Monday, June 29, 2009

Former Old Dominion Brewers to Open New Brewery

As mentioned in the previous post, Matt Hagerman and Favio Garcia, both formerly of Old Dominion Brewing, have joined up to open a new brewery in Northern Virginia. The pair were at this weekend's Northern Virginia Summer Brewfest to promote their new venture. Here is the press release that was being distributed at the NOVA Brewfest.

Old Crew, New Brew
Local Brewmasters Team Up to Open M. A. Hagerman Brewing Company

Leesburg, Virginia, June 27, 2009 - Matt Hagerman and Favio Garcia, formerly brewers for Ashburn VA's Old Dominion Brewing Company are planning a fourth quarter 2009 opening of a new Brewery in Ashburn. M.A. Hagerman Brewing Company intends to build on the rich brewing tradition created by Old Dominion Brewing Company. "Our goal is to provide this supportive Northern Virginia and D.C. community with high quality craft beers that local beer lovers have come to expect from us," said Favio Garcia, Old Dominion's former Brewmaster. "We plan to produce high quality kegged and bottled beer, as well as Root Beer and other sodas."

The Company will house two distinct brands: Rhino Chasers™ Brewing Company and later, Catoctin Brewing Company. Hagerman and Garcia plan four different styles of beer under Rhino Chasers: a wheat beer (Under Toe Wheat), a pale ale (Riptide Pale Ale), an imperial India pale ale (Shark Tooth LPA), and a stout (Black Fin Stout). Catoctin Brewing Company will produce three core beers: a lager (Revolution), a red ale (Cardinal Red Ale), and an oak barrel aged stout (Dogwood Stout). The Company offerings also include a variety of seasonal 'limited releases' and sodas.

Rhino chasers are big wave surfers on a continuous journey for the next perfect wave. We, at M.A. Hagerman Brewing Company, are on a similar journey to create enjoyable beers while preserving the laid back and creative attitude of the Rhino Chaser surfer.

"The local community has been very supportive of a micro brewery in the area," said Hagerman, M.A. Hagerman Brewing Company's founder and President. "It has always been my aspiration to create high quality beer through a local, independent brewery." Hagerman and Garcia are in negotiations for a local space, and they are actively raising funding from local investors by selling company membership interests through a private placement offering.

Follow us online (coming soon!) at:

For more information about M.A. Hagerman Brewing Company contact:

Matthew Hagerman
M.A. Hagerman Brewing Company +1 703.727.9087

Exciting news indeed. These brewers have many friends and fans in the area who are undoubtably looking forward to the new brewery opening.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest

The Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest took place this weekend, June 27-29, in Leesburg, Virginia. I headed out to Leesburg Saturday morning to spend the afternoon at the festival. I arrived just as the gates were opening so I was able to make a tour around the grounds prior to the crowds arriving, to get a sense of what was available. My plan was to try out only beers that I had not had, or don't remember having, previously. The lone exception to that was Bill Madden's Wee Heavy that was the stealth beer being poured at the Vintage 50 tent. (It's just too good to pass up.) The Wee Heavy was my leadoff beer for the festival.

Next, I ran into "Dr. Joel" Armato from New Holland Brewing. Joel recommended that I try the New Holland Existential Ale. This big beer is a Barleywine or Double IPA, depending on who you ask. Plenty of citrus hops a big malt backbone. The alcohol level is noticeable, but really comes across as flavor, rather than a burn. Unfortunately Existential is not being bottled. I'll have to look for it on draft, or perhaps at the World Beer Festival - Richmond. The Existential might just qualify as my pick for my favorite beer of the festival.

Next up, Mountaineer Brewing Pale Ale, followed by 21st Amendment Brew Free! or Die IPA. The Mountaineer Pale Ale was a lightly hopped, drinkable ale. The 21st Amendment IPA was not as highly hopped as I had expected. Unfortunately, I also sensed a bit of sour, off-flavor in the sample, so I do want to try this again. (I understand the cans are now available locally.) I paired the IPA with a bowl of Chili Mac from Hard Time Café

I then moved on to a couple of very nice dark beers, the first being Williamsburg AleWerks Coffeehouse Stout. This a smooth, moderately light, stout with hints of roasted coffee and dark chocolate. I followed the stout with Sweetwater Chipotle Porter. The porter has a very enjoyable kick of pepper with a hint of smoke in the flavor.

