Friday, December 13, 2013

5th Street Brewpub Local Tap Takeover

Yes, I know this event was yesterday. But I’m lazy and I hate crowds. Plus, showing up at lunchtime the next day means I can get a full run of sample-sized pours to taste and contemplate at my leisure (make sure you pronounce it the British way, too: with a soft e rather than a hard e so that it sounds like pleasure and not either—it makes my gadabout ways seem even more luxurious and delightful). I even took notes, which is really not that shocking, although it did garner odd looks from my fellow patrons. But that, my dear readers, is the price of learning.

There were nine beers from seven breweries featured at the Tap Takeover, although I am only going to discuss six of the beers here: I am intentionally leaving out the three from Yellow Springs. After all, some might claim that it would be a conflict of interest for me to include reviews of Yellow Springs Brewery beers. Which is probably true. I do regularly volunteer at Yellow Springs. However, that is not why I am excluding them. As you can see in the picture I clearly had all nine beers. I’m no fool—I went to sup on our growing number of local beers, regardless of producer. Still, I am choosing to exclude them because they were by far the three best beers of the flight. Yes, all three of them. Consider this analogy: when you were 14 and your younger sibling was 8, backyard sports games were, most likely, a one-sided ass-kicking of humiliation. For you. At least I hope so. Sure, maybe someday that younger sibling will grow up and beat you senseless like you most certainly deserve. But not today. Because today 14 crushes 8. And in this scenario, Yellow Springs is 14. So while my biases do exist, so does quality. And, yes, for the purposes of this post, I’m equating beating up your little brother with quality. If my analogy still confuses you, let me know and I’ll build you a diorama. Or draw you a diagram. Or you can just cry me a water planet, freeze it, and call it Hoth. Your call.

So, without further ado, the other six beers. They broke pretty easily into three distinct gradations, which I’ve dubbed The Good, The In-Between, and The Not-So-Good. Sorry, but due diligence calls for brutal honesty. So really, I’m not sorry. I see good beer as a civic responsibility.

The Good:
Star City Milk Stout: Not the milkiest of milk stouts, but clean and drinkable; more akin to a sweeter dry stout than a milk or sweet stout. Or maybe a chocolate stout, but now I’m just being silly. There is a nice balance between roast malt and chocolate malt, accompanied by some biscuit and bread crust malt flavors. As the beer warmed, flavors turned towards cocoa. Smooth and well-made.

Lock 27 Mouth Breather IPA: Nice hop nose, with orange, citrus, and earthy aromas. There is a touch of metallic, but only slightly. The body features lots of hop flavor: it starts with orange and citrus, runs to resin and pine, and finishes with lingering bitterness. As the beer warmed, the bitterness started to run towards lacquer. While there is malt present, it mostly stays out of the way and merely functions as a backdrop to the hops.

The In-Between:
Cellar Dweller Orange VV Wheat: There was fruit and phenolic in the nose, specifically, clove and a touch of plastic. Bread dough flavors in front and finish; there is a slight plastic phenolic bite in the middle, as well as a zesty citrus accompanied by a touch of spicy pith that was the highlight of the beer. The body was a bit muddy in regards to the flavors—as was the nose with aromas—but the finish was clean.

Dayton Beer Company—or Kettering Beer Company, as Nate refers to them—Broken Trolley Blonde: In the nose I found candy and biscuit malt, along with grape and orange pith. The body was cracker malt with a touch of graininess in the flavor and mouthfeel. The biscuit and cracker in the finish was pleasant; the beer was mostly clean, and it was balanced well.

The Not-So-Good:
Toxic Abbey Tripel: While a tripel is a bigger beer, it should be drier with a lighter malt character on the palate and bright carbonation. Tripels are notoriously deceptive, in that they drink like a much smaller beer given their other characteristics. This beer had none of that: it was big, flabby, sticky, and under-attenuated. The body sat on your tongue. Heavily. It did have some of the creamy mouthfeel you look for in a tripel, and some pleasant fruit, specifically pear and grape, but none of the spicy phenols and peppers that serve to balance and brighten the beer. On the positive side, it had none of the infected adhesive plastic flavors found in previous Toxic beers, so that is a plus. Still, this is closer to a Belgian Strong or an Old Ale.

Hairless Hair DIPA: The most distinguishing characteristic of an IPA is the hop aroma, flavor, and bitterness. Without this, it is not an IPA. In the nose, there was a slight metallic orange hop aroma, but mostly malt: caramel, candy, and bread dough. There was a touch of the orange in the flavor, although it was mainly swallowed up by the heavy-handed caramel flavors, and very little bitterness in either the middle or finish. This, in other words, was a malt bomb. While the malt was nice—it was chewy and rounded, with some complexity—there was not even close to enough hop presence.

The first two beers I would happily try again. In fact, both impressed me enough to warrant the vague and indistinct promise of a visit to the actual brewery at some point in the future. I’ll continue to try beers from the other four breweries—that, too, is my civic duty—but probably not so jovially. Still, a man of leisure (remember, British pronunciation!) like myself needs just such a challenge to stay on top of his game.


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