Shakespeare in Beer

Ms. Tierney Pomone from Stouts & Stilettos reached out to me and offered the opportunity to do a beer review together. What you see here is our first She Said/He Said Beer Review. We took a stab at Kettleface by Columbia Kettle Works and St. Boniface Brewing Co. 

Be sure to follow Tierney on twitter and bookmark her very nice website.

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Tierney, Kettleface and Shakespeare

Tierney: So, not every day is perfect, and most days are nowhere close to it. This is sometimes why we find ourselves drinking. While certainly not the best coping mechanism, there’s truly an art to taking the edge off a bit while distracting yourself with ‘The People of Happy Hour’ and chatting with your local bartender.

Today I took advantage of this solace directly across the street at the Midtown Tavern. I enjoyed a few Nugget Nectars, a few chicken wings, and the company of at first no one at all, then a good friend, then once again my own solitude.

Tonight was the perfect moment to dive into Kettleface. I’m feeling perfectly honest and also hopeful that once I crack this can I’ll continue to find comfort in a delicious brew.

Since it’s in a can, and called Kettleface, I obviously must drink it direct from the can to my face right? Well, I want to see its color and get a bit of the aroma, so I did pour a small amount into a small snifter for judgment. It’s a deep amber color, and the aroma is very bready, almost biscuity.

Okay, maybe the Nugget is interfering. I just went and drank some water, grabbed a few carrots from the fridge, and queued up some Netflix. Ah Shakespeare in Love, an old favorite. Let’s enjoy this beer with Joseph Fiennes on the tv.

So, I dig into Kettleface, and it was not what I expected. The can tells me it’s a double dry-hopped Imperial Red Ale. Sweet, can’t wait to dig into this hopped up red! Okay wait, at first taste that’s not what’s happening. It’s super grainy. Hang on, more water, more carrots, let’s watch more movie and come back.

Wait wait wait. Untappd says this is 9.2% ABV? My can doesn’t say that! Pretty sure you have to put that somewhere on the label, but okay, here we go. So some of the hops are coming through now, maybe I was just expecting the wrong hop flavor? It says there are Simcoe and Centennial – the less aggressive flavor makes more sense now. Going into a beer blind will give you the most honest outcome, and I’m glad I knew next to nothing about this before opening.

I watched a little more movie and waited for it to warm, hoping this would make it easier to decipher the flavors. 20 minutes into the movie, 20 minutes into this beer. The hops are coming forward, but not in a way I wanted them too. This beer is getting bitter now, but still paired with that grainy flavor I just can’t shake. I don’t know what to do, I don’t really like it. I really want to like it, I don’t want to give up!

“Stage love will never be true love” alas they are right, as I don’t love this beer, and don’t want to pretend that I do. I don’t want to drink the rest. It’s so bitter yet grainy. It’s everything I don’t love in a beer. Parting is such sweet sorrow dear Kettleface, but you were fated for someone else…

Bearcat:

/cracks open Kettleface

//opens email

 ///sips

Hmmm… “The Lady doth protest too much” or not enough. I have known you long enough to know that you don’t like it. Extra points to you for “an honest tale speeds best, being plainly told.” Yet I will ask you to drink it again and see if you remain unimpressed.

I very much like this beer but my biases are all on display here. Columbia Kettle Works is as close to a neighborhood brewery as I am ever going to get. I like their beers and mostly I cheer them on as they make slow steady improvements and growth. So T and dear reader, know that “love is blind, and lovers cannot see”.

I think if you put Nugget Nectar and Kettleface side-by-side you are going to see disappointment as they are in some ways similar but the Nugget Nectar is far more devoted to the hop. Kettleface is not a hop bomb; something to which we have come accustomed.

I like the bitterness as it warms slightly. I think it helps to broaden the flavor profile but it can be off-putting as the beer reaches room temperature. Some beers really open up as they reach this state and improve. Kettleface is best served cool or cold and in that sense, the pounder may do it some disservice.

As You Like It straight from the can, I do think you may have cut off some of the aromas and some nuance from the volatile elements. I love drinking beers from the can but in the glass, this beer was quaffable and did not linger. For me… when it comes to this beer, “I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it” and maybe “my love’s more richer than my tongue.”

