Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Bravo (Firestone Walker Brewing)

Well another year older and deeper in debt. Last Wednesday night, I celebrated my birthday (March 2nd) the way I wanted to, in my garage with a good cigar and a beer. It was a wild day, one that was forecast to have crazy wind and rain storms. I originally was going to Total Wine to audit the store and pick up these supplies. They had lost power due to high winds and were closed, so I went down to Corks and Kegs instead. I was so surprised to see all of the highly limited Capt. Lawrence beer still on the shelf as well as left over boxes of Firestone Walker Bravo and Perennial Sump bottles. These sure are odd times in beer indeed, but in this case it worked out in my favor.
I am sure that Firestone Walker can weather the storm this year. They saw huge success with the Luponic Distortion series last year and will continue to roll those in 2017. The biggest change so far this year has been the down sizing of the reserve series package size from 22oz to 12oz bottles. You still get that swanky little box tho . . We also get a Va. brand rep fresh off Terrapin Brewing servitude as well as Leo Vs. Ursus, An unfiltered imperial IPA in 4pks 16oz cans. I see lots of Firestone IPA's in my future this year. Even Union Jack pricing has gone down to match Easy Jack.

Bravo is a brilliant way to ease the public into this new format. It is the first beer ever to wear the reserve series stamp, series 001. I know, barrel aged brown ale, who does that? Well Firestone does, and they do it really well. This beer is bright with the barrel character that you have come to love from all the other releases. This beer has the perfect amount of sweetness to pair with a large gage cigar. This is a beer that I sipped on for nearly 2 hours, from right out of the fridge to room temp (garage room) it was so smooth. I'm sure there are probably a few more of these around so pick it up if you see it, 

Friday, March 3, 2017

12% Imports

This is one of those posts where I took the pictures so long ago that I don't have much input about the beer itself. I do feel like these are under appreciated breweries and the beers go largely unnoticed for a number of reasons. These are all property of 12% imports, which is an importer, like a distributor inside of a distributor. They pulse their products into the market based on a pre sell system that make many customers uncomfortable, and see limited distribution. Its a shame these incredible breweries don't get wider spread brand recognition because they release some very good beers.

Off Color Brewing - Sparkles and Trouble - Chicago Illinois - http://www.offcolorbrewing.com/. Off Color produces very delicate beers mostly belgian or german influence, some wild fermented beer and added fermentables often to create unique combinations. I have reviewed Dino Smores before by them which I didn't particularly care for, but these saisons, farmhouse, and gose beers are top notch. So if you tire of IPA's and malt bombs pick up a saison from these guys.

Against the Grain - Coq De La Marche - Louisville Kentucky - http://www.atgbrewery.com/

Evil Twin Brewing - No Hero - Brooklyn New York - http://eviltwin.dk/

Walking Boston (The Trillium Stories)

So work sent me to Boston this past October to hang with Harpoon Brewery for their Octoberfest weekend. We were a small group of like minded adventurers that put up with me making them walk all over the city. Well I thought they didn't mind being on foot exploring but boy was I wrong.

So I am nearly 6 months removed from this trip but I wanted to put some words to the pictures on this draft. This was the first time I was able to get to Trillium and they were open. We bought one can of everything available and watched trash TV in the hotel. It was grey and rainy the weekend we were there. I get so annoyed with Uber tabs when I am stuck places with out a car.

So we through caution to the wind and drank from the plastic hotel cups. I really enjoyed all the beers and the trip in general. The soggy shrimp roll that I had the Saturday night before left was a big let down. I'm more and more in love with Boston. This jet blue credit card and the Bruins need to come back into my life soon.  

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.