Shamokin PA
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Rock God Brewing: Rock out with your hops out


If I could have a superpower, it would be time travel. Karol says if I ever journey to the future, I’d better return with a copy of The Wall Street Journal. But if I had my druthers, I’d go back in time.

So imagine my surprise when I enter Rock God, Danville’s newest brewery. Just like my dream of time traveling to a smoky 1960’s LA or San Francisco nightclub, images of Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin — faces on a painting paying tribute to a dozen deceased rock gods — greet me. My journey has begun.

Owners Ben Yagle and Gary Ernest greet me, and, over a glass of brown ale, tell the story of Rock God Brewing.

Ben and Gary were high school friends who reunited by happenstance and began homebrewing together. One of the things they had in common was a mutual dislike of their jobs. Fueled by praise from his beer-loving friends and the availability of a vacant, family-owned building, Ben decided to take the plunge. He asked Gary if he was stupid enough to join him in a business venture — turning their hobby into a profession. Gary replied, “I was,” and a brewery was born.

They named their brewery Rock God, after their love of music, and set about creating something completely different. Gary adds, “Not the stereotypic, rustic wood place you see everywhere else.”

As they’d assumed, even the lowest remodeling estimate for the building was astronomical. So they rolled up their sleeves and did almost all the work themselves, toiling in the evening after their full-time gigs for nearly three years. It delayed the opening until Good Friday this year.

Fittingly, the beers are named after songs. Sometimes a style and tune simply mesh — Mr. Brownstone for brown ale, for example. Other times, a random song playing during a brew session is a serendipitous fit.

Ben and Gary prefer to brew the kinds of beer they like to drink. Their modus operandi is to take a regular style and add a personal twist to it — perhaps a specialty grain, fruit or barrel aging.

I ask to see the brewery, and on the way they lead me past barrels of Bohemian Rhapsody, a golden strong ale and Russian Imperial Stout. Rhapsody will be on tap shortly. The stout will need a few more months.

Their nano brewery is small, but efficient — an all-in-one system that requires a single brewing vessel. By piggy-backing batches, they can fill their three-barrel fermenter in a brewing session. There are plans for expansion — a bigger brewing system and more taps. Currently, Rock God has six, but there’s space to accommodate up to 18.

The brewery is open on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Wednesday is vinyl night. They don’t serve food, but there’s usually a food truck available. Facebook seems to be the best way to check the cuisine du jour. Enjoy the selections and savor the outstanding brews that await in your future travels. Cheers!

In the wake of the IPA boom, pale ales have become a forgotten style. Hopefully, brews like Whiter Shade of Pale will lead a revival. It pours light amber, with a thin white head. Aromas of citrus and pine form a medley with notes of spicy Belgian yeast. Whiter Shade’s ample malt backbone supplies a harmonious counterpoint to a blend of Chinook, Centennial and Cascade hops. It finishes crisp and smooth. This was one of the favorites of my tasting session. One sip and you’ll be turning cartwheels ‘cross the floor.

Named after the Foo Fighters classic, Everlong IPA is Rock God’s best seller and flagship brew. The brewery kicked three kegs during its first week of business. The pour is pale straw and somewhat cloudy, perhaps owing to hop oil haze. Aromas of fruity and citrusy hops greet me. Its flavors are all about hops as well — citrus, pineapple and mango from generous additions of Mosaic and Amarillo hops. A long lasting, but soft bitterness quenches and satisfies the palate at the finish. With its cavalcade of hop flavors and aromas, Everlong is the perfect candidate for a takeout mini-growler.

Our current spell of cooler weather gets me in the mood for heartier ales, like Brown Eyed Girl—a non-barrel version of Mr. Brownstone. Its comforting mahogany color is a metaphor for the fall harvest. The aromas are predominately malt and caramel, with a smidge of hops in the background. A medium mouthfeel forms a prelude to flavors of malt, sweet toffee and a hint of chocolate. Again, there’s just enough hop presence for balance. It’s a malty masterpiece—the perfect companion for enjoying a Penn State game on Rock God’s big screen or while watching an NFL bout at home.

If you need an easy-drinking friend, About A Girl Belgian Blonde is a perfect fit. Cloudy and the color of honey, it sports a thin beige head. Aromas of malt meld with earthy yeast. The body is light, with flavors of grainy malt sweetness that segue to notes of bubblegum, banana and spice. It finishes remarkably dry for a malt-forward ale. At only 5.5 percent alcohol, you can have a big glass and drink a toast to Mr. Cobain — a rock god who departed far too soon.

(The Brew Dude is published monthly on the Food and Drink Page. For comments, suggestions, or questions, email Mark Pasquinelli at thebrewdude@newsitem.com.)