• 16Sep

     

    If you’ve not had beer brewed by primates before, then you are in for a treat at Twinpanzee Brewing in Sterling (full disclosure: the owners, Antonio & Maha, are friends of mine). Twinpanzee, named for nicknames of the owners’ children, has been a labor of love, and a long time coming from these avid home brewers.

    Located in an office park, just off 267, Twinpanzee is easy to find and has plenty of parking. Open to the public Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, you’ll find a range of beers, plenty of seating, and good times. Snacks are sold inside, but there’s a rotation of food trucks outside, and you’re more than welcome to bring your meal inside.

    I visited on the grand opening weekend and truly enjoyed my brews. My first pour was the Toasted the Coconutz, a brown ale with toasted coconuts and 4.5% ABV. Definitely my favorite, though I could go for even more coconut, and perfect for someone who doesn’t drink IPAs but also doesn’t want something light. After that, I went for the Far From Lonely, a kolsch clocking in at 5.7% ABV. It was light, crisp, and refreshing. The aptly named Bob’s Brown Ale was my last drink. This 4.5% beer was tasty, and good for someone who likes a simpler beer, but I prefer the coconut version.

    For those that love delicious beer and supporting small, VA-based businesses, you’ll be happy you checked out Twinpanzee. It’s got a great vibe, amazing owners (chat them up if you can!), and fantastic offerings.

    -LEM

  • 11Sep

    It was raining and soggy outside, and that just always seems like the right kind of weather to be cooped up into a warm coffee shop. Conveniently located in old town Fairfax, De Clieu Coffee & Sandwiches is nestled perfectly within the hustle and bustle of Main Street.

    The overall vibe of the store is eclectic and quirky. There is a broad menu ranging from breakfast sandwiches, lunch specialties, gelato, and of course, coffee. Chemex, french press, and regular drip coffee are the basics they offer as well as espresso, cappuccinos, and an abundance of specialty drinks.

    The seating is scattered with not much room to breath, and close enough to the stranger behind you who can’t seem to slurp their coffee without making noise. This is definitely not the ideal place to study, enjoy a book, or have some peace and quiet especially during the peak hours of the day. It gets way too loud and more of a hangout and chat spot than a get stuff done spot. Although those are minor defects of a coffee place, I believe that the ambiance and overall vibe of a coffee shop is just as important as the coffee itself.

    I brought my coffee connoisseur friend named Ben, and he ordered an espresso. He really enjoyed it for its sweet, light, lemon zest like acidity. It was balanced correctly and was shockingly not bitter at all. Except for the fact that it was not served in the right cup, and therefore featured splatter from the machine all along the inside of the cup. it was regardless an okay espresso. I purchased french press, and it unfortunately was lackluster in my opinion. For a three dollar mug of coffee it sure did taste exactly the same as the kind I make from home. That being said, it seems like their specialty coffee drinks were more of what the overall customer’s desire. After trying their seasonal beverages, which taste great and definitely are more of focused on.

    De Clieu was alright, but there are better coffee shops out there. Unfortunately, De Clieu is not there yet.

    -JMG (Jara)

  • 26Aug

    “YOU GOTTA CHASE THE TASTE.”

    On average, beer has a 4 percent alcohol by volume, however craft beer alcohol content is higher.

    I had the honor to be invited to the 2017 Virginia Craft Beer Festival in CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. This venue located at the IX Park, in downtown CHARLOTTESVILLE which attracted craft beer breweries around the region along with food vendors.

    With paid admission, a patron would get a 5 oz tasting glass along with a map of the grounds and free range of food, music, and of course, beer.

    Some of the food vendors were sprinkled in with the beer tasting tents, I happened to stumble upon “THE MARKET, which is a local gas station that services gourmet sandwiches. Another great find was “Craft Beer Peanuts,” which was tucked away in the corner. This company hails from North Carolina, and offered up Bourbon Flavored Pretzels that was “sweet and salty” with just that hint of bourbon flavor. In the lane of food trucks, each offering had a local craft beer pairing featured at the festival.  I focused on the lighter, fruit-flavored beers.

    One of my favorites came from Watermelon-Lime Fruit Kolsch by Midnight Brewery. Midnight features handcrafted ales and lagers with seasonal brews, afternoon tastings, and a weekend line-up of various eats.

