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The Tasting Room

The Tasting Room


With the 2012 Best of the Philly Beer Scene Awards being presented, we thought it was only fitting to hold the Tasting Room at the location of the “Best Area Brewery” winner, Victory Brewing Co. On top of being named best brewery, Victory also won awards for their Prima Pils (Best Lager) and Storm King (Best Stout/Porter). For this issue, we also changed up our formatting a bit–our newly revised Tasting Room features more beers and a rotating tasting panel.

Our Notable Guests

Our notable guest this issue is Bill Covaleski, who along with Ron Barchet, is one of the founders and brewmasters of the renowned Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown, PA. Covaleski also serves as the head of the Pennsylvania Brewers Guild.

Our other notable guest is the owner of Exton Beverage, Greg Ramirez. Exton Beverage boasts a phenomenal case and keg selection; while the sixtel selection is virtually unparalleled in the area.

From the Scene Guests

Derek Vizzi is one of two contest winners to be featured this issue. Derek’s wife, Andrea, won his spot during a raffle we held at Monk’s Café for the Pliny the Younger release.

During a charity fundraiser at Jamison Pour House, Brian Miller won a spot in the Tasting Room after he made a charitable donation to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.


Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale

3 out of 5 stars

Crisp, refreshing “Hawaiian-style” pale ale. Fire Rock has a signature copper color, resulting from the unique blend of specialty roasted malts and a pronounced citrus-floral hop aroma. ABV: 5.9%

Bill: 3 – Nasal hit of grapefruit and mango. Flavor is malt driven with supporting hop notes.

Greg: 2 – Lacking in mouth feel. Mild hop presence.

Brian: 3 – Hints of barley and a bit dry – solid beer, though. Too bad it’s not really from Hawaii.

Derek: 3 – Good balance in the taste up front but the malts soon take over. Decent for the style.

Mat: 3 – Slightly stale tasting. Relatively mild but not a bad beer.

Full Pint White Lightning

3.5 out of 5 stars

This Belgian White Ale combines a complex malt character with sweet orange peel, coriander and a secret spice. The end result is a crisp refreshing wheat beer that can be enjoyed all year long. ABV: 5.5%

Bill: 3.5 – Aroma makes a positive impact of citrus and coriander. Nice for summer with firm body and refreshing finish.

Greg:3.5 – Somewhat dry, mild orange citrus notes. Light fruity nose with hints of banana.

Brian: 3 – A little dry, but goes down easy. Bit of orange and spice makes for nice finish.

Derek: 3 – Very smooth taste for the style. Not too flavorful but crisp and refreshing surely.

Mat: 3.5 – Clean, easy drinking. Mild spice and dryness. Very refreshing take on the style.

Magic Hat Elder Betty

3 out of 5 stars

A golden haze for a summer’s daze. Elder Betty is a Weisse-style ale with a bready malt flavor balanced by a touch of hops and complemented by the tart berry flavors of elderberry. ABV: 5.5%

Bill: 3 – Entertaining, like drinking your breakfast cereal milk.

Greg: 2.5 – Berry blast upfront, then fades a bit. Lingering tartness just a bit

Brian: 3 – Hint of berry but not an overpowering fruit taste and pretty drinkable.

Derek: 3 – Sweet candy aroma. More sweet than tart. Fruity but not too much. Smooth and drinkable.

Mat:3.5 – Vibrant berry flavor and surprisingly refreshing. Definitely recommend for those that enjoy fruit beers.

Old Forge T-Rail Pail Ale

3.5 out of 5 stars

A copper colored American pale ale, medium-bodied, with well-balanced malt and hop flavor, a mildly hoppy aroma, and crisp finish. ABV: 5.5%

Bill: 4 – Big. Fresh hop hit on the nose is an enticing entrée into a juicy, well integrated ale.

Greg: 3 – Mild maltiness with mild bitterness. Balanced and very drinkable.

Brian: 3.5 – A hint of hops and fairly crisp. A well balanced pale ale that’s enjoyable to drink.

Derek: 3.5 – Fresh hoppy aroma. Light taste, crisp, citrusy, well-balanced. Very nice.

Mat: 3.5 – Crisp, balanced PA pale ale in a pounder can. What else could you need?

Long Trail Double White

3.5 out of 5 stars

Long Trail Double White is an unfiltered ale brewed with hints of coriander and orange peel. The soft notes of citrus and spice are topped with a light, fluffy head that finishes clean and crisp. ABV: 8.0%

Bill: 3.5- A roller coaster of flavor that keeps rolling over the tongue.

