Sorry for a slow amount of articles lately. I know things have kinda gotten down to a trickle with only weekly articles, but I do have a lot of backburner ones, and hoping for my weekend (Wednesday – Friday) I will be able to get up a lot of them. Quite a bit of them are backdated ones, so be sure to be on the lookout for them (best way to automatically be notified is to become a subscriber and follower, so make sure to follow us). I am also hoping to finish up the YouTube video (FINALLY!?!!!!!??!?!?!?) and get that posted this weekend as well.
But I do have a TON, and I mean, ___A___TON___, of beer reviews to go over and get published up on here. From a lot of different breweries. Hopefully also J. Doncevic will jump back in with a review soon (every time I see him he hints to me that he’s getting back in the review game…. and…. then…. nothing….) (….maybe if we bug him enough…. he will….). Also looking forward (still) to A. Parys’s soon to be released interview article that he did / is doing / has done / is working on.
So as always, lots of stuff going on here at The Beer Thrillers, so always be sure to like, follow, and subscribe, and follow us on our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and our Facebook group (all of the links are above) and soon on our YouTube channel as well (link above also).
I ended up at Funk Brewing in E-Town a while back (September 4th) when Cox Brewing’s newest location – The Rally Point – was at max capacity. So, unable to get in, I got a draft to go, drank it in the parking lot, then went to Funk Brewing. Where I first had their Oktoberfest, and then this – Griddle – a barleywine that was delicious and worthy of a beer review. So here goes!
Beer: Griddle Brewery: Funk Brewing (Funk Brewing Company) Style: Barleywine – English ABV: 10.5% IBU: None Untappd Description: Brewed with over 50 gallons of Vermont maple syrup this barleywine a huge maple nose but the heirloom english malt shines through cutting the sweetness. In 4 words or less: Flapjacks and Jack Daniels.
I am a huge Barleywine fan, of all shapes, sizes, flavors and breweries. Funk’s is no different. Funk Brewing is well known in the Central PA, primarily for their Double Disco and Mic Drop and Citrus and a few others. Their location in E-Town is typically pretty hopping (even during COVID) (….get the pun?). To read more about Funk Brewing click here for their Untappd page: Funk Brewing’s Untappd Page.
Appearance for Griddle follows what most Barleywines look like; a malty looking dark, heavy beer. Akin to tobacco spit, which might not be the most appetizing way to describe it, but I think a pretty apt one (just don’t think about it from now on). Despite having to drink it in a plastic cup (which I hear is a bit of a no-no for some people in PA and that sometimes post in a Facebook group and run their own brewery……….) it still had a nice small ring of a head.
Smell is very syrupy, very maple, very malty. The description does a good job describing the nose to this; very heavy maple. Very. Heavy. Maple. A. Very. Maple. Forward. Nose. The. Nose. Is. Very. Heavy. In. Maple. Ummm… did you pick up on that its got a very heavy maple aroma? There are a few more underlying hints and whiffs, but its primarily the maple, a bit of a brown sugar smell, and English malts. Possibly a hint of some of the English hops, but it would be so extremely diluted that it’d be hard to say.
This is definitely flapjacks and Jack Daniels. Its strong boozy right out of the gate, but with an extremely heavy maple flavor. The English malts (and perhaps English hops too) bitter out the sweetness of the maple syrup and tame it a bit, giving it – alongside with the booziness – a bit of a bite. Not fully a bitter bite, but a definite eye – opener. Mostly bitter to cut out the sweet, the bite also has that boozy undertone kicking you a fair bit. Thats not to say this isn’t sweet though. Its certainly still very sweet, but with the heavy boozy undertones, and with the English malts providing a nice malty bitterness, that the maple sweetness doesn’t become too cloying or clinging to your tongue (like Lizard of Koz was from Founders……. shudders….. I still have nightmares of drinking that beer). This seems like a very strong Pennsylvania beer, the idea of a boozy flapjack strikes deep to the core of a good hard working lumberjack breakfast. A can of Griddle, some flapjacks, scrapple, bacon, eggs, and maybe coffee to wash it down, would be a great breakfast and start to the day for any hard working man ready to go out and cut down a hundred trees and deforest the rural lands. The beer might even give said lumberjack the edge he would need if he had to race a giant flannel wearing man with a big blue Ox…… (Do people even remember the old folk tales and folk legends of yore?) At 10.5% and with the boozy taste, a 16oz can of this is all you need at a time, but its a wonderful time, and a great drinking beer. Enjoy! (I know I did!)
My Untappd Rating: **** Global Untappd Rating: 3.65 (as of 9.21.20)
For those interested, the book I’m reading in the picture was a great book by Daniel Klein. You can find it (and even find my book review of it there) on GoodReads here: Everytime I Find the Meaning to Life, They Change It: Wisdom of the Great Philosophers on How to Live Life. I highly recommend the book as much as I do the beer. (In fact I highly recommend Daniel Klein as an author, his philosophy books are fantastic, and the joke series he did with Thomas Cathcart are great – Plato and A Platypus Walk Into a Bar and Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates).
This was a shorter beer review, and a bit of a quick launch one, but I wanted to get an article out tonight, because primarily, because I feel like I haven’t been writing that much lately, and I need to get a lot more writing done. I have all of these “drafts” set-up on my WordPress and just need to finish them. Plus I have had a ton of great beers lately that all deserve reviews. So I need to get through them and get them done! So I’m trying.
As always, please, please, please, please – like, follow, subscribe, follow us on social media, and comment your questions, comments, suggestions, etc. Always love to hear from you.
What a better time to review this than after the release of The Mandalorian season two trailer. ….What…. you haven’t seen it yet? How can you be reading this if you haven’t seen the trailer for the second season of Mandalorian yet? Go here now… quickly! And then come back and check out this review. I mean, seriously, read my review… but also seriously… check that trailer out and tell me you aren’t hyped and pumped for season two. The Mandalorian Season Two Trailer.
