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Burley Oak Quadruple Feature

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Every summer, I find myself vacationing in Ocean City, Maryland. I'm not one of those people who go to the beach every weekend (I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. /Vader), but I enjoy it every once in a while, and it's a way to get out of my Philly rut in many ways. Including beer! A couple of years ago I discovered Burley Oak Brewing, just a hop and a skip away in Berlin, MD, and it just so happened that this year's OCMD trip perfectly coincided with a can release of four different beers.

Such releases come in many flavors. There are infamous national attractions, like Dark Lord day, that are more like festivals, but the grand majority of releases at most breweries tend to be relatively mellow affairs. You maybe go a little early and wait in line, but often even that level of committment isn't needed. Then there is a kooky tier of relatively small breweries that nevertheless generate an insane demand. Local Kaedrin favorite Tired Hands falls into that category, and while their releases have calmed down somewhat on the whole, they still get insane for certain beers (notably Milkshake variant cans and Parageusia bottles). There are some other PA breweries that generate a lot of angst over releases (i.e. Voodoo, Bullfrog, etc...) but in general, these are the events that make the normals think that beer nerds are degenerates (and, well, they're not wrong).

All of which is to say, I was expecting something akin to a low-level Tired Hands release for this Burley Oak event (i.e. people in line, but nothing bonkers). A friend cautioned me to get there two hours early, which was certainly a surprise for me. I've had a bunch of Burley Oak beer in the past, but with all due respect, nothing that warranted this sort of crazy. Then again, a big release of popular beers on a holiday weekend is just asking for trouble. Fortunately, the timing of my independently planned departure from OCMD perfectly aligned with that recommendation, so that's what ended up happening. And I'm glad it did, because that line got all kinds of stupid as time went on (it basically encircled the entire brewery and parking lot). Let's dive in:

Burley Oak 100

Burley Oak 100 - Double IPA tripple dry-hopped with Mosaic and named after an emoticon? My kinda stupid. - Pours a murky golden yellow color with a finger of white, dense head. Smells nice, lots of tropical fruit, mangoes, pineapple, and the like. Taste follows the nose, lots of tropical fruit, juicy citrus stuff, mild finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well but tightly carbonated. Overall, this is the best Burley Oak IPA I've had, it compares favorably to the typical NEIPA purveyors, worth waiting in line. And I've had a couple more of these over the past couple of weeks and damn, it's only grown in my estimation. A

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/1/17. Canned: 7/1/17 (nailed it!)

Burley Oak Blueberry Strawberry J.R.E.A.M.

Burley Oak Blueberry Strawberry J.R.E.A.M. - Sour ale with lactose conditioned on blueberries and strawberries. Incidentally, the acronym stands for "Juice Rules Everything Around Me", just in case you were wondering. - Pours a cloudy but bright, almost luminous maroon color with a finger of bubbly head that doesn't last long. Smells of bright citrus and a little Berliner-like twang. Taste is very sweet, those strawberries an blueberries coming through in a sorta generic jammy way (not sure I'd pick them both blind, but I might get one), a nice lactic tartness pervades, especially in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, well carbonated, moderate to high acidity, but nothing untoward. Overall, a nice little tart ale here, though it kinda begs for oak. B

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a flute glass on 7/1/17. Released: 7/1/17 (nailed it!)

Burley Oak Apricot Raspberry J.R.E.A.M.

Burley Oak Apricot Raspberry J.R.E.A.M. - Sour ale with lactose conditioned on apricots and raspberries. - Pours a cloudy but bright reddish orange color with a finger of quickly dissipating head. Smells more of raspberry than apricot, jammy, a little of that lactic funk. Taste hits that raspberry pretty hard (with hints of apricot, but again, I doubt I'd be able to place that blind), very sweet, jammy, with a little less sourness, though it's still pretty puckering. Mouthfeel is rich, medium to full bodied, well carbonated, less acid than the other variant, but still moderate to high. Overall, I like this better than the blueberry/strawberry, but it still sorta begs for some oak to leaven things a little. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a charente glass on 7/2/17. Released: 7/1/17.

