Last night I informed fellow VBR crewmember Ben that I’d scored a rather large reservation at Caboose. We got into a version of the “5 Whys” game that would make a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt rather proud, but the gist was, “why bother to make a huge reservation at a place like that?” Two reasons:
- Craft Beer in the Commonwealth is a thing. Popular places get crowded, especially ones that also have a food service that causes folks to stick around and hog space for a long while.
- I grew up and went to middle and high school with these friends…right there in Vienna. We used to practice for the cross country and track teams right there on the W&OD trail beside where Caboose now sits.
Just as the Vienna Inn has some symbolic meaning to us, where we can gather to discuss our exploits of yesteryear, it turns out we go to Caboose to talk about how much it sucks getting old. We swapped stories of twisting ankles, cramping up on hot runs, and…running with babies. A few of us had our wee ones in tow, and this featured beer has a rather unique tie to my newest daughter. As both my wife and I have relatives/ancestors in Great Britain and Ireland, our kids have nicknames that a little…”feudal” in nature. There’s “Lady” and “Little Miss,” but we’ve been having some debate over our newest. Because her name is Katelyn, I thought it clever to call her “Duchess” after the actual Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. My wife has not liked that at all, but I pointed to the beer menu and called it an omen. If nothing else, it was an omen for good beer!
Dutchess, Caboose Brewing Co. (Vienna, VA)
Coffee Porter, 5.5% ABV
Presentation: Growler pour into nonic pint glass.
Appearance: For reasons which are wholly appropriate, the color reminds of a dark roast cold brew, with a deep black core but a translucent, syrupy caramel base. You can tease some head out of this with a deliberate and swift pour, but it’s fleeting.
Taste: The nose is all gentle coffee bean, apropos of the espresso infusion from Caffe Amouri‘s Dutchess blend. Rather than espresso though, it’s more a lighter breakflast blend with cream and a touch of cacao. The body is much meatier and maltier, the consistency somehow reminding me of a sort of lentil stew. That just means it’s very full-bodied and filling, only you don’t realize it until you’re almost through. The finish, thankfully, is again light and mild, almost like a semi-sweet chocolate bar. At a warmer serving temperature the chocolate gives way to a bit of nuttiness instead.
Mouth Feel: This beer is all over the central tongue in terms of both coffee acidity and bittersweetness from the cacao.
Overall: This is a super pleasant Hoppy Hour brew for a mild winter night. Since we were at Caboose for dinner, you could also opt for this over an actual coffee. It does feel like it fills up your tummy (and your palate), so use some caution in where you pair this, or in what order you drink it if sampling. I very much enjoyed the espresso infusion, even more so that Caboose partnered with the coffee shop just around the corner on Vienna’s iconic Church St. That’s what the artisanal side of craft beer is all about…especially when it reminds you not just of where it comes from, but also your own roots.