4519 W Pine St
Farmville NC 27828
The following article is by Julie Bradford, the editor of All About
Beer Magazine and the author of the "Beer Here" column in the
News and Observer, Raleigh, NC. First published 9/10/04.
A Dark Horse, But a Winner
The name of North Carolina’s newest brewing company, The Duck-Rabbit
Craft Brewery, revived my memories of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck shouting
at poor Elmer Fudd, each trying to convince him it was hunting season
for the other species. “Duck!” “Rabbit!” “Duck!”
But brewer Paul Philippon had a loftier inspiration for the name of his
brewery: the Gestalt psychology drawing of a head that is perceived as
either a duck or a rabbit, depending on how you look at it. The ambiguity
appealed to the philosopher-turned-brewer: “The image appeared in
a philosophy book I admired,” he says. “I liked the idea of
tying what I’m doing now into my former life.”
The familiar image makes a classy brand logo for six packs and tap handles—a
far cry from Looney Tunes.
The brand new enterprise stands out in another important way: Philippon
decided to brew only dark beers, styling his company “The Dark Beer
Specialist.” He explains, “I love pale ales, but dark beers
seemed to be an under-represented part of the market.”
This is a high-risk step, but one that will pay off if Philippon can carve
out a niche presenting the full spectrum of dark beer styles, which are
as varied as the pale ones. Most breweries include only one dark beer
line-up, perhaps only as a seasonal, and many skip these delicious beers
altogether. Apart from our brewpubs, locally brewed North Carolina dark
beers can be numbered on two hands: Philippon has dramatically expanded
the selection in a few short weeks.
His beers are already available at the Sawmill Taproom, whose managers
encountered test batches of Duck-Rabbit at beer events in the spring and
sought it out for their bar. Sister establishment Harrison’s also
new beer on draft, and bottled beer is available in a growing list of
retailers and bars, including Peace Street Market in Raleigh, Whole Foods
and Sam’s in Durham, and A Southern Season and Weaver Street Market
in Chapel Hill.
The current line-up consists of an American-style brown ale, nutty and
drinkable, but stiffened with a good dose of hops. Most dark beers tend
to be malt-accented, so this is the beer for hop heads who also want the
roundness of dark malts.
Too often porters don’t distinguish themselves from brown ales:
I can close my eyes and not be sure what I’m drinking. The Duck-Rabbit
interpretation is a porter-lover’s porter, nearly black in color,
with an assertive roasted flavor, and notes of chocolate and breakfast
toast. The brewer adds oats to
the mix, as well as barley, which give an extra silkiness to the mouthfeel.
Coming soon to the portfolio, a rare milk stout, the only one in this
market to my knowledge. Stouts, the blackest members of the ale family,
range in character from Irish stouts, with their dry-to-slightly-sour
finish, to the sweeter stout styles that have been softened with syrup,
honey or sugar. Milk stouts, and the richer cream stouts, derive their
smoothness from the addition of lactose, or milk sugar.
Seasonal beers will include the lager family’s counterpart to stout,
the wonderful German style known as schwarzbier, or black beer.
The final beer in the year-round line up can be regarded as a gateway
beer for those unwilling to jump into the classic dark beer styles right
away. The brewery’s amber ale is malty with caramel notes, a style
elements of both dark and light beers. Amber ale is either the darkest
of the light beers or the lightest of the dark beers, depending on your
point of view—a lot like the figure that may be a either duck or