In Our Fridge: Einstök White Ale

Put on your viking horns and get ready for a killer beer hailing from Iceland, the Einstök White Ale. After spotting the White Ale only twice before at different bars, I was incredibly excited to find this recently stocked at a nearby Wegman’s to imbibe at home. Einstök, which is derived from the Icelandic word for “unique,” is an up-and-coming brewery located near the northern coast of Iceland in the fishing village of Akureyri. At just 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle and surrounded by rugged Icelandic mountain wilderness, Einstök brews with what must be some of the purest water on the planet – and it shows.

The White Ale is a traditional Belgian-style wit beer brewed with Bavarian Noble hops, Wheat and Pilsner Malts, and Oats. It is light-bodied, crisp and well balanced, but truly shines with its refreshing citrus and coriander finish that really got me hooked.  The addition of oats seems to smooth out the flavor and add more depth than the typical wit beer. I generally prefer higher gravity beers and do not often get very excited about wits, but this beauty truly stands out from the competition due to its clarity and brightness in flavor. At a modest 5.2% ABV you can drink these all afternoon without overdoing it.

Harness your inner viking.

Other offerings from Einstök include the Arctic Pale Ale, Doppelbock, Toasted Porter, and Arctic Berry. I really look forward to trying more from them and hopefully one day getting to Iceland to check out their brewery. Their slogan is “Drekktu, Sigradu, Endurtaktu!” – Drink, conquer, repeat! Sounds good to me.

If you see this beer, pick some up and let us know what you think. Don’t forget to check out our other beer reviews here.

Cheers!

Mike and Bethany

Advertisements

Upper Bucks Brewfest

ub-brewfest-mugThe Upper Bucks Brewfest is one of our favorite beer festivals in the area. The event is organized by Quakertown Alive!, a community organization whose mission focuses on the revitalization of the downtown Quakertown area, so the proceeds of the event all go back into the community. While we love the charitable mission, we were also smitten with the amazing beer selection that was compiled by one of the Quakertown Alive! volunteers and local craft beer icon, John Dale. John owns and operates the historic Spinnerstown Hotel which has arguably the best craft and imported beer list in eastern Pennsylvania (and is one of our favorite places)!

Upper Bucks Brewfest featured a heavyweight lineup of major craft breweries including Ommegang, Dogfish Head, Bear Republic and Deschutes. They also featured beers from some of our favorite Lehigh Valley and Bucks County breweries such as Hijinks, Free Will, and a limited release brew from The Proper Brewing Company  in Quakertown . Below are some of the standouts from the festival.

Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale – This may have been my favorite beer of the day, though I guess I shouldn’t be surprised given how many awards it has won. The Red Rocket is a Scottish-style red ale that very perfectly balances a pinch of sweet malts complemented by a spicy, hop finish. This beer actually made me think that I might be drinking too many IPAs and not enough red ales – trying something a little different was definitely rewarding. Loved it!

Deschutes Chainbreaker – I get so excited on the rare occasion that I see this beer out here in the Eastern US. It is one of my favorites and there is absolutely no better beer on a hot summer day than this outstanding white IPA.  Chainbreaker was one of the very first commercially available white IPA’s, a style that marries the hop forward style of an IPA with the gentle spice of a Belgian wit. Deschutes brewery is located just East of Portland, Oregon and I first had this beer on a backpacking trip in the Northern Cascade National Park near Seattle. It was fairly recent that they have broken into the Pennsylvania market, so if you haven’t tried any of their beers yet, I highly recommend you try anything from their solid lineup. Another excellent Deschutes beer is the Fresh Squeezed IPA, a seasonal release, which was also at the brewfest.

Dogfish Head Biere de Provence – This is a relatively new offering from Dogfish Head that I was excited to try. It is inspired by the similarly-named French herb blend that often includes marjoram, bay leaf, chervil, and lavender, which are all used in brewing this beer. This was not my favorite of the day. While it was unique and consistent with the courageous, experimental beers that Dogfish Head is well-known for, the three ounce pour that I had was enough for me. It was a medium-bodied ale that had, as you might imagine, a powerful herbal finish. This might be good with some fish or chicken at dinner but it is definitely not an easy-drinking session ale.

ub-brewfestThere were many other fantastic beers at the Upper Bucks Brewfest – check out the full list here.  We hope to see you at next year’s Brewfest to support the Quakertown community and drink some quality beer!

