Friday, July 31, 2009

Holy Brew on Jerry Doyle's Radio Show

We were first introduced to Holy Brew Brewing Company at the Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest in June. On Thursday, Holy Brew founder Scott Kasper was interviewed on the Jerry Doyle show. Scott spoke on a number of topics, including how the name Holy Brew come about, contract brewing, the company's progress so far and plans for the future, and even some thoughts on the recent "beer summit" at the White House.

It's a interesting interview. You can listen here.
(There's a small recording gap near the beginning - hold on, the audio will continue after a short pause.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Good News for West Virginia

Our neighbors in West Virginia should soon be seeing an expanded craft beer selection on their retailers' shelves. The Charleston Gazette reports that in just three weeks since a new state law allowing higher alcohol craft beers to be sold in West Virginia went into effect, steps are being taken to bring the newly permitted beers into the state.
Since then, the state Alcohol Beverage Control Administration has approved for sale 54 beers with higher alcohol levels, from eight different breweries or distributors, according to ABCA beer administrator Cindy Clark.

Approved labels include such items as Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA, at 10.05 percent alcohol; Samuel Smith's Yorkshire Stingo Ale (8 percent); Trappistes Rochefort 10 Belgian Ale (11.3 percent); Rogue Double Dead Guy Ale (8.43 percent); Samuel Adams Imperial White (10.3 percent); Great Lakes Brewing Blackout Stout (9 percent); and Nosferatu Stock Ale (8 percent).

The new law, which the West Virginia Beer Wholesalers Association had tried to block, raises the allowable ABV level for beers sold in West Virginia from 6 percent to 12 percent. Of course, approval doesn't mean these beers will instantly show up on store shelves. It's up to distributors to carry the beers, and retailers to stock them. But that's good progress in three weeks, and hopefully the beers will start showing up this Fall.

So, to all you craft beer fans in West Virginia I say: Cheers!

I was alerted to the Charleston Gazette story by a Twitter post from our friends over at

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dogfish Head Alehouse

This weekend I finally had the opportunity to visit the Dogfish Head Alehouse in Falls Church, VA. Our party arrived at the restaurant mid-afternoon Sunday, and had the place almost to ourselves. We were promptly greeted, but needed some time to decide on our selections as most of the year-round, along with seasonal and special DFH releases, are available. I've previously had, or have easy access to, most of the Dogfish lineup, but had never had the 75 Minute IPA. This is said to be a blend of the 60 and 90 Minutes IPAs. I understand it is only available at the DFH restaurants or the brewpub, so it seemed my logical choice.

I was very happy with my choice. I fact, I was surprised just how good was, perhaps being a bit skeptical beforehand about this blended beer. The beer poured a golden amber with a small head. The aroma was mild but the flavor was quite enjoyable. There's a bit more hoppiness than one finds in the 60 Minute IPA, but it's not as bitter as the 90 Minute, which is one of my favorite Dogfish beers. A friend who was with us is very particular (yea, that's the word) about beer and there are limited beers he enjoys. (Our running joke is that the beer has to be "seasonal and expensive".) He was enjoying a Dogfish Aprihop but tried a bit of the 75 Minute and declared "that's good." I neglected to ask if the 75 Minute is mixed from the tap or if it is kegged already blended. But that gives me a reason to go back for more research. I had a taste of Colleen's Aprihop and found the draft version to be a bit more balanced, with a milder, less sweet flavor than I recall from the bottled version.

Everyone in our party subscribes to the idea of three basic food groups; "meat", "potatoes", and of course, "meat and potatoes". As such we all opted for burger and fries for our late lunch. While we waited, we shared a plate of Alehouse Wings. Wow, these suckers were hot. Both heat hot from the cooking, and spicy hot as well. Must be a ploy to sell more beer! Our son finished off the platter asking "Anyone want the last wing?" Of course, he gave us little time to reply! My Portobello Gorgonzola Burger arrived promptly and was accompanied by a side of fries. The burgers were quite tasty, with just a hint of wood grill smokiness underneath the portobello and gorgonzola toppings. The fries were a hit as well. The thin cut fries were cooked to a crispy crunchy outside. We debated whether or not there was some sort of additional coating on the fries.

There were other stops on our agenda that afternoon, or I could have easily stayed longer and enjoyed more of the Dogfish Head draft selections. I look forward to returning the next time I am in Northern Virginia.

BTW, while in Northern Virginia, I stopped in at Norm's Beer & Wine in Vienna to pick up a few bottles of Clipper City Big DIPA. I'm told that Norm's is one of the few stores in NoVa to get this limited release. I look forward to trying it out and sharing that review with you in the near future.

