Today I’m still recovering from a GIANT night of drinking. All things considered, I’m actually not in that bad of shape today. In tomorrow’s post I’ll recap what went down that led to such heavy partying. For this evening, we’re off to see our friends Sean and Kerry. I’m leaving the blog in Silvio’s ample hands today…
The calendar gods have smiled upon me for a second week in a row, as this week’s Silvio Saturday falls on New Year’s Day. I wrestled with the concept for this week’s review – could I find a New Year’s themed beer? Ultimately I couldn’t, and was a bit stuck with which beer I’d review today. Fortunately I was inspired by one of my fellow revelers last night, who grew up in Philadelphia and sang the praises of Yards Brewing Company. I’ve reviewed them before and loved their beers, and since I knew I had two Yards queued up in my fridge for review, I was thoroughly inspired to give Yards some LIBA love.
I’ve got two similar brews, Yards’ Brawler Pugilist Style Ale and Extra Special Ale (ESA). Both are advertised as being in the same style as English session, or bitter, beers. Also interestingly, the Brawler and ESA are the first and second beers Yards ever brewed, respectively.
I started out with the Brawler, touted as “great for when you want to go a few rounds,” a nod toward the brew’s low 4.2% ABV. The pour resulted in a pretty decent foam head, and quite interestingly, a rust-colored smattering of yeast or foam across the top of the crown. I took a picture of it, but am not sure if it really shows up. Brawler is a dark red-colored beer, and I saw lots of floating sediment in the beer, most likely yeast from the bottle.
This is a very malt-heavy brew, both in aroma and flavor. The aroma is sweet to the point of reminding me of molasses, and definitely comes through in the flavor. While it starts out very sweet, the flavor transitions to nice roasted malt effects through the middle, but got a little too saccharine sweet on the aftertaste for me. This is another classic Yards beer for me in that it does one particular taste very well – in this case sweet malts – but overall it reminds me of a “light” beer and the flavors don’t stick around.
I moved over to the ESA next, billed as “intended for a cask-ale connoisseur.” I’m not the biggest cask-ale guy, but since it was a Yards I figured it would be pretty good. The beer pours a really dark color, and reminded me of a glass of iced tea. There isn’t much carbonation or foam – it fizzed for a second and then dissipated. The ABV is a bit higher than the Brawler, at 6.0%
Like the Brawler, the ESA is quite malty, but much more pungent and full of flavor. I got tons of malts on the aroma, and my first taste was so strong it took me a minute to really put a finger on what I tasted. This is a super-charged and concentrated malt flavor, like the Brawler on steroids. It quickly transitions to a slightly sour and bitter end note. I let the brew sit out for a few minutes, and it softened a bit, to feature a nice hoppy aftertaste. The roasted malts also come out a lot more on the front taste, and the beer mellows overall.
In summary, two more good brews from Yards. I’m becoming a big fan, and definitely want to try and check out their brewery one day soon. I’m probably not the biggest fan of this genre of beer, but I can see how drinkers who like session/bitter brews would absolutely love these brews.