Monday, February 28, 2011

Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA

Okay, another Flying Dog beer review. I don't think I can be faulted for enjoying good beer, now can I? We recently picked up Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA to use in the Mac & Cheese recipe from the Dog Chow Cookbook. Snake Dog is not a new beer to me, rather it's one I've enjoyed many times in the past. I figured I'd give you a quick review of the beer ingredient as a followup to that recipe review.

Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA pours a bright amber color. The medium head hangs around as a thin layer with plenty of lacing left behind. A malty aroma is mixed with pine. The flavor is mix of grapefruit rind and piney bitterness. A long aftertaste of bitter citrus remains. I find this to be a well-balanced IPA.

The Mac & Cheese recipe only called for one bottle and I've thoroughly enjoyed putting the other five to good use.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Secrets of Devils Backbone's Jason Oliver

Here's Part 2 of The Happy Hour Guys' visit to Devils Backbone Brewery. This time they taste the beer. And we find out one of Jason's secret ingredients. Or do we?

Part 1 is posted here.

As always, you can visit The Happy Hour Guys to see more of their visits to great beer spots.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mad Fox Barleywine Festival

I don't think I can make it to Mad Fox Brewing this weekend, but I suspect this will rank as one of the top beer events in Virginia this year. I'd be remiss if I didn't give it a mention here. With Rick Garvin's permission, I've reprinted his post to the DC-Beer mailing list that gives all the details. That is an incredible lineup! If any readers are able to attend, feel free to post your impressions in the comments. And, be careful out there!
Bill Madden and team are putting the finishing touches on this weekend's Barleywine Fest. Bill's pulled together 24 rare and delicious barleywines on tap and cask for our sampling pleasure. No admission fee, no tickets, 4 oz sample servings and pay as you go. The taps will be changed at 4PM on Saturday, so before and after is the sweet spot for trying all 24. Fair warning, some of the very rare beers may run out before 4PM Saturday - we have the only sixtels in the country of two of these barleywines.

The full menu will be on along with a whole smoked pig and more tasty specials from Chefs Russel Cunningham, Sean Swasey and Rodrigo Lozada.

It's not all barleywines, Bill & Charlie tapped Saison yesterday and draught Irish Dry Stout will be on at 3PM today, with more of Bill's standards pouring from the serving tanks. Happy Hour prices for pints will be in effect 3PM-7PM seven-days.

Details at . Plenty of public transportation options.

Here's the beer list as of yesterday:

• Mad Fox Slobberknocker American-style Barleywine draught and cask
• Mad Fox Headknocker English-style Barleywine draught and cask
• Mad Fox Wheat Whacker Wheatwine draught - 8% ABV
• Heavy Seas Below Decks English-style Barleywine cask - 10% ABV
• A L'abri De La Tempête Brewery Corps Mort Barleywine - 9% ABV
• Avery Hog Heaven Barleywine - 9.2% ABV
• Bluegrass Brewing Bearded Pat's Barleywine - 11% ABV
• Brooklyn Brewing Monster Ale Barleywine 2007 - 10.3% ABV
• Brooklyn Brewing Monster Ale Barleywine 2010 - 10.3% ABV
• Climax Brewing Company Barleywine - 10% ABV*
• Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine - 15% ABV
• DuClaw Devil's Milk American-style Barleywine - 11% ABV
• DuClaw Devil's Milk American-style Barleywine aged in Jack Daniels Barrels - 11% ABV
• Duck Rabbit Barleywine - 11% ABV
• Lagunitas Gnarleywine - 10-12% ABV
• Microbrasserie Le Trou Du Diable Brandy Nose Barleywine - 12% ABV
• Oliver Breweries Hot Monkey Love Barleywine - 9.8% ABV*
• Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Jack & Ken's Black Barleywine - 10.2% ABV
• Sierra Nevada Grand Cru, blend of Oak-Aged Bigfoot, Celebration and Pale Ale - 9.2% ABV
• Stone Brewing Company Old Guardian Barleywine - 11.3% ABV
• Victory Old Horizontal Barleywine - 10.5% ABV
• Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot Barleywine - 11.1% ABV
• Weyerbacher Insanity - Bourbon Barrel Aged Blithering Idiot - 11.1% ABV
• Willisamsburg Alewerks Grand Illumination Barleywine - 11% ABV

Cheers, Rick

Wow. Just wow.

