Saturday, February 28, 2009

Update on Mad Fox Brewing

This week's Mad Fox Brewing Newsletter brings word that a location has been selected for Bill Madden's Mad Fox brewpub.
Mad Fox and Waterford Development executed a Letter of Intent on February 25, 2009 for 8,618 square feet of space for our first brewpub location at the Shops at Spectrum development at 444 West Broad Street, Falls Church, VA. Our anticipated opening is November, 2009. More to come very soon.

That's a coup for you folks in Falls Church!

Previous coverage of Mad Fox here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Local Breweries Make Good Showing at USBTC

The Winter session of the United States Beer Tasting Championship was completed recently. In the USBTC competition the beers are judged in regional field trials. The regional winners in each category then move on to a national judging to determine the Grand Champions.

In the Mid-Atlantic regional trials several Virginia breweries made good showings.

Barleywine: Grand Illumination, Williamsburg AleWerks, Williamsburg, VA
Porter: Legend Porter, Legend Brewing Company, Richmond, VA
Porter Honorable Mention: Washington’s Porter, Williamsburg AleWerks, Williamsburg, VA
Brown Ale Honorable Mention: Tavern Ale, Williamsburg AleWerks, Williamsburg, VA
Spice/Smoke Beer: Smoke-Out Rauch Beer, Starr Hill Brewing Company, Crozet, VA

Our friends in Maryland did well also.

Strong/Old Ale: Winter Storm, Clipper City Brewing, Baltimore, MD
Imperial Porter: Gonzo Imperial Porter, Flying Dog, Frederick, MD

Two of these regional winners went on to be named Grand Champions in their categories. Williamsburg AleWerks Grand Illumination won the Barleywine category. In the Imperial Porter category, Flying Gonzo Imperial Porter came out on top.

Congratulations to all the winners! I was happy to several old favorites in the winner's circle. Be sure to check out the complete results here to see how your favorite breweries did in the competition.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Choose Responsibility Featured On 60 Minutes

The CBS show 60 Minutes presented a segment on the 21 year-old legal drinking age this past Sunday. Choose Responsibility was featured prominently the report. This piece is sure to encourage much debate in the upcoming days. If anything, the segment illustrated the sort of ridiculous behavior that the current legal drinking age laws FAIL to prevent.

Be sure to visit the Choose Responsibility website for more information and to read responses to the 60 Minutes report.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Fredericksburg Pub

The Fredericksburg Pub opened at the Spotsylvania Town Centre in January, but I had been unable to visit until recently. I finally was able to do so this weekend. When our party arrived was prime time - Friday evening at about 7:00pm and there was quite a crowd present so we opted to take seats at the bar instead of waiting for a table. The massive bar sits mid-restaurant and has seating around the perimeter. We were immediately greeted and offered a beer menu, and told that if we had questions about a beer we were welcome to a free sample. The beer menu lists about two dozen beers. Bass, Boddingtons, Guinness, Fullers, Hoegaarden, Smithwick's, Young's, Bluegrass Brewing, Dogfish Head were among the breweries represented. There was also a bottle list that I did not peruse this evening. I noted that there was a listing for a rotating selection on cask, pulled from a beer engine, or hand pump. The current selection is from Bluegrass Brewing Company in Kentucky, and was described by the server as "a double-hopped IPA."

After first trying a sample of the BBC cask ale, I ordered and received the beer in a 10 ounce snifter. Citrus hops dominated but I found the flavor well-balanced. Carbonation was light, and it was served "cellar temperature." This was a high-alcohol beer and I savored it for quite a while.

I didn't order any food this evening, however my companions did. The fish and chips platter that Jerry ordered looked very appetizing. He informed me it was very tasty and I look forward to trying it out for myself soon. Another group at the bar ordered a platter of the house-made potato "chips" covered in a wonderfully smelling barbeque sauce. The food menu lists other English pub fare such as bangers and mash and shepherd's pie.

We sat at the bar for a couple of hours and never felt ignored. The bar was well-staffed and the servers were very prompt and friendly. I didn't see anyone waiting with an empty glass unless by choice. The staff is well-versed on the beers and were often heard making suggestions to patrons. The bar also offers a tasting flight of five beers of the patron's selection if one is really stumped.

The Fredericksburg Pub serves most of their beers in the proper brewery-logo glassware. Twenty ounce "pints" are the norm, although you can also order 10 ounce servings. The pub pours a selection of black and tans, and from my vantage point at the bar, it appeared that the black and tans were quite popular. The pub has some beers on nitrogen taps as well. I saw both Boddington's Pub Ale and Guiness served with nitrogen cascades of foam.

