Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Pouring in Pennsylvania: Fat Head's now officially in the Philly market

Last night saw the Fat Head's team roll out with mighty force (with Philadelphia regional rep, Justin Knosp) to Capone's in Norristown, Pa. The Gretz team (led by company president, Mike Gretz - far left in the picture above) accompanied the brewery that has garnered much attention, excitement, and awards in less than seven years since opening outside of Cleveland, Ohio.

The shortest back story to tell of their growth begins with the original Fat Head's pub in Pittsburgh's South Side neighborhood. The wildly successful and rollicking bar/restaurant has been a destination ever since and owner, Glenn Benigni, partnered with Matt Cole (former brewer at Great Lakes, Penn, and others) in 2009 to open the North Olmstead brewery just outside Cleveland. In early 2012, they opened a much larger facility in Middleburg Heights with plenty of room to grow. Both were in attendance last night at Capone's and will be at several events this week in the Philly area.

Finally, late 2014 saw them add on a Portland, Oregon brewpub location, just down the street from the Deschutes brewpub. Does the future hold more brewpub locations added to the "family" in the future? Time will tell, but all signs point to yes.

In a nod to Matt Capone's long-standing support for Fat Head's, his bar was serving more of their beer (nine of them) than any other Fat Head's event listed on PhillyTapFinder.com. Battle Axe Porter, Bumble Berry Wheat, Goggle Fogger Hefe Weizen, Head Hunter IPA, Head Trip Tripel, Shakedown Stout, Sunshine Daydream Session IPA, Trail Head Pale Ale, and Fat Head's/Jackie O's Liquid Courage Collaboration Barleywine were all pouring last night. The broad range of styles and alcohol levels should serve to keep everyone in your beer-drinking group happy.

For the uninitiated, the Head Hunter is a simcoe- and centennial-based citrus/piney blast of IPA goodness. At 7.5% ABV, for some of us, this can be at least a half-session beer (cue the ridicule!) and exhibits the hallmarks of a very drinkable beer (esp. for IPA) for me. I've had many of the others on the list in the past and vouch wholeheartedly for them and while I didn't get to the barleywine as I'd hoped, the surprise for me in the bunch was the perfectly balanced and, wait for it, drinkable Trail Head Pale Ale. It's the citra hop variety that gets me every time and this one is a delight. At 6.3% ABV, I'm in the game for a few of these as well. Can't wait to see bottle/sixtels of this in the market. Plus, a portion of proceeds from Trail Head's sales goes to the Cleveland Metroparks Trails Fund.

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