This is my second Mandalorian themed beer review. Certainly not going to be my last I’m sure given the popularity of the show, and how craft breweries love using pop cultural references for can labels and beer names. You can read my review for This is The Way by Broken Goblet here. As many readers of the blog will have taken note by now, I am a big Star Wars fan, so any Star Wars themed beers I can find, I try my best to get my hands on them. Sometimes this is good… the beers are good …. sometimes this is bad… and the beers were bad and they used the name / label / reference as a means to sell their otherwise less than stellar beer. But thats a risk you have to take when trying beers by beer name / label rather than brewing company recognition or reviews or whatever. Its a risk I know going in and usually willing to take.
You can check out a few my other Star Wars (and one Space Balls) related beer reviews:
I was able to acquire this as a crowler in a trade. (Thats the only way RAR released this beer, was in crowler form, unlike their other Out of Order series of beers which they’ve done in 4pks – to the best of my knowledge). The second hand market on this beer was getting a bit ridiculous (had a guy offer to sell it to me for 48$ plus I pay the shipping for him to send it from VA to PA), so I was happy to find a decent trader on it.
Time to break down this crazy looking beer.
Beer: Out of Order: Blue Milk Brewery: RAR Brewing Style: Sour – Fruited ABV: 5.6% IBU: None Untappd Description: Made in collaboration with Brad at Cold Stream Studios and Main Street Gallery, “Blue Milk” is made with milk from a Bantha, but also tastes like a blue raspberry float.
At least it’s from a Bantha and not that creature Luke drank from in The Last Jedi…
Apparently its called a Thala… and Luke finds it delicious….
Personally, I’d stick with the blue milk he had in A New Hope….
OR…. better yet…. I’d just try this beer here from RAR Brewing…. (Ahh…. such a good segue huh?)
Let’s start with the appearance… this is a beautiful light creamy looking blue. Like a hazy cloudy sunny day blue. Or if you had fruit loops or some other fruity sugary cereal and ate all the cereal, this is what your milk would look like afterwards. It has a creamy, almost like melted ice cream look and texture to it.
Aroma is interesting, it has a vanilla heavy smell, but you get a raspberry and berry heavy nose too. Kind of has the smell of melted soft serve ice cream that used the raspberry flavoring.
The texture, consistency, and overall look follows suit. It has the texture, a light grittyness, but still overall smooth of a drink still, of melted ice cream. Everything about this just has the appearance of melted ice cream, which I think is the overall attempt of it. Its like many of the sour fruited slushee like beers, but a bit smoother, more silkier, but still has some of that gritty texture to it. This has the taste of those yogurt drops, I remember my daughters loved them when they were babies, their small, almost Hershey kiss shaped drops of yogurt, smooth, fruited, and easy to digest for babies. This is similar in flavor to a raspberry one of those. If you had a berry, fruity bowl of raspberry (primarily raspberry) fruited flavored cereal, this is the milk from after you ate the cereal. This isn’t quite as powerful raspberry, its subdued, possibly the result of being “blue raspberry” versus whatever regular raspberries are called I guess. Not quite sure what the differences are between the two (if there is such a thing). This reminds me of sitting down to watch Saturday morning cartoons and draining the bowl of milk afterwards (though for me it was that bad lactaid free milk). Memberries and nostalgia galore here with this beer! I do like this beer overall. I think some might be put off by the color, the texture, even possibly the scent, and appearance, but overall I like it, and I enjoyed it. I think 48$+ is ridiculous for it, and the second hand market on this is driven by the label and logo (which I have noticed now, that some crowlers are coming without the label due to them running out). I think its worth the attempt to find and try if you are able to, especially if you are able to cheaply, but I wouldn’t go crazy searching for it at some of those second market prices.
My Untappd Rating: **** Global Untappd Rating: 4.37 (as of 9.16.20).
I have had a few other Out of Order (OOO or OoO or OO) variants from RAR Brewing. I like the series and I do like RAR Brewing overall. I previously here for the blog reviewed Jon Voight’s Car, make sure to check that out.
As always please like, subscribe, follow, and share. Love hearing from you guys the readers in the comments section as well. So be sure to let me know what your thoughts are on the beer, the label, the brewery, Star Wars in general, or anything else on your mind’s.
I have done a few lists before and will post them at the end of this article.
So this article will be broken down into a few Top 5 lists. Top five beer reviews, top five industry news, top five articles (non-beer review). So lets break it down and see what all we got to show for seventeen months of blogging!
Did I mention that Boneshire Brew Works beer reviews are popular on here? This time it was a collaboration with the Harris Family Brewery that will soon be opening in Harrisburg. I can’t wait for their opening, been looking forward to them for a long time. This was first published on August 18th, 2019.
And once again, rounding out our top 5 viewed beer reviews, is another Boneshire Brew Works beer. Four out of five, an impressive showing. Who knows though, maybe by the next time I do a list article like this they will be beat by another beer or brewery. The This is The Way beer by Broken Goblet gets a lot of search views. So you never know. This was first published on August 13th, 2019.
I was invited out for an early preview and look around the new Rubber Soul brewery that is nearing its completion (now in September 2020). This was my article previewing the brewery and brewing company. It was published on February 29, 2020.
Back in January 2020 (feels like ages ago now), me and J. Doncevic were invited out to Mellow Mink brewery by Matt Miller (co-owner and head brewer) for a tour and visit. Was a fantastic time and we absolutely loved it. Article was published on January 22nd, 2020.
An article I originally wrote and published elsewhere and then published on my own blog as well. About the breweries (at the time) in the immediate Harrisburg area. Article was published September 6, 2019.
Yesterday Tattered Flag Brewing and Distillery announced that they are the latest craft brewery in Pennsylvania to jump into the shipping game. Following breweries like Levante Brewing, Tired Hands Brewing, The Larimeer, and many others, Tattered Flag will also now be shipping to all of Pennsylvania.