Cheers!

Mike

 

Sneak Peek! Yergey Brewing in Emmaus, PA

Get ready for another fantastic addition to the Lehigh Valley craft beer scene. Local brewer Jim Yergey is preparing to open the doors of Yergey Brewing on September 23rd, 2016, at the corner of 5th and Railroad Streets in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. Mike and I had the pleasure of visiting his brewing space and learning about Jim, his nano-brewery, and his distinctly personal and impressively delicious flight of beers.

Jim’s commitment to and enthusiasm for his craft were evident from the moment we shook hands. Although he does have an impressive beard, Jim is not your typical craft brewer. He brings to the table a doctorate in chemistry  and a 30-plus year career as a research chemist for Merck, resulting in a complex understanding of the brewing process on the molecular level. He guided Mike and me through his brewery with unbridled excitement, highlighting his Criveller brewhouse setup and pre-insulated ABS glycol system. He spoke of some of the challenges with adjusting from a small home-brewer’s system to a much larger nano-brewery set up, though you wouldn’t know it from the quality of his system and brews.

So, how did a retired chemistry PhD end up opening a nano-brewery in Emmaus, PA? “My wife is letting me do my thing!” he stated with a grin, pouring us samples of his Friend of the Devil (FOTD) Belgian Strong Ale. Jim is actually quite seasoned when it comes to brewing beer; he began home-brewing more than 20 years ago while living in Montreal. He noted that there was a dearth of beer varieties during that time, and he wanted to drink something richer than the run-of-the-mill options available. Jim continued improving his home-brewing skills until taking a brief hiatus while raising his children. However, once they became of drinking age, home-brewing soon became a family tradition.  Jim and his two sons would brew together every year between Christmas and New Year’s Day, creating more nuanced and flavorful varieties each time. Jim’s beers indeed reflect maturity and refinement – it is clear that he is no rookie to brewing. FOTD is excellent (Mike’s favorite!), with a nose of clove, a dark fruit flavor profile, and a punchy 9-9.5% ABV. Jim and his family eventually left Montreal and have now been living in Center Valley, PA for more than 17 years, making Emmaus an ideal location for Yergey Brewing.

Hoptileitious DIPA

Fast-forward to August 2014 when Jim decided to enter his Hoptileitious double IPA into the “Brewer For A Day” competition hosted by Fegley’s Brew Works. Hoptileitious won with flying colors, affording Jim the opportunity to brew his beer at Brew Works that winter and distribute it during Lehigh Valley Beer Week 2015. Hoptileitious was a big hit, selling out in just 45 minutes at Jim’s local haunt, the Limeport Inn. We weren’t surprised to hear this – the Hoptileitious offers an addictive balance of a malty middle and hops at the front and end. It would be a great IPA gateway beer for those expanding their palates to include more bitter varieties as well as an excellent option for those already into hoppier ales. The success of Hoptileitious set the wheels in motion for Yergey Brewing to move from dream to reality.

We also sampled Three Kings and a Wench, an Imperial Stout (my favorite!), which has that perfect creamy-yet-dry mouthfeel of a good stout and leaves with a lingering roasty taste, like a strong cup of coffee. It’s another heavy hitter at 9-9.5% ABV – I could see this one sneaking up on you. Be sure to ask Jim to tell you the story behind the name of Three Kings and a Wench – like all of his beers, it has quite a tale behind it! Finally, we tried the hot Chocolate (lowercase “h” version), a chocolate porter, which had a strong nose and taste of cocoa, though the sweetness wasn’t overpowering. The capital “H” Hot Chocolate will be in the works soon, which adds a homemade chili pepper extract to the chocolate porter for a spicy kick. Also upcoming are a Red IPA, Weisenbock, and a Session IPA made with all local ingredients.

