I Traveled into Pittsburgh on highway 60 to 279 through the beautiful rolling hills of Pennsylvania and on to the center of town. I came to Liberty Avenue in the Oakland section of the city. Pittsburgh seemed like a ghost town on the weekend a great time to see the city without the traffic.
I arrived at the Church Brew Works Brewery, which is nestled in the historic neighborhood of Lawrenceville. The Church Brew Works brewpub is located in an old Catholic Church and school. The former St. John the Baptist church built in 1902 in the Northern Italian architectural style.
The Church Works Brewery is all red brick facade building with enormous solid wood doors that lead into the great expanse of the church the size and beauty of it awed me. There were the hand painted cypress beams on the vaulted ceiling and the intricate European-style stained glass windows that cast a beautiful celestial light to the place. The 30’ foot high pillars with massive arches lead you down the center isle to the altar where the 15 barrel brew system sat. (I almost got down on my knees and prayed, for beer that is.)
The brewery usually has 8 beers on tap, which include Celestial Gold a light lager beer for the masses. It has an alcohol content of 4.2% a.b.v. (Alcohol by Volume) and 18 IBUs (international Bittering Units). The Pious Monk Dunkel a Munich Dunkel style beer with a 5.2% a.b.v. and 18 IBUs. This beer was a fine example with a good maltiness and subdued hop bitterness and well balanced. The Vienna Lager was a light copper color with a nice dry finish 28 IBUs and 5.8% a.b.v. which is on the higher end of the style. The Bell Tower Brown Ale drawn from an English beer engine was awesome. It was a Southern English style brown ale with a 5% a.b.v. and 18 IBUs. The flavor had a great malty sweetness with hints of caramel nut. Thou there were two beers that impressed me the most the first beer the Toasted Oatmeal Stout that had a wonderful rich sweet roasty flavor, creamy mouth feel and a clean finish. The second beer an Old English Ale the first I had ever tasted at a brewpub, this beer was heaven, and it had a nice malty aroma with an intense malty flavor with hints of dried fruit at almost 8% a.b.v. and 45 IBUs it got my full attention.
Church brew works has won a number of award and medals from regional and national competitions and the Great American Beer Festival. The food was outstanding the service was great. The beers they served were all fine examples of their style.
In all Pittsburgh is a great beer destination with a number of great breweries. Located across the street from the Church Brew Works is The Old Pittsburgh Brewery where Iron City beer is brewed. At the Southside Works Market place along the river is the newer German Hofbräuhaus, where it is Oktoberfest every day. You can experience the true Oktoberfest adventure with Oompah bands, communal seating, classic German food and Hofbräuhaus beers from Hofbräu Original, Lager, Munich Dunkel, Hefe Weizen and seasonal beers. Across town is the famous Pennsylvania Brewing Company the first craft brewhouse in Pennsylvania from 1986. The brewery is on the site of the former Eberhardt and Ober Brewery founded in 1848. Penn Brewery also has a wide selection of great beers from Penn Pilsner, Penn Dark and St. Nicholas Bock.
I can go on forever with the Steel City’s breweries, beer and history, but that is for another story. If you happen to go and experience the great city of Pittsburgh and it breweries, guaranteed they will definitely quench that thirst for great beer. Prost!
Category Archives: The Ale Guy
The Porter is one beer style that can be traced back to its very beginnings.
First brewed in 1722 by a man named Ralph Harwood and served at the Blue Last Pub
in England. Mr. Harwood brewed Porter to make it easier and faster to serve than three or four thread beers, which is beer pulled from three or four different taps. Mr. Harwood
decided to put the ingredients from those three or four beers into one beer and call it
Entire or Entire Butt.
Porter than became one of the most popular beer styles in the world in the middle to late
1700’s. Arthur Guinness started out brewing Entire Butt at St. James Gate Brewery Dublin in 1759, which later evolved into the stout. The name porter was first used in the 18th century from its popularity with the street and river porters of London. The Porter style started declining in popularity by the late 1800’s and almost disappeared in the 1900’s. Their demise was due to the popularity in paler and lighter ales and pilsners being brewed. Porter made a come back because of the home brewing and the craft brewing community that revived the style in 1960’s and 70’s. Thanks to a few concerned brewers porter is now a widely drank beer style again in the U.S. and England.