    Midnight Brewery is located at 2410 Granite Ridge Rd, Rockville, VA 23146.
    Midnight’s Tasting Room hours:
    Tuesday – Thursday 4-8 pm, Fridays 4-9 pm, Saturday 1-8 pm, Sunday 1-6 pm
    Tours available during tasting room hours and upon request Tuesday-Friday 2pm-closing. Call 804-719-9150 to request tour.

    However, while I was in the car, navigating the trip, I decided to Google: “What are the different types of beer?”
    Varieties of ale include:

    India Pale Ale: A very hoppy (read: bitter) brew.
    Hefeweizen: An unfiltered wheat beer.
    Irish red ale: The roasted barley content creates a signature red color and tea-like flavor.
    Porter: A London-style dark ale made with roasted malts.

    When I entered the venue, a Virginia Brew Hub Magazine  was available entitled “Beer Tasting Guide.” I used this as my guide while tasting brews and kept an eye on:

    1. ABV – Alcohol by Volume
    2. Color
    3. Head
    4. Aroma/Smell
    5. Flavor/Taste
    6. Hop Flavor
    7. Malt Flavor
    8. Sweetness

    I sampled beer from all over Northern Virginia including Port City ((Alexandria, VA), which I was first be introduced to at the “Taste of Shirlington.” I enjoyed their beer. It is nice that they have a female chemist on their team. Their 2 week aged Porter was extremely tasty. Usually the barreling process takes several weeks but with twerks in production time, one unit of craft beer can be produced in a shorter time which makes for fresh beer.

    Port City’s industrial brewery offers a tasting room with house made draft beers and public tours, and is located at 3950 Wheeler Ave, Alexandria, VA 22304.
    Hours: 3–10PM

    Another standout was the Geneva Convention, “A white winter ale” by the Young Veteran Brewery Company. This small, military veteran-owned brewery has an on-site pub selling draft beers and growler fills. YVBC is located at 2505 Horse Pasture Rd #104, Virginia Beach, VA 23453
    Hours: 3–11PM

    A random favorite:

    Boyzen Da Hood, Boyszenberry Gose (4.2% ABD) by Kindred Spirits Brewery. My opinion: Very good … Nice and sour.
    Kindred Spirits is located at 12830 W Creek Pkwy J, Richmond, VA 23238

    Another favorite is new on the scene, and trying to get the millennials involved is Heroic Aleworks. This comic book lovin’ beer making group of misfits liked to be center of attention. Their tagline is “You’ve tasted the beers, now get to know the stories behind the characters in the brand new, original ‘Heroic Aleworks Presents’ comics created by the owners of Heroic Aleworks, featuring artwork by talented artists from around the world.” Heroic is located at 14910 Persistence Dr, Woodbridge, VA 22191
    Hours: 12PM–12AM

    Anchor beers that have a heavy presence on social media and had a immediate name recognition with me:

    Starr Hill
    Adroit Theory

    I had the distinct honor to speak to some native CHARLOTTESVILLE beer festival patrons and some police that were present at the event. Now on everyone’s mind was the event of last Saturday, August 11, 2017. However, the ladies stated that, “This event is the complete representation of Charlottesville, not last weekend and the actions of some people. She was and is proud to be from such a wonderful community and was happy that this event went off without any incident and saw so many people enjoying themselves.” The police officers i spoke to echo her sentiments about last weekend. That isolated incident is not what C-Ville is about – this event is.”

    -CLF (Crystal)

  • 12Aug

     

    In the D.C. area, you can find a variety of Caribbean cuisine–Jamaican, Trini, Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Dominican. But it’s been a while since our region had Haitian food. Luckily, that void has been filled by Don Berto’s Kitchen.

    A pop-up held most Sundays in Silver Spring (held in the Afrik Grill/GOLF Lounge space), Chef Don Berto serves fresh, flavorful dishes from noon-7 p.m. The menu changes weekly, and their Facebook page is updated frequently.

    Popular dishes from this island nation include griyot (fried pork), rice and beans, mashed fried plantains, and pikliz (pickled vegetables). You’ll find that here (though the griyot tends to be turkey), along with snapper, goat stew, rum cake, and more. You’ll also find the national drink, Rhum Barbancourt, which is a good sipping rum. What you won’t find is MSG and Maggi (used quite frequently in Haitian cooking). Instead, the chef freshly mixes his seasonings.

