Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Holy Grail of Beer?

Yesterday I was able to sample a beer I never thought I would actually get my hands on. Don't get me wrong, I have stumbled across it a few times at the most discerning of bottle shops and once at a super ritzy hotel bar, but the price and the circumstances have kept me away.

Yes, I am talking about Samuel Adams Utopias.

What makes this story so cool is that I was COMPLETELY unaware that on a random Friday in December, for no special occasion, I was going to finally get to try this super rare brew - for free.

I got off of work a little early, so I called my buddy Dick to see if he wanted to meet up for a little sampling party. We met a couple of other friends to throw some darts and start the weekend off right, and Dick brought over some bottles that we had ordered from letspour that don't distribute to VA.

I was rifling through the stuff we had ordered when Dick said, "I think it's time" and pulled out the shiny copper bottle. I swear a light from heaven was shining down and glinting off of that beautiful, brew kettle-shaped work of art.

It turns out Dick had purchased it on a trip to New Jersey without me knowing about it to celebrate a big year. In 2013 he earned his doctorate, his wife had their first child, and he just started a new job. Congrats, Dick!

This was definitely the right beer to celebrate with - and I am very thankful for him sharing it!

Lets go through the specs: This was the 2011 edition, which falls between 25-28% ABV and contains two-row, Caramel, and Munich malts, two different yeast strains, three different Noble hop varieties, maple syrup, and Kosmic Mother Funk. Oh, and MAGIC.

After the pour, the nose is slightly sour and it almost feels like there is heat coming off of the beer. Obviously uncarbonated, it is recommended to be served at room temperature. Dick actually brought the matching Riedel serving snifter (just the glass retails for $60 on eBay!) which just ratcheted up the awesomeness of the experience.

The flavor of this beer is truly unlike anything I have ever sampled. I have heard comparisons to sherry or cognac, and after tasting it I get those, but leaving it at that would be flat and would do no justice to the complexities within!

The mouthfeel is that of a liqueur, both syrupy and silky smooth. The first flavor that hits your palate is the oak from the aging casks, followed immediately by sweet fruits. However, it is much more malty than a Belgian quad, giving it a very rich character and it pushes back against the sweet. The maple syrup is present, as well as a slight tartness in the finish.

My favorite part of the entire beer, though, is that I could still taste the essence of a Boston Lager through it all! May have just been in my head, but it seemed like the roots were still there...

Overall it was quite an experience, and I can't reiterate how thankful I am to Dick for sharing it with me! Turns out I was celebrating something too...Utopias was officially craft beer #1,900!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Beer Koozies: Are They Just for Poolside and Tailgating Anymore?

Ask most craft beer drinkers the best way to sample their beer style of choice and more than likely you will get a passionate response about the particular piece of glassware it should be served out of, the proper serving temperature, and how long it can/should be aged.

Regardless of your preferences of bottles vs. cans (that is a whole different argument for another post), most beer geeks prefer to drink their suds in something other than the original packaging. As we try to fine-tune our palates, we are told that is the only way to get the full experience - sipping from a snifter or specialty Spiegelau glass to enhance flavor and aroma...

Additionally, we are told to let some beers warm as we drink them to get the full complexity and flavor profile of the beer. I have let big, heavy Belgians, Rauchbiers, and other dark ales rise in temperature and have been pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

However, all of these thoughts aside, from my personal experiences there are certain beers that I still want to drink cold - or more importantly, to NOT warm. For example, I have sampled excellent, monster IPA's like Bell's Hopslam, Mikkeller's 1,000 IBU, and Dogfish Head's 120 Minute that range from 9.5-13% ABV, so you can't just slam these down to keep them at temperature. But you want to find the quickest way to turn a beer snob's nose up? Put your glass, or the bottle of one of those "Holy Grail" beers in a beer koozie - you might as well have added ice cubes to a glass of chardonnay!

Fortunately for me, I have never been one to shy away from doing what is logical just to hold someone's favorable opinion! That's right craft beer drinkers, you are paying $3, $5, and sometimes $20 a bottle for that awesome experience - it is OKAY to use an insulator to keep your brew cold!!!

And to that end we have been rewarded...I have found an awesome site that allows you to custom print your own amazing koozies, for bottles, glasses, or cans. They can also provide you or your business (hint, hint breweries!) with stadium cups, mugs, napkins, and shot glasses to suit your event, store, or man cave.

Check out all the koozies that Express Imprint carries!

Their wide variety of offerings could be perfect for your beer dinner, festival, or social gathering. The Carabiner Koozies (for cans or bottles) certainly caught my eye, and would be awesome for somebody like me that loves the outdoors and goes hiking or kayaking!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Virginia Craft Brewers Fest - August 24th!

I know I haven't been on here to post in a while - I could blame it on work, kids, or a host of other things, but regardless, I would be remiss if I let August pass by without writing...

