Thursday, May 19, 2011

Philly Beer Geek Contest at the POPE

This past Monday, I finally had a chance to make it to a bar that was hosting a Philly Beer Geek prelimary qualifying round.  The Philly Beer Geek contest is sort of a beer quizo kind of thing but the prelim rounds vary slightly depending on the bar.  The one at the POPE (Pub on Passyunk East) was hosted by Carolyn Smagalski, Beer Fox of BellaOnline, and last year's Philly Beer Geek Steve Hawk. (If you've been reading long enough, you may remember I went to a BBQ in his honor at The Hulmeville Inn without knowing what it was a while back.)  The contest was separated into four rounds.  The first two rounds were ten questions with each question being one and two points, respectively.  The third round was two beer samples off the draft list and I was supposed to identify them and they were each worth fifteen points.  The last round was eight slightly more difficult questions worth four points each and two very hard questions worth ten.  

I really had no idea what to expect but it turned out the trivia was pretty easy but the tastings incredibly difficult even after all my practice writing this blog.  I only got one question wrong out of the thirty, but since I didn't get either tasting I ended up losing by one point to someone who got one of the tastings correct.  Kind of a bummer since that means he got like four or five questions wrong and considering only one was difficult, it's kind of funny.  I honestly expected the questions to be harder but it ended up that the only sort of difficult ones were multiple choice and so they were still easy.  Regardless, it was pretty neat to participate in a beer-centric quizo for once and finally see what the Philly Beer Geek contest was about even if I lost.

So that was the main reason Jo and I went to the POPE, but, of course, I also had a few beers that night.  Can't participate in a beer geek contest without drinking beer.  I actually had off Tuesday so I also didn't have to worry about drinking too much and being groggy the next day at work.  The first beer I had was Lost Abbey Angel's Share, an american strong ale aged in brandy barrels, something I've been looking to try on draft for a while now.
First, notice the Philly Beer Week guide in the background and realize that it starts in almost two weeks.  So freaking exciting!  Okay Angel's Share.  Huge boozy, brandy nose, very sweet without any notes of alcohol.  Really inviting.  Just delicious flavors.  Brandy is prominent with a syrupy mouthfeel and very, very little alcohol notes.  I got hints of brown sugar, caramel, candied sugar and vanilla.  Unlike some barrel aged beers, the brandy flavors were always present but never became too boozy tasting which is exactly what I'm looking for from aging.  This was a really well made beer.  I'll note, though, that Lost Abbey has huge issues with quality control in their bottling.  Bottles are often way under-carbonated, some have reports of infection, and the good ones are always expensive.  Look for this on draft, not in bottles because of that in my opinion but definitely look for it as it was awesome.

Up next was Dogfish Head Burton Baton, a double IPA aged in wood barrels.  I moved seats for the Beer Geek contest so the pictures are not nearly as good now.  Sorry!
Very citrusy, hoppy nose.  The flavors were more medium level citrus with very mild, almost non-existent bitterness.  Nice caramel backbone that wasn't particularly sweet.  You can get hints of the barrel aging as the hops are a bit muted and the whole package is pretty smooth.  I believe they dry hop it at the end to get some of the hop flavor back, but I'm not real sure.  This was good too and a pretty different type of double IPA.

Last was a Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere, a slightly sour saison as per the usual from Jolly Pumpkin.
Sort of a ghost beer according to my picture.  Pretty sure it was a brown color, not too dark.  Spicy nose, pretty much what you'd expect from a saison, with a hint of the Jolly Pumpkin sourness.  A little sour up front, then a little pepperiness, and finally finished mildly tart.  Nice mix of spicy and sour with neither overwhelming the other.  Sour saison is a nice combination for sure and Jolly Pumpkin did it well.

We hadn't been back at the POPE since the Craft Beer Express back in March so the Philly Beer Geek competition made for a good reason.  The trivia turned out to be pretty fun, I discovered my palate is kind of terrible, and also had some really good beers.  The brandy Angel's Share was just delicious and the other two weren't too shabby either.  I enjoyed the time at the POPE too, seems like a nice bar in South Philly and their beer list was quite good.  Fun night that would have only been made better if I had won.  However, I made up for that fact by going to Time on Wednesday and winning there so now it's no big deal.  Yeah me!

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