Tag Archives: beer

Sometimes I think I might like the culture of beer more than the actual beverage. Mostly news about Washington D.C. area breweries, but Pennsylvania too since that’s where I went to college.

Summertime BeltwayLand and beyond beer update: DC Beer Week, Va. Beer Month

It’s summer and after a month or two so of sitting in drafts waiting to get revisited, I’ve finished this post off.

You’ll want to read the CityPaper this week:

It’s DC Beer Week, do we need it?

As the Washington market becomes larger and more sophisticated, new beers are arriving weekly from across the country and around the world. Tap takeovers, beer dinners and brewery-centric events have become more common. We’ve reached a point where almost every week could be DC Beer Week, so why do we need DC Beer Week itself?…

It’s also hard to build excitement when, less than two weeks before DC Beer week begins, several major beer bars either hadn’t announced their schedules or had lineups full of “TBDs.”

To be fair, the organizers of DC Beer Week don’t plan events at individual bars, but that seems to be the crux of the problem: The schedule needs to be curated.

When the scene is so lively all year, why do we need DC Beer Week?

Gee, Fritz Hahn, WHO should curate this beer week?

It’s also Virginia Beer Month. Virginia is for Lovers has a good Virginia beer portal and @vabeertrail posts daily events.

Ballpark beer

Pretty self-explanatory, the annual Nationals Park beer guide by The Nationals Review makes finding your favorite regional beer easy to find.

Though not regional, Samuel Adams has produced a Washington Nationals 10th anniversary IPA. It’s undoubtedly a reaction to the perception that Sam Adams is your dad’s craft beer. I can only wonder what I late philosopher I knew growing up would have to say about Sam Adams being at odds with a movement it helped create; he was an early proponent of “old dad” beers like Schlitz and Stroh’s (I think).

Cycling and beer, what could go wrong?

I posted this last fall and I’ll probably post it twice a year — the github map of BikeableBrews along the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. Given that you can know get regional craft beer on tap, I’ll argue the Vienna Inn should be on it. It might be less than 200 feet from the W&OD.

Oh and a new brewery, working name of Metropole, launch name of New District (ARLnow.com), opens near the eastern W&OD terminus around Shirlington soon.

Wear your helmet and be responsible. Also, some local breweries may have cycling jerseys; I picked up a Port City Brewing Co. one last year and for what it’s worth, it is faster to bicycle to their brewery than drive which is a solid way to celebrate part of Father’s Day.

Twitter List

I’ve compiled a twitter list of all the D.C., and Northern Virginia regional breweries I could think of and maybe a few more. It’s hard keeping up with the scene as it expands.

Visting Atlas Brew Works

Untitled

In March, I visited Atlas Brew Works. It was fun.

Moving forward, want to contribute?

It’s August which means the return of Oktoberfest is imminent, too imminent because of the dreaded seasonal creep of everything. Oktoberfest is my favorite seasonal, but I’m… just not ready. I love summer, if only for the long days. Oktoberfest helps me get over less daylight more reliably than say, sadly the Washington Nationals. Football can help too, though not the burgundy and gold variety of late. I’ve already gotten a promoted tweet about an Oktoberfest, while I was drafting this post which probably means that the twitter data-mining is just getting creepy.

The regional beer scene is getting so big, it’s hard to keep up. If you have gotten out and about a little and want to contribute, let me know! I may have a Richmond-area recap from one twitter follower in the works and would enjoy others. wfyurasko at gmail dot com.

Prost!

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BeltwayLand Beer 4 years in plus Riggo, Red Bull vs. Old Ox; minus Chocolate City

Welcome to the Winter 2015 update of BetlwayLand Beer – a long time coming.

UPDATE: It seems like every time I publish one of these posts, a few items come up not long after. Rather than wait, I’ve added them throughout the post. Prost!

It’s already been four years since Port City Brewing Co. opened (and almost five since we heard about it), returning a production brewery to the immediate Washington, D.C. area – inside the Beltway for the first time since there has been a Beltway. Sure, Loudoun and Frederick counties have had breweries for a while, but this was closer to home. Port City opened on January 30, 2011 as Alexandria’s first brewery in a century and was followed by several more locals, including DC Brau, the first production brewery in the District since Heurich closed in 1956. They seem friendly:

There is growth throughout the region that’s hard to keep up with, but now there is contraction as well.

CHOCOLATE CITY BEER AULD LANG SYNE

Back in July, @map408psu and I wondered aloud on Twitter if there was a craft beer bubble.