New VA Brewery; It's Hard to Keep Up

But that's a problem I'm okay with having. Richmond beer blogger, E.S. Delia who blogs at Relentless Thirst, brings us word of another Virginia Brewery soon to open. Hardywood Park Craft Brewery has plans to open this year in Richmond. From the press release put out by the brewery:
Craft beer industry veterans and lifelong friends, Eric McKay and Patrick Murtaugh are preparing to launch the Hardywood Park Craft Brewery this summer on Ownby Lane, smack between the Diamond and the Fan. “With loads of creative energy, ample opportunities for adventure seekers, a rich history, and a growing appreciation for natural, local foods, Richmond has all the makings of a great beer city” states McKay. With a few major new beer events, including the World Beer Festival and Richmond Beer Week, and rumors of an expanding lineup of brewing talent slated to join local craft beer pioneer, Legend Brewing Company, Richmond’s beer culture is certainly on the rise.

Owners Eric McKay and Patrick Murtaugh have been brewing on a 5-barrel system to perfect their recipes in anticipation of the delivery of their 20-barrel system in June. Eric McKay is the creator of and the BeerCloud mobile app for iPhone and Android. Patrick Murtaugh is Richmond’s first Certified Cicerone™. A summer opening is planned.

Beer Fetching Dog - Friday Funny

My son sent me a link to this video. He asked if I thought we could train "Colonel" to do this. I told him he's welcome to try.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Crossing the Finish Line

A beer conversion success story...

A couple of years ago I began introducing a family friend to craft beer. He was a cider fan but was adamant on his opinion of beer, "I don't like beer" he declared. I knew he was a victim of factory beer, so my response was "You haven't had good beer." And I accepted the challenge.

My friend did let on that he once enjoyed a beer he had at Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia, and we ascertained that it was probably some sort of Belgian-style. One of the first salvos I sent his way was Heavy Seas Red Sky at Night. That's a heavy hitter you say? My thought was that Red Sky was different enough from "just beer." And it worked. Unfortunately, Red Sky is a seasonal release and I had no more on hand until the following fall.

I offered various beers with little success. The standard Pale Ales, Brown Ales, Stouts, didn't initially impress. It takes time to develop a taste for good beer. There were a few highlights along the way. Brooklyn Local 2 was a hit. And yet, it's another limited release beer.  The humorous mantra for successful beers became "seasonal and expensive." We served various Belgian beers with moderate success. Now there were a few beers our friend enjoyed, but I was not satisfied that I had a convert. He was always willing to try any beer offered so I was determined to press on.

Last Summer he made a trip to Germany, and spent time at some local Biergartens while there. Upon his return he let me know "I love Weissbier." Now we're getting somewhere. Further conversation revealed that Paulaner Hefe-Weizen was one of the named beers he had. Naturally, I made sure the beer fridge was stocked. Colleen is also a fan of Hefeweizen so we had a few other hefeweizen-style beers on hand too.

We slowly refined our friend's palate and he began to enjoy more and more beers. A turning point in this quest came when I served Tröegs Nugget Nectar. I had been building the beer up for quite a while, but was still afraid the strong flavor might not go over. Well, that was a hit, and I admit to being somewhat surprised, even though it is one of my favorites. (Note to self, pick up more Nugget Nectar before it's sold out.) The last stop on the adventure was a recent dinner at Lee's Retreat. Our friend ordered a Blue & Gray Falmouth Pale Ale, and enjoyed it. Next he tasted my Stonewall Stout, and said he liked that too! Good, non-seasonal beers. That's the finish line.

On our way home from dinner I declared "My work here is done."

As I mentioned at the start, our friend is a cider fan. I've never had much hard cider, but in all fairness, I'll let the tables turn and start trying out a few he recommends. Stand by for that story.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wolf Hills Fans Drive Expansion

Mac McLean writes in the Bristol Herald Courier regarding the expanded distribution from Wolf Hills Brewing in Abingdon, VA.
Machiavelli’s owner Justin Powers noticed something unique about the people who’d stop by his Fifth Street restaurant in downtown Bristol for a quick Thursday afternoon drink – they’d pick a driver, make a quick trip to Abingdon and come back with more beer.

“They would meet up here and then get their growlers filled,” Powers said, referring to the one-liter glass bottles that the Wolf Hills Brewing Company fills for its customers at the Abingdon-based microbrewery’s “Growler Hour” events.

What I found most interesting about the article was the story behind Machiavelli’s decision to carry Wolf Hills beers. Machiavelli’s owner was not contacted by the brewery or their distributor. The initial push came from fans of the brewery who were also patrons of the restaurant. And the rest, as they say, is history.

See Abingdon brewery on tap at local bars for the complete article.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Carl's Is Open!

For anyone familiar with the Fredericksburg area that's all the story that needs to be told. But here's a little more for the rest of you.

