Thursday, December 30, 2010

Founders Nemesis 2010

Self-described on the bottle as follows: Anti-Establishment Ale - "Every batch diabolically brewed to decimate ordinary, average, run-of-the-mill tasting beer." This joker is produced once a year as a special edition - until you get the actual bottle in your hand you won't know what you are looking at in terms of style, ABV, IBUs etc. How can you NOT pick this brew up if you come across one?!

I have to put it out there that Founders' brews currently make up my favorite stout, rye ale, and make a damn good Scotch ale and IPA! This beer has some serious hype surrounding it, but I am expecting good things...

This 2010 version of Founders Nemesis is a 12% ABV, 100 IBU behemoth of a beer that pours dark brown with ruby accents. The one-finger head of small off-white bubbles smells spicy at first, and then I catch whiffs of dirt and chocolate.

The heavy malt body on this brew is almost over roasted it is so rich - lots of coffee, chocolate and caramel with a gentle warming that turns to fire in your belly. I kind of feel like the IBU rating can't be truthful, there is hardly any bitterness to this brew. There is definitely some hop presence, with mainly citrus coming through, but it isn't nearly what I was expecting. Despite my initial surprise Nemesis turned out to be another rock-solid brew from Founders!

Troegs Dead Reckoning Porter

The Trogner brothers have really got their heads on right! Here is another great dark beer from these guys that is just different enough to set it apart from the others in its style.

Troegs Dead Reckoning Porter is a 5.8% ABV dark brown ale with a three-finger head of off-white foam. This brew surprised me with its heavy aroma of grassy hops, paired with sweet chocolate.

The first sip is roasted barley and smoked peat, accompanied with sweet milk chocolate notes. The beer is heavy on flavor as it is unfiltered, which lends to a thick, creamy mouthfeel. The smoky flavors linger for a while after drinking, and is a very pleasant finish!

Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA

This incredible hoppy brew has won 4 Great American Beer Festival medals, including two golds, and it has even won in two different styles (1999 as an IPA and 2009 as an American-style strong pale ale)! The brewery itself was named the GABF Small Brewing Company of the Year in 2006!

Another pure indicator is out of 1,600 reviews on Beer Advocate, this brew earned an "A-" rating!

Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA is a 7% ABV, bright gold ale that pours to a one-finger white head of dense foam. The brew smells very floral of big, citrusy hops (as expected!) and the first taste is pure hop bitterness.

I am finally starting to distinguish the difference between an American IPA vs an import, and I can say that almost 100% of the time I prefer American hop varieties! Chinook, Cascade, Centennial and Columbus were all used making this brew the perfect combination of piney, citrus and grassy flavors.

The mouthfeel of this brew is medium-bodied with a slight oily consistency that adds to the hoppy flavors. The finish is a bit sweet with biscuity finish and lingering bitterness. Awesome brew!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Troegs Troegenator Double Bock

Here we have a 2-time Great American Beer Festival gold medal winner, from a tried-and-true brewery in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This brew is certainly not their Mad Elf, but it will do just fine for this time of year!

Troegs Troegenator Double Bock is a 8.2% ABV ruby colored brew with a one-finger tan head of small bubbles. The beer smells sweet, like caramel and maple syrup, but the first taste is roasted malt.

A bit dark and earthy, yet still sweet, the finish has a slight taste of butterscotch. This is another very good beer from Troegs, and the alcohol will sneak up you!

Lost Coast Downtown Brown

For whatever reason, Lost Coast's brews are very hard to get ahold of here in Virginia. This is a cause for disappointment for me! Their Indica IPA and Eight-Ball Oatmeal Stout are both incredible brews - and so is this one!

Lost Cost Downtown Brown is a chestnut colored ale that turns to a brilliant ruby when held to light. The beer pours to a two-finger off-white head that fades quickly to a ring. This brew smells sweet of toffee and at first sip there is a deep smoky flavor with a full, creamy texture. The middle is a bit darker with some earthy, bitter flavoring, but the finish is sweet chocolate. Good beer and not too heavy!

