Skip to main content
03-17-00

Beer Review #319 Cultivator Helles Bock

03-17-02Even though there is another snowstorm smacking parts of the Mid-Atlantic today spring is right around the corner. Spring means that it is helles bock season! One of the newest helles bock beers, or simply helles for short, is Cultivator Helles Bock by Troegs Brewing Company.  I was at their brewery in Hershey about a month ago and I had no idea they were going to be releasing a new beer.

Cultivator pours a nice yellow orange and has a thin white head that fades to just a covering. The nose has a slight bit of sulfur along with the typical “lager smell.” It also has a great honey-like sweetness along with a crisp biscuit. I really like the combination of odors going on in this beer. I didn’t get any hops as expected.

On the first taste I did notice the flavor at first, instead I noticed how nicely this beer drank. The flavors are wonderful, but this beer took me back to my trip to Germany. It’s darn authentic and lovely. Past the nostalgia, Cultivator is big everything a helles should be. It starts with a nice light sweetness that is intertwined with biscuit and wonderfulness.  The hops come in an provide a nice bit of balancing but still leave it a bit more on the sweet end of the scale. The hops taste fresh and floral.

I could seriously drink this beer all day. It’s wonderful and makes me want to sit down with some German meatloaf, potatoes, and a fried egg. Yup, it really did take me back to Germany. I will be purchasing more of this beer shortly. (more…)

06-04-05

Beer Review #294 Perpetual IPA

06-04-03So I’m kind of on an IPA kick as of late and I was recently at Troegs Brewing Company and picked up a sixer of Perpetual IPA. This bad boy comes in at 7.5% which totes the line between IPA and Double IPA. I’m going to go with this beer being in the former group, but there will be others that disagree. That’s one of the problems with beer styles, rarely do brewers not like to push the boundaries of what a style is.

Perpetual IPA pours a nice golden color and has a medium thick white head. I was actually surprised that this one wasn’t a shade or two darker and closer to an orange color, but golden it is. The nose strikes like an IPA should, hoppy and wonderful. The hops are mostly composed of pine odors with bits of grapefruit and citrus mixed in there. I really liked how this one smelled. It had a round hop aroma that was bright and ample.

There isn’t really any malt on the front side of this beer. It hits early and hard with some great hops. The hops aren’t biting in the normal hop way, they flow in and build in complexity as the drink progresses. It starts with a grapefruit flavor and then into a slightly grassy feel. It then ends on a bitter pine note. Bitter, but not biting. As with the nose, the hop flavor is round and wonderful.

I think this is an outstanding IPA. It’s a showcase for what hops can do in a beer and the different ways that they can be used. The lack of a strong bit makes this beer very approachable and super drinkable. I’ll be getting this one again soon. (more…)

Beer Review #219 Sunshine Pils

Many of the first reviews were of Troegs Brewing Company. The reasons for this are two fold 1.) They make lot of good beer, and 2.) They were the most accessible craft beer when I first got into craft beer. Since that time they have been in my regular buying rotation as I still have a fondness for their beers. Sunshine Pils is a spring/summer seasonal release of theirs that I never actually tried until this year. Generally when I am looking for a good PA pilsner, I go for Victory’s Prima Pils, but seeing as this was a new beer to me, I grabbed it.

According to the bottle, Sunshine Pils comes in at 5.3% but Troegs website says 4.5%. In any case this beer looks exactly like a pilsner should. It is a golden straw color and has a brilliant clarity to it. A thin white head sits atop the beer below and slowly absorbs back into the liquid. The nose is a bit more complex then what I was expected. The first thing that gets you is a good solid malt, which has a grainy, fresh quality to it. The odor is on the sweet side with some bits on honey mixed in there. I didn’t get any hops in my attempts to find them.

The taste very much follows what the nose promised. It starts off with a honey sweetness that has some notes for grain as it goes over the back third of your tongue. There is a really nice earthiness to this beer which I wasn’t expected. It has a real handcrafted quality to it that I have not found in many pilsners. The hops finally make their appearance at the very end of this one and give a slight noble hop spiciness that dries everything out enough to keep this beer from being too sweet.

With the exception of the earthiness, this is a pretty standard pilsner. It was nice, balanced, and refreshing; all things that a pilsner should be. I wish I had tried this beer soon as it would have really helped those summer classes in my college days. (more…)

Beer Review #205 Tröegs Pale Ale

I recently had the chance to visit Tröegs Brewing Company’s new brewery in Hershey, PA. Tröegs is in the process of moving their operations out of Harrisburg, PA to Hershey as they have outgrown their current location. The new brewery is giant (compared to  their last one) and beautiful. I heard that they are going to be using their current brewing system as a pilot brewery and to brew their Scratch series of beers. After the new brewery is fully up and running, brewing operations at the Harrisburg location will cease and they will move over the remaining equipment to Hershey. One of beers that helped put Tröegs on the map in the east is their Pale Ale. I have enjoyed this beer a number of times, but I have reviewed it on this site.

