Beer Review: Java the Stout (Jackie O’s Brewery)

Java the Stout Can Art

What better beer to review on Black Friday than a stout, and a Star Wars related / themed stout at that! There is a long history of Star Wars themed beers on the blog, you can find them if you use our search feature and type in STAR WARS, or see the list below:

I love doing pop culture related and themed beer reviews. Its much more fun than just doing a review of IPA #29292821 or Pale Ale #TK-422 (…do any of my Star Wars fans get that reference?). I have done quite a few to say the least; stemming from Back to the Future, to Spaceballs, to Scrooged, to Simpsons references, to Star Wars, to pro wrestling… to just about everything under the sun (or suns if you live on Tatooine). I’ll provide a link to most at the end of the review here.

There is always a bevy of pop culture related beers in the craft beer industry. From can art to names to logos, to even brewery names, they are often puns or quotes or pictures of different movies, characters, etc. Just this month alone I did a review with a Godfather pun (The Growfather), a Panda / Mandalorian cross review (The Pandalorian) and a Simpsons beer – I Voted for Kodos (and soon to be reviewed – I Voted for Kang).

As always, if you know of any Star Wars, or pop culture themed beers that you know of, or would like to see me review, or have access to, always get ahold of me, and I will gladly do a trade, or buy, or try to find said beer to review here on the blog.

For this beer, we have quite a bit to break down I think. First, lets start with the can art:

Java the Stout (by Jackie O’s) can art

There is a LOT going on here in this picture. Obviously, front center is Jabba the Hutt flying in / on Vader’s Advanced Tie X1 (oh yea… I went full nerd on that). In the background you have a ton of TIEs (TIE LN – the generic TIE Fighters from A New Hope) and X-Wings and lots and lots of lasers. You also have a Star Destroyer being blown up, as well as the Death Star II being blown up. There is also the Cloud City from Bespin (Empire Strikes Back) with what I assume is Godzilla or some other kind of giant reptile creature scaling it. The Milenium Falcon can also be seen in the background near the Death Star. I also spy a giant Moth / butterfly creature, I’m not sure what this is or what its a reference too, so I am a bit fuzzy and curious about that one. Apparently the lasers that are destroying the Star Destroyer stem straight from the eyes of the moth / butterfly creature, so maybe there’s some kind of reference out there that I’m missing (most likely).

Now, lets move onto discussing just who the “Java” is in reference too…

Jabba the Hutt (from Wookiepedia)

To quote the Wookiepedia:

If I told you half the things I’ve heard about this Jabba the Hutt, you’d probably short-circuit!“―C-3PO[src]

Jabba Desilijic Tiure, more commonly referred to as Jabba the Hutt or simply Jabba, and formally styled as His Excellency Jabba Desilijic Tiure of Nal Hutta, Eminence of Tatooine, was a Hutt gangster and crime lord, as well as a member of the Grand Hutt Council, who operated and led a criminal empire from his palace on the Outer Rim world of Tatooine. Jabba was a major figure on Tatooine, where he controlled the bulk of the trafficking in illegal goods, piracy and slavery that generated most of the planet’s wealth. He was also highly influential in the entire Outer Rim as one of its most powerful crime lords.

During the Clone Wars, Jabba’s influence and power over the Outer Rim, specifically its hyperlanes, was sought by both the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems, who both courted Jabba’s approval. When Rotta, Jabba’s son, was kidnapped, the crime lord promised his support to whoever returned his son. When the Separatists were revealed to have orchestrated Rotta’s kidnapping, Jabba pledged his support to the Republic.

Jabba continued to operate in the Outer Rim after the end of the Clone Wars and the rise of the Galactic Empire, preserving his power base, despite the interference of Darth Sidious, the Galactic Emperor. After the destruction of the Death Star by the Rebel Alliance, the Emperor sent Darth Vader to negotiate a deal with Jabba to secure raw materials for Imperial military production. Jabba’s alliance with the Empire allowed him and the Hutts to survive the Imperial crackdown against criminal elements in the Outer Rim, as well as rid the Hutt of his competitors.

After the smuggler Han Solo failed to repay him for lost cargo, Jabba placed a high price on his head. Solo was eventually delivered to him by one of his bounty huntersBoba Fett, as a gift from Darth Vader. However, this capture brought him to the attention of Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker, who sought to rescue his friend from Jabba’s imprisonment. As he attempted to execute the Jedi and his allies in the Great Pit of Carkoon, Jabba was choked to death by Leia Organa. With the Hutts unable to decide who would inherit Jabba’s criminal ventures, many of his slaves, including the Niktos, were free, and his palace was abandoned after the droid pool was deactivated.

Source: Jabba the Hutt – Wookiepedia Page

And that was just the brief of him, not the entirety of the article. Click the link above (at the source) to read his full entry! But, for a quick gist of him – Jabba the Hutt is the one who had Boba Fett capture Han Solo and with Darth Vader using Han Solo as a trap for Luke, got him frozen in carbonite, and then delivered to Jabba where he kept him as a ‘prize’ in his audience chamber. This set off the key events of the end of Empire Strikes Back and the beginning of Return of the Jedi. Jabba the Hutt was also the one who sent Greedo after Han Solo in A New Hope. (He’s also the feature of the full length Clone Wars movie, as well as makes an appearance in The Phantom Menace, as well as in several other mediums and stories in Star Wars EU [Expanded Universe]. To sum him up – he is the ‘Don’ or ‘Godfather’ or ‘Capo’ of his crime family.)

Ok, whew, that was all a lot to digest; especially if you’re not a nerd. (And really, if you’re not, why are you still reading all this gibberish? Its gotta be pretty much nonsensical to you by this point!) I think we have a good basis now, from the can art, to the backstory of Jabba the Hutt, so lets move on to the beer and the brewery.

Jackie O’s Brewpub

On my trip out to Indianapolis and back, on Day Six of my trip, I stopped at Jackie O’s Brewpub outside of Athens Ohio. Everything being different due to COVID-19 and the pandemic, only the beer garden outside was used for drinking and sitting. I got a flight while there, as well as picked up the mix – a – six to take home (which this was a part of).

Untappd has this to say about Jackie O’s: Jackie O’s Brewery is a micro brewery from Athens Ohio, established in 2005, and has 675 unique beers and 738K+ ratings, with a global average rating of 4.02. The Untappd description reads: Established in 2005, Jackie O’s Brewery has evolved over the years to include an experimental Brewpub, Public House Restaurant, Production Brewery & Taproom, Bake Shop and the Barrel Ridge Farm – all of which are located in Athens, Ohio / Southeastern, Ohio. Jackie O’s specializes in brewing techniques that revive traditional methods and also incorporate contemporary elements and influences. We strive to brew one of the most diverse beer portfolios in the country, with a detailed and unique focus on barrel & wood aged beers, wild ales, and blending. It is liked by 17K+.

This was one of the top recommended breweries for me to visit on my trip, alongside Sun King Brewery in Indianapolis, Levity Brewing in Indiana Pennsylvania, and Urban Artifact in Cincinnati. The flight of beers I had at the brewpub didn’t disappoint, neither did any of the beers I took home (including this one).

So… we discussed the can art… the legacy and origins and reason for the “Java the Stout” (Jabba the Hutt), the brewery – Jackie O’s, whats left to discuss before actually reviewing the beer?

Ah…. the when / where I drank it. So Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving, due to the mandate that no on-site alcohol sales could be made at bars and breweries in Pennsylvania after 5PM by Governor Wolfe, I met my friend Drew at his place to do some Friendsgiving Drinking. We also did a stream for the night for his streaming page – Knights of Nostalgia. We streamed Secret of Mana on…. his brand new Playstation 5. Yes, this was the first time he was getting to play the system (as well as myself), and… the first game we test drove it with was an old SNES remastered game. Ironic? Or just funny? I’ll let you be the judge. But, I will say, the controller for the PS5 was very cool, and the game was a lot of fun (this was the second part of our series of playing the game, as its a long RPG, it will take us several sittings and streams to beat it).

During the stream – I started with Java the Stout, progressed to a blueberry pancake Double IPA (DIPA) by Decadent Ales, and finished off the night with a bottle of Yuengling’s Hershey’s Porter.

Finally… ok… finally… I think we have all of our Padawans in a row… I think we can get on to reviewing the beer!

Java the Stout by Jackie O’s Brewery

Beer: Java the Stout
Brewery: Jackie O’s Brewery
Style: Stout – Coffee
ABV: 6.5%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: A caramel centered Stout accentuated by Ridge Runner coffee. Instead of simply adding coffee to a stout, we build a stout around the coffee. Course ground coffee beans are added in the conditioning tank. The beans add a robust roasted character and turn this Stout fully opaque. Our best selling seasonal since 2008!

Oh gorgeous, beautiful stouts, how I love thee. Dark and black as my soul and heart, yet so inviting… as … not my soul. Java the Stout is typical in that its like most other stouts; dark black – Razor Ramon hair black, but with a beautiful creamy off-white foamy head. Great carbonation on the beer, and nice lacing on the glass. This is ‘typical stout black’ but as always – thats a good thing here. The foam head is almost more brown than white, but I would still probably label it as ‘off white’, but the bubbles are varied and different size, always a sign of a quality crafted beer.

Aroma is a dark, roasted, coffee heavy, caramel, chocolate, heavy hard hitting powerful… the list of descriptors can almost go on and on here. This is pound for pound one of the best (non – pastry stout) smelling stouts I’ve had in a long time, if not ever. And I’m not even a coffee fan. Maybe its just the ‘hotness’ of drinking coffee, I dunno, but I do not like coffee, but I don’t mind coffee in my beers one bit (in fact, I tend to love coffee stouts). Coffee is pound for pound what you get most out of the nose on this, but there is notes of caramel malt, chocolate, roasted malts, and the faintest hint of vanilla.

From first sip to holding the glass (or can) over your mouth to make sure every last drop falls into your gullet, this is one fantastic beer. Every drop is to be savored, just like its color, its black gold. I’ll be like one of those millennial Instagrammers “this is fire” with lots of fire emojis and beers, or fire – beer – fire alternating emojis… or whatever. But this is just an amazing, fantastic beer. You got a fair bit going on, but its pretty straight forward too. This is a coffee stout. A coffee beer, through, and through, and through. The coffee is very good, and strong, but there are also other notes hiding around the edges of the coffee too that can’t be ignored. The roasted malts provide a strong backbone to the beer, giving it a strong caramel note and finish to it, and helps take off some of the edge of the coffee flavor without removing the coffee flavor. More like melding it together, taking a frayed edge and making it smooth and run seamlessly into the next. The malt backbone is strong and gives a wonderful, full heavy mouthfeel, with no off flavors, no cloying, no clingyness, nothing to detract or take away from the beer. There is some notes of chocolate as well, in my tastes, though I think it becomes more milder as you drink, and this could be from the malt, but not 100% sure. There is also a bit of smoothness to it, possibly vanilla, but again, not 100% sure. Regardless, the flavors that surround the coffee flavor works together well, and lifts up the coffee notes, not detracts from, or over complicates the beer. I really like the way the malt and the coffee work in this beer and I think thats the strongest reason why the beer is just so good, everything accentuates / accompanies / emphasizes and works together to attain a great tasting beer. Also at 6.5% its strong in taste, but not strong in ABV or alcohol, so it doesn’t taste boozy or overpowering, and won’t leave you drunk or getting there by the end of the first can. Perfect campfire beer, or perfect Netflix and chill, or Disney+ and watching The Mandalorian beer….

My Untappd Rating: ****.25
Global Untappd Rating: 3.93 (as of 11.28.20)

Ok, lets break down some of the nerdy pop culture beers I’ve reviewed:

Star Wars:

Space Balls:

Game of Thrones:

The Simpsons:

Back to the Future:

Scrooged:

Pro Wrestling:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:

Other:

Search for ‘Star Wars’ on The Beer Thrillers

Thanks for reading!

Cheers!

-B. Kline

Please be sure to follow us on our social media accounts – FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, and Influence. Please be sure to also follow, like, subscribe to the blog here itself to keep updated. We love to hear from you guys, so be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Beer Review: I Voted for Kodos (Second Sin Brewing Company)

Don’t Blame Me…. I Voted for Kodos

As with everything, if I can push the blame off me (yet still take credit when I can), I will… so let me be the first to say: I voted for Kodos (Kodos Johnson to be exact), so you can’t blame me.