Lagunitas Brown Shugga' Ale - Sweet Release

This brew is the exact opposite of my last review...An extraordinarily heavy-bodied, high alcohol content, hoppy monster that will crush your tastebuds!

Lagunitas Brown Shugga' Ale - Sweet Release is a 9.99% ABV brew made with tons of brown cane sugar. It is amber in color with a two-finger, lacy, off-white head of foam. The beer smells INTENSELY of floral and piney hops.

First sip - Wow. Definitely not what I was expecting here! With all that hop aroma I was expecting a flavor close to a malty IPA..Not so. I guessed I should have had an inkling based on the name, but the base of this brew is all that brown sugar. This beer is wayyyyy over-the-top sweet, and in my opinion it doesn't blend with the grapefruit/citrus hop flavoring. The bitterness of the hops isn't enough to overtake the sweetness, leaving the beer to taste like it hasn't finished fermenting....kinda crazy considering the insane alcohol content that already exists! This one struck out with me...

Bell's Best Brown Ale

Got a lazy day ahead of you like I do?  I suggest picking up a six-pack of this easy-drinker to keep you warm and preoccupied...

Bell's Best Brown Ale is 5.8% ABV, translucent reddish-brown ale with a two-finger head of light, off-white foam. The beer smells like toasted bread and at first sip is roasty and sweet.

This brew's malt body is full-flavored but not too heavy, with some notes of toffee and cocoa. It goes down  fast, and has a nutty amaretto flavor in the finish. Don't know if the name is accurate, but it is very good!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

St. George Brewing Co. Winter Scotch Ale - 85 Shilling Beer

I have sampled and enjoyed a few other brews from St. George in the past, and being based out of Hampton, Virginia certainly helps when I am shopping for beer. But what really caught my eye with this brew was part of its name - 85 Shilling beer. This was the first I had ever heard of an ale being described this way so I just had to pick it up.

I did some research and I will spare you on most of the details (if you are really that interested check out this link), but the basis of this rating system is a set of old Scottish export accounting rules used in the late 1800's. Light beers were lower on the Shilling scale - usually in the 42-48 range, Mild or Pale ales were from 54-60, strong ales would be somewhere between 70-90. This Shilling system was used until World War II but started to phase out after that...The terms were slowly replaced with "light", "wee heavy" (due to 6 oz. bottle sizes), and "export" (IPA's).

St. George Brewing Co, Winter Scotch Ale - 85 Shilling Beer is a 6% ABV brew that has a burnt amber color with a one-finger head of off-white small bubbles. The beer smells of sweet malt and pecans, and at first sip is very heavy of smoked peat and roasted nuts. The finish is sweeter with notes of caramel and toffee. This would make a really great session beer for me during this time of year!

Merry Christmas and a Stay Thirsty New Year!

I hope everyone out there had a great Christmas and got everything they wanted! I certainly enjoyed myself with several new Christmas seasonals sampled that I will be reviewing shortly.

For now I am just going to sit here and enjoy one of my Christmas traditions...a stocking stuffer from my in-laws that simply feeds my alcoholic tendencies:

VSC Chocolats is a specialty chocolatier out of California that uses original spirits in liquid form inside of European chocolate. This particular set uses dark chocolate with centers of Grand Marnier, Jim Beam, Stolichnaya Ohranj and Remy Martin. YUM!

Blue Mountain Lights Out Holiday Ale

This brewpub in Nelson County, Virginia doubles as an incredible restaurant, which I posted on around this time last December. Unfortunately, it is just far enough away that I haven't made it back since then, but I plan to visit as soon as I can!

Blue Mountain Lights Out Holiday Ale is a 7.0% ABV mahogany colored brew with a one-finger off-white head of small bubbles. The beer smells bready and earthy and the first taste is actually kind of like sweet barbecue sauce! A light bitter vinegar taste blends with smoky hickory wood flavors for a very unique palate on this one.

The beer has a dark, rich texture and body - more than any other Winter beer I have sampled. There are chocolate notes, lending to sweet, sour and spicy flavors throughout the brew. I enjoyed the different qualities of this beer, and even more so because it is local!

Wild Goose Snow Goose Winter Ale

Before this winter brew I had never heard of Wild Goose Brewery before...they are based not too far away, in Frederick, Maryland, and consider themselves "Chesapeake's Own". One thing is sure, they make a darn good warmer!

Wild Goose Snow Goose Winter Ale is a 6.3% ABV brew with a dark chestnut color and a two-finger off-white head of lacy foam. The beer smells of roasted malt and spices and the first taste is buttery, toasted biscuit. The spices are just right, not overpowering but certainly noticeable. I get some brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Not an extremely complex, but they don't all have to be, right? The finish is sweet with a light, hoppy aftertaste.

Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Wild Ale

Lagunitas is famous for big ABV, highly hopped and highly malted brews in their brewery in Petaluma, California - right up my alley! So, when they release any special edition brews I am first in line to grab a bottle or two.

This 8.85% brew was released in September, and incorporates a ton of malted wheat and a Belgian Westmalle yeast strain for complexity.

Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Wild Ale is a bright goldenrod color with a fluffy, two-finger white head of foam. The brew smells intensely of oily, floral, whole-leaf hops. The piney, grassy flavors of the hops slam you from the first sip, but the wheat malt adds a crispness and punch that makes this brew special. A little salty and with some citrus undertones, the beer has a great medium-bodied mouthfeel. The bitterness from the hops lingers on your tongue forever!

Rogue Chipotle Ale

If you follow this blog at all you have probably noticed my affinity for spicy foods...the only thing better? Spicy beer! I picked up this bomber and actually sampled the beer a while ago, but am just now getting to the review.

Rogue Chipotle Ale is a beer that is brewed with smoked jalepeno peppers. The name alone makes me want to drive to nearby Charlottesville for lunch tomorrow (they have a Chipotle restaurant)! The brew is an amber color that produces a two-finger off-white head of fizz.

This beer smells surprisingly dark and rich - almost like a smoked porter - but with some definite spice and pepper in the nose. The first taste is liquid smoke with a slow burn at the back of the throat. It is full of dark malts with some caramel and chocolate, but the defining presence here is hickory smoked flavors.

I actually really enjoyed this brew, especially with the aftertaste of spicy peppers, but I wish I had shared this large bottle. The flavors are so rich and potent that it is almost overpowering.

In comparison, the only other thing that I have had that is even remotely similar is Kiss the Devil, a wine from local Peaks of Otter Winery made from the essence of jalepenos, habeneros, ghost and 27 other spicy peppers that tastes like fire in a bottle - and I loved that too!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Bell's Hell Hath No Fury...Ale

Bell's just continues to rock my socks off with their full-flavors brews! After reading up on this one, it seems as though they just stumbled onto an incredible recipe...The beer started out as a Dubbel, but they later decided to blend another Belgian yeast into the recipe for something unique.

Bell's Hell Hath No Fury...Ale is a deep, dark brown - almost black - color with a one-finger brown foam head of small bubbles. A LOT darker than I was expecting! The beer smells of chocolate and spicy Belgian yeast and at first sip I get a very smoky texture and strong coffee flavors.

This brew is extremely complex with the two different Belgian yeasts fighting for attention, in addition to the strong roasted malt presence. The 7.7% ABV is pretty heavy and adds to the earthy texture of the beer. As a strong ale I wasn't expecting this beer to be so dark - but I should have guessed it would be another stout from this brewery...They love them up there!

On the label, "A brew that gives you sympathy for the devil or the courage to face him!"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Brew Your Own Magazine

So, I have mentioned several times on Stay Thirsty that I am interested in homebrewing, but just like with my small reservations about blogging I haven't made the leap yet to get started...Well after some gentle goading from friends (and even an investment to back me up!) I am going to be making the leap in 2011.

With this in mind, I have been doing a little research into the hobby because I am NOT interested in starting and doing this half-way. This will not be some Mr. Beer plastic keg where you pour-sit-and-wait for God-awful swill to ferment...I fully intend to make great beer, both drinkable and potentially award-winning. During my research I found what I consider to be the best place to start: Brew Your Own Magazine.

Brew Your Own has a wealth of resources for the homebrewer - both through their magazine subscription service and their website. Their helpful articles include how to build/procure the latest equipment, recipes and brewing techniques, and personal stories from professional brewers.

For a newbie like me the knowledge and know-how that I can glean from years of other people's previous experience, as well as cutting edge equipment and ingredients will be well worth the subscription price!

Fortunately, right now you can sample one free issue of Brew Your Own simply by clicking on the picture above...Check it out!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown

I had heard good things about this brewery before, but couldn't find them around anywhere. It wasn't until a buddy finally brought me a bottle that I realized that this was a somewhat local beer!

Based out of Washington, DC, this is yet another brewery founded out of some crazy homebrewer's kitchen! To make things even more interesting, these guys won a GABF gold medal in 2001 but had to stop production the next year due to lack of funds. Thank God they somehow coughed up the money to get going again, because they are now one of the fastest growing microbrews in the country!

The company quite obviously got its name as the result of its founder being a former fireman. What is really cool and distinctive of this brewing company is that they give back philanthropically (over $60,000 to date!) to local burn treatment centers with their "Penny in Every Pint" and "Quarter in Every Case" programs.

Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown is a deep, dark brown in color with a one-finger tan head of small bubbles. The brew smells of roasted and chocolate malts and at first sip is very smoky in both texture and flavor. I found it kind of ironic that the beer would taste so smoky coming from a former firefighter's brewery! The malts involved are very rich and sweet making for a great brew - I bet they could make a killing pairing up with Firehouse Subs!

12/30/10 UPDATE: Thanks to Hook & Ladder for sharing this post, and for correcting my error...They let me know that founder Rich actually still volunteers as a Firefighter! Thanks for what you do Rich, both for keeping people safe and making awesome beer!

Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale

Today is the shortest day of the year, and so I thought it would be a fitting time to post my review of this recently-sampled brew. I have posted before the few other brews I have sampled from this brewery, so you can read the reasons I keep coming back to them!

Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale is a 6.9% ABV, clear copper colored brew with a three-finger off white head of thick foam. The beer smells of floral hops and nutmeg and the first taste is roasted malt. The flavor is not overloaded with smoky or coffee notes, just simple nutty and caramel sweetness with some holiday spice. The alcohol presence lends a bit of warming, and the brew does taste like it is oak aged with some vanilla bean in the finish. This is a very good beer!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Bell's Winter White Ale

I sometimes have a little trouble drinking wheat ales during the Fall/Winter months because they tend to be fairly thin, and are set up to be more crisp and refreshing with lower ABVs - which is why they are usually perfect for the warmer Summer months. What I don't usually have trouble with, however, is sampling anything from Bell's Brewery!

Bell's Winter White Ale is seasonal wheat ale from Kalamazoo, Michigan that pours to a hazy, pale yellow color with a three-finger white head of small bubbles. The brew smells like bubble gum and spices, and at first taste is full of malted wheat with some Coriander and citrus. As expected, this beer is light and airy, but the spices provide some thickening to the texture and flavoring that is perfect for this colder weather. Belgian yeast simply adds to the already prevalent spicy character. Another very nice concoction from Bell's!

21st Amendment Fireside Chat Winter Spiced Ale

I have been developing quite an archive of reviewed brews that I need to post on, but tonight as I sample this one I felt that I needed to write about it mid-sip...

