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Found 21 results

  1. I am honored to help VikingJew introduce beers to the VBT. I first became enamored with craft brews in the early 90's when living in Fort Collins, Colorado. Colorado may be the leading state for the craft revolution and I was lucky to live in a city with one of the foremost craft breweries, New Belgium (and Odell's is not bad either). Fat Tire was a revelation compared to the Michelob and Moosehead that I grew up with here in Montgomery County, MD. Though Fat Tire is legendary (at least in my mind), there are so many interesting brews and styles that have emerged, especially in the last 5-10 years, that it almost seems boring right now. I look forward to sharing many different beers and discussions with you in the future on the VBT. The beer this week is Dogfish Head's Festina Peche. I tried it the first time when introduced a few years back and was impressed---looking forward to trying it again as have not had it since. Seems like an appropriate brew as we approach another hot July 4th weekend in DC. ABV is 4.5%. Per the website: A refreshing neo-Berliner Weisse, Festina Peche is available in 4-packs and on draft during the sweaty months. Sadly, there are only a few breweries left in Berlin still brewing the Berliner Weisse style, which is characterized by its intense tartness (some say sour). There were once over 70 breweries in Berlin alone making this beer! In addition to fermentation with an ale yeast, Berliner Weisse is traditionally fermented with lactic cultures to produce its acidic (or green apple-like) character. Served as an apertif or summertime quencher, Festina is delicately hopped and has a pale straw color. To soften the intense sourness, Berliner Weisse is traditionally served with a dash of essence of woodruff or raspberry syrup. In Festina Peche, since the natural peach sugars are eaten by the yeast, the fruit complexity is woven into both the aroma and the taste of the beer so there is no need to doctor it with woodruff or raspberry syrup. Just open and enjoy! More on the style from Beeradvocate: Berliner Weisse is a top-fermented, bottle conditioned wheat beer made with both traditional warm-fermenting yeasts and lactobacillus culture. They have a rapidly vanishing head and a clear, pale golden straw-coloured appearance. The taste is refreshing, tart, sour and acidic, with a lemony-citric fruit sharpness and almost no hop bitterness. Served in wide bulbous stemmed glasses, tourists in Berlin will often order on as a "Berliner Weisse mit Schuss: Himbeere" or "Berliner Weisse mit Schuss: Waldmeister." These are syrups that are added to make the sourness more palatable. Himbeere is raspberry (red) and Waldmeister is woodruff (green). Cheers, Jeff
  2. I really enjoyed the conversation around pumpkin beers that we have had for the past few months, and I thought we could just carry this into the new line of seasonal beers, the Christmas Ale. My first Christmas Ale was probably Delirium Noel, and as opposed to Pumpkin beers, I was instantly in love with the style. It was malty and spicy, and was somehow a perfect drink on a cold night. This was close to fifteen years ago, yet I still get excited when the Christmas beers start trickling onto the shelves. I went to Total Wine this week to put together my first Xmas beer collection, and here's what I picked up. Christmas Ale - St. Bernardus - This is the brewery that supposedly makes the same recipe as Westvleteren, but without the secrecy or cool monk backstory. I don't think I've ever had any of their beers, but am excited to try this one. Santa's Little Helper 2013 - Mikkeller (link to 2012 bottling) - Mikkeller is the gypsy brewery owned by to friends from Denmark. Each of their beers is brewed at someone's else brewery, some with collaboration and some just by Mikkeller. Here's the wikipedia page for more info, Mikkeller. This is a Belgian Dark Ale, so I'm assuming it's close to the Delirium in style. Delirium Noel 2013 - Brouwerij Huyghe - And back to the beginning for me. I hope this lives up to my memory, since it's probably been five years since I've had this. My memories of it are of gingerbready goodness with some orange peel and cloves. I wonder if the craft beer explosion and the amount of amazing beers available now will relegate this to the back of the pack. And finally I have two localish stouts that I've been aging for a year that I'm interested to try against this year's batches. I've found that I like my stouts, especially the high alcohol content ones, with a little bottle age. It mellows them out, and really brings the flavors forward. Gingerbread Stout - Hardywood Park Craft Brewery - This beer is what put Hardywood on the map, scoring a perfect 100 from the Beer Advocate boys (and a 96 from the field). I was able to get one bottle from the 2012 offering, but rumor around Richmond is that they upped production and it should be a little easier to find this year. So I haven't had it yet, but am very much looking forward to it. Silent Night - Mother Earth Brewing - I'll admit that I had a bottle of this a few months ago, and it blew everyone away. Unfortunately I didn't take any notes and don't really recall what people really liked about it. I do have another bottle of the 2012 batch, and hopefully I can get a 2013 bottle to compare it to. I know everyone has their favorites, so I'm hoping we can have another conversation in this thread about this season's offerings. Happy Drinking, Eric (And Yes, I get the irony of VikingJew loving Xmas ales, I just haven't been impressed with the Potato Latke Porters out there.)
