#SippyTimeBeer Reviews – @StrangewaysRVA

20140607_122238

My first comments after this picture were “I knew my head was large but it looks gigantic.”

Our second brewery tour was not exactly smooth sailing. My brother planned on taking me, the lady and parents to Hardywood Park Craft Brewery but it opened at two instead of noon as my brother had planned. As a back up plan, we headed to Strangeways Brewing which I was looking forward to trying more anyway. To make up for missing Hardywood, my brother got the brilliant plan to bring their Gingerbread Stout to Thankmas later this year. He did list it as one of his five favorite beers last year so I look forward to it. On to the strange beers from Strangeways.

Unlike Rock Bottom, this brewery is a Richmond establishment only. Another thing they don’t share in common is listing IBUs. They do have the numbers listed on their site so I can get into them in my reviews but I was unaware at the time of tasting. It’s pretty easy to guess by type of beer whether it’s going to be bitter or not. I’m not sure that matters in this instance because they’re bringing the funk on their beers that no one else I know is doing.

Strangeways BrewingAlbino White Monkey Ale – The base of this beer is a White Belgian Ale and is part of what they call their “Nucleus” series. They had an option with Grape in it but I had already picked the beer below so I wanted to try one of their beers without extra flavoring. I decided to start with this one because of it’s probable IBU, which ends up being 25. It had a couple of usual suspects in the white ale department, orange peel and coriander. I think what made this peculiar was the use of white pepper. It gives it a little hint of heat that helps pique the other flavors. They also provide just a little heat with the 5.0% ABV. I didn’t have a ratings card for Strangeways and I’m not sure I need one. This beer was a great starter.

Strangeways BrewingCaramel Woodbooger Belgian Style Brown Ale – Without the caramel, this beer is part of their “Nucleus” series too. From their description, this beer is normally more balanced. I don’t think adding extra caramel threw this one out of whack but I’m sure it is sweeter than their regular serving. It has a nice toasted malt flavor to it which brings about the color and classic brown ale taste. As usual, dark chocolate is added to the profile but I had a hard time picking it out. My mother may have considering she felt this beer tasted like burnt toffee. They use fruit esters in this beer too but again, I’m not sure I tasted it. Even though I can’t taste the later two flavors, you can tell how complex the taste is. This beer provided more punch than the last at 6.0% ABV. Even after missing some tastes, this beer tastes fantastic.

Strangeways BrewingMelon Disintegration Barrel Aged IPA – This beer is part of their “Woodsman” series which barrel aged in various casks. This one happened to be aged in oak. I didn’t know that the beer was barrel aged at the time of tasting. Like their other beers, it has a Belgian base for this IPA. It isn’t very high for an IPA with the IBUs at 70. The bitterness was wiped out by the oak flavor. It was obvious as soon as I read about aging. The citrus end of hops didn’t pop up much either. I will account the aging to that also. In my opinion, the barrel aging washes out a lot of flavors of the original beer. Since my mother had enjoyed an IPA the day before, I gave her a try. She told me it was “burny, throaty.” She didn’t like her second venture into IPAs. In IPA fashion, this beer does lay the wood on you at 7.7% ABV. Too bad the wood was the worst tasting beer I tried there.

Continue reading

#SippyTimeBeer Preview – @ZauberBrewing Maifest

maifestI have certainly moved coverage of beer from what anyone can acquire this beer, which is coming later today, but also to including the local brewers in the mix. The Maifest event is in town hosted by Zauber Brewing Company and will be featuring beers from themselves, Four String Brewing, Sideswipe Brewing and Smokehouse Brewing. (Which was renamed recently from Barley’s Smokehouse. See this article for the disambiguation from Drink Up Columbus.) There will be food at the event too supplied from Schmidt’s Sausage, ManBQue, Matt The Miller’s and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. Since I am familiar with German traditions, having gone to Bockfest last year, I had some questions for Geoff Towne, brewmaster at Zauber, about their Maifest celebration.

