Lesson #1: Just because a beer is a “special release” it doesn’t mean it will be good.
Lesson #2: Finishing 3/4 of a bottle of wine after 3+ beers on an empty stomach is a bad idea. Especially if it’s over 95 out. I apologise for any incomprehensible issues with this post.
This Brewer’s Reserve has been aging
taking up valuable space for a while now, so with the heat index broaching 100, and my life frustration approaching ∞, I decided this would be a good decision.
Lesson #3: When you’ve never made a good decision in you life after 29 years, it’s a pretty good indication you never will.
This was special release #5, a “wheat ale brew with lemongrass and muscat grape juice with lemongrass added.” Yea, lemongrass gets mentioned twice.
It pours a orange colour with virtually no head. It smells, well, funky. Very earthy and floral, maybe a slight citrus.
It tastes, well, funky. Malty core no doubt, citrus (lemon egad!), and some solid alcohol finish. It’s a very coarse finish and not really enjoyable.
Maybe I was wrong, but I assumed this would be a nice refreshing beer on a hot day. Nope. It is, however, 9%, so it did accomplish the most important goal of all alcohol.
Last year turned into a roast of an absent Sam. This year Sam showed up (less the material he forgot in a cab), and it was just as funny. Full details of the East Coast v. West Coast throw-down when I recover.
Friday is supposed to be Big Bottle Breakdown day, but it’s been a while since we did one, so we’ve got three in store for today: Duclaw’s Double-Spice 31 Munich-Style Dunkel, He’Brew’s Hop Manna IPA, and Southern Tier’s Gemini Imperial Blended Ale.
DuClaw Double Spiced 31 Munich Style Dunkel
A beer brewed with Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Clove, & All Spice isn’t exactly a typical spring offering, which is exactly why I picked it up. It poured a nice dark amber with luxurious off-white head. On the nose: Nutmeg. A little Cinnamon and clove, but I mainly picked up nutmeg. It overwhelmed any and all other smells. For taste, well, you can guess where this is going: Nutmeg. There’s a solid, slightly sweet malty backbone, but the spices are really what shine through. But they shine through in a good way. DuClaw has done a really nice job of providing a spiced beer that didn’t have me grasping for a glass of water after every sip (like the Hoppin’ Frog Christmas). It still drank really smooth and finished without too much lingering taste from the spices. If you don’t think cinnamon or nutmeg belong in beer, you will not like this beer. If you enjoy something a little different every now and then, or maybe a new winter option, this is a solid bet.
He’Brew Hop Manna IPA
An IPA dry hopped with Citra, Cascade, and Centennial? Amarillo during the boil? It’s gotta be good, right? Nope. Pours a clear copper color with no head. There’s a piney/grassy aroma aroma on the nose, but nothing too strong. There’s some sweetness up front in the palate and then a light bitter taste with a really bland finish. At the end of the day, it was just really blah. All the hops combined to produce absolutely nothing. No good spiciness or complexity from the Citra, no great bitterness from the Amarillo or Cascade. Just eh. I really can’t find anything that redeeming about this beer.
Take a great beer like Southern Tier’s Unearthly and combine it with another great beer like Southern Tier’s Hoppe and what do you get: a REALLY great beer. This beer pours a cloudy yellow gold clearly indicating its unfiltered format and a small white head. There’s a great spicy piney/citrus aroma on the nose that I could smell despite seasonal allergies. There are just an incredible spicy hop notes with good fruity characteristics. Tangy with some notes of orange/pine. A slight bitter finish on the tongue, but just what you’d expect from a beer like this. Overall a phenomenal effort.
It’s really hard not to appreciate everything Ommegang does, and their Belgian Witte is just another case-in-point. The beer pours like a traditional witte, with a light golden colour, transparent and lots of carbonation, but in this case, the head was just a few thin white wisps on top. There are some subtle citrus notes on the nose, but overall the aroma is far more floral. The taste is nice and crisp up front with a good moderated light taste of lemon that evaporates off the tongue very quickly giving it a nice refreshing feeling. There’s some very very mild bready taste that hides behind the lemon, and lingers maybe a touch too long, but overall it was a well crafted flavour.
I had this on draft, and I’d imagine it (like basically every witte) is probably better out of the bottle. I’m guessing the draft pour was largely responsible for the poor head, and I wonder what flavours were lost sitting in the yeast at the bottom of the keg. If you like witte style ales, it’s still worth getting if you see it on draft.
The Arlington area is known as a great hotspot for young professionals to drink and have a good time. It’s also known as a suburban hellhole. Rosslyn ends up being all of the latter, and little of the former. I remember when I first started working in the Rosslyn area and had such a difficult time finding somewhere to drink, I was actually excited when I finally made it to a TGI Friday (before they went crafty). Really there is absolutely no reason to ever go out drinking in Rosslyn. However, there are a ton of office buildings in the area, and if you find yourself frequently working in the here, as Shintern and I do, you might occasionally find it useful to have somewhere to drink.