Since then, t Chocolate City was closed effective December 31. @SeanMMcNally had another take:

Chocolate City becomes the first of the class of 2011 to fold. I never got to try it.

BREAKING: JOHN RIGGINS LIKES BEER, WANTS TO DO A SHOW

Riggo, one of the most beloved DC athletes ever wants to expand his television presence with a show called Brew Stories:

The pilot was shot at Port City. I posted this on tumblr and twitter and DC Sports Bog’s Scott Allen picked it up. Too bad he had to cram his favorite, DC-hating baseball team into it.

RED BULL VS. OLD OX

Oh look, a multi-national corporation is being obnoxious with a small privately-owned business (WJLA) in another category:

So, I guess I’ll be hating on the Red Bull NY soccer team a little more during D.C. United’s season. Old Ox is named after the road that goes through Loudoun County.

SPEAKING OF DC UNITED & BRAU

Backup goalie, Andrew Dykstra, is a home-brewer and his latest is Achilles Pale Ale (The Post). May none of his bottles rupture like his tendon.

I tried two DC Brau special editions, The Tradition which is their DC United themed beer. By the time I found some is not at its freshest and did not provide any luck in the playoffs as the black & red fell to Red Bull New York. A stadium was secured though, so that’s good news. I’ll give the beer another shot next summer if it is still produced.

The Penn Quarter Porter, which I had out at Chadwick’s in Old Town, was a pretty special beer though. The chocolate and coffee flavors are smooth, but not overwhelming. If I see a six pack, I’m buying one to take home.

There is some bad news though —

DC Brau has stopped giving away free samples though, scapegoating bad apples (The Post) abusing the previous system.

Speaking of apples…

IF IT’S TANGY AND BROWN, YOUR IN CIDERTOWN

The packaging is a bit much but Bold Rock (Wintergreen, Va.) has a pretty tasty hard cider. I’ve gotten it several times and will continue to do so, especially if I wind up skiing Wintergreen this winter.

WHY ISN’T THERE A VERIZON CENTER BEER GUIDE?

As far as I know, there isn’t a beer map for Verizon Center like there is for Nationals Park. This ought to be rectified; does The Nationals Review like hockey or basketball? Local beers are sold there, but the most recent list is from 2013, so it may be out of date.

BEER TOURS

The great Vince Guerrieri wrote about a brewery bus in Cleveland recently and I thought, DC needs one of those. Sure enough, I soon learned of DC Brew Tours. Reston Limousine does it too, but not as often. Oh and DC Brew Tours, work on that SEO, it was hard to find you.

VIRGINIA EXURBS BEER TOURISM

What’s brewing in Northern Virginia: Old Bust Head, Heritage Brewing and BadWolf BrewingThe Post
How to make a day of visiting breweries in the Western suburbs.

I think I mentioned it before, but Old Bust Head doesn’t have a winter seasonal next year called something like “school closed” or something they are doing it wrong because Fauquier is always the first school system to close for winter weather.

h/t @dcsportschick

Hey, John Taylor’s sharing a byline there.

DC BREWERS BALL

March 7 is the DC Brewers Ball at National Building Museum. Might not be the optimum weekend for touring the local breweries which I was considering. We’ll see.

GREAT AMERICAN BEER FESTIVAL

It would be hard to match last year’s success when DC & VA beers cleaned up, but there were some high achievers in 2014 too:

GOLD
Raspberry Stout Hardywood Park Craft Brewery American-Style Fruit Beer Richmond, Va.
Schwartz Bier Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost German-Style Schwarzbier Lexington, Va.
Rauchbier Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant – Annapolis Belgian-Style Witbier Annapolis, Md.
SILVER
Amber Waves Ale Capitol City Brewing Co. American-Style Amber/Red Ale Arlington, Va.
Old Virginia Dark Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost American-Style Dark Lager Lexington, Va.
Turbo Cougar Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost Bock Lexington, Va.
Belgian IPA Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant – Rockville American-Belgo-Style Ale Rockville, Md.
Belgian IPA Union Craft Brewing American-Belgo-Style Ale Baltimore, Md.
The Citizen DC Brau Brewing Co. Belgian- and French-Style Ale Washington, D.C.
BRONZE
Alt Bier Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Basecamp German-Style Altbier Roseland, Va.
Hydraulion Red/td> Three Notch’d Brewing Co. Irish-Style Red Ale Charlottesville, Va.
Sweet Baby Jesus! DuClaw Brewing Co. Chocolate Beer Rosedale, Md.
Danzig Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Basecamp Baltic-Style Porter
Gold Heavy Seas Beer Golden or Blonde Ale Baltimore, Md.

