Recently my brother, often referred to as the world’s greatest brother, was at Trillium Brewing and texted me few cool pics of the place and in return I every so sweetly reminded him that I love suveniors. He asked if I would like to pick a few beers from their can list to bring back for me? Yes please and thank you! I’ve been on a kick of going out side my norm and trying beers that might not normally appeal to me. So I picked my 4 out of the box beers and 2 styles I normally enjoy. I enjoyed all the beers but the one that shocked me and I just loved was the one I saved for last because I thought, “why did I pick this one?” Double Seesaw American Gose Ale Brewed with Plum. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy a Gose every now and then but I’m not big into the fruit beers and am not a fan of plum in general. That has now changes. This beer is so delightful and fun! It comes in at only 5.3%. During the pour the sent of citrus, berries and, of course, plum are very noticeable. The color is striking and the taste simply incredible. It’s a medium body plum lemonade! There’s a tartness from the plum but that is counter balanced by the sweetness of the berries and the saltiness found with this style. It is one of the most perfectly balanced beers I have in a very long time. What a genuinely pleasant surprise and so happy I chose to go outside the norm on my selection.
When it came to choosing a place to celebrate Black Out Friday, my new favorite holiday, I chose Kraftwork as the go to place. Kraftwork rates up there as one of my top three beer bars in the city of Brotherly Beer a.k.a. Philadelphia. The other two being The Belgian Café and Memphis Taproom. Also, it finally provided me with the opportunity to officially review this amazing establishment.
Kraftwork is located on Gerard Avenue in Fishtown and most times this Gal finds off street parking pretty easily. On this particular visit I snagged a spot right out front – score! This was my third visit and with each visit I like the place more and more. I’ve always found the staff to be pleasant and very knowledgeable about the beer – just one of few things I enjoy about this place. Some other reasons it ranks up there: inviting rustic atmosphere (think wood and metal), top notch food – many tiers up from your basic bar food and most importantly the beer list is always excellent. Both the beer and food menu change on a regular basis and the beer menu also notes what beers are coming up.
I was meeting up with an old friend that knew nothing about Black Out Friday but was rather excited to tell me upon my arrival about all the stouts on tap and to show me the new Star Wars Movie trailer – this Gal is a geek about many things. Yes, Black Out Friday is a play on Black Friday and means most of if not all the beers at the establishment are dark beers. A dream come true for this Gal.
Beings there were so many wonderful beers to choose from a flight was in order. Flight of any four for $12 including such rarities as the allusive Black Albert!
The first round consisted of:
Beer Geek Breakfast – Mikkeller, Imperial Stout 7.5%
Smells sweet but has funk taste to it and I mean in a good way. There’s the roasted chocolate malts you would expect but counter balanced by herbs, dark fruit and finished with bitter notes of hops and black coffee.
Black Me Stout – Champion, Stout 6%
This was a middle of the road stout. Some malt flavors mixed with a tinge of pepper but not much else going on. Very drinkable but compared to the other black beauties on tap it paled in comparison.
Peche Mortel – Dieu du Ciel, Imperial Stout 10%
WOW! Smooth, creamy chocolate taste with a balance of sweet and bitter up front and strong coffee punch finish…simply divine.
Black Albert – De Struise Brouwers, Russian Imperial Stout 13%
That’s right folks – the allusive Black Albert ON TAP! There is a subtle power to this stout that consist of raisins and other dark fruits soaked in whiskey with hints of caramel coated coffee beans…lovely.
By the end of the flight is was time for some food. Since it was the day after Thanksgiving the food menu was based on Thanksgiving Leftovers; a fun way to mix things up. This Gal enjoyed the Green Bean Casserole Quiche – this had the potential of going either way on the scale of goodness but it landed on the right side. It was simply delish! My friend enjoyed the Thanksgiving theme entree of Egg In A Hole – tasty.
With so many black beauties on tap it was necessary to partake in a 2nd flight which consisted of:
The Dream – Dominion, Schwarzbier 8%
Holy Hops! A bit of hops overload for this Gal. Hiding behind the hops were some citrus and pine flavors but it was hard to get past the hops.
Muddy – Goose Island, Imperial Stout 8%
After The Dream it was a bit hard to note what was going there were hops, of course, as well as, some traces of licorice, anise, dark fruit and the ever present bitter chocolate.
Fade to Black – Lefthand, Baltic Porter 8.5%
A soft creamy body with fully body flavors of roasted chicory and cocao. This is a well balanced beer offering pine/hops with dark yeasty malts.
Midnight Monk – Terrapin, Belgian Black IPA 9.6%
Mild hops with a bit more malt then expected. This style is really growing on me. I found this beer to be very enjoyable without any one any one flavor knocking you over but instead melding together to compliment each other perfectly.
After Flight Two it was necessary for this Gal to head back to Jersery. However, I’m looking forward to visiting December 26th for their annual ‘The Brewery That Stole Christmas’ festivities. This year the featured Brewery is Russian River! Looks like I may be starting another new tradition.
Looking to spend a day or two checking out the beer scene in the city of Brotherly Beer? Following is a list of suggested Pub Crawl destinations for Philadelphia broken up by neighborhoods. This is just Geeky Beer Gals suggestions for possible Philly Pub Crawls. YES, there are a lot of good beer bars in Philly but I tried to keep the list to exceptional beer places. So if you don’t see one on the list it could mean:
a. I didn’t know about it or
b. it’s good but not exceptional
I haven’t tried each place personally, a number of them but not all of them. However, I trust my beer team with their recommendations.