Question: Will you have a Maypole at the event? If so, will there be a procession before it is erected as they do in Germany? Will there be any traditional dances around the Maypole?

Answer: Yes there will be a May-Pole, dancing around it is optional. We are just trying out a lot of these ideas for the first time, as we do more in the future we hope to do as many German/European ideas for fun.

Question: During Bockfest, bock beers are celebrated. Is there a traditional beer connected to Maifest? Also during Bockfest, Germans started lagering beers for Oktoberfest. Is there a beer that starts being made during Maifest for later consumption?

Answer: MaiBock might make sense to celebrate with this event. Wish I’d thought about that myself. MaiBock is an interchangeable name for Octoberfest style. They are very similar.

Question: Will you start celebrating other traditional German festivals like Bockfest & Oktoberfest?

Answer: Yes our intention is to do some other German/European inspired festivals.  And make them our own. Americanize them, if you will.

Question: Which of your beers will be featured during this event? Will there be any new beers debuted? Do you know which beers Smokehouse Brew, Four String & Sideswipe will be supplying?

Answer: Buxom Blonde, Stodgy Brown, Berzerker Belgian IPA, Magnum Copper Ale. Not new for now. I don’t have the list of the other brewers, but I would suspect Smokehouse’s Scottish Ale, Blood Thirst Wheat,  Four String Brass Knuckle and Back Stage Blonde. Sideswipe not sure. (I haven’t reviewed it yet but their Elegant Hoodlum Smoked Stout is my favorite smoked beer.)

Question: When will your large tanks be ready to use?

Answer: Large brewery is about a month (3/4wks) out.  Beer by July 4th?

It’s a bummer to not be in town for this party as it sounds tasty in the food and more importantly beer department. I will be touring a brewery in Colorado Springs though so I will get a column out of this weekend. I’m glad I’ll be in town for July 4th. More Zauber beer equals a happy – Kevin

#SippyTimeBeer Review – @Gordon_Biersch, @MoerleinBeers & @Weyerbacher

G Biersch Festbier

Since we’re finally out of October, it’s time to review the Oktoberfest and pumpkin beers. I feel like I had more than Oktoberfest beers but this is the entire list. Mind you, I have plenty of beers drank on my Instagram (@difrango11) but these four are the only ones that are on my list. I’m bummed that I didn’t snag more pumpkin beers because I do love pumpkin.

Gordon BierschFestbier – Because my lady & I have half season tickets to the Columbus Bluejackets, we go out to eat before most games because the beer and food inside are expensive and terrible. For the season opener, we decided to stop in at Gordon Biersch to satisfy our thirst and hunger. I take advantage of their seasonal beers when I go there and this visit was no different. I had their Festbier which is lighter than your normal Marzen beer associated with Oktoberfest. It is malty like those beers but doesn’t have the red hue. There is just enough hops in it to make it have a little bitterness. They only serve it from August to October so you can’t get it now. I feel like I recommend a lot of beers but this one was just okay. I say go with the real traditional Oktoberfest when you hit Gordon Biersch and grab a Marzen, which they have on tap year round.

Great Lakes Brewing CompanyNosferatu – This beer certainly has the best name of the lot. It also has a different flavor profile than most beers around this time of the year. It is an Imperial Red Ale so it keeps the red hue that most Marzen beers have but it has much more hops in it than those same beers. The hops aren’t as potent as that in an IPA but it’s still there. This beer is easier to find than the other ones since Great Lakes is getting to be a medium sized brewery so take a peek here and find out if it’s in your area.

I had an interesting conversation this past week with Geoff Towne, the brew master Zauber Brewing here in Columbus, who worked for Great Lakes. While trying about their Portergeist, we were talked about how porters and stouts aren’t as popular as most other types of beer. I would have gotten a growler of Portergeist but it was for a Halloween party that my lady and I threw so I shied away from it. He told me that his favorite beer of theirs was the Edmund Fitzgerald which is a porter. I mentioned that my favorite beer was Eliot Ness, which has won 9 Gold Medals at the World Beer Championships, and his response was that he felt it was too malty for a Vienna style beer. Towne also told me that he had to do so much tasting, that he was tired of drinking them.

