It’s been a while since I’ve made a trip down south to see my friends Chuck and Connie Arnold at Arnold’s Carry Out in Willard. So instead of moping around in a state of sorrow disposition due to the hollow emptiness of my refrigerator, I decided it was time to take the drive down 99 South and pay them a visit to pick up some of the finest craft beer the Firelands area has to offer.
Don’t let the size of Arnold’s fool you, it may look small, but there is more amazing craft beer packed in there than what you will find in the large runs of open air coolers at any large retail chain in the area. Beyond that, there is friendly service with a smile and a sense of home when you’re in Arnold’s.
They take the time to learn your name, learn what you like, and always have good recommendations. Make sure you always have a few extra minutes when you go in there if you plan on talking to Connie, she knows her stuff. I always enjoy talking to her about the history of downtown Willard, as well as the history of the craft beer boom and how Arnold’s Carry Out has been a true pioneer and “go to” establishment for craft brewers and distributors to get new products into the market.
I’ve been all over the place in recent weeks with my beer reviews, so Connie that it was necessary to bring me back home. After all, home is where the heart is-or in the case, where the good beer is!
Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Silver and Gold IPL 7.5% ABV
In honor of their 25th year anniversary, Great Lakes Brewing Company came out with this twist on an IPA. This India Pale Lager pours a slightly hazy, pale copper color with a beautiful egg white, heavy and foamy head that floats nicely atop this brew throughout.
I really enjoyed how the head stayed thick and fluffy throughout the entire drinking experience as it kept alive the aromas of pine, grapefruit, citrus and bitterness of noble hops.
The mouthfeel of this IPL was light with a medium carbonation. A lot of the same tastes that are prominent in IPA’s were found here: pine, citrus and hop bitterness. In my opinion, the biggest difference between this IPL and basic IPA’s is the dry bitterness of the IPL compared to IPA’s. I felt a much stronger bitter bite with a dry, clean finish.
A wonderful, unique beer to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of Great Lakes Brewing Company. After consuming this IPL, it’s easy to realize why Great Lakes has been around for 25 years, and there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll be around for another 25 years.
Buckeye Brewing Company’s Hippie IPA 6.8% ABV
Another Cleveland brewery, Hippie IPA is one of Buckeye Brewing’s flagship beers. This full bodied, faint amber brew pours a great fluffy head that dissipates to about ½ inch throughout the drinking experience, leaving beautiful lacing around the inside of the glass as the beer transfers from the glass to your stomach. A light and refreshing aroma of lemon, tart, lime and citrus hops fill the nasal cavity.
A light, creamy and actively carbonated mouthfeel lead to tastes of lemon, lime, tart and citrus hops. One of the most refreshing IPA’s I’ve ever had! A wonderful example an IPA. If you don’t enjoy drinking this beer, then you just frankly flat out don’t like IPA’s….and that’s a shame.
Ommegang Art of Darkness 8.9% ABV
Brewery Ommegang is known for their specialty Belgian Ales that are very complex and flavorful. Last time I visited Connie, she had me try Ommegang Rare Vos and I fell in love. Art of Darkness is pretty much a polar opposite from Rare Vos, but amazing nonetheless.
Pouring a deep, dark purple (at a quick glance, it looks to be a pitch black), this brew has a light bubbly head that doesn’t stick around too much. It has aromas of tart, spices, grape, raisins and other dark fruits such as cranberry and plum. Like I said, very complex.
Now here is where the surprise comes in. From the naked eye you’d assume the mouthfeel to be very heavy, thick and creamy with a low carbonation. Oh contraire, mon frère! (that’s French, I think) The mouthfeel is pretty much the complete opposite-light, airy and heavily carbonated. Complex tastes of dark fruits, bitter hops, a slight hint of smoke and a mild alcohol burn will turn your palate upside down. Again, like I said-very complex. An excellent Belgian Strong Ale that will take you quite a while to drink, this beer is a little heavier at 8.9% and only comes in a 22 oz bottle.
Oh, did I mention you can get this bottle for half off right now at Arnolds???
So I didn’t try any true Fall seasonals this week, but that’s ok. After talking to Connie, she informed me that once Christmas beers are released, she is at the top of her distributors’ list to call on to receive Fall seasonals at discounted prices. This is a win-win situation as distributors will be able to clear inventory to make room for winter seasonals and Connie will be able to have pumpkin and Oktoberfest beers in stock through February…i.e. I’ll have somewhere I can go to buy pumpkin and Oktoberfest beers through February!!
Be sure to stop into Arnold’s in Willard soon! They have some great beers right now at HALF OFF! Ommegang Art of Darkness, Sam Adams DoppleBock, Thirsty Dog Cerberus are just a few amazing beers you can get at a steal right now. Oh, I forgot about the special edition bottle of Rogue’s 2012 Old Crustacean Barlywine! Oh, wait…..I forgot to mention it because I bought the last bottle. Sorry folks!
I’ll be back at Arnold’s toward the end of October where Connie is really excited to showcase some of the new Jackie O’s beers. Jackie O’s is a brewery in Athens, OH that is starting to make its way into the Firelands. Connie currently has the Firefly Amber Ale, but is hoping that more styles will be coming in really soon (you can bet that she will be the first one in the area to receive them). So stay tuned next week for an exclusive review of Jackie O’s beers from Athens, OH!
I’m telling you: make the drive to Willard. It’ll be worth it!