In one of the funniest bits from The Simpsons as a whole, and from the various Treehouses of Horror, the Citizen Kang segment from Treehouse of Horror VII. For the uninitiated, Kang and Kodos are aliens (Rigellians) from the planet Rigel 7. They appear (sometimes as main segments, sometimes as just cameos) in every Treehouse of Horror episode of The Simpsons. The episodes; especially through the first years; are humorous parodies and looks at different horror movies, thrillers, or cultural cues. In later years they’ve begun to parody just about anything popular at the time.

We Must Move Forward, Not Backward, Upward, not Forward, and Always… Twirling, Twirling, Twirling Towards Freedom

Each Treehouse of Horror episode is broken down into three segments or acts. In Citizen Kang (which is the third act of Treehouse of Horror VII – season 8), Kang and Kodos abduct Bill Clinton and Bob Dole and basically steal their identity and ‘body snatch’ them and replace them with themselves. This ends up leaving people with no real chance of voting, because…. who can vote third party? (Sorry Ross Perot.)

Twirling… Twirling… Twirling

Should you ever see two combatant politicians hold hands as they walk around town… you should immediately know something is up. Could you imagine Donald Trump and Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton holding hands? Or Bush Jr and Al Gore? Or anyone with Putin? Not likely. So always be leery and on the lookout for tell tale signs like this. Also – if your politician tells you that you need to always be twirling… twirling… twirling towards freedom…. most likely he’s an alien in disguise… or a former cheerleader and gymnast who got stuck at a podium and is crying out for help.

Twirling Towards Freedom

Having grown up on a steady diet of Simpsons and pop culture and now in my fast becoming late 30s (le sigh) once I heard of these two beers being released (I Voted for Kodos and I Voted for Kang) by Second Sin Brewing Company; I got all the feels and the nostalgia and member-berries and had to have them. Like all of the Star Wars beers I’ve reviewed, I had to also get ahold of these to review as well. Luckily, from the brewery itself, I was alerted to the fact that there’s a Facebook group for Second Sin Brewing called Disciples of Second Sin. Since it was unlikely I would make it to Bristol PA before they were sold out, I was trying to trade / buy from someone who lived in the area and could ship or bring closer, and luckily Steve Orbanek contacted me with the hookup. So big shout out to him and major props and huge thank you’s go to Steve Orbanek for the hookup and to Second Sin Brewing for alerting me to the group.

When I got home from my Indy trip, the package was on my doorstep which was all the cooler as a nice return gift. Steve even threw in a third beer for me (for free) for a future beer review, so I’ll keep you all in suspense and just say that you all will get a bonus beer review soon thanks to Steve.

Second Sin Brewing Company is a micro brewery from Bristol Pennsylvania. According to Untappd they have 138 unique beers and a global average rating of 4.07 (as of 11.26.20). Their Untappd description is blank.

I Voted for Kodos by Second Sin Brewing Company

Beer: I Voted for Kodos
Brewery: Second Sin Brewing Company
Style: IPA – New England
ABV: 6.7%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: I Voted For Kang and I Voted For Kodos, conceptually, are like two peas in a pod. They both started with the same base of 2 row malt, Malted Oats, and light Crystal. Both are supported with Galaxy and Idaho 7 hops to round out their flavor profiles.

However, don’t let anyone tell you that these candidates are the same…oh, no. Kang is primarily hopped with the tropical and fruity Citra, while Kodos is loaded with dank and melony Mosaic.

Steve was kind of enough to trade me both I Voted for Kodos and I Voted for Kang; so be on the lookout soon for the second of these two reviews (as well as the bonus beer that Steve sent). I started with Kodos (primarily just for the “don’t blame me I voted for Kodos” line).

Appearance is a very golden New England IPA look, hazy, opaque, no sediment, bright golden brew. This looks like a slightly darker and heavier looking orange juice. It has a foamy, creamy, white head, with great carbonation, and varied and diverse bubbles; and left a beautiful lacing on the glass.

Aroma is a bouquet of hops, a buffet of hoppy smells, like diving your nose right into a bag of the good stuff. The galaxy, Idaho 7, and Mosaic hops create a wonderful hop aroma, heavy, dank, melon, some grapefruit, stone fruit, some citrus, and a whiff of pine. Some peach, some passionfruit rounds out the cornucopia of hop aromas and mouth watering smell.

Now lets get to the fun part of this… drinking this beauty. And hmmmmm is this tasty. It is a dank, juicy, New England IPA, with a lot going for it. It has an interesting mild ‘spice’ kick, subtle, but you get it as you drink, its an interesting note that adds to the beer. The primary flavors though come from the blend of hops used – Galaxy, Idaho 7, and Mosaic. Strong flavors of the stone and tropical fruits, a heavy dose of peach and passionfruit, light grapefruit notes (which could also provide a bit of the kick too), and the faintest lingering taste of sticky pine and a small dollop of earthy notes and tones (faint, ever so faint, but slightly discernible). This is a smooth drinking beer too. It has just the right mouthfeel and texture, and slick and smoothness to the drink. A four pack of this could easily be crushed sitting out, or mowing, or reading, or hanging out with friends, or even sitting around a campfire. At 6.7% its a good buzz inducing beer that won’t knock you right out either, so its perfect to sit around with friends or mowing. The hop blend is really wonderful here, the peach, to passionfruit, to citrus, to melon, and melon rinds, with the hint of grapefruit, pine, wee bit of kick at the finishing touches, leaves a great taste in your mouth, and makes this just a delicious brew all around. This was my first beer by Second Sin Brewing, and I am totally sold by them, and can see why they have a 4+ average rating. This is smooth, silky, nice mouthfeel, not watery, hoppy, dank, juicy, and with a blasting amount of flavors. This is just a well crafted beer through and through.

My Untappd Rating: ****
Global Untappd Rating: 4.19 (as of 11.26.20)

Thank you everyone for taking the time out on Turkey Day – Thanksgiving – to give this a read. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, either with friends, family, or with your own small(er) gathering this year. This is certainly a different Thanksgiving for most of us than we’ve been used to. It has been quite the challenge this year, but hopefully everyone can stay safe, healthy, and have a happy Thanksgiving, as we push towards the end of the year and the merrier time of the year.

Cheers everyone!

-B. Kline

Please be sure to follow us on our social media accounts – FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, and Influence. Please be sure to also follow, like, subscribe to the blog here itself to keep updated. We love to hear from you guys, so be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you think!

For more info on Kodos:

Beer Review: Macho Man (Couch Brewery)

Oooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhh yeeeeeeeeaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

Macho Man Randy Savage

There’s no way you didn’t read that in his voice. How can you not read “Oh Yea” and not picture Randy “Macho Man” Savage? Or hear his gravelly voice yelling that? Its one of the iconic wrestling sounds, like Ric Flair’s “WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” or the glass shattering for Stone Cold Steve Austin’s entrance, or the gong for The Undertaker. You know exactly what’s gonna happen.

Wrestling might be a grown man’s soap opera, and it might also be beautiful, choreographed gladiator like ballet, but its also a wonderful story telling platform and media, and its also a host to some amazing characters, personas, and people. Macho Man Randy Savage is one of those people.

If you were a 60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s child, you can name some of the greats of your generation I’m sure. For the 80s, I can think of Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Arn Anderson, Randy Macho Man Savage, George the Animal Steele, Harley Race, Junkyard Dog, Sting, Rowdy Roddy Piper, The Ultimate Warrior. For the 90s you have The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, The Undertaker, Chris Jericho, RVD, Sabu, Taz, Mick Foley, Kane, Eddie Guerrero, Brian Pillman, Goldberg.

Interesting fun note; Pilger Ruh Brewing’s one co-owner and partner is Anthony Deppen. A professional wrestler who will be performing at Ring of Honor’s Final Battle (2020) this year. (Super cool dude, down to earth, big craft beer fan, and great wrestler.)

But anyway… I digress. We’re here to discuss beer, not wrestling.

Not Necessarily…

No… really, we must. I insist on it!

Just Relax

Oh… we’re doing this bit again, aren’t we? Like I did in The Growfather beer review? I know the average attention span for most readers is only about three minutes…. so….

Randy Savage as BoneSaw

Sigh. I was gonna say, ‘so I better hurry up and review the beer’…. but… ugh… must we do this bit for a second time? Really?

You May Not Like It…

Double sigh. French sigh – Le Sigh.

Ok, I’m just gonna push through and do the beer review….

Beer: Macho Man
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: Wheat Beer – Other
ABV: 5.5%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: Hibiscus Raspberry Lime Wheat

First, I want to thank Bobby Nacho for inviting me out to Couch Brewery on a day when they weren’t even open. He gave me a tour of the place, let me sample all the beers on tap, and even sent me on my way with a four pack – Macho Man, Atomic Clock, Sofia Quemando, and Morning Wood. (This might be the first and last time anyone ever says that Bobby gave them ‘morning wood’……) Anyhoo… you can read about the brewery tour here: Brewery Tour of Couch Brewery. This was part of my trip to Indianapolis, you can check out the article on the second day of my trip (which included the tour of Couch Brewery, me visiting Vandergrift, Pittsburgh, and Washington) here – The Trip to Indianapolis: Day Two.

Couch Brewery is listed as a micro brewery on Untappd. They have 120 unique beers with a global average rating of 3.59 (as of 11.25.20). They are located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Now that the background is out of the way, onto the beer itself….

This has a reddish, light, wheat beer appearance. Its primarily clear but a bit dark red, and so becomes a bit opaque / cloudy / hazy in some light and as you drink it. There is a rich frothy, creamy head to this, that leaves a nice lacing on the glass.

Aroma is very heavy hibiscus, raspberry, and grain. You can very heavy raspberry and hibiscus, with the grain bill giving it a body to cling to. There is some lime aroma though its a bit fainter. Overall its floral, and pretty strong – not overpowering or pungent, but a strong floral smell that’s inviting and wanting you to drink.

I even told him at the bar when we were sampling all the beers, that I wasn’t a fan of hibiscus, that I’ve had it in a few select beers (the most notable that I can think of being Crimson Pistil; and I was not a fan) and never really cared for it. Just a flavor that I have found that I am not too keen on. But oh boy… or should I say OHHHH YEAAAAAAA…… this blew me away. Maybe its the raspberry? Or the lime? Or that its a wheat beer rather than an IPA (like the Crimson Pistil), but I was absolutely blown away by this beer, and immediately loved it. There is a lot of raspberry flavor to this, and a lot more lime than I expected from the aroma. Its got a lot of berry, a lot of floral, and a good bit of lime – giving it almost a zesty, citrus, zip to it, a bit of a kick to it. I do really love raspberries in beer (really, any berries other than strawberries, I love blueberries, blackberries, elderberries, mulberries, raspberries, etc.; just no strawberries), and this uses them very well. This is fruity, and floral, and from the raspberries, a bit tart, not fully diving into ‘tart – sour’ country, but just a wee bit of tartness and zip to give it some added taste. It is interesting for a wheat beer, that other than a little bit of the grain taste; it doesn’t taste like a wheat beer (primarily because of how much the floral and fruit flavors overpower the grain). All in all, this is a wonderful, and delicious, and interesting beer, and shows how you can bend styles to be interesting, new, and still very tasty. And hell, it even turned me into a fan of a hibiscus beer, who knew? I recommend it, and I recommend you check out Couch Brewery too. Especially on Black Friday for their Black Stout AHT 2020 event. You won’t want to miss that or this delicious beer!

My Untappd Rating: ****.50
Global Untappd Rating: 3.81 (as of 11.25.20)

Speaking of Black Friday, do check out Couch Brewery’s website (Couch Brewery) to find out more information on their Black Stout AHT 2020 event. It sounds amazing! You can also fin out more on their Facebook page – Couch Brewery.

You can also find out more about my trip to Indianapolis, and getting to tour Couch Brewery, by the links below:

The Trip to Indianapolis – Full Articles:

The Trip to Indianapolis – Recap Articles:

Brewery Tour:

Thanks for reading everyone. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow, and a safe Drinksgiving or Friendsgiving or whatever you are doing today, and a safe Black Friday on Friday. There is a lot of great local small brewery options for Black Friday; you don’t have to go crazy for the Goose Island (couch AB In-Bev) Bourbon County Stouts. Either way, whatever you do, stay safe and socially distanced! Cheers!

