Capital Punishment. (Penn. Dutch Edition)

Posted: June 20, 2012 in Beer Drinking Adventures

As I am usually trapped to the capital of NY every five weeks, my company saw fit to send me to another states captial, Harrisburg PA.  I had to do a territory swap with another rep from my company and was working in the area from Harrisburg, Lancaster, Reading, and Pottstown PA.  Well, with that being said, lets talk about the discoveries…

The Monday Night ‘dinner’ stop was Appalachian Brewing Company in downtown Harrisburg PA.

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Appalachian Brewing Company

The building was on the outskirts of downtown but in a kind of run down area of the city.  The decor of the place is very inviting on the inside, the smell of freshly brewed beer floating about the place and a healthy beer menu to go with it.

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They had featured 12 in house beers on tap when I was there plus several in house flavors of pop (its pop, not soda)(you bake with soda, you drink pop).  While the food I ordered was a little on the weaker side, the beers were a step above average as a whole.  Here was the tastings of the evening:

  • Appalachian Brewing Water Gap American Pale Wheat Ale (PA)(4.5% ABV)  was the runt of the bunch, while I can appreciate a good wheat beer, this just wasnt one of them.  3.05 Rating
  • Appalachian Brewing Mountain Lager (PA)(4.5% ABV) was a dortmunder style lager with german malty nose and flavor, some corn and citrus on the back end of the taste.  3.38 Rating
  • Appalachian Brewing Purist American Pale Ale (PA)(4.8% ABV)  had a definite german malt and floral nose and taste, somewhat earthy/grainy finish too.  3.88 Rating
  • Appalachian Brewing Jolly Scot Scottish Ale (PA)(5.2% ABV)…boring scotch ale.  German Malts and Caramel.  3.40 Rating
  • Appalachian Brewing Hinterland Hefe Weizen (PA)(5.3% ABV) is a stereo typical Hefewezen, banana and clove…need I say more.  3.60 Rating
  • Appalachian Brewing Hoppy Trails American IPA  (PA)(6.0% ABV) was a decent floral IPA with a definite german malt presence on the nose and taste.  3.78 Rating
  • Appalachian Brewing Trailblaze Organic American Brown Ale (PA)(5.3% ABV) had a roasted caramel malts, nutty and mild chocolate nose and taste.  Actually a nice subtle organic brown ale.  3.68 Rating

Overall, the beers at Appalachian Brewing Company were pretty hit or miss.  It seemed like they used the same german malts for all their beers, which worked well with some styles and failed with others.  Id like to assume that the german malts were used due to the german influence of menninites that live in the area (also known as Pennsylvania Dutch, pretty much Amish people with cell phones and Escalades) but I didnt see any men with long ratty beards or women with bonnets sitting at the bar.

On Tuesday as I happened to be driving back to my hotel, I stopped in this little known northeastern brewery:

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Troegs Brewing Company

The new facility for Troegs has been open for about one year now and it is huge. They have THEE largest tasting room that I have ever been inside (to date).

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And I decided to treat myself to some dinner too.

And some beverages…

  • Troegs Perpetual IPA (PA)(7.5% ABV)  is an American IPA that was piney, grapefruit and a mild pepper nose and taste.  I can see why they are going to add this as a year round offering.  4.10 Rating
  • Troegs Scratch Beer 65: Kolsch (PA)(4.8% ABV) ~ was a stereo typical Kolsch beer with a yeasty, bready nose and and an added light crisp apple finish on the taste.  Crisp and clean beer but just a boring style.  3.55 Rating
  • Troegs Scratch Beer 70: Triple IPA (PA)(10.4% ABV) had a nice ctrus, earthy, lightly floral nose and similar taste with a touch of orange zest on the back end.  4.18 Rating
  • Troegs Scratch Beer 66: Biere De Grouch (PA)(6.8% ABV) is a Biere de Garde style made specifically for the Philadelphia Beer Week that had a floral, sweet malts, mild yeast and mild black pepper nose with a sweet malt, yeast, almonds and mild black pepper taste.  3.90 Rating

Then on my way home from Harrisburg PA to Buffalo NY,  decided to stop in at a small brewpub called Selin’s Grove Brewing in Selingsgrove PA.  I have always seen some of their beers listed on the BeerAdvocate website on some of the Top 100 lists for several styles and always took it as ‘overhyped by locals’, so I decided to stop and find out for myself and have some lunch.  The place is a little hard to locate as it is located in the basement of a very old building in downtown Selinsgrove.  From the street, you have to walk down a narrow stairway on the side of the building and around the back to get inside of the building.   Once I was able to find the door, its like…well, walking into a basement.  The place is very poorly lit, very low 8ft ceilings and wooden beams running atop.  The dining area only has about 15 tables to it and a bar area that can seat about 12 people.  After checking the menu, I went with a Chipotle Turkey Wrap and a full flight of beers.  The flight contained 9 beers that were served in 5oz tasting glasses.

