Sunday, March 13, 2011

An Iron Hill Brewery Birthday Bash

My wife took me to Iron Hill Brewery for my birthday again this year - it's a perennial favorite of ours. I would say that it has the ambiance of a Houlihan's or Ruby Tuesday's but with a brewery attached. The menu is extensive, but I always gravitate toward the burgers. Of course, I enjoy trying some of their many beers. They have monthly-release beers as well as six house beers: Iron Hill Light Lager, Vienna Red Lager, Ironbound Ale, a seasonal Belgian Ale, Pig Iron Porter, and Raspberry Wheat. Over time, I've tried the red lager, the porter, and the wheat beers, not to mention the Belgian ale and other monthly releases. I have to say that the Raspberry Wheat is almost more of a "fruity beverage" than a beer. It had a good raspberry flavor, but I forgot I was drinking a beer!

During this particular visit to Iron Hill, I tried a total of five different beers:

1) Overload Stout (ABV 9.55%)

From the Menu: "This imperial Oatmeal Stout is brewed with locally roasted coffee beans and local Wilburs chocolate for an overload of flavor."

Tasting Notes: A full-bodied dark beer with lots of flavor and a bit of a bite; had a vanilla aftertaste / overtone. My wife (who is not a beer drinker) tried it and said she could really taste the chocolate and some coffee.

Overload Stout (served on nitrogen)
2) Russian Imperial Stout (ABV 9.5%)

From the Menu: "Full-bodied Stout that starts with a complex malty sweet and high roasted character that is wonderfully balanced with the generous use of citrusy American hops."

Tasting Notes: A strong, dark beer. Stouts and Porters seem very similar to me. (Consider researching the difference in a future blog post.)

3) Constanza (ABV 6.2%)

From the Menu: "This amber colored ale is brewed with a significant portion of rye malt and spiced with caraway seeds. A bready malt center with a dry spicy finish. Pairs nicely with the most 'sensual of the salt cured meats - pastrami.'"

Tasting Notes: A great flavor! Malt and caraway give this a good flavor, though not extremely strong. There is a light spice flavor - there is just enough to give it some zest, but it's not overpowering.

4) Cask-Conditioned Constanza

Tasting Notes: Warmer than the non-cask-conditioned version (i.e. it's not served cold). There is less of a spice flavor after the cask conditioning, though it is still very good. (Consider researching the reason for cask conditioning and what it is supposed to do for a beer in a future blog post.)

Samplers - Russian Imperial Stout and Constanza (Regular and Cask-Conditioned)
5) Bonzai (Seasonal Belgian Ale) (ABV 7.0%)

From the Menu: "This Belgian Saison is a collaboration beer brewed with our head chef Mario Romero, spiced with a variety of the kitchen's secret Asian spices."

Tasting Notes: "WOW!" That is exactly what I said after trying the first (and second, and third) sip of this powerfully tasty ale. It was literally a blast of flavor in my mouth! It had a citrusy flavor, but not a strong citrusy flavor. It was fizzy - my wife described it as being like a carbonated soft drink and tasting like a "Spree" candy. This was a really light-colored ale compared to other ales that I have tried (though the picture that I took and posted below makes it appear more yellow that it was). The best way to describe this drink: happy-tasting.

Bonzai (Seasonal Belgian Ale)
If you've never been to the Iron Hill Brewery, it's definitely worth visiting. Check it out - I'm sure you'll find it to be a real treat!

Zum Wohl!


  1. So would you recommend any of those for someone who doesn't like the taste of a "regular beer"? The only beer-like beverage I've only really enjoyed was a raspberry lambic at Bube's in Mount Joy... I LOVED it. But I don't like your regular cookout beers.

  2. Which Iron Hill did you go to? They have a really good menu in my opinion. If you get to Phoenixville in May, Sly Fox Brewery is having their annual goat races in which the owners of the winning goat get to name their annual bock. Sly Fox makes some great Belgian style ales.

  3. Joan, try the Raspberry Wheat or the Bonzai (if still in season when you go). If those don't whet your taste for a non-traditional beer then go for the Martini menu!

  4. "Anonymous" - we went to the Lancaster, PA location. Agreed about the good menu! I'd love to check out Sly Fox's Belgian ales sometime - thanks for the tip!

    Joan - Diana said it all!