Showing posts with label Wit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wit. 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 17, 2013

Fu Manchus, Pirates, and Scotsmen: Three Beers from Monday Night Brewing

Monday Night Brewing beers

Monday Night Brewing is a company that gets marketing and PR. They've got creative names and packaging that portray a fun brand. Besides, they were kind enough to send me one each of their three year round beers to review, so that helps.

Seriously though, the Atlanta-based company really knows how to portray a fun attitude, reminding us perhaps not-so-subtly, "Hey, this is beer. Why don't we just enjoy it?"

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.

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.

January 5, 2013

There's a Revolution Brewing in El Salvador

craft beer in El Salvador
Looks like a nice spot for a brewery...
Andy Newbom and his wife Nanelle sold everything, left San Francisco, and founded the first craft brewery in El Salvador. The brewery is located in Playa El Tunco, a black sand surfing spot on the Pacific coast of El Salvador, popular with backpackers, Salvadorans, and surfers. What's really cool about Andy's work is that he's creating more than just great craft beer -- he's bringing opportunity to a country where a significant portion of the population lives in extreme poverty. Can you help Brew Revolution by contributing to their Kickstarter campaign?

August 4, 2012

In Chicago for Lollapalooza? Try These 7 Local Beers

Photo: Brett Gustafson

So you're in Chi-town for Lollapalooza Music Festival and wondering if there are any local craft beers worth a try. You're in luck  Chicago is a great craft beer city with plenty to choose from. Just don’t try to carry them into the festival – no outside food or drink. You've been warned... 

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.

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."

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.

December 14, 2011

Chicago, IL - Beer School Day 2

On Day 2 of the Siebel course, we hit the ground running and dove straight into some spreadsheets. Tim Lane of Goose Island Brewpubs led the session and guided the class through various charts, sales projections and cost analyses, demonstrating how important the math can be when running a restaurant.

Just a few of the things you need to ask yourself if you want your pub to be successful: What's the average check amount? How many turns of the tables each day? What's the profit margin on each menu item? What are your projected sales minus the total cost of goods sold and payroll and other expenses? Bottom line: Serving food really complicates things.

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 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