Pete: Aslin has always been a favorite of mine. Ever since my first pilgrimage out to Herndon, it has had my support. I have gone there on my birthday, after a long week, or even just because a release looked good, and this trip coincided with my graduation from law school. It seemed like the perfect time to get out to the brewery to check out a can release.
I started to visit Aslin when they only offered crowler releases in very small batch numbers. Now they have a huge line for stacks and stacks of their cans. The place has become unrecognizable ever since the city informed the brewery that they could no longer serve on-site anymore. That was sad, but that space was always tough to be in because it really was so small.
As the brewery grew in popularity, the ability to sit and enjoy a beer at the bar waned so it was getting harder and harder to spend time there. For a while, the best way to enjoy the brewery was to get in and get out with crowlers to drink the beer elsewhere. Luckily they have decided to open a tap room in Herndon and keep their first location as a brewery only spot. That seems to be the best move for all parties (including the other businesses, which were likely unhappy with the amount of parking taken up by the brewery patrons during releases), so stay tuned for an eventual post on their new location.
Shane: Pete has obviously been high on Aslin for quite some time. He selected several Aslin beers in our 2016 Beer Draft. He has been visiting Aslin since they first burst onto the beer scene. He’s even included a handful of Aslin beers in our regular writeups. To say that Pete is an Aslin fan would probably be a gross understatement. So when he let us know that he would be including a slew of new Aslin beers among his next tasting selections, I was pretty excited. Especially when I learned that among them would be a few different fruit beers and a collaboration with fellow mid-Atlantic powerhouse RaR. The final beer in this batch is a brew from 3 Stars, which we visited earlier this year during our Washington, DC Beercation and were very impressed by. I’m pumped to have the opportunity to try another beer from them, and I can’t wait to crack into this excellent selection provided by Pete. Is it weird that six of the seven beers are from Aslin? Sure, maybe. Is Aslin so awesome that I don’t care? Yes, definitely.
York: I see you got some Aslin, eh, Pete? I have waited in a line for beer exactly twice in my life. Both were Pete’s fault. Both resulted in beer that made me stop complaining about lines. The most recent of those experiences was at Aslin (during our last beercation), and it yielded all-stars like Master of Karate and Stellar Parallax, so it’s safe to say an Aslin focus definitely sounds good to me. Even more so, I love the mix of styles here. IPAs and double IPAs in a huge range of ABVs and not one but two Wild IPAs--which has become a real favorite style of mine. RaR and 3 Stars are two of my top breweries in the DC area that I make sure to seek out any time I’m nearby, so getting a beer each from them makes this batch even more exciting. I don’t know that I’d have previously said that a batch from almost entirely one brewery was preferable, but this lineup looks about as good as any.
Pete's Thoughts: This is Aslin’s Mind the Hop beer, but tweaked with Peach and Vanilla. This is one of my favorites they have done. Basically every one of these beers has vanilla in it, because that’s the thing they do, apparently. It’s a wonderful drinking beer (keyword: DRINKING). Very thick looking and not aesthetically pleasing, because it definitely pours with some particulate at the end due to the amount of fruit they put in it. Very strong peach cobbler notes and some nice fruity character from the Citra hops. I definitely remember this beer being much clearer on draft, which might be a product of their canning system. Still, amazing flavor and definitely not the chunkiest beer I have shared.
Shane’s Thoughts: Wow, right off the bat we’ve got an incredibly interesting beer. Are you the sort of person who likes pulpy orange juice? If so, this may be the beer for you. Because make no mistake, this is maybe the pulpiest beer I have ever seen. I poured it into a tulip glass and let the beer settle, and by the time it was done there was sediment piled almost an inch high (see image to the right). That’s CRAZY, and it makes the beer a little hard to judge. On a flavor level, it’s outstanding: there is so much peach flavor here it almost tastes like a peach bellini. It definitely doesn’t taste like a beer clocking in at almost 10% alcohol, that’s for sure. And I can definitely appreciate that the inclusion of the fruit pulp is a big part of what lets Aslin achieve that level of flavor. But at the same time, it’s a tough pill to swallow when you really can’t drink about 1/4 of the beer. Still...this beer is absolutely delicious. It’s straight peach nectar, and I’d drink it again for sure. It’s a fantastic summer beer.
