Thursday, December 22, 2011

Release the Hounds

If you live inside the Beltway then you probably know about Franklin's in Hyattsville, MD and you know about Mad Fox in Falls Church, VA. The two couldn't be farther apart both geographically and aesthetically. Franklin's is more like a pub, the clientele is exactly what you would expect from  a brewpub located near a liberal arts university (hippies), and the place is frequently loud-ish. Mad Fox is literally on the opposite side of the map. It's warm and dark wood feels like you walked into an A-list restaurant, the clientele is what you would expect from Norther VA (lobbyists, lawyers), and it's rather quiet.* What do these opposites have in common? Great beer.

We'll briefly touch on the food since Mad Fox is both brewery and restaurant though we know the only real priority is the beer. Overall, the food is quite good. It started slow with the miniature soft pretzels that were little more than little pieces of bread with salt. The fish and chips, made with a kolsch-style beer batter, was spot on. The Cheesesteak Panini, served to the trusty assistant, looked exquisite.

Stir-About Oatmeal Stout. It's a good time of year to be drinking the Oatmeal Stouts and the brewers at Mad Fox rise to the occasion. Sir-About is rather malty with a good, solid coffee finish - something we consider critical to any good Oatmeal Stout. It's certainly full-bodied but not heavy so there's always room for another round.

Festivus Ale. It's like drinking the Feats of Strength. If you like spices this is the beer for your. Brewed with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg this beer will send your taste buds over the edge. It makes for a good compliment to the Sir-About.

Reynard Black Saison. Mad Fox's "Belgian inspired dark Saison" is the best of the bunch. It's brewed with 8 different malts, according to the beer menu, and fermented with a French farmhouse yeast. It tastes mighty fine and goes right to your head if you're not careful, according to our trusty assistant.

If we have one regret it's that we didn't start with the sampler. Four beers, 4 ounces each, of your choice is definitely the way to start. From there you can make your choices on full pints - one you sampled or something new. It's the best way to get a full sampling of brews in one visit. So, I guess we needed an excuse to come back we have it.  

*Mad Fox may have been quiet because we visited during the awkward dining hours between the lunch and dinner rushes. A quick visit their Web site indicates that it's not always easy on the ears - New Year's Eve, for example, looks like it will be a blast.

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