• 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

  • 14Oct

    Beer Garden in the middle of the Street

    The 17th Annual Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest- Shirlington Vilage was held on Saturday, October 1, 2016 from 12pm – 7pm with the taps closing at 6pm in the Shirlington area of Campbell Street area. It was presented by the Capitol City Brewing Company.

    More than 65 breweries from all over Virginia were lined up and down the streets, to provide their ”spirits offering” to a new audience.   These mostly Southern breweries are trying to tap into the Northern Virginia market. While walking down the street, I got to experience distinct hops (and combinations) that make  brews that are unique to the participating breweries.   While the beer is the mostly the draw, the addition of authentic German food: brezlen –huge German-style pretzels, bratwurst- German-style hot dogs, and my personal favorite: cinnamon nuts combined with Apline Bavarian tunes playing in the middle of the square to create a classic Oktoberfest ambiance.

    The ticket price were $30 for 21-year old and over, which included an official waistband, official Capital City Tasting cup, and 10 drink tickets. For an additional fee you can add “Beer Insurance” for $5 which is basically a lanyard so you can be hands-free.   For additional $1, a festivalgoer can purchase additional tickets with a 5-ticket maximum, for additional tastings.

    With my ten drink tickets, I had the distinct pleasure to taste some of these elixirs myself:

    Capital City Brewing has three offerings inside the restaurant – Cursed Gourd – which was brewed with chocolate, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.  Next up, Smoketoberfest – this wheat beer had a smoky character and packed a punch.  Lastly, Oktoberfest Lager (which was just 1 ticket) was complex and tangy, and left a sweet flavor pleasantly lingering on our tongues.

    Starr Hill which is based in Charlottesville, VA – had two offering – Reviver: Red Indian Pale Ale which is a wheat beer (made exclusively in Virginia) and Last Leaf Maple Brown Ale (with maple syrup from a local vendor in Charlottesville)

    Crabbie (Ginger Beer) is based in Richmond, VA  – had two offerings – Fruits: Cloudy Alcoholic Lemonade (I personally recommend) which is good for summer days, and not as much for cold, wet, rainy days, and Original Ginger Beer which is good anytime with hints of citrus, ginger, and more refreshing notes much like a wine cooler.

    Ardoit Theory is based in Purcellville, VA (Loundon County)  and has a heavy Social Media presence through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat; their lines were long, due the heavy branding process which was already in effect.  Additionally, their larger was darker, richer, and bolder than most.  I personally don’t like dark stouts unless mixed with a lighter brew (Black and Tans are always my go to in a Tavern setting.)

    Mad Fox has two locations in Northern Virginia, and offered winter brews.  Orange Whip (American Pale Ale) had fruity notes such as pineapple, oranges, and citrus tones along with a smooth caramel finish.  Oktoberfest Lagerbier  is a classic German beer with all the right touches.

    Flying Dog  Grout Standard (Pumpkin IPA) helps you get in the Autumn spirit. Raging Bitch is another personal favorite, but I think I like the name almost as much as the beer.

    Another cool aspect, was COPA, which is a cup of red or white wine, and has a presence at Total Wine and Whole Foods, but this was a chance to actually taste it before purchasing it elsewhere.

    As good as beers are, they do have a habit of sneaking up on you so please drink responsibly.

    Your Cheering Buddy,

    -CLF (Crystal)

     

  • 12Aug

     

    Summer humidity has gotten us all crabby. This time, though, it’s not a bad thing. In the cool, sophisticated confines of Bar Dupont, guests can get their hands dirty taking part in a time-honored Mid-Atlantic tradition. In a great location right on Dupont Circle, Bar Dupont opened its patio to crab experts and neophytes on August 6, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. – and will do it again August 20. It’s a do-not-miss event for anyone who likes a little adventure mixed with some fantastically prepared crabs and sides.

    The Crab Fest features three important elements. The first is Capital Crab Company, which brings in live (yes, live) blue crabs to cook on the spot. They lay down the butcher paper, provide the sauces (vinegar, Old Bay, butter) and the mallets. And then they’ll give and you the crabs, and you’ll get to get messy. There’s no better fun than prying open a salty, spiced leg, giving it an elbow-greased tap with a mallet, and scooping out the sweetest, most tender crab meat this side of the Chesapeake. Claws away.