-B. Kline

Please be sure to follow us on our social media accounts – FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, and Influence. Please be sure to also follow, like, subscribe to the blog here itself to keep updated. We love to hear from you guys, so be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Randy “Macho Man” Savage

Brewery Tour: Couch Brewery

Firstly, let me give a big shoutout to Bobby Nacho for inviting me to the brewery and giving me a personal tour and sampling of their beers on my trip to Indianapolis. You can read about my full day two trip (which included hiking, Vandergrift, Pittsburgh, and Washington) here: The Trip to Indianapolis – Day Two. (There will also be full links at the end of the article, for this trip, and other similar travelogues as well as similar brewery experiences.)

Couch Brewery

On Monday, as part of my drive out to Indianapolis (from Harrisburg – Hershey area) I was in the Pittsburgh area. I started in Indiana, having visited Levity Brewing the night before, and hiking The Thousand Steps trail, Monday morning I started with Rock Furnace Trail, Roaring Run Trail, and visiting Allusion Brewing Company in Vandergrift Pennsylvania.

Ahead of Monday, Bobby had reached out to me and invited me to stop in for a brewery tour and sampling. He knew I was going to be passing through the area, and he was going to be in the brewery kegging ‘The Four Horseman’ for their upcoming Black Friday event – BLACK AHT 2020. You can get the cans and tickets to the event here: Couch Brewery – BLACK AHT 2020. Technically, The Four Horseman isn’t a stout, but is a Wild Ale / Brown Ale. But its still a part of the event (and don’t worry, it is amazing!)

I met Bobby around 1-2PM or so on Monday at the brewery, and he brought me in through the loading dock and side area of the brewery (the actual brewhouse). He took me through their small brewery and brought me then to the bar. First, we stopped, and looked at the fermenters, and the various equipment, discussed their barrel size, what they’ve done is recent months, the beers they are most known for, changes, growth, etc.

I’ll admit I was unfamiliar with Couch Brewery; and had never been to the brewery before, or even had their beers before. They do not distribute out to Harrisburg, Hershey, Hummelstown area, (unfortunately!) and I’ve never had them in a trade or at a bottle / beer share. But I must say, from now, I will be on the look out for them wherever / whenever I can.

Couch Brewery Brewing System

The above picture is their brewing system and set-up. If it looks small and home-brew-ish, its because it pretty much is. This takes nothing away from the beers, or how much they produce, or what they can do however. They still brew a large amount, and a wide variety of styles. So don’t let this set-up fool you. They are still pumping out some delicious brews.

Some of the best beers I’ve had have been brewed on the smallest of set-ups and systems; and some of the worst beers I’ve had have been on the biggest, largest scales, and the most expensive looking equipment. Its all in the skill of the brewer.

Rows of Fermenters

As you can see in the above picture, they have several fermenters that are constantly in use, so there are always lots of brews in the works here at Couch Brewery. They have 12 taps at the bar in the brewery, and they keep them full primarily because of how often they brew and fully utilizing all of their fermenters. Like a large revolving door, they are moving an empty keg for a new one, and emptying fermenters and refilling, and kegging, and keeping the kegs cooled and to the side waiting to be put on tap, etc. Like a constant dance, that keeps the beers flowing smoothly and the guests happy and the continuing flow of the suds, a perfect balance.

The Four Horseman

The beer that Bobby was kegging while I was there. Its a collaboration amongst buddies. Couch Brewery (Bobby represented as Arn Anderson), Fury Brewing represented as Tully Blanchard (I believe… I might be mixing him up with Ole Anderson here), Bash Brew which is represented by Ole Anderson, and Ric Flair of course rounding out the Four Horseman.

If you don’t know anything of The Four Horseman of wrestling, at least familiarize yourself with them. Probably the best stable ever in professional wrestling, of any generation or era. You can read more about them on wiki: The Four Horseman.

For more information on Black AHT 2020, you can read this quick article on Fueled by Hops: Couch Brewery hosting Black AHT 2020 Still.

For Black AHT 2020, there is 10 stouts for the event, and then as a special entry, The Four Horseman which is a Brown Ale / Wild Ale, and there is also a Rye Barrel Aged version on draft only at Couch Brewery.

One of the brewer’s for the collaboration’s wife did the artwork shown above, which will also be on the cans, and is drawn spectacularly.

Couch Brewery’s Bar

Now, it was time to get to the bar, and actually drink some of the amazing beers Bobby has been brewing at Couch Brewery. I had the 11 beers they had on tap (out of the 12 taps), as well as the Four Horseman straight from the kegging.

  • Recliner
  • Morning Wood
  • Hippie Blackberry Sour
  • Sofa Quemando
  • Fest Bump
  • F1 Hazy IPA
  • Thicc Ric
  • Macho Man
  • Atomic Clock
  • Stardust – Mango Passion
  • The Four Horseman (collaboration)
Recloner

Beer: Recliner
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: Stout – Oatmeal
ABV: 6%
IBU: 30
Untappd Description: A delicious yet unconventional oatmeal stout brewed with the wrong hops, or so you would think. It delivers a wonderful silky smooth mouthfeel with a refreshing hint of citrus, a little bit of chocolate and a touch of coffee.
My Untappd Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.67 (as of 11.23.20)

Morning Wood

Beer: Morning Wood
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: Stout – Coffee
ABV: 6.7%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (blank)
My Untappd Rating: 4.5
Global Untappd Rating: 3.87 (as of 11.23.20)

Beer: Hippie Blackberry Sour Ale
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: Sour – Fruited
ABV: 4.7%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (blank)
My Untappd Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.68 (as of 11.23.20)

Beer: Sofa Quemando
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: Stout – Other
ABV: 7.1%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: Mexican Stout.
My Untappd Rating: 4.25
Global Untappd Rating: 4 (as of 11.23.20)

Beer: Fest Bump
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: Festbier
ABV: 5.3%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (blank)
My Untappd Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.7 (as of 11.23.20)

Beer: F1 Hazy IPA
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: IPA – New England
ABV: 7%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (blank)
My Untappd Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.56 (as of 11.23.20)

Beer: Thicc Ric
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: IPA – New England
ABV: 7%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (blank)
My Untappd Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.53 (as of 11.23.20)

Beer: Macho Man
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: Wheat Beer – Other
ABV: 5.5%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: Hibiscus Raspberry Lime Wheat
My Untappd Rating: 4.25
Global Untappd Rating: 3.82 (as of 11.23.20)

Beer: Atomic Clock
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: Red Ale – American Amber / Red
ABV: 6.3%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (blank)
My Untappd Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.57 (as of 11.23.20)

Beer: Stardust – Mango Passion
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: Hard Seltzer
ABV: 5%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (blank)
My Untappd Rating: 3.5
Global Untappd Rating: 3.52 (as of 11.23.20)

Beer: The Four Horseman
Breweries: Couch Brewery
Collaborators: Fury Brewing Company, Bash Brew, X
Style: Brown Ale – Other
ABV: 8.3%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (blank)
My Untappd Rating: 4.5
Global Untappd Rating: 4.22 (as of 11.28.20 [EDITED]

Beer: The Four Horseman
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Collaborators: Fury Brewing Company, Bash Brew, X
Style: Brown Ale – American
ABV: 8.3%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: Rye barrel-aged version of Four Horsemen.
My Untappd Rating: 4.5
Global Untappd Rating: N/A (as of 11.28.20) [EDITED]

My favorite of the group was The Four Horseman, followed by (surprisingly to myself) Macho Man, Atomic Clock, and Morning Wood. I even discussed with Bobby about how I’m not a big fan of hibiscus in beer, and not a fan of Crimson Pistil by Troegs Brewing (an IPA that uses hibiscus) but absolutely loved Macho Man. (Look for a review of it coming soon.)

The bar and drinking area of the brewery has such an old-school lounge feeling. Like you are stuck in the 70s and Billy Joel could be in the corner playing Piano Man. An amazing atmosphere, I can’t wait to come visit sometime when they are open and get to actually sit and drink on the couches. The old school vibe is fantastic. Also, Bingo is a must when visiting Couch Brewery and an event to add to the calendar.

Bobby was an absolute blast to hang out with and talk to and we killed quite a bit of beer and quite a bit of time just discussing the craft beer industry, COVID-19, the mandates, the changes of the times, staying afloat, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, home brewing, brewing, Full Pint Brewing, professional wrestling, and pretty much everything and anything under the sun. If you ever get to have a drink with Bobby, make sure you do, he is fun, entertaining, and hilarious, and an all around great dude.

I have to say, I was reluctant to leave, but had to due to other trips and activities, and Bobby had to get back to work on finishing up his brewery duties for the day. But he did send me on my way with a four pack of Macho Man, Morning Wood, Atomic Clock, and Sofia Quemando. Which once back home, me and my buddy Drew killed the four pack together while streaming for his channel. He loved the Mexican stout.

For those in the Pittsburgh area, be on the lookout in 2021 for news on Full Pint Brewing. Big news. As many know, they closed up shop this year, which you can read about here: FULL PINT BREWING CLOSES. I don’t want to let too much out of the bag, but be on the lookout for news about them, and possibly…. dare I say it… a resurgence or resurrection? Who knows….. but like I said…. I won’t be the one to leave the cat out of the bag… Just be sure to stay tuned, and you’ll definitely hear about it here as soon as more is allowed to be said.

Again, in closing, I want to thank Bobby for a wonderful time, for opening his brewery to me, for inviting me out (on his own initiative), for the free samples, for the four pack, and for a wonderful time enjoying beers with a fellow beer enthusiast. He is a great dude, and I wish him the best with everything he does, a wonderful brewer, and a hell of a host. Thank you.

To everyone reading, be sure to check out the quality beers for the Black AHT 2020. You can read more, and get your tickets on Couch Brewery’s website, as well as through their social media pages.

Couch Brewing:

As for me here at The Beer Thrillers, thanks for reading. I always love to hear from you all, so be sure to leave comments, thoughts, your reviews, suggestions, questions, whatever you want. Also, be sure to like, follow, subscribe, you can find our social media links at the top of each page, as well as below. Also be sure to check out all of the links below for more great stories, beer reviews, brewery reviews, brewery and beer news, travelogues, and much more.

Please stay safe, and hope everyone has a great upcoming Thanksgiving. Cheers all!
-B. Kline

The Trip to Indianapolis – Full Articles:

The Trip to Indianapolis – Recap Articles:

August (2019) Road Trip Series:

Rickett’s Glen (2020) Road Trip Series:

Monocacy Battlefield Road Trip:

Visiting Reading Pennsylvania:

  • A Visit to Reading
  • The Birthday Trip to Reading Pennsylvania – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

A Road Trip to The PA Grand Canyon:

  • Visiting Wellsboro PA and the Grand Canyon

Hiking Hawk Rock

  • Hiking Hawk Rock and Visiting Liquid Noise Brewery

Hiking Pinnacle Trail and Pulpit Rock

  • Hiking to Pinnacle Overlook, Pulpit Rock, Visiting 1787 Brewing and Schaylor Brewing

Hiking Around Ephrata Pennsylvania:

  • Hiking Around Ephrata Pennsylvania – Pour Man’s Brewing, Black Forest Brewery

Hiking Sunset Rocks and Checking Out Maxie’s Brewhouse:

Other Brewery Hopping Articles:

My Article for Breweries in PA:

My Podcast About Breweries in Central PA:

Some other brewery tour and road trip articles:

Also, be sure to check out some of our other beer reviews in recent history:

Please be sure to follow us on our social media accounts – FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, and Influence. Please be sure to also follow, like, subscribe to the blog here itself to keep updated. We love to hear from you guys, so be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you think!

The Trip to Indianapolis: Day Two: Rock Furnace Trail, Allusion Brewing Company, Couch Brewery, Riverview Park, Hop Farm Brewing Company, and The Meadows Casino and Racetrack.

Woke up bright and early in Indiana, Pennsylvania and checked out of my hotel early early. My first of several hotel stops, and nearly the entire trip comes undone when I can’t find my wallet before leaving. A twenty minute search finally yields it behind the bed, it must have fallen off the nightstand back behind there. Whew, dilemma and catastrophe averted, I was on my way to towards Pittsburgh.

My first stop of the day was a morning wake up hike. I was wanting to hike and see the Jackson Falls… but unfortunately, despite Google Maps saying you could access them, the land for Jackson Falls (recently?) became purchased by a water company and was considered private property and you were unable to use the road to them; it was now a private road / driveway for this water company.

The Kiskiminetas River along Roaring Run Trail

But, there was a nearby hiking trail that went along the creek called Rock Furnace Trail, and I did hike that, and it led out by the river and was a bike / walk path called Roaring Run Trail, and I walked some of that as well. The trails were located in Apollo Pennsylvania, and the river that ran alongside Roaring Run Trail is called Kiskiminetas River. It was a beautiful path (both the Rock Furnace Trail and the Roaring Run Trail), the creek alongside Rock Furnace Trail was pretty, low, meandering, and the Kiskiminetas River was big and roaring with lots of rapids. Unfortunately, no real waterfalls or cascades to see, I assume all of those were at the Jackson Falls that were now on the private property.

