Friday, July 1, 2016

Going over the first Legal drafts

Image credit: Legal Draft Beer Co.

The taproom may not be ready at Legal Draft Beer Co., but the beer apparently is, at least based on the first kegs made available to the public at an event last night at LUCK.

Earlier this year, founders Greg McCarthy and Curt Taylor unveiled their plans to open a brewery in Arlington to be headed by a Doemens-trained brewmaster by the name of Henryk Orlik. The product mix was to include both ales and lagers, some born out of the traditions of Orlik's German homeland, with others leaning on a more American influence.

Given Orlik's background, beers such as Legal Blonde Lager, a Munich helles, and Accused Amber Lager, a classic Vienna-style beer were a virtual given. Yet, having come to the U.S. in 1994, Orlik has been involved in the craft beer movement for over 20 years. His experience during that time includes stints at Abita, Big Bend and other breweries in both North America and Canada, so it's no surprise to find out that styles favored by craft beer lovers are within his wheelhouse as well.

"Henryk is a German brewmaster, so I had no doubt he'd make great lagers," said McCarthy as he mingled with the crowd Thursday evening. "What really impressed me, though, was how he delivered on my requests for an IPA and a stout. I told him what I wanted out of those two beers, and he created exactly what I described."

As for my initial impression of Legal Draft's debut offerings, some basic tasting notes are offered below on what I would call a set of well-crafted, stylistic brews. Try them for yourself at Kool Keg in Arlington on July 14, or at the brewery's grand opening party, which is tentatively scheduled to occur on July 23.

Legal Blonde Lager (4.8% ABV): Aptly described as a classic Munich lager, this beer's grainy-sweet malt flavor falls right in line with the style guidelines for a traditional helles.

Accused Amber Lager (5.5% ABV): Rich, toasted malt leads in this Vienna-style beer which finishes smooth with a clean lager character.

Hung Jury Hefeweizen (5.0% ABV): A straight-forward, though seemingly lighter-bodied approach to a hefeweizen, with the expected notes of banana and clove filling out the flavor.

Chief Justice Stout (6.6% ABV): Notes of coffee and dark chocolate add complexity to this roasty, highly drinkable stout, which finishes with hint of sweetness in the finish.

Presumed Innocent IPA (7.2% ABV): An approachable IPA with good balance, tempered hop presence and a light-to-moderate bitterness.

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