Thursday, September 29, 2016

Quick Sips: Fegley’s Bourbon Barrel Insidious

Those in Allentown and Bethlehem, PA know Fegley’s as The Brew Works, a pair of great brewpubs in some of Pennsy’s finest non-Philly towns for hanging out and enjoying great beer. When bottled, those beers get the “Fegley’s” label – but they are no less awesome than they are at the pub.

Insidious is their big imperial stout, a chocolate forward brew that can be a bit hot on the alcohol when fresh but that ages into itself very nicely after about 12 months in the "cellar" (or cupboard). 

The Bourbon Barrel version? A twist on that delightfully dark beer, following the trend of stuffing everything possible into a barrel. Trend or not, though, it works. Fegley’s version has less up front bourbon than many bourbon barrel aged beers, making this an approachable (but still imposing!) take on the barrel-aged style.

Black as night, rich as a Rockefeller, and surprisingly drinkable when compared to others of the same style, enjoy this sipper of a beer with a big steak or spicy nachos.

NOTE: Portions of this post originally appeared in The Philly Weekly. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Quick Sips: Troegs Dreamweaver

Harrisburg, PA is not only a city brimming with history, in 2010 Forbes ranked it as the #2 place in the United States to raise a family.

But if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that the greatest thing Harrisburg has to offer is Troegs Brewery, one of the best of Pennsylvania’s amazing craft breweries. (Seriously, folks, PA is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to beer. Only California, Michigan, and Oregon can compete.)

That means when Troegs puts out a modest little wheat beer, we expect something special. And yes, Dreamweaver is something special. Sure, it’s just a German style wheat beer, but it’s a super great one, with spicy clove, musty yeast, and easy drinkability. Without straying too far into hyperbole, it just might be one of the very best American interpretations of a German wheat beer.

Best part of all? It's suitable for all occasions, making it an excellent choice for a year-round, anytime beer. Cheers!

NOTE: Portions of this post originally appeared in the Philly Weekly.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Quick Sips: 21st Amendment Bitter American

It's a lament we've heard a million times over the last decade: IPAs are a dime a dozen.

True. That's part of the reason why so-called "session IPAs" and session beers in general have become the fastest growing segment of the craft beer market. Because a lot of people love their hoppy goodness but don’t want yet another beer with an inflated alcohol content.

Bitter American, by 21st Amendment, provides an option for people looking for such beers with this hopped up low alcohol session beer. At just 4.4% ABV it has an alcohol content comparable to a light beer – it’s actually a little less than Corona – but you wouldn’t mistake this for a light beer. The chewy caramel malts alone would make light beers seem like water by comparison.

Throw in bundles of hops with characteristics of tangerine, orange peel, grapefruit and a dash of pine and you’ll be wondering if those light beers are even the same kind of beverage. And all in a brew you can drink all afternoon long! Proof positive that session beers don’t have to be bland beers.

NOTE: Portions of this post originally appeared in the Philly Weekly.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Quick Sips: Stone Imperial Russian Stout

Catherine II ruled over Russia’s Golden Age, though it was her allegedly voracious sexual appetites that have made her something of a legend. Pretty ridiculous, really, when what we should know her for is popularizing one of the world’s great beer styles: imperial stouts.

See, way back in the 18th Century, Thrale’s Brewery in England brewed a big, imposing dark beer for export to Catherine’s court. The beer became known as Russian Imperial Stout, and today it’s one of the most popular styles among those who like their beers bold and aggressive.

One of the very best on the market is by Stone. Their Imperial Russian Stout -- yes, they reverse "Russian Imperial" on purpose -- is dark as night and just loaded with powerful chocolate, cocoa, and bitter roast coffee, along with the generous hopping Stone is known for. It really gives your senses a workout, yet amazingly, you’d never notice it’s a whopping 10.5% ABV.

Oh, and did I mention how affordable it is? Stone's price per bomber is far lower than comparable beers of the same style, sometimes by half. Without question, this is one of the best beer bargains on the planet. Thanks, Catherine!

NOTE: Portions of this post originally appeared in The Philadelphia Weekly

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Quick Sips: Monk’s Café Flemish Sour Ale

Before every other brewery in the American craft scene was pushing out half-hearted sours, there was Monk's.

Sours have been surging the last few years, but let’s be honest: Sour isn’t for everyone. The acidic, tart bite of a sour beer is heaven in a glass for those who enjoy the style, but can be puckeringly off-putting for those who don’t.

This beer, though, this is a sour for the masses. Brewed for the legendary Monk’s Café in Philadelphia, this Flemish red ale is only mildly sour, with a nice, fruity sweetness that does a fine job of balancing the beer’s acidity and gentle vinegar qualities. It’s a brew that goes especially well with a meal (a salad, spicy fish, or chocolate make great pairings), but that also stands up nicely on its own. There are few traditional sours as approachable as this one. It drinks so smooth and easy even your finicky friends will find themselves enjoying it. If you’ve never had a sour beer before, this is a great place to start.

The beer is widely available in bottles, and of course can always be found on draft at Monk's Cafe. 

NOTE: Portions of the preceding originally appeared in The Philadelphia Weekly.