Beer On My Shirt: Bitter Sweet Symphony

J. R. Shirt, July 30, 2014

Potentially, this could be considered the 3rd installment of an ongoing series on Tired Hands Brewing Company. The first two installments (Part 1 and Part 2) focus, albeit loosely, on Tired Hands beer obtained at their Ardmore, Pennsylvania brewpub. This current insallment involves a bottle of a Tired Hands collaboration with Brouwerij 't Gaverhopke called Bitter Sweet Symphony, a Belgian Double IPA.

I saw the stubby little bottles behind the counter at my local bottle shop. I inquired and they brought me one. I asked about buying more than one bottle. Thinking about friends and sharing, I asked about buying them all – about 8 bottles total. They shook their head. Only one bottle per customer. I asked if they knew who I was. Again, they shook their head. I asked them what they thought of my mustache. They looked past me, for a mustache.

I understood their policy with more sought after, less available bottles, and I appreciated it. I was not angry and yet my eyes glowed a deep red as laser beams and gamma rays welled up behind my pupils. I tried to quell my surge of powerful emotion; I took deep breaths in an attempt to keep several highly radioactive, spent fuel rods from exiting my nuclear colon. These people were only doing their job, and politely I might add – they did not deserve a slow, agonizing demise by irradiation from the atomic cloud churning inside the excited state of my superhero body.

Have I mentioned I've been planking? No? Well, it sucks.

Have I mentioned the ghost pepper salsa from earlier that day? I had never felt so alive.

It is possible that if a series on Tired Hands Brewing continues, then more visits to the Tired Hands brewpub and thus more Tired Hands beers will be chronicled and discussed in future installments. However, at this point in the afternoon, while I can guarantee future visits to Tired Hands because it is an amazing place that every beer lover should go to, I cannot guarantee the continuation of series which was never intended to be serialized. Maybe I'll just go there, enjoy my time, and then wrap it all up into a neat little package and put it on a shelf next to all my other secrets.

Also, I may lose function in both my hands via a strange accident involving a large population of hornets and an old barn and never write again.

“Man, what happened to your hands?”

“Hornet accident.”

“Ugh, bummer.”

“Yeah, happened in Old Man Milsop's abandoned barn.”

“How many times they sting you?”

“None, but they sure startled us plenty. So much so that T-Bone went and slammed the barn door on my hands. Doc took one look and knew there was nothing he could do. He gave me a pamphlet and said it had all kinds of information about being hand-less and what not and sent me home.”

“Well, what did the pamphlet say? Did it help?”

“Not sure – never opened it.”

Bitter Sweet Symphony, Brouwerij 't Gaverhopke (0.0 BAR, 108 Style+)

Appearance = 4.5/5

Two fingers of cream colored head. Great lacing.

Smell = 3.75/5

Belgian yeast, citrus, funky grass, and the sweetness typical of a Belgian. The label calls this a Belgian Double IPA. The aroma reminds me more of some of the hoppier, sweeter saisons I've had.

Taste = 4.25/5

Funky with citrus and the typical Belgian yeast flavors, slightly metallic and with herbal hints. The aftertaste was fantastic with the bitterness fading into a funkiness. While the beer warmed, the finish showed signs of some tartness, which was really wonderful. But that gave way to a serious funky finish once the beer got to a temperature. Luckily, that did not happen until I had just a few sips left.

Feel = 4.5/5

Slightly dry. Crisp. Finishes light considering all the funky flavors. Nice and bubbly in the mouth.

Overall = 4.25/5

The finish puts this one over the top for me, from maybe a 3.75/4 to a 4.25. I didn't notice the tartness at first in the finish – perhaps it needed to come up in temperature just a bit – but once it was there, whoa. Overall though, it had plenty of Belgian characteristics with bright hop presence and some great funk that grew as the beer warmed. I'm unsure of the freshness of this bottle – I can't tell if it has a “best by month” or a “brewed on” month on the label – because that part of the label was in another language. And while this was a collaboration and is listed on our Leaderboards as a Brouwerij 't Gaverhopke beer, in terms of other Tired Hands beers that I've had, I would put most them ahead of this one. But it was still very enjoyable, which says a lot about the quality of the beers that this brewery produces.

Follow J. R. Shirt on Twitter and Untappd @beeronmyshirt. Listen to the first episode of the Drinking With Shirt podcast here.