Ever had a hot beer? No, I don’t mean a beer at room temperature, I mean the kind of beer where you take small sips of the frothy beverage because it stands up and says “Hah! You can’t take a full taste of me! Go ahead, I dare you!”? Yeah, I said the same thing, “Why would I want such a beer?”
Well, leave it to Evil Twin Brewing (446 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, NY, 11249, www.eviltwin.dk) to introduce a beer that is all that and more – and you get and leave the bar and say to yourself “I liked it!” It is called You’re In the Jungle Baby! and it is scintillatingly good.
The beer itself is not so common among the bars in Northern Virginia and I discovered it in the fridge at the Spacebar (709 W. Broad Street, Fall Church, VA 22046 V: 703-992-0777; www.spcbr.com). Spacebar is a post-industrial themed bar owned by the same people who own Galaxy Hut. Their drafts move pretty quickly (they have 24 drafts) and they have few in a fridge immediately to the right. That is where You’re In the Jungle Baby! lurks.
Now for the information: 12% ABV (this beer brings its own strength), the color is dark, and the aroma is hot and spicy (you can feel the heat in the glass even though it is cooled down). The taste kind of sneaks up on you and when you think it is safe to make a pronouncement, it stings you. Like wild fire. There is a strong pepper flavor that just leaps up and takes a hold of your mouth by the tongue. But the sensation is actually pleasant. Its hot but not in the way that reminded me a Mexicali pepper. It is deeper and richer. The crazy part is that you would like to have more of it even though you know what happens.
It takes a few minutes to calm down, but by then you are confident you are going to tear up. It took about 2 hours for the reaction to finally settle itself out. But it still creates an interesting question: Would I do it again?
However, if you thought that this was all the evenings activities was completed, you were wrong. The evening in Maryland and the Smoketown Brewing Station was far from over. I could turn for home or I could venture out a little further into the hinterlands and reach Charles Town, WV. I opted for a visit to a state that sided with the Union in the Civil War and found the Abolitionist Ale House.
Wedged into row of small mixed used store fronts, the Abolitionist Ale House (129 W Washington Street, Charles Town, WV 25414 v: 681-252-1548 www.abolitionistaleworks.com) is nicely modern on the inside. The brewery consists of two gutted two buildings (at a minimum) and then connects them together to give a nice large floor plan. They support about sixteen high end brews on a continuous basis and have the ability to handle a large number of folks. After I scooted over there (it was a 15-20 minute drive on some fairly twisty roads in Maryland) and got parked on Washington Street, I received a nice bar brief and made a selection – a West by Quad.
The West by Quad is one of their better beers and their is a reason for the care: It is really good! It is a Belgian Quad that is fermented in Breaux wine barrels and West Virginia honey combs. Rich malty flavors dominate with hints of dark fruit and honey sweetness, finishing with hints of oak. Color is dark and the aroma leaves you with red wine and honey. The beer has a feeling of envelopment and you really lose yourself in the oak and nicely placed bits of honey comb. It has a 9.5% ABV.
It gave this 4 1/4 stars on Untappd.
The next beer I tried was the Rye Pale Ale. Now as pale ale goes, this is pretty standard stuff, but what I was really interested in was the rye. Rye is used as a flavoring agent, but it is usually in such large amounts that it overwhelms the rest of the beverage.
The rye in the Rye Pale Ale is part of a nice blend that goes along with the hops. It adds a slightly nutty flavor, but not an overwhelming sort. It has an ABV of 5.3%, a color more akin to dark copper and an aroma with a high hop count.
The marketing information give a nice summary: “An copper amber beer hopped with Mosaic and Citra hops, it has fruity hop flavors balanced by a malt backbone with subtle hints of caramel and spice.”
The combination of the hops and the rye really gave the drink the kick that it needed. Smooth to the touch, the Rye Pale Ale was a nice complement to the West by Quad, though I don’t think I could made it a recommendation.