  3. After a smattering of postings about pumpkin beers both inside and out of the VBT forum, I thought it might make sense to open up a Pumpkin beer thread. With all the options out there it proved a bit difficult to just pick one beer for everyone to try. This way people can post their notes, letting us know what beers to try and which to avoid. This is a bit of a change from how we normally do things, but hopefully people check this thread out and start posting. Hopefully this thread can stay active throughout the season, and feel free to include other seasonal offerings even if they don't feature pumpkin. Going into this tasting, I can't admit to being a fan of pumpkin beers, but I had never really sought them out before. When the weather gets colder I veer towards the aged stouts and darker beers. Since we have this community going, I thought it would be fun to try something new. Here's what I picked up for my initial tasting: Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale New Holland Ichabod Ale Cisco Pumple Drumkin Ale Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale New Belgium Pumpkick Anchor Big Leaf Maple Autumn Red (Not a pumpkin beer, but being sold as an Autumn ale)
  4. My next few VBT postings might make some of you pretty mad. I received a mysterious package in the mail, full of West Coast beers, rarely see on the East Coast. The first box was full of fresh IPAs, that taste best the fresher they are so I dove right in and began with the Fresh Squeezed IPA. Although I deserve absolutely no credit for this, I'll go ahead and pat myself on the back for choosing wisely. This might be the best pure IPA I've ever had. It doesn't have the honeyed sweetness of HopSlam or the IPA bite of something like Cigar City Jai Alai, just a crisp smoothness about it that I really enjoyed. The hops recipe is Citra and Mosaic, which for me gave a very clean citrus flavor. Not the usual grapefruit bitterness that American IPAs sometime have, but a really fresh orange, tangerine kind of taste. Sure it had some bitterness, but a very pleasant amount. It also has a relatively low ABV at 6.4% that kept the taste from being too extreme. If this was available in six packs in Richmond, I could see it replacing Oberon as my summer bottle I should add the caveat that I was having BonChon for dinner, so my taste chemistry might've been compromised. But if eating spciy Korean fried chicken can do this to an IPA, I'll grab a box every time. Finally a question for everyone. Why isn't there an enterprising store in DC that opens up a pipeline for beers not distributed on the Eest Coast? I know some bars will drive to Ohio for Dark Lord day and then sell some pours, or drive to Dexter to load up on Jolly Pumpkin. But for the every day beers that just don't get out here, I have to imagine with the way we beer geeks are these days, someone could work something out and make some money. I know that Bourbon got into some trouble for selling Hill Farmstead (I think?) from their growlers, but couldn't some agreement be reached for willing West Coast breweries? Just need someone to drive a refrigerated truck back and forth across the country a few times a month .
