This week on “The Beer List,” I’ll be reporting on a local whopper of massive proportions – so strap in, pour yourself a cold one, and let me tell you a story about a beer that my senses will not soon forget. It all started at a local liquor store that has a fantastic selection of unique, and quite expensive craft beers…
I recently stopped by the joint with my longtime friend and beer-loving partner-in-crime Andrew, who lives right around the corner from this particular treasure trove. We spent quite a while in there, pacing the cooler and shelves, commenting on the abundance of hipster beers that were present, most of which were trendy IPAs from equally gushed-about breweries. We weren’t leaving without as much as we could carry, and among other selections, my eyes fell upon the DCBC1 from Asbury Park, New Jersey’s Dark City Brewing Company. Asbury Park is a seaside town known for its rich history, its still booming music scene, and its continued resurgence as a Jersey Shore hotspot. Full of top-notch restaurants, new breweries, and popular bars with outstanding suds on tap, Asbury Park is a burgeoning local force, and for good reason. Translation: good luck finding parking…ever.
Anyway, back to the story. I waffled back and forth on my decision to bring home the DCBC1, the brewery’s first-anniversary specialty brew, an imperial brown ale aged in bourbon barrels. “Do I really want to spend $16 on four 12-ounce cans of beer?,” I asked myself, and then aloud to Andrew, hoping he would simply be an enabler. High-alcohol content always drives up the price tag, and with the DCBC checking it at a formidable 10.5% ABV, the cost here was more reasonable than it seemed. The old adage “you get what you pay for” started repeating in my head, and I picked it up.
I expected this beer to be an alcoholic bomb, but despite the high ABV and the fact that it was aged in bourbon barrels, it’s not quite as boozy as your wacky spinster aunt (you know which one I’m talking about). I’m not a bourbon drinker, but the essence of the fine spirit added a wildly delicious flavor to this beer that already has so much else going on. This brown ale poured as dark as the night, with a thin tan head that faded quickly, and smells of bourbon, and a bit of coffee. The flavor profile, however, opens up into a world of tasty wonder, with not-too-subtle hints of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and of course bourbon. That’s precisely what’s so great about the DCBC1 – there are so many different tastes to pinpoint, and so much room to interpret what you sense.
There’s a certain connotation derived from everything this beer is on the surface – the mere word “imperial,” the eye-popping ABV, the involvement of bourbon-barrel aging – and it screams “harsh.” On the contrary, there is a smoothness to it that belies all of that, and it goes down much easier than I ever would have imagined.
Not for a second do I regret my decision to take Dark City’s DCBC1 home for a spin. I’ve only had a few of the Asbury Park brewer’s beers, but for me, this one is securely in first-place among them. If you’re into the barrel-aging craze that’s going on in the beer world, and want a brew that is explosively flavorful, grab this one-time anniversary brew before it’s gone! Cheers!