Showing posts with label amber ale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label amber ale. Show all posts

Thursday, February 14, 2019

#FlagshipFebruary - South Street Satan's Pony

In the nearly ten years since Mrs V and I upped sticks from the Czech Republic (not sorry, but I will never refer to the Czech lands as "Czechia"), Charlottesville and it's immediate environs have experienced something of a brewing boom. In 2009 there were just 4 breweries within about 20 miles of the city, and only one of those in Charlottesville itself. The oldest of those 4 breweries, and the only one in the city of Charlottesville proper, is South Street Brewery. Established in 1998, the brewpub has always been one of my favourite spaces in which to drink, though until 2015 the beer was, all to often, undrinkable, as I wrote about here.

Apparently it hadn't ever been thus. Prior to starting Blue Mountain Brewery, Taylor Smack had been the brewer at South Street, and they had a good reputation. When 8 years later Taylor bought South Street, he and his wife Mandi set about restoring that reputation, to superb effect. South Street beers are now worthy of the space they are brewed and consumed in, and in doing so they also restored the flagship, Satan's Pony.


Satan's Pony is a rarity among flagship beers in that it is not an IPA, rather it is, officially, an Amber Ale. I tend to think of it though as more of a ruby mild in the tradition of Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby as it is 5.3%. Sadly I think the term "ruby mild" would sell less than "amber ale". The picture above was taken a couple of weekends ago at brunch, my good friend Dave and I shared a pitcher of Pony, and once it had got to cellar temperature it was quite revelatory. With only 12 IBU, malt complexity comes to the fore. It has a lovely biscuity base, British biscuits that is, think Rich Tea. On top of the base is layered toffee, a subtle toastiness, and the soothing flavours of unsweetened cocoa. With hops basically there to add bitterness for balance, this is anything but a one dimension hop fest, and it is all the better for it. It is simply delicious.

Now, if you know me in the slightest, you'll likely be reeling from all the glowing positivity above, so let me say this about Satan's Pony, it doesn't get the love it deserves.


South Street is one of the few places I know in Virginia that has a beer engine, and thus the ability to have real ale hand pulled at cellar temperature, and I can think of no better beer in their range to be elevated to the heights of real ale than Satan's Pony. When I say elevated, I mean no silly shit ingredients, I don't want a pastry ruby mild, or dry hopping, or cocoa nibs, or, well, anything else really. Satan's Pony, properly cask condititioned, then properly cared for by the cellarman, pulled, when ready, through a sparkler, would be a thing of beauty.

This year sees the 21st birthday of South Street, and Satan's Pony has been a major part of that ride. You could make a strong argument that Pony is the flagship craft beer for Charlottesville and central Virginia, and in the spirit of Flagship February get out there and try it folks, then thank Taylor and Mandi for restoring its lustre (before bugging them for having it on cask...)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Devils Backbone in Blighty

To say I am a fan of Devils Backbone would be an understatement. I love their beer, I love going down to the brewpub, though I don't get down there as often as I would like these days, and I think Jason is a top brewer and a top, top bloke to boot.


Now all you lucky British drinkers will have the opportunity to taste Jason's beer, as part of the J.D. Wetherspoon International Real Ale Festival, which runs from April 2nd to 21st.

According to the brochure for the event, Jason is brewing an American Amber Ale, which is described as being a:
medium-bodied beer is a reddish-amber colour, with floral citrus hop aromas leading to full malt and hop flavours, underscored by a toasted malt backbone.
Knowing Jason's elan for making tasty beer, I am sure it will be a treat and well worth hunting out.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dashed Expectations

Early on Saturday morning Mrs Velkyal and I piled ourselves and our little dog into the car and set off to Columbia in South Carolina. Yesterday we drove back to Charlottesville, minus the dog. Don't worry, we haven't sold our wee Honza to people with nefarious designs on world domination. We are going to France this week and can't take him with us, so he is on holiday at Mrs V's parents and I am left wondering what to do when I wake up at 5.30 in the morning.


Before we got to the in-laws' place, we swung by a Walmart to pick up some bits and pieces for dinner, including a six pack of something or other.

Highland Brewing from Asheville are fast becoming a go-to brewery in my world. I loved, and dranks lots of, their Clawhammer Oktoberfest lager when it was available. The Black Mocha Stout is as flavourful a stout as you could ask for. I was looking for something a bit easier on the palate and so I picked up a six pack of Gaelic Ale.


Once we got to the house I read the blurb on the bottle and my heart almost sank as I read that they used "Cascade and Willamette hops". The last thing I wanted was some classic C-hop citrus attack, still I had splashed the cash and pretty much had no choice, so I dived in. The beer pours a rich dark amber, bordering on deep red and with a thinnish off white head. It was in the nose that I got all confused, where was the grapefruit, the pine resin? The aroma was a complex layering of sweet malts, cocoa and rich earthy spiciness. Confused and yet encouraged. Goodness me, what a lovely tasting beer! More of the sweet malts, with a healthy wallop of biscuits, toast and caramel, all balanced by an unobtrusive but still noticeably firm hop bite. I polished off the 6 pack with the minimum of fuss and the maximum enjoyment.

I learnt something this weekend. It seems that Cascade in the hands of a brewery like Highland doesn't have to be the dominant flavour and aroma in a beer. As part of the whole it was a key element of a very nice beer and one that I will be buying on a regular basis in the future.

Old Friends: Joseph's Brau PLZNR

I have to admit that there really are not that many things that I miss as a result of this pandemic. I am sure that comes as something of a ...

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