Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Groggy Afternoon at Nodding Head

This past weekend, Nodding Head held their fourth Second Saturday event.  This time it was named "Groggy Afternoon" and consisted of variations on their brown ale, Grog.  They put the Grog into three different casks and added different ingredients, ending up with Mole, Cherry, and Mocha.  They also had the Grog D'Oer, an oak aged version fermented with a Belgian yeast from the De Dolle brewery in Belgium, and a shot of rum mixed with sugar and some other stuff (get it?  Real grog!)  I wish I had gotten a picture of him, but one of their brewers also put on a sailor's hat and white shirt as his "costume" for the event.

I got there a little early so I started with a glass of the regular grog to get myself familiar with it.  (You buy that right?)
I talked about Grog the last time I was at Nodding Head so I won't take too much time here.  Suffice to say, it smelled roasty and had some roast in the flavor finishing with some chocolate and dark fruit notes.  Very enjoyable and not too strong.

Once I finished that, I got a flight of the grog variations.  They were actually serving them in the flight glasses so really I just ordered everything they had to offer but it makes me feel better if I call it a flight.
You can see the cask for the cherry grog in the background of this picture.  From left to right, we have: Grog, Grog D'Oer, Mole Grog, Cherry Grog, and Mocha Grog.  The mole and cherry grog were from casks while the mocha was on the hand pump I believe.  You can see the lack of carbonation in the first two as a result.  In the center is the shot of real Grog that the bartender, Pete, convinced me I needed as well to complete the flight.

Since I just had a whole pint of Grog, I started with the Grog D'Oer.  Here's a closer picture of just the Grog and Grog D'Oer.
I had the Grog D'Oer back in October and really enjoyed it.  Smelled Belgian with a little bit of roast in it.  Tasted very bready with a decent amount of dark fruit flavor.  After a bit more, I got some vanilla and caramel on top of the fruity finish.  Enjoyable take on grog for sure.

Up next were the experimental Grogs: Mole, Cherry and Mocha.
I started with the Mole Grog just because.  This was Grog spiced with chiles, chocolate and cumin.  It smelled heavily of chiles.  Very, very heavily.  I couldn't find any chocolate or cumin in the nose.  Tasted like mild chile juice and it was about as enjoyable as that sounds.  I was not a fan of this but others in the bar couldn't get enough of it.  I talked with a dude that managed to drink two glasses of it whereas I couldn't even finish my one glass.

The Cherry Grog was next.  Really enjoyable especially after the Mole Grog.  They blended Grog and Grog D'Oer and spiked it with dried cherries and cherry juice.  Very cherry in the nose, a little tart.  Cherries, vanilla and a little sweetness mixed with sour cherry notes.  I wouldn't call it balanced as the cherry was always at the forefront but nothing was overpowering and I really enjoyed it.  Reminded me a little of Bell's Cherry Stout.

Last but not least, the Mocha Grog.  They added a full pound of coffee beans, six ounces of cocoa nibs, and a single vanilla bean to the firkin.  Smelled like black coffee but without the bitterness.  Tasted mostly of coffee with a bit of chocolate coming in on the finish.  One of these days I need to find out what cocoa nibs really are considering the chocolate flavors they add always seem really mild.  This was enjoyable, but the coffee kind of overpowered everything.

A Groggy Afternoon was a really cool concept and all of the variations seemed to work although not for me.  I really didn't enjoy the Mole version, but others did so I wouldn't consider it a failure.  My favorite was the Cherry which wouldn't appeal to everyone either so once again we discover beer preference varies per person and everyone has an opinion.  Looking forward to the next Second Saturday event as I believe I'll be around for it.


  1. I made it to Nodding Head when I was in Philly last summer. Some interesting beers, I enjoyed it. Those "tasting" pours are no joke, though. My girlfriend and I split a flight of all their offerings at the time and were feeling pretty toasted by the time we left.

  2. Seriously. They have to be like 10oz. Watching people order the flight is funny since it's so much bigger than other brewpubs.

    Nodding Head has pretty good food as well. It's a very similar menu to Monk's.