If you couldn’t make the September 22nd Brewery Bus Tour, we’re doing another one on November 17. We’re heading to all the same places (Weyerbacher, Fegley’s, and Riverhorse), so get your tickets now before they sell out. Just go to http://www.twogirlsonepint.com, and click on the brewery bus tour flyer. Also, keep an eye out for more information about bus tours coming in December and January. It’s going to be a blast!
“God made yeast, as well as dough, and he loves fermentation just as dearly as he loves vegetation.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Magic Hat makes a series of IPAs and Pale-ales, many of which are quite good. Sadly, Blind Faith isn’t one of them. The brew pours a hazy dark copper. It has a decent malt base. On tasting, there are immediate notes of stone fruit and creamy fat, but even those feel thin, and any detectable hops are lightly laced into the end. When the hops finally come on, they evoke a hint of citrus bitterness, but don’t feel specific. Each sip I had tasted different than the one before. The aromas don’t particularly evoke an IPA, and it certainly doesn’t taste like one. The hops don’t feel nearly powerful enough. For example, I think #9 has more hops than this, and that’s a slightly pale ale. Blind Faith tastes more like a malty pale ale, than a proper British IPA. I was very disappointed with this beer. In the past, Magic Hat has fostered a balance of hops and malts, creating some really interesting and unique brews. Blind Faith just doesn’t add up. The beer provides a deep syrupy malt, with a hint of hops, and very little to get excited about. For 10-12 dollars a six pack, it’s a pretty good deal, but the beer is lacking, so ‘ll give it a B for price.
In Conclusion: A decent beer, but not a very good IPA. I wouldn’t recommend this unless you’re devoted to Magic Hat.
Food Pairing: Roasted garlic, mushrooms, and potatoes. Slow-roasted meats.
“You sit back in the darkness, nursing your beer, breathing in that ineffable aroma of the old-time saloon: dark wood, spilled beer, good cigars, and ancient whiskey – the sacred incense of the drinking man”
Ommegang does a great job of duplicating Belgian recipes for an American audience, and their Dubbel does not disappoint. Abbey was Ommegang’s first beer, and I can’t think of a better way to start off a Belgian style brewery. After 15 years on the market, Abbey Ale is still one of the standards for American Belgians and an original take on Trappist Dubbels, without ever straying too far from tradition. The brew pours a cloudy dark amber (almost caramel), but has a small head for such a distinct Dubbel. When the bubbles and yeast hit your tongue, the aromas are rich and complex, complimented by the creamy yeasts. The roasted malts dominate the initial flavoring with a hint of dark candied sugar. As the beer swooshes around the palate, the sugars expand, providing notes of prune, peach, orange, raisin, and anise. You can taste the beauty and fullness of the belgian yeasts, and yet the whole experience still feels light and refreshing. The beer actually finishes quite dry, making it very drinkable. There’s still not quite enough yeast for me, possibly because I’m so into classic Belgian Dubbels. Also, I would have preferred the ending to be a little less dry. Many people will give this beer a solid A, or even an A+. However, despite it’s incredible flavor profile, I still feel like something’s missing (probably the yeast). A Belgian Dubbel should feel fuller, and not so syrupy. This beer, at times, tastes more like a dark Tripel. I also feel like this would have been better in the 750ml bottle. The 12oz just doesn’t give it enough room. But, at 10-12 dollars a four pack (or 7 for a 750 ml), there aren’t any Belgians that can compete. Therefore, Abbey Ale definitely deserves an A+ for price.
In Conclusion: A great take on a traditional Dubbel, and a perfect beer for Belgian lovers on a budget. This is an awesome brew to introduce anyone to the Trappist style. However, the beer can be a bit too sweet out of the 12 oz bottle.
Food Pairing: Large italian dishes, and any meats cooked with a lot of spice and flavor. Abbey Ale can also be used as a marinade for mushrooms, onions, or chicken (much like a Cabernet).
“All right, brain, I don’t like you and you don’t like me – so let’s just do this and I’ll get back to killing you with beer.”
One of the best Barley-Wines in America, Blithering Idiot showcases the two things which Weyerbacher does best: high alcohol content and smooth drinkability. Idiot pours a dark brownish red and the head is fluffy, but thin. As it hits the glass, the brew exposes the scents of plums, figs, and honey. If you’ve never had a Barley-wine (or Barley-Wine Style Ale), the first sip can be shocking. It’s got a big kick of alcohol, which thankfully emerges from a smooth creamy sweetness. Slight citrus hops sustain throughout, as the beer manages to balance the alcohol of the dark fruits with full bodied notes of coffee, caramel, walnuts, and molasses. You can definitely taste the influence of sweeter Barley-wines, but Weyerbacher has found a way of grounding this ale in a dense bouquet. Blithering Idiot is a solidly priced Barley-Wine, at around 12 dollars a four pack. I’d give that an A-. There are comparable Barley-Wines on the market, but Blithering Idiot is definitely one of the stand outs due to its mosaic of dark undertones. My only complaint is that, if it’s not aged long enough, the alcohol can overwhelm the subtle intricacies. For a first time Barley-Wine drinker, this might be a big step. However, for those who fiend for the sweet warmth that comes from a night of sipping yeast by a fire, look no farther than this strong, hearty, excellent American ale.