Update, August 22: That Big DIPA review is here.

Friday, July 24, 2009

iPhone apps to help find good beer

I admit it, I'm an unabashed iPhone fan. When I can combine my passion for good beer with that interest, well, it's good. Not too long ago I told you about AleBoards. AleBoards is an application that lets you view the current beer chalkboards at the two Dogfish Head restaurants. This week I learned about two more free apps for the iPhone to assist in your search for good beer.

The first is from COOP Ale Works in Oklahoma City. The COOP Ale Works application will locate all locations serving COOP beers within a 100 mile radius of your current location. In addition, using the iPhone built-in GPS, you can get driving directions to those locations. The application also provides a catalogue of COOP Ale Works beers with descriptions. Download the COOP Ale Works application here.

The next application is from Rattle 'N' Hum Bar in New York City. Rattle 'N' Hum is a craft beer bar with an extensive, and frequently changing beer menu. The Rattle N Hum Mobile App allows you to browse the up-to-date draft, cask, and bottle selections at the bar, complete with prices. In addition, there's a list of upcoming events, along with links to call the bar and to get driving directions. At the time I reviewed the application, Rattle N Hum was listing six different cask beers! (I'm almost salivating on my phone.) You can download the Rattle N Hum Mobile App here.

Neither of these applications are directly useful to me in Fredericksburg, as I'm located too far away from these two establishments. However, the concept of being able to peruse the beer menu before arriving at the pub, or even while I'm at the bar, is very intriguing. Perhaps my local beer bars and/or breweries will soon create similar applications to assist their local fans.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Yet Another Brooklyn Beer Dinner in Fredericksburg

This time, Brooklyn Brewery representative Jason Gavin will be presenting at the Kenmore Inn in Fredericksburg on July 29. This will be a four-course dinner featuring five Brooklyn beers.

Reception Beer: Brooklyn Lager

First Course: Grilled Watermelon Salad with chipotle maple vinaigrette paired with Brooklyner Weisse.

Second Course: Amaretto Shrimp Saute Shrimp lightly dredged in flour, sauteed and finished with amaretto cream and fresh mint paired with Brooklyn Local 1.

Third Course: Glazed Pork Tenderloin Pork tenderloin pan seared and finished with an apple pomegranate glaze, served over rice and a vegetable medley paired with Brooklyn Brown Ale.

Fourth Course: Vanilla Cake Topped with roasted peach and blueberry compote, whipped cream, and fresh mint paired with Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout 2008.

The cost of the dinner is $45.00 and the event begins at 6:30PM. For information and reservations call 540-371-7622 or email

Friday, July 17, 2009

More 'Meet the Brewer' Opportunities

While we're quite fond of all of our local Virginia breweries and brewers, it's also a thrill to welcome brewers from distant states when they visit Virginia. Just a few weeks ago we got to meet Garrett Oliver at a Brooklyn Brewery beer dinner right here in Fredericksburg. And now, here are two more opportunities to meet brewers from distant states.

On Sunday, July 19, Patrick Rue from The Bruery in Orange County, CA will be visiting Mekong Restaurant in Richmond, VA. The Bruery's beers are new to Virginia and here's an opportunity to try out a few of them and meet Patrick as well. Restaurant owner An Meking says Patrick will be sharing his Orchard White, Black Orchard, Saison Rue and Trade Wind Triple beers. Contact the restaurant for more information.

On Wednesday, August 12, Allagash Brewing of Portland, ME will be featured at a beer dinner at the downtown Richmond Capital Ale House. Allagash head brewer and owner Rob Tod will be there to present an array of Allagash beers, expertly paired with delicious foods. Allagash specializes in bottle conditioned, Belgian-style beers. The $75 ticket price includes six beers (some of which have never been seen in Richmond), five courses, tax, gratuity, and souvenir glass. Online ticket information can be found here.

I'm checking my schedule now.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

World Beer Festival Richmond Postponed

I received a call this afternoon from Daniel Bradford of All About Beer magazine letting me know that the Richmond World Beer Fest is unfortunately being postponed until the Spring. The organizers felt that the plans for the new venue were progressing too slowly to be completed in time. Daniel assured me they are still looking forward to putting on the Richmond festival.

All About Beer Magazine sent out this press release this afternoon.
World Beer Festival Richmond Moves to Spring, 2010

Durham, NC — All About Beer Magazine announced today that the World Beer Festival scheduled for August 29 in Richmond will be held instead in the spring of 2010.