As noted in a previous post, there were to be a number of fresh casks available at the festival. Unfortunately for my schedule, these weren't being tapped until later in the afternoon. I had to leave mid-afternoon for another engagement so I missed most of them. The first cask I saw tapped was Bell's Amber Ale. This was a pleasant, slightly sweet, red ale and refreshing in the midday sun.

After a break for some water and a rest in the shade, I headed over the the Allagash tent to see if their cask offering was available. It was not, so I opted for a glass of Allagash Four, and I wasn't disappointed. This dark brown Quadrupel gave off aromas of dark fruit and sweet malt. The flavor was more of the same, with a bit of citrus tartness in the finish. Certainly another high point of the festival.

I spied Bob Tupper over at the St. George Brewing tent and went over to say hello and have a taste of the new-again Tuppers' Hop Pocket Ale. There was a good sized crowd around the St. George tent as folks are very excited about the prospect of drinking the Tuppers' beers again. The beer being poured at the festival is from the initial, and only, batch of Hop Pocket Ale made at St. George so far. Bob and Ellie Tupper were joyfully getting feedback from folks on the new beer and there was a lot of "buzz" around the tent. I thought the Hop Pocket Ale was quite tasty and enjoyed the citrus and floral hop flavors and aromas. I'm very much looking forward to seeing this beer back on the store shelves. You can read the latest news about Tuppers' here.

Just as I was about to head out, I spotted Tom Cizauskas at the Clipper City tent hooking up their cask of Loose Cannon. I stopped to watch him work and hopefully get a chance to say hello. As soon as he finished that task, Tom was informed that the Flying Dog cask was not pouring properly. He grabbed his bag of tools and supplies and moved to the next tent. Quite quickly, the issue was solved and the beer flowed. Next, he was off to tap a fresh cask of Brooklyn Blast. I decided to delay my departure a bit as this was one of the beers I was looking forward to trying. Tom was a whirlwind of activity, and didn't slow down even as it was realized that a needed fitting was not on hand. No matter, out came the duct tape and someone proclaimed Tom "the McGyver of beer." In short order The Blast was flowing and I was treated to the first pour of this hoppy Double IPA. It was certainly worth the wait.

The festival wasn't only about the beers that that were being poured. There was plenty of news about things to come. Clipper City had 22 ounce bottles of their new Big DIPA on display. The first beer in the brewery's Heavy Seas Bomber Series will be appearing on shelves later this month. A new brewery with a display was Holy Brew Liquid Confession. They had six-packs of their two beers on hand, Heavenly Light and Purgatory Pilsner. However licensing details were not completed in time to allow sampling at the festival.

Finally, and this is may be the most exciting news of the festival, former Old Dominion brewers Matt Hagerman and Favio Garcia are opening M.A. Hagerman Brewing Company later this year in Ashburn, Virginia. They've purchased some of the Old Dominion brewhouse equipment and are currently looking for a suitable location. The Company will house two distinct brands: Rhino Chasers™ Brewing Company and later, Catoctin Brewing Company. I'll post more details about the M.A. Hagerman Brewing Company tomorrow.

The weather on Saturday was perfect. It got very warm later in the afternoon, but still quite pleasant for enjoying friends and fine beer. The Northern Virginia Brewfest is well-organized with numerous regional breweries in attendance. The crowds are large but the festival is laid out with plenty of room for everyone. The next festival will be in the Fall. Make plans to attend the Northern Virginia Brewfest, October 24-25.

I've posted some pictures from the event here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Garrett Oliver Book Signing at Wegmans

The "Garrett Oliver Tour" in Fredericksburg just keeps getting bigger and better. The Brooklyn Beer Dinner at Capital Ale House on June 30 sold out quickly. Capital Ale House then added a Beer and Cheese Tasting with Garrett, to take place right before the dinner. Tickets are still available for that event. I've just learned that, prior to the beer and cheese event, the Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster will be signing copies of his book, The Brewmaster's Table, at the new Fredericksburg Wegmans. The book signing will take place 4:30 - 6:30 PM on June 30.

Details on the Garrett Oliver Book signing at Wegmans here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Blue & Gray Brewery Closing, Temporarily

The move is on! The Blue & Gray Brewing Company will close its manufacturing and retail operations in their current location at 3321 Dill Smith Drive in Fredericksburg on Saturday, June 27th at 5pm. They will re-open at the new location, 3300 Dill Smith Drive, on Friday July 3rd for their "Value & Values Weekend". On Friday evening, July 3rd, the celebration, from 4-10pm, will include live entertainment, and an outdoor kitchen with a preview of the brewery's future pub food. They'll also have a pie-eating contest and a corn-shucking contest. The winner of each gets to eat and drink for free all day the next day during the 4th of July celebration.