Greg: 3 – Mild bitterness with spices bleeding in tartness from citrus? Mild booziness.

Brian:3 – Strong smell of orange. A bit bitter and one of the stronger white beers I’ve had.

Derek: 3.5 – Tastes range from sweet to sour and back again. Complex and nice.

Mat: 3.5 – Depth and layers of flavor. Very interesting and quite different from original recipe.

Contessa Pale Ale

4 out of 5 stars

A nose of citrus hops and honey malt. In the mouth, it is very soft, with great body and structure, while the final hop is quite pronounced, gradual and harmonious. This beer is complex, long, very balanced, with a pleasant citrus finish. ABV: 8.0%

Bill: 4 – Loving the earthy quality between rosemary and dried mint. Give it some salumi and enter bliss.

Greg: 4.5 – Light body, nice hoppiness with citrus hints, bold yet very approachable.

Brian: 4 – Great hoppy fragrance. Solid IPA that I would not have guessed was coming from Italy.

Derek: 4 -Delightful lemon aroma. Very smooth for an IPA, finished dry and slightly bitter.

Mat: – Beautiful hop aroma. Tastes like an American IPA. Nicely done Italy.

Maine Peeper Pale Ale

4.5 out of 5 stars

American-style ale with an inviting hop aroma, brewed one barrel at a time. The beer is fermented with a neutral yeast strain and allowed to dry out so it finishes crisp and clean. ABV: 8.0%

Bill: 4.5 – Beautifully rendered but could hit hyper-drive with a fresh mozzarella and tomato pie.

Greg: 4.5 -HOPS! Not over the top bitter, light body. Well built.

Brian:4.5 – Nice balance, right amount of hops and very drinkable. I could have a few of these.

Derek: 4.5 – Great aroma of fresh hops, citrus and pine, perfumey. Full of flavor.

Mat: 4.5 – Ideal example of the style. Clean, crisp and hoppy. Excellent beer.

Southampton Burton IPA

3.5 out of 5 stars

Burton IPA is Southampton’s tribute to the

original British India Pale Ales. Replicating the unique mineral-rich water for a true character. ABV: 6.5%

Bill: 4 – Bready hop nose broadcasts dull, aged beer but taste is revitalized on full earthy hop splendor.

Greg: 4 – Malty forward IPA. True to style English IPA. Lightly nutty finish.

Brian:3 – A bit watery. Nothing really stands out here but still very drinkable.

Derek: 3.5 – Taste of toasty grains, nutshells, leafy hops, some earth. Fairly smooth for the style. Solid.

Mat: 4 – One of those beers you can just keep drinking. Worthy of the English name and an English pint.

Central City Red Betty IPA

3.5 out of 5 stars

An ale fashioned to survive the long voyage from England to India during the British colonization. Hops, hops, and more hops, this ale has an intense aroma and a long lingering finish. ABV: 6.5%

Bill: 4 – Drippingly hoppy on nose, blisteringly dry taste. One dimensional, but impressively so.

Greg: 4 – Big hop nose! Somewhat chewy; nice malt backbone

Brian: 3.5- Nice aroma, hoppy with hints of barley. Pretty tasty. Well done Canada.

Derek: 3.5 – Crisp hop aroma, lemon and apple skin. Tasty, but lacks complexity.

Mat: 3.5 – A very solid IPA. Won’t blow you away with complexity, but a fine canned offering.

Caldera IPA

3 out of 5 stars

An American-style India Pale Ale brewed with plenty of body and an assertive hop profile. ABV: 6.1%

Bill: 3.5 – Tea-like IPA for sipping on a scorching summer veranda.

Greg: 3.5 – Bitter hop taste. Somewhat pale. Nice finish.

Brian: 3 – Subtle floral nose but a bit watery. I would have liked the taste to match the aroma more.

Derek: 2.5 – Solid malt base, leafy hops….kind of watery in the mouth feel.

Mat: 3.5 – A little too light of a body that is almost watery. Would be nicer in warmer weather.

Atwater Voodoo Vator Dopplebock

4 out of 5 stars

This is a dopplebock high-gravity lager. This one is big, black and sweet. Its malty character is derived from two caramel malts along with Munich malt to create the smoothest high-gravity beer this side of the pond. ABV: 9.5%

Bill: 4.5 – Very well integrated and resolved for a 9+% brew. Hopped discretely, great effect on malt driven beer.

Greg: 4 -Mild plum fruit smell. Raison like maltiness. Sweet mouth feel, finishes warm.

Brian: 3.5 – Full bodied and manages to hide the ABV well and solid head retention.

Derek: 4 – Where’s the alcohol? Goes down too easy for sure.

