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April 3, 2009 | 3,057 Beers on the Wall


THREE THOUSAND fifty six malt beverage brands are registered for sale in Pennsylvania. (Make that 3,057, now that Oskar Blues Brewing of Colorado has managed to sneak its Mama's Little Yella Pils past the anti-drug beer label censors.)

Here's what else I found this week as I went foraging through local beer stacks for new bottles and taps.

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Twin Lakes Brewing has been chugging along in virtual anonymity on a historic 252-acre farm in Greenville, Del., for three years, but its beer was never available Twin Lakes labelanywhere other than in its own back yard.

Until now.

This week, it began shipping kegs to Pennsylvania. Look for master brewer Jack Wick's Greenville Pale Ale, a Northwest-style ale in which whole flower hops are added throughout the brewing process, a la fellow Delawarean Dogfish Head.

Twin Lakes uses well water from the Brandywine aquifer - "The same water that George Washington drank during the Revolutionary War," said the brewery's Matt Day.

Grab the brewery's springtime seasonal, Winterthur Wheat, a citrusy ale they break out for the famous Winterthur Point-to-Point Steeplechase.

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Sixpoint Craft Ales, the tiny, 5-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y., brewery with an aggressive plan to stretch its legs throughout the East, is finally making its way to Philly.

Head brewer Shane Welch has been getting rave reviews up in New York with a line of fresh, small-batch ales, including Bengali Tiger, an India pale ale.

My beer-drinking pals have told me they've already seen Righteous Ale, a highly regarded rye ale, on a few taps around town. Try Local 44 (44th and Spruce, West Philly) or Bishop's Collar (26th and Fairmount, Art Museum).

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For the last two years, I've been hoping a local distributor would persuade North Carolina's Duck Rabbit Brewery to ship their dark beers up I-95. Stockertown Beverage, the specialty warehouse in Northampton County, finally did it.

Duck Rabbit is one of those cult faves that always gets beer freaks chattering, partly because of its cool, brain-teasing logo but mostly because of its richly satisfying styles. Rabid Duck imperial stout and Baltic Porter are the kind of bottles you break out for special occasions, like winning your NCAA pool.

Philadelphia will be getting variety cases of the flagship Milk Stout, Brown Ale, Porter and Amber, plus kegs.

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The Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project is the quirky work of New England beer guru Dann Paquette. His line is brewed under a rental agreement at the Paper City facility in Holyoke, Mass., with a focus on eclectic styles (and funky labels).

We'll be seeing several of Paquette's 22-ounce bombers, including Jack D'Or, an American saison that's described as a pale ale brewed with Belgian yeast. Also on the horizon: Baby Tree, a quadruppel made with prunes.

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Twelve Percent, the Brooklyn importer, continues to crush us with completely obscure Belgians.

I'm a big fan of the variety from Brouwerij 't Gaverhopke, a brewpub in an out-of-the-way West Flanders village that's only open to the public on weekends. Its Extra, a high-alcohol quadruppel that goes down shockingly easy, was one of the stars of last month's Zythos America Belgian beer fest at the Penn Museum. The same brewery will send us Singing Blond, a strong, funky golden ale.

The one I can't wait to get my hands on is De Maagd van Gottem, which - if you remember your high school Dutch lessons - means The Virgin of Gottem. Gottem is the home of the small Sint Canarus brewery, which produces this unique blond ale with a single hop bud in every bottle.

I suppose it's up to us to deflower the vestal darlings.

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When the Phillies open their season on Sunday, beer lovers will find a few additions to the ballpark's already excellent selection. Victory Prima Pils and Red Hook Longhammer IPA are among a half-dozen newbies on draft lineup, but I have a feeling the most popular is going to be the Bud commemorative Phillies world championship aluminum bottle.

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Other cool, new stuff in town:

From California: The Bruery Black Orchard dark wheat in corked bottles; Lost Abbey brandy barrel-aged Angel's Share barleywine; Ballast Point Victory at Sea coffee-vanilla imperial porter.

From Colorado: Steamworks Steam Engine Lager and Third Eye P.A. in cans; Boulder Flashback Anniversary Ale; Left Hand Black Jack Porter on tap.

From Belgium: Potteloereke strong dark Belgian ale; tart and bitter Piet Aguras; De Proef Lunatique tripel; Dubuisson Scaldis Refermentee, a strong (12 percent alcohol), refermented version of the classic Scaldis amber ale.

Elsewhere: Founders Cerise, a cherry beer from the excellent Michigan brewery; High and Mighty (Massachusetts) variety case, with Purity of Essence, St. Hubbins Abbey and Two-Headed Beast; Baird (Japan) Carpenter's Mikan Ale made with Japanese tangerines.

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I'll be writing about new beer joints around town in an upcoming column, but here's a quick heads-up for suburban imbibers: The Iron Abbey (680 N. Easton Road, Horsham) opens this afternoon.

The gastropub goes heavy on Belgians, with 200 bottles and 24 taps, including St. Bernardus 12 and Ommegang 3 Philosophers.

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