After hiking and walking the two trails / paths, it was about 11AM when I left Apollo and made my way to Vandergrift Pennsylvania, for my first brewery stop of day two. Vandergrift was a small, quaint, old time town, that reminded me of the town from Back to the Future. Not sure why, but it just did. I walked a few blocks of it before / after drinking and eating at Allusion Brewing Company.

Allusion Brewing Company is a micro brewery located in Vandergrift Pennsylvania; just outside of Pittsburgh. According to Untappd it has 18 unique beers, with 542 ratings and has an average rating of 3.8. The Untappd description simply reads: “Vandergrift’s hometown brewery.” The oldest created unique beer was on 12.26.13, but then the next wasn’t until 5.24.14. It certainly seems like it’s a relatively new and small brewery, but the beers were great, the building was beautiful, and the staff – Jim – was wonderful. If you get a chance to go by Vandergrift, make sure to stop in, visit Allusion Brewing, and see Jim as bartender, wonderful guy, very nice, informative and talkative.

I got a flight at Allusion Brewing, which was in an old card catalogue holder from a library, which was pretty neat. My flight was:

  • Oh, Bother!
  • One Inning More
  • Baker St. Brown
  • V.I.Porter
Oh Bother

Beer: Oh, Bother!
Brewery: Allusion Brewing Company
Style: Blonde Ale
ABV: 4.75%
IBU: 28
Untappd Description: A sweet malty golden colored blonde ale brewed with caramel malts and Canadian honey malt to achieve a sweet honey taste. A beer to enjoy in the Hundred Acre woods.
My Untappd Rating: 3.75
Global Untappd Rating: 3.74 (as of 11.23.20)

One Inning More

Beer: One Inning More
Brewery: Allusion Brewing Company
Style: Pale Ale – American
ABV: 5%
IBU: 45
Untappd Description: American Style Pale Ale brewed with Pale and Victory malts and bittered with American Willamette and Cascade hops to produce a balance beer with hints of earthy, floral, spice from the hops. Let’s hope the Mighty Casey won’t strike out so that you can enjoy another inning of entertainment and great beer.
My Untappd Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.65 (as of 11.23.20)

Baker St. Brown

Beer: Baker St. Brown
Brewery: Allusion Brewing Company
Style: Brown Ale – English
ABV: 3.5%
IBU: 15
Untappd Description: Traditional Mild English Brown Ale brewed with English floor malted maris otter, English chocolate malts, and English Fuggle hops for a light drinking sessionable ale with hints of caramel and toasted bread. Sit back and enjoy one while you solve your latest mystery.
My Untappd Rating: 4.25
Global Untappd Rating: 3.75 (as of 11.23.20)

V.I.Porter

Beer: V.I.Porter
Brewery: Allusion Brewing Company
Style: Porter – American
ABV: 4.8%
IBU: 38
Untappd Description: American style robust porter brewed with various caramel malts and black mat to achieve hints of roasted coffee and dark chocolate. Sit back and enjoy your beer knowing that proceeds from each pint goes toward projects to help the local community.
My Untappd Rating: 3.75
Global Untappd Rating: 3.65 (as of 11.23.20)

Bidding Jim a farewell, I was off to Pittsburgh proper and made it to the city roughly around 12:30-1PM. For the second time now, Google Maps has led me astray with the Rodef Shalom Biblical Botanical Garden. I took my daughters through Pittsburgh last summer – August – and it was closed the day we were there, despite Google Maps saying it was open. Same thing, again, Google Maps listed it as open, but it was closed (closed for the season on September 15th). I have since figured out the issue – the synagogue that the garden is attached to is open year round, and Google Maps based the hours for the garden on that of the synagogue and not the actual hours for the garden. Le sigh. At some point I will get to visit the garden and walk through it. I swear it!

Rodef Shalom Biblical Botanical Garden

From there, I got a special treat, I was invited by Bobby – the head brewer for Couch Brewery – to visit Couch Brewery (on a day they were closed) for a personal tour and sampling of the beers. He was in the building kegging up their upcoming release for their Black Friday stout bash; a collaboration he did with friends (home brewers and other breweries in the area) called The Four Horseman. This was an utter blast, and Bobby is a fantastic guy, funny, down to Earth, and very knowledgeable about beer, brewing, stouts, home brewing, bars, breweries, etc. Was a blast getting to hang out for a few hours, check out the brewery, and try the entire run of their beers on tap.

I will be doing a full article on just the brewery tour (look for that most likely tomorrow), so there will be plenty more to go than just what I list here, so be sure to check that article out.

Beers I got to sample at Couch Brewery:

  • Recliner
  • Morning Wood
  • Hippie Blackberry Sour
  • Sofa Quemando
  • Fest Bump
  • F1 Hazy IPA
  • Thicc Ric
  • Macho Man
  • Atomic Clock
  • Stardust – Mango Passion
  • The Four Horseman (collaboration)
Recloner

Beer: Recliner
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: Stout – Oatmeal
ABV: 6%
IBU: 30
Untappd Description: A delicious yet unconventional oatmeal stout brewed with the wrong hops, or so you would think. It delivers a wonderful silky smooth mouthfeel with a refreshing hint of citrus, a little bit of chocolate and a touch of coffee.
My Untappd Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.67 (as of 11.23.20)

Morning Wood

Beer: Morning Wood
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: Stout – Coffee
ABV: 6.7%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (blank)
My Untappd Rating: 4.5
Global Untappd Rating: 3.87 (as of 11.23.20)

Beer: Hippie Blackberry Sour Ale
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: Sour – Fruited
ABV: 4.7%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (blank)
My Untappd Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.68 (as of 11.23.20)

Beer: Sofa Quemando
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: Stout – Other
ABV: 7.1%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: Mexican Stout.
My Untappd Rating: 4.25
Global Untappd Rating: 4 (as of 11.23.20)

Beer: Fest Bump
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: Festbier
ABV: 5.3%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (blank)
My Untappd Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.7 (as of 11.23.20)

Beer: F1 Hazy IPA
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: IPA – New England
ABV: 7%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (blank)
My Untappd Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.56 (as of 11.23.20)

Beer: Thicc Ric
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: IPA – New England
ABV: 7%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (blank)
My Untappd Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.53 (as of 11.23.20)

Beer: Macho Man
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: Wheat Beer – Other
ABV: 5.5%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: Hibiscus Raspberry Lime Wheat
My Untappd Rating: 4.25
Global Untappd Rating: 3.82 (as of 11.23.20)

Beer: Atomic Clock
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: Red Ale – American Amber / Red
ABV: 6.3%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (blank)
My Untappd Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.57 (as of 11.23.20)

Beer: Stardust – Mango Passion
Brewery: Couch Brewery
Style: Hard Seltzer
ABV: 5%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (blank)
My Untappd Rating: 3.5
Global Untappd Rating: 3.52 (as of 11.23.20)

Beer: The Four Horseman
Breweries: Couch Brewery, Fury Brewing, 2 Homebrew Collaborators
Style: American Brown Ale

There is no Untappd listing for this, and I don’t recall if Bobby gave me information on ABV / IBU / etc. (No official rating for Untappd for me or for others either then; but I would give it a 4.25.)

Bobby also gave me a four pack to go, which included Macho Man, Sofa Quemando (for Drew), Atomic Clock, and Morning Wood. Couch Brewery on Untappd is listed as a micro brewery in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania with 113 unique beers, over 12 thousand ratings, and an average rating of 3.59. They have no Untappd description for their brewery.

I finally had to bid Bobby a fond adieu and promised if / when I’m back in the Pittsburgh area I would definitely be stopping in, at a time when the place is open, and hopefully with some friends. The brewery is great and he was an utter blast to hang out with.

After Couch Brewery, my next walking / hiking activity was Riverview Park at the top of Pittsburgh where the Allegheny Observatory is. I made a few mis-turns and went up and down those massively steep hills a few more times than I wished or would have liked to, and actually even went past the chapel where I took the girls last year – St. Anthony’s Chapel – (they have a piece of the cross that Jesus was crucified on) (I did not stop in) – but I finally made it to the top of Pittsburgh Hill or whatever its called, and walked the park and walking trails.

The park and walking trails were really nice. Nothing crazy intense, but just a good walking area for families and for people with dogs or what have you. Some pretty views and sights. Lots of deer too that were pretty tame an would walk right up to you. The Old Zoo trail was really nice and interesting to see old broken paths, old Zoo enclosures and buildings (like the Bear Pit) and old crumbling buildings and infrastructure. The whole area was very busy, but people were keeping distanced and walking within their own families and friends. It reminded me of ants crawling around on an ant hill with everyone going this way and that and doing their own thing, and looking at things or seeing different views, and just meandering around, getting exercise and fresh air.

Once it got dusk and dark I finally left after a good three or so hour walk. While up on Troy’s Hill I passed the Penn Brewery, but unfortunately they were closed. I still stopped for a picture of their building because its a very beautiful building.

Penn Brewery in Pittsburgh
Across the street from Penn Brewery, an old Bottling Company

My next stop was a brewery – that … fingers crossed, God Willing, and Google Maps hopeful – was open… and huzzah it was! Hop Farm Brewing Company. ….but they were at max capacity so I had to wait for someone to leave. I walked the block and came back and thankfully someone was leaving just as I came back, so I was able to snag a table.

Hop Farm Brewing Company is a micro brewery from Lawrenceville Pennsylvania. Lawrenceville is in between Pittsburgh and Washington (where the Meadows Casino is). Its still basically Pittsburgh, but not fully in Pittsburgh. Untappd lists them with 209 unique beers, over 49 thousand ratings and a global average rating of 3.65. Their Untappd description reads: “Hop Farm Brewing company is a independently partner owned brewery by Matthew and Emily Gouwens, in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Our focus is on sustainability and local sourcing while producing hoppy ales, farmhouse ales, sour ales and various other interesting brews.”

While there, I had a delicious hamburger and two beers. I had the Kulak and the Pittsburgh Pale Ale.

Kulak

Beer: Kulak
Brewery: Hop Farm Brewing Company
Style: Stout – Russian Imperial
ABV: 9.8%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (blank)
My Untappd Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.83 (as of 11.23.20)

Pittsburgh Pale Ale

Beer: Pittsburgh Pale Ale
Brewery: Hop Farming Brewing Company
Style: Pale Ale – American
ABV: (none listed)
IBU: (none listed)
Untappd Description: (blank)
(….well that was all very informative huh?)
My Untappd Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.83 (as of 11.23.20)

After leaving the brewery, I went to The Meadows Casino and Racetrack. I scoped the place out, talked to a few dealers about COVID and how things have been going there for them (compared to my work) and played a little bit of dice. (26$ thrown down on the table – 12 on the 6 and 8, dollar each for the dealers. Hit the 8 twice, didn’t press, got 28$, then seven’ed out, so dealers made 2$ off me, and I made 2$ and I was done. Meh.)

The Meadows Casino and Racetrack

I stopped over at the bar, and tried to have a beer with a hot dog as it was starting to get late – 10:30ish, I saw a brewery I hadn’t had before – Sobel’s Obscure Brewery and got a pint, it ends up kicking after just a little bit of it, so I ended up with a Hazy Little Thing by Sierra Nevada (the bartender didn’t quite get what I meant by “local craft beer” and kept suggesting Yuengling Lager………).

Watched a little bit of the Monday Night game while there, then got back to the hotel at 11PM, to pretty much fall straight to bed.

Tomorrow’s article should be the Couch Brewery Tour and Sampling, so be sure to check out that. Then it’ll probably be followed up with a few beer reviews, and then I will pick back up with the Trip articles. The next will be me entering Ohio, Salt Fork State Park, and Columbus and Dayton. Lots more great pictures, hikes, and breweries to go, so stay tuned and don’t miss it!

Thank you all for reading! Love to hear from you, so be sure to leave a comment or talk it up with me, you can also check out our social media pages and comment and talk to us there as well.

Cheers!

