Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Black Flag Flying Over Columbia

The Black Flag stands in direct opposition to the established norms.  That is a statement tat, as a fan of punk music, I would expect from Henry Rollins, the singer for the hardcore punk band that goes by that name.  However, the italicized sentence sums up Black Flag Brewing Company, a relatively new brewery in Columbia, Maryland.  

I have to admit that the name is catchy, because I am a big fan of the punk rock band, Black Flag.  When I saw the signs for the brewery, Black Flag, thoughts emerged In My Head about how I'm the One who would drive From Hell and Back to grab a Six Pack for a TV Party in a Padded Cell known as Room 13.  6 song titles and 1 album title in one sentence about getting beer.  Not to shabby.

With that out of the way, we visited Black Flag Brewing to check out the taproom and the beers.  The brewery is trying to keep from being type-cast in the craft beer world.  Its owner does not want to be known for a specific style of beer (for example, Sierra Nevada and its IPAs).  Thus, the ten taps that lie behind the bar have a range of styles including a blonde, Belgian saison, sour, breakfast stout, pale ale and a Double IPA, as well as seasonals like an Octoberfest and a pumpkin beer. 

The first beer I tried was the Mambo Sauce (which itself is a reference to the condiment found in Washington, D.C. area restaurants that is akin to a barbecue sauce.   Black Flag's Mambo Sauce is nothing like the bottles that might grace a restaurant table.  The brewery describes its beer as a "big tropical monster," with "huge juicy hop additions hidden behind smooth bitterness."  

The Mambo Sauce DIPA is pictured to the right.  The beer pours a golden-orange color, with a little haziness; but, it comes as advertised.  The aromatic elements are full of ripe citrus fruit, such as grapefruit, tangerine and lemons.   Those aromatic elements carry through to the taste of the beer, although they are couched in the malt tones, which add a little sweetness to the flavor profile of the beer.  The latter are the result of the brewers' efforts to smooth out the bitterness of the hops.  The effort to round out the bitterness represents, to a certain degree, the efforts to be non-conformist.  After all, most DIPAs push the bold hop aromas and flavors, not thinking too much about the malts.  

In the end, Black Flag Brewery illustrates the promise of the craft beer movement in Maryland: new  breweries open, creating beers that stand out on their own.  We will definitely be stopping in again ... very soon.  


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