This Is Not A Beer Review

This post is not about a beer. It is decidedly not about Troegs Independent Brewing’s Wild Elf which was a absolutely phenomenal beer that subtlety played with various and transcendent flavors developed over years.

No. This post is about a beer glass.

This glass.

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The Troegs Splinter Glass. It is a very tall tulip and it is one of the finest vessels for enjoying a beer.

You see… generally I don’t give a damn about glassware. It is generally unimportant. In the grand scheme of craft beer culture the discussion of “proper glassware” is as pointless a discussion as debating if Yuengling is considered “craft” based just on volume. (They are not and that is an arbitrary measure.)

When I first started this blog, a friend wanted to read a post with recommendations for what beer glasses to buy for his newly built home bar. I dismissed the request and said it doesn’t matter that much. Buy a bunch of standard pint glasses, a couple tulips and a few of the beer can shaped glasses and you are covered for everything.

I still think that is good advice. Glassware is way overrated. Just get a couple glasses that you like.

I drink so many beers directly from the can. If they are in a bottle I grab either a standard pint or a tulip and be done with it. I spend zero time worrying about whether or not I am maximizing the flavor profile.

Yes. I acknowledge that various glasses can heighten certain flavors and aromas but I have enjoyed most beer exactly 0% less then other people that spend far too much time ruminating about the vessel endlessly.

But in this case… it matters.

A lot.

This Troegs Splinter Glass is a delicate long stemmed tulip that holds exactly 0.375 liters of beer. The glass has a pleasant feel in the hand and holds the beer deep enough to allow the drinker to bring the libation to their lips while getting their nose deep into the glass to inhale all the volatiles brought forth by effervescence. With Wild Elf this was a sweet whiff of cherries and earthy wood.

The tall tulip holds the beer more like a cordial or congac, allowing you to explore the depth of flavor built over six years of cellaring in barrels. Giving you time to swirl the beer gently and behold the mahogany color. To sip and consider the brett, lactobacillus and wild yeast’s work in adding easy sour and undemanding funky flavors.

I spent an hour leisurely enjoying this beer. I figured that if John and Chris Tronger could wait six years to age and blend this beer I could take a long time to sip and enjoy it. The time I invested let the flavors bloom over the course of an hour. During that time I would swirl the glass and slowly sip. I was letting the beer rest until the almond flavors become pithy.

Even in the last sip, the 11% ABV never appeared either in flavor or with the nose deep in the glass meant to hold all those aromas close.

The brett and wild yeast characters are mild and inviting. The lacto soothing. This beer plays with the subtle end of flavors, seeking for you to sip and find them instead of clubbing you over the head. This is a beer offering you the chance to find earthy wood and nut flavors with a tart cherry, sour brett and slight wild funk in the finish. The rich mouth feel lingers and lets the flavors last. The tulip glassware brings this all forth and is the stage for a great beer to hold the limelight.

In short, take the time to share a bottle of Wild Elf and do it in proper glassware; for with this one, it matters.

Post Script:

Beer can shaped glasses are vastly underrated.

The glass pictured above is specifically a TeKu glass. (Thank you friend of the blog and guest on Episode 2 of Operation Shutdown, Easy Pretzel, for pointing this out.)

Yes… This is another Troegs Independent Brewing beer post. I make no apologies. Homerism is just one of my biases.

Hell… I wrote this while drinking my way throught the majority of a four pack of Nible Giant.

Mad Elf over the years has been one of those beers where interest for me has waned. This iteration renews the lease. Its a damn good beer.

I feel like Troegs has not done enough to play up all the work that went into this beer. The “mother sauce” for this beer was put into barrels six years ago and was blended with other interrelations to give us the beer just released. I feel like this should be more prominently referenced when charging $12 a bottle. 

Six. Years.

Its worth every penny. Highly recommended.

Operation Shutdown Podcast Ep. 2: Wearing Uggs for Tom Brady

For episode two, I welcomed good friend of the show, Easy Pretzel, to The Operation Shutdown Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @EasyPretzel.

