Showing posts with label IPA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label IPA. Show all posts

August 14, 2012

Craft Beer in Cans: 9 to Try Today

Photo: CraftCans.com
You may have noticed an increase in the number of canned craft beers on the market lately. The benefits of canning are numerous:
  • Cans reduce the amount of light that can hit the beer, potentially "skunking" those delicious hop compounds
  • Cans weigh less than glass, reducing cost transportation costs
  • Cans are more recycled than glass and plastic
  • Cans go where glass can't, poolside, on a hike, or to a music festival for example
Some may question whether canned beer tastes the same as it's bottled counterpart, but I know for a fact that there are some very good canned beers out there.

Here are nine craft beers in the can to look out for:

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... 

August 2, 2012

It's IPA Day: 5 Favorites from the Local Beer Blog

Fuller's IPA, in the English style.
Today is International IPA Day, a celebration of what is probably America's most popular style of craft beer, the India Pale Ale.

But the style was not invented in the US. I'll quickly relate its origins:

IPAs emerged way back when, during the height of the British Empire. To satiate her troops abroad, Britain would ship beer to its colonies, most notably India. Utilizing the natural antimicrobial properties of the hop flower, the ale was aggressively hopped with as much as four or five pounds of hops per barrel so that it may survive the long voyage. The style gained popularity in the mid-1800s, then faded away until fairly recently.

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.

June 30, 2012

Nashville, TN: Craft Beer Bars and Brewpubs in Music City

Next stop after Asheville: Nashville!

Often times when you talk about Asheville people think you say "Nashville" and vice-versa. But where Asheville is Beer City USA, Nashville is undeniably Music City USA. It's an important distinction when comparing the two cities on the craft beer spectrum, but still, Nashville has plenty to offer the craft beer lover, and the options are quickly increasing. It just helps to know where to look.

When I lived in Nashville, Yazoo Brewing was about the only spot on the map. It's still the big contender in Music City, and I definitely recommend stopping by their taproom. Their Imperial Smoked Porter, a beer named Sue, is a must-try.

For this visit, however, I wanted to highlight a few spots around town that might carry Yazoo as well as some other local and regional beers.

June 19, 2012

Charleston, SC: Closed for Business

After depositing our spoils from CBX, Cristina and I strolled up King Street to see what other Charleston beers we could find at Closed for Business.  Featured as one of Draft Magazine's Best Beer Bars of 2012, this pub has 42 taps, including select craft beer from across the country and many of the local drafts.  All the beers are available in 10 oz., 16 oz., or 1-Liter servings, and you can also fill up a growler to take home.  Food-wise, Closed for Business prides itself on buying local, sourcing from producers such as Ashley Bakery, Bell Honey, Fresh Pickleworks, Mepkin Abbey, and a number of local farms.

We walked in and started with some Crispy Green Beans (with homemade ranch), a Holy City Weak Sauce Stout, and a Coast HopArt IPA.  The beers were both good, but those green beans were killer...

June 14, 2012

The Charleston Beer Exchange

The Charleston Beer Exchange ought to be a certified craft beer Mecca -- any beer fan passing through the area MUST make a stop here. From the top regional brews to the most obscure beers from around the world, CBX has just about every kind of craft beer you can think of, and then some. They've got hundreds of bottles and cans, more or less arranged by region, plus nine taps at the growler station that change on a regular basis. Stay up to date with what's on tap here.

June 13, 2012

Charleston, SC: Westbrook Brewing Co.



The first stop in Charleston -- literally, the very first stop -- was Westbrook Brewing Company. We were on our way to a dinner, but since I happen to be half-Westbrook myself (mother's side), we just had to visit.

June 11, 2012

Alpharetta, GA: 5 Seasons Restaurant & Brewery

I've been hitting the road pretty hard lately; now it's time to get caught up. This is post #100! Here goes!

-----

For my first brewpub adventure of this state-side road trip, I decided to check out 5 Seasons Restaurant and Brewery. There are three locations in the greater Atlanta area: Westside, Sandy Springs, and Alpharetta. My girlfriend and I went to the Alpharetta location for their weekly Cask Ale tapping (every Thursday at 5:55pm), but also because of the 5 Seasons philosophy that focuses on buying local ingredients and using what's in season:

"At the 5 Seasons we source much of our produce and meats from local and sustainable farms when they are in their peak of flavor.  That is what we call the '5th Season.'  From these wonderful ingredients we prepare a plethora of specials every day."

