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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Bethlehem Brew Works in Bethlehem, PA

I stopped in at Bethlehem Brew Works the other night on the way home from cousin Jerry's funeral. It's a good place for any occasion, especially to reflect upon and raise a toast to the dearly departed :( In any case, any trip in or around the Lehigh Valley should always include a stop in the heart of the Historic/Moravian District at the Bethlehem Brew Works. And for you homebrewers, there's a Keystone Homebrew store directly outside of BBW on the lower level. So, on this particular Monday evening, the bar and restaurant areas were jumping with customers. I figured this must be the leftovers from happy hour and what looked like one or two large parties. At this time, BBW had the following beers on tap: Valley Golden Ale; Fegley's ESB; Hammer Shop Wee Heavy; Steelworker Oatmeal Stout; Pumpkin Ale; Wing Nut Brown Ale; and Peche Lambic. (Also on tap was Hoegaarden, Mike's Hard Lemonade, and Woodchuck Amber Hard Cider......why did I mention the last two???) To my knowledge, the Golden Ale, the ESB, and the Stout are flagship beers that are always on tap. I can speak for the last two and say that they are both very respectable and drinkable beers. In fact, a growler of the Stout happened to make its way home with me ;-) While I was there, I first enjoyed the Wee Heavy followed by the Pumpkin Ale. The Wee Heavy was a happy beginning to my short stay visit. It was poured with a 3/4" head which disappeared quite quickly. It had a strong malt character which was offset equally by bitter hop notes. I also noticed a slight caramel flavor. This is one of my favorite styles and BBW does right by it! (They describe it on the menu as the "big version" of their Bagpiper Brew Scotch Ale.) Should have also brought a growler of this home too! I decided that the Pumpkin Ale also needed a tasting. This was served with a very thin head and a big pumpkin pie nose accompanied by a similar strong taste in the front of the mouth. However, this dissipated quickly in the back of the mouth and throat into a very quaffable medium-bodied, lighter-colored ale. I considered this very appealing as I would not want this type of beer to be lingering with the pumpkin spice all the way down my throat. Another winner! p.s. And if the upstairs bar and restaurant are not enough to satisfy your appetite and thirst, the downstairs hosts more dining space as well as the acclaimed Steelgaarden belgian beer bar. This downstairs bar gives a cozy and warm feel as well as a superbly stocked bar. Their house brews are also available downstairs. And, judging from a different visit, the Steelgaarden is also a popular Saturday night haunt for the "local scene." I dare you to compare. TIP: If you're not from the Lehigh Valley, the optimal way to experience BBW is to come to town for one of their many annual festivals/events, stay in a downtown hotel (like The Hotel Bethlehem), and visit BBW as many times as possible ;-) p.p.s. For once, I didn't take a picture when I was at BBW, so I lifted the picture above from the BBW website....hopefully, they won't mind :)

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