Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Day (and part of a night) at the Khyber Pass Pub

While Bryan over at The Brew Lounge decided to be responsible, I definitely was not this past Saturday.  What began as spending an afternoon at the Khyber Pass Pub ended up with me being there for around nine hours.  Honestly, it started with the best of intentions.  Jo was out of town, they were having an event called Tsar Power where they put a bunch of imperial stouts on draft, and I was going to go have a couple to pass the time in the afternoon.  Even when a tweet came out from PhillyTapFinder with the list of stouts and it included Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout and 15 other really impressive stouts, I still thought I'd only spend a couple hours.  However, when the time came, I just talked and talked and talked and drank and drank and all of a sudden it was 10pm.  Still, in the end, it was totally worth it even if I was pretty hungover the next day.

It started around 1pm.  This was the first time I've been to the Khyber in forever and it looked pretty cool.  A bit dark (which is why all my pictures will be mostly awful) but it had a nice bar with a small seating area on the side.  As I walked in I saw Bryan Kolesar and an old coworker, Kevin, sitting at the end of the bar so I chatted with them for a bit and then took a seat once they left.  My first beer was, of course, Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS).
You may remember my previous post when I opened a bottle of it and found the flavors were decent but definitely clashed with each other.  However, I didn't have any of those issues and discovered why people love it so much.  Mild bourbon and roast in the nose but slightly subdued because it was a little cold.  Initially vanilla, then roast followed by coffee.  Some bourbon notes throughout but never overpowering.  Really good way to start the day.

Up next was the Voodoo Cowbell which I've been trying to find for while as I love milk stouts.
Sweet aroma.  Sweet up front, followed by the sugary lactose you'd expect from a milk stout, and finishing clean with some nice roast.  Well balanced for a milk stout with the stout part not being overpowered by the lactose.  Making it stronger (it's around 8.5%) probably helps with that.  Sort of reminded me of a chocolate and vanilla shake.  Quite good and worth the wait.

Part of the reason I spent so long at the Khyber was because I was talking to everyone.  They didn't seem to mind so it worked out well for all of us.  I got to meet Chris from Philadelphia Brewing Company, Jeremy the Beverage Manager of the Khyber, his girlfriend Michelle plus a whole bunch of other people.  I always really enjoy talking to the people who handle the beer ordering for bars so it was really cool talking to Jeremy.  Really nice guy too.  He was saying the Founders KBS only arrived the night before so he couldn't advertise it as much as he wanted.  Considering I think it was the first keg tapped in the city and it's a ridiculously popular beer, it's a shame since it would have gotten people in the bar.  Good for him for waiting until the beer was in house before advertising it though.

After the cowbell, I went with a glass of Avery Mephistopheles, one of the monster stouts on draft Saturday weighing in at 15%.  I have a bottle in my "cellar" but was excited to be able to have it on draft so I can save it for longer.
Some roast in the aroma but mostly I got alcohol.  First sip was figs, plums, raisins followed by a mouthful of alcohol.  Up front the alcohol is a bit tough but as you get used to it, the flavor definitely mellows.  It ends with some chocolate and caramel but I found the alcohol to be the main point.  Reminded me of Dogfish Head World Wide Stout.

I saw Dock Street Prince Myshkin was on the list and was excited to try it on draft.  No picture as I forgot but it was served in a tulip and it was black just like everything else that day.  Basically it looked like a stout.  I first had a bottle of it during the awesome stout tasting back in January and thought it was great so I was excited to have it again. Unfortunately, the keg wasn't the same at all.  Either they bottled a different batch or this was a keg of their previous release.  It was still decent, just not on the level as the bottled version.  You know, the more I think about it, this may have actually been the base beer which would totally explain the difference.  Meaning, the bottled version is the "Oak Aged" version but this one wasn't.  Who knows.  Regardless, I'm rambling.  Roasty nose.  Taste was middle of the road Russian Imperial Stout.  Tiny bit of dark fruit, some roast and a little alcohol.  Good but probably the least impressive of the eight I had at the Khyber.

Following that I had the Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout.
This was a straight forward Russian Imperial Stout done right.  Tiny bit of sweetness in the nose followed by roast.  First sip is pleasant roastiness, huge dark fruit flavors, chocolate and some finishing vanilla.  Just really blown away by how well it all came together.  Definitely a good one.

At this point I was five stouts in and had already outlasted two groups of people.  It was probably like 6pm already and I hadn't eaten anything.  While I convinced myself I wasn't really drunk, I took one look at the food menu and settled on Bacon Grease Popcorn with cajun spices.  While I may have thought that was good if I was sober, I don't think I would have chosen it quite so quickly.  Five minutes later I realized I made a good choice.  So good.  The bag was absolutely enormous though and I didn't come close to finishing it even with the help of some people around me.  The only gross thing was the swimming pool of grease it left on the bar.  Still, delicious.

With "food" in hand, I moved on to the weirdest stout of the night, the Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura.
Now this may be an Imperial Stout according to Jolly Pumpkin, but I don't know who they're kidding.  I smelled it and my first thought was "holy crap, sour."  Taste followed with a really pleasant mild sour chocolate flavor.  It sounds sort of gross but was honestly a nice change of pace.  I was impressed although again there is no way I'd consider this a stout in anything other than color.  Don't be fooled by Jolly Pumpkin's style suggestions on anything they make.

Along with the Mephistopheles, the Khyber also had the Avery Czar, a normal Imperial Stout from them.  I figured if I had the monster stout from Avery I should have the normal one too.
Mild nose with a tiny bit of roast.  (I think I've written that sentence a couple times already.  Ah well.)  Dark fruit initially then roast and chocolate follow.  Not quite as good as the Nøgne Ø but still a good example of the style.

For my final beer, I let the bartender decide.  I couldn't choose between Oskar Blues Ten-Fidy and a Ballast Point stout so I just had him choose and he chose Ten-Fidy.
I had Ten-Fidy once before years ago when I did a beer tasting for my birthday but haven't had it since.  Smelled roasty and that's about it.  Just like the past few it was very fruity up front.  Thick mouthfeel.  Some chocolate appears as I drank more.  Just a little alcohol burn in the finish.  So, again, a good example of the Russian Imperial Stout style.

So that's it.  Eight different stouts in about nine hours.  I met a bunch of great people, got to experience the Khyber for the first time, and just had an all around great time.  Sure I only meant to stay for four hours, but well sometimes things don't go according to plan.  And, really, I had no where to be and nothing much to do anyway so who needs to be responsible.


  1. Having a car as my means of transport home definitely influenced the 'responsible-Bryan' to rear his head.

    Good times, indeed. I thought the same of the crowd, even seeing yet one more person I knew while Kevin and I were on the way out the door. Jeremy in the house, and Johnny and Megan behind the bar added to the comfort of the day at Khyber.

    Saturday must have been the day of event-hopping, since I saw three people from the Khyber later at TJ's!

    Nice how your dark pictures provide a glimpse into the dark beers of the day! And, too, how the pictures appear to get darker as the day/night wore on :)

  2. True enough. I wandered to a bus and took that home at the end of my marathon.

    Funny enough about the pictures. I noticed that I could see a decent outline in the top ones and then it just kept getting worse and worse. I liked the picture that you took actually. Artistic.

    I still need to get out to TJs. A guy I met at Cooperstown, John, works at Exton Beverage and he was talking about doing an R5 bar hop at some point starting at the Station or something like that. A lot of travel but seems worth it.