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The Beer Circle » Beer Release, DuClaw Brewing Co., Heaven Hill, Imperial Porter, Old Ale, Pent » Release: Duclaw Brewing Company in DC @ The Big Hunt

Release: Duclaw Brewing Company in DC @ The Big Hunt

When I saw the below tweet from Big Hunt bartender Dave Coleman I knew I had no choice but to trek into the District last Thursday. I mean come on, two bourbon barrel aged offerings and a Belgian Strong Dark Ale (BSDA) weighing in at 14% ABV? You’re pulling at my heartstrings. 

Thursday: @ Party @: HellRazer IPA, Serum XXIPA, EuForia, Oaked X-1, Oaked Old Flame, Mysterium, Repent & Soul Jacker!
Dave Coleman

Duclaw Brewing Company is known for their big beers (see Colossus, a 22% ABV Imperial IPA), but none had graced my palate with its presence as of yet. I got to Big Hunt around 6pm with a full stomach and heart set on some big delicious beers. I was able to track down one of the Duclaw reps at the bar, Brad (@DuclawBrad), and picked his mind about the brewery and their beers.

Duclaw Launch Party

First off, I was curious why they decided to open up in DC, and really why they hadn’t already. The brewery is based around 90 miles from DC in Bel Air, Maryland, and had been shipping some of their beers to Virginia already in 2012. Thursday, May 24th, represented the first day of full distribution to both DC and Virginia and was a step the brewery had been trying to take for a while now.

They had a number of beers on tap, but I wanted to know more about the Hellrazer and eXiled 1, and Brad was more than happy to muse on their awesome-ness. Hellrazer is the only American-made India Pale Ale with motueka hops from New Zealand. I really wanted to give this one a try, but the amount of beer I already had prevented me some partaking. Moving to the X1, the beer recently won the Silver Medal for Chocolate Beers in the World Beer Cup, and because the Gold Medal winner was from Mexico, Duclaw can claim to have the best chocolate beer in the United States. What did they decide to do with it? Age in Bourbon Barrels of course. I later learned that both Oaked X1 and Oaked Old Flame were placed in barrels from Heaven Hill Distilleries, which I’ve had some good experiences with. That bourbon typically doesn’t dominate the beer, it simply adds to what the beer already has. Duclaw’s eXiled series is dedicated to pushing the limits of beer and creativity even farther. The brewery is treating these beers differently from their other releases:

First, these are small batches – roughly half the amount of beer produced compared to our seasonal releases. Second, eXile beers will be released with much less ‘fanfare’ than our seasonals – no videos, no giveaways, no logos. Just an email (and blog mention) before they go on tap.

Oaked eXiled 1
The beer pours out extremely dark with a nicely sized brown head. The retention is ok, but a nice lace forms on the glass as the beer goes down.
The aroma is really sweet with bourbon, wood, vanilla, and roasted malt. The barrel has imparted itself on this beer very well, adding to what seems like what was a heavy stout with dry chocolate like notes.
X1 tastes very, very good. Chocolate and roasted malt are aggressive, and are complimented by a slight booziness, bourbon, vanilla, and wood. A bit too oaky for my tastes, but certainly not overdone. The finish is like that of a coffee stout, pleasantly dry and roasted. The barrel aging treated the taste nicely and doesn't overwhelm. After reviewing this beer, I learned that the roasty chocolate, coffee tastes I was getting was from rye. It all makes sense now. What a great beer.
Thick and syrupy body that feels just so nice on the palate. The alcohol is only hardly noted, making it quite drinkable.
This cost $6 for ~11oz, which I was happy to pay for such a rarity at its launch party in the District. I'd recommend it to any stout lover.
Just a great offering. Balanced to perfect and oh so drinkable. I enjoyed every last drop.

Beer Stats
Style: Imperial Porter
Serving: On-Tap
Size: 11oz
ABV: 7.70%
BA Score: N/A (2 Reviews)
RB Score: N/A (0 Reviews)
Oaked Old Flame
Oaked Old Flame rests in my Repent glass a hazy brown color with a finger of off-white head. The retention is great, and head coats the glass all the way down.
The aroma is full of molasses, malt, and other sweetness. I'm not getting a lot of barrel treatment here, but that could be due to the overwhelming sweetness of the beer.
The bourbon does NOT hide on the taste! Big bourbon and vanilla hit mix with the molasses and caramel malts in a way that just destroys your taste buds in a great way. The wood is toned down here from the Oaked X1, but I did prefer the X1 to this. It probably goes back to my love for the imperial stout world. This is very good, just not top notch like X1 was. If you love an aggressive molasses and malty Old Ale, grab this right now.
The body is lighter than I expected and very sweet. Medium in carbonation and a decent amount of booze. It isn't quite as drinkable for me because I don't think it tastes as good as X1, but overall the barrel aging is pretty nice and plays with the old ale in a good way.
This one was graciously picked up by @DuclawBrad, which was awesome. Typically costs around $6 for a little less than 11oz. It was certainly worth it free! I'd still recommend you try it.
I'm not really into Old Ales, but I enjoyed this one. The barel aging was nice, and the boozy sweetness didn't get to me.

Beer Stats
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Ale
Serving: On-Tap
Size: 11oz
ABV: ~8.80%
BA Score: N/A (1 Review)
RB Score: N/A (0 Reviews)

Now on to the last beer of the evening, and what a nightcap it was. Repent is a beer of a brand new style created by Duclaw, far above that of Belgian Dubbels, Tripels, and Quads rests that of the Belgian Pent. It does, however, fit into the Belgian Strong Dark Ale category nicely with the Belgian background and far above average ABV. I wouldn’t, however, recommend you drink this while fasting (as the Monk’s sometimes do with Quads) as it would probably kill you.

The beer pours a hazy deep brown in color with about a finger of off-white head. The retention is great but lacing is lacking.
Repent smells of booze and Belgian yeast. It smells like an extremely boozy quad, perhaps the barrel aged beers are wearing on my ability to smell.
The taste is extremely boozy, but it isn't undrinkable. Certainly Belgian, the extreme level of malt and dark fruits is something I've never experienced before. Its roasty too, which I must say I did not expect. The definition of the big beer, it's just a bit too boozy for me.
Heavy body with a big hit of booze. Make sure you're sitting down when you try it. It is pretty drinkable, which is a good and bad thing at more than 14%.
$6 for 11oz, which was a lot of this beer. If you haven't yet, I'd say try it once and tell me what you think.
Overall this was an interesting experiment. Certainly not on the level of Quads or BSDA I've had before, but I did like it. Duclaw tries to push the limits with their beers, and they definitely did just that here. I'd say it was a success.

Beer Stats
Style: Belgian Pent
Serving: On-Tap
Size: 11oz
ABV: 14.60%
BA Score: 85
RB Score: 98

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Written by Russ Beck

Russ can trace his beginnings in craft beer to sitting in Zeno’s Pub in State College drinking various craft beer options from across Pennsylvania. Since then, he has never faltered in finding new brews, whether they’re rare, delicious, or hopefully both. Russ will be writing on a large variety of subjects, including but not limited to: reviews, homebrewing, and how to take labels off of beer bottles. He’ll drink just about anything, but prefers a nice Stout, IPA, or Weizenbock. Find Russ Beck on Google Plus

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