Showing posts with label Barrel Aged. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barrel Aged. Show all posts

January 29, 2014

A Trip to NH and VT: Hill Farmstead, Heady Topper, lots of snow

I took some time last month to visit a friend who was back in his home territory of New England for a short break. Like me, he's a craft beer fiend, so we made sure to take advantage of as much of the local beer scene as we could. Our adventures included a delicious dinner at the Farmhouse gastropub, a trip to Hill Farmstead, a sampling of the highly sought after Heady Topper, and a massive homebrew day.

Burlington, VT: Farmhouse Tap & Grill

Hill Farmstead Edward
Hill Farmstead's Edward - a fantastic
beer from Vermont
To start things off we visited a beer bar and restaurant in Burlington called Farmhouse Tap & Grill. This turned out to be one of the best gastropub experiences I can remember. I started out with an "Edward" from Vermont's Hill Farmstead (5.2% ABV, 85 IBUs). Even though we were going there the next day, I couldn't wait to give it a try. The beer did not disappoint. A clean, hop-forward pale ale, the epitome of an American Pale. The commercial description of Edward gives some indication of the care the brewer puts into this beer:
Edward (1917-2002) is our grandfather; Hill Farmstead Brewery rests upon the land that was once home to him and his five children. In his honor, this American Pale Ale is dutifully crafted from American malted barley, a plethora of American hops, our ale yeast and water from Edward’s well. It is unfiltered, naturally carbonated, and dry hopped. Aromatic and flowery, with impressions of citrus and pine, this is the ale that I dream to have shared with Edward. 
The food that followed was also excellent, from the local cheese plate to potato croquettes to the locally raised beef burgers. I highly recommend a visit to Farmhouse if you're ever in Burlington.

After several more local beers, a raging metal show, way too many Rolling Rocks, and an attempt (and failure) to kill a keg of Switchback Pale Ale, we called it a night.

Trip to Hill Farmstead

We were saved the next day by one of the most greasy and delicious bacon, egg and cheese bagels I've ever encountered. Rejuvenated, we got on the road for Hill Farmstead, picking up a four-pack of the famed Heady Topper along the way. If you're unfamiliar, Heady Topper is one of those insanely popular beers that people travel far and wide just to try. We would sample it later that night.

Hill Farmstead VT
Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro, 
The trip to Hill Farmstead Brewery was about a two-hour drive from Burlington, but it was gorgeous. With about six inches of fresh snow on the ground, we drove through the backwoods of Vermont to arrive at the brewery in the tiny town of Greensboro, VT (pop. 770). The brewery is relatively small (be warned: bring cash!), producing only about 2000 barrels of beer a year. But that didn't stop them from being named Best Brewer in the World by RateBeer in 2013. So even though their beer rarely leaves VT, many people like us are willing to make the trip.

We got there just before closing and went through a quick sampling of their beers. They were excellent across the board, but our favorite was Edward. We picked up a growler of it and a bottle of their port barrel aged Damien, an imperial stout, and hit the road again.

(Hill Farmstead recently made the news by announcing that after their expansion, they would cap production at 150,000 gallons of beer per year -- a very unusual move for craft brewers these days. Read the article in the New York Times.)

Heady Topper

The Alchemist's Heady Topper
That night after the long beer adventure, we opened up the Heady Topper. As mentioned before, Heady Topper (8% ABV, 75 IBUs) has a fanatical following, with people traveling long distances just to try it. Someone was recently arrested for re-selling Heady Topper on craigslist. The brewer who makes it, the Alchemist, made news recently by announcing that they would close their retail shop because they were overwhelmed by people trying to get their hands on it. There was quite an uproar following this announcement, reduced only by the news shortly afterward that the Alchemist would attempt to meet demand by opening a second brewery. There must be something in the water in Vermont, because people are going crazy for these beers!

For us, we were lucky to grab a four-pack Thursday morning about 10 minutes after it was delivered to the convenience store. In another ten minutes we might have missed our chance. The can instructs the drinker to drink from the can itself. As soon as up open it the hops aromas explode out of it. It's one of those Double IPAs that just sticks to your teeth. It's pale in color, leading me to believe that the caramel malts are restrained so as not to take anything away from the bitterness. This beer is probably the biggest showcase of American hops I've ever had. Would I drive 600 miles just to try it...maybe.

