Let’s be honest, after the beer-infused bacchanalia that was the 2017 VA Craft Brewers Fest, our attention wasn’t necessarily on DC Beer Week (DCBW). The good folks at DC Beer really do a good job of both scheduling and integrating a ton of different regional and national brewers into a slew of events around the area, though, and in the past we’ve attended everything from Brewers Bashes to Scavenger Hunts to random takeovers that somehow coincided with the general festivities. Even though it’s “DC” Beer Week, what’s clear is that they really mean “DMV” Beer Week – DMV to us locals meaning DC, Maryland, and Virginia. This year, for instance, the new Black Squirrel location in Dunn Loring hosted a forum on women in brewing, Port City put out a special barrel-aged version of their awesome Colossal V, and then… Well, that brings us to this event.
Aslin Tap Takeover
Mad Fox Taproom (Washington, DC)
August 24, 2017
Featured Beers: 5
That’s right, the nigh-impossible to find Aslin ponied up five beers to have on draught. If you visit their (existing) taproom out in Herndon, you might be lucky to get a growler/crowler to go. It’s simply unheard of these days to get their beers on tap, so something like this was too good to miss. In my last minute race to get down there on Thursday, I probably should have looked at other details like, for instance, the fact that advance registration was required. Oops. In talking to the Taproom’s bar manager, Josh, throughout the evening, their logic was that they were worried the beer would run out quickly if they let too many people in. Wise thinking. Luckily, an hour in they accepted idiots like me who were waiting around and hoping to get a taste. It was free to attend, in all, but as with all things DCBW, make sure you read the f…err, details.
By the time I had my wristband, the Master of Oranges DIPA has already been exhausted. Yikes. Since the beers were split between an upstairs/downstairs bar arrangement, I decided to forego the insane logistics of making a flight and just ordered a bunch of full-sized tulips to split. We ended up trying three of the beers and gnoshing on Mad Fox’s always righteous food.
Left-to-Right: Astro Zombie, Macarooned, CHIRP
Beer 1: Astro Zombie
This is one of the two beers I was fortunate enough to try the one time I visited Aslin and the taproom was still selling draughts. In fact, it almost got a review at the time because it was the first NE-style beer I’d ever tried…and this was over a year ago. Before “NEIPA” was a recognized acronym and all that. My Untappd notes the first time are good evidence of my bewilderment over this beer: “like a fermented orange juice …or orange cider?” This time around my warped view of the thing settled on “beermosa.” It’s an acidic profile that does remind you of a pulpy mimosa, not quite tart and not quite sweet. Not a hint of hops or bitterness.
Gut-check Score: around a 7.5
Beer 2: CHIRP
This was a brand new beer first released just last weekend, and on a night featuring three IPAs that were meant to make you think of All-American Orange Juice, this one was the veritable glass of OJ. CHIRP was truly unrepentant in that aspect. I loved just sticking my nose in the thing and trying to guess how they did it. I was hoping for Mandarina Bavaria, which far more so than the more “tropical” citrus of the American C-lineup, is simply the bright freshness of your everyday Mandarin Orange. I had to settle for my two favorite hops, though, Citra and Amarillo. Shucks. Aslin calls this a Creamsicle IPA, but to me the juiciness was closer to one of those frozen orange slushies from Minute Maid you’d get after a soccer game as a kid. Memories!
Gut-check Score: 8.3
Beer 3: Macarooned
We’re all about Summer Stouts here at VBR, and this one fit the bill. The name really nails it, with a bready, coconut-inspired profile that focuses more on the cookie itself than any pretentions of chocolate. This “liquid Mounds bar,” as Aslin describes it, also has a surprisingly sweet lactose element that shelters that nagging little 10% ABV detail. Macarooned is as close to a flagship regular as Aslin gets, having made appearances off-and-on for the past two years. It’s easy to see why.
Gut-check Score: 8.5
Ok, so we stayed well beyond last call chatting with the Mad Fox Taproom crew, including a h/t to owner Bill Madden. According to Chad Skeens, the GM, the Aslin Tap Takeover was by far the most successful such event they’d ever hosted. The challenge for such events, as always, is how you can grab not just the beer nerds like us but also captivate locals with someone new and quasi-exotic that keeps them coming back not only for more of the special stuff but the every day wares. You wouldn’t think this was a problem for Mad Fox on a night that also featured the Orange Whip, Oak Aged Wee Heavy (2016 version, even!), and even some of their aged anniversary beers. Still, expect more takeovers like these from one of Virginia’s own, tucked away just across the Potomac. A little bird tells us they’re up for suggestions, too…