  5. Working at a bottle shop this past few months as giving me perspective on how quick word can get out about a new beer and how quickly people will gobble it up. We haven't yet been open for Hopslam season or Kentucky Breakfast Stout time, but we've seen our occasional DogFish Head 120 case or some fresh Maine Lunch get bought out in an hour. Along with those standard limited runs, Stone's new collaboration Mocha Stout has been one of the fastest selling "new" beers I've seen. It started with a solid review from a California beer columnist, then a 97 from the crowd on Beer Advocate, a 95 from the Alstrom Brothers at the same site, then a 99 on RateBeer. We sold out of two cases within 48 hours, our second 2 cases over the next three days, and things have finally calmed down as we're halfway through our 6th case heading into the end of this week. To capitalize on the buzz, we also put a keg on for growler fills which should be kicked later this afternoon. After all the build up and hype though, this beer definitely underwhelmed me. It has a lot going on in it for sure, a nice coffee stout base with the addition of chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg, chile peppers. They're mimicking a Mexican hot chocolate, according to the original home brewer's recipe. There's already a much more limited and well-made style of this beer in Westbrook's Mexican Cake Imperial Stout, and I can't help but see this as an admirable, just not as good, imitation. From the bottle into my glass I was overwhelmed with the cinnamon. It felt like it was sprinkled on dry and sitting on top of the drink, and 50% of the flavor of the first taste. After that it mellowed a bit, but I just couldn't get into as I drank down the bottle. The thinness of the base stout might be what's holding it back. Westbrook's is an imperial stout, which seems to hold up much better to all the added flavors. I do like to try the beers I sell, so I can give honest opinions, and my lack of enthusiasm for this one hasn't hurt our selling it at all. I did think putting it on tap what help people judge for themselves, and like most beers, I feel the taste improves when it was from the tap. I guess I'll swim against the tide on this one, but am curious as to what others think. I've definitely had repeat buyers and growler customers for it, so I'm happy to be in the minority if that's the case. We're retailing the 22oz bottles for $9.99, and I imagine you can find it anywhere you buy your craft beer.
  6. Hey everyone, I thought I'd start a separate thread, just in case that are people who would be interested but aren't visiting the Hopslam thread. I figure we can also start brainstorming here. Please feel free to move this post to Events and Gatherings if that makes more sense, but I know the audience has been posting in this forum recently. A little background: The idea of virtual beer tastings has come up a few times, and Don suggested someone should begin rolling the boulder down the hill. I've participate in virtual tastings on WineBerserkers so I can lend a little bit of experience to this process. One important thing is to make sure the beers we choose are easily sourced in VA, DC, and MD at least. I know everyone would like to taste Canadian Breakfast Stout, but that would be nearly impossible to facilitate. Another thing we need to decide is should there be a separate thread for each tasting, or just a master thread where everyone constantly posts their thoughts. Should we choose one night where everyone tastes, or a starting date, and ask everyone taste and post by a certain date? There are two new beers available in our market, that I think would make good guinea pigs, Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro or Lagunitas Sucks. These are both available in six packs, so I don't know if people would want to team up due to fear of commitment...or find stores selling single bottles. So let us know your thoughts, and if we get enough interest in one of the other, we can try to have the first one by the end of the month. -Eric
  7. We're heading back to Grand Rapids, Michigan for Founders summer fruit beer. Here we have a straight up Raspberry Ale, similar to their Blushing Monk limited release from 2011 but with almost half the alcohol content. Now in the Festina Peche postings, I decried the not quite fruit not quite beer flavor of the offering, here we have all fruit. In fact, I dare say this is what it would taste like if you dumped Crystal Light powder into a High Life...but...it's still good! Now I think this might be the most debated beer we've featured, if everyone tries it. Some people will say this is as much beer as sangria is wine, but I disagree. Founders wanted to make a Raspberry Ale, and that's what they did. The sweet, tart raspberry flavor is finished with the maltiness you'd expect from beer, and I think it works perfectly. From the Founders website: "Not another boring summer wheat beer or lemonade shandy"”Rí¼bí¦us is Founders' way to celebrate the season's warmest months. Optimizing the flavor of fresh raspberries added at multiple stages during fermentation, this stunning berry red masterpiece is the perfect balance of sweet and tart. No question about it, with a hefty malt bill and 5.7% ABV, this beer is 100% Founders." Personally, if I want a fruit beer, this is where I'm going. Mostly fruit with a beer kick at the end, but I can definitely see where this offering will have detractors. Keep in mind, it is a Founders limited offering which mean you can expect to pay $15+ for a 4 pack. Think about splitting one with friends if you want to try it, but don't think a fruit beer is going to be your thing. Enjoy, Eric
  8. Blech... I think this is a pour down the drain for me, but I'm curious as to if anyone else likes this one. I'm a peanut butter fanatic, but this one does absolutely nothing for me. Found that Total Wine was selling singles of it, so luckily I'm only out $1.
