Showing posts with label Washington DC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Washington DC. Show all posts

March 27, 2013

State of the Craft Beer Industry: A Report from CBC13

Happening this week in Washington, DC, is the 2013 Craft Brewers Conference, an annual gathering of craft brewers from around the country hosted by the Brewers Association. The BA is the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting small and independent craft brewers in the US. While I didn't attend the event, I listened in this morning to the Brewers Association "State of the Craft Brewing Industry" tele-press conference.

Craft Beer is Surging

Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association, opened by talking about general industry trends. Over the past five years, the beer industry as a whole has been contracting, while the craft beer segment has been expanding rapidly at the expense of the large "macro" breweries. We've seen recently that regional craft breweries, such as Green Flash and New Belgium, have decided to build second breweries in other parts of the country to meet high demand and to facilitate the distribution of their products from coast to coast. Gatza speculated that we will see more of these satellite breweries in the months and years to come.

Gatza also mentioned the development of a new Brewers Association website, KegReturn.com, designed to help brewers avoid profit loss through lost kegs. There is an estimated cost of $5-15 million when kegs, owned by the breweries who fill them, go missing. (Read the press release here.)

August 12, 2011

A Local Gem: Hidden in the Rough




Hello, all!

It's Anton again and I'm stoked to follow up David's post about the taxation of beer.

Though I want to write more about the economics of beer, I will save that for my next post since I've been delaying the following for some time.

Alas, in this post, I will be introducing some (and perhaps reintroducing others) to one of my new favorite local beers. Kick back, grab a brew, and build up an appetite because I'm putting on my chef hat and cooking locally (with beer)!
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So, the other day I was in Safeway gathering items for the nightly feast (a.k.a. dinner) and I decided to do something I rarely do. “Today is the day to start from the left,” I said. For the ones who don’t know, at this particular Safeway, the left side of the beer aisle refrigerator is reserved for a very special kind of beer.


Ok, maybe it’s not fair to call it “shitty” beer.. let’s call it “unfortunate” beer. Yes, that's better. The left side of the beer cooler at this Safeway is the land of misfortune.

Fortunately for me, however, I happened upon a gem of magnificent beauty.

Now, since most people reading this blog may not know my prediliction for drinking brew-dogs, let me explain. Where some say, “I love beer,” let's just say I throw up my fists and yell:

“Hooray for beer!!”

I mean, I grew up on beer: the first time I had a beer was [redacted] and that was the Summer I also learned how to ride a [redacted] without training-wheels. So, yeah, I've been drinking for at least [redacted] years. But enough about me, let's get back to the story...

As I stood across from the unforunates, something glimmered in the florescent Safeway lighting; lurking in the shadows, amidst the Miller High Life and Steel Reserve sat a local treasure calling my name.

Mind you, I'm not saying I had a Lord of the Rings moment wherein my "precious" was calling out to me; however, I'm not saying that I didn't have a Lord of the Rings moment either...the important point is what peered out from the wasteland of the unfortunates was none other than a Port City Optimal Wit.






And now for some background:

Port City Brewing Company is a craft brewery located minutes from Washington, DC—in Alexandria, Virginia.

Voted Washingtonian Magazine’s 2011 “Best Brewery Tour,” Port City Brewing Company is a local beer with attitude. ...well, I just made up that whole "with attitude thing"; but, suffice it to say that this beer is bang-a-lang-dangin. It would most likely get a "Very Nice" on my personal Likert scale... so, take that as you may.

Granted, I would have been happy had the story ended there, but not only did I find this local beer hidden amongst the shite, however, Port City’s “Optimal Wit” was the cornerstone to the recipe burning a hole in my pocket: The Homebrew Chef's Wit Braised Chicken.

The Homebrew Chef, Mr. Sean Paxton, has the following recipe on his website:


2 TBSP Olive Oil
3 Slices Pancetta, thick cut or bacon (optional)
1 Whole Chicken, cleaned and cut into 6th
(Leg/thigh, breast, wing)
Sea Salt and Pepper
2 TBSP All Purpose Flour
1 TSP Coriander, whole
1 TSP Orange Zest, dried
1 Each Leeks, cleaned and sliced
2 Each Shallots, peeled and diced, about 1 cup
3 TBSP Thyme Leaves, fresh
1 Bottle Wit Style Beer*, 750ml
1 Cup Chicken Stock, preferably homemade
1 Cup Heavy Cream, organic

So, in effort to recreate this recipe with a local twist I modified (and specified) the following:





3 Slices of Smithfield (Virginia) thick-cut bacon
1 Whole Chicken (Locally farmed, free-range, organic)
2 TBSP fresh Thyme from my garden
1 Bottle Port City Optimal Wit
1 Cup Organic Chicken Stock
1 Cup 1/2 and 1/2, organic

The result was delightful; my wife actually claimed it was, "Gravy-licious."



By using spices such as orange zest and coriander, I was really able to accentuate the undertones of the Optimal-Wit. Like most Belgian Wit beers, the Wit beer style of Port City's Optimal Wit has hints of both orange and coriander in its finish. According to Port City,

"Our Optimal Wit is brewed in the Belgian Wit Bier tradition. It is brewed with raw wheat and oats, and steeped with coriander, orange peel and grains of paradise. This ale is a pale golden color with a bit of cloudy haze from bottle conditioning. This unfiltered ale offers layers of complex, nuanced flavors that evolve in the glass. It finishes crisp and refreshes the palate."

The Homebrew Chef recommends using: "Blanche de Chambley from Unibroue, Blanche de Brugge, Hoegaarden or Celis White." Though of those beers I've only had the pleasure of sampling Hoegaarden, I can say that if the others are anything near the quality of Hoegaarden, reproducing this recipe with each beer would be a task worth undertaking.

