On August 11th and 12th of 2017, The Woodlands mansion and cemetery on the Schuylkill River banks in Philadelphia became the Beer Mansion, one of only eight worldwide stops on the Brooklyn Brewery Mash tour.
I know, beer festival at a cemetery? Usually the two wouldn’t go together, but Brooklyn Brewery chose the absolutely perfect location.
Partnering with other craft darlings like Evil Genius, Saint Benjamin, Free Will, Levante and Kurant Cider, Brooklyn Brewery delivers a truly out-of-the-ordinary beer festival experience.
Walking past the front antique gates of the cemetery, we are greeted by smiling staff decked out in Brooklyn Brewery gear. I sign in, receiving a can of Brooklyn Lager for the trip to the main festival.
Placards guide me through the cemetery, for what turns out to be a wonderful stroll, beer in hand, weather warm, not too hot. Even though it rained later in the evening – it certainly didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits.
Walking up to the second welcome tent, I receive an absolutely gorgeous tasting glass. No plastic cups here, this is all class.
With a large sign pointing me to the various zones, Tart of the Tropics with fruity and light weisses, sours, pilsners, or The Darkness, with rich and heavy porters, browns and stouts, The Stoop with lawn games and session beers, I beelined for the closest zone, The Forest, with it’s hoppy and outdoorsy selections.
I started with what ended up being my favorite beer of the night, the Brooklyn Brewery Defender IPA, originally brewed as the official beer of New York Comic Con. This is an absolutely spectacular blend of amber and pale ale. Easy to drink, and not very bitter.
“The Defender is constantly vigilant, standing guard over all those who dare to create, to dream, and to drink great beer. This bright, juicy IPA takes on a reddish twist and features bold, fruity hop bitterness and an intensely resinous nose, leading the way into a dry finish that blazes the trail for your next sip.” -Brooklyn Brewery
Unlike your traditional beer festival, this was a smaller, more intimate affair. No wildly long lines, just happy craft beer drinkers.
As I made my way to the next area, I made sure to stop by the Garden of Eatin‘ Chip Wall and grab a bag of each for after the event.
I made my way to the mansion proper, and with the first room I entered I came across a spectacular scallop dish by Brooklyn Brewery’s executive chef, Andrew Gerson, utilizing, of all things, spin art machines.
They had a few spin art machines available for us to use, making our own coasters. Spin art is something that really is surprisingly satisfying, watching as the revolving coaster fills up with color. Something so simple, a callback to many of our childhoods, made a great addition to the room.
Over in Tart of the Tropics, Mclure’s pickles had a Bloody Mary bar along with pickle samples across from another great stable of craft beer. The pickles were fantastic, especially the spicy ones (making a note to pick them up if I happen to be at Whole Foods).
Rather than start mixing liquor and beer, I headed across to the beer, naturally. There I tried the Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn Pilsner and Saint Benjamin Brewing Bayside Farmhouse-Style Ale, among other brews.
Though both were great, the Brooklyn Pilsner was the standout for me. Incredibly crisp, clean and refreshing. A perfect beer for your next backyard party, sure to please everyone.
“Brooklyn Pilsner is a refreshing golden lager beer, brewed in the style favored by New York’s pre-prohibition brewers.” -Brooklyn Brewery
On my way through I made sure to stop at Anatomy of a Beer, the section of the mansion devoted to delving into the senses of beer perception, inspired by Brooklyn Brewery’s approach to brewing.
Here, interactive displays have items dealing with four of our five senses, with sight, smell, sound and taste. Yes, sound. Modern research shows us that sound frequencies can impact our sense of taste. Mansion-goers could experiment with various frequencies of sound to see whether it affects the taste of their beer.
As I stepped out of the mansion and it’s rooms of interest, I headed back into The Forest. There were more I wanted to try. One last standout was Evil Genius Beer Company Gwyneth Paltrow’s Head Was In the Box.
“Our blood-orange infused 7% New England-style IPA. Brewed with barley, spelt, and oats. Hopped intensely with Simcoe, Amarillo, & Mosaic. Conditioned on over 100 pounds of house zested and juiced Blood Oranges.” -Evil Genius Beer Company
As the night wound on it began to rain, but no one was deterred.
Many simply headed to The Stoop and The Eatery, adjacent zones where you could find food trucks, a large covered tent for eating, more beer (of course), live music, lawn games, and even a shared art installation, allowing any home Picasso to take a stab at adding some personality to the piece.
On my way back towards the front of the grounds, I stopped into the last room I had yet to visit, The Darkness. Dimmed lights, a few video game consoles with players tapping away, I’m glad I hit the room at a lull with fewer drinkers, it could pack up quickly.
Although the room’s decor left a bit to be desired (just turning down the lights didn’t seem like enough, as well as being a bit too on the nose), the selection of Stouts and Porters was certainly the most interesting feature, as well as a coffee bar for those shaking off their buzz.
Not being a huge fan of dark beer, I asked for their recommendation and was pleasantly surprised by the Levante Brewing Company Bulitt Train Imperial Vanilla Stout. A rich and thick, creamy and bittersweet vanilla that definitely grew on me as it warmed in my hands.
This was a festival that will definitely last in my memory. Thank you to everyone at Brooklyn Brewery, as well as all their wonderful partners, Evil Genius, St. Benjamin, Free Will, Levante and Kurant Cider, among others.
Can’t wait for the end of the month and the Fonthill Castle Beer Festival. Looking forward to another beer festival in a historic setting.
As far as 2018 is concerned, I’ll be sure to attend the Beer Mansion again!