Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tuppers' Hop Pocket Ale - It's Here!

We've been following the story of the eminent return of Tuppers' Hop Pocket Ale since late 2008. Well, that long-awaited day has finally arrived. The beer officially (re)debuted at the Hard Times Cafe in Bethesda last week. Greg Kitsock writes in The Washington Post about the event.
Last Tuesday night, Bob and his wife, Ellie, senior production editor for the American Society for Microbiology, were glad-handing customers at the Hard Times Cafe in Bethesda (their home town) and handing out logo glassware for the bar staff to fill with their eponymous Tuppers' Hop Pocket Ale.

The rollout marked the beer's first appearance in more than two years. The previous batch, notes Bob, rolled off the bottling line of the Old Dominion Brewing Co. on Nov. 30, 2007. Earlier that year, the Ashburn brewery had changed hands, and the new ownership balked at brewing the Tuppers' beer because it was time-consuming and expensive.

The Tuppers developed a near cult following for their beers in this region. Fans have been waiting for 2 years to be able to drink Hop Pocket Ale once again. I had a sample at the Northern Virginia BrewFest and it was every bit as good as I remember.

The production at St. George Brewing won't match the capacity previously brewed at Old Dominion Brewing Company, so it may be hard to find for awhile, especially as fans eagerly snatch up early stock. Keep an eye on the Tuppers' news site for updates on retailers and pubs where Hop Pocket Ale is available. Hopefully, I'll be able to do a full review on The Musings soon.

Read the complete Washington Post article here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Privatization of Virginia ABC Stores - The Next Round

It was a year ago when I brought you news of Senator Mark Obenshain's (R-Harrisonburg) proposal move Virginia's ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) stores to the private sector. Senator Obenshain's bill was subsequently killed in Committee.

Well, it's a new year. Virginia has new leadership and Gov. Bob McDonnell supports the idea as part of his transportation plan. Recently Gov. McDonnell was interviewed by The Governor explained the reasons for his support, and also let on to his preferences in wine (Pinot Grigio and White Zinfandel) and beer (Miller Lite).

And Governor, with all due respect, let's talk about your beer preferences. You can contact me via the links to the left.

Hat tip to Alexander D. Mitchell IV at Beer in Baltimore for the pointer to the video.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Virginia Wine Experience - The Secret's Out

Another Fredericksburg beer gem has been exposed. Tammy Tuck and Bruce Falconer, who cover craft beer for the Washington City Paper under the alias The Lagerheads, paid a visit to Fredericksburg recently. While here they discovered The Virginia Wine Experience. Despite the name, this shop in downtown Fredericksburg carries an unexpected selection of craft beer. The Lagerheads noted that the shop doesn't promote their beer selection very much. Virginia Wine Experience's proprietor, Edwin Wyant, does post occasional alerts to the FABTS mailing list letting local folks know of special beers he's acquired. He also hosts a beer tasting from time to time. Indeed, I have purchased beers in his store that don't show up at other local shops.

Now the Lagerheads have let the secret out. Read their review at Fredericksburg Find: The Virginia Wine Experience. They've also posted a few photos on the Lagerhead Facebook page.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Changes at Clipper City

There are changes afoot at Clipper City Brewing Company in Maryland. Considering that Clipper City's Heavy Seas beers are among my favorites, I've been remiss in mentioning the changes here. There has been some misinformation floating around, but Managing Partner Hugh Sisson posted all the correct details on his blog today. The changes are focused mainly on branding, although a few beers will be going on hiatus. In part, Hugh writes:
With this in mind, we are making big changes here at Clipper City Brewing Co. Effective February 1, “Oxford Organic Ales” will go on hiatus, and “Clipper City” as a brand will cease to exist.

The current economic environment has not been kind to “organics”. We just weren’t getting the traction we need to sustain our organic portfolio. While we still believe in the category and sincerely hope to re-enter this area down the road, we need to focus our efforts in other areas.

The beers that have been heretofore marketed under the “Clipper City” name will continue to be made – after all, they are all GABF medal winners and damn good beers! But the packaging will now show a different name with “Heavy Seas” as the brand.

So what happens now? “Heavy Seas” beers will now come in three “fleets”. The former “Clipper City” products, as well as any new offerings in the 4 to 5% alcohol range, will now be sold as the “Clipper Fleet” of Heavy Seas. Our 7 to 8% products – Loose Cannon et al – will now be sold as the “Pyrate Fleet” of Heavy Seas. And our bigger, more experimental offerings (usually higher than 8%) will now be exclusively in 22 ounce bottles as the “Mutiny Fleet.”

So there you have it. This is bold move for the brewery, but one that I think makes a lot of sense. I wish them well and look forward to continuing to enjoy Clipper City, er, Heavy Seas beer, no matter what the labels look like.

See Hugh's entire post here.