Hail and kill, beer geeks and aficionados of that which is sudsy! Tommy Southard of the soon-to-be-reviewed The Disease Concept and the soon-to-reunite-at-Days-of-the-Doomed-fest Solace has returned with an all-new “Drinking with the Devil (Dick)” column, covering a trip to Philly’s Dock Street Brewery.
Also, is it too late to change the name of this column to “Beer Shits” — or better yet, “Tommy Southard‘s Beer Shits?” Got a real nice ring to it…
Hello and greetings, Obeliskers…
As I sit to write to you on this fine morning Philly Beer Week is just getting under way and I promise to keep you informed on my exploits.
As for now I want to tell you of my recent visit to another Philly beer staple: Dock Street Brewery.
Dock Street is in West Philly at 701 South 50th St., just a few miles from my house. It is owned by Rosemarie Certo who by what I’m told was one of the first female craft brewers, opening Dock Street in 1985. That is all fine and good but to be honest with you I am not the biggest Dock Street beer fan. For the most part I find their beers to be a bit overrated. The few times we have visited, the staff seems overwhelmed and a bit under-knowledged. For the most part again this was true at this visit. I asked one of the bartenders about a certain beer and he looked at me and said, “I don’t know much about the beer…” Ouch.
The exception this time to what I think is usually lackluster beer was that Dock Street was doing a very limited bottle release of some special beers, with a bunch also being available on tap. We only went at the urging of out good friend and beer aficionado Amy Bullard. Amy is the former guitarist of Philly’s Hatchetface and a great home-brewer herself. When she said we should really come and try the sour beer, we listened.
The festivities were supposed to start at noon and we got there early because we didn’t want to miss out on the first-come/first-served only-while-supplies-last deal. But as usual with Dock Street it was SNAFU, and doors didn’t open until 20 after 12:00, leaving the sidewalk overflowing with an array of beer geeks.
As soon as the doors open it was like a Who concert in Cincinnati in 1979.
After a long wait, we ordered a few of the limited Flemish Red Sour Ales (aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels) – man, it was it worth it. This beer was good. I must have drunk five or six of them before I ventured out to try anything else. If you’ve read any of these beer shits before you will know that I am slowly being converted from a dark beer, stout and porter guy into a big sour beer fan.
As for this beer, it was definitely funky, which I like. A light reddish brown with very little bubbles, sorta flat with some slight alcohol and acidity. And at 6.5 percent, I could drink five or six of them and move on to some other things without blacking out. I will say this; I bought two bottles of Sour for take-home enjoyment. The Lady and I cracked one at home and it was not as good bottled as on tap. Seemed sort of lifeless, flat and not nearly as fresh.
We tried the Caliente Golden Ale brewed with agave nectar and chiles. It’s a collaboration w/ Four Seasons, and pretty interesting. You can actually taste and get some heat from the chilies but it is not overpowering. Drinks really smooth too for a 9.5 percent. I guess the alcohol burn is masked by the chilies. There was a sweet flavor, too. I wish they had this in a bottle. I would love to see how it aged a bit, as it was a real nice beer. I wish Dock Street had more things like this on tap from time to time.
I went in for an ABT 12 Abbey-Style Quad next. I don’t know if the other beers were kicking in yet or what but this was really good as well. I mean it wasn’t on the level as St. Bernardus ABT 12 (but what is?) but this was very enjoyable I was actually enjoying all the beers. I was really worried that there was going to be a clunker or two among the beers, but I actually walked away with a little more faith in Dock Street. I had sort of written them off but this event has renewed my faith in them. I will now go back and give them another try. If they can only get the staff to know a bit about the beers they are pouring.
So I bought bottles of the Sour, ABT 12 and the Belgian Black IPA to sit on for a while, so maybe when I crack them I will report back to you all with my findings!
And stay tuned: Philly Beer Week is upon us I have a bunch of events planned! First up, a Mikkeller event!!! Until then, stay thirsty my friends.