Saturday, December 14, 2013

Drop-In Heart of Lothian

During my first visit to Drop-In Brewing Company a couple of weeks ago, I was stoked to come across this beer as it follows the traditionally Scottish-brewed 90 Shilling ale. The style is not typically found commercially, with the best example I know of being Odell 90 Shilling out of Colorado. I remember the first time I ordered the 90 Shilling from Odell Brewery and still covet it to this day while in search of comparable offerings.

Alcohol Content:

Price: $5/ "Squealer" (32oz growler) +deposit
Medium: Sampled at the brewery and in 16oz glass

Aroma: Very malty and sweet with warm alcohol notes playing a contributing role to the pleasant malt character. The nose suggests an overly sweet beer already, but that is to be decided by taste. Moderately-light roast and dark chocolate notes offers complexity without "muddying" the beer. In other words the aromas are still quite distinguishable despite lots of malt character. Hops are absent or in large part undetectable.
Appearance: Mocha head, of which I poured with disturbance to allow excessive foaming. I usually do this with growlers I bring home and store in the fridge before opening. Retention was minimal despite the large head pour. Color is of very dark ruby/ brown, approaching black. Has a beautiful presentation in the small sample glass from the brewery but it not nearly as clear in the pint glass.
Flavor: Chocolate, roast, deep melanoidins, and dried fruit character are all prominent, with perhaps a touch of black patent malt coming across in the finish as well. Although very malty and sweet, the finish is met with bitterness I perceive as coming from both hops and malts. Also a bit dry which aids in cleaning up sweetness that may otherwise become cloying. Molasses, caramel, and toffee can all be used to describe the malts as well (I found this in subsequent sips). Hops for light bittering only and add no particular flavors or aromas.
Mouthfeel: Very full bodied with an almost cloying sweetness but this is cleaned up by the semi-dry finish. I curiously took a hydrometer reading from a sample and found the final gravity to be around 1.012, which suggests good fermentation for the style (I let it warm up and degas to take a better reading). This may have something to do with a semi-dry finish despite all the malty sweetness perceived on the front end of the palate. Alcohol lends warmth with a spice character that strangely reminds me of nutmeg and ginger. Possibly a light astringency from dark malts. Carbonation was low due to storage and leaking of CO2 in the squealer. Low creaminess lends a stout-like character.
Overall Impression: Balance was thrown off from the low carbonation. I recall the experience being better when sampled fresh from the brewery. (Looking back at my notes it was two days later that I sampled it again from the growler I brought home). This is a very bold beer in terms of malt character without too much alcohol to be considered big or un-sessionable. I am excited to try more from the brewery as it is not far from work!

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