Pizza Boy Bright Club, @ Al’s of Hampden, Enola, Pa.
Date: November 18,2018
The Story— The Bright Club is one of the best of the “Pennsylvania IPAs” that collectively form one of the true highlights of a visit to Al’s of Hampden – and a sufficient reason to drive from New York or Richmond. The barkeep wasn’t sure whether the hops were actually local or started locally and farmed out farther away. We’ll follow up on the story. Pennsylvania is well within a superior growing latitude for hops—some very fine hops are coming from Maryland and Virginia these days—so we suspect any farming out is in search of acres rather than climate. However they do it we love what they’re doing with East Coast hops. We’ve had several locally-hopped beers in Maryland and Virginia and many have been very good, but we’ve sometimes felt they are “almost as good as the west”, but here we think they’re better.
Tangentially, the fairly large Saranac brewery in Utica, New York, (West End or Matt’s for those of us old enough to remember this survivor’s other profiles) grew their own hops and had volunteers pick them. The beer that this way-too-big-for-excellence produced was …. excellent.
We tasted the Bright Club from a crowler just a day old and it was in fine shape. Glass growlers are intuitively better for transporting beer, but crowlers are blasted with CO2 just before filling and if you don’t let them linger in your fridge too long, they give a near-draft experience.
The Beer— The beer was just yummy. It’s chalky with a fascinating hop flavor that’s just past subtle. There’s a wonderful almost old fashioned balance to it with pale malt and spicy and flavorful hops. Ends dryly with an almost woody and chalky breadth.
Value —Very good edging toward excellent, The crowler was ten bucks, and that’s on the low end of crowler prices. A good beer at this price would be a good value, but this way-better-than-average IPA is, for us at least, a bargain.