Monday, November 7, 2016

Oaktoberfest (Firestone Walker)

Cooking with Men
I don't claim to be the most sophisticated man. The truth is there is nothing in this world I love more than Tostitos with melted cheese on top. We call it shreddy cheese in my neck of Hanover and its a staple. Like Firestone Walker, the hear of many men has belonged to union jack or double jack for decades. This year the northern California brewer has brought many new offerings to the table, and a wider spread release of their fall favorite, Oaktoberfest. 

I had high expectations after all the hype last year, but have heard many mixed reviews this year. I split this one with my wife and we enjoyed it. The Marzen flavor was there but was made more complex with the Oak. It had a slight buttery sweet flavor but was far from cloying. The mouth feel was phenomenal and it really helped that it was still fairly warm outside when we drank this, it was refreshing.

In conclusion, I will buy Oaktoberfest next year, maybe even in draft for my Firestone-Walker kegerator. Luponic Distortion has been a huge hit for us, and loved by hop heads all around. I have seen the plan for 2017 and don't worry about wooky, opal, and double jack, they will have a fresh bed of money to roll around in next year. We will see new things, current trends that Firestone will be able to do as well if not better than the existing supply. The Liquid Will Remain Top Notch! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Hi-10 (Terrapin Brewing)

For nearly two years, I have been selling Terrapin beer, and it has not come easy. It has been distributed in Va. for a long time and buyers are of the opinion that it doesn't sell. Hi-5 is about the only regular item with any traction in my market. Maybe it is the artwork or the connection to the state where a large chunk of my family is from, but I am a huge advocate for Terrapin. Kelci the state representative is a kick ass chick who busts her ass. So on the backs of Hi-5, we get Hi-10, a double IPA with mango and habanero. 
I have had ghost face killah fresh and thoroughly hated that experience. It was a Scoville bomb with so much heat that no other flavors could speak. This beer was an odd balance of juice and heat on the nose. At first taste it was sweet like mango but after taste was spicy and vegetal. I don't think I could do another 6 pack of this by myself, perhaps it would be a good beer to take to a get together. I think it would create an interesting point of difference on a draft line up that is fat with IPA's and hoppy offerings. Don't let the caramel color fool you, this is a very different direction for Terrapin and I look forward to more innovative things from them in 2017.   

Friday, October 21, 2016

I Miss the Old Kanye (Stillwater Brewing)

Brewery recalls are typically a huge pain in the ass. We have beer scattered all over the market, sometimes in places that have detailed procedures on how they like these things handled. This recall however was very classic. Take no shit gypsy breweries like Stillwater, Evil Twin, and Mikkeller have fun with pop culture in marketing their products. They produce a lot of things as one offs that are often times more comical for their own sake than brewing art or experimentation.
When Stillwater decided to challenge any of the Kanye's by brewing an imperial brett porter. The joke began with the concept supposed to have the 57 flavors and be the Dr Pepper of the craft beer world. The old Kanye was a man of many flavors but it seems recently he has been a man of the law filing cease and desist movements with said brewer. So when the memo hit my desk I had to go out and get one for myself, if for nothing else the label. Well I did and the beer sucked, but I got the label off. 

Boston travels

My wife's best friend and her husband live in Boston Mass. I mean they don't live in a nearby suburb and have a Boston mailing address, they live right in the middle of the city. The kitchen window in their apartment looks out over Boston common and I think I am falling in love with this city. This blog post is chronicling the second time I have gone to visit. This time I was dead set on getting more into the craft beer scene by going to breweries and bottle shops to really dig into what's going on. I
was not disappointed.


So Gigantic brewing seems to have captured the imagination of craft beer fans on the west coast so much, that I am aware of them, despite little distribution. Well I found this in Boston and it was amazing. Also the format is great, make big bottles great again. It's gotten far to risky to pick up random large format bottles in Richmond for fear of bad dates. I also was very psyched to see Almanac brewing in Boston, and this style of IPA is my current bread and butter. Look how those patriots glasses get the beer worked up into excessive foam. Go Bruins!

