Finally back from vacation where I got to play in the (mostly) sunny state of Florida. And while the highlight was rubbing noses with Mickey Mouse, I did learn a lot about Florida beer down there. If you didn’t know, Florida has a great craft beer scene, but because of some hard hitting lobbyist, they have some of the worst distribution/sales laws in the country. You don’t/won’t see a lot of Florida beers in Virginia, but when a case or 2 sneaks out of the Sunshine State, there are some distinct characteristics.
1. Every saison, hefe, and wit is orange-heavy. I know, shocker right?
2. They love to experiment with their stouts down there. Coffee and Donuts and Mexican Standoff are two from Due South Brewery outside of West Palm that were mighty tasty.
3. They do IPA/DIPAs very well, but treat them like 2nd rate beer down there. For example, one if not the best beer in the state, Jai Alai by Cigar City, you can’t find at Whole Foods, but you can get cases upon cases at Walmart. When asked, it has become so commonplace that it doesn’t sell to the common Floridian craft beer drinker. So it has over-saturated the market and targeted to tourist like me.
4. You can drink beer in all 11 countries at EPCOT. I did. I will tell that tale later.
Unlike Jai Alai, Alewerks in Williamsburg does it right. They know they have a great product, one of the best in the state. They seasonally release it, and if you can get your hands on it, it is a glorious thing. We have been savoring it since we returned and here’s our take on it.
Bitter Valentine, AleWerks Brewing Company (Williamsburg, Va)
Double India Pale Ale, ABV: 9.0%
Presentation: Tap pour into tulep glass.
Appearance: Reddish amber in color with decent head that will slightly cap if not attended. Head is slightly off white.
Smell: Sweet (from the malts) hops (from the hops) with a faint citrus note. Very pleasing.
Taste: AleWerks beers don’t trick you often from nose to mouth. This one is the same. You get a malty/grain sweetness up front and then the hops kick in finishing slightly acidic with a citrus zest finish.
ABV/IBU Feel: 9% is spot on with DIPAs and the ABV is felt at the end of the taste. Also, like other doubles, it is a bit heavier, but not ‘chewy’. The citrus/acid on the back end thins out the mouthfeel. IBUs felt from late front through middle to end.
Overall: Consistently rated as one of the best overall beers in the state, it is hard to put any other DIPAs from the Mid-Atlantic in front of this one. Would it survive against the big boys from the west coast and up north? That harder to say, but it wouldn’t be the odd man out in any testing. It is DIPA season and AleWerks puts this out at the right time. With the crisper back end, you can even push this beer into the early summer months without being completely overloaded. This should be on the Mt. Rushmore of Virginia Beers and a great example of DIPAs in general.