Monday, September 26, 2011

Exile ESB (Evolution Craft Brewing Company)

If you thought Milton, Delware (home of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery) was an obscure locale, try Delmar, Delaware. This dinky town of 1,600 hugs the Delaware/Maryland border opposite its comparatively sprawling "twin" city, Delmar, Maryland, population 3,000.

It is in the lesser Delmar that Evolution Craft Brewing Company set down roots in 2009. So far their products are only distributed in Delaware, Maryland, and the DC metro area, but according to a May 2011 post on the brewery's infrequently updated blog, they are having trouble keeping up with demand and are developing expansion plans.

Being a Delawarean, I am used to seeing Evolution beers at my neighborhood liquor store -- although I confess to never having purchased any. This bottle of Exile ESB comes to me, as so many good things have, by way of the Beer Club.

Now, the label on the bottle carries the words "Evolution Style Beer," and I assume that this unorthodox expansion of the initialism "ESB" does not mean that the beer within is anything other than an "extra special bitter" -- basically a stronger, fuller-bodied pale ale. Let's find out.

The beer pours a cloudy amber. Two inches of cream-colored foam came up, and within a minute or two that settled down to an eighth inch film which left practically no lacing. The aroma brings mainly musty and pungent hops -- smells like a pilsner, more or less.

The flavor is dry and lemony tart and stays very high on the palate. The body is medium to light, with carbonation that is low but adequately tingly. The whole thing can be described as mild biscuit malt ensnared by hops bitterness. Any fruit that's there would be in the sweet finish -- if pressed on the matter I might identify a faint suggestion of apricot. There is some black tea flavor and astringency in the aftertaste.

This is a nicely balanced sessioner. It's not a flashy style, but pretty well done. I don't think this is the kind of beer a fledgeling brewery is going to build a reputation on. Hoping there are some other brews in Evolution's portfolio more likely to capture some word of mouth buzz. I seem to hear the most mentions of their Lot #3 IPA, so maybe I'll try that next.

Featured beer:
Exile ESB

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