Perched between Root Down and Stable 12 on Phoenixville’s fabulous beer-centric downtown strip, CROWDED CASTLE was formed by a few homebrewing friends doing small social events to show off their brewing prowess before beginning contract brewing. Adventurous beer designer, Mark Sofio, one of Crowded Castle’s main craftsmen, continually concentrates on delighting local patrons and traveling beer seekers with a fine array of style-bending concoctions – refining recipes if need be to come up with better elixirs.
“I don’t need to make the only beer you drink, I just wanna be in your repertoire,” former stay-at-home dad Sofio claims.
Open during Memorial Day 2017 at a former Elks Club lounge, Crowded Castle’s front-windowed Prohibition Era-styled pub features art deco-styled bronze ceiling tiles, three hanging pendant lights, exposed black pipes, earthtone brick walls and a glazed cement floor.
An L-shaped, wood-beamed, slate-top bar services the right side lounge area and surrounding high-chaired tables. The backroom’s seven-and-a-half barrel brew tanks and six fermenters provide the liquid fun and an executive chef was recently hired to run the small kitchen.
While hanging out with Sofio on an early Wednesday afternoon in August ’20, I quaffed all eleven available brews.
Soft-toned lemony grapefruit perfuming and sweet floral-spiced herbage picked up earthen Saaz hop mustiness for mildly crystal malt-creamed Koning Gambrinus Pilsner, a solid light-bodied opener.
An orange-rotted lemon twist and tannic green grape wining rode above corn-husked pale malt spicing for cider-licked Castle Lager, a durable musty-grained moderation.
Dewy peat moss and grassy hop rusticity grazed citric-dried grape esters for Gilded Kolsch, a resolute straw-yellowed pilsner-malted easygoer with delicate floral juniper snips.
Mellow rice-wined French yeast provided a champagne spritz for Meyer lemon-salted farmhouse ale, Ble Saison, leaving lemongrass herbage on the back end.
Candi-sugared Belgian yeast advanced pastry-like tripel, Peace Ale, letting spiced apricot sail alongside rum raisin sweetness.
An interesting combination of British golden ale malts fermented with Belgian yeast, Ovolo placed candied mandarin orange spicing alongside floral-perfumed amber graining.
Date-sugared plum spicing crystallized Mod Quad, a creamily molasses-dipped medium-full body with auxiliary rum raisin, banana bubblegum and bruised orange sweetness.
Murkily yellow-hazed Fog U IPA utilized tart Huell Melon hops, bringing salted gooseberry-guava souring and grapefruit rind bittering to mild lemon meringue vanilla creaming.
Lemon-juiced grapefruit zest, salted mango bittering and spiced orange tartness lingered for Juice My Imagination NEIPA, a lightly lactic yellow-glazed medium body perfect for expansive hop-heads.
Spritzy sour-candied raspberry tartness provided mouth-puckered goodness for Sour Notes (Raspberry), punctuated by musky yellow grape, cranberry, huckleberry, strawberry and cherry rhubarb piquancy.
Mild coffee-roasted dark chocolate malting anchored maple oats-sugared Midnight Stout, a nut-charred mocha-bound nightcap.