  • Selins Grove Brewing Captain Selin’s Cream Ale (PA)(4.5%ABV) was a typical Cream Ale, boring and not appealing.  3.48 Rating
  • Selins Grove Priestly English Pale Ale (PA)(5.7% ABV) is a definite English Pale because the german malts were so powerful that you hardly noticed the floral hops on the nose or taste, a touch of sweetness on the back end of the taste.  3.90 Rating
  • Selins Grove Brewing Scottish Style Ale (PA)(4.5% ABV) was a typical boring Scotch Ale with malty nose and taste with an added light caramel sweetness, nothing to write home about.  3.40 Rating
  • Selins Grove Brewing American Pale Ale (PA)(5.7% ABV) had a nice citrus, floral, malty nose but the taste was definite flavors of grapefruit, floral hops, bready and a  hint of bubble gum.  I liked this because ti pushed the boundaries of IPA without going over the line.  4.35 Rating
  • Selins Grove Brewing Phoenix Kriek (PA)(6.5% ABV) is a solid Fruit Beer, not a lambic…it smelled and tasted exactly like sour cherry pie filling, not artificial by any means.  When I asked the bartender how much cherry they used, her response was “A Ton”…I can see why they charge $27 for a growler fill because this is the real deal.  4.68 Rating
  • Selins Grove Brewing River Rat Triple (PA)(9.0% ABV) was very complex with a belgian sugar, belgian yeast, pear and apple nose that follows with a belgian sugars, pears, apples and a mildly boozy finish.  A well put together beer but the high ABV was very obvious and not masked very well.  4.35 Rating
  • Selins Grove Brewing Organic German Pilsner (PA)(4.8% ABV) was a typical german pilsner with a prominent german malts nose and taste with some subtle notes of a mild floral hop finish.  3.43 Rating
  • Selins Grove Brewing Shade Mountain Oatmeal Stout (PA)(4.8% ABV) had a solid dark roasted chocolate malts, mild coffee and mild chocolate nose along with a with a similar taste that added a bit of oatmeal and nutty finish, really well done.  4.23 Rating

For a small brewpub in the middle of nowhere, they are seriously no joke on their beers.  The food that they served was decent enough and well enough on its own but their beers are pretty serious too.  The Phoenix Kriek is listed as #3 on the chart of Top Fruit/Vegetable Beers on Beer Advocate, so that is high praise on its own…but, they also own the #4 spot with their Framboise and #8 with their Saison de Peche.  Did I mention that was out of 1209 total beers listed in that category…that’s pretty god damn good.

After pulling out 40 hours at work between monday, tuesday and wednesday, it allowed me to have a 4 day weekend.  My wife has appointments all day and my daughter was at daycare, I decided to drag my buddy Scott (THEPORTERSORTER) out for a quick road trip to a small beer destination.  Mind you, I kept this a secret from him for no apparent reason other than stupidity but sometimes you just have to do something off the wall.  He was kind of perplexed when we pull up to Beckers Fruit Farm and Winery in Gasport NY…but he didnt realize that it was also home to Becker Brewing Company.   Becker Brewing Company is a small portion of the becker fruit farm which specializes in fruit (obviously) and fruit wines.  They have won many awards for their different styles of fruit wines from various competitions and display them proudly in their tasting room.  They also have a small contract brewing operation too, where they feature several beers that are contract brewed by Flying Bison Brewing Company in Buffalo NY.  Now the last time I had been to Becker Farm, I had heard from a bartender there that they were in the process of becoming a full time brewer and was in the process of puchasing the equipment and filing the necessary paperwork with New York State.  Well, upon return there this week, it appears there has been no change in that thinking as their beers are still under contract with Flying Bison.  Here is what I tried out…

  • Becker Brewing Pony Pale Ale (NY)(5.3% ABV) was a very weak Pale Ale as it had no hop character to it at all, just the nose and tasting of German Malts.  3.10 Rating
  • Becker Brewing IPA (NY)(5.0% ABV) had a nice piney nose and taste with a backbone of german malts too.  It was drinkable but didnt mesh well with the german malts.  3.63 Rating
  • Becker Brewing Blueberry Wheat (NY)(4.8% ABV) was the star of the group as it had definite wheat and blueberry nose and flavors present.  The flavors were nice and balanced and the blueberry flavor seemed authentic, not extracts or purees but a true blueberry flavor.  A very nice, refreshing summer ale.  3.80 Rating
  • Becker Brewing Rooster Red (NY)(5.25 ABV) hmm, surprisingly tastes like an under carbonated Flying Bison Aviator Red…need I say more.  If you want to try this, crack open an Avaitor Red, let it st for three hours, then pour into a pint glass and drink.  3.75 Rating

Overall, it was nice to stop by my local brewery and give them my support but unfortunately, it has way too much influence from their contract brewer at Flying Bison.  German Malts are nice when used in German Styled Beers…which they brew none here.  Also, I a not a fan of Flying Bison as they typically brew german style beers but in a very bland, boring way.  I look forward to the day if and when Beckers starts to brew their own beer…even if it sucks, at least it will be theirs and not someone elses leftovers.

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