    IMG_5033JPGThe second element is RAR Brewing, which provides cans of a West Coast-style IPA called  the Nanticoke Nectar, which has bold and fresh citrus (especially grapefruit) notes. RAR will also serve Groove City, a German style Hefeweizen, with just a touch of sweetness and wheat flavor . Bar Dupont, of course, will be serving seasonal craft cocktails from the bar for purchase.

    Finally, a Southern folk-rock band will serenade your other senses with fantastic music throughout the entire afternoon.

    Michael from Capital Crab Company put it well. He told us, “We love events like these; it’s a great experience. We started small, cooking crabs from the truck, but putting on events right in the heart of DC is meaningful, really bringing crabs to the people. We get the crabs right from the source, so we say it’s ‘from port to table.’ Hanging with the public is just so much fun.”

    The Crab Feast includes all-you-can-eat crab, sides, and beer. Otherwise, you can also pick up crab cake sandwiches, shrimp, and crab mac ‘n’ cheese and order sides like hush puppies and coleslaw. Other drink options include fresh-squeezed lemonade and a Southern-inspired whiskey sweet tea. And to really wake up the senses – an Old Bay Bloody Mary; it pairs well, indeed. See you August 20!

    -ESC (Evan)

  • 31Jul

    John Shields is author of Chesapeake Bay Cooking, host of the PBS series Coastal Cooking, and owner of Gertrude’s in Baltimore (which is soon to open a second location). John hosted a crab and beer dinner a few days ago, where he lead guests through the technique of opening their own steamed Maryland Blue Crab. Wildfire Executive Chef Moreno Espinoza designed and executed the several dishes that followed the crab picking and showcased crab in a variety of uses, each paired with a beer from Baltimore’s Union Craft Brewing.

    I was impressed with each of the courses and the beer pairings. The crab was fresh and delicious. My favorite dish of the evening was the crab tostada. This was my first time sampling Union Craft Brewing’s beer; Wildfire picked a great brewery to partner with, as usual.

    If you are interested in attending one of Wildfire’s themed dinners (such as wine, beer, scotch, martinis, etc.), check this event page. The upcoming Port City Brewing beer dinner is on August 26th and the Glenfiddich Scotch dinner is on September 16th.

    -JAY

    Wildfire Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

  • 10Jun

    Savor splashed down in DC last weekend, combining great beer from throughout the USA with dishes the Brewer’s Association’s Executive Chef, Adam Dulye created for the 2016 show. Adam was one of the four speakers for the salon (class), Developing the SAVOR Menu. The speakers at the salon were: (from L to R) Steve Bradt of Free State Brewing Company, Steve Wildy of the Vetri Family of Restaurants, Kyle Mendenhall of Backcountry Gourmet on PBS, and Adam Dulye.

    Whenever possible, Adam starts by sampling the beer he wants to pair and then creating an appropriate dish to serve with it. But, sometimes the brew in question is being released at (or created for) the show and Adam has a phone conversation where the brewers describe a beer to him that they haven’t actual tried, which makes creating a appropriate pairing more difficult.

    Attendees left with Savor’s 2016 collaboration beer:

    Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, Maine) and Deschutes Brewery (Bend, Oregon) teamed up to brew Pettygrove’s Chance, combining delicate Oregon and Maine malts and fermenting with a farmhouse yeast.”

    Below are images of some of my favorite brews and pairings of the evening:

    -JAY

    Permalink Filed under: Drinks, Etc Tags: , No Comments
  • 08Apr

    What better time than during the DMV’s most famous season – cherry blossoms! – than to celebrate the Best of the District of Columbia? Washington City Paper took over the cavernous DC Armory in Southeast to fete the 2016 winners, announced to the public during the event. WCP is decidedly nonpartisan, making sure everyone gets a voice in the system. Plus, proceeds from the event went to two great charities: Brainfood and World Beats & Life.