The Fredericksburg Pub is described as an "authentic English pub." While there are bound to be certain concessions for the American audience, the draft selection, proper pours, the dark wood and brass decor, and pub fare make for a fun atmosphere. The male servers wear kilts, and the female servers wear very short, mini-kilts. I'm not sure how "authentic" that is, but the establishment does have an English pub feel to it. It's also family-friendly, and there were quite a few families enjoying dinner in a non-smoking atmosphere. Good beer, tasty food, friendly and knowledgeable staff; that's a good reason for a repeat, and more extended, visit in the near future.

Previous posts about The Fredericksburg Pub:
More Cask Ale for Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg's Missing Cask Ale

Monday, February 16, 2009

Blue & Gray Stonewall's Reserve Stout

Stonewall's Reserve Stout is a very limited release from Blue & Gray Brewing Company. This special flavor was created by aging the brewery's Stonewall Stout in oak bourbon barrels. Barrel aging seems to be all the rage now, and I've tasted mixed results from plenty of breweries. However, I make it a point to try any new releases from Fredericksburg's hometown brewery so I picked up a growler when the beer was released last Friday. (BTW, now that Old Dominion is moving to Delaware, Blue & Gray could be considered Northern Virginia's hometown brewery.)

I served the beer to a group of friends we had at the house Sunday evening. The beer pours jet black with a thin brown head. Upon seeing the beer, the exclamations ranged from "ooh" to "eew". However, folks were soon commenting that it's "lighter" than it looks. The bourbon aroma is noticeable but not overwhelming. The aroma is balanced with some espresso notes. The taste follows suit. There are dark chocolate and espresso flavors along with the bourbon flavors imparted by the barrel aging. Mild bourbon and espresso bitterness linger in the aftertaste.

The Stonewall's Reserve Stout was a hit. The folks who tried it have beer preferences that run from hops to dark to macro-lager, and everyone enjoyed it. Simply put, this is a very nice beer. Only four kegs of the initial batch were made so if you want to try it, get over to the brewery soon. I spoke to Jeff at Blue & Gray today and he said the beer is proving very popular and he expects it will be gone by this weekend. Availability is via growler fills only. The good news is another batch is in the works and is expected to be ready around May 1.

Blue & Gray is experimenting with some of their other regular beers in order to create other "Reserve" releases. Besides barrel aging, the brewery will using dry hopping in upcoming beers. I'll be watching for more special beers from them soon.

Friday, February 13, 2009

30th Anniversary of the Blue Gray Breweriana Show

The largest breweriana show in the East celebrates its thirty-year anniversary this week. I stopped by the Blue Gray Show for a few hours Thursday evening. It seems as if every flat surface, horizontal or vertical, is covered with cans, bottles, glassware, signs, bottle openers, you name it. If it's related to beer or breweries, you'll see it here. I walked through about thirty guest rooms full of breweriana from private sellers and traders. The hotel lobby is also full of dealer tables. A few hours just isn't enough time to take it all in. Next year I think I'm going to have to make plans to actually stay at the hotel for a few days, even though the event is held right here in Fredericksburg.

I spent some time in the hospitality room where many kegs of beer are put on tap throughout the event. I enjoyed several samples of tasty beers, including a Pale Ale dry-hopped with East Kent Goldings - hand pulled from a real beer engine. This tasty treat was provided by Jeff Browning of the Bru Rm in New Haven, Connecticut. The hospitality room seemed like a good central place to run in to folks. And it was. I got to catch up with some old friends, and meet some new ones. Despite many email conversations I'd never had the pleasure of meeting, in-person, Jason Oliver from Devils Backbone Brewing. We finally hooked up and had a really nice conversation. Jason's very excited about the new brewpub and has many plans for fun events to look forward to. More to come on that. I was also very happy to run in to Blue Gray organizer Ray Johnson. Ray's been recovering from some health issues and it was great to see him looking so well. Ray said he's finally able to enjoy a bit of beer now and then. I also picked up some great news regarding the Fredericksburg area beer scene. I don't mean to be cloy, but watch this space in the coming months for more news.

It seemed as if the party was just getting started when I had to leave, but there's still plenty of time to get to the Blue Gray show this week. The event runs through Saturday. Your $10 registration fee gets you in to all of the trading room and displays, not to mention the beer tastings, on all days of the show. Perhaps I'll get back before it ends this year.

