Showing posts with label Vermont. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vermont. Show all posts

October 22, 2014

CiderFest Returns to WNC


Cider fans will soon gather in Asheville to celebrate one of the fastest growing segments of the craft beverage industry: hard cider. After a very successful 2013 event, CiderFest NC returns to Western North Carolina on November 2nd, 1pm-5pm. The cider festival will be held this year at the WNC Farmer's Market at 570 Brevard Rd.

In the US, the hard cider market has grown exponentially, tripling in production between 2011 and 2013. Locally, the cider industry is also growing rapidly. Noble Cider recently announced expansion plans, while newcomers Black Mountain Cider Works and Urban Orchard Cider have joined the party in the last year.

This year's CiderFest will host at least 16 different hard cider companies, including several local and regional cideries, plus a handful from as far away as Michigan, Vermont, and even Spain! The following cideries have been confirmed:
  • Naked Apple Hard Cider (NC)
  • St. Paul Vineyard (NC)
  • Black Mountain Ciderworks (NC)
  • Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill (SC)
  • Bull City Ciderworks (NC)
  • Fishing Creek Hard Cider (NC)
  • Urban Orchard Cider Co. (NC)
  • Noble Cider (NC)
  • Three Sisters Cidery (NC)
  • Bold Rock Hard Cider (VA)
  • Red Clay Ciderworks (NC)
  • Sourwood Brewing (NC)
  • Blake's Hard Cider (MI)
  • Woodchuck Hard Cider (VT)
  • McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks (NC)
  • Bereziartua (Spain)
In addition to hard cider, CiderFest attendees will have the opportunity to sample cheese and other artisanal foods. Non-alcoholic cider will also be available.

All proceeds from the event will support the WNC Green Building Council. Tickets can be purchased at CiderFestNC.com for $30. Kids and young adults 20 and under get in free.

It's apple season in the mountains! (image via WNCGBC)
Two happy cider fans (image via WNCGBC)

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.

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...

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):

March 1, 2013

Dandelion, Rye, Salt, and Coriander: Magic Hat's Spring Fever Mix

Magic Hat Variety Pack
It's March 1st and spring is so close, you can nearly taste it. It's time for the imperial stouts and other high-gravity beers to make way for something lighter, something that can be enjoyed out on the porch as we welcome the warmer weather.

Arriving on my doorstep last week were three such beers from Magic Hat's Spring Fever Mix variety pack: Pistil Dandelion Ale, Ticket to Rye IPA, and Saint Saltan Gose.

Using my Rate That Beer tasting sheet as a guide, I lined up all three for a tasting:

December 8, 2012

Burlington, VT: Magic Hat's Winterland Variety Pack


"A performance in every bottle."
Christmas came early for this beer writer. Arrived on my doorstep a week or so ago was a sampler of three beers from Magic Hat Brewing Company's Winterland Variety Pack. It may not be "local" for many readers (unless you live in Vermont), but the company widely known for their #9 "Not Quite Pale Ale" has some new seasonals out that might be worth a try. Plus, readers from Costa Rica may be interested in what the new Florida Ice and Farm/Cervecería Costa Rica subsidiary has to offer.

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:

February 8, 2012