Showing posts with label Brewery Tours. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brewery Tours. 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!

July 9, 2012

Richmond, VA: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery has been on the Local Beer Blog radar for some time. They first caught my attention when I heard about the new brewery opening in Richmond, VA. I was then intrigued by the news that they were making a community-hopped IPA. When I read that Hardywood won a Bronze Medal at the World Beer Cup, it was clear that this was a place I needed to visit. I recently had the pleasure of meeting the co-founders at their production brewery in Richmond, VA to discuss their journey into the craft beer business and their various locally-flavored ales.

July 3, 2012

Nashville, TN: Jackalope Brewing Company

Think the beer business is just for boys?

Not quite.

The CEO of New Belgium? Kim Jordan. The founder of Stoudt's? Carol Stoudt. And now, Bailey Spaulding and Robyn Virball are co-founders of Nashville's Jackalope Brewing Company.

What, you've never seen a Jackalope? Lepus temperamentalus is a rare species of deer-rabbit, from the same family as the Treintaycinco three-headed goat. But enough taxonomy, I digress...

Jackalope Brewing Company is situated in downtown Nashville near the intersection of 8th and Division Street. It's just down the road from the Yazoo Taproom and All Seasons homebrew supply shop, and across the street from my favorite beer, wine, and liquor warehouse, Frugal MacDoogal.

We visited the Jackalope Taproom on a Saturday, where a small, but growing crowd of day drinkers was beginning to accumulate. The two DJs spinning tunes in the side room were a nice touch -- this is Music City, after all.

May 19, 2012

Costa Rica: Volcano Brewing Company

[Update: On August 28, 2013, Volcano Brewing Company will close their Arenal location and relocate to Playa Tamarindo.]

One of the big players in Costa Rica's rapidly growing craft beer scene, Volcano Brewing Company offers artisanal beer and spectacular views in a relaxed atmosphere. As part of our trip to the Costa Rica Craft Beer Festival, my girlfriend and I decided to make a beer-cation of it and check it out...

April 12, 2012

Delaware Online: A behind-the-scenes tour of Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton

I've been to the Dogfish Head Alehouse, but I have yet to visit the production brewery in Delaware.  This article by Patricia Talorico really makes me want to check it out:

A behind-the-scenes tour of Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton


About the author:
Patricia Talorico is the deputy features editor of The News Journal. She has written for USA Today and The Washington Post and been a contributor to Bon Appetit. Talorico has twice been nominated for James Beard Foundation Awards for best feature writing.

February 8, 2012

October 3, 2011

Athens, GA: Terrapin Beer Company

It turned out to be quite the beer-soaked weekend in Georgia. On Saturday, my girlfriend and I visited the Terrapin Beer Company, makers of the tasty Terrapin Rye Pale Ale. I was curious to sample some of their other offerings.

We arrived at the brewery right around sunset, along with about half of UGA's undergrad population dressed in red. Undeterred by the crowd, we picked up our souvenir pint glasses and got to sampling. Terrapin had five beers on tap that day:
  • Terrapin Rye Pale Ale - The flagship beer, Terrapin Rye won 1st Place American Pale Ale at the Great American Beer Festival in 2002 (its first year in production).
  • Hop Karma Brown IPA - A combination Brown Ale and India Pale Ale, Hop Karma had a great balance of hops with caramel malts.
  • Hopsecutioner IPA - Aggressively hopped with a huge dose of citrus flavor.
  • Golden Ale - The most sessionable beer of the bunch, the Golden Ale went down smooth.
  • So Fresh & So Green, Green - This was my favorite. Wet-hopped with locally grown Challenger hops, it had a very unique hops flavor that was far from overpowering.

September 4, 2011

Afton, VA - Blue Mountain Brewery

I visited Blue Mountain Brewery last month with on a day-trip to Charlottesville, VA. I was particularly interested in checking out this brewery for its hop farm, where they grow Cascade and Centennial hops to use in a couple of their beers. Blue Mountain sure had a great location, with fantastic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains all around. Only about 20 miles west of Charlottesville, the place was doing pretty good business.

