Great Beer Weekends in the Mid-Atlantic #10: Wyomissing, Pa. Chatty Monks Revelation Ale, British Porter
Date: January 25, 2018
The Story— Walk-able, drinkable, and artsy, Wyomissing is a suburb of sorts that sits on the high hills overlooking Reading. Pennsylvania. In the 1990s it was home to Camelot Brewing, a pioneering Peter Austin system brewery that produced exceptionally good IPAs and did fairly well with other styles as well. It was a victim of the late 90s early 2000s retraction. On our last visit we <think> we recognized the location, but there’s no trace of it left.
Reading has struggled to regain the beer glory it once had when Reading Beer was a draw throughout the East. It lost its ability to support a big regional (think Yuengling) but hasn’t, as a community, really engaged with craft beer either. The lofty heights of Wyomissing, however, have made a spectacular comeback since Camelot’s demise. it’s not only become the place for craft beer in Reading, but it’s become a bastion of brewing for all eastern Pennsylvania. Chatty Monks opened shop several years ago, it was joined recently by Broken Chair brewery and even more recently by a Sly Fox tap room.
Chatty Monks, our focus for today, has pictures of various monks on the walls in various positions of self-abuse who probably were not so chatty, but it’s a fine place to enjoy pleasures of this world while you contemplate another. It’s an old storefront place on the main Wyomissing drag. Oldish townhouses are now converted to boutiques: handmade soaps next door, spas, etc. and more dentists than you could count teeth in the city. This is a small, usual new craft brewery decor with pale wood, at least one raw brick wall; a long side bench that looks like a pew; a few high tops but mostly small dining tables in front, with a small bar in back. The monks hanging upside down, however, were decidedly not usual brewpub on either side of the Atlantic.
An experimental blend of hops graced a strong IPA, and the regular Monastery pale ale is sip-worthy over an evening. The best of the bunch, though, was a Revelation Ale – a strong British porter (5.5% strong for Britain, not for the US).
The Beer— Chewy roasted malt with some smooth Marris Otter underneath. Hops are mild, herbal and slightly spicy. Typical of understated local beers. Chewy with good flavor, though and more dark as it drinks. HOPS: Pekko is supposed to have a “tea like flavor” – maybe you’ll find ti quicker than we did.
Value — Good to very good. Excellent beer at normal brewpub prices.
Values: “fair” is a good beer at an above market price, “good” is worth the money, “very good” is a bargain, and “excellent” is a steal.
For a couple of weeks, we’re presenting some fun towns to explore and have a beer. There’s all within a few hours drive if you live in the Mid Atlantic. Most are near enough a place to stay that you can walk back to your room. We’ve found these in researching out first US Beer publication: Brews and Snooze-– Breweries you can visit and walk back to a fine place to spend the night. Look for it later this year.
Did you miss our “Ten Beers to start the year series? — links are below
Jailbreak Coffee Dusk Till Dawn, Tröegs Mad Elf Grand Cru, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Boulevard Manhattan Cask Still Ale, Ommegang Game of Thrones Series: Mother of Dragons, Lickinghole Creek Carrot Cake Imperial Amber Ale, Colbitzer Heide-Brauerei Schwarz, Lickinghole Creek One Lion Imperial Stout, Founders Dank Wood, Stone Woot Stout.
We’re often asked to share our tasting notes on over 33,000 beers; this blog is in answer to those requests. Not all our notes, though. The great beer writer Michael Jackson admirably followed the Thumper Rule, and we’ll try to do the same. (“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”) All the beers we post are from the top half of our ratings and most are from the top quarter. Of greater value, we think, are the stories behind the beers, and we try to give you enough about the brewery, the style and the places to find great beer to help you on your own beer journeys. At CulturAle Press we try to write books and publish posts that will help you “Drink Well and Travel Safely.”