A Mini Ungettables Tasting

I love having friends that have beer!  And what’s better is I love having friends that have Whiskey!  And what’s better still is I love having friends that have beer and whiskey that I can’t get, and they are willing and eager to share.  So it went last time I went into my local bottle shop, Brewforia.  This little story begins with me bringing in a couple ungettables to Brewforia to share.

Jim and I were both sent some beer from the folks over at Old Dominion Brewing.  A pretty nice stout and a very good and unique pale ale.  These beers are not distributed in this neck of the woods, so I decided to bring a few bottles to Brewforia to share.

The Hop Mountain Pale ale was a real treat.  It was bright and refreshing.  But then someone mentioned an earthiness to it, which I thought gave it body and provided an interesting flavor when mixed with the malt backbone.  This brew was very well balanced between the maltiness up front and the hoppiness towards the back side.  Not hop forward, but nice and hoppy nonetheless.  This was a very good pale, and one I would recommend any time you get the chance.  Nice too is that it comes in 12 oz bottles, and at 6.6% it isn’t quite sessionable, but it isn’t an evening killer either.  Just be reasonable with it and it will treat you fine.


Next we opened the Stout.  And this had very good flavor, especially for a 6.1% ABV stout.  Again, not quite sessionable, but not too overwhelming either.  This brew was a bit of an enigma, because it is dryhopped with Vanilla Beans and Oak chips, yet is says it is their Oak Barrel Stout, however there is never any mention of barrel aging on the label or the web site.  So I don’t know if this brew ever spent any time in a barrel or not, but the bottom line is it was tasty.  A very inky black stout with a thin off white head, good coffee and chocolate nose, and the brew itself has a huge malty backbone with a slight hoppiness to keep it from tipping over with no hop presence.  Its mouthfeel was medium bodied with a bit of a slick feel on the tongue.  The flavor was good, you could definitely taste the vanilla and the coffee and chocolate on the roast of the malt.  It too had an earthiness quality that it shared with the pale ale.  After a time I realized where I had tasted this flavor before…Home Brews.  Now, before you go getting all concerned that these beers weren’t as good as I’m saying they are, it wasn’t a bad quality and incorporated nicely into these beers.  I’m just wondering if they spent enough time in the clarifyer.  Or perhaps the brewer intended for this character to be in these beers, because it did play nicely with the malts and hops and overall flavor profile.  Whatever the case, these were good, solid brews.  Another nice thing is the stout comes in 12 oz bottles.  Hard to find a good stout in the smaller vessels.

After we partook of these brews my buddy Rick knew I was looking for some Ballast Point Sculpin IPA.  When we were in Oregon a couple weeks back I kept looking for it, and finally when I was at Belmont Station in Portland I asked if they had it.  They informed me that Ballast Point didn’t distribute in Oregon, so I was aced out.  So when Rick pulled out a bottle of the ugly fish IPA, I was quite excited!  This was a well made brew with just one slightly strange flavor in it.  First it was very well balanced between maltiness and hoppiness.  with a nice hop linger on the back side.  There was a rather strange flavor about mid palate however.  My buddy Rick says it tastes like creosote, you know that oily tar they put on railroad ties to make them last forever.  If I tried really hard I could pick that out a little bit.  To me the flavor was of latex , or like you were chewing on a balloon.  It was only there for a half a moment then it vanished, blending into a very pleasing flowery and fruity hop finish.  But as I drank it that flavor kept asserting itself across my palate.  Not to the point that I couldn’t finish it, but I definitely don’t think I will go out of my way to find any more Sculpin.

Finally, just as I was about to leave, our friend Ryan comes up to the bar and says, I’m glad you are here, I have something in my car I want you to try.  I thought, ok…this might be my lucky day.  In comes Ryan with a mostly consumed bottle of Rowan’s Creek Bourbon.  Again another ungettable in Idaho.  Unfortunately Idaho doesn’t import anything from Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, makers of Willett, Rowan’s Creek, and my current favorite Noah’s Mill.  So this was a completely new bourbon for me, and one I was very eager to try.

This was a very good bourbon with good oily legs and a nice slick mouthfeel.  It was 101.5 proof or 50.75% ABV.  High ABV to be sure, but it was so mellow and smooth with a smoldering burn that enveloped you in its arms and didn’t let go for a couple of minutes.  It had a sweet flavor of pears and apple with a nice vanilla backbone and oaky finish.  This is another great bourbon from KBD and if you see this one pick it up.  Comparing it to the Noah’s Mill, it was much more mellow and easy drinking and had a fruity thing going on, where the Mill is all finish and oak and leather and tobacco.  Very good bourbon.

So that was my mini ungettables meeting at Brewforia.  This week I will be going to the real thing put on by my buddy Chad at Bier Thirty.  Can’t wait to see what I’ll get into there!


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Categories: Beer, Lifestyle, Uncategorized, Whiskey

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22 Comments on “A Mini Ungettables Tasting”

  1. johnking82
    March 27, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    I loved the sweetness of Rowans Creek. It didn’t last too long this winter. Those bourbons need not hibernate.