What is Jim’s biggest hope for Yergey Brewing? “I just want people to have fun and share stories,” he replied after a moment of thought. For Jim, it’s all about the interaction with his customers, the connection he has with other brewers and home-brewers in the region, and producing excellent beer that reflects not only his brewing skill but his connection with his family. Yergey Brewing is ultimately a personal reflection of Jim, from the recipes he developed with his sons, to the beautiful black walnut bar and table tops he constructed by hand. For Jim, that’s what brewing is all about.

We will be there for Yergey Brewing’s opening weekend and hope to see you there, too! Let us know what you think in the comments!

Cheers!
Bethany

 

 

In Our Fridge: Victory V12

IMG_0948I have been wanting to try the Victory V12 for years; probably ever since I first developed the love for quads working at Sette Luna and drinking hefty doses of the legendary St. Bernardus ABT 12. The St. Bernie is one of my favorite beers of all time and it leaves you hesitant to stray to other quads.

Despite my loyalty to the ABT 12, I am finally trying this beer thanks to the fine selection over at Cork & Cage and I am definitely not disappointed. This is easily one of the most drinkable 12% ABV beers you can find. It differs greatly from the ABT 12, however, which is dark, noticeably sweet with hints of stone fruits. The V12 is more effervescent, with a deep amber hue and a dense head. And this beer is smooooooth! On the bottle it reads, “Liquid Luxury in the form of a Belgian-Style Quad,” and that is definitely a promise that delivers. The V12 has a silky, luxurious body and perfectly rounded flavor that coats your mouth with complex, baroque flavors. This is one of those beers that demands your attention and I guarantee that no matter what you are doing, you are going to stop to really process this one.

If you are new to quads this is a great jumping off point. It is noticeably different from the traditional Belgian style and has a flavor profile a little closer to a barleywine. But who the hell cares what you call it, this is an awesome beer!

Thank you, Victory, for this beauty!

Cheers!

Mike

 

In Our Fridge: London Balling

IMG_0738 (1)Thanks to Cork & Cage I have yet another unique beer from a brewery that’s new to me, Against the Grain. They are located in Louisville, Kentucky and it looks like they have a pretty cool brewpub and smokehouse. They have a huge list of beers, all with awesome can art. Tonight I am trying London Balling , their English-style barleywine that’s aged for three months in Angel’s Envy bourbon barrels.

You may have guessed this from the design of the can, but if you are looking for a refined, sophisticated barleywine, this is definitely not the beer for you. The London Balling is a giant punch in the face of deep, roasty, malty, bourbon barrel-aged booze. It is a massive 12.5% ABV, so the pounder I drank is more than enough for the average mortal.  They recommend drinking this right out of a can but I poured it into a goblet because I don’t like to be told what to do. It poured a deep amber color with a glowing cherry halo. The bold malts have hints of vanilla and the Nugget and Kent Golding hops pack a bitter punch that will finish off the heartiest of drinkers.

Overall, this beer is definitely not for the faint of heart. If you have a masochistic streak or are the type of person that loves a painfully powerful beer like Dennis Rodman longs for the sting of a new tattoo, then this might be the beer for you.

If you have been to the Against the Grain brewery we would love to hear all about it.

Cheers!

Mike

 

 

New Brews at Bonn Place!

Hmmm, what is there to do on a long holiday weekend? Visit our friends at Bonn Place, of course! After being up all night replacing their failing glycol system with new copper pipes, Sam and Gina were as friendly and inviting as ever despite their lack of sleep. Mike and I were excited to  check out some of their new offerings, and we were far from disappointed.

img_7400

Brunch and Bunny

First and foremost, we need to talk about the Scottish Brunch, which Bonn Place developed in collaboration with Monocacy Coffee Co. An amped-up version of the original Scottish Breakfast, it features the original wee-heavy Scottish ale brewed with local coffee beans and lactose. This beer blew me away. It has an incredibly roasty, coffee flavor with a creamy sweetness from the lactose. The Scotch ale base gives it a dryness that balances out the warm, sweet notes for a very satisfying, addictive brew. Fantastic.