-B. Kline

The Trip to Indianapolis – Full Articles:

The Trip to Indianapolis – Recap Articles:

August (2019) Road Trip Series:

Rickett’s Glen (2020) Road Trip Series:

Monocacy Battlefield Road Trip:

Visiting Reading Pennsylvania:

  • A Visit to Reading
  • The Birthday Trip to Reading Pennsylvania – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

A Road Trip to The PA Grand Canyon:

  • Visiting Wellsboro PA and the Grand Canyon

Hiking Hawk Rock

  • Hiking Hawk Rock and Visiting Liquid Noise Brewery

Hiking Pinnacle Trail and Pulpit Rock

  • Hiking to Pinnacle Overlook, Pulpit Rock, Visiting 1787 Brewing and Schaylor Brewing

Hiking Around Ephrata Pennsylvania:

  • Hiking Around Ephrata Pennsylvania – Pour Man’s Brewing, Black Forest Brewery

Hiking Sunset Rocks and Checking Out Maxie’s Brewhouse:

Other Brewery Hopping Articles:

My Article for Breweries in PA:

My Podcast About Breweries in Central PA:

Some other brewery tour and road trip articles:

Also, be sure to check out some of our other beer reviews in recent history:

Please be sure to follow us on our social media accounts – FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, and Influence. Please be sure to also follow, like, subscribe to the blog here itself to keep updated. We love to hear from you guys, so be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Beer Review: Grand Cacao (Troegs Independent Brewing)

This was my ‘new’ beer of the night last night; for those new or unfamiliar, in November, I make sure to have at least one brand new (to me) beer every day in November – as well as write one new blog post every day in November (30 new beers, 30 new blog pots); it was a 12oz can I got from Deuane as a gift for bringing him some beers back from Urban Artifact and Braxton Brewing Company from my Indianapolis trip (you can check out links to the trip at the end of this article). So last night (Nov. 22nd) while I was writing up the first full day trip article I drank that and it was my new beer for the day, and I was planning on doing this review today (Nov. 23rd). Well, as it turned out, I ended up meeting my friends Drew and Andy (Drew – is the creator of Knights of Nostalgia; and Andy is the writer for the ‘What Makes a Great Quarantine Brewery article here on The Beer Thrillers) at Troegs Brewery in Hershey today for a lunch (well, beer lunch anyway).

I had originally ran out to Harrisburg because I had to go to the DMV to renew my license, only to find out that I now have to go to Enola to renew my license and they are open Tuesday through Saturday (which… of course… today is a Monday). So I walked my dog along the Green Belt and the Riverfront, taking her over to City Island and back, and then decided I’d hit up ZeroDay Brewing. Well… I forgot they are doing the renovations and reconstruction on the old ZeroDay Brewery on Reily Street, and that their new current location doesn’t open til 4PM; so that was obviously a no – go. So I drove home, dropped off Leela, and met Drew and Andy at Troegs.

Sadly, they did not have a cranberry beer, so I only have a cranberry / lemon or lime or something gose I picked up from Urban Artifact for this year’s Thanksgiving. Typically, Troegs does a cranberry every year for Thanksgiving, usually a porter, sometimes something different, and I try to pick up a 4 pack or 6 pack or a crowler of it for the meal. Also, in recent months, it seems Troegs has also really slowed up on their scratch series. Pre-COVID they were doing a new scratch release every Thursday (or nearly every Thursday; and even sometimes doubling up and releasing two on a Thursday), but it seems now they have really slowed up their scratch series, and are releasing them intermittently.

So there was a bit of a dearth in ‘new’ beers for me to try at Troegs today. I was afraid I’d have to drink more when I got home just to hit my requirement of a new beer today, but, I am being a bit cheeky and calling my Mad Elf and Mad Elf Grand Cru picks as ‘new’ since they are technically the Mad Elf (2020) and Mad Elf Grand Cru (2020) vintages. Bit of a loophole… but I’m taking it.

Troegs has slacked a bit on their uptight mandates as well. No longer needing to check into the host and waiting for a text to be seated, and no longer having to “all be together” before seating, I was able to meet up with Drew and Andy who were already seated. Drew ordered a pork waffle thing (no clue), and Andy got fries, I just drank. I had a draft of the Grand Cacao, followed by the Coco-Nator, then the Mad Elf Grand Cru (2020) and the Mad Elf (2020). Funny thing – the very first beer review on the blog here was the scratch Coco-Nator released a year and a half ago – Scratch #375 – Coco-Nator. They then released it later last year as a new seasonal – Coco-Nator, and now its been re-released for the first time this year. And now, here I am, also enjoying a Grand Cacao that I will be doing as another review for Troegs on the blog. (And here I was just thinking to myself how it’s been a ‘hot minute’ since I’ve done a Troegs beer review.) Its almost like coming full circle….

The nice thing about doing the thirty blogs in thirty days thing, is that it gives me a chance to do a lot of reviews I might have skipped, and to really hit a lot of local breweries for the reviews. Getting to do a Tattered Flag one (The Pandalorian) as a recent local brewery beer review. You can see all of my November 2020 posts here: November 2020. Its fun to do a mix-up of local brewery reviews to get the name out and to help promote and because its obviously what I’m drinking, as well as doing some bigger name ones that are maybe from further away breweries or just bigger known beers or breweries, like the Yuengling Hershey Porter or Aslin’s Isolation Anniversary, or Elder Pine Brewing and Blending’s Villeinage.

Troegs Independent Brewing has always put out very strong beers, solid, hard to ignore, hard to hate beers. They are also the biggest local craft brewery in the Central PA area. One of the biggest producers in Pennsylvania, and the East Coast alone. They are often talked about, and one of the more well known breweries. So its great having them theoretically “right in our backyard”. When I was coming of age (of drinking…. legally) (at 21), they were the first real craft brewery that I got into (not counting Sam Adams) and was really the first brewery I visited and went to often. I don’t get to them as much as I used to, and there’s a ton more options now in the area, but they are still a solid brewery.

So let’s break down this latest seasonal beer from Troegs Brewing:

Grand Cacao by Troegs Independent Brewing

Beer: Grand Cacao
Brewery: Troegs Independent Brewing
Style: Stout – Milk / Sweet
ABV: 6.5%
IBU: None
Untappd Description:

Welcome to Grand Cacao. This deliciously decadent stout is built on a foundation of rich chocolate malt, caramel malt and roasted barley. Cold-steeping on Peruvian cacao nibs and natural vanilla doubles down on the smooth symphony of chocolate, and a splash of milk sugar delivers a velvety sweet and creamy finish.
We taste: milk chocolate, roasty grain, hints of sweet cream

As per usual with a stout, this is dark black, jet fuel black, Razor Ramon hair black. Stephen Hawking black hole black. Black as my….. (oh…. thats too easy….) ….anyway… moving on from the apt description of somebody’s heart and soul that I know….. This is a dark black beer. It had a nice creamy foam head to it, not big, but not small, nice carbonation, and nice lacing on the glass. Good bubbles that were diverse and varied in size.

The aroma is very chocolaty, very cacao, very baker’s chocolate. As me and Drew and Andy were discussing, like with the Yuengling Hershey’s Porter, which is a super sweet chocolate, we kind of (the three of us in consensus) agreed, that we prefer a more bitter baker’s chocolate to a chocolate stout. This smells just like that. This has more of the bitter, earthy, nib, roasted malt, chocolate smell to it.

Taste is surprisingly smooth, but its not the overly sweet Hershey’s syrupy / syrup taste that the above porter has. Despite this being smooth, silky, and creamy, its more of the bitter chocolate notes. The roasted malt and caramel also gives it a very deeper, darker tone and flavor, and brings out more of the bitter and earthy notes, rather than the sweet chocolate. That not to say that this isn’t sweet or creamy or smooth or silky, it is all of those things and more. I think there’s just more complexity to the flavor in that it provides a bitter chocolate taste, while being creamy and smooth and silk and sweet. A nice complexion and degree of difference between the vanilla and the bitter, between the sweet and the bitter, between the cacao nibs and the vanilla and milk sugar. This tastes more like the hot cocoa you get at a football game once the negative 10 degrees sets in fully and turns your hot cocoa into ….well… regular cocoa. Or the milk after a very chocolaty cereal and you ate all the cereal and are now draining the bowl of its chocolatey milk. This is also a pretty crushable drink too. I could easily down a six pack of the 12oz cans of these (thanks Deuane for the can by the way), or if they ever re-release it in four pack at 16oz cans, I could drink a few of them in that size as well. The 6.5% is pretty low (lower than Troegs own Perpetual IPA – their flagship and staple beer and IPA), so its enough to give you a good surprising buzz after a can or two, but not enough to send you hurting for a hangover the next day. (Jokes on my buddies too, telling me I’ll end up with a headache and hangover from the Mad Elf Grand Cru and Mad Elf I had after the Coco-Nator and Grand Cacao…. I don’t get hangovers anymore……..) A low ABV but high flavor stout is always perfect for the fall months and fall weather leading into the more wintry weather and months. This will go great for Thanksgiving and Christmas parties… I mean…. your own personal home get together’s of Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. Not sure if this will become a seasonal regular for Troegs or if this was a one-shot done deal, but if it does become a seasonal regular each year, I will certainly be looking forward to it. Make sure you stop out at the brewery for some of this, not sure if the cans are hitting the distributors or stores, but its at the brewery, and its also on draft at the brewery, so make sure you at least get a try of it before it disappears.

My Untappd Rating: ****
Global Untappd Rating: 3.87 (as of 11.23.20)

This turned into a rather longer winded beer review than I intended, but hopefully you stuck around for it, as its now dragged me from 11PM when I started this til just a wee bit after midnight – 12 – so I’m still counting this as upholding my ‘post’ for the day of the 23rd. (Especially since the time stamp and posting of this is based on when the article was started, so I fly by on a technicality there.)

Be sure to check out some of my other Troegs beer reviews:

For those interested in the Trip to Indianapolis, you can read more through the following articles (some full length articles, some recap articles):

The Trip to Indianapolis – Full Articles:

The Trip to Indianapolis – Recap Articles:

As always everyone, thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the beer review and your time here at The Beer Thrillers. Be sure to like, follow, subscribe, and if you want, comment or ask any questions please feel free to do so. Love hearing from you all.

Also be sure to stay safe this Thanksgiving week, with COVID-19 and everything going on, this is going to be a tough week, and one where everyone needs to do their best to stay safe and healthy.

Cheers!

-B. Kline

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The Trip to Indianapolis: Day One: 1000 Steps Trail, Juniata Brewing Company, Ghost Town Trail, Hoodlebug, Levity Brewing

The 1000 Steps Trailhead

Its now been a week since I’ve returned from my trip (my last day of my vacation and trip was last Saturday – November 14th, 2020; and today is now November 22nd, 2020). Each night I posted a quick recap of each day, and you’ll be able to find the links to that at the end of this article, as well as the links to the full articles as well.

I was debating how I wanted to do this, if I wanted to do them daily, with a new article for each day, or if I wanted to break it up into two or three day chunks (like day one through day three being one article), or just one giant article with all seven days in one. I’m not sure whats best, but I last second decision, I’m doing them as daily articles, and might do one long combined one as well (just copy and paste of the seven articles into one with some added post-scripts) for ease of readers who prefer one larger article.

I can’t easily break into geographically, because I go from Pennsylvania through West Virginia into Ohio, to Indianapolis, back to Ohio, jumping into Kentucky, to West Virginia, back to Pennsylvania – with days in between each state, so doing it geographically wouldn’t work; so I was left with just doing this chronologically.

For those of you used to my beer reviews and other articles, these travelogues are more rambling, more stream of consciousness remembrances of my trips and how they transpired. I keep things chronological, and I remember and recall them in order of how they happened, but I’m more prone to digressions, discussions of what happened, and I do a little less editing, so some of this might seem like rambling, or like George R.R. Martin writing a feast. But hopefully, you find it entertaining, and at least enjoy the read.

Firstly, an overview of my trip. I was given six days off – Monday through Saturday (with my natural days off work being Thursday and Friday; so I was really given Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday – four days off). I called off Sunday (day one of this trip) to give myself a full seven days off. Ironically, due to having to ‘quarantine’ when returning, I got myself an extra ten days and it turned into a seventeen day vacation. But I’ll get to that later, probably at the end of the whole series.

Work has been hectic with vacation days due to how COVID-19 and the shutdown / lockdown and quarantine earlier in the year screwed up pretty much everyone’s vacation days. Once coming back we weren’t allowed vacation days or even PTO / requested days, and once they posted when vacation days were allowed, everyone jumped on them before I could even get to it. Despite being top twenty seniority, I was low man on the totem pole due to not signing up right away.