    • Don
      March 27, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

      The Rowan’s Creek was a very special treat. I loved its sweetness and its balance between sweet, oak, and heat. It is really a great sipper. You’re lucky King. Maybe you and the misses can take the new Mini Cooper to the liquor store and pick one up. 😉

  2. March 27, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    So drinking a Sculpin was like chewing on a condom full of malt and hops?

    • Don
      March 27, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

      I specifically stayed away from the Condom reference Jim! Thanks for putting the blog back into the gutter where it belongs. I dunno, you had some last week, what did you think? Did you get the latex thing I did?

      • techcommdood
        March 27, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

        Given the fish it’s named after, no wonder it’s questionable. 😉

        • Don
          March 27, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

          I know, Right? Should have been a give away.

  3. Michael
    March 27, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    As always excellent article with good information. Here in Savannah, Ga we are very limited by the distributors, so it is always good to read about new beers. Once a year I order a few beers from online sellers as a treat for me but approved by my wife. I use your blog to help make some choices. Thanks for the great blog.

  4. Michael
    March 27, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    And obviously, some choices are things not to buy.

    • Don
      March 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

      Old Dominion is out of Delaware, so they are pretty close to you. You might be able to find them locally. If you do, I’d recommend giving them a try. I thought their brew was pretty good.

      • ScottG
        March 28, 2012 at 6:30 am #

        Little brew history. Dominion used to be brewed in Ashburn, VA (Dominion state, Old Dominion, etc), in Northern VA, including a brew pub. The owner wanted to sell and it was bought by another brewery in MD, (with financing assistance from Anheuser) and production of both breweries was moved to Delaware. The old Dominion site is now being used by another craft brewery called Lost Rhino, which opened last year. Haven’t had their beer yet (I haven’t seen it, anyway), so no idea if it’s any good, but I’d be interested to hear opinions.

        • ScottG
          March 28, 2012 at 6:31 am #

          Well, at least the Lost Rhino part was new.

  5. March 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    Sounds like a tasty day. I went through a bottle of Rowans Creek last year as well. Nice stuff and not overpriced. If you see the Redbreast cask strentgh and haven’t had it give it a whirl. Nice stuff.

    • Don
      March 27, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

      I’ve heard several people talk about this. It is leaving an impression on just about everyone that drinks it. I’d love to give it a whirl. I’ll keep an eye out.

  6. March 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    Nice writeup as usual Don.

    In re Old Dominion, As you can probably tell from the name, it started out in VA before moving to Dover, DE. I’ve had several of their beers–including the Oak Barrel Stout, which I too thoroughly enjoy. The oak part comes from dry-hopping w/ oak chips rather than aging it in barrels though–something that really threw me the first time I read the label as it seemed like cheating somehow (I got over it quickly.) The smokiness is from smoked and peated malts.

    BTW: DE has a number of excellent breweries besides DFH–I’m hoping to do a tour there this coming summer.

    • Don
      March 27, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

      Road trip! If I’m still unemployed, I’d gladly be your side kick for such an adventure. I’ll hold your St Bernard’s leash or something useful like that to earn my keep. 😉

      • March 28, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

        You’re on buddy! We could even drag along that annoying kid brother of yours since he lives in the neighborhood. 😉

  7. March 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    Interesting. At Brewforia, a few days prior, Rick did a side-by-side compare with Sculpin, Pliny and Hop Notch. A handful of people felt the Sculpin came out on top. I completely missed any latex component. Not sure that anyone else did either, including Rick. Although, I do recall something mid taste that I couldn’t place. To be honest, I liked the Sculpin a bit better than the Pliny. But could be that’s because it was the beer I had least prior exposure to—which was none—and therefore more interesting in my mind.

    If I get a chance to have it again, I’ll look out for any essence of glove. :^/

    • Don
      March 27, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

      Rick said it was Creosote flavor, but Brett got the latex as soon as I mentioned it. I agree with Brett that the Hop Notch is better. I would have loved to be part of the side by side tasting you did. I think that would have been a real eye opener.

      • March 27, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

        Yeah, it’s funny how a little trace of something can completely change your interpretation. Like Jim and stouts with notes of olive. I’m sure if I’d picked up creosote or latex, I may have thought differently about Sculpin.

      • March 27, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

        Don’t get me wrong. They were all really excellent beers. Just different in their excellence. Probably would come down to what you’re in the mood for on any given day.

  8. March 27, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    As massugu said Old Dominion was originally in Ashburn VA right around the corner from the Redskins in season training park. They sold a few years ago to Fordham Brewing (51%) and Anheuser (Inbev 49%) I love their oak barrel stout. When Old Dominion first made it they used oak barrels but needed to adapt the recipe in order to produce larger quantities. The stuff of tap at the brew pub was amazing and it’s still one if my favorite beers.

  9. jf1smith
    March 27, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    I’ve found the Sculpin in FL of all places at a Total Beer & Wine. Brought it back to Atlanta and was thoroughly unimpressed. Nothing spectacularly bad, but definitely meh. Funny, so many folks rave about it but I’ll take anything from Lagunitas over it any day. And we have a wide selection of Lagunitas beers here in Atl and no Sculpin at all, so easy choice !!!…

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