Sunday, February 14, 2016

Fourth meal (Bruery and Maine collab)

I have experienced more stress and have come to so many of life's important cross roads recently that I can barely deal with it. I am up for a promotion at work, we have sold our house, we have no house to move to, there is another baby on the way, and sweet sawyer is entering the terrible twos. We are attempting to put an offer on a house that is way bigger than what we need, but we are looking to shoot the moon here. We have roughly a week to find an acceptable house that we can close on in thirty days, or we will have to move into an apartment or in with my parents. It's Valentines day and of course I shit the bed on that too. 
This week saw nugget nectar, hopslam, hawaiian speedway stout, black tuesday, and fourthmeal hit the market. I rarely spring for the Bruery beers because of sticker shock but I trusted the reviews I have heard about this beer. I believe I only actually paid $11.59 for this beer. I'm not nearly the fan boy of maine beers but I know what to expect from them, clean beer. 

Belgian pale ales are a style widely hated by my collective beer friends. It has become a style that is too estery or lacks hop flavor. It seems like the love child of a marketing forward brewery attempting to take a little of the new and the old to create the greatest hybrid style ever. I feel that most of the ones I have had over the years are poorly balanced. I get the flavor from the Belgian yeast strain and it sucks. This beer does an excellent job of being a collaboration between Belgian and hops. It is well made but not hitting you over the head with flavor. This is truly a collaboration that will be missed once it is gone. I'm sure if it gets reprised next year it won't be as good. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

San Diego Visit (A Work Trip)

Never in my wildest dreams would I ever thought working for a beer wholesaler would have landed me a trip to San Diego. The trip was non stop, tons of fun, and was a great opportunity for me to bond with some of my coworkers. I will try my best to walk you through this with me but . . Beers, so many beers.
I left out of Richmond Saturday morning with two of my co-workers, and another two would meet is in CA, flying from Charlottesville. We had a layover in Atlanta, then onto San Diego, where we should have been united with fellow employees. Their plane had been delayed, and we were on our own to hit the town. I was already blown away by this point. We had left a seasonably chilly VA, and were now on the west coast. It was warm and the resort was full of the sound of children playing in the pool. We had plans on heading to Ballast Point in little Italy already so we just headed out early for that. It was packed, they had like 40 beers on tap, nearly half of which don't see distribution. I  would have been happy to sit there all night, we went on a failure of a walk about instead. 
The next morning we met Nick Flood (No shit his real name), our Green Flash tour guide, and our other two co-workers at the hotel bar to kick off the day of festivities. We headed off to Green Flash Cellar 3 first. It was quite the hike to get out there but it was nice to see some of the So-Cal landscape. We only see the occasional big bottle from cellar three in Virginia. This place had everything and lots of variants. It was super clean and not very busy. 

Pictured above is Nick Flood, in his backwards Green Flash hat. I appreciate that Green Flash didn't put their faithful through what the Bruery did with their wild fermentation program. This barrel house is dedicated souly to sour aging. The whiskey barrel aged beers like silva stout are still maintained at Green Flash. We went to Green Flash shortly after being here but didn't stay long, the talks of lunch got the crew plotting and scheming about how to break away and take advantage of being here.
I got very vocal about wanting to go to Pizza Port, so we did that for lunch. This place was amazing. They are a brew pub with five locations, and look at the beer selection. Their pizza is off the chain. Having lunch here also let the guys catch up on the status of their fantasy teams. I feel like we pretty much lost our escort at this point in the trip for saturday. We got back to the hotel, hung out for a bit. Then we went back to Ballast Point little Italy with the guys that just landed. Turnt up from there on out for events that included teaching craft beer in the hotel hot tub and walking around ocean beach.
Monday morning breakfast, and no one could drink their beer. I may or may not have ordered an Almanac Gose on the Green Flash tab. Food was great, but we were dragging ass. The original Alpine is pictured below is only a place to buy growlers and merchandise, so they built the pub, where we had lunch. The OG location was bad ass, and a testament to Alpine handle on all things hoppy. People flock to this dump for libations, barely leaving room to get down the street for the lack of parking. I was touched by the free hoodie I received that day. I have been to the holy land, and I got a gift better than a t-shirt.
So we had to be at the stadium pretty early. We got to go on the field and attempt to drink more beer. Tony Rawls managed to sneak of an get a selfie with Kendra Wilkenson!! I was so jealous, and elevated Rawls to a whole other level in my book. The game was cool. It's sad for San Diego that the chargers will probably be moving but the stadium was ancient. The steelers walked all over them, and the steelers fans were in attendance. 
Back in the streets afterwards naturally. Pretty crazy being from the east coast and thinking about us doing something after a monday night football game but we did. First we got some late night California tacos, pictured below. Then we went back to mission beach to drink with the Breckenridge rep on the beach. The beach was amazing. I can see how a man could get used to this. I wish I had thought to take an additional day off to stay a little longer. Andrew and I visited stone bright and early at the airport and back to the east coast we went, whomp whomp. I'll be back California, prepare yourself.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Marzen (Schlenkerla Brewery)

