Root Down Tripel, Phoenixville, Pa.
Date: January 27, 2018
The Story— Sly Fox put Phoenixville on the map decades ago. The original Sly Fox brewery was on the outskirts of town– you had to drive there, but it was worth the effort. Brian O’Reilly, a truly gifted brewer, brewed a single hop pale ale (and some years a single hop IPA) each month. In late fall, he’d put them all on tap and it was as close to a low budget brewing school you could find. Brian has moved on to a new project in Philadelphia, but Phoenixville has blossomed as a craft brew weekend destination.
The town has a kettle of breweries, a first rate beer store, a decent semi-historic hotel and more restaurant choices than you need. Many of the restaurants are BYOB and all the breweries sell growlers. Restaurants are usually good about packaging food to go, so another choice is to take the food to the brewery.
If you time your visit for the second week in July, make reservations way in advance and get tickets on line for Blobfest. The Colonial Theater in Phoenixville was the location for the shooting of the iconic panic scene in The Blob of the theater emptying. These days moviegoers reenact the scene — without the blob. Even if you can’t get tickets, it’s something of an event to see everyone pouring out onto the street in terror.
You have many choices and you may not be able to get to to them all if you only have one night. But we recommend that you don’t omit the Root Down brewery, located in a former factory; it brews some of the best beers in town in a welcoming historic atmosphere.
Our choice– and it wasn’t easy for this town or even for this brewery– is the Root Down Tripel. We love Belgian Tripels when they’re done well, which, outside of Belgium, is not very often, Tripels need to be delicate, with some metal and maybe a hint of banana in a bit of a tropical sojourn. Most of all, they’re delicate and intriguing with some metal almost serving to hold all the other flavors together.
Most American breweries miss the mark when they attempt tripels. They’re often too thick, too heavy handed with obvious booze and crushing tropical fruit from big hop additions. This one approached authenticity.
The Beer— Slightly heavy for the style but unusually echt for a US brewery. Metallic and quite spicy with a nice bit of pepper and tropical that increases as it drinks. Ellie found a long bitter and some salt from the alcohol.
Value — Good. a $4 taster (about four ounces as best) is pricey, but this one is worth the dough.
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 for the New Year? Links are below.
Jailbreak Coffee Dusk Till Dawn, Tröegs Mad Elf Grand Cru, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Boulevard Manhattan They’re 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.”