Saturday, September 3, 2011

King of the Case: Yards Brewing Company

Wherein I will buy a variety case and decide what the best beer in it is.

Extra Special Ale
This amber-colored beer features a strong, bold flavor with hints of cocoa and caramel. It is an English-style ale, but it seems a little more drinkable to me than the usual concoction from the United Kingdom.

Philadelphia Pale Ale
This beer is a revelation from first sip. As soon as you bring it near your nose, you pick up a powerful, citrus scent. When you take a drink, fruity, pungent hop flavor jumps out at you like a mugger near an ATM. It's got session-beer ABV (4.6%), but a complexity that you usually don't find in such an easy-to-drink varietal. It's a crisp, interesting beer whose layers of flavor can simply be reveled in. Reminded me of the first time I drank Lagunitas Little Sumpin Sumpin, which is to say I feel like I need to get a case of this alone.

Brawler Pugilist Style Ale
With its brownish coloring, this beer actually reminds a lot of the Extra Special Ale. The only difference is that this one has a bit of a smoky Rauchbier-type feel. This being said, I am not a huge fan of smoky beers. If made to choose, I would go with the Extra Special.

India Pale Ale
Yards does hops well. This one features well distributed hops and distinct flavor. It's not going to blow you away like some of the more spectacular West Coast IPAs, but it isn't run-of-the-mill either. Almost feel like I would have enjoyed it even more if I had not consumed it twenty minutes or so after knocking back the Philly Pale.

The LabelsFor the look of its labels, Yards shoots for a classic, dignified feel. However, by using vibrant color combinations, they are able to ensure that the bottles are never boring. I was tempted to declare the Extra Special Ale the winner simply because the green-and-yellow color combination appeals to me. I feel like I could drink this at a bar and it would communicate that I am a man who enjoys simple pleasures, like a manly beer, a novel by Hemingway, a film by John Ford. In the end though, I give the nod to Brawler. The blue-and-orange color combo, while it is the color of the New York Mets, has always been a favorite of mine. Plus, I enjoy the art of the fighter facing off against the demonic figure. I like to imagine that the fighter is Yards and the demon is the beer brand that believes it needs to put a "Super Cold" stripe on its cans to get idiots to buy it. Buffoonish saps! Keep fighting that fight, Yards!

The WinnerThese are all solid beers that I would not mind spending way too much money on while out at a fancy-schmancy night spot with my friends. The Brawler is probably the only one I would place as a "B" beer, and that is because I am not a major proponent for smoky beers. Still, in this battle of the beers, there is only one winner and it is undoubtedly the Philadelphia Pale Ale. Just an incredible specimen of beer craftsmanship. If you see this on a menu, order it immediately as it is one of the best beers I have tasted all year. One note of interest: Even if you buy it in a bottle, pour it in a glass. The open top releases all sorts of flavors upon your senses and it makes for a way-more-delectable experience.

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