There are three different styles of Porter the Robust Porter, London Brown Porter and Baltic Porter. Their aroma and flavor profiles are listed below.
A medium to full body in a balanced beer that has a noticeably coffee-like dryness, and may have a malty sweet flavor that comes through in the finish. Chocolate and black malts add a sharp bitterness, but do so without adding roasted or charcoal notes. There can be a little roast barley character with a hop bitterness presents and hop flavor and aroma noticeable. A low fruitiness and esters due to the clean fermenting ale yeast. The color is deep brown with red hues to black.
Here are some great commercial examples to try Anchor Porter, Sierra Nevada Porter, Black Hook Porter. Great Lakes Edmond Fitzgerald Porter, Pikes Porter, Rogue Mocha Porter, and Left Hand Black Jack Porter. Alcohol can range from 4.5 – 8% a.b.v..
A bit lighter than the robust, with light to medium body and generally lower in alcohol. The malt sweetness is low to medium and well balanced with the subdued hop bitterness. No strong roast barley or burnt malt character. Color is medium to dark brown with reddish tones. No real hop aroma and flavor with a touch of fruitiness from the ale yeast used. These are the commercial examples to try Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter, Fuller’s London Porter, Dublin Plain Porter (only in Dublin), Yuengling Porter, Stegmeter Porter, Flag Porter, and John Labbatts’s Porter the alcohol content is 4.5 – 5.5% a.b.v..
Baltic porter is brewed in the U.S., Finland, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Denmark and Sweden. Baltic Porters are brewed with Lager yeast and aged giving them a clean rich flavor. The aroma has a great complexity of rich malty sweetness with hints of caramel, toffee, nutty and/or licorice notes. The flavor is malty sweet with a blend of deep malt, dried fruit and roastiness, which is balance with mostly noble hops. The commercial examples are Southampton Imperial Baltic Porter, Great Divide Smoked Baltic Porter, Browar Okocim S.A. (Carlsberg), Smuttynose Baltic Porter, and Alaskan Baltic Porter the alcohol content is from 5.0% – 9.5% a.b.v. (Serving Temp for Baltic Porters are 42 degrees).
All three styles of these porters should be tried. You will taste their uniqueness and experience the real history that made this beer style so great. “Cheers”
The Ale Guy
Session Beers are so over looked and misunderstood in America. We think that more is better more alcohol, more hops, more this, and more that. But session beers are more, more flavor and more enjoyment. This is a beer to be consumed, by its style in complexity and intrigue to make the taste buds dance and the mind to be clear to ponder.
In England session beers are the norm every brewery brews one or two and are found in pretty much every pub. There are a few session beer styles out there but you need to know what to look for.
Beer styles for people new to beer are the attributes that make up the beer. Such as the color, alcohol content, hop bitterness, flavor, ingredients and sometimes country of origin. The beer styles that are in this group but not limited to so called sessions beers are English Ordinary, and Special Bitters, my favorite English Milds, Scottish ales 60 and 70 shillings and a Berliner Weisse. Most people wouldn’t think of a Berliner Weisse Bier as a session beer but I would surely categorize it as one.
All of these session beer styles are hundreds of years old these beers are nothing new. What they were was that the mega-beer companies of our country hid them from us. With the public becoming more educated and our thirst for real beer the breweries are pulling old tricks out of their new mash-tuns.
As an Ale lover these are some of my favorite beers that I drink and once you try a few session beers you will be an Ale Lover too. “Cheers”
My own home brewed Mild 3.8% alcohol, 20 IBU, and color 17 (SRM). Delicious
I went out for some fresh air and of course a pint. Being in West Palm Beach for a few weeks I went downtown to Clematis Street by Night. The city offers an outdoor festival every Thursday with a band, food, arts and crafts and a car show. I didn’t real go down there for that but a place in the heart of all the festivities. The place is called World of Beer.