While some breweries have been able to ship out of Pennsylvania, currently Tattered Flag is limited to Pennsylvania only, this is still a huge step for both the brewery and fans of great craft beer the whole state over. For people as far as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, it can be hard to get your hands on Tattered Flag, so this is a great way for them to be able to try their amazing beers and spirits.
This is not just limited to their award winning craft beers, but also their award winning spirits like their Tequila and Vodkas and their other great liquors.
They dropped this bombshell at roughly 3PM yesterday, and this was their press release on their official Facebook page:
“Introducing Tattered Flag Supply Drop – your online source for DIRECT SHIPPING of Tattered Flag’s award-winning Beer, Spirits, and Ready To Drink Canned Cocktails! Head to www.tatteredflagsupplydrop.com to create your account and place your first order! FREE SHIPPING on orders of $75 or more! We are now accepting PRE-ORDERS for shipping on Wednesday, September 9th! To celebrate, we are releasing a limited supply of our Reposado Agave (barrel aged tequila) for purchase on the website only!#tatteredflagsupplydrop#directshipping#beer#spirits#toyourfrontdoor” (with the above image)
So if you are in the state of Pennsylvania and haven’t been able to try their fantastic beers yet, be sure to jump on this fantastic new way of getting to try them, and make sure to take advantage of the free shipping (on orders over 75$).
Its great seeing some of the success stories coming out of COVID for some of these local great breweries, like Tattered Flag, and some others that are expanding or opening soon (like Rubber Soul in Hummelstown soon due to open) and The Englewood.
Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020, marks the final day of Cox Brewing Company‘s current location and brewery and taproom. But its not the final chapter for the veteran owned brewery.
Their new taproom has been in the works for a while now and despite all the difficulties of 2020, it is finally due for its grand opening on September 4th, 2020, at 5:00 PM. The new taproom is located at 50 Veterans Drive in Elizabethtown.
As per Cox Brewing Company’s website there is some rules to visiting the new taproom on opening day (primarily due to COVID-19 guidelines by the state), a brief summary is here:
“Briefing: When you plan to visit, please enter through the main entrance (not the patio door) and as always, please wear your mask while not seated at your table. Anyone who has dined out recently knows that any customer who wishes to consume alcohol on premises must also purchase a meal. Being neighbors with PizzAtown makes this very easy.
Customers can go order their meal at the PizzAtown counter or use their smart phone to order take-out online and eat it at your table with your pint or flight. This will ensure the state guidelines are being met, it’s much appreciated! Check out this article from Breweries in PA on visiting protocol.” (Cox Brewing Company’s Website).
The new taproom is a big step up for the veteran owned brewery. The new taproom is set-up to be a much bigger improvement upon their old location. As per their website, the new tap room will boast: ““the new space will have a 20-foot bar, a dedicated stage for live music, a bunker, outdoor patio, and delicious menu options on the property from our friends at Pizzatown.”
The ‘old’ facility in Rheems is closing on Wednesday September 2nd, 2020 and was the home base for the brewery for the past several years. I (B. Kline) had gotten to visit it a few times, once being their 2nd Anniversary party, which was a complete blast. The old Rheems location was a garage and was an intimate, Cheers like place where people knew everyone, and everyone knew everyone, much like many hometown breweries in the Central PA area. It will be missed, but the new location looks to be offering a lot that the old place could not and will be a massive step up for the brewing company.
The old location was the home base since 2015, and has served the brewery well. Cox Brewing Company started in 2015 and has been located there since the beginning. Cox Brewing Company is a veteran owned brewery and in the five years since they’ve opened, as been one of the highly regarded Central PA breweries, making some extremely delicious beers over the years.
Their Untappd page reads: “Cox Brewing Company (CBC) is a veteran-owned brewery located in Elizabethtown, PA in the village of Rheems.”
On opening day (Friday) the beer lineup for Rally Point (as per their website on 9.1.20) looks to be as such:
82nd Amber Ale
Fat Cow Coffee Porter
The Big Red One
An impressive lineup for their opening day that I can’t wait to personally dive into. They will be offering flights and drafts on Friday, so you will definitely be able to get your fill! I know I’ll be there Friday, and can’t wait.
Cox Brewing Company on their Facebook page posted the following about their last day in Rheems tomorrow – September 2nd, 2020:
Be sure to follow us here at The Beer Thrillers by clicking the subscribe and follow buttons below. Leave any comments you wish, we always love hearing from you all and will respond. Let us know if you are planning on coming out tomorrow for the Rheems’ location’s last day or if you are coming out Friday for the grand opening; I’m (B. Kline) planning on stopping out both days.
Make sure also to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as our YouTube page which will be starting up shortly. You can find the links for these at the top of each page on our blog here, as well as a link to our Facebook group as well.
And make sure to check out the other grand openings, closings, and brewery news pages as well to keep up to date.
Cheers everyone and hopefully see you in E-Town on Friday!
In celebration of my birthday tomorrow, my buddy and I are hitting the road and heading out to Reading Pennsylvania (PA) to try out several breweries. So I took a look at the local breweries, some websites, maps, etc, and decided on what all we’re going to be doing tomorrow. The above image comes from Google Images and is courtesy of KlinesServices.com (so the tag says), and interestingly when I uploaded it here on the blog, it immediately through that caption on it. (I added the tagline in parenthesis.)
There is lots of things to see and do in Reading, PA. We won’t be seeing or doing most of those things. We will be seeing, and doing, breweries. We don’t have an extremely long time in the area, but we do have some time, and we will be putting it to full effect.
There is certainly a lot of great breweries in the Reading PA area. Some are:
Leaving Reading and heading towards home, there is also the famous Stoudt’s Brewing Company, that we could stop at in Adamstown.
The following maps are courtesy of Breweries in PA and their Breweries of PA map.
