Monday, January 31, 2011

Rich Goes to Media

My wife had to do some work at her job in Chester, so being the loving husband that I am, I volunteered to come along and meet her for lunch.  Unfortunately for me, I had to find a way to kill two and a half hours before she was finished.  Poor me.  My sacrifice included a trip to Pinocchio's followed by a visit to the Iron Hill nearby.  Can you believe that I was willing to do this for her?  Crazy nice, I know.

With a bit of luck, we arrived at Pinocchio's at 10:30am when they opened.  I say luck since I didn't bother looking up where it was and we just sort of happened upon it.  It's right on Baltimore Ave. so it's hard to miss at least.  At first I thought I was in the wrong place as I walked into the small takeout area which has a cooler with some normal stuff but nothing interesting.  This was not the Pinocchio's I had heard about.  Luckily, another guy was there and as I was walking away I found the real entrance to the beer garden.  About 10 coolers lined the wall all filled to the brim.  All locals were represented plus the usuals from Michigan.  I even saw a bottle of Dark Horse Fore which I hadn't really seen before.  Now this was the place I had heard so much about.

After spending a bit of time perusing the shelves I started chatting with Tim, the employee behind the counter.  Really knowledgeable guy and he even spends time trading.  In fact, behind the main counter a lot of his and his boss's trade booty was showcased and once I noticed I couldn't believe it.  Bottle of Black Tuesday, bottle of Bourbon County Rare, possibly some Bourbon County Vanilla, and just a ridiculously number of other awesome bottles.  Tim said they do it to show that they are interested in beer and not just selling it. Definitely impressed me.  Since I spent an hour there chatting with Tim, I figured I should pick something up so I got a bottle of Bell's HopSlam and a bottle of Stone 09-09-09 which was a nice find.  Great place and I'd easily go back again.  The food from the restaurant smelled pretty good too.

I mentioned to Tim I was going to Iron Hill and he suggested I first stop by a place called Quotations.  Weird looking place from the outside, but very large inside.  Large bar with comfortable seats.  Tap list was very good including HopSlam.  However, my interest was piqued by the Schloss Eggenberg Samichlaus, a beer I had heard a lot about but never seen outside of expensive bottles.  It's apparently a doppelbock but it's an absolute monster at 14%.
Very pretty looking beer.  Smelled of caramel, toffee and candied sugar.  First sip had some fig notes, toffee, caramel, and sugar with a bit of alcohol burn in the back.  Sweetness continues throughout with no bitterness at all to balance it.  It's absolutely a malt bomb but I even enjoy overly sweet beers so I enjoyed the candy and sugar flavors for what they were.  I also found it to be really drinkable at 14% and the alcohol burn diminished quickly.  The other cool thing about this beer is because of its strength it ages really, really well.  People talk about buying a bottle or two when their child is born and then opening them when the kid turns 21.  Something I'll definitely think about as it sounds neat.

After that, I finally made my way to Iron Hill.  Looks very similar to all the other Iron Hill restaurants.  Got a seat at the bar and of course ordered a sampler.
Front row: Roggen (a rye wheat) and Wee Heavy.
Back row: Sasquatch (an american barleywine), Bourbon Porter w/ vanilla, Bourbon Pumpkin, and Madness (their Russian Imperial Stout dry hopped to hell and back).

I basically went from light to dark so I started with the Roggen.  Smelled of bananas and cloves.  Tasted like a wheat beer with a bit of rye spiciness to it.  I found it to be an interesting take on a weiss style but it was still a weiss and still had that dirty dish water edge that I find sometimes.  (I'm not a huge fan of normal weiss beers if you can't tell.  Weizenbocks yes, normal no.)

After that was the Bourbon Pumpkin.  Smelled like pumpkin spices, but very muted.  Flavor, however, tasted of water followed by a shot of bourbon.  A tiny bit of pumpkin came through a little into it but mostly it was just bourbon.  Not a big fan.

The Wee Heavy was next and it almost made up for it.  Some caramel in the nose but not strong.  Decent mouthfeel.  I got caramel, toffee, and some lingering sweetness but again it was slightly muted.  Get the flavors up and it would be a winner.

However, the Sasquatch washed all those away.  Smelled of citrusy hops.  Continued in the first sip with hops up front that give way to a delicious fruity sweetness.  Very good barleywine and very tasty.

The next to last sample was the Madness.  Randomly, a lot of chocolate in the nose.  Again, nice mouthfeel on this one.  Got roast and some chocolate in the beginning which is quickly washed away by the bitterness of the dry hopping.  Some lingering bitterness too.  Honestly, it was better than I expected and I bet the RIS base is really great.  Iron Hill has won a lot of awards for their RIS and I'd be interested in trying it normally as it was quite tasty even dry hopped.

I finished up the sampler with the Bourbon Porter aged with vanilla beans as I thought it would be the best.  Unfortunately, it had the same issues as the Bourbon Pumpkin and was just very bourbony without much else.  If you like bourbon you'd probably still like it, but at least as a sample it just didn't do it for me.

After that I got a glass of the Sasquatch.
I'll be honest that while this glass was delicious it was most definitely a mistake to order it.  I was already a little hungover in the morning from the beer tasting the night before and this and the Samichlaus caused me to have my second hangover.  Never a good thing when you end up with more than one hangover on the same day.  It was delicious though so maybe it was worth it.  Jo probably doesn't think so since I basically spent the rest of the day asleep on the couch.  Sorry Jo!

Still even with the resulting hangover, my day in Media was awesome.  Pinocchio's was even better then I expected, especially the employees (at least Tim was and I figure the rest are as nice), Quotations was a nice find, and Iron Hill's Sasquatch was great.  It was seriously nice of me to make this sacrifice and accompany her to work for lunch.  I'm sure Jo was appreciative.

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