Friday, August 1, 2014

Beer Camp (A Sierra Nevada Experience)


In the event you have been living under a rock Sierra Nevada embarked on a very ambitious and genius project this year. The fact that this many breweries participated and this program was done nationwide is a beer miracle. Beer camp last year was a flop of a variety pack, but this year with 12 different collaborations the hype was fierce with this one. The beer pictured about is the invitation, a 24oz double IPA, that is one of the best of that style I have ever had from Sierra. The invitation was sent out through distributors to invite beer drinkers to attend beer camp events across the Nation. The beer camp events have over 700 breweries participating that will pouring their own beers at the events. 

I will not attempt to sit down and drink all 13 beers in one day. I have to come up with a good drinking order. Due to the time it may take, possibly three weekends or better, I have elected to drink the hoppy beers first. I will narrate my journey as if it was a week at camp, like the one I worked at an enjoyed so much. I am very excited about this twelve pack because there are several breweries represented that do not make it to Virginia. 

Camp: Day One
Much like Charlie Bucket, I feel as if I got the golden ticket. As this series was released in Virginia it hit Northern Virginia and Richmond at about the same time. Retailers in northern Virginia looked at me like I was crazy, knowing very little about beer camp. Then I started to see pictures of the liquid invitation in Richmond, but nothing in northern Virginia. This beer was due out before the twelve packs!?
Much like the first day of camp, I was a hyper mess. I didn't know which way to look, or what I wanted to do first. I needed to talk with my fellow campers, beer drinkers, to help map my course through this exciting series. I opened the box, like unpacking, sorted through the ten bottles and two cans. I saw names like Ninkasi, Three Floyds, and Russian River, oh boy! What was going to be the stand out this summer? Well I have to say the liquid invitation was phenomenal, please if you are into this series find these bottles while they are still sort of fresh. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Batchelors Delight (Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery)

Normally in this crowd, you saw pirate party and we say fuck yes! Well it didn't work out for us to go in a huge group, dressed up as planned. I am still trying to figure out how the schedule to get the baby and life squared away so we can still do things. You know coordinate with other adults and enjoy each others company. Well between feedings, the wife and I ran out to Goochland for the festivities. We each had a beer, and I bought two bottles. If you want to get your hands on one I'm sure we can work out a trade. If you are going to the cabin weekend in October, this will be a part of the barrel aged extravaganza that weekend. 



I have taken the picture below or a very similar picture every time I have a beer at this place that I really enjoy. The third barrel release from Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, Batchelors Delight, was a delicious rum barrel aged quad. It was another home run, on the heels of despot and the barrel aged tripel. I am so happy for Lickinghole to be getting some beers bottled that people swarm to try and buy. The trading value of these bottles has quickly gone through the roof, good job boys and Lisa. If you have come to town and gone to all of the breweries right around the city limits, please take the time to get out to this beautiful property. I am a little tired of the drive at the moment, but I was prepared to head out there tomorrow to assist in the disc golf course construction. The plans for that have been temporarily put on hold. The county of Goochland or more likely some of the miserable citizens have shut it down.  
I guess a few tasting notes or opinions would be appropriate. It had a suede like mouth feel, that expressed slight heat, or alcohol burn. It was few easy to drink, and the flavor was balanced between the dark fruit of a Belgian quad and the spiced rum. Who ever taste tested this beer while aging nailed it. It was too hot in the field to really drink this all in, but by fall this beer is going to be perfect. Please do this beer and event again.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Gose (Westbrook Brewing Company)


