If there’s one way in which a beer can truly transcend itself, it’s when the pour is so fresh you may as well have dived into the fermentation barrels. A lot of breweries include the tapped or bottling date to give you an idea of the freshness, and I’ve had a beverage manager stare at me quizzically when I tried to reserve a sixtel for “a few weeks” while we played kill the keg on another one at home (hey, you snag one of the handful that get distributed to the general public in a given year and see what lengths YOU won’t go to). As the bold flavors of wet hopping methods can attest to, sometimes fresh really is best as I learned on a visit to Ocelot the last week of December. On what turned into a sixtel run, I tried a host of samples with the last being an IPA which appearance-wise had more in common with a Hefeweizen but then blasted the tips off my taste buds with huge hop flavor. There’s far more to this story, but first let me introduce you to the beer!
Profits of Pride, Ocelot Brewing Company (Sterling, VA)
India Pale Ale, ABV 7.0%, IBU 64
Presentation: Draught pour into tulip. Yes, trust me on that glass selection.
Appearance: Pale, almost straw yellow with rich clouds of sediment. Moderate but swift head with little lattice.
Taste: This was the 2nd freshest beer I’d ever tasted (the first being born from the almighty Derecho many storms ago), with the tasting room keg being only two days old. The result is a smorgasbord of both effervescent fruits and bitter hops in perfect balance. Up front on the nose, you might find a mix of dewy, fresh cut grass over a citrus backbone which extends well into the body. That’s not a surprise given the presence of both Citra and Cascade Hops, and if you have to identify a fruit it’s a sort of caramelized orange…or maybe some rind that’s been juiced and soaked in beer. Subtle, either way, with more the mild sweetness than tartness. What’s curious at this point is while the fruit evolves back into a fresh finish, you’ll be left with the hop flavors coating your tongue but the bitterness fades fairly quickly.
Mouth Feel: For the purists it may not seem as hoppy as the 64 IBUs suggest, but at the same time its smoothness belies the 7.0% ABV so let’s just call it a draw and sip cautiously. This is balance personified (or would that be beerified?)
Overall: I have to give a serious hat-tip to Ocelot for not just this beer, but this exchange:
Me: “So I’ll take sixtels of the Ella and Profits.”
Bartender: “Sure, let me get ’em from the cold room.”
(several minutes later)
Brewer: “We ain’t got any kegs of the Pride. Just did the one for the tasting room and we’re doing fills next Monday.”
Me: (whimpers) “…but you said on the phone…”
Brewer: “You gotta leave right away?”
Me: “Well no, I don’t have to rush out or an- Where’s he going?”
Bartender: “I think he’s going to fill a keg for you.”
Yes, as flummoxed as I was by the whole occasion, a cacophony of activity resulted in a ridiculously giant hose being shoved into a sixtel, and after ignoring the warnings to not tap it for a least a day, I promptly did so when I got home and got blasted in the face by the pressurized hops. A day later, the lines flowed and the freshness was fully intact. Over the ensuring months since, I went from loving this beer to catnip levels of attraction. As much as Ocelot loves to experiment (such as the single hop Reissue APAs), and has a strategy meant to keep us on our toes by only recently beers once or twice per year, I sincerely hope that they look into permanent distribution of beers such as this. It has flagship written all over it.