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Dogfish Head in Falls Church
But the pub in Falls Church was sort of a let down. Found in the middle of a strip mall, the Dogfish Head Brewpub is the sort of place you go with your parent when you’re ten; The food is greasy and the beer is actually more expensive than in bottles, two thousand miles away in Portland. I tried to enjoy myself though. I ordered a few beers form of the ancient ales series and a pizza.
The Namaste wit was just so boring. The ingredient list includes dried organic orange slices, fresh-cut lemongrass and a bit of coriander, but the flavor is weak and the body is too thin for my liking. It’s lemony and wheaty and I should’ve known better.
But then I moved on to the Chateau Jiahu. It was nuts. Alcohol and sweetness — like mead, followed by grape juice and a bit of yeast. This is more my style, more what I expect from Dogfish’s weird experiments. I’m not sure if it’s actually delicious, or if I was just intrigued by the unique flavor.
Sarah tasted the similarly bizarre Positive Contact. It’s a blend of cider and beer with chili peppers and cilantro. Sarah liked it. It didn’t taste too spicy. Or spicy at all. Sarah’s dad loves the Palo Santo Marron with it’s vanilla and chocolate. Especially on draught. The bottle lends a bit of a bite to the beer that can be off-putting.
Even though the food was a bust, the beer was exactly what I expected: weird but delicious.
Brooklyn Brown Ale taste more like a lightly tinted porter than a brownie brown. It’s got a toasted, nutty flavor just shy of coffee roast. The body is perfectly round and the finish has a distinct bite. It could be the snap of hops.
It nice to finally tasting something from my minor hero Garrett Oliver. I loved his book, the Brewmaster’s Table, and love that his articles in the Oxford Companion to Beer are always witty and on point. Dude knows whats up.
If you are interested in beer and food, definitely check out The Brewmaster’s Table.
A terrapin is a turtle and as Sarah pointed out, the mascot of the University of Maryland. But Terrapin beer comes from Athens, Georgia. The Rye Pale Ale I picked up at the Total Wine in McLain was pretty good stuff. I like the grainy rye spice, but the pale ale part is just sort of cursory— you know, a bit of citrus and stuff. It’s easy drinking and tasty.
What does rye taste like alone? I need to find some roggenbiers.
Mexico and Vienna
Despite the name, Vienna lagers are probably best known as Mexican beers. All the big Mexican beers have German and Austrian roots. You could even say Mexican beer started with a single man: Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexico. Yep, Mexico was once a monarchy and Maximilian I was an Austrian Archduke who came to rule at the behest of the Mexican aristocracy. Look it up sometime.
Back to the point. Vienna lager is a dark lager and a close cousin of Munich Märzen. Devil’s Backbone makes a decent simulation of the Mexican favorite. Think Negra Modelo — toast and bitterness in equal parts. The history is more interesting than the beer.
Port City Brewing Co.
Alexandria is a cute little town on the outskirts of D.C. It’s filled with adorable row houses and seafood restaurants. Over on the industrial side of town, Port City Brewing is hiding in a huge warehouse with plenty of room to grow.
The beer runs the usual gamut from wheat to stout with a few pale ales in between. The Opimal Wit was the lightest offering. That’s it; it’s just light. A little lemon, a little spice. The Essential Pale Ale actually surprised my in-laws with a near clone of a grapefruit from sweet-tart flesh to bitter pith. I liked it, but it as a little weak. The Monumental IPA was a bit of a let down. Building on the Essential pale, Monumental brought extra sweetness and pine, but not much else.
The darker beers really shined. Tartan Scottish ale is on the lighter side of the shilling scale — 5% alcohol, 80/-. The guide mentions the beer undergoes kettle carmelization; the wort is added to a preheated kettle burning the sugars a little. You can taste it. Tartan is slightly smokey, slightly sweet and very distinctive.
The flagship Porter is was the real stand out. Silky smooth and full bodied with great roasted coffee flavor. I can see why it’s the flagship; the porter is more complete than the others and perfectly executed.
Port City Brewing only has two years under their belt, so we’ll let them go a for more years before condemning them to the “good but basic” pile. We avoided the Revival oyster stout, but as an experiment it bodes well for the future.
Call Your Mother
A hefeweizen with rose petals? Sounds good. Appropriately ladylike. You know, ladies like light beers. And flowers.
But Rogue doesn’t know what they are doing. Twenty-five years and they still haven’t figured out that a hefeweizen uses a different yeast than a stout or an IPA? How do they get away with using “Pacman“ in everything? This tastes nothing like a German wheat, or a Belgian wheat. And the rose petals never make an appearance.
If you bought this for your mother, call her back and apologize.
McSorley’s of Utica
I love a good bitter; I love a nice full session ale. But I’m sure what makes a pale ale Irish. McSorley’s pale ale is earthy and herbal — sort of tea-like I guess. I liked it, I think. It’s been a week since I tried it.
Hey, It’s tough keeping all the beers straight. I spent a week in Virginia trying to taste every beer I’d never heard of. The pale ales all start to run together.
Sunset in the Capital
Well, not in the capital, but near the capital.
DC Brau, the biggest brewer in the District, makes a mean Belgian pale ale. The Citizen pours an amazing, bright orange. It even smells orange, with tangy citrus, stone fruit, and spice. Perfect for a nice spring day on the porch in the dappled sunlight.
Starr, With Two Rs
The Starr Hill Brewery of Charlottesville never crossed my radar, but in the grocery store they stood out on the shelf. The craft beer section in the Shenandoah valley was actually dominated by western brewers like Sierra Nevada and New Belgium. The Starr Saison has a honey sweet scent and tastes lightly spiced and herbal. The finish has a twinge of metal, but I’ll blame that on the Safeway.