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We discussed:

You can listen by clicking above or find it on iTunes. If you use iTunes please consider subscribing. If you enjoyed this podcast please consider leaving a review or sharing it with a friend.

Cheers!

Don’t Overthink It. Just Drink The Damn Beer

Some beers are for sipping quietly late at night as a finish to the evening. These beers are subtle, deep, and complex. They are best enjoyed with quiet contemplation and either a book or a cigar.

Some beers are for drinking with a fine meal. They are built to cut through rich foods with flavors curated to compliment.

Some beers are a transcendent experience that can change the way you enjoy and/or think about beer in general. Beers that are to be celebrated by themselves, just as they are and as an achievement. These are beers that can go beyond just mere “whalez” status.

Then there are beers for drinking. These are my favorite. The ones that are not pretension. That are packed with hard, easy to define flavors, and come packing heat. These are beers for cracking open while lighting up the grill or starting the camp fire.

I am drinking these beers because I have nowhere to be, I have no work left to complete. The grass is mowed. The day is done and its only 3 pm. I am day drinking and I am proud of it.

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Troegs Independent Brewing’s Nimble Giant is that beer.

Troeg’s newest once-a-year offering is a double IPA and is slightly outside their wheelhouse* while still being a thoroughly impressive IPA packed with citrus, tangerine, papaya and apricot flavors. It has a bit of pepper in the middle and the finish is peaches with a hint of alcohol that reminds you that this weighs in at a not subtle 9.0% ABV.

Troegs had the bollocks to put this heavy hitter into pounder cans. It’s a statement. This beer is for drinking. This is not a whale that you sip at your friend’s bottle share. This is a beer that tastes just fine right from the can, in the summer heat, quaffed boldly.

This is not a sipper even at 9%. Buy a four pack. Throw it on ice and sit on the deck and drink it. Enjoy the hell out of a big, boozy, tasty beer that tastes like Saturday afternoons in July feel.

Just drink the damn beer. It’s good.

Post Script:

I purchased a case of Nimble Giant in the summer of 2015 and it was really great but the body and the flavors on it this year is just fantastic. It seems like over the past year they took what they learned in making the small run and just took it all up a notch for this wider release.

If you want a fruit flavored filled double IPA this is the one. You don’t need to buy some fruit infused beer to get these flavors.

Yes…A four-pack (or six) of these is quite an afternoon. So what? Where else you got to be?

*Credit to @EdGrohl for this. You can hear his take on this beer in the pilot episode of Operation Shutdown.

 

Beer and Victory Taste Better When Shared

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Fire up the grill. It is summer… or as I call it “Beer Season.”

This past weekend, Novak Djokovic won the French Open capping his career grand slam of tennis. It was a hot and humid day in Paris. He beat professional second banana Andy Murray in four sets to become the eighth man to complete the professional grand slam and the first man since 1969 to collect all four in a row. I watched the last set knowing that history was about to be made.

Watching the championship break point, and seeing “Djoker” define his career was anti-climactic. It happened and then… well it is the same with every tennis major. The winner just falls to his/her knees. Maybe lays down (this is a little weird in the French clay) and they cover their face with their hands. They shake their head in disbelief. They then get up and shake their opponents hand (“No. You’re the best. No really you are.”) Then they clap to the crowd with their racket.

It is always really weird.

It is because the victory is theirs alone. They have no one there with whom to celebrate. They are alone and standing in the arena to celebrate their accomplishment with thousands staring down at them. It looks and feels hollow.

In any other sport the victory is celebrated with teammates. Everyone jumps into the pile. Hugs, high fives, and the “Holy shit! Did you see what we just did?!?” is shared together. Even golfers have a caddy and the intimacy of a crowd pushed against the green with which to revel. Tennis players have ball boys that act as statues and officials that they just screamed at for a week over in or out calls measured in millimeters. Their joy is largely unshared which makes it far less joyful.

Beer is in danger of being the same. Beer is a beverage to be shared. Beer sipped alone largely lacks joy.

There is no beer better for sharing during this hot and humid summer than Sour Bikini by Evil Twin and Central PA local Intangible Ales. It is brewed together and should be enjoyed the same way.

