Adroit Theroy Brewing Company (Purcellville, VA): Soldiers of Fortune Trifecta

In the past Adroit Theory has impressed me by pushing style boundaries to someplace new (T/P/D, review here) and by taking beer styles I don’t usually like and making me re-think my stand on them (THE DEVIL MADE ME, review here). For their newest “trifecta” of beers, ATBC has decided to focus on the lowly brown ale, and try to take what I consider a pretty boring style to someplace new, and make me like something I don’t usually like. Sounds about right for ATBC. I’ve presented the reviews here in the order I drank them, not the “ghost” order, which is kind of like NIN’s “halo” ordering system.

Adroit Theroy's namesake explained
Adroit Theroy’s namesake explained

Soldiers of Fortune: Extreme Prejudice (Ghost 011)
(Guest brewed by Dan Stiles from MudHound)

About the Beer (from the bottle):
Our Soldiers of Fortune TRIFECTA allows other brewers to put their own spin on one of our recipes – in this case an Imperial Brown Ale. British, Canadian and American Malts combine with French and German floral hops. This slightly smoky and subtly balanced ale is like NATO in a glass.

Style: Imperial Brown Ale
ABV: 8%
IBU: 25
Bottle 56 of 125

G011 pours a deep roasted hazelnut brown with a tan, pillowy head. The head dissipates pretty quickly, and leaves behind a trace of evidence it was there, but no heavy lacing for sure. It is obvious when you hold it up to the light that this is most certainly brown ale and not a porter or a stout, as the light shines very easily through the lighter body of this beer. Smelling the G011, I get the malt, some roast, but not really smoky (this is not a rauchbier). I get some sweetness and some bitter, but what is really interesting is the herbal, floral notes that the hops bring to the aroma. This smells a bit different than any brown ales I’ve had before, and really the hop bouquet is a bit different than just about any beer I’ve had, the closest comparison I can think of is New Belgium’s FRENCH ARAMIS IPA.

Soldiers of Fortune: Extreme Prejudice Imperial Brown Ale
Soldiers of Fortune: Extreme Prejudice Imperial Brown Ale

Tasting the G011, I was expecting this to be not-your-average brown ale, from both the aroma and just the fact that this is an ATBC beer. And it’s not-your-average brown ale. It kicks off with some sweetness, followed up with a small hop bite on the back end, but no real bitterness to speak of. I get just a hint of that roastiness that I smelled, but just the slightest bit to remind you that this was made with some roasted malt. There’s also a bit of a caramel hiding in the stew, as well as dried fruits like raisins. Along with that mish-mash, I pick up some slightly woody notes, and a little bit of nut, almost almond-like. A very nice combination of flavors, and much more complex than any brown ale I’ve had before for sure.

The dogtag that comes with these beers is a nice military-themed addition
The dogtag that comes with these beers is a nice military-themed addition

Drinking a G011 is an easy affair; it is an unassuming beer that has no characteristics that would make it hard to put down. It is lightly carbonated, smooth, a bit chewy but only slightly so with the naturally thin brown ale characteristics. G011 is a bit more robust in the body and mouthfeel than your average brown ale for sure, but in the end it’s still a brown ale and still is not a heavy hitter. This may be the first brown ale I’ve had in years that I’d actually buy a sixer of.

Overall 7 / 10

Brewery site: http://www.facebook.com/AdroitTheory
http://adroit-theory.com/

Soldiers of Fortune: Death from Above (Ghost 012)
(Guest brewed by Charles Karrick from MudHound)

About the Beer (from the bottle):
Our Soldiers of Fortune TRIFECTA allows other brewers to put their own spin on one of our recipes – in this case an Imperial Brown Ale. A traditional take on the style, but enhanced and improved on – like armor-piercing ammunition – to deliver a nutty, chocolaty ale.

Style: Imperial Brown Ale
ABV: 8%
IBU: 20
Bottle 52 of 125

When I poured the G012 in a glass, it was kinda déjà vu for me, as it really looked just like the G011. Putting them side-by-side I don’t think there would be any way for me to tell a difference, but that’s not really a surprise when you think about what this trifecta is all about. The G012 has that same roasted hazelnut color, and a very similarly off-white head that doesn’t stick around for too long or leave too much of a trace of its existence. The aroma of the G012 is pretty much what I would expect from a brown ale; some malt, some roast, but not smoky, and there is also a mineral water type smell that I often find with brown ale that is present here. Really, this smells like a regular ol’ brown ale.

