The Tröegs guys Jim Kirk and Jake Hampson brought Johnson and Hasson to Kite & Key in Philadelphia in Jan. where they unleashed the 2018 version of Nugget Nectar. It was the first of many events named First Squeeze that are featuring the beer paired with local artists’ prints from across the brewery’s footprint.
By Bryan J. Kolesar
As if Scott Smith, owner and head brewer at East End Brewing in Pittsburgh, didn’t already have enough on his plate, along came a gas line leak on New Year’s Eve. It was under the concrete poured just last summer. Now that the issue is fading into the past, Smith and his team can focus on the month’s other business – new beers, barrels, and expansions/renovations. Four of East End’s popular beers – Pennsylvania Handshake, BlackHop, BiggerHop, and Bourbon Barrel-aged Fatter Gary – were released in cans. The Good Wood Barrel-Aged Beer Fest on Jan. 20 showcased area breweries, in addition to East End and Wigle Whiskey. By the end of the month, they expect to have two new 10-bbl fermenters and a 40-bbl brite tank in house to help keep up with canning demand. And the front of the house renovations are wrapping up with restroom and lighting improvements.
At the 3-year-old Race Street Brew Works in Clearfield, Bohb Striker checked in to share some of what’s keeping him busy as both owner and brewer. He aims to keep 24 beers from his 5-bbl system on tap and includes a couple guest taps as well at the roughly 5,500 sq. ft. bar and lounge, complete with foosball, ping pong, corn hole, and a large outdoor beer garden. Striker recently bought a 4-head counter-pressure filler with which he plans to fill bomber bottles with beers from his Barrel Series. Bourbon barrels are Woodford Reserve Rye and wine barrels are all minimum 36-month Cabernet from either France or Napa Valley. The first four up that he says he’s just waiting for “the beers to tell us when they’re done” are: Bourbon Barrel Brett Saison; Comrade Conrad Russian Imperial Stout in Bourbon barrels; Wurm Wud Cider with Brett and dry-hopped in red wine barrels; and Un-named Lambic in red wine barrels. If that goes well, plans are to use proceeds to purchase a canning line. Race Street is helping raise money for Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center near State College as well as making a statement. A portion of proceeds from the sale of Heinous Hefe is donated to the organization in response to “the many short-sided environmental policy stances of our current administration”.
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant is difficult to miss in Pennsylvania (and neighboring New Jersey and Delaware, and soon-to-be South Carolina and more. Do I sound like Howard Dean yet?) and they help keep your attention with plenty of events throughout the year at all locations. Late summer, in case you were asking, is being targeted for the Center City Philadelphia grand opening. They recently celebrated Belgium Comes To West Chester Jan. 27, now in its 13th year celebrating the best of Belgian styles made in the greater Philadelphia area. The Phoenixville location is hosting its always-popular British Invasion on Feb. 3. There’s a chocolate pairing event at Huntingdon Valley on Feb. 8. For Valentine’s Day, all locations will have a special Cherry Vanilla Porter on tap. And, finally, a Smoke and Oak multi-tap Feb. 24 at the North Wales location.
One of Philadelphia’s original brewpubs, Manayunk Brewing Co., continues to keep up with the young ones and crank out new beers. 2018 will also bring a new can label format. Evan Fritz, head brewer, says that the new cans will be sporting a number of beers including Wandering Wit, Mint Chocolate Chip Crunch Porter, and Rise & Grind Imperial Coffee Stout all in the first quarter. Sour Is The New Black and Upshitz Kriek Sour will be showing up in 500-ml bottles.
Bill McGeeney has as many titles as can fit on his business card at Round Guys Brewing Co. in Lansdale. The Partner, Community Liaison, Director of Marketing/Sales passed along news of the recently released Liquid Swords Double India Pale Ale. Its packaging art is by John Comerford, a character artist living in Philadelphia. Also available now for your drinking pleasure is Buddha of Suburbia, a Foreign Extra Stout Ale made for Philly Loves Bowie Week and Double Dry Hopped Alien Saison. The brewery loves pairing its beer with events and hosts plenty of them with yoga, drag shows, talent shows, and live music.
Hidden River Brewing Co. Douglassville continues to grow as a beer geek destination. The brewery is nearing its third anniversary in 2018 and close to a year since debuting the pub room that opened up more of the historic landmark building to its customers. It’s been a big hit, complete with a few dozen more seats, a comfortably larger bar with a creekside view, and a kitchen turning out a menu of 100% locally-sourced food as perfect accompaniments to the brewery’s constantly changing lineup of beers and styles. A recent visit of mine saw a menu that included Ginger Carrot Hummus, Kimchi Quesadilla, Buffalo Chacon Dip, and Corned Beer & Cabbage, to name a handful of the enticing offerings. From the 12 taps, there may routinely be five to seven IPAs or variations thereof, but you may also find a kvass, a stout, a porter, a brown, a saison, a Kölsch, a Gose, a braggot, or a cider to provide some interesting and tasty diversity. Seems there’s always something new happening at one of the more interesting brewery settings in the area.