It was about 105F that afternoon, so cold beer was definitely in order. We opted for a couple of flights, which included (from right to left) Blue Mountain Lager, a Belgian White Ale called Blidö de Blanche, Rockfish Wheat Ale, Full Nelson Pale Ale, Mandolin Artisanal Ale (a Belgian Tripel), and a Kölsch.


To pair with our sampler, we got a cheese plate of local meats and cheeses as well as a selection of fruit. The salamis and cheeses really helped to bring put some of the beers into context.

The Classic Lager was just that - classic - and very refreshing. The Belgian ales, the Blanche and the Mandolin, were respectable. The Blanche was very light, making use of a champagne yeast, which seemed to give it a bit of lemony tartness. The Mandolin, on the other hand, was pretty sweet, with strong caramel and toffee notes. The Kölsch seemed very accurate to style, with a malty lager/pilsener taste accented by noble Hallertauer hops. The Rockfish Wheat was very nice for 100 degree weather - it was a filtered wheat so lighter bodied, crisp, somewhat sweet, with a hint of citrus. My favorite of the bunch though was the brewery's flagship beer, the Full Nelson Pale Ale. Using the brewery's own Cascade hops, this beer was just what the doctor ordered on that sweltering afternoon. Copper in color, it had a nice malt background with a burst of fresh Cascades - very well balanced.

Sufficiently cooled, we stepped outside to check on the hop vines real quick. We had just an hour to make it to Starr Hill Brewery before it closed for the day...


August 12, 2011

A Local Gem: Hidden in the Rough




Hello, all!

It's Anton again and I'm stoked to follow up David's post about the taxation of beer.

Though I want to write more about the economics of beer, I will save that for my next post since I've been delaying the following for some time.

Alas, in this post, I will be introducing some (and perhaps reintroducing others) to one of my new favorite local beers. Kick back, grab a brew, and build up an appetite because I'm putting on my chef hat and cooking locally (with beer)!
---
So, the other day I was in Safeway gathering items for the nightly feast (a.k.a. dinner) and I decided to do something I rarely do. “Today is the day to start from the left,” I said. For the ones who don’t know, at this particular Safeway, the left side of the beer aisle refrigerator is reserved for a very special kind of beer.


Ok, maybe it’s not fair to call it “shitty” beer.. let’s call it “unfortunate” beer. Yes, that's better. The left side of the beer cooler at this Safeway is the land of misfortune.

Fortunately for me, however, I happened upon a gem of magnificent beauty.

Now, since most people reading this blog may not know my prediliction for drinking brew-dogs, let me explain. Where some say, “I love beer,” let's just say I throw up my fists and yell:

“Hooray for beer!!”

I mean, I grew up on beer: the first time I had a beer was [redacted] and that was the Summer I also learned how to ride a [redacted] without training-wheels. So, yeah, I've been drinking for at least [redacted] years. But enough about me, let's get back to the story...

As I stood across from the unforunates, something glimmered in the florescent Safeway lighting; lurking in the shadows, amidst the Miller High Life and Steel Reserve sat a local treasure calling my name.

Mind you, I'm not saying I had a Lord of the Rings moment wherein my "precious" was calling out to me; however, I'm not saying that I didn't have a Lord of the Rings moment either...the important point is what peered out from the wasteland of the unfortunates was none other than a Port City Optimal Wit.






And now for some background:

Port City Brewing Company is a craft brewery located minutes from Washington, DC—in Alexandria, Virginia.

Voted Washingtonian Magazine’s 2011 “Best Brewery Tour,” Port City Brewing Company is a local beer with attitude. ...well, I just made up that whole "with attitude thing"; but, suffice it to say that this beer is bang-a-lang-dangin. It would most likely get a "Very Nice" on my personal Likert scale... so, take that as you may.

Granted, I would have been happy had the story ended there, but not only did I find this local beer hidden amongst the shite, however, Port City’s “Optimal Wit” was the cornerstone to the recipe burning a hole in my pocket: The Homebrew Chef's Wit Braised Chicken.

