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 email@example.com, and you might just find your post in another new segment, which is aptly named What You're Drinking.
Paul Josuns, Staff Writer
Sometimes I'm in the mood for a simple, crisp, and hoppy beer. It's no secret that I am a huge hop head, and Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Hoppy Lager is right in my wheelhouse. It's very well-balanced and is a dangerously drinkable beer at 7% ABV. This particular Beer Camp is a collab with Ballast Point – another west coast brewery I'm a big fan of. When you combine two breweries with a history of brewing excellent beer – especially excellent hoppy beers – I'm in.
Hoppy Lager is a modest 55 IBUs and has a striking hop flavor while not being particularly bitter. I'm a fan of fermenting hoppy beers with a low-ester yeast, thus allowing the hop flavors and aromas to really shine. I'm glad they moved away from the typical C-hops for this beer and experimented with relatively new hop varietals that impart a grassy and fleshy-fruit flavor and aroma. This would be a perfect beer for weekends when the temperature was over 65 degrees and it was sunny. Oh well, I guess I'll have to settle for radiator heat and college basketball.
Jacob Berg, Staff Writer
With "Operation Drink Down the Cellar" in full swing, I figured it was time to open up a 2012 Brux, a Belgian-style golden ale that's a collaboration between Russian River and Sierra Nevada. The beer is named after the strain of brettanomyces present in the bottle, a secondary fermentation, and I figured it would be plenty funky. As it turns out, Russian River's brett brux is less farmhouse than tropical, complementing the faded hops. I got notes of green pear, apple, straw, toast, and stone fruits, with a bone dry finish. I suppose that it wasn't done fermenting, because though I capped the bottle, when I woke up the next morning, the stopper was on the floor. So it goes.
Mike Stein, Staff Writer
Saturday was a busy day, just as last Saturday had been. So when 5 O'Clock rolled around I reached for the same beer that I had last Saturday: Troegs Nugget Nectar. Two Saturdays ago it had been from a bottle, last Saturday it had come from a can. Hard to believe I first came across this beer about a decade ago in a small Pennsylvania town as an undergrad. I'd heard rumors about this year's batch of Nugget tasting better than others and while I don't typically succumb to the hyperbole before I taste, I found this to be true. A bottling date from the imbibing two Saturdays ago (props to Troegs for the born-on bottle dates) revealed the Imperial Amber Ale to be 11 days old, bottled on 1/12. Whereas last Saturday's born-on date was 1/16. Still smelling arguably as fresh as it did coming out of the brite tank, an array of Nugget, Tomahawk, and Warrior greeted my nose with a stinging floral bouquet that got the glands going. A nice strong malt backbone and a bracingly bitter finish rounded out the beer. Saturday's taste was more dry and more bitter than I'd remembered it almost a decade ago. To me the difference in packaging from a can to a bottle was undetectable. But in the end I liked the 16-ounce pounders better–because 16 oz of Nectar is definitely better than 12.
On Saturday I followed up the Nugget Nectar with Pipeworks Brewing Company's Raspberry Truffle Abduction. This offering from the Chicago-based brewery was quite a doozy. At 10.5% ABV it was nice to have 6 friends to imbibe with. While the stout didn't taste thin it was clear the raspberries, vanilla beans, and cacao nibs had softened some of the viscous nature of this massive stout (interestingly enough the brewery doesn't list Truffles as one of its ingredients on its website http://pdubs.net/rta/). While I am not Ahab–a hunter for whales– it's nice to be the beneficiary of my friends who do trade.
Chris Van Orden, Co-Editor
When I paid my first visit to Brookland's Finest Saturday night – yes, I've been remiss in my co-editor duties – I was utterly wiped out. An early morning soccer game and an unexpectedly strenuous hike had pretty much wrecked me, so I walked through the doors with a chill in my bones and mighty thirst. That night, only a big, dark, boozy number would fit the bill, but most of the draft options were of the drinkable and/or hoppy variety. I found myself waffling between Port City Porter and DC Brau's Penn Quarter Porter. Both are stellar renditions, but I'd had them in the past week or two. Thankfully, I thought to ask about the rotating local tap; it turned out to be DC Brau's Stone of Arbroath.
I'm not the biggest fan of beer styles on the far end of the malty-hoppy spectrum, but a good Wee Heavy in the right circumstance is a thing of beauty. A 10 oz pour in a thick-walled, stemless wine glass – the same kind holding my wife's riesling – was placed in front of me. Deep russet brown with minimal lacing, SoA is less dark fruit and more toffee/caramel, with just enough roast and alcohol warmth to keep the sweetness down. The beer and I slowly warmed up together, and by the time it was gone, I was feeling pretty cozy again.