This collaboration beer tastes like a summer beer should in 2016. Sour Bikini is refreshing and eminently crushable. The light bodied 3% ABV ale (yep… just 3%) has a citrusy, lemonade quality which is crisp and easy drinking. A hazy ale that is effortlessly quaffed generously right from the can. The slightly funky, sour start and finish are quick and do not linger too long with only a faint pucker of peach and citrus throughout.

You are going to want to fill up a cooler with these and hang out on the back deck with friends. Sour Bikini is not a beer for sipping while deep in thought about the trials of your life like some complex wintery barleywine. This beer is for drinking with your friends and laughing about the ironies of life, spraying the kids with the hose, saying “The damn country is going to hell!” or “Watch this!” It is for friends, and my beer friends are some of my favorite friends.

This is the beer I want to put in their hand on a hot, humid summer evening. I need to share this beer with them, eat some hot dogs, light a fire in the pit out back, and listen to the cicadas beg for their one chance at getting laid in 17 years.

Do it together because celebrating life is a summer thing and no one celebrates life alone. If you did, it would be weird, like winning the French Open and having no one to hug.

Post-Script:

Stouts & Stilettos has a great rundown of Summer beers to enjoy. I recommend their post and the beers there in. It’s a great list.

Here are some others to consider:

Summer Love by Victory
Jammer by Sixpoint
Pacifico – Skip the Corona, drink this.
Allagash White
Sunshine Pils by Troegs
Red Stripe – It tastes so good on vacation who cares that it is made in Latrobe, PA?
Seersucker Pils by Abita (Is there anything more southern than a seersucker suit in summer?)
Orange Blossom Cream Ale by Buffalo Bill (For Mick)
Sunshine by New Belgium
Crusher by Iron Hill Brewery

Total Mango Bomb Recall

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Total Recall is a fantastic movie. I love the original. It is one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best movies. It is a fantastically crafted original story by Philip K. Dick, brought to life on the screen and has aged pretty well for a sci-fi flick from 1990.

The 2012 remake was an absolute mess and it bombed at the box office.

Pizza Boy recently attempted their own remake of a classic.

Al Kominski had a hand in brewing at least two Tröegs Scratch beers by my recollection: Scratch 58 and 98. Those Scratch Triple Mango IPAs, were high gravity beers with mango and hops in massive quantities. They were great. Classics of the Central PA craft brewing revolution.

Fast forward to 2016 and Mango Bomb was touted as an “extreme beer,” this time by Pizza Boy. It too was brewed with an insane amount of mango and hops to go along with its 14% ABV.

This beer is bombed out in every sense.

I was excited to try it. I recalled the first two Mango Triple IPAs. I even pulled a cellared Scratch 98 out for #DrinkItNow in February. These were great beers. I was hoping for a great remake but I got something else.

The beer is totally opaque and sits thick in the glass. Mouth feel is akin to a thin, lightly carbonated tomato juice. The smell is mangos, dank hops, and booze. This beer is boozy from start to finish; and not pleasantly.

The flavors are of mango puree and mango rind. The hops are aggressive and punishing. The alpha acid bitterness, off the charts and lacking a balance of sweetness or malts to make it tolerable. The finish is that of Everclear and rubbing alcohol. This beer is bombed out so the name is appropriate. As a study for what is possible when pushing flavors to the extreme this beer achieves, but little else as it is nearly undrinkable.

Mango Bomb is like the three breasted mutant hooker from Total Recall. That sounds awesome. I wanted to see that.

But three tits are just weird and I only have two hands. So why was I so excited in the first place? More can sometimes just be more; not better.

Also the remakes rarely live up to the original. This remake was a bomb in name and result.

Post Script:

I have praised Al and Terry many times here on this blog and elsewhere. Unquestionably, they make great beers. Hell, they brewed a phenomenal beer with Boo-Berry cereal. But this one was a mess and just awful. That was a first for these guys. If they go another five years without putting out a bad beer, who could find much fault in that?