The Homebrew Chef, Mr. Sean Paxton, has the following recipe on his website:


2 TBSP Olive Oil
3 Slices Pancetta, thick cut or bacon (optional)
1 Whole Chicken, cleaned and cut into 6th
(Leg/thigh, breast, wing)
Sea Salt and Pepper
2 TBSP All Purpose Flour
1 TSP Coriander, whole
1 TSP Orange Zest, dried
1 Each Leeks, cleaned and sliced
2 Each Shallots, peeled and diced, about 1 cup
3 TBSP Thyme Leaves, fresh
1 Bottle Wit Style Beer*, 750ml
1 Cup Chicken Stock, preferably homemade
1 Cup Heavy Cream, organic

So, in effort to recreate this recipe with a local twist I modified (and specified) the following:





3 Slices of Smithfield (Virginia) thick-cut bacon
1 Whole Chicken (Locally farmed, free-range, organic)
2 TBSP fresh Thyme from my garden
1 Bottle Port City Optimal Wit
1 Cup Organic Chicken Stock
1 Cup 1/2 and 1/2, organic

The result was delightful; my wife actually claimed it was, "Gravy-licious."



By using spices such as orange zest and coriander, I was really able to accentuate the undertones of the Optimal-Wit. Like most Belgian Wit beers, the Wit beer style of Port City's Optimal Wit has hints of both orange and coriander in its finish. According to Port City,

"Our Optimal Wit is brewed in the Belgian Wit Bier tradition. It is brewed with raw wheat and oats, and steeped with coriander, orange peel and grains of paradise. This ale is a pale golden color with a bit of cloudy haze from bottle conditioning. This unfiltered ale offers layers of complex, nuanced flavors that evolve in the glass. It finishes crisp and refreshes the palate."

The Homebrew Chef recommends using: "Blanche de Chambley from Unibroue, Blanche de Brugge, Hoegaarden or Celis White." Though of those beers I've only had the pleasure of sampling Hoegaarden, I can say that if the others are anything near the quality of Hoegaarden, reproducing this recipe with each beer would be a task worth undertaking.

A Hoegaarden on the patio is always a Summer treat:




Now that I've eaten all the Wit Braised Chicken left overs (and I've used the gravy in three meals since), I am ready to go back to Mr. Sean Paxton and see what other delights I am able to create with local beers.

Please feel free to comment or ask clarifying questions on the recipe. I find that Mr. Paxton includes the exact amount of detail an intermediate chef requires. Even so, however, I am pleased to offer any insights or recommendations on this recipe.

Until next time, remember to have a great day with a great beer.

Take it easy,

~Anton





July 29, 2011

Live from Legend Brewing Company - Richmond, VA


The last time I wrote about Legend, I was reporting from Barret's Seafood Restaurant in Williamsburg.  This time I'm going straight to the source.  To start things off, I went with the old standard, Legend Brown Ale, which according to the Legend website poll is preferred by over a third of responders.  To chase that down, I ordered a pretty respectable Kabob sandwich with a side of Brown Ale sauerkraut.  Believe it or not, you can actually taste the beer's influence on the kraut.  I understand not everyone is a fan of boiled cabbage, but if you appreciate the German culinary influence I suggest you give it a shot.

Next up, a cask-conditioned Pale Ale: smooth, with a substantial foam head and dominated by citrus and floral hop notes.  Given that this beer is made with four varieties of hops, it does demonstrate a pretty complex flavor.

And to round things out... I sampled a Smoked Chocolate Stout, and while I dig the smokey beers (something of a novelty in the States right now), I'm not too keen on drinking a whole pint of it at the end of a session.  Maybe at a barbecue.  I'm going for the IPA instead.

Surprisingly less hoppy than the Pale Ale, clear and golden, it's a little spicy and has the mouthfeel of a lager.  I like it!

Unfortunately, Legend only offers tours on Saturdays at 1pm, so I won't get a chance to see the inner workings of the brewery this time around.  I'll have to make that happen next time I'm in the area.  Stay tuned!

