All words: Robert Winship — All photos: Steve Jeter
It was somewhat unfortunate that we were at Jack Rose for a beer event. The beautiful and spacious Adams Morgan bar is clearly a haven for the discerning spirits drinker. Having never been, I arrived early on in the evening I hustled up the staircase toward the rooftop bar where the event was being held. Had I stopped earlier in my sobriety, I would have noticed the magnificent museum-like display of bourbon, gin, vodka and the like, which I later explored in the downstairs dining area. Jack Rose is a “dining saloon,” but all the wild, pistol-packing behaviour is better left to the unsavories a few bar-fronts up the Adams Morgan strip. Here it’s all gunmetal, copper, wood and stone for you and yours to, say, order a martini: shaken not stirred. It feels that slick. I talked for a while to Naheem, the Beer Director, who spoke excitedly of the speakeasy in the works and explained the rigorous line-cleaning tasks for each new selection of draught beer. Naheem should have won the prize for best pirate costume!
But the Thursday evening event was a feature event for Baltimore-based brewery Heavy Seas (Clipper City), one which rounded out a week’s worth of tap takeovers, features and beer pairings at Jack Rose under the banner of Savor. The booty, as it were, was eight Heavy Seas selections on draught, including a specialty cask of Spiced Sitzel Weller Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. We sampled all eight with a report as follows:
Below Decks Barleywine (10%)
The Below Decks is a dark pour with deep acidic fruit aroma that tastes strong and rich with cherry-flavor ; it stays just below the boozy line for the first few sips, then settles into its 10% ABV. We sampled both the traditional barley wine and the barrel-aged version. The barrel-aged blend is pretty much the same as it’s not-barrel-aged counterpart, but with a more distinct punch of malted fruit in a richer brew.
Dubbel Cannon Belgian IPA (7.25%)
The Dubbel Cannon IPA is a medium body that tastes fruity and crisp with a warm, hoppy aftertaste. It is a perfect example of the hop-head’s muse, without a distracting dose of hops: well-rounded, but crisp.
Small Craft Warning Uber Pils (7%)
In this case, uber-pils means uber-thick (for a) pils. It remains crisp, but with a sweet, orange-peel laden finish. The uber-pils is a more sessionable beer and less the day-drunk fodder of a fishing trip, so it’s an improvement on the original and one worth seeking out.
Spiced Sitzel Weller Barrel Aged Imperial Stout (8%)
The regular aged imperial stout was out of commission, so we went straight for a glass of the special brew of the day. If the name alone feels like a mouthful, you’ll be no less impressed by the wholly bourbon-bellied, vanilla shot of stout. With a sip or two, the tart fruitiness balances out the sweet vanilla and sour mash of the bourbon, giving this daring stout some real sea legs.
Loose Cannon American Hop3 Ale (7.25%)
With its prominent bit o’ seasonal hops, the Loose Cannon is what you think of for a baseline IPA, and I mean that in a positive way. IPAs, while fairly common, often hit the taste buds as nothing more than a metallic blend of uber-bitter wheat water. However, with just few more complexities, the Dubbel Cannon comes out on top of the the pale ale battle at Heavy Seas, showing the might of the Belgian tradition.
Plank II Doppelbock (8.5%)
The Doppelbock was the thickest pour of the evening. I’m not as much a fan of the doppelbock, as they tend to feel more like weak chocolate stouts, but the strong licorice notes and heavy texture bump the Plank II up beyond its contemporaries and make a case for the style.
Sea Nymph (4.5%)
I’ll say it now, most summer ales are just shitty substitutes for a refreshing Natty Boh or PBR. On draught, a summer seasonal may be a decent choice for a sweaty dive bar but where the stouts and porters of winter are strong and the fruity pale ales of spring are crisp, the summer ale is a bastard son of the cycle. The sea nymph might have been hard to take, simply by virtue of the other heavy brews, but its water presence and somewhat rosy, lightly hoppy finish were nothing to write home about… unless you’re recruited to write home about it.