Beer Me

Barrel-Aged, Bugged and Other Bizarre Beers Are on Tap For the Weekend

Photo: Courtesy Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

Typically things that come with descriptors like “bugs,” “funk,” “sweaty-saddle” and “infected with bacteria” are hardly substances you’d want to voluntarily ingest. But that’s exactly how Chris Lapierre, Head Brewer at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant’s Maple Shade location, describes the half-dozen specialty beers he has resting in used oak wine barrels in his brewhouse. Each one was fermented with special wild yeast strains and/or bacteria instead of standard brewers yeast, which produce beers with distinct sourness, earthen funk and what’s best described as horse-blanket qualities. “Brewers spend about 98 percent of their time keeping bacteria and wild yeast out of their brewery and out of their beers,” Lapierre told Grub Street. “In the last few years, there’s been a shift, and what are dubbed ‘wild beers’ have gotten more popular.”

On Saturday, Lapierre will tap his six barrels of wild beers, as well as six other concoctions brewed with traditional yeast strains and aged in used oak bourbon barrels, which imparts smoky, caramelly and vanilla notes that accentuate the beers’ malty characteristics. The 12 beers will be poured individually or offered in flights of six wild beers or six bourbon beers. Highlights include Heywood, a strong Belgian golden ale fermented in oak with 100 percent wild yeast (Brettanomyces lambicus) that has tart, dry, sour and funky qualities; Eddy, another strong Belgian golden ale that’s fermented with the Duvel strain of brewers yeast in a stainless steel vessel and spiked with wild yeast before being aged in oak, to produce dry, fruity and refreshingly tart notes; and F.red, a Flemish Red Ale fermented with a Roselare blend of wild bacteria and aged in oak for nine months to produce a malt sweetness, toastiness and an assertive sourness. Bourbon beers include porter, aged in bourbon barrels with whole vanilla beans; Wee Heavy, a strong Scotch ale aged in Four Roses bourbon barrels; and Pete’s Celebration, a Belgian strong ale aged in used Bourbon barrels.

• In other beer news, Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Brewery is unleashing Berserker Bock, the latest in its Mad Scientist Series beers, on Philly with its first appearance on Friday at El Camino Real, followed by a tapping at Jose Garces’ Village Whiskey on Saturday. The beer is described as a bock style infused with cold pressed coffee from Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

• Also on Friday, City Tap House hosts its second brewpub pop up with Allentown’s Fegley’s Brewworks. Nine of the brewery’s beers will be on draught in the Tap House’s tasting lounge, including Bourbon Barrel-Aged Insidious Imperial Stout, Hopsolutely, the super rare Arctic Alchemy, and a recreation of the 1850’s Allsop’s Arctic Ale.

• And if that’s not enough beer for you, California’s Russian River was kind enough to allocate 20 kegs of its limited release Pliny the Younger triple IPA. So far the Khyber Pass Pub and Monk’s are the only two spots to have it. The Khyber taps its on Sunday, but you have to purchase tickets in advance for each $15 pour, and it sound like they’re just about sold out. Proceeds will benefit The Free Library Of Philadelphia Foundation. Monk’s will tap its Pliny on Monday, and will donate proceeds to Alex’s Lemonade Stand.

Barrel-Aged, Bugged and Other Bizarre Beers Are on Tap For the Weekend