The Stockings Hung, The Bottles Open

Stegmaier IPA: The Lion Brewery Inc.: IPA

There is no more exhausting or satisfying day than Christmas Eve, with the combination of shuffling last minute, handing out pint glasses to family friends, sampling my friend the Petrillo’s Italian seven fishes (give or take a few) feast, and that curing that lingering hangover from talking politics with Fuzz till 3 the previous morning. The hangover is not necessarily a tradition, but it is always important to sprinkle newness into the time-sanctioned activities of the season.

This brings me to today’s beer, courtesy of my brother Dave. We are up at his house doing some last minute wrapping chaos, A Christmas Story playing silently in the background. I deliberately avoid the surefire hangover inducing punch, opting instead for a new spin on an olde reliable: Stegmaier IPA.

Understand that Stegie was one of those beers that, when I first considered this blog, I knew I wanted to write about. It was their porter, however, that was of importance. But here I am face-to-face with an India Pale Ale, something unfathomable from this brewery with I first tasted their premium brew. Remember, the Stegmaier is a local offering, a laudatory holdout all those years against the uniform wash of Bud and Miller. It was always typically priced the way beer should be priced (cheap) and came the way beer should be packaged (16oz returnables). Stegie was one of the a handful of beers that honorably met the needs of blue-collar Pennsylvania, whether you worked in steel, coal, or somewhere in between.

And now, a Stegie IPA, which, in many circles, is the height of (current) beer connoisseurship. Are the light guys from Wilkes-Barre up to the task? Maybe because I am not expecting big things, I surprised and pleased by this package. A nice balance of pine and floral tones, nothing too strong on either side. Drinks easy, since it avoids any overwhelming reach. In other words, solid flavor while keeping within Stegie’s mode of unpretensiousness. I can’t comment on the price point, since I am stealing this from my brother’s fridge, but everything here squares this beer with being a blue-collar IPA from the middle of the state.

Merry Christmas.

Rating: 68%

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