Friday Night Flights: UK Style Ales, Mad Fox (Falls Church, VA)

With the brood heading out to England today, it only felt appropriate to spend some time getting to know a few of the styles I’ll be surrounded with over the next few weeks.  Thankfully, the crew at Mad Fox had me covered with nearly half the available brews featuring an English or Scottish recipe (including ingredients).  Heck, the server even called me “love” at one point.  After the offered four-beer flight, I ventured off my normal beer-beaten path with some delightful results.


Friday Night Flight:  Mad Fox Brewing Company, Falls Church, VA – @MadFoxBrewing
Featured Style:  British/Scotch Ales
Number of Beers:  6

20150529_124557Left to Right:  English Summer Ale, 80 Shilling, Geordie Brown Ale, Oaked Wee Heavy

English Summer Ale:  A hybrid of English and German styles, but one which Mad Fox claims is on the rise in England.  The nose has a crisp aroma, followed by some good Pilsner malts in the body which provide great balance.  The Citra hops are refreshing in the finish seguing into your typically piney Pale Ale bite.  The more I find Citra hops in beers the more it’s emerging as my absolute favorite hops strain.  This is the kind of score that could go (much) higher over a full pint.  7.3 out of 10
80 Shilling:  As the menu description predicts, you’ll find some very strong malts over top a mild IBU structure.  Listed as a Scottish Export Ale, I didn’t experience a lot of flavor but what’s there almost reminds me of a Belgian-style Session ale.  6.0 out of 10
Geordie Brown Ale:  A real ale with cask conditioning, this is very close to the kinds of local pub ales I’ll be looking for in England.  It starts with some mellow toffee notes in the nose, but the conditioning brings a lot of tartness which overwhelms the finish.  I’d scored the original version higher, but that’s the point of trying both versions, right?  5.0 out of 10
Oaked Wee Heavy:  Mad Fox’s original version of this Scotch Ale is one of my favorite beers of theirs, so I was curious how the different conditioning would play out.  As expected, an oaky and roasted nose greets you which couples with some smooth caramel in the body and a very mild finish.  This beer does much better on long pulls rather than small sips, but be warned that with an 8.6% ABV you’ll want to keep those pulls fairly measured.  6.7 out of 10.

20150529_132819Second (mini) flight:  St. Swithin’s ESB and Mason’s Dark Mild

Mason’s Dark Mild:  Described as an “extreme session beer,” the ABVs bottom out at 3.3%.  I couldn’t really taste the toffee and chocolate notes that Mad Fox lists, but it does have a wonderful aroma of roasted chestnuts.  Crisp body, mild finish.  I’m not sure about a full pint, but the tasting amount was pretty pleasant.  7.0 out of 10
St. Swithin’s Extra Special Bitter:  Remember how I mentioned my growing love of Citra hops?  Well, it turns out that adding it to ESBs can bring me on board with those, too.  This is the best ESB I’ve had, which normally wouldn’t be saying much as I don’t usually like them, but I appreciated this as a good beer in its own right.  Dewey nose, floral body, and mild citrusy bitters hit after the finish.  And yes, the Citra hops are all the difference.  7.7 out 10


As has always been the case, what you’ll find at Mad Fox is typically solid but maybe not spectacular, depending on the availability of some crowd favorites such as the Orange Whip.  With all the variety, odds are you’ll find one or two you like on any given outing, and honestly, that’s usually enough to pair with some good food.  Good food, as in that tasty new meatloaf sandwich they stuck on the menu.  I’d like to start a petition to keep that one around a while…

Get out and try:  English Summer Ale, St. Swithin’s ESB

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