So, I was only given four days off rather than the standard week (whatever your week is, since we have different weekend off days). My plan was to drive out to Indianapolis, to be at the Vonnegut Museum and Library, on November 11th, Veteran’s Day, Armistice Day, Kurt Vonnegut’s birthday. And then drive back home. I wanted to stop out and do some hiking trails on the way out and back. And hit up a lot of breweries too of course. Planned hiking trails were Hocking Hills in Ohio, 1000 Steps Trail in Pennsylvania, and Ohiopyl in Pennsylvania.

I am not much of a driver, not a huge fan of it. Not really a big fan of driving for an hour just to get somewhere, and I think its one of the main reasons I’ve never been a huge traveler or even brewery jumper; I mean, I’ve hit every brewery near by, but unlike these guys in some of the beer groups and beer trading groups and such on Facebook / Twitter / etc, I’ve never been the most willing to drive an hour and a half to a brewery just to pick up a four pack (or a ton of four packs and mule them back) and then turn around and drive an hour and a half back home. The breweries I’ve visited were usually a result of being in the area for some form of vacation, trip, etc, especially when I was married and with my daughters. Go to the beach, hit a brewery in the area. Go to the Crayola Factory, hit a brewery in the area. Etc.

But, now that I am single (…hey ladies….) and divorced, and by myself, I have found I’ve been driving a bit more. Could be the single-ness and being by myself, could be COVID and having a lot more free time this year, but I’ve found myself driving an hour to go find a hiking trail and walking a hiking trail, like going to Pinnacle Overlook and Pulpit Rock in Hamburg, and then stopping at 1787 Brewing (check out my Hamburg Travelogue for more on that).

Last year, I had taken my daughters, just me and them, out north and west in Pennsylvania. Going up to Elk Country, to Kinzua Bridge, to Pittsburgh, to Bushy Run, and Johnstown, and back home. Was a way to escape and get away from the divorce that was beginning and happening, and the separation that wasn’t separating (hard to really call it a separation when she asks for the divorce and still stays in the house and lives in the same house for a while), and we had a wonderful time. You can check out those stories in the travelogue section as well. So this trip was going to follow a similar pattern, but instead of having with, it was just me. Not even my faithful canine companion Leela. Just me. On a six – now seven – day trip out to Indianapolis and back.

I did very little mapping for this, and did a lot more of the ‘winging’ it variety. Looking up some places in the morning / night before at hotels, and figuring out what I wanted, where I wanted to go, what I wanted to see and what I wanted to do. Typically I tried to break up my driving so I never drove more than an hour and a half at a time, and I would hit a small walk path or hiking trail or a brewery, just something to break up the monotony of driving, especially once you get into Ohio where its just all flat land.

Realizing that just Monday and Tuesday would probably not give me enough time to get to Indianapolis and hit some hiking trails, and do some drinking at breweries, I called off work Sunday, and started my trip a day early. I had to go to the Hershey Library and drop off some books, and so my trip started pretty much where it will end. Rubber Soul Brewing for a quick snack breakfast and wake up, then Hershey Library, and then on the road. Rubber Soul is right in town (Hummelstown) and will be the beginning and end to this trip, to give you some indication of my trip.

Google Maps recap of Day One

The above map shows you my first day’s trip and travel. Rubber Soul to Hershey Library, to Thousand Steps, to Juniata Brewing Company, to Ghost Town Trail, to Levity Brewing, and then right next to Levity (right across the street) was the hotel I spent the night in.

I typically tried to find a hotel / motel right (a block or two, or three at most) from the brewery I was last visiting, for many reasons, time, travel, safety, etc. Figured it was the best idea and limited issues that could pop up.

So, after dropping off books I had to drop off at the Hershey Library, I was on the road, about an hour or so to get to the Thousand Steps trail.

The parking lot / area for this hike path, is right along the highway. You pull off into a parking area and pull into parking spaces, and then walk about forty to fifty feet to the trailhead right alongside the highway. It was a gorgeous day, and I must say, I got extremely lucky for my entire trip. The first several days were the hottest, warmest, sunniest days of November that I can ever recall in my thirty five years of existence in Pennsylvania. The place was packed, so while everyone immediately went up the stairs, I turned left and took the Standing Stone Trail (North), which connects with the Thousand Steps trail.

Standing Stone Trail

This was a relatively simple trail, just at high altitude, and was off the beaten path of the Thousand Steps trail (which is primarily what everyone comes for). Didn’t pass a single soul on this two – three mile trail (a back and forth trail). Once back to the crossing with the Thousand Trails, I then went up the stairs.

I thought I was in shape. Really, not…. well, not “in shape” in shape. But at least not, dying any second, morbidly obese, shape either. Thirty five, I walk my dog a lot, I hike, I lift weights, but…. a thousand stairs / steps up, is pretty damn brutal, I won’t lie. I felt it. I think I gained one of those “booties” everyone is always talking about getting, just from walking up all the stairs.

My favorite quote, was, around the ledge, at I believe it was just over the 400 step mark, a rather rotund younger boy (probably 10 – 12) huffing, and puffing, leans against a tree, and says: “Thank god…. I’m never gonna do this again!” To which his dad then proudly points out that they are kind of at the halfway point. The look of pure dread and despair that crossed that poor boy’s face…. oh my.

These were all the pictures I took on the Standing Stone Trail, the Thousand Steps Trail, the various overlooks at the top, and the Dinky Shed at the top. (Its a large gallery, so you can either space your way through it or skip it.) (Yes, let this be your warning, that these travelogue posts will be including lots of pictures, and thankfully none of me, but lots of nature, waterfalls, lakes, parks, and of course… beer.)

While at the top, my internet kicked back in my phone, and as all the notifications and texts and everything pinged and pinged and came in, it was while sitting there at the top, that I got the notice that Alex Trebek passed away. I obviously never met him, and he never knew me or heard of me, but, I did grow up watching Jeopardy with my father, with my grandmother, and he always seemed like a person and a spirit that made the world better for having him in it. This is an unfortunate loss, to many, but he did fight, and he put up a good hard fight in the battle against Cancer. Hopefully some day we will defeat it, but in the meantime, its a fight that a lot will take on, and its not an easy one.

All told, my hiking was about 6 miles, and by the time I made it back to my car (where I nearly got hit by a dude flying on the highway, because I had to walk around a large SUV that didn’t want to fully pull up into their parking space) my legs were pretty tired. Nearby was Juniata Brewing Company, so that was my first brewery stop of the trip (outside of counting Rubber Soul at home).

This was a very nice location. Small, with a nice outdoor seating area. They had their own hops growing by the picnic area where you sat. And they did flights (which is my preferred method when traveling and trying new breweries for the first time). I got a flight of five.

My flight consisted of:

  • Standing Stone Stout
  • Rowdy Viking
  • GAPA IPA
  • Oktoberfest
  • Raspberry Wheat

Standing Stone Stout

Beer: Standing Stone Stout
Brewery: Juniata Brewing Company
Style: Stout – Other
ABV: (None Listed)
IBU: (None Listed)
Untappd Description: A delicious stout brewed with Huntingdon’s own Standing Stone Coffee.
My Untappd Rating: 3.75
Global Untappd Rating: 3.98 (as of 11.22.20)

Raspberry Wheat

Beer: Raspberry Wheat
Brewery: Juniata Brewing Company
Style: Wheat Beer – Other
ABV: 5.4%
IBU: 15
Untappd Description: Lightly tart, slightly sweet. A good springtime companion!
My Untappd Rating: 3.75
Global Untappd Rating: 3.78 (as of 11.22.20)

Oktoberfest

Beer: Oktoberfest
Brewery: Juniata Brewing Company
Style: Marzen
ABV: 5.5%
IBU: 25
Untappd Description: A classic marzen with light toasted and roasted flavors and a slight bitterness. Dark amber in color.
My Untappd Rating: 3.75
Global Untappd Rating: 3.96 (as of 11.22.20)

GAPA IPA

Beer: GAPA IPA
Brewery: Juniata Brewing Company
Style: IPA – Black / Cascadian Dark Ale
ABV: 5.4%
IBU: 40
Untappd Description: This Black IPA balances caramel notes and a slight rye spice with the resinous aroma of Chinook hops and a pleasing bitter finish. Collaboration brew with Our Culture Brewing out of Atlanta GA.
My Untappd Rating: 3.50
Global Untappd Rating: 3.98 (as of 11.22.20)

Rowdy Viking

Beer: Rowdy Viking
Brewery: Juniata Brewing Company
Style: Brown Ale – American
ABV: 5.5%
IBU: 20
Untappd Description: A honey brown ale: malty, roasty, with a dry finish. Notes of honey and floral hops.
My Untappd Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.94 (as of 11.22.20)

On Untappd, Juniata Brewing Company is listed as a Micro Brewery from Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. They have 22 unique beers, 1,100 ratings, and an average rating of 3.89. They have no description on the site.

After leaving Juniata Brewing Company, I drove to the Ghost Town Trails at the Hoodlebug connection. Apparently, this is much more of a bike path and trail than it is a walking path, especially at this conjuncture – if you want to see anything. It was also starting to get a bit darker (one of the problems about this trip being in November, was that by 4:00PM it was becoming dusk, by 4:30PM it was near dark, and at 5:00PM it was completely dark). There is a lot to see on the Ghost Town Trail, old abandoned buildings and such, but not where I walked. I walked the path for about 2-3 miles, and did the loop of the playground, and went back to my car.

After this, I drove up the fifteen or so minutes to Indiana and visited what was a wonderful brewery. Top three breweries of my entire trip, and in all of my travels, probably a top ten brewery I’ve visited (total, out of all the countless breweries I’ve visited) (thus far).

Levity Brewing Company

I absolutely loved my time here, had two wonderful flights, got to talk to Eric, who was a fantastic bartender, and as it turned out, was a co-owner, who even sent me on my way with some free beer. (Without even knowing about my blog, after my flights, and when I was leaving, he was asking me what my favorite beer from the flights were, and I told him, and he gave me a can of it to go.)

Eric was top notch, talking to me, coming by to check on me, asking about my trip, the book I was reading, etc. I cannot recommend this brewery enough.

Firstly, I’m not a foodie, I’ve mentioned this several times here on the blog, food is an afterthought to me. Much to the chagrin of many of my fellow brewery travelers, who go to visit breweries just as much for the food as they do the beers. (Deuene being a prime example.) But, these Yolo Dogs from Levity, are absolutely phenomenal, and if you are ever at the brewery, they are a must buy. Two hot dogs, covered in bacon, beer cheese, scallions, onions, and a ton of potato chips, go perfectly with two flights of amazing beers. You can’t go wrong with that.

I had gotten two flights, watched the Dallas – Steelers game, which being near Pittsburgh country, I was inundated with Steeler fans (ugh…. as a Cincinnati Bengals fan, coming out to Pittsburgh and through the area is always rough, especially football season), read my book about the President’s office (The Hardest Job in the World: The American Presidency by John Dickerson), and enjoyed amazing food and drinks.

My flights included:

  • ICFC Straight Red
  • Hoodlebug Brown Ale
  • Headlamp Stout
  • Knock and Howl (2019)
  • Debacle Doppelbock
  • Haze Frehley
  • End of Haze
  • Punky Bruiser

Levity Brewing Company (according to Untappd) is a brew pub in Indiana, Pennsylvania. It has 65 unique beers, with 34, 226 ratings and a global average rating of 3.76. The Untappd description for the brewery reads: “Levity Brewing Company is a small brewery and pub in Indiana, PA-about an hour east of Pittsburgh. We aim to brew clean, crisp, and dry examples of style and bring a diversity of beers to our community. At any time we offer a variety of IPAs, kettle-soured fruit beers, oak-aged wild beers, etc, etc, etc..”

