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Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! I won't be posting for a couple days, but rest assured there will be plenty of new material when the New Year begins. Thanks for all the constructive criticism for 2015!


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Like, No Way, Dude! - California Common by Key Brewing

Like, you know, beer is like radically different, from like coast to coast. You know, because, ingredients were, like you know, never the same. And now the ingredients, dude, are coming back and they like have their California-cation put on them. Like their hops and their malt, its like totally integrated. So cool, they like have gone like full circle.

California Common - Key Brewing
Never, dude, was that truer than California Common by Key Brewing Company. The Key Brewing Company (Dundalk, MD) is a small brewery moving on up to the competition of big time breweries. The California Common, one of four beers that Key Brewing has responsibility for, is the first that this beer blogger has gotten his lips on and I can tell you that this beer and this brewery are set to go far.

A California Common (or Cali Common) is kind of an average beer. There have been a few Cali Commons and while they have all advanced a wheat taste, that is where they left it off.  The difference for Key Brewing's Cali Common is that they have picked up that taste and run with it.  The flavor is richer and tastier than in normal beer and just that flavoring make the Cali Common a fun beer and one worth a second round. The color is also darker, slightly and that makes it appear to be a beer ready for more than a first look.

For Untappd, I rated it this way: Pretty good California Common. Nice flavor, low hop count and reduced malt. It sounds reduced, but it is not. Just smooth goodness, Linda. 

I rated it a 4.25 on Untappd.

If you are going to be trying new beers after that holidays, this California Common by Key Brewers should be on that list. It may be a nice surprise.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ahoy Matey! Its Redbeard and He is Bloody Good!

A few months ago, I set about a field trip to Staunton, VA to sample a small brewery in the foothills called Redbeard Brewing Company. A friend recommended it to me and so I set off one Saturday to investigate it. (He was a Raider fan, so I knew it had to be good!) When I found it, it was a little hole in the wall brewery that had really excellent beer.  The problem was figuring out how it was going to move it to market. Well, they have made it (courtesy of Meridian Pints Sour Pints Nights last week) and they, hopefully, are here to stay!

AM OG Stout by Redbeard Brewery
Much improved from the sampling I had some six months ago, the Redbeard Brewing Company, LLC (120 S Lewis St, Staunton, VA 24401 V: (804) 641-9340
Redbeard.Brewing/) is still small, listing itself as an LLC. I can imagine that is going to change in the near future. However, getting information on the web on a brewery this small is a bit of a challenge. (I think I made a similar call six months ago!) But I think this move to a larger market will push the brewery to adopt a larger footprint. We shall see!

On the night in question, I sampled three beers that Redbeard Brewing had brought up to Meridian Pint. The AM OG Stout, the Sweet Potato Pie Porter and the Moriarty Beam Aged. For the purposes of this review, I am going to focus mostly on the AM OG Stout. 

Sweet Potato Pie Porter - Redbeard Brewing
However, the other two represent tastes that can only be described as eloquent and you should try them out yourself. Sweet Potato Pie Porter will take you back inside you grandma kitchen during Thanksgiving when it is filled with uncles, aunts and cousins. The Moriarty Beam Aged is completely different taste experience. Outdoors, the wind blowing in your face, and this is the first your taste of alcohol to warm you up. Each is distinctive and you won't want to pass them up!

The AM OG Stout is a really good stout. So good that my review was about how amazed I was that is made it here, rather than about the beer!  This is a righteous brew and it is really a step up from your average stout. Soothing, nearly black color, slight head and an overwhelming taste just set you up for more. The only problem is that they don't have a brewer's expectation of what to think - everything is coming from the taster. However, AM OG Stout goes down nice and slow and since it is a stout, it is thick and rich to boot! 
Moriarty - Beam Aged - Redbeard Brewing

I gave it a score of 4.5 on Untappd.

Everything about this beer is a real pleasure and they should be very proud how it has turned out. I will be waiting for it, its just a matter of time. My lips smacking in anticipation!


