Friday, June 19, 2015

Hard Root Beer (Mission Brewing)

I was quite excited when this little jewel landed in my in box last Friday. The category of hard root beer has been flooding my social media but remained out of the Richmond market thus far. I thought it had been out of our market, but it seems Sprecher has been in market for some time. This company has been making non alcoholic soda and released a hard root beer some time in 2014 I am guessing by the BA notes. This beer has been in market and is riding the coat tales of the Not Your Fathers Root beer for the past few weeks in Richmond. If you look at the history, packaging and price point you have something to be suspicious about. This offering maybe 5% ABV, but what sort of balance has been stuck between flavor and sweetness. The thing I have heard about the not your fathers is how uncanny it is to just regular old barq's or A&W beer of root. If this thing snow balls it is going to make for a very interesting next year in the business. I have already heard that the big boys like Sam Adams are working on their own recipe. 
So Mission Brewery exists in the heart of San Diego. In my opinion this is the biggest dick swinging town in the US. The brewery success in this part of California doesn't come cheap. Mission claims to have started in 1913, and has gone though some changes. Being close to the Padre baseball park, Mission answered the call to provide something different to patrons. This hard root beer smells dead on, it pours flat, and the flavor is really good. I could not taste the 7.5% ABV at all. The spice assaults the tongue and hides the alcohol great. It really is not beer. It is more like a wine cooler, and will possibly be the more manly answer for the sissies that don't like beer. I can see big mixology coming out of these dranks.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Indra kunindra (Ballast point brewing)

Like I mentioned previously, Ballast Point is very on point and have several world class brews. Indra Kunindra is one that I passed on buying the first time around. The original bottles to hit distribution disappeared so quickly, I had to snag one second go round.
I went searching for the origin date of this beer, and came up empty handed. I am guessing by the ancient ballast point label on beer advocate that this beer is not new to market. That being said, was ballast point ahead of it's time with regards to this trend of beer transcending stylistic guidelines? Stouts have been done over and again, with coffee, chocolate, mint, and all sorts of additives. The pepper beers have been coming on more and more recently. We have even had two different breweries release Sriracha beers in the past year. The most recent beer that I think is going after a flavor so out of the box is Or Xata from Bruery. These beers are so easy to drink, they feel more like a malt that beer. The curry spice was not just hot, it added a nice flavor to leave you wanting more.

The reviews on this beer are not very good, and I think that is unfair. People this beer is what brewers are capable of if you give them a chance. You have to open your palette up and forget style guidelines. This is a clean beer with no horrible off flavors, that hides ABV like an old pro. Do not sit down and drink this with huge coffee stouts, or big IPAs and expect to fully appreciate the subtle flavors here. I promise I will step off my ballast point soap box now. 


Monday, June 15, 2015

Grunion (Ballast point brewing)

I will attempt to get back on the blogging train. The motivation to post these is due to the pictures sitting in my phone. I clean them out once I right the post, but more often than not more time passes and I can't think of anything to say about featured beer. Ballast Point Grunion is one amazing beers from a very strong and hot portfolio at my disposal. Why have you not seen this pale ale from ballast point? The words pale ale, have been over shadowed by the mighty IPA. Grunion is a beer that will make people a believer, make you question all you've been told about "good" beers.
For those that don't know, Ballast Point was born out of a dorm room at UCLA. College friends home brewing, became a supply shop, and eventually a brewery that opened in 1992. This brewery has grown out of San Diego to be one of the biggest west coast breweries around. They have lots of highly held beers in their portfolio, Victory at Sea, Sea Monster, Indra Kinundra, Wahoo Wheat, Grunion, and Sculpin with all it's variants. Beer aficionados in Richmond have been shelling out $16 - $18 for six packs for the past six months and there is little sign of slowing. 

So Grunion is a pale ale, which has become the smaller less interesting brother of IPAs, double IPAs and triple IPAs. The trend of session IPAs have also taken the steam out of pale ale's sails. This beer is a perfect blend of flavor and bitterness. Two new hop varieties blend to create a flavor that has great herbal flavor, with a back bone of caramel sweetness. This is listed as a limited release, so grab your if you see them. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Siracha Stout (Rogue Brewing)

In the spirit of my southern roots, I have grown into a fondness for spicy treats. I have become a fan of chicken wings, wasabi on sushi, and horse radish sauce. My first experience of Siracha was at a Cuban restaurant in my home town, Kuba Kuba, and I have been sort of intrigued ever since. Siracha is a delicate burn, but with very bland Cuban food it works great. If anyone would like to go to Kuba Kuba with me send me a message, my wife doesn't like it. 
Lays has produced a Siracha potato chip, and I feel like I have seen Siracha pajama pants at Wal-Mart. The idea of beers with heat has run the full range of experience, from the heat of a Twisted Pine ghost face killah to the sweet chipotle stouts. There is even a chili beer from cave creek that has actual habanero peppers in the bottle. Ballast point habanero sculpin has hit Richmond, and I am a huge fan. The beer is more than hot, it has green chili pepper flavor. 
Rogue Brewing is out of Oregon, and started off as a brew pub in 1987. They have since grown into a brewery that has a flagship line of beers, a organic rogue farm series, liquor distilleries, and they even make their own soda. The recent Voodoo doughnut beer series raised a lot of eye brows and left many wondering if they could pull of such wild flavors. I was a little concerned about what would shine through, but as you can tell by the head, this stout was full bodied. The mouth feel reminded me a little of Siracha. I didn't think the beer was hot, and my wife agreed. The packaging is amazing right down to the green crown. If you see some still around, and I know it still is. Pick one of these up and give it a try. You might like it.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

La Chouffe (Shuck and Chug)

This is my first post as a new employee of Specialty Beverage Virginia. Specialty is a craft beer house based out of Rockville Va. which is about 20 minute commute for me. I don't have to go to the warehouse daily, although my route goes from boulevard to Goochland Va. right past the warehouse. Specialty is a craft beer distributor, no budweiser, no heineken, no energy drinks, and no seagrams wine coolers. I will be selling such exciting national brands as Ballast Point, Green Flash, New Belgium, Terrapin, Six Point, Schlafly, and 21st Amendment to name a few. 