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!


June 6, 2012

Costa Rica: Treintaycinco - La Fábrica Artesanal de Cervezas

cerveceria treintaycinco costa rica
Some people say you must be insane to try to make craft beer in Costa Rica. Well, the guys at Treintaycinco may very well be crazy, but I think they're onto something.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Ignacio Castro Cortinas, one of the founding members of Treintaycinco, a small craft brewery soon to hit the market. Treintaycinco is a trio of Venezuelans made up of Ignacio, his best friend from college, and his brother-in-law. At first they were told they were nuts to try it, that Ticos would never get past drinking Imperial. OK, fine: they're doing it anyways, with attitude and a distinctive local flavor. Their venture is currently located just outside of San Jose in the town of Escazú, where Nathanael Montaño does most of the brewing, and Ignacio and Luis Alfredo "Frito" Araque focus on branding and recipe development.

My first question was, how did they come up with the name Treintaycinco?

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 15, 2012

Napa, CA: Napa Smith's Organic IPA

Today we have a guest post from Eugene Kolankowsky, one of the masterminds behind the blog A Tale of Two Brewers.  Bringing us a taste of the West Coast, this is a review of Napa Smith Brewery's Organic IPA.  Which raises an interesting question: Is organic beer any better than non-organic beer?  Well, I know organic is better for the environment (no pesticides, no herbicides, maintains healthy soil), but does it make for a better tasting beer?  In this case, it just might -- Napa Smith's Organic IPA won a Silver Medal for Traditional IPA at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival.  But let's see what Eugene has to say about it...


I had a pleasant surprise the other day. I don't know how many of you know the world of engineering, or office life in general. If you aren't familiar consider yourself lucky. Carpeted walls appeal to two types of people, engineers and the mentally disturbed. I digress. But if you're familiar with that world you know that when lunchtime comes around, the offices empty, and the workers spread like vultures to pray on the local eateries.

Well I was out with some of my fellow vultures the other day. Coming out of the burger joint I noticed a sign saying "craft beer sale." Craft beer? Sale? I'm all over that like a chick on Coach. I walked into a little place called "Wine Styles." Truth be told I usually avoid wino's. They tend to fall into the same category as your standard Beer Snob. Well after I walked around clueless for a minute, I was able to chat it up with one of the winos, Lynzie (nope, that's spelled right). The selection of craft beer is small, but diverse. And Lynzie, unlike your typical wino, is extremely friendly and is just as willing to learn about things as she is to share information. In asking about the selection of craft beer she informed me that she's always ordering different stuff, so keep on checking in. I couldn't help but shamelessly promote my blog, and handed her a card. She was very excited about the card and told me how she couldn't wait to check it out. Lynzie, if you think complements will work on me, you are absolutely correct. Flattery gets you everywhere in this world.

Which brings me to my first beer review purchased from this store! Napa Smith Brewery: Organic IPA. From Napa, California (what a guess), this IPA weighs in at a hardy 7.1% ABV, which is hovering at the upper end of the style guidelines. It comes in a thick brown glass bottle, with label artwork much alike wino's artwork... conservative. Which is fine, but certainly doesn't make some of the crazy statements like Flying Dog does. And it's organic! Organic is always good. Let's rock.

The beer pours an almost opaque sandy brown color. If this beer is supposed to be filtered, someone better call the mechanic. A golden layer of head with great retention floats above the beer. A potent aroma of hops is present, which fills the nose and remains even while I finish writing this sentence. First sip smacks you in the mouth much like a good hoppy beer tends to. Probably a variety of good ol' American hops, but light on the Cascade. Honestly, Cascade is really the only one I'm good at recognizing, oh well. After a few consecutive sips and swirls, the IPA certainly has some subtle fruity backgrounds, mostly citrus (could be from hops or actual fruit). The mixture of hops and citrus is very long lasting, and may even last just as long as the buzz from the 7.1%. A good beer with some unique tastes to it. Definitely come back to this one.

Anyone out there have this? What do you think? Post a comment!

December 14, 2011

Chicago, IL - Beer School Day 2

On Day 2 of the Siebel course, we hit the ground running and dove straight into some spreadsheets. Tim Lane of Goose Island Brewpubs led the session and guided the class through various charts, sales projections and cost analyses, demonstrating how important the math can be when running a restaurant.

