Abjuration Brewing is a wonderful microbrewery located in McKees Rocks Pennsylvania that shares its space with The Parkway Theater, a small independent theater. This brewery has a strong scientific theme. As can be seen in the image above, the beer is served in beakers and the tables feel like they are right out of a chemistry lab. The theme continues into the open source philosophy that the brewery holds itself to. All of the recipes for the beers are available on their website www.abjurationbrewing.com. (I’ve included the letter designations and the version numbers in the article for those who are interested.) Another striking feature of this brewery comes from the name. The owners chose the word abjure, which means to reject an idea, to signify that they rejected certain tried and true practices of brewing, specifically, the practice of having typical every day and flagship beer models. Instead, this brewery has chosen to constantly innovate and push the envelope when it comes to their offerings.
KevMal and I visited this brewery and were able to try six of their beers, which revealed several highlights. The first stand out from the group is the Cashew Quad(CQ v1.1). This is a Belgian Quad that, true to its name, has cashews added to the mash. Big, bold, and thick, this drink will hit you with a powerful flavor right out of the gate. After the initial punch of spicy fruit tones the flavor slowly fades away to reveal a delightfully nutty aftertaste. With its thicker viscosity and sweeter taste, this brew goes down smooth, though with such rich flavors it is definitely best enjoyed as a slow sipper. If you can’t stand to wait to drink more of it, however, be warned: this punch of flavor is accompanied by an equally strong punch of alcohol. At 11.4% ABV this beer is closer to a wine in terms of alcohol content, so be careful if you have places to go afterward.
You may have noticed the next beer in the picture. You may notice others drinking it if you visit Abjuration Brewing Company. You may even notice if patrons leaving the establishment have had it as you step in. Why is that? Because the Blue Raspberry Double IPA(BRDIPA v1.1) is extremely hard to miss due to its distinctive blue-green color. Complete with all of the tongue-staining fun from childhood, this single hop Double IPA isn’t just an eye-catching drink, it’s also a fantastic one. While possibly too sweet for some, I found the taste to be nostalgic and delightful. The blue raspberry flavor is the first thing that hit my taste buds when I had this beer. What separates this from a slushie with vodka in it however, is the subtle undertones and after taste of resin and pine that pervades most IPAs. Rather than just be what is expected from an IPA, here the familiar taste serves to act as an anchor for the more exotic taste of the beer. True to their name, Abjuration has truly rejected the typical citrus flavors found in most IPAs and instead gone for something pleasantly unique. I would most recommend this on a warm summer night with a group of friends but that did not stop me from enjoying it on a crisp fall afternoon with fellow HopShockian KevMal.
Maybe it was the cold weather, or maybe the beer is just that good, but the final highlight from Abjuration (and my personal favorite out of all the beers that we tried there) is the Chai Milkshake Ale (CMA v1.0). This is a complex sipping beer that will leave you wanting more on a chilly fall day on the deck or a cold winter night by the fire. For the uninitiated, a craft beer with the term “milk/milkshake” in it generally means that the beer contains milk sugar (lactose). This holds true with the Chai Milkshake Ale as well, but the similarities to milkshakes do not end here with this brew as it seems to do with so many others. There are a lot of complex flavors involved with this beer, which is why I recommend taking one’s time to pick them all out. Keeping in step with the milkshake namesake, this beer features a large amount of vanilla beans included in the brewing process. The beer is also served on nitro for added milkshake like qualities such as enhanced creaminess, body, and whipped cream like head. While many other ingredients are added to flavor this beer, there are a few which really stuck out to me which I believe are what give this beer such a distinctive character. The first flavor to hit the senses, and further supporting the name of the beer, is the chai flavoring. Similar to any chai tea latte or milkshake you have had anywhere else, this brew provides the flavor in spades. More experienced craft beer drinkers will notice the lovely wheat undertones present. This is another important aspect to this beer because, as is more the trend with wheatier beers, there is a marked lack of bitterness in this drink. It is this decision to keep with the idea of a milkshake while staying within the realm of craft beer that really wowed me about this beverage. Another interesting part of the flavor profile to note is the role cinnamon plays in this drink. While it wasn’t obvious to me at first, part of the dryness in this beer is actually due to the cinnamon flavor. Some may remember the “Cinnamon Challenge”, famous for drying out people’s mouths to a dangerous degree causing them to inhale cinnamon powder. While the beer has nowhere near that level of raw cinnamon, it is an interesting sensation to have dance across the palate that is not typically found in most brews. TL;DR – This is a great beer and one I highly recommend trying as something different.
With these three distinctive beers, you may worry that Abjuration is just too “out there”. Fear not! There are several other choices that fall more in line with what the standard craft beer palate. With all of this said however, there are many reasons to visit Abjuration Brewing Company if you get the chance. Whether it’s to support two local small businesses, bask in the science themed atmosphere, or just try some really good craft beer, I can’t recommend Abjuration Brewing Company enough.