This month, the Tasting Room brought us to the 2014 Best of the Philly Beer Scene, Philly Bottle Shop of the Year winner, Bottle Bar East. With over 500 bottles and a dozen beers on tap, Bottle Bar East brings together the bar and bottle shop concept perfectly, right in the heart of Fishtown.
Dean Browne: Right up the road from Bottle Bar East is one of the area’s newest distilleries, Rowhouse Spirits (see last issue for more info), and Dean Browne is the owner/distiller making these fine spirits. Dean also worked for years in the beer industry.
Brian Sucevic: Brian is one of the partners of Bucks County’s Naked Brewing Company. Along with Jim Crossland, Brian started their three-barrel system in 2012.
Jess Streeter: Jess joins us as the 2014 winner of the Philly Beer Geek competition. On top of being a premier beer geek, she also works as a part-time brewer at Naked Brewing Company.
Dean: 3 I like a little funk.
Brian: 3.5 Bit funky. Nice finish. Subdued apple.
Jess: 3 A little funk adds to this, but a bit lackluster. A hint of pear.
Jon: 3.7 Bright and crisp with nice, dry apple flavor. Like biting a fresh apple.
Mat: 3.8 Style of a French cider but not quite the same depth of complexity. A very approachable version.
Description: A classic pilsner beer brewed according to a century old recipe. Pale in color with a crisp, clean taste using selected fine hops. It is light, frothy and delicately tart.
Dean: 3 Very German. You vil like this!
Brian: 3.5 Good German pils. Nothing jumps out. Mellow. Smooth. Could have a few.
Jess: 3.5 Pounder of pils! Nice, clean and crisp. More please.
Jon: 2.8 Malt forward. Well-balanced. Good pils.
Mat: 3.9 Very clean, crisp, simple and in a 16 oz. can. Can’t go wrong.
Williams Brothers Fraoch
Style: Heather Ale
Description: A light amber ale with floral peaty aroma, full malt character, and a spicy, herbal finish. This beer allows you to literally pour 4,000 years of Scottish history into a glass.
Dean: 3.5 The only way I take my heather.
Brian: 4 Subtle flowery nose is real nice. Mild flavor of heather balances with malt. A weird in-between of water and beer.
Jess: 3.6 Very mild smell. Touch of sweetness and floral notes. Good balance. Delicate flavor. Very dry finish.
Jon: 2.9 Good. I’d like more effervescence, but nice and delicate.
Mat: 3.8 Extremely delicate with a very simple, yet unique flowery sweetness. One of the simplest tasting beers I’ve had, but that’s not a bad thing.
Twisted Manzanita Prospect Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
Description: Crisp, luscious, bronze pale ale that hits your nose with a hint of fresh citrus, chased by a lightly toasted malt. Subtle grapefruit, peach and fresh grass.
Dean: 3 I like the ale-e-ness. A little fruit.
Brian: 3.5 Citrus notes in nose and first flavor. Refreshing and not overpowering.
Jess: 3.2 Orange notes throughout. Touches of melon. A bit different for a pale ale. Not bad.
Jon: 3.5 Subtle fruit and floral flavors with sweet tea-like characteristics to balance.
Mat: 4 Uniquely sweet. Very fruity, almost melon-y. Interesting take on the style.
Sierra Nevada Snow Wit White IPA
Description: Brewed with seven varieties of experimental dwarf hops. Each year, new and different varieties are grown in this method, creating untried and exciting shifts in hop character.
Dean: 3 Love me Peter Dinklage.
Brian: 3.5 Subtle hop notes. Slightly sweet flavor and dry finish.
Jess: 3.8 Belgian-y yeast character. Drying finish. Hops come through. Not bad. Would do a pint.
Jon: 2.9 Gets better as you drink it. Maple syrup and lemony rind flavors.
Mat: 3.3 Syrupy up front. Dry finish. Not your typical Sierra beer. Tastes bigger than ABV suggests.
Tröegs Blizzard of Hops
Description: Enjoy the fruits of labor and savor sticky notes of citrus & pine with this revitalizing winter IPA. #4 of 4 in Tröegs’ Hop Cycle seasonal series.
Dean: 3.5 Yay! No winter!
Brian: 4 Really light color. Mild-hop flavor. Weird for winter beer. Subtle, sweet finish.
Jess: 4 Nice citrus. Great crisp finish. Doesn’t read as winter though.
Jon: 3.8 Not exactly what I think of a winter beer, but good regardless.
Mat: 4.5 Tastes more like summer. Actually, I kinda want to drink this on the beach.
Vault Nelson Sauvin IPA
Description: Part of Vault’s “Oceania Hop Series,” this single hop IPA is made entirely with Nelson Sauvin whole flower hops sourced from New Zealand.
Dean: 3.5 I could certainly entertain a Nelson.
Brian: 4 Nice hop aroma. Strong hop flavor with clean, crisp finish. Different hop notes than most IPAs. Nice variation.
Jess: 3.9 Love me some Nelson. Grape must. Good malt backbone. Solid release.
