It’s the little things that make me realize what a beer-focused place Philly is. That idea proved true yet again this past Wednesday, when I visited Interstate Draft House (1235 E. Palmer St.) for an IPA (India Pale Ale) tap takeover.
On tap was a selection of eight craft IPAs from around the country. These beers covered a wide range: from classic and crisp to big imperial monsters to a few Belgian-inspired creations.
My favorite of the list was the Imperial IPA from Anderson Valley. It had a much stronger malt flavor than most IPAs of this style, but this 8.7% ABV beer was still quite drinkable.
I’ll admit I am not as much of a “hop-head” as most craft beer drinkers, so a well-balanced IPA appeals to me more than what could be a called a “hop bomb.”
Another standout imperial IPA was the Smuttynose Big A. This was stronger, at 9.7% ABV, but was drier and less malty. The citrusy hops were very present, both in taste and aroma.
The Blue Point No Apologies was my least favorite. It was too strong and sweet and also had that slightly oxidized flavor that American Barleywines have. To my surprise, though, all of my beer-sampling companions loved it.
Clearly, taste is very subjective.
The most unique offering at the bar was the Lost Coast Belgian Tripel IPA. There is hop flavor and a bitter finish but this beer perfectly balances Belgian on the front end and IPA on the back end. I hope this beer goes from a one-off from the brewery to a seasonal or regular production beer.
If you are feeling beered-out at the Draft House, then Interstate’s Fishtown Iced Tea is your drink. It’s a Long Island iced tea made with Fishtown’s ubiquitous Arctic Splash drink, and served in an Arctic Splash carton.
The sugar rush is probably strong enough to counteract the booze, but don’t let the sweetness fool you into thinking you could handle much more than just one.
Oh, and don’t throw the carton on the sidewalk when you’re done. That’s just bad form.
Upcoming Beer Event: Interstate Draft House is one of the many venues participating in the 5th annual Philly Beer Week this June. A celebration of all things beer, there will be over 150 events at bars, breweries, parks, and hotels in the city and surrounding counties from June 1-10.
The festivities kick off with Opening Tap, a huge sampling event with dozens of regional breweries.
Go to phillybeerweek.org for more details.
Note: It is with great sadness that I have to inform my loyal readers that this column is changing from a weekly to a monthly feature of the Star. I still plan to bring you articles on beer events, home brewing, food pairings, the growing Philly beer scene and much more, you’ll just have to wait longer. Expect more details on Philly Beer Week in the coming weeks as well.
Tim Patton is a Fishtown resident and the Brewmaster at St. Benjamin Brewing Company, a brewery opening in Kensington this summer. As a skilled brewer, he’s certainly partial to his own brew, but enthusiastic about all that the Philly beer scene has to offer. Got beer or brewing news he should be clued in on? Email him at email@example.com.