I first found out about Old Ox from a friend who’d noticed their signs while biking down the WO&D trail. Advertising bathrooms, water breaks, and a place to sit down to weary bikers, then ambushing them with beer? Brilliant!
After determining they were close by to Lost Rhino, that made it (seemingly) easy to add them to the docket. It being many months later, in practice it’s simply difficult to trek well outside the Beltway so I’d had to suffice with a few tastes here and there and so discovered the delightful Oxtoberfest and Black Ox back in the Fall. Finally finding myself out in Ashburn recently with a small window, and it being a Friday, I stole over to Old Ox to finally get a full tasting.
Friday Night Flight: Old Ox Brewery (Ashburn, VA) @OldOxBrewery
Total Beers: 4
Featured Style: Some regular styles, some small batch runs
Flight: Saison d’Ox, Alpha Ox Session IPA, Oxplorer Batch 2 Retro IPA, Kristin’s Passion Mexican-style Porter
Saison: Having appreciated the flavors in their Marzen and Porter, I was curious how a Farmhouse version would be represented. Very fruity on nose, the body came out a little tart, almost with some Belgian influences. It being an influence at most, the resulting finish is lighter, though, so it ends up somewhat refreshing overall. 7.1 out of 10.
Alpha Ox: It being mid-January, lighter beers have gone into hibernation. While not into spiced styles too much, I do appreciate IPA flavors to a greater degree when it’s sipping weather. The Alpha Ox doesn’t disappoint with a very piney/earthy nose. Given this is a Session, the floral hoppy notes punch well above their weight in terms of the bitterness listed, and are especially forward on the finish. 6.5 out of 10.
Oxplorer Batch 2: The use of ingredients popular 20 years back results in a modern hybrid. You may detect some caramel notes up front due to the Vienna and Munich malts, with a tinge of pine and oak throughout. Although the listed 65 IBU and description calls it “full-strength,” it’s a deceptively small finish that subtly lingers without residual bitterness. I was surprised that the malts didn’t come through a bit more with this one, and think an Amber Ale might be a good direction for this experimental. 6.0 out of 10.
Kristin’s Passion: I was astonished to see I was only the 5th to check in this amazing concoction, and after chatting with Kenny, one of the brewers, was informed this Porter had been part of their One-Off Wednesdays as the Mexican Hot Chocolate. With only a small production run, this beer may be hard to find. That being said, a playful hickory and chocolate nose blends with a little bit of cream flavors in the body offered by vanilla beans. This combination balances out the red chile spices which were far from overwhelming – imagine a savory dish infused with cumin and smoked paprika instead and you’re on the right track. Exceptional. 9.0 out of 10.
Get Out and Try: Kristin’s Passion (if you can find it!) and the Saison.