Beer Snob: Aslin Beer Company
There was a time in the history of this country and, in fact, the world when you would get your beer from the local brewer. The beer hall was the center of the social and political debate. The beer hall was the meeting place, the motel, the restaurant, and the marketplace. In colonial America, beer was the common drink of choice. Water was not clean (we humans didn't quite understand how to clean water or the importance of drinking fresh water) and beer had the right amount of alcohol to kill all the germs but not so much alcohol (like whiskey or scotch) to get you drunk. The beer hall was the center of town and that is a wonderful tradition that Aslin Beer Company is continuing for Herndon, VA.
Even through the brewery is hidden away in the back of an industrial park off Spring Street in Herndon the place still feels like you're at home local pub. You all know that I'm obsessed with keeping as local as possible so it is no surprise that I fell in love with the local brewhouse. Even with my bias you can't deny the friendly and knowledgeable staff that is serving a constantly rotating list of beers. Aslin doesn't have food service but they do allow, even encourage, you to bring in your own food. Forgot to bring something to eat? No worries because there is a vast collection of menus right on the bar to help you get your food delivered right to your table. If you find yourself at Aslin on a warm and sunny day you won't even have to leave the tasting room to get your food. The big garage door will be wide open for you to enjoy the fresh air and have the food brought right to you.
You can enjoy Aslin Beer Company for the atmosphere and the attitude without drinking an ounce of beer. But let's be honest, you came for the beer. At Aslin you won't be disappointed. There is a beer for everyone. Along with the standard tasting size as pictured above in the cool Virginia shaped tasting boards, you can grab a pony (5oz), middy (8oz), schooner (12oz), or pint (16oz) beer to enjoy. On this particular day I was blessed because Aslin had several dark beers on tap so I could fill up my tasting board without having to punish myself with an overabundance of pale ales.
Delusions of Grandeur - My first visit to Aslin Beer Company was in September 2015 on the day of their grand opening. On that particular day I had the opportunity to taste their stout offering called Deceiver. The brewmaster told me it was the best stout he ever drank. I took it with a grain of salt because it was, of course, the brewmaster. Then I tasted the beer and was blown away. On that day I gave the Deceiver a 5 out of 5. It also proved the Aslin, if nothing else, knows how to make a stout.
Delusions of Grandeur is Aslin's most recent stout offering. An imperial stout that allows you to taste every single one of the 12% ABVs. I would show you a picture but I didn't have time to take one because I was too busy getting the beer into my ample gullet. Take a look back at that picture above of the beer tasting. See that empty glass? Yep, that was the Delusions of Grandeur. The beer was dark, it was smokey, and it was filling. This isn't a beer you want to use in your beer-pong cups. Instead, grab yourself a pint of the Delusions of Grandeur, pull your high backed armchair in front of a roaring fire, and open up a leather bound book to enjoy a cozy evening. See, the beer is so good that it makes your fantasies about drinking it a Delusion of Grandeur. 4.5 out of 5.
Hammer & Nail - I love myself a nice scotch ale. I also love a Scottish ale. I basically love Scotland. I've already shared my love of scotch ales and gave a little lesson on what a scotch ale is in my previous blog Beer Snob: I love Scotch!. I was looking forward to trying out this scotch ale. A combination of my local brewhouse making my favorite type of beer. How could I not love it?
Love it may be a bit strong but it is certainly a good beer. The Hammer & Nail has what you would expect from a scotch ale, that very heavy, malty, alcoholy flavor that I love so much in a beer. The only down fall was on the finish. I tasted some off flavors like you may get from a beer brewed with brett. (I warned you here that after learning what brett is I was going to reference it again). The result is that the beer isn't as smooth as it could be with a bit of a farmhouse finish instead of the strong malt flavoring. Of course, for me a scotch ale is a lot like a pizza; it's hard to make a bad one. 3.75 out of 5.
The Rambler - In previous blogs we have given brief lessons on scotch ales, session ales.mead and brett. The Rambler gives us an excuse to talk about another type of beer that is becoming more popular as the craft beer world grows: barleywine. A barley wine (which was "Americanized" to one word, barleywine, by Anchor Brewing Company) is a strong, strong, very strong beer that is always high in alcohol content. The name, barley wine, comes from the fact that the alcohol content is between 8.0% and 15.0% ABV which is comparable to most wines instead of most beers. Flavors of barley wines can vary widely, from extremely malty to extremely hoppy, but there is always lots of alcohol to be consumed.
The Rambler is a perfect example of an American-style barleywine. Despite the deep, dark color that one typically expects from a malty beverage, the Rambler drinks more like a pale ale. So much so that when I was in the middle of the tasting I came up with a new name for this type of beer; barleywinePA (you see, instead of "I" it is "barleywine"). The bitterness of a pale ale really hits you as you swallow the beer so much so that you may even forget that you are drinking a barleywine. I'm usually one that enjoys a nice barleywine but the extra hoppiness of this beer dropped it a few pegs. Don't get me wrong, if you are an IPA fan and are looking to broaden your horizons into the world of high-alcohol, dark color, malty flavored beers then this is the one for you. Of course, I'm not that person so this 12% ABV offering dropped a bit for me to a still respectable 3 out of 5.
Animal (Farm)House - Clearly these guys are fans of movies because how could you not have pushed together Animal House and Farm House. Sure, the beer has nothing to do with the movie unless you consider the fact that the characters in the movie drink lots of beer. Movies aside, this beer is a delicious everyday brew that should become Aslin's year-round or trademark beer if it hasn't already. At 5.9% ABV and just the right amount of hops to keep a malt guy like me happy without turning the beer into a pale-aley (I made that word up) mess, the Animal (Farm)House is a beer that can be consumed during any season. Having a BBQ over the summer and want to serve a refreshing beer to coll off your guests? Serve Animal (Farm)House. Having a Christmas party and you want to serve your guests something other than another nameless, faceless glass of wine but don't want to overwhelm their taste buds with a winter warmer? Serve Animal (Farm)House? It's your kids second birthday and you've decided to invite over every kid between the ages of one and three in a fifteen mile radius and need something to get you through the afternoon but don't want to get sloshed with a 12% ABV barleywine and want to avoid looking like a lush in front of your kids future in-laws/friends? Serve Animal (Farm)House. It is perfect for any occasion. 4 out of 5 stars.
Aslin Beer Company in Herndon is, in my humble opinion, the perfect local brewery. They aren't fancy but they have a comfortable tasting room, lots of parking, a family-style atmosphere (yes, your kids are welcome) and they make some good beer. If you are in the neighborhood make sure to stop by and tell them the Green Bean Conspiracy sent you. They will look at you funny when you tell them that since they have absolutely no idea about this blog but it will make me feel good and you'll still get some good beer in a wonderful location at good prices. Don't forget to bring your growler.