You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2008.
Prompted by a comment to a comment last week over at Bike Hugger, and after last week’s night of indulging in some high alcohol beers, I wanted to comment the idea of session beers. I generally am drawn to the heavier beers, high ABV, full bodied, big flavors. But in trying to expand my palate, I’ve been really trying to spend some time appreciating lighter beers.
Thankfully, Philadelphia beer culture is full of session beers. Without getting into a well structured list, there are decent session beers from many of our local favorites, Earth, PBC, Victory, Sly Fox; as well as a great selection of easy drinkers at most bars in the area. My recent Troegs binge, a visit to Earth, frequent trips to the Memphis Taproom; Considering Bike Hugger’s complaint about the lack of low ABV beers in LA, I’m (we’re) fortunate to have such a great selection in the region.
Which leads me to cask ales, perhaps my favorite form of sessionable beer. There is nothing like a lightly carbonated, cellar temp ale after a good bike ride. Even if the ride is only from home to the bar! For a daily update of what’s on cask around town, check out http://caskalekev.blogspot.com/. I’ve been happy to see more than just IPAs on that list recently, and I’m been drooling over the idea of some darker stuff on cask. Chilly bike ride, early sunset, pint of cask poured porter – sounds like autumn to me!
Last night I had nice little tasting session with my lightweight but knowledge-heavy friend Johnny. He brought over some bottles of Mad Elf (we postponed the case splitting adventure). I was glad to agree with him (and Ethan) on the tastiness of the Mad Elf. I generally idolize barleywines as my winter season style, and pugilize spiced winter beers. (See previous posts for my thoughts on pumpkin beers to get an idea of my feelings for cinnaminy nutmegy beers). But I think the Mad Elf represents a whole new direction for winter beers. A direction that I’m glad to head in. Pairings? Bring on the fruit cake!
Afterwards, I brought up 2 bottles of Golden Monkey, one from eariler this year, and one that was bottled in July of 2007. Side by side tastings confirmed what I suspected before: After about a year this beer starts to decline. The newer one (maybe 6 months old) however was at its prime. The spices (different ones! don’t cry “hypocrite!”) and the alcohol had mellowed out, while the body retained its fullness and flavor.
As part of an internet sharing/payment arrangment with my brother-in-law/next-door-neighbor, I’ve found myself in possession of 2 cases of Troegs beer, one of Dead Reckoning Porter and one of Dreamweaver.
I have always more or less dismissed Troegs, for no particular reason. Maybe it’s the allure of heavier local offerings from Victory or Weyerbacher. Or maybe its the ease and availability of Phila Brewing Co’s beers. However, at aforementioned brother-in-law/next-door-neighbor’s wedding a month or so ago I had a Dead Reckoning Porter, and it blew my mind. It was largely a circumstantial experience. After a long weddingful weekend, I severely needed a beer. I think I gulped down two of them, right after each other. (Don’t worry, that’s all I drank that night.) But I had fallen in love, and was quite grateful to receive an entire case of it.
Since them, a glass of porter has been an almost nightly event. Some of the starry eyed romance is gone, and sometimes its a bit too heavy, smokey, or bitter. But on these cooler fall nights, it really is quite appropriate.
On nights where I need sometime less intense, I’ve been digging the Dreamweaver. I generally dismiss American wheat beers (again, for no particular reason), so its been nice reacquainting myself. I can’t really tell where this falls on the German Hefe/Belgian Wit spectrum, but honestly, I’m not usually paying attention, simply enjoying.
All this to say, I’m sold on Troegs now. I’m sorry that I dismissed you. To make it up to you, I’m going to be splitting a case of Mad Elf with a friend. Another Troegs creation that I have mindlessly ignored for the past several years. Hopefully I can enjoy some of it this winter, and save the rest to cellar for winters to come.
PS – for the record, I have had Troegenator recently, and often. So I haven’t completely ignored this brewery.
If there was ever anything worth keeping me from the pursuit of drinking beer and riding bikes, it would be my family. Ditto on the internet reporting of said activities. So I gladly return from a 2+ week long abyss of non-posting to announce that my little family is growing. We are steadily working on incubating our third child, due sometime in June of 2009! So if you’re anxiously awaiting news of my latest beer exploration, or bike adventure, you may be waiting longer than normal. For this, I apologize. I’m still here, and I’ll still be posting. You just may see more reviews of strollers and mini vans alongside my normal topics.