Based on opening times, it looks like order of events might be this:
Slyfox Taphouse – (Opens at 11:30). Then hit The Barley Mow (opens at 12). Then hit Oakbrook Brewing (opens at 4). Then hit Chatty Monks (opens at 12) and see David Morrow who is a good friend, he is currently the head brewer for Chatty Monks. Follow this up with Broken Chair (opens at 5). Then as we leave the city hit Schaylor Brewing (opens at 4). And possibly on the drive home stop in at Adamstown and visit Stoudt’s Brewing Company (opens at 12).
We might even put in a stop at The Pagoda as seen above. Why not, looks pretty.
I donate blood at 11AM. So we will be making the trip soon after that. And will most likely be staying out until about 8-9PM before making the return trip. Coming to and from Harrisburg, its about exactly an hour drive (depending on time I check it, Google Maps tells me 54 minutes, 56 minutes, 1 hour and 1 minute, etc., so must fluctuate due to traffic).
So let us know, is there anything we’re missing? Anything we should hit? Any places to avoid? Anything we should know about before making our trip out? Let us know in the comments!
See you guys afterwards for the wrap-up of the tour!
Oh, and final note, I had my first day of hop harvest, and you can see the results below:
As always everyone, cheers, stay safe, and enjoy a nice refreshing craft beer!
Out of work and waiting for my car to be fixed (dropping 515$ on new brakes, lines, etc), what to do… what to do…. Oh I know… go enjoy some great food and a flight of beers, because…. why not?
So thats exactly what I did. I found myself with two hours to kill, a good book in my hand, and an appetite for both food and beer. And in the Hershey area there is a lot of options to pick from while waiting out a car repair. Seeing as how its been a while since I had been in Iron Hill (other than picking up their release of the Black is Beautiful beer) I decided to stop in and try out a flight, since I was sure there’d be new beers I haven’t tried yet. And luckily there was. One of which was one I had been waiting to try – Dutchboi.
Firstly, as I’ve said many on times here on the blog, I am by no means a foodie, but I still would like to take the time to mention the food. It was extremely delicious. Out of all the things, at least with the COVID restrictions of requiring me to ‘have’ to buy food with my beer, at least its making me / letting me try some delicious foods at places like Iron Hill, or Troegs, or The Englewood, etc; where otherwise I would be just ordering my beers and skipping on the food entirely.
But, let me say, this chicken sandwich (and the fries) were absolutely delicious. Half of it filled me up, and I saved the other half for another night. Wonderful beer that went really well with my beers….
Which is why your here, so lets get to it and discuss my flight of beers!
Beer: Brambleberry Brewery: Iron Hill (Hershey) Style: Farmhouse Ale – Other ABV: 4.6% IBU: None Untappd Description: (Blank)
Well, not a whole lot to go on with this, no description, the notes on the menu said it was a “farmhouse saison, slightly funky, slightly tart, but full of flavor”. And that was about it. So…. quick spoiler – this was sadly my least favorite of the flight. I was hoping for a berry flavored saison, but didn’t quite get that. This is what Wikipedia has to say about brambleberry (under the page heading of ‘Bramble’): “A bramble is any rough, tangled, prickly shrub, usually in the genus Rubus, which grows blackberries, raspberries, or dewberries. “Bramble” is also used to describe other prickly shrubs such as roses (Rosa species). Bramble or brambleberry sometimes refers to the blackberry fruit or products of its fruit, such as bramble jelly.
In British English, bramble usually refers to the common blackberry, Rubus fruticosus. R. fruticosus grows abundantly in all parts of the British Isles and harvesting the fruits in late summer and autumn is often considered a favourite pastime. An especially hardy plant, bramble bushes can also become a nuisance in gardens, sending down strong suckering roots amongst hedges and shrubs and being particularly resilient against pruning. Many consider R. fruticosus a weed due its tendency to grow in neglected areas and its sharp, tough thorns which can be hazardous to children and pets.” (Source: Bramble.)
This doesn’t seem to fit that mold too much. Color is what you typically see in a saison or tart sour. But not a fruited sour or anything like that. No black coloring or anything to resemble a blackberry; this looks exactly like your typical farmhouse or farmhouse ale or saison. Wheaty, light golden to yellow color. Small amount of head to it, but with a taster that’s nothing to truly discuss because by the time of pour and its brought over and with the smaller pour size, heads and foam can be definitively off from what would be a normal pour.
Smell has that farmhouse yeast smell, that tart, funky, ‘off’ to some people, ‘on’ to other people smell. It has a crisp nose to it that you can pick up on immediately. Not a whole lot else to say on the smell, there’s no berry, no fruit odors, just the wheat and yeast smell.
Taste is…. well… its crisp. It is smooth. But it has kind of a bite to it. A funky, weird, tart but not the normal farmhouse or saison tart, kind of an off tartness to it. Like a bad berry tart funkyness, but not fully that bad or off. Like some blueberry beers where it gets the funky blueberry rather than the fruity – tart blueberry, but not quite to that full level. It has a definitive lingering taste to this that isn’t pleasant but isn’t completely unpleasant, more or less just kind of ‘ugh’. Nothing is completely horrible about it, but nothing is completely great about it and bordering past the ‘good’ into a category of just ‘do not like’ due to the aftertaste and all around weird funkyness / tartness to it. I wouldn’t say its a bad beer or a poorly made one, but just off, and not my cup of tea or style so to speak. I do love Farmhouse Ales and Saisons though, so this was a bit disappointing because of that.
My Untappd Rating: *** Global Untappd Rating: 3.69 (as of 8.25.20)
(A Different picture than the above, apparently I only took the flight picture for the first two drinks)
Beer: Blueberry Yum Yum Brewery: Iron Hill (Hershey) Style: Sour – Fruited ABV: 6.3% IBU: 5 Untappd Description: This kettle sour uses blueberries, graham cracker pie crust, vanilla beans, and lactose to trick your taste buds into thinking you’re drinking a fresh pint of blueberry cobbler.
This was much better. Much, much, much better. Definitely enjoyed this one.
Color is spot on for a fruited sour, especially any heavy in one of the major berries (blueberry, raspberry, blackberry). It has that purplish beautiful glow, incandescent one might say. Light foamy head, nice bubbles, pop, almost like a champagne type pop to it.