You see, August is Virginia Craft Beer Month, and that is not a hollow statement. Virginia breweries are pumping out what are arguably some of the best suds in the US right now, and new launches are popping up every time I turn around.

With this being said, I am extremely excited to help promote the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest - a gathering of some of the best, and newest, craft masters from the Commonwealth. The festival will be held at one of my personal favorite breweries/restaurants - Devil's Backbone Brewing Company - in Roseland, VA on Saturday, August 24th from 2-10 PM.

The breweries will include:

AleWerks Brewing Company (Williamsburg, VA)
Apocalypse Ale Works (Forest, VA)
Beer Hound Brewery (Barboursville, VA)
Blue & Gray Brewing Company (Fredericksburg, VA)
Blue Lab Brewing Co. (Lexington, VA)
Blue Mountain Barrel House (Arrington, VA)
Blue Mountain Brewery (Afton, VA)
Bold Rock Hard Cider (Nellysford, VA)
Bull & Bones Brewhaus (Blacksburg / Radford, VA)
Capitol City Brewing Co. (Arlington, VA & Washington, D.C.)
Center of the Universe Brewing Co. (Ashland, VA)
Champion Brewing Co. (Charlottesville, VA)
Corcoran Brewing Co.  (Loudon County, VA)
Devils Backbone Brewing Company. (Roseland, VA)
Devils Backbone Outpost Brewery (Lexington, VA)
Extra Billy’s Brewery (Midlothian, VA)
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery (Richmond, VA)
James River Brewing Company (Scottsville, VA)
Legend Brewing Co. (Richmond, VA)
Lost Rhino Brewing Co. (Ashburn, VA)
Mad Fox Brewing Company (Falls Church, VA)
O’Connor Brewing Company (Norfolk, VA)
Port City Brewing Co. (Alexandria, VA)
River Company Brewery (Fairlawn, VA)
Smartmouth Brewing Company (Norfolk, VA)
St. George Brewing Company (Hampton, VA)
Starr Hill Brewery (Crozet, VA)
Strangeways Brewing (Richmond, VA)
Sunken City Brewing Company (Hardy, VA)
Three Brothers Brewing Co. ( Harrisonburg, VA)
Vintage 50 (Leesburg, VA)

Wild Wolf Brewing Co. (Nellysford, VA)

I'm stoked most about this event because I  haven't even sampled anything from 10 of these breweries, and they are all less than 4 hours from me!!!

Come out and join me at what is sure to be an excellent showing of craft beer. There are even overnight camping passes available, and the DBBC food is AMAZING!

You can find out more info about the event, musical guests, or order tickets at the website for the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Christmas Gift for Beer Nerds!

For those of you that have kept up with this blog over the years, you know I am the World Champion of Useless Knowledge and Semi-Interesting Facts...

Well this year I was given an early Christmas gift that not only cemented this fact in the record books, but also served to humiliate some of my close friends - a real win-win! :0)

University Games Pub Trivia is a team trivia game (think: a more relevant and interesting Trivial Pursuit crossed with the game of LIFE) that includes 1,000 different questions from 5 different categories. Many of the questions from the Entertainment, Sports & Recreation, Science, History and Anything Goes sections are just obscure enough to get you thinking, but won't require cheating by asking Siri or Google because the answer is from the dark ages...Face it, Nate, it still didn't help you win!

Playing this game with my buddies reminds me of a good Trivia Night at a bar - except in my basement we are drinking Rogue's VooDoo Doughnut Maple Bacon or a three year variety of Firestone-Walker's Double Jack as opposed to Bud Light or Blue Moon. After a couple of rounds of 10% ABV ales the humorous questions start to become downright hilarious, and my confidence in my long-shot answers goes through the roof!

The best part about this game?...You can buy it at any Walmart, so you still have plenty of time to pick up 3-4 of them to distribute under the trees of your friends, or at your office Dirty Santa party!

Just remember, you can practice all you want but there is NO CHANCE that you could ever beat me at this game.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Who Wants Some Beer Mugs?

I know, I know - No posts in two months and then two in a day? Well, how about I make it up to you with a post that could work in your favor?...

During the first two weeks of September I will be having a contest to giveaway a set of 10 assorted Plastic Beer Steins! Provided by Promos Online to celebrate the upcoming Oktoberfest season, all you need to do to enter to win is comment on this post with your favorite O'fest-style brew!

I have checked out the huge selection of fully customize-able products on their site; including varying sizes, colors, and even color-changing features - and they all look fantastic!

So, make sure to enter to win and share with your friends (remember - there are 10 mugs, so you can share!), and click the link above to check out all of their offerings for gift ideas/business promotion!

*Contest ends at midnight on 9/15/12 - open to US residents only.