Showing posts with label Brown Ale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brown Ale. 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!

September 11, 2013

Recap: High Country Craft Beer and Food Festival

It's been a busy past couple weeks in the craft beer world! It's the end of the summer, and it seems that everyone wants to squeeze out as many beer festivals as possible before the cold weather sets in.

This past Friday was the New Belgium "Clips" Beer and Film Tour in Asheville, while the weekend before was the High Country Beer Festival at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.

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...

May 20, 2013

Asheville, NC: Hi-Wire Brewing Poised for Success


When a brewery vacated the space at 197 Hilliard Avenue and offered up their equipment for sale, Adam Charnack and Chris Frosaker saw an opportunity. They crunched some numbers, drew up a business plan, and are now co-owners of Hi-Wire Brewing Company, Asheville's newest brewery to join the local beer scene.

The artwork for Hi-Wire's Lager is
attractive and eye-catching.
(via Hi-Wire's Facebook page)
I spoke with Adam and Chris last week as they supervised the final construction process of their brewery and taproom. Right out of the gate, Hi-Wire will provide Asheville with four, quality, year-round brews: Bed of Nails Brown Ale, Prime Time Pale Ale, Hi-Pitch IPA, and Hi-Wire Lager. Their goal is to offer "good, authentic, sessionable beers," said Charnack. He and Chris feel that they can fill a niche in Asheville with traditional, unpretentious beers and a welcoming space in which to serve them. I tried their Czech-style lager: crisp, clear and full of assertive noble hops. These guys know what they’re doing.

March 6, 2013

First Ever Micro Brew Fest Rocks Panama

Brewdog in Panama
Scotland's BrewDog was one of the
international craft breweries
served at the festival.
Photo credit: James Bloomfield
This weekend, the Republic of Panama enjoyed its first annual Panama Micro Brew Fest. 

Casa Bruja, one of Panama's newest craft breweries, was instrumental in organizing the craft beer festival. Richo Fernandez, Casa Bruja's Creative Director, reports that 900 tickets were sold for the event.

I asked a friend, James Bloomfield, to share a few words and some photos from the festival.

-----

Panama isn't exactly known for its good beer festivals.

At least, not til now.

So what happened? Well, the first Panama Micro Brew Fest happened, throwing open its taps to serve Panama a decent pinta. With more than twenty different styles of craft beer, the brew fest hosted some of Panama’s best up and coming breweries. Alongside international craft breweries such as Scotland's Brewdog and Oregon's Rogue, local legends Istmo Brew Pub and La Rana Dorada served their best, while craft beer newcomers Casa Bruja and Cervecería Legítima introduced themselves to the Panamanian crowd.

November 20, 2012

Chapel Hill, NC: Homebrew for Hunger 2012

At the second annual Homebrew for Hunger festival, nearly 50 homebrewers and nine craft breweries teamed up to raise money and canned food for those in need.

The event, 
held at the West End Public in downtown Chapel Hill, raised over $8,500 through ticket sales and raffles to support PORCH, a volunteer organization providing hunger relief to families in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area. 

The event was expanded from one session last year to two this year in order to accomodate more tasters and to raise more money. Still, the event completely sold out in advance. 

October 25, 2012

GABF Recap: Part 2

The remainder of the Great American Beer Festival and the long weekend in Denver was a blast. A little hazy, a little rough on the body, but packed with good food, good times, and great beer. (Read Part 1 here.)

Friday

The Kitchen's Portobello Sandwich with a
Denver Beer Co. Summer Ale.
After some much needed sleep and lots of water, Friday began with another trek up the Cherry Creek Trail towards downtown. I stopped in for lunch at the Kitchen, located on the corner of 16th and Wazee St. in LoDo.

Anticipating that some veggies might help soak up the beer ahead, I opted for the Portobello Sandwich. Locally-baked ciabatta with sautéed red onions, gouda cheese, house-made hummus, and greens -- the sandwich was fantastic! The mushrooms, onions, and greens were all regionally sourced and organic. The sandwich was accompanied by house fries (from organic Idaho potatoes) and homemade ketchup. (Homemade ketchup? Gotta try that!) Some Denver Beer Company Summer Ale washed it down. Awesome.

Heading to the festival a little early, I walked around the convention center for a bit sans crowd and snapped some photos.

October 8, 2012

Gracias Panama, Hello Asheville

It's time to announce a big transition for me and the Local Beer Blog. Over the past few weeks, I've departed Panama and moved back to the US. Until further notice, the Local Beer Blog will be based out of BeerCity USA: Asheville, NC! Makes sense, right?

