Multiple Beer Reviews: Brambleberry, Blueberry Yum Yum, Dutchboi, Bourbon Chocolate Stout (Iron Hill Brewing, Hershey)

Multiple Beer Reviews: Brambleberry, Blueberry Yum Yum, Dutchboi, Bourbon Chocolate Stout (Iron Hill Brewing, Hershey)

Flight and a chicken sandwich at Iron Hill Brewery (in Hershey, Pennsylvania) (left to right: Brambleberry, Blueberry Yum Yum, Dutchboi, and Bourbon Chocolate Stout)

Out of work and waiting for my car to be fixed (dropping 515$ on new brakes, lines, etc), what to do… what to do…. Oh I know… go enjoy some great food and a flight of beers, because…. why not?

So thats exactly what I did. I found myself with two hours to kill, a good book in my hand, and an appetite for both food and beer. And in the Hershey area there is a lot of options to pick from while waiting out a car repair. Seeing as how its been a while since I had been in Iron Hill (other than picking up their release of the Black is Beautiful beer) I decided to stop in and try out a flight, since I was sure there’d be new beers I haven’t tried yet. And luckily there was. One of which was one I had been waiting to try – Dutchboi.

Firstly, as I’ve said many on times here on the blog, I am by no means a foodie, but I still would like to take the time to mention the food. It was extremely delicious. Out of all the things, at least with the COVID restrictions of requiring me to ‘have’ to buy food with my beer, at least its making me / letting me try some delicious foods at places like Iron Hill, or Troegs, or The Englewood, etc; where otherwise I would be just ordering my beers and skipping on the food entirely.

But, let me say, this chicken sandwich (and the fries) were absolutely delicious. Half of it filled me up, and I saved the other half for another night. Wonderful beer that went really well with my beers….

Which is why your here, so lets get to it and discuss my flight of beers!

Brambleberry by Iron Hill (Hershey)

Beer: Brambleberry
Brewery: Iron Hill (Hershey)
Style: Farmhouse Ale – Other
ABV: 4.6%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (Blank)

Well, not a whole lot to go on with this, no description, the notes on the menu said it was a “farmhouse saison, slightly funky, slightly tart, but full of flavor”. And that was about it. So…. quick spoiler – this was sadly my least favorite of the flight. I was hoping for a berry flavored saison, but didn’t quite get that. This is what Wikipedia has to say about brambleberry (under the page heading of ‘Bramble’): “A bramble is any rough, tangled, prickly shrub, usually in the genus Rubus, which grows blackberries, raspberries, or dewberries.[1] “Bramble” is also used to describe other prickly shrubs such as roses (Rosa species).[1] Bramble or brambleberry sometimes refers to the blackberry fruit or products of its fruit, such as bramble jelly.[2]

In British English, bramble usually refers to the common blackberry, Rubus fruticosus. R. fruticosus grows abundantly in all parts of the British Isles and harvesting the fruits in late summer and autumn is often considered a favourite pastime. An especially hardy plant, bramble bushes can also become a nuisance in gardens, sending down strong suckering roots amongst hedges and shrubs and being particularly resilient against pruning. Many consider R. fruticosus a weed due its tendency to grow in neglected areas and its sharp, tough thorns which can be hazardous to children and pets.[3]” (Source: Bramble.)

This doesn’t seem to fit that mold too much. Color is what you typically see in a saison or tart sour. But not a fruited sour or anything like that. No black coloring or anything to resemble a blackberry; this looks exactly like your typical farmhouse or farmhouse ale or saison. Wheaty, light golden to yellow color. Small amount of head to it, but with a taster that’s nothing to truly discuss because by the time of pour and its brought over and with the smaller pour size, heads and foam can be definitively off from what would be a normal pour.

Smell has that farmhouse yeast smell, that tart, funky, ‘off’ to some people, ‘on’ to other people smell. It has a crisp nose to it that you can pick up on immediately. Not a whole lot else to say on the smell, there’s no berry, no fruit odors, just the wheat and yeast smell.