  9. Southern Tier's Creme Brulee is a beer that's come up a few times in discussions of other beers. Some have used it as an example of a beer that's too sweet, while others point to it as a good example of untraditional flavors really making for a unique and delightful drinking experience. After the first quarter of this glass, I still can't decide which way I lean. This beer pours a pitch black with very minimal foam. After a few seconds in the glass a brown head, almost crema, forms on top of the beer. My initial reaction is that the aroma is much sweeter than the accompanying flavor, and I could see someone taking a whiff and being immediately turned off by this beer. The first few sips were heavy on the vanilla, which is not a bad thing. As I drank my way down the glass, the vanilla and sweetness kind of coated my mouth and it became less a beer and more a dessert drink. I really feel like I'm drinking some kind of espresso beverage from Starbucks, instead of beer. It's becoming more cloying and coating the more I drink. I'm about halfway through the glass, and while I'll finish it, I can't really recommend this for beer lovers. If however, you want something sweet with about a 10% ABV after dinner, this would hit the spot. A local Richmond brewery, Center of the Universe, makes a Lebowski-influenced White Russian Stout named El Duderino that I'd say is a better version of what Southern Tier is trying to do with this. That takes the milk and vanilla and combines them with the beer flavors. This on the other hand is more of a milkshake that has some beer poured into it. It probably sounds like I'm not enjoying this, but the funny thing is I am. It's just not beer. Back around the turn of the millennium, I'd hangout at the Brickskeller and I'd end my night ordering Dixie Brewing's long forgotten White Moose, which was a white chocolate flavored beer. As you can see from the BeerAdvocate posting, it was not a hit. But it holds a soft spot for 21 year old me, and I'm pretty sure I drank every bottle in the Skellar's stock. If I had to compare the Creme Brulee to anything else I've had, it would be the White Moose. So while I can't recommend, I won't blame you if you go for a bottle after dinner while there's still snow on the ground. Creme Brulee comes in 22 oz bombers and should be around $8. I'm really curious to hear others' thoughts on this one.
  10. Keeping in the spirit of hearty beers during cold weather months, I submit 3Beans from Sixpoint Brewery of Brooklyn, NY. I've seen this beer around in most stores, and Sixpoint has distribution in VA, DC, and MD. Sixpoint came onto the scene for me about a year ago with their Sweet Action cream ale, and I'm interested in trying their darker stuff. The brewery has been around since 2004, but I think they only start distributing outside of New York in the past two years. According to our friends at Beer Advocate, this particular recipe is a Baltic Porter weighing in at a whopping 10% ABV and it has a strong 91 rating from the field. Sixpoint beers come in four packs of cans, and the packaging is very informative. Instead of quoting the whole thing I'll just let you know that the three beans are Romano, Cacao, and Coffee Beans. The Cacao and Coffee are flavors you should easily recognize, the cacao husks are from Mast Brothers Chocolate and the coffee comes from Stumptown. In an interview with The Boston Phoenix's Beer Advocate column Sixpoint's founder Shane Welch said of the Romano Beans: "The third bean was infused in the mash, where high temperatures pulled out the starches, which were then converted to fermentable sugars thanks to enzymes in the barley malt. Why Romano beans? "We found that the Celts and Slavic tribes of Scandinavia and the Baltic regions used to make fermented beverages using beans as a portion of the mash," Welch explains. "Since the northern latitudes did not ensure a consistent, ample supply of barley, the inhabitants there used alternative starchy grains and legumes to boost the fermentability of the mash when making beer." Hopefully everyone can try some during this long weekend. Happy Drinking, Eric
