Showing posts with label Imperial Stout. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Imperial Stout. 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.

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):

February 4, 2013

First Taste with Burial Beer Co.

Asheville Burial Beer CompanySet to open this spring, Burial Beer Co. will be one of several businesses sure to revitalize Asheville's South Slope neighborhood and convert the somewhat defunct, semi-industrial part of town into Asheville's new beer district. Burial Beer Co. will be within walking distance of Green Man Brewery and Asheville Brewing Company, and soon, Twin Leaf Brewery and a number of new restaurants will join them nearby.

I recently sat down with the three owners of Burial Beer Co. to talk about their plans. There's something about looking into the eyes of young entrepreneurs as they share their dreams with you -- you can't help but take part in their excitement.

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:

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.

December 12, 2012

Brevard, NC: Oskar Blues Opens in North Carolina

Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard, NC
Photo credit: Beertography.com
The first of the "Big Three" breweries coming to Western North Carolina is officially open. Based in Longmont, Colorado, Oskar Blues' second brewery is located in Brevard, NC, just about 30 minutes from downtown Asheville. Famous for their canned craft beers like Dale's Pale Ale, Mama's Little Yella Pils, and Old Chub Scotch Ale, Oskar Blues decided to expand to the area for the water, the outdoor living, and Western North Carolina's borderline-obsessive beer culture.

November 16, 2012

Asheville, NC: New Belgium Tasting and Cold Mountain Release Party

It was a special night in Asheville, with a New Belgium tasting event and the release of Highland Brewing Company's highly anticipated Cold Mountain Winter Ale.

New Belgium Tasting at Bruisin’ Ales

New Belgium Asheville - Bruisin' Ales
Bruisin' Ales ("A High-Gravity World of Brews") is a bottle shop on 66 Broadway St., right in downtown Asheville. It's not a huge shop, but nonetheless they are very well stocked. They have great selection of imports (Schneiderwiesse etc.), plus the likes of Dogfish Head, Evil Twin, and a respectable number of regional beers as well. It was a busy night, with a good turnout of beer drinkers looking forward to New Belgium's forthcoming Asheville brewery.

October 18, 2012

GABF Recap: Part 1

Last week, I went to the Great American Beer Festival as a representative of the North Carolina Brewers Guild. I didn't drink as much as a lot of people at GABF, but I had my fill and had an awesome time in Denver, probably one of the best beer and food cities in the US. Here's the highlight reel from my long weekend:

Wednesday

Arriving Wednesday afternoon, I went straight to Great Divide Brewing Company in downtown Denver on Arapahoe and 22nd Street. The place was slammed with GABF pre-gamers and a disproportionate number of bearded men. I got an Oak-Aged Yeti, a big, robust Imperial Stout, which at 9.5% kept me good and warm.

Next stop, I went with my cousin and his roommate over to the Walnut Room for pizza and a Fat Tire, the classic amber ale from Colorado's own New Belgium Brewing Company. It was nice to get away from the GABF hot zone for a bit to see part of the "real" Denver, which turned out to be a theme that carried on through the weekend and made for a unique experience.

After dinner, I played it safe and got some much needed rest for the days ahead.

August 9, 2012

Nashville, TN: Flying Saucer Presents BeerFeast 2012

Tickets are on sale today for BeerFeast 2012, taking place September 22 at the Flying Saucer in Nashville.

Obsidian PR announces:
Flying Saucer will host its third annual beer festival, BeerFeast 2012, on Saturday, Sept. 22 from 1 to 6 p.m. in front of the Flying Saucer location in downtown Nashville at 111 Tenth Ave. South. BeerFeast 2012 will feature an unlimited beer tasting session highlighting more than 40 breweries and 60 beers carefully selected by Flying Saucer’s own resident beer guru, Keith Schlabs, and Nashville Flying Saucer general manager, Brandi Allen. 
 “This event allows us to showcase a large selection of rare and unique brews for Nashville craft brew lovers to enjoy,” Allen said. “With more than 60 different craft beers on hand for this event, we are more than doubling the amount of beers we have had at festivals in previous years, and it will be a great opportunity to sample and experience some really fantastic brews.”
Among the hard-to-find brews being served at this year's festival are Ommegang's Belgian Strong Ale Art of Darkness (98 points on RateBeer), Rogue's Dad's Little Helper Black IPA (90 points), and Left Hand's Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout. Plus, be on the lookout for a number of local Nashville beers.

Visit Beerfeast2012.com to take advantage of the early-bird discount or pick up your tickets at the Saucer.

For more information about the event or to purchase tickets, please call 615-259-3039 or visit http://www.beerknurd.com/stores/nashville/.

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.

May 6, 2012

Announced: World Beer Cup 2012 Winners

This just in:

Winners of the 2012 World Beer Cup, a.k.a. "the Olympics of Beer Competition," have just been announced by the Brewers Association.  Brewers around the world are surely celebrating with a Sunday brew!

Special shout outs to some of the breweries from my travels:
  • Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Richmond, VA
    • Category 6: Herb and Spice Beer
      • Bronze Medal: Hardywood Gingerbread Stout
  • Blue Mountain Brewery, Afton, VA
    • Category 17: American-Belgo-Style Ale
      • Silver Medal: Blue Reserve
  • Devils Backbone Brewing Co., Roseland, VA
    • Category 35: Vienna-Style Lager
      • Gold Medal: Vienna Lager
  • Boscos Brewing Co., Memphis, TN
    • Category 52: German-Style Pale Wheat Ale
      • Gold Medal: Boscos Hefeweizen
  • Revolution Brewing, Chicago, IL
    • Category 66: English-Style Summer Ale
      • Gold Medal: Cross of Gold
    • Category 94: American-Style Stout,
      • Gold Medal: Rise American Stout
  • The Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
    • Category 79: British-Style Imperial Stout
      • Bronze Medal: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

It's a big world of beer out there!  Check out the full list of winners here.


July 2, 2011

Washington, DC - Day 1: Capitol City Brewing Co.

In DC for the weekend, I wanted to be sure to visit some of the local breweries - that's what I do.  First stop: Capitol City Brewing Company, which has three locations in the DC and Northern VA area.  I visited the one downtown, not far from the White House and the Washington Monument.  Even before I got there I overheard people talking about it on street.

I'll say right off the bat my favorite thing about Capitol City was the feel of it.  Giant windows all the way around and exposed duct work in the ceiling made it very spacious and welcoming.  It had a huge round bar covered in copper that was full of people getting the holiday weekend off to a good start.

The plan was to have a couple beers and head to the Folklife Festival on the National Mall.  Plans, unfortunately, don't always survive in this line of work.  I didn't make it to the Fest, but I did try most of the beers at Capitol City.
  • Prohibition Porter - Relatively light-bodied, with lots of coffee and biscuit flavor.  A good, standard Porter.
  • Belgian Cherry - It had a nice red color to it with a great cherry aroma.  On the first taste, the bitter and cherry flavors just didn't seem to work well together, but it started to grow on me about halfway through.  Pretty tart on the finish.
  • Fuel - Probably the best of what I tried.  This coffee-infused imperial stout packed a punch at 8.5% alcohol.  Strong coffee flavors did well though to mask the higher alcohol content.
  • Amber Waves Ale - A good amber ale with a satisfying hop bitterness and a nice smooth feel to it.
  • Saison - Almost like a hefeweizen - straw yellow and cloudy, but a lot more tangy than sweet.
This bar proved that a good feel and above average brews go a long way to making a winning combination.  Next up: District Chophouse and Brewery.