They say fences make good neighbors, but I’ve found that beer is a better bond.
Marggie and I are blessed with great neighbors, and one just endeared himself to me forever (not that he wasn’t already in good graces). After a soft knock on the door yesterday, he presented me with a mixed six-pack of brewskis to celebrate my new status as a retired individual. What a guy! We immediately launched into an animated discussion of each bottle–some we’d tried, some we hadn’t, all wonderful examples of American brewing art. In the spirit of sharing what’s shared, here’s an early rundown (I’ve had only the top two so far):
Heavy Seas Dubbel Cannon from Clipper City in Baltimore: This combines two threads of brewing tradition, the IPAs of British origin with the distinctive yeast of Belgian heritage. A variation of the brewery’s Loose Cannon IPA, this strikes a good balance of complexity and drinkability–not the first beer you want after being outside on a steamy summer day (especially at 7.25 percent ABV), but a pleasant second when you have time to savor.
Devil’s Backbone Eight Point IPA: I’ve written about this before (see earlier May post), glowingly. Three thumbs up, and another example of Virginia’s brewing prowess.
Bell’s Best Brown Ale: What can you say about Bell’s other than it’s establishing a reputation as one of America’s great craft breweries. Best Brown is not my go-to choice (Two-Hearted Ale gets that honor) but I’m looking forward to letting that rich roasty toasty malty goodness bring out the best in something off the grill (salmon, maybe?).
Port City Porter: Untried. Can’t wait to see what this Alexandria, Va., brewery has here. The burden of legacy is heavy–porter was the favorite style of George Washington, whose Mount Vernon home is but a stone’s throw (silver dollar’s throw?) from Alexandria.
Brekle’s Brown from Anchor Brewing Co.: Well, here’s another brewery that ranks at the top of the American elite. The story of Fritz Maytag salvaging the San Francisco brewery is a tale in itself, not to mention the pioneer heritage of its signature style, steam beer. This brew pays tribute to Gottlieb Brekle, who, as the label informs, in the 1870s built the business that became Anchor. Lots of roasted malts, but just one variety of hops–Citra.
Ellie’s Brown Ale from Avery Brewing Co.: One more reason to love Boulder, Colo. This is named not after a brewing pioneer but a beloved chocolate Lab (my neighbor shares fond memories of Hershey, the black Lab who was the canine love of my life). The label promises quaffability (my word) with “chocolate and brown sugar maltiness” and “hints of vanilla and nuts.”
As you can see, my neighbor has excellent taste, plus a leaning toward the dark side–browns and porters. I plan to surprise him with a selection as a return gift. Any ideas?
P.S. A suggestion for summer. I love to create half and half variations to suit the situation, so the approaching dog days spur thoughts of taking one of these darker styles and adding zing with an IPA or highly hopped pale ale. I’ve got another bottle of Devil’s Backbone Eight Point IPA in the fridge, and the thought of mixing that with Bell’s Best Brown Ale has my tastebuds all atwitter.