Firkin Around....
The Blog of King of Prussia Beer Outlet

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Best Beers for the Season Part 2--Belgian Beers

by Joseph Elia

In Best Beers for theSeason Part 1 I discussed several beer styles that are perfect for holiday/cold weather drinking. These styles were relatively straight forward variations of ales. They are heavier, bolder beers with heartiness as a defining characteristic. Similarly, beers from Belgium have a hearty character that is delivered in less of a groin-kick manner. They are warming, sweeter, lusher and more complex than the beers I highlighted in Part 1. These qualities add up to a unique cold weather drinking experience that complement the comfort foods we gravitate towards during the drudgery of winter and fend off the chilly temperatures of the season.

Because Belgian beers have so much to offer in flavor and complexity, they require a bit of an education. Here is a fast and dirty look at a few Belgian beers. Trust me there are volumes to learn and I have condensed the info as much as possible for you. At the end of this article I have more interesting Belgian beer facts.There are more than 1,500 styles of beer brewed in Belgium, but I will only concentrate on Saisons, Strong Pale Ales, Dubels, and Tripels.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Best Beers for the Season Part 1

Winter is meant for beer.
by Joseph Elia
Welcome to the best beer drinking season of the year. Oh sure I enjoy  cracking a few at the beach or poolside. There’s nothing like some suds, sand, and sun on a warm summer day. I also like sitting on the hood of an F150 on a starry summer night kicking back with some domestic lagers and relaxing with good friends.

While those are certainly two drinking highlights of my warmer months, they don't really compare to cold weather sessioning. First off winter beers are bigger, more flavorful, and warming. For the first half of the season we are looser, more festive, and more socially engaged than other seasons. All great mindsets for the fraternity that is beer. 
During the last half of the season we are a little more despondent, isolated, and tired of the drudgery of winter. All great mindsets for the comfort of beer. Finally, winter beers pair well with the celebratory meals of our gatherings and with the comfort foods of our solitude.

An Ode to Celebration

by Joseph Elia

One of my favorite things about beer is how it becomes part of our lives. It is a favorite lifelong friend at the end of our days, on our weekends, at our gatherings, in our moments of solitude or in our moments of pride and accomplishment. Somehow beer seems to imbue these times with sparkle and a sense of festivity, connection, and mirth.

Now I have drank a lot of beer some are part of my own personal lore.  There are the cans of Genny Cream I stole from a family picnic, the cases of Coors I purchased in high school because it was the big deal beer of the time, the countless cases of Meister Brau I drank in college, the pitchers of Red Dog I drank on the first date with my wife, and the pitcher of Bass I bought with literally my last $12 (and I mean I had $.39 left to my name). But the beer I hold with fondness is Celebration, Sierra Nevada’s winter offering and in my estimation the finest beer for this time of year.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Finback Hoppy Rice Pils Review By: Jack Horzempa
(Originally posted on Beer Advocate)
Today’s beer is a gift beer: Finback Brewery How Soon is Meow hoppy rice pils.

This is my first beer I ever had from Finback. On the can in very tiny font it lists: “a collaboration brewed with our buddies, Kings County Brewing Collective, pils brewed with flaked rice and dry hopped with blanc.” The font is so small I am uncertain whether they truly want you to read this short description.

I am assuming that the hops used to dry hop this beer is Hallertau Blanc which is a ‘new wave’ German hop.

I would tell you a story about Finback Brewing but frankly all that I know is that is a relatively new brewery (opened 2011) and is located in Queens. My mother in law was born and raised in Queens. The only other person I ‘know’ from Queens is Archie Bunker.:)

So, how does a “hoppy rice pils” taste?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

2 x 4 Spruce Beer Review

Fresh spruce tips that Jack picked
By: Jack Horzempa
(Originally Posted on Beer Advocate)

The brewers of Colonial America did not have a steady supply of beer ingredients (e.g., barley malt, hops,…) so they would be inventive and utilize other ingredients that were more readily available to them. As substitutes and/or augmentation for barley malt they would ingredients like pumpkin, parsnip, molasses,… As substitutes and/or augmentation for hops they would use other botanicals like yarrow, sweet gale, mug wort, spruce tips,…

So, today we are going to explore what fresh growth spruce tips provide to beer. Today’s tasting will be a 2 X 4 tasting: two beers in four glasses and my wife will be helping me.

One beer is a commercial beer: Blue Point Colonial Ale brewed with Golden Molasses & Spruce Tips.

On the bottle it lists: American Brown Ale 3.8% ABV. So in the Colonial times this would be referred to as a Small Beer since it is lower in alcohol.

