Last weekend was a Jailbreak-filled weekend. And I’m not complaining. (A miracle unto itself, given that, as I’m an only child, whining and complaining are two of my favorite things. After beer, cheese and sleeping.)
Friday night, co-founder Justin Bonner was on hand at Staples Corner for a tap takeover. And on Sunday, Patrick and I hit up the Friends and Family Opening at the brewery, with the T&J Waffles food truck on-site to make my tummy oh so happy. Real talk: You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten one of their waffle sandwiches. Deelish.
Waffles notwithstanding, however, the most important thing about these two events is the beer.
As you may recall, when I wrote my column on this brewery not too long ago, I declared it was going to “rock Maryland’s craft beer scene,” even though I hadn’t had anything from them yet.
Was that crazy, irresponsible journalism on my part? Probably. But most things having to do with beer are crazy and irresponsible, so who cares?
Lucky for me, my gamble paid off — which is great, because I hate looking like an a-hole. Admittedly, their Made Wit Basil a few weeks back was a complete tease, but that was expected; it’s hard to get a grasp on a brewery with one single beer. But after this weekend, I have to say I’m damned impressed.
Here’s a quick rundown of their five current major releases, with descriptions provided by the brewery…
Made Wit Basil
A variation of the classical Belgian style wheat beer with traditional notes of bitter orange peel and coriander, and infused with copious amounts of fresh basil. Unfiltered and unapologetically abnormal. (4.0 percent ABV.)
A well-balanced double IPA with a semisweet malt backbone and complimented with generous amounts of citrus and tropical fruit hops. Rich, delicious and rewardingly punishing. (8.0 percent ABV.)
A lightly roasted porter fermented with sweet cherries and a late addition of tart, black cherries. The result is a semisweet and slightly tart perfectly dark porter with loads of complexity and depth of flavor. This brew is certain to bring out your animal attraction for the strange and unfamiliar. (5.5 percent ABV.)
Welcome to Scoville
An artisanal style IPA combining mildly bitter hops, garden fresh jalapeno peppers and cilantro. With a moderate malt profile, this culinary concoction offers both an easy drinking IPA and a bowl full of jalapenos without the burn or bittering one might expect. Never would Scoville have imagined such a fitting match for the world’s perfect pepper. (6.9 percent ABV.)
An escape from the every day cider, this honey apple ale is perfectly apple with a crisp, refreshing, dry ale finish. Orchard fresh apple combined with a hint of spice, this ale is decidedly not the sweet or syrupy cider you’ve grown accustomed to. DECIDE for yourself. (6.0 percent ABV.)
Welcome to Scoville is not only my hands-down favorite of the bunch — seriously, the lack of heat does not matter, because it’s perfect — it also typifies what makes their first lineup so good; it embodies the respect and obvious reverence they have for their ingredients.
It isn’t about making the baddest or biggest beer, with as many ingredients as possible. Each element of what they put in their beers is given room to breathe and shine, coming through bright and clear with each sip. Scoville actually helped me appreciate how flavorful jalapenos are, outside of their obvious heat.
Another example of this reverence is The Kavorka. Full disclosure, I hate cherries. They’re like little death bombs for your mouth, intent on leaving nothing but sadness (and sometimes shame) in their wake. But The Kavorka works. Instead of the roasted malt profile of the porter and the tartness of the cherries duking it out like Cher and Madonna trying to compete for the spotlight, it’s exceptionally well-balanced. Because of this, I ended up appreciating the components separately, as well as as a whole.
Oh, and then there’s the Decider. If you don’t like cider on the whole, this honey apple ale is for you. It’s perfect, crisp and refreshing, with a nice little flash of what tastes like mulling spices at the end — nothing overpowering, just a nice subtle touch at the tail end.
The Big Punisher is also great. It’s more tropical and earthy than your run-of-the-mill imperial IPA citrus explosions, which was a nice, refreshing change. And the Made Wit Basil? It’s tasty, but in retrospect, it was a preview of what was to come. Lots of flavor packed in a little package, but my personal preferences lead me to like the others a bit better.
Overall, I’m totally digging the cut of their beer jib. But I’m also a little sad. I know they’re not going to have a core lineup, so I know one day I’m going to have to say goodbye to some of my new beer “friends.” (Seriously, I’m going to cry big, ugly “I JUST GOT DUMPED” tears when I can’t get Welcome to Scoville anymore.) That said, I’m sure they’ll be presenting me with a lot of new beer “friends,” down the road to help me cope with the loss.
Holy crap, I just wrote legit beer reviews. What’s wrong with me? Who am I?
P.S. I got to meet Hipster Brewfus on Sunday. And it was awesome.
P.P.S. Also, I didn’t realize until Sunday that the Jailbreak key was in the shape of Maryland. I’m dumb.