Monday, December 14, 2015

Oh No, It True! Hardywood Park Gingerbread Stout

Sometimes you just sit up from drinking a beer and you say, "Yes, that is exactly what has been missing. Where has this been all of this time?" The timing is just so striking because all of the little pieces that have been missing come together in this singularity. It not so much a rocket to the sky. It is soothing, the kind of taste that just reaches up and gently bring you in. For a while, you are one with the drink.

Gingerbread Stout - Hardywood Park
This is the feeling with Gingerbread Stout by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery (2408-2410 Ownby Ln, Richmond, VA 23220 V: (804) 420-2420  Manufacturers of many a good beer out of Richmond, Hardywood Park has created a line craft beer for the season with Gingerbread Stout.  It is warm and cozy, like you have been friends for a long time, but not so much that you can't be friends in a group either.  If you are going to go out and purchase a flavor from this holiday, put aside the money for this one. It is a winner and not too expensive.  

With a 9.2% ABV and a 55 IBU, this beer makes you sit up, but it gently wafts you with the tastes of gingerbread and holiday flavorings. The Web site offers these insights:    
Brewed with babyginger from Casselmonte Farm and wildflower honey from Bearer Farms, Hardywood Gingerbread Stout captures the terroir of central Virginia in a rich, creamy libation with a velvety mouthfeel and an intriguing evolution of flavors from milk chocolate and vanilla to honeycomb and cinnamon to a snap of ginger in the finish.

Deep, dark chocolate in color with a mahogany tint and a frothy, caramel colored head, Hardywood Gingerbread Stout offers aromatics of holiday spice originating from the ginger, and balanced with a generous dose of whole Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans and Vietnamese cinnamon. Milk sugar (lactose) contributes to the full body of this stout and tames its roasty character, while oats lend a silky quality. Enjoy fresh, or cellar for a special occasion. We hope Hardywood Gingerbread Stout contributes to your merriment this season. 

As for my special take on this one, I put it like this in Untappd: Gingerbread! Yeah, it just has that taste. It may be once a year, but it is good. It really sits up and you pay attention because it is good.

I rate it 4.5 stars in Untappd.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Death of Cthulhu - I Can't Believe I Am Writing This

I can not believe this. This one is simply not possible, but it is, and I have to suck it up. Dead? Really? I mean, I am not a huge H. P. Lovecraft fan, but Cthulhu and its ever present existence was one of the givens when I was coming up and reading sci-fi and fantasy. So, when I saw it, I had to do a double take. And if you saw who was advancing this idea, you would even do a triple take, because these guys have steadily reinforced their chops. Ah, this is a horror story coming true.

Death of Cthulhu - Adroit Theory
Death of Cthulhu, brewed by Adroit Theory Brewing Company (404 Browning Ct. Unit C Purcellville, Virginia 20132 V: 703-722-3144, is a cold imperial stout that really has no equal. This is not some standard or Russian imperial stout. This beverage has the right combination of oddly off pieces that go together in the right fashion. One thing, for example, is sea salt. Nothing wrong with using salt, but sea salt infused with a series of digestible ingredients puts it over the top. It has just the right combination of ingredients and a 12% ABV that it goes down so easily, you wonder if they are lying to you. But since this Adroit Theory, you know that they are telling the truth and if anything, they probably rounded the ABV down a bit just to get it through the censors.   

As a matter of fact, when I ordered it, the woman next to me asked me what I had ordered. I told her and she ordered one as well because she was curious. She got a couple of drinks into it and proclaimed that it was as one of the best drinks she had had at Spacebar (709 W Broad St, Falls Church, VA 22046 V: (703) 992-0777 that night. (Don't worry Morgan, your ID shall go to the grave.) Not an earth shattering opinion, but you don't get one that often that your on-track.