Have fun tasting your way through the city of Brotherly Beer.
Random Great Beer Bars
Brauhaus Schmitz (German bar South Street)
Devil’s Den (South Philly/Italian…Market great cozy atmosphere)
Grey Lodge Pub (Mayfair…an oldy but still a goody)
Vargabar (Washington Square area)
Southern Tier Brewing Company Warlock Imperial Stout (8.6%)
I’ve been anxious to try what I had hoped would be a delicious slice of night sky. Every place I checked it was already sold out and in some places a waiting lists were formed; needless to say I was frustrated with my failure to acquire a bottle. Then I had the pleasure of getting together with some wonderful beer friends and one of them had brought a bottle of the Warlock. I was ecstatic when I saw the bottle.
It pours like midnight gold which had my mouth watering. The first thing I smelled was vanilla, more like extract than fresh vanilla. My mouth was watering a bit less at this point but still had high hopes. The first sip I could certainly taste the vanilla and a bit of roasted malts with slight nutmeg and cinnamon flavors.
The beer is promoted as an imperial stout brewed with pumpkins. I didn’t taste any pumpkin. On the second and third sips I just tasted more and more vanilla; to the point it overpowered all other flavors. In the end it was disappointing and left an extract waxy coating in my mouth.
I would like to try a bit of the Warlock mixed with the Choklat and see what how they work together. I think the Choklat would help tone down the vanilla in the Warlock.
Cape May Brewing, Cape May, NJ 9/20/13
Cape May Brewing is located in a small industrial park and could easily be missed but is worth searching out. This was my second visit to the brewery. The first was shortly after they opened and were experiencing some growing pains. Upon arrival it was clear they had worked out the kinks. The tasting room is very inviting and beckons one to kick back, relax and enjoy. The tasting room is comfortable with large picnic tables to sit at or you can pull up a stool at the tasting bar. They had a nice crowd for a Friday afternoon at 2:30pm and several people were filling growlers for take home.
A taster round includes 4 4oz pours, a tour and a souvenir pint glass. You can taste an additional 4 4oz pours for only $5 more. There were 8 beers to choose from this time around compared to just 3 on tap the first time I visited. There was also a house brewed root beer for the nondrinkers. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable as well.
Dunkelweizen (a dark wheat – 4.7%) – Lots of caramilization going on that compliments the roasted malts perfectly. It’s a very clean, smooth and refreshing beer. They nailed the style.
Alt Bier (amber – 5.0%) – Fizzy was the first word that popped into my head after the initial sip. It seemed to calm down some by the third or fourth sip. Beautiful amber color with a slight greenish head which made me think I would be tasting some hops but really didn’t; it did however have a slight flowery taste to it. It didn’t knock my socks off but still a very drinkable beer.
Devils Reach (Belgium strong ale 8.0%) – Oh this is a lovely sipping beer. It’s creamy with light citrus flavors accented with hints of coriander and banana. Very smooth and goes down easily. Love this beer. Even my non beer drinker companions enjoyed trying this beer and were pleasantly surprised by the cornucopia of flavors it had going on.
Honey Porter (made with local honey 5.1%) – This is a very nice porter with a rich dark body and light creamy head. The honey was a nice compliment to the roasted/charred malts, coffee and nutty chocolate flavors of this beer but was not overwhelming with honey sweetness. If I didn’t know this beer was made with honey I would have sat there racking my brain as to what the accent flavor was.
On a Sunday in July I made my way to my favorite bar on the East Coast, The Great Lost Bear! They must have been expecting me because they were playing the Grateful Dead when I arrived and continued to do so through out my time there.I told myself 1 beer and 1 beer only since I still had a 1.5 hour drive ahead of me to my final destination. So I needed to choose wisely and did so with Gritty McDuff’s Black Fly Stout. It’s been a long time since I had a beer from Gritty’s. This stout was ridiculously smooth, light in body but packed with big roasty goodness. It runs in the Irish Stout family but enjoyed it more than the typical Irish Stout because of the full malty flavors.It was so good I couldn’t stop and decided to get a small taster round but decided to stick to local Maine beers.Sebago Runabout Red – nice red color, light body, and good accompaniment to food, hops are there but not overwhelming and without any bitterness, starts strong but the flavor quickly dissipates and leaves the taste buds wondering where the heck the beer went.
Rising Tide Spinnaker (wheat beer) – Super light & fresh beer for summer, spiced orange stands out with definite hints of coriander and subtle hints of green banana. True wheat beer.
Sheepscot Pemaquid Ale (Scottish) – I’m not a true fan of Scottish ales but thought I give it a try. Hmmmm, really all I can say about it was I had to swish it around in my mouth to try and find some flavor and, well, never did. A bit boring for my taste.
Gearys London Porter – I chose this beer to be part of my taster round for nostalgia purposes. This particular beer is one of the first microbrews I ever tried and is partially responsible for me getting into good beer. I joined Beer Across American because of Gearys. (BAA was a home delivery of microbrews long before they were available at the local liquor store.) Roasted chicory, dark fruity hints through out, not too heavy but full body, smooth going down and a true black beauty. Is it the best out there? Nope, but I enjoy it each and every time I have it.
There is something special about eating great veggie food, while drinking good locally brewed beer and listening the Dead that makes The Great Lost Bear perfect.
I also purchased some of their locally made hot sauce that is super yummy! Lost Woods Hot Sauce by Maine Men Co.