  11. Man, what a beer this is. In Fremont, California, it's available at a local gas station convenience store for $8.99 a six-pack, and it's just wonderful. It's a hefty 7.5% ABV, with 64.20 IBU and 1.076 OG - stuffed with everything, including the most important thing of all: balance. Far too often, "big" beers are tilted one way or the other out of balance, but not this - harmony abounds, and wine-wise, it would be like drinking a great 14.5% ABV Cháteauneuf-du-Pape. I'm not sure if Lagunitas is an actual microbrewery except by strict definition only, but *this* - this beer - drinks like a craft brew made by a brewery that really cares about the product. It's hoppy, but they're lemony hops, not bitter tasting at all (well, maybe a touch in the finish, but nothing that would make you find them offensive even if you resided on the island of Malt-a like I do). The Beer Advocate rates (once again, I'm going against my very nature here by mentioning numeric scores) A Little Sumpin' 94 points, both in the average BA Score (an average of all readers' ratings) and in the Bros' score (an average of the reviews by the Alstöm brothers), and I can easily see that rating being justified. The single most important component in beer - in any food item, I might argue - is balance, and despite it's heft, A Little Sumpin' has balance in spades. I also don't know if the avoidance of cross-country transportation makes a difference with this, but it just tastes fresh as a daisy here in California, not that I've ever consumed a daisy and have legitimate knowledge of what a fresh daisy tastes like. This is not a malty beer at all, yet it makes me so happy.
  12. Okay, for anyone who has been following, this is how the Virtual Beer Tastings (VBTs) will get going. I'll post a topic starting thread, and provide a little background. Then instead of everyone trying the beer at the same time, we'll leave the thread open, and people can post their thoughts as they have them. Eventually it sounds like there will be a tasting subforum. Left Hand Brewing Company's Milk Stout "Nitro," Longmont, Colorado And here's a little background on the Nitro technology thanks to Boston.com's Steve Greenlee and his 99 Bottles Blog: "When a beer -- typically a stout -- is dispensed with a lot of nitrogen, it pours creamy and contains less carbonation. Most draught beer is dispensed with either pure carbon dioxide or a blend that contains a little nitrogen. Some bars put a stout or two "on nitro," using a mix that is roughly 75 percent nitrogen. Some canned beers -- Guinness, for instance -- are packaged with nitrogen, and a ball-like widget floating in the can helps create creamy head. Left Hand's Milk Stout Nitro accomplishes the same thing in a bottle, without a widget. The brewery says the bottle is specially designed to help create a creamy head, so long as the beer is "poured hard" into a glass." So definitely do not drink it out of the bottle, this beer is meant to be poured into a glass. I've seen the beer in Arlington at Arrowine, Whole Foods, and Westover, so it should be easy to find. Cheers, Eric
  13. These pumpkin brews come out earlier and earlier, don't they? So I realize this is getting caught up in the hype....though Schalfly's version is one of the best out there. Ranked 3rd for pumpkin beers on Beer Advocate with a rating of 94, this seems like it's worth taking a chance on for a high quality beer early in the season. Per schlafly.com: Our Pumpkin Ale blends the spices of the harvest with full-bodied sweetness for a beer that tastes like pumpkin pie. Pounds of pumpkin form a malty foundation that supports the fall flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. While pumpkin beers were produced in the early days of the American colonies, they were different from the pumpkin beers we know today. Colonists used pumpkin and squash as the fermenting medium, since malted barley was scarce. Once malt became more readily available, it replaced these alternatives to grain. In the 1990's, American craft brewers reintroduced the style to the delight of pumpkin beer drinkers. Reviews indicate a real pumpkin taste, spices, not overly sweet. I love Southern Tier Pumking but sometimes a beer drinker does not want a dessert beer but something that will go well with an autumn-type meal. This one seems to fit that bill. ABV is 8.0% Cheers, Jeff
