Welcome to Thirsty Thursday, a weekly column where we pick a beer from our fridge and review it, because in a world where two new breweries launch every single week, sometimes we need some help sifting through all of the hops.
Earlier this week, I decided to trek to the beer shop a couple towns over, the one I went to when I lived at home that sells the widest variety – and singles of everything – in the area. With a few seasonal releases on my mind, including one of my very favorite beers, I grabbed what I came in for and then noticed something from 2SP Brewing Company that piqued my interest. I have never had anything from this specific brewery but I’m quite familiar with them, given that they continue to team up with the local convenience store, Wawa, for coffee-inspired stouts. And if you’re from the Philadelphia area, you know Wawa isn’t just a shop, it’s a way of life. I only just started seeing their beer closer to me so I grabbed Up, Up, & Away to see how it ranked.
2SP was the brainchild of Michael Stiglitz, who called on homebrewer Bob Barrar and several others in 2015 to create beer true to their area, Delaware County. Located about 20 miles south of Philadelphia, the brewery’s mission is to bring world-class beer from world-class brewers to the region – and it’s clear they’ll try anything once. In a handful of years, 2SP has gained serious notoriety on a local and national level, the most recent of which came at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival when it won gold in the Imperial Stout category for The Russian. And with three new Wawa collaborations just launched, 2SP continues to keep drinkers clamoring.
Armed with six year-round efforts, including Delco Lager which is quickly becoming an area staple, 2SP has dozens of other beers in its arsenal – some are one-offs, others are seasonals. Up, Up, & Away’s availability falls under random, per the brewery’s website. It’s an 8.0% ABV New England-style DIPA brewed with double the Mosaic, Cascade and Simcoe hops, double the malts, and oats to give off what 2SP describes as “big notes of peach, plum and citrus.”
The look of the label feels a little plain but I think it suits it well and helped set it apart a little on the shelf, given all of the complex-looking offerings surrounding it. The label is white with a bunch of arrows, looking somewhat like a rainbow, strewn across it, and 2SP’s logo smack-dab at the top, in the center. It has the ABV listed, plus the fact that it has twice the hops and twice the malts, along with oats, but doesn’t list the specific hops, which is a slight bummer. But it does have a fun little logo off to the side that says Everything We Can’t Drink, We Can.
Now, let’s jump right into it here. I wanted to get something from 2SP that was a little more in my wheelhouse and a little more complex. Listen, I know it’s still special if a brewery can nail a lager or pilsner, and I thought about holding out for one of theirs, but I tend to stack breweries up based on hop-forward efforts and I was excited to see what Up, Up, & Away was made of. When I cracked open the 16-ounce can, which cost me just over $5, I sniffed it before I poured – I just couldn’t wait on it. What I noticed was a real vibrant and pleasing citrus smell that had hints of tropical fruits and orange rinds but there was also an underlying pine, and just a dash of sweetness, to the nose. It reminded me a ton of the aroma of a beer I love before but I just couldn’t put my finger on it.
The pour wasn’t quite as good as the smell, but it was close. Up, Up, & Away glugged out a hazy copper color with three fingers worth of straw-looking, fluffy head. It was picture-worthy and since it checked off the first two boxes quite well, I hoped the taste and mouthfeel would follow.
The mimicked much of the aroma, with a somewhat fruity hop flavor, a touch of sweetness and a little pine on the back-end, which gave way to a smidge of bitterness and dryness. As a whole I liked the flavor but I got some booziness in there that I didn’t think it needed. The mouthfeel was medium-bodied and quite smooth and the carbonation was good for a DIPA. I felt like this one was a little more of a sipper than other similar styled beers but I thought it was fairly drinkable, though I’m not sure if I could have more than two before wanting to switch things up.
I really felt like this beer was an American DIPA rather than a New England. It might’ve had the look but when it came right down to it, the flavor profile just screamed American IPA. It kind of reminded me of a more juiced up version of Dogfish Head Brewery’s 90 Minute IPA – that’s a compliment.
As per usual, once I had my decision I jumped over to BeerAdvocate to get the pulse of the people. Up, Up, & Away got an outstanding 92 rating from the site itself while the average score was 4.18 based on 42 ratings. My score was lower than that, as I gave it 7.9. Get rid of that lingering little bit of booziness and I really liked this beer. I still thought it was tasty but that was my only qualm. Either way, 2SP proved it knows how to brew beer. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to find their lager and one of their Wawa efforts.
Stay tuned next week, because I might try something from your favorite brewery.