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Friday, April 7, 2017

Happy Birthday, I'm 43 - Team D(r)INKing in Virginia: Day 3 of 3

I felt like a bag of assholes on Sunday morning. Surprisingly, I got up earlier than everyone except Deuane and went downstairs. Deuane was making breakfast, and I was looking to erase the fog that had infiltrated my brain from the previous night and had worn out its welcome. I felt a little better after breakfast (a tasty spinach fritata with a side of potato hash and coffee), but still didn't really feel up for much drinking. Of course, when I say that, it means that I will still begrudgingly consume beer if and when presented to me. This morning, I decided to crack open a bottle that had been residing in my beer cellar for a decade. Back when my band herbie used to play at Dogfish Head's brewpub in Rehoboth Beach, one of the assistant brewers, Brian, used to come out and see us all the time. He also knew I was into the beer scene, so he'd always bring out like a case of beer for me (ok... us, but mostly me). He once gave me two bottles of 120 Minute IPA in addition to a bunch of other stuff. One bottle, I shared with the band at a rehearsal shortly after producing said bottle. The other one would lie dormant in my cellar.

Until now, that is!

It was time to crack open this 10-year-old bottle (at 10 a.m. no less) and see how kind (or unkind) the years have been to it. The bottle cap was crusty as all hell, and the bottle was dusty and ravaged by time. I didn't have high hopes. I'd had this beer fresh on tap once, and it was like drinking rubbing alcohol. (It is actually my third lowest rated beer on Beer Advocate - only ahead of Bud Chelada and BrewDog's Tactical Nuclear Pengiun - out of the 1661 beers I reviewed during my heyday. You can read the review HERE.)

2007 DFH 120 Min. in a plastic cup, no less.
I must say that this wasn't terrible. It was dark and foreboding for an IPA, and a malt bomb for sure, but the 18% ABV gave this puppy plenty of shelf life. I must say it was more enjoyable than the fresh version I tasted on tap all those years ago. At the very least, it was a fun experiment. It's not as hard to hold on to beer for 10 years when you have so much of it! With that said, I'm glad it's out of my beer cellar.

After everyone had breakfast and got cleaned up, it was time to say goodbye to Dunlodge and start the drive back to PA. While we were packing up our belongings that morning, this happened...

Yup, that's poor Jamberg's bottles of Goose Island BCB Rare and Coffee, which escaped from his cooler after he inadvertently latched his cooler strap onto the door while loading the car. D'oh! Luckily, we were able to salvage the bottle of Proprietors 2017, which we decided to drink before we left. Couldn't waste that one! Lisa's Pepsi bottle escaped unscathed. Perhaps Goose Island needs to start packaging its beers in shock-resistant plastic rather than antiquated glass. C'mon, Goose Island... get with the program!

Our first stop of the day was Dulles, VA's Ocelot. I'd heard the term "ocelot" before but honestly didn't know what it meant. Proving once again his undeniable omniscience, Deuane informed me that an ocelot is a small mountain cat (kind of like a dwarf leopard). Come to think of it, that would be a great name for a Def Leppard tribute band comprised of midgets, wouldn't it? Of course it would. Speaking of music, this place had a definite music vibe, which I appreciated. A colorful, psychedelic mural depicting band logos and mascots adorned the wall just as we entered the tasting room. Beers were named after song lyrics, and the back wall housing its barrels was dubbed "The Barrel Wall" in a sweet Pink Floyd The Wall font. I knew right away that this place was up my alley.

Trippy mural inside the entrance to Ocelot.

The beer list here sounded off the hook - four awesome sounding IPAs, a coffee stout, a maple stout, and much more. Well, that's just what I ended up ordering. I had to start things off with Nocturnal, an amazing coffee stout aged on vanilla and cacao. Wow! This was easily one of the highlights of the trip, and this beer brought me out of my morning funk. After talking to the brewer, turns out it was a "happy mistake" because they weren't happy with the base beer, so they decided to salvage it and throw in vanilla and cacao. Whatever they did, it worked, because this beer was special. Brewslut was equally bowled over with the Megaton Maple, a maple stout brewed in collaboration with a homebrew contest winner. She liked it better than Nocturnal. I didn't. Sometimes we don't see eye to eye, and that's OK. At least we both know we don't want kids! That would put a serious damper on our beer traveling, don't you think? Yeah, me too!

Pleeps and I were infatuated with Nocturnal.