  14. I sent out the bat signal for some sour recs, and I figured why not start towards the top of the mountain? Here if we have my first international beer for the VBT, the Oude Gueuze Tilquin í L'Ancienne. Admittedly I don't know much about he history of gueuze and the grand Belgian traditions, so this posting will be a lot of copy and pasting. From the Tilquin website: "Installed in Bierghes in the Senne valley, the Gueuzerie Tilquin is the only gueuze blendery in Wallonia. A gueuzerie, or Geuzestekerij in Dutch, is an enterprise where Gueuze í l'ancienne (or Oude Geuze) is blended. Freshly brewed worts are purchased from different producers in the region (Payottenland and Brussels), and pumped in oak barrels for fermentation and ripening, during 1, 2 or 3 years. The lambics obtained are blended and bottled to give, after 6 months of refermentation, the Gueuze Tilquin í l'ancienne, which has 6.4% alc / vol and is available in 37,5cl and 75cl bottles." From The Beer Advocate entry "Oude Gueuze Tilquin í l'Ancienne (6.0% alc/vol) is a spontaneous fermentation beer, produced from the blending of 1, 2 and 3 years old lambics. It is unfiltered and unpasteurized, and refermented in the bottle for at least 6 months. The lambics used were fermented and oak aged in our installations. These lambics are coming from worts brewed by Boon, Lindemans, Girardin and Cantillon breweries." I found it pretty easily here, but the Total Wine in McLean has it as coming in Sept 2013, so keep any eye out. My bottles are dates 2012, so perhaps the 2013s are on their way. Obviously these are aged, but I'm not clear if the bottling dates and vintage dates being like wine. Looks it it's priced around $10 for the small bottle and $20 for the big one. If anyone has some they've been aging, feel free to crack them open as well. I'm pretty sure I might head back to my local store and pick up a few more for the cellar. op uw gezondheid, Eric
  15. This one is a recommendation from outside of the board. When my wife's boss asked my thoughts on this one, I had to admit to not only not trying it, but never having any Firestone Walker beer. So why not jump head first into a new brewery with their Double IPA? Here's some info on it from their website. "Double Jack IPA is our first ever Imperial IPA. It features a big malty middle to cloak the high alcohol and mouth puckering hop bitterness. Huge tangerine, grapefruit and juicy fruit aroma blossom over the herbal blue basil and malt earthiness of this aggressive beer. Best enjoyed in moderation." Sounds like some conflicting tastes in one bottle, so I'm interested in how they all work together. It gets a whopping 97 from the field on Beer Advocate, which could be our highest rating yet. I know it seems like we're going back to the IPA well so soon, but the fruit beers didn't appear to be a conversation starter. Firestone Walker has some pedigree and money behind it, according to their story, so let's see how they do brewing beer. "Firestone Walker Brewing Company brewed its first beer in 1996 in a small facility rented from the Firestone Vineyard estate in Santa Barbara County. In 2001 owners Adam Firestone and David Walker purchased the SLO Brewing Company located in Paso Robles, CA. Firestone Walker's ales are selectively fermented in the Firestone Union oak barrel brewing system. The Firestone Union incorporates 65-gallon, medium and heavy toast American oak barrels. Firestone Walker Brewing Company continues to grow as the palates of Americans migrate to craft beer. Our brew staff have picked up "Mid Size Brewery of the Year" at the World Beer Cup an unmatched four time." It is available in 22oz bombers at $9 or so and clocks in at 9.5% abv. Enjoy, Eric
  16. Another request from the field, and an excellent pairing to last week's Single-Wide I.P.A., we have Founders All Day IPA. The All Day IPA is named because it is a session beer clocking in at a low 4.7%. Right now it's only available in bottles, but Founders is supposed to be be releasing cans later this summer. I had this a few weeks ago, and remember thinking it's pretty good for a cookout beer. Founders has been one of my favorite breweries since the first bottle of their breakfast stout oh so many years ago. This is their newest "fully available" beer, and, as of May, has become their top seller. Although I do love their beers, I didn't know much about the brewery aside from them being Michigan-based. Here's some history on their name from a MLive.com: The brewery's official corporate name is actually Canal Street Brewing Co., an homage to the area in Grand Rapids where several breweries were located in the 1800s. The brewery's original location was on Monroe Avenue, formerly known as Canal Street. "We were playing off of this whole throwback thing," said co-founder Mike Stevens. Early beer bottle labels featured a historic black-and-white photo of four local brewers sitting on a large wooden beer barrel. The word "Founders" appeared above the photo. "It literally stood for the founders, meaning the some of the original brewers of the beer movement in Grand Rapids," Stevens said. "Then everyone started calling us Founders because that's what was on the beer label." A customer offered to design a better label in exchange for some free beer and came up with the logo known today. Looks like six pack bottles are widely available (reported sightings at Harris Teeter in Arlington), and should be about $10. Special bonus if you attend Founders Fest this weekend, Don will waive your membership fees for 2014. Enjoy, Eric
