Hops & The City is an exploration of beer in Pittsburgh by our resident craft beer enthusiast, Angelica Ross. Angelica is pitting beers against each other and honing her taste skills simultaneously while providing you with her unique opinions on the brews in front of her. It’s like Carrie dishing about men and learning about which guy suits her best…except for Angelica, it’s beer. Follow Angelica on Twitter @syntaxxerrorrr
I’ve had the pleasure of sampling Roundabout Brewery’s beer, even taking a peek inside an incomplete storefront back in my Yelp intern days, but I haven’t sat down and had a pint at the brewery. Lucky for me, their flights come with five beers, so I got over a pint’s worth when I stopped in.
Unlucky for me, there were seven on tap when I stopped in. And when I asked which beers owner and brewer Steve Sloan would say are his favorites, you’d have thought I asked him to pick his favorite child..and then take him out back and whack him. Faux pas aside, I ended up with a solid round of brews: Rusted Route, Earl Grey Pale Ale with Brett, Jacked Up O’Lantern Stout, All Blacks IPA, and Hyer-P.A.
I can see where it gets its name. It’s the most beautiful rusty, deep amber color. This beer is malty, but it’s balanced nicely with some acidity. The malty sweetness is so apparent after returning to it after some of the more bitter IPAs. I also felt like there were some hints of clove and banana. Not my favorite flavors, but they worked nicely with the sweeter quality in this brew.
Earl Grey Pale Ale with Brett
I haven’t had Earl Grey tea in a while (being the true pumpkin-loving, coffee-whoring basic girl that I am) so I can’t recall exactly what it tastes like, but I’d much rather drink this beer than tea any day.
It pours a cloudy citrus color and has a ton of Earl Grey aroma. While the tea is very apparent to the nose, it disappears when you take a sip. There’s still the hint of bergamot citrus, but it’s replaced by a little horsiness from the Brett. I don’t know if horsiness is a word, but it’s my way of saying there’s a hint of hay. I was almost expecting this to be a little more farmhouse-wild, but the tea gives it a nice brightness.
Jacked Up O’Lantern Stout
I’m not saying this because I love all things coffee and pumpkin and spice (see: basic girl), I’m saying this because this beer is amazing. It has the perfect coffee stout color and aroma. The coffee and pie spices are so apparent and it’s glorious.
And then you take a sip. And you’re like yes..this is what I want to start every Fall morning with. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves mesh perfectly with La Prima espresso. There’s a beautifully complex roasty-spicey-sweet taste that finishes just ever so bitter.
If you need alcohol to survive family Thanksgiving, a growler of this would make it a lot more bearable. I see a drinking game in your future. Take a drink every time Aunt Ginny asks when you’re getting married and Uncle Fred makes some borderline inappropriate pass at someone. You’ll be toasted in no time.
All Blacks IPA
This is a lovely dark brown brew. The aroma is kind of like a pine tree punched you in the nose, but the taste is surprisingly mellow. Of course, it gets more bitter the more you sip it, but it isn’t as strong as you’d have thought considering the way it smells.
There’s almost a dry wine quality here. I cheated and looked up Nelson Sauvin hops that are used in this and discovered that the flavor and aroma resembles white wine or fresh-crushed grapes. So I’m not as insane as I thought comparing this to wine.
This cloudy caramel-colored brew smells very similar to All Blacks IPA. It’s almost like a cat ate your Christmas tree..and then pissed. I mean, it’s pretty bitter…
This tastes great, though, despite any pineyness. There’s citrus flavor, of course from Citra hops (my favorite), but also something else fruity. I want to say I detect some berry flavor, too. It’s possible I’m just thinking I’m tasting berry because I looked up Pacific Gem hops and learned that they contribute oak and blackberry aroma. It’s everything and more you’d want in an IPA. And I really hope no cats were around in the brewing process.
The best thing about Roundabout Brewery is that it’s hard for me to pick what they “do.” Some people lean towards making hoppier beers, other lean towards the sours. Roundabout just makes really freakin’ good beer. That’s their thing.