Local Breweries

I was able to get to two local breweries when I was there. Night Shift Brewing and Aeronaut Brewing. Man these two could not have been more different. Night Shift had a good variety of styles, and lots of super juicy fresh IPA's. Night Shift even packages in 16 ounce cans which seem to be a status symbol or flag in the ground that says "You are going to want more than 12 ounces at a time". The can pictured below is the Hefeweizen that I bought the girls who are devout blue moon drinkers. Look at the precious little owl, and they have a reserve society or club deal that is actually worth the years admission. 

Aeronaut on the other hand, was an example of what I avoid in my own local market. I should have know when we walked in to a projection screen playing vintage nintendo games on a wall in the tasting room. I'm a firm believer in the idea that the beer should above all be the reason people stay and return to your establishment. Breweries that host game nights, open mic nights, and have silly shit like video games are not breweries. They are bars that struggle to sell their own shitty beer. It's really become a thing and has hurt the business. Tasting rooms have largely cut into the on premise business which is in a way spiting the customer you are selling kegs to. Sorry for the rant. 

So a little over a month later, I went back with work on a Harpoon trip. Stay tuned to see if that post ever happens. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Black Angel (Wicked Weed Brewing)

One of the many things I like about working for Specialty Beverage, is that we all get to travel to other markets. Recently becoming a father of two, I have held tight to home and not been anywhere. I am left here more often than not to hold down the fort. I have a great team that brings me little gifts from abroad and so happy to be able to experience "dat weed doe". I have never been to the funkatorium, or even to Ashville, NC. Funky or Sour beer in my experience has always been like the beer people are drinking in a corner. The scuttle off, and share a small bottle in small numbers. I have had such experiences with Wicked Weed, and I have never been let down.
Having just heard that Wicked Weed is now distributing everywhere in Va, but Richmond. These beers will become more common place. There is no denying the demand is largely based on hype and I would be willing to bet that most people will try it and hate it. When Cascade brewing hit Richmond over 6 months ago, I thought their stuff would disappear despite the price. There is always a buzz of folks asking for sour beers, then no one puts their money where their mouth is. These wicked weed bottles are 375, not full blown 750, but I still have my doubts about how well a $15 375 will do in a market that struggles to sell any 22oz bottle over $9.99. 

Ninkasi Brewing (Statewide Launch)

My trading game has made me no stranger to Ninkasi Brewing from Eugine Oregon. If you are a fan of pun filled IPA names, it's hard to forget Tricerahops. We launched this brand in November of 2015 in the whole state of Virginia with total domination IPA, tricerahops double IPA, oatis oatmeal stout, vanilla oatis, sleigh'r, noir, dawn of the red, and lux. Stouts and all flavors of IPAs, just what the local beer nerd requires. 

Total Domination is not a hop bomb. It is a delicate flavor packed IPA. It is more like a soothing song than a slap in the face. This is what I want to treat myself to after a long day at work. 

If you are going to make a red or amber ale today, and you want it to sell you better but hops in it. Dawn of the red does just that, malt and hops give a heart drinkable beer that is more than just sweet. The label is very metal so yeah, try it.

Speaking of a total label buy, this one will crush in Richmond. This draft is nearly a year old and I just want to finish it and move on to something more recent. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Space Juice (Long Trail Brewing)

It seems that one the east coast the 16oz 4pk can is a sacred format. Heady topper at the helm, a tall boy of IPA better be worth it's salt. Lawson's liquids was able to keep to format, and recently the new hot brewery in Richmond, Virginia, the Veil has been cranking out some dynamite 4pks. As a whole the 4pk format has been on the decline, with breweries like green flash and dogfish transitioning all packaged beer to six packs. I attempt to follow most of my associated breweries on social media and have been wanting to get the offering from long trail since first spotted.
Long Trail from Bridgewater Corners, Vermont has been crafting beer since 1989. This year has supplied us with one of my favorite new beers of the year, Green Blaze. Green Blaze is a newer school  recipe IPA, pale in color, very floral, and refreshing. So the announcement of space juice left me anticipating another great IPA from these guys, but so far I have been disappointed. The $17 4pk of this double IPA taste of alcohol, and has that heavy malt bitterness and finish. I do have two beers left to try on another day. The dark caramel color should have been a warning of that malt that would be heading up the flavor department. So I strongly endorse green blaze and the mash project.