The nose is wonderful, tart, blueberry, fruited sour smell. You know exactly what you are getting with this. A great finishing flourish of vanilla, some bread crumb, and a hint of something more, something earthy – ish, something more than just the fruit and vanilla but not bread. Hard to pinpoint on that, but it detracts nothing from the aroma or the beer.
This starts off fully vanilla and blueberry then tapers off into blueberry only real quick. It has the very heavy fruited sour vibes to it, which is perfect and just what I wanted out of this, especially after appearance and smell. The vanilla fades away quickly, and leaves you with the tart but not too overly funky blueberry, which is where this really shines through. Full blueberry flavor with just the hint of bread crumbs and vanilla at the end. If you like bright, full, tasty blueberry tartness, then this is exactly what you are looking for it. Not really funky, not the over ripe blueberry, but the ‘just right’ ‘ just ripe’ blueberry tartness that really brings out that wonderful flavor – that I know personally, I love, not sure about everyone else, but I prefer the ‘tart’ blueberry over the ‘funky’ blueberry. From talking to a lot of people, that seems to be the preferred, but I’m sure there’s some who enjoy the more ‘funky’ blueberry tastes than the ‘tart’ blueberry tastes. To each their own. But I certainly loved this brew and would highly recommend it to any sour or tart lovers.
My Untappd Rating: **** Global Untappd Rating: 3.63 (as of 8.25.20)
Beer: Dutchboi Brewery: Iron Hill (Hershey) Style: Stout – Other ABV: 7.5% IBU: None Untappd Description: One off cask aged stout. Cinnamon, vanilla, serano pepper
This was the one I was most looking forward to with my flight. I had seen the Facebook and Instagram posts with the whoopie pies being mashed in, so I was certainly intrigued. My Pennsy Dutch side of me was all kinds of intrigued.
Color is the stout maxim; dark, black, cold, like my soul and heart (ask around, they’ll tell you). Or, as my personal saying is – “black like Razor Ramon’s hair”. Take that as you will, and depending on your level of interest in Scott Hall or wrestling you’ll understand it. But, this looks like any other stout really. Black, light foam head, in a taster glass, could almost be beer or coffee or motor oil, who knows. (These are all just jokes and not knocks on the beer or stouts; they just don’t typically have too much variance in color.)
Aroma kicks things off and separates this from other stouts. Definite notes of ‘whoopie pie’ on this. Vanilla, cinnamon, bready, with hints of the oak cask system used. I didn’t really pick up any pepper. Once again, going back to Wikipedia, this is said about the serrano pepper: “The serrano pepper (Capsicum annuum) is a type of chili pepper that originated in the mountainous regions of the Mexicanstates of Puebla and Hidalgo. The name of the pepper is a reference to the mountains (sierras) of these regions.” (Source: Serrano Pepper) I didn’t really pick up any hint of heat or pepper or anything (either smell or taste, which we’ll get to in just a bit).
Taste is delicious on this. Its got all that dark heavy stout flavoring you love (if you love stouts) but its not too heavy and high ABV like some stouts (eyes up Weyerbacher). At 7.5% its in the same tier and level as Perpetual IPA by Troegs Brewing (7.9%). So this isn’t going to be killing you but will be leaving a good buzz (on a full pour). The oak cask comes off with this nice, lending it some darker notes, but it also has a slight airy, fluffy, creamyness perhaps the ‘whoopie pie’ part of it. There is a bit of the creamy vanilla that makes this smoother, but there is some bite, perhaps thats the pepper but I attributed it to the cinnamon. I don’t think any one flavor is overly powerful and overrides the other, more of a nice gentle blending that leaves this a very good and tasty stout. This would probably be better as a bottle, than a taster or even a can or crowler, with a good pour into a glass. But I certainly still enjoyed it.
My Untappd Rating: ***.75 Global Untappd Rating: 3.9 (as of 8.25.20)
This brings us to the final beer of the flight, and as it turns out, my favorite of the flight. (Perhaps a surprise, perhaps not a surprise. I was anticipating liking either the Dutchboi or the Blueberry Yum Yum more, but I’m also a big fan of bourbon stouts and heavy stouts too…. so I guess this wasn’t really a surprise in hindsight.)
It is interesting, looking over the Untappd reviews for this, it seems to jump from people giving it 1 cap reviews to four or five cap reviews, and not a whole lot of wiggle room on their reviews. Either a hate it or love it beer I suppose. Personally, I enjoyed it. Perhaps its not for everyone, perhaps its the very heavy bourbon notes, or the bitterness, I’m not sure, but we’ll get to all that.
As always, this looks, acts, and more importantly… again… looks… just like a duck —- err, I mean, a stout. Dark, black, velvety, creamy possibly looking, slight foam head. Black as the night.
Aroma is strong bourbon, light chocolate. You get a definite nose of bourbon right out the gate, and then you get some of the chocolate, some bready earthy tones, and a bit of a dark, rich, bitter smell that is probably the chocolate coming back through.
Taste is where its going to jump on people. Strong, very heavy strong, initial bourbon bite and very alcoholic taste right out of the gate. Like drinking a strong Weyerbacher barrel aged stout, this jumps right in at you and grabs you. Some might say its too strong, or too bourbon, or too alcohol, but I definitely enjoyed it. I think it tapers off pretty steadily after that initial sip (perhaps its just me getting used to it, not sure), but it leads off into the bittering of the chocolate, like baker’s chocolate, and this might be off putting to some people too. This isn’t a creamy Hershey’s like chocolate, this is more of the baker’s chocolate, bitter, but with that still characteristic chocolate taste. The bourbon flavor I think blends nicely with that bitterness, but that could possibly be ‘too much’ for some people. It does clock in at 10% and you certainly taste and can feel it, so it does have a strong, over powering feel and effect as well. Certainly more of a sipper than a guzzle or quick drink. And at a full glass that would be the best approach, especially with its 10%.
