Ok, attempt number two here, duly noted everyone: never hit backspace when typing this blog out, unless you have saved…. (so let’s see how much I can remember that I typed and re-try this blog post).
Got a notice on my phone from Untappd that a local verified venue – Hershey Biergarten – updated their tap menu. And having a bit of free time, I decided I’d stop in and try a flight. The new addition was Dark Skies: Corvus by New Trail, a brewery I haven’t had yet and have heard nothing but raving reviews about, plus Schwarzbier is a style I flat out plainly like that is so rarely done, I figured I’d might as well give them a quick visit and check this out.
Seeing that they also had a few other beers that I haven’t had before, I figured why not stop in and try a flight. Its called doing research for this blog, and its a tough job, but somebody has to do it…. (sacrificing my liver enzymes for your reading pleasure).
Its been quite a while since I was last in the Hershey Biergarten (probably going on over a year now), so I figured I’d might as well try a flight. Their drafts were typically 7-8$ (6$ sometimes) and their flights were 10$. Since I was last there, they’ve upped it to 12$ for a flight of 4 5oz samplers. This is a bit steep (not bank breaking of course) compared to some other places (Funck’s in Campbelltown/Palmyra is 8$ for 4, 6/7$ if it’s all of the same brewery from one of their tap takeovers or other specialty events, Funck’s also has 56 taps). The Biergarten has 12 taps to choose from to pick your 4 samplers. Most breweries are 6-8$ depending on flight size (Boneshire is 6$ for inhouse beers, and 8$ for guests), Troegs has gone to a per-beer selection, same with Tattered Flag. The Hershey Biergarten has always been a bit pricey in this regards, for example their mix-a-six from their cooler is 17$ for a six-pack, whereas Weiss is 12$ for a mix-a-six. However, the Hershey Biergarten has a much better craft beer (and much better LOCAL craft beer) selection than Weiss has. So some of the upcharge is warranted. Typically also their 12 taps are pretty top notch stuff, and a fair bit of local top notch stuff, though with a place like Funck’s and having 56 choices, there’s usually a few good things to find for their sampler. (Also, remember, this is downtown Hershey, so a bit more of an added reason for the upcharge.)
Ok, enough yammering about things you probably don’t care about (unless you’re price comparing bars/beers) and onto things you (hopefully) care about – the beer.
New Trail, so far, has been known for their IPAs, getting amazing reviews on nearly all of their released IPAs. So of course, I never do anything normally, and thus, my first beer from them, is a Schwarzbier.
Schwarzbier is a typically underrated and unused style (at least in these parts of Central PA). Their called the “black” lagers or “dark” lagers. They are typically drier, darker, much more emphasis on dark and roasty malts and are much more roasted-oriented. They are usually bitter due to these roasted malts, have very low notes of anything other than the malts (no adjuncts, no hop aroma, no true high IBU, etc). Its one of the staples of the German lager and sadly its underutilized in this area. It also happens to be one of my favorite styles (along with Rauchbiers) that go far under the radar.
Some other local Schwarzbiers I’ve had were Columbia Kettle Work’s Kulmbacher, Desperate Times’ Black Forest Schwarzbier, River Bend’s Schwarzbier, Lancaster Brewing’s Jump Seat Schwarzbier, Funk’s Rumble, and Cox’s Phantom 20. I’ve enjoyed all, (though according to my Untappd ratings for them, Lancaster Brewing’s Jump Seat was noticeably lacking).
So let’s see what we got with this little gem:
Beer: Dark Skies: Corvus
Brewery: New Trail Brewing Co
Untappd Write-Up: Dark Skies: Corvus is a Schwarzbier. Brewed with a mix of light and dark Germanic malts. Lightly hopped with noble varieties. Expect. Rich chocolate and coffee aromatics complimented by a clean crisp lager taste. We plan to enjoy this at a campfire staring at the Dark Skies.
This beer exemplifies everything with this style. Great roasty smell right from the start. Even in a taster/sampler glass it has a nice light white to brown head that is soft and tops the beer off perfectly. Its got the great roasted malty notes and character without a clinging and cloying mouthfeel, its got a bitterness that matches what you want (and need) from a Schwarzbier, and there is no lingering or off-putting aftertaste. This is certainly one to check out. Especially if you are unfamiliar with the style, this is a great introduction to Schwarzbiers and will leave you wanting more.
My Untappd Rating: ****.25
Global Untappd Rating: 3.93 (as of 6.28.19)
I could’ve sworn I’ve had Cornshohocken before, assuming from one of the Mt. Hope/Renaissance Faire’s brewfests, but according to my Untappd I haven’t. (This actually unlocked my Brewery Pioneer #99 badge, which is how I realized I hadn’t had them before. Not that I’m overly concerned about badges, but just noted here thats how I realized it. But for those interested – the Brewery Pioneer badge is for every 5 new unique breweries you’ve tried a beer from, you get 1 level in it, so according to Untappd I’ve had 99 x 5 different beers from different breweries for a total of 495 breweries I’ve had at least one beer from.)
