Sunday, September 5, 2010
Across from the bar was a shelf with a ton of bottles on it. The above picture shows Blithering Idiot and possibly their new Harvest Ale. The cool thing was that while you still had to buy a full case of beer because of stupid Pennsylvania liquor laws, they let you make a case from any assortment of bottles that they had for sale. The case started at $32 and they just added a small amount if you added their bigger beers to your selection. If you live near the brewery and like their beer, it's an easy way to get an excellent mix of great beer.
However, the key to this place and our visit was the bar. They had every beer currently out available to be tasted. I started with the Quad just because I hadn't had it in a while whereas Jo started with the Autumn Fest. I wanted to try everything and at the same time find a beer that we both would like to get in a growler. Surprisingly, Jo actually liked the Quad but even if it was available for growler filling it's a bit much to drink multiple pints of it considering it's 11%.
After that we had 30 minutes before the tour started so I took full advantage of the offerings and tried nearly everything. Their new anniversary beer, Fifteen (XV), was a Smoked Imperial Stout and was really delicious. The smoky flavor wasn't huge in the small tasting glass, but I'm betting a full bottle would build on itself. The Blithering Idiot, their barleywine, was just great. I can't wait until Insanity comes out this year which ages the Blithering Idiot in oak barrels. I don't think I've ever had it and it sounds awesome. The other cool thing they did was giving you two separate samples of any beer they currently bottle fermented. So, for example, if you asked for a sample of Merry Monks, they'd give you a glass from the tap and a glass from the bottle. This let you compare the bottle conditioned version to the normal version and get a small idea what bottle conditioning does to a beer.
Following the tastings was their tour. Jo and I have been on quite a few tours and they are usually very similar, but this one was actually really interesting. The tour guide, Bill, explained where they get their malts and hops and that they only use malts from the correct regions for their beers. After that, he talked about their brewing process and how the beer moves through the different stages. All of that is pretty similar from brewery to brewery, but I did find out that they are currently aging their Riserva, a raspberry lambic (sort of), in the bottles and that it will be available soon. Definitely going to have to be on the lookout for that.
After the tour, Jo and I finished up by buying a growler of their Autumn Fest and an awesome t-shirt for me. We had a great time visiting this brewery. The tour guide was great, the bar offered plenty of samples, and the beer was top notch. If you find yourself up this way, it's definitely a place to check out. And after your tour you could take a short trip over to Pearly Baker's Ale House for a bite and some more good beer.