Carl's Ice Cream has been a Fredericksburg tradition since 1947. The shop on Princees Anne Street closes during the winter, and ice cream fans in the area anxiously await the Friday of Presidents Day weekend, when the shop opens for the season. The line at the window will be nearly non-stop until they close on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Many times during my early years in Fredericksburg I refused to miss enjoying Carl's on closing and opening days. My schedule is a little more full these days, but I still look forward to enjoying a Carl's ice cream, no matter the temperature in February. In fact, this year's first visit was scheduled with a friend several weeks in advance.

Carl's sells three flavors of ice cream, Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry (Are there others?) Most often I choose a chocolate malt. At Carl's the malt addition is generously served, so it's a treat. However, my opening salvo this year was another favorite, a Hot Fudge Maple Nut Sundae.

Taybeh, A Beer Without a Country

There's a popular quote from Frank Zappa that says "You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer." What if you have a beer but no country? Jay Brooks recently posted a video about the Taybeh Brewing Company in Ramallah on the West Bank. I had the opportunity to enjoy Taybeh beer last summer. My family was blessed to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in August. Jordan and Israel aren't exactly known for a craft beer scene, but there was beer to be had. The weather during our trip could be described in one word, HOT. At the end of the day, nothing was more refreshing than a cold beer.

The beers most frequently encountered during our trip were Goldstar and Maccebee from Isreal's Tempo Beverages, Taybeh Golden, and Amstel Light (!). Taybeh is the only brewery in Palestine. Taybeh Golden is a German Pilsener style beer. It has a mild grassy aroma, with a mildly bitter citrus flavor. Light and refreshing were the descriptors that came to mind.

One evening as I was settling our bill with the hotel, the clerk noticed that I had been trying out different beers at dinner each evening, and he asked me which one I liked the best. I replied Taybeh and his face lit up. He told me he was from Ramallah and that brewery was located there. He asked if we were going to visit his home town, but unfortunately we could not. He went to his office and brought back this post card from the brewery and gave it to me. The people of the Holy Land live under much duress, and those in Palestine even more so. He was very excited that I showed an interest in his local brewery. (I am sorry that I cannot find the note where I wrote down the clerk's name.)

On our last day in the Holy Land, we enjoyed a Bedouin-style feast in Bethlehem, another town in the West Bank. Bethlehem is surrounded by a "wall" erected by the Israelis. The wall gets little mention in the western press, but think barbed wire, concrete, soldiers, or the Berlin Wall, and you'll get the picture. Photography in the area is forbidden so I can't show you. The Israelis will also close travel in and out of West Bank towns on a whim. Fortunately we were able to visit this town on the West Bank twice. The meal served on our last visit featured Taybeh beer and what seemed an endless stream of delectable foods.

As reported in the video, Taybeh isn't imported in the U.S. because it is labeled as brewed in Palestine, which the U.S. does not recognize as a country. If Taybeh is ever imported to the United States I'll be sure to buy it to recall our trip to the Holy Land, and to support people who live under very difficult circumstances.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Devils Backbone Expanding, Officially

Although various news sources have been reporting for several weeks (also mentioned here and here) that Nelson County's Devils Backbone was planning an expansion, apparently it's now officially official. Nelson County Life reports that a location in neighboring Rockbridge County has been selected as the site for the brewery's new production facility.
Just two years and four months after opening the doors of Devils Backbone Brewing Company, Steve Crandall and DBCC are on yet another beer-making adventure. Rumors have been swirling for weeks, but the final approval came just last week.

Steve, the owner of one of Nelson County’s booming craft breweries, announced this week that he will be opening a production company that will allow DBBC (winner of the Small Brewpub of the Year and the Small Brewer of the Year awards at the 2010 World Beer Cup) to bottle and sell beer throughout the commonwealth. Steve said he plans to have at least three beers – the Eight Point IPA, the Gold Leaf, and the Vienna Lager – bottled and available year round while featuring seasonal beers through the year.

There were issues around the special sewage processing requirements of a brewery that necessitated the move out of Nelson County. The new facility will have a 30-barrel system, compared to the current 8-barrel system at the brewpub. This expansion is very exciting news as it means that soon we should be able to get Devil Backbone beers throughout Virginia.

See "It’s Official! Devils Backbone Brewing Expanding Operation" for the complete article posted at Nelson County Life.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Flying Dog Coffee Stout

It was a fine coincidence. The evening I finished my review of Flying Dog Raging Bitch, I found another package on the front porch. This time our friends at Flying Dog had sent a bottle of their Coffee Stout. Part of the brewery's Wild Dog series, the beer was first brewed in the beginning of 2010 and is now available for a limited time in 12 ounce bottles in the mid-Atlantic region. Colleen and I split the bottle one evening after dinner.