OKTOBERFEST RECAP

I’ll still ask, even at this late date — did everybody have (a) good Oktoberfest(s)? It’s my favorite beer season.

Like the Washington Nationals, the local ones did not last as long into October as I would like. I did not make it out to any events either, but I sampled four regional Oktoberfest beers:

Rhinofest by Lost Rhino – Probably the best, a little sweetness, but not overpowering. My wife liked it the most. It was about $10 for a 30 oz bottle though.
Corcoran Brewery (half-growler) – good, if I lived out in Loudoun County, I’d be inclined to get a half-growler if I were having a few people over.
Port City Brewing Co. – As always, it sold out too soon – I only got one six pack of it. I never saw it in stores, only at the brewery.
DC Brau – I bought a couple at the penultimate Nats game and enjoyed them. Not surprisingly, this was the hoppiest of the four area ‘fests. It paired well with a half-smoke though.

Flying Dog also makes an Oktoberfest, Dogtoberfest, but I didn’t get it this year. There may still be some sixpacks of their Old Bay-infused Dead Rise beer at Van Dorn Safeway and the Vienna Giant, by the way.

Outside of the region, I sampled the following:

Great Lakes Brewing Co. (Cleveland)
Shinerfest (Texas)
Harpoon (New England)
Leingkugel (Wisconsin)
Saranac (New York State)

Great Lakes was my favorite of the four, but Shiner and Leinie are pretty special. Harpoon and Saranac are also solid choices.

I had Samuel Adams Oktoberfest somewhere too, on draft, but can’t remember where. It’s not my favorite and Yuengling Oktoberfest was surprisingly disappointing last year. There may be some sixpacks of Old Dominion, formerly of this region, but now from Delaware, floating around. Leingkugel made it well into the New Year.

Next year, my wife and I will make it to a fest and report back on it.

FLYING DOG PLANTS A FLAG IN LOUDOUN

Frederick’s Flying Dog, which is conspicuously a Maryland beer (well, for a Colorado-owned company), is setting up shop across the Potomac in Lucketts (Loudoun Times):

…Gov. Terry McAuliffe stood in front of a crowd to announce the first commercial hops processing facility would be heading to Black Hops Farm in Lucketts…the same farm was announced as the home to Farmworks, a farm beer operation run by Frederick, Md.-based Flying Dog Brewery.

Coming summer 2015, Farmworks Brewery will take 5 acres of property and is expected to include a 15-barrel brewhouse, cellar, coolshop and tasting room.

The hops processing facility will be located at another location on the farm.

“I’m pretty excited about the fact that there will be more great beer in Virginia,” said Jonathan Staples, the owner of the farm located on the west side of Route 15, north of Lucketts.

Loudoun County has two distillers (which I’ll blog about soon), several breweries and dozens of wineries.

This post has been in the works for months and by the time I get to the next one, it’ll probably be beer & half-smokes at Nationals Park time.

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BeltwayLand and beyond beer: Oktoberfest!

It’s late-September — school is open, the Washington Nationals have won the NL East, football is back and daylight is becoming scarce as it is officially autumn at 10:29 p.m. tonight. Gin and tonic season has gracefully yielded to Oktoberfests and ales made with last year’s pumpkin crop. The same will happen with this year’s apples too.

OKTOBERFESTS
As much as I like Oktoberfest beers, mid-August is TOO SOON for them to be released. The trouble can be they sell out before the swimming pools all close. Now, though, it’s definitely time to start drinking them. Actually, a few weeks ago…

So far, I have purchased three local Oktoberfests:

Corcoran Brewing Company Corktoberfest (Purcellville, Va.)
Port City – Oktoberfest (Alexandria, Va.)
Lost Rhino – Rhinofest (Ashburn, Va.)

The first two I bought at the breweries, while the third was found at Westover Market in Arlington. They are all really good, though Rhinofest available in 1 pint, 6 oz. bottles is pretty pricey.

DC Brau is releasing their first Oktoberfest:

“It’s a very traditional Oktoberfest,” explains Jeff Hancock, President & Head Brewer of DC Brau. “In recent years, Oktoberfests from Germany have started getting lighter in color and are closer to resembling Helles lagers than Oktoberfests or Märzens. We think our version will stand out amongst the myriad pumpkin beers and Oktoberfests on the market this season.”

They are only making 60 barrels though, all for draft distribution or growler fills, but including Nationals Park.