I was slow to post this, so now the beer is off the tap list at Al’s. I hope it gets toned down before making another appearance.

I hate ripping a beer. I don’t particularly like doing it.

 

My 2016 (717) Collaboration Ale Review

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For the 2nd annual Harrisburg Beer Week, the guys at Appalachian Brewing Company, Tröegs Independent Brewing and Pizza Boy Brewing came together to brew a special collaborative beer. Last year’s (717) beer was a crazy brew that inspired a full review and deep musings on my part about my journey to craft beer.

This year’s collaboration beer has me thinking less about my journey to enjoying and now writing about craft beer. Instead I am thinking about the position of craft beer in Central PA and what it tells us about brewing decisions.

Before I even had my first sip of (717) on opening night, I was gathering thoughts about the brew as word slowly leaked out. I heard some rumors early on that this year’s collab brew would be draft only. Two theories swirled around this rumor: 1. Last year’s (717) did not sell well. It wasn’t well received and some cases languished on shelves. 2. It’s hard to get cans.

The later reasoning came from a more reliable source and it is the one I believe. I can understand not getting pounders, everyone but for the very biggest of contracts is getting squeezed by that issue. Even getting 12oz cans printed and ready on short notice can be nearly impossible.

The former was speculation with a halo of truthiness and at least had anecdotal support. While I enjoyed last year’s HBG Beer Week ale it was not widely loved and many people openly derided it as being a “hot mess.”

So maybe the brewers played it a little safe this year. They made a big, tasty ale but one that is more approachable and in line with a current and rising trend (e.g. citrus IPAs).

The 2016 version of (717) is an American IPA brewed with Citra, Nugget, and Azacca hops and the zest of 400 oranges. The opening aroma is nothing but orange. You pick up the oranges as the beer is pouring from the tap in front of you. They are abundant and wonderful. The hops fill out the middle with citrus, mango, and other tropical fruits. This is an IPA but it is not a bombed out bitter west coaster. The finish is long and leaves you with orange oils. This is an easy drinking IPA that belies the 7.17% ABV. The red hue of the medium bodied ale is really great and kind of mystifies the style and taste.

2016’s (717) is a beer that will not be challenged in finding happy imbibers. This is a double edged sword for me. I like this beer and I like it a lot. Yet I personally enjoyed last year’s “hot mess” more. It was pushing boundaries and challenged the craft beer drinker. It was a bold beer that played with clashing styles. It’s various and competing flavors borrowed heavily from the three brew houses. 2015’s (717) made for a more dynamic beer with multiple layers of stratified flavors.

I like to think that those that did not favor the 2015 version were saying “There are simply too many notes.” But that would be dismissive of them.

I believe in “fortes fortuna iuvat.” 2016’s (717) is bold in flavor but lacks the daring of 2015.

This year’s (717) is riding at the crest of a wave of tropical and citrus IPAs that are washing over the craft beer market and should make for a very popular beer during Harrisburg Beer Week and beyond… until it sells out. Go grab one and tell me what you think.

Cheers.

Post Script:

At the opening of Harrisburg Beer Week, Tierney and I shared a can of the 2015 (717). I can tell you that it hasn’t aged well. After spending a year in the Bearcat cellar it acquired an impressively strong “nail polish remover” note. Just because it was daring does not mean it had staying power. 2015 (717) crashed harder than a ’72 Ford Pinto. 

“The 16oz Can Crunch of 2016” is a real problem. I get it. There is a shortage of cans, specifically the 16oz cans, but that does not mean I have to just quietly accept this disappointment.

I am overly proud of myself for coming up with “The 16oz Can Crunch of 2016.” #NotSorry

What’s In a Name? What’s In The Bottle?

 Troegenator Doublebock Beer Aged in Oak Barrels

There is a lot to unpack here… both inside and outside of the bottle

First the outside: The name of the company on the label, and on the cage don’t exactly match; never mind the actual logo.  Back in November Tröegs unveiled their new branding along with a new name.  What had previously been Tröegs Independent Craft Brewery is now Tröegs  Independent Brewing. I am sure future cork and caged beers will have a unified logo but right now its interesting to consider the two names and logos side-by-side.

