Great Beers for the New Year #1: Jailbreak Coffee Dusk Till Dawn, Russian Imperial Stout with Barleywine blend with coffee. Laurel, Maryland
Date: January 6, 2019
The Story— Properly this beer should be classified as a great beer for the old year (2018) but we just found it, so for us it’s a great start to the new year. In fact our year has gotten off to a fabulous start with leftovers from 2018. We’ve both been off work and have worked hard to make a dent in a backlog of beers in our fridge and vault; tough job but someone has to do it. Tomorrow we’ll highlight Great Beer for the New Year #2– Mad Elf Grand Cru, which also scored so highly it’s likely to be in the top 5% of our 2019 beers when we look back a year from now. 2018 treated us pretty well, too. See below for links to our 12 Beers of Christmas.
We hope Jailbreak is as successful as it seems to be. It shows up at nearly every beer bar in our native Montgomery County. They’ve done a couple of things very well to put them on the road to success. First, of course, they brew good beer. Some of their off-the-wall creations can be a challenge, but all home run hitters strike out sometimes. They’ve been a fine addition to the Washington area brewing scene for the last five years.
They also were one of the first to figure out how to distribute relatively widely in Mysterious Montgomery– the last county in the United States to have a monopoly over the distribution of beer. it’s an important market. If Montgomery County were a state, it’s population would exceed eight current states. The county has loosened up some since Jailbreak broke over the county line, and now several Montgomery County breweries are vying for taps. But Jailbreak got to many established places first and created a demand for their products that, we think, still helps them grab taps. Hats off to them for helping bring choice to “the county.”
We found this on tap at Down Town Crown in Gaithersburg, a remarkable combination of a tap house and beer and wine retailer. They have about the same number of seats as beers on tap, so go early or stand. Their list isn’t as long as others– the nearby Pour House dwarfs them on numbers alone– but the selection is one of the best in the area. Having 99 beers on tap isn’t very thrilling to us when we’ve tasted 97 of them. Of Down Town Crown’s 22, about half were new to us.
The Beer—This is a huge beer. It’s pricey, but worth the cost– skip the three Bud Lights and buy one of these instead. Thick dark malts and dark fruit with a hint of wildflower honey along with some herbal hops. A mighty sipper with a bit of dark sugar flavor coming along for the ride. It’s gently boozy so the 11% can sneak up on you. The coffee is there, but comes in late and doesn’t do much except add some breadth. There’s a hint of chocolate that might be partly the result of the coffee. from Ellie: Whoof. What a dance! Boozy, hot and -oh my- mocha!
Value — Good. $11 for a quarter liter draft is no giveaway, but you get what you pay for in this gem. Get to Down Town Crown during happy hour and it’s less than ten bucks.
Values: “fair” is a good beer at an above market price, “good” is worth the money, “very good” is a bargain, and “excellent” is a steal.
We’re often asked to share our tasting notes on over 33,000 beers; this blog is is our response to those requests. Not all our notes, though. The great beer writer Michael Jackson admirably followed the Thumper Rule, and we’ll try to do the same. (“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”) All the beers we post are from the top half of our ratings and most are from the top quarter. Of greater value, we think, are the stories behind the beers, and we try to give you enough about the brewery, the style and the places to find great beer to help you on your own beer journeys. At CulturAle Press we try to write books and publish posts that will help you “Drink Well and Travel Safely.”