Erie Brewing Company - Railbender Ale
- ABV: 6.8%
- Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs): 26
- Serving Temperature: 48-53°F
- Suggested Glassware: Pint Glass or Mug
- Malts: 2-Row Pale, Caramel, Munich
- Hops: Nugget, Fuggles, Saaz
This brew is Erie's flagship product, and it won gold at the 2009 GABF in the Scottish Ale category after taking the bronze the previous year. Pouring a very pretty, rich, amber color, Railbender is clearly a malt-forward beer from the first sniff. Lightly bready caramel malt aromas come forth right away, with a significant toffee-like quality. Expect the hops to be soft, adding a bit of a leafy/woody quality with a touch of spice. Characteristic of Scottish-style ales, it's very malt-forward on the palate too, as significant sweetness makes itself known upfront. The malt is almost chewy, and we can't help but see some similarities with German bocks. Look for the aromas to come through here as well, bringing big caramelized, bready, toffee notes, while the English and Czech aroma hops deliver some woody, spicy notes to counter the malt. Though not what we would call boozy (unlike the Scottish Ale style's Wee Heavy big brothers), the alcohol still offers a bit of a spicy kick to help cut through the malt sweetness and add some balance. Try pairing with a roast Cornish Game Hen, German sausages, or Roast Pork. Cheers!
Erie Brewing Company got its start as Hoppers Brewpub inside Erie, PA's historic Union Station, an art deco-styled railroad station build in 1927. The brewpub, which was founded in 1993, produced a miniscule amount of beer in its first year—just over 1000 barrels—but that grew over the course of the next few years, more than doubling by 1996. In 1999, the company made the leap from brewpub to full-blooded microbrewery, and the enterprise left Union Station for a new production facility where they remain today. Production ramped up to 6000 barrels per year.
Through the first decade of this century, there were some ups and downs in terms of ownership and management changes, but despite this the company still managed to grow its production and distribution. Key to the success is current brewmaster, Shawn Strickland, who began working for the company around the time of its transition to their current facility (in fact, he helped move the equipment), and has been a guiding force for the brewery. His hard work paid off in 2009 with a gold medal win for Erie's flagship Railbender Ale at the GABF. 2010 saw a number of upgrades and additions to the brewing equipment, and then in 2012 the company welcomed a new management and ownership team led by Rob Lowther. Under the new management team, who is dedicated to improving and expanding distribution relationships and opportunities, and with the recent brewery upgrades, Erie is poised to become established as a sizeable regional brewer over the next few years.
If you live nearby or are traveling through the area, pop in to their tasting room (which is open Weds-Sat) to sample their brews or fill up a growler to take home and enjoy later. To learn more, visit them at www.eriebrewingco.com or call 814-459-7741.
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