The World Beer Festivals have been held annually in Durham, NC for 14 years; Raleigh, NC for five years; and Columbia, SC for one year. Richmond, with its thriving beer community, will be the fourth city to host the event, which brings together several thousand beer lovers for an opportunity to sample a wide range of beers in a safe and enjoyable setting.

“We are committed to putting on a world-class event,” said Daniel Bradford, producer of the festival and publisher of All About Beer Magazine. “Some of the preparations are taking longer than expected, and we need more time to ensure that the World Beer Festival Richmond meets its potential. The Richmond beer community is knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and the World Beer Festival has a unique role to play in enhancing that community.”

“The World Beer Festivals are complex events that reflect our mission of educating and entertaining beer drinkers about the beauty and diversity of beer,” said Bradford. “The unique quality of the festivals spring from a commitment to detail, so that everyone attending—the consumers, the brewers, and the volunteers—leaves the festival enriched.”

The date of the spring event will be announced as soon as possible. The World Beer Festival staff will work closely with partners in Richmond to transition to the new date and make certain all the parties have ample time to plan.

Disappointing news to be sure, but we'll look forward to the World Beer Fest coming to Richmond in the Spring of 2010. Meanwhile, I'm making plans to attend WBF Durham in October.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Virginia Brewing Company, not quite dead after all

Recently I reported on the demise of the Virginia Brewing Company. After several false starts, all indications were that VBC would not be opening as planned. However, like the mythical Phoenix, it appears that VBC lives on. I received updated news today from owner Jim Justice. Jim tells me "Virginia Brewing Company is not dead." He is now the sole owner of the company. The bar/restaurant reported on previously has been spun off as a separate company, with a different owner. Jim says his plan now is to open only the brewery, with perhaps a tasting room and tours in the future. Currently the majority of the equipment and facility are in place and he is soliciting bids to complete the installation of the 20bbl DME brewhouse.

The Virginia Brewing Company saga has been an interesting one to say the least. Let's hope things work out and we soon see yet another Virginia brewery producing beer for local fans.

UPDATE: This post gets a lot of hits from Google, so I felt an update was in order. This Virginia Brewing Company is dead, finished, nada, ain't happening.  Oh well.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Brew Pub Coming Soon to Fredericksburg

A long-anticipated local brew pub is moving closer to becoming reality. The Free Lance-Star is reporting today (in the print edition) that The Pub will be closing Saturday, July 11 for renovations and the installation of brewing equipment. The new brew pub will open on July 20. Brewer Lyle Brown and the other brewers will be brewing several different beers onsite. Lyle has stated in the past that he also hopes to have rotating taps with special brews created by the brewers. This will be a great addition to the ever-expanding Fredericksburg craft beer scene.

Previous posts about The Pub here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Virginia Breweries Featured in Smithsonian Program

The Brickskeller in Washington, DC will host a program entitled "The Virginia Ale Trail: New Brews in the Old Dominion". This presentation is part of the Smithsonian Resident Associate Program and will be held on Saturday, July 25, 1:00 - 4:30PM.
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both of whom were home brewers, would be proud of the more than 30 microbreweries and brewpubs now scattered throughout their home state. Meet some of Virginia’s leading artisanal brewers and taste their flavorful brews, many of which are not readily available in the D.C. area, as they talk about the process of creating their beers. Participating brewers are award-winning beer-maker Bill Madden of Vintage 50 brewpub in Leesburg; Taylor Smack of Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, who grows some of the hops he uses in his aromatic Full Nelson Pale Ale; Andy Rathmann of St. George Brewing Co. in Hampton, which is named after the patron saint of England but turns out both English and German styles; and John Wampler of Legend Brewing Co. in Richmond, a microbrewery and restaurant that makes traditional beers like pilsner and porter and nontraditional brews like Belgian-style quadruple and chocolate porter. Gregg Wiggins, columnist for Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, moderates the afternoon.

Coordinators are Jim Dorsch, editor and publisher, American Brewer magazine, and Greg Kitsock, editor, Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, and associate editor, American Brewer magazine.

Details and ticket information here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Clipper City Red Sky at Night Wins Gold

Regular readers will know that I am a fan of Clipper City Brewing. Despite the intended Virginia focus of this blog, you'll find a large number of posts that reference the Baltimore brewery. Today we learned that Clipper City has picked up yet another award, this time for their Red Sky at Night Saison. The United States Open Beer Championships was held in Atlanta, GA, by the Carolina BrewMasters. Red Sky at Night was awarded a Gold in the French / Belgian Saison category.

It so happens I recently picked up some Red Sky at Night and have been enjoying it the past couple of weeks. You can read a couple of previous posts about the beer here and here. I won't post a new review, other than to say you should pick up this seasonal beer while you can. It's generally available May - August. Congratulations to Hugh Sisson and the crew at Clipper City on their latest award.

