New Glarus Zwickel Bier, 5.3%
A "Zwickel" is a little valve on the side of a fermenting vessel where the brewer can, with proper care and sanitation, pull off a sample of the beer in the tank. An invitation to "tickle the zwickel" is always the high-point of a brewery tour: fresh, unfiltered, unaltered beer, as usually only the brewers get to taste. It's the real stuff.
Some lager brewers will package -- lightly -- a 'zwickel' beer, also called a 'kellerbier,' or 'cellar beer.' The beer gets minimal filtering, usually just a long settling in the tank, and is packaged for quick sale. Get it, drink it, love it. Let's see how Dan Carey did on this one; expectations are high.
Beautifully bright, dark straw gold, bright white head. Wetly-fresh bread, grassy-floral noble hops aroma: it smells fresh, which is the key to a good zwickelbier. Tastes clean, malty, balanced with a bitter finish. A bit sweet up front, but the hops quickly kick in.
Have you heard people say, "This tastes like beer"? Or complain about beers that don't 'taste like beer'? This tastes like beer.
Starr Hill Daily Grind Peppercorn Farmhouse, 6.2%
I like pepper. Not peppers, though I like some of them, too, but peppercorns, ground (or whole). I would have been one of those guys sailing leaky wooden caravels around the Cape of Good Hope, searching for the spices of the Indies, because I would want more pepper than anyone else. I'm told that the Pennsylvania Dutch love black pepper, and I do, and once I saw a Berks County friend shake pepper on his ketchup till it was black, that was me. Love that.
So when I see a peppercorn beer, I dive in, and I've rarely been disappointed. The Daily Grind smells a bit perfumey -- but peppery -- and I can't seem to raise a head on it, but I'm still optimistic. Sweet and yeasty, and I'm looking for the pepper. It's subtle, but it's there, and as I take another sip, I can feel it build a bit. But I'd really like more. More sips don't do more; we've hit peak pepper. I'm bummed, because the Starr Hill King IPA Habanero I had the other night was NOT subtle, it did the trick. Sigh. I'll have to keep looking.
|The session takeover at the Bulls Head|
I went up to the Bulls Head Public House in Lititz, Pa., for Session Beer Day yesterday. They did a total session beer tap takeover: all 16 taps, including the two beer engines, were pouring beers at 4.5% and under. Beautiful thing, and only TWO of them were "session IPA." I tore into them, and here are some impressions.
Loch Ness Scotch Ale (tagged as "Malty Brown") -- Might have been my favorite of the day; on cask. "Malty brown" indeed; good body, chocolatey sweet malt, not a bit of cloying stickiness, great beer. If there hadn't been all the choice, I'd have happily drunk this all afternoon.
Neshaminy Creek Croydon Cream Ale -- Clean, lightly sweet, a bit of breadiness, and fresh as a daisy. Nice pint.
Stiegl Radler Grapefruit -- My guilty pleasure. "Like a beery Squirt," as one person put it, and it captures the best of both. The grapefruit is just tart enough, the beer's there without being gak weak. Totally enjoyable.
St. Boniface Bulls Head Bitter -- From a local brewer (Ephrata) specifically for the Bulls Head; nicely done, drinking easy, great light balance of malt and hops. Exceptional.
|Enjoying the Tarte Nouveau|
Oxbow Space Cowboy -- Session-strength biere de garde, which I've learned recently is not so odd after all; BdG was often relatively light. This one's good from nose -- spicy, malty -- to tail -- clean bitter finish. Nicely done indeed.
Ballast Point Mango Even Keel Session IPA -- I always have high hopes on mango beers -- love mango! -- always disappointed. This smelled perfumey with mango, almost too much, and then the beer just slapped me with stupid bitter in the mouth, totally out of frame for its weight, and the mango tasted way off. Not good at all, I left over half of it on the bar.
Harviestoun Old Manor -- Also cask, and delicious. Brit malt -- chewy, tasty, dry, biscuity -- and earthy hop, and light carbonation so you can actually taste it all. Delicious pint.
Verdict: Stellar Session!