HIJINX BREWING COMPANY

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ALLENTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA

Down the road from Allentown’s center of town near Fairview Cemetery in an inconspicuous warehouse, HIJINX BREWING COMPANY crafts a wide assortment of delectable elixirs. Headed by experienced brewer, Curt Heck, a former homebrewer who joined defunct Old Lehighton Brewery in ’96 before landing at well-regarded Weyerbacher in ’97, Hijinx opened during 2014 and occupy a high-ceilinged 4,000 square foot space.

On a cold Friday evening in late October ’17, my wife and I spent a few hours at this pleasantly roughhewn brewpub. Right alongside a Meadery and a distillery in the same industrial complex, Hijinx had twelve draught beers available on our initial sojourn.

A large open garage door welcomed us to the cement-floored joint. Two community tables and several wood barrels sidled the hardwood bar while the brewtanks were stationed across the room.

Keen local faves, the Peter Johann Band, played a few hot sets while we kicked back and enjoyed five well-balanced brews (and bought many more for home consumption reviewed in Beer Index).

Spunky Wicked White doused zesty orange peel briskness atop muted coriander spicing, distant banana tartness and herbal Belgian yeast funk.

Earthen peat musk gave an Extra Special Bitter-like profile to Tail Pale Ale, a nifty IPA crossover with dry orange, apricot and tangerine tanginess picking up raw-honeyed astringency.

Dewy peat mustiness, dry rye malts, soily truffle nuances and mild apple-pear fruiting caressed easygoing Pitch Penny ESB.

Spicy hop-tingled citrus fruiting serenaded sessionable Party Guy Ale, a pale-malted moderation with tangy orange-tangerine-grapefruit licks sidling dried prune, sour cider and sweet peach notions as well as tertiary vegetal snips.

Red and orange fruiting dabbed Far Darrig Irish Red, a mildly spiced smoothie with amber-grained toffee malting.

hijinxbrewing.com

YERGEY BREWING

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EMMAUS, PENNSYLVANIA

On a dead end corner lot in the sleepy Lehigh Valley town of Emmaus, YERGEY BREWING is the delightful brainchild of bearded engineer, Jim Yergey. One block away from Funk Brewing at a freestanding beige cement garage with an arched roof, Yergey’s distinct brews have inspired local denizens and ‘brewpies’ alike since opening September ’16.

On my late October ’17 sojourn, the cozy hangout is packed thru to its covered front patio as the night falls. The 20-seat bar features 12-plus tap handles and a few silver brew tanks. Edison lights hover above the six wooden table-chair setups and two community tables. The black ceiling offers a caliginous backdrop for the comfy epoxy-floored nanobrewery.

A few Grateful Dead cuts play in the background while I sample nine well-rounded selections.

First up, sweet-tart banana fronted Anna Banana Hefeweizen, a simply delectable moderation with spritzy lemon zest and Graham Cracker-like wheat sugaring.

Next, smoothly ethereal No Joke Blonde Ale tethered tart grape esters to mild herbal spicing, honeyed biscuit sweetness, lemon meringue piquancy and sugar cookie nuances.

Easygoing oats-flaked Slightly Nuts British Mild let brown chocolate and toffee sweeten alongside hazelnut, chestnut and pecan illusions.

Amber grain toasting and dry citrus hops balanced A Beer Has No Name Red IPA. Its grapefruit-orange-mango tang gained a caramel sweetness over light phenol astringency.

Sessionable India Pale Ale, LV’s Hoppin’ coalesced yellow fruit spicing with fragrant floral citrus hops and yellow wooded dryness.

Yergey’s most popular offering, mellow Hoptiletious Double IPA brought bright floral citrus sweetness to dry piney hopped tenacity as its orange-pineapple-grapefruit tang lingered above sugary caramel malts.

Brewed in collaboration with Backyard Beans, cold brewed dark roast coffee took prominence for Cafehoptiletious, a hybridized IPA with a mildly smooth nitro soothe and crisp citric-pined respite.

Bringing moderate chili heat to the fore, Chocolate Chili Porter tamed its peppery frontage with brown chocolate, black cherry and blackberry sweetness.

For dessert, nitrogenated Bourbon Barrel Kings’ Nightcap maintained a mild bourbon molasses creaminess above nutty caramel malts and subtle brown chocolate sweetness (gaining wispy cherry puree and blackberry brandy undertones).

www.yergeybrewing.com

ELK CREEK CAFE & ALEHOUSE

 

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MILLHEIM, PENNSYLVANIA

Near the center of Main Street in rural Central Pennsylvania outpost, Millheim, red-bricked General Store-like bistro ELK CREEK CAFE & ALEHOUSE opened for business in December 2007. A quaint smalltown pub with a warm, friendly atmosphere, the rustic butterscotch-walled coffeehouse is equally at home serving 11 AM weekend brunch as well as the finest homemade draught beer around.

Olden hardwood floors and wood furnishings bedeck Elk Creek and its menu features locally sourced food. The right side 20-seat bar (with a dozen tap handles, local distilled liquor and wines) counters macramé-designed artwork at the left end.

My wife and I stopped in for a plentiful Sunday brunch (Sausage, Gravy & Biscuit alongside a breakfast burrito) on a rainy Sunday morning in October ’07 after visiting nearby Penn State University for a few days. We sampled eight approachable brews as noon time approached.

Easygoing Winkleblink Wheat Ale woke up our tastebuds with tingly lemon-candied spicing and floral-daubed grapefruit notions hovering above doughy baked breading.

Lightly kilned grain malts picked up grassy hop astringency and spritzy orange tartness to saddle Elk Creek Copper Ale’s brown-breaded caramel malting. The hand-pulled nitro version diluted its wavered toffee sugaring for softly creamed Scotch-licked dewy peat earthiness.

Leafy foliage provided autumnal resonance for Elk Creek Oktoberfest 2017, a tea-like pale-toned moderation with red-orange fruit subtleties.

Stylishly ‘bold’ Great Blue Heron Pale Ale covered its splashy citric-spiced tang with peppery herbs peppering and grassy hop astringency.

Maybe the best and most popular offering, vibrant Double Rainbow India Pale Ale brought lingered lemony grapefruit tanginess to grassy dry-hopped astringency and herbal notions.

One of my faves, English-styled Brookie Brown Ale let caramel-burnt dark chocolate malts infiltrate toffee-sugared walnut and almond illusions as well as sweet vanilla wisps.

For dessert, enjoyed the five malt varieties consuming Poe Paddy Porter, where dark-roast chocolate consumed earthen truffle, raw molasses, bitter coffee and cacao nibs illusions.

www.elkcreekcafe.com

 

 

 

BOULEVARD RYE ON RYE ON RYE

Tantalizingly rich and creamy Imperial Stout hybrid loads rich oak-charred spiced rye malting inside Templeton rye whiskey barrels as overriding dark chocolate influence gains strength alongside sweet bourbon, rum, and to a lesser extent, cognac and brandy tones. Benefiting from second aging, syrupy molasses-draped rye whiskey continuance picks up caramelized brown sugaring to contrast latent boozy acetone whir. To add further complexity, tertiary dark cherry, red grape and plum illusions seep into the chocolate-fudged rye whiskey deliverance.

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