This beer is pitch black in appearance and pours with a thick, mocha-colored head that quickly dissipates to a thin ring. The aroma is fairly mild, mostly dark coffee with some vanilla notes. The flavor is full on coffee with just a touch of sweetness. The beer is medium bodied and lightly carbonated, with a lingering finish of mildly bitter espresso. The beer is less bitter than some coffee stouts I've tried. I enjoyed it very much, but I found my half-glass was emptied much too quickly.

As noted above, the bottle of Flying Dog Coffee Stout was brewery-supplied sample for me to review as I saw fit. I'm happy to offer my impressions of any beers that any breweries care to send my way. However, there's just one note I feel I must make. Please keep in mind that there are two of us here!

Disclaimer: This bottle of Coffee Stout was an unsolicited gift from the brewery. This review written of my own free will.

AAADD - Friday Funny

I’ve recently been diagnosed with Age-Activated Attention Deficit Disorder. AAADD

This is how it manifests itself:

I decide to water the garden.
As I turn on the hose in the driveway, I look over at my car and decide it needs washing.
As I head towards the garage, I notice mail on the porch table that I picked up from the postman earlier.
I decide to go through it before I wash the car.
I put my car keys on the table, put the junk mail in the recycling box under the table, and notice that the recycling box is full.
So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the recycling first.
But then I think, since I'm going to be near the mailbox when I take out the recycling paper anyway, I may as well pay the bills first.
I take my check book off the table and notice that there is only one check left.
My extra checks are in the desk in my study, so I go into the house to my desk where I find the cup of coffee I'd been drinking.
I'm going to look for my checks but first I need to push the coffee aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over.
The coffee is getting cold, and I decide to make another cup..
As I head toward the kitchen with the cold coffee, a vase of flowers on the worktop catches my eye - the flowers need water.
I put the coffee on the worktop and discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning.
I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I'm going to water the flowers..
I put the glasses back down on the worktop, fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote control. Someone left it on the kitchen table.
I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV, I'll be looking for the remote, but I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers.
I pour some water in the flowers, but quite a bit of it spills on the floor.
So, I put the remote back on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill.
Then, I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day:
The car isn't washed,
The bills aren't paid,
There is a cold cup of coffee sitting on the kitchen work-surface,
The flowers don't have enough water,
There is still only 1 check in my check book,
I can't find the remote,
I can't find my glasses,
I don't remember what I did with the car key
And I can't figure out why I've heard water running all day.

Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all bloody day and I'm really tired.
I realize this is a serious problem, and I'll try to get some help for it, but first I'll check my e-mail...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Setting The Cider Free

In what will be a boon for Virginia apple growers and cider producers, the State Senate passed a bill Tuesday that will allow the production of hard cider at higher alcohol levels than now permitted. Cider naturally ferments to an alcohol content between 4% and 10%. However, current Virginia law caps the legal limit at 7%. The bill's sponsor, Del. David Englin, issued the following press release.
Richmond - With a final unanimous vote in the Virginia Senate, the General Assembly yesterday passed the Virginia Cider Act, which will allow Virginia cider producers to naturally ferment their cider without artificially capping the alcohol content. House Bill 2295, sponsored by Delegate David Englin (D-45), will launch a renaissance in Virginia’s burgeoning hard cider industry, opening the door for Virginia to become the world’s leading producer of traditional hard cider, according to industry experts.

“This legislation is a critical breakthrough for those dedicated to reintroducing Virginia and America to the libation our forebears made and enjoyed in the agrarian society from which we sprung. It will be a significant support to the development of a new industry, attractive to the tourists who visit our Commonwealth as well as our own people,” said Charlotte Shelton, founder and owner of Albemarle CiderWorks, who testified for the bill. “This legislation permits Virginia ciderists to produce a natural beverage without amendment reminiscent of what Jefferson served at Monticello and what Washington produced and served at Mount Vernon. Before this bill, Virginia ciders were required to be seven percent alcohol or less. Our apples do not know this. Apples grown in Virginia ferment naturally to something between four and 10 percent alcohol. This legislation frees Virginia ciderists to make the beverage apples were meant to produce, without amendment or adulteration.”

Great news for fans of cider as nature intended it.

See Delegate Englin's full press release here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Wish You Could Smell This

I've talked about Tröegs Nugget Nectar before, but it's worth repeating. I absolutely love the smell of this beer. Whenever I drink it I can't get enough of that wonderful grapefruit citrus smell. And the flavor matches! It's invigorating and refreshing. Sorry you're not here. Now go get your own.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's Not For Drinking and Driving

And now for something a little different. We've talked about traditional beer steins previously, but here are some more, shall we say, contemporary designs. A collection of NASCAR-themed beer steins is on display at the town of Appomattox Visitor Center.

