Friday, May 22, 2009

McGillin's Anniversary Ale

(photo courtesy of Drew Lazor)

I was very fortunate to be asked to a special tasting at McGillin's Olde Ale House in Philly yesterday, to sample the first test batch of the tavern's 150th Anniversary Ale, to be made by Stoudt's Brewing Co. in Adamstown, PA. McGillin's (if you didn't know already) is the 2nd oldest continually operating tavern in the US (McSorley's in NYC is the country's oldest, by just a hair), and one of my favorite places on earth to enjoy a good beer.

So Carol and Ed Stoudt were there, along with Chris Mullins Sr. and Jr., George Hummel from Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, Don Russell (Joe Sixpack) from the Phila. Daily News, food columnist Drew Lazor from the City Paper, and a bunch of other foodie writers from around town, as well as McGillin's outstanding PR guru Irene Baker, who organized the tasting.

Plenty of munchies were on hand (various crackers, cheeses, grilled bratwurst and knockwurst, baguette slices, spicy mustards), in the McGillin's tradition, as well as plenty of pitchers of water. Carefully they poured the first glasses: cloudy, golden, with a thick head of white foam. First sniff: sugary, like sugar cookies and sweet pie crust. First sip: surprisingly sweet as well, big, decent bite of hops, spicy effervescence and a long, long, dry finish. Started out like a sweet IPA, finished like a tart pilsner.

Carol Stoudt herself described the brew as "an unfiltered IPA with the malt character of a traditional English IPA. It contains Centennial and Amarillo hops and some mystery hops our brewer won't divulge." Aha! I love a good mystery!

Our assembled group all seemed to enjoy the beer quite a lot; George Hummell picked up on that sweet initial note, and pronounced it a very "dangerously delicious" beer. Most of us agreed. Drew Lazor imagined that he could put quite a few pints of the beer. I would have a hard time switching to another beer if I was drinking it.

Stoudt told us that our sample beer was just under 6% ABV, and has the long dry finish that she favors in her own favorite style of beer, a pilsner. She was especially interested in feedback for the beer, wanting it to be the right beer for an anniversary such as McGillin's. I think it just might be.
They intend to bottle the beer (a collectors' item), and hope it will be a beer people will enjoy and cellar, and are still working on the name. How about "McGillin's 150"?

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