Taste is…. well… its crisp. It is smooth. But it has kind of a bite to it. A funky, weird, tart but not the normal farmhouse or saison tart, kind of an off tartness to it. Like a bad berry tart funkyness, but not fully that bad or off. Like some blueberry beers where it gets the funky blueberry rather than the fruity – tart blueberry, but not quite to that full level. It has a definitive lingering taste to this that isn’t pleasant but isn’t completely unpleasant, more or less just kind of ‘ugh’. Nothing is completely horrible about it, but nothing is completely great about it and bordering past the ‘good’ into a category of just ‘do not like’ due to the aftertaste and all around weird funkyness / tartness to it. I wouldn’t say its a bad beer or a poorly made one, but just off, and not my cup of tea or style so to speak. I do love Farmhouse Ales and Saisons though, so this was a bit disappointing because of that.

My Untappd Rating: ***
Global Untappd Rating: 3.69 (as of 8.25.20)

Blueberry Yum Yum by Iron Hill

(A Different picture than the above, apparently I only took the flight picture for the first two drinks)

Beer: Blueberry Yum Yum
Brewery: Iron Hill (Hershey)
Style: Sour – Fruited
ABV: 6.3%
IBU: 5
Untappd Description: This kettle sour uses blueberries, graham cracker pie crust, vanilla beans, and lactose to trick your taste buds into thinking you’re drinking a fresh pint of blueberry cobbler.

This was much better. Much, much, much better. Definitely enjoyed this one.

Color is spot on for a fruited sour, especially any heavy in one of the major berries (blueberry, raspberry, blackberry). It has that purplish beautiful glow, incandescent one might say. Light foamy head, nice bubbles, pop, almost like a champagne type pop to it.

The nose is wonderful, tart, blueberry, fruited sour smell. You know exactly what you are getting with this. A great finishing flourish of vanilla, some bread crumb, and a hint of something more, something earthy – ish, something more than just the fruit and vanilla but not bread. Hard to pinpoint on that, but it detracts nothing from the aroma or the beer.

This starts off fully vanilla and blueberry then tapers off into blueberry only real quick. It has the very heavy fruited sour vibes to it, which is perfect and just what I wanted out of this, especially after appearance and smell. The vanilla fades away quickly, and leaves you with the tart but not too overly funky blueberry, which is where this really shines through. Full blueberry flavor with just the hint of bread crumbs and vanilla at the end. If you like bright, full, tasty blueberry tartness, then this is exactly what you are looking for it. Not really funky, not the over ripe blueberry, but the ‘just right’ ‘ just ripe’ blueberry tartness that really brings out that wonderful flavor – that I know personally, I love, not sure about everyone else, but I prefer the ‘tart’ blueberry over the ‘funky’ blueberry. From talking to a lot of people, that seems to be the preferred, but I’m sure there’s some who enjoy the more ‘funky’ blueberry tastes than the ‘tart’ blueberry tastes. To each their own. But I certainly loved this brew and would highly recommend it to any sour or tart lovers.

My Untappd Rating: ****
Global Untappd Rating: 3.63 (as of 8.25.20)

Dutchboi by Iron Hill (Hershey)

Beer: Dutchboi
Brewery: Iron Hill (Hershey)
Style: Stout – Other
ABV: 7.5%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: One off cask aged stout. Cinnamon, vanilla, serano pepper

This was the one I was most looking forward to with my flight. I had seen the Facebook and Instagram posts with the whoopie pies being mashed in, so I was certainly intrigued. My Pennsy Dutch side of me was all kinds of intrigued.

Color is the stout maxim; dark, black, cold, like my soul and heart (ask around, they’ll tell you). Or, as my personal saying is – “black like Razor Ramon’s hair”. Take that as you will, and depending on your level of interest in Scott Hall or wrestling you’ll understand it. But, this looks like any other stout really. Black, light foam head, in a taster glass, could almost be beer or coffee or motor oil, who knows. (These are all just jokes and not knocks on the beer or stouts; they just don’t typically have too much variance in color.)

Aroma kicks things off and separates this from other stouts. Definite notes of ‘whoopie pie’ on this. Vanilla, cinnamon, bready, with hints of the oak cask system used. I didn’t really pick up any pepper. Once again, going back to Wikipedia, this is said about the serrano pepper: “The serrano pepper (Capsicum annuum) is a type of chili pepper that originated in the mountainous regions of the Mexican states of Puebla and Hidalgo.[1] The name of the pepper is a reference to the mountains (sierras) of these regions.[1]” (Source: Serrano Pepper) I didn’t really pick up any hint of heat or pepper or anything (either smell or taste, which we’ll get to in just a bit).