ICFC Straight Red

Beer: ICFC Straight Red
Brewery: Levity Brewing Company
Style: Red Ale – American Amber / Red Ale
ABV: 4.9%
IBU: 18
Untappd Description: This soccer club amber ale – initially developed for the Indiana County Football Club – is an easy drinking but flavorful pick me up after the big game. Lovely amber, bready, nutty, crisp. Toss one back with your team, the competition, maybe even the referee.
My Untappd Rating: 4.25
Global Untappd Rating: 3.64 (as of 11.22.20)

Hoddlebug Brown Ale

Beer: Hoodlebug Brown Ale
Style: Brown Ale – American
ABV: 6.8%
IBU: 34
Untappd Description: This easy-to-love beer is loaded with caramel malts and is gently hopped. Well-rounded, great with your dinner, not too filling. This beer has hit a sweet spot with our customers making it one of our best sellers. Named after the Hoodlebug Trail – a popular rails-to-trails path right next to the brewery. And a portion of sales are donated to trail maintenance!
My Untappd Rating: 4.25
Global Untappd Rating: 3.76 (as of 11.22.20)

Headlamp Stout

Beer: Headlamp Stout
Brewery: Levity Brewing Company
Style: Stout – Imperial / Double
ABV: 8.9%
IBU: 53
Untappd Description: Just like the coal mines under us in Western PA, this beer is deep, dark, and complex. Cherry cordial sweetness shines through the dark roast and chocolate creating a fascinatingly rich, desert-like beer
My Untappd Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.83 (as of 11.22.20)

Knock and Howl

Beer: Knock and Howl (2019)
Brewery: Levity Brewing Company
Style: American Wilde Ale
ABV: 7.3%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: Our wild brown ale aged in well used bourbon barrels. Roasted oak and cherry pie on the nose. Sour cherry and caramel candy flavors with a Concord red wine finish
My Untappd Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.83 (as of 11.22.20)

Debacle Doppelbock

Beer: Debacle Doppelbock
Brewery: Levity Brewing Company
Style: Bock – Doppelbock
ABV: 7%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (Blank)
My Untapped Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.52 (as of 11.22.20)

Haze Frehley

Beer: Haze Frehley
Brewery: Levity Brewing Company
Style: IPA – New England
ABV: 6.7%
IBU: 42
Untappd Description: Hazy, juicy, grapefruit flavors out of this world. If you like IPA’s you are sure to enjoy this one. Bravo, Citra, & Mosaic, hops. You can smell the big tropical grapefruit aroma a mile away.
My Untappd Rating: 4
Global Untappd Rating: 3.79 (as of 11.22.20)

End of Haze

Beer: End of Haze
Brewery: Levity Brewing Company
Style: IPA – New England
ABV: 5.5%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: Sabro and Moutere hops are our secret weapon to defeat the powers of darkness invading our world. Combined, they hyper-blast out a fruity, tropical, citrus beam of pure energy.
My Untappd Rating: 4.25
Global Untappd Rating: 3.65 (as of 11.22.20)

Punky Bruiser

Beer: Punky Bruiser
Brewery: Levity Brewing Company
Style: Porter – Baltic
ABV: 7%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: Baltic Porter is a lager that’s smooth, clean, and delicate from a long cool fermentation. Plum floats perfectly with the dark chocolate, and toffee flavors, but never overpowers.
My Untappd Rating: 4.5
Global Untappd Rating: 3.66 (as of 11.22.20)

Overall, both Levity and Juniata Brewing were great breweries. Levity Brewing gets my nod for being my favorite of the two, and Punky Bruiser gets my gold star for favorite beer of the day. Out of my hiking for the day, I really enjoyed the Thousand Steps trail. Was a beautiful trail, hard, but not impossible, with amazing, gorgeous views at the top.

I almost forgot to mention, that, I ran into a group of hikers all in various brewery / hop logo attire (shirts / hoodie), and I was wearing my Boneshire Mug Club shirt, and we were talking about Boneshire Brew Works, and the one was saying he had a roommate who worked there, and the woman was saying how she kept going back to their tent at the Gettysburg Brew Fest they went to. I had ran into the brother-in-law of Matt Trevan, a bartender at Boneshire Brew Works, when I went to Hawk Rock (you can read about that in the travelogues section).

After leaving Levity, and talking to some bikers (cyclists), and Eric, and Nathan the other bartender, I made my way over to the Wyndham across the street, got my room for the night, and promptly crashed. I believed I started watching some of the Sunday Night Football game, and I can’t even recall who it was, if it was the horrible Tampa Bay / Saints game or if that was the Monday night game, I don’t even remember, because I was soon fast asleep.

The next update on this series, will take me into Pittsburgh and to Washington, and then day three begins my trip into Ohio.

I hope you enjoyed this. You can read more about the individual days in quick recap form below, and you can read and see the many other travelogues I’ve done. You can also check around the site for beer reviews, brewery reviews, brewery news, brewer interviews, and what have you. Please comment, follow, and subscribe, I always love hearing from you guys.

Thanks for reading, and please stay safe out there everyone, as we get near the Thanksgiving season, this has certainly been a trying and difficult year, hopefully everyone stays safe for the holidays, and we all make it to 2021 safe and sound.

Cheers!

-B. Kline

The Trip to Indianapolis – Full Articles:

  • Day One: Thousand Steps Trail, Juniata Brewing Company, Ghost Town Trail, Levity Brewing
  • Day Two:
  • Day Three:
  • Day Four:
  • Day Five:
  • Day Six:
  • Day Seven:

The Trip to Indianapolis – Recap Articles:

August (2019) Road Trip Series:

Rickett’s Glen (2020) Road Trip Series:

Monocacy Battlefield Road Trip:

Visiting Reading Pennsylvania:

  • A Visit to Reading
  • The Birthday Trip to Reading Pennsylvania – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

A Road Trip to The PA Grand Canyon:

  • Visiting Wellsboro PA and the Grand Canyon

Hiking Hawk Rock

  • Hiking Hawk Rock and Visiting Liquid Noise Brewery

Hiking Pinnacle Trail and Pulpit Rock

  • Hiking to Pinnacle Overlook, Pulpit Rock, Visiting 1787 Brewing and Schaylor Brewing

Hiking Around Ephrata Pennsylvania:

  • Hiking Around Ephrata Pennsylvania – Pour Man’s Brewing, Black Forest Brewery

Hiking Sunset Rocks and Checking Out Maxie’s Brewhouse:

Other Brewery Hopping Articles:

My Article for Breweries in PA:

My Podcast About Breweries in Central PA:

Some other brewery tour and road trip articles:

Also, be sure to check out some of our other beer reviews in recent history:

Please be sure to follow us on our social media accounts – FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, and Influence. Please be sure to also follow, like, subscribe to the blog here itself to keep updated. We love to hear from you guys, so be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Two Beer Reviews: Hazy Burd (Ship Faced Brewing) and Pin-Up Girl Basic Witch (Janky Brew Co) at Maxie’s Brewhouse after hiking Sunset Rocks

So tonight’s post won’t be your typical beer review. This will be a double beer review, and even though I’ve done a few of them in the past, this is a bit different than that. I’ve done a couple of multiple beer reviews in the past (typically flights at a brewery), and I’ve done two other articles that were dual (two) beer reviews. They were: Fresh Fest and Trail Day Pale Ale (by Troegs Brewing) and Pineapple Kolsch (Desperate Times) and Dry Irish Stout (Riverbend Hop Farm and Brewing). (Riverbend Hop Farm and Brewery just recently closed their doors which makes that review interesting in hindsight, you can read about their closing here – Riverbend Hop Farm and Brewery Announces Closing.)

Today’s double review comes from Maxie’s Brewhouse in Shippensburg. Its two different breweries / brewers that I’m reviewing (Ship Faced Brewing and Janky Brew Co). Maxie’s Brewhouse is kind of interesting. Its like an agglomeration of home brewers that rotate on their tap list and you can order. A friend of mine – Matt Kauffman – who ran the beer blog TBC (Tribeeratops Beer Club), which was a blog for him and a bunch of his friends, and he began homebrewing and turned it into TBC – Tribeeratops Brewing Company.

When we stopped in, they had a sheet of their draft specials. I’m not sure what their full menu was, or how many different beers or brewers were on tap, but on the sheet they had a 4$ beer from Olde Bedford, a 4$ hard cider, and then some 3$ draft specials from Ship Faced Brewing and Janky Beer Co. I had messaged Matt on my way in, and he told me he no longer brews for them. So I’m not sure what all else they had on tap, but these were the ones they did have on tap for certain. Their Facebook page showed a flight with different beers than I saw on their draft special sheet, so they must’ve had a pretty good variety of beers on draft but I just didn’t see a menu list of them anywhere. You can find Maxie’s on Facebook here: Maxie’s Brewhouse LLC.

Yesterday, I had hiked the Pine Grove Furnace State Park and did Pole Steeple with my dog Leela. Today me and my friend Ming hiked Sunset Rocks and some of the Appalachian Trail and did some of Camp Michaux and the walking tour of it; which is all in Gardners Pennsylvania. Shippensburg was about a fifteen – twenty minute drive from the hike, and I hadn’t been to Maxie’s yet to get to try some of these new brewers, so we hopped over there for our lunch / beers.

On the Sunset Rocks / Appalachian Trail hike my hiking beers for the day were – Green Machine by Boneshire Brew Works and Animal I’ve Become by Ever Grain. Both fridge pulls that were of IPAs that are starting to get up in age (canning for this Green Machine was a bit ago), but both still held up very well and were excellent trail beers.

It was a very nice hike, we did about 5 some miles of hiking counting the Camp Michaux walking tour and CCC / POW camp that we walked through, as well as the Appalachian Trail we walked through. The Sunset Rocks overlook view was very pretty, even with the cloudy weather. Temperature wise it was great, hot and sweating when we were hiking, but not too cold or too warm when we were standing still.

I’ll post some pictures of the overlook view, Appalachian Trail, and Camp Michaux at the end of the article if you want to see them. I also have some links for more information about Camp Michaux at the end as well (mainly, because I knew nothing about this camp before we hiked the area, so hopefully this will be informative for other people as well).

But in the meantime, let’s get to the two beers and review them.

First up….. Hazy Burd.

Hazy Burd by Ship Faced Brewing

Beer: Hazy Burd
Brewery: Ship Faced Brewing
Style: IPA – New England
ABV: 6.3%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (Blank)

Ship Faced Brewing is listed on Untappd as a nano brewery from Shippensburg, and has 13 unique beers, 199 total ratings and an average rating of 3.76.

This is a bright yellow to golden New England style hazy IPA. Thin white head to it but with nice bubbles and left nice lacing on the glass. Its hazy and opaque with some sediment and floaters. Its light looking and a bit watery looking.

Aroma is pretty hoppy, floral and citrus. No earthy or grassy or pine hop notes. Some creaminess or vanilla aroma but very mild. Mostly floral or citrus hop notes, some peach, mango, maybe faint grapefruit aroma.

This is a pretty solid and standard New England IPA. There’s not a whole extreme lot to discuss, but it is a solid beer. Its a bit watery, a bit papery thin in mouthfeel, but it has good flavor. Its smooth and has either lactose, vanilla, or a lot of flaked oats to give it a smooth / silky taste and slickness to it. Its easy drinking and pretty crushable. No hop bite, no real IPA bitterness, just the juiciness that comes from a New England IPA. Hop flavors are peach, mango, light grapefruit, perhaps a bit of melon rind, no earthy, no zest or citrus, no grassy or pine or bitterness. I can’t say anything bad about this beer, its good, clean, juicy, tastes great, has a little bit of sediment, a little watery and thin, but nothing bad, no off flavors, no bad aftertaste, nothing you’re burping up hours later. This is a perfectly fine and delicious beer.

My Untappd Rating: ***.75
Global Untappd Rating: 3.77 (as of 11.21.20)

Next up is…. Pin-Up Girl Basic Witch.

Pin-Up Girl Basic Witch

Beer: Pin-Up Girl Basic Witch
Brewery: Janky Beer Co
Style: Blonde Ale
ABV: 4.5%
IBU: 30
Untappd Description: Brewed with local coffee and has a dash of pumpkin spice with Tahitian vanilla bean

Janky Beer Co on Untappd is listed as a Contract Brewer through Shippensburg Pennsylvania. With 45 unique beers, 895 ratings, and an average global rating of 3.92. Their Untappd description reads: A one off one of a kind brewery working in Maxie’s Brew Pub.

This was an interesting beer. It looks and doesn’t look like a blonde ale, and doesn’t taste much like one at all. (None of these things are negatives, just statements.) It more reminds me of a pumpkin beer or yam beer than a blonde ale, especially the tastes. The appearance is a hazy, darker blonde ale than normal, with more of a darker golden orange coloring than a lighter yellow to golden look.

Aroma is one hundred and ten percent spice beer, like any pumpkin beer, the spices are overwhelming and all you smell. I couldn’t even smell coffee on this or any distinguishable characteristic of a blonde ale, but got lots and lots of spices. Nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and probably some other spices I’m not really able to distinguish. I don’t think its ‘too much’ but it is a bit overpowering, and I would go as far as saying its definitely more than a ‘dash’ of the spices.