Appomattox, VA - Beer and NASCAR often go hand-in-hand. And with the Daytona 500 less than a week away, the town of Appomattox is already revving up.

Two dozen NASCAR beer steins are on display at the visitor's center and will be throughout the racing season. Some have been signed by legendary drivers like Bill Elliott.

Something to put your PBR in I suppose. See the complete story at NASCAR Beer Stein Collection on Display in Appomattox.

H/T to the Virginia Tourism twitter feed.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dinner at Lee's Retreat

Well, it wasn't on Valentine's Day, but sometimes busy married people have to make adjustments. Our son was spending Friday evening with friends, so Colleen and I had a rare date night. She's been ribbing me that despite my frequent visits to Lee's Retreat, she's never gotten to go. (Is it my fault my office is near the brewery?) So, we decided we'd have an (early) Valentine's date at my favorite brew pub.

At the pub, finally
Our evening started off with a couple of pints of Falmouth Pale Ale and a Calamari appetizer. The calamari are marinated in coconut cream and condensed milk, floured and deep fried. They were tender and served with a spicy, and quite tasty, dipping sauce.

Next up was the main course. I selected the Cheddar & Jalapeño Burger. The burger was cooked just right, and the jalapeño slices were very spicy. At so many places the "spicy" burger combos are served with pathetic canned objects that resemble jalapeños only in being green. I appreciate spicy food and the Cheddar & Jalapeño Burger didn't let me down. Colleen opted for the Lamb Burger which she enjoyed very much. She mentioned that she might ask for a little feta cheese with it next time, but that she'd definitely order it again. We both were impressed by the ripe tomatoes and crisp lettuce that was served with our burgers.

Finally, what's a special dinner without dessert? We decided to share the Chocolate Stout Split. This is a platter-sized banana split, served with chocolate ice cream made using Blue & Gray Stonewall Stout. The ice cream was rich and thick. I could have had a bowl of the ice cream alone. I wonder if I could get a pint to go!

We took our time enjoying our meal. It's been awhile since the two of us really sat down for a meal together when we could linger and talk. The food was good but it was the company of my wife that made the evening special. I am sure we'll have another "date" at Lee's Retreat again. Soon.

Did I mention chocolate?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

More Breweries Than Stoplights

The Happy Hour Guys recently visited Devils Backbone Brewing Company to talk with owner Steve Crandall and Head Brewer Jason Oliver.

My favorite quote, from Jason: "We have more breweries than stoplights in Nelson County."

Visit The Happy Hour Guys to see more of their visits to great beer spots.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Angry Monks Stop "Insulting" Beer Ad

That was the headline that caught my eye. Curious, I read more:
VILNIUS (Reuters) - Monks and nuns in the largely Catholic Baltic state of Lithuania forced a brewery on Wednesday to withdraw an "insulting" poster campaign featuring a Franciscan brother holding up a brimming glass of beer.

The outdoor billboard was to promote a beer produced by the country's biggest brewer, Svyturys-Utenos alus, which is majority owned by Danish brewing giant Carlsberg. 
<See more...>
Given the history of Catholic monks and brewing, I had a chuckle thinking that perhaps the problem had more to do with the specific beer than the relationship.

Another Visit with the "Bitch"

Last winter we were introduced to Flying Dog Raging Bitch. The beer was released to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Flying Dog Brewery. Described as a Belgian-Style India Pale Ale, it is now a year-round member of the Flying Dog family. This week I revisited this interesting beer.

Belgian. India Pale Ale. That label is as contrary as it was in 2009. My sample was served from a bottle, in my "official" Flying Dog glass. The golden amber color and frothy off-white head sure looks like an IPA. I get citrus hops in the aroma. Or do I? Sniff again and I'm detecting some typical Belgian yeasty notes. The flavor initially tends towards the sweet and yeasty. However, that is quickly replaced by the bitterness one would expect in an IPA, and that bitterness lingers in the mouth. One of the issues I often have in trying to describe a beer is taking repeated sips, until suddenly my glass is empty. It happened again! This is a complex beer and the flavor characteristics are a blend of two styles. Hard to describe but certainly easy to drink.

Disclaimer: This bottle of Raging Bitch was an unsolicited gift from the brewery. This review written of my own free will.

