March 19, 2010

Port Brewing Wipeout IPA

If someone were to ask me my definition of heaven, right now I'd say I'm living it. It's an absolutely gorgeous Friday afternoon. I'm watching the basketball games on TV (even though I'm not doing quite as well in my pool as I would like) and I'm going to write about an incredible beer I had the other night. Plus, I have plans tonight that include a pedicure and then meeting the head brewer of one of my favorite breweries, Ballast Point. Do Fridays get better than this??

That all being said, let's get to the focus of this post - the Port Brewing Wipeout IPA. For those of you living in the Philly area, you've probably heard that Dave Ansill is now the executive chef at Ladder 15. If that weren't enough to make you run right over there, they also just relaunched their beer menu and have some incredible craft brews both on tap and by the bottle. It was at the launch party of this new menu that I got to try the Wipeout.

Wipeout IPA is everything that I love in an IPA. The pour is a golden orange. The smell is perfect with the hops (citrusy, piney) coming through strongest and some slightly sweet malts in the background. The taste is wonderful! It starts off a little bitter, but not overwhelmingly so. It's a great balance between the hoppy tastes (so, so good) and malt, making it very drinkable. The relatively low - 7% ABV - adds to the drinkability. I think this is a good IPA for someone who is wary of extreme bitterness to try (although one guy I was talking to that tasted it found it to be too hoppy. I should point out that his choice of beer that night was a Corona so maybe he's not the best person to use as a point of reference. In his defense - in case he reads this! - I got him to try a Left Hand Polestar Pilsner and he loved it.).

While not exactly a grail beer like Pliny the Younger was, this is a beer I've been excited to try and it didn't disappoint. Definitely looking forward to lots more of it!

March 17, 2010

Hello again

I knew it had been a while since I'd posted, but seeing that it's been over two weeks makes me feel a bit ashamed. However, I think there comes a point in everyone's life where they (should) take some time to assess where they're at and where they're going. I did this back in the summer, when I made the decision to leave my job because I was so unhappy. And I did it a couple of weeks ago when I realized just how often I was going out and how often I was drinking. I guess that's one of the dangers of writing about beer!

I've always been a big drinker, ever since I had my first taste of beer back in college (and it was Natty Light! Eww!). Over the years, the drink - and quality - may have changed, but the quantity really hasn't. It's not something that I'm alone in struggling with - I've talked to others who write about beer who admit that at times it's overwhelming, especially living in Philly. There are so many beer events going on nightly, and there are so many great beers we want to try. Even Lew Bryson recently said on Facebook that he was "writing a column about how folks who drink craft beer are not immune to drinking too much of it...and thinking about what we can do about it". This wall post sparked a number of comments, so I guess it really is something people think about. (I'm interested in reading the article when it comes out.)

I didn't become a teetotaler for those couple of weeks, but I did stop going out nightly and tried to only go out once or twice a week. I also skipped a number of beer events I really wanted to go to (it helped that I had a stomach bug for a weekend, so had to miss some events). I have to say, I feel better about things than I did a couple of weeks ago and am ready to go out again.

I'm not saying this to be preachy. Everyone has different feelings about how much is too much. I'd just gotten to a point where I felt I was drinking too much too often. I'm proud to say I went out last night - to a craft beer menu launch at a restaurant - and had 3 beers in about 3 hours. I went out Saturday night and had 3.5 beers over 4 hours. Those are really good numbers for me, and ones I hope to continue with.

Sorry that my first post in a couple of weeks is about something that some people may not want to read about. But I wanted to be honest about why I'd been away, and what my thoughts have been. It's ironic that I'm posting this on St. Patty's Day, a day that I've typically devoted to drinking and celebrating my non-Irishness. I'll still be going out tonight and celebrating. It will just be with a couple of less beers than I've celebrated with in the past.


PS. Tomorrow I get back to beer reviews. I had the Port Brewing Wipeout last night, loved it, and can't wait to write about it!

March 2, 2010

Pliny the Younger

Since getting in to craft beer over the past year, there are some beers that I constantly hear about. Pliny the Younger is one of them. It started over the summer when I wrote about Pliny the Elder. I received comments that if I liked Elder I had to search out the Younger. At the time I didn't realize just how rare Younger is. Actually, I never really gave much thought to the distribution or availability of any beer since those I was used to drinking (Miller Lite, Amstel Lite, etc) were available anywhere, anytime. I'm much smarter about things now.

Anyway, yesterday was a banner day for this beer drinker. Philly has been lucky enough to receive a number of kegs of the Younger. I know it's been tapped at a couple of places, and it kicks within minutes. I learned that a keg was going to be tapped at 11:30 Monday morning at Monk's Cafe. I'd heard that there would be a line, but I figured it was a Monday morning, people had to work, it wouldn't be too bad. Work seemed to be an afterthought for the folks who were lined up by the time I got there, a little after 11 am. The line wasn't too bad, though, and the doors opened promptly at 11:30. People piled in to the small front bar. It was packed, but the crowd was composed. All waited patiently for their chance to order a beer. And patience paid off when I was handed my first (and what would be my only) glass of the elusive Younger.

I was a bit worried that the beer wouldn't live up to my expectations. After all, this is the top-rated beer in the world! I'm happy to say it was all that I hoped it would be and more, starting with the pour. A beautiful golden, amber. And the smell - ah, the smell. An amazing hop smell that had me sniffing over and over again. Citrus, pine, it was all there. And the taste followed. Grapefruit, pine, and some sweet malt coming through to balance it all out. This is a big beer (11% ABV) but it is so well balanced that it's extremely drinkable - almost dangerously so. Funny side note, I was talking to a guy standing next to me and asked what he thought the ABV was. His answer? "Probably about 5 or 6%". I almost laughed out loud. Maybe I did laugh out loud. Really? A sessionable DIPA? Ha!

I was about 1/2 way through my beer when word went 'round the bar that the keg had kicked (about 30 to 40 minutes after it was tapped). I didn't think I was going to have another one (it was, after all, such a big beer) and I was so glad that I'd gotten my first taste. There are other events featuring the Younger throughout the next few weeks, so I'm hopeful to get another taste before it's all gone.

Another interesting note - it wasn't just the Younger that was tapped that morning, and that wasn't the only beer that brought the crowd. There was also Supplication, Temptation, and Consecration (barrel-aged sours) that had people swooning, and those all kicked before the Blind Pig or Pliny the Elder, which was fine with me since I had a Blind Pig to follow up the Younger. I've said it before and I'll say it again - Russian River does no wrong!