Sunday, July 31, 2011

Highland Gaelic Ale

Here's another one of the local beers I enjoyed while vacationing in North Carolina recently. During dinner at the Red Drum Taphouse I enjoyed a pint of Highland Brewing Gaelic Ale.

Gaelic Ale pours a dark copper-brown color. There's a frothy white head that hangs around for a good portion of the drink. The aroma has sweet caramel notes. The flavor is sweet, bready malt. There's a mild citrus flavor in the back as well, but this is a malty beer foremost. The mouthfeel is thick and "chewy." The sweet malt lingers in the finish. This is a smooth drinking and refreshing red ale.

And the Natty Bo glass? This logo glass was ubiquitous at the restaurants we visited in the Outer Banks. At another stop my New Belgium Ranger IPA was served in the same style glass. My guess is the local distributor is providing the glassware to its customers.

Read a report on a previous visit to Red Drum here.

Friday, July 29, 2011

New Belgium Ranger IPA

The East Coast distribution of New Belgium Brewery beers has been long awaited by fans. The Colorado beers will start appearing in Virginia soon, but they've been distributed in North Carolina for a couple of years. I found them to be quite ubiquitous during our recent trip to the Outer Banks. During dinner at the Lucky 12 Tavern in Nags Head, I tried New Belgium Ranger IPA for the first time.

The beer pours a dark amber-orange color with a think white head. The aroma is strong citrus hops, giving a hint of the flavor to come. Sharp, grapefruit citrus goodness dominates the flavor. The bitter flavor lingers as the predominate flavor even though there is some caramel sweetness in the malt that gives a bit of balance. I found this to be a very flavorful beer, one that should prove popular once it hits Virginia shelves and taps. I look forward to that time.

I paired my beer with a tasty fried oyster sandwich. The hoppy IPA worked well with the oysters and the included spicy remoulade sauce.

Lucky 12 Tavern boasts 13 beers on tap and 90 bottled selections. The beer list was well-rounded and featured many craft brews. Colleen even managed to find one of her favorites, Allagash White on draft. We vowed we'd come back again on our next visit to the Outer Banks and explore the beer, and food, menu further.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Going South to Find Beers From North

Sometimes beer distribution patterns can be frustrating. Readers of these Musings will know that I have a fondness for Clipper City beer (Yea, I know they are called Heavy Seas now, but old habits die hard.) Unfortunately, the beer from this Baltimore brewery, is hard to come by in Fredericksburg of late. I've been told "it's the distributer." The reason is irrelevant, what matters is the beers aren't here. Imagine my delight when I walk into Chip's Beer & Wine in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, and I see on the end cap bottles of Heavy Seas Letter of Marque! Then, later in our trip, we're at a local grocery store and spy an entire display of Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale. Not just in stock, but featured!

And the welcome sightings weren't limited to Heavy Seas. Colleen is a fan of Allagash White. We get other Allagash Brewing beers in Fredericksburg, but for some reason this particular one is hard to come by. We've even asked for it in places known for extensive beer selections and have been disappointed. But there it was, on the shelf at Chip's. Of course we picked up some to bring home. Later in our trip, we stopped in for dinner at the Lucky 12 Tavern and they had Allagash White on draft, served in a logo glass as well. A nice surprise indeed.

When we visit North Carolina I make it a point to look for beers that I can't get back home. Typically those are local North Carolina beers. But sometimes we find beers from other regions that just aren't available to us. That's what makes traveling fun.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Carolina Flagship IPA & Oysters

While visiting the Outer Banks I was determined to partake in some local seafood. For dinner one evening we decided to try Mulligan's Raw Bar & Grill. I knew I'd get my seafood fix, but the beer menu wasn't exceptionally intriguing for this craft beer fan. Then our waiter informed us they just added "an IPA from a local brewery." After checking, he informed us it was Flagship IPA from Carolina Brewery. That settled both my food and beer selections.