Trunk Monkey Chaperone - Friday Funny

I gotta get me one of these.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Virginia Breweries Collaborate, Again

Last year there was a collaborative effort between four Virginia breweries which created Brew Ridge Trail Black IPA. The limited batch beer was available at the participating breweries and some bars in the Charlottesville area. Well, they're at it again! Jacque Landry of South Street Brewery, Matt Nucci of Blue Mountain Brewery, Mark Thompson from Starr Hill, Aaron Reilly and Jason Oliver from Devils Backbone were joined this year by newcomer Danny Wolf, of Wild Wolf Brewing Company.

Last year the group brewed at Star Hill Brewery. The same Black IPA recipe was used this year, however the group worked their magic at Devils Backbone Brewing Company. Since the brewhouse at Devils Backbone is smaller than that at Starr Hill, there will be less of the beer produced this year. Last year's batch sold out in about a week, so fans will have to be on the ball when this second, smaller batch is ready in about a month.

More information is available in this article at Nelson County Times.

WaPo Beer Madness

The Washington Post is once again sponsoring its annual Beer Madness taste-off. The list of beers to be included is not yet published, but the selection will be limited to "craft beers, all domestic." The event involves three nights of tasting. The best part is that you can be one of those selected to judge the beers. If you want to be considered, it's a simple process:
Here's what you do: Send an e-mail to with the phrase BEER MADNESS in the subject line, and include two things:

-A description of your qualifications and a demonstration of your passion for beer, in one tightly constructed sentence. (Remember, we have to read hundreds of these, so yours needs to stand out at a glance.) Humor is always appreciated.

-A list of your five favorite domestic craft beers.
See Beer Madness 2011: Calling all tasters for details. And if you are selected, be sure to let us know!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Bit of Catholic Geekiness

Fair warning. Those of you who are not Catholic may skip this post. I'll give you a minute. :-)

Okay, here we go. There's a new iPhone app that's been in the news lately, Confession: A Roman Catholic App. This $2 application gives the user a guide to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It provides a basic guide to an Examination of Conscience, along with a step-by-step guide on what to do in the confessional. This is probably the first app to receive approval from a Church authority in the U.S. As is typical when it's about the Catholic Church, the true purpose of the application is being misrepresented by some in the press. We've seen this distorting agenda promoted regarding other matters. The application IS NOT a substitute for proper Confession; that still needs to be done between a Priest and the penitent FACE TO FACE. There's a full review on using the Confession app on Fr. Z's blog.

When I saw this app I got to thinking how wonderful it would be if some young person who's been away from the Sacrament got up the courage to return just by the "geekiness" of this iPhone application. About the same time I was contemplating this I saw a news report about "gifting" iPhone applications. That's why I decided to post. Perhaps there is someone out there who might be inspired to return to the Sacrament of Reconciliation if they knew about this application. My impression of the Confession app after playing with it a bit is that it's geared towards folks who don't go to Confession on a regular basis. If it helps that person get closer to their faith, then it certainly is a good thing.

Rediscovering The Beer That's Here

Sometimes we craft beer fans get so wrapped up in the latest and greatest extreme beer, that we fail to see the good beer right in front of us. Growing up in Maryland and living in Virginia, having access to Pennsylvania's Yuengling Lager is simply a matter of fact. I was attending a meeting at our church recently and during the social break I opened the supplied cooler, cynically thinking, "Gee, wonder what great beer they have for us this month." Every now and then I'll find a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but generally it's nothing more than BudMillerCoors. I saw cans, and almost closed the cooler. Then I realized the hospitality folks were serving Yuengling Traditional Lager, in cans.

I can't say much about the appearance of the beer, because I drank the Yuengling right from the can. Getting a hint on the aroma was difficult as well, just a faint bread smell. The flavor was slightly sweet malt with some citrusy lingering hops. Nothing complex, just a basic amber lager. Easy to drink and low in alcohol.

I frequently hear folks from western states lamenting not having access to Yuengling, or read how they take back cases when they visit the east coast. It's similar to how folks in the east wait in excitement over the arrival of New Belgium Fat Tire, while the folks in Denver often dismiss it.

The grass is always greener...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


What do you think? Is a replacement for the ubiquitous keychain bottle opener?

Speaking of Thomas Jefferson...

Thomas Jefferson's beer recipe has been getting some press of late. What better time to hear what the man had to say on another subject?
"The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed."

'Nuff said.

Monday, February 7, 2011

March Madness - IPA Style

For the fourth year, Brewing News is holding its National IPA Championship. This "head to head" taste off features 128 India Pale Ales from US brewers. Judging is held over fours sessions in four cities with the winners in each bracket moving on to the next round.