    I had the goat stew, red snapper with rice and beans, plantains, and vegetables.  Everything was delicious. The goat stew is rich and filled with vegetables, dumplings, and plenty of goat. I’ll be looking forward to this in the colder months. The red snapper was beautifully done, and I could not stop eating it. The sauce coated the rest of the food on the platter and made everything more delectable. The portion size is good, but you must leave room for the rum cake. Soaked in rum, yet not soggy, it is the best version I’ve ever had, and you’ll be taking a slice to go, guaranteed.

    Chef Don Berto and his staff are welcoming and happy to answer any questions. You’ll be craving their food after just one visit, and you’ll want to return for the family-like atmosphere, friendly service, and maybe even stay for the kompa.

    -LEM

  • 09Aug

    Saturday, August 19th will be the the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest in Charlottesville, VA. The Fest will be hosted by Three Notch’d Brewing Company and is the only sanctioned event of the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild. Thousands of craft beer lovers from Virginia and surrounding states enjoy chatting with the brewers responsible for the tasty libations. With nearly 100 breweries from across Virginia on hand to serve tastings from 2-8 PM, you should plan to stay for the day so you get to taste them all.

    DCFüd is giving away a pair of General Admission tickets to this event. Email your first and last name and phone number to Contest (AT) dcfud (DOT) com by Sunday August 13th at 5pm with the subject “VA Beer Fest” for a chance to win. It may take a couple of days for us to get back to the winner.

    We wrote about Three Notch’d previously.

    Road-trip!

    -JAY

  • 02Aug

     

    John Shields of Gertrude’s, PBS’s Coastal Cooking, and the New Chesapeake Kitchen was the MC and crab disassembling demonstrator at last week’s Crab & Beer Dinner at Wildfire in Tysons. Evolution Brewing of Salisbury, MD was on hand to pair and serve their fine brews.

    Properly-spiced Maryland blue crab served alongside a plastic lobster bib, mallet, and beach bucket for the shells was our first course of the evening. John showed everyone a proper technique to get out all the succulent meat in an expedient manner. He’s even studied with professional crab pickers. The blue crab was paired with Evolution’s Delmarva Pure Pils.

    Crab Spaghetti with summer vegetables and lobster sauce followed as the second course. Large chunks of fresh and delicious crab topped the spaghetti. The lobster sauce was made from a nicely reduced sauce. The dish was both fresh and delicate. This course was paired with Evolution’s Pine’hop’le IPA.

    Tender and savory Crab Crusted Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon in a roasted shallot-sherry wine reduction completed the pre-dessert courses. The steak dish was paired with Evolution’s Exile Red Ale.

    Dessert was served last, an orange pound cake with seasonal mixed berries and fluffy whipped cream.

    Keep an eye out for other extraordinary dinners at Wildfire. The next few months will bring another beer dinner, a single malt scotch Dinner, and a Wine dinner.

    Our thanks to Chef Moreno Espinoza (pictured above on the left) who joins us annually from Chicago to cook for this wonderful event.

    -JAY

  • 21Jul

    Coffee. Whether it’s your go-go juice, your perfect beverage paired with morning zen time, or an emergency pit stop to survive those last hours at work … Hopscotch Coffee & Records in Winchester, VA has your bases covered. The menu skips past the specialty drinks (don’t worry, you won’t miss those mocha-frappa-double-shot-extra-whip-hint-of-bullshit-achinos) because the true, rich flavor of Hopscotch’s locally roasted beans are showcased throughout each latte, espresso, regular drip, and french press. Did I mention that the beans are roasted less than a mile from the shop? I’d say that’s as local as it gets. Nate Rhodes, the owner, has seven years of experience with coffee and really knows what he’s doing behind the counter. I give him mad props for not hiring a bunch of hipster wanna be teens attempting to make coffee with no experience dialing in espresso. He’s really involved in his business, and I highly appreciate that as a customer.

    As for my latte, there were no complaints. I tasted no acidity, and only bold, rich espresso with delicate steamed milk. The drink was not blistering hot, and not at all lukewarm. The kitschy atmosphere reminded me of an urban outfitters, but homier. There was pinball machine in the corner, and cases of records for sale. Modern art adorned the walls as well as a map you might find in a high school geography classroom. There were plenty of seating and power outlets for every occasion, whether it be a business meeting, date with friends, or a quiet study session. All in all, for a shop only opened for 3 years, I see it being as prosperous and delicious for many more years to come.