  17. Thanks to a discussion on the All Day IPA thread, I decided to throw out New Holland's White Hatter out for the group. I always see New Holland on the shelf, but never really drink it. I'm glad Nick Freshman chimed in about this one, since it's not something I would have thought of suggesting. It is a Belgian Pale Ale, so hopefully a nice counter to the IPAs we've been tasting. Here's a little info about the brewery from Wikipedia: Jason Spaulding and Brett VanderKamp, the founders of New Holland Brewing Company, grew up together in Midland, Michigan, and later attended Hope College. In college Spaulding and VanderKamp cultivated a love of homebrewing, which would bring them together again shortly after graduation. Their business plan took two years to formulate, but once complete, the pair quickly lined up investors, and in 1996 New Holland was founded in Holland, Michigan. Originally, the duo's goal was to produce beer that was characteristically unique to Western Michigan. Their beer was well received, and the company increased production to just over 5,000 US beer barrels (590,000 l) in 2006. In 2007 the company increased production to over 7,500 US bbl (880,000 l). Nick's initial thoughts: "New Holland's White Hatter BPA. Generally, BPAs have done nothing for me. To much biscuity, yeasty flavor from the Belgian side that washes out whatever hop character is there. This one is not so. Bright yellow color with a thick, creamy head. Great floral aromas, crisp hop backbone, but with a delicate creaminess from the "B" part of the BPA." And some information from the New Holland site White Hatter flavorfully blends the soft malt, fruity esters and delicate spicing of a Belgian White with hoppy citrus notes of an IPA. Pleasant hints of tropical fruit are framed with orange peel, chamomile, coriander and grains of paradise. Pairings: fish, grilled chicken, hard cheeses. ABV: 5.5% IBU: 39.6 Original Gravity: 12.6° Plato I've confirmed that it is on the shelves at Total Wine. New Holland does show up at supermarkets, so hopefully everyone will be able to find it. If not, Nick mentioned that he still has it on tap at this house (but not Spider Kelly's?). Enjoy, Eric
  18. I've enjoyed the past few beers under 6% ABV, so I thought I'd find another to throw out there, and Single-Wide I.P.A. it is. Boulevard was founded in 1988 as a local brewery for Kansas City but has grown to be the 10th largest craft brewer in the country (and yes, we can argue about the definition of a craft brewery, 160,000 barrels sounds like a lot to me). Boulevard Brewing is new to the Richmond area, and perhaps to Virginia altogether. The local Whole Foods had a roll out similar to the one New Belgium had in Arlington when it became available. From the website: "Boulevard Single-Wide I.P.A. is our take on a style that originated in 18th century Great Britain. This American version"”inspired by our Smokestack Series Double-Wide I.P.A."”boasts a heady combination of six varieties of hops, some of which were employed for dry-hopping." It's at 5.7% ABV and claims to have a mix of six different hops listed on the website. It comes in 6 packs of bottles for about $9, and both the VA and MD Total Wines show it as in stock. Boulevard recommends to pair it with spicy or cajun foods. Happy Drinking, Eric
