Philadelphia's Yards Brewing Company was founded by two college buddies in 1994, and in 2003, they teamed up with the historic City Tavern to create three beers based on the original recipes of America's founding beer nerds George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin called the Ales of the Revolution.
Perfect for a patriotic weekend, we picked up the full line (plus a couple of Yards standards) last time we were in the city of brotherly love and sampled them with Mr. Franklin's famous quote in the back of our minds: "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
Even though Yards' Saison isn't part of the Ales of the Revolution, we'll pretend it is for these purposes. Think no malls or movie theaters and more farm country. In a completely over-simplified way, this was America at the time of the Revolution. So there would have been no better way to fend off a redcoat with a refreshing farmhouse style saison. Especially a saison that's giving off pleasant candy, clove, and ginger aromas from a hazy golden orange filled glass. With hints of red fruit alongside mild caramel maltiness, and a finishing hint of alcohol, it's light and refreshing. A beer for a sunny summer day in either 1776 or 2011.
The Brawler has a nice chestnut color. The head is small and dissipates rather quickly. This beer has a very malty aroma to it, with some great toasty notes that urged us to tip the ol' elbow ASAP. Flavor alert! The Brawler is full of it, giving off elements of toasted nuts, bready and malty notes, and mild hints of hops balancing it all out. Yummy stuff.
The George Washington Porter is a deep, dark brown with ruby highlights and a creamy one-inch head that sticks around till the last sip. Upon smelling this beer, we notice some sweet aromas right up front, reminiscent of molasses and dark brown sugar, followed by dried cherry notes. The flavor on this porter is darkly sweet as well, with hints of bittersweet chocolate, dark fruits, and roasted barley. A very well-balanced and drinkable porter, but be wary - you'd never guess it was 7% ABV!
The Thomas Jefferson is a beautiful orange-amber color with a small head that lingers faintly atop the surface. We notice an aroma of sweet caramel, toasted cinnamon bread, and a healthy dose of fruity and herbal hops. On the tongue we were blessed with sweet simplicity: a flavor of caramel and toasted grain, balanced by the snap of the alcohol, hints of vanilla and toffee, and moderate hop presence. A beer with a great, full body and plenty of taste - just don't try take ours away or you might have a revolt on your hands.
The Spruce is a light brown beer, with a small bubbly head that fizzles away in a hurry. A sweet and malty bouquet wafts out of the top of the glass, with piney notes that are hard to miss. The spruce also makes its presence known to the tongue, and is a bit bitter, but a base of dark molasses balances this beer rather nicely and the bitter flavors at the start fade quickly into sweetness. This ale feels great in the mouth with a healthy body, and goes down smooth. The flavors in this beer may be unusual, but we're always happy to find brews which explore new (or old) territory.