Update, February 14: The Free Lance-Star has coverage.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Blue Gray Breweriana Show Is This Week

Just a reminder, the Blue Gray Breweriana Show takes place this week. The show runs Wednesday, February 11 through Saturday, February 15, in Fredericksburg. This year marks the 30th Anniversary of "the biggest breweriana show in the East." In addition to loads of breweriana, there's a hospitality room that offers opportunities for tasting a wide variety of beers, including special brews sent in just for this event. I've got a busy schedule this week, but I hope to get by the show at least once.

See the Blue Gray Show web site for more details.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Session #24 - The Roundup

It was my privilege to to host the 24th running of The Session. The theme for this month was "A Tripel for Two". It was a blast reading the numerous contributions. I'm pleased that most folks took the theme to heart and shared their chosen Tripel with another. Without further ado, here's the roundup of Session #24.

Confirmed "malt-head" Brian Yaeger at Red, White and Brew, teamed up with his girl "Half Pint". They shared a bottle of the burbon barrel aged Allagash Curieux over a nice meal.

Tom and Carla at Hop Operatives chose a monk-theme. They selected two Tripels to enjoy; St. Bernardus from the abbey of the same name and Tripel Karmeliet from the Bosteel Brewery.

John Duffy, Dublin's Beer Nut extended the theme a bit and selected Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel. Though not a Belgian-style Tripel, this hoppy Belgian sounds delicious.

The team at kicked off their first Session post with a face-off between Unibroue La Fin du Monde and Koningshoeven (La Trappe), with no winner chosen.

Ray over at The Barley Blog chose a Tripel Trifecta for this Session. Koningshoeven (La Trappe) Tripel, Kasteel Tripel, and Gouden Carolus Tripel all made their way to Ray's tasting table with the Kasteel taking top honor.

J. Wilson at Brewvana expanded the theme into a "Tripel for Three" and shared two beers with three friends. The group enjoyed two domestic beers; New Belgium Trippel and Flying Dog Kerberos Tripel.

Al and Ron at Hop Talk also enjoyed Flying Dog Kerberos Tripel in celebration of Ron's birthday. They both contributed their detailed reviews. Be sure to read both the contribution from Al, and also from Ron.

Troy Burtch at Great Canadian Pubs and Beer didn't get to try his Tripel in advance of the Session, but let us know he was looking forward to Mill Street Betelgeuse.

Dan Conley and Ethan Cox of Beer-O-Vision selected Watou Tripel from Brouwerij St. Bernardus and Sly Fox Incubus. They put together a super video review for their Session contribution.

Mario at Brewed for Thought picked Piraat from Brouwerij Van Steenberge, a Belgian Strong Ale. He than ran with the "pirate" theme and enjoyed the beer with Jen. Aye Matey!

Session founder Stan Hieronymous posted his contribution at his Appellation Beer blog. Stan gave a brief history of the Tripel and reminisced about Captain Lawrence Xtra Gold.

Bionic Laura at Aran Brew is making plans to share Maredsous 10 with her husband. Laura's reminded that she's planning to brew a Belgian dubbel very soon.

Joe and Jasmine, the team at Beer at Joe's, were saved in their search for a Tripel to review by Jasmine's foresight. The pair enjoyed Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel. Besides a good beer, Jasmine enjoyed a rose along with the shared beer

Buttle opted for a "Triple Tripel" at his Buttle's Beer Blog. Maredous 10, St. Bernardus Watou Tripel, and Sprecher Abbey Triple were all enjoyed, but wisely not on the same night!

Matt chose Chimay Cinq Cents for his Session post at A World of Brews. Matt's been inspired to try more Belgian beers.

Brad at La Petite Brasserie went to the source and offers that what Tripel doesn't matter as much as where that Tripel is enjoyed. And for Brad the where is best when it's Belgium.

Jon Piper took advantage of a business trip for his post at Food, Beer, and Travel. Jon's theme was "Two Tripels on Two Nights in Two Countries Enjoyed by One". He enjoyed Tripel Karmeliet in Belgium and Westmalle Tripel at Delerium Cafe in Brussels.

Ted Duchesne opted for St. Bernardus Tripel at his Barleyvine blog. Ted thinks this beer would be a better choice for Valentine's Day than a glass of Champagne. I agree.

