You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything new for a couple of days. The fact is, I haven’t brewed anything in a couple of weeks – mainly because all my fermenters are full and I don’t want to rush my beers (and cider). Also, this week I was out of town visiting a manufacturer for work. While this may not sound like the story is getting exciting any time soon, I promise that beer is involved. One of my co-workers (let’s call him J.) knows that I am a sucker for a good beer so he recommended a local brewpub called Iron Hill Brewery in Lancaster, PA. I trust this kid so the first night we were in town we drove out there.

Below is a basic overview of their current beers. Keep in mind that I didn’t take notes or anything while I was there because I didn’t want to look like a tool. Also, I was – and continue to be – suffering from a pretty bad cold so my senses of taste and smell were (are) dulled. But the place was cool so I think it deserves a review anyway.

So for 7 bucks you can get a sampler which contains a 4 ounce glass of every beer they have on tap. Not just five or six of their pre-selected favorites – but ALL ELEVEN BEERS! That is fucking brilliant. They get an A+ for that alone. But how was the beer, you ask? Here’s a brief rundown of my recollections:

Light Lager – I didn’t expect much from this, which is probably why I was so surprised. It was crisp and refreshing with very little aroma to speak of. But it had a terrific yet mild malt flavor and slightly sharp finish. This is the beer they brew for the “American Lager” crowd and I was really impressed with it.

Raspberry Wheat – The server suggested we drink this one last because the post-fermentation addition of raspberry concentrate tends to stick to the palette. I didn’t do as I was told and was grateful – my night would have ended with this beer and that would be bad. This beer was way too sweet for me. It tasted like someone mixed juice into the beer after pouring it. I’ll be up front with you and say that I don’t really like the whole fruit-wheat genre of beers, and this beer is a primary example of why. When someone gives me a fruit flavored wheat beer that doesn’t taste syrupy I’ll change my tune.

Vienna Red Lager – This was actually a little disappointing for me – I wanted it to be a little more complex than it was, I guess. There was a nice bready malt flavor and a sharp Saaz zing to it, which was really good. I can’t really put my finger on it, but this seemed a little one-dimensional. Maybe it’s the cold talking.

Ironbound Ale – Here’s their American pale ale, can you guess the hops? Four varieties, they say, and I definitely taste the Cascade and Chinook in it. The moderate caramel malt flavors were almost, but not quite, hidden by the assertive, citrusy hops. The server said this is their best-selling beer and I can see why, it’s like a light IPA that you can drink all night. This was also J.’s favorite beer of the group.

Pigiron Porter – A delicious example of the style – chocolatey and roasted with a very subtle hint of raisin in the background. The finish was rich and bitter with a hint of espresso. As J. noticed, though, the carbonation seemed a little high which muted the subtler flavors of the beer.

Nitro Pigiron Porter – Same beer as above poured on nitro. This solved any problems the beer may have had. The chocolate flavors came out stronger with some coffee and raisin mixed in. It was fantastic and creamy as all get out with a long espresso finish. Probably my favorite of the group.

Belgian Abbey Dubbel – In the interest of full disclosure I’ll come out and tell you that I’m not a big fan of this style, either. (Beer snobs across the blogosphere are cringing). I respect, appreciate and even admire a good Belgian ale I just don’t particularly like them. Maybe they’re too sweet for me – or maybe just too Belgian. Michelle loves the Belgian beers and I’m trying to find ones that I really dig, I just haven’t found too many yet. So my review of this beer would be unfair. I’m sure it was good, I just didn’t care for it much.

American Brown Ale – This is one of my favorite styles, probably because of the way it pairs with good barbecue. This particular one may be the most American of all American browns I’ve ever had. It had a deep mahogany color and rich chocolate flavor topped off with an assload of Cascade, Centennial and Chinook. It tasted like someone threw the hop additions for an American pale ale into the kettle of the brown ale. And I liked it so much I got a growler of it to go – which is how I learned that this gets old a little fast. I love the idea of it, but in practice I’d like the brown ale to be a little smoother than the c-hops make it. Still a great beer, just stop at one.

Saison (seasonal) – Here, oddly enough, is a Belgian beer that I like. Even with a cold I could tell this had a great aroma. The flavors were full and fruity without being overbearing (to my anti-Belgian tastes). And the finish was perfectly crisp and refreshing. It seemed strange to have this as the seasonal beer in February, but I could be wrong on that. Either way, it was really frickin’ good.

Belgian Abbey Trippel (seasonal) – I gave my sample to J. since I was driving and don’t care much for the style, anyway. He had no problem accepting the offer.

Russian Imperial Stout (seasonal) – Another style that I just love. I drank this one last in lieu of dessert and I think it was the right choice. It was rich and roasted, full of espresso and toffee flavors, a punched up with citrusy American hops (it worked in this one). What a great sipping beer. (Or chugging beer – but at almost 10%, watch out.) I should have gotten a Reserve Bottle of this stuff instead of the growler of brown – my mistake.

There they are – all eleven of their current beers. I think there’s actually a chocolate stout going on tap tonight, but I’m back in Jersey now so I can’t check that out. Overall, I think the beers were good with the highlights being the Ironbound Ale, Nitro Pigiron Porter and the Russian Imperial Stout. The food was pretty good, too, and the space was really comfortable. They’ve got cool shit like the Mug Club and Bottle Reserves and they sell growlers for $15 ($11 for a refill). I recommend it if you ever find yourself near one of these – check their website for locations and more info.