Big (Cold) Brew Day

Over the weekend a number of homebrewers got together to brew. Despite being 10 degrees outside, it was a great time. We drained the Edward, a couple of beers I brought from Asheville, and dozens of different homemade beers and meads. Needless to say, we warmed right up.

I brought two of my favorite recent beers from Asheville, including Green Man's Harvester (an amber ale made with Riverbend malt and German hops) and Firebreather, a Belgian Strong Ale aged in rye bourbon barrels, a collaboration between Asheville's Burial Beer Co. and Hi-Wire Brewing. I believe the northerners were pleased with the southern representation.

For those of you interested, here is the recipe we ended up using for the brew day, an imperial brown ale.

Imperial Brown Ale
(10-gallon batch, all-grain)

Ingredients
25 lbs. Maris Otter
2 lbs. Riverbend Appalachian Wheat Malt
2 lbs. Chocolate Malt
.5 lb. Crystal 80
.5 lb. Aromatic Malt
.75 lb. Biscuit Malt
2 oz. Kent Golding @ 60 min
1 oz. Kent Golding @ 15 min
1 oz. Fuggles @ 10 min
2 oz. Fuggles @ flame out
Ringwood Ale Yeast
*batch divided between two fermenters, one to get oak chips, one to get oak chips with bourbon

Stay tuned -- I hope to review it soon! Big thanks to Milo for a great weekend!

October 9, 2013

Beer Mail: Goose Island, Magic Hat, Kona Brewing Company

I've been remiss in sharing some of the brews that have arrived on my doorstep over the past couple months. Things have been pretty busy around here. For one, I've been writing quite a bit of content for the E. C. Kraus homebrewing blog. I've also started with an exciting new project, which I'll share very soon. For now, some beer reviews from Goose Island, Magic Hat, and Kona Brewing Co.:

Goose Island Brewing Co., Chicago, IL

I was genuinely pleased with Goose Island's beers, a few were pretty impressive. Some people give Goose Island a hard time for "selling out" to AB-Inbev, but based on the quality of the beer itself, I can't fault them...

  • Honker's Ale - An easy drinking English style bitter. Burnt orange in color with an off white rocky head. Pale malt and some ale yeast esters in the aroma, with low hop aroma. Crisp grain flavor with mild hop bitterness. Some wheat gives it a medium-light body and good head retention. Finished somewhat dry. (4.2% ABV)
  • IPA - Similar to the Honkers in that wheat is used for head retention and body -- it's there in the aroma, along with sweet caramel malts and moderate spicy hop aroma. Not especially bitter in the flavor, pretty well balanced. Medium bodied. (5.9% ABV)
  • Urban Wheat - Light yellow in color with a big rocky white head. Faint aroma of lemons in the aroma, but nothing like the banana/clove of a hefeweizen. An easy drinking wheat ale perfect for a hot day. (4.2% ABV)
  • Matilda - This is where Goose Island's portfolio really begins to impress. Matilda is a Belgian style pale ale featuring complex aromas of orange, spice, phenols, and some dark fruit. Medium and frothy body with a moderately sweet finish. Excellent. (7% ABV)


    Goose Island Matilda - there's a winner.
  • Sofie - Sofie is a farmhouse ale, pale yellow in color with a white head. Somewhat tart with a prominent lemon character, plus some mild farmhouse funk. Light, yet chewy mouthfeel. (6.5% ABV)
  • Bourbon County Stout - This highly coveted imperial stout pours black/brown and viscous with a big brown head on top. Sweet chocolate is balanced by bourbon spice. This one's definitely a sipper! (15% ABV)

A pretty impressive lineup from Goose Island.

August 27, 2013

Craft Beer is for Lovers: Top Picks from the VA Craft Brewers Festival

2013 VA Craft Brewers Fest 
Capping off Virginia Craft Beer Month and a successful "Love on Tap" campaign by the state of Virginia, brewers and craft beer fans gathered this past weekend for the Virginia Craft Brewers Festival and Virginia Craft Brewers Cup. The event was held at Devils Backbone Brewing Company's Nelson County brewpub and concert grounds.

