Saturday, June 2, 2012

Day Trip for Sours

While I generally don't like driving more than an hour or two out of my way to buy good beer, once in a while it is worth doing simply for those beers you just can't get at home. Case in point, early yesterday morning a few friends and I made the 4+ hour drive south to Philadelphia for the first day of the "Philly Beer Week" celebration. Our main purpose for going down was to drink lots of Russian River beer on tap and to buy as many cases of RR beer as we could find. And to try some of the local beer too.

Part of the haul
Our first stop of the trip was at a small beer distributor outside of Philly. Having never purchased bottled beer in PA before, I was shocked to find out that unlike every other state, in PA you can only buy beer by the case. That means if you want to buy a particular beer outside of a restaurant or bar, you need to buy all 24 bottles worth. This doesn't seem so bad at first, that is, until you see what a case of good craft beer costs down here. I don't know who came up with this system, but it totally sucks! There were so many good beers available at the distributor - including hard to find Belgians, imperial stouts, American sour ales, West Coast IPA's, and new craft beer from Europe - but nearly every case of the good stuff was priced at $75-100. And then most of the Belgians and sours were priced around $150-250 for 12 bottles! Maybe it's just that I am used to brewing my own beer for pennies per pint and buying one bottle at a time if I want to try something new, but this whole system of selling beer seems very backwards. It wouldn't surprise me if it was designed to keep people from buying craft beer, as most people will just spend the 20 bucks to buy a case of BMC instead. I ended up biting the bullet and buying a case of Russian River supplication for the 'decent' price of $150+tax per 12 bottles and some other stuff. My friend cleaned them out of the RR cases and bought a 1/6th keg for good measure...

After dropping some serious cash on bottled beer, our next stop was to find a place to drink. On a whim we decided to stop at a little Belgian beer bar in Wayne, PA and we really lucked out. They had Russian River pliny the elder and damnation pints on special for $2, along with a lot of other good sours and Belgians. I've had PTE and damnation on tap before in California, but not for 2 bucks! Both beers were very good. However, the real treat of the night was getting pints of the Sierra Nevada/Russian River sour collaboration - "Exportation" - for the same low price. The beer was essentially a sour porter of sorts, supremely drinkable with just enough funk and sourness to keep it interesting. A wonderful session-y sour beer and one I would love to try and replicate at home.

Having had our fill of the sour porter and pliny, our next stop was another bar north of the city that had pliny, blind pig, and supplication on tap. We were told they were going to have a keg of Pliny the Younger on tap, but that was just a cruel rumor. So we settled into pints of blind pig and consecration for the low price of $5 bucks per pint. The blind pig was excellent as always - I've always liked it better than the elder - and the supplication was divine. A great sour beer, although I think it is better tasting in the bottle when it has a bit more age to it. After that... pizza, wings, and then a very long drive back to New York. A good beer trip overall!


  1. So damn jealous. Not many great sour beers available in south FL.

    I need to take a pilgrimage to Russian River.

  2. Oops. Turns out you can buy 6 packs at the government beer store and only cases at distributors. Do they carry good beer though?


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