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.
I made my way to Maryland's Eastern Shore a couple of weekends back. In so doing, I stumbled across Eastern Shore Brewing in St. Michaels. 'Tis the season for Porter in my mind, and I had a glass of Duck Duck Goose. Vibrant roast and chocolate flavors combined with dark fruit made this beer a great find on our trip. I'll seek it out again.
I also lucked into a make your own six-pack cart at Harris Teeter this week. In my mind, these are worth a perusal as you can sometimes find some fresh beers tucked away from a broken case. I snagged a few bottles of pretty fresh Sweetwater 420. I won't go into the merits of "extra-pale ale" vs "India pale ale" here, but I've liked this beer for a while. Obvious C-type citrusy hop aroma and flavor with a little spiciness built in. This beer also has a solid Munich and crystal malt backbone. An excess of these malts can ruin an otherwise solid hoppy beer, in my opinion, but I think 420 is balanced pretty well.
Mogli Chocolate Porter from Caldera. They've been making a bit more of this recently, but this one is from 2013 in an attempt to drink down a bloated cellar. Many other barrel-aged chocolately beers out there involve bourbon, which is a good match, but there's also something to be said for a plain old oak barrel. It's a slightly more robust porter up front, with a bit of oaky tannins in the mouthfeel. Then there's an explosion of chocolate, and a bone dry, vinous finish. Yes, please.
No matter how long it has been since I last visited ChurchKey, it always feels like it has been too long. This weekend I popped in for a couple of late afternoon beers with friends, some of whom had never been to ChurchKey before (crazy!). First up was Stone's Japanese Green Tea IPA. One of my favorite things about such an extensive beer list is the ability to get a 4 ounce pour of something completely intriguing and interesting, but that you're not sure you'll enjoy. This I did enjoy. From its verdant translucence to the earthy hop notes on the back end, this was a winner. And its spot-on green tea flavor (similar to the matcha powder you'd find in a green tea latte at Starbucks) completely masked the 10.1% ABV.
Next up was a Cherry Stout from Bell's Brewing Company. I'm a huge fan of both Bell's and of cherry so I'm pleased to say the Cherry Stout did not disappoint. While I would have preferred an even more prominent cherry flavor, I appreciated that there was only minimal sweetness to it and that the cherry flavor shone through with a tartness that was very fun to find in a stout. Complex and rich, I would definitely recommend trying this if you see it.
I'm a strong proponent of beer at brunch. I don't enjoy savory tomato-and-vodka drinks, and most champagne cocktails are overpriced and sickly sweet, whereas a good beer list will cover a wide range of flavors to match your meal. So when my wife and I headed up north to meet some friends at SoBo in Baltimore's Federal Hill, I came in knowing that I'd likely be the only one opting for a draft.
The neighborhood joint had just the list I was hoping for: a handful of interesting, varied options, all from the greater Baltimore area. Hoppy stuff from Union and Heavy Seas, a RIS from Flying Dog, and a winter warmer from DuClaw. Most were presented without brewery names, which suggested locals' familiarity with the brands. I went with Brewer's Art Resurrection, an abbey dubbel brewed two miles due north.
I hadn't ordered a Resurrection in a dog's age so I had only faint memories of what it tasted like, but I know other Brewer's Art Belgian styles like the back of my hand and trusted them not to steer me wrong. The pint placed before me was surprisingly light for the style – more light amber than ruby – but the aroma and head said Belgian yeast all the way. Strong but not too strong, fruity but not sweet, not quite as rich and raisiny as some other dubbels, and sixteen ounces for three dollars less than the typical brunch libations. It wasn't a revelatory experience, but Resurrection served well that day.