Another highlight from the new offerings was the Bunny Farm Double IPA. We sampled this while it was still in the tanks a few weeks ago and loved the fresh, mango flavor. Sam did a second round of dry hopping before it hit the taps, and it produced a perfectly bitter, citrus-forward DIPA. Bonn Place describes it as having “more hops than a bunny farm,” which is a fitting slogan. Mike quickly put his pint of the Bunny Farm down the hatch – it’s a superb beer for the last few weeks of summer.

img_7429

Mooey-San

The Mooey-San is another unique offering. It involves a steel cask-conditioned version of the Mooey, which is their flagship bitter, blended with wasabi, ginger, and jasmine leaves. It would be spectacular with sushi, and if you head over to Bonn Place today you can get a pint of it for just $3! Be there or be square.

We can’t wait to check out two upcoming brews – an Irish Stout, which is a collaboration with Keystone Homebrew (and will be named after Colin, Gina’s new nephew!), and a French provincial-style ale featuring Mandarina hops and Brett wild yeast. Bonn Place is seriously on a roll!

Swing by Bonn Place and let us know what you think!

Cheers!

Bethany

A Delaware Gem: Crooked Hammock Brewery

img_7385Look out, Dogfish Head – the Delaware craft beer scene is on the rise, and Crooked Hammock is one of the stars of the show. Located in Lewes just outside the fantastic Cape Henlopen State Park, Crooked Hammock is still in its first year of operation, having opened in the fall of 2015. Using the classic backyard cookout for inspiration, Crooked Hammock offers a line of drinkable and incredibly fresh beers paired with a food menu packed with crowd-pleasers like deviled eggs, clam bakes, and an array of juicy burgers. The space itself recalls sand and surf with a casual, beach-bum atmosphere featuring vintage beach decor, hammocks, ping pong tables, and patrons mulling about in bare feet (not making this up). Even the bathrooms feel like a throwback beach bathhouse with pastel colors and sinks made from galvanized buckets. I couldn’t stop gawking at a stunning chandelier made from re-purposed growlers hung over the indoor bar. Perfection.

img_7388Mike and I adore tent camping, and Cape Henlopen is our favorite place to go, mainly for its nice campsites and proximity to the beach – you can’t beat falling asleep under the stars with the sound of the ocean in your ears. We always take a pilgrimage to the Dogfish Head Brewpub a bit south in Rehoboth; however, when we spotted Crooked Hammock just around the bend from the park, we felt like we hit the jackpot. We popped in to sample their beers and food and left feeling impressed not only by the fun ambiance but the menu offerings as well. Beer-wise, they offer a selection of American-style ales ranging from their flagship Suns Out Suds Out Golden Ale, which is a quintessential easy-drinking beach beer, to a set of delicious IPAs, including Mootzy’s Treasure IPA and Beach Escape White IPA (our favorite!). The Beach Escape packs in a bright citrus and coriander flavor from a heavy dose of citra hops. It had that perfect taste we look for in White IPAs – heavier on the citrus than the classic IPA, but not so heavy that you lose the punchy bitterness from the hops. img_7382They also brewed up some unique options, including the Pucker Down raspberry sour ale and the Maui Wowie pineapple brown ale. Food-wise, we have to talk about the pretzel. Crooked Hammock offers a Giant Bavarian Pretzel which is shipped from Germany and served with both a saison beer mustard as well as beer cheese. Now, to be fair, Mike and I had been doing the 21 Day Fix and used this day as a cheat day, so our perceptions may have been a little off. But we remain convinced that this was the best pretzel and beer cheese that we have had in a very long time. It had a perfect contrast of slightly crispy and salty exterior with soft, slightly chewy interior that remained light and fluffy. The beer cheese and mustard were both excellent accompaniments. All in all, it was a perfect cheat snack.

If you find yourself hanging out in Delaware, be sure to swing by Crooked Hammock for backyard cookout eats, fresh pints, and the opportunity to enjoy both while lying in a hammock. We loved the unique decor and friendly-casual feel of this brewpub and can’t wait to visit again!

What are your favorite breweries in Delaware? Let us know in the comments!

Cheers!

Bethany