Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

Stegmaier IPA

Stegmaier Brewing Co.
Wilkes-Barre, PA

A slightly tawny head gurgles up above the brew, but quickly settles down as sediment swirls below. The beer is hazy but lets a little light through. The color is butterscotch with touches of burnt copper. The nose is more English style pale than true IPA. A sweet caramel malt aroma frames a floral hop aroma of lavender and paperwhites.

The mouthfeel is very good; the malt emerges fully without producing a cloying coating effect. Some mild, fine carbonation thins out the malt and allows citrus and green wood flavors of the hops to come about. The finish is dry and bitter, without being anywhere near sere. Despite being nearly 7%, there is virtually no heat from the alcohol. This is an awesome East Coast IPA. So awesome, it gets an Awesome tag. Nice work, Steg.


Yards Extra Special Ale

Yards Brewing Co.
Philadelphia, PA
Extra Special Ale

An orange-tinged tawny head pops up quickly to over half an inch and remains rocky and full. Through excellent clarity, the beer is toffee-amber with just a bit more strawberry blond than brunette throughout. The effervescence is extremely lively and fine.

Roasty cereal malt is predominant in the nose – there’s an impressive amount of smoke and char.

The mouthfeel is very full and the head has settled down a bit, adding a creamy touch. That initial smoothness ramps up quickly as the smokiness kicks in and hits the back of the palate with a bitter, if slightly metallic, hop twang that spreads out gradually. After a sip or two, that sere quality softens a bit and provides a nice finish to what is otherwise a very malt forward brew.

Good stuff here. A beautiful coating of lace is a final boastful salvo from what is a full and interestingly complex ale.

This Brewery Stinks

The Times has reported (via AP) that City Brewery in Latrobe, PA has been closed temporarily by the DEP as a result of a foul smell coming from the sewage plant. The smell, it seems is caused by the run-off from the production process of some of CBC’s sweetened drinks.

The brewery used to brew Rolling Rock, which is now brewed in New Jersey. However, in addition to beers such as Iron City and some Sam Adams, they also brew Arizona Iced Tea (can’t fault them for making such delicious diabetes-inducing-sized drinks), Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and Smirnoff Ice. Let’s hope they sort out this mess and get back to business.

This basically all goes to show you that people should just stick to drinking beer.

Cottonwood American Wheat

Carolina Beer Co.
Wilkes-Barre, PA/Mooresville, NC
Cottonwood American Wheat Ale

Again, here’s CBC (Mooresville, NC), brewed under the Cottonwood label in PA. The beer is labeled as a “Wheat Ale Brewed with Orange and Coriander,” somewhat demystifying this tasting process.

The pour is calm and a pure white head shows up to a rocky inch, but settles to a fine layer in a couple of minutes.

The color is a slightly hazy hay-and-straw gold with fine steady, well-spaced carbonation.

The nose certainly has coriander in it, as well as some orange, but the initial aroma is slightly horsy like wet hay or a barn in a rainstorm.

The mouthfeel is decent – good carbonation – but a bit thin. Orange hits the sides of the tongue and feels a bit medicinal, but some nice wheat flavors come through to bring out a good tartness. There is little spice from the coriander – no real peppery notes to speak of right away, but there is a bit of dryness that opens up after a bit.

While it’s no prom queen, this beer would be an adequate date on a warm summer evening.

Pocono Pale Ale

Lion Brewery, Inc.
Wilkes-Barre, PA
Pocono Pale Ale

Despite a fairly gentle, even pour, the beer had a lively head. A pillowy, faintly beige head rocketed up to well over an inch, slowly subsiding to a still-dense half-inch, leaving some icicle lacing in its wake.

The color is burnt copper, just on the orange side of amber. Torrential effervescence charges up the glass from the etched bottom and keeps the puffy head alive.

The nose has a lot of sweet phenols, smelling more like a Belgian-style wheat than a pale. Lemon, baseball card chewing gum, and a bit of under-ripe banana are accented by some spiciness which is probably coriander, explaining the wheat fake-out.

The mouthfeel is really quite good. The ever-present head imparts an initial creaminess that is cleaned out by the fine carbonation. Initially, sweet malts show up with a subtle breadiness, soon giving way to a bitter orange and lemon tang, and finally a clean, almost yeasty spiciness. There are some hops at the very end that are subtle, giving just enough bitterness to negate any unpleasant sweetness.

Despite seeming like a non-traditional pale ale, this is quite a lovely beer. It is refreshing, and has something for everybody. The Cascade and Centennials that are supposedly in this brew show up really only as aromatic florals, but I can live with that. Identity crisis or not, this is an easy-drinker that would serve well for wheat-lovers and the malt-mad.

Another bonus under-the-cap game for the easily amused!

Rebuses are more fun with beer

Lancaster Rare Rooster Rye

Lancaster Brewing Co.
Lancaster, PA
Rare Rooster Rye Ale

The color is a copper-honey deep orange, that pours with slow and steady carbonation, providing a decent, but quick to deflate, off-white head. The clarity is perfect – a very limpid amber ale.

Lancaster Brewing Co. Rare Rooster Rye Ale

The nose is sweet, with warm honey notes, touches of overripe orange, dried caraway, and celery.

The mouthfeel is decent, with some malt that isn’t really chewy, but whose sweetness has more body than cloy. Some peppery quality at the start of the sip is surprising for such an amber ale, but perhaps not for one with rye in it. Mellow caramel notes rise through the fairly flat effervescence, leaving you to think it’s all over.

At the end of the swallow though, a bitter hop tang hits the tongue quickly and the dryness of the rye flavor comes out just subtly enough. Some traces of orange peel show up in the back, perhaps, but the end is altogether smooth, if not a bit on the sweet side.

This is a really nice example of how a session beer can have some complexity. Try this with some rye bread, mustard, and ham or sausage I’m sure you’ll be tempted to have a second.

Cottonwood Irish Red

Carolina Beer Co.
Wilkes-Barre, PA/Mooresville, NC
Cottonwood Irish Style Red Ale

Excuse the split personality, but the Carolina Beer Company is based in NC, while the bottle says Wilkes-Barre. I’ll give them both a nod.

A half-decent pour gave up almost an inch of off-white head that was rocky but quick to settle with what looks like it might be decent lacing. The color is deep amber with honey-orange, caramel, and some cola tones when held to the light.
The nose is very sweet with touches of caramel corn, crème brulee, and a background of baked apple pie filling.

The mouthfeel is excellent and, like Nuke LaLouche, this beer really announces its presence with authority. The first tones are subtle hums from the malt in the form of bread crust and a slight earthiness like the skin of a potato. In no time though, this beer opens up with a wash of peppery hops that dance towards the back of the tongue, with a touch of warmth like the smell of a rich cigar. At the end of the swallow however, a dryness takes over with a yeast flavor that dries up the sip nicely, creating an impressive body.

I wouldn’t say this is balanced, but that’s a good thing in this case. This beer see-saws between identities, true to its split origins, and seems to be a malty session ale, then a winter warmer, then a hoppy amber, and finally a bit of a farmhouse brew.

All told, this is a stellar brew with something for everybody.