For our first virtual tasting, we planned the theme “Yin and Yang” and selected one blonde ale and one milk stout. Our blonde ale ended up being a bit darker in color than we anticipated, so bear with the imperfect analogy…
We started with the Bridge Builder Blonde Ale from Parkway Brewing company (located in Salem, VA). This company has very distinct and beautiful bottle labels, which was what initally caught Rach’s eye (yes, we choose beers by their bottling..sue us). As mentioned before, the Bridge Builder is a darker blonde ale and has a STRONG clove smell. Pear flavors are pretty apparent within the first few sips of this brew, but that flavor somewhat disappears the more you drink of it. The Bridge Builder has a really unique aftertaste that neither of us can quite seem to put our finger on. Overall, we enjoyed this beer and would likely order it if we found it on tap somewhere, but were a tad disappointed.
Our Yin was Left Hand Brewing Co.’s Milk Stout Nitro, a well-known and well-reviewed milk stout. Stouts will probably never be my favorite type of beer, but we both enjoyed drinking this one. Hints of coffee and cocoa combine to give it a rich mocha aroma (chocolate covered espresso beans came to Maddy’s mind) and it is so incredibly smooth going down. For me the first taste was coffee, followed by chocolate as I let the sip linger on my tongue, and Maddy also picked up on vanilla notes. Maddy preferred this to the New Holland Dragon’s Milk, but I remain undecided. I found the Dragon’s Milk more flavorful because of the bourbon, but this smoother and more enjoyable overall. This beer won’t replace my IPAs during football games or hefeweizens while cooking out, but I could see myself ordering one on a cold night, in a cozy bar, and savoring it while catching up with a friend.
Despite numerous technical difficulties due to unfailingly crappy wireless connections in college towns, our first virtual happy hour was a success! Almost as good as the real thing 😉