If you know me, you know that my favorite time of year is fall. The smell, the chill, the leaves changing, and the German drinking holidays. The St. Benedictine Octoberfest is an annual fund raiser at the school that happens every year. I have not been the past couple of year but will mark it on the calendar. 

When I worked at Brown, I could name every import that we carried. Now that I am at Specialty it isn't that easy. We distribute for B. United that has an import portfolio bigger than our core portfolio. It has been a real challenge to learn all of these brands, and some have a bit of seasonality to them. Schlenkerla is a B. United brand that we carry four or five SKU's from year round.

Rauch beers, or smoked beers are the German way of adding flavor to beers and keep with in the purity laws. Water is added to grain to encourage it to sprout, and once it has sprouted they dry or smoke the grain to stop at this point of growth. One practice was to layer the grain between moss, thus imparting some flavor. Schlenkerla does a bit of blending to express many degrees of smokiness. These beers are often described as a meal in a glass. It's like drinking a slab of bacon or rack of ribs. I have yet to try to Oak Smoke yet, this could be a long learning process.  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

There Gose the Neighborhood (Against the Grain Brewing)

My friend Josh and I went out to a neighborhood that has a great little place for beer last week. Saison Market in Jackson Ward has been getting so pretty big whale beers for sometime now. I have purchased the coffee jesus from evil twin, and I've even seen them receive a case of Bo & Luke from against the grain.

Saison Market is right behind Saison restaurant in historic Jackson Ward. Jackson Ward is a National Historic Landmark, known for being a predominant african american neighborhood. The machine that is VCU has brought so many new people to the area, the neighborhood is getting invaded by business and residential to support the influx. Saison Market resides in one of these repurposed buildings and retains the rustic charm of the ward. It was damn hot that night and this was not the right beer for the time.
There Gose the Neighborhood, by Against the Grain, is a salty wheat beer with roasted red peppers, cilantro, calmansi limes, and is fermented with brett. It was created by some culinary types that were shooting for a fancy cocktail type beer. The roasted peppers took over this beer. I didn't not taste any brett and didn't get any salty gose flavors. I wouldn't suggest this beer unless you are following on instagram #gimmeallthegose. 

I love that label art doe.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Gravity Check (Kern River Brewing)

Please consider this post a retraction to my previous stance about session IPA's. Over the past three years starting immediately after stout season, a new session IPA was released. I felt assaulted, cheated and even went as far as to boycott them. This is about the time I began my hunt to drink every gose I could get my hands on. I'm really assuming that my taste in IPA's has changed, and I have had quite a few IPA's from breweries this year that are better than the regular IPA. Exhibit A, 21st Amendment Down to Earth, much preferred over Brew Free or Die. Less malty, good hop aroma and flavor, more drinkable. I know this might be sacrilege but I also prefer Easy Jack over Union Jack, and on that note I'll move on.
So I had a request for some beers from some old and new trading partners. Despite my desire to spend that money one something like shipping, I figured what the hell it's been a long time since I have sent beer mail. I went for the gusto and sent my west coast compadres a 15 pack of All Day IPA. At the time of purchase, the beer was only 4 days old, and still brilliant. Stuart was quick to fire back a care package and I have to be honest my old habit of thinking of session as the lesser of the IPA's took over. I was pleasantly surprised by this beer. Gravity Check is a bright and lively IPA, and taste like any other fantastic IPA. I kept having to check the label in disbelief that it was a session IPA. Stuart I apologize for doubting your taste. This beer was fantastic.