    Spraypainting DC pride

    Spraypainting DC pride

    Voting winners were divided between Staff Picks and the Reader Poll. Readers were able to choose faves in standard categories like Best Brewery (Right Proper), Sports Bar (Nellie’s), Movie Theater (E Street), and Lifestyle Blog (Popville), as well as some unique options: Tea Shop (Calabash Tea & Tonic), Local Instagram (Taylor Gourmet), and Place to Take a Tinder Date (McClellan’s Retreat). The Staff Picks are more eclectic: Best Bar and Restaurant for Punk-Rock Parents (Slash Run); Best Old Reliable Gay Bar (Number Nine), Best New (Old) Museum (National Museum of Women in the Arts), and Best Place to Catch a Glimpse of FLOTUS (SoulCycle).

    At a cocktail-attire party, it’s tough to get on a bike, but there was certainly plenty of food and drink to be had to help celebrate. In homage to what has been the opposite of a media darling of late, the DC Metro, each grouping of restaurants was set up around Metro station signs (“let’s go to Ballston!” was probably something said for the very first time by many partygoers).

    Tons of Tunes were enjoyed all evening long

    Tons of tasteful tunes were enjoyed all evening long.

    Mixologists played with lots of whiskeys, coming off winter, but also plenty of gin, hopeful for spring soon. And as would be appropriate, restaurants made efforts to source specifically from DC breweries and distilleries. Highlights included a tropical rum negroni from Don Ciccio & Figli, The Royal’s fruity sling using Catoctin Creek liquor, and a wistful whiskey cocktail by The Gibson called Memories. Waking up the palate was the thoughtful Gina Chersevani of Buffalo & Bergen, serving Bloody Marys overstuffed with pickled veggies as well as to mini-bagels topped with caviar and crème fraiche.

    On the main stage, The Dupont Brass Band gave the crowd some serious funk. Later in the evening, Batala Washington broke it down on drums, celebrating Afro-Brazilian culture, playing sensual samba and reggae music on a chilly early-April evening. Other entertainment came in the form of cornhole and life-sized Jenga courtesy of United Social Sports, making sure that the crowd stayed lively and athletic while throwing back craft cocktails and finely plated small bites.

    Dessert came in the form of heavenly doughnuts, cookies, and Harper Macaw’s sea-salt-and-coconut chocolate bark – but also another kind of bark: Wagtime enthralled the crowd with an absolutely adorable doggie playspace. Never has celebrated all the greatest in DC ever been so “ruff.”

    -ESC

  • 30May

    St BernadusHere is Savor’s list of next week’s Savor-related beer events. Savor is already sold out, but that doesn’t mean you can’t attend the related events. Savor’s has a great lineup of attending breweries. Some of the following haven’t got Savor’s event list as of yet:

    Dcbeer.com’s Third Craft and Comedy showcase will be at the Big Hunt Monday evening at 7pm (free).

    Devil’s Backone‘s Brews Cruise is leaves from Alexandria Saturday 11 am ($60).

    Thursday Lagunitas will have a vaporizer set up at Smoke and Barrel to vape hops.

    They aren’t on Savor’s list yet, but below are some events at Churchkey. More details on these events, and Birch & Barley (their sister) events (including beer dinners) are listed here.

    • 4 Hands Brewing Company, Monday evening at 6 pm.
    • Wicked Weed Brewing, Wednesday at 4pm
    • Jolly Pumpkin, Tuesday at 4 pm.
    • Florida’s Cigar City & Funky Buddha, Thursday at 4pm
    • Kuhnhenn, Friday 4 pm.

    Also, these are not Savor-related, but there are St. Bernardus (from Watou, Belgium) events May 31st at Churchkey 4-7pm, and June 1st at Brasserie Beck 6-8pm. Details (from the Brasserie Beck people):

    Representatives will be on hand from both the Brewery and their importer, D & V International. As such, we’ll have one non-St. Bernardus beer as part of the event. We’ll definitely have special happy hour pricing for the St Bernardus stuff. The lineup:

    Bottles:
    St Bernardus 6 and 8 (dubbels)
    Tripel
    12 (Quadrupel)
    Oak-Aged 12 (Newly Released as of June 1!)