My Untappd Rating: ****.25 Global Untappd Rating: 3.51 (as of 8.25.20)
Welp, that was my delicious flight and food. Got the car back, and just a mere 515$. The upcoming days should be interesting, on Thursday (8.27.20) will be my 35th birthday (officially old / half my lifetime / mid-life crisis / one foot in the grave / gaining speed down the hill) and me and my buddy will be heading out to West Reading / Wyomissing / Reading area to hit a few breweries. So look for that in a future post. You can read about it a bit here: “Visiting Reading.“
Saturday I will be attending The Englewood’s beer release, they are finally having their own beers on tap, and will be checking that out. So be on the look out for a review of their beers (most likely in a multiple beer review like this). I was out there before on the day they opened, which you can read here: “A Taste of Englewood“.
The Ministry of Brewing was a definite ‘need to check out’ brewery for me. I’ve watched and read about their opening and the cathedral that they took over on their Facebook page as well as other places. So I knew this was a definite must see, must check out brewery. Only problem (for me) – is it’s in Baltimore. Meaning its not just a simple drive to visit place, especially with everything going on in my life as it is. That’s roughly an hour and a half drive just to check out the brewery, and then a hour and a half back, so I knew if I was going to get to check out the brewery, it’d be a part of a destination day that included being in the Baltimore area.
So, as luck would have it, on Friday the 14th (of August, 2020) the day before my oldest would turn 13, I asked her where she wanted to go, what adventure she wanted to have to celebrate her birthday. Just me and her. Daddy / Daughter day. She chose the Baltimore Aquarium. I said certainly. (She could have said the Amazon rainforests and I would have said yes…. albeit with some trepidation maybe.)
So I picked her up, around 11:30AM, we stopped at the Kondu restaurant in Harrisburg, one of her favorite places, got our food to go, and we were on the road heading to Baltimore and Inner Harbor.
We arrived in Inner Harbor, parked at one of the parking garages pretty close to Pratt Street and Inner Harbor, and walked to the Aquarium. Purchased our tickets (39.99$ for adults, and adults are 11 and up), and sat down and ate our Kondu that we had picked up.
My daughter has always been an animal, fish, insect, whatever person. She absolutely lives for and loves nature and all of the animals therein. Outside of spiders, I don’t think she’s met an animal, mammal, bird, insect, slug, or what have you that she doesn’t love in some capacity. (When she was little, she would collect slugs, and even kiss them. If she ever reads this, she will be completely pissed that I included this little factoid in it.)
So needless to say, we had an absolute blast in the Aquarium. We had been there a few times before (at least two that I can remember) as a family (me, her, her sisters, and her mom). But that didn’t change it, everything still felt ‘new’ and ‘interesting’ and we still loved it. Plus, spending the time with her, and just listening to her talk and tell me all the factoids she was reading, completely made the day.
After the Aquarium, we walked the Inner Harbor, looking at the boats, the Trade Building, and stopping at the Barnes and Noble, where as part of her birthday ‘celebration’, she got to pick out some books. She picked out Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, as well as a few others that I’m currently blanking on.
But now it was time for dinner… …..or so we thought.
She agreed that checking out the Ministry of Brewing sounded interesting and beautiful, so we decided on going there. Not knowing enough, and not seeing anything, that they didn’t do food. We arrive, and park on a side street and walk about a half-block to get there. We get there and are asked if we have reservations…. uh oh… we didn’t, but luckily they still had seating and we were allowed in, after a long spiel about the do’s and don’ts during the pandemic at their brewery, as well as a temperature check. Which Olivia-Grace impressed the bartender who did it by timing her ‘death shot’ acting with his temperature check perfectly. I foresee a career in theater.
Now, I want to start this off – this isn’t a negative brewery review. It may sound it, and it may sound like I’m upset, but ultimately I’m not, and I enjoyed the time I spent with my daughter there. This is kind of a review of a ‘lack of good service’ or at least, being attentive in their service.
Due to walking there, I had my walking app on and it kept on while we were inside the place. That’s primarily how I know the amount of times for things. We were seated at the 10 minute mark on the app. We were quickly given a portable sign for a few seconds placed in front of our table, that we could read the beer list on, and I picked Esmeralda – a tart berliner; that could have syrups added to it – but I chose it plain, and Olivia-Grace got a birch beer. They also gave us waters, and then they took the sign away.
While in there, we chatted, and talked about the Aquarium, the upcoming school year, Baltimore, etc, etc, etc. (We did have a bit of excitement at the harbor, where apparently there was a shooting at some point in the day, and there was even a Ballistics Forensics police unit on the scene.) I finished my drink around the 35 minute mark on my phone’s app. I told Olivia-Grace since they didn’t have food we would go somewhere else in the city to get something to eat. Because we were running out of time to get home at a relatively decent time to do birthday cake and presents with my parents. I said to her I was going to get one more on draft, and get a growler (buy a growler of their’s and have it filled) with another beer. I was looking at the one IPA (an Oats IPA) to have in house, and to fill the growler with a chocolate stout.
Part of their COVID-19 pandemic rules was no leaving the table, unless you followed the direct path to the bathrooms and exit. This meant you couldn’t go near the bar, where all the employees were congregated. The employees did come out from behind the bar area and went to various tables to check on them.
They, never, once, came back, to our, table. Not once. In the entirety of the time we were there, after ordering our initial drinks. We were also in a table somewhat near their bar area, so I tried my best to flag them down, by either gesturing that I was putting my mask up (one of their rules was nobody was allowed to come to your table unless you had your mask up), staring at them, and even waving to them. All of this was ignored.
We reached the fifty minute mark, a full fifteen minutes after I finished my drink (Olivia-Grace was nursing her birch beer and it was half full yet). Still nobody approached us, checked on us, talked to us, anything. And despite a good fifteen minutes of me trying to get their attention.
At this point, I called off the idea of getting a second pint and a growler to go, mainly because til I would drink that, it would be far later getting back to my parents (since we had an hour and a half drive from their brewery to home). So sadly, I only got the one pint, and no growler, or anything, and was unable to give them more business like I wanted, and to get a better review here for the blog.
I wanted to give this a good full review, with at least two beers tried in house, a growler to try at home, etc. But they didn’t do flights, they didn’t have in-house food, so there’s obviously some parts of a typical brewery review that I just couldn’t do. Which is fine, and not fully their fault given everything going on. I understand this fully. My annoyance is more the lack of service, and how that then further impeded me on getting to try more of their beers, and to even give them a better review.
Like I said earlier, I don’t want this to come off as a negative review, or that I didn’t like them. I loved the atmosphere of the brewery. Its beautiful. Gorgeous, and a great usage of the building. The Esmeralda beer was absolutely fantastic and I loved it. (I’ll do a small mini-review here in this review, as well as a full beer review of it to be posted soon on Let Us Drink Beer’s blog, and then copied here on my own blog as well.) But, I do feel compelled to call out their service, especially in these difficult times. Because with the rules of not being able to approach their bar, we as guests were even more reliant on their service, and its even more apparent and responsible on their end to provide that service. So to have us go for 35 minutes without even checking on us while we had the first… and then another 15 minutes after that drink was finished and still no one to approach us, thats 50 minutes in total, with no one even checking on us, saying ‘hi’, or anything.
So, finally, I get up and DO approach the bar, despite the warnings. What else was I supposed to do? Nobody acknowledged us. They didn’t respond to us practically staring at them from a distance of 20 feet or so, they didn’t respond to us waving or gesturing towards them etc. I didn’t want to approach this way, but at this point, its now 55 minutes or so, and its getting late, and we need to get going. I can’t keep wasting time with an hour and a half drive home. So I approach them, get a glare, and an evil stare for ‘breaking protocol’ though nobody outright said anything or called me out on it. I ask for the check, which is a moderate and small check, (one pint, one birch beer).
At about an hour and seven minutes, we have the check finished and tip left and we are leaving. And, really, like I’ve said before, in this, and with other people, I don’t like to be negative. I typically am not with this blog. I typically will promote everything, and will talk up the positives. So please don’t misconstrue this. We had a blast, we enjoyed the atmosphere, we liked the artwork on the walls, and ceiling. The building inside and outside is beautiful. It was just a lack of good service, thats all. And hopefully, if anyone from their brewery reads this, they recognize that, and work to make it better. I really genuinely hope and assume we were an exception. A man and his daughter who was unable to drink, so we were probably relegated and forgotten about, in comparison to other tables that had two or more potential drinkers. I don’t know, maybe we were just a blind spot and forgotten about and they didn’t see my gestures or waving, or us looking. I don’t know. I know I enjoyed the beer, the atmosphere, and the building. Its just a shame that the service was less than adequate (from my perspective and our experience). I don’t think its unreasonable to be at least checked in on, or to assume that in an hour and seven minutes, I’d have more than two interactions – one of which I prompted by approaching them.
I am curious for those ‘in the industry’ what do you think of this? How long do you give a person for a pint? How often should a person be checked in on? Twenty minutes, thirty minutes, for a drink and then check in on them and see if they want a second or a check? I don’t know. I’m sure there’s a lot more knowledgeable or experienced people out there who could give a better answer than what I have, or at least some suggestions.
I want to say this, don’t NOT go to Ministry of Brewing because of this. I know if I am in the area again and will be able to – I will visit them again myself. I will hope for better service, but I do know that the beer was great, so I’m looking forward to at some point getting to try more from them.
As I said earlier, this was a brewery I was really looking forward to checking out. So maybe that factored into things, a bit of over-hyping in my own brain? Who knows. I know I enjoyed my time with my daughter, the atmosphere, and the one beer I did have. I would still recommend checking them out, if you are in the area. Like I said, I’m hoping I was the exception, not the rule on this.
But when doing a review, I’d be amiss not describing my experience, in how it happened, and not talking about it, or sugar-coating things. I haven’t embellished or changed facts, I did enjoy my time, it was a longer service time than it should have been, but the beer was genuinely delicious. So there’s my review in a nutshell. And hopefully others have had a different experience, I genuinely hope so. I want only the best for this brewery (as well as all breweries), especially in these very difficult times right now.
So, moving on to a small mini-review of the Esmeralda beer:
Beer: Esmeralda Brewery: Ministry of Brewing Style: Sour – Berliner Weisse ABV: 5% IBU: None Untappd Description: Refreshingly tart wheat ale.
They are definitely not lying, this is a refreshing, tart wheat ale. It’s not crazy puckering tart, but there is a nice, clean, crisp, refreshing, tartness to this that provides a nice flavor. Would be interesting to try this with the different syrups to see how much change there is and how much flavor those various syrups add to it.
The base, plain Esmeralda, that I had was delicious. And at only 5% I could easily see this being a day drinking beer. A growler fill of this at a baseball game or while watching a baseball game or a summer picnic sounds perfect. Not enough to get you too drunk, but still full in flavor, with a nice refreshing coolness for a hot summer day, is exactly what you want in a beer at a time like that.
My Untappd Rating: **** Global Untappd Rating: 3.61 (as of 8.20.20)
Be sure to see my full review for the Let Us Drink Beer blog. I will be sure to click back on this and edit it to include the link once that gets posted (hopefully Saturday or Sunday).
For more information on Ministry of Brewing, you can check out their Untappd page: Ministry of Brewing on Untappd. Which says they have 18 unique beers with a global average rating of 3.64. Their Untappd description reads: “Baltimore’s newest craft brewery located in the historic St. Michael’s Church in the Upper Fells Point-area. Opening fall 2019.”
Like I’ve said, I definitely recommend them, and would check them out. The beer I had was fantastic, and hopefully everything will be wonderful when you get to visit. If you do get to visit them, or have in the past, please leave a comment. Would love to hear how your experience was!
