This week I looked for something a little different to try. After sampling IPAs and light weissbier, I wanted something a little more robust but not quite as dark or heavy as a stout. I asked my local distributer to point me in the direction of something fairly close to home.
The first box I wanted to check was that the beer wasn’t brewed with wheat, because I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone of wheat beers for this experiment. Second, it had to be local because I am trying to support as many local breweries as possible. What the distributor came up with was a pre-Prohibition-style ale from Wallenpaupack Brewing Co. The description sounded just like what I wanted.
Located in Hawley, the brewery was founded in 2017 near the shores of Lake Wallenpaupack. It prides itself on using locally sourced ingredients in all of its offerings and has a full brewery, brew pub and beer garden spread over 14,000 square feet. Despite only being in existence for about four years, it offers 64 varieties of craft beers available at different times throughout the year. The brewery serves various foods also made from locally sourced items.
Getting back to the beer, I chose to try Wallenpaupack Brewing Co.’s Penn’s Common, an ale based on pre-Prohibition ingredients that’s also known as Kentucky Common. It is brewed with 1/3 flaked corn combined with toffee, roast and American hops to give it a deep amber color and slightly bitter undertone.
The first pour was beautiful. A very dark amber liquid with some reddish coloring, the brew had a slight head measuring about a quarter-inch. The robust smell left my nose tingling thanks to the toffee tones.
The first sip had a rich taste and super carbonated mouthfeel (the bubbles just danced on the tongue and roof of the mouth). It also was a little sweet on the front end but not overwhelmingly so. The back end was slightly bitter but complemented the initial flavor since it wasn’t overwhelming. The drink offered a balanced flavor that captured the spirit of the farmer, using the byproduct of the corn crop to cultivate a fantastic and refreshing beverage.
This brew clocks in at 4.7% ABV, and as a result, it goes down smoothly, so imbibe responsibly. Clocking in on the bitterness scale with a fairly low 21, this brew is for those who do not like overwhelmingly bitter IPAs or sour-style beverages but enjoy something with a little more mellow flavor. While you can enjoy this beer in the hot summer heat, it would be equally enjoyable on an early fall evening by the fire pit.
This brew is classified as a specialty beer, which have limited availability. I found it in mid August at my local distributor, but brewery staff can answer any questions regarding availability.
I highly recommend this particular brew and will add Wallenpaupack Brewing Co.’s brew pub to my list of places to visit in person. I plan to try a number of its brews on tap when I find time to travel to the lake.
Brian Hazlak lives in Kingston and reviews beers for the Liquid column. He holds a master’s degree in history from University of Scranton and works as a licensing supervisor for the Office of Children, Youth & Families in Scranton and as an adjunct professor of history at Luzerne County Community College. Contact him at email@example.com.