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.
Three Haikus for Woodchuck Cider
Sarah does not like
Too sweet, pear flavored candy
Almost no nuance
Apples dipped in a
vanilla caramel sauce
much too sweet for me.
The bourbon barrel
overwhelms the apples it’s
not a good marriage
Did you know Portland has a cider-centric bar? Bushwhacker is a cider taphouse and bottle shop — and they brew cider in the back. We weren’t sure which is their primary mission, selling cider or making their own. Of the five taps only one contained a house made cider.
But when I asked our bartender for the driest cider, it was the Bushwhacker Perry that I ended up drinking. It’s an interesting pear cider with what Sarah called lambic notes. It’s tart and funky, like vinegar or pickle brine. And so cloudy. Sarah liked it, but something about it started to drag for me.
We followed that up with Spire’s Dark and Dry Cider. Sarah’s parents have been recommending it for a week. Dark and Dry is closer to a classic warm cider — a cinnamon stick would not be out of place. Classic apple taste, like a red delicious, including the waxy skin in the finish.
As much as I enjoy a cider from time to time, by the end of the night I really wanted something less sweet and more filling. Where is the beer?
Wandering Aengus makes a few different types of cider. There is the Anthem brand which uses grocery store apples with year round availability and basic flavors. Bloom and Wanderlust are made with a blend of heirloom cider apples picked right when they are ripe when they look a little gross. Wandering Aengus also makes single varietal ciders. Last night we tried the Golden Russet.
Imagine a crisp, golden apple. Golden Russet is just like biting into that. It’s crisp and dry with an excellent slightly bitter tannin taste. A honey and apple juice sweetness compliments the slight bitterness perfectly. It’s a tricky ten percent alcohol cider, but I think Sarah would buy this by the case.
Tonight I am sharing an Anthem Cider with Sarah. This is their straight up apple cider. It smells like a white wine, fruity, and dry with a bit of apple blossom. The taste is fresh, green, and vinous. There is a bit of an apple tinged aftertaste that lingers more than I expected. I like my cider crisp.
At the farmer’s market last week we picked up a few Anthem ciders. They make a pear cider and this an apple cider finished with hops. It’s actually not as weird as you might think. The hops add a little earthiness that compliments the dry finish.
This is what Sarah is drinking this week. In her own words:
This past Saturday was the first day back for the PSU farmers’ market! To celebrate we picked up this Anthem Pear Cider by the same people who make Wandering Aengus cider. It was fun to be able to taste something new from them, since the Anthem line had previously not been available in a bottle. The cider is a nicely balanced, dry one. I am not the biggest fan of pear in general, but this has nice flavor without the cloying sweetness that most pear-flavored items have.
What’s Sarah drinking? Cider, duh.
This bottle comes to us from the Tieton Cider Works. It’s a semi-sweet cherry cider. It has a surprising apple and cinnamon flavor that’s followed by tart cherry and ends with sort of dry finish, the cherry sticks around. I didn’t know cider is 7% alcohol by volume.
What’s Sarah drinking tonight?
Tieton Cider Works is squeezing apples over in the Yakima Valley, the homeland of my mothers people. The Blossom Nectar is the sweetest of their ciders, that’s why it comes with a pink cap. It’s like champagne but with more apple. Unlike Martenelli’s this has the sparkle of champagne and the alcohol.
You know what’s going to be big? Cider. Cider is delicious.
Wandering Aengus makes some delicious hard ciders including, but not limited to: Bloom and Wanderlust. Bloom is pretty sweet; think Martenelli’s but grown up. Wanderlust is drier but still fruity. It’s an apple Riesling. Samuel Smith’s makes an organic cider that’s even drier and tastes a little grassy.
I’m not sure if cider belongs, but if I have any more that excite me, I’ll let you know.