Pipe Organ Pale Ale
Brewery: Church Brew Works
It is an inarguable fact that the best thing to do during a long summer weekend is drink beer outside. There is a magical connection between cold beer and a hot day, one akin to baseball and hot dogs (or baseball and beer, for that matter).
But drinking in the great outdoors presents an important issue: What’s the best beer for the moment? With the recent phenomenon of pumpkin beers and their autumn compatriots rearing their heads in August, seasonality is officially null and void.
That being said, some beers lend themselves to hot weather better than others do. For instance, I enjoy Guinness Genuine Draught in all of its richness, but I wouldn’t call it the ideal brew to down while playing corn hole and wearing sunglasses.
But just because day drinking in the heat requires a certain delicate touch doesn’t mean that you have to resort to Natural Light or Bud Light Lime (as a side note: If you are going to buy Natty, save yourself some money and buy Pennsylvania Style at $8.99 for a 24 pack. It’s no worse and will go much further). So, on a quest for a solid beer for outdoor relaxation, I stumbled upon Pipe Organ Pale Ale from Pittsburgh’s own Church Brew Works.
Pipe Organ Pale Ale pours a deep shade of gold with an attractive, bubbly head that maxes out at two fingers thick, making it easy on both the eyes and the palate. The head, which dissipates quickly to become a thick, white foam, gives off a pleasing but not overpowering hop aroma that simply begs you to take another sniff — and then a sip, of course.
Speaking of that sip, Pipe Organ Pale tastes purely of the light hops that its aroma suggests. Usually, a hop-oriented beer needs a sweet, malty quality to balance it out and prevent it from being one-dimensional, but Church seems to have pulled off the impossible and made a one-note beer that actually works. The hops — East Kent Goldings — come through from beginning to end with just enough bitterness to be refreshing, leaving the tongue tingling and wanting more. Interestingly, the singular hop note of the beer adds to its refreshing nature, absent of a malt flavor that could have weighed it down and made it too heavy.
This is also a rare beer that is just as good in the bottle as it is in a glass. Usually, pouring beer into a glass enhances the beer’s flavor by adding air into the equation. That said, typical beers don’t have the same makeup as Pipe Organ Pale. Generally, other beers combine a larger variety of ingredients, adding more complex layers of flavor than this one has to offer. So grab a bottle and koozie, because this is a beer that will adapt to you, not the other way around.
As far as an overall grade for this beer goes, it gets a B. No more, no less. For a relaxation brew, it is ideal. However, for a sipping, thinking and critiquing brew, it falls a tiny bit short. It is important to remember that this beer is good, but not great.
To put it simply, it’s a straightforward, hot-weather beer — a solid pale ale with just enough bitterness to please a hop head without intimidating a novice. It’s no substitute for Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, but it will get the job done in any situation that you need it. For a day of relaxing outside with friends, food and Pitt football, it’s perfect.