Resin reminds me of Christmas. When you get that fresh tree, take it home and drag it through the house, only to realize that you can’t fit it in the tree stand, so you have to saw through the lower branches and get sap all over your hands and clothes. Sixpoint Resin is like that — sticky, piney, and bitter.
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.
Honest to Goodness
Speakeasy ales have nice labels and a 1920s theme. Too bad this beer is a bit old and stale. Scarlett is a red rye IPA but my bottle was all sorts of faded and boring. I always wonder whether or not I should post about beers that don’t meet expectations or taste off. But I figure I might as well.
I just want to be honest and present each beer the way it came to me. And honestly, I won’t be going out of my way to try any more Speakeasy beers. I just wasn’t impressed.
Molten Lava is Hop Lava’s big brother. It’s big. It explodes with a juicy scent — a mango orange pineapple smoothie — with a hint of pine. The pine comes forward early, you only get a hint of juice before the bitterness wipes it away. The finish is like an orange liqueur or orange bitters— boozy and bitter and astringent.
Hoppy Bait and Switch
Savant IPA is designed to showcase New Zealand’s famous Nelson Sauvin hops. If this is what they smell like, I want more sauvin in all my beer. Savant smells amazingly tropical and delicious — pineapples, melons, mangoes. But the second I took a sip the nose faded away. The tropics were replaced with boring old grapefruit and dirt.
Where did my hops go?
Oak Aged IPA
Burton Baton is Dogfish Head’s approximation of traditional English IPA. Back in the day aged beer was blended with fresh beer to make a balanced, delicious beer.
Burton Baton is not actually balanced though. It’s very hop heavy — Citrus, pine and earth and dirt. It’s actually quite oniony. Sarah says it smells like summer pubs and drinking on the porch. The oak of Burton Baton is subtle, adding little but a dry finish and a bit of woodsy flavor. I prefer Rumble.
The Imperial IPA
If 60 Minute is an IPA, 90 Minute is an imperial or double IPA, 120 Minute must be a triple IPA? A double imperial IPA? I’ll let others fight about that. I’ll just say: it’s freaking delicious.
I mean, it starts out all normal. It’s all fruity and malty. But then it transforms and then it transforms again. There is just so much stuff going on. The hops come out so strong every sip has a different, new note. Pineapple, then pine, then fresh squeezed orange juice, then more pine, then sweet caramel, then all of that in a blender, it just keeps going.
Oh, and 120 Minute is about 18% alcohol, but you’ll never notice it, so beware.
90 Minutes Later
Dogfish Head isn’t your dad’s microbrewery. They brew some very weird beer. A recipe based on an ancient jug of wine? Sure. Beers brewed with wild Egyptian yeast strains? Why not. Even their IPAs venture into the strange and delicious. 75 Minute is brewed with maple syrup. 61 Minute adds more grape must. Then there is the plain 60 Minute and the bigger 90 Minute.
Brewed with tons of hops in a 90 minute continuous boil and dry hopped in every stage of fermentation, this is a big beer. It’s big on the hops, but they aren’t the usual grapefruit and pine varieties I’m used to seeing. Don’t get me wrong, there is some citrusy orange peel, there is some pine, but the main flavors I get are deep and earthy. The malt is more assertive as well, toffee and caramel jump out at me. 90 Minute might be closer to a strong ale, edging on barleywine.
This isn’t a common double IPA, so it might put off some. That’s sort of the point at Dogfish Head.
This place is huge. It’s a massive old industrial warehouse or factory. They filled it up with mismatched tables and chairs and opened the taps. There is enough room in here for an army, but the happy hour crowd is sort of dead.
I always forget about the Lucky Lab. There’s a pub in every quadrant of the city, but I never think to visit. But then I was drinking that Dogzilla from Laughing Dog. I was convinced all day that Laughing Dog was Lucky Lab. It’s not.
There is a group of college intern girls at the next table. I think they’re planning a wedding. There are some older guys at a big table, two guys and two pitchers. There are some desk jockeys in suits.
I went with the Alt to start things off. It’s brown; it’s off the cask; it’s super hoppy. Alt is one of those subtle styles like English brown ales that are distinctive but hard to emulate. This is not a good example. The sandwich is good though. Over priced, but tasty.
Do they ever fill this place up? There is another giant room over there, and a patio outside.
The Super Dog IPA is the flagship beer around here. It’s crisp and hoppy with that citrus tinge. I can’t tell if it’s a knock on the IPA or the Alt, but they have the exact same hop profile. Exactly the same.
I’m not impressed.
Can I go wrong with the 2010 Old Yeller barley wine? Nope. This is amazing. Why do people even bother making poorly executed alts?
Old Yeller is tasty. Caramel and citrus and pine and vanilla and — is that wood? Burnt wood? Oh my god? Is that a hint of juniper and gin? This beer is blowing my mind. This single beer pulled the Lucky Lab from mediocre to really, actually quite good.
Where are all the dogs? I thought this was a dog friendly bar.
But it’s just an IPA. A plain old IPA, nothing special. Sure it’s got some seasonally appropriate pine flavors, but so do hundreds of other beers. It finishes all bitter lemon peel, great. I just don’t get it. It’s fine, but it’s not good or great or mind blowing.
I thought it was my fault, so I even popped another bottle.
Oh, and then I had a pint on tap.
Still just meh.