Our 50 Things You Must Drink feature notes several of the city’s most singular beer offerings—but here are a few more good ones.
Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA
The white IPA is one of those unofficial hybrid styles that has only started to gain traction over the last couple years—perhaps in part because consumers aren’t sure what to make of witbiers hopped up to IPA levels. The Chainbreaker, brewed with wheat and Belgian yeast, has the hazy look of a witbier, but put the glass to your nose and the banana-like yeast is overpowered by juicy, citrus-laden hops. Lemon peel, grapefruit, and tangerine dominate—and the flavor carries a faint touch of coriander. As it happens, Deschutes’ “Base Camp for Beer Fanatics” tasting series is touring Philly right now through Nov. 9, offering ample opportunity to try this wicked hybrid ale.
Neshaminy Creek Highwater Hefeweizen
Neshaminy Creek is a relative newcomer to the robust Pennsylvania brewing scene, but if their early efforts are any indicatio—they’ve already won a Gold at the Great American Beer Fest—they’ll be around for a while. Brewed in Bucks County using water from Neshaminy Creek, Highwater Hefeweizen is a traditional German-style hefe, naturally, meaning it has all the banana, cloves and earthy yeast you’d expect. The body is light and smooth, bordering on creamy, and the finish is short, punchy and crisp making this beer as satisfying in autumn as in summer. If you want to try it before their Hot Rods & Hops event on Nov. 9 in Croydon—at least six other breweries will be on hand—give it a whirl at Churchville Inn.
Dogfish Head American Beauty
Dogfish Head’s ongoing series of music “collaborations” have touched on Miles Davis, Pearl Jam, Robert Johnson and Dan the Automator. Now the brewer drops in on a group who know a thing or two about dropping, er, stuff: Its new American Beauty ale pays tribute to the Grateful Dead. This imperial pale ale, boasting a beautifully floral aroma, is brewed only with ingredients grown in America plus a special ingredient closely associated with the Dead. No, not that—it’s brewed with granola, which gives it a grainy, honey-kissed softness that rounds out the edges. It’s just hitting taps now, so try it at City Tap House, Bar 31 or Prohibition Taproom.
Bruery White Oak
Looking to give your taste buds a workout? The Bruery opened its doors only a few short years ago, but based on the strength of its barrel and sour programs, this California brewer is already among the most acclaimed in North America. White Oak offers up a heady, potent blend to challenge even the most experienced taster with its complexity: Equal parts wheatwine aged in bourbon barrels and a hoppy Belgian-style golden strong ale, White Oak’s assertive vanilla, oak and bourbon character is lifted by bready, grassy malts and bright hopping. Lively carbonation helps temper the highly sweet finish. At 12 percent ABV, drink with caution at Khyber Pass or Moriarty’s.
Yards Grand Cru
You typically see the term “grand cru” associated with big Belgian beers—the term itself was swiped from the wine world—but this grand cru springs from the City of Brotherly Love courtesy of Philly’s own Yards Brewing. The hazy orange brew has an aroma of banana and pepper and sweet pears and tastes as sweet and juicy as a bowl of fermented fruit. Pears, apples, and apricot are just barely balanced by a restrained herbal hop profile. Despite a robust 10 percent ABV, there’s not even a hint of alcohol burn in the finish; it’s a tasty triumph. Look for it at The Pour House Westmont, and keep an eye open for limited barrel-aged versions at the Yards tasting room.
PW's Year of Beer: Tröegs Mad Elf