Courtesy Leon Harris
Courtesy Leon Harris

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Beer: Heroic Aleworks’ Mind Trappe Belgian Dubbel

Maker: Leon Harris, head brewer Heroic Aleworks

Hometown: Woodbridge, Virginia

Price: $16 for 64 oz.

Taste: Aromas of raisin and fig leap from a glass of Mind Trappe Belgian Dubbel. The brown ale starts sweet and finishes dry, begetting a velvety smooth mouthfeel with pleasant notes of dark chocolate and cacao. A peppery Belgian-yeast character pricks the palate on the finish.

Story: Black brewers have been making beer in America for centuries, especially in Virginia. Monticello, the historic estate run by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, notes that Jefferson’s slaves planted hops in 1794. By 1813, black brewer Peter Hemings took control of the brewing and malting operations. Despite this rich history, there are still too few brewers of color today.

“I don’t think there’s enough diversity in craft beer,” Harris says. “There are a lot of women in craft beer, which is great. They even have their own society [Pink Boots Society], which is amazing, but I would love to see more people of color in the craft beer industry.”

Heroic, a comic-book-themed brewery in Woodbridge, Virginia, opened in January, and Harris has already received high praise for Mind Trappe Belgian Dubbel. The Belgian-style ale uses sugar as an ingredient to add color and dryness. When added before fermentation, sugar gives yeast more fermentables to convert into alcohol, making the beer a pleasant and sneaky 7.5 percent alcohol by volume. “From what I understand, we’re the only brewery in the area with a Belgian Dubbel,” Harris says. “We make our own candy sugar right here outside our bay doors.”—Michael Stein