I do think this is a great beer but my biases are all out there.  “Above all; To thine own self be true…” this beer may not be for you.

Yes, it is a bit bitter but I will leave you with one last Shakespeare quote: “The course of true love never did run smooth”.

Hops ‘N’ Clocks

Rod Smith and Chad Rieker from CKW with their Major Award

This past Friday The National Watch and Clock Museum hosted their eighth annual Hops ‘N’ Clock beerfest in Columbia, PA.  This was the fourth time I have attended this unique and perennially sold out event.  The National Watch and Clock Museum is one of those great secrets of Central PA.  It’s a hidden gem.  Since opening in 1977 it has grown from less than 1,000 pieces to more than 12,000 artifacts and time pieces detailing humanity’s efforts of tracking the passage of time.

In early July each year the museum invites local brewers and restaurants to take over the building and ply visitors with tasty libations and light fare.  For a small donation ($30) you get a ticket for three hours with a up to a dozen breweries and a near equal number of restaurants each offering generous samples with the opportunity to check out the entire museum.

This year saw a great lineup of Lancaster and York based breweries including, Gift Horse Brewing, Wacker BrewingLancaster Brewing Company, Liquid Hero Brewing, and Columbia Kettle Works; as well as Roy Pitz Brewing, and Troegs. Bailee’s Homebrew & Wine Supplies had an assortment of homebrewed beers and offered tips for prospective and established homebrewers. The fest was not all beer with J & J Miracle Mead and Wyndrindge Farm poured samples of a mead and hard cider.

A number of great food options included two from Columbia; Prudomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen and Bully’s.  Both restaurants have impressive and well curated beer selections if you are ever in the area.

Music was provided by Fire in the Glen playing a lively mix of traditional Irish and Scottish folk/drinking songs.

The sold out event was well attended but not overbooked.  It was easy to get a refill with more than enough of time to try all the offerings.

Many great libations were on hand but some of them stood out more than others:

Odin Stök by J & J Miracle Mead is a fully fermented buck wheat honey mead.  It drinks dry and heavy; tasted of buck wheat honey but lacked any of the sweetness.  This was my first time trying mead and it was an interesting experience.  Clocking in at 18% ABV, Odin Stök was for sipping and would make for a nice after dinner drink.

Citra Wheat by Gift Horse Brewing Company was a well-executed American pale wheat ale with a healthy dose of Citra hops.  Dry and citrusy it made for an easy drinking beer that stood up well among a room full of good brews. Gift Horse’s Roasted Irish Ale was also good with plenty of roasted malts and bready notes.  Gift Horse is still working towards completing their brewery in York but once it is done I plan to pay a visit.

Rülpsen Meister by Liquid Hero Brewery is a Roggenbier.  If you have not heard of the Roggenbier style you can be forgiven.  It was a first for me as well. I don’t know if Rülpsen Meister was true to style as it was my first but it did have a great rye spiciness along with a solid body while being quaffable.  If you get the chance to grab one of these it is highly recommended.  Each year that Liquid Hero has come to this event they bring a surprising style or uniquely brewed beer.  It’s shows commitment to the event and is really appreciated.

Bitter Beer Face by Bailee’s Homebrew was a 100 IBU pale ale that lived up to the great name.  The homebrew was an impressive tasting beer regardless of it being brewed in someone’s garage; I assume.  A intensely bitter pale ale dosed with a variety of hops.  It provided a dry long finish that showed off the resin and dank flavors.

Citra Session by Columbia Kettle Works was the best beer I had all night.  It was perfectly executed and showed off the Citra hop flavors beautifully. Heavy in citrus and tropical notes in the nose with a slight grapefruit.  It was properly bitter with a clean and light mouthfeel and a crisp finish.  Easy drinking and refreshing, Citra Session stood head and shoulders above the rest.  I was also not the only one to think so highly of the most local of brewers attending as Columbia Kettle Works won the “People’s Choice Award.”  Columbia Kettle Works is a short five minute walk from the museum and had plenty of local support.

Hops ‘N’ Clocks was a great event that supports a great museum.  If you would like to attend next year look for it the first Friday after the 4th of July with tickets going on sale in early June.  It is a great time and provides needed support for a community trust and you will be hard pressed to find a more unusual atmosphere for holding a beer festival.