In light of the slightly new moniker, the old one was a bit messy and too long.  The new name, Tröegs Independent Brewing, on the other hand is only three words and feels cogent in comparison.

The interesting part to me is the deletion of the word “craft.”  I see this as forward thinking.  With the craft beer industry maturing, what constitutes “craft” is becoming increasingly difficult to define. So much so that “craft” might now be meaningless beyond a somewhat arbitrary line regarding the number of barrels a brewery produces each year.

Contrastingly, “independent” is of growing importance and is both easily understood and defined. Brewers all over are either selling off to the “macros,” buying each other, merging or entering into loose confederations to stave off buyouts. In my opinion, the Trogner bothers appear to be making a statement about their company in emphasizing “independence” over “craft.” I really like and support this message.

The name of this specific beer is worth thinking about as well.  While it is wholly accurate to state that the Troegenator in this bottle is aged in oak barrels, it fails tell the whole story.  These were bourbon oak barrels. This caused a little bit of confusion during the announcement of this beer but it was easily cleared up on social media.

This ale has an obvious yet subtle bourbon element right from the moment you open her up.  Unlike some recent bourbon barrel aged beers I have enjoyed, this one is mellow right from the start and does not overpower your senses with boozy, hot, astringency. Instead, the bourbon follows the beer’s lead.  Troegenator is leading this dance and the bourbon is swept along; allowing the ale to show off.

That being said, the flavor is undeniably bourbon barreled with vanilla, some light coconut, and a sweet toasted/roasted maltiness.  Mouth feel is rich and full with very tiny bubbles that are slightly prickly on the tongue.  Dark fruit, nutty wood, and molasses notes come forward as the beer warms up along with a slight earthy tone.  Nose is sweet with a wood and charred edge from the bourbon barrels. The clear, deep red toned ale provides a very long and lasting finish.  That makes this a sipper despite no alcohol burn from the 10.8% ABV; it is stunningly smooth for a double digit beer.

This beer tastes like it is at peak performance right now but hints that it is prepared to age with the best of them.  Some bourbon barrel aged beers come out of the gate with a hot edge that needs years of rest to mellow out, thereby reaching full enjoyment only after cellaring.  This one is ready now and yet will continue to mature for years.

Post Script: Liz Murphy over at Naptownpint.com back in November wondered about the name change and thought there was little in the way of discussion about it.  I think the reasons for the name change, specifically “Independent” winning over “Craft,” are obvious and stated above. But in the end, my thoughts are simply speculation.

I wonder if the decision to not use the term bourbon on the label points to future iteration of a Splinter Troegenator but coming from the still under construction Splinter Cellar; not necessarily bourbon barrels.

It should be noted that last February’s release of Bourbon Barrel-Aged Troegenator (750 ml bottles) did not have the word bourbon on the front of the label either. I still have two bottles of this tucked away and might open one soon.

I’m sure there is some crazy Federal regulation against it but it would be cool if it was named Bourbon-nator. (Credit to Tierney for that one.)

Bread, Milk, and Eggs

No Fry… What you really need is beer.

An impending snow storm is descending upon the Northeast and in my area we are looking to get at least a foot of snow.  That means everyone is running out to get the three necessary food items before huddling inside:  Bread. Milk. Eggs.

But beer drinkers have their own unique needs and I have three for you.

Bread: Toaster Pastry by 21st Amendment is an India Style Red Ale brewed to celebrate their big expansion into a former bakery that made toaster pastries (read: Pop Tarts).  I had this beer about a month ago.  It is hard to find and it was a little on the pricey side but worth every penny. 21st Amendment uses biscuit malts that gave the beer a great bready flavor. Balanced between malty and sweet juicy hops left me in love with this beer.  The mouth feel was thick with a great long finish.  Toaster Pastry is an absolute killer.