We followed up these amazing beers with three generous sampler pours of three IPAs (the fourth had kicked just before I ordered this flight, unfortunately):
  • Waterfalls - hopped with Waimea and experimental "06300" hops
  • Juvenile Success - hopped with Azacca and Mosaic
  • Jacks N Jokers - hopped with Simcoe and Amarillo
All three were very good, but are listed above in order of preference from good, gooder, goodest. The people here were great, too. Down to earth and chill is my speed... unless I'm stuck in traffic. You don't wanna know Ffej in traffic mode. You wouldn't like it when Ffej is in traffic mode. Bruce Banner's got nothing on me.

If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any barrel-aged stout!

Speaking of awesome people, Deuane and I hit it off with the brewer and chatted about beer and music for a bit, and presented him with a few gifts from the cooler. He kindly reciprocated with a couple of 750mL bottles of BBA stouts (one named My Only Friend and written in the Doors logo font) and a bottle of the IPA that had kicked while we were there. Can't wait to try these at an upcoming Team D(r)INK tasting! He also comped my tab, which was super generous, so I felt obliged to make a second trip to the car and hook him up with some BA Impending Descent and Jovial as well. I can't say enough good things about this place. From the vibe to the people to the beer itself, Ocelot seems to have everything dialed in. I can't wait for our return visit when we head back down into the area to see Iron Maiden in Bristow at Jiffy Lube Live for opening night of the tour! \m/  \m/

Brewslut and I had already visited our next stop, Old Ox in Ashburn, VA, back on our Rush R40 Tour weekend a few years prior. I remember liking this place quite a bit, although I gave a slight nod to Lost Rhino, which was located just a few miles down the road from Old Ox. We settled on Old Ox because some of us had already been to Lost Rhino but not Old Ox. The tasting room is small but comfortable. Since our last visit, they started opening up the actual brewing space to customers, most likely because they've gotten popular over the last few years and needed additional seating. The cellar area was pretty full when we arrived. We perused the beer menu to find about a dozen beers on tap ranging from lagers to IPAs.

I was in the mood for something hoppy, so I went with the one-two punch of Hoppy Place IPA followed by Galaxy Hoppier Place DIPA. Brewslut chose the cleverly named, Star Wars-inspired Brew Bocka, a coffee bock, which was pretty tasty. While I enjoyed both of my IPAs, I ultimately felt they fell a little short of most of the other IPAs we've had during the trip (Lithia and 320 Citra Wheat come to mind), but they were still enjoyable. We were all fairly hungry and in need of a snack, so James bought a big bag of corn tortilla chips and a jar of salsa and plunked them down in the middle of our table. Works for me! He also ordered a community pour of Saison d'Ox for everyone to sample. Although it's not one of their flagship offerings, they led with this beer at their grand opening celebration in 2014. Crisp, dry, and effervescent with a spicy yeast character, it's everything a saison should be. Since hunger was calling, it was time to pack it in at Old Ox and head to our next destination.

While we were en route to Leesburg, I glanced out the window of the van as we turned onto the main drag and happened to catch a sign for Dig! Records & Vintage. I was pretty stoked, because it was the last day of the trip and I really hadn't had any time to research record stores. It's always a last-minute kind of thing. More often than not, I tend to stumble on record stores while traveling. I was even more excited to learn that the place we were going was a mere two blocks away! So, we parked and I backtracked to the shop. This place was definitely worth a visit. I picked up about seven prog rock titles that were missing from my vast collection, including a replacement of an album (Moonmadness) by one of my favorite prog bands (Camel)... at five bucks to boot! Score!

After my quick vinyl-hunting detour, I made my way over to Fire Works Pizza for dinner and, of course, beer. Overall, the tap list was small but well-curated, albeit rather overpriced, I thought. Oddly enough, they had Lionshead on tap... for $5 a pint! I opted for an Alesmith IPA to pair with my shrimp salad, which was delicious. James decided to throw down and order a small pour of Illuminatos, a rum barrel-aged Imperial Stout from Lickinghole Creek Brewing Co. The place was pretty tiny and super crowded, but the food was solid despite the beer being overpriced. I guess Leesburg is for ballers.

After dinner, the weekend was quickly coming to a close. I figure I had one more beer in me. Since we had to take I-81 to get home, we stopped in at Pizza Boy for a final beer. The latest batch of last year's Ffej of July beer - Magic... Under Where? - was on tap and tasting mighty fine, and put a cap on a weekend well-spent with beer and friends. I'm already looking forward to our next Team D(r)INK excursion... wherever it will take us!

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