This was my last full day in Virginia/D.C. and I wanted to go out with a bang. For lunch, Sophie and I trekked out to Pizzeria Paradiso in the Dupont Circle ‘hood. The tap selection was very nice, though a bit pricey. It mostly featured American micros with the odd international brewer. Though I should have been drinking American, it was hard not to pass up the Mikkeller 10, an IPA made with ten different varieties of hops. There was almost no head on top of the hazy, burnt orange coloured beer. A strong pine nose, with some definite grapefruit, apricots and some floral aromas. The fruitiness really comes through as the first flavour, along with some maltiness and toast. The pine and floral notes come on strongly in the finish, with a strong bitterness that doesn’t overwhelm. This is an absolutely delcious and complex beer that really uses the different hops well. Medium bodied and well balanced. The pizza wasn’t too bad either. Unfortunately, we had to keep moving on and couldn’t enjoy another pint (or go to the Brickskeller just down the street).
That night I took Soph and her dad out to dinner at the Rustico Restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia. The tap list featured many of the same breweries at Pizzeria Paradiso, with a bit more depth. I ordered a cask Lagunitas The Hairy Eyeball, a dark cherry-coloured American strong ale. Served in a shaker pint (we meet again!) the beer was very warm, even for a cask ale. Good inch of head (obviously a hand pump), leaving lots of lacing. Intense toasted malt nose with figs and raisins. The dark fruits really dominate the taste, alongside some light chocolate, making a really sweet beer. Then a lush bitterness hits the palate with the warmth of the alcohol. A unique and quirky beer, but one that definitely works.
After dinner I had an Ommegang Three Philosophers, a quad on tap at Rustico. Served in a chalice, the nose was an even mix of orange peel, cherry and a strong spiciness. A medium ruby colour, the taste was overpowered by cherry syrup. There was some orange zest, yeast and spices, but nothing that came close to complementing the cherries. This made the finish a little too sweet and uneven. It lacked the unmistakable oomph that I look for in a quad. As for Rustico, the food was pretty good and had nice portion sizes. The restaurant was a little noisy and lacked character, but it is definitely a place for beer geeks.
And to make sure there was enough room in my luggage, I had a bottle of Sierra Nevada Southern Hempisphere Harvest 2010 after the restaurant. This is a bit of an odd Harvest beer – the beer is brewed days after the hops are picked, but they are not fresh/wet hops. Poured a clear copper with a good inch of pillowy head. Strong floral aromas with a hint of grapefruit. Spicy hops dominate the flavours, but there is some definite lemon and pine. The pine really lingers on the tongue and coats the top of my mouth. Hints of peach start coming through. More malts are sorely needed for some balance. While the hops are unmistakable in the beer, it doesn’t make me say, “Wow, those are fresh hops!” Tasty and yummy, but I don’t know if it justifies the price. And with that there was one day (and one beer) left.
Today: 1.89L. Year-to-date: 106.47L.