Sadly, this was extremely underwhelming.
Beer: Blood Money
Brewery: Cornshohocken Brewing Company
Style: IPA – American
Hops: Bravo and Cascade
Untappd Write-Up: Blood Money is a super juicy Blood Orange IPA, with aroma and flavor bursting at the seams. Bravo and Cascade hops and a hearty grain bill complement the juiciness of the blood orange.
Unfortunately, this tasted extremely watery and very thin. No mouthfeeel at all. A bit of an orange aroma, but nothing pow or strong or anything that struck me as powerful. The smell was just ‘there’, like unwrapping an orange starburst, its there, but not defining. And for an IPA that is based on just that, thats not a good start. Especially now reading the write-up that the brewery put on Untappd for it. Sadly both the aroma and flavor is completely lacking and definitely not “bursting at the seams”.
There’s not much to go on here. Its not really juicy as its very watery and thin, and its not really much of an IPA either, no hop notes, no bitterness, not much of anything. Its clear like a regular west coast/American IPA, but it doesn’t have that hop bite like a traditional IPA should have. It just has a muted orange flavor. Its not juicy either because of how watery it is. Sadly, this is just completely disappointing the whole way around.
My Untappd Rating: *** (and this might be a case of me being a bit generous)
Global Untappd Rating: 3.63 (as of 6.28.19)
Not a whole lot to go on here for backstory or writing on this one. Hershey Biergarten did have Dark Angel listed, I’m assuming from their Wicked Weed tap takeover a few weeks ago. Wanted to try that, and as he started to pour it for me it kicked, giving me enough to taste a few bubbles but not much more (by the way, those were tasty bubbles…).
This is certainly not bad either, but I have a feeling that the Dark Angel might/probably was better.
Beer: Lost Toys #3
Brewery: Wicked Weed Brewing
Style: Sour – Fruited
Untappd Write-up: [Blank]
This is another hold-out from their Wicked Weed tap takeover a few weeks ago. I haven’t had a large sample size of Wicked Weed, but everything I’ve had I’ve enjoyed. Before and after the InBev buyout.
This is certainly no exception. A nice tart stone-fruit beer. Kind of on the juicy side with a very flavorful tartness as you sip it down. Just overall a nice stone-fruit tart sour.
My Untappd Rating: ****
Global Untappd Rating: 3.81 (as of 6.28.19)
My last from the flight was another sour from Wicked Weed. Perhaps I should have split them up a bit with the Blood Money, or perhaps these are just that similar, rarely do I like to do sour after sour because they tend to blend in (same with doing West Coast IPA after West Coast IPA).
Brewery: Wicked Weed Brewing
Style: American Wild Ale
Untappd Write-Up: Medora is a blonde sour ale aged in red wine barrels with one pound of blackberries and raspberries per gallon. The result is a beautiful, fuchsia ale with bright berry character.
The daughter of a king, Medora was wrought with the burden of expectations. Her father did his utmost to speak confidence into his young daughter. Time passed and with it the king, leaving Medora his sole heir. Her melancholy deepened. One night a great meteor flashed across the northern sky. Her father’s words lit into her heart: “Choose happiness; no expectation of circumstance can usurp your will to rejoice in them.”
Medora thrived, and as for imposed expectations; she never gave them credence again.
There is a bit more going on with this one than the previous Lost Toys #3. Firstly this is an American Wild Ale vs. a Fruited Sour. So pretty much right off the bat you are knowing its going to have a more complicated taste just due to a more complicated yeast strain at work. Secondly, as Wicked Weed’s write up shows you, this was aged in wine barrels, so you know its going to be interesting for sure.
There is a wonderful tartness to this that is just added to by the wine aftertaste. It has a dryness and a tartness that makes it stand out in comparison to the Lost Toys #3. The look and hue of the beer owes to the raspberry and blackberry that was added with the barrels. This is where a lot of the flavor is picked up from as well. It has a great berry note from these, as well as a strong stone fruit taste from the original product itself.
Out of the two Wicked Weed sours, this one takes it, though neither is bad and make for an exceptional beer to drink, this one is just a bit better.
My Untappd Rating: ****.25
Global Untappd Rating: 4.16 (as of 6.28.19)
Another fun quick flight to enjoy. Hershey Biergarten is a nice craft beer place, a good tap list almost always, as well as a very good mix cooler for in house and to go. Some rarities to be found in it, but typically just a lot of good local craft beer in the case (Ever Grain, Boneshire, Tattered Flag, Troegs, Free Will, Levante, etc.) some nice hidden gems to search for in their cooler. Might have to stop by soon to get a mix-a-six for more “research” and blog posts.
Hershey Biergarten is located on 422/Chocolate Avenue right by the Duck Donuts. Its down the street from the new Primanti Brothers and Iron Hill Brewery.
Until next time everyone, stay thirsty.