     

    Draft:
    St Bernardus Extra 4 (Belgian Pale Ale, originally a recipe from St. Sixtus/Westvleteren Monastery).
    St Bernardus 12
    Kazematten Grotten Sante (cave-aged brown ale from Belgium)
    BTW, twitter is covered in beer articles and listing for next week: https://twitter.com/search?q=savor%20dc&src=typd

    -JAY

  • 22Oct

    beerologyBeerology is like a great  friend who holds you by the hand and leads you into the grown up world of beer. The author, Mirella Amato is a Master Cicerone, a beer version of a sommelier (there are less than 10 people holding the same title in the world). She knows her beers inside and out, and shares her knowledge in a very personable way. Amato guides you through different styles of beer, breaking down flavor profiles and even what to pair your beer with.

    The book is easy to read, informative while being fun. Without getting mired in the details, this book explains how each variety is made and includes a short explanation of how the beer in question ends up with it’s particular flavor profile. This can really help you identify what you enjoy or dislike about particular styles so that you can seek out beers that you are more likely to enjoy. Your experience with beer might have been limited to one or two varieties or even a single brand, but after reading this book you may dare to try something new and might discover that you love something very different from your go-to beer.

    There is great value in this book for the beer connoisseur as well, as it provides suggestions for brands and pairings that you may not have tried (or even heard of), and also vocabulary to describe what you are drinking. As a beer connoisseur and home-brewer, I found the food pairing ideas to be revelatory. I had never thought about beer in the same way as I had wine, as something to be enjoyed with food, and it was a great way to re-frame how I think about beer.

    Some other takeaways:

    The book helped me to understand why I love Belgians, Stouts and Porters, Sour Beers, Saisons, and why I dislike IPAs. Prior to reading this book, I believed that I disliked IPAs only because of how hoppy and bitter they tend to be. Belgians, Stouts, and Porters have more malt characteristics in them and fewer hops compared to IPAs.The book provided enlightenment for why the hops in my favorite beers did not bother me . I discovered through Amato’s  explanation the difference between old world and new world hops. Old world hops are softer, less bitter and more about aromatics, my favorites being ones that taste like citrus and floral notes . New world hops are more aggressive and can be very bitter and are used for flavoring the beer.  IPAS that are made with old world hops are ones that I  may actually enjoy, rather  than the new world style hop infused IPAs. Before reading this book, I did not know much about how beers age . There are some good suggestions for what beers to age and how to age them.  Beers, like wine change with age, and some are designed to be able to be aged. The IPA I find overly hoppy today might taste really good to me in a year or two, because according to Amato, the hop notes fade with time and the malt flavors get intensified. After reading this book, I’m going to have to have to try some old world style IPAs and give them a shot.

    Beerology is a fantastic read, and I highly recommend this book for anyone who is looking to expand their beer horizons. It is also great for someone who is trying to help a less experienced beer drinker explore the world of beer.

    -JHC (Jennifer)

    Permalink Filed under: Books, Drinks Tags: , 1 Comment
  • 16May

    I attended Savor (the huge beer show) in Washington, DC  last night. I sampled some great beer at the show, and will show you some of the highlights. Let’s start with the oysters, which of course are great with beer.

    The Choptank Oyster Company was shucking their Choptank Sweets (Chesepeake Bay oysters), and serving them with lemon or one of three great sauces (ok, one was really a Champagne gelée so if more of a condiment) . The oysters were tasty, and my favorite of the three sauces was the Szechuan Chilli Mignonette, but the shucker’s favorite is Agave Kaffir Sauce.

    I attended a Salon (class) at the show: The Art of Pairing Craft Beer and Jerky. The presenters were Justin “Duke” Havlick (Duke’s Small Batch Smoked Meats), Mike Lawinski (FATE Brewing Company), and Jason Oliver (Devils Backbone Brewing Company).  Salon description: “Duke’s Small Batch Smoked Meats teams up with Devils Backbone Brewing Company and FATE Brewing Company to show attendees that smoked meats and jerky make for a quick, easy, versatile and most importantly, tasty partner for craft beer. Four beers will be perfectly paired with smoked meats and jerky from small batch producer Duke’s.” (Yes, they were good pairings.)

    I was new to FATE’s products, but they have only been in business a but over a year. FATE and Duke’s Small Batch Smoked Meats are both based in Boulder, CO.  Devils Backbone is local favorite for me since it is brewed in Virginia (and is excellent).

    Green Flash & Pork Belly

    I like Green Flash, this beer, and Pork Belly Brioche, but IMHO this was an unsuccessful pairing; the beer overpowered the food.

