King of Hop Beers

On Friday, September 23, D and I were joined by our friend Mark to make a trip into the countryside where we would help crown the King of Hop Beers at Union Jack’s Inn.  What a beautiful building – an old brick house with a patio – the perfect country setting and two of my favorite people accompanying me.  The beer didn’t even need to be good, but thank goodness it was!

The tap list at Union Jack’s was pretty amazing, and the bottle list was equally impressive.  Picking our pre-contest beer was a chore (and, unfortunately, after I ordered a Sly Fox Simcoe, there was no more to be had!)  D started with a Young’s Double Chocolate Stout and Mark had the Rodenbach.  Inspired by the despised podcast title, I decided on a Lindeman’s Peche, which was really quite refreshing on that early fall evening.

Shortly after our dinner, the taps were switched over, and the King of Hops contest began!  We each ordered one of every contestant, and they were served in perfect glassware for tasting – 6 oz glasses with a wide rim.  The hops were pretty overwhelming – I’m not suggesting that is a bad thing – and I was finished after those five samples. 

D went on to order the additional Russian River selections (Deification and Damnation – obviously not part of the contest) so we could enjoy those together.  It seems a limited number of these Russian River kegs were released in PA, and we had already missed out on two opportunities to enjoy them, so we were going to take in one of each while we had the chance!

The King of Hop Beers contest ballot asked us to rate each beer from 1 to 5; 1 being not so hoppy; 5 being hoppiest (now THAT answer would have been obvious.)  Upon further questioning, we learned that we were really to rate them according to our preferences; 5 being our favorite.

Now for the contestants:

Russian River Pliney the Elder – 8% (which they would serve in 6oz or 18oz) 
This one made us all say WOW!  What an easy drinking beer!  It was full of flavor, yet light (in comparison to the others.)  Very tasty!  On the final table rating scale, this averaged a 4 (I rated it 3, D rated it a 4 and Mark rated it a 5.)

Russian River Pliney the Younger – 11% (also available in 6oz or 18oz)

On first tasting, this one just made us all exclaim WHOA!  It blew us all away with the high alcohol and the strong citrusy hops flavor.  As it warmed up to room temperature, I became more and more impressed, and in the end, I rated this one a fabulous 5.  The final table rating was a 3.33 (D waffled on his #3, so we allowed him to rate two beers in that level; Mark rated it a 2.)

Union Jack’s Hoptimus Prime – 9.4% (6oz or 18oz)

This particular beer was brewed for Union Jack’s by Legacy Brewing Co. in Reading, and the brewer was just around the corner at the bar.  What a moment that could have been – an opportunity to meet the brewer and congratulate him on a job well done – except it just wasn’t.  The flavor was so very harsh, and no one enjoyed it (Mark and I didn’t even finish our 6oz glass!) This got a final table rating of 1, with ones all around.

Weyerbacher Eleven – 11% (6oz or 10oz)

Brewed for the 11th anniversary of Weyerbacher, this was a superb glass of beer.  D commented that it was the “Cognac of IPA”, and he was pretty good in that assessment.  It was SO smooth, and it was hard to tell this was such a high-alcohol beer.  I rated it a 2 only because something had to be a 2…in my mind, however, a this 2 was so much closer to 5 (and the 1 was much closer to -5.)  The final table rating was a 3.33 as D rated it a 5 and Mark rated it a 3.

Southern Tier Unearthly Imperial IPA – 11% (6oz or 10oz)

It had only been two weeks since D and I enjoyed Unearthly onsite and by the growler, so it was fun to taste it side-by-side with other big IPAs.  This is such an excellent example of this style.  We gave it a collective table rating of 3.66 (Mark and I agreed on a placement of 4, and this was D’s other 3.)As I said before, for a Friday night with a drive ahead, that was plenty of beer for the moment, but D did order the other two Russian River beers for us to try.  Deification had a very nice candy sugar sort of flavor to it, and Damnation was very unique, reminiscent of a cider.  We liked them both very much!

Thoroughly enjoying our time with Mark, and feeling entirely sober from our limited intake, we had no qualms about stopping at the Speckled Hen Cottage Pub and Ale House in Reading, simply because I’d never been there.  It was an oasis in the middle of this urban area.  The log cabin bar is the oldest building in
Reading; the low ceiling, fireplacesaged walls created such a cozy environment for enjoying a beer.  The tap list was pretty nice, and included things like Bell‘s Two Hearted and Old Dominion Imperial Stout.  I don’t think we drank too much (one pint per person), but it was getting late, and I was glad Mark had a bed to offer us (I brought my toothbrush and traveled home in my PJs…)

Mark, if you’re reading this, thanks for a really fun time!

