It Was A Dark and Stormy Day/Beer: Iron Hill West Chester Octagon

No, I am not going to plagiarize Snoopy’s opening line in my title (It was a dark and stormy night), but I will employ it as inspiration. All writers beg, borrow, and steal, others work.  Attribution, my reader, attribution.

Last Saturday in Eastern Pennsylvania, we slid back into some winter-like weather. It felt like late November or early December. It was cold, drizzly, dark, in the college town of West Chester. My buddy was holed up in a music shop testing out amps for his Bass, our wives were pumping money into the local economy through clothe purchasing, and I jumped around from shop-to-shop.

I bought some great smoked Gouda cheese at a gourmet food shop, toured several other establishments, but spent most of my time reading a book about beer in a discount book store. I felt guilty doing so, thus I bought a book by Garry Wills called “Head and Heart, American Christianites.” Originally, the price for the book hot off the press was $ 29.95…I purchased it for $ 3.98. The book about beer was interesting but hardly a deep read. The Wills had cooled off considerably since being taken out of the publisher’s oven. Like day old bread.

After my musician buddy had exhausted his musical muse, we connected out on the streets of West Chester. I was heading back to the music store and he was heading out. We decided to walk over to Iron Hill Brewery to sample the local drafts. Iron Hill permits its brewmasters some flexibility in styles beyond the Iron Hill standards. That consistency combined with creativity is a great balance. Don’t know why Raspberry Wheat is always on tap, though. Must be for the girlies and girly men. I don’t like fruit flavors in beer as a rule unless it is sour cherries in Belgian. If you want fruitiness, drink some sangria. The West Chester Iron Hill is right in the middle of town, unlike the Iron Hill in Lancaster that sits across from Franklin and Marshall College but not much else except a street of shops. Thus, the West Chester Iron Hill has more of a village pub feel rather than a strip mall.

I decided upon the Octagon. Picture above.

Octagon

OG: 1.105   Color: 14   IBU: 50   Alc by Vol: 9.9%

“Belgian Quadrupel. Rich, dark, malty and very complex. Belgian Abbey yeast, dark candi sugar and a huge assortment of specialty malts create layers of complex fruity aromas and a warming finish.” The chalk board at Iron Hill must have had the ABV wrong. It listed it as 14%. The website shows it to be different. I was going to draw and analogy between the firepower of the Octagon and the Pentagon. At 14%, the Octagon would be nuclear in power. Coming in at under 10% still makes it a formidable brew, yet not mushroom cloud in a glass. It was the perfect beer for a dreary day, warmed me bones and lifted the spirits. My buddy and I had some good guy time before our wives arrived. West Chester is a great town with a lot of cool amenities without kicking off a touristy vibe of  “give us your money and get the hell out.” Towns that turn too touristy and commercial, lose their souls. They become human zoos with cage like stores, designed to get visitors to feed the natives. A town should be able to stand on its own two feet without being fed by outsiders. Such sufficiency creates a spirit of life hard to duplicate when visitor dollars prop up the economy. Iron Hill for all its franchise savvy business sense and money making power (and it rakes in boatloads of dollars with its model), still has a heart. The I.H. plan is very head-like…strategic and extremely well-executed. The heart makes it a place where one wants to return over and over again. It is a friendly upbeat establishment no matter which one you happen to go to. I.H. has it down to a well-written book. More power to them…in a field of copycats who plagiarize others work, Iron Hill Brewery is an original.

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