Over at PFIFF!, Rob DeNunzio minced no words letting us know he doesn't care for Tripels. He did find joy in Houblon Chouffe IPA Dobbelen Tripel, a beer that's proving popular among Session participants.

That's the Spirit writer Stephen Beaumont brought out a domestic Tripel, Long Strange Tripel from Boulevard Brewing. Stephen also broke out his special Westmalle chalice, usually reserved for Westmalle alone.

Another first-time Session contributor, Simon Johnson at the Reluctant Scooper, chose Southern Tier Tripel to share with his wife. The pair followed that with the collaborative Stone/Alesmith/Mikkeller Belgian Style Tripel.

Alan McLeod pulled out a Serafijn Tripel from Microbrouwerij Achilles for his post at A Good Beer Blog. Alan says his choice for the Session might cross the style guidelines, but doesn't pay that much mind. Ginger sugar cookies with your Tripel? That does sound good.

Westmalle Tripel was the choice for sharing at Legal Beer. The reference to enjoying a Tripel and riding a bike begs for more info.

At the Nectar of the Gods blog, this first time Session contributor also went the "Triple Triple" route and enjoyed three different Tripels from three different breweries; Westmalle Tripel, UniBroue La Fin Du Monde, and Allagash Tripel Reserve. Romantic plans for the evening quashed, our intrepid reviewer still provided detailed notes.

Jon Abernathy had to limit his sharing of a Tripel with the readers of his blog, The Brew Site. Like some others, he chose the New Belgium Trippel. One of the few Tripels to come in a six-pack, Jon's happy to have five more bottles to enjoy.

Thomas 'Tom' Cizauskas took the suggestion to "twitter" your Session review to heart. At Yours For Good Fermentables, Tom and a friend used Twitter to do a "live" review of Allagash Tripel Reserve, Batch #117.

Thomas Vincent treated his partner to a blind tasting between Flying Dog's Kerberos and the Maredsous Tripel for his contribution at Geistbear Brewing Blog. Thomas thinks the Flying Dog may have been at an unfair disadvantage.

The gents at Boak and Bailey's Beer Blog had a tough time finding a Tripel to review. Bailey hit a pub that was serving no Tripels. While offering doubt as to whether "Tripels exist as a style", Boak shared a similarly styled Fuller’s Vintage Ale with a good friend.

The indefatigable Jay Brooks enjoyed his Tripels in conjunction with San Francisco Beer Week. At Brookston Beer Bulletin, Jay gives his thoughts on two beers created specially for Strong Beer Month; Magnolia Tweezer Tripel and 21st Amendment Double Trippel. Jay also weighs in on the trouble with pigeonholing Belgian beers, something other contributors also noted.

Craig at Beers, Beers, Beers picked a beer that proved popular this Session, Allagash Tripel. The East Coast beer was a special treat the California resident. He shared his beer with Brittany, but couldn't coax any comment from her.

Captain Hops at Beer Haiku Daily had trouble getting to his beer for the Session. A set of haikus explains his frustrations.

Edmond Medina, who blogs at MMMM...Beer saw the Session as an opportunity to grow new fans of good beer. He introduced his guests to Koningshoeven Tripel. He wasn't totally successful, but it wasn't a total failure either.

My own post is here. Colleen and I shared a 2007 bottle of The Brewer's Art Green Peppercorn Tripel.

Whew! That's a lot of Tripel! Thirty-three blog posts by my count. I hope I haven't missed anyone. If your post isn't listed let me know in the comments below, or via email, so I can correct the oversight. In addition to the many blog posts, this edition of The Session was also taking place live on Twitter. Be sure to check out the account of the live tastings here.

The next edition of The Session will be March 6. The theme for Session #25 is Love Lager, and will be hosted by The Beer Nut.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Session #24 - A Tripel for a Two

This month's edition of The Session is hosted right here at Musings Over a Pint. You can read the original announcement here. This month we return to the Session roots and discuss a specific beer. I chose the theme "A Tripel for Two". What Tripel would you pick to share with that good friend, family member, or lover? I noted that there are bonus points for including comments from the person with whom you share the tripel. I'm looking forward to reading the contributions.

I selected The Brewer's Art Green Peppercorn Tripel for this Session. I reviewed Green Peppercorn Tripel back in November 2007 when The Brewer's Art first bottled it. In the past few weeks another batch of this beer was released by the Baltimore brewery. However, I still had a bottle from 2007 stored away and decided now was a good time to open it. So Colleen and I settled down on a recent evening to see how the beer had held up.