Jon: 3.1 Finishes off a little too quick. Nice balance though.
Mat: 3.9 Interesting white pepper flavors. Clean. Drinkable. Nelson shines through nicely.
Style: Winter Ale
Description: A dark, malty celebration ale with layered flavors and beautifully balanced hopping. Jubelale pours deep garnet in color, medium bodied, with notes of chicory, earth, spice and fruit.
Dean: 4.5 What I look for in a Christmas beer. Malt!
Brian: 4.3 Brown ale nose. Slight spice. Not overdone like most. Roasty, dry finish.
Jess: 4.4 Roasty, dry finish. Touch of spice in the middle but not a giant spice fart. Highly drinkable.
Jon: 4.7 Dark roastiness with a super subtle spice. Perfect for the winter months.
Mat: 4.5 A Christmas beer that doesn’t punch you in the face with Christmas. Really nice. Possibly my new favorite of the style.
Einstök Icelandic Doppelbock
Description: Limited-edition winter brew. Malted barley and chocolate tones define the traditional style, while the robust aroma and long, mellow finish will make this the perfect companion for your holiday adventures.
Dean: 4.5 Please send me to Iceland.
Brian: 4.5 Malty nose and malty smoky flavor. Real clean finish. Not too sweet. Really balanced.
Jess: 4.8 Great malt-forward beer, with a surprising touch of wood smokiness. Makes me want to ride elks and eat smoked fish.
Jon: 4.8 Iceland does a lot right and this beer is one of those things. Smoky finish. Subtle sweetness and nice body, like Björk.
Mat: 4.8 I don’t typically love the style, but I really like this. One of the best takes on a doppelbock I’ve had.
Boulevard Tank 7
Description: Beginning with a flavorful surge of fruity aromatics and hoppy, grapefruit notes (Amarillo hops), this complex, straw-colored ale finishes long, dry and spicy.
Dean: 4 Nice farmhouse. Non-intrusive fermentation flavors.
Brian: 4.5 Spiced notes of pepper and coriander. Really good example of a saison.
Jess: 4.5 Lemon peel and coriander. Amazing mouth-feel. Nice, light saison that’s big on flavor. Deceptively easy-drinking.
Jon: 4.8 Super well-made. Just a great all-around beer.
Mat: 4.8 A must-try saison. Just incredibly well-made.
Perennial/Prairie Dual Artisanship
Description: A hoppy red saison. Centennial, Simcoe, and Citra combine with a secondary Brett fermentation creating a big, tropical juiciness followed by a dry, funky finish.
Dean: 4 I’d drink a bottle or two. Nice funk and wild nose.
Brian: 3.8 Mild Brett nose. Chewy and cloudy. Hop flavor comes through but does not overpower overall funkiness.
Jess: 3.5 Hello, Brett. Good funky nose. Good citrusy hops. Worth a try.
Jon: 4.2 Delicate and subtle funk. Not bitter, dry finish.
Mat: 4.4 Very funky. Nice and dry. Very well-done Brett beer.
Style: Fruit Beer
Description: 2 vintage Raspberry Blanches mingle to achieve a character that is light, dry and aromatic. The bouquet is of rampant raspberries, full refermentation dispels any lingering sweetness, wild yeasts give this beer complexity and an alluring tartness.
Dean: 3 Tart, strawberry, yes. Or raspberry.
Brian: 3.9 Funky. Raspberry. Salty. Overall, good with cleaner than expected finish. Not like cough syrup.
Jess: 3.9 Raspberries come through wonderfully. Not syrupy. My wife would beast it.
Jon: 4.6 Great effervescence. Funk hides the raspberry nicely.
Mat: 4.2 Fresh raspberry nose. Nice tart, funk and then finishes clean. Very enjoyable raspberry beer.
Heavy Seas Winter Storm
Style: English Strong Ale
Description: “Winter warmer” ale, brewed with copious helpings of English malts and US and English hops. Full malty flavors dancing with powerful hop aromas and a lingering, firm hop bitterness.
Dean: 3.5 Pleasant “winter” EB. Caramel notes. Pleasant finish.
Brian: 3.5 ESB to light brown ale. Not really that bitter. More malty.
Jess: 3 Caramel and British malts. Drinkable. Nothing spectacular.
Jon: 2.8 Well-made and enjoyable, but not my favorite.
Mat: 3.9 Doesn’t taste imperial. Lots of traditional ESB characteristics, just a little more full. Perfect winter beer.
Dean: 3 Little bit ‘o X-Mas. Just a little.
Brian: 3.9 Light, spicy notes lay overtop a mild brown ale flavor.
Jess: 2.3 Lots of honey. Spice. Love their stuff but not a fan of this
Jon: 4.7 A favorite of mine. Always reminds me of Christmas.
Mat: 4 Another not overwhelmingly spiced Christmas beer. Understandable why Cleveland goes so crazy over it.
