Devil’s Elbow IPANovember 1, 2001 Raleigh, NC
Rock Creek Brewing Co.
Available: NC, MD, PA, VA
Rock Creek Brewing Co. was originally established in Richmond, VA on the James River. Downstream is a sharp and dangerous turn called Devil’s Elbow, through which ships had to pass in order to reach Richmond. From that treacherous bend comes the name of this India pale ale, which is brewed with pale, crystal, and carapils malt and torrified wheat.
The color is a rich mahogany hue, somewhat darker than expected, but exquisitely beautiful to behold—romantic and enticing—presenting a fine introduction to its charms. The beer follows through with a great sounding head and very smooth aromatics. Although the malt note is stronger than expected, it is nicely balanced, albeit not as aggressively hoppy as some of our northwest IPAs. Nevertheless, I found the beer very friendly, as it improves in the glass, and as the hop character intensifies to become enjoyably noticeable.
- Fred Eckhardt
The viscous pour reveals a hazy deep amber beer raising a rocky tan head. The aroma is sweet, showing hops and a bubblegum fruitiness. On the palate, the beer is surprisingly sweet with sharp counter-acting bitterness in the center. The hops re-emerge in the finish, helping dry it out somewhat. This beer is only 5.8% by volume, but it tastes far heavier—there is so much residual sugar that you almost expect a barleywine. India pale ales are traditionally bone-dry. Nice enough with strong cheese or sausages, but far too sweet to be considered an IPA.
- Garrett Oliver
Deep orange to dark amber color. Dense head. Very good hop aroma, also with some malt behind it. Body very creamy indeed. On the palate, very sweet start. Rounded maltiness. Some buttery (diacetyl) notes were slightly cloying. Hints of anise. Then a nice fruity acidity to refresh the finish. A beer with a big body and big flavors. For an IPA, quite malty. Was an English accent intended? It reminded me of an especially hoppy vintage of Fuller’s ESB.
- Michael Jackson
Fred Eckhardt lives, writes about and drinks beer in Portland, OR. He is the author of The Essentials of Beer Style and Saké.
Internationally recognized brewer and expert on traditional beer, Garrett Oliver is the brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery and the author of The Brewmaster's Table.
Author of Ultimate Beer, the Simon & Schuster Guide to Beer and numerous other works on drinks, Jackson has created legions of converts to fine beer.