The beer tour we were booked in for was cancelled, so I had to find my own beer adventure. That involved walking 300m down 16th to the Monk’s Cafe.
As advised, I went to the back bar to find a perch and a beer. I got to chatting with the bartender (in my drunken haze I forgot to write his name down…I think it was John, but I might be making that up), and mentioned my epic list and my quest to try all of the beers from it. Next thing I know, he’s pulling out beer after beer from the fridges, trying to find any from the list (there were plenty). Once I’d decided which beers to tackle that evening, he called a bottle shop near my hotel to see if THEY sold any beers from the list so I could take some with me (they did, and I did) As if that wasn’t helpful enough, he then shouted me a beer from the list – not out of the bar fridges, but from a bottleshop down the road!! A huge thank you goes out to this King amongst bartenders; I’m just sorry that I wasn’t able to share a few beers with him.
Anyway, here’s the beers ticked off in Philly:
Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale (#122)
Drinking it off tap at the source. It’s sour, but not mouth puckeringly so, giving it real drinkability. Starts fruity, finishes spicy with a buttery malt aftertaste lingering. Kinda like the best lemon lime and bitters you’ve ever had.
XX Bitter (#123)
This was a significant beer, as it was my first non-american beer in the US. Beautiful fresh flavour, a light sweet perfume on the nose and – bizarely – a taste that reminds me of fresh dill pickles, something I’d never tasted until my trip here. I was told at the time that this was due to the Brettanomyces (I’m happy to say I learnt something here) It ends with a light peppery bitterness.
Update 24/10/13: I’ve recently been informed that this beer doesn’t contain Brett after all (see helpful comment below). Turns out the helpful bartender may have been slightly misinformed. At least he meant well
Russian River Supplication (#124)
Coconut, red wine, raisins….this is beer, isn’t it? An ale aged in Pinot Noir barrels with cherries added…rich cocoa powder, sour cherries…there’s so many flavours in this beer, its frigging ridiculous. It’s an adventure in flavour that you want to dive into, excited by each new discovery…spicy pepper, a hint of buttery toffee… blurring the line between wine and beer. I’ve always said wineries make the best beer; this ale lends credence to that theory.
Stoudts Pils (#125)
This was the beer the bartender shouted me, because it was one of his favourite session beers. It’s been a day of big beers with big flavour, so this was refreshing. It’s a pilsener…and by that I mean its the standard definition of a pilsener. Light gold in colour, floral citrus aroma, spicy bitterness and a light biscuit malt with a hint of honey sweetness. If I had to define to someone what a pilsener was, I’d give them a bottle of this.
I really enjoying trying these big beers full of complex and unique flavours. I equally enjoy beers that exemplify a classic style, with simple flavours done very well.
Such a short stop produced the best beer experience yet. And to top it off, I had a Philly cheese steak too.
Thank you Philadelphia