A few weeks ago, I went to Pittsburgh to celebrate my (second) bachelor party. We stopped in at four breweries to imbibe beverages. There were more breweries to visit in the city of my birth but we had to narrow it down for time reasons. Roundabout Brewery, Draai Laag Brewing Company, Grist House Brewing and Church Brew Works were the closest together. The later will not get a post because I have reviewed their beers previously. Draai Laag was the second stop on the list. Because their beers were no lower than 7.0% ABV their flights came in trios at this fine establishment. I tried all six beers on tap.
Wild Angels (Throwback) – This beverage started me off and is the only one on tap that doesn’t have a write up on their site. I’m probably going to be a little more lost than normal trying to describe it because in their own words
We go through great effort to craft our beers without conforming to style or labels. This free thinking coupled with our brewing philosophy allows our beers to be respectful of tradition but not restrained by it.
The fact that this beer is described as a “Throwback” is an indication of their mission without actual beer touching lips, tongue or stomach. After tasting just this beer, I have confirmed these words. It had some sweetness, it had tartness and it was really tasty.
Geestelijke (Farmhouse Ale) – Interestingly enough, this beer uses Wild Angels wild strain of yeast to become beer. They took a page out of the old Belgian monks who used to ferment their beer in the open. Not out in a field open, but in a non-lidded container in a room with air flow from the outside to help supply the yeast. Of course the Belgian monks didn’t know yeast was the starter to all things beer, just that it happened. The brewers at Draai Laag know better than that but still took the chance to ferment their beer in a similar manner. As with the previous beer, it is hard to describe even against the Farmhouse Ale description because it is nothing like any other Farmhouse Ale which varies more greatly in interpretation than any other style of beer I drink. This beer comes in at a not so light 9.0% ABV.
Simon Girty (Belgian Brown) – They suggest getting a bottle of this beer and setting it aside for a year or two. I didn’t have that length of time while at the brewery. I would have called it more of a Bock than a Belgian brown just because of the shear amount of spice that was in this beer. They only used orange peel, honey and cocoa. Though they say that the orange is dominant when it is young, I didn’t get that flavor profile. I did enjoy this one quite a bit as I’m a big bock fan. Girty comes in at a, ahem, low 8.0% ABV.
Goedenacht (Cider/Mead) – I enjoy mead. I am fine with ciders but only try them when The Lady offers them to me. Speaking of her, she would have enjoyed this fine beverage. Draai Laag feels as though it has some beer quality to it which would not slip by her if she were to taste it. My palate let it slide because it was another enjoyable, odd ball beer. They used orange blossom honey, coriander and apples to create this mash up of beverages. At 9.5% ABV, this one will knock you socks off.
Cru Ale (Wild Fermented Old Ale) – This beer has very little information on it on their webiste that I haven’t typed about already. This was another beer that was open fermented that ended up using Wild Angels strain of yeast. I will say that this beer and Simon Girty were the most popular beers of the day. The ABV was slightly more tolerable though a still fairly high 7.4% ABV.
Yodeler (Barley Wine) – Barley wines are considered beer despite the name. I saved this beer for last because it had the good probably of taking the night in a very bad direction. That bad direction does share something in common wine, the ABV which sits at 13.2%. Yikes. They use a brett style yeast which helps to generate a sour flavor. It also helps to tame a whole lot of malt that is used to generate the ABV.
I would have loved to described the tastes of these beers better but this place is just something you need to taste to get the feel for. My friend Joe was not a fan of this location. Since I’m a walking science experiment, I was more than happy with this choice of breweries. It is definitely unique, whether you like it or not. – Kevin