Author Archive

My New Blog

Sadly, I won’t be writing much for J Street Beer anymore.  I may make the occasional cameo, but my posts will be few and far between.

With this disappointing announcement, I do have a happy one:

I’ve started a new blog in Chicago called Chi-Town tAles, check it out here:  http://chitowntales.wordpress.com

Hopefully I’ll be seeing you all soon.

-Tonzi


Brew Review: Short’s Nicie Spicie

Whole Foods on P Street is a great place.  Every time I go in there I’m always amazing by the bright colorful produce and tasty looking meats and cheeses.

My favorite part is the beer section (which seems to be slowly growing).

They’ve placed the beer section perfectly.  It’s like a grown-ups candy aisle.  You know how most grocery stores put little bags of M&Ms and candy bars and gum right in the aisle as you’re checking out?  It’s like a last second snack purchase.  Well, the Whole Foods on P Street has put the beer section just to the right of the express check out lane.  Which makes it virtually impossible to go to the store and not peruse their brewed wares.  You’re tricky Mr. Whole Foods.  You picked up on my weakness.  I can easily walk by an aisle of candy, but an aisle of beer… no way.

So, on my last trip to Whole Foods, I was tasked with getting burger rolls, eggs, and chicken.  I left with burger rolls, eggs, chicken, and a 6-pack of Short’s Nicie Spicie.

I have no willpower.

I picked up the Nicie Spicie because it looks like a decent summer beer, and it’s from Short’s (who make decent beer and aren’t usually readily available here).  My overall opinion on it: it’s okay, but I wouldn’t want more than 1 in a row.

The Nicie Spicie is pale yellow with a hint of cloudiness (it’s a wheat beer, so it kinda fits the mold).  The aroma is entirely expected.  The wheat takes over the majority of the smell and there’s a mild hint of citrus.  The flavor is a bit overpowering.  It’s light and crisp, like I was hoping for, but then there’s a rush of spice and citrus that takes over that kinda ruined my experience.  The lemon and orange zest comes on strong and then fades out, leaving behind a very spicy pepper flavor in the finish.

It’s not bad, but I wouldn’t have too many of them.

-Tonzi


International IPA Day is Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is a big day.  A day that will live in infamy.  Well, maybe not infamy, but it’ll be a day to remember.  It’s International IPA Day!

That’s right, an excuse to drink your favorite hoppy beverage (in case you really need an excuse)!

We at J Street Beer will be doing our part by enjoy a few tasty hop-heavy beverages tomorrow.  It’s our civic duty.

So, the question if for you, dear reader.  What will you be drinking on International IPA Day?  Will it be something from the left coast?  Maybe a Blind Pig from Russian River (if you’re lucky) or a Green Flash West Coast IPA?  Perhaps something from the northeast like a Smuttynose Finest Kind, or a Brooklyn East India Pale Ale?  What about a Cigar City Jai Alai out of Florida?  A New Belgium Ranger IPA from Colorado?  Or perhaps you’re going to stay local and go with a DC Brau Corruption IPA?  What about a Fresh Hop from Great Divide? Maybe you’re thinking big and picking a double IPA like the Weyerbacher Double Simcoe.  Whatever you choose, make sure it’s an IPA.  Your possibilities seem endless.

Let us know what you’ll be picking up in the comments.  We’ll raise a cold grassy, citrusy, floral, earthy, bitter, spicy, sweet glass in your honor.

-Tonzi

PS – Don’t forget, while you’re enjoying your IPA tomorrow, make sure you’re marking any of your social posts with the #IPADay hashtag.


Brew Review: Three Floyds Robert the Bruce

This beer was the shining star of my Chicago trip (excluding the Gumballhead, of course).

I’m always excited to find Three Floyds anywhere.  I’m yet to be disappointed by their beers.  As per usual, their Robert the Bruce is fantastic.

This Scottish ale pours a deep brown color with a nice malty aroma and a hint of spice.  The flavor is perfect for a Scottish ale.  It’s heavy, but not too heavy.  It’s bitter, but only slightly.  It’s malty, but not overpowering.  A nice sweet caramel throughout, and a subtle hoppiness to maintain balance.  It’s just done so well.

Oh, Three Floyds, how I wish you distributed to DC.

-Tonzi

Rating:


Brew Review: Two Brothers Cane and Ebel

This beer was a great surprise.  I had heard good things about Two Brothers, and this one definitely did not disappoint.

