Showing posts with label Pale Ale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pale 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.

September 4, 2013

Highlands, NC: Ruka's Table Masters the Beer Pairing Dinner

Narrow, winding roads lead into the mountains of Highlands, NC, the kind that make you wonder how the treads on your tires are doing. Suddenly the forest road opens up to offer sweeping views of the surrounding states. Located in a small resort town in the Nantahala National Forest, Ruka's Table sources ingredients from its neighbors in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, and delivers food fit for any of the best restaurants in Atlanta, DC, or New York City. Head Chef Justin Burdett recently presented a beer pairing dinner showcasing many of these local ingredients.

Prior to working at Ruka’s Table, Burdett was Chef de Cuisine at Miller Union, a highly regarded farm-to-table restaurant in Atlanta. In March 2013, he was named among the top chefs in the Southeast by Food & Wine Magazine. He has also competed on the Food Network show "Chopped" -- and won.

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.

August 1, 2013

The Grove Park Inn Goes Craft: Edison Craft Ales + Kitchen

The attractive interior space opens into
even more impressive mountain views.
Someone made a very wise move when they decided to make craft beer and local food the focal point of the Grove Park Inn's classy new restaurant. 

Edison Craft Ales + Kitchen carries ten North Carolina beers on tap, including several local brews. Edison will offer flights of up to four pours, allowing drinkers to sample some of North Carolina's finest ales and lagers. The draft beer selection is rounded out by number of quality canned and bottled beers, again with a focus on the regional and local.

May 24, 2013

Nashville, TN: Tennessee Brew Works Prepares to Bring Down the House

TN Brew Works Nashville
Last weekend in Nashville, I had the pleasure of meeting Garr Schwartz and Christian Spears, founders of the soon-to-open Tennessee Brew Works. This is a true craft brewery that will elevate the quality of the beer coming out of Nashville, the state of Tennessee, and the southeast United States.

When we pulled up to the former print shop at 809 Ewing Avenue, we weren't quite sure if we were in the right place. Located in a part of town that has probably seen better days, the brewery was still very much under construction.

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.

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.

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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.

January 28, 2013

How to Present an Incredible Beer and Cheese Tasting

This weekend's "No Whey Friday" beer and cheese tasting event absolutely lived up to expectations.

Beehive Barely Buzzed cheese
Michael Landis, of Atlanta Foods International, made an intoxicating presentation that stunned the 50 or so people in the meeting room at the Four Points Sheraton. As a Certified Cheese Professional, lead trainer for the Institut du Fromage, and international cheese judge, Michael brought expertise that made the event as educational as it was delicious. It was essentially a master class on how to conduct an amazing beer and cheese tasting.

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 5, 2012

Asheville, NC: A Weekend of Craft Beer, Community, and Good Causes

One month into being an official Asheville resident, I've had the pleasure of attending a handful of craft beer events in the new town. It's fantastic to be in a place where craft beer is mainstream. More than that though, this is a town where the beer business is aggressively involved in the community. More often than not, these events are tied to good causes of one kind or another. What better reason to go out for a beer?

Here's a brief recap of a couple events from the weekend:

Wee Bit Louder Fest

The first annual Wee Bit Louder Fest was held this past Saturday afternoon at Highland Brewing Company. Highland took fan suggestions for naming the festival, the "plugged-in" counterpart to Highland's Appalachian Breakdown Festival held in the summer.

The event started outdoors, taking advantage of Highland's new outdoor stage and the warm fall afternoon.

We started out by going into the Highland tasting room to sample the famed Sierra Nevada Beer Camp brews. In anticipation of their new Asheville location, Sierra Nevada invited 14 Western North Carolina breweries out to Chico for Beer Camp. They divided to the breweries into groups and brewed two commemorative ales:

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 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:

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 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 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!

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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."

May 27, 2012

Panama: La Rana Dorada

The craft beer scene in Panama remains small, but one of the major players right now is without a doubt La Rana Dorada. Run by the same people behind Colombia's hugely successful Bogota Beer Company, "The Golden Frog" has two locations that feature their four "cervezas artesanales con personalidad." That's "craft beer with personality" for all my gringo friends.

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.