Christian MoerleinFifth & Vine Oktoberfest – I learned of this company when I went to Bockfest back in March, which is when they start lagering the Marzen or Oktoberfest beers. Though they are based in Cincinnati, they have just started to distribute their beers here in Columbus. When I saw this at my favorite store, I had to give it a try. It was worth the purchase. It has a nice coppery tone which is perfect for this style of beer. This beer also had a solid malt taste to it with just enough sweetness at the end of your sip. When this time rolls around next year, keep your eyes peeled for it.

Weyerbacher Pumpkin Ale

WeyerbacherImperial Pumpkin Ale – This beer won a Bronze Medal at the Great American Beer Festival in the “Field Beer” category. I can certainly understand why it won. It is heavy on the common spices that come along with pumpkin, namely cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and cloves. The pumpkin flavor comes through even with the spicing. Considering it’s the only pumpkin beer I had this year, it was a wise choice especially since it’s an 8.0% beer. This beer from Easton, PA made it from the east side of the neighboring state so you may be able to find it in your neck of the woods. Unfortunately they don’t provide a distribution map but the good news is that it is distributed through the end of November so go out and look for this one.

Time to gear up for the Christmas beer season. Remember to enjoy your #SippyTimeBeer responsibly. – Kevin

#SippyTimeBeer Review – Cincinnati’s #Bockfest Part II

2013-03-03_10-50-33_289

On Sunday, we were slated to go on a Prohibition Tour of the Over the Rhine area of Cincinnati. I’ll explain that in a moment. Taste of Belgium was packed so we went to a bar that was supposed to be serving breakfast. The bar tender then told us he could order from Belgium or Coffee Emporium. We decided to walk down to CE since it was on the way to Bock Hall. This was unfortunate because they were showing international soccer including my beloved Fiorentina. The staff had never heard of the sandwich we ordered despite the fact that it was on their menu. The order took absolutely too long. It was worth the hassle though because we got a grilled peanut butter squared (smooth & crunchy), jam and bananas. Nothing fancy but a tasty way to start the day.

The Over the Rhine (OTR) area of Cincinnati is where the majority of German settlers came in the 1840s. At the time, the Erie Canal separated that part of the city. The canal no longer exists but the name remains. On the tour, we learned some factoids that were interesting to me. Cincinnati was hard hit from Prohibition because of the amount of beer produced and consumed locally. The average consumption in the US at the time was 16 gallons per of age adults. The average consumption in Cincy was 40 gallons. This fact is no surprise considering that Germany is number 2 in consumption of beer today. There were 36 breweries in the OTR are at the time with 9 of them being on McMicken Avenue.

2013-03-03_11-41-03_586

We went into Crown Brewing Company, one of the smaller breweries, to start the tour to look at their lagering cellar (pictured above). Lagering is German for storing. These were used from the 1850’s until the 1890’s when refrigeration became widely used. The rusted piping above was used to cycle water thru to help cool the cellar. The average temperature in these cellars was 42-48 degrees. The tour guide at this station told us that lagering is a different process than making ales but they didn’t get into them much. We also learned that you weren’t allowed to bottle your beer in the same building that you brewed it in. We walked the tunnel where the old lines pumped the beer across the street into a second building. Most full kegs are 31 gallons but because of a tax on the number of barrels by the city government, they were normally made in 36 gallon kegs.

2013-03-03_12-44-41_656

The next stop was the old Hudepohl Brewery. They had some period actors tell the story of how the brewery was founded. It was cheesy but they also gave a lot of good information. Hudepohl was one of the larger brewers in town making about 100,000 barrels a year.They survived Prohibition. Hudepohl supplied mini canned beers to the troops in World War II. Unfortunately, they still closed shortly after the lifting of Prohibition.

