I’ve done CO2 and Nitro, but this is my first ever review of a Cask presentation of a beer. I liked the carbonated version plenty well, and just happened to be at Mad Fox the day after their newest NE IPA made its debut on cask as well. It’s a new beer overall, and if my notes/underwhelming prose don’t do it enough justice, then my sincere apologies. I ignored my family to type everything below into my phone one agonizing tap at a time lest I forget the essence of my first impressions. My kids wanted fries, ketchup, blowing on their hot mac & cheese, but the terrible father/beer lover in me wasn’t having any of it for five solid minutes. For that little slice of nirvana, as the beer name says, there were…
Zero Fox Given, Mad Fox Brewing Co. (Falls Church, VA)
New England IPA, 6.9% ABV, 14 IBU
Presentation: Cask pour into Imperial Pint Glass.
Appearance: Great legs and lattice. You’ll get a solid ring or two to mark the first pour then its all over the place. The body itself is light-driven, but in general a hazy straw that never approaches goldenrod. Wittish inflections that range from yellow to grapefruit.
Taste: The whole profile is subdued. The nose brings the first elements of citrus juice, with orange backed by grapefruit. The body flips those and it’s very potent but short-lived. For all the comparisons of America IPAs to grapefruit, I enjoyed this one precisely because it didn’t remind me of that cloying aftertaste the actual juice gives you. You get a touch of floral hops to finish things, as it settles in the middle of the tongue. It’s not that this NE IPA doesn’t taste like beer. It truly does, but in a manner that’s light and acutely refreshing while still having a heavier than normal complexion and body.
Mouth Feel: The fact that all the flavors hit the middle of the tongue is key. It’s at once juicy then floral then hopped, but its so fleeting, so fresh, that you end up dominating the glass going back for more. I do mean dominate.
Overall: During my first-ever review, I awarded a perfect score. I don’t have a great story about the erstwhile birth of my love affair with Virginia beer this time around. I do have an amazing appreciation for how one beer can change so drastically given the same recipe and the presence of injected carbon dioxide. Most Cask Ales I’ve enjoyed have been loaded up with adjuncts or a substantial aging regimen to boost flavor. Zero Fox Given needs none of that. It’s subdued but not flat, so balanced with the evolving flavors that it hits all the flavor centers of the tongue and your palate. I’ve never seen a beer do that before. Mad Fox made a double dry-hopped version of this for their Cask Ale Festival recently, but it really wasn’t needed. In a word we have been very cautious to use around here, it’s perfect.