Variety is the spice of life… Its one of several mottos I choose to live by. In fact, variety is one of the things I love most about beer. There are quite a few categories of beer styles out there. Within those styles are many variations. Brewers across the globe put their own little twist on all those variations and, as a result, we have an almost bewildering variety of beer choices at our disposal.
But what if you were the type of brewer that feels a “little” twist isn’t enough? What if you found the reinheitsgebot much too restricting to your artistic expression? Well, if you are like Rob Demaria, brewer and owner of Prism Brewing Company in North Wales, PA, you put whatever ingredients in beer you want… no matter how off the wall it seems. Why not put some honey in an IPA… OK, that could work. How about some blood oranges in a blonde ale… sounds kind of nice actually. Why not put some bacon in a stout… Ok, that’s a little out there, but I’m willing to try it. Awww hell, lets take some strawberries and jalapenos and put them in a brown ale… screeeeeech… huh? No joke, that is exactly what I found when I visited the Prism Brewery tap room.
|Prism's Regulars Chip in to Create the Tap List|
You would have to be nuts to take a nice brown ale recipe and defile it with ingredients that seem totally at odds with the beer… right? Rob doesn’t think so, and that’s exactly why he brews beers like “Love is Evol”, Prism’s Strawberry Jalapeno Brown Ale. Actually, maybe he is on to something. I mean, he wouldn’t actually serve something that sounds so unpalatable if it wasn’t good… right? As I lifted the glass of this concoction to my nose, I looked up to see Rob’s lips curl into a sinister grin. At that moment I thought to myself, “Maybe this guy really is a little nuts.”
My first sniff of Love is Evol presented roasted malts and caramel with hint of fresh jalapeno. I searched hard for the strawberry in the nose, but didn’t detect much more than a very faint fruity smell. The beer tastes of roasted malts and caramel up front, with a bit of strawberry jam fullness in the middle. It finishes with some toasted biscuit and a gentle peppery jalapeno tingle that lingered for just a little while. As crazy as it sounds, the recipe actually works. The backbone of this beer is a very solid brown ale. Rob didn’t get aggressive with the strawberry and jalapeno which, in my opinion, is a good thing. If anything, it made the beer just a bit more interesting. This was a pleasant surprise for me since I’m typically not a “let’s get crazy with the beer ingredients” type of guy.
|Shiny Fermenters Adorn the Brewery|
This beer would pair up very well with a lot of foods, however, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like without the strawberry and jalapeno. Fortunately, Rob has other things in the works for his brown ale recipe. In fact, he is considering offering a traditional brown ale in his “Prison Break” series. Prison Break is a series of beers in which no adjunct ingredients will be used. Since Prism’s brewing philosophy is based upon placing big twists on classic styles, this type of brewing has been illegal in their book… hence, the Prison Break name.
The first beer offered in the Prison Break series is Felony IPA. Felony is a double IPA that is brewed with ten English and American hop varieties. The amount of hops used in this brew is apparent as the nose is full of floral and citrus hops. Sticky sweet malt, citrus, and pineapple flavors dominate the palate with a very full mouth feel. The beer finishes with a strong hop presence, but is not harshly bitter. Felony IPA comes in at a whopping 10% ABV, but it doesn’t finish hot… yeah, be careful with this one. If there was any question about Rob’s ability to brew basic beer styles well, I think Felony IPA puts that debate to rest. I’m eager to see what else he comes up with.
If you are in the area, I highly recommend you make a stop at the Prism Brewery and tap room. Getting there is part of the adventure. But once you find it and walk through those big barn-like doors, you almost feel like part of a secret club that is hidden away. You will be greeted by an extremely friendly and enthusiastic bartender named Heather who is happy to explain the Prism philosophy. Not sure which beer you want? Do what I did and get a flight. If you aren’t in the mood for beer, you could always order one of the several locally made wines and ciders available. Hungry? Try one of the gourmet hot dogs. I highly recommend the Purple Dog… chili, onions and pineapple relish = tasty hot dog goodness.
Just keep in mind… variety is the spice of life. If the brewer isn’t afraid to brew it, you shouldn’t be afraid to try it.
If you would like to learn more about Prism Brewing Company and their tap room, please visit their website at: http://prismbeer.com/