Showing posts with label Lager. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lager. Show all posts

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.

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):

July 24, 2013

Tonight: Mother Earth Pairing Dinner at Ruka's Table

Late notice, yes, but this beer dinner sounds pretty amazing. Ruka's Table is in Highlands, NC, about
an hour southwest of Brevard.


For Immediate Release: 

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 8, 2013

Atlanta Beer, Bourbon, & BBQ Fest Recap

Chef Christopher Davis of NC's
Little Red Pig Championship BBQ
Cooking Team
While James was enjoying the Panama Micro Brew Fest, my girlfriend and I traveled down to Atlanta for the Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival at Atlantic Station. It was unusually cold, so cold that it actually snowed! (in Atlanta? in March? Yup.) As a touring festival with upcoming dates throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, here's a taste of what you can expect from upcoming editions (minus the cold, I hope).

The BEER

We started things off with a new local brewery, Monday Night Brewing from Atlanta, GA, and tried their Draft Kilt Scotch Ale (well-balanced bitterness, hint of smoke) and the Fu Manbrew Belgian-Style Wit (light, crisp, with a touch of ginger). Both solid beers.

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.

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 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 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:

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?

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.


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.

February 8, 2012

Panama Brews Part 1: The Macros

To make a longer story short, there are two large breweries here in Panama: Cervecería Nacional and Cervecería Barú Panamá. Just like in the United States, there are three main macro beers here (all light lagers) that just about everyone drinks.

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 24, 2011

Are Today's Lagers Really South American?

Mr. Pasteur himself.
I always thought of Lagers as a distinctly German invention (i.e. Red Oak Brewery's line of Bavarian-style lagers), but apparently strains of yeast used to make today's lagers can trace their heritage back to South America.  The researchers suggest that some yeast from the New World made its way back to Europe and crossed with another strain, which was found to perform well under cooler temperatures.  Of course it wasn't until the mid-1800s that Louis Pasteur discovered that yeast was the active ingredient in fermentation, so I imagine the crossing was accidental.

Maybe an early New World explorer brewed some beer for the trip home and reused those some barrels for another batch when he got back to Europe?  It could happen!

Read more here at Fast Company.

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.