You can always depend on, the kindness of strangers . . . . Or at least I was able to be cordial enough with a co-worker to receive the bad ass gift of this beer. If you aren't aware, I am not a big fan of the session IPA. I feel cheated by session IPAs. They are not as full in flavor and they are just as expensive as their full blown counter part. I racked my brain for what to drink this summer. I heard a podcast that reviewed Leipzig gose, the original from Germany. It just clicked, light, sour, salty and delicious at a extremely low serving temperature. I will hunt for the gose and try them all this summer. My next step was to figure out what was available in our market, so I did a search in total wine. Leipzig showed up, and Anderson Valley. No one had seen or taken delivery of these in years. . . . Shit!
After my revelation and disappointment, I returned to the warehouse determined to get a gose in my mouth. I cornered the unicorn and prodded him for information. I even suggested that maybe Strangeways or The Answer Brewpub make one. I found troublesome from pretty little things, then Anderson Valley released theirs, and a wine shop turned up some Leipzig bottles. Things were looking up, the pics of the Westbrook Gose began to assault my social media feeds. Then David Hetzel blessed me with a 6 pack which I shared. Shortly there after Stillwater released gose gone wild and Strangeways announced the release of wake me up before you gose. Westbrook was still my favorite, the fullest mouth feel, and flavor. I am still on the hunt for gose, if you have any not listed here send them on. 

To help with some of the dribble you may hear in regards to this beer.
Gueze = French word, Belgian beer, very tart and sour. Pronounced Gooooo-z
Gose = German word and beer, sour and salty. Pronounced Goes-A
It is an old German style brewed with salt water. It is a wheat beer with some lactic souring, and is spiced with coriander and hops. 
http://www.germanbeerinstitute.com/Gose.html


Monday, July 14, 2014

HA$H (Sweetwater Brewing Company)


I am not trying to deny the fact that IPA's and any beer that gets the majority of its flavor profile from hops should be consumed immediately. I had heard about this beer but the distributor to the north that handles Sweet Water had a hard time getting this into the market in a timely fashion. I finally found it though. I had seen reviews about how dank and hoppy this beer was and I was drooling at the opportunity.  Sweet Water beers have not been on my radar since the first time I had one, but I was curious to try this project. It was definitely an east coast IPA, but it pushed the limits of taste and time. 

East Coast IPA: An India Pale Ale that reflects the taste of beer drinkers on the east coast. Nose is normally piny, citrus or floral yet the malt finish of the beer is usually sweet. West Coast IPA's are generally dry in finish, not as sweet. Why does the style differ coast to coast? You got me jack  . .

I have a friend with family ties in the brewery that knew more about what was going on with this series. Hash is a play on words, here it represents the hop shake and its similar appearance to the shake left in a bag of weed. Well maybe not directly that but they had to be smooth with the name for label approval. Apparently someone at Sweet Water went to the hop supplier and noticed the cast aside tiny particles of hops. These tiny bits are usually discarded as not being worth the trouble. The sprinklings are any number of hops in unknown amounts which potentially could create unrepeatable greatness. Sounds like a bunch of shit to me from a consumer end, but for the business of making profits and marketing beer, genius. Look out for the next rendition http://sweetwaterbrew.com/

Friday, June 27, 2014

Beer Geek Breakfast (Mikkeller)

When you used untapped like I do, you are constantly on a search for unique beers to try. I have logged more beers than I care to share in this public forum, but surprisingly I have never had this beer. My recent fling with gypsy brewery evil twin led me to this beer. This is the original breakfast stout, this beer has fairly basic tasting notes. There are no dominant notes of coffee, chocolate, or vanilla. This beer is dark, and achieves this with lots of dark roasted malt. Take that tiny seed and heat it to the point of combustion, then stop and make a beer, the darkest beer. When I close my eyes and sip this beer I can taste that malt. I can feel it in my mouth. Those candy flavors that breweries amp up in current breakfast stouts are subtle. This beer is hopped, to the point if you drank it in line with black IPA's you might even think it was one. On it's own I think the hops play well with the bitterness from the malts, and takes the flavor to a grassy place. This is the most in depth tasting notes I have ever typed, sorry. I love this beer
These gypsy brewers have a different way of distributing which can make it difficult to get these beers at times. I have been told that these beers have to be pre-ordered sometimes as far out as six months before the release. One retailer joked that often the case shows up and he completely forgot he ordered it. I was told this beer was coming by three separate accounts, and none of them wound up getting a case. My hidden gem of a bottle shop, Grape and Bean Rosemont, in Alexandria had half a case waiting for me. So if you see it buy it, and if you consider yourself a beer geek and haven't had it? Shame on you. Check out the other Mikkeller products at http://mikkeller.dk/. Yes they appear to sell their beers online, the 50/50 eclipse BA series 12 bottles is $445.55! beware the conversion. Birthday March 2nd by the way. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Barrel Aging (3 Brothers Brewing)