More information on the celebratory events will be coming soon. You can also see some pictures and news of the brewery moving process at Blue & Gray's Facebook page.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest Update

Here's a way to make your day at the Summer Brewfest safer, and add to the fun at the same time. This information was posted this week at the Summer Brewfest web site.
Spanky’s Shenanigans has agreed to provide a shuttle service for the 2009 Northern Virginia Summer Brewfest between two Leesburg restaurants and Morven Park, site of the Summer Brewfest. Continuous shuttle service will operate between Spanky’s Shenanigans, 538 East Market St in Leesburg and Vintage 50 Restaurant and Brew Lounge, 50 Catoctin Circle NE in Leesburg to the Summer Brewfest at Morven Park. Plenty of parking is available at both Spanky’s and Vintage50.

Why not park at one of these restaurants and perhaps enjoy dinner after the festival?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Yes Fredericksburg, there is cask beer here

Craft beer fans in the area have been "teased" with the prospect of fresh cask beer at a couple of local pubs for some time now. Unfortunately, we've seen very few casks being served locally. In all fairness to the proprietors, the logistics required to prepare, properly store, and serve cask beer are complex. Wednesday evening I joined a friend for dinner at The Fredericksburg Pub. I made my usual query, "Anything on cask?" Imagine my surprise when the waitress replied "Yes, we just got something." She reached for her notes and said "Loose Cannon, Hop3." Wow! One of my favorite Clipper City beers, and on cask!

The Clipper City Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale was served cellar temperature, with a sticky one-inch foamy head. As soon as the beer reached the table I got a whiff of the citrus and floral hops. The taste was crisp and very citrusy. Despite the attractive head, the carbonation level in the beer was low, as it should be. I've had Loose Cannon on cask several times in the past, but this serving seemed exceptionally fine. I enjoyed the Loose Cannon with a Pub Burger, savoring the aroma of the beer as much as the flavor.

I don't know how long it will be before this beer runs out, but I'm hoping to get back to the Fredericksburg Pub for more very soon.

World Beer Festival - Richmond, VA

Yes, you read that correctly, the World Beer Festival is coming to Virginia! The newest addition to the WBF lineup will be held on Saturday, August 29, on Brown's Island in Richmond. Tickets go on sale in July. Watch the World Beer Fest Richmond page for details as they become available. I'll also post updates on the Musings.

I've attended the World Beer Festivals in both Durham and Raleigh and look forward to the Richmond venue very much.

Update, July 14: The Richmond festival has been postponed until Spring, 2010.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

$50,000 Beer Mug

I've written about expensive glassware in the past, but this golden beer mug pushes the envelope. It's (currently) valued at around $50,000. The company says the mug "enhances the drinker's experience." What beer would you put in a $50,000 mug?

From Reuters.

Blue Mountain Beer, Canned

Greg Kitsock has an interesting piece in today's Washington Post about the trend towards canned craft beers. He reports that Blue Mountain Brewery will start packaging their Full Nelson Pale Ale in cans next month. Kitsock gives a nice overview of craft beers currently available in cans. The article also discusses the misconceptions about "off" flavors imparted by cans.

I was tipped off about this article via a Twitter post from Tom Cizauskas.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Brooklyn Brewery Beer & Cheese Tasting at Capital Ale House

New event added! Because of the limited number of seats available, and the speed in which the upcoming Brooklyn Brewery Beer Dinner sold out, Capital Ale House has added a beer and cheese tasting with Garrett Oliver, to be held in the beer cellar at the Fredericksburg location. This newly added event will be held at 6:00PM, prior to the dinner, on June 30. The doors will open at 5:30. The cost is $25 per person and includes four beers and four cheeses.

Seating is very limited. You can purchase tickets for this event here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

2009 Summer Brewfest Breweries Posted

The participating brewery list for the 2009 Summer Brewfest is posted online. The festival will take place June 27-29 in Leesburg, VA. The organizers have plenty of treats lined up for us, including more than a dozen breweries new to the Summer Brewfest:
Virginia breweries participating for the first time include Legend Brewery (Richmond), The River Company Restaurant & Brewery (Radford) and Sweetwater Tavern (No VA).

Breweries from nearby states making their first appearance at the Summer Brewfest are Raven (Baltimore), River Horse (NJ), Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery (NC) and Bluegrass Brewing (KY).

