Today’s Silvio Saturday is a chronicle of Silvio’s trip to a craft beer tweetup earlier this week. Which reminds me…stay tuned for the next Boston Craft Beer Tweetup, tentatively scheduled for Sat. June 26th. More details coming soon. Anywho let’s hear about Silvio’s adventure!
Earlier this week I went to a craft beer tweetup with two co-workers who really know their beer and enjoy drinking it just as much as me, Brian (@B_Batchelder) and Dan (@danhorowitz). The event was at ChurchKey, in downtown D.C. ChurchKey has a great reputation as a classy place with an incredible beer menu, so I was really pumped to check it out.
We decided the best way to start off the night would be with samplers of three tulip glasses of beer, perfect for trying out some new brews we had never heard of. Our beer sommelier (awesome!) helped us pick out three Belgian IPAs, and we set out to review them together.
First up was Douze, a Belgian IPA brewed in Switzerland with Guerande sea salt and American hops. Sounded complicated, but it had a cloudy amber color and smelled great – very hoppy, just how I like them. I thought the Douze was very piney on the nose, while Dan thought it was citrusy to start and bitter at the end, and Brian thought it had a decent hoppy flavor and a strong finish. Overall, this is a really tasty beer, with a decent 6.5% ABV.
Next up was Great Divide’s Belgica, a Belgian IPA. I’ve enjoyed Great Divide before so I had high hopes going in. The beer was crystal clear, almost the same color as bourbon, but without much of an aroma. I thought the Belgica had a strong nose and strange aftertaste – way too sweet and malty. Brian thought it was boring, with no aftertaste or hops. Dan had interesting insight, as he thought it tasted like apple juice with a fishy aftertaste. I definitely agreed on both descriptions, and wouldn’t ever get this again, even with the hearty 7.2% ABV. It’s interesting to compare our thoughts to Josh’s previous review.
The final beer in our sampler was Stillwater Artisinal Ale’s Channel-Crossing Cask Ale, a Belgian IPA aged in a French oak cask. It sounded compelling, with a dark amber color and bitter smell. While the color was deep, the taste was anything but with a really light and watered down flavor. It didn’t seem to have any real body to it at all. Dan thought it wasn’t drinkable and compared it to lukewarm brown water. Brian called it bitter without being enjoyable, and couldn’t taste the alcohol even though it had a 7.0% ABV. This was the consensus least favorite of the three.
After two disappointing beers in a row, I needed some noms to cleanse my palate. Fortunately, ChurchKey has an incredible bar menu. We settled on an order of gourmet tater tots and some mac and cheese sticks. All I can say is – wow, what great noms for drinking beer. Within moments I was ready for my next beer, and decided to go with a pint by myself.
The Rogue Ales’ John John Juniper Ale literally jumped off the menu at me. This American Pale Ale is flavored with Juniper berries, and is aged in barrels previously used to mature rogue spruce gin. It had an opaque golden color and an incredible smell. The juniper aroma is unmistakable, but fortunately (for me, at least) the beer doesn’t taste at all like gin. Instead, it’s got a cool citrus flavor, and tastes exactly like it smells. The aftertaste was smooth, with some hoppy hints. I really liked this beer, and would recommend it to anyone. It’s also got a bit of punch with a 6.9% ABV.
I stuck around for a while, also trying the Founders’ Centennial Ale and the Oskar Blues’ Gubna Imperial IPA, but to be honest I was getting pretty buzzed and didn’t do much in the way of reviewing. However, I loved both of these beers and will try to review them sometime soon. Bottom line – if you live near, or are ever visiting Washington, D.C. and you like beer, ChurchKey is a must-stop.