The Pale Ale pours a nice clear orange color with a soapy white head. The nose is full of bright citrus hops. Behind the ample hops are some hints of bread and a light caramel odor. The hops really dominate the smell on this beer. They are fresh and bright. As I have said before, I enjoy citrus hops much more then pine hops so this beer fits right into my wheelhouse.

To begin with this pale ale starts with a slight sweetness which is quickly followed by a good punch of hops. As the nosed promised, the hops present themselves as bright and crisp in the flavor arena. With such a solid addition of hops you would expect this beer to be out of balance, but it isn’t at all. The malt really supports the hops and makes this pale ale very nice.

This is one of my favorite pale ales. It is nicely balanced and full of hop flavor. It also only comes in at 5.4% so you could have a few and not be in trouble. If you haven’t had a chance to get you hands on this one yet, I suggest you do. It’s not up to the level of a west coast pale ale, in terms of hops, but the balance on this beer is so good that it becomes dangerously drinkable. (more…)

Pennsylvania Breweries launch party at Victory

I’ve been following Lew Bryson’s blog Seen Through a Glass for a year or two now. A week or two a post popped-up about a launch party for the 4th Edition of Pennsylvania Breweries. My wife gave me the 3rd Edition when we were in college as a Christmas present and I have been waiting for an updated edition. It was a ticketed event that costs $35. For the money I received a signed copy of the new book, two beers, some delicious food, and a chance to hear some of my idols talk about the beer industry. I think it was  a hell of a deal.

Before the talk with the brewers ever began, Lew actually came over and talked with my friend Mike and myself. I’ve never met him before but I think we could be drinking buddies. Lew seems like a genuine guy with a big hearty laugh. I just enjoyed talking beer with him and being around him. He did the same thing with everyone who came out, about 40-50 people in total. Very cool.

The brewers that were represented came from the southeastern to central PA region. Victory Brewing Company was obviously there, as was Troegs Brewing Company, Stoudt’s Brewing Company, Sly Fox Brewing Company, and a Philadelphia brewpub, Nodding Head Brewery.  Lew served as the MC for the event and asked some interesting questions. Below you can see the brewers in order from left to right:

(Lew Bryson, Ron Barchet of Victory, the Trogners, Stoudt’s representative (I forget his name), Brian O’Reilly of Sly Fox, and Curt Decker of Nodding Head)

To start off the Q&A Lew asked about Pennsylvania’s impact on the brewing community, most notably in the lager market. Pennsylvania is really a home for full bodied lagers. Out west ales then to dominate the scene, but Pennsylvania brewers have mastered the craft of the lager and have made it something to be proud of. They made some damn good ales as well, but lagers are PA’s calling card.

Another topic of discussion was Yuengling and how it has helped and also hurt craft brewers in PA. Some of the things I took away were that it helped because Pennsylvanians acquire a taste for something other than light lagers. They have also harmed craft brewers because they have limited the markets that they can expand into. When a brewer is trying to sell to a new retailer and they say they already have a craft beer, Yuengling, on tap, it immediately limits the scope of what they can do.

Lew brought up an interesting note about lower ABV beers and if they have a place in the market. They discussed the fact the the highest rated beers are not sessionable and that the prices are much higher than what the materials actually cost. Curt Deck of Nodding Head, the only brewpub represented, said that in a brewpub setting they want you to drink 2-3 beers at a sitting and that with super high ABV beers that is just not possible. I think they all recognized the need for some lower ABV beers in the marketplace.

Ron of Victory even shared some experiences with beer bars who do not have lower ABV beers and how they try to work with them to get an offering of lower alcohol beers in their bar. The thinking is that you might offer a wide selection of styles, but not of alcohol percentages.  Honestly it is something that I never thought of but think is important.

We then moved into local verses national brands and how the market is wanting things from local producers. During the discussion it was also brought up that Pennsylvania brewers have influences from both west coast and European beers. The malts and hops available to east coast brewers is much different than west coast brewers.

One of the final things we talked about was how Yuengling and Sam Adams, the two largest America owned beer makers, have their major breweries in PA. Sam Adams has a brewery outside of Allentown and Yuengling has two breweries in Pottsville. It was an a great discussion on the new and old guard and how PA is the only state to really have a healthy mix of both.

I want to thank the brewers who came out along with Lew for writing this wonderful book and hold such a great even.