Soldiers of Fortune: Death From Above Imperial Brown Ale
Soldiers of Fortune: Death From Above Imperial Brown Ale

Tasting it, the G012 stands out a bit more from the brown ale pack. It’s a rounder, heavier brown ale, more robust than most. It has that roasty malt taste but not anywhere near being a porter, no real hop presence to speak of, and some mineral dryness. There is a touch of that caramel that I got from G011, but not nearly as pronounced (at it wasn’t all that strong in the G011 to begin with), and there is also a touch of those dried fruits but again more reserved than the last beer I drank. While this is a bigger brown ale (obviously, since it’s listed as an “Imperial”), in the end it’s only that: a bigger brown ale. The G012 doesn’t do a whole lot for my feelings about brown ales.

The new ATBC corks are here...
The new ATBC corks are here…

The body on this one is thin, slightly syrupy, and has very light carbonation as well. It would be an easy beer to drink, if I enjoyed the flavor and aroma more; but as is, it’s a slightly-better-than-average brown ale and I’m just not a fan of brown ales. I’d take this over a SHINER BOCK any day of the week, but if I had a selection of ATBC beers in front of me, this would probably be the last one I’d choose.

Overall 5.5 / 10

Brewery site: http://www.facebook.com/AdroitTheory
http://adroit-theory.com/

Soldiers of Fortune: Seek and Destroy (Ghost 010)
(Brewed by ATBC’s Greg Skotzko)

About the Beer (from the bottle):
Our Soldiers of Fortune TRIFECTA allows other brewers to put their own spin on one of our recipes – in this case an Imperial Brown Ale. Belgian Yeast, New Zealand Hops – like the best Soldiers of Fortune, the components come from around the globe. This Imperial Brown Ale seeks out the best ingredients while destroying all style perceptions.

Style: Imperial Brown Ale
ABV: 8%
IBU: 36
Bottle 51 of 125

Reading the descriptions on the bottles, I had the feeling that this would be the one I would like the most, so I saved the best for last. And I was right. I received a huge wake-up call as I opened the bottle; once I had just ever so slightly loosened the wire on the bottom of the cage, the cork literally exploded off the bottle! Cork and cage hit my ceiling, and ricocheted off into the depths of my bedroom, leaving (in my mind at least) little flaming tire-marks ala BACK TO THE FUTURE. Exciting… dangerous, but exciting; which is pretty much how I feel about the G010.

Soldiers of Fortune: Seek and Destroy Imperial Brown Ale
Soldiers of Fortune: Seek and Destroy Imperial Brown Ale

Pouring the G010 into my glass I get the same colors, but this time there is a super-boisterous head that dissipates slowly (but still leaves little lacing behind). If it wasn’t obvious from my close-call with getting a black eye from my beer, the head on the G010 proves that this beer is quite over-carbonated, or at least my bottle was. Taking the G010 into my nasal cavities, I get a heavy sweetness that was not there with either of the other entries to this trifecta. I get a floral hit from the hops, but not the potpourri type herbal/flowery scent I got from the G011, this is more straight botanical; roses, berries, lavender maybe? The roasty malt makes an appearance in the aroma as well, but not nearly as upfront as it was in the other two, and there is also a little soapiness to the scent that I found quite odd. Tasting the G010, I am in love. I have said it many times before: I just don’t dig brown ales. And like many times before, ATBC has proven me wrong. G010 is sweet, very oddly sweet, but in such a good way. There is such a plethora of flavors swirling in this brown ale that it makes most other brown ales I’ve had taste like your average American yellow-piss-water beer. I get some honey, that caramel from the other two but much more so, the dried fruit but heavier, tea, passion fruit, almonds, and spices all swirled together into one amazing nectar. This has a more pronounced hop bitterness on the exit and aftertaste than the other two as well, but still this is no IPA.

Ghost 010's cork lable
Ghost 010’s cork label

The only real downside for the G010 was just the amazingly heavy carbonation. It tickles the tongue and tests the throat as you put it down; this is one burptastic beer. The body on the G010 is still a brown ale – you can still easily see through it with some light behind your glass – but it is thicker and more robust than most brown ales I’ve had. I think that this beer would be served well by being a bit heavier on the carbonation than your average beer of the style, but what I had in my bottle was just way too over the top. The amount of effervescence in my glass made the G010 a definite sipper, and I think if it were less so, I would have easily knocked this beer back in minutes, I loved it so. Other than the carbonation issue, I greatly, greatly enjoyed the G010. Even with it being so over the top on the bubbles (maybe there should be a warning not to open near your face!), I still think that G010 is the best brown ale I’ve ever had. Best brown ale ever, ever.

Overall 8.5 / 10

Brewery site: http://www.facebook.com/AdroitTheory
http://adroit-theory.com/

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