Duclaw 31 Pumpkin Spiced lager | Baltimore, MD
This review is a two-fer. It’s two reviews in one. The first is about Cheers Wine & Spirits which opened today in lovely Martinez at the corner of Evans-to-Lock and Fury’s Ferry next to Columbia County Fire House 3. I’ve watched this location for the past months as I either rode by on my bike or taking Mr. Ben to school. I had wondered what was being built and found a story on the inter-web that three different groups applied for a liquor license at this intersection at the same time. One was diagonally across from this location and the other next to Walgreens. The Columbia County commissioners said they could only grant one permit because state law restricts liquor stores from being less than 1,500 feet apart. These guys won.
So I stopped in because I saw the “We’re Open” sign as I drove to Home Depot to purchase a chandelier for the kitchen remodel from hell project. While checking their coolers I found one of my favorite fall brews that I’ve been trying to review for 3 straight years: Duclaw‘s 31 Pumpkin Beer or as the side label calls it Jack-O-Lager. I bought this beer 3 years ago at Green’s in Columbia. I just liked the label. I was half way thru the 6 when I realized 31 was referring to Halloween. I misplaced a can found it almost a year later and realized I never published the review and that it was remarkably still good after 1 year plus. Last fall they were serving it on tap at Carolina Ale House. That was a fine meal. So no excuses this time. I gonna review this brew.
My original notes quoted the can “All Treat No trick. Indulge all six senses with this German-style lager & your soul will thank you. Silky malt favor with a touch cinnamon & nutmeg. So smooth it haunts.” This is a very nice pumpkin spiced beer. For the last few years I would find 7 or 8 pumpkin beers to enjoy after watching Auburn win a football game. Or as per last year… drown my sorry with a pumpkin beer after losing. Or drinking them the next day when they played a damn 7pm kickoff. I’m pretty much done with pumpkin beers and plan to concentrate on Oktoberfest brews this year. I made an exception for 31 ($12.99 for 6). I also bought Savannah River’s Uncle Festbier ($13,99 for 6).
I remember how smooth and silky it was. This year the mouthfeel feels a bit drier especially if you drink it cold. The kind of dry when you eat something loaded with cinnamon without any sugar to give it some smoothness. What I like is that the pumpkin spices are not overwhelming. No sweet pumpkin pie here or so many spices that your mouth turns inside out.
It is a beautiful night and I sat out on the steps to our new landscaped backyard and sipped it from the only clear glass I could find since everything is packed up for the kitchen remodel from hell. Nice smooth creamy brown head. As it warmed up ever so slightly the dryness I described disappeared. Or that first sip numbed up the “dry” tastebuds and the second sip let the “malty” taste buds have their way. Really smooth but still had some efferscience to it.
At 5.7% you can enjoy this watching a fall sunset or soon sitting around a fire. I like this beer.
Back to first review. Cheers is now open. Funny how their name includes “Fine Wine and Spirits” but the logo is of two beer mugs full of beer to form the E’s in Cheers. I walked in to find a staff of about six guys ready to help. They admit that were learning about wines but I think they will catch on quick. Their wine selection is starting off modestly. They have some nice high in wines ( Casmus ) and some good mid-range ( Orin Swift Abstract). They have a fairly good selection of the mainstream craft beers with a few Georgia locals like Savannah River Brewing, Wild Leap , Monday Night , Terrapin and Creature Comforts. They have some the national brews like Bells and Founders, international beers and even mead. I suspect their beer and wine selections for the opening was based on local distributors recommendations. The local distributors know what sells especially with wine and beer. They also have the usual line up of spirits plus soft drinks, energy drinks and juices in the cooler.
It’s a nice new store with great potential at a pretty busy location. As their new crew learn the ropes I suspect the selection will expand. They are open 7 days a week from 10am to 10pm Monday thru Saturday and 12:30pm to 7pm on Sunday. I welcome them to the neighborhood.