    My favorite of the 4 jerky’s was the Island Teriyaki Beef Jerky because I loved the chewy (but not tough) texture; it was paired with Devil’s Backbone’s Schwartz Bier, a German Style Black Lager. I very much enjoyed FATE Brewing Company’s Moirai IPA (with it’s grapefruit reminiscent scent and flavor); It paired well with the Sweet Bar-B-Q Braised Pork Strips. The Spicy Bar-B-Q Beef Brisket Strips are nice because they are from a different cut of beef and is spicy; they were paired with FATE’s Barrel Aged Baltic Porter. The Traditional Dry Rub Beef Jerky is for the traditionalists; as someone who didn’t grow up eating jerky, it’s a tough chew for me since you have to gnaw on it. The Traditional Jerky (smoked with hickory and hops) was paired with Devils Backbone’s Striped Bass Pale Ale. BTW, Duke’s Shorty is delicious as well, although it was not part of the salon tasting.

    Most of the beer pairings were spot on, especially the ones paired with dessert. Below are some of the highlights. Yes, wild/sour beers and dessert pairing were common themes this year.

    -JAY

     

     

  • 29Apr

    Savor-Crowd-577x1024For beer lovers who won’t be attending Savor, the huge (sold out) American craft brew event is May 9th and 10th or the 2014 RAMMY Awards, you can still attend some great (and related) beer events.

    Many of the breweries that will be in town for Savor are planning events the week of the show. Click here for the official list of these events. The City Tap House events are not listed individually on Savor’s website (but are all listed under one entry for the 8th), so rather than miss them on the calendar, check them here. Three of the four Jack Rose Dining Saloon events are not on the Savor calendar, but you can find them here.

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014 from 6:30 PM to 9:00: Leading up to the always-sold-out SAVOR American Craft Beer + Food Experience (May 9-10), The Fainting Goat will pair four savory and sweet spring dishes with craft Atlas brews – one being an exclusive Fainting Goat cask ale created just for the event – while guests can meet and chat with Atlas head brewer Will Durgin. You can obtain ($45) tickets here.

    Hardywood Park Craft Brewery is planning the following Savor related events:

    – Tap invasion event at Rustico Arlington on 5/8 with Cigar City

    – Tap invasion at Bier Baron 5/9 with Green Flash and Funkwerks

    – Tap invasion at Meridian Pint on 5/10 with Firestone, Funkwerks, and Elysian.

    2014 RAMMYS Beer Program of the Year finalists are holding these in-house promotions Thursday, May 8:

    RFD SavorStarting at 6pm, Birch & Barley & ChurchKey will feature drafts and casks from Surly Brewing Company at The Surly Brewing Company Draft & Cask Takeover. With no fewer than 10 rare and elusive Surly drafts and casks on tap, don’t miss the opportunity to taste amazing ales otherwise unavailable in Washington, DC.

    Brasserie Beck will keep the RAMMYS celebration going throughout the day with an all-day $10 Antigoon Beer and Brats Special. Opened by Chef Robert Wiedmaier in 2007, Beck’s stunning and spacious bar boasts the city’s most comprehensive Belgian beer list outside Belgium with nine draught beers and over 100 offered by the bottle.

    Granville Moore’s will have special promotions that evening, but they have not yet been specified.

    Lyon Hall’s spacious patio will feature a fabulous Pig Roast/BBQ May 8th. Executive Chef Matt Hill will roast two whole pigs and serve it up with his gourmet side dishes and desserts made by Executive Pastry Chef Bridie McCulla. Beer Director David McGregor will be holding court outside, pouring special draft offerings from house favorite breweries and hosting a special tasting session of “Barrel-Aged” Beers that have been cellared at Lyon Hall.

    Mad Fox Brewing Company Executive Brewer and CEO Bill Madden will host brewery tours at 5pm, 6pm and 7pm, where guests will learn all about the brewing process and even have the chance to sample the freshest beers straight from the fermenting vessels of Mad Fox’s state of the art brewing facility. After the tour, congregate at the massive 63 foot bar and enjoy over 18 drafts on tap among a variety of other products like the 2011 Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal award winning Kellerbier Kölsch.

    -JAY

    Editor’s Note: It turns out that Goose Island is hosting DC beer events this week (4/29-5/3).

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