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.
When it comes to craft beer, right now one message cannot be overstated: drink local. For the last several weeks, I’ve mostly highlighted Philadelphia area breweries in this column, places I continue to support, in the hopes I can continue to enjoy their beer long after this pandemic. So, when I found this week’s beer out in the wild for the first time, I knew I had to grab it. And there’s a couple of reasons I snagged Bonn Place Brewing Company’s Mooey but, most importantly, it’s because it comes from a brewery I recently got to visit, with a cool vibe and some very tasty efforts.
Bonn Place was founded by Sam, and his wife Gina, Masotto back in 2015 with the purchase of a 1,400-square-foot facility in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania – about 60 miles north of Philadelphia. Masotto’s love for brewing began when his roommate moved out of their New Jersey pad, which was located on Bonn Place, and left behind a Mr. Beer brewing kit. It inspired Masotto to delve into brewing and after stints with several breweries throughout New Jersey and New York, it was time for him to do his own thing – and he really did his own thing. In a beer landscape still typically dominated by hop-forward IPAs and hazy DIPAs, Masotto turned his focus to another style of beer. Bonn Place is an English-inspired brewhouse and so Masotto tends to focus his effort on creating beer that’s not typically as trendy right now, such as lagers, milds and ales.
That doesn’t mean there’s nothing hoppy to sip on at the dimly let, grunge-chic brewery but it offers a more diverse tap list, for those looking to explore well-constructed, lesser known styles. And always at the top of that list is Bonn Place’s signature beer, Mooey. It’s a fixture and it’s part of what the Masottos have built their entire brewery on, with very good reason. In 2017, Mooey took home silver in the Ordinary or Special Bitter category at the Great American Beer Festival. Mooey is a 4.8 percent ABV pub ale, also called an English Bitter, that Bonn Place touts as a “not so ordinary bitter” because the brewery claims it’s both light and smooth, with underlying notes of toffee and biscuit.
Due to dwindling supply, local heavyweight Tired Hands Brewing Company stepped up to brew a batch of Mooey, which it called “one of our absolute favorite beers brewed in the state of Pennsylvania.” It plans to sell some at it’s brewery and send the rest up to Bonn Place. People helping people. And Mooey, and other Bonn Place efforts, are available in crowlers and growlers for curbside pickup.
While I’ve only had Mooey once before, and it was from the source, I also have an appreciation for it because it’s the nickname for my black cat, Merlin. When my wife and I went to the brewery, we couldn’t help but laugh every time we heard someone order a Mooey. And since I hadn’t seen Mooey’s label, I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed it also featured a black cat. Done by local artist Tod Jüknevic, the black themed label features a fun and well designed black cat in white outline with “Mooey” written into its chin and “bitter” on it’s tag. There are several fun finds too, like The Star of Bethlehem and the Pennsylvania Keystone – both of which are also incorporated into a variety of the brewery’s logos. The label even explains what you’re about to drink, though a list of some ingredients wouldn’t hurt.
I drank Mooey on perhaps the perfect day, as it was sunny but both cold and extremely windy – and since English bitters are typically cozy and warming, I felt I chose wisely. When I cracked open this 16-ounce can, brewed a couple of months back, I elected to pour it before I gave it a massive whiff. The pour was wonderful, with a golden color that offered a slight orange hue to go along with an abundant white fluffy head. I was super impressed with the head, and the overall carbonation, of Mooey since it lasted longer than I anticipated and the lacing on the glass proved it would remain there until the last sip.
As far as the aroma is concerned, I wouldn’t say there was anything crazy here. It had a decent toasted malt presence and a real bready undertone, which featured just a little orangey notes. I wouldn’t say it really wooed me, however.
Mooey is a lighter-bodied beer, as it should be, and features a flavor that somewhat mirrors the nose, with a strong bready flavor that complements a hint of caramel and a slight bitterness. I couldn’t recognize the toffee notes the brewery mentioned but I’m also not an expert by any means. But, the combination of those three flavors really gives Mooey a warm presence, perfect for a cool day. I thought it was smooth and fairly crushable, especially given it’s low ABV. I could have a few in one sitting and some of that is based purely on the crispness, which blends well with the overall flavor. It might be a beer style people in the United States don’t pine for now, but Mooey is both robustly flavored and done incredibly well – it’s a beer I envision would be pretty standard at any pub throughout England.
As per usual, I hopped on BeerAdvocate to see how this beer was received by the masses. It earned an 84 rating from the website and an average score of 3.82, based on 28 ratings. I’d actually go a decent amount higher than that, as I would give Mooey an 8.0 out of 10. I know it’s not some abundantly complex, highly trendy hazy IPA or barrel-aged stout but Mooey does a solid job in mimicking a more traditional style, the English bitter, with just enough flavor and characteristics to make me want to crack open another one and keep the party going. The one big drawback that really stuck out would be the lackluster aroma but it’s shadowed by other qualities.
Stay tuned for next week, because I might just try something from your favorite brewery.