Burley Oak Coffee N' Cream

Burley Oak Coffee N' Cream - Cream ale with Burley Oak's house made cold brew coffee. Hey look, this is apparently the first time I've written about a cream ale. Score? - Pours a clear golden color with a finger of white head. Smells strongly of roast coffee and not much else. Taste hits that coffee flavor pretty hard too, an underlying sweetness peeks out a bit too. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, and easy to drink. Overall, this is not a beer for coffee-ambivalents like myself, but if you do like coffee, you may enjoy. For me, I'll give it a C+ because I'm the worst.

Beer Nerd Details: 5.1% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/3/17. Released on 7/1/17.

So there you have it. I probably won't be going to far out of my way for these releases, but there is that annual trip to OCMD, so there's always a chance!

Burley Oak Sour Diesel

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Not wanting to (literally) beat around the bush, beer has a relationship with weed. Not one that I'm especially interested in or care much about (not my thing), but it's hard not to recognize the affinity amongst certain infamous brewers. There's often an almost certainly false speculation that hops and marijuana are biologically related, mostly because they sure look and smell similar. Then again, this requires a working knowledge of biology and, well, my main takeaway from this examination is basically: "1) Don't become an angiosperm taxonomist unless you love frustration, because 2) taxonomy can be a giant pain in the butt." Which is to say, well, they're both plants and it passes a literal sniff test, so that's probably good enough for most.

So what the hell am I talking about weed for? Well, after my exhaustive research session of searching Google for "Sour Diesel", this beer is clearly named after an infamous strain of Marijuana. Not sure why that's a great name for weed or beer though. I mean, yeah, I guess it indicates a certain dynamic flammability, but that's not generally something I look for in beer. Anywho, starting life as a stout made with chocolate rye malts and fermented in oak barrels, this was then soured (er, sour dieseled?) with lactobacillus (no mention of Brett or Pedio, for what it's worth). The label sez it's a "satisfyingly dank experience", so let's find out:

Burley Oak Sour Diesel

Burley Oak Sour Diesel - Pours a very dark brown color, almost black, with practically no head whatsoever. Smells nice, fruity, that sour twang, maybe some cherries. Taste hits those sour cherry notes hard, lots of dark, sour fruits, some heft from the dark malt, a little one note, but tasty. Not particularly dank, but sure, it's sour. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, low carbonation (maybe just enough, but lower than I usually want out of a beer like this), moderate sourness. Overall, this is a nice lactic sour, a little one note, but a good enough note. B

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 9/10/16.

One more Burley Oak sour in the pipeline, but I've had it before. It's also a sour stout, but it felt like it had more character than this one, even if I feel like it might strip all the enamel off of my teeth if I drink a whole bottle. Stay tuned!

Gose Before Hoes

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Burley Oak Brewing Company is located in Berlin, Maryland. As such, they seem to really enjoy their Lacto beers (i.e. Berliner Weisse) and what do you know, I got my hands on a recent can release of Gose Before Hoes, a kettle soured beer made with sea salt harvested from the nearby Atlantic Ocean (erm, ocean salt?) Priorities, bro:

Burley Oak Gose Before Hoes

Burley Oak Gose Before Hoes - Pours a hazy yellow color with half a finger of short lived white head. Smell has a nice tart fruit element to it, a little wheat, spice (coriander), hints of a sorta earthy yeast note (not Brett level funk, but something). Taste has that tart fruit note, sweet with hints of wheat and spice, lots of salty goodness, and a higher than average sourness. Mouthfeel is crisp, light bodied, well carbonated, with higher than average sourness (not really in a bad way or anything). Overall, rock solid Gose, one of the better examples of the style that I've had. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 4.4% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a willibecher glass on 6/17/16. Can released: 5/28/16.

Many thanks to fellow beer nerd Gary for procuring a couple cans for me. As luck would have it, I will be passing right by Burley Oak in the nearish future, so you'll probably be hearing more about them soon enough...

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

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