But before we could do that, I needed to get the cork out of the bottle. This puppy was in there to stay. After several minutes of twisting and rocking, it was apparent the cork was giving no quarter. I finally resorted to a corkscrew. An easy pour produced two thistle glasses full of frothy white foam. Several incremental pours later, we sat down to enjoy the fruits of the opening struggle. Green Peppercorn Tripel exhibits a bright straw color. It's an active beer with copious bubbles continually rising from the bottom. The beer has a mild yeasty aroma with just a hint of fruit. The flavor is very crisp, with a mild spiciness. As the beer warms some citrus hops come out. The finish is dry, and the yeast and spice notes leave a lingering presence. There's no overpowering flavors in this, just a nice easy drinking, and refreshing, beer. We enjoyed this Tripel in front of a fire, but it would be excellent on a warm summer evening too. If I have the opportunity to pick up any of this year's release, I'll definitely put a bottle or two away for 2010.

And now Colleen's take on the beer...
When we decided to have our shared tripel experience for this month's Session, I was glad to share a beer with David. However, when he selected the Green Peppercorn Tripel, I felt a small twinge of concern. When we had it right after we got it a couple of years ago, I recall it as having a bit too much of a bite. Thankfully, as with many of life's finest things, it has aged well. I was very pleased with its matured flavor.

It has a lovely clear golden color ~ almost like a bright apple cider. It pours with a large billowy head, very soft through which to drink. The carbonation is lively and continues well through the whole drinking experience. There is a nice spicy smell and taste. I detected some pleasant yeast fragrance and flavor which complimented the spice nicely. I was not able to detect a hard alcohol bite, however, it comes in at 9.2% ABV. It was a pleasant end to a hectic day. Now I wish we had another aged Green Peppercorn Tripel to enjoy on another cool evening. Perhaps we can stock up a few bottles for a few years down the road.

David again...
It was fun to share the aged Green Peppercorn Tripel, and the review, with my wife. We share many good beers, so maybe there are more joint posts in our future!

By the way, there's more to this Session that just blog posts! Even if you are not a beer blogger, you can contribute to this edition of The Session. Alan at A Good Beer Blog has suggested an alternative way to join in the fun of The Session. Bloggers and non-bloggers alike can participate "live" via Twitter. See Alan's detailed directions for participating. Prior plans won't allow me to participate in the live Twitter tasting, but I'll be sure to check out the entries later. You can follow today's Session-related Twitter posts here.

Bloggers, you can leave a link to your blog posts in the comments below or send an email letting me know. I'll post a summary after the weekend. Cheers!

Update, February 9: I've posted the roundup off all the Session contributions here.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

New Belgium Arrives in the East

Readers will recall my surprise at finding New Belgium Fat Tire being poured at the World Beer Festival in Durham last Fall. I noted that when I inquired about this incongruity, the reply was "Wait 90 days." Well, according to a press release posted at BeerAdvocate, the wishes of New Belgium Brewing fans are about to come true:
Fort Collins, CO - February 3, 2009 - New Belgium Brewing, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale, is happy to announce that it's entering Tar Heel country. Beginning March 2, 22-ounce bombers of Fat Tire, 1554 and Mothership Wit will become available at grocers and beer and wine shops in Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, Asheville and Wilmington. By mid-April these same beers will be pouring in select bars.

"North Carolina is exciting for us as it marks our first foray along the eastern seaboard," said Bryan Simpson, spokesperson from New Belgium. "We're looking forward to engaging in a new community and getting our beers in front of North Carolina's savvy beer-drinking crowd."

This is exciting news for the East Coast. I can only hope that Virginia distribution is not far behind.

See the entire BeerAdvocate posting here.

Dogfish Head Beer & Cheese Tasting

Capital Ale House in Fredericksburg held a Dogfish Head Beer & Cheese Tasting Wednesday evening. Devin Arloski of Dogfish Head Brewery, and Jacab Brunow, Director of Beverage Operations for Capital Ale House, were the hosts for the evening. Five Dogfish Head beers were paired with 5 cheeses.

