To the newbie, Railbender is a shock to the pallette. When your only other microbrew experience is Sam Adams just about any Scotch ale is going to slap you in the face. Railbender has a malty caramel flavor and like any good Scotch is more complex than you might first expect. There's a light hoppiness to it but make no mistake this brew is all about the malt. The finish lingers on the pallette until your begging for another round. It's no coincidence that Erie's flagship brew won a gold medal in the 2009 GABF.
While out and about recently, we stumbled upon Railbender in the sixer - so we grabbed two. You don't come across Erie Brewing Company frequently inside the beltway. When you come across the brew that started it all you grab as much as you can and you savor every drop. Apparently absence does make the heart grow fonder.
We are very aware that reviewing (judging) beer is subjective. We're perfectly comfortable knowing that our love affair with Railbender may cloud any attempts at objectivity (the gold medal does make us feel better). Truthfully, when we drink Erie Railbender it just feels good. With a little luck, anybody who stumbles upon Dumbarton has their own love affair with their own obscure brew. If you don't have your own Erie Railbender you don't love beer.
Freddy, where ever you are tonight, we're drinking a few Erie Railbenders and thinking back on the good times in Ellicottville.
Here's to you Freddy. Here's to Erie Railbender.