By AML Publisher
Photos by Bernadette Uzcategui
If there was ‘such a thing’ in 2009 as a town crier, Wayne’s Matt Guyer would fit the bill. In Medieval England, town criers were the key means of news communication within the town because most locals could not read or write. In this modern day, that role is best played out by the dashingly good-looking Wayne native and beer aficionado.
The 38 year-old Guyer is in his twelfth year as owner of the Main Line’s most successful beer distributors, The Beer Yard. Trust me when I say it: when Guyer talks beer-everyone listens! The Beer Yard currently stocks 800-1100 different kinds of beer, considered the Delaware Valley’s best selection of ales bar none. I’ve worked with Matt on several beer articles to date in the last fifteen months. And, a holiday beer guide is now an annual tradition with yours truly and Guyer. This year we had a surprise guest contributor who lent his expertise. Joel Armato, an East Coast sales rep for Michigan’s New Holland Brewing Company, happened to be hanging at The Beer Yard for a company tasting last week when I stopped in for my scheduled fun.
So without further ado, Here Ye, Here Ye! Soak in our second annual AML guide to beers that will most certainly wow your guests this holiday season.
Cheers for a wonderful and safe holiday season!
AroundMainLine.com CEO & ePublisher
AroundMainLine.com Holiday Beer Guide 2009
1) Saison Vos, $72/case of 12
25.4 oz. corked and wired bottles
Sly Fox Brewery Company
A Belgian style Saison brewed with German Pils malt and hopped with East Kent Goldings, the Sly Fox’s year round semi-dry brew delivers a sleek, peppery flavor with a small amount of hops and a bit of citrus kick. Saison Vos is fermented with proprietary yeast which imparts its dry, peppery character. “It’s a very versatile beer when it comes to pairing this with food-cheeses, salads and poultry,” explained Guyer. Corked and wired, it is a great hostess gift for the season. Guyer pulled a three year bottle of Sly Fox’s Saison out of his basement, recently, and said it stood the test of time. Guyer suggested in order to appreciate the fresh fruitiness of the golden orange ale, the Saison should be served in a wider-mouth goblet to warm up the beer properly.
2) The Poet, $43/case
New Holland Brewing Company
New Holland, MI
Even though a beer is very dark, does not mean it is very heavy. So, the color of a beer is not an indication it has a higher level of alcohol. That is the first proclamation from Guyer in regards to New Holland’s ale The Poet which has 5.25% ABV (Alcohol By Volume). An oatmeal stout beer, it offers hints of chocolate and roast with a rich, smooth malt character. “This beer does not deliver a real, big thick body-but it is full flavored. The function of oatmeal in an oatmeal stout, when you are brewing with barley or grains in general, you have something call perceived bitterness. The oats soften up the roastiness here to play off that and balance the flavor well” explained Armato.
New Holland Brewing Company has fun with naming their beers after popular authors or well-known works of American literature. Besides The Poet, they also produce the well-known Mad Hatter and Ichabod Pumpkin Ale, among others. The founder of New Holland was an English major in college and carried that appreciation into his brewing career, explained Armato. “So, there is a successful English major making a living. That’s encouraging,” chided Guyer.
Available year round but most popular in the fall and winter months, The Poet was recognized as a silver medalist in the 2006 World Beer Cup in the Oatmeal Stout Beer Style Category. It also pairs very well with cheese, explained Armato. “This beer is good with chocolate but I think this pairs best with a double crème, high butter fat cheese.”Guyer added that a stout, like The Poet, also compliments seafood.
3) Winter Ale $38-$40/case
Stoudt’s Brewing Company
You may recognize the label since we featured Stoudt’s Winter Ale in our AroundMainLine.com 2008 Holiday Beer Guide-but this is a different beer. Guyer explained that every two years the Adamstown-based brewing company changes their recipe. “A lot of these beers are very fine served at room temperature. The colder you serve a beer, the fewer flavors you get out of it,” explained Guyer. This winter warmer is full bodied, balanced ale with a hint of hoppiness. Armato explained the pleasing amber color of this ale and hint of sweetness comes from the caramel added in the brewing process. “The hops and caramel really balance each other out here, which makes for a great beer. You might not think of this naturally as a food pairing but this kind of winter ale is perfect with a tomato base sauce. Think about it-tomato and basil paired up against sweetness, which is the caramel, and the herb or punch is the hops in this ale,” explained Armato.
Guyer suggested that this type of ale, which delivers a decent but not imposing level of hops, could be served with a spicy entrée, chili, as well as Indian, Asian or Mexican cuisine.
4) Christmas Ale $39/case
This 7.5% ABV ale is considered a winter warmer and with a deep mahogany tone has, according to Guyer, “a subtle booziness to it.” As this beer warms up, the flavor profile of caramel and chocolate becomes more apparent. Christmas beers traditionally have a lot of spices-like nutmeg and cloves. But, that’s not the direction Breckenridge took with this ale. “There are points of view with beers where tasting the alcohol is a good thing and sometimes depending on the beer tasting the alcohol is a bad thing. It really depends on the flavor profile and how the beer is brewed, temperature it is brewed at. For this winter warmer, it just has the right touch and balance,” explained Armato. Guyer recommends pairing Breckenridge’s Christmas Ale with beef or pork chops.
5) Belgian Freeze $40/case
River Horse Brewing Company
One of the owners of River Horse resides in Wayne so this Lambertville, New Jersey brewery has a cool Main Line connection. River Horse has been brewing fine craft ales and lagers along the banks of the Delaware River since April of 1996. Matt is a big fan of this brewery (and owners) calling River Horse one of his favorites.
A dubbel horse Belgian ale with an 8% ABV and deep amber color, Belgian Freeze should be served in a red wine goblet or snifter to allow for the full flavor profile to be appreciated, recommended Guyer. Expect the sweetness of a substantial amount of roasted caramel malts to shine on through when you sample this ale-and a hint of plum. “A lot of times a Belgian ale like this one from River Horse ages very well and can even be better after a year. You can’t say that about every beer but this is one of them you can hold onto and feel confident it will deliver after some shelf life,” explained Guyer. Armato suggested serving the Belgian Freeze with chili or beef.
6) QUAD $60/case
The Beer Yard’s website boasts “1,789 beers of 126 different beer types from 548 breweries located in 52 countries.” That is quite an inventory! So when Guyer selects Weyerbacher’s QUAD as one of his favorites in stock, it is high praise. “There is so much going on with QUAD. I can’t say enough about it. It is 11.8% so that’s very high in its alcohol content but it does not overwhelm you. I am very, very surprised about how subtle the alcohol is here to taste. It probably has something to do with how the beer is aged,” explained Guyer.
A Grand Champion in the 2000, and again in 2004 at United States Beer Tasting Championship, Weyerbacher QUAD was the first quadrupel style beer to be commercially brewed and bottled in the United States. Big and delicious, QUAD is an elegant dark ale available in November and December. Guyer said this pick is the ideal aperitif on the coldest, and coziest, winter nights. “This is when you are sitting by the fire, there are 6 inches of snow on the ground, you are done your meal, done your dessert and the kids are in bed. You grab a bottle of QUAD and put it in a brandy snifter and you are good to go. But, don’t build the dollhouse after a few of these on Christmas Eve, probably not a good idea.”
The Beeryard is located at 218 East Lancaster Avenue Wayne, PA behind the Wayne Starbucks. Visit beeryard.com for weekly updates about the inventory in stock. Call 610-688-3431 for or you can email Matt Guyer directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.