In Conclusion: Blithering Idiot is very drinkable for a beer which harkens back to the flavors of an English Barley-Wine, and it’s great for aging. The longer you age it, the more vibrant the notes of the hops, fruits, and nuts will become (Weyerbacher says the best by date is 5 years after bottling, so they aren’t goofing around).
Food Pairing: Roasted meats, bacon, and bleu cheese. Anything you would pair with figs, dates, and raisins, you can pair with this.
“Quaintest thoughts, queerest fancies come to life and fade away. What care I how time advances; I am drinking ale today.”
-Edgar Allen Poe
Probably Ommegang’s most accessible beer, Hennepin remains the strongest and freshest American Saison I’ve had to date. The brew, named for Father Hennepin who informed Europeans of the beauty of Niagara Falls, mimics the monstrous and crisp sound of Niagara’s cascading beauty. Hennepin pours a beautiful golden yellow with a white foamy head. The light aromas of sweet pear and honey bubble off the glass. When it hits the tongue, the beer tastes sharp and full, with an earthy yeasty body, and notes of coriander, lemon, and spice. It cleans the palet and infuses the senses with a fruity, doughy, and herbal vigor. Hennepin is very drinkable, even with its deep complexity and spicy accents. It’s an excellent beer which has helped Ommegang continue the astounding success of their Belgian-style Brewery in Cooperstown. At ten to twelve dollars a four pack (eight dollars for a 750 ml long neck bottle), I’d also give Hennepin an A for price. You won’t find many cheaper Saisons, and none of them are as good as this one (even the Belgians). If you’ve never had an Ommegang, this is a great way to start a relationship with one of America’s best craft breweries.
In Conclusion: Perhaps the greatest American Saison, a fresh, earthy addition to any meal, and one of Ommegang’s best brews. This is a wonderful beer for late evenings in the summer and early fall, with good friends and light conversation.
Food Pairing: Spicy asian dishes, especially those with seafood and ginger.
“Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.”
Hey, this is just a reminder that Two-Girls, One-Pint recently announced their Inaugural NYC Brewery Bus Tour! Here are the details:
On Saturday September 22, your favorite brewery web-series, Two-Girls, One-Pint, is taking a bus of fifty lucky New Yorkers to three of the Best Breweries on the East coast. We’re starting the day at the Pony Bar in Manhattan. Once there, everyone should use the bathroom and grab a drink, because then we’re driving our bus out to Pennsylvania (there will be bathrooms on the bus, so don’t FREAK OUT). On the bus ride out, they’ll be games, entertainment, and maybe even some beer (wink, WINK). Sooner or later, we’ll arrive at our first destination, Fegley’s Brewery, in Allentown, PA.
Fegley’s are known for their India Pale Ales (I previously reviewed their triple IPA), and their Blueberry Belch, Rude-Elf’s Reserve, ESB, and Chain Link Pilsner (all silver medal winners at the World Beer Championship). They also have a wide variety of seasonals, as well as fantastic food (just look at their menu: http://www.thebrewworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/ABW-Menu-ver-10-web.pdf), so we’ll be eating a meal there along with our tasting and tour of the facilities. After we fill up on food and beer at Fegley’s, we’ll take a short drive over to Weyerbacher in Easton, PA, one of the most famous craft breweries in the North-East.
Weyerbacher, renowned for their “huge” beers, have been awarded several times in recent years for their achievements in brewing. In 2010, they took home the bronze at the Great American Beer Festival for their Imperial Pumpkin Ale, and they also received a bronze at the World Beer Cup for their Merry Monks Belgian Style Tripel. And in 2011, Weyerbacher was awarded a gold at the Great American Beer Festival for one of their famous “anniversary” beers, Sixteen (an incredible modern day Braggot). Some of their other celebrated brews include a Double Simcoe IPA, a Blithering Idiot Barley-wine (a review of which is coming shortly), and the “Quad”. They were also one of the first breweries to implement the idea of aging beers in wooden casks, a fad which has now caught on across America. After a tour and tasting at their superb facilities, we’ll drive the bus back toward the city stopping at our final brewery for the day, Riverhorse, in Lambertville, NJ.
The Riverhorse Brewing Company, located on the Delaware River, is probably best known for their Triple-horse (previously reviewed), Hop Hazard IPA, and Special Amber Ale, all widely available in NYC. They have several excellent seasonal beers including an awesome Imperial Pumpkin Ale and a smooth Double Wit-Belgian Style Wheat. They also happen to be New Jersey’s oldest craft brewery. And, like Fegley’s and Weyerbacher, they have many unique concoctions which are only available for tasting at their facility in New Jersey. We’ll receive a private tour and another group of tastings at Riverhorse before we head back to the city. And don’t worry, they’ll be more beer related entertainment on the way back (if everyone’s up for it of course).
Now, get this: Tickets are only 79 bucks! (includes all three tastings, a meal at Fegley’s, the round trip bus ticket, plus games and surprises). And we’ll back in the city by 9:30pm, in case you want to go out and brag to your friends about all the amazing things you’ve seen (and drank). So come on! Join us! If you love beer, if you’ve ever wanted to learn more about craft brewing, or if you just want to try some amazing beers that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to, this is the tour for you. I promise, you wouldn’t want to miss this for the world!
Buy your tickets now at: twogirlsonepint.com
Any questions? Email me at: Josh@twogirlsonepint.com