Taste is delicious on this. Its got all that dark heavy stout flavoring you love (if you love stouts) but its not too heavy and high ABV like some stouts (eyes up Weyerbacher). At 7.5% its in the same tier and level as Perpetual IPA by Troegs Brewing (7.9%). So this isn’t going to be killing you but will be leaving a good buzz (on a full pour). The oak cask comes off with this nice, lending it some darker notes, but it also has a slight airy, fluffy, creamyness perhaps the ‘whoopie pie’ part of it. There is a bit of the creamy vanilla that makes this smoother, but there is some bite, perhaps thats the pepper but I attributed it to the cinnamon. I don’t think any one flavor is overly powerful and overrides the other, more of a nice gentle blending that leaves this a very good and tasty stout. This would probably be better as a bottle, than a taster or even a can or crowler, with a good pour into a glass. But I certainly still enjoyed it.

My Untappd Rating: ***.75
Global Untappd Rating: 3.9 (as of 8.25.20)

Bourbon Chocolate Stout (Iron Hill)

This brings us to the final beer of the flight, and as it turns out, my favorite of the flight. (Perhaps a surprise, perhaps not a surprise. I was anticipating liking either the Dutchboi or the Blueberry Yum Yum more, but I’m also a big fan of bourbon stouts and heavy stouts too…. so I guess this wasn’t really a surprise in hindsight.)

Beer: Bourbon Chocolate Stout
Brewery: Iron Hill (Hershey)
Style: Stout – Imperial / Double
ABV: 10%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: (Blank)

It is interesting, looking over the Untappd reviews for this, it seems to jump from people giving it 1 cap reviews to four or five cap reviews, and not a whole lot of wiggle room on their reviews. Either a hate it or love it beer I suppose. Personally, I enjoyed it. Perhaps its not for everyone, perhaps its the very heavy bourbon notes, or the bitterness, I’m not sure, but we’ll get to all that.

As always, this looks, acts, and more importantly… again… looks… just like a duck —- err, I mean, a stout. Dark, black, velvety, creamy possibly looking, slight foam head. Black as the night.

Aroma is strong bourbon, light chocolate. You get a definite nose of bourbon right out the gate, and then you get some of the chocolate, some bready earthy tones, and a bit of a dark, rich, bitter smell that is probably the chocolate coming back through.

Taste is where its going to jump on people. Strong, very heavy strong, initial bourbon bite and very alcoholic taste right out of the gate. Like drinking a strong Weyerbacher barrel aged stout, this jumps right in at you and grabs you. Some might say its too strong, or too bourbon, or too alcohol, but I definitely enjoyed it. I think it tapers off pretty steadily after that initial sip (perhaps its just me getting used to it, not sure), but it leads off into the bittering of the chocolate, like baker’s chocolate, and this might be off putting to some people too. This isn’t a creamy Hershey’s like chocolate, this is more of the baker’s chocolate, bitter, but with that still characteristic chocolate taste. The bourbon flavor I think blends nicely with that bitterness, but that could possibly be ‘too much’ for some people. It does clock in at 10% and you certainly taste and can feel it, so it does have a strong, over powering feel and effect as well. Certainly more of a sipper than a guzzle or quick drink. And at a full glass that would be the best approach, especially with its 10%.

My Untappd Rating: ****.25
Global Untappd Rating: 3.51 (as of 8.25.20)

My flight and food at Iron Hill Brewery in Hershey, PA.

Welp, that was my delicious flight and food. Got the car back, and just a mere 515$. The upcoming days should be interesting, on Thursday (8.27.20) will be my 35th birthday (officially old / half my lifetime / mid-life crisis / one foot in the grave / gaining speed down the hill) and me and my buddy will be heading out to West Reading / Wyomissing / Reading area to hit a few breweries. So look for that in a future post. You can read about it a bit here: “Visiting Reading.

Saturday I will be attending The Englewood’s beer release, they are finally having their own beers on tap, and will be checking that out. So be on the look out for a review of their beers (most likely in a multiple beer review like this). I was out there before on the day they opened, which you can read here: “A Taste of Englewood“.

You can read a past beer review of Scrooge IPA by Iron Hill if you are still in the mood to read about Iron Hill Brewery and their beers in Hershey PA.

As always, lots of good stuff coming here to the blog, so be sure to like, follow, subscribe, and do all that fun stuff so you can read all about whats going on!

Cheers and see ya all at some point soon!

-B. Kline

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