Febrewary: Winter Warmer Ale


Brewer: Lancaster Brewing Company
Location: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Type: Old Ale
ABV: 8.9%

Oh, denizens, don’t forget your booties, because it’s a cold one out there today!

It’s cold out there every day. Talk about the season of our discontent. It’s the perfect weather for staying indoors, wrapping up in blankets and leopard-print slippers, and sipping a nice winter ale. And what more perfectly named beer than Lancaster’s Winter Warmer Ale?

Truth is, I fell instantly in love with this beer the first time I saw the bottle for two reasons. First, it’s from Lancaster Brewing, which makes some incredibly tasty beers and offers one of the most impressive beer flights I have ever had. Seriously, if you love well-crafted beers and ever find yourself near their brewpub, you have got to go and have a flight. They bring you ample pours of every beer they have on tap. This is typically between 12 and 14 beers. It’s pricier than most flights, but it is worth every single penny.

Second reason? Well, that one should be more than obvious from the photo of the bottle. Yes, that would be a wolf on the label. More importantly, proceeds from this particular beer go to support the work of The Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania. Yes, I’ve been there, ironically on the same day that we went to Lancaster Brewing and I had their awesome beer flight.

I wish I could say that the beer inside the bottle was as awesome as the outside label or the generous deal that Lancaster has with the wolf sanctuary. Pour this dark beauty into a glass and see rivulets of ruby sketch through the mahogany darkness. Very low carbonation but an incredibly intense bouquet of dried figs and currants smacks you right in your olfactory zone.

Take a sip (and I do mean a sip) and you find yourself plunging head-first into a molasses-sweet morass that still succeeds in zinging your tastebuds with hoppy astringency. It’s actually quite a disconcerting experience to drink this beer, as the bitterness bites you up front while the sweetness clings to the back of your palate, building up with every swallow.

It was a struggle to get through even half of this beer. I thought letting it warm a little (yes, I did have this one in the beer fridge rather than in the storage room with most of my other dark beer; I don’t really know why) might help; instead, it merely intensified the sweetness.

I so desperately want to like this beer. I guess I will just have to make donations directly to the wolf sanctuary rather than support them through this brew. That said, I still think that Lancaster is an amazing brewer and I will continue to enjoy several of their other beers. I also hope to make it back to their brewpub again soon, especially if I ever hear that they’ve got their chocolate strawberry stout back on tap. Anyone up for a road trip? 🙂

Fabulous Photo Friday: Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania

Hey, denizens, do you know what Loba’s favorite mammal is?

Yes, that’s right. My favorite mammal is the naked mole rat!

Of course, it really is the wolf. I have always loved wolves. I find them to be magnificent, loyal, beautiful creatures. I own numerous books on them, read about them all the time, donate money several times a year to defend them, and just generally think they’re more awesome than even Star Trek.

That’s how much I love wolves.

So when we recently found ourselves heading up into parts of Pennsylvania other than Philadelphia, I took it upon myself to map out how far of a drive it would be from our actual destination to a place that I have wanted to go for many, many moons: The Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania in Lititz.

[Loba Tangent: The name of the city is pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable. I learned this the hard way. I’m trying to help you avoid the same embarrassing lesson.]

Believe it or not, there are states in this country with such lax exotic animal laws that people can actually adopt wolves. As utterly ridiculous and downright stupid as that sounds, it’s even worse that there are people out there who go through with adopting these wild animals, either for the status symbol or just because they’re morons.

[Loba Tangent 2: Actually, I think anyone who tries to bring a wolf into their home for whatever reason falls into the “moron” category. These are wild animals. If you want something domesticated to guard your house and poop in your yard, do what everyone else does and buy a dog. There are lots of them in kill shelters and rescues that would love to be your pet.]

The Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania, and other sanctuaries throughout the United States, come to the rescue of these wolves when the people who bought them finally realize that, “Hey, trying to keep a wild pack animal alone in my apartment for 8+ hours a day is a really stupid idea.” The sanctuary takes in these wolves, from places as far away as Montana and Wyoming, who live in that terrible limbo realm of not domesticated enough to be be pets, but too domesticated to survive in the wild.

The staff of the Wolf Sanctuary love their pack, respect that they are not dogs, let them have their space, do not intrude into the natural ways in which wolves interact, dominate, submit, and howl away their days. They do their best to tend to the wolves’ needs in ways that do not require that they enter into the wolves’ zones or impede upon the wolves’…sanctuaries.

I was admittedly worried about how I would feel about these wild animals being placed on display (I even have a bit of a problem with zoos, but I understand that a lot of zoos do worthwhile research that benefits both the captive animals and their free counterparts…so I deal). The sanctuary, however, is doing a wonderful job of protecting these wolves while giving them as much space and freedom as they can.

Of course, I took my DSLR, because…wolves. There really isn’t any need for further explanation, right? I took lots of photos, but only some of them turned out the way I wanted them to. It’s quite difficult to capture constantly moving animals while trying to focus out the chain-link fence that separates you from them. But I succeeded a few times. And sometimes, the fence is there, but the photo came out well enough that I don’t mind.

Here, then, are some of my favorite shots from our visit to the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania. Enjoy!