I was alerted to this news via a post from the Clipper City Twitter account, HeavySeasBeer.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Blue & Gray Re-Opening and 4th of July Celebration

The Blue & Gray Brewing Company celebrates their re-opening in the new location with a "Value and Values 4th of July Weekend Celebration". The festivities kicked off Friday afternoon and continue today.

Today's activities include:
  • Early Bird Special 1-3pm

  • 'Commemorative' 4th of July Beer barrel glass $6.00, filled with beer!

  • FREE kids movies all day on big screen

  • Mini-midway of games

  • RCNRHS train tours and rides until 4pm

  • 1:30 Live music of American acoustic classics

  • 3pm Boy Scouts discuss and demonstrate proper disposal of American flag

  • 4pm Community Theatre Stage Door Productions perform songs from 'Annie'

  • 5:00 Ice Cream eating contest for kids 10 and under (free)

  • 5:30pm Live band right before Fireworks with beach music and video

Sounds like a great way to celebrate Independence Day with Fredericksburg's hometown brewery.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Beer Dinner With Garrett Oliver

Tuesday evening Colleen and I attended a Brooklyn Brewery beer dinner with Garrett Oliver at Capital Ale House. The dinner was the last in a string of local appearances on that day by the Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster. We knew this would be an exciting evening, Garrett Oliver is both knowledgeable and engaging.

The dinner got off to a late start due to some overlapping events that were scheduled for Garrett during his visit to Fredericksburg. Once he arrived, Garrett provided a brief introduction to the brewery and beer/food pairing history. He also gave brief introductions prior to each course, including what to expect and why the selections were made.

The six-course dinner officially kicked off with Brooklyn Pilsner paired with Rappahannock Oysters topped with Cavier. A very tasty dish, the saltiness of the dish going quite well with the sharp pilsener. I'm a fan of oysters on the half shell, and caviar for that matter, so enjoyed this very much. I was pleased to assist those who didn't like oysters with clearing their plates. Next up, Brooklyner Weisse with Smoked Virginia Rainbow Trout and Tomato Bisque. This dish was the surprise pairing of the evening and was the subject of much conversation at our table. I tend to think of weisse beers as going well with fruit, or even with breakfast, so I was surprised how well this matched with the acidity of the tomato and the smokiness of the fish. This is a combination I will make a point of repeating.

The third course matched up Brooklyn Local 1 with Seared Chesapeake Scallops with Citrus Preserves served over Arugula with Red Pepper Vinaigrette. The scallops were tender and well-prepared. I personally thought the Local 1 overpowered the scallap flavors a bit, though others enjoyed it. After an entertaining and enlightening introduction by Garrett on the virtues of grilled meat and "crispy bits" we moved on to course four. This consisted of Lamb Chops over Latkes with Parisian Carrots and Thyme Beurre Blanc (white butter). The tiny chops were cooked to medium rare and very moist. The beer served was Brooklyn Brown Ale. Garrett told us the Brown Ale is the second most popular beer from the brewery. This slightly hoppy "Americanized" brown ale was the perfect accompaniment for the lamb chops.

If you weren't a blue cheese fan, the next course wasn't for you. However I am, so I eagerly awaited the cheese course. Three blue cheeses were paired with Brooklyn Local 2. The cheeses were Valdeon (with red pepper), Legendary Blue Roomkase, and Society Bee Roquefort. Garrett introduced the course by expressing some trepidation of how well the pairing would work. Opinions on the outcome were varied. I thought the first and last of the cheeses worked very well with the Local 2. This was the first time I was able to try Local 2, and found very tasty. Dark, sweet malt with dark sugar and fruit. I'll need to look for a bottle or two of this one.

Finally, the classic Brooklyn beer pairing, Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout with dessert. In this case, dessert was a Strawberry Biscuit Cake with a bit of chocolate drizzled over. The beer came out a bit too cold, so we warmed the glasses in our hands while Garrett gave some history of this beer. (It was essentially his "resume beer" for Brooklyn Brewery.) After dessert there was time for everyone to talk to Garrett, get books signed, and grab a photo or two. All attendees also got one of those nice Brooklyn snifters to take home.

We had a wonderful evening out. The dinner was very well run, and the Capital Ale House staff did an excellent job of getting the foods and beers served efficiently. Special kudos go to Chef Adam for preparing a delightful variety of dishes. All too soon it was time to head home, still savoring the memories of the wonderful flavors and aromas we experienced over the course of the past few hours.

I've uploaded a few photos from the evening here.