Outside of BeltwayLand, Flying Dog of Frederick, Md. makes Dogtoberfest. It’s not my favorite, but it tends to stick around longer than some of the other ones. At least in Northern Virginia. Former Ashburn-based Old Dominion also brews one from Delaware.

I really like the Shiner Oktoberfest as well as Leingkugel’s and Great Lakes. Yuengling’s was disappointing and Samuel Adams is okay and probably the most-heavily distributed.

OMBUDTOBERFEST?
Just going going to throw this out there for the Ombudsman — how about brewing a märzen next year around this time? No wedding to plan and the house is moved into, so how about it?

Also, I owe you a half-smoke.

FESTIVAL SEASON
Drink up: A guide to local fall beer festivalsThe Post
There are several beer festivals, mostly celebrating Oktoberfest in the D.C. area plus Annapolis and Baltimore. Snallygaster is already in the past, but there are still others to come. I might check out the Shirlington one hosted by Capital City Brewing Co. since it’s nearby, but we’ll see. Or maybe I’ll stop by my hometown for Vienna Oktoberfest. That one is a bit on the family friendly side which may be a feature, not a bug. #dadlife

DC Beer Festival is at Nationals Park on November 8.

Flying Dog keeps a pretty busy events schedule too.

Of course there is a downside to all of these festivals — undesirables from out of state sometimes come down for these things:

OLD BUST HEAD IS OPEN
Just days after the last BeltwayLand and beyond beer update, Old Bust Head opened it’s doors.

Old Bust Head Brewing Co. puts Fauquier beer on mapFauquier Now

By the way, gentleman farmer and the respectable half of Slow States, @thefolkist, grew hops for Old Bust Head’s Harvest Ale.

DISTILLED BEER?
Here’s one I missed from the summer — DC Brau and New Columbia Distillers (makers of Green Hat gin) are collaborating:

When the seasons change, explains DC Brau co-founder Brandon Skall, his brewery’s canning line acts up. In the last week, roughly 65 cases of canned beer were sealed while only half or two-thirds full. “It’s perfect beer, but the cans are just too shallow to go to the market,” Skall says. The brewery staff prepared to get rid of the beer, but “it breaks my heart to just dump it down the drain,” Skall says.

Then he had a brainstorm. “I’d heard about people who distilled with beer, so I called John [Uselton, the owner of New Columbia Distillers] and asked him if we could do something with it.”

New Columbia Distillers is turning DC Brau into … somethingThe Post

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
Virginia Craft Brewers Cup 2014 Winners Announced
Devil’s Backbone, host of the Brewer’s Cup, did very well in the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup, as reported by Virginia Beer Trail.

WHERE TO GET CRAFT BEER AT NATIONALS PARK
The Washington Nationals have one homestand left, so make sure you visit the Nationals Review beer guide one more time before heading to Nationals Park.

VIRGINIA IS FOR BEER LOVERS
The Virginia is for Lovers site, virginia.org, has an extensive section on Virginia Craft Beer & Breweries.

BIKEABLE BREWS
Keeping on the tourism theme, Crooked Run Brewing tweeted out this GitHub map of breweries and brewpubs along the W&OD Trail. No love for the Vienna Inn though? They sell some craft beer now.

Cycling to a brewery sounds fun. Cycling back from one though, that could be another story. Discipline, food, time and a lot of water are probably required for this to work out. Be responsible.

WHY CRAFT BEER COST $12 A SIX PACK
Craft beer costs more than macro beer and Huffington Post is on it.

EVERY BEER LABEL IS APPROVED BY ONE MAN
Meet the Beer Bottle DictatorThe Daily Beast
Somewhere in the DC area, Kevin “Battle” Martin approves every beer label for the Tax and Trade Bureau.

BREAKING “OLD DAD BEER” NEWS
Pabst Brewing Co. sold to Russian firm Oasis Beverages Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
The Ruskies bought PBR!

Then, news broke late Thursday that Pabst Brewing is being sold to Russian company Oasis Beverages for an undisclosed sum. Oasis is partnering with TSG, an investment firm, to buy Pabst. TSG Consumer Partners will take a minority stake in Pabst.

Oasis describes itself as a “leading independent brewer in Russia with growing soft drink operations.” The company was founded in 2008. It has facilities in Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine.

So, in addition to Pabst, Old Style, Schlitz, Natty Boh, Old Milwaukee, Stroh’s and others are now all Russian owned…

Well played, sir.

SIGNING OFF
I’ve already spent 10 days writing this post, so enough is enough.

PROST!

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