Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Quick Sips: Troegs Mad Elf

Some beers are born of cults. I swear it.

I don’t know if Satanists or Pagans or something are getting together in the woods each winter to bust cherries, but I DO know that each winter they – and everyone else – are scrambling to get Troegs’ The Mad Elf ale, which is the sort of beer you’d get if a bunch of drunk Pagans brewed the most cherry-poppin’ beer they could imagine. That, and the devil himself would have to have thought of adding honey to the mix, because the most evil things are also the most sweet, right?

So, yeah. There is that.

Okay, I rammed the analogies into the ground. Fine. So just taste the beer. You’ll find yourself struggling with the insane 11% ABV, even as you revel in the sweet sin of this beer’s sweet, fruity nectar. Those nutty Troegs people, they know how to do it, don’t they? How on Earth is a beer this big so devoid of alcohol burn?

Oh, and here’s a secret not many people know since folks scoop this up every winter and drink it ASAP: this beer ages pretty well. If you have a few bottles, don’t be shy about stashing them away for a few year, because it holds up well and mellows into a nice beer to have with a cigar on a cold night. Cheers!

Portions of this first appeared in the Philadelphia Weekly and are reused here with permission.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Quick Sips: Victory Storm King

Oh, you big, big beers. How we love you.

There are a bunch of different giants. Hill giants, frost giants, cloud giants, and of course, storm giants. Each has different hit dice and abilities. I’m not sure why it is important for you to know that when all you really need to know is, Victory’s Storm King is big enough to stomp a village into dust.

With this beer, Downington, PA’s favorite brewery proves that a massively complex beer doesn’t have to cost you half a paycheck. Storm King is huge, but it's priced pretty nicely when you consider how well it stacks up against other beers its equal. Not only does this inky black, 9 percent beer taste of rich chocolate, tobacco, licorice, and charred toffee, it also ages beautifully.

Really, get a bottle, stash it away, and open it four years later. You’ll be in love. Storm King is the biggest, boldest, best value for your dollar when it comes to imperial stouts brewed in Pennsylvania. (I specify PA because to be honest, the best deal in imperial stouts is Imperial Russian Stout by Stone,  a beer that is merely $6 a bomber but is better than most "limited" beers triple its price.) Your puny 1stlevel fighter doesn’t stand a chance.

Portions of this review were originally written for the Philadelphia Weekly and are reprinted here with permission,

Monday, November 18, 2013

Quick Sips: Samuel Adams New Albion Ale

I do love me some trips into beer history.

Before there was Samuel Adams or Sierra Nevada or Dogfish Head or anyone in craft beer, there was Jack McAuliffe’s New Albion brewery, the first craft brewery of the modern era. But in an era of bad canned lager made in dying regional breweries, America wasn’t ready.

New Albion opened in 1976 and closed its doors in 1982, a whisper in terms of business. Their legacy, however, endures. In some ways they were the Velvet Underground of beer. Not many people drank them, but everyone who did started their own brewery. They influenced countless others and helped introduce the idea that American beer can be hoppy, an approach that has all but come to define American craft beer.

Samuel Adams recreates New Albion's influential flagship with New Albion Ale, brewed with the original recipe provided by McAuliffe himself. Considering how far craft beer has come in the more than 30 years since New Albion folded, you’d expect this to be pretty tame. You’d be wrong. It’s a bright, hoppy, bitter-but-drinkable brew with an aroma that would not be out of place on today’s shelves. Have to admit, I was a little surprised - and impressed. It’s a little taste of history, sure, but if you don’t care about history then just look at it as a taste of something good. Because it is

Portions of this piece originally appeared in the Philadelphia Weekly and are repeated here with permission.