If you’re ready to raise a glass to The Process as the 2017-18 NBA season kicks off, here’s the beer to do it with.
On Oct. 18, as the Sixers take the court for their debut against the Washington Wizards, Misconduct Tavern will tap the first keg of Hinkie’s Sweet Revenge, a limited-edition release from Conshohocken Brewing Co.
The beer’s name is an obvious tip of the hat to former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie, whom many credit with orchestrating the formation of the young team sportscasters are calling “really special.” But it’s not just the name that’s an homage to Philly basketball — it’s the beer itself.
The recipe for Hinkie’s Sweet Revenge was inspired by star center Joel Embiid’s well-documented love of Shirley Temples.
Turns out Conshohocken brewer Gordon Grubb, a longtime Sixers fan who can recite off the top of his head the date Moses Malone was traded away, had already been toying with the concept of a Shirley Temple beer when Misconduct co-owner Fleming Kerr — who remembers seeing Malone play in the first game he ever attended — came to the brewery with the same Embiid-related idea. But there was a problem.
“If you make a beer that actually tastes like a Shirley Temple,” Grubb said, “then it’s not gonna taste very good. It’ll be way too sweet.”
Instead, the pair came up with the idea to use offshoot ingredients of that virgin cocktail to brew something with a hint of Shirley Temple flavor — and color — without overwhelming the beer.
Using Belgian witbier as the base, they swapped out the coriander and orange peel traditionally used to make that popular style (think Blue Moon or Allagash White). Instead, they went with ginger and black currant, which is often mixed with pomegranate to make grenadine.
The fresh chopped ginger was added during the boil (when the malt is cooked to release sugars so that yeast can later ferment), and black currant puree was added “at whirlpool,” right before fermentation.
The result is better than the premise might suggest, with a flavor profile that’s likely to appeal to a wide audience — from the “whatever’s on tap” crowd to hardcore craft brew geeks. If Kerr’s wife is any indication, it can also be enjoyed by people who don’t usually choose beer at all.
It pours as a slightly cloudy, rose-tinted liquid with a small white head. There’s a touch of currant on the nose, it’s tangy and crisp in the mouth, and it finishes with the slightest hint of ginger spice. It rings in at 6.2% ABV, making it a bit more boozy than a go-to like Miller High Life, but roughly equivalent to most IPAs. The beer itself is not at all sweet, and though it does get fruitier as it warms up, it’s not off-putting enough to stop you from wanting to chug a second one.
Also, if you want a cherry on top, go for it.
A quick test after joking around proved that the classic Shirley Temple garnish actually works pretty well as a pairing. “Not that I would ever suggest putting a cherry in a beer, but if you were going to, this would be the one,” admitted Grubb.
Served in a fluted 12-oz. pilsner glass, Hinkie’s Sweet Revenge will sell for $5 a glass during every Sixers game at Misconduct Tavern’s two Center City locations, and be available anytime for $7 throughout the season (50 kegs were brewed, so there should be enough to last). It’s also available at the Conshohocken Brewing taproom, just off the Schuylkill River Trail in Conshohocken.
At the launch party/season opener party at Misconduct’s 15th and Locust outpost, which kicks off at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 18, anyone who buys a glass of Hinkie’s Sweet Revenge will automatically be entered in a raffle to win a pair of tickets to Friday’s home opener at the Wells Fargo Center.