A reason it’s hard to hate on the craft beer scene is that while you get plenty of “beer douches,” as I recently heard it put, the overwhelming majority simply love the stuff so much that they’re willing to share it even when it’s hard to come by. Including with complete strangers. This happened to me the other week while visiting spacebar, one of the OG spots for craft beer in NoVA. On this visit, us VBRers are chatting and one of us knows the bartender, who asks us how we’re faring with some new IPAs. A shade-throwing remark on a lack of VA beers for Craft Beer Month led to her stopping by at the end of her shift a little while later, with two cans of Commonwealth’s Big Papi. One she cracks open and splits with us, the other she leaves behind in one of the more awesome gestures I’ve seen. Sure, you can get Big Papi here and there, but it’s neither cheap nor on the shelves where it does pop up for very long. One sip had me claiming that can for myself, and here we are.
Big Papi, Commonwealth Brewing Co. (Virginia Beach, VA)
NE Double IPA, 8.0% ABV, 61 IBU
Presentation: Tallboy pour into fluted IPA glass.
Appearance: Leica with a goldenrod core, completely opaque. The head froths forth and will sit there as long as you allow it. No initial lattice from the pour, but you get residual foam from whichever side you’re drinking from.
Taste: Lemony fresh nose with hints of orange. Creamy and herbal body, the latter more so in the way if you’ve been picking from the garden for a bit and then rub your fingers under your nose. There’s no one flavor there, more a resemblance. The finish has a little bit of bitterness to it, more acidic than resiny or hoppy. You’re out of your mind if you go in there looking for more than a hypothetical 61 IBUs. I went into my second pour practically looking for pulp or sediment but finding next to none of it. That’s just a great job of “cooking” the flavors in without lazily tossing in adjuncts prior to fermentation.
Mouth Feel: A lot of what’s going on happens at the very back of your mouth. The body is truly luscious, and it carries over so far that you’re almost tasting the beer with your molars.
Overall: Just a righteous beer. I pour mine on a day I worked in the yard for an hour, went for a 6 mile run, and took the kids to the park in the afternoon. That’s not meant to #humblebrag, just to describe when I sat down exhausted at the end of the day, this beer hit the mark in a way that few could. Consider this another standard set for brewing in the Commonwealth…by none other than Commonwealth Brewing.