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The Beer Circle » Beer, Draai Laag Brewing Co., Reviews, Strong Dark Ale » Draai Laag Brewing Company Simon Girty

Draai Laag Brewing Company Simon Girty

While visiting a recently opened bar near me, I was recommended a beer by the owner. The bottle in question was by a local Pittsburgh brewery – Draai Laag Brewing Company – that was completely unknown to me (much to my chagrin), and even looking at the bottle, I would’ve pegged it as a beer out of Belgium due to the… unique label. Billed as an artisanal brewery, Draai Laag experiments with different flavors and ingredients to concoct beers that blend the boundaries between styles and create unique, diverse beers.

Draai Laag Brewing Company Simon Girty
Pours a dark crimson color which gives way immediately to a torrent of foam that eventually makes up a huge, 2.5-fingered head. The body is translucent, so it's easy to see the many streams of carbonation that rush to the top of the glass. This leads to a very long-lasting, foamy head, and I am hard-pressed to see it recede even a little as it sits. This could be in part to the incredibly sticky and thick lacing, which drapes around the glass majestically.

The nose is a mixture of sweet and spice, with a hefty dose of malt tossed in. There's a strong orange aroma, candied fruit, and a pinch of cocoa, followed by breadiness and a bit of honey.
The taste is surprisingly focused around a grape bubblegum flavor, which is there from start to finish. It's also pretty dang spicy as well... I'm not sure if I should chalk that up to the alcohol or yeast, but there is a pungent cracked black pepper taste which isn't bad, but not what I would want taking over the taste. Thankfully, there is a wealth of caramel from the malts, as well as the strong orange flavor which contrasts nicely with the spice. Unfortunately, the honey and cocoa fall by the wayside and aren't easily noticed.

The mouthfeel is deceptively light-bodied for such a high-gravity beer. Even the carbonation doesn't seem to fill the mouth after half the bottle. This isn't a total negative, as it makes it very drinkable, but I would like to see some support and lasting feeling on the palate.
Drinkability is moderate. In terms of feel alone, this goes down incredibly easily, but I think the flavors could've been tightened up a little. The spice is a little much and doesn't have some of the complementary notes that were so present in the nose.
To be fair, I bought this bottle at a place that had higher prices than comparable places around here, so this was $5 for a 12ozer. Not a price I'd pay again, but buying straight from the brewery would save some mucho money.
Overall, I enjoyed my run-in with Simon Girty. It's nice to see a local brewery sticking its head out and trying new things, and besides a few adjustments, I thought this was a well-made beer. I am looking forward to trying more from Draai Laag and will stop by the brewery soon!

Beer Stats
Style: Strong Belgian Dark Ale
Serving: Bottle
Size: 12oz
ABV: 8.00%
BA Score: 84
RB Score: N/A

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Written by Greg Bruce

While studying at Penn State, Greg learned that beer could serve a much better purpose than a means to an end for a good party. Delicately brewed Belgians acted as a stark contrast to the almost watery beer that had been so popular and began the journey towards craft beer. From that launch point he always seems to land on something new. Greg approaches each beer, whether it is an aggressively-hopped West Coast IPA or an English bitter (and everything between), with a clear mind and open opinion, ready to analyze, compare, and ultimately, enjoy. While always fond of stouts (especially barrel-aged) and IPAs, Greg is slowly but surely drifting towards various soured beers. Find Greg Bruce on Google Plus

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