“Twenty years ago, I never would have thought that every single bar would have a Belgian white on draught,” says Brendan Hartranft of Clarkville, Local 44 & Strangelove’s. But walk into your favorite beer bar in Philadelphia these days, and you’re more than likely to see a familiar face on the draught list: Allagash White. That’s why, for Hartranft, Allagash White is a beer that deserves to be rediscovered.
“There aren’t a lot of other beers like Allagash White. It has an accessibility to it that’s really unique. There’s so much new beer out there that’s just… new. I’m so inundated with what’s new and what I’m supposed to have that I can’t even get to the point where I can tell if the beer is good,” says Hartranft. “I understand that people want what they can’t get, but it’s become an obsession. And a lot of it is expensive, and a lot of it doesn’t have a great shelf life. I’d rather have something that I can hang my hat on.” White may be a lot of things, but one thing it’s not is “new”. It’s that history and track record that make Allagash such a mainstay in craft beer circles.
Allagash’s Rob Tod brewed the first batch of White back in 1995, a wheat beer brewed with oats, malted wheat and unmalted raw wheat, which gives the beer its distinct hazy, white appearance. With a trophy case of medals from the Great American Beer Festival, the World Beer Cup and the European Beer Star, White is an unrivaled craft beer classic.
Though White is a constant presence on the draught list at each of Hartranft’s bars, his first impression was a bit… different. “The first time I had Allagash White was at a beer dinner at Monk’s,” he remembers. “And actually, when I first tried it, I didn’t really like it. I was in this arrogant phase, where I thought I knew everything. And Rob Tod was actually at the dinner, and I had the audacity to go up to him and tell him that I didn’t like it.” Tod’s response? “He took it in stride,” laughs Hartranft.
Turns out it was Tod that got the last laugh. “Well, now that I’ve learned to get over myself, all I really drink is Allagash White. It’s all that’s in my fridge.”