The week I have been waiting for all year has finally arrived. Philly Beer Week, every beer geek’s favorite holiday, has brought a plethora of high caliber, new, and rare beers to the Philadelphia area yet again. After hitting eight different events in the first seven days of beer week I have found some real gems that are definitely review worthy. If you get the chance to try any of these beers at upcoming events please don’t hesitate.
Dupont Speciale Belge
The first event I attended was the Opening Tap Ceremony at the Independence Visitor Center. At this event I tasted some great beers, but one of the beers that really caught my attention was actually the first beer I had there, the Dupont Speciale Belge. This beer is a collaboration between Olivier Dedeycker of Brasserie DuPont, Chris LaPierre of Iron Hill, Tom Peters of Monk’s Café, and Vince Masciandaro of Barley Legal Homebrewers. This Belgian Pale Ale was very rich with flavor while maintaining a medium body that was extremely sessionable. It wows you with all the complex subtleties without having to put your tongue into a full nelson. Starting off with crisp caramel and grain flavors, it’s followed by a subtle and well balanced hoppiness, then the delicate spice from the Belgian yeast. Next comes the best part of the beer, it finishes with an amazing smokiness from the peat smoked malts that fits in great with the profile of the beer. I feel many beers falter when adding a smoked element but this beer does not. It doesn’t overpower the beer, but instead compliments the other flavors. For more information on this beer you can check out Angela Corrado’s write-up and you can purchase a bottle to take home at Pinocchio’s Beer Garden.
Founders Brewing Co. and Green Flash Brewing Company’s Linchpin
I had my first taste of Linchpin, the newest White IPA to hit the market, at Resurrection Ale House in Grays Ferry this week. This beer is a collaboration between the world class brewers at Founders Brewing Co. and the IPA gurus at Green Flash Brewing Company. White IPAs have been growing in popularity lately and I have been waiting for one of the upper echelon breweries to take a swing at this unique style. My expectations for the beer were high and it definitely did not disappoint. This beer exploded with tons of great citrus flavor including tangerines, lemon, grapefruit, and orange. When talking citrus flavor think American IPA not Summer Shandy. The brewers lined up over a dozen citrus heavy hops to choose the three that have the most citrus flavor and aroma to dry hop the beer with. The aroma alone is something to savor before you take your first sip. The wheat malts in this beer are the perfect backbone to showcase the citrus flavor of this beer. This citrus synergy has all the hop forward flavor of an American IPA with a spicy flavorful kick at the end provided by the two different yeast strains (one American and one Belgian). You can find out more about this beer on Dish Trip.
Oscar Blues’ Wild Turkey-Aged Old Chub
My Philly Beer Week has been packed with plenty of barrel-aged beers. At Pinocchio’s Beer Garden I tried one of the best beers in this category. On Sunday, they featured Wild Turkey-aged Old Chub on tap at their Oscar Blues tap takeover. I was already a fan of Old Chub Scotch Ale, but the barrel-aged version takes it to another level. This beer has the rich earthy, peaty, smoky, dark caramel, malty flavor that you come to expect from Old Chub while the Wild Turkey whisky barrels add the sweet flavors of vanilla, oak, and of course whisky. This beer exhibits a great balance and the whisky flavor does not drowned out the rest of the beer. Sadly this was only one of a few kegs to leave the state of Colorado so it will be hard to come by again locally.
Founders’ Backwoods Bastard
The Wild Turkey-aged Old Chub was not the only amazing barrel-aged scotch ale that was available this week. During my visit to the Pub on East Passyunk (P.O.P.E.) I tried Founders Backwoods Bastard. Like Oscar Blues, Founders Brewing Company took one of their well loved scotch ales, Dirty Bastard, and gave it bourbon soaked makeover. This beer was very similar to the Aged Old Chub, but the taste of figs and bourbon were more prevalent and the vanilla notes were not as strong in the brew. The Old Chub had the smokiness more present in the beginning and the Backwoods Bastard had the more mellow smokiness in the beginning as well as a good dose at the finish. If you’re quick enough you might be able to pick up a bottle of this at the bottle shop at Capone’s Restaurant.
Last night, I was lucky to sip Weyerbacher’s brand new Seventeen, an ale created to celebrate their seventeenth anniversary. To quote Weyerbacher’s website “Seventeen is a Saison Ale brewed with pink peppercorns, orange zest, lemon zest, and grapefruit zest.”This beer weighs in at a whopping 10.5% abv, definitely atypical for this style. I love Weyerbacher and would never miss the chance to get my hands on one of their anniversary ales, though I was skeptical about this one. I have never had a beer with peppercorn in it that I enjoyed and I was worried that 10.5% might be too boozy for a Saison.
But, in true Weyerbacher anniversary ale fashion, this beer was amazing. It has twice the flavor of a normal Saison and makes a sipping beer out of a style dominated by session ales. Chris Reilly, brewer at Weyerbacher, was on hand to talk beer with the patrons at Capones. When I brought up the peppercorns Chris informed me that pink peppercorns have more of a berry flavor and only impart a little bit of the spiciness present in black peppercorn. This beer starts sweet, but quickly turns spicy, mostly due to the belgian yeast, but also due to the pink peppercorns. The flavors are of berries, lemon, citrus, a mellow grassiness, spicy yeast, pepper, bready, and some funk from the Belgian yeast. It is a bit boozy, but not in a bad way. This would be a great beer to age in the cellar. Click here for more details about this beer.
Lost Abbey’s Deliverance
Lastly, I snagged a taste of Lost Abbey’s Deliverance for the first time. This was probably the best beer I drank during beer week. Deliverance is a blend of their Brandy Barrel Angel’s Share (barleywine) and their Bourbon Barrel Serpent’s Stout. This beer is a battle between good and evil in bottle form. This beer was pitch black, with a small head of dark brown froth and light carbonation. The body was thick with a nice slightly syrupy mouthfeel. The flavor included vanilla, brown sugar, oak, bourbon, coffee, dark chocolate, figs, molasses, and some brandy. All of these flavors dance on your tongue and meld together so well. It’s good this beer only came in a 5.5 oz glass because it was insanely smooth and drinkable for a beer that’s 12.5% abv. I can’t say it enough… this beer is seriously amazing. The price tag may give you some sticker shock, but it is definitely worth picking up a bottle!
I want to quickly highlight a few more beers that deserve a notable mention:
- Yards’ Karma Factor (brewed for Philly Beer Week)
- Weyerbacher’s Last Chance IPA
- Lost Abbey’s Red Poppy
- Triumph’s Hopapalooza
- Boaks’ Flemish Brown
- Weyerbach’s Sour Black (bottled but not in distribution yet)