The weather was incredible, surpassed only by the setting, with mountain views for 360 degrees. Devils Backbone Brewpub sits on a huge plot of land in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, with almost no other buildings in sight. There were a fair number of people in attendance, about 2,200, but there was plenty of space so it didn't seem crowded. A huge stage was set up on the property for music, but the main attraction was most definitely the beer.

August 13, 2013

A Rare Beer Club Tasting: Best Served Chilled with Cheese and Good People

Rare Beer Club Tasting
The Rare Beer Club offers some
hard-to-find libations.
The Rare Beer Club puts hard to find and limited release beers in the hands of craft beer fans. They were kind enough to send me a few bottles, so I invited some Asheville beer folks over to try the club's summer releases. Included in the lineup were collaborations from some of the United States' favorite brewers, as well as a saison from one of the world's most highly regarded producers of the style.

First, a little more about the club...

July 31, 2013

Top 5 Experiences from the 2013 Beer Bloggers Conference

The 2013 Beer Bloggers Conference
was held at the Boston Park Plaza
Hotel, July 26-28.
I returned home on Monday from the Beer Bloggers Conference and wow -- what a marathon. I first flew to Boston and immediately bussed up north to spent a couple days with my little brother in Bar Harbor, ME. I then linked up with the pre-conference excursion in Portland, ME, before heading back to Boston for the conference itself.

Zephyr Adventures did a fantastic job organizing the whole thing. If you're a blogger who writes about beer, wine, food, or fitness and wellness, I highly recommend you checking out their annual conferences as an opportunity to network with others and elevate your blogging and social media skills.

Rather than give a full play by play, here are my top five experiences from the weekend (in chronological order):

January 30, 2013

Top Beers and Beards from the Asheville Winter Warmer

Both the beers and the beards were on full display at the Asheville Winter Warmer this weekend. Thirty-one breweries, a cidery, and some moonshiners each brought their finest to the show, while every bit of facial hair in the house was perfectly groomed -- for the most part.

These were some of the exceptional specimens from the event, in both the beer and the beard categories:

January 28, 2013

How to Present an Incredible Beer and Cheese Tasting

This weekend's "No Whey Friday" beer and cheese tasting event absolutely lived up to expectations.

Beehive Barely Buzzed cheese
Michael Landis, of Atlanta Foods International, made an intoxicating presentation that stunned the 50 or so people in the meeting room at the Four Points Sheraton. As a Certified Cheese Professional, lead trainer for the Institut du Fromage, and international cheese judge, Michael brought expertise that made the event as educational as it was delicious. It was essentially a master class on how to conduct an amazing beer and cheese tasting.

January 25, 2013

5 Beer and Cheese Pairings That Will Rock Your World


Image used with permission via Rogue Ales and Spirits
At the 2012 Great American Beer Festival this past October, nearly 50,000 people descended on Denver to sample over 2,700 beers from nearly 600 American craft breweries. What blew me away though, more than any hopped-up IPA or high gravity Belgian quadruple, was a series of beer and cheese pairings that left my palate in a state of shock.

During the Saturday afternoon session of GABF, the American Cheese Society and Atlanta Foods International presented a seminar titled, “The Best Wine for that Cheese is Actually…Beer,” in which five phenomenal, award-winning cheeses were paired with five world-class beers from Utah’s Uinta Brewing Company. I was thrilled to learn that a similar event will be presented this weekend in Asheville.

December 22, 2012

Asheville, NC: Wicked Weed Brewing Preview


Wicked Weed in Asheville, NC
Photo: Wicked Weed Brewing
"Community" was the word of the day when I visited Wicked Weed Brewing last week. Scheduled to open December 28th at 5pm, Wicked Weed is expected to make a big splash in Asheville with a number of adventurous beer styles, including a range of Belgian ales, sour beers, saisons, West Coast-style IPAs, and barrel-aged beers, all to be complemented with "enlightened pub fare." Having won the People’s Choice award at this summer’s Brewgrass festival, the Asheville community is sure to give Wicked Weed an enthusiastic welcome on opening day.

The brewing team at Wicked Weed includes brothers Walt and Luke Dickinson and their good friend Eric Leypoldt. Both Luke and Eric bring experience from Dogfish Head, but all three got their start in homebrewing. Walt began homebrewing in California in 2000, and his brother Luke caught the bug soon afterwards. Like many others in their profession, what started as a hobby turned into a dream, and now they're neck deep in it.