It is with much embarrassment that I have to say that when I often think of the greatest Virginia breweries I forget about these guys. When we launched this brand in Richmond, there was a pin crawl at four bars in the fan area, of which I attended. I met the owners but I have not yet been to the brewery. I sent some Hoptimization to California in a trade a while back, as an example of a powerful east coast IPA. Three brother has also received much acclaim for their barrel aged stout, resolute, which I was late to the party for.
I was excited to see this other barrel aged selection from three brothers available about a month after I got my hands on my first resolute. I picked this beer up in Northern Virginia. It is just easier for me to get these things while at work. This beer was a medal winner at GABF, and although I do not typically have much patience for the Belgian esters, I was sure the rum barrels would dead'n that flavor. The sweetness in the rum paired well with the spice of the dubbel. I would even go as far as to say it highlighted the fruit undertones, and rounded out the flavor. There was very little alcohol heat in my opinion. I would not age this one. I don't think it would add anything. 

Now for this big bastard. I was very excited to finally experience this beer and it didn't disappoint. This has become a style of beer that I have a hard time passing up. Three brothers was not afraid to build this up as a huge offering. After the initial release and chatter about this beer, people gobbled them up quickly. These beers are squirreled away into cellars far and near. It was brought to three brothers attention and they market their barrel aged beers to the fans of collecting and cellaring. So get on over to the website, http://threebrosbrew.com/ or better yet, lets make plans to get out to the brewery. 

I had recently listened to a podcast called the beerist. I rather enjoy the humor and production value of this show, but when the sampled 6 free three brothers beers. I got a little defensive especially when two of the beers were said to be infected. One of the little turds even scored resolute as his least favorite beer, due to the lack of body? You really should do a little research into the brewers intent before you bash a man on his rendition of a style. I have a hard time believing that all of those in the havoc of resolute are wrong in their opinion of this great beer. Due to the 9 months of heat it Texas, pilsner is one of the most popularized styles. Maybe that lack of body leaves a narrow opinion of these darker ales. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Triple Cross Brewing (Brewery opening)


Pictured above is the sweet stout, element 79, single hop saison, and the falcon smash. 
Well I shit the bed on this post. I would hope that one day I could write a post with in a week of the experience. This brewery opened mid April and was the first of the breweries in Richmond to venture into the city since the closing of Richbrau. I went there opening weekend by myself and had a follow up visit with my in laws. The location of this brewery probably frustrates the hell out of people who have no comfort parking in or around the fan and city. There is very little on site parking available which instantly makes me want to ride a motorcycle here. The building itself, although appears small, seems to be thoughtfully planned to create a comfortable experience for the traffic expected. There is nothing hidden, the open floor plan exposes the public to all aspects of what a brewery does. There is also a nice deck that puts you outside but there isn't much too look at. I like the feeling of the cold brick inside, puts my mind at ease against the backdrop of the college and highway. 
I have been to the brewery three times so far. The most recent trip was for the Nectar and Knife IPA, which was everything I wanted. The beers of opening day included the sweet stout, element 79, single hop saison, and the falcon smash which crosses the board as far as offering something for all tastes. I liked the falcon smash the most, and am developing a waining relationship with sweet stouts. Overall I very much enjoyed myself and like the different feel that this brewery provides. I still need to get a 64oz growler from there. I hope this place keeps it simple and becomes a hidden gem amongst the insanity of the VCU machine. Check them out at http://triplecrossingbeer.com/