Carolina Brewery Flagship IPA pours a dark copper-orange color. The carbonation was quite low and the head practically non-existent. The aroma was that of resiny hops, but faint. The flavor starts out slightly sweet, followed by a rich citrus rind bitterness. The bitter flavors linger for quite a while on the palate. It was serendipitous that we visited just in time to find this enjoyable IPA newly tapped at the restaurant.

And the seafood? Flagship IPA went very nicely with my appetizer of oysters on the half shell. The oysters were followed by an equally enjoyable soft sell crab platter.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Leviathan IPA, the tiny glass review

I've written frequently about how the proper glassware can enhance our enjoyment of a beer. Sometimes though, we just have to use whatever is at hand. While I always travel with a bottle opener, I don't always pack glassware. Stuck in a hotel for a couple of days, I was limited to the tiny water glass in the room.

I found a nearby beer and wine shop and grabbed a four-pack of Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA. I figured if I was drinking from a sipping-sized glass, I might as well pick a sipping-style beer.

Leviathan Imperil IPA pours a clear orange color with a thin white head that leaves sticky lacing behind. A sweet, syrupy aroma with a hint of citrus greets the nose. The flavor is initially sweet, caramel malt, which is soon overcome by prominent alcohol notes. The beer has a sticky, lingering, bitter finish. The 10% ABV is not masked, but is a pronounced component of the flavor profile.

After a long day of meetings, this big beer from Harpoon Brewery was just the treat with which to relax.

Outer Banks Brewing Station, Revisted

We last visited Outer Banks Brewing Station in the summer of 2008. While visiting the Outer Banks this summer we stopped in again. Despite arriving on the early side of dinnertime, the brewpub was full of patrons and we had a bit of a wait to get a table. However, once we were seated, the service was prompt and we had our beers, and then food, served very quickly.

Five beers were offered on draft during our visit. A sixth beer, the bottle-conditioned Lemon Grass Wheat Ale, was available in 500 ml bottles. Colleen opted to try Nitwit. This is Outer Banks' version of a Belgian Wit brewed with Belgian Wit yeast, Forbidden Fruit, Bitter Orange, Coriander and Black Pepper. The beer pours a light golden-yellow with a minimal white head. Carbonation is low. The aroma is peppery with a typical wit aroma. The flavor is has prominent pepper notes, and other spicy flavors. This is light and crisp beer. The ABV is a low 3.75, making the beer quite sessionable.

I selected the Golden Rogallo. This golden ale pours amber-orange in color, with a thin head. The beer is mildly carbonated. The aroma is sweet malt with a hint of fruit. The flavor is predominately sweet malt with a hint of citrus and Belgian yeast notes. The finish is clean with lightly sweet malt lingering.

Golden Rogallo
I made my dinner a "two-brewery" meal by pairing the Golden Rogallo with a Bratwurst Sausage Plate featuring brats from the Weeping Radish Butchery and Pub. The sausages were mildly flavored and matched the flavor of the Golden Rogallo quite well.

This brewpub and restaurant is very family-friendly. I noted there were a number of tables occupied by large family groups who were not ordering beers, but were obviously there for the food. The Outer Banks Brewing Station is a popular stop on the Outer Banks, for good reason.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Update on Corcoran Brewing

Virginia's newest nanobrewery is preparing for it's official opening. According to an article in Northern Virginia Magazine, Corcoran Brewing Company will celebrate it's "grand opening" at their Waterford brewery from noon-5 p.m. on Saturday, July 30.

Of special interest, Brewer Kevin Bills says he is working to create a Virginia-sourced beer:
Bills doubts production will top 100 barrels this first year, but has already secured the foundation for future growth: a thriving hop yard.

“At 360 plants, I was told it is the third largest hop farm in the state,” he said of the on-site source. Bills expects to tap neighboring farmers/artisan producers for just about everything else.

