Beer O’the Moment – Ellicottville Pantius Droppus
I first tried Ellicottville Brewing’s Pantius Droppus at the CNY Brewfest in 2006. It might have been 2005 or 2007, strangely hard to keep things straight at CNY Brewfest. And though I didn’t remember much about any specifics, I do remember that I thought it was very interesting, very good, and very strong.
Flash-forward to December of 2008, dateline: Orchard Park, NY. Bills. Patriots. Parking lot. 40-some degrees with a windchill of zero Kelvin.
To say I’ve never been that cold is probably an exaggeration, but it’s close. Javen, The VP and I took turns getting out of the car for 45 seconds, then jumping back in the vehicle after a finger would freeze and snap off.
The wind was angry that day my friends, and it was hard to even have a beer before the game, because the coldness of each bottle was threatening to further freeze our already chilly innards. As a last gasp, Javen suggested we crack open the Pantius Droppus.
I’ve never been rescued in the dead of winter by a St. Bernard with a small barrel of brandy tied around it’s neck, but this must be what it felt like. It warmed the mouth, the esophagus and the belly. Imagine a Pepto Bismol commercial: that’s how it felt on the way down. It was a damn lifesaver.
I had occasion to get buy another bottle of this delightful beverage recently (fine, another four bottles) and I found that it not only lived up to my sentimental memory of it, but was even better.
The pour is pretty standard: it’s a cloudy, hazy, copper/orange color. I was hoping for a slightly taller head, but that may have been a poor pour by yours truly. There is a nice, frosty lace that sticks to the glass. It’s cloudy and dense.
The smell is complex and strong. The malts are deep, dark and stingy; smoldering like a burnt brandy, but also sour like it should be served with whiskey at a wedding. On top of this, bready pale malts add another layer. The hops are citrus and orange, a flowery perfume. My beak wouldn’t mind hovering over this beer for quite a while. But it’s time to get this good stuff in me, and fast!
The first sip is pure sour mash malts, puckery and strong. The hops kick in immediately after, and they are of a bittersweet, citrusy nature. More rich, sweet and dark malts follow, providing a needed balance. It’s a pale ale with an intense puckery quality that is truly unique. Combine this with a heavy, milky feel and you have a Big Beer that is a good long-sipper.
I am by nature averse to hyperbole, but I have to say that this is one of the best beers I have ever had. Definitely one of the best I’ve had in the last few months; that first one was not a fluke. And at about $7 a bottle, you will almost feel guilty buying it.