Mat: 4 – Full bodied with very complex flavors. Way too smooth for the 9.5% ABV.

Flying Dog Wildeman Farmhouse IPA

3 out of 5 stars

Brewed for Bierproeflokaal In de Wildeman’s 25th Anniversary. This brand new brew is an unfiltered American IPA hopped with Citra and fermented with Saison yeast. ABV: 7.5%

Bill: 3 – Finely structured foam gives effervescent lift to complex beer that leaves its best attributes muddled.

Greg: 3.5 – Spicy indeed! Drinks like a saison, interesting!?

Brian: 2.5 – Spice is the strongest taste and it’s hard to find the hops.

Derek: 3 – Hops are subdued by the spice and the alcohol which is usually hot for a lighter beer.

Mat: 3.5 – Drinks like a saison with almost no IPA characteristics. Not complaining though.

Scaldis Pêche Mel

4 out of 5 stars

½ Scaldis Amber and ½ Peach Lambic. ABV: 7.5%

Bill: 2 – Jolly Rancher peach hit is undeniable on nose.

Greg: 3.5 -NICE! Peach sweetness throughout, not too sweet though. Mild sourness.

Brian: 2.5 – Strong peach nose with similar taste. If you like peach, go for it.

Derek: 3 – Pure peach aroma and pure peach taste. Sweet candy with a slightly phenolic finish.

Mat: 3 – It’s like adult peach juice. Gotta love peaches to enjoy this one.

Ale Smith Grand Cru

4 out of 5 stars

Belgian-style offering, fermented using yeast from a Trappist monastery. With a sweet malty aroma and a satisfying hop balance. Belgian candi sugar gives a richer complexity of flavor. ABV: 10.5%

Bill: 4 – Light sourness plays well against slight alcoholic heat. Roast game + chutney needed!

Greg: 4 -Sweet, hot smell. Dried plums! Slight pucker sourness. Drinks hot from alcohol.

Brian: 4 – You can taste the ABV but it is still very enjoyable. Would like to try it aged.

Derek: 4 – Aroma of sugar and strong cider smells. Alcohol head on the tongue with brown sugar, dark fruit and mulled cider.

Mat:4 – Fantastic fruit flavors. Slightly boozy but works with the beer. Highly recommend.

St. Martin Triple

3 out of 5 stars

Three varieties of malt and three of hops create the robust character of this triple-strength 9% pale beer. ABV: 9.0%

Bill: 3 – Grape & cherry pit nose. Smooth, well-rounded body and flavor with no evident heat.

Greg: 3 – Fruit and hay like mouth-feel. Smooth. Somewhat rough finish.

Brian: 3.5 – Flavorful, yet still mellow for a 9% triple. Dry and definite fruit flavors.

Derek: 3 – Taste is bready, with pear and a touch of berry. Fairly dry and a bit acidic.

Mat: 3.5 – Very fruity and surprisingly dry. Very solid beer.

Bocker Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge

4 out of 5 stars

Cuvée des Jacobins is unblended old lambic, aged for 18 months or more. It has a robust character but is beautiful and sophisticated with a full body and overtones of vanilla, dried cherry, stone fruit and cocoa. It is a complex, beautiful sour beer. ABV: 5.5%

Bill: 3.5 – Quite a sensory ride on the tongue. Needs vanilla bean ice cream but nice on its own.

Greg: 4.5 – Tart sourness! So good. Well-built mouth feel. An acquired taste for some, I love it!

Brian: 4.5 – A very solid sour beer that I will definitely have again.

Derek: 4 – Aroma of sweet cherry. Tart cherries in the taste, cherry sweetness mid palate, prickly acidic finish.

Mat: 4.5 – Extremely tart up front. Mild sweetness in finish really rounds out the beer. Fantastic.

The Final Picks

Bill’s Final Pick: Maine Peeper Pale Ale. Impressive in nose and juicy hop blast; hop integration into malt was deftly executed, making this ale impactful and sublime.

Greg’s Final Pick: Contessa IPA.  The first European brewery with American characteristics! Love the hop profile. Bold, yet approachable.

Brian’s Final Pick: Maine Peeper Pale Ale. Great balance, just the right amount of hops and very drinkable. A great beer to enjoy on a summer day.

Derek’s Final Pick: Maine Peeper Pale Ale. Tremendous balance, exemplary of the style. Always a pleasure from this consistently solid brewery.

Mat’s Final Pick: Maine Peeper Pale Ale. Lots of great beers, but this is the one I want to keep filling my glass with. An ideal pale ale in my mind.

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