December Craft Beer Report – Twenty-Six Acres, Currahee, Milwaukee Brewing, Phoenix Ale, Firestone Walker, Wooden Robot
Whether a brewery sends me a courtesy sample, I visit a brewery on a press trip, or I just stop in a brewery because beer, I drink a lot of beer. Each month, I summarize my favorites in a monthly craft beer report.
My December Craft Beer Report is both eclectic and repetitive all at once. Beers drank include local beers around Charlotte, a trip to the North Carolina Mountains, Christmas in Phoenix, and a sample given to me by Milwaukee Brewing. Yet, half of the beers are Black IPAs as they seem to fit the season and my palate.
Twenty-Six Acres Brewing Orley Fick Dungus Black IPA (Draught, ABV – 6.7%, IBU – 69)
- Where: Twenty-Six Acres Brewing’s taproom in Concord, North Carolina
- With: A chilly afternoon
- Notes: We stopped into this new brewery after fighting the crowds at Bass Pro Shop so Deacon could get his photo with Santa. In desperate need of a beer, we were pleasantly surprised with what we found. The Orley Fick Dungus fell more toward the sweet side than the toasty side for a black IPAs. A pleasant bitterness from the hops completed the full-bodied beer in a way that was both refreshing and hearty. The combo made for the perfect fair weather beer. Twenty-Six Acres Brewing is a worthy brewery for a drive up from Charlotte.
Firestone Walk Brewing Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA (12-ounce bottle, ABV – 8.3%, IBU – 80)
- Where: Poolside over Christmas at my aunt’s house in Phoenix, Arizona
- With: A cigar and good conversation
- Notes: I realize that I traveled all the way out to Arizona and Firestone Walker Brewing brews in California. But, the brewery doesn’t distribute to North Carolina, and a beer doesn’t come more perfect than the Wookey Jack. There’s a reason why it won gold medals two years in a row at the Great American Beer Festival in the American-style Black Ale category. The Wookey Jack is a hearty beer with rich roasted malt notes of coffee and chocolate, some spice, and a snappy finish of pine and citrus.
Currahee Brewing Tellico RIBA Black IPA (Draught, ABV – 6.7%)
- Where: Ugly Dog Public House in The Highlands, North Carolina
- With: A cold and rainy night after a long, foggy drive through the mountains of North Carolina
- Notes: Very rarely will I order the same beer twice. There are just too many craft beers to try. I had three Currahee Brewing Tellico RIBAs. It had a nice toasty malt with more than a dash of coffee bitterness. The finish is clean and full of bright hops that beg for another sip. Or perhaps that call for more beer was from my shot nerves after the worst drive of my life. The Tellico RIBA has me curious to sample more from this brewery based in Franklin, North Carolina.
Milwaukee Brewing Company O-Gii Gin Barrel Aged Imperial Wit (Bomber, ABV – 10%, IBU – 24.5)
- Where: Casa de Gourmand
- With: Re-runs of Hawaii Five-O (don’t judge… I also listen to Nickelback)
- Notes: First, O-Gii from Milwaukee Brewing is not your ordinary Imperial Wit (not that there’s anything normal about an Imperial Wit). It’s brewed with organic green tea and ginger for a delightfully refreshing and mellow beer – albeit monstrously strong. The Gin Barrel Aged version raises the flavor and intricacy lever even higher. Sampled side-by-side with the standard O-Gii, the Gin Barrel Aged made the high-octane beast even easier to drink. The spice from the gin balanced out the sweetness from the tea. Drink with caution…
Phoenix Ale Brewing Orange Peel IPA (Draught, ABV – 6.4%, IBU – 67)
- Where: Phoenix Ale Brewing’s Central Kitchen in Phoenix, Arizona
- With: A plate of chicken-fried-chicken heaven
- Notes: This particular beer stood out as a unique offering for a citrus addition IPA. While most fall more towards the juicy side, the Phoenix Ale Brewing Orange Peel IPA carried a heftier malt structure that made it more of a food beer. Yet, there was still plenty of playful citrus notes to quench the palate.
Wooden Robot Brewery Dukkah Sour Amber Ale (Draught, ABV – 5.3%)
- Where: Wooden Robot’s taproom in Charlotte, North Carolina
- With: A writer buddy
- Notes: The Dukkah Sour is a collaboration beer between Wooden Robot Brewery and Chef Jamie Lynch from 5Church (currently on Top Chef). It’s only available at the brewery and the restaurant while supplies last. Dukkah is an Egyptian blend of spices and nuts that add an almost Christmas seasonal appeal. The beer, which was aged in Wooden Robot’s oak foeder, is earthy, exotic, and funky all at once. Drink it before they run out.