Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The North and The South, Part 2

Yesterday, I presented my review of one of the brew pubs that I visited when I was in Savannah, Georgia, last week. It was one of the two microbreweries that I sampled south of the border (the Mason-Dixon Line, that is).

Today, I review the microbrewery that I hit north of that border, in the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Lincoln Addressed a Nation Here: Did He Quaff a Brew, Too?

Being Canadian, I never studied the American Civil War. What I knew as a kid, I learned from movies. And of the relationship between the North and South, from Bugs Bunnyoh, Belvedere!—hardly an education.

What I did know was that the toll on the United States was great, the cost of human lives unimaginable. One hundred and fifty years later, the memory of the battles lives on. And one of the greatest landmarks of the Civil War is Gettysburg.

Gettysburg is the site of a famous battle, where approximately 50,000 soldiers were laid casualties. Following the battle, Abraham Lincoln presented his famous address:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Today, located at the crest of Seminary Ridge right beside General Lee’s headquarters, stands a brew pub that drew my attention as I entered Gettysburg. With a town so steeped in American history, truly, there would be some legendary beer.

Gettysburg PA
Harrisburg PA
Camp Hill PA
Collegehill PA
Lititz PA

The brewery is nestled out of site from the restaurant portion of the pub; so much so that I didn't think any of the beer was actually made here, that perhaps it was all made in its main brewery, in Harrisburg. And in fact, seven of the eight beers I tried were brewed in Harrisburg. The seasonal, eighth beer, was a Gettysburg brew.

Here are my notes and thoughts of my sampler:

  • Water Gap Wheat Ale (4.5% ABV): this light, unfiltered ale is a traditional wheat beer in every sense: in the appearance, the nose, and in the mouth. I drank it and said, "it is what it is." If you like wheat ales, you'll enjoy this one.
  • Mountain Lager (4.8% ABV): I'm not a fan of lagers but I quite liked this one. Flavourful and light, there was a great body to this lager. I could easily see myself sitting on a patio on a hot summer day, sipping on this beer. The colour was quite rich.
  • Purist Pale Ale (5% ABV): I couldn't detect much off the nose on this English-style pale ale. But on the palate, there was fresh orange citrus and nice hops. I really liked this ale.
  • "Jolly Scot" Scottish Ale (5.5% ABV): I love a good Scottish ale, and I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed in this one. I expect a strong, full-bodied flavour of caramel and cream in a Scottish ale, and I found this one somewhat bland. The closest flavour I could come up with would be to describe the mouth as presenting an unsweetened root-beer taste. After a couple of sips, I was done with this sample.
  • Trail Blaze Organic Brown Ale (5% ABV): by contrast on the last sample, I loved this ale. Fruity nose, caramel taste, with great hops and a lovely, lingering finish. Of all the samples, this ale was my favourite.
  • Hoppy Trails IPA (6.2% ABV): awesome stuff. Tons of hops and lots of bitter citrus. I was reminded of Mad Tom IPA, which is one of my favourite drinking standards. This is a keeper beer.
  • Susquehanna Stout (5% ABV): I actually ordered a pint of this stout before I had the sampler. We were waiting for our table and I ordered it from the bar. It's a great stout: dark brown with a hint of red, aromas of coffee and tobacco, flavours of dry, dark chocolate and cedar, this is a classic stout. Delicious.
  • Imperial Pilsner (ABV not available): the seasonal pick, this beer has a deep reddish-gold colour and a slightly sweet nose with traces of cherry. The cherry carried through for me in the mouth and was mixed with a flavour that seemed like bubble gum. There was a good, hoppy finish that lingered with a bit of headiness, which gave me the impression that there was a high alcohol content (in a rookie move, I forgot to ask what the level was).
Overall, my favourites of the bunch were the brown ale, the IPA, and the stout, with the pilsner and lager faring well. The other two were not my cup of tea. Or beer.

And which brewery did I prefer overall? The northern Appalachian or the southern Moon River?

Overall, I think Moon River appealed to me on the interesting types of beer, the atmosphere of the pub (how can you beat a haunted building?), and the romance of the South. But I was disappointed that I couldn't take any of the Moon River beer home: the only way I can enjoy it again would be to return to Savannah. Which isn't a bad thing, except for the distance.

I just hope that I won't have to travel too far to find some Appalachian beers to try again, at home.

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