Just a few of the things you need to ask yourself if you want your pub to be successful: What's the average check amount? How many turns of the tables each day? What's the profit margin on each menu item? What are your projected sales minus the total cost of goods sold and payroll and other expenses? Bottom line: Serving food really complicates things.

December 6, 2011

Chicago, IL - My Kind of (Beer) Town

Finally, I've had a chance to check out the city Sinatra's been singing about -- Chicago.

I was in the Windy City last week taking a Start Your Own Brewery course through the Siebel Institute.  The 3-day seminar was held at the Goose Island Pub in the Clybourn neighborhood and covered a wide range of topics, including business plan development, site selection and construction, brewpub operations, starting a packaging brewery, distribution, marketing, and much more.  The class was moderated by Ray Daniels, author of the highly-rated homebrewing manual Designing Great Beers.  For each segment of the class, Ray brought in different players from the Chicago and Midwest beer scene to talk about their experiences.  I was pleasantly surprised with both the breadth and depth of the course.  Hearing from people who had actually been successful in the beer business was both inspiring and eye-opening.

DAY 1 started with a brief overview of the course and introductions by each of the students in the class.  The 53 students came from all over the country.  I noticed the class was about 80-90% bearded male, a trend commented on here and inspiring this brewer and his blog.  Anyways, I digress.

October 7, 2011

Atlanta, GA: Wrecking Bar Brewpub

Have you ever been to a restaurant where every single thing you try is fantastic?  That's what happened this past weekend at the Wrecking Bar Brewpub in the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta.  I discovered what is possibly the best brewpub in the South.

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 23, 2011

Holland, MI: New Holland's Farmhouse Hatter

What? The bottle says it's a Farmhouse IPA -- so is it a Saison or an India Pale Ale?

Well, it's both. On a recent trip up to Ann Arbor, Michigan, I stopped by Whole Foods to see what "the Wolverine State" had to offer. This 22 oz bottle from New Holland Brewing grabbed my attention -- the label is great, and the description was pretty intriguing:

"Fermentation character from Belgian-born yeast envelops bright hop character with a spicy, tart farmhouse funk. Pairings: seafood, fennel, mushrooms, pickled veggies."

Lacking any seafood, fennel, mushrooms, or pickled veggies, I had to try the Farmhouse Hatter straight up.

As you can see, the beer poured a huge head which continued bubbling up for several minutes. There was a big citrus and floral hop aroma -- Cascade, if I had to guess, but don't hold me to it. Also a caramel sweetness in the smell. My first reaction when I tasted the beer was that it was way out of sync with the smell -- a bit of a shock. The main taste was the tartness, the "farmhouse funk" that comes from the Belgian yeast they used.

As I went deeper into the bottle other characteristics started to come through. I found there to be more hop bitterness than hop flavor, but there was still some citrus action in there. Overall, I thought the beer was highly sessionable, despite all of the unusual flavors mixed together. Very similar to the Springhouse Ale I had a couple weeks ago, and for a beer with an identity crisis, it turned out to be very interesting and easy-drinking -- not an easy feat!

Cheers to New Holland for pushing the boundaries!

Here's a close-up of the character on the bottle:

Sorry Johnny Depp, this guy's way cooler.

August 4, 2011

It's IPA Day - Starr Hill's Northern Lights

After a long first day at my new job, I'm happy to finally be able to indulge in this holiest of beer holidays. OK - I had no idea an IPA Day even existed until I saw it on Twitter the other day, but I'm not going to let that stop me.

To celebrate, I'm reviewing Northern Lights - an IPA from Starr Hill Brewery, which was founded in 1999 in Charlottesville, VA. Today, the brewery is located just down the road in Crozet, VA, which I just found out is not a town but a census-designated place. Odd.

Back to the beer.

Northern Lights pours a nice reddish-amber color, with a substantial head. The smell is hoppy for sure, mostly a sweeter citrus and floral character. The taste compliments the aroma very well. It's not overwhelmingly bitter. The floral and citrus notes give way to a slight malty sweetness that you might expect from an amber or red ale.

I think some hop-heads might want a little more bitterness, but in my book, Northern Lights gets very high marks.

Look for it in Virginia, Washington, DC, Maryland, Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida.