Hops & 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
Spoonwood Brewing Company
Sometimes you go through a slow period where you’re not dating anyone special. It’s not you, it’s not them, it just isn’t quite right. And that can totally happen with beer, too.
I was going through a drought of not-so-special beers. Nothing against Pittsburgh craft beer, but it just wasn’t clicking. But I’m back in the game, thanks to Spoonwood Brewing Company.
I kept hearing about this magical land far, far away (listen, I had to cross bridges and tunnels to get there) until one day, the stars aligned and my fate was sealed. My drinking partner in crime and I tried the whole lineup and it was glorious.
Stunt Double (Kolsch)
This is a clear, amber kolsch. It smelled slightly floral to me, but not overpowering. I couldn’t quite pick out exactly what it was, though. The taste is smooth and slightly sweet. It’s a greatly balanced, mild kolsch. This would make a great porch beer for summer.
Polly (Belgian Wheat)
I don’t know why I order Belgian beers, because they aren’t my favorite. It’s really hit or miss, I think because of the yeastiness of some of them. This, while cloudy like a traditional Belgian, wasn’t a total deal-breaker for me. I think I like it.
I definitely liked that quintessential “prickliness” that you’re left with after. Like carbonation prickles. Do you know what I mean by that? Please tell me I’m not alone.
Yer Badself (Chocolate IPA)
Okay, so I was ready for a bite into a hops-infused chocolate bar (and if anyone makes a hop-infused chocolate bar, I want credit for it). Yer Badself is clear and dark and has a nice cocoa aroma. Not chocolate, mind you – it’s definitely like smelling unsweetened Hershey’s Cocoa Powder.
The taste is pretty much like a lager. It’s slightly bitter to me, but not like, “Bam, I’m so bitter, I’m an old hag” that you typically expect with an IPA. To me at least. Maybe it’s different to you.
Praiseland (Pale Ale)
Out of the first four that I tried, this is my favorite. It’s a clear, light-medium amber and smells totally like citrus hops – Spoonwood relies on Citra and Galaxy for this one, so go me, I can totally pick up on that.
I love that this tastes and smells summer-y. It tastes like citrus and sunshine and it finishes so mellow. Another solid porch beer candidate.
It’s also the “Your Uncle’s Beer” out of this lineup. Bring a growler of this to a backyard barbeque and he’ll give you shit for bringing a fancy growler instead of something in a can, but he’ll drink it and not complain.
Good Eye Sniper (DIPA)
This beer looks like pale ale, but it doesn’t drink like one. It smells hoppy with a slightly overpowering bad-bitter smell. I was picking up on something like old socks. Not sure what hop makes that smell and I don’t recommend Googling it to try finding out.
The taste though – oh I love the taste. It’s slightly hereby and it lingers, but not in an unpleasant way. I was ready for a snout-full of “Check me out, I’m hoppy for no good reason other than YAY HOPS,” but it isn’t as strong as I thought a double IPA would be.
In The Black (Stout)
As a coffee snob, I have to like this. It is a tall, dark drink of awesome (not unlike John Stamos’s hair). It smells a lot like espresso and slightly sweet; not chocolate-sweet, just sweet.
I love how this tastes. It has a little bitterness to it, which I’m attributing to the espresso roastiness. It isn’t overwhelming, though; it’s actually quite pleasant and it’s my favorite of the last four sampled.
For a stout, it goes down easy. Not unlike John Stamos (I’m assuming. He looks like he’d be easy.)
Taffy Gruffudd (Welsh Ale)
I have no idea how I feel about this beer. I’m pretty sure I feel like I’m drinking a liquified, alcohol-infused throat lozenge. It’s lighter than the chocolate IPA and clear. It smells sweet, like honey and some fruit that I can’t put my finger on.
The taste is interesting. There’s raisin and fig and it’s all a big fruity kind of party in a glass. The fruit I couldn’t figure out at first is all of a sudden like, “Hellllooo, I’m here for the party!” This beer is definitely not traditionally “beer like” – it lingers a bit and it’s smooth, without that prickle I mentioned before.
If you like drinks where you can’t taste the alcohol, you’ll want to try this one. I’d also suggest trying this beer if your throat is a little scratchy.
Killer Diller (IPA)
When I think of the characteristics of an IPA, this one fits them all. Clear and lighter in color, citrus smell, hoppy and acidic taste, and hops that linger. And do they linger. It’s like a damn Cranberries song up in this glass.
Overall, Killer Diller is a solid IPA. I was hoping for something that made it unique, especially after trying Taffy Gruffudd. But it’s a good beer and a fine IPA. Not all of them have to be different.
You may be a fool for this one. And you may just have to let it linger.
If you want a more in-depth look, check out the Breaking Brews Craft Beer Spotlight featuring Spoonwood. You’ll get an idea of the thought behind Spoonwood Brewing Co. and where they’re headed.
And definitely be on the lookout for some new beers rotated into the tap list including a session IPA, Imperial Stout, more IPAs, and something using Wigle Whiskey barrels. I highly recommend crossing some bridges and getting Yer Badself out to Spoonwood soon.
What beers are you enjoying from Spoonwood? Let me know what I should try when I
go back tomorrow return shortly!