World of Beer is a very difficult place for a beer geek like me to go. There is so much beer to choose from 40 some odd taps and 600 varieties of beer in the bottle. If your a real beer geek you have to have a plan before you get there and you have to stick to it. My plan was to have a real English ale a Bitters, Mild (hard to find) or an IPA.
Well I get there and the place is packed, they have a special tasting going on for Dog Fish Head. They had 60 minute, 90 minute, 120 minute, The Midas Touch, and about 5 more which I had most all of them before. Nothing against Dog Fish Head and Sam Calagione they have definitely change the way America drinks beer for the better. But I remembered I had a plan and I stuck to my guns.
Well I looked through their English beer selection and found a beer I haven’t had “WOW” just what I’ve been searching for. The beer is called Ruddles County Ale made by Ruddles Brewery in Sufford England.
Like most beer companies in the World Ruddles Brewery is owned by Greene King Brewing Company. Greene King also owns Old Speckled Hen, Belhaven, and the old Hardys and Hansons brewery. For you beer geeks out there the Hardy and Hansons used to brew Thomas Hardy Ale a Barley Wine style beer very hard to find and expensive.
Let me get back to the original beer Ruddles County ale. This beer was everything I expected. The beer had a great big floral hop aroma with hints of caramel, and toffee malt sweetness. The color was a beautiful amber with red highlight and a frothy white head. As you can see from the picture below.
The beer had a crisp hop bitterness with a smooth distinctive flavor of dark toffee and caramel with a malty sweet finish. The mouth feel was a medium body with a spot on low carbonation level and creamy smoothness. The alcohol was 4.7% which to me was an Special Bitter style ale. This is a great session beer something to sit and chat with the mates and enjoy. “Cheers”
The Ale Guy
You are probably asking, how do I jump into craft beer? Or why am I wanting to change the beer I’m drinking? Think about the food you eat, you surely don’t eat the same food every time you eat. Sometime you eat fast food but eating hamburgers all the time gets boring. The same thoughts about the beer you drink and especially when there is such a larger selection than there used to be.
I could suggest a 100 different kinds and styles of beer. To make it easier to find and the flavor and quality of the beer is important. Samuel Adams Boston Lager is a great jumping off point. You have definitely seen the commercials of Jim Koch the owner of Sam Adams on TV.
The Samuel Adams Boston Lager beer is a full all malt beer that means no rice, corn or adjuncts added to supplement for fermentable sugars. With the all malt beer you get a fuller body and complex flavors. There are also more hops Hallertau Mittelfruh in particular being used which gives the beer balance, flavor, and aroma. To get most out of the beer’s flavor and aroma it should be served in a clean dry glass.
You’ll start to find beer is meant to be savored and enjoyed not sucked down one after another and not tasted. That would be like eating a Filet Mignon and holding your nose so you don’t taste it = Pointless.
With the new beer revolution going on in America it hard not to drink great beer. We the people will speak with our tongues for taste and not drink bland, cheap, over commercialized beer. “Cheers to All”
Leave a blog and tell me what beer you enjoy drinking.
The Ale Guy
Are you dazed and confused standing in front of the beer cooler at your favorite store and staring at all those craft beers with the letters IPA. Well I will explain what IPAs are, and head you in the right direction for your next visit to the store.
I PA stands for India Pale Ale. The India Pale Ale was created out necessity by the British breweries in the early part of the 1800’s. The British were engage in fighting wars all around the globe but especially in India. To keep the morale of their troops up, the British government would supply their armies with beer. I wish I served in that army. During this period of time advances in the malting process made it feasible for the maltsters to produce lighter colored malt called Pale Malt. With those advances the brewers were starting to produce a beer called Pale Ale. Since Porter Beer was the most popular and produced beer at the time. Porter was not conducive to drinking in the hot and humid climate of India.
The brewers first sent their new pale ales on the long trip to India which usually took about three month to sail around the horn of Africa. The beer did not last and soured by the time it arrived in India. The sour beer did not make the troops very happy.
