Recently, I went to Al's of Hampden, home of Pizza Boy Brewing, outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It was awesome.
While I was away, Wife went to the grocery store, down the street from our house. She said it was “alright."
Wife going to the grocery store is strange because generally, I do all of the grocery shopping. I do all of the grocery shopping because I also do all the cooking. I do all of the cooking because I am an amazing husband and, between Wife and I, I am the better cook. It makes sense that we assign chores based on our strengths. Wife's strengths include washing dishes and cleaning bathrooms. We split the laundry duties.
I can not wait for her to read that last line. She will lose her mind. You may never hear from me again.
Al's of Hampden, a pizzeria housing a brewery, is set up like a cross between an indoor beer festival and a college pizzeria, but efficient. And delicious. There are two counters – one where you order delicious pizza and stromboli, and another where you order from their 100+ taps. There is a bar, but there is no bar service – all beer is ordered by number from the beer counter. Yes, a line forms, much like the best table at a beer festival, but the line moves quickly. Overall, it seems like an extremely efficient system.
The local grocery store that Wife visited is set up much like any other grocery store. It has aisles with food. And an area of registers where you pay for the food, most of which are closed. It is like a game show you can't win. It is like running blindly through a series of doorways covered in paper, never knowing if the next paper doorway will actually have a closed door behind it. Choosing a checkout lane, with a three-year old sitting in the shopping cart, is like playing Russian Roulette where the bullets are M & Ms and candy bars and every single chambers is loaded.
One time, Child had pulled a pack of Rolo's off the shelf and just gnawed through the gold foil wrapper to get to the chocolate. I had no idea it was happening until the cashier said, “Are you going to pay for those Rolo's?”
It was the first time Child ever had chocolate. It went okay. Her poop had gold foil bits in it for a few days, like Goldschlager. If this makes you think I am not the “World's Greatest Dad," then consider it hyperbole, because I have a mug that says I am.
At Al's of Hampden, about 10 taps, maybe more, are beers by Pizza Boy Brewing, of which I have heard amazing things. I got Pizza Boy's Sunny Side Up - Little Amps! Double Coffee, an Imperial Stout (5.56 BAR, 0.74 wOBAR on our leaderboards – that wOBAR is pretty impressive, as is the BAR for a beer only available on site. However, we do have it categorized as a Stout, rather than an Imperial Stout). The look was typical dark brown with a slim tan head. The smell was roasted malts, coffee, and chocolate. The taste was coffee. Every sip. I've never had beer that tasted so much like coffee. The balance with the roast of the malts and just a hint of chocolate sweetness was delicious. But coffee, coffee, coffee like I've never experienced in any coffee stout. The mouthfeel was just thick enough or maybe just a bit light, but smooth and creamy like a nice roasted cup of coffee would be. Overall, it was unique, it was wonderful, and I miss it.
At the grocery store, Wife bought fancy crackers, which she heard were really good and thought we really needed. She also got fancy cheese for her fancy crackers. Apparently, she was prepping for a dinner party.
After the Sunny Side Up, I got a bomber of Pizza Boy's Intangible, a tangerine Sour/Wild Ale (1.96 BAR, 0.25 wOBAR). It was pretty sour, in a bright citrus way, like a lemon or sour tangerine, but with some fruity sweetness and lots of acidity. It was intense but I really enjoyed it.
I found an interview over at CHSbeer.org with Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø from Evil Twin where he mentions that the head brewer at Pizza Boy, Terry Hawbaker (formerly of the Farmer's Cabinet in Philadelphia, and Bullfrog Brewery before that), has a technique for making sours that “can sour beers, in like, two weeks.” I'm not sure how long souring generally takes and I am relatively new to the whole idea of Sour Ales, but I find that statement intriguing. Also, I try not to stalk Jeppe on the Internet, but it is a battle I typically lose when in front of a computer. He is my Bridget Fonda. I am his Jennifer Jason Leigh, in a harmless way. He is Michael Douglas. I am Glenn Close, again, in a harmless way. I've always wanted to be Glenn Close.
Back at the grocery store, after the fancy crackers and cheeses, Wife went with two bags of frozen curly fries. Interesting choice. Especially since we rarely buy any frozen processed foods. I mean, if you want curly fries, buy me some potatoes and I'll make some curly fries.
It should be noted, for the purposes of understanding my current struggle with Wife's purchase of curly fries, that since the birth of Child about three years ago, I have done my best to go as organic as I can at the grocery store, as well buying local produce and meat and such whenever possible. Beyond the potential environmental and personal health benefits, I have chosen this path mainly in hopes of preventing the premature pubertization of my daughter. Hormones, chemicals, and what not.
I also plan to begin making my own bread for sandwiches in the near future, I just need to find the appropriately large containers for storing bulk amounts of flour. And I'll need to go get some lunch meat to put in the sandwiches, since Wife neglected to purchase any of that while at the grocery store.
What did she buy, you may be wondering? Well, beyond the crackers, cheeses, and curly fries, she purchased several bottles of flavored seltzer. As well as six lemon and six limes. She also purchased pumpkin flavored ice cream.
I hate pumpkin. And she knows that.
The last beer I had from Pizza Boy was the Faceplant IIPA (2.03 BAR, 0.32 wOBAR). It was a solid double IPA that I would recommend to anyone going there. However, I did not take down any detailed info, other than that it was “lovely."
In closing, go to Al's of Hampden, try the Pizza Boy beers, get a stromboli, and leave with a growler. I did not get a growler and I regret it more than all of Wife's misguided grocery store purchases.
Don't make the same mistake as me.
Don't be Glenn Close.
Sunny Side Up (Little Amps! Double Coffee), Pizza Boy Brewing
Appearance = 4.25/5
It looks the part. Dark brown, almost black. Almost a finger of light tan head. See the header image. It's beautiful.
Smell = 4.5/5
Coffee, like fresh grounds or freshly brewed coffee, with even that hint of chocolate that sometimes a good cup of joe might have. Maybe the smell isn't really chocolate but just something that reminds you of chocolate. And some roasted malt. Or maybe that's just roasted coffee.
Taste = 4.5/5
Coffee, Coffee, Coffee - like real coffee. And I'm talking about good coffee. Great balance between the coffee flavors and the roasted malts. There was a taste of sweet chocolate, but still coffee, toward the finish that helped to hide the booze of the 11% ABV. Has a some nuttiness in the end, reminiscent of some coffee has a nutty finish.
Mouthfeel = 4.5/5
Creamy. Lighter feel than expected from the style and ABV but that is part of what I really enjoyed about it - just enough body and real smooth.
Overall = 4.5/5
One of my favorite new beers of the year (new to me). Very drinkable. Obviosuly not recommended for people that don't like coffee.
J. R. Jason Leigh Shirt can be found on Twitter @beeronmyshirt and on Untappd under the same handle. My goals include world peace and a leather jacket that looks good. And Hair of the Dog's Michael.