From farther away, Michigan breweries Atwater, Celis and Founders will join Great Divide, Left Hand and Steamworks breweries from Colorado and Gordon Biersch, 21st Amendment and Anderson Valley will represent California.

Also new to the Summer Brewfest will be several cask offerings including Allagash, Brooklyn, Clipper City and Flying Dog breweries.

Over 60 breweries are scheduled to participate this year. Especially exciting is the possibility of at least four different cask offerings. I recall just a single cask offering last Summer, from Clipper City, so the expansion this year is noteworthy.

A complete list of participating breweries can be found here. Start planning now. See you there!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The End of Virginia Brewing Company

After a series of false starts, it appears the long awaited Virginia Brewing Company won't be opening after all. The brewery that had been planned for Winchester, VA is now strictly a live entertainment "nightclub." Discussions on DC-Beer indicate the loss of the head brewer a while back and "internal strife." That's sad news but not wholly unexpected given the lack of progress over the years, and the seemingly grandiose plans for the facility.

See all previous posts about Virginia Brewing Company here.

Update, July 13: Hmm, maybe not.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shooting Creek Brewery Community Supported Ales

Shooting Creek Brewery is putting the final touches on an online sales system that will allow customers to pick up orders at local retailers. From their recent newsletter:
Now let's talk about this CSA program (Community Supported Ales) we've been threatening to unleash on society. We're no longer in the talking stages. That's right, we've graduated to the next level. Right now our shopping cart is being built and will hopefully be integrated with the website in the next couple of weeks. This is going to allow our members to click on the product you want, and receive a delivery of ale at a designated drop site near you.

Each drop site will have its own manager who will be responsible for verifying I.D. and distributing orders to the members as they arrive during the specified time frame. Additionally, the drop site manager will be tasked with providing the location in which the beer will be stored and distributed. The main criteria for the site is that it needs to be enclosed and able to be secured in the event that someone fails to pick up their order. Drop site managers will be compensated with a rebate and an additional incentive will be offered should sales meet or exceed designated price.

I thought this was an interesting concept which will serve to put the beer into more hands. I contacted Shooting Creek Manager Jason Anderson for more details. Jason tells me that the drop sites themselves will not function as a retail establishments, but as designated areas for retail members to come and pick up their pre-purchased orders of ale. Shooting Creek still has some work to do on the system, but they are going to begin with about a half dozen sites. The distribution will be limited to their local area. (Remember, Shooting Creek is prohibited from on-site sales.) Unfortunately, Fredericksburg is too far away to be included in the CSA program.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Blue Mountain Brewery Expands Production

Nelson County Life brings us the news that Blue Mountain Brewery is preparing to double their production capacity.
It’s been a busy week already for the folks at Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton. They have been in the process of offloading a new tank that will double their draft and bottled beer distribution in stores and restaurants. “We just recently got to the momentous mark of having our draft and bottled beer in over 100 restaurants and stores across Virginia. This new tank is going to help us double that within a year,” Mandi Smack, co-owner of BMB tells us.

This is great news for Virginia craft beer fans. The folks at Blue Mountain brew some excellent beers and it's good to hear we'll be treated to greater availability.

Hat tip to Nelson County Life. See the complete article here, complete with pictures.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Session #28 - Think/Drink Globally

The 28th iteration of The Session is hosted by Brian Yaeger at Red, White, and Brew. The theme for this month is Think/Drink Globally.
So, in honor of Global Craft Beer Forever, I pose everyone writes about the farthest brewery (including brewpubs) you have visited and specifically the best beer you had there. Again, not your favorite or any old brewery you've been to, but the one that is the longest haul away, be it by airplane, car, ferry, rickshaw, whatever.

Well, for me, that's a simple assignment. I don't travel much, even for beer. However I am fortunate to be able to travel to Denver, CO on occasion for business. When I do, I make a point to visit the Great Divide Brewing Company and spend some time with the friendly folks at their Tap Room. Readers of the Musings know that I am a big fan of Great Divide beers. Picking any favorite beer is hard, but at Great Divide I would have to say it's the Hercules Double IPA. Double IPA is one of my favorite styles, and I especially enjoy this intensely hopped offering from Great Divide. Right from the start I enjoy the enticing aroma of citrus and malt. I often remark that I spend as much time with my nose in the glass as I do sipping. The flavor is strong, citrus hops with sufficient sweet malts to balance. This is a boldly flavored beer, but still nicely balanced. The finish is slightly bitter with a touch of alcohol warmth. Hercules is a beer to sip and linger over. Behind the big hop flavor lurks 9.1% ABV.