It's no secret that I'm an IPA fan, and that's the reason I enjoy making my picks for NIPAC. It's fun to see how my favorites stands up to entries from other breweries. Many of the entries I've never tried, and some I've never heard of. But the best part of the contest? The top prize will be a free case of the 2011 NIPAC championship IPA.

The deadline to enter and make your predictions is February 13, 2011, 12:00 pm EST. Visit the National IPA Championship page for all the details.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Patriotism - A Study in Contrasts

On Saturday we attended our son's middle school basketball tournament. The tournament opened with invocation and the playing of our national anthem. The gymnasium was silent as the Star-Spangled Banner played. Players, coaches, referees, parents, all stood respectfully, hands over their hearts, facing our flag. I watched our coach, a former U.S. Marine, proudly stand at attention and salute the flag.

Contrast that with the attitude exemplified by "professional athletes" at the opening of tonight's Super Bowl® XLV. Players were looking all around. They were rocking on their feet. They talked to each other. Their hands hung at their sides or on their jersey collars. There were indeed some players who stood respectfully. But the opposite actions were not isolated incidents, the lack of respect was widespread and blatant.

United States Code, 36 U.S.C. § 301 states in part
During a rendition of the national anthem—
(1) when the flag is displayed—
(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
(2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.

The demeanor of those who refuse to show even a minimum of respect for their Country is appalling. Unfortunately these are the same people many look to with misplaced admiration.

"Super Bowl" is a registered trademark of the NFL.

Video: Monticello Reserve Ale

A few days ago we told you about Monticello Reserve Ale, the Thomas Jefferson-inspired ale that is being brewed at Starr Hill Brewing Company. Recently NBC 29 in Richmond, VA did a report on the beer and the story behind it. The video features Starr Hill Founder Mark Thompson and Lead Brewer Levi Duncan.  I thought the piece was very interesting and wanted to share it with you. I hope you enjoy it too.

Click the link to view Thomas Jefferson's Beer Brewed Again.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Facebook Privacy

Despite recent events, I enjoy Facebook. It's a great way to stay in touch with folks of like-minded interests. Judging by the number of folks who are following these Musings via Networked Blogs, many of you are also Facebook fans. I'm a realist, and know that anything I put on Facebook is subject to being read by others. I protect my Facebook profile from the general public, but, I accept that the information may "get out."

That said, there are reasonable steps you can do to protect your data. There are lots of guides out there to Facebook privacy settings. One of the best I've seen is put out by the U.S. Navy Office of Information. It's clear and concise, and up-to-date. Visit the link below to download a copy. Then follow it.

Recommended Facebool Privacy Settings (PDF)

More "Dog Chow"

We recently reviewed the Flying Dog "Dog Chow Cookbook." For that first post, we enjoyed the Mac & Cheese recipe. Not content to try just one recipe, a few days later we were enjoying Orange Chicken with Snake Dog. The recipe uses Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA.

This was a simple weeknight dinner. Rice is one of our favorite side dishes, so as the Jasmine rice simmered, the chicken dinner came together easily. The tang of citrus from the orange juice and the hops in the beer gave a nice sharp edge to the sweet brown sugar and slightly caramelized onion notes. A touch of ginger sparked the flavorful sauce, which we enjoyed over the rice as well as the chicken. The recipe calls for 1/3 cup of Snake Dog, and to use the rest as needed as the chicken cooks. By the time the chicken finished, the balance of the bottle had been added, leaving no cook's treat. Ah well, bottle opener in hand, that can be easily remedied. We all agreed this was a "keeper" to reappear on another evening as a deceptively easy elegant dinner!

Cooking with beer is fun. During the preparation of both Dog Chow recipes we've tried so far, we all have remarked on the aromas wafting through the kitchen, which we attributed to the beers. And of course, you get to the drink the beer you're using too.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Capital Ale House Organizing St. Patrick's Day Events

In contrast to their extremely popular Oktoberfest celebration, Capital Ale House's proposed St. Patrick's Day event won't close any streets. CAH President Matt Simmons is proposing that downtown food and beverage establishments host specials inside their own restaurants to benefit charity. The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star reports:
The president of Capital Ale House is organizing a St. Patrick's Day event in downtown Fredericksburg that would also raise money for charity.

Yesterday afternoon, Matt Simmons distributed letters proposing the event to downtown restaurant and bar owners. The businesses would work together to promote the event but would organize their own parties for that night.

Each participating business would pick a charity to support. It would collect a cover charge at the door or take a percentage of menu sales, perhaps of just one special item for that night. Those funds would be donated to charity.