Milk:  Lancaster Milk Stout by Lancaster Brewing Company.  I feel like in the Central PA beer scene the folks at LBC sometimes gets forgotten.  LBC has been around making great local craft beer for so long now that they easily get forgotten among a culture that puts a high price on “new.”  This beer, LBC Milk Stout, has been standout for a great Lanacster brewery for years and I every time I have one I wonder why I don’t order these more often.  Hints of chocolate and coffee, but it is really all about the thick and creamy mouthfeel.  A slight sweetness comes in the finish to compliment the pleasantly bitter notes from the front.  It’s a great example of how to properly brew a milk stout and properly represents the brewery’s namesake, Lancaster County.

Eggs:  The Martians Kidnapped Santa Egg Nog Stout by Spring House Brewing Company is a sweet stout and one of my favorite beers in Lancaster County. Spring House has a knack for making great stouts. I think they have a great stout base and that they play off this with an impressive number of variations, each one better than the last. Kerplunk! Coffee Stout, Satan’s Bake Sale Mint Chocolate Chip Stout, the transcendent Blood Lust RIS, and the twin killers Big and Lil’ Gruesome Stout.  Martians Kidnapped Santa is still available at Spring House and in the Central PA area.  If you have yet to enjoy some this year, get on it as it is a fantastic winter stout.  The flavors of heavy cream, vanilla, nutmeg with a whiff of cinnamon come through from nose to finish.

If you can’t find any of the above or want the easy choice, grab a case of my absolute favorite Central PA beer, Nugget Nectar (in the cans).  Nothing will beat tilting a couple of these back with a bowl of chili after shoveling the drive way.

Now, have a beer and enjoy the snow…

Fresh Flick and a Fresh Beer.

Brewed in the Burg

This past weekend GK Visual and SaraBozich.com released Brewed in the Burg, a documentary now available online at Vimeo. This film debuted during Harrisburg Beer Week to resounding praise.

I caught it then but now that it is online, I wanted to take the time to really digest the film. It was an opportunity to pick up on all the nuance and ideas kicked around by the Who’s Who of the Harrisburg-area craft beer industry. It is an impressive line up of interviews:

So I hunted down the freshest local beer I could find to enjoy while watching. I found the perfect beer. It was a Crowler of Pizza Boy’s Murren River IPA; a super fresh batch tapped just two days prior (7/12/15).
The Murren River was piney and dank in the nose. Heady as hell, this straw colored American IPA is excellent from start to finish. Well bodied with a great clean mouth feel it providing a firm head that laced the glass perfectly. Murren River had a slight sweetness that was cut with balanced piney and citrus hops. The finish is of orange and a subtle hint of earth and grass. It came with a long dry finish that belies the easy drinking tones. This beer clocks in like a Cruiserweight with 7.6% ABV but drinks well below its weight class.

I loved this beer and it merges perfectly with a important quality of craft beer discussed within Brewed in the Burg. Right in the middle, it discusses the importance of freshness. This is the obvious and unassailable advantage of drinking local craft beer. It is impossible to get a beer as fresh as I did today any other way. This matters. It tastes better and you are getting the beer exactly as the brewer intended.

The other themes discussed are true of any craft beer community: supporting local business, fraternity between brewers, friendships cultivated among beer drinkers and a love for great beer.

The way this film is true to Harrisburg is the people on which it focuses. It could get easily lost that this documentary is about just craft beer brewed in Harrisburg. What Sara and GK Visual have done is weave a story about local brewers, small businessmen and women, beer drinkers and people that write about it or just enjoy drinking it. These are salt of the earth people that are doing extraordinary things in an extraordinary industry. Stick around and watch the outtakes… This was a great reminder that these are just hardworking people; many of them making good on a dream.

Craft beer becomes a conduit for telling their story. That is the take away from Brewed in the Burg. The slickly shot and edited documentary is about the people that make the local craft beer industry possible.

Please check out the video at http://vimeo.com/gkvisual/brewedintheburg and use the tip jar. Brewed in the Burg is a movie worth a couple of your bucks. This doc will give you an understanding of how a sublime Intangible Ale, a crisp Sunshine Pils or whatever you are nursing at ZerØday got into your glass. Through people’s hard work and dedication to the craft of brewing beer.

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.