“I will be sourcing honey, pumpkins and other stuff from local sources. And, by the end of the year we should be sourcing our base malt from within the state as well,” he asserted. “So between the water, malt, and hops … it will be a truly Virginia beer.”
I'm looking forward to trying out Corcoran's beers very soon.

See the article "Corcoran Hops the Fence" for more information.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Proper Glass for Every Drink

During a recent dinner out, I asked for a glass of water...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Blue & Gray Brewer Gets Hitched, Moving On

Congratulations go out to Blue & Gray brewer Madison Hill. Madison wed his long-time love Kelsey Smith this week. The wedding was followed by a reception at the brewery. The reception coincided with a going away "roast" for Madison. That's right, Madison is leaving Blue & Gray. After brewing there for three years and bringing us a slew of new flavors, Madison is giving in to wanderlust. He is heading off to New Zealand for a year. He and Kelsey will probably do some additional globe-hopping after that.

Best wishes to Madison and Kelsey for a joy-filled future!

The Free Lance-Star has more on the story here.

Highland St. Terese's Pale Ale

During our recent trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, we took the opportunity to try some new beers, and to revisit some old favorites. One of the beers we revisited this trip was Highland Brewing St. Terese's Pale Ale.

St. Terese's Pale Ale pours a golden-copper color with a short-lived white head. The aroma is faint, with mild notes of citrus and caramel. This American Pale Ale exhibits a good balance of bitter citrus with sweet malt flavor. The finish is slightly sweet and lingers in the mouth. Mouthfeel is thin with moderate carbonation

Highland's interpretation of the American Pale Ale is mild in comparison to some other popular pale ales, but that doesn't mean it's lacking in flavor or enjoyability. I seek out Highland Brewing beers every time we visit North Carolina, and St. Terese's Pale Ale is one of my favorites. At just 5.2% ABV it's not technically a session beer, but still on the low range for American Pale Ales. It's a perfect accompaniment to a sunny afternoon spent sitting on the deck overlooking the ocean waves.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Shooting and Sipping; in the wrong order

Good beer, shooting sports, explosions. When I saw a link to this video from Flying Dog Brewery I was intrigued. At first. However, my interest soon turned to disappointment. Before I explain, watch:

A bunch of guys going out to shoot. We're good so far. I can't say I agree with the waste of the beer, but it's their beer to do with as they wish. However, there's a proper order to these things. At the end of the video, one of the participants takes a final shot at the exploding target, AFTER he's apparently had a drink. Once any of the guys in the group had anything to drink, there shouldn't be any shooting.

Flying Dog may be one of my favorite breweries, and shooting may be my favorite sport, but I don't agree with the activities as promoted here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Wild Wolf To Get New Home

Wild Wolf Brewing Company in Nelson County recently purchased an old school house in Nellysford, VA. The former school was most recently home to the Dogwood Restaurant, which closed in 2009.

Wild Wolf is the operated by Danny Wolf and mom Mary Wolf. The pair currently offer growler fills out of their home brew supply shop. They anticipate opening a brewery and restaurant in the new location later this year.

Tip o' the hat to Nelson County Life Magazine for the news update and photograph.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dog-Inspired Friday Funny

This just made me laugh. Enjoy, it's Friday after all.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Public Tours Coming to Bowman Distillery

I've noticed a flurry of construction activity at the Bowman Distillery facility this past week. Today's Free Lance-Star tells us what's been going on. The work is the first phase of a five-year, $1.7 million project to remodel the facility and open the plant to public tours. From the article,
Over the past couple of years, A. Smith Bowman has been working on plans to open the facility to public tours and events. The company is calling the new facility "The Home Place."

The company already offers pre-scheduled tours and has an ABC license to sell its bourbon, vodka, rum and gin on site. Master Distiller Joe Dangler will even autograph the bottles.

But for now the public can't just drop by for a tour during regular operating hours. To allow that to happen, DLR [Contracting Inc.] last week began making renovations such as adding public restrooms and exits and improving the plumbing. Herlong Associates architects in Fredericksburg designed the plans.
Eventually Bowman will add a gift shop and a tasting room. The distillery is located near the Blue & Gray Brewing Company, although visitors would be be well-advised to take care when parking.