York's Thoughts: This beer is absolutely gross looking. Sorry, not sorry. “Pulpy” is an understatement equivalent to saying the Warriors hit a few threes this season. Shane showed me a picture of this brew poured into a glass, so I sort of knew what was coming, but still needed to see it for myself. I poured it into a pint glass and marveled at the colossal chunks floating around for a minute before taking a couple sips. Definitely peach, definitely vanilla, and a bit of a forgotten about hop profile. Peach is one of my favorite flavors but I’m rarely impressed by its incorporation to beer. I will say that the major silver lining of this brew is that it is a phenomenal use of peach flavor--so much so that I think I’d have prefered it without the vanilla element. The hops are kinda-sorta there but are mostly lost in how syrupy and sweet this is. I expect a double IPA to have a much more forward dose of hoppiness, or else it should really be classified differently. After a few sips to get a good feel for the flavor, I let the glass sit for about 15 minutes to check on the settling. For those who might try to defend this as a beer that should’ve been drank straight from the can, here is why I’ll call BS. I came back to about 4 stratified layers that looked like a cross section of a river. Giant unappetizing boulder chunks at the bottom, largish particulate next, then what I’d finally allow to be called hazy or pulpy, and then almost transparent at the top. If you were drinking straight from the can, sure it’d slosh around a little bit, but you’re still going to get drastically different experiences at various stages of drinking.
Shane: Torn here. The pulp is a little unappetizing, but the flavor is absolutely killer, especially for a 9.4% beer. 8/10
York: Easily the most I’ve ever been influenced by the look of a beer. The peach flavor is great but the rest is lacking. 6/10
Pete: A peach cobbler bomb in IPA form. A little thick but delicious. 8/10
Pete's Thoughts: My go-to Aslin beer. Mosaic, full-flavored, and simple. This beer with blueberry and vanilla was one of my favorites from last year. It really brings out the fruit complexity of the hop. Berry, melon, and subtle passionfruit. Some slight dankness but no bitterness. It’s crisp and clear and every time I leave Aslin, I wonder why I didn’t buy more. A very crushable beer and one that you could easily drink all day.
Shane's Thoughts: Before I say anything else (and, actually, before I even taste it), I want to say that this beer is absolutely gorgeous. It glows with a beautiful ripe orange color that remains consistent through the entire pour. This beer is all Mosaic, with a nice, well-rounded citrus flavor that isn’t too sweet and doesn’t overwhelm the palate. Lots of peach in the nose and on the body, with some slight bitterness on the back end. I can’t decide whether I like that or not--it definitely tempers the fruitiness of the beer, which adds a nice variation to each sip, but I think it might be a little more than I prefer. All in all a really great beer.
York's Thoughts: This was the first of the batch from Pete that I cracked and I’m a little fearful it's the first in a long line of completely opaque beers. This one is nice and colorful, but definitely pretty solid. I regretted pouring the last ounce or two into my glass and may adjust how I try the next few from Pete by trying a few sips from the first 14 ounces before adding the pure cloud portion. Anyway, back to this beer. Wonderful, layered Mosaic brew. I get all the descriptors that Aslin gives, especially the orange and peach. A little less of the berry that Pete finds, but I think I notice more of the thickness than the others do (likely just because I’m a little more sensitive to it). Absolutely love that they can pack this much flavor using the wild yeast and Mosaic combo. Pulling that many discernible attributes with the yeast profile is something I’ve always been impressed by.
Shane: Tons of peach. Big flavor. A little one-note for me, but maybe I’ve just had too many Mosaic single-hops at this point. 7/10
York: Really impressive flavor profile coming out of the house yeast. Very heavy for me but taste is top notch. 7/10
Pete: Really one of my favorite subtle Aslin beers. 8/10
Pete's Thoughts: This beer really had me thinking. On one hand, a sour beer made by two awesome breweries makes me wonder why they just didn’t go for a regular IPA, because there is so much going on here. Sour beers made by breweries that don’t specialize in them can make me hesitant. This beer was an interesting outcome. It has nice cantaloupe and melon notes on the palate and then finishes very much like a standard saison. Little spice and some of that funk that the saisons are known for. I don’t know if I like it, because it really does sharply change. I feel like I am getting a hoppy beer then a saison and I wonder if they should just have picked a lane. The flavors are good, complex, and really show the craft of the brewers, but the beer just doesn’t do it for me.
