If you know me, you know I hate intentional bar hops. I think the idea of deciding to stay at a bar for one drink and then leaving for no reason, even if you’re perfectly happy and maybe have a nice seat by the window, is silly. Organic bar hopping, on the other hand, is OK in my book — and no, I don’t mean going to bars that serve organic beer or anything. (Do those exist?) What I mean is going to get a drink and then feeling satisfied, and then leaving — but then passing by somewhere you like and deciding to go in because you really love it there and they have great beer, too.
That is precisely what I did last weekend. After attending the Brauhaus Schmitz Oktoberfest on South Street Sept. 20, my boyfriend and I decided to walk back to University City. After wandering around a bit, our route ended up bringing us past a place we had always wanted to try: McGillin’s Olde Ale House. It was quite crowded for a Saturday afternoon, but this coincided perfectly with what we had heard about it. It’s popular and for good reason.
They have a terrific beer list and happened to have one of my favorite fall beers on tap: Yards Pynk. Like Oktoberfest brews and pumpkin beers that only arrive when the leaves start to fall, this berry ale is only available August through October. Moving through taps like an ethereal autumn breeze, Pynk is a delicious reminder that all seasons must change and all kegs must be tapped. Pynk is precious because it is only available for a limited time. Much like life, it is special precisely because it does not last forever.
Though this brew originally popped up in 2001, Yards Brewing Co. only recently reintroduced it, in 2013. A tart berry ale made with sweet and sour cherries and raspberries (3,000 pounds in each batch!), it is unlike any other fruit beer you will drink. This is no cider. This isn’t a spritzer. It isn’t beer for people who don’t like beer, or beer for wine drinkers. (Psst: I hate wine. That’s how you know I’m spitting straight truth.) It is also unlike Belgian kriek lambics you may have tasted, which, when sugar is added, taste like a Shirley Temple and look just as cherry-red.
Although it is light and tart in taste, Pynk has all the flavor complexity of a true craft beer. The initial notes are definitely fruity — raspberry more so than cherry, at first — but it is not nearly as sweet as you’d imagine (or fear). Next come some surprisingly malty notes, all before a dry, tart cherry finish. The drink as whole is very carbonated which, combined with its flavoring, makes it very refreshing. Yards likes to call it “effervescent” but personally, I’d save that label for a truly sparkling drink.
The brew doesn’t have much head retention or lacing, but why should it? It’s meant to be the perfect companion to what the fashion world likes to call “pre-fall”: the in-between season where you can feel a crackle in the air and underfoot but aren’t quite ready to hunker down by the fire with a sturdy stout.
Of course, Pynk has another reason to be ideal for this season. The color of the brew is a deep pink (the head itself being of a pastel variety) which corresponds with Breast Cancer Awareness month in October. In fact, Yards Brewery donates $1 from every case sold to breast cancer research and awareness. This year these proceeds go to The Tyanna Foundation, a volunteer organization started by five sisters in honor of their mother, Tyanna, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 1990.
If you’re interested in trying Pynk, visiting Yards Brewery or helping out The Tyanna Foundation, head to Yards’ Second Annual Pynk Affair Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m. Cough up $10 at the door and you’ll get a pint of Pynk and a scoop of Pynk ice cream, made with the namesake ale by Little Baby’s Ice Cream. Little Baby’s Weezer cover band, Freezer, and Say It Ain’t Froyo will provide some live tunes and all proceeds from the event benefit The Tyanna Foundation.
As for the rest of my “organic” bar hop? Well, we visited Good Dog Bar and Nodding Head Brewery to enjoy a few more fall favorites, including some delicious pumpkin beers — but that is a story for another time!
ABV: 5.5 percent
12 oz. or draft