Friday, August 21, 2015

BCTC (Ommegang Brewery)

The beards were packed tight in the sprinter. Three coolers, cooling and the mighty unicorn was taking us the Brewery Ommegang for a festival like I have never seen before. Three former brown distributing employees gone separate ways reunited for weekend of dig swinging drunkenness. 
This was the second weekend this month I have been on the road headed to New York. I have to admit the weather was a fantastic break from the humid VA. The brewery experience around Kueka Lake was a bit underwhelming but this festival promised to hurt. My only expectation was there would be a fantastic formal dinner with the perfect beer pairings. I anticipated a lot of bottle sharing going around the camp site, but I was under selling the magnitude of the event completely.

The 90's theme smacked you currently in the face at the front gate. The Jurassic park gate, the goosebumps themed programs, and the nickelodeon themed volunteer shirts are still hilarious. We got in just in time to jump into the cocktail hour and dinner. We dropped our shit and headed to food. 

Duvel big bottles everywhere, the first circus tent for dinner must have had a thousand people ready to get down. The lines for all of the appetizers were so long we chose to quickly flock to the pig table. The first course came rather quickly, and was fish. I chose not to risk my allergy, but it looked really tasty.

The meat stick, aka Scottish egg was a welcome sight and provides a fantastic greasy base for a weekend of drinking. We also had a meat pie that was a touch dry, pictured below. Everything for the dinner flowed so well, the service was perfect and the vibe was very positive. The moment a bottle was empty it was replaced, danger danger!

I was very tired, so I retreated to the camping area, set up my tent, and I went to bed. There were two different camping areas, one for industry folk, and one for the public. The tents were piled on top of one another. The next day I walked around to get the full magnitude of the festival. Jockey boxes as far as the eye could see. The picture below was right across from our general tent area. Dogfish just out of the frame to the left, left hand straight ahead, six point and harpoon to the right. The VIP tasting sessions started at 1:00 and ran until 9? The main tent dinner in was transformed into a giant pouring tent, and there was another one parallel right next to it. There must have been nearly 70 breweries trying to woo everyone. It didn't take long before my tongue was so dead from tasting. That final night the Meat Puppets played some of my favorite cuts from the 90's. 
This event is the standard for beer get together and well worth the cost of admission, although I paid nothing. I really enjoyed the camaraderie of hanging with beer business peers. We have swirled around in employment for a while, as you do, and can still get together and truly appreciate this drank's ability to unite.  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Desert beers (Terrapin Brewing Company)

Sometimes, in craft beer exploring, I just feel like trying something that is out of left field. Swirling and sipping different malt creations and combinations of hops can get taxing. I don't want really care if the proportion of hops are more mosaic or more cascade. These beers both hit our market at relatively the same time, and both are completely unique. When I posted pictures of each on Instagram, I had instant interest from trading people across the nation.

Please excuse the Michelob glass in the picture. I shared this with a friend at his lake house that is stocked with old glassware from our former employment at an AB wholesaler. Maggie's Blackberry Cobbler, is an imperial farmhouse ale with graham cracker and blackberry. The idea of a cobbler beer from the people that make wake and bake seems awesome but the choice of imperial farmhouse? That was completely lost on me. People asked me what I thought or how was it? I think it came out exactly as intended. Is there are larger production need for this beer? Probably not but I am grateful to occasionally enjoy the experimental labors of brewers like Terrapin. 
So you have made a peanut butter beer, and so have a few other people? Is it time to step up the little kid sandwich beer game? Absolutely. My opinion and answers to peoples questions about this beer is similar to that of the previous beer. The peanut butter flavor is familiar, tasting just like liquid bliss. The choice to use raspberry as the jelly was a brilliant brewing choice. It gives the finish a tartness that creates a fun complexity. I hope this beer pops up again when it is colder outside. I think the tart raspberry flavor actually helped make this dark beer more palatable for the summer season. Did I mention that both of these beers barely broke the $10 mark in the retail market? Keep it up Terrapin, and if all goes well I will be visiting for the hop harvest this fall.