WITH PHILLY BEER WEEK just five weeks away, word is beginning to spill about many of the new brands that the locals will be showing off for the festivities. Consider this your early checklist.
Manneken-Penn, Dubbel, 7.5 percent alcohol by volume.
For the third year, Philly Beer Week sent a local brewer to Belgium to collaborate on a one-off, and for the third year he came back with something different. This year it was Chris Wilson, of Weyerbacher, and Tom Peters, of Monk’s Cafe, traveling to Brasserie de la Senne to produce what is being described as a “Belgo-American Dubbel.” I’m not sure how it’s going to taste, but you have to love the label depicting Brussels’ famed Manneken Pis sculpture taking a whiz atop City Hall.
Philly Beer Week Brotherly Suds 4, pale ale, 4.2 percent abv.
This year, Bill Covaleski (Victory), Gordon Grubb (Nodding Head), Mark Edelson (Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant) and Gene Muller (Flying Fish) joined Tom Kehoe at Yards Brewery for Beer Week’s local collaboration brew. It’s a light-bodied pale ale that will be tapped by Mayor Nutter at Opening Tap festivities on May 31.
Stoudt’s Big Brother Imperial Pils, German-style pilsner, 5.4 percent abv.
For more than 25 years, Stoudt’s Pils has stood as the benchmark of German-style pilsner – a variety that has served as the prototype for numerous other breweries who’ve helped make the region the pilsner capital of America. Now, brewer Brett Kintzer is bringing in its Big Brother, an imperial-style pilsner featuring an ample dose of classic Saaz hops, to be unveiled at Opening Tap.
Weyerbacher Aquila Farmhouse Ale, saison, 4.5 percent abv
When Wilson isn’t traveling to Belgium, he’s toiling in his own Easton, Pa., brewhouse with assistant Nick Micio. They’re giving saison, one of Belgium’s classic styles, a healthy American hop aroma in the latest release of Weyerbacher’s Brewer’s Select constellation series.
Dogfish Head & Charles Wells DNA New World IPA, India pale ale, 4.5 percent abv.
What would Dogfish Head’s groundbreaking, 60 Minute IPA taste like if it were brewed by one of the Old World’s classic breweries? English brewer Jim Robertson (the guy who helped revive Courage Imperial Stout) took a special reduction of Sam Calagione’s DFH60 (essentially its DNA) and integrated it into his own IPA.
Saint Benjamin Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Cream Ale, cream ale, 7.4 percent abv.
Brewer Tim Patton has been laying the groundwork for the next great Philadelphia brewery, to open later this year in North Philly near the Temple campus. While it appears that his flagship will be an easy-drinking cream ale, he’s amping that up for Beer Week with a unique imperial cream ale aged in bourbon-soaked oak.
Yards Karma Factor, saison, 4.2 percent abv.
Yards tips its hat to do-it-yourselfers in its annual Karma Factor competition to create an exact, homebrewed replica of one of the Philly brewery’s beers. This year, the winner will be making a saison, to debut at Opening Tap.
Fegley’s Brew Works Arctic Alchemy, barleywine, 12 percent abv.
The original Arctic Alchemy was commissioned in 1852 by Queen Victoria to supply explorers in search of the Northwest Passage. It was beer that could be enjoyed as sustenance, even when the temperature dropped to zero. Beer historian Chris Bowen recreated the recipe for this strong, bready ale and brewed it with Fegley’s brewmaster, Beau Baden.
Allagash/Iron Hill Petite Fortunella, Belgian-style table beer.
This one began as a joint effort between Iron Hill brewer Chris LaPierre and his partner, Suzanne Woods, an Allagash Brewing sales rep. She brought in Patrick (Chavez) Chavanelle from the Allagash pilot brewhouse, in Maine, to help with the recipe, and they’ve turned out this kumquat (or “fortunella”) ale fermented with Orval yeast.
Victory Liberty Bell Ringer, imperial India pale ale, 9 percent abv.
One of Philly’s mainstay brewers is showing that the East Coast can do double IPAs as well as the California kids. Bill Covaleski’s newest will ring in with the floral, earthy character of Mosaic hops – a hybrid made from ever-popular Simcoe and Nugget varieties.
A few others to watch for:
- Standard Pale, brewed by Standard Tap owner William Reed, with Sly Fox.
- Dogfish Head Firefly Ale, brewed for Delaware’s Firefly Music Festival.
- Phunky Tears, a sour version of Nodding Head Brewery’s infamous Crosby’s Tears.
- A yet-unnamed collaborative black India pale ale from Troegs of Hershey, Pa., Virginia’s Devils Backbone and Pittsburgh’s Church Brew Works.
- Dock Street Trappiste Pale, a Trappist-style IPA inspired by Orval, brewed by Peters, George Hummel of Home Sweet Homebrew, and Scott Morrison, formerly of West Philly’s Dock Street brewery.
- Johnny Berliner, a tart Berlinerweisse from Dock Street and Johnny Brenda’s, the Fishtown tavern.
- Brewvolution II, a hard root beer infused with herbs and spices, from the suburban brewing trio of Prism, Evil Genius and Boxcar.