July 28, 2011

Whitsett, NC - Red Oak Brewery

Speaking of fresh, let's talk about Red Oak Brewery in North Carolina, my next stop after visiting Sweetwater Brewery in Atlanta.  Situated on I-85/40 between Greensboro and Chapel Hill, Red Oak is all about the fresh, Bavarian-style beer.  They adhere strictly to the German Purity Law of 1516 (aka Reinheitsgebot), which mandated that all beer made in Germany could only be made using barley, water, and noble hops (yeast hadn't been discovered yet).  Red Oak brews three varieties of unfiltered, unpasteurized lager:
  • Hummin' Bird - the lightest option, made with Pilsener malts and Tettnang hops
  • Red Oak Amber - their flagship, brewed with Munich malts and Spalt hops
  • Battlefield Bock - Red Oak's darkest beer, made using Dark Roasted malts and Czech Saaz hops
After sampling all three, I couldn't resist the chance to buy a growler of the Battlefield Bock.  Having just bought one, I didn't really need another growler, but the smooth coffee and chocolate flavors were right up my alley.  I guess I'm just destined for a growler collection.

While sampling the brews, a helpful employee gave us some history on Red Oak.  What made the biggest impression on me was Red Oak's commitment to doing one thing well.  They're not trying to be the next international brewing conglomerate.  Of course, because of state regulations Red Oak is only available in North Carolina.  See, if they brew more than 25,000 barrels of beer, state law requires that distribution be handed over to another party.  So Red Oak is going to hang right around 24,999 barrels a year and distribute their own product, thank you very much.  That way, they can make sure their beer gets where it needs to be in the proper condition.  I must say I respect Red Oak for sticking to their guns while they battle over the status quo.  With a number of breweries (like this one) selling out to the majors, Red Oak's calculated decision to limit production for the sake of their craft is to be appreciated.

July 21, 2011

Atlanta, GA: Sweetwater Brewery

Like Ray Charles I had Georgia on my mind, so I went down to Atlanta to visit my girl and check out the Sweetwater Brewery.  Many a Sunday afternoon in college were spent enjoying 2-4-1s at the Broadway Brewhouse in Nashville with a basket of chipotle chicken wings and a glass of Sweetwater 420 (this may sound familiar - my first beer review took place under similar circumstances).  I was pumped to see where the beer I remember so fondly was created.

June 20, 2011

Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn Brewery

Passing through New York City after the American Craft Beer Festival, one of the things I wanted to do was visit the Brooklyn Brewery. I'd just finished the book Beer School by the founders of the brewery, so I was excited to see the results of their efforts.

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge was a feat in itself - it must have been 100 degrees that day - so we were hot and thirsty once we got there. Situated in a very hipster part of Brooklyn called Williamsburg (coincidentally, the name of my hometown), the Brooklyn Brewery wasn't much more than a couple of brick warehouses - at least from the outside.

We were allowed to first wet our beaks on four of Brooklyn's beers. Our tour guide Justin led us through a sampling of their East India Pale Ale, Summer Ale, Local #2, and a Brewmaster's Reserve Concoction based on a cocktail called a Penicillin: scotch with lemon and ginger. They replicated those flavors by using British peat-smoked malt (to get the smokiness of Scotch) as well as lemon and ginger in the brewing of the beer. Prior to this tasting, I'd only had the Lager and Brown Ale, so I was glad to see that Brooklyn had some variety and the guts to push the boundaries a bit.

Now that we were cooled down and loosened up, Justin showed us through the brewhouse, pointing out the fermentation tanks, the canning and kegging lines, where the brewery was planning to expand, and giving us a little history along the way. Cool fact: the guy who designed the iconic I NY trademark, Milton Glaser, also created the logo for the Brooklyn Brewery.


After the tour, we went back to the tasting room and had a few more beers, enjoying the Pilsner, Brown Ale, and another glass of the EIPA.  I can't think of a better remedy for the New York City heat.  Believe it or not, most Americans live within 10 miles of a brewery. So get out there and support your local economy. Check out this website to find a brewery near you.

The Brooklyn Brewery tasting room.
Beer from the Brooklyn Brewery can be found in the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, DC.

Internationally, Brooklyn Brewery distributes to Canada, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK, Hong Kong, and Tokyo.

Pretty impressive!