Be sure to check out my other travel blog posts here:
Also, please welcome me in officially welcoming Olivia-Grace to the world of being a teenager (she turned 13 on August 15th, 2020). She is my oldest, I still have two more daughters to get to teenage years (God help me). But, Happy Birthday Olivia-Grace!
Cheers everyone, please be safe when out traveling, social distance, wash, and wear your masks. Soon, oh so soon hopefully, we can get back to enjoying pints together at our favorite breweries!
This was originally posted to Let Us Drink Beer, a blog I (B. Kline) guest write for (about once a month). You can view the original article here: Let Us Drink Beer Blog: Beer Review: Esmeralda (Ministry of Brewing). I highly recommend checking out their blog. They are Georgia and Atlanta based and have a lot of great articles, especially if you are visiting that area of the country.
Onto the review:
Hello everyone, its me, B. Kline, from The Beer Thrillers back with another post (my usually monthly post). I took my daughter to the Baltimore Aquarium and we stopped at the Ministry of Brewing in Baltimore. A gorgeous former Cathedral turned brewery, that I had been seeing stuff about on Facebook and really wanted to check out. So I was originally going to do my brewery review for my post… but, felt it would be a bit too negative to do as a guest blog spot, so I’m doing a review of one of their beers instead. I did do a review of the brewery for my blog, which you can check out here: Brewery Review: Ministry of Brewing. Spoiler: I didn’t hate the place or the beer; just the service. But, please check out the review either way, after you’re done checking out the beer review here.
But let’s not dwell on the negatives and instead talk about the positives, like this delicious beer. So that’s why I decided to use this for my monthly guest blog spot on Let Us Drink Beer.
Beer: Esmeralda Brewery: Ministry of Brewing Style: Sour – Berliner Weisse ABV: 5% IBU: None Untappd Description: Refreshingly tart wheat ale.
They had a few variants of this through the usage of syrups; typical for Berliner Weisse’s. Some breweries will have the plain tap, and then add a cherry, or raspberry, or strawberry syrup to give it a different, more fruity flavor. I had just the original plain.
Appearance is exactly what you expect and what you are looking for in a berliner weisse. Wheat looking, ‘beer looking’ golden hued yellowish beer. A nice white thin lined foam to the head, so you know its well carbonated. Its got a good crisp, clean look that you want in a nice cold refreshing beer.
Aroma is a nice, ‘tart’ ‘funky’ smell. Pretty much once again spot-on or right on target for what berliner weisse’s and other similar style (farmhouse ales, saisons, etc.) should be. It has that distinct ‘sour’ smell, with the notes of wheat, hint of spices, and just a nice smell. Nothing out of the ordinary, nothing unpleasant, nothing wrong.
Flavor is refreshing, tart, crisp, relaxed, and not too ‘lethal’ at 5%. They are definitely not lying, this is a refreshing, tart wheat ale. It’s not crazy puckering tart, but there is a nice, clean, crisp, refreshing, tartness to this that provides a nice flavor. Would be interesting to try this with the different syrups to see how much change there is and how much flavor those various syrups add to it. 5% is a great middle-road ABV that lets you enjoy several of these without it becoming overwhelming or too much; that refreshing area where you can have a few and still drive home safely, enjoying them out in the sun at a picnic or baseball game. I believe they had a cherry, strawberry, lime, and blue raspberry for their flavors (though I might be misremembering). I would be interested in trying the lime and blue raspberry (not a huge fan of cherry or strawberry).
I wanted to try several other beers from them, or at least one more, while there, and take another home with a growler, but unfortunately due to them not paying me attention even after being there over an hour, and having strict rules (due to COVID) about getting up, I wasn’t able to get anymore. But… I did really enjoy this beer. Hopefully their other beers are just as good. Maybe some day I’ll get back down to Baltimore and try them out.
As for this, Esmeralda is completely on point, hitting all of its marks. Nothing completely amazing, but does exactly what you want the beer to do, and thats far more than can be said about a lot of beers.
My Untappd Rating: **** Global Untappd Rating: 3.62 (as of 8.20.20)
Please check out my full review of The Ministry of Brewing. And as always everyone, thanks for reading, and you can check out my blog – The Beer Thrillers – where Let Us Drink Beer also guest blogs and posts. So be sure to give us both some reads and shares and likes and follows, etc. We greatly appreciate it!
Yes, you heard that right. The Beer Thrillers are starting up their own YouTube Channel. What a crazy world we live in right? What’s next – podcasts? Oh…. wait! But, in the meantime, be sure to check out our YouTube Channel. Some of you might have noticed the YouTube icon added to the ‘social icons’ at the top of each page starting yesterday morning. This was meant to go up yesterday morning before work when I did the work to make the channel but I unfortunately ran out of time, so it’s going up now.
There is currently no videos up yet, but we (myself and D. Scott) are filming our first video today, so hopefully editing and everything, I will be posting it Friday. We are also doing our latest podcast – So a Mexican and A Scott Walk Into a Bar… – this edition on The Umbrella Academy; tonight, so be sure to look for that in the future as well.
Some series ideas I have for our YouTube channel are:
Beer Tastings / Beer Reviews
Philosophy and Pints (or Pints and Philosophy / Philosophies)
Let’s Drink and Talk Nerdy
Beers and Bad Movies
Books and Brews or Brews and Books
As you can see, several of the series will be combining my different interests – books, philosophy, movies, nerd culture, etc. There will also be regular series of beer tastings and reviews, and potentially videos of home brewing, once I fully get back into that. Fan Mail will be a mixed bag of things, beers sent for us to review from either fans, breweries, or home brewers; us reading e-mails, texts, etc. And who knows what else.
So please be sure to subscribe to our channel and click the ALERT bell so you get all of our notifications on our videos.
Thank you all, and hope you will enjoy the video channel as much as you do about the blog. Don’t worry, I will still continue to do plenty of writing. (And most of the beer review, tastings, will also appear as written blogs too.) Just expanding our horizons and activities.