  19. Back in Black is an American Black IPA from the good folks at 21st Amendment Brewing. The brewery is a few blocks from AT&T Park, home of your World Champion SF Giants. It opened in 2000, founded by a former brewer from Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse in Berkley. In 2012, 21st Amendment planned to case 45,000 barrels of beer, up from 28,000 in 2011. I thought this was an interesting (wikipedia-sourced) fact, 21st Amendment's retail beers are canned in Cold Spring, Minnesota to contain costs. I wonder how common a practice this is for urban breweries. After looking at some reviews online, I guess I can categorize this as a guilty pleasure of mine. I usually associate Bells Oberon with late Spring and watching baseball, but a few years ago this became my sitting around the pool beverage of choice. It's a very easy to drink beer for almost pushing 7% ABV (clocks in at 6.8). The brewery says this beer was inspired by the midnight ride of Paul Revere, taking the traditional English IPA recipe and "Americanizing" it by adding dark malts. Though the Beer Advocate bunch might not enjoy it as much as I do, I find it a very interesting combination. Drinking it out of the can is fine, but pouring into a glass makes for an interesting juxtaposition. The dark color makes you prepared for a thicker stout, but the IPA flavors and lightness are there. It's pretty cool to fool your brain like that. Maybe you can pour a stout and this, and do the Pepsi challenge. I think some people call these types of beers Cascadian Dark Ales, but that could just be a Northwest thing. Available in six packs of cans for about $10 at Total Wine Mclean, and I know its everywhere else in Arlington. I think 21st Amendment has creeped its way into the Giants and Safeways of the world, too. Happy Drinking, Eric
  20. Pardon my first selfish post of the VBT, but I have to rave somewhere about this local product. For those of you who aren't familiar with Hardywood Park, it is one of the breweries that have started to put Richmond on the beer scene map. They gained some notoriety with a 100 point rating from the Beer Advocate boys for their Gingerbread Stout. Along with Strangeways, Center of the Universe, Lickinghole Creek, Extra Billy's, and the grandfather of them all Legend, Richmond has started to make a name for itself in beer. Cream Ale is a personal weakness of mine. Back in the days of the good Brickskellar, I drank through their entire stock of Pelican Kiwanda Cream Ale. They never got any more, and I had to have a friend from Portland bring some to me when he visited the East Coast. I've never found a cream ale that quite hit me the same way, until I picked up a six pack of these cans ($10 at Total Wine Richmond). According to the Hardywood PR team (who are very good btw), "in 1935, Richmond, Virginia made beer history as the first place ever to sell canned beer, a cream ale from Krueger Brewing Company". This brew is supposedly a tribute to that. It doesn't redefine any style or stake new ground, but it is an excellent cream ale. The alcohol content is a low 4.4%, and the color is a light pilsner. Regardless of what I said about Back in Black, this is my new go to canned beer for this summer. It's light, it's crisp, and it's smooth, and I imagine it pairs with any meal you care to eat outside. I don't think Hardywood cans and bottles make their way to DC, but keep an eye on the Churchkey Twitter feed or have someone you know from Richmond bring some to you. This is a brewery that is doing some really exciting things and should become a national player, or at least national name, within a few years. -Eric
  21. Sorry Guys, had to call an audible on the beer for MLB Opening Day. I usually mark the beginning of my Reds season with Bells Oberon, but much to my chagrin, Bells does not have Maryland Distribution. Instead we'll be diving into New Belgium's spring offering Dig. I know there are some hop heads out there, so instead of listing the hop blend, I'll see how people do with a blind tasting to see how many you can identify. The hops are listed on the bottle, so no reading either. Dig is 5.6 ABV, which makes it nice enough to have a few during a nine inning game. Beer Advocate gives it a good, not great rating http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/192/77480. I found it interesting that as of 2010, New Belgium was the third largest craft brewer in America, behind only Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada. Since NB expanded into the area in 2011, I've pretty much ignored them. Though I did enjoy Fat Tire on my trips to the West Coast before then. And thanks to Wiki, here are some facts about the brewery. New Belgium Brewing Company is a regional brewery located in Fort Collins, Colorado. It opened in 1991 after Jeff Lebesch, the brewery's founder, took his home brewing passion commercial. In 2009, it produced over 582,000 barrels of its various labels. The last beer had no other tasting comments, so hopefully everyone finds this one a little more interesting. Happy Drinking! -Eric
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