August 4, 2012

In Chicago for Lollapalooza? Try These 7 Local Beers

Photo: Brett Gustafson

So you're in Chi-town for Lollapalooza Music Festival and wondering if there are any local craft beers worth a try. You're in luck  Chicago is a great craft beer city with plenty to choose from. Just don’t try to carry them into the festival – no outside food or drink. You've been warned... 

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.

June 7, 2012

Back in the USA!

USA Craft Beer Map from SwiftMaps.com
After about four months of living in Panama, I am back in the USA for a month to visit friends and family.  I intend to take advantage of this time back in the Southeast to check out some cities both new and familiar, to visit as many breweries and brewpubs as I can, and of course enjoy some great beer and food.

Naturally, about the first thing I wanted to do was go to the good old American grocery store and survey the beer aisle.  (Insert songs of heavenly angels here.)  The selection!  The variety!  Renowned beers from American breweries coast to coast!  IPAs!  I restrained myself and did a build-your-own six pack of some more or less regional beers:

  • Red Brick Hoplanta (GA) - "Hoppier than a bullfrog with a stubbed toe!"
  • Sweetwater Georgia Brown (GA) - "Smoother than a Bill Clinton apology!"
  • Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale (DE) - "A cross between a Scotch Ale, an India Pale Ale and an American Brown, Indian Brown Ale is well-hopped and malty at the same time (It's magical!)."
  • Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (DE) - "60 Minute IPA is continuously hopped -- more than 60 hop additions over a 60-minute boil."
  • Sweetwater Exodus Porter (GA) - "First brewed on Bob Marley’s birthday, this Legend-ary porter initially delivers distinct irie hop notes which transcend into rich waves of chocolate, creating a multidimensional taste experience!"
  • Abita Jockamo IPA (LA) - "The flavor is bold like the Mardi Gras Indians who march through New Orleans in suits of feathers and beads."

Let this mark the beginning of an excellent state-side adventure!

Beer, glorious beer!


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 26, 2012

Costa Rica: La Primera Festival Cerveza Artesanal

While craft beer is taking the US by storm, the movement in other parts of the world is just starting to gain momentum. This past Saturday was the first ever Festival Cerveza Artesanal in Costa Rica, organized by the small but growing community of craft breweries, homebrewers, retailers, and enthusiasts in this Latin American country known for its ecotourism and laid back, Pura Vida attitude. (Pura Vida translates to "the good life" or "the pure life" and can be used to say hello, goodbye, or in response to the question "how's it going?")

The festival was held outdoors on the swanky shopping strip Avenida Escazú, in a suburb of San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. The weather was perfect, with a good mix of both Ticos and foreigners arriving for the event right on time.

March 6, 2012

Panama Brews Part 2: The Imports (or Are They?)

Panama City, located on the Southern access of the Panama Canal, is considered by many to be the economic hub of Latin America. Each year, roughly 14,000 ships pass through the Canal, which in 2011 generated some $1.7 billion in revenue for this developing country. These numbers will surely increase with the ongoing Canal Expansion Project. Not surprisingly, economic activity like this attracts international attention -- which translates directly to the selection on the beer aisle.

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 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 28, 2011

NOVA Brew Fest

A beautiful day, beautiful people, and lots of delicious beer.  Not a bad way to spend a weekend.


The Northern Virginia Brew Fest was held this past Saturday and Sunday in Leesburg, VA, about an hour west of Washington, DC.  Roughly 50 breweries were in attendance, plus arts & crafts vendors and some local bands.  I went up to volunteer, but had plenty of time to sample brews before, during, and after the event.

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!

June 3, 2011

Richmond, VA: Legend's Brown Ale

OK so I actually had this beer in Williamsburg, but Richmond's just an hour away so I think it counts as local.  Hey, it's better than having it shipped from California or Europe, right?

Anyways I ordered an 'imperial pint' of this stuff at a great restaurant in Colonial Williamsburg called Berret's Seafood Restaurant and Taphouse Grill.  I wasn't sure how Legend's Brown Ale would do with seafood, but I knew the beer was good so I went with it.  This beer had a red-brown color and a very prominent caramel aroma, which carried through on the taste as well with a sweet, but not too sweet, flavor.  Not much hops taste on this one.  What blew me away was how well this beer went with our seafood - and not just the Legend Brown Ale Battered Shrimp, either (which were excellent).  This beer actually served pretty well as a palate cleanser as I went from pesto calamari and crab cakes to my sole and scallops baked in parchment paper with sun-dried tomato and spinach pasta.  Let's just say my stomach was quite happy at the end of this meal!

Icing on the cake?  Virginia Peanut Pie with vanilla ice cream and chocolate granache.  Mmmmmm...

Next time you're in Williamsburg and want a really good meal - go to Berret's.