Brewed with Thai palm sugar (Cane), the Two (Ebel) Brothers put together a red rye beer that explodes out of the gate.  It’s reddish brown in color with a big floral hop aroma, much more than you’d expect with any rye beer.  The flavor I found very interesting.  It has a nice smooth sweet malty flavor, but it’s quickly overcome by a spicy, almost ginger taste that carries you into an almost tangy citrusy hop finish.

It’s very tasty and Two Brothers’ little step away from the norm was well worth it.

-Tonzi

Rating:



	

Brew Review: Wild Onion Summer Wit

Another Chicago-only beer (but don’t worry, you’re not missing much).

Wild Onion Brewery is a little outside of Chicago in Lake Barrington.  Its distribution isn’t very wide, and they may want to keep it that way with this offering.

The Summer Wit is a pale yellow color with that weird soggy wheat aroma.  That soggy wheat aroma carries into the flavor and provides you with a dull, all wheat taste.

Not very good.

-Tonzi

Rating:



Brew Review: Ska Modus Hoperandi

It’s hoptastic!  It’s hoptacular!  It’s hoperific!

Seriously, this beer beats you about the face with hops at every sip.

The Modus Hoperandi has a reputation as being the perfect sipper for hop-heads and I can understand why.  It pours a nice golden color, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if it came out hop-leaf-green.  The aroma is all hops, and if you leave the glass sitting on a table for a few minutes, the room will be filled with the scents of an open field full of hop vines.  The flavor was hops up front, hops in the middle, and hops at the end.  The surprisingly part about it though, was that it never seemed like it was too much.  The hop flavor meld together very well.

It’s delicious!

-Tonzi

Rating:



	

Brew Review: Ska ESB Special Ale

Next on my Ska list was the ESB.  I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for this style of beer.  It’s thick and malty, slightly sweet, but not sugary.  A nice bitter hop to balance out the malts.

The Ska ESB fell into that mold fairly well.  It wasn’t as malty as I had expected, but still very tasty.  It’s a nice golden color with an almost grassy hop aroma.  Crisp flavor with a small bitter bite to it.  The finish was surprisingly clean, which was a great way to finish this beer up.

Well done Ska!  You’ve created a good stable beer that’s worth having a few.

-Tonzi

Rating:



	

Brew Review: Ska True Blonde

Ska Brewing Company has always been a favorite of mine, so when I saw their Mixed Up 12 pack, I grabbed it.

First up, the True Blonde Ale!  It is pale yellow in color with a light citrusy hop aroma.  The aroma is extremely inviting.  The flavor had a little to be desired.  It was light and crisp, but its finish was more bitter than I had expected.

Overall not a bad beer, although probably the worst of the 3.  I’ll be back soon with the other 2 in the pack.

-Tonzi

Rating:



	

Brew Review: Metropolitan Krankshaft

My reviews today are going to be slightly skewed.  I took a trip out to Chicago recently, so my obvious move was to get beers that aren’t readily available in DC.  I don’t mean to tease you with these things, I’m just trying to enlighten you to what’s out there, and hopefully you’ll be able to get these soon.

Metropolitan Brewing is a small brewery based out of Chicago (don’t hold your breath on this one showing up out here).  I picked up their Kolsch to quench my thirst over the hot weekend.  And, in all honesty, I’d be hard-pressed to find a better one.

The Krankshaft is pale yellow in color and has a mild wheat aroma.  The flavor was perfect for a Kolsch.  Crisp and light with a mild citrus flavor.  Very light, and very refreshing.  If I had to come up with something similar around here, I’d go with Mad Fox’s Kolsch.

If you find yourself in Chicago on a hot summer day, go with this!

-Tonzi

Rating:



	

The Beer Industry’s Red-Headed Stepchild

What a nice Fourth of July weekend!  Very relaxing.  I even got a little time to myself to sit and think.

One thing I found myself thinking about is the dilemma that some beer-makers must be facing.  I say beer-makers, because these are the craft beer wings of Big Beer (I can’t wholly get behind “brewers”, mainly because of the way Big Beer seems to have removed the love of brewing and replaced it with an efficient machine).  They’re hated by everyone.

Think about it for a second.  I love craft beer.  And due to that, I find myself pushing for small breweries and their delicious, imperfect beers.  I’ll search out a beer from a small brewery before any macro-brew, any day of the week.  I have disdain for Big Beer and the way they carry themselves: constantly trying to muscle out the smaller guys and maintaining a near monopoly on the beer industry.  This disdain for Big Beer extends down to all of their beers.  I don’t just dislike Budweiser, I dislike everything AB-InBev makes (I’m talking to you, Shock Top).  Silver Bullet? You’re on the shit-list too.  And yes, that includes you, Blue Moon.  If you’re reading this, I’m sure you feel the same way.

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In DC for the 4th? Get to Smith Commons!

Click to Enlarge

Have you ever asked yourself, “why isn’t there be a place that I could go and try beers from breweries in the DC Metro area, and enjoy an incredible barbecue at the same time?”

I have great news!  Smith Commons is throwing a bash this Fourth of July Weekend that should not be missed!

This event is going to be incredible!

They’ll be offering up delicious foods and (most importantly) local brews.

Read on for more details!

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3xB: Epic Imperial Stout

This week’s Big Bottle: Epic Imperial Stout (Exponential Series)

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Quick Hit: Most EPIC beer commercial EVER

Yes, it is the self-proclaimed “most EPIC beer commercial EVER”, but it very well may be.

I’ve watched it over and over and still find it incredible.  It’s worth it for you to check it out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNQa5HCUYCQ

-Tonzi


SAVOR Beer Week Event Review: The Lupulin Reunulin

What an incredible night!  Sorry we’re a bit late on getting you this review, but it’s taken some time to get it all sorted out.

As we discussed in our preview, the Lupulin Reunulin would be a beer tasting headed up by the brewers themselves.  When we arrived and got our tasting sheets, we knew we were in for a good night.  Fourteen beers for the tasting!  Hard to find, and impossible to find beverages for us to enjoy.

First, I’d like to talk about the panel.  The only disappointment on the panel was that Sam from Dogfish was unable to make it.  The rest of the panel members, especially Tomme from Lost Abbey, picked up the slack and made it a very enjoyable and hilarious evening.

Stories from the panel that are worth you hearing about:

- The Port Brewing Mongo was named after a kitten.  He was originally named Columbus, but was so big that he was nicknamed Mongo.  Due to his size, Mongo was kicked out of the litter by his fellow kittens.  As Tomme noted, Mongo was working at the brewery on “biodynamic pest control”, and was doing quite well.  Sadly, Mongo passed away after just 8 or 9 months in his pest control position.  A burial was held at the brewery, and the beer was named after him, in memoriam.

- The night began to devolve when Rob Tod started telling us a story about waterskiing naked and his shrinkage.  Actually, that may be a story you didn’t need to hear about.

- Tomme’s best way to describe the Anniversary Ale, was to say that it will make your nose nice and fuzzy, as seen here:

- Sierra Nevada is thinking about opening up an east coast brewery.  Look for this news to hit soon (assuming they actually follow through on it).

- Sam made a short appearance, through a text message, to tell everyone “Rob Tod looks really cute right now.”

On to the beers!

1. Mad Fox – Orange Whip
Appearance – reddish brown Aroma – floral, citrus hops Taste – mild, dry sweetness, citrusy, mild bitter finish

2. New Belgium – Berlinerweisse
Appearance – pale yellow Aroma – sour apple Taste – tangy sour, fruity sweetness

3. Sweetwater Tavern – Midnight Rider Black IPA
Appearance – black Aroma – malty sweetness, coffee, slight floral hop Taste – coffee, light bitterness, disappointing after the aroma

4. Allagash – Little Big Beer
Appearance – bronze, cloudy Aroma – funky, mild sweetness Taste – tangy, sour, sweet mid, strong sour finish. Allagash brought out the funk!

5. Port Brewing – Mongo
Appearance – deep golden Aroma – floral, sweet Taste – malty sweet front, harsh switch to bitterness

6. Sierra Nevada – Barrel Aged Life and Limb
Appearance – dark brown Aroma – oaky, bourbon, malty sweetness Taste – malty, maple syrup, slight bitterness, slight sour note (best in show)

7. Dogfish Head – Pangaea (2 year old)
Appearance – light golden Aroma – yeasty, mild spice Taste – light, mild sweetness, spicy

8. Port/Pizza Port – Anniversary Ale
Appearance – bronze Aroma – very hoppy Taste – all hops, malty mid, very hoppy bitter finish

9. Sierra Nevada – 30th Anniversary Grand Cru
Appearance – red Aroma – floral, cloves, malty sweetness Taste – sweet malty front, creamy mouthfeel, bitter hoppy finish

10. Allagash – Avance
Appearance – red, cloudy Aroma – tart cherries Taste – strawberry, sour tangy finish

11. New Belgium – Vreinden
Appearance – bronze Aroma – sweet, mild sourness Taste – tangy, slightly bitter, malty sweet mid

12. Dogfish Head – Immort Ale (2 year old)
Appearance – dark red Aroma – malty sweetness Taste – creamy, heavy, malty sweet, bitter finish

13. Mad Fox – Oaked Slobberknocker Barleywine
Appearance – dark red, cloudy Aroma – light sweetness Taste – oak, malty, mild bitter finish

14. Great American Restaurants – Oak Cask Conditioned Aged High Desert Imperial Stout
Appearance – black Aroma – oak, coffee, malty sweetness Taste – sweet malt, coffee, vanilla, light alcohol burn

This event was phenomenal!  A huge thank you to all of the brewers, Dave Alexander and RFD for putting together 3 hours of fun conversation and delicious beverages!

Make sure you get your tickets early next year!

-Tonzi

P.S. – Tomme Arthur, good man.


SAVOR Beer Week Event Preview: The Lupulin Reunulin

June in DC.  What a great time of year.  Well, assuming you love hot humid days and enjoy sweating instantly upon walking outside.  Weather aside, it really is a good time to be in DC.

SAVOR is coming up soon and the event gets bigger and bigger each year.  Heck, it’s 2 nights this year instead of 1.  And with this expansion comes the growth of a week-long pre-party that’s been dubbed SAVOR Week.

Being a new father, my ability to attend every nightly event of SAVOR Week is impossible.  Besides, having a buzz and trying to change diapers can be detrimental to everyone’s health.  With that in mind, I’ve decided to save my time for one event this week: The Lupulin Reunulin.

Each year some of the biggest names in the craft beer industry gather at The Brickskeller (R.I.P.) or RFD and bring out some of their special libations for an event of tasting and enjoyable conversation.  This year’s panel:

Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada
Kim Jordan of New Belgium
Tomme Arthur of Port Brewing/LostAbbey
Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head
Rob Tod of Allagash
Bill Madden of MadFox
Nick Funnel of Sweetwater

In years past, this event has been phenomenal.  It always starts out very calm and collected.

  • Samples are passed out to all of the attendees.
  • The brewer explains what everyone is about to taste.
  • The panel discusses the beer.
  • Rinse and repeat for the first few samples.

Once everyone starts to get a little liquored up (which usually doesn’t take long since these are usually very big beers), the conversation slides into something reminiscent of a camping trip with old friends.

  • Jokes are made.
  • beers are swigged.
  • Sam gets loud.
  • Everyone laughs.

It becomes a frat party with fantastic beer.

If you were lucky enough to get tickets (I’m pretty sure it’s sold out by now), prepare for an evening you won’t soon forget!

-Tonzi

P.S. – If you’re wondering what Lupulin is… it’s the yellow stuff in hop cones that provide the hops with the resins and oils to provide those “hoppy” flavors and aromas.


A Gentle (and selfish) Prayer for SAVOR Week

Dearest Beer Gods,

I love you guys.  You’ve been great to me over the years.  You’ve gotten me through a few beer-related binds and I must thank you.  When I went to GABF with Pyzocha a few years ago and left my tickets at home, you were there to help my wife and a friend get the tickets shipped out to Denver, and you told the nice organizer lady that it was okay to reprint a few tickets for us so we wouldn’t miss a day.

I come to you again asking for a favor.  It’s SAVOR Week, and being a new father, I don’t have the time to go to many events.  I’ve decided upon Thursday’s Lupulin Reunulin and Saturday’s SAVOR as the 2 things I’d like to go to.  This, however, is not up to me.  There is a very vocal little girl and her incredibly patient mother that get to decide whether I’ll be going or not.

So, with that said, could you help me out?  Perhaps, put in a good word with the Calm Baby Gods and see if we can work out a deal?

Thank you for all your help.

Humbly yours,

Tonzi


Brew Review: Magic Hat Wacko

Oh, Magic Hat.  How could you?

