Distilled: Actual Brewing Co.’s first bottle is uniquely flavorful

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From the January 9, 2014 edition

As the Columbus brewery scene continues to grow, so do the number of local beers available in bottles. Seventh Son Brewing Co. recently released two 750-milliliter bottles (Oubliette Imperial Stout, Ladies & Gentleman Barleywine), and now Actual Brewing Co. has its first bottle on the market, Orthodox Winter IPA ($8.99 for 750-milliliter bottle).

The Orthodox is an interesting beer with some diverging flavors that results in a pseudo-IPA appropriate for the winter season. This is a solid recipe that follows through with the (quite appealing) label’s tagline, “[A] salute to the traditionalist that believes beer shouldn’t taste like pie.”

While the “pie” tagline is funny and poignant, it may not be the best description of the beer itself, although the “roasty malts” and “musky hops” descriptors are dead-on. My (simplistic) description of Orthodox is the mutated offspring of an imperial stout and subtle IPA, in a good way.

The Orthodox is a dark reddish-brown ale with a number of flavors bouncing around, which could be initially disorienting for some. I found this aspect to be quite appealing, but I like things that are a little weird, especially in my beer.

Initially the Orthodox hits the nose with a balance of those roasty malt and musky hop profiles. Those swirl together with a hint of bittersweet stout flavor and noticeable hop presence. It all finishes with a big — and quite wonderful — peppery spice.

As a winter IPA, Orthodox has a quirky dichotomy to it making it hard to categorize. Think round peg, square hole when it comes to giving this beer a specific style. But none of that really matters because it’s a solid beer crafted out of a distinctive recipe. There are some evident and big flavors, but this beer doesn’t wreck the palette.

So know there’s another local bottled beer out there I recommend folks try, especially those who are in the mood for a somewhat idiosyncratic brew. If you’re curious, Actual Brewing Co. is holding a tasting at Weiland’s Market from 4:30-7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10.