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In a mad dash to follow through on last year’s New Year’s resolution, my end-of-the year catch up continues with the Super List from July. Out of all the beers I tasted that month, below are the ones that dazzled me. Had any of them and agree or disagree on their merit? Let’s dance.
Oliver Breweries Cherry Blossom Ale (on cask at Pratt Street Ale House, Baltimore, MD) – This one-off brew from Stephen Jones at Oliver Breweries poured a clear mahogany brown and had vanilla, cherry, and English ale aromas and flavors. It was a beautifully balanced malty, refreshing, light-bodied ale.
Mad Fox Saison (Mad Fox Brewpub, Falls Church, VA) – Bill Madden‘s locally brewed saison is made with yeast from Brasserie DuPont, makers of Saison DuPont in Belgium, and spiced with coriander, bold Tellicherry peppercorns, and black cumin. The 6%-abv hazy gold brew smelled earthy with notes of wheat bread and oranges. It had nice carbonation and had a great combination of citrus, earth, and spice characters.
Schlafly’s American IPA (on draft during JulyPA Days at Pizzeria Paradiso Dupont) – Out of all the beers Greg Jasgur featured during his IPA-fest this summer, this one was my favorite. The special release from The Saint Louis Brewery, makers of Schlafly beers, poured a pale orange amber and smelled sweet and fruity. It tasted buttery with some banana and peach flavors. Despite its high alcohol percentage (8%), the beer was balanced and crisp with a nice boozy punch in the finish. Mikkeller Cascade Single Hop IPA (on draft during JulyPA Days at Pizzeria Paradiso Dupont) – Not all hops are created equal, and in my opinion, Cascade and Nelson Sauvin are superior. It should be no surprise that the beers made with each of these hops are my favorites out of Mikkeller’s Single Hop Series. This hazy orange-amber 6.9%-abv IPA had complex aromas of salt, earth, sour plum, and strawberry. It tasted peppery with some pineapple flavors, and the mouth feel was light and earthy.
Alvinne Cuvee de Freddy 2009 (in bottle at private Imperial Stout tasting) – This 8%-abv murky dark brown ale is a blend of Belgium brewery Picobrouwerij Alvinne’s base beer for the Kerasus, their Flemish Sour Ale, and the Mano Negra, their Imperial Stout. The surprisingly sour beer had a mellow taste with hints of dark caramel, roast coffee, and cream, with some funk underneath. It was silky but acidic and sour, and the aftertaste was an interesting balance between tart and roast flavors. Cuvee de Freddy is aged one year in burgundy wine barrels and then blended before bottling with a third portion fresh Alvinne Podge Belgian Imperial Stout.
Deschutes The Abyss 2007 Reserve (in bottle at private Imperial Stout tasting) – This 11%-abv three-year-old Imperial Stout from Deschutes Brewery in Oregon poured a dark mahogany and had a thin tan head. The beer had a particularly complex nose, with fig, licorice, butterscotch, and alcohol aromas. Flavors included alcohol, coffee, dark fruit, nuts, and cinnamon. The aftertaste was roasty and dry like dark, bitter cocoa.
Ithaca Flower Power IPA (in bottle at Pizzeria Paradiso Georgetown) – This IPA from upstate New York poured a deep gold and had a foamy cream head. The 7.5%-abv beer had a grassy, citrusy, hop-filled nose and tasted as it smelled with a nice malt balance. My notes show that it had a “dry, awesome finish” and there was “not much to say but DELICIOUS.”
Harviestoun Ola Dubh 18 (on draft at ChurchKey) – This Scottish 8%-abv pitch black beer, aptly named “Black Oil,” is aged in casks used to mature Highland Park 18 Year Old whiskey. I expected smoke and peat flavors typical of beers aged in Scottish whiskey barrels but was delighted to find this batch had an insanely sweet vanilla frosting flavor and a silky mouth feel that made the beer quite easy to drink, despite the inclination to frost cupcakes with it.