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.
Mike Stein, Staff Writer
Saturday, I had the chance to dine at Of Love and Regret in the Brewer's Hill neighborhood of Baltimore. This is a must-visit for great food and fantastic beer. Aside from the Stillwater ales, there is a great collection of local and international beers. Of interest in terms of local beer was the Wild Cherry Porter from Pub Dog Brewing. The beer was not sour – though it was a pleasant porter – especially when compared to the Italian ales I enjoyed afterwards. Italian brewer, Lover Beer makes an incredibly tart ale, Beer Bera, spontaneously fermented and aged in oak. The next ale from Italy was Birra del Borgo. Castagnale Zymatore – Grenache & Petit Verdot Barrels. What a sour ale this was. Incredibly vinous, it took much of its character from the wine barrels the blend was aged in. These beers are so sharp they can sour a lifelong friendship. One of the greatest things about Of Love and Regret is that you can sample around with half-glasses, trying many sour beers and not be in need of TUMS after a few samples.
Jake Berg, Staff Writer
On one of the coldest days of the year I headed to Brookland's Finest for some comfort food. Thought it's not sexy to hit the styles, Port City Porter is exactly what I wanted in this weather. Leather, tobacco, and hints of smoke, espresso, bittersweet chocolate, and vanilla with a grassy bitterness, dry finish, and just enough alcohol to warm you, this is an excellent example of what a robust porter should be. I bet you've got another six weeks or so, weather-wise, to revisit this beer if it's been a while. One of the best flagships in the area.
Chris Van Orden, Co-Editor
When I signed up for the inaugural 2014 season of Three Stars' Illuminati Reserve Society, I planned to sock away just about every bottle that came my way. Not only would their high-octane beers do well with some age on them, but I'd likely be able to try some of the allotments young when friends popped theirs. Now, hopheads might call me sacrilegious, but I waited nearly four months to open batch three: once fresh Two to the Dome, a big DIPA, blended with Chardonnay barrel-aged Dome. And I'm glad I did.
Saturday night, we made dinner for friends who are definitely beer fans but don't plan their weekends around it, and so I wanted to open something fun as an aperitif. When I pulled this from the fridge, their ears definitely perked up. What exactly would #3 taste like?
Even with just a few months on it, the big, citrusy hops had retreated and made room for a more vinous, floral character. It still showed its DIPA roots, but there were additional layers that had begun to integrate into a cohesive whole. It was interesting without provoking navel-gazing, the perfect dinner party beer. Between this and Harvester of Sorrows, Three Stars is fast proving itself expert with wine barrels.
Paul Josuns, Staff Writer
I planned my inaugural trip to DC Brau Saturday afternoon for growler hours. We spent a large amount of the day being layabouts and decided to go on a trip to somewhere new. We left a little too late and would arrive as they closed. Luckily, I had Hellbender's EFT IPA a couple weeks back at Kangaroo Boxing Club and wanted to check out their place in northeast, so we swung the car northbound. My favorite of the three beers I tried was definitely Bare Bones Kolsch. It was wonderfully balanced, crisp, but with plenty of hop character.
Another friend and I went to DC Brau Sunday for the end of growler hours and we had a pint of Corruption on nitro. A nitronized IPA can be hit or miss for me, but the freshness of this beer allowed the Columbus hops to pop while still being tremendously smooth.
Moral of the story? Drink fresh, drink local.
Bill DeBaun, Co-Editor
I had the good fortune of being able to swing through Ohio last week for work. On a bitterly cold, very snowy evening in Cleveland (after braving the roads to get there from Columbus), I settled into a gastropub and was pleased to see Fat Heads Head Hunter IPA in bottles. I haven't had anything from Fat Heads before, but their reputation preceded them. The beer meets the hype. Here's how I described it on Twitter: "bitter but not harsh. Refreshing and crisp but tropical and lush. I mean this is everything for IPA…Mad Fox Molotov Hoptail is closest locally. Or a cross between Mad Fox Sandy Eggo and Molotov. Lighter in body than Green Flash West Coast IPA." So if you're in Cleveland, get some Fat Heads.
Closer to home, I had the opportunity last weekend to try out Port City's COLOSSAL FOUR, a quad. As long-time readers know, I generally abhor this style. The chewy, dark fruit notes do nothing for me. Beer should be refreshing, and quads by and large, for me, are not. The exception to this rule is something like a La Trappe Quadrupel, which is something like a supercharged dubbel with notes of molasses and rich malt (like a fruitier barleywine). COLOSSAL FOUR comes from this second school. The mouthfeel isn't overly chewy, and there are definitely notes of raisin, fig, and plum here, but this is also (dangerously) drinkable with a solid malt backbone reminiscent of a Belgian brown. Look for it on draft, it won't be bottled.