More details on the Bowman plans can be found in the Free Lance-Star article, "Bourbon distiller is going public".

Sunday, July 10, 2011

New Brewery at Smith Mountain Lake

There's new of another Virginia Craft brewery in the works. The owners of the Virginia Craft Brewing Company, Jerome Parnell and John Bryce, have plans to open a brewery in early 2012. The company currently produces Dam Lager through a contract brewer. They expect to add two other beers when the brewery opens, Blacksburger Pils and Creek Bottom Ale. According to a report on Smith Mountain Laker, the company will start out canning their beers, rather than shipping in bottles.
Parnell said they invested a 25-barrel, four-vessel brewing system with the ability to produce 50,000 barrels (or 100,000 kegs) per year. When it opens next year, it will produce about 8,000 barrels, said Parnell. As the brands grow and distribution expands across Virginia and into neighboring states, the brewery will ramp up to the 50,000-barrel capacity, he said.

Parnell said beer will begin coming out of the brewery within two or three months of opening. He said he's invested in a canning line so the company can distribute six-packs to stores throughout the region. Cans, not bottles, look to be the wave of the craft beer future, said Parnell.

"It keeps beer fresher, it keeps beer colder," he said. "Sunlight and temperature are the two things that kill beer."

Cans also allow beer to be sold at a lower cost because aluminum weighs less than glass, so you're able to save on shipping fees, said Parnell.
The brewery will include a tasting room and a retail store selling beer and brewery paraphernalia. In the words of Jerome Parnell, "When people come visit here, they'll be able to go back home and push Virginia beer."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Flying Dog Single Hop Imperial IPA

Flying Dog Single Hop Imperial IPA (Simcoe) is part of the brewery's Single Hop Series. These limited beers are designed to showcase only a single hop. Other beers in the series feature El Dorado and Centennial hops.

The beer pours a hazy golden orange with a thick off-white head. The aroma of citrus from the Simcoe hops is immediately noticeable after the pour. The hop-lover in me is salivating at this point. Bold citrus and pine flavors are immediately apparent. There is bit of honey sweetness hiding in there as well. But, this beer is all about hops. Big, bold, in your face, yet still quite drinkable. There's a lingering bitterness and finish is dry. The 10% ABV is not readily apparent in the flavor, so enjoy carefully. This is one of those beers that goes down fast, with a surprise later if you're not careful!

Flying Dog Single Hop Imperial IPA (Simcoe) is available on draft and in a limited supply of 12 ounce bottles. The bottles are only available as part of a 12-bottle variety pack of Flying Dog beers. While I'd prefer to be able to go out and buy a four, or 6-pack of this one, having a few bottles of Doggie Style Pale Ale, Snake Dog IPA, and Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA in the house isn't exactly a bad thing either. 

FTC Wonk Notice: Flying Dog sent me an unsolicited bottle of Flying Dog Single Hop Imperial IPA. It is through my own free will that I enjoyed the beer. No compensation was received for its review.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

July USPSA Match

The Fredericksburg monthly USPSA match was held on Sunday, July 3. This match also marked one year since my first USPSA match, also at Fredericksburg. One hundred and seven shooting enthusiasts turned out for a fun and challenging day. While the morning started out overcast with a light rain, by the time we started shooting the sun was out and shining brightly. By mid-day the temperature reached 97°, which added to the challenge, but didn't detract from the fun. The match consisted of 7 stages with an interesting variety of layouts. There were fast "run and gun" stages, as well as stages with some long shots that required careful aiming.

Stage 1, which was the last stage our squad shot, was a "simple" setup with just 5 targets spread in a wide arc across the bay. Unfortunately that was my worst stage of the day, proving that the deceptively simple stages are not always so. I was pretty tired and worn out from the heat by that point, which may have contributed to my poor performance.

