In this ultimate moment of city pride, it's time for self-respecting, brew-thirsty Philadelphians to ditch the Big Beer marketing nonsense of Dilly Dilly in favor of real Philly brews. There's a style for every taste, including easy-drinking lagers (see our latest Brewvitational competition results at philly.com/brewvi for options). But few new creations capture that special combo of Philly attitude and sophisticated craftsmanship quite like the latest edition of Second District's "RAF" series of wild sour ales: Rude AF.
"We thought it would be funny to give a beer that was brewed in an old machine shop in South Philly a real tongue-in-cheek name," said Ben Potts, head brewer of the year-old brewery on South Bancroft Street just north of West Passyunk Avenue. "The 'AF' moniker seems fitting for a gritty city like Philly."
There's nothing tongue-in-cheek, though, about the complexity of these RAF beers brewed with Second District's house yeast, a blend of the dregs from some their favorite Belgian lambics, like Cantillon, roused and cultivated with the sunshine, air, and wort of some true South Philly terroir. The yeast adds a funky tartness that brings a wild ale edge and dryness to the brews I've tasted, including the inaugural "Rustic AF," while remaining wonderfully controlled and drinkable. This third installment in the series was named in honor of a former Tired Hands colleague of Potts', Nick Danger Walthall, who goes by the nickname name "Rude Dude" and who has made a reputation for himself in the saison world at breweries like the Veil in Richmond, where he's the barrel house manager. This steel-aged golden ale also is distinguished by the copious use of aged Celeia hops in the kettle that add a grassy character with less bitterness than younger hops and emphasize the herbal farmhouse character of the beer, braced by the bright sourness of pithy citrus notes and soft echoes of sweeter stone fruit that kept me coming back for another sip.
Of course, sour beers have an astringent character that's an acquired taste, not unlike Philadelphia sports fans. Once you catch their spirit, they're hard to resist. And this little pucker of quaffer is as likable as a Rude AF can get. Even if it isn't free.
Rude AF, $6 a 10 oz. glass, $15-$28 for growlers (32-64 oz.), Second District Brewing, 1939 S. Bancroft St., 215-575-5900; seconddistrictbrewing.com