Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Long travels with a rich reward

It's been a long long travel day. Our flight from BWI was delayed by 2+ hours even after we got to the airport mongo early to account for 5 people checking and security.

So there went my plan for a leisurely repaste in the haven of Dallas-Ft Worth airport.

Upon landing in Albuquerque a family sitting near me on the plane
offered up an excellent recommendation for local food and brew. So with everyone checked into the hotel and the rental vehicle loaded up we ventured out to Il Vicino -- known for their wonderful flatbreads pizzas and microbrews.

Oooo. Yeahhhhh!! Great choice. The menu had a great selection of pizzas which took us a good 8 to 10 minutes to order. The beer list was shorter and was an easier decision.

Although the server recommended the IPA I opted for the Slowdown Brown
(I think Dogfish Head has spoiled me for IPA's so the bar is pretty
high now).

The Slowdown Brown was a great way to start the meal. It had that
wonderful malty flavor you expect from a good brown ale. And I really
appreciated he smooth finish.

 My wife had ordered the Rob's Amber and didn't enjoy it.  Being the chivalrous dude that I am.... I switched with her.

And what a good call that was!  At first sip I could see why she didn't like it.  The glass was filled with what looked like a standard amber ale, but the taste buds revealed a hoppy flavor that really took this beer someplace special.  It really provided for a complex experience that was like finding a hidden surprise (much like when you find an extra 5 bucks in your jeans, but tastier).  My only regret is that I could have only one.

Oh well, this gives me another reason to come back some time.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Not Quite Yet, but Texas is Already on my Mind

First stop on this sipping sojourn is a hotel in Baltimore before we fly out of BWI in the morning.

Considering our schedule we (wisely) decided to just have dinner at the hotel. But alas where my heart had already been planning for a Clipper City or Natty Boh there was no local beer to be had.

However amid the bland choices of watered down Miller or Bud there emerged an interesting choice.... Shiner Bock.

Now truth be told this was my ace in the hole for tomorrow as our flight has a layover in Dallas and I had already planned this one out. But in light of the situation I had to act.

And Shiner never disappoints.  When trying to step away from the ordinary, she has a way of popping up and saying "there's a better choice". Tonite was no exception. Paired with a buffalo chicken sandwich it was a perfect way to start the journey.

What's interesting is that this is the one Shiner brew that seems to have escaped the great state of Texas.  What's up with the other fine Shiner brews?  The web site mentions a blonde ale. That should surely be worthy of export. But the faithful Bock is the only one that people outside of Texas seem to able to sip.  I'll have to investigate further.

Of course now the quandry that faces me is.... What's waiting for me in Texas tomorrow? It's a worthy challenge.

Starting in the Old Dominion with Starr Hill's The Gift

We haven't quite left home, but that doesn't mean I can't start my beer journey.

So for lunch, I took the opportunity to crack open a bottle of The Gift -Winter Bock Lager from Starr Hill Brewery.  I love this beer for two reasons.

1)  It's the last of the truly "local beers" in that it's brewed in Virginia.
2)  Other than sneaking in a Bell's Christmas Ale, it's been my holiday beer of choice for 2009.

It's got a great blend of tastes that really mix it up and take it out of the category of lagers (I owe that to the Bock style) so don't let the "lager" category fool you.  Or as Starr Hill says on their website:

  • A German-style Hellerbock with a few twists, The Gift is Starr Hill’s holiday offering. The beautiful golden color only hints at the fire inside. Made with two-row and Munich malts and balanced with German noble hops, The Gift is the perfect accompaniment to any holiday event or festivity.

Either way, it's been a perfect compliment through the holidays as I've been cooking, cleaning and spending time with family.  So it seemed a fitting way to start this journey.

Next stop, Maryland where we stay before flying out of Baltimore tomorrow morning.  

Beer Travels Well (or is that it makes travels better, i'm not sure)

I'm heading out today for a family trip which will take me through at least 4 states with a final destination in Colorado.  So what does any good beer drinker do?  Look at travels as an opportunity to sample local beer.  Keep an eye out for some upcoming posts about where we have ended up and what beer I'm sampling.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Variety is the spice of life. Hand me a turtle!

Or so they say about things in general. And in looking at my fridge right now I'm one spicy kinda guy. I have at least 5 different beers in there and that doesn't even count my home-brew that's lagering.

But the one that has captured my palette tonight is Big Hoppy Monster from Terrapin Beer Co. A friend was visiting from out of town last week and brought this one over because her husband is friends with the brewmaster. I've been drinking a good bit of Dogfish Head lately so I wasn't to hopped up about hops so I held off until this weekend and had another tonite.

OMG!!! What was I waiting for? At first glance when pouring it into the glass it had all the appearance of a mix between an amber and a porter with a lovely tone to it. And then... and I swear I'm not making this up... it seemed to be almost have texture just in looking at it. Ahh... and the first taste. Yep. Hoppy just like the name. But not overpowering like some IPAs are. It was just right and provided a perfect balance of malt and hops to top off the evening.

So, I have two thoughts I look at my now empty glass:

1) Gotta run to Whole Foods and pick more up (that's where my friend found it)
2) I really need to go visit my friend and her husband so I can go visit the masters of this brew.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hockey Beer - Ideas?

It's hockey playoffs here in the Nation's capital. (GO CAPS!!!)

Since my wife is from Pittsburgh it's easy to pick a beer for her to drink while we watch the games (Iron City, of course. And yes, I do not let her sit on the couch if she's going to root for the Pens).

But what beer should I have in my hand to symbolize our local team?

  • Old Dominion? Nope. Brewed in Delaware.
  • Clipper City? That's Baltimore.
  • Dogfish Head? While that seems to be the emerging local favorite, it's still Delaware

I could run to a local Brew Pub like Capitol City Brewing but it would be really nice to have a bottled beer available in my local stores to sip and savor while watching my local teams.

I'm open to ideas....

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Working for your passion

I saw this ad over the weekend and realize I really need to find a new job. I couldn't agree with Sam Adams more:

By the way, my first batch of home brew should be ready this weekend. I guess that will really be the test as to whether or not I could work there.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Learning to Home Brew

My wife loves me. Really.

How do I know that? For Christmas she got me my first home brewing kit. And since I'm a self-professed non-expert (just a fan) she kept it simple and got me the introductory kit from Mr. Beer.

I've spent lots of years drinking beer and watching the occasional show on Discovery on brewing and such. But I've never actually STUDIED brewing. So I poured over the instructions and read them over and over trying to make sure I hadn't missed a step. And then over the weekend I meticulously followed the steps and brewed my first batch of home beer.

Of course, I have questions and here's the realization. I've known there's a community of beef aficionados and had heard of many people with home brewing as a hobby. But it's fun to discover all the resources and help forums.

So for those of you who want to make the leap from consumer to producer, take a deep breath, pull a mouse up to the Home Brewing Wiki and feel confident that you'll be able to figure it out... at least I'm hoping I'll be able to.