Stage 2, the first stage we shot, was a typical run and shoot stage. Likewise with Stage 3, which also included some steel poppers in addition to the paper targets. The stages require several reloads and quick movement between shooting positions. I had my best results on these two stages, placing 12th and 15th out of 41 shooters in the Division, respectively.

Stage 4 was the classifier. I was pretty confident going into this one as I've been practicing strong hand only shooting, and the stage required 6 SHO shots. I ended up pegging a No Shoot nonetheless. Stages 5 and 6 were two more fun field stages with lots of movement, shooting through ports and around walls. Stage 7 required the shooter to stand on a suspended platform and shoot at steel and paper about 20 yards downrange.

Besides a great day of shooting, the match was also a fund raiser for the Wounded Warrior Project. Shooters donated a little extra with their entry fee, and the Fredericksburg club matched the shooters' contributions. The Black Creek Steel Shooting Club also donated $500, bringing the total raised to around $1850. Fun times and a worthy cause.

The match was a great way to celebrate the Independence Day holiday. I posted a video from the match here for your entertainment.

Stage 5

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday America!

The Fourth of July. National Day. Independence Day. Whatever you call it, (Independence Day is the proper term) today is the day Americans celebrate the founding of our great country. We mark it with summer-time activities such as cookouts, pool parties, parades, trips to the beach, fireworks. Sadly, some people never look past the chance to have a three-day weekend.

No matter how you mark the day, take some time to think about all the freedoms we enjoy. Give thanks to those who made this country great. We must never take our freedom for granted, but be ever vigilant against those who would seek to limit both our God-given, and civil rights.

Around here, we'll be acknowledging our 2nd Amendment rights with a little shooting at the range. After that, some American craft beer, and burgers on the grill. Oh yea, there will be fireworks.

Have a safe and fun-filled holiday.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Flying Dog Victory

As reported previously, in March Flying Dog Brewery announced that it had filed suit against the Michigan Liquor Control Commission on First Amendment grounds. The Michigan Liquor Control had barred the sale of the brewery's Raging Bitch beer. Some well-known defenders of the Constitution joined in the fight. Earlier this week, the Michigan Liquor Control announced it had reversed its decision to ban the sale of the beer. While that is great news, Flying Dog is not giving up the fight. As they report on their blog:
“The Michigan Liquor Control Commission’s involuntary reversal of opinion is a victory for craft beer,” Flying Dog CEO and General Partner Jim Caruso said. “Now, the great people of Michigan are no longer denied access to Raging Bitch, Flying Dog’s top-selling beer. But the fight for First Amendment rights in Michigan continues to rage on.”
Though the Michigan Liquor Control Commission has now approved the sale of Raging Bitch in the state, we have no interest in dropping the First Amendment lawsuit. With the support of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise and the law firm of Gura & Possessky, we originally filed suit in U.S. District Court on March 25 not only to overturn the Commission’s regulation banning Raging Bitch, but also to deem their ability to ban any beer label that they find offensive unconstitutional. Additionally, the suit seeks to recover damages from the loss of sales under the rule.
That's great to hear. As we celebrate the birthday of our Nation with the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776, this is a timely reminder of the importance of defending our rights as outlined in the Constitution.

Gun Walker - Not so funny

Jon Stewart skewers an absurd Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) program.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Fast and the Furious - Mexico Grift
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Okay, funny stuff. Until you consider what Stewart doesn't mention. It's estimated that over 150 people have been killed with these guns, including a U.S. Border Patrol Agent. The ATF agents who spoke out are losing their jobs. Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department, and the President are stonewalling, all the while feigning innocence. President Obama has previously promised the Brady Group that he would work to take away your Second Amendment rights "under the radar.” ATF's "Fast and Furious" program had one goal in mind, that was to supply guns to Mexican criminals, find those guns at crime scenes, and thus "prove" that U.S guns were being used in Mexican crimes. Federal law and human lives were secondary to that goal. It's time to hold someone accountable.