I have mentioned this before, but 21st Amendment as a brewery is only 10 years old. What is outstanding about their accomplishments is that each beer they release is better than the one before it! I have reviewed several of their other offerings and look forward to the next to bear witness to their constant improvement!

21st Amendment Fireside Chat is a 7.9% ABV winter ale with spices added. The beer's color is a deep mahogany displaying burgundy tinges when held to the light. From the pour this brew develops a two-finger tan head of rocky lace and smells of cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar with a slight bready aroma.

This first sip of this beer is a bit thinner in mouthfeel than I was expecting with all that alcohol and such a malty base - but it is not light in flavor! The spices come out right away and the warming is certainly present. The middle is sweet and roasty followed by a chocolaty finish. After looking up the beer on their website, the lighter viscosity makes sense as it is a self-proclaimed English-styled ale.

FDR used to tell-it-like-it-was during his nightly radio broadcasts and I will now do the same: This is a very good beer - go pick some up!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Old Dominion Octoberfest!

I know it is a little late in the season for this brew, but I have loved everything else from this brewery over the years. They were once local, but in 2007 changed management and decided to relocate to Dover, Delaware. Since that time they have really come a long way in terms of visibility and marketing, most notably their labels have become much more eye-catching.

Old Dominion Octoberfest! is a deep copper colored brew with a three-finger light tan head of foam. The beer smells of sweet malt and the first sip is a bit salty with a nice smoky flavor and texture. The body is roasty malts with some hop bitterness in the finish. The interesting thing about this Oktoberfest is that it is a lot more full-bodied than most of the other brews of this style...I really enjoyed this unique characteristic!

Mendocino White Hawk IPA

Back in October I reviewed my first brew from this brewery, Mendocino's Black Hawk Stout, which I really enjoyed. I have now noticed a running theme to their brews - they each portray a Raptor, or Hawk on their label and in their name with one exception: their Blue Heron Pale Ale. The particular hawks they represent are native to Northern California where one of their breweries is located. Whatever their obsession with birds, I am finding that I really love their brews!

Mendocino White Hawk IPA is a reddish-amber color with a two-finger white head of lace. The brew smells mostly of caramel malt, which was surprising given the style. I was also taken back by the first sip - this beer kinda tastes like a really good sweet potato! The beer is earthy and very sweet with a slightly smoky finish. There are definitely some hop characteristics to the brew, and I like it a lot, but it really doesn't fit the general definition of an IPA...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Williamsburg AleWerks Old Stitch

This final beer has me regretting I didn't pick up one of these growlers every day since we left...The Schwarzbier I am about to review was only offered on draught in the brewery, and they were literally on their last keg of this stuff. The worst part is that they were selling their basic screw-top growlers for $5 and a $10 fill up! However, I could tell by the look in my wife's eyes that she would kill me if I bought another piece of glassware to take up space in the house!

By far the best example of this style of beer I have ever sampled, Williamsburg AleWerks Old Stitch is a one-off beer that brewmaster Geoff Logan made based on an 18th Century recipe to be served at Chowning's Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg (which was closed when we went!). This black lager poured to a two-finger tan head of large bubbles and smelled of smoked peat. The brew at first sip is incredibly smoky, with a dark roasted malt texture and some added spicy hops in the finish. This brew was the last of the beers that I sampled, so unfortunately my palate was a little burned out by that point - but I can easily say that this beer was incredible and I am kicking myself for not bringing some home!

Williamsburg AleWerks Drake Tail IPA

Another snow day today! Even with the day off yesterday I had too many things going on to post my archived this point I still have over 50 brews with tasting notes that I need to catch up on! Hopefully I can play catch up over the next couple weeks!

This beer was one of the samples I tried at the brewery, and I was really impressed. Unfortunately, they didn't have any single bottles for me to bring home and I just didn't have room for another sixer...