Goose Island Festivity Ale
Style: Brown Ale
Description: Goose Island’s annual brown ale to celebrate the holidays. To make each year’s special, they alter the recipe. This year, they wrapped caramel and dark fruit malt flavors inside a creamy, toasty brown ale.
Dean: 3 Pleasant. Malt. Mild spice.
Brian: 4 Pleasant nose of malt and mild spice. Really drinkable. Not your usual, in-your-face, spiced X-Mas beer.
Jess: 3.9 Really nice. Not too sweet. Touch of cranberry. Good fireplace beer.
Jon: 4.3 Rich, toasty caramel flavor with a subtle cherry and cranberry finish.
Mat: 4 A fine brown ale. Not Christmas spiced. Some dark fruit flavors.
He’Brew Hanukkah, Chanukah: Pass The Beer
Style: Dark Ale
Description: The official Chosen Beer of this holiday season, Hanukkah, Chanukah: Pass The Beer® is a Dark Ale brewed with 8 malts, 8 hops, and heats up at 8% ABV.
Dean: 3.5 Balanced and clean. Dry finish.
Brian: 4.4 Balanced hops and malts. Malts come through in the end. Thoroughly enjoyable. L’chaim!
Jess: 4.2 Makes me want to cover to the Chosen People.
Jon: 3.8 Nicely balanced. Easy-drinker. Well-made.
Mat: 4 Very well-balanced for amount of ingredients. Best Hanukkah beer I’ve had.
Starr Hill Shakedown Imperial Chocolate Cherry Stout
Style: Imperial Stout
Description: A full-bodied imperial stout with cherries and dark chocolate blended into the beer during fermentation. Malty, chocolate and dark fruit flavors create a rich and complex beer that is meant to be savored slowly.
Dean: 3 Black Forest cake in a glass.
Brian: 4 Mild fruit notes in the nose, backed by malt. Much more chocolate than cherry. Roast comes through.
Jess: 3.9 Balanced dessert beer. Like liquid Black Forest cake.
Jon: 4.2 Tastes like chocolate covered cherries. Not bad at all.
Mat: 4 Chocolate, cherry candy. Cherry is nicely mild. Like dessert in a glass.
Founders Dark Penance
Style: Black IPA
Description: A heavy malt foundation includes Crystal malt for sweetness and just enough Midnight Wheat malt to push the color to black. The bitterness is huge, but balanced by malt sweetness and alcohol burn.
Dean: 2.5 Why, Founders? Why?
Brian: 3.7 Hops and malt mix to give a stone fruit note.
Jess: 3 Abrasively hoppy. Not my preference for the style.
Jon: 4.2 Great beer. Gets better as you go. Hops build nicely.
Mat: 4.1 Roasty and bitter. Very nice take on the style.
Dean: 3.5 X-Mas for sure. Nice sweetness. Like licking an elf.
Brian:4 Big spice and cinnamon nose. Great version of a spicy X-Mas beer.
Jess: 3 It tastes like the old lady who wears Christmas sweaters in July smells. If you want liquid Christmas, this is all you.
Jon: 2.8 A true potpourri of Christmas. This IS Christmas. Tastes like a holiday store.
Mat: 4 Christmas in a glass. All the spices and the ABV will warm you nicely. Perfect for those looking to be festive.
Flying Dog Imperial IPA – Galaxy Single Hop
Style: Imperial IPA
Description: Developed and grown solely in Australia, Galaxy hops impart distinctive grapefruit and passion fruit character. Combined with a crisp, dry finish.
Dean: 4 Hops written in cursive.
Brian: 4.3 Good hop nose. Mild hop flavor. No real fusel alcohol in the flavor but smells like there would be.
Jess: 3.9 Smells like boozy Galaxy hops. Tastes like 10%. Solid sipper.
Jon: 3.6 Big beer. Nicely balanced and hopped.
Mat: 4 Smells sticky. Very big IPA but easier to drink than expected.
Dean: 4 I’d walk a plank for this.
Brian: 3.8 Nothing really in the nose. Hops play well with the yeast characters.
Jess: 3.7 Not hoppy, per se, but nice with apple and pear notes. Nice Belgian character.
Jon: 3.3 It’s a Belgian strong ale: sweet, effervescent and malty.
Mat: 3.8 Not very hoppy, but still a very good Belgian strong.
De Brabandere Petrus 1894
Style: Sour/Wild Ale
Description: Petrus 1894 is dry and fresh, much like champagne. It is then re-fermented in the bottle with the Br. De Brabandere proprietary yeast.
Dean: 5 More please. Very light, yet flavorful. Complex malts and a hint of hops, set off by gentle fermentation flavors.
Brian: 5 So smooth. If you have the means, I highly suggest buying a bottle. It is so good. So balanced. Smooth. Yeast adds great character. Perfectly carbonated.
Jess: 4.8 Little wood. Little tart. Little hops. Little sliver of heaven.
Jon: 4.8 Really, really good. Super clean and well-made. Slight funk and nice body.
Mat: 4.8 Fantastic. Incredibly clean with a nice, tart funk. A somehow improved version of traditional Petrus Pale.