Bockfest Goat

We  visited one last brewery, Kauffman. They mainly showed us these to see larger lagering cellars. They held around 300,000-400,000 barrels. The most interesting part was finally the reason behind all of the goats around Bockfest. It turns out that Bock is German for goat. We also learned that bock beers were used for their nutrition during Lent by monks. I’m not so sure about that one but the Catholics can always find a way to drink. The largest brewery before Prohibition was Christian Moerlein. It didn’t survive Prohibition but it was resurrected in 1981 by new owners. Moerlein is using the Hudepohl label on some of their beers. Moerlein was the main influence to start Bockfest in 1993. Time to finish off the column with a couple of more beers.

IMG_20130303_140621

Schoenling Bock was the only beer I had in Bock Hall. It is made from a home brewer’s recipe who won the previous year’s Bock contest. My girl’s brother in law is considering entering the contest next year. I’m still waiting for the oatmeal stout we bought him for Christmas.  It’s made but needs to be kegged or bottled. It was better than the Moerlein special but was the fifth best bock of the weekend. After that one, it was time to tap out of the bocks. I stuck with Moerlein because I haven’t seen it much up here. I went with a  Moerlein Helles. It was a nice change of pace to go with something lighter and less complex than a bock.

PhotoGrid_1362346844640

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Lavomatic Cafe which we stopped into for lunch before heading back to Cbus. She went with the Indian Spiced Hummus that was served fried pita wedges. It was fantastic with the peppery raita & arugala. I went with the Boss Grilled Cheese which had sun dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, goat cheese, cheddar cheese, bacon and tomatillo. It was served with potato wedges cooked in duck fat with rosemary and a spicy remoulade. It was a fantastic lunch. I also had one more beer. It was the new brew from Great Lakes, Alchemy Hour Double IPA. I have no grasp on this beer. I think I was flavored out. I’ll do a  full review some other time.

This weekend was brought to me by my lovely girl and my friends. Get to Cincinnati with some friends and enjoy a good time. -Kevin

#SippyTimeBeer Review – Cincinnati’s #Bockfest Part I

IMG_20130302_171237

The trip this past weekend to Cincinnati for their annual Bockfest is worth two posts. I won’t bore you with details of my trip to Ikea although I am typing this article from my newly purchased lap top table. I’ll be doing a Saturday post which is about beer and food. The Sunday post will be about the Prohibition tour I went on and more beer & food. It was a packed two day trip. I’m sure something similar will be coming after our trip this weekend to Nashville. My girl & I will be meeting Jeremy down there so watch out.

Our first image of Cincinnati is the above picture. My girl & I were heading for our hotel when we ran into these people seeking justice. I still haven’t bothered to look up what the strike or demonstration was all about. I don’t care enough. They were probably out at the bars later in the evening with us. We ran into them as we were trying to find Skyline Chili to eat at. I mention it because I love it. A hot dog with runny chili (beanless) with piles of stringy cheddar cheese. What’s not to love?

After getting settled in the hotel, we headed to Cafe Martin which is in the Garfield Suites. We met my neighbors and their friend Sweet Tea. Yep, we actually called him that. I have no idea what his real name is. My younger brother & wife also met us there. We went there because of the tapping of a limited edition Moerlein Blockhead Bock. The brew master for Christian Morelein, Richard Dube, was on hand to serve it. Much to my surprise, when we got there, they were serving it for free for the first line. You can’t start off the night better than that. I suppose it could have though. After considering the rest of the night, this beer was the worst one. It was still a good beer.

IMG_20130302_172928

Our next stop was Arnold’s Bar & Grill. It was opened in 1861 and looks every day of it in a very good way. It was an absolute zoo. I want to go back when it’s not that crazy. I wasn’t going to just come in and out of the bar though. I tried the Triple Digit Gravitator. It ended up being the best beer I had that night. I can’t find the percentage of alcohol but I’m pretty sure it’s really high because that kicked my ass. Despite moving everywhere to avoid waiters and fellow patrons was worth it. So was finding this gem of a sign in the two user restroom that was maybe twice the size of your average half bath. Kudos to my brother for spotting it but doppy didn’t take a picture so I actually went to the restroom specifically to take this picture.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: