Pirate beer brings the heat | The Triangle
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Pirate beer brings the heat

Some time ago I was introduced to Clipper City Brewing Company, and this week I decided to grab one of their beers to try. I ended up, by accident, with their Weizen Doppelbock. Even though its not the normal time of year, I have a bit of a soft spot for wheat beers, so I’m not exactly annoyed, but I should have checked the bottle more closely since Clipper City has some good IPAs.

Hugh Sisson established Clipper City Brewing Company in 1994. Sisson helped start Maryland’s first brewpub, Sisson’s, with his family, before branching off with Ernesto Igot of the San Miguel Brewery in the Philippines. The brewery now markets all its beers under the Heavy Seas name and groups its brews into related families called Fleets. Three Fleets are currently on the market: Clipper Fleet, Pyrate Fleet and Mutiny Fleet. Clipper Fleet consists of classic beer styles under 6 percent, with an eye towards drinkability and overall quality. Pyrate Fleet contains their bottle conditioned beers, each between 7 and 8 percent ABV, which are more complex and pack more of a punch than the Clipper Fleet. Mutiny Fleet has the high-test beers, all over 8 percent ABV, all bottle conditioned, and many of them are designed for aging. The Weizen Doppelbock, named Hang Ten, fits comfortably in this last category at 10 percent ABV, making it a fairly big example of the style.

The beer poured a hazy, dark brown, despite which a backlight revealed a ruby color fading to a honey gold at the edges. The head formed as one finger of coarse, light tan foam, which quickly dissipated to a thin ring of light white bubbles around the rim of the glass. The aroma was a very muddled combination, typical of wheat beers with lots of banana esters up front, backed up by clove and yeast. I did note, however, a bit of hot alcohol in the aroma, which is not exactly desirable. The carbonation was moderately high, although it did little besides provide a sparkling highlight to the fairly thick body of this beer. The body was not as thick as some barleywines I’ve had, but it’s quite substantial, as would be expected from this style. The taste was fairly sweet and malty with a fair bit of yeast, but the sweetness didn’t linger terribly far in the aftertaste. Some dark fruits hung in the background, especially plum, but they definitely took a back seat in this beer. The bit that threw me was the aftertaste, which featured a surprising combination of yeastiness and solventy hot alcohols. I didn’t really enjoy that, which is unfortunate given how good the rest of the beer is.

Overall, I thought this was a pretty good beer. I actually think it’s a very good candidate for aging, as it has enough alcohol to preserve it, and the aging process will help reduce the hot alcohols. This is not, however, a beginner’s beer; this is like a German hefeweizen’s bigger, older cousin. He also happens to be a bit angry at the moment, but will calm down if you let him sit for a while.