A NEW BEER from Yuengling - can you believe it? After 180 years, it's about time.
It's Yuengling Bock, the Pottsville brewery's first seasonal, and it'll be released in town next week.
Brewery boss Dick Yuengling told me he was reluctant to brew the springtime brand because "I hate running out of things."
But he acknowledged that, thanks to the likes of Boston Beer, seasonal releases are a hot trend. Yuengling's retailers and wholesalers told him he had to jump into the game, especially this year as America's oldest brewery celebrates the big one-eight-oh.
The dark beer is a dry-hopped blend of Porter and Chesterfield Ale, with the addition of malt ingredients to improve the body, according to brewer Jim Helmke.
You can get your first taste of it March 6 at Opening Tap of Philly Beer Week (www.phillybeerweek.org).
Yuengling isn't the only one debuting new beers during the 10-day beer romp. I count more than a dozen virgins that will pop the cap next month, including:
_ Cantillon Monk's Café Cuvee Gueuze: A blend of lambics overseen by Monk's Café owner Tom Peters at the Cantillon brewery in Brussels. It'll debut at a dinner at Monk's on March 11 featuring American-made wild yeast ales.
_ Dock Street Hop Garden Double IPA: Ben Potts is the new brewer at West Philly's Dock Street; this is an award-winning recipe from his homebrewing days, featuring 14 different hop varieties. Try it first at Opening Tap.
_ Duvel Green: This actually had a sneak preview in town last September at Monk's. The lighter (6.8 percent alcohol), younger draft version of the famous Duvel strong golden ale will pour at numerous events throughout the week.
_ General Lafayette Economizer: Brewer Chris Leonard takes his experimentation with low-alcohol "session" beers to a new level. This one is a full-flavored, dry-hopped American pale ale made with low-priced "recycled, subsidized" materials. It'll debut at the Tiedhouse Session Beer Project on March 9.
_ Lancaster Shoo-Fly Porter: An Amish pie in a bottle, made with molasses, eight different malts and grains, and four different hops. Look for it at Opening Tap.
_ Nodding Head Da Phunk: Brewer Gordon Grubb took an ale fermented with several wild yeast strains, then aged it seven months in a barrel from Chaddsford Winery. It'll debut on March 10 at the Center City brewpub's offbeat "Don't Meet the Brewers" tasting.
_ Philadelphia Brewing Russian Imperial Stout: You say you want to see a beefier beer from Kensington's finest? A black-as-ink, chocolaty stout conditioned on French oak chips ought to do the trick. Its first pour is March 7, at PBC's first anniversary party (1-4 p.m.) at the brewery.
_ Sam Adams Imperial series featuring Double Bock, Imperial Wit and Imperial Stout. A superb trio of strong brews that show what brewers can do when they take a break from making all that Boston Lager. Taste them at several chocolate and cheese events around town.
_ Yards Smoked Polish Wheat: Brewer Steve Mashington collaborated with Iron Hill Brewery to resurrect the entirely obscure, Grodziski-style ale, the first time the style has been commercially brewed in America. Try it at Opening Tap, and at Yards' smoked beer festival on March 13.
_ Stoudt's Scrawny Dog: A smooth, dry Irish stout that's about half the alcohol of Stoudt's long-standing Fat Dog stout. It'll pour first at Brewer's Plate on March 8 at the Penn Museum.
_ Triumph Pils Jay's Way: Brewer Patrick Jones collaborated with Flying Fish to turn out a pilsner in the style of late Triumph head brewer, Jay Misson, who passed away unexpectedly last summer. Triumph will salute Misson's influence on local lager brewing with its Klash of the Kaisers pilsner tasting on March 12.
_ Troegs The Flying Mouflan: For the past two years, Troegs has produced a "Scratch Beer" series of one-offs based on the brewing brothers' earliest recipes. Scratch #4, a barleywine, was so popular, the brewery is releasing it in 22-ounce bombers. Sample it a several Philly Beer Week events.
_ Victory WildDevil: Take Victory's most popular brand, HopDevil, ferment it with wild Brettanomyces yeast, and you get a funky IPA. Victory will roll it out at the Brewer's Plate.
_ Weyerbacher Echo: This deep-copper "Rye-PA" is described as a winter India pale ale "to bridge the gap between now and spring." Hey, any excuse for a hoppy beer, I say. It'll debut at the Weyerbacher brewery in Easton on March 7.
_ Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA: Brewer Terence Sullivan is bringing this one from Chico, Calif., for several tastings.
Coincidentally, it one of the final beers reviewed by my beer-writing colleague, Oakland Tribune reporter Bill Brand, before he passed away last week after being struck by a train in San Francisco. I'm honored to let his words describe it: "It's a stunner . . . Torpedo has a huge hoppy nose, grapefruit, pines, orange marmalade, ripening fruit. It's a deep copper-color, with a lively head of foam . . .
"I shared a couple of bottles with a friend along with some Chinese food the other night. The beer easily stood up to our spicy kung pao chicken, handling those little red chilies with aplomb."
Bill gave it four stars. *