Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dark Horse at Hawthorne's Plus some Time

Wednesday of Philly Beer Week was pretty busy for me. I needed to fit in a visit to Hawthorne's cafe to drink a bunch of rare Dark Horse beers and then meet my wife for dinner. All without getting wasted since, well, it was Wednesday and I'm not an alcoholic. Tough, I know, but I figured I could manage it.

I arrived at Hawthorne's around 4:30 and it was still basically empty which was nice. I figured it would fill up at some point but all I needed was one seat so success! It was really difficult deciding what beer to order first, but I decided on the one sour on the list, Lambeak Wants Raspberry.
Tart, raspberry nose. Holy crap, super tart and sour first sip. Surprisingly sour. Luckily the super clean raspberry flavor pulls the tartness back a few notches and really balances it out. Just really fantastic. Avoids the sulfur character sometimes present in raspberry sours and it didn't dry my mouth out either. Honestly, this was better than the Lost Abbey Framboise De Amorosa I had on Sunday. Just way more balanced and way less sweet. Really great way to start off the night.

After that, I joined up with some guys from Bella Vista since they needed a bunch of seats and I was sitting in the middle of about 8 seats and didn't mind moving over. Phil, one of the people I was seeing at like two-thirds of the events I went to, invited me to join them so I had some company for a while which was nice. At that point I ordered my second beer, the Raspberry Icee Black.
Somehow it smelled like raspberry iced tea. I don't know how they managed it but it was amazingly close. Nice mouthfeel. Started with raspberry and chocolate with a little roast in the finish. The raspberry was a bit mild throughout, so it was more of an accent flavor than anything. Oh, and it didn't taste like iced tea regardless of the aroma.

After that I got a glass of AK47, a chocolate hazelnut porter.
My notes are pretty sparse here which generally means I wasn't real impressed. It smelled mildly of hazelnut and chocolate. Tasted roasty with a little bit of hazelnut, no chocolate that I could find. To me, this just tasted like a weak flavored porter which after the Deschutes Black Butte wasn't going to cut it. Not bad, just unimpressive.

However, the next and last beer totally made up for it. That beer was Super Juice, a monster triple IPA coming in at 16% ABV. This is sort of billed as the big brother of Crooked Tree and Double Crooked Tree but I guess Triple Crooked Tree doesn't flow off the tongue as well as Super Juice.
I'll start off with saying this was amazing and very nearly my favorite beer in all of beer week. There were so many great flavors. Really sweet hoppy nose with a nice grapefruit edge. Very thick mouthfeel. Sweetness, grapefruit, malt and some other unidentifiable flavors all appear in the first sip. No alcohol at all that I found which is amazing. Continues with the complex mixing of sweetness (almost caramel) and grapefruit with the sweetness being more malty instead of sugary like in some other super high ABV beers. Just really impressive and I hope they end up bottling it at some point just so I can have more of it.

So that was Dark Horse at Hawthorne's. By the time I left at 6:40, the place was packed with a long waiting list for tables. There were still quite a few other beers I wanted to try, but I needed to meet Jo at Time Restaurant so had to head out. Plus, really, four beers is really plenty for a random Wednesday especially when one is 16%. As a side note, I also got to talk with Jordan, the owner of Bella Vista, which was a ton of fun. I got to ask all sorts of random questions and he didn't seem to mind. I met him the first time back during the release of Troegs Splinter Black. Of course looking at that post I didn't mention it but I really did meet him then.

Okay so on to Time Restaurant, the site of my Philly Beer Geek prelim round. This was the first time I'd been back since then. It was pretty full because of Center City Sips but Jo and got a table for two pretty much immediately. I said hello to Terry, their General Manager, and then settled down for a glass of the new anniversary beer from Weyerbacher, their Sixteen, a braggot.
A braggot is a beer that's close to a mead. It's made with a ton of honey with some hops to balance it out. Not a style you see often. I'm pretty sure if you could actually see the color that it's nearly purple but it's hard to say. I guess I lied the other day when I said the rest of my pictures would be good. Smelled like bananas and reminded me of Merry Monks. Not sure if it was made with their Belgian yeast strain or if I was just mistaking the huge sweetness for bananas. Tasted of caramel and bananas and was super sweet, nearly overpoweringly so. I got a small sample of Merry Monks because I was so convinced they tasted similar and the Sixteen didn't have as much banana as it so my tastes are probably just not quite refined enough. Or it's just cloyingly sweet and that's the result. Some might like it, but I wasn't a big fan.

After that, to finish off the night in an easy manner, I got a glass of the Sierra Nevada Lighter Shade of Pale. It is a Beer Camp beer brewed by Terry from Time, Casey from Jose Pistola's and a couple others from the Philly area.
It was a golden color I believe. Big floral nose on it. Impressive aroma and flavors for a 4.2% pale ale. Lots of flavor. Floral, slightly hoppy and very clean. Easy to drink, quite tasty, and really good. If you like pale ales, I'd really suggest trying it if you can still find it. Lew Bryson would be proud.

Quite a Wednesday. Six beers, two restaurants, and one great dinner. My favorite sour of the week along with probably my favorite beer of the week, Super Juice. Good to finally make it back to Time as well and the dinner we had was quite tasty. The Dark Horse event at Hawthorne's was one of the top two tap takeovers as well, rivaled only by the Kraftwork event with Avery which I'll talk about tomorrow. Great list and a great time.

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