Friday Night Flights: Caboose Brewing Co. (Vienna, VA)

So there I’m sitting at a nearby establishment gathering pictures and quotes for another feature.  Then my wife, who is somewhere in the “smile and nod” phase of my VBR authorship, sends me a link with a simple, “have you heard of this?” attached.  I mean, I’m sitting in Vienna and get informed that a new brewery/gastropub has coincidentally opened just days before, and only two blocks away?  Does she really expect that I’ll just saunter home at that point, give her a hug and a peck on the cheek, and whisper thanks?  I was halfway out the door before the ink had dried on the check.  And then I got lost trying to find this place in a neighborhood I’ve been frequenting since I was 13 years old…

Caboose entrance“This is the entrance you’re looking for.  No, really!”

It turns out that when the new Caboose Brewing Co. says they’re located at the back of the industrial park off Mill St., they really do mean the last entrance of the last building.  I never did quite find it that night, but fast forward a few months past their soft opening and I get an invite to head out there for happy hour on a Friday night.  It’s not like VBR does anything special on Friday nights.  Just need to show up, see the gleaming new menu of never-before-tried beers, and…pick just one?!  Never!

Caboose menu

Friday Night Flight:  Caboose Brewing Company (Vienna, VA) – @CabooseBrewing
Total Beers:  4
Featured Style:  Flight of Hops

In my first visit to Caboose, I ended up alongside some friends with eclectic interests in beer.  The ladies who wanted something lighter, the dudes who want the hops but are afraid of anything with the words “imperial” in the title, and myself and another seasoned beer drinker.  To help navigate the menu, Caboose splits the menu between hops and malts, so while the majority of the group stuck to the malt half (including not branching beyond pints of a chosen style), I decided to nab the Flight of Hops and take the occasional tasting sips of their chosen brews.

Flight:  Citra Wheat Ale, Bandwagon IPA, Casey Jones Rye IPA, Local Motion Imperial IPA

Caboose Hops flight

Citra Wheat Ale – Starts with a punch of grapefruit and a touch of wheat on the nose.  The citrus flavors segue into more of an orange body, with light hops on the finish.  This was the real crowd pleaser, but the whole time I’m sitting there pining, “MORE HOPS!!”  I really do love me some Citra Hops, and this beer could end up being a great vehicle for them.  7.0 out of 10.

Bandwagon IPA – Very mild all around.  Malts up front, a bit of hoppy bitterness at the end.  I could see it getting a proverbial following for those looking to try out craft beer for the first time, but either the flavors were too balanced or they need a bit more development.  6.3 out of 10.

Casey Jones Rye PA – Rye dominates the nose, but you’ll get the piney body and finish of your typical American Pale Ale.  It ends up being even a little more complex then that as with a healthier swig you can torture the hops out a bit more, and with three of them in there you’ll want to let this beer marinate on your tongue for a second or two.  Oh wait, Citra Hops again?  Pass my goalie mask and stick…  7.0 out of 10.

Local Motion Imperial IPA – Yes, if you’re not used to the deceiving body of a Double IPA, this is one to watch out for.  A decidedly sweet caramel nose will pique your interest, and then an IBU probably sitting somewhere in the 70-80 range just cold clocks your palate.  It doesn’t persist long, though, and you’re left with a mild floral finish.  It’s the sort of transformative body which says, “hey, what was that? maybe another sip…”  And at 9%, those sips add up fast.  6.0 out of 10.

While I’m not scoring them here, I also stole swigs of the End of the Line Kölsch and Vanilla Hobo Stout.  Had I not been keeping things simple following a bout with a stomach bug, I’d have ordered a growler of the Kölsch with no further questions asked, and knocked back a pint while waiting on the growler.  It may have been the standout of the whole bunch, and that’s before getting to the Vienna Lager the staff was touting.

20150703_202731Come for the beer, stick around for the food.  Or the opposite, whichever you prefer.

As we chug along here, it’s interesting to see how different brewers approach their initial beers.  Some opt for a few flagship offerings which are well honed, others start churning out small batches as soon as possible, and still others go the nano route so no two visits are ever the same.  Caboose has undergone a lot in order to be able to open its doors, and has suffered some growing pains (and plumbing issues) in the process.  The beers that have resulted are solid initial offerings, and the food is also intriguing.  You’ll want to get there early as seating is limited so far (and the food will keep other guests around longer, too).  But don’t skimp, and go in for the “EVERYTHING!” flight while you knock back some pork belly and fries.  That’s what I’ll be doing next time I head out to Caboose!

Get Out and Try:  End of the Line Kölsch, Citra Wheat, Casey Jones Rye PA


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