The breweries decided to make the Pale Ale with higher alcohol content and added a lot more hops. Now hops which is known as (Humulus Lupulus) gives beer its bitterness, flavor and aroma but also imparts an antibacterial property to the beer to help keep it from souring.
So the brewers started to brew this stronger and hoppy Pale Ale. But not only did they add the hops during the brewing process but also add them into the cask before shipping. The addition of hops at the end of the brewing process is called dry hopping and also gave the beer its aroma. Together with this new version of the Pale Ale and the long trip around Africa the beer matured to perfection. That is the beginning of the beer style known as India Pale Ale, becoming an instant success.
Now back to the present day. The British IPA’s are still brewed much the same as they were. The beer’s appearance is light amber to copper in color with a frothy off white head. There is a moderately high hop aroma with hints of floral, earthy, grassy and fruit, with a moderate caramel and toasty like malt sweetness. Also hints of low fruitiness and ester aromas from the yeast they use to ferment the beer. The flavor is a medium high assertive bitterness from hops a supporting malt sweetness with hints of caramel, toffee, toasty and biscuit bready complexity. The beer finishes with a clean dry finish with some examples that might have hints of diacetyl which is a buttery or butterscotch taste. The alcohol is clean with the content between 5% and 7.5 % A.B.V. Alcohol By Volume). To really get the most enjoyment out of this beer serve it in a clean dry glass at 46 to 52 degrees. Here are just some of the commercial examples to seek out Fuller’s IPA Bangle Lancer, Samuel Smith IPA, Belhaven twisted thistle, Yards IPA, Shipyard IPA, and Marston’s Old Empire IPA this is a very short list.
Now we swim to this side of the pond and the American IPAs. No we didn’t go to war with the East Indians. Instead we went to war with plant disease, genetics and crop cross breeding. With these new techniques the hop grower created new varieties of hops. The brewers have greatly enhanced the IPA beer style with these new hops which imparts higher bitterness levels, unique flavors and very interesting aromas.
American IPAs are only somewhat similar to their British counter parts. The American IPA appearance is gold to amber in color with a full frothy white to light tan head that leaves a beautiful lace behind on the glass. The aroma is full on floral, perfume, piney, citrus and grapefruit nose with just an underlining clean hints of malt sweetness. The flavor has high hop bitterness with a strong malt backbone, high hop flavor that should reflect an American hop character of citrus, floral, piney grapefruit fruitiness. The malt flavors should be low with some touches of caramel and clean malt sweetness. There should be a smooth, medium body mouth feel and moderately high carbonation which combines to render an over all dryness in the presence of the malt sweetness. The alcohol should be smooth with a good warming sensation. The Alcohol content is between 5.5% and 7.5% A.B.V. There are a plethora of great American IPAs to be had. This is a list of just a few Dogfish Head 60 Minute, Stone IPA, Greatlakes Burning River IPA, Ale Smith IPA, Victory Hop Devil, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, Samuel Adam’s 48 Latitude, and Hoppin’ Frog Hoppin’ to Heaven IPA. With all of these beers there are now Imperial and Double IPAs that are exactly that.
India Pale Ales pair well with BBQ foods and I especially love mine with spicy Mexican and East Indian food. It is no wonder the Brits stayed in India for so long. In my own observation the IPA beer style has brought a new beer revolution to America and the world. India Pale Ales will change your perspective on what beer is and what it will become in the future. So now go to the nearest store and get your self some IPA and let us fill our glasses and raise them up and give a toast to the men that fought to bring us this great beer. “Cheers”
Written By The Ale Guy
This is the first post on beer and many to follow. We as Americans are somewhat beer illiterate we have never learned about beer as the Europeans. Our parents grew up in a world changed by Prohibition, Depression, War and Mega Advertising campaigns. The real traditions of beer were lost and forgotten by our ancestors. I will bring back some of those beer traditions and knowledge for you. I will post articles and resources here for your reading pleasure in the hopes of bringing you into the American Beer Revolution that is going on now. Thanks for stopping by.