I finished middle school and went to high school in Vienna. At the time, it was ranked as one of the top places to live in the entire country. Frankly, I never saw it that way. There were positives, such as the Vienna Inn, and maybe if you wanted to hedge on a local chain such as Anita’s or Joe’s you could get away with it. But seriously, the best restaurant is an Outback and the real claim to fame is one of the original Whole Foods stores. Hell, I worked at that Outback knowing friends would come to visit. In short, it’s a very boring place if you’re a teenager or young adult. Things have begun to change over the last few years, starting with places like Jammin’ Java, and more recently Caboose is one of those reasons why we should be hopeful that NOVA will save itself from strip mall Hell. On my first visit to Caboose I was pretty sick so stuck to some small samples, but one beer caught my eye and taste buds. I was told it was a Kölsch, but my eyes told me Hefeweizen. On my next visit back, I made a pint of it, and here we are.
End of the Line, Caboose Brewing Co. (Vienna, VA) – @CabooseBrewing
Kölsch, 4.5% ABV, ~20 IBUs
Presentation: Draught pour into English-style pub glass.
Appearance: Cloudy yellow, bordering on goldenrod depending on the light. A small amount of head, but no noticeable lattice. It really does look like a Hefe, doesn’t it? On my first visit two weeks earlier I swore I was looking at a döppelganger:
Taste: Owing again to the Hefeweizen comparison, slight banana throughout with the expected crisp finish for its style. A bit of added zest and acidity present themselves along with a forward yeast element (again with the Hefe parallels!) The acidity lends itself to a cursory grapefruit comparison, but the fruit flavors are very faint. The beer as a whole works best in larger, swift gulps than in protracted sips. This also allows some hops to come out and play, but you’re not exactly approaching Pilsner levels of bitterness here.
Mouth Feel: It’s a very light beer even when accounting for the residual sediment. As noted above, you have to play around to notice any hops on your tongue, and at 4.5% there won’t be any cloying aftertastes.
Overall: They could have called this a hoppy Hefeweizen and I may not have known the difference. It’s solid, and versatile. Over two visits I saw it paired with shrimp and grits, pork belly, burgers, and fries. Not only was this the big crowd-pleaser, but even according to some more nuanced palates it was the real winner of Caboose’s early lineup. It’s the sort of beer in a start-up that gives you those little goosebumps of excitement (that’s not even mentioning Caboose’s burger, which is the best I’ve had in years and deserves a shrine honoring its dripping, bloodthirsty glory). All you need to claim a bar or brewery home is that first great beer, and Caboose has it with their End of the Line Kölsch. We’re certainly looking forward to see what they come up with next!