Whole Foods short pump is on my new route, and the growler king, Greg Self, has a reputation for being a leader in the Richmond craft beer scene. He has an appreciation for great brands that are commonly over looked. My first event at his account was a shuck and chug featuring La Chouffe. Shuck and chug is a Thursday event where they have dollar oysters, and beer specials. It also worked out that La Chouffe is property of Duvel USA, thus Stephen Tuzeneu's new passion. Stephen is also an Ex-Brown Distributing employee and long time acquaintance of Greg and Myself. See what I did there? La Chouffe was started in 1982, and set out to bring new beers to the world from Belgium. The stories of La Couffe, based around Gnomes making beer in the mountains of Belgium help create the same sort of mystic romance as say, a monk in a monastery? The three beers are La Chouffe, belgian blond, Houblon Chouffe, a triple IPA, and N'Ice Chouffe, the winter warmer. The Houblon is amazing, the hop notes are so clean. If you see this on draft get one!
So this is my new Ipad and my desk that afternoon. I have to admit my first beer was a habanero sculpin. I love that beer. Please excuse my finger in the picture. Later the rest of the team was there, and I began working on making connections with the guys that will be working with me. This event was a good time, and everyone left laughing and smiling. I think it was the La Chouffe song played on repeat, and people shopping in gnome hats. 

These oysters are soooo good. I like the salty ones. I look forward to this monthly happening.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sump (Perennial Artisan Ales)

So the day to day all the time beers that most breweries make money to pay the bills with occasionally need a little brand reminder. They produce a beer that is curl your toes, knock your socks off, call out of work, and spend your rent money on good? Depending on when you ask me, I may agree. The thing about the business that makes me giggle occasionally is the beers that go "behind the counter" due to limited availability. Sometimes a smaller distributor will get a beer that they are convinced is the tits that no one knows about. I have been guilty about having plead the 5th put behind the counter at a total wine and it takes 3 weeks for it to sell out, or even ends up on the shelf. Market hype is just not there for some of these beers, although in this case I feel hype is deserved.
Sump however is not a common, put it in the seasonal section beer. What the hell are you thinking? You have to leverage this shit however you can! I had been so good at not being an impulse buyer and only buying things I cannot live with out. I had even more recently passed on a chance to buy an abyss. I didn't pass on it a second time when my eyes caught that sump on a shelf. Total wine, what are you doing? I had to tease the local snobs on social media that didn't even know this beer was going to be so widely released in the market. I gotta admit I expected to have to fight for it.

So a moment of weakness I splurged on both of the dark dank beers that perked my interest last week. As I ticker I had to secure these for my OCD desire to drink all the beers, or at least all of the dark beers.

So like a real ambassador, self proclaimed, I broke this huge coffee stout out this past Sunday with my wife and family. The .45 caliber bottle opener was a gift from the family from young veterans brewing company in Virginia beach. This beer has the perfect coffee flavor. There was good bitterness, balanced with sweetness that wasn't overwhelming. I probably can not pull it off but I bet this barrel aged would give coffee bourbon county a run for it's money. This is a real beer nerds beer, well worth the hunt and price tag. The label is awesome and this brewery is top notch based on my experience with this beer, 17 mint stout, and the abraxas. They also do sours which is bold. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Mayan (The Ilkley Brewery)

I find myself tired of looking at the same beer from store to store when I am out shopping. I go to Food Lion locally and often breeze down the beer aisle hoping that something new has invaded the shelves. I am frequently disappointed. Even when I go to total wine or other chain stores it is normally a bunch of the same large craft beer names. Bells, Founders, Sierra Nevada, and the list goes on and on. When working I often talk to bottles shop folks and occasionally a silent sleeper is revealed to me. This beer was pointed out to me and was even reviewed as being better than prairie bomb, which I was doubtful of. I was interested in giving this a try though. I know nothing about it other than the style, chocolate chipotle stout (Mexican stout), which I am a huge fan of. Rate beer gives this beer high marks, and beer advocate, average. The odd 600ml size was a bit odd, and the near seven dollar price tag is not too taxing on the wallet. I was excited to try this recommendation and was hopeful it could stand up to the high praise it was given.
The store I was told about this beer carried this and one other beer from Ilkley brewing. The labels both looked very similar and I have been looking at this beer for quite some time before I purchased it. I had convinced myself this was a Mexican or south American offering but when I was met with the union jack on the bottle cap I was surprised. A English brewed Mexican inspired beer? This will be interesting. I split the bottle with my wife who doesn't like spicy, and she really enjoyed this beer. It is no prairie bomb but it is good, and available without postage year round. The spice note was not a lot of heat. It was more earthy pepper flavors. The body of the beer I wish was a bit thicker, and the syrupish chocolate was a let down. When I went to the Ilkley website it appears that they make a fair bit of cask ales, which makes sense after having this. It had a very similar mouth feel to a beer from cask. So yes it was fun, I would get this beer again.