A megaset of beers from Virginia breweries.
All The Action is an imperial IPA from The Answer. I love it. The Answer never lets me down with these huge IPAs. This one is hazy, pale yellow with average foam. The aroma is dank, humongous citrus/grapefruit and lemon... some starch, some vanilla. The flavor is dense and musty top to bottom. Lemon candy, grapefruit, and a mouthfeel that is fizzy and thick at once. The Answer makes it harder and harder for those of us who live in rural areas to subsist on grocery store beer.
I don’t think the Answer can make a bad beer. To my taste, they particularly excel at big, juicy, dank imperial IPAs. This double-dry-hopped version of Extra Credit is extremely funky and dense. It pours like grapefruit or orange juice with a lot of white foam. The aroma is like walking into the hop cooler in a brewery. Heavy, pungent hop aroma that just stays in your nostrils. The flavor is the same. On the finish the hops and the malt blend into a rich and bitter punch that hits the spot with every sip. Damn good.
Rye Hard is a collaborative rye IPA from Brothers and Stone. It pours cloudy copper colored with average head and tenacious lace. The aroma is really nice. Rye, slightly sweet notes like brown sugar, and a hop character I associate with west coast and Stone. The flavor is thin up front but closes with that grassy hop character and a fairly smooth bit of rye. Pretty good.
Brothers and Trophy came together to brew Gosecolada, a tart summery beer that tastes even lighter than it’s 5% ABV implies. It’s pretty crushable. This beer pours very clear, light yellow with a fast fading head. The aroma is typical tart gose, citrus and salt, and some coconut. The flavor is the same, although the coconut isn’t as distinct. Very bright, tart citrus top to bottom. No complaints.
Brothers Good Adweiss is a hefeweizen that pours slightly hazy yellow with lots of foam. The aroma is spice, some cloves, some bananas, lemon and pepper. The flavor is dry and mildly sweet but not overly so. It closes with more of the spice and pepper. By the numbers but well done.
Brothers Astronaut Ice Cream is a stout with almonds and raspberries. I don’t pick up on the almonds, but the raspberries are a presence on the aroma and a little bit on the flavor too. It’s a good stout. It pours black with burgundy highlights, there isn’t much phone. The aroma is typical of a big Stout, coffee and dark bread notes, and some raspberry. The flavor is Rich and strong, dark burnt malt notes, some Licorice, and a little bit of the raspberry comes through on the flavor too. I enjoyed this.
I get the impression from some of the reviews that Strangeways Hinterlander, a wild ale/barley wine kind of hybrid thing, might be a love-it-or-hate-it kind of beer. Well, I love it. It is big, funky, weird, and aggressive, and it absolutely hits the spot. It pours a dark hazy brown with a little bit of head. The aroma is funky and sweet at once. Notes of red wine vinegar, brown sugar, apples, and malt. The flavor is smooth and boozy up front and then closes with this really crazy, almost sour twist that I cannot get enough of. This is a fantastic, odd, totally unique barleywine.
Rot In Hell is another oddball beer from Strangeways, and another one that I like a lot. This beer is billed as a pumpkin sour. It pours dark brown with an average, slightly tan colored head. The aroma is very strong, I could smell it as I was pouring it. Intensely sour. A red wine vinegar character with some slightly sweet malt and an indication of the hops. The flavor is piercingly sour up front. Very sour. And then the pumpkin hits mid-tongue, and it closes with a warm and slightly sugary malt. I really like this. It really is one of the best pumpkin beers I've ever tasted.
Chaos Mountain's Ultimate Warrior is a big double IPA. It pours hazy copper/orange with a little foam and average carbonation. The aroma is citrus, pine resin, some floral notes, some onion. The flavor is really big and bitter. It starts out bitter and then on the finish goes balls to the wall, finishing up with a hop overload that really announces it’s presence on the exhale. This isn’t balanced, it’s aimed directly at hopheads. This hophead thoroughly enjoyed it.
Richmond breweries are absolutely nailing this super juicy New England IPA style. Triple Crossing's Valhala is a great example. It pours very cloudy brownish yellow with a lot of head. The aroma is citrusy and sweet and dank all at once. The flavor starts out tangy and sweet, kind of a lemon meringue thing, before finishing up with a big, musky hop punch at the end. I could drink this everyday.
I really, really love Adroit Theory. I love the way they do these fearless, malty, huge beers, such as Black As Your Soul 4.0, a port barrel aged imperial stout. Only 2,000 bottles were released and I managed to get the 324th bottle. This stout pours black (as your soul) with a big, tan-brown head. The aroma is typical of a huge imperial stout. Bitterness from the roasted malt, burnt toast, chocolate, some of the port barrel. I get more of the port on the front of the tongue, and then again on the finish. Some floral/anise notes. Chewy mouthfeel. I don’t think I will ever get tired of aggressive, dense, ham-fisted barrel aged imperial stouts when they are done well. This one is done well. Every sip was on point.
It's hard for me to not compare Devil's Backbone Survivors, a double IPA, to 16 point double IPA (my favorite thing from Devil's Backbone). This beer is good, and it reminds me of 16 Point, but it's not as aggressive. It has the same malt backbone, but the hops are a little lighter, a little more tropical. It all amounts to a beer that’s more accessible, if arguably less memorable. Survivors pours clear yellow orange with average head. The aroma is tropical and somewhat dank, with some pine resin and citrus qualities. The flavor plays The malt up front and the hops hit hard on the back, but not quite as hard as they do on 16 Point. This is a really good beer. But if you have had 16 Point and you love it like I do, you’re probably not going to like this quite as much.
Eventide is a red IPA from Seven Arrows Brewing. It pours reddish brown with a fast fading head. The aroma is is herbal and slightly sweet. Some pine and citrus notes. The pine is stronger and more dominant in the flavor, but the herbal/tea quality is still there on the finish. This is pretty good.
When we visited Seven Arrows, our server asked what kind of beer I enjoy. I told her that I’m always seeking out weird beer ... strange hybrids, odd experiments, etc. She suggested I try Spirit Track, their abbey ale that’s aged in red wine barrels. After tasting it in my flight I decided to bring home a growler so I could spend some time getting to know this beer. Ultimately I don’t think this experiment quite works. But the adventurous spirit that inspires brewers to try things like this is exactly what I look for in a brewery (see my Strangeways reviews above). I’m officially a Seven Arrows fan just based on the guts it took to brew this weird-ass beer.
Spirit Track pours a crimson brown with almost no foam at all. The aroma is crazy. I don’t get the coriander on the nose, but the oranges and wine barrels combine with the malt into something like candied fruit, hardwood tree sap, and notes of strong cheese. The taste is even stranger. The candied cherry notes are on the front of the tongue, and after that I DO get the coriander and other spicy notes. The finish is like cheap liquor, and I mean that in the best possible way. Anyone who’s ever found something to like about a bottom-shelf "rock and rye" will get it. There’s a lot of WTF to smile about in this beer. This is the kind of audacious risk that is going to lead Seven Arrows to greatness.