Welcome to a new segment we're going to try to complete weekly. In an amazing burst of creativity, we're calling it What We're Drinking, until we find something better. Anyway, every week, DCBeer staff members will tell you about the beer highlights they had from the previous week. Have a highlight from the last week? Let us know what it was via firstname.lastname@example.org, and you might just find your post in another new segment, which is aptly named What You're Drinking.
Chris Van Orden, Co-Editor
Birthday parties can be a roll of the dice, beer-wise. While the majority of my friends have at least a passing interest in drinks, there's no accounting for friends of friends and their liquid contributions. Sometimes, you have to make the best of a bad situation and opt for that mediocre bottle of Cabernet. But when you open the fridge door to find bombers, six packs, and singles galore, it feels like a small miracle.
This Saturday, in the penthouse common room atop a new 14th Street condo building, my wife and I were some of the first party-goers to arrive. I was very, very ready for a beer. I didn't want to open the bombers I'd brought so early in the evening, so I was elated to find cooling out on the patio a fresh six pack of Dogfish Head Indian Brown.
Attentive readers of DC Beer may remember that my intrepid co-editor Bill has pointed to Indian Brown as one of the most underrated beers in the market. He's right. The brown sugary, caramel sweetness, the immediately evident dry-hopping, the subtle roast. So much going on in that glass, it would have been easy to drift away from the conversation to plumb the depths of flavor I was experiencing.
But this wasn't the time for analysis, so I just drank the beer. Heartily. The 7.2% ABV gave me no trouble and it was down in no time. I didn't take notes, I didn't harangue anyone into trying the beer so we could debate the finer points of dark vs Dutch process cocoa notes. Nobody wanted to nerd out about beer, and that's cool.
As folks made chit chat, the taste pinged around my brain, setting off taste memories and pleasure centers, and I kept my mouth shut. When I drained my glass, I turned to my wife and said, "Damn, that beer's really good." She gave me a knowing nod and we were back in the conversation.
Bill DeBaun, Co-Editor
Saturday was a busy day. This happens. As they say, a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work. Apply that however you want to what I'm about to tell you.
I had a Bud Light CRAN-BRRR-RITA on Saturday. A friend of mine got them as a gag from a friend of his and sometimes you have to help you friends carry their burdens. Now, I am no stranger to these malt beverages (yes, I'm well aware these are not actual beers, please spare me the grief in Disqus). While I'm used to overly sweet and artificial offerings from these petite little eight ounce cans, this winter seasonal expression was more akin to Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail. Yes it's still sweet at 8%, but there is a hint of that mouth-puckering tartness on the finish, and there's fair to decent cranberry flavor here. Not the worst thing I've ever consumed.
The quality of my beer day improved considerably when I got a Schlafly Tasmanian IPA at Smoke and Barrel. This beer is all over the place right now, and I've spotted it at ChurchKey and Lost and Found, among others, and that's a great thing for DC's hopheads. Brewed with 100% Australian hops, this beer somehow always tastes as fresh as if it was kegged last week. Tons of citrus, pineapple, and mango notes are a real bright spot in these cold, dreary winter days that we have right now. Tasmanian is available from October to February, so its ubiquity is about to come to an end. Enjoy it while it lasts.
I have to admit that I still spend a lot of time thinking about Odell Saboteur. This is a barrel-aged Brettanomyces-laced brown ale with notes of pineapple and oak and a Flanders brown-esque SweetTart tang. Unfortunately, Odell doesn't produce this anymore, and I spend 25 minutes a week moping about that fact. I was fortunate on Saturday to encounter Wild Beer Modus Operandi (again at Smoke and Barrel). This had a bit more cherry and blackberry than Saboteur did, but it did also have the pineapple and funk that made its predecessor so great. A very nice offering from this beer from Mallet, England. Be on the lookout for more of their beers at Smoke and Barrel and ChurchKey's next UK invasion theme night.
Lastly, lest you think I only drink non-DC beers, I had the pleasure of drinking Bluejacket Clown Car at a party on Saturday night. This IPA tastes like it has all the tangerines crammed into it. Bright, fresh, zesty orange and tangerine notes come from the Galaxy, Citra, and Mosaic hops. This finishes fairly crisp with a peppery bite. Very easy drinking and satisfying at 6.6%. I think I might have a thing for Australian hops. Stay tuned and we will try to confirm.