Turkey Hill Mid Summer’s Night Saison, Bloomsburg, Pa.
Date: January 26, 2018
The Story— Bloomsburg is a cute Pennsylvania town that seems ideal for a local brewery or two. A brief run by the Eagle Brewery ended in failure long before Prohibition, but by the 1980s you could find a range of good beer in their best beer bar. That bar, whose name we cannot recover, dropped some serious cash moving a Brickskeller Tasting event — including us and the owner of the Brickskeller to Bloomsburg.
But it wasn’t until 2011 that Marley’s Brewery opened in an historic hotel building in downtown Bloomsburg. It was an instant success — to summarize their story, they were too popular for their space and moved to a new site, albeit quite impressive, outside of the downtown area, leaving the quaint old town brewery-less again. Today when you visit Bloomsburg, you’ll have to get out of the central area to find freshly brewed beer.
Happily not long after Marley’s opened its doors, The Inn at Turkey Hill (named for a nearby geographical feature and not a Deli Chain) decided to add additional dining options and a brewery to its barn. Blown flat in a viscious storm, the barn was reconstructed — as a barn– and then converted to a restaurant and pub in the way they originally envisioned. They hired Donny Abraczinskas, a local homebrewer, to do the brewing and we still don’t think they understand how lucky they were.
Homebrewing and commercial brewing have similarities, of course, but a very good homebrewer doesn’t always make a good commercial brewing. At home, if you run out of beer the Subtotal Beer Market down the street will keep you going and allow you to age that doppelbock six more weeks if it needs it. A brew pub has to pour beer. A good plant manager can mean as much to the success of a brewery as a good brewmaster. The homebrewer suddenly has to manage both trades with minimal training in one and no training in the other.
Some homebrewers make the switch with grace and speed, and Danny was one of them. We tasted his beers within the first year of production and were more than impressed. We returned recently for a full night at the Inn as well as a full night’s session in the pub. The beers were still constantly impressive.
We’ve chosen a saison for the beer of the day today because we almost never do. We’ve run into dozens of pleasant saisons, but very rarely do we run into one that makes our top 20% of all beers. Dupont does it too well, and the style varies too much for us to set our Dupont aside for another taste of a US version
We’re not claiming that Turkey Hill brews as well as Dupont– only that it’s plenty close enough to enjoy the comparison — and that it’s one of the best Saisons we’ve tasted on this side of the Atlantic. That’s reason enough to book into Turkey Hill, but the brewpub will give you eleven other reasons to make you glad you made the trip here.
The Beer— Very even and smooth, creamy, gold saison with just a touch of fruit that leads to tangerine, soft malt and a yeasty late bitter. Chalky, creamy with some metal and a combination of accessible flavors that make it, astonishingly moreish. Late pepper adds balance. DuPont’s saison is cleaner, but this is a masterful interpretation of the style.
Value — Very good. $4.50 for about 10 ounces of excellent beer.
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.”