Friday Night Flights: Ocelot Brewing Co. (Sterling, VA)

Posted by  Alex Hannagan   in  Beer Reviews     1 year ago     764 Views     Comments Off on Friday Night Flights: Ocelot Brewing Co. (Sterling, VA)  

After a year away from the NoVA beer scene, among my priorities was to reacquaint myself with familiar spots, including how they had adapted in my time away.  I also had this little problem of cleaning out my kegerator and stocking it before family hit town ahead of the July 4th festivities.  In both senses, Ocelot made sense as in all my previous visits they’ve offered both something new and delicious.  Their Still Upside Down APA and Profits of Pride Citra/Cascade IPA were one-offs that were among our favorites in the region the years they came out.  My goal on the visit was to snag a keg of their amazing Pilsner and slowly make my way through some of the rest of the menu.  Seeing as how I also had my Budweiser/PBR-drinking father along for the ride, there was certainly some pressure on Ocelot to produce a winner he’d be happy with for the afternoon.

Friday Night Flight:  Ocelot Brewing Co. (Sterling, VA)
Featured Style:  Getting reacquainted
Number of Beers:  6

For this flight I picked two Lagers, three IPAs (including a DIPA) since that is Ocelot’s featured style, and one Stout.  That sadly left off a few Saisons and a few other fruit/sour type brews, but the point was for ole Dad to see what a better version of his favorite beers (read: beer-flavored water) could look like and to combine that with how a single style can vary so much just based on the ingredients.  Let’s just say this flight started and ended the right way to do that trick.

Beer 1:  Craft AF Euro-style Lager
Tasting Notes:  That’ll do, pig.  Citrus and fresh mowed grass on the nose.  Pale malts have nice bite that’s more dry than crisp.  The color and filtration are top notch, as your sips are bursting with flavors and freshness.  In other words, everything that a macro “American Adjunct Lager” isn’t.  If they’d had any kegs available, I would’ve gladly carted this one home.  8.3

Beer 2:  Patiently Waiting India Pale Lager
Tasting Notes:  More dew and hops, and very light in color and body for an IPL.  Hopheads will appreciate the resounding punch to the palate.  6.7

Beer 3:  Street Lights IPA
Tasting Notes:  The first of two IPAs both featuring Amarillo.  The citrus here comes out as lemon and passionfruit.  If you’re wondering how the heck that is, it’s because the second hop featured in this IPA is EXP 06297, a crossbreed of Cascade, Apollo, and a few others.  So you get some of those West Coast flavors but then the body also skews green with some faint resins.  The end effect is less to balance than to remind your tongue of the slightly elevated ABV at 6.7%.  7.4

Beer 4:  Setting Sun IPA
Tasting Notes:  Bitter candied oranges.  There’s some grapefruit if you insist, but everything here is more indicative of a very hoppy Amarillo IPA.  I ultimately recommended this one to my father as at one point he rolled his eyes and complained that I “like too much fruit” in my beer.  Well, one drinks beer with local hops and this is what you get…  7.0

Beer 5:  Tongue Tied Double IPA
Tasting Notes:  Incredibly dank up front, then a little malted to finish.  Mellow throughout.  The Mosaic hops do yeoman’s work for that back end, but one reason the flavor strikes with that early hammer is because Ocelot used Mosaic in the form of lupulin powder.  This form of processing removes the vast majority of the “planty” part of the hop and leaves you only with the oils and the leaves themselves.  It’s more expensive to brew that way, but that beer did things with Mosaic I’d never encountered before.  7.5

Beer 6:  Megaton Maple
Tasting Notes:  French toast nose!  Certainly syrupy, more thick than caramel but more earthy than sweet as if it were straight from the source.  Roasted, but short of charred on the finish complements the syrup flavors.  Would be great on cask, and definitely try to drink this one a bit warmer.  If I weren’t driving this would have been my winning pint.  8.7

So a craft beer aficionado and a retiree from Florida walk into this brewery, right?  And the hophead tries to convince the old man that IPAs make for really good beer, and then finds himself liking a Lager more than any of them.  My Dad did enjoy his IPA, but just as with their awesome Pilsner I do think Ocelot has another winner on their hands with Craft AF.  Hopefully they keep making it, but as always:

Get Out and Try:  Craft AF, Street Lights, Tongue Tied, and Megaton Maple