Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown – 4.5% ABV
Great Beer That Gives Back. The idea that firemen like to drink beer is kind of a no-brainer. But imagine a fireman who brews his own beer and sells it, this is another kind of animal altogether. On top of that, imagine a brewery owned and run by a firefighter that donates proceeds from its sales to aid burn victims and recovering first responders. This is the story behind the Hook & Ladder Brewing Company out of Silver Spring, MD. Frankly I’m humbled, and I haven’t even taken a sip yet.
Hook & Ladder (or H&L for short) was formed by Rich Fleischer, a volunteer firefighter in Silver Spring, and his business-world brother Matt. They produce a series of good brews, but the one I was fortunate to find today is their Backdraft Brown, an American Brown Ale that checks in at 4.5%. The label has all the makings of a fire department theme. The shield, the company number and all the adornment one would expect to see in a firehouse. Fitting, I must say. I had a feeling that this was some kind of charity-related case, because I know what these firefighters do and what they give back to the community. Guess I was right. At the bottom of the label is a small image of a man in a fire helmet with the words “A Quarter in Every Case” surrounding it. As it turns out, H&L donates a penny from every pint, or about a quarter out of every case it sells. The money goes to aiding burn victims in their rehabilitation and recovery, as well as recovering firefighters who also sustained injury saving these people. In two years time, they raised over $20,000 just off the sales of their beer for their charity. Wow. To me, that’s awesome. I’d proudly buy more of this beer just for that fact, even if it didn’t taste all that great. But this is another issue. And so here we come to the main point of this article – Let’s give it a whiff and take a taste.
Pouring Backdraft Brown into an imperial pint glass, I notice the deep brown color amassing within the glass. When held up to the light, you can see an almost deep ruby red hue within the brown that dominates the color palette. There is an ivory to light-beige film forming above it and it eventually leaves about a finger and a half/almost two fingers worth of creamy head. This lasted for some time, although it gradually subsided to about a half inch thick film above the brew. Giving it a nose, immediately I get the aroma of nuttiness and maybe a hint of chocolate, caramel and maybe some toffee in there somewhere. This smells pretty good. Might as well imbibe.
The first sip goes down nice and easy, with a roasted malt and chocolate flavor profile leading the charge, with a slight nuttiness coming in to assist. There is the ever-so-subtle hop finish, but it is barely noticeable because this is such a malt-forward creamy, smooth delight. The mouthfeel is rich and creamy, making it easy for this one to go down without leaving any bitterness in the end. There is some soapy lacing to speak for as I drink this, but minimal at best. Most of the beer goes in my stomach rather than remaining on the glass. Just the way I like it. This has a medium body to it, but surprisingly as I finish, I don’t feel all that full. It’s a shame I only bought one of these at Buy-Rite. Note to self – go get more soon.
For those of you who want to try a solid brown ale from a local brewery, or for those of you who want some of your hard-earned and well-spent money going to a good cause, you’re both in luck. Go check out Hook & Ladder’s Backdraft Brown. You can enjoy a tasty brew made by a group of guys who risk their lives to make sure you’re good to go; you can also feel good knowing that you’re giving back to your community by buying their beer. Sounds like a winning plan to me. Go rescue your taste buds from bad flavors with Backdraft Brown. You’ll thank me later. Cheers!