Hereford & Hops (Cranberry, PA)

I’ve been listening to Craft Beer Radio (podcast) out of Pittsburgh, PA and they speak often of Hereford & Hops – a fairly new restaurant (to this area) where the highlights are microbrewed beers and grilling your own steak.

We arrived late on Wednesday night, so the place wasn’t very crowded, and the host offered a quick tour of the facility.  The pub area was decorated with dark woods and an Irish theme; the tanks wee displayed nicely in the back. It was spacious, and included a large non-smoking section and a little “library” area.  Had we chosen to eat there, a selection of sandwiches and pizza, as well as the 50-cent taco bar, were available.

We ate in the restaurant section where the menu included many cuts of steak which we were able to choose and grill (in the grill room) on our own.  I guess it’s a “man thing” – I let D cook the 16 oz
New York Strip which, for $12.95 each, we could share along with the salad and baked potato bar.

I personally wasn’t excited about dealing with the raw meat or walking all arouond the restaurant to get my accompaniments, and I was disappointed that the potato bar only had high-fat toppings (they did TASTE good, but they weren’t god for me!)  But I wasn’t disappointed by the level of service.  When the salad bar was refreshed with hot rolls, the host made a special trip to our table to offer them – I wouldn’t have chosen one myself, but I was glad he offered because they were really good! – herbed with carmelized onion.

In the grill room, as his only customers, Adam paid good attention to us and our steak.  D noticed bagpipes in the corner and sure enough, Adam is a piper!  He offered to play, and it was really enjoyable.  He plays in a band, and could talk about the celtic band scene with us.  His music was just a treat!

But we were there primarily for the beers, so I better talk about them!  The menu at Hereford & Hops states they always have 10 beers on tap (there are approximately 20 listed), but our server only named off 9, so I hope we didn’t miss annything!  The pints were reasonably priced at $3.75 and the 4 oz sample glasses were $1.00.

I started with two sample glasses – disappointingly, they were those tall mug-style glasses, so it was hard to determine aroma.  I’m glad I didn’t judge the Hop Rocket (American Amber Ale) based on my little sample.  When I purchased the pint, I really noticed the nice hop aroma, and will full swallows, found satisfaction in the good hop finish.  Hop Rocket is not going to impress the general “hop-head”, but it is an enjoyable amber.

My second sample was Get Down Brown (American Brown Ale).  This brown had a medium body with hints of chocolate.  It was maltier than I cared for that night, and had a low hop characteristic, which is why I went with the Hop Rocket pint.

Meanwhile, D tried two pints.  The first was the Schwarzbier.  It was more roasty than expected for this style, and while not true to style it is an easy drinking and flavorful beer  It won a gold medal at the ’04 WBC and bronze at the ’05 GABF.

As fate would have it, we ended by sharing a pint of the best beer of the night!  St. Edmund’s Porter came to the table with a creamy foam head (didn’t last very long…), but lacked the full roastiness of a good porter in the aroma.  Luckily, it was all there in the taste! 

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