The Beer Lass offers up six intriguing concoctions from regional brewers.
Years ago, Nodding Head honcho Curt Decker and former brewer Brandon Greenwood went to a friend's house to sample some homebrew. The brewer had a parrot, Rudy, who was small, but quite a handful. Greenwood thought it was cute when Rudy climbed up his leg to his shirt, ending up on his baseball hat...until he swung over the bill a grabbed a nostril with one talon, while holding onto the hat with the other. Rudy grabbed an eyebrow with his beak. “Tugging ensued, as nostril and eyebrow stretched further from their intended place,” says Decker. The African winger finally let go, but Dicker later named a big beer after the petite parrot with the Kung Fu Grip. It has a malty sweetness with a pinch of plum and a hint of spice from the Belgian yeast. And it goes great with dark bitter chocolate -- as long as Rudy’s not around. 11% abv.
During Yards’ earlier years, they seemed to have only wrestlers working at their brewery. The “Brawler” was their nod to the grapplers. Originally, a nitrogenated red ale, the tribute beer has been reformulated as a ruby mild, designed to allow you to go “deep in to the fight” or night. There’s noticeable malt in the nose. Imbibers will get some biscuit and chocolate. Drinks easy and finishes clean. Brewery insiders recommend getting your digits on some English cheddar or taking it to a Phillies tailgate. 4.2% abv.
On the first Sunday of every May, Sly Fox holds a “Bock Fest.” The German word for “goat” is “bock.” Goats are everywhere. Think dog park with goats. An oompah band plays, the accordion bellows and many bock lovers shout, Prost! Over and over again. So goats race, one wins, and that year’s Maibock is tapped and named for the victorious “Billy.” This year’s Maibock is DAX, a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine character. The beer is limited and is pouring at the brewpubs, Standard Tap and the recently-opened Swift Half. 6% abv.
As many know from the Headhouse Square beer bar, Zot, “Zotten” means a fool or a jester. The madmen of Weyerbacher took their limited edition Belgian Pale Ale, originally named Alpha, and will be re-releasing it this June as Zotten. Look forward to notes of banana wafers, clove, and lemon pepper. 6% abv.
Dogfish Head’s owner Sam Calgione once referred to this as his “desert island” beer during a Tria class. With barrel-aging becoming increasingly popular in the last three years, he had to push the envelope once more. Palo Santo is brewed in the largest wooden brewing vessel built in the states since pre-prohibtion. The contents, a malty, brown ale with hints of vanilla and caramel characteristics that come from fermenting in the thickest wood in the world, Palo Santo wood, meaning “holy tree.” The wood is from Paraguay. The beer is from heaven. 12% abv.
Iron Hill-West Chester head brewer Chris Lapierre brewed hundreds of thousands of gallons of Ironbound Ale and Pig Iron porter, but he never really named a beer something eccentric, something that got people thinking while sipping. Then he considered his love outside of brewing: cycling. He brewed a Belgian strong pale ale and found it fitting that he use the nickname of his favorite cyclist, also a Belgian, the much acclaimed Eddie Merckx. "That Belgian, he doesn't even leave you the crumbs... he's a cannibal," claimed a fellow cyclist when Merckx won the ’69 Tour de France. This “Cannibal” also brought Lapierre a few victories, as he won silver at the World Beer Cup and “Gold” at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Co. 7.5% abv.
PW's Year of Beer: Victory Helios