I’m starting to feel bad for Magic Hat.  Seriously.  Who out there, around my age, can’t say that the Number 9 was one of the first beer to get you into the craft beer scene.  The Number 9 is the perfect introductory beer.  It’s light, oh so slightly bitter, and it has fruit in it to further lessen the shock of trying something out of the ordinary.  It was one of my first craft beers, so I’ll always have a little place in my heart for Magic Hat.

That being said, what the hell if going on at Magic Hat?  Are they running low on ideas?  Are they getting bored?  Has the whole being bought out by North American Breweries shocked the system?

I bought the Wacko because I still want Magic Hat to be good.  I want it so badly that I’m buying stuff from them with reckless abandon and instantly wishing I had gone with the other beer that was sitting next to it on the shelf.  The Wacko falls into that category.

It’s summer now, so I’m willing to try anything listed as a “summer” beer.  The Wacko is light, I’ll give them that, but outside of that, it’s pretty bad.  From what I understand, they used beet sugar to sweeten it up, which gives it a weird red color and an odd fruity sweetness.  The aroma is dull, the flavor is a bit shaky (fruity sweet, yet bland).  If you want something summery and it has to be from Magic Hat, go with a Circus Boy.

-Tonzi


Quick Hit – The Brauler!

For those of us in the DC area that are now becoming frequent growler fillers (thanks to Mad Fox, Port City, Whole Foods, etc.), this item may be a must-have.

The Brauler from the Zythos Project looks to be a fantastic addition to your beer drinking arsenal.

Check it out and sign up for their mailing list!

-Tonzi

Thanks to The Wookie at It’s Just the Booze Dancing for finding this sweet nugget.


3xB: Goose Island Big John

This Week’s Big Bottle:  Goose Island Big John

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American Craft Beer Week!

It’s that time of year again!

AMERICAN CRAFT BEER WEEK!

It’s a celebration of all that is good with craft beer in America.  In other words, a good excuse for you to go out and drink as many American craft beers as possible (while still being responsible)!

Being the big craft beer supporter I am, I decided to go to CraftBeer.com’s Event Page to see what was going on in DC.  Surprisingly, there are only 4 things listed.  (really?)

Being the resourceful craft beer supporter I am, I knew this was not true, and checked on the Lagerheads and their always impressive calendar.

Spoiler:  There are enough things going on that you won’t be able to make them all.

Get out there!  It’s American Craft Beer Week!  Support your local brewers, and your national brewers.  Make it your personal mission to enjoy those tasty beverages!  Why are you still reading this?!?

-Tonzi

P.S. – Don’t forget DCBeer’s page!


3xB: Dogfish Head Hellhound On My Ale

This week’s Big Bottle: Dogfish Head Hellhound On My Ale

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Brew Review: Epic Brainless on Peaches

I’ve had the Epic Brainless before.  It’s fine, nothing overly spectacular.  A good light Belgian.

I saw the Brainless on Peaches at Whole Foods on P St (where else?), and felt like it deserved my attention.  I guess I have a sweet spot for fruity beers.  Maybe it’s from all the Mike’s Hard Lemonade I drank in college (I know, just thinking about it makes me want to vomit… please don’t think less of me).

The Brainless on Peaches looks almost identical to the regular Brainless, but that’s definitely where it ends.  The color is a nice pale gold, which you would expect from a Belgian ale.  I expected a peach aroma, but it was really just oak and cloves.  It was like an oak aged Belgian, no peaches in the aroma (that my primitive nose could find).  The taste is where the peaches were.  The beer starts off with a gentle wheat flavor, but quickly dives into the peaches.  It’s very sweet in the middle.  The mouthfeel is kinda soft, actually, which I’m going to attribute to the oak aging.  The finish is sweet, but not overwhelming.

All in all, it’s almost exactly what I expected.  Sweet, but not too sweet.  If you see it around, feel free to grab it.  You don’t need to jump out of your chair and race out now, though.

-Tonzi


Bar Review – The Argonaut (Guest Post)

This week many of us at J Street Beer were on hiatus in Italy (I wasn’t… I’m bitter).  Anyway, since we’re too busy to write, we’re lucky enough to have friends who do have some time.  In this guest post, we bring in JBass (@JBassDC)to give a little insight to an H Street NE point of interest.  Here’s his take on The Argonaut! -Tonzi

On June 20th, 2010, a fire burned down the kitchen and half of the bar downstairs at The Argonaut on H Street in Northeast DC, causing the restaurant to close.

But we all know that good beer can put out any fire.

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