    -Jara (JMG), Guest Blogger

    Permalink Filed under: Drinks, Etc, Stores Tags: No Comments
  • 17Jul

    Trappist Beer Travels is a new book for those who love Belgian Trappist Brews and are interested in the eleven Monasteries/Breweries that produce them. This is a great coffee table book for those who appreciate Belgian Trappist beers and their history. The book is well written and includes history, travel tips, information on the beers themselves, and beautiful photos.

    Included in this book are Orval, Achel, La Trappe, Rochefort, Chimay,  Westvleteren, Westmalle, Zundert, Stift Engelszell, Tre Fontane, and Spencer.

    Wait, Spencer? Yes, Spencer Brewery (Saint Joseph’s Abbey) in Spencer Massachusetts (6o miles from Boston) is even included. It is a shame the Abbey does not permit tours of the brewery or jam factory, but there is a gift shop, and you can join in mass services and walk the well-manicured paths. I actually didn’t know that we have a Trappist brewery here on the East Coast.

    Saint Bernardus Brewery has a bed and breakfast and is only a 25 minute drive from Westvleteren? That’s perfect for us beer nerds! The research trips “required” while writing this book must have been amazing!

    -JAY

  • 11Jun

    Savor at the National Building Museum is a great showcase for high quality craft beers, with this year (the tenth annual) not being an exception. This year’s beer list included some exceptional choices and pairings. Virginia’s Hardywood Park Craft Brewery and Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing Company created this year’s collaborative beer, Savor X, a parting gift for attendees. Red Apron‘s charcuterie, Choptank‘s oysters, and Wisconsin cheese were hits!

    This is a show DC craft beer lovers (including myself) look forward to every year, so keep an eye out for Savor 2018! Maybe they’ll bring salons (classes) back next year?

    -JAY

  • 22May

    Summer Thursdays always brim with excitement. It’s not quite the weekend, but it’s close, and everyone seems to be out and about. If you’re looking for a Thursday spot with great food, great drinks, and an amazing vibe, look no further Bar Dupont. Located on Dupont Circle, Bar Dupont is the perfect place for people-watching and cocktail-sipping. They recently launched Dupont Live every Thursday through July, starting at 6:30 p.m., featuring local musicians on their patio, along with their newest menu additions.

    The Evening’s Performers

    Throughout the evening, we were able to try a variety of Bar Dupont’s new cocktails and appetizers. Their take on a Tom Collins, the aptly named Dupont Collins, was my favorite. The introduction of St. Germain provides a bit of a floral note, and the cocktail light and refreshing on hot summer nights. The Moto Guzzi, an Aperol spritz, is another perfect-for-the-weather option, albeit one that goes down a bit too easy. The Green Variety Margarita is tasty, and makes you at least feel somewhat healthy, due to the green juice. And who doesn’t want to sit on a patio while sipping a rosé? No patio menu would be complete without at least one option, and their Chateau Jouclary Bardes option is a great one, though they have several. Bar Dupont also focuses on offering local wine, beer, and spirits.

    Though “bar” is in their name, don’t let that fool you—their food is also fantastic. The two standouts for me are the tuna tacos (crispy shell, Ahi tuna, slaw, avocado) and the curried cauliflower (fried cauliflower bites with chimichurri). The tacos were not only tasty, but texturally interesting due to the crispy shell and tuna. The cauliflower was perfectly fried and went well with the tangy chimichurri sauce. It was also slightly addictive, and you might end up wanting a second order. The oysters were huge and delicious, though I didn’t care for the mignonette on them. But you can’t go wrong ordering those. I didn’t get to try the beef tartare or the Wagyu bacon cheeseburger, but those all went fast, so my guess is either one is a smart choice.

    Dupont Live will feature various musical genres and local musicians. The duo we heard played a bit of light jazz, which really set the tone for a chill atmosphere. Each act will be a surprise, so you never know who you might see!

    Bar Dupont should definitely be in your regular rotation, especially on Thursdays for Dupont Live. With impressive food, drinks, and musicians, you won’t want to miss it.

    -LEM

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