The public opening of The Firkin Brewhouse is set for today (Thursday) at 11:30 a.m. They will have seven different beers on tap right out of the gate. I got to pop in for the soft opening Wednesday night to get a sample tray and do a quick review of the beers.
My first impression was all the beers need a fair amount of work, but after talking with head brewer Aaron Walters I got more insight into these first batches. They only had two days to carbonate the beers, so there is a chance the flavors could improve in a while. Like most new breweries, Firkin will have to be revisited to see how they will progress. Also, I did not try the Pomegranate Ale. You only get six beers with a flight, and, well, fruit beers are not exactly something I consider myself to be familiar with, so others will have to try it and let me know.
Also, take note, as of last night they were not on Untappd. Hopefully that changes soon. (Hint, Firkin staff, HINT!)
Giggle Water Wheat (4.8% ABV, 10 IBU): OK, so they say it is not a hefeweizen, but man, it tastes like a hefe. Very prominent banana flavor, only a little clove. This is the starter beer, for sure. It was probably the only one that was not overly affected by the lack of carbonation.
Palooka Pale Ale (5.7% ABV, 48 IBU): This could definitely stand to benefit from more carbonation. The flavor was awfully muted, almost a little thin and watered down. Once it warmed, the hops were a little more apparent. I have long said that new places usually have the most trouble dialing in their hoppy beers. This is just another example of that.
Ombibulous IPA (7% ABV, 100+ IBU): Aaron said this was dry hopped, but I could barely detect any aroma unless I pretty much started inhaling the beer through my nostrils. This is another beer that seems to need more time to carbonate. I picked up on some piney hops down there, but they were pretty muted. Others in attendance, though, seemed to enjoy it quite a bit more.
Bootlegger’s Vanilla Nut Brown (5.2% ABV, 20 IBU): OK, at first glance, that sounds like a wonderful recipe. The only problem is the only thing I could taste was vanilla. Lots of vanilla. Shall we call it copious amounts of vanilla? The nutty flavor just never materialized. Perhaps it could also even out more with a little more carbonation.
Sillitoe Scotch Ale (8.1% ABV, 25 IBU): Remember when we said this Scotch was aged in Laphroaig barrels? Actually, they just mixed the Scotch in with the beer, blending it together. The result is liquid smoke. If you like smoky, peaty flavor, with no malt sweetness at all, you will enjoy this beer.
Capo’s Java Stout (5.8% ABV, 32 IBU): Way back at last year’s Blues & Brews, I got to try this creamy coffee stout and found it quite enjoyable. Once again, the lack of carbonation did it no favors. The vanilla cream, much like in the Bootlegger’s, was too strong. As the beer warmed, the vanilla moved to the back of the palate, with a little bit of roasted coffee flavor up front, but it was still overwhelmed by the sweetness. Hopefully with better carbonation will come better balance.
Of course, these are just my first takes on these beers. Others I talked to Wednesday had different opinions, so as always, I would recommend everyone try the beers and then come to their own conclusions. There were no obvious off-flavors, no signs of any sort of contamination, so at the very least, the beers are clean. Now they just need a little more time to settle before a full, proper analysis can be undertaken.