I rated is a 4.25 on Untappd and I suggest that you try it and give it your own rating. It strange, but true. But can it really represent to the Death of Cthulhu? Well, if it tastes like this, it might not be a bad way to go through life after all.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Come Over to the Mead-ian Side of the Force

Mead. Yes, let's get the title of this one out there because it is important to have in this conversation. I like mead. I like the combination of wine and honey. I can not understand, however, how it gets thrown in with beer, but it is, and that is fine with me.  It is the black sheep of the beer universe, but I think it has a lot of good points that need to be revealed. It is less of a black sheep and more ugly duckling that grows into a beautiful swan.

Iniquity - Moonlight Meadery
Mead as a group have some differences from beer. Mead is higher in alcohol content than beer, usually running at 10-15% per container and is served in a much small container than beer. The one thing about is that is They are also sweeter than beer, taking the sugar from the grapes and from the honey, kind of taking the alternative side to beer, rather than competing with it.  

It is also harder to find than beer. A whole page of beers may be countered by four, at most, of mead and generally only one. Wine is a much better market for grapes and only a few types of grapes, like Cabernet Sauvigon and Chardonnay, plus combinations of red and white wines in between, make the wine market a strong sort to crack. Mead often finds itself the odd fellow looking in.   One of the challenges with maintaining a mead line is that it can not share a line with any other alcoholic beverage. It has to be all mead, all the time, otherwise it will not work.

One brewer in the Washington, DC area that offers mead (there are others in Virginia, such as Mad Fox Brewery, and Maryland) as a regular beverage on the menu is Meridian Pint in the Columbia Heights neighborhood. Iniquity by Moonlight Meadery (23 Londonderry Road, Unit #17
Londonderry, NH, 03053 V: 603-216-2162 F: 603-216-1602 is the currently resident.  There is not information on ABV or IBU on the website, but the on the menu it was listed at 12% ABV. The web had a the following information:  

A sinful double play on the senses.  A semi-sweet and smooth apple that leads us into temptation with a finish of light, tangy cranberry. 

On Untappd, the smell was key to the alcoholic content of this drink. The wine was obviously very good, which is so key for a mead and the rest falls into line.  The wine did not run off with the flavor, but rather roped in the taste. All in all, it was very good and worthy of a second glass. (Nope, I didn't have a second glass, but it was tempting!)

I scored it a 4.5 on Untappd.

I will be recording my experiences with mead alongside with beer. Their maybe some interesting experiences to be gained here and I think we need to reflect them along with those of beer. This is going to be good!


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Biggie S'mores - When Big Just Isn't Good Enough

Sometimes, big just isn't big enough. Sure, there are super sizes, but when it comes right down to it, big just fails. You need something big in terms of flavor and also in terms taste - something that is not just large in terms of flavor but brings other tastes to bear.  Big tastes, say, from the campfire, tastes that remind us of really good flavors from the past and that have been brought back, if even only for a little while, to soothe our worried brows and put us into a state of nirvana.

Biggie S'mores Imperial Stout
Biggie S'mores Imperial Stout does just that. Brewed by Three Notch'd Brewing Company (946 Grady Avenue, Charlottesville, VA 22903 V: 434-293-0610, this imperial stout brings us to the edge of the campfire for tails of spooks and goblins. The brew is introduced by a strong graham cracker taste and then it mellows to a chocolate-y concoction that tastes like marsh mellows, without giving away that it has no marsh mellow content in it. It has a warm and fresh feeling throughout the pour - once it has you, it never really lets go. It really "feels" good.

The ABV is 8% and the IBU are 40. According to the Web:
This rich, creamy, Imperial Stout is made with 80 boxes of Honey Maid Graham Crackers.  The special roast barley used, gives the beer a rich, chocolate-y backing and the lactose gives the beer as sweet, smooth finish.

The release date is November 19, 2015, so it is a fairly recently addition to the beer world.

I put it this way into Untappd:  
How do it describe it? It is S'mores, plain and simple with a few chocolate chips. You just want to sit back and take the time to drink it in. So good!

I gave it a score of 4.75 on Untappd.