Capital Ale House regularly supports local charities through their Community Chest project. The St. Patrick's Day event would continue that tradition. Let's hope downtown businesses get behind this initiative.

See Revelers can wear green and aid a worthy cause for more information.

VA ABC Privatization Efforts Thwarted Again

Virginia Governor McDonnell's efforts to get the State out of the liquor business have been thwarted again. This week bill was killed before even being discussed in committee. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports:
Legislation to privatize liquor sales will not be considered by the House committee that oversees ABC laws, its chairman confirmed Wednesday, effectively killing the measure without a hearing.

The decision is a blow to Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has made ABC privatization a top priority. Senate Democrats already have said they will not consider the governor's proposal unless the House acts first.

"At the chairman's prerogative, the bill is not going to be heard," said Del. S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, chairman of the House General Laws Committee and a staunch supporter of the governor's other priorities in the General Assembly.
It should be emphasized that the bill was killed at the whim of chairman Jones. The proposal will not be discussed in the committee nor on the House floor. The government will stay in the retail and wholesale liquor business a while longer. Whether you agree with the idea of privatization or not, it's a shame that the legislative body is denied the chance to even discuss it.

See the entire article here: House panel won't consider ABC privatization bill

The Force is With You - Friday Funny


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Signs of Impending Spring

We're in the middle of Winter in Virginia. The whole of the month of February is ahead of us, and this month can bring serious Winter weather. But there are signs around us that the Spring weather is approaching.

Some folks look to Punxsutawney Phil for hope. The groundhog saw no shadow but that doesn't convince me. Yesterday's anomalous temperature of 67° was a taste of thing to come, but it was short lived. For me, the surest sign that we're on the road to Spring is when I see the stacks of Tröegs Nugget Nectar make an appearance at the local beverage store. Sure this beer is released in the midst of Winter, but I've always considered it the first of the Spring beers, rather than the last of the Winter beers.

The only thing that will top the excitement finding this Tröegs seasonal in the store, is when I have poured a glass at home and I am enjoying the aromas and flavors of this hop-rich nectar.

What Facebook Thinks of Me

No, this isn't about Facebook's recent attempt to muzzle the Musings. It's about the smile I get whenever I look at my Facebook profile page. In the "new" Facebook, the system randomly selects a group of five photos from your account that are meant to represent your interests and activities. The random display on my page is shown below.

Yea, I think I like that.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Flying Dog "Dog Chow Cookbook"

Flying Dog Brewery late last year released Dog Chow: Volume One, the first cookbook from the brewery. The 22 page, spiral-bound book contains 8 recipes, each featuring a different Flying Dog beer. Each recipe is accompanied by detailed directions and color photographs. The recipes were all developed by Flying Dog brewers, most of whom have culinary backgrounds. The book also contains descriptions of the beers in the Flying Dog lineup, as well as tips on cooking with beer. As is stated simply on the back cover, "This is a book about food and beer."

For our first recipe trial from the cookbook, Colleen selected Doggie Style Mac & Cheese. As is obvious from the name, this recipe features Flying Dog Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale. The bready, yeasty aroma as the sauce simmered hinted at the rich, layered flavors - so much more than cheese sauce! The dry mustard, onions, beer, heavy cream and milk makes for a sophisticated, but very approachable!, mac and cheese. We served this with pan-fried pork chops for a satisfying Winter comfort meal.

We have plans to try out some of the other recipes in the book, and will bring reports back soon.

Dog Chow: Volume One can be purchase for a mere $5 from the Flying Dog online merchandiser store.

Disclaimer: Flying Dog provided a complimentary copy of Dog Chow for me to review as I saw fit. The beer used in the recipe was purchased by me.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I'd Like A Great Lake Of Beer ...

... For The King Of Kings. I Would Like To Be Watching Heaven's Family Drinking It Through All Eternity. 

Who could argue with such a sentiment? February 1 is the Feast Day of St. Brigid of Ireland. 

See a previous post on St. Brigid of Ireland for more information about this Irish Saint.

Blue & Gray Supports the Wounded Warrior EOD Foundation

Blue & Gray Brewing is a proud sponsor of the Rappahannock River "Polar Plunge," organized by the Wounded Warrior EOD foundation.  The  plunge will take place on at 9:00AM February 12th. All registrants receive a free Blue & Gray Brewing Co. Polar Plunge 2011 "Now That's A Cold One" pint glass.

The Wounded EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Warrior Foundation is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that provides assistance to our Wounded EOD Warriors and their families in the form of financial relief. The resources provided by the Foundation to the wounded and their families are above and beyond the budgetary constraints of the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs.

For more information on the Polar Plunge, and for registration information see the event page.