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Draft Notes

One beer at a time…

Archive for the month “March, 2013”

DC Brau – On The Wings of Armageddon

The Craft Brewers Conference is in full effect here in Washington DC with more tap take overs and beer releases than I have ever seen in this town. In response to CBC 2013, I decided to take a look at a local DC beer which caused a little stir last week leading into the conference: DC Brau’s On the Wings of Armageddon (OTWOA).

This is not a new beer as it was first released in February 2012 as we rode the ride to the Mayan’s end of the world prediction. The splash was made by the first release in cans of a beer that has been difficult to find on tap, even in the DC metro.

OTWOA is an imperial IPA (9.2% ABV) brewed with Pale malt, Cara-60, CaraPils and Malted wheat along with Falconer’s Flight Hops. Falconer’s are an interesting story itself. As stated on the DC Brau website:

Falconer’s Flight™ is an exclusive proprietary “hop blend” created by Hopunion LLC to honor and support the legacy of Northwest brewing legend, Glen Hay Falconer. For more information on the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation, visit www.glenfalconerfoundation.org, or for more information on Hopunion LLC, visit www.hopunion.com.

DC Brau OTWOA 6I purchased my six-pack (12oz cans) on the release day at the brewery for $17.99. Not too bad for a sought after Imperial IPA after paying $23.00 for Bells Hopslam a few months back. Not cheap though! There were only 250 cases made and it sold out quickly.

Before I move on to the actual tasting and review, I think it would be criminal of me not to take notice of the sweet art work on the can. Check it out in the pictures… not bad!

So now I can pour the can into my favorite tulip glass and check it out.

Appearance is a cloudy copper with snow-white head.

Aromas I pick up are floral, citrus and pineapple. Though I would say this is very fruity, I can definitely pick up those bready malts.DC Brau OTWOA glass

Tastes are pine, grapefruit, caramel, earthy, boozy, lingering bitter taste over takes my entire mouth. Almost paralyzing the taste buds as I wait for my next sip.

Mouth Feel contains a medium amount of carbonation. It is a bit chewy and I would still consider it of medium body.

Overall this big IPA packs that expected hop punch. They did a great job of balancing it out with the malts; however, this is definitely in that “palate wrecker” category.  The bitterness at the end completely takes over your taste buds. DC Brau has combined the look, smell, and impact I look for in an imperial IPA. I will rate On the Wings of Armageddon 4.5 Mugs out 5 on the Draft Notes Scale. Hop heads should line up for this beer, other should approach with caution.

A video of the original release at a popular DC beer spot named Church key: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6ftN_r6sQQ

Learn more about DC Brau here: www.dcbrau.com

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Devils Backbone Schwartz Bier

This week I would like to do my first review of a black lager which is one of my favorite styles due to the high amount of flavor in such a smooth, sessionable beer. The particular beer I chose is by Devils Backbone and appropriately named Schwartz Bier (Black beer).

This is my second review of a DB beer with Azrael, their Strong Belgian Ale, being one of my first posts.  As discussed in the prior post, this is a fast rising award-winning brewery out of Roseland, Virginia. Schwartz Bier won Bronze in the World Beer Cup in 2010 and has racked up a few Virginia craft beer awards.

This beer clocks in at 4.9% ABV. As you can see in the pictures, my review was done from a 12 oz bottle poured into a mug.DB Schwartz - Glass

Appearance is midnight black with a small amount of khaki colored head.

Aromas I detect are roast notes, chocolate, and molasses. Nothing really jumping out, but that is to be expected with this style.

Tastes are roasted malt/barley, a little espresso, caramel, molasses, and a bitterness which hits at the end as the beer clears off the tongue.

With such a dark beer it is natural to anticipate a heavy mouth feel, but this style is far from it. Schwartz Bier has a light body and is clean and crisp. Almost dries out the mouth after the bitterness fades. Medium to low amount of carbonation.

Overall I find this to be very representative of the black lager style:  Plenty of roasted flavors, bittersweet, and quite refreshing. I can’t find too much negative about this beer and it is nothing but satisfying, so I will rate Devil’s Backbone Schwartz Bier 4.5 Mugs on the Draft Notes Scale. DB Schwartz - Label

This style is a definitely a nice break from traditional winter beers I have been drinking over the last few months such as stouts, strong ales, and warmers.

Don’t get Devil’s Backbone in your neighborhood? Some popular Black Lagers you could look for are Kostritzer (one of the oldest and original producers in Germany), Sam Adams Black Lager, and Full Sail Session Black Lager.  I had a great one in Charleston, SC last month by Westbrook called Dark Helmut if you are lucky enough to live in that area (or visit).

Devils Backbone: http://www.dbbrewingcompany.com

Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning Uber Pils

I decided to head up highway 95 for this week’s beer, Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning Uber Pils. This is an imperial pilsner brewed in Baltimore, MD by a brewery who has had a few identity issues over the years.

Per the breweries website, they were founded in 1994 as Clipper City Brewing Company. In 1997 they absorbed Oxford Brewing Company and then added the new Heavy Seas brand in 2003. Not until recently, in 2010, did they merge all the products under the single brand of Heavy Seas brand. Heavy Seas maintains 3 series of beers under the names Clipper Fleet, the Pyrate Fleet, and the Mutiny Fleet.Small Craft Warning Label

Now in saying all this, the address on the labels small print still says Clipper City Brewing and they have not done a great job identifying which “fleet” the Uber Pils belongs to on either the website or bottle. The identity crisis continues.

Small Craft Warning contains 7.0%ABV and 35 IBUs. The make-up of this beer includes a whopping 6 types of hops: Warrior, Palisade, French Strisselspalt, Saaz, Simcoe, and Cascade.  Additionally, they have included 2-row, Munich, and Caramalt malts.

The serving I will review will be a 12 oz bottle poured into a pilsner glass.

Small Craft Warning GlassAppearance is a brilliant orange with minimal head. Recedes quickly leaving minimal to no lacing.

Aromas are Spicy hops, apricot, and honey.

Tastes are heavy in earthy flavors and toast, malt forward with a spicy hop flavor following through. Well balanced, but nothing really jumping out at me. After taste is a bit funky.

Mouth feel: Perfect carbonation for my taste, fairly light body and very clean.

Overall this is a nice pilsner with a bit of kick. All around a solid beer with nothing much to say negative; however, nothing is really jumping out at me to set it apart from others. A very safe pilsner that would keep most beer drinkers satisfied. If you are big on spicy hops, this beer may stand out a little more to you. I will rate Small Craft Warning Uber Pils 3 Mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes Scale.

Learn more about Clipper City, err… Oxford, err…. Heavy Seas at http://www.hsbeer.com/.

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