This is an interesting and tasty beer. I got very little coffee but the spices are very overpowering on this. There might be coffee that intermingles and makes the taste of the spices jump out more, but what you take notice upfront and right away is the spices. They really leap out and tackle your tastebuds. This has a stronger and heavier mouthfeel than the New England IPA earlier (Hazy Burd), but its still somewhat light being only a 4.5% blonde ale. Its smooth to drink and has a nice slick, smooth, creaminess most likely from the Tahitian Vanilla Beans, but you don’t really taste the vanilla. This isn’t boozy or heavy, but it also feels heavy, mostly I think because it has a good mouthfeel and the spices, so its more of a sipping beer than one to drink quickly, and I certainly wouldn’t drink a four pack or anything of this at one sitting due to the spices being a bit overbearing. This was an enjoyable beer, a bit overhanded on the spices, (I was burping the taste of this beer for a few hours afterwards), but still a good, well crafted beer that I’d get again.

My Untappd Rating: ***.75
Global Untappd Rating: 3.7 (as of 11.21.20)

Overall both beers were enjoyable. I wish I would have asked about what their full menu was and maybe did a flight or something, got to try more than just the two, but for 6$ the two drafts were not bad. Ming got cheesesteak egg rolls for 8$ and we shared fries for 3$, so not a bad bit of food and drink for relatively low price. (They might want to do a better job of saying what all beers they have than just that special list, maybe it was on a different part of the QR code, not sure.)

If again in Shippensburg, I’ll make sure to stop in. When we were there at 3:30-4, it was empty (we were the only ones in until a couple came in right before we left). They were doing live music in the evening though so I’m sure it would pick up.

The following will be the pictures and the links about Camp Michaux.

Pictures of Sunset Rocks overlook:

Pictures of Camp Michaux:

Links for further reading on Camp Michaux:

Tomorrow I will – hopefully – fingers crossed – toes crossed – hopefully – have the first article from the Indy trip done. (No matter what, I will have an article, as I’m still doing my November 30 for 30.) So be on the lookout for that.

Also, be sure to check out some of our other beer reviews in recent history:

Please be sure to follow us on our social media accounts – FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, and Influence. Please be sure to also follow, like, subscribe to the blog here itself to keep updated. We love to hear from you guys, so be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Thanks for reading everyone, hope you enjoyed the ‘dual beer’ review, and enjoyed the pictures from the hike.

Cheers!

-B. Kline

Beer Review: The Pandalorian (Tattered Flag)

Its another Friday, and we all know what that means – another episode of The Mandalorian. So of course, I waited til today to drop this review. As soon as I heard them announce this, I had to grab a four pack of this.

First, Tattered Flag is one of my favorite local breweries, and secondly, its a Mandalorian themed beer, and thirdly…. Pandas. Seriously, what could go wrong here?

Absolutely. Nothing.

The Pandalorian by Tattered Flag

So, since I am still doing some ‘at home’ quarantining after my trip out to Indianapolis from work, yesterday I did a bit of day drinking and had to make sure this was one of the several wonderful beers I had, and as you can see, I made sure to use my new glass I got from the Vonnegut Museum and Library.

On The Beer Thrillers we have done several Mandalorian and Star Wars themed beers before, so it should be obvious to any reader of ours that I am a huge Star Wars fan. You can see our Mandalorian themed beer reviews here:

And our Star Wars themed beers here:

Space Balls themed beer:

If you use our search function on our blog and type in STAR WARS, these are some of the various articles where I mention Star Wars in them: STAR WARS on THE BEER THRILLERS.

Rotunda Brewing Company in Annville (and their brewpub in Hershey) are re-releasing their Chewbacca beer this weekend, a black IPA which I have had before. I am going to be getting a can and doing a review for that as well. (Can never have enough Star Wars themed beers to review on here, believe me. So if you know of any, or have any and would like to see me review it, contact us through the CONTACT US page.)

As you can see, like I said above, I am also using my brand new Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library glass. It has such a great quote of Vonnegut which he also used in Slaughter-House Five:

“I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone.”

Story had it, he would drink and call people, just to basically yell something poignant and quick to them over the phone, and then slam the phone down. Not to strangers or random numbers, but to his friends and colleagues. I can certainly relate to some late night drunk texts (I think a lot of people can actually). So I see where he is coming at with this.

Alright, now that we’ve established the background for the beer and for the glass, let’s actually review this beer shall we.

The Pandalorian by Tattered Flag

Beer: The Pandalorian
Brewery: Tattered Flag
Style: IPA – Imperial / Double New England
ABV: 7.5%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: Hazy Imperial IPA made from a blend of base malts, generous wheat addition, oats, and flaked maze bring forth a sweet backbone complimented by Sabro in the kettle and a massive Sabro Cryo dry hop. Expect sweet coconut ? up front followed by citrus lime and a sweet creamy finish.

As you can see above, this is hazy, but on the lighter, softer orange – yellow – golden scale. Not the deep heavy dank, but a lighter, softer looking hazy New England style IPA / DIPA. Justin, the head brewer for Tattered Flag does a lot of New England style IPAs (and a lot of sours) and does them all very well, making them different from each other too, which is sometimes hard to do with the style. You have some that look bright orange to golden with a very dank and heavy haze, and then you have some that are lighter softer yellow to golden like this, with some haze. There is some orange here, but I would say its mostly yellow and golden. There is a thin head to it, and great carbonation, and left nice lacing on the glass.

Aroma is a blend of hop, mainly a blend of coconut, tangerine, the fruity and citrus hop aromas. Sabro is a pretty strong hop and gives this a very strong hop presence and nose. On the nose you get coconut, tangerine, hint of cedar and mint, with some cream, some lime.

This is a very smooth and drinkable DIPA. At 7.5% its in a middle ground of ABV for IPAs and DIPAs. In comparison, Troegs Brewing’s Perpetual IPA (their flagship West Coast IPA) is a 7.5% (and right there is where the comparison between the two of these stop). 7-8% is a good middle ground area for IPAs and DIPA’s I feel. Its enough to get you to notice the ABV, but not enough to make it boozy, to heavy, or to get you too drunk. A nice general buzz is all that is needed and required. This looks and tastes similar to New England IPAs, but its not a generic New England IPA / DIPA. The Sabro hops gives it a very different taste than most New England IPAs, as Sabro isn’t really a much used hop, especially in the Cryo style. This gives The Pandalorian an interesting start with a different finish to it. It has a coconut, tangerine, citrus, taste at the beginning, but it ends on more of a zest lime, cream flavor. Overall its a silky smooth drink that is very easy to drink. There is a bit of an ending bite as you get to the bottom of the glass, but that is typical for most IPAs especially as you get closer to the finishing last sips. Despite the Sabro hops and the nose, there isn’t much of a cedar or mint flavoring that I was able to pick up on, but I did get tangerine, coconut, lime, and cream. My one friend suggested grapefruit, but I wasn’t able to pick up any grapefruit, and thats also not typically a characteristic of Sabro hops either. I very much enjoyed the smoothness of this, and the flavor profile, the aroma was on point, and the ABV was nice for a good buzz, a four pack is nice for sharing with buddies while streaming (which me and my friend did during the Konami games live stream we did on Knights of Nostalgia). This adds to the growing list of good and great New England IPAs that Tattered Flag has put out over the recent year. Definitely make sure to check this out, either for namesake or for the beer itself. Not sure how much longer the four packs will last at the brewery, so if you want the great can art be sure to pop in soon, they also have it on draft which will probably last a bit longer. This is a good smooth, tasty New England DIPA that will certainly not disappoint.

My Untappd Rating: ****
Global Untappd Rating: 3.84 (as of 11.20.20)

You can check out more beer reviews I’ve done from Tattered Flag below:

Also, Tattered Flag now does statewide shipping through their SUPPLY DROP. Make sure to take advantage of that if you live anywhere in Pennsylvania and are unable to make it to their brewery.

On Black Friday they are doing a big bottle release at their upcoming Lancaster Barrel House location. More details can be found on their Facebook page – Tattered Flag @ Facebook and Tattered Flag Barrel House @ Facebook. I will be doing an article covering that shortly as well.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I got the pint glass from the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library. You can visit them and donate as well as order online, and if you are a big fan of Kurt Vonnegut, I highly recommend it.

You can read about my trip (in recap form) to Indianapolis and back through the following:

The Trip to Indianapolis:

My time in Indianapolis is covered specifically in the Day Four recap.

The books behind the beer in today’s blog post are: “Happy Birthday Wanda June” by Kurt Vonnegut, “Armageddon in Retrospect” by Kurt Vonnegut, and “Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron” by Alexander Freed.

Also, be sure to check out some of our other beer reviews in recent history:

Star Wars themed articles:

You can check out the tabs at the top of each page to visit our BEER REVIEWSBEER EDUCATIONTRAVELOGUES, etc. Be sure to check out all the latest beer reviews, as we’re pumping a lot out in recent time.

Please be sure to follow us on our social media accounts – FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, and Influence. Please be sure to also follow, like, subscribe to the blog here itself to keep updated. We love to hear from you guys, so be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Thanks for reading everyone, please stay safe out there, I know cases are on the rise and spiking, so make sure to wash your hands, stay distant, enjoy your craft beer, and wear a mask. Cheers and May the Force Be With You!

-B. Kline

Beer Review: Shallow Grave (Nitro) (Heretic Brewing Company)

Dipping into my bag of beer reviews I need to get done and posted, while slowly working on the series of articles from the trip. This isn’t as old as some, and comes from November 3rd, when I visited Al’s of Hampden (Pizza Boy) to try the I Voted Today by Tired Hands.

I had this on Nitro, had the I Voted Today, and later got a draft of this for Haley as her birthday ‘gift’ and she enjoyed it as well. So it does come …two-time recommended.

Shallow Grave (Nitro) by Heretic Brewing Company

Beer: Shallow Grave (Nitro)
Brewery: Heretic Brewing Company
Style: Porter – American
ABV: 7%
IBU: 33
Untappd Description: Shallow Grave Porter is dark as night, perfect for a cool evening out in the woods. This is a big, dark ale with a complex and rich chocolate and caramel malt character followed by a touch of warmth and light malt sweetness, leaving you ready for more after each shovelful. You will love this so much you won’t have time to dig a six-footer, so make it a Shallow Grave. We’re sure you’ll dig it.

Heretic Brewing Company is a small microbrewery from Fairfield California. Their Untappd description reads: “Ordinary beer is boring; don’t drink it. Embrace your inner Heretic and join us to push the boundaries of beer flavors. We are crazy about beer and passionate about making it. Wanna be a Heretic too? There’s always room for one more.” They have 173 unique beers with a global average rating of 3.84 (as of 11.19.20).

This is a dark brown, but creamy looking porter. The nitro adds a layer of creaminess to the already brown silken look to it. It looks like a good dark brown porter should, not as dark as a stout, but with a heaviness that isn’t in brown ales. It had a very thin dispersed head with nice bubbles, all varying, smooth and creamy, with a lightly brown to off white coloring that dissipated pretty quickly.

Aroma is very deep complex rich and aromatic. Lots of chocolate and caramel notes. Sweet and bitter at the same time, like you are getting sweet candy and also the bitter baker’s chocolate at the same time. There is definitely some malt notes but its a little bit more subdued and hidden behind the chocolate and caramel.

This is delicious right out the gate, it starts with the bitterness of a baker’s chocolate, but very, very quickly, switches to sweeter chocolate, and sweet malt, and sweet caramel, all emphasized and stronger due to the nitro. This has a nice range of flavors amongst these – varying sweetness and bitterness, but mostly staying on the sweet side. I think the base malt gets really added to by the nitro and lays down a very solid foundation for the chocolate and the caramel. Most of the chocolate and caramel is a malty style, but there is some regular caramel and chocolate. The 7% ABV isn’t too high, but I definitely think you feel it with this, it has a bit of a heaviness to it all overall. You aren’t going into this drinking a four pack or a six pack, but this makes for a wonderful beer to drink by the campfire, or at the bar (when we can drink at bars again in Pennsylvania) in winter times. Nitro or not this has a great flavor profile, is exactly what a good porter should be, and will leave you feeling full but satisfied, everything you can really ask for in a beer during these colder months.

My Untappd Rating: ****
Average Global Untappd Rating: 3.84 (as of 11.19.20)

Well, back to writing on those Indy trip articles. They won’t write themselves after all. Until then, everyone stay safe and healthy, cheers!

-B. Kline

Please be sure to follow us on our social media accounts – FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, and Influence. Please be sure to also follow, like, subscribe to the blog here itself to keep updated. We love to hear from you guys, so be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you think!


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