We've also taken a good look at either "New, or Improved Bars" in the area. One for the City, and One for the Suburbs. The winners of this category will also take an award, along with a "Best of" award medal.
Top Five New Local Beers of 2011
Weyerbacher Brewing's Rapture - Appears a hazy red toned amber with a small, off white head that slowly faded into a mild collar and floating cap.
Smell is of cherry pie, rhubarb, grapes, and red wine.
Taste is of the aromas with a tart cherry and vanilla flavors.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, tart, yet balanced with a mildly acidic and sweet tart flavor lingering. Well done!
Smell is of concord grapes, muscat, and maybe some wild cherries with hints of floral notes. Perhaps a hint of a tart-like grain in the background like a wheat.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, chewy at first, with an acidic coating along the tongue leading to a very dry finish.
This one reminds me a tad of an aged Orval. Bravo, McK guys!
Iron Hill(Phoenixville) Val D'Or - Appears a hazy light gold with a a fluffy white head that slowly fades into a gentle cap. Scattered streaks of lacing are left arond the glass. Steady streams of co2 quickly rise to the top.
Smell is of grassy, earthy, mushroom, funky brett, wet hay, a glass of old sugar, and refreshing bitter citrus.
Taste mimics the aromas with a tart, dry floral flavor that is superb. Yes...saison-esque with funky tartness and country farmhouse essence that I haven't encountered in too many domestic beers. Tim & Matt, very well done!
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, effervescent, tart, and dry.
Damn fine beer that I hope makes several returns. Shadows of Orval flow from this beverage and I can't wait to get another taste.
Earth Bread + Brewery's Trois Enfants - Appears a deep, dark brown with a turbid, russet hue when held to the light. A small, off white cap slowly fades into a mild cap that floats. Scattered bits of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is malty with a touch of roast, and dried coffee. Belgian esters jump out of the glass, requiring a second glance. Some notes of ripe fruit and orange rind entice the olfactory sensories.
Taste is of the aromas with the yeast being the star of the beer with the malt bill playing a close second fiddle. The rye agrees with the blend, drying out the flavors in the classic style of a saison.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with mild carbonation, a hint of tartness, and a zesty, dry finish.
Well done collaborative beer by three wonderful brewers!
Best of the rest - HONORABLE MENTION
Spring House Brewing's Big Gruesome - Appears a dense, dark brown nearing black with a fluffy brown head that slowly fades into a gentle cap and collar. Spotty bits of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of LOTS of peanut butter up front with a complementary cocoa and a touch coffee and cream.
Taste is of the mentioned with a blast of bitter cocoa and hops.
Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied, slick, and dry in the finish.
Tröegs Brewing's Perpetual IPA - Appears a transparent orange with a mild white cap that slowly fades into a gentle head and collar. Scattered spotty bits of lacing is left around the interior.
Smell is of orange, citrus, and spicy pepper.
Taste is of the aromas with a punch of pine needles, and balanced citrus.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, balanced with a gentle abrasive spiciness along the tongue.
Best New, or Improved Bar of 2011
Philadelphia: The Farmers' Cabinet - This eclectic establishment boasts the finest selection of imported draft lines in the city. In the advent of the "key keg" invasion, The Farmers' Cabinet has managed to get nearly every good import that has been offered in the Philadelphia market. Not only have they established themselves as the capo of imports; they've expanded draft lines to include limited craft beer selections offered domestically.
Philly Suburbs: Railroad Street Bar & Grill in Linfield, PA - Owner, Mike McCloskey has turned this establishment into a true-tested beer bar that the locals adore and the beer seekers frequent. Add in the affordable pub grub menu and this place is the kind of establishent that you don't want to leave once you get comfortable. Recently improved draft lines exceeding 30 + quality beers make RR a must stop.
Top Ten New, Non-Local Beers in the Philly Market of 2011
1.) Firestone Walker 15 Anniversary Ale- 18% Helldorado(11.7% ABV)Blonde Barley Wine.
look: 4.5 ,smell: 5, taste: 4.5, feel: 4.5, overall: 4.5
Appears a dense mahogany with a beige head that slowly fades into a mild cap and collar. Scattered spots of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of oak, rum, bourbon, cocoa, vanilla, caramel, molasses, and brown sugar.
Taste is of the aromas with a huge chunk of nougat and vanilla with caramel and cocoa.
Mouthfeel is full bodied, chewy, balanced, with some heat in the background.
2.) Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead the 5th - 4.6/5
Appears a turbid opaque onyx with russet toned edges. A small, foamy tan head slowly fades. Scattered streaks of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of dark bakers chocolate, vanilla beans, sugary rum, bourbon, and intense caramel. Sheesh! I could smell this all afternoon.
Taste is of the aromas with a fine sipping version of caramel, vanilla, and cocoa. Obvious bourbon influence on a well done imperial stout. Hells yeahs!
Mouthfeel is a tad boozy, as expected, full bodied, chewy, with a resonating sugar cookie and chocolate chip finish.
4.) Firestone Walker Abacus(§ucaba) -