The Menu
  • Dogfish Head India Brown Ale with Smoked Gouda

  • Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre with Stilton

  • Dogfish Head Red and White with Maytag Blue Cheese

  • Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA and Aged Sharp Cheddar

  • Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron and Grand Crew Reserve Gruyere

During the hour long tasting, Devin shared details about the beers and their history, along with many interesting tidbits about Dogfish Head Brewery. About twelve folks attended the informative tasting. This is the second beer and cheese event at the Fredericksburg Capital Ale House. The events are not highly publicized, yet. Jacob tells me they want to be sure they have everything running smoothly before more widely publicizing them. Similar events at the Midlothian location can draw 50 or people. Of course, there is something to be said for the intimacy of the smaller audience.

Jacob says there are many more beer events in the works for the Fredericksburg location. Watch the Capital Ale House events page and this blog for more information as it becomes available.

A few pictures from the Dogfish Head Beer & Cheese Tasting here.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Real News About Tuppers Beers

The Tuppers' website was updated on February 1 with some exciting news. A new Tuppers' beer, and significant progress towards a return of Tuppers' beers. From the website:
New Beer from Tuppers!

No, this isn't the big story you've been waiting for, but it is about the first Tuppers' beer in over a year. On January 31, we traveled to Roseland, Virginia, to the Devils Backbone Brewery to brew a beer with Jason Oliver. We're calling it "Tuppers' Deep Pockets" (because in these hard times we all need deep pockets) and it will be available for a very few special occasions in the DC area. It will also be on tap at Devils Backbone.

We made the beer with a variety of barley malts with just a touch of wheat and what we officially measured out to be "a whole bunch" of hops. Jason drove through last week's ice storm to procure our signature Mount Hood Hops and a local farmer just happened to drop of a variety of local whole hops on the morning we brewed. Much of the hop profile is similar to the original Hop Pocket Ale -- some Cascades, lots of Mount Hoods, and Willamette but we added some Amarillo to put just a bit of a different spin on it. We used the whole flower mix in the whirlpool and we'll dry hop it with Mount Hood hops in the fermenter.

The Tuppers also posted news that they are awaiting Federal approval of licenses that will allow them to contract brew their beers at more than one brewery. They are working with a couple of breweries in order to bring back Tuppers' beers. They expect to be brewing in "about no more than a month or two."

Be sure to visit the Tuppers' Beer news page for all the details, and for photos from the Deep Pockets brewing day.

I was alerted to this news by a posting to DC-Beer.

Update, March 6: Agreement announced.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Blue & Gray Chocolate Raspberry Stout

Chocolate Raspberry Stout is Blue & Gray Brewing's contribution to the Valentine's Day celebration. Doesn't every holiday deserve a beer? The label shows Cupid bearing a raspberry and chocolate-laden arrow. I wouldn't want to offend Cupid by drinking this alone, so Colleen and I shared a bottle recently on a cool Winter evening.

Blue & Gray Chocolate Raspberry Stout is a perfectly opaque, black beer. The thick mocha-brown head builds quickly and rapidly drops. There's a faint berry-like fruit in the aroma, along with a hint of dark chocolate. The raspberry flavors come out stronger in the taste. Initially they are nearly masked by the bitter espresso flavors. As the beer warms the sweet fruit comes on stronger but the dominant flavor remains espresso and dark chocolate. The finish is lingering, and exhibits a good balance between sweet fruit and bitterness. The mouthfeel is thick and highly carbonated.

I'm not a big fruit-beer fan and I struggled a bit with the berry aroma and flavors. Although not the same as a typical fruit beer, the raspberry flavors detracted from my enjoyment of the beer. I am reminded of dark chocolate candy flavored with fruit juice. For my tastes, chocolate should not be adulterated with other flavors. (And don't even get me started about mint chocolate ice cream.) But that's me, this is a popular beer for Blue & Gray. In fact, when I first went by the brewery to pick up the beer, the first bottling run was sold out and I had to go back later in order to pick up a few bottles. If you are local to Fredericksburg, the brewery will even deliver a "beer gram" with Chocolate Raspberry Stout to your Valentine in time for the holiday.

Blue & Gray Chocolate Raspberry Stout is usually available through February so you still have time to try it for yourself.

January Giveaway Winner

Thirty-five folks posted a total of 55 comments and were entered in the January Giveaway sponsored by the Thomas Hooker Brewing Company. The randomly selected winner is Edmond Medina of Richmond, VA. Congratulations to Edmond! Edmond also happens to have a beer-related blog here.

Thanks go out to Thomas Hooker Brewing for generously sponsoring the giveaway. A lot of folks were excited at the chance to get some Hooker swag. You can visit Thomas Hooker on the web and also follow them on Twitter.

Thanks to all who participated. We'll do it again soon!