Williamsburg AleWerks Drake Tail IPA is a golden-orange brew with a one-finger off-white head of lace. The beer smells of lemon zest with citrus and piney hops. The first sip follows the aroma closely, but with a bit of biscuity malt flavoring for body. The bittersweet grapefruit finish of this beer lingers for a while. This is a high IBU beer but very drinkable - it really makes me wish I had picked up that extra six-pack!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Williamsburg AleWerks Washington's Porter

Here is another great brew from Olde Towne in Williamsburg, and perfect for the cold weather that is slamming us right now...

Williamsburg AleWerks Washington's Porter is a fine example of what an old porter (fun fact: General Washington rationed 2 pints of porter to his soldiers per day when they were fighting the Revolutionary War!) probably would have tasted like. The beer is a deep, dark brown with a one finger head of tan foam.

The immediate aroma is coffee with some faint chocolate notes. At first sip I get rich, roasty flavors of fresh-ground coffee and bittersweet chocolate.There is also some bitter hops which helps break up all the roasted notes. The finish is sweet chocolate and caramel malts. Very good beer!

Williamsburg AleWerks Pumpkin Ale

Well, the snow is really coming down outside this morning and isn't supposed to stop until late tomorrow morning, so I am not going in to work and probably won't be in tomorrow...What better time to catch up on some reviews than now?

I finally finished off my Williamsburg six-pack, so I will continue on with those where I left off.

Williamsburg AleWerks Pumpkin Ale is a hazy copper color with a one-finger off white head of tiny bubbles. The brew smells surprisingly of bubble gum at first, but is then followed by the more traditional nutmeg and cinnamon.

The first sip of this beer is very dry right-off-the-bat and full of nutmeg and allspice - the cinnamon spiciness isn't present until the aftertaste and it leaves a semi gingerbread film in your mouth. I happen to love gingerbread so this is awesome!

A strong, rich and dark malt base makes for a great mouthfeel and seems to be the same foundation as their Tavern Ale. This is definitely my favorite brew from the AleWerks and at 7.3% ABV it is the perfect winter warmer - really good stuff!

If Dr. Seuss was a homebrewer...

I stumbled across this awesome revisit of Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham and had to share it! This is one of my daughter's favorite books, but after this I will never look at it the same! Jay Brooks at the Brookston Beer Bulletin wrote, and Rob Davis illustrated this incredible parody...Check it out and pay close attention to the last line!


Sam I am
I am Sam
Sam I am
That Sam’s upscale.
That Sam regales.
I do not like that Sam wholesale!

Do you drink
craft beer & ale?


I do not drink them, Sam, they’re stale.
I do not drink
craft beer & ale.

Would you drink them
weak or strong?

I would not drink them
weak or strong.
I would not drink them, it is wrong.

I do not drink
craft beer & ale.
I do not drink them, Sam, curtail.

Would you drink them with more hops?
Would you drink them chased with schnapps?

I do not drink them
with more hops.
I do not drink them
chased with schnapps.
I do not drink them
weak or strong.
I do not drink them
all night long.
I do not drink
craft beer & ale.
I do not drink them,
Sam, you’re off the trail.

Would you drink them
in a pub?
Would you drink them
at a club?

Not in a pub.
Not at a club.
Not with more hops.
Not chased with schnapps.
I would not drink them
weak or strong.
I would not drink them, it is wrong.
I would not drink craft beer & ale.
I do not drink them, Sam — no sale.

Would you? Could you? In a bar?
Drink them! Drink them! Here they are.

I would not, could not, in a bar.
You may like them. You will see.
You may like them with some cheese!


I would not, could not with some cheese.
Not in a bar! You let me be.

I do not like them in a pub.
I do not like them at a club.
I do not like them with more hops.
I do not like them chased with schnapps.
I do not like them weak or strong.
I do not like them all night long.
I do not like craft beer & ale.
I do not like them, Sam, you’re beyond the pale.

A stein! A stein!
A stein! A stein!
Could you, would you,
in a stein?

