While I was in Philly, I went to two beer-related museum exhibits. American Spirits at Constitution Center went through the rise and fall of Prohibition and Craft Brewing: It’s a Beer Revolution is still an active exhibit at Philadelphia History Museum. It was a great overview of all the local craft brewers and I wish every city had a room like this dedicated to local beer culture.
As for Nodding Head, let me just sum it up by saying that I can’t recommend this place for the beer but as a foodie, it was awesome. The service was great and the atmosphere and vibe give it a pass. This was my first stop on a four day trip and let me just say that the rest of Philly craft beer isn’t this bad.
Why did I hate it as a beer place? Let’s start with the beers being served completely out of any logical tasting order and add that they had a beer on the sampler that wasn’t even brewed by them. As an example, they put their Strong Belgian at 11% ABV as the first thing they serve you when there’s a Wit, Golden, and Bierre de garde in the sampler. They don’t have any kind of tasting card or delivery system, so it’s just a cluster fuck of beer shots sent to your table as they get poured.
In cases like these, I wish they’d just tell me that they don’t do a sampler. Generous 6 oz. samples makes this one big enough to share but even with help, I have never refused to finish so many beers on a sampler before. That and it was $18 for 48 oz. of beer so it’s definitely not a money saving device to do it this way.
I’ll find out later in the tasting that they hit you with the 11% beer first because they’re playing the 2-drink minimum card that comedy clubs invented to warm up the audience – hoping that the drunker you are the better their beers will taste. That didn’t work. Here’s my best attempt to be nice. If you’re a regular reader of mine, you know that’s impossible but the most entertaining reviews to read.
As usual, I picked the sipping order.
Bierre de garde – I’m not a fan of this style usually but it’s not bad. Served at a great temp. Unfiltered, 6%. This is a French farmhouse ale so not sure what the difference is between that and a Belgian farmhouse. So, I found this article to help me out. The only other bierre de garde (meaning beer to store or keep) I have to compare is LeMort Vivant by Southern Star which I don’t like either. Does farmhouse always mean wheat? Plenty of wheat coming through but not a lot of protein in the head. It’s carbonated enough but serves flat. My issue with this or its sister Saison style is that by definition they are completely open to interpretation by the brewers. The further they get away from the pepper and sour in DuPont, the crankier I get.
Allagash White was the guest tap so I did that one next. No need to review it here but mentioning it to let you know what was on my palate.
Doc – golden ale, session at just under 5%. I like the touch of hops. I’m getting pepper which is a nice flavor following the sweet wheat. It’s a light beer. Not something I would order but it does a job and that job is, ‘don’t waste a good beer on someone who doesn’t like a good beer.’ I’m not gonna finish this one.
60 shilling (cask conditioned). This is delicious – malt, some caramel sweetness. Branded as a ‘lighter’ Scottish Ale. No carbonation at all. It’s like drinking it out of the fermenter. But for a flat beer, it delivers. I really like this and it didn’t last long. There’s a 90 Shilling beer that Odell does is a Scottish Ale as well. And Laughing Lab is my favorite beer of all time. So, if it’s not going to be an IPA, I guess it needs to be a Scottish Ale and not a Saison for me anymore. I just can’t have my heart broken again.
Grog – English style brown ale – the beer that brought me here because someone on the street recommended it. Chocolate comes through as a dominant flavor but it’s balanced. It’s not sweet or sour. It’s very English brown – just as advertised. Nothing special other than it’s a good representative of the style. It wasn’t worth the trip that’s for sure.
BPA – mmmm. Hoppy. But it’s not enough. I get impatient when it takes this many beers to get to the hops. Kind of a disappointing money shot. Like a guy that doesn’t cum a lot. But I need more hops. BPA stands for Bill Payer Ale – is that an owner or brewer or just a phrase in that it pays the bills? I looked it up online and couldn’t find a quick answer so I’m assuming that last thing. But if this beer was named after a person then I can only assume that man has a tiny penis. One more – it’s the beer you don’t tell your friends you’re fucking. Wait, wait. I can do better. This is the beer you binge on in a dark closet while crying. Yeah. That sums up my disappointment best.
We now interrupt this critique with duck BLT. Yes, duck and bacon on the same sandwich. It’s delicious. The bar is upstairs and we had a great window seat. What is it with guys in high water professional pants here? Is it some trend I’ve missed? Some sort of an alternative sock culture? Anything to distract me from this beer sampler.
Rudy’s Kung Gu Grip – This is that 11% ABV strong Belgian ale I was telling you about at the beginning. It reminds me of Port as in the wine kind. It’s the best thing on their menu in my opinion so I understand why they lead with it. It’s more like syrup than beer. But I can save you a trip by telling you to just drink Irish Whiskey or Scotch someplace else.
Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse – not a Hefe the menu says – it’s sour and I can’t drink it.