Now if I could only find out who was crowned the King of Hops…

Girly Beer

With respect, I admit I haven’t heard this podcast yet, but the title of this episode already turns me off…  Admittedly, I like my Framboise, but given the choice, I’ll take a strong ale over fruit any day.  (I found a great article on Realbeer.com on Real Women who drink real beer, so I know I’m not alone!)

I will certainly be listening to this on Friday to see what he has to say about Fruity Girly Beers while I drive to the Hop Off Championship @ Union Jack’s Inn featuring beers REAL WOMEN drink (Russian River Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, Damnation, Deification; Weyerbacher Eleven Triple IPA; Southern Tier Unearthly Imperial IPA; Union Jack’s Hoptimus Prime by Legacy.)

Beer Information @ Your Library

Barbara was cataloging books the other night, and something of interest rolled across her desk!  Apparently my library ordered The Essential Reference of Domestic Brewers and Their Bottled Brands (known in the industry as DBBB.)

She sent me a catalog link to the item, and I’ve found a few reviews (here, here and here!)

For those about to drink…

Our weekend camping trip got rained out a bit, so rather than sit on top of a picnic table during the hail storm, we drove up to Southern Tier Brewing Company in Lakewood, NY.

We’ve been getting their stuff in bottles, so it was such a treat to get it on tap! We missed the 4:00 PM tour, but found a table in this small, pub. There isn’t much to it – Southern Tier is located in a clean industrial park. The Empty Pint tasting room has a couple of tables and a bar, and they will let you taste anything (sample serving in a large tasting glass.)

Heavy Weizen, an Imperial Hefe, was the beer of the day. YUMMM This was packed with flavor.

Phin & Matt’s Extraordinary Ale – an American Pale Ale that had more maltiness than I care for in an APA.

Blue Berry – a somewhat fragrant wheat beer that is made here for Ellicottville Brewing Company (whose website is more exciting than their beer…in fact, I couldn’t find a list of current beers there!) This one really didn’t have much going on at all.

Un-Earthly IPA – this Imperial IPA was WOW! Unfortunately, they couldn’t fill a growler for us, but how lucky we were to find it on tap, and purchase some bottles.
Heavy Weizen at Southern Tier

D at Southern Tier

Along with our bottles of Un-Earthly, we picked up six pack of Harvest Ale, a growler of IPA and a growler of Porter. The Porter was outstanding in flavor while low in alcohol, and as we’ve found with their bottled beers, the IPA was just perfect. The Harvest Ale was also really, really nice.
I have lots more to say, but a bed calling my name…maybe I’ll get back to this, maybe not…

Bourbon Barrel Beers Abound!

This weekend we stopped at Otto’s Pub & Brewing Company on our way to northwest PA. The choices were GREAT, and I was excited to see two Bourbon-aged beers on tap.

I immediately ordered the Bourbon-Aged Jolly Roger Imperial Stout (on the hand pump – how fabulous is that??), which is one of his great stouts – full of roasted maltiness, and pumped up with smokey chocolate flavors – but taken one step closer to the edge by aging it for 6 months in Elijah Craig 12-year barrels. It was 9% ABV, and you can see how beautiful it was below!

Bourbon-Aged Jolly Roger Imperial Stout at Otto's

D’s first beer was the Bourbon-aged Hellkat, a Belgian-style golden ale aged 6 months in Elijah Craig 12-year barrels (I see a trend…note my post on the Anniversary gift at Bullfrog.) ABV 8.4%

D drinks a Hellkat

We were also excited to try a new Otto’s beer (for us) – Aurthur’s Mild Ale – which was a true British-style mild coming in at 3.2% ABV. Low in alcohol, but pleasant in flavor.

I finished my day with Mt. Nittany Pale Ale, which is an American Pale Ale that measures 5% ABV. It’s brewed with Centennial hops, and hopbacked with Cascade [Hopback – A vessel that is filled with hops to act as a filter for removing the break material from the finished wort. – from www.howtobrew.com/glossary.html] It has a spicy citrus aroma and a nutty malt flavor. I enjoyed it more than D’s mild, but I also know I can get it anytime I’m in the area.

We filled two growlers for the camping trip. The Apricot Wheat (ABV 4.7%), part of which ended up accompanying breakfast the next day, and the Double D IPA (ABV 8.1%).

Charlie may make one of the best Apricot Wheat beers I’ve ever had (I’m not a fan of fruited beers, but his has lead me to try Apricot Wheats all over America…his is certainly the gold standard!) Double D is an Imperial IPA made with Nugget, Palisade and Amarillo hops. It was good. It was really good. But there was just something that wasn’t quite perfect. I wish I could put my tounge on the flavor that was missing…