The keg run is one of my new favorite pastimes. There is something so thrilling, so visceral, about initiating a quest for the ultimate sixtel (or two). While my beer fridge is full of samples and occasional sixer, the kegs are those beers I’m choosing to snuggle up with over the coming months as well as show off to friends and guests when they go “shopping” for a brew from the home bar. When on the keg run, I’ll call ahead to the breweries and when I arrive, do a flight of the available sixtels, and use every discerning method I know to pick them apart. It’s the most patient I ever get with beer samples, but the astonishing thing is while some of my beer scores go up or down over time, my keg scores essentially remain static. In other words, once I decide a beer is worthy of the kegerator, my mind is made up. I made my mind up on the Following Cs months ago, but for a variety of reasons keep striking out in availability; it’s not a bad thing I can’t ever catch Fair Winds with a sixtel, as one random visit without calling ahead led me to their Session IPA. I’ve also not had the patience to wait, and so keep filling growlers to tide me over. See that nautical pun?!
Following Cs, Fair Winds Brewing Co. (Lorton, VA)
American Pale Ale, ABV 5.5%, IBU 52
Presentation: Growler pour into tuliped pint glass.
Appearance: A full range of vibrant Autumn leaf colors, from burnt orange in the center to ocher on the edges. Minimal head with no lattice.
Taste: The name for Following Cs comes from the hops it uses: Cascade and Columbus. As I’ve started paying more attention to specific hops and their flavors recently, Columbus was another new one to explore a bit. Although both of these are listed as part of the the Three Cs (Centennial being the other) for their citrus and pine aromas, I usually get a good amount of pine and bitterness – particularly with Centennial. For the Following Cs, the dominant flavor throughout is definitely pine, and the finish is initially crisp before some mild hop aftertaste arrives. The robust aromas and well-keeled pine flavors come down to really good execution, and you really can’t ask for much more for a flagship offering. Oh look, another nautical pun!
Mouth Feel: The Pilsner malts also packed into this brew lends a real crisp element to what is only a mildly hoppy profile, and as such I was surprised at the 52 IBU rating. The crispiness comes from the beer though, not an excess carbonation.
Overall: This beer is another good example of how piney and crisp APAs are. I gifted a growler of Following Cs to an international friend of ours (who was just learning about American styles) for his birthday, and he quipped it was the best present anyone had given him – with apologies to his wife, of course. I dig the use of Pilsner malts here, whereas when used in Lagers I often find them a little overpowering in terms of the balance between “crisp” and Bitter Beer Face. Here, though, I think these malts go really well with the more subdued of the two Three Cs. The end result is my go-to Fair Winds brew, and a beer that I’m practically stalking the poor staff there for in order to score a sixtel in the near future! Granted, with Fair Winds getting voted as best DC area brewery, I may have some competition…