Ale On The Town

Mar 6, 2013

by: Donny Smith and Sean Null

Logo_LoveCraftBeer_PintOrangeHey gang!
Lets just say that you know little or nothing about craft beer, but you sure do seem to be seeing and hearing more and more about it lately. You’re intrigued, but a little nervous because it’s new to you and you don’t want to walk into a bar or beer distributor and look or feel foolish.
Help has arrived!
This is a brand new column for Out on the Town written by myself (Donny Smith), and my good friend Sean Null. In this column we are going to cover the craft beer scene in and around NE Philly. We’ll cover not just the different types and styles of beer, but we’ll also cover some craft beer terminology, as well as the places that either have been, or are now getting into the craft beer scene.
This is going to be FUN!
About us – Sean and I are great friends! We ‘sample’ beer together, we brew beer together, and we are both involved in a local brew club called the ‘Lucky 13 Homebrew Club’. Sean takes it one step further and writes a blog about the different beers that he has sampled on a blog titled ‘Be Green and Flow’. Look it up – it’s AWESOME! Someday we’re going to open our own brewery called Wissinoming Brewery, but that’s a little ways off (insert *looking for investors* comment here).
Lets start with some simple terminology:
Craft Beer – A craft beer is a beer that typically comes from a micro or an independent brewery. To put it another way, a beer that is crafted rather than mass manufactured or mass produced.
Growler  – A growler is a reusable glass container that holds about a 1/2 gallon of beer (4-5 pints), and they typically cost about $10-$15 to fill depending on the beer. Filled and chilled they can last up to 2 weeks, however once opened, you’ll probably only get about 2 days out of a fill. Scoats, another good friend of mine who is the crack like dealer who got me hooked on these beers some time ago, explained it to me this way – “Think of it like opening a 2 liter soda bottle. The more you open it and the more air you let in, the faster it’ll go flat. Same thing with a growler.”
Flight – A flight is hands down the BEST way to sample whats on tap! You walk into a bar, pick 4 beers that you’d like to try, and take a flight. A flight consists of 4 or more 4-6oz glasses of beer that are usually served on a paddle or tray of some sort and are priced right around the cost of a single pint.
Beer Menu – Some places have their beers currently on tap described on individual cards, some places offer them all on one menu, and some places have their menu hanging on a wall somewhere. Either way a beer menu will tell you everything about the beer including where it came from, what type of beer it is, the cost, as well as the alcohol content.
Pint – 16 ounces or 1/8th of a gallon (bet cha didn’t know that!). Some places offer Half’s or Smalls (1/2 pints), but not all
Featured this month is – McStews Irish Pub
I had been thinking about doing a column like this for quite some time, however after visiting McStews and noticing their new involvement in the craft beer scene, I decided to get off of my a** and get crackin on it. McStews didn’t just put a couple of craft beers on tap, they went ALL IN!! They now have 15 beers on tap with 7 of them being craft style beers. The beers are all well described on their easy to read laminated Beer Menus which are placed everywhere throughout the bar. The beers are available in Mugs, Pints, as part of a Flight (which McStews calls “Samplers”), as well as Growler fills. McStews also sells empty growlers should you need one.
But it doesn’t end there!!
McStews also has one HELUVA take out section! They offer some of the best craft beers and ciders out there including Wyerbacher, Yards, Victory, Rogue, Great Lakes, Stone, Woodchuck, Angry Orchard, you name it, they’ve probably got it! Want more info? Another really cool thing that McStews has is a “Beer Book” of sorts that describes everything about every beer that they currently have, or beers that they can order. It’s AWESOME and it’s sitting right there on the side of the refrigerator – Check it out!
Back in the bar area Sean took a flight, and I’ll let him describe his flight and the beers that he sampled.
Sean: Hey Philly! You know, you have the greatest beer history in the United States and you have the greatest beer selection in perhaps the world! I’m glad to see so many of my neighbors taking interest in craft beer even on down to brewing their own now!
Last night I took a flight with a few craft brews from McStews! Donny was making the most of a keg of Stone 12-12-12.
The flights (sampler) that they have consists of four 4 oz. pilsner style glasses (long, tall and thin with a flared rim) on a rack that you can fill with any of the beer they have on tap. I chose:
Stone 12-12-12 – Verticle Epic Ale which, to not go into too much detail, is a holiday style ale that pours black with a brown creamy head and tastes like gingerbread and hops but not overly bitter at the end.  It’s a pretty well balanced beer (hops and sweetness) and a full body (body can roughly be described as either watery or syrupy or middle of the road).  I liked this beer. Donny loved it!
Sly Fox Rauchbier –  Rauchbier is a German beer named “smoked beer”. The grains that they used to brew it were smoked with beechwood just like beef jerky or salmon and you can really taste it in this beer! An amber colored beer with a thin white head that tastes and smells sweet from the malts and heavily smokey and not a lot of hop bitterness.  It was my least favorite of the night.
Allagash Curieux Ale is a beer that is made with 3 times the amount of normal grains and aged in bourbon barrels so it pours a clear golden straw color and has a light malty sweet aroma mixed with bourbon.  It tastes pretty much as it smells and has only a mild hoppy finish.  It’s just enough to make you want more! And I do! I would drink this again for sure!
Sam Adams Alpine Spring was my final beer on the flight and my favorite of the night. It’s a lager style beer mixed with two other beer styles that are slightly higher alcohol and a tad sweeter. It smelled and tasted slightly citrusy and malty sweet with a hint of apricot with a  medium body and creamy sweet finish and barely noticeable hops.
These four beers are a great way to transition from the “big beers” into the craft beer world as they are not bitterly offensive at all! McStews is doing a great job at bringing craft beer to the Northeast! Give them a try!
Donny: Well that about covers this months column gang, and we hope that you enjoyed it and and learned a little something. If you have any questions, comments, or you want to invite us out for a beer, shoot us an email – Donny: DonnysJokes@yahoo.com – Sean: snull37@gmail.com
Life is a garden – Dig it!

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