Thursday, January 4, 2007

Best of Philly!

On New Year's Day 2007, Richard Lea posted a blog entry in the Books section of the Guardian (my on-line newspaper of choice) that asked for hangover reading recommendations. Reading that piece -- which elicited a fair amount of interesting suggestions -- this morning, I got to realizing that I've not had a hangover in years!

Undoubtedly, when viewed as part of the big picture, this state of affairs is one which will be looked upon as a very good thing. However, I can't help but think that one reason why it has come to be is because I've not had -- with apologies to those that do exist over here! -- many good drinking options and companions around in Malaysia as I had in, say, Philadelphia (where I was prior to returning to my native land)... :S

Should you think otherwise: No, I'm not about to go ahead and name -- and shame?! -- my human drinking buddies on this here blog. At the same time though, I will proceed to embarass myself (a bit) by admitting that one of the chief things that I actually really miss about Philly -- the local nickname for the American city where I spent around eleven years of my life -- is the beer that was to be had there. (As opposed to, you know, much more classy plus elevating stuff like concert performances by the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra or even the special exhibitions at the international-standard Philadelphia Museum of Art!)

In my defence: I happened to have had the luck to be in the "City of Brewery Love" when the American microbrew revolution -- which started out west in the late 1980s and early 1990s -- hit. Or, rather, I went away to Africa -- which, by the way, also has it share of good beers (including South Africa's Castle Milk Stout and Malawi's Carlsberg Red) ;b -- for a couple of years and upon my return, found a whole host of really tasty locally crafted beers suddenly pretty widely available on tap in bars all over the city.

Basically, as I was to learn, Philadelphia and certain of the areas close to it (like Downingtown, Pennsylvania -- the home of the Victory Brewing Company; and Cherry Hill, New Jersey -- home of the Flying Fish Brewing Company) made -- and, as far as I know, continue to make -- for one of the U.S.A.'s major microbrew crescents. And as a special bonus: Philadelphia also had/has become home to one of those cities that plays host to an annual beer festival known -- for a good reason -- as the "Split Thy Skull" barleywine (beer) festival.

Anyways, should you ever find yourself in Philadelphia and get to deciding that you would like to try some local beers, here's steering you away from the non-microbrew Yuengling (be it Dark, Light or Black and Tan) and towards the following in its place:-
- For something light and smooth: Flying Fish XPA (Extra Pale Ale)
- For something stronger but still pretty smooth: Yards ESA (Extra Special Ale)
- For something more robust tasting: Victoria Hop Devil IPA (India Pale Ale)
- Should you prefer a darker brew: Lancaster Milk Stout
- For that which you need to treat with real respect (for it can pack a serious punch -- i.e., we're talking 9.8% alcohol by volume here!): Victory Storm King Imperial Stout

(N.B. The last is a seasonal beer, available only in winter and wonderfully suited for warming you up during the cold days and nights! However, the other four options are available all year round.)

In any event, if you ever proceed and do a sample tasting of all the above, please don't blame me if you should have a hangover post doing so but do feel free to thank plus think of me if you did have yourself some prime beer tasting and imbibing. :b


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good list. Have you ever been to Boston? There are some pretty decent microbreweries out here, too. John Harvard's also has an imperial stout that is pretty tasty, and so rich you can't even see light through a small glass of it. (And so strong, they only serve it in a half pint glass.) And Boston Beerworks has a nifty blueberry ale that features actual fresh blueberries, which bob and bounce in the beer's bubbles, giving it a bit of a lava lamp effect. In general, I'm partial to the porters, though. I like a good dark, malty brew.

YTSL said...

I've only been to Boston once -- and then, it was for a conference that took up the bulk of my time there. So, unforunately, didn't manage to sample any microbrews while there.

Re the beers you've described: John Harvard's imperial stout sounds rather scary -- though I doubt that it's as strong as the Sam Adams -- which is originally from Boston too, right? But it's got branches in Philadelphia, among other places -- triple bock!

Still, I think I'd be more likely to try it than the Boston Beerworks' blueberry ale! ;b