and Glacier hops and flaked rye. It’s fermented with a blend of Belgian and American yeasts.
Ithaca Ground Break Tasting Notes: The color is a brownish gold, slightly cloudy, with flavor full of the classic Belgian style yeast. Sweet with a thick mouth feel and slightly crisp, and a nice sour taste for a saison, the scent of fruit and Yeasty light malt finish is just a touch dry. An excellent and unique styled saison.
The elusive Russian River Pliny the Younger has been called “The Best Beer in the World” and has caused near riots in Northern California where it is brewed. Brewed once a year and only distributed on draft to a very small handful of markets in California, Denver and Philadelphia, this brew creates a crowd anywhere you are lucky enough to find it poured.
At 11% ABV this enormous Imperial IPA, packs a punch. However, the true beauty of this beer lies in the fact that its heavy hop bill is so well balanced against a malt backbone just large enough to get the ABV so high.
Sipping this sublimely golden ale one might guess it weighs in closer to 8.0%–or less. A tropical citrus aroma emanates from the glass and these characteristics continue into the flavor but are also joined with an overwhelming piney resinous (maybe the reason “Pliny” is often misspelled “Pliney”?). Younger rounds out finishing surprisingly dry with little of the sweetness typically found in a brew this large. This beer is not a hop bomb like so many Imperial IPAs, but rather explodes with the balance that few, if any, beers achieve.
Is it the best beer in the world? Probably not. But the first time you are lucky enough to try Pliny the Younger, you may find yourself plotting, planning and missing work just to get a second glass of this big, balanced elixir.
Green Flash Brewing Companies extravagantly hopped West Coast IPA has a pungent bitter taste at first sip but is complemented my many other flavors. With its sunset copper color, crisp taste, and floral hops it defines the qualifications of the West Coast IPA. The gangs of hops that impugn upon your pallet are Simcoe, Columbus, Centennial, and Cascade. These four different yet complementing varieties give the West Coast its pine, floral, citric and fruity flavors. This flagship IPA from San Diego County is the recipient of many awards and accolades for its American IPA Style. 7.3% ABV and 95 IBU’s.
Green Flash Summer Saison
To the untrained eye the Summer Saison has a fizzy yellow beer look to it, though if you had the slightest taste for craft beer you probably have a good idea of what’s going on in this beer. It is a light bodied beer with citrus, lemon, as well as hints of banana flavors which all can be tasted and smelt. I would compare it to many of good wheat beers. Hope I didn’t offend any Germans or Belgians by comparing styles. This Farmhouse ale by San Diego County’s Green Flash Brewery is a great choice on a nice hot summer day working the farm fields of Belgium or something of this nature . At 4.3% ABV Summer Saison is what I like to call a good duration beer, meaning that it can be consumed for long periods of time with less likely hood of falling over. Wheat or No Wheat its a great light and refreshing beer!
Niels Henrik David Bohr (1885-1962) was a Nobel Prize winning Danish physicist who made significant contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics. Additionally, he was one of the physicists that worked on the Manhattan Project. In his honor, Danish brewer Mikkeller has collaborated with Cigar City on a beer that’s truly the bomb.
Cigar City Bohr (Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Imperial Stout; ABV: 10.0) is an astronomical effort from Cigar City and the gypsy brewery. Jet black in color, Bohr has rich notes of coffee, roasted malt, and raisins complimented by sweet dark chocolate and spices. Velvety smooth and well balanced, this imperial stout is quite enjoyable from start to finish. The dessert like character of Bohr will appeal to both aficionados of fine liquor and disciples of imperial stouts.
While I don’t have a degree in physics, I know a great beer. I strongly urge you to give Bohr a try.
Stopped by Mr. Beery’s over the weekend and was glad to see a collaboration ale between The Bruery and Cigar City was on tap. As the story goes, both breweries came up with the recipe over pints at the Falling Rock Tap House in Denver during the 2009 Great American Beer Festival.
The Bruery Marrón Acidifié (The Bruery; Placentia, CA; Imperial Oud Bruin; ABV: 8.5) is a magnificent sour ale. Dark amber in color, Marrón Acidifié has pronounced notes of cranberries and tart fruit such as cherries balanced by balsamic vinegar, roasted malt, and spices with nice dry finish. There’s a fine woody backbone from the barrel aging, and it gives this imperial oud bruin a smooth red wine character throughout. A couple of more snifters was enough to convince me that Marrón Acidifié is one of the best sour ales that I have ever had.
Many thanks to The Bruery and Cigar City for crafting this superb beer.
The Founders Imperial Stout is brewed with ten varieties of malted barley and hops are pushed to about 90 IBUs. The Founders Imperial Stout is dark, malty, chocolaty, sticky, dry and bitter with notes of coffee. It’s a perfect Imperial Stout. The dry and bitter but drinkable style imperial stout is often unmatched. We think the Imperial Stout is actually much better than the Founders Breakfast Stout, which isn’t peanuts. All we can really say is wow! I know, I know, all we write is Founders this, Founders that. Even our staff gets annoyed by it. Guess what? We don’t care. It’s not our fault Founders keeps putting a masterpiece in every bottle. Just drink a beer and shut up! If you have the chance, the Founders Imperial Stout is an absolute must.
Red, amber and copper ales are standard offerings from breweries during the spring, and I’m pretty sure this stems from a desire to give craft and micro brew drinkers an alternative to Killian’s Irish Red or Miller Lite with green food coloring in it on St. Patrick’s Day. While I do appreciate the chance to be “Irish” along with everyone else, I’ve always found beers of that ilk to be lacking in some way. After carefully inspecting Blue Point’s Spring Fling packaging and determining that it’s just flowers and other assorted greenery in the graphics (not a Shamrock in sight), I decided to try this copper ale and I’m glad that I did. Spring beer is tough; in the northeast it’s wet most of the time and even on the days when it is seasonable, it takes a while to warm up in the morning. Still, it gets cold at night. A brewer needs to be committed to making a beer that has some body but still goes down easily when being consumed in that occasional patch of sun. Spring Fling accomplishes this with a creamy, luscious head that leans a little more malty than hoppy in aroma, a smooth buttery taste and a very dry finish that leaves nothing behind but the hops suggested by the nose. Relatively speaking, Spring Fling does just as it should: Comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. Well done.
For those of us who have traveled down the New Jersey Turnpike, the best thing about Exit 13 is the IKEA in Elizabeth. Fortunately there’s an Exit 13 that has something to offer besides stylish, sometimes easy to assemble Scandinavian furniture. Flying Fish Exit 13 (Flying Fish Brewing Co.; Cherry Hill, NJ; Foreign Stout; ABV: 7.5), named for the exit that provides access to Newark International Airport and the Port of Elizabeth, is a delicious, very well balanced foreign stout. Jet black in color, Exit 13 has rich notes of dark milk chocolate and roasted malt complimented by vanilla spices and floral hops with a dry smoky finish. The chocolate and coffee backbone gives Exit 13 a nice warming effect, and it makes an excellent dessert beer.