It just so happens that there was a complimentary Allagash tasting going on inside...don't mind if I do. We caught the tail end of the event so I didn't get to sample everything but perhaps they were saving the best stuff for last...Curieux and Odyssey. The Curieux was smelled quite sweet which was totally undercut by the very prominent bourbon flavors. I believe this was the first time I had tried a bourbon-aged tripel so I was really impressed by how well the Belgian spices complimented the bourbon. I wish I had gotten some more but the sample gave me a good idea of just how smooth and delectable this beer is. I wasn't as head-over-heels with Odyssey, the oak aged "Belgian-style" dark wheat. It was an aggressive mix of roasted coffee, bitter chocolate, and oak, reminded me of a lot of Quads and the sample was all I really needed of this one.
A couple of my friends finally met up with us but we were still waiting on one more so we all grabbed a beer to tide us over. I went with Illumination, the Double IPA from Central Waters Brewing Company. I neglected to jot anything down regarding this beer but from what I've gathered from memory...I was a fan (give me a break, Beer Week is a long 10 days). Once our whole group was together it was time to find some grub and get away from the crowds for a bit. On our way to our next stop we stumbled upon this empty Nugget Nectar sitting alone on the sidewalk, a sure sign that Philly Beer Week was in full swing.
Beer Week is a great time to try new things so we decided to head over to The Abbaye, a spot neglected by everyone in the group before. We snagged a table outside and ordered up, the perfect setting for a few evening beers. My clear choice from the draft list was Brotherly Suds 2, the collaboration beer brewed for PBW 2011 by Yards, Troegs, Nodding Head, Victory, and Stoudts at their Adamstown brewery. This clear golden lager's aroma reminded me of a farm, lots of straw and light malt with just a bit of a funky kick somewhere in there. The hops add a floral touch and come out a lot stronger on the tongue. The brewers said this was a beer FOR brewers, not the beer geek crowd, but I really enjoyed it. Perfectly balanced, clean, crisp, and refreshing with the slightest bit of fruitiness made for a well rounded beer that is just one example that proves not all "yellow fizzy beer" is bad.
My buddy Steve had gotten up from the table to make a phone call and wandered off, seconds later I realized he was calling me into the bar where he had ordered up two pints of Victory's Summer Love. I'm not sure why this was a secret mission but it was one I was happy to take part in. This is just a good standby beer for this time of year folks. Nothing to write home about but an American blonde ale that I've been enjoying quite a bit this year now that they have released it in bottles. It's a light-to-medium body beer with a stronger malt presence than you might expect, pale malt with some wheat characteristics as well. The hops add some light touches citrus flavors along with a bit of earthy spice to finish things out, a very accessible beer to share with your more tepid beer drinking friends this summer!
I really enjoyed The Abbaye, it was a quiet little spot just a bit off the beaten path. They're not running any gimmicks and there was no snobbery to be found. Exposed brick, hardwood flooring, outdoor seating, great beers, very reasonable pricing...pretty much everything I look for in a bar. They also have a lot of "U Buy The Glass" nights where you buy a pint glass for $10 and get free refills for 2 hours, not too shabby at all. We weren't all quite ready to head home yet so for some reason we went all the way down to South Street for a couple nightcaps at Brauhaus Schmitz, Philly's one true German beer hall.
There aren't many other ways I would have wanted to end my first day of Philly Beer Week.
Next Up: The Deschutes beer dinner at London Grill