My evenings out in Denver typically start at the Great Divide Tap Room. I'll check out any limited or new beers they have on tap, but rarely fail to enjoy a Hercules while there. After a Hercules or two at the brewery, I'll begin my stroll to other Denver pubs and eateries such as Rock Bottom, Breckenridge, Falling Rock, to name a few.

Great Divide beers have only recently become once again available in Virginia. My local retailer didn't have Hercules when I last visited, but I will certainly pick some up if it appears. As far as the second part of the Session assignment, to drink and compare a similar beer, that will have to wait for a more appropriate time for a big DIPA than this Friday afternoon!

There are many points of interest in Denver for the beer enthusiast. Just reviewing my old posts about Denver and Great Divide has me yearning to make a return visit. You can read about some of those previous visits here.

Update, June 6: Brian has posted the Session roundup here.

Albert Sisson: R.I.P.

Albert Sisson, a pioneer in the Maryland craft beer scene has passed away. Thomas Cizuaskas at 'Yours For Good Fermentables' knew Mr. Sisson and posts this remembrance:
Appreciating Albert Sisson

Albert Sisson died yesterday evening.

In 1979, Albert opened the Sisson's Pub in Federal Hill district, then still known as Southeast Baltimore. Sisson's venture was a gamble; it was a neighborhood on the decline.

The pub thrived however and soon became part of the area's revitalization. It became a destination spot throughout the greater Baltimore area, especially prized for for its Creole cuisine.

His son, Hugh Sisson, added brewing equipment in 1989, making Sisson's the first post-Prohibition brewpub in Maryland (Virginia and DC, for that matter).

Hugh Sisson is the General Partner of the Clipper City Brewing Company.

If a measure of a man's wealth is the measure of his friends, Albert Sisson was an incalculably wealthy man. Many a patron became a friend, after Albert, wearing his trademark large suspenders, had served him a pint and swapped a tall tale.

The family will announce memorial details.

Our condolences go out to the Sisson family. For more information on the history of Sisson's Brewpub, see Tom Cizauskas' notes here.

The Big DIPA - Double IPA

Exciting news for Clipper City Brewing fans (check) and fans of big beers (check) in yesterday's Clipper City Brewing newsletter.
The Big DIPA - Double IPA

We're adding to the Heavy Seas fleet with bigger beers in bigger bottles!
Beginning late June - the NEW Heavy Seas Big DIPA a 10.6% Double IPA will be available in 22oz bottles in a very limited quantity. But the greatest treasure will be to find the Big DIPA on tap in your neighborhood as the number of kegs will be extremely limited.

The Big DIPA is part of the brewery's Heavy Seas Bomber Series. According the the Clipper City website, a new Heavy Seas 22oz Special Edition Series beer will be released each month through the end of 2009. The first beer in the series, Big DIPA, was unveiled at the Real Ale and BBQ Fest, held by Clipper City on May 16 at the brewery in Baltimore, MD. Tom Cizauskas has pictures from that event here.

It appears that a trip to Baltimore will be necessary for this Clipper City fan. I wouldn't want to miss getting my hands on some Big DIPA.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tapping an I.D.E.A. at Capital Ale House

Chris and Rachel from Capital Ale House recently visited Sierra Nevada Brewing in Chico, CA to take part in a "beer camp." While there they helped to brew I.D.E.A. - India Dark Elusive Ale. This limited beer was tapped Tuesday evening at all Capital Ale House locations as part of the weekly "Steal the Glass" night. I went down to CAH with two good friends so we could try out this one-of-a-kind beer.

I.D.E.A. pours a dark brown with a thin beige head. The aroma is roasted malt with a hint of citrus. The taste is roasted malt with some sweetness to balance. A lingering bitterness remains in the dry finish. Overall, I enjoyed this beer, as did others. Admittedly, I was looking forward more citrus hop flavors based on the pre-release notes on the beer. Despite that, it was certainly a pleasure to be able to try out this very limited beer. In addition to I.D.E.A., I treated myself to a draft of Tröegs Nugget Nectar. I only managed to pick up a few bottles of this favorite this year, so I was pleased that Capital Ale House still had it on tap.

BTW, there was some confusion on the part of the staff as to which Sierra Nevada glassware was to be used for the I.D.E.A., which explains the Summerfest glass shown at the left. After questioning, the bartender graciously swapped our shaker pints for the much nicer etched Sierra Nevada glass shown here.

The next "Steal the Glass" night will be June 9 featuring Boulder Beer.