Shane's Thoughts: I was surprised when I saw this beer. RaR is known for making incredible fruit beers, and Aslin is known for making incredible goses and IPAs. So I was a little perplexed to see “wild IPA” on the can, and even more so to smell a beer that appears to almost be a saison--I would have expected these two to combine for a fruity gose, something that plays to each brewery’s strength. That said, I respect them for going in a different direction, even if it isn’t a style that I particularly tend to like. This beer a tough one for me to judge. While this isn’t technically a saison, it’s a very yeasty, wheaty, and, well, “saison-y” pale ale. What I struggle with when it comes to saisons (and saison-adjacent beers) tends to be the fact that the yeast strains predominantly used in them tend to really overwhelm the palate. The description here promises citrus, mango, and pineapple, but I definitely struggle to pick any of those individual flavors out beneath the yeasty umbrella covering the entire beer. I get some mango on the nose and some pineapple in the body of the beer, but it’s hard for me to identify--I’m not sure I’d have picked them out if I hadn’t read the beer’s description. That said, this is a beer that drinks pretty easily. It tastes pleasantly fresh, it’s refreshingly light, and I’d love to relax on the porch with one of these on a hot summer day.
York's Thoughts: WOW does this beer smell good! It’s largely due to the yeast strain in this brew, which makes it that much more impressive, too! No lie, this is probably the beer I was most excited about from this batch. I’m newly high on the wild IPAs, have liked every single RaR beer I’ve had, and this new yeast strain has been popping up here in San Francisco and makes some damn tasty beverages. This one follows the same mold and gets an absolutely incredible amount of flavor from the yeast. Hopping with a deft hand filled with big flavors like Nelson and Columbus make it that much more layered, and leaving the nose and finish alone by not dry hopping is something even I, the lover of dry-hop, am willing to say was a good decision. As if that isn’t already out of character enough, I’ll also add here that I think this is actually too high of a final ABV. There’s so much flavor here, and it all culminates in such a wildly refreshing and crisp flavor profile that I’d love to see it right around 6% to be totally honest. That’s my only complaint, and it’s hardly one at that.
Shane: I’m perplexed that RaR and Aslin chose a style that doesn’t seem to play to either brewery’s strength. 6/10
York: Found myself a nice little niche here. Delicious beer in a really fun style. 9/10
Pete: Really off the wall beer but very well made. 7/10
Pete's Thoughts: This did not strike me as much as the other guys. It has nice fruit character on the front end but really has too much bitterness for me. It has the nice Aslin yeast character and it pours a nice hazy yellow beer that has a great fruit forward nose. It just has a little too much bitterness for me and I can’t seem to get past it.
Shane's Thoughts: I'm shocked by how much I like this beer. Chinook is a tough hop to work with, and I find that it usually adds more earthy bitterness than I’m comfortable with. And pairing it with Citra, arguably the most citrus-forward hop? Well that sounds like pure insanity. Instead, the result is a delicious beer that absolutely smashed you in the face with pineapple flavor. "Pillowy" is actually a pretty good description of how this beer drinks, as it has a nice amount of haze but still feels light and refreshing. The Chinook hops really only make themselves known on the back end, and the give the beer a crisp, piney finish that helps it avoid the stick associated with some of these hazy, East Coast IPAs. Overall this might be my favorite Aslin beer of the batch. It’s definitely the one that exceeded my expectations the most.
York's Thoughts: In my brain, this is a beer that is a perfect example of what Aslin makes. It's a cloudy IPA with vibrant hops, just a little stick, and all around good drinkability. Everything about this one is exactly as I expected in the best sort of way. I nailed this right at 7% and picked out the cross-coast hop mix almost immediately based on the fleshy fruit up front and resiny bitterness at the end. I agree with Shane that this is a hop combo that scared me a bit, but that Aslin killed it here (what I disagree on is the citrus. Fruity for sure, but more of the fleshy profile to me). They’ve clearly mastered exactly when to add different hops in their process and this is the perfect showcase of that. I think a little bit is lost in the flavor of the body, but it’s something of an understood tradeoff when you have so much at play. The Chinook sticks a little bit to me, but far less than most cloudy East Coast IPAs do.