Not in a stein! Not in a stein!
Not with some cheese! Sam! Let me be!


I would not, could not, in a pub.
I could not, would not, at a club.
I will not drink them with more hops.
I will not drink them chased with schnapps.
I will not drink them weak or strong.
I will not drink them, it is wrong.
I do not like craft beer & ale.
I do not like them, Sam, you’ve gone off the rail.

Say! In a glass?
Here in a glass!
Would you, could you,
in a glass?

I would not, could not, in a glass.


Would you, could you, while you dine?
I would not, could not, while I dine.
Not in a glass. Not in a stein.
Not in a bar. Not with some cheese.
I do not drink them, Sam, you see.
Not with more hops. Not in a pub.
Not chased with schnapps. Not in a club.
I will not drink them weak or strong.
I will not drink them all night long.

You do not drink
craft beer & ale?

I do not drink them,
Sam, you make me wail.

Could you, would you,
drink with Charlie?

I would not, could not,
drink with Charlie.

Would you, could you,
with more barley?

I could not, would not,
with more barley,
I will not, will not,
drink with Charlie.

I will not drink them while I dine.
I will not drink them in a stein.
Not in a glass! Not with some cheese.
Not in a bar! You let me be!
I do not drink them in a pub.
I do not drink them at a club.
I do not drink them with more hops.
I do not drink them chased with schnapps.
I do not drink them weak or strong.
I do not drink them IT IS WRONG!

I do not drink craft beer & ale!
I do not drink them, Sam — you fail.

You do not drink them. So you say.
Try them! Try them! And you may.
Try them and you may, I say.

Sam! If you will let me be,
I will try them. You will see.

Say! I like craft beer & ale!
I do! I like them, Sam, you prevail!
And I would drink them with more barley.
And I would drink with homebrew Charlie…

And I will drink them while I dine.
And in a glass. And in a stein.
And in a bar. And with some cheese.
They are so good, so good, you see!

So I will drink them in a pub.
And I will drink them at a club.
And I will drink them with more hops.
And I will drink them chased with schnapps.
And I will drink them weak or strong.
Say! I will drink them ALL NIGHT LONG!

I do so love
craft beer at home!
Thank you!
Thank you, Sam-Cala-Gione!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Williamsburg AleWerks Tavern Ale

The next day we got up early and spent parts of the day at the Jamestown settlement and Colonial Williamsburg - both very cool to see as some of the oldest parts of our country and staples of both ancient American politics and beer!

I hadn't been to Jamestown since my 3rd Grade field trip, so it was cool to see the (somewhat) new museum, yet still see the re-enactors of the Powhatan village, the Jamestown settlement and the three replica ships in the harbor that I remembered.
Colonial Williamsburg was a bit of a waste of time, as the ticket prices are outrageous - and unnecessary - to see most of the town. They are required to go into many of the reenactment sites, but you can walk around and see nearly everything else without them: shops, taverns or a ride in one of the carriages. 

Also, one of the main reasons for visiting was that I wanted to eat in one of the old taverns for lunch - but 2 of the 3 were closed because they were getting ready for their Thanksgiving feasts coming up later in the week. The only other one open (the King's Arms) was the highest priced of them all, and after checking the menu we didn't see anything even remotely appealing compared to the others.

So, after a long day of visiting the historical sights and shopping for Christmas presents at the Prime Outlets nearby, we decided to head to dinner at Food for Thought - the AMAZING restaurant we first visited last year.

There was a huge line, so we decided to sit at the bar and enjoy an appetizer (fried mozzarella ravioli, yum!!) and a brew or two while we waited for a table. This was awesome because I got to see the end of the VT vs. Miami game, which my Hokies won handily!

If ever in Williamsburg, be sure to eat here!
We finally got a table and I could not have been more excited about this meal! We started with pumpkin cornbread and asiago sourdough rolls, and I ordered Jamaican jerk chicken with mango salsa, garlic red-skinned mashed potatoes and fried zucchini. My wife got the Pistachio encrusted chicken breast (fried with batter of parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs and crunched pistachios). This meal was greatness in food form!

