Hops and the City is an exploration of beer in Pittsburgh by our resident craft beer enthusiast, Angelica Ross. Angelica is pitting beers against each other and honing her taste skills simultaneously while providing you with her unique opinions on the brews in front of her. It’s like Carrie dishing about men and learning about which guy suits her best…except for Angelica, it’s beer. Follow Angelica on Twitter @syntaxxerrorrr.
Dancing Gnome Beer is set to open on October 1, 2016, and for those of you without a calendar app on your phone, that day is tomorrow. I had the pleasure of tasting the four beers that will be available at the opening this past Tuesday at their soft opening event. Let me tell you, you’ll want to pull up a seat and possibly an IV pole to mainline this beer.
All you really need to know about Dancing Gnome is LUSTRA, though I guess Pharmakon, Aevum, and Wonka deserve their moment, too.
Pharmakon, American Pale Ale
This is certainly an American Pale Ale. Unlike the British variety, Pharmakon leans heavily to the hop side (the only side that matters, in my opinion). It’s a cloudy, orange juice-y color, so you know you’re in for something nice and hop-centered. It tastes juicy at first and gives way to an earthy hop finish. I will take two of these and call you in the morning, Doctor.
Aevum, Session Ale
Loosely interpreted by a quick Google search and basically defined, Aevum describes the way of life for angels and saints. Their mode of existence lies somewhere between material and ethereal. When it comes to Dancing Gnome, Aevum means a cloudy, lemon-hued ale that tastes a little wild. It almost reminds me of a sour ale with that slightly tart bite, but there’s still a big hop presence that lights up your nose and taste buds. As with the other early offerings in Dancing Gnome’s lineup, an earthiness rounds out the flavor.
Wonka, Dry Stout
Wonka is an apt name for this chocolatey, roasty stout. You get a rich bitterness from the chocolate notes and a heavy roast flavor from the coffee. The dryness in this stout is perfect and I can only assume it comes from the addition of snozzberry. Sadly, this was not served with an Oompa Loompa, but what Wonka lacks in Oompa Loompas, it makes up for in robust flavor.
Lustra, American Pale Ale
At last, we meet Lustra. Possibly the favorite beer of the night and the OG of DG. It is super hazy, super tropical, and super drinkable. Hops are the star here. They’re a perfect floral-citrus blend with just a slight earthy-spice bite for bitterness and balance. Then you get a hint of sweetness from the wheaty malt. This is clearly the favorite child and was doted upon until it was perfect. And dare I say, it is perfect.
If you go through your day tomorrow without stopping at Dancing Gnome, you’re doing it wrong. I’ll take it one step further: if you call yourself a “hop head” or whatever I-really-like-hops identifier you use to describe yourself and you don’t stop at Dancing Gnome and you don’t love at least three of these beers, you need awesome lessons.
More details about Dancing Gnome (stuff you should probably know, like location and times) can be found here along with a crazy-entertaining podcast.