Shane: I was impressed by this beer when I drank it, and even more impressed when I saw the hop combination. 9/10
York: Love it. Creative, drinkable, and definitely one I’d go back for more of. 9/10
Pete: For some reason this did not really hit home for me, too bitter. 6/10
Pete's Thoughts: This beer had both good and weird for me. I have to say the name was awesome, but it the beer really did not sync up. The yeast character was very pronounced, almost to the point of overwhelming the flavor for me. These batches are a delicate balance of having some funk but keeping the hops and IPA character shining. When I could get past the yeast, there were great tropical notes and really nice pineapple dry character on the back end. I think this beer shows some excellent progress in Aslin’s use of new cultures, and I think it is good to push styles. This beer just did not hit the spot for me, but I will always keep trying them.
Shane's Thoughts: "Wild IPA" is a style that always makes me a little wary. “Wild” and “farmhouse” style beers are often hamstrung (to my palate, at least) by an overwhelmingly yeasty flavor, and that was my fear here. Upon taking my first sip, I was afraid that those fears had been realized, but after sitting on it for a moment I was instead surprised by how nicely this beer finishes. There are some complex flavors at work here, and the tangerine and mango come through particularly nicely as the beer has a refreshing and citrusy back end. It doesn’t end up being as yeasty as a feared, and I’m sure the dry-hopping plays a major role in that. Falconer’s Flight isn’t a hop that I could pick out of a lineup, but given that it’s the only hop at work here I feel like it does its job admirably. This still isn’t my favorite style of beer, but given my reticence going into this one, I’m surprised and impressed by how much I wound up liking it.
York's Thoughts: I haven’t gotten through everything yet but this looks like a front running to win best-of status from this batch. First, let me say it here, this style is going to be one of the next big popular varietals in the near future. It’s the next progression in the hop boom and with good reason. As a typical skeptic of anything wild, I went into this one with a little hesitation but damn is it good. The SIII yeast is something I’ve seen a few times in Cali and have seemed to love it every time. That yeast straight pumps in more flavor than most hops I’ve come across, and does it all with very little bitterness. Better yet, it doesn’t come with the stickiness that many farmhouse or saison brews do. The Falconer's Flight is an absolutely genius match with the yeast and gives it balance in every flavor direction. I love a good high IBU IPA, but a well balanced one will win out almost every time. I’ve got to imagine that this was still fermenting just a bit when it was canned because my can was actually bowed out a bit on top and bottom. As you might guess from that, it was a touch over carbonated, reaching into an almost sparkling characteristic. Somehow, even that worked really well here and made it that much more the memorable.
Shane: Wild IPA is a tough style, but I think Aslin did a good job with this one. 8/10
York: Watch while this style takes off. This is a damn good early entry to that journey. 10/10
Pete: The Wild IPA is a volatile choice but I appreciate the attempt. 6/10
Pete's Thoughts: I have a lot of history with this beer. I wandered into Aslin on some random Saturday in May 2016 and found this beer while I was missing all the New England beers from a previous beercation. I had this beer and knew everything was going to be alright. Mind the Hop has always been a passionfruit mango bomb of an IPA. Hazy, golden color, great head, robust Citra nose, and all the tongue-buckling hop flavor you could ask for. This can might have been old because it poured a little bit of a more amber gold color and did not have the haze I remembered. May be some kinks with the canning system, but this beer has too much history for me. Still a great punch of hop flavor and deceptive for 9%.
Shane's Thoughts: My first reaction to this beer is that there is a “holy shit” amount of booze in it. At 9.4% ABV, that shouldn’t surprise me, but it really smacked me right in the face as soon as I took the first sip. What’s interesting to me is that the beer really seems to mellow out the more you drink it: by the end, you could have told me this beer slotted in right around 6% and I probably would have believed you. I’m definitely not shocked to see that Citra is the hop here, because it is absolutely bursting with citrus flavor (once you get past the initial shock of the booze, that is). Fortunately, I enjoy a good burst of alcohol flavor in my beers, and balanced out against the Citra hops, I found that this beer worked really, really well for me.
York's Thoughts: I’ll go ahead and second Shane’s experience here. I poured this into glass, to a whiff and a few sips and thought it was going to be a little tough to get through because of how boozy it comes off. Very shortly thereafter, when the head died down and by sipe four or five, this drank quite lovely. Citra goes well with the overall profile and helps remind you that it is in fact hopped fairly heavily. It also cuts the stickiness you’d expect from a beer this big in a way that more piney hops definitely would not. I’d love to know what the malt profile actually is here because it’s a little tough to pin down where the stickiness is coming from if it’s not the hops and yeast is still the science I know least about. Overall, aside from those first few sips, this comes across as really well balanced and is another example of Aslin being masters of pairing off ingredient profiles.
Shane: Kind of a tale of two beers. The first half was way, way too boozy for me, but the second half was absolutely outstanding. Compromise? 8/10
York: Let it sit for a few minutes, then enjoy a really well balanced beer. 8/10
Pete: Still a great IPA in the NoVa area. Really pushing the boundaries. 9/10
Pete's Thoughts: I found this bad boy in my local beer store and it was about a week old, so I said hey, I love 3 Stars, and so do the guys. Why not send them a fresh IPA? This falls more in the classic East Coast IPA camp for me. It has some balanced fruit character with undertones of pine, and a nice dry finish. The one thing I could not avoid noticing was that this beer was a little boozy for me. Maybe I am a little biased because we get these 10% IPAs that taste like pale ales with all the booze hidden, but this was a little over-the-top for me. Especially because the can was about as fresh as humanly possible. Not the best 3 Stars IPA, but definitely a solid offering that hits all the classic East Coast criteria for me.
Shane's Thoughts: Another double IPA, another beer absolutely loaded with boozy flavor. Right off the bat, this beer smacks you in the face with a whole lot of pure, straight alcohol. If you’re not down with that, you probably won’t like this beer. Me? I love it. Look, when you’re drinking a beer that clocks in at 8.9% ABV, you’ve got to expect to taste it. Sure, it shows a deft hand when breweries can completely mask the taste of the booze, but sometimes you just want to taste exactly what you’re drinking. This beer reminds me a little of Garrison City’s early efforts, and I was actually a little surprised to see the hop combination--I get a lot of Citra on the nose, but I’m not sure I’d have picked out the West Coast backbone behind it. I wish the booziness had been tempered just a little bit on the back end, because drinking 16oz of something with so much alcohol in it can wear on the palate after a while. But overall I found myself liking this beer quite a bit.
York's Thoughts: A bit of a different experience for me with this one since I’d had it on a DC visit a few months back, but, nonetheless, 3 Stars remains one of my favorite DMV area breweries. Typically, I seem to enjoy the lower ABV stuff from 3 Stars a bit better and find myself on the Pale Ale end of the spectrum as opposed to my normal seat with the IPAs. That’s often because 3 Stars uses an very sturdy malt bill and tends to make Double and Triple IPAs that are extremely boozy and pretty resinous. Two to the Dome is a departure from that and has a brighter color, less sticky body, and a much more notable hop profile than some of their others. It’s still abundantly clear while drinking that this is pretty high proof, and it’s still got a bit of that sticky dankness on the tail end, but overall a great beer to order when you’re in DC.
Shane: Tasty beer with a really great bite. I actually think I’d have liked this better in 12oz format. 7/10
York: If you are in the mood for something big, this is a great move. Tough to stand behind it as something I’d drink regularly though. 7/10
Pete: Really well made balance of my favorite C hops. 7/10
Best of the Bunch
Shane: Gotta go with Cortes & His Men. I never would have guessed that I'd wind up choosing the Chinook-heavy beer, but here we are. Aslin does a really nice job using a difficult hop to great effect, using it to balance out some stronger flavors and resulting in a delicious beer with a distinct beginning, middle, and end.
York: Type at me Bro?! Where to start with this one. It's different, it's confusing, it's fresh, tasty, complex…this is a damn good beer. Love the style and fully expect it to be an upcoming trend. Being a collab with two breweries all three of us love only adds icing to that cake.
Pete: Johann & The Giant Peach. It was really big, bold, in-your-face peach hop goodness.
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