A Hoegaarden on the patio is always a Summer treat:




Now that I've eaten all the Wit Braised Chicken left overs (and I've used the gravy in three meals since), I am ready to go back to Mr. Sean Paxton and see what other delights I am able to create with local beers.

Please feel free to comment or ask clarifying questions on the recipe. I find that Mr. Paxton includes the exact amount of detail an intermediate chef requires. Even so, however, I am pleased to offer any insights or recommendations on this recipe.

Until next time, remember to have a great day with a great beer.

Take it easy,

~Anton





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.

July 13, 2011

DC Day 3: Dogfish Head Alehouse

OK.  Now I know what all the hype is about -- and why the line for Dogfish Head at the American Craft Beer Fest was out of control the whole time. With a brewery based in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Dogfish Head also has three restaurants in the DC area: two in northern Virginia, one in Gaithersburg, Maryland. I walked in, went straight for the bar, and ordered up a glass of their 90-Minute IPA.  The Dogfish IPAs are pretty well known among IPA fans, aka 'hopheads'. Dogfish does a 60-Minute, a 90-Minute, and a 120-Minute IPA, the 'minutes' referring to how long the beer spends boiling with hops. But rather than listen to me tell you about it, why don't you let the Dogfish Head founder, Sam Calagione, tell you himself?


And it was extremely delicious. I followed the IPA with a tasty Alehouse BBQ Burger - two beef patties cooked over a wood fire, bacon, onion rings, and cheese - and spent the next hour or so deliberating which beer to get next. This is where I was just about knocked off my barstool. The beer selection at Dogfish Head was truly mind-blowing. 'Standard' simply isn't part of their vocabulary. Nearly every single beer was made with ingredients that don't typically find their way into commercial beer. I sampled one called Theobroma, derived from a 3,200-year-old Aztec recipe and made with cocoa powder, honey, chili peppers, and annatto (a seed from a tree found in Latin America). I was shocked how light it was - none of those ingredients was overwhelming at all. I tried another beer called Black & Red, which was a strong, dark, fruity beer made with mint - lots of mint. After several samples, I finally decided on the Raison d'Etre, a Belgian Ale made with raisins and beet sugar.  As you might expect, it smelled and tasted somewhat sweet and somewhat fruity -- definitely a unique combination.  At 8% ABV, it also packed a pretty good punch on the alcohol scale.

I would have loved to hang out and try all the beers on the menu, but I figured I'd save some for when I visit DC again next week.  So -- stay tuned...

July 7, 2011

DC Day 2: Folklife Festival and the District Chophouse & Brewery

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is held every year on the National Mall in DC and features three different countries, regions, states, or cultures.  This year the focus is on the Peace Corps, Colombia, and Rhythm & Blues.  I decided to swing by the Festival first, so as not to get too distracted by whatever's on tap at the local bar.

Sandwiched between the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building, the Mall was filled with tents for the different speakers and concerts and thousands of visitors bustling between them.  I spent most of my time in the Colombian and R&B sections.  There were dozens of Colombians artisans demonstrating how to make baskets, furniture, and the like, but my favorite part, no doubt, was the Colombian music:


After exploring the festival for a few hours, I walked up to the District Chophouse & Brewery, recommended to me by someone I'd met at Capital City Brewing Company.  Walking into the Chophouse, I was impressed by its swanky feel.  The wait staff was well-dressed, there were stained wood and leather booths, and a very 1920s-style bar was situated towards the left.  Upstairs were the brewery's fermentation tanks. 


After perusing the brewery's impressive beer selection posted on the chalkboard behind the bar (they had 8-10 choices available), I decided to start with their IPA.  It was floral in aroma and taste and it went very well with my Roasted Veggie Pizza.  I followed the IPA with the Saison.  This brew was less tart than some other Saisons I've tried.  I liked its wheaty nature and its peachy overtones - a great summer beer.  I would have liked to stick around drinking beer the rest of the day, but those DC prices can add up pretty quickly.  I'd gladly swing by again for their Happy Hour - Monday through Friday 4pm-7pm.


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.

June 28, 2011

NOVA Brew Fest

A beautiful day, beautiful people, and lots of delicious beer.  Not a bad way to spend a weekend.


The Northern Virginia Brew Fest was held this past Saturday and Sunday in Leesburg, VA, about an hour west of Washington, DC.  Roughly 50 breweries were in attendance, plus arts & crafts vendors and some local bands.  I went up to volunteer, but had plenty of time to sample brews before, during, and after the event.

May 30, 2011

Williamsburg, VA: Williamsburg Alewerk's Coffeehouse Stout

There's no place like home and there's no beer quite like a stout.  Finding my parent's house completely devoid of any kind of beer (save for 3 Coors Lights leftover from my brothers' 21st birthday - not drinkable), I ventured to the nearest grocery store and picked up a sixer of my hometown brewery's Coffeehouse Stout.  Having brewed a batch like this myself, I was curious to see how it would go down.  To make things even more interesting, this beer was made with coffee from Antigua, Guatemala, one of the places I'd been to on my recent travels and where I'd had a fair amount of the local coffee.

As it is, a stout is a pretty heavy beer.  For some, it may just be too much to handle.  This dark stout has so much coffee flavor, I think that someone who wasn't a big beer drinker, but liked coffee, could really get along with it.  And as someone who likes coffee almost as much as they like beer, I see this six-pack going down pretty quick.

While the coffee flavor is somewhat overpowering, this beer is surprisingly sweet.  It lacks the complexity and creamy texture of Guinness, but it might be a good place to start if you want to start exploring some brews on the darker end of the spectrum.

This and other Alewerks brews can be found in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, DC.