As the restaurant is themed with quotes from Benjamin Franklin and various other celebrities and political figures, there was one on the wall that stood out to me - George Bernard Shaw said, "If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange those apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange those ideas, then we will each have two ideas." After looking at their tap list, Food for Thought put together two ideas - great food and great beer!

Williamsburg Tavern Ale is a dark brown ale with a one-finger off-white head of thin foam. The beer smells smoky and nutty, and tastes just like it smells. The first sip is like smoked hazelnut and amaretto - beautifully balanced and very rich in malt flavor and texture. There is some semi-sweet chocolate in the middle and a slightly hoppy finish. What can this brewery do wrong?!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Williamsburg AleWerks Chesapeake Pale Ale

Wow...has it really been since Thanksgiving? Things have been so busy at work and home lately I haven't had time to breathe! So, where did I leave off? Oh, right, with our trip to Williamsburg...Let me continue!

Friday night when we arrived our hotel was across the street from three Italian restaurants: an UNO's Chicago Grill, a Mom & Pop dive and what looked to be a semi-authentic, family-run place called Mirabella's. For those who don't know, my wife is about 4.5 months pregnant, and she was craving pizza on this particular evening. Although I love it, she isn't fond of deep-dish, so that ruled out UNO's...Mirabella's it is!

We show up and I immediately have a sinking feeling in my gut - this place is attached to a year-round Christmas store! Still hopeful, we get a table (a little too quickly) and check the menu - no pizza. What kind of so-called Italian place doesn't offer pies?! Embarrassed, the waitress apologizes profusely and shyly explains that the online menu we checked out beforehand is several years old. She says that this is a common question/problem and we kindly and quietly leave the premises after she whispers the name of the restaurant where the locals go to eat true Italian cuisine.

You can see the Christmas store on the right!

Fastforward to Sal's by Victor (Sal's, the name of every good pizzeria, right!?) and what a difference 3 blocks makes! This place was borderline AMAZING! We get there and the line is basically down the street. I casually mention we are celebrating our anniversary to the hostess and we are magically seated about 3 minutes later - and 5 minutes after we have ordered our appetizer the accordion player shows up at our table! I want to go back and tip the waitress from the other restaurant!!! My wife is obviously impressed, and the courteous service helps us both relax after the nearly 4 hour drive.

Really piling it on, Sal's has an extensive tap list including brews from Dogfish Head, Legend Brewing out of Richmond, VA, Magic Hat and Old Dominion out of Hampton.

For my first brew, I selected Williamsburg AleWerks Chesapeake Pale Ale. It could be that I was just thirsty from the road, or it might be that this beer is just awesome (ding, ding, ding!) but I handled this brew in about 2 minutes.

This pale ale has a golden-orange hue with a three-finger, rocky, off-white head of foam and lace. The brew smells pungently of whole-leaf piney hops. From the first sip to last of this beer there is a consistent metallic, bitter flavor overlying the biscuity malt foundation. A bit of spiciness in the finish makes this a great beer to chase down a large, greasy slice of pepperoni and mushroom pizza!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Stay Thirsty is a year old!

Hey everybody, just wanted to let you all know that today officially marks the one-year anniversary of Stay Thirsty, My Friend - The Beer Blog!

Thanks to everyone that reads, comments and shares. If it weren't for you...I would probably still write this just for the hell of it. But thanks anyways!

Just as a recap, in the past 12 months I have posted reviews of over 430 different brews, sampled exactly 300 new beers (coincidence, I swear!), gained and lost about 10 lbs., and recycled a crap-load of glass bottles - doing my part to stay (or stay away from) "green"!

Please help me get the site out there by liking and suggesting my Facebook page, following me on Twitter or just by word of mouth - it is easy to remember!