There is an interesting story on the beer label:

“After being elected President, George Washington toured Long Island and stopped by hart’s Tavern in our brewery’s hometown of Patchogue for some oysters and a beer. In honor of the monumental meal, we brewed an American brown ale inspired by the era and George Washington’s own recipe. It proudly features two-row barley malted in NY and colonial ingredients like corn, oats, wheat, molasses and spruce tips which colonial brewers used to supplement hops. American history never tastes so good.”

The second beer we will be exploring today is my home-brewed Spruce Ale which was brewed using fresh growth spruce tips from my next door neighbor’s Blue Spruce tree. My beer is basically an APA where I used four ounces of freshly picked spruce tips (I picked them while the wort was boiling) as the end of boil addition. I have never brewed with spruce tips before so this is quite an exciting ‘experiment’.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Re-Freshed Sixpoint Bengali Review

[​IMG] By: Jack Horzempa
(Originally posted on Beer Advocate)

What is better than fresh? Re-fresh!?!

Last month Sixpoint Brewing implemented a re-fresh of their core lineup of beers which are: Crisp, Sweet Action, Resin and Bengali.

This re-fresh was a combination of efforts:

· A change of packaging including a change to the dates they place on the bottom of their cans. They now indicate both a canning date as well as a best by date.

· They reformulated their recipes. This is not so much of a new thing for Sixpoint since in the past they have continually ‘tweaked’ their recipes but for this go-around they seemed to have made bigger changes.

· They have made new efforts in sourcing their ingredients – hops

· They have eliminated filtering – these new beers are unfiltered.

There was a thread started which includes a press release for this update:

For today’s beer I have Bengali which is their IPA. Below is a short description of how this beer has been re-freshed:

“With BENGALI, we tweaked the hop character, and incorporated some new hop strains we’ve just recently acquired, to seriously dial in that citrusy-tropical aroma. Then we smoothed out the texture with oats, and dried out the malt body to let the hops take full control. This thing is all about huge tropical character up front, and a clean, dry finish.”

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sly Fox Hop Project Review By: Jack Horzempa
(Originally Posted on Beer Advocate)

Who doesn’t like a beer project!?

A brewery local to me, Sly Fox, decided it is time for a Hop Project. The beer I am discussing today is the second iteration of this project and is branded as Hop Project #002. I had the pleasure of drinking the first iteration of #001 and that beer was absolutely AWESOME!! How will #002 be?

At this point you may be asking: what the heck is a Hop Project?

Well, the folks of Sly Fox have an answer for you:

“Our brewers are excited to continuously explore the universe of hop-forward beers. Each project is a chance to step out of our comfort zone and flex our creative brewing muscles by utilizing new hop varieties and utilizing innovative hopping methods. The Hop Project™ possibilities are endless.

Hop Project™ beers are available in 16oz. cans and on draft, but quantities are very limited. Be sure to keep an eye on our social media pages for the latest release announcements, because just like the beer itself, no two releases will cover quite the same ground.”:

On their website they describe #002:

“No. 002

India Pale Ale

OG:15 IBUs: 70 ABV: 6.8

For iteration No. 002 in our ongoing liquid experimentation project, we combined copious additions of Centennial, Simcoe, and Denali hops to create this fragrant IPA bursting with tropical fruit aromas. Do the results of this liquid experimentation lineup with our hypothesis of deliciousness? - See more at:

Release Date 05.13.17”

I am familiar with both Centennial and Simcoe hops from my homebrewing; in a couple weeks I will be brewing another batch of Simcoe IPA. But I am unfamiliar with Denali hops. Below is some information about this hop variety from one of my homebrew suppliers:

“Denali™ Hop Pellets

Denali (formerly known as Hopsteiner 06277) is a dual purpose hop, originated from a cross between Nugget, Zeus and USDA 19058 male.

Denali has a big aroma that imparts pineapple with notes of citrus and pine. This hop is popular with brewers who are looking for a distinct, impactful flavor in their beers. Denali has an unusually high total essential oil content, averaging more than 4 grams oil/100 grams of raw hops.

Denali hops are often used in pale ales and IPAs.”

Well, it sure reads like an intriguing hop.

Let’s see how Denali plays with Centennial/Simcoe!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Can a distributing brewer produce a so called ‘NE’ style IPA?
By: Jack Horzempa
(Originally posted on Beer Advocate)
A few weeks ago I had a series of reviews that I entitled “Spring of the so called ‘NE’ style IPA”. This week I have a beer that was produced by a distributing brewery: Thomas Hooker Brewery which is located in Bloomfield, CT.

Thomas Hooker sends their beers to 7 states (Northeastern/Mid-Atlantic states).

This beer has a long and interesting label: #NO FILTER New England India Pale Ale.

On the can’s label it states:


Tropical Fruit

Juice Aroma

Abundant quantities of Mosaic and Citra hops make this unfiltered IPA explode with a tropical fruit juice aroma. Heavy on the aromatics but light on bitterness, this brew is a true New England IPA.