Beer and You

New Year’s Resolution/Challenge: 366 Days = 366 New Beers

I only put 'New Year's Resolution' in the title, so I could use this pic.

During the first week of the new year, J Street’s founder, Tonzi, contacted some of our drinking buddies and me with a challenge: Drink a new beer for every day in the year. (Originally, it was 365 beers until Tonzi updated our tracking system to note the days in the month and realized it was a leap year…) Naturally, I was in and want to invite any of our readers to join us on our epic journey through the beer-iverse.

The rules are simple:

  1. You must not have ever had the beer before. The challenge is not to have 366 different beers in 2012 but to have 366 NEW beers in the new year. It might not be easy at times, which is why it’s a challenge.
  2. Homebrews do not count. Tonzi and I discussed this by decided against counting homebrews. To ensure the challenge’s integrity, we are using the Untappd app as a basis for deciding whether a beer counts. Last night though, I hit a snag when having a beer brewed by 901 (Cap Brewing); however, the beer was verified by a fellow challengee and allowed.
  3. Drink a beer, not taste a beer. Some beers grow on the drinking as the go-down (particularly strong ones), so anything less than 4 oz does not count. Yes, Savor, brewery samples, and beer fests/events, such as our Annual Beer Hunt, could well be the equivalent of hitting the motherlode.

Of course, these are just our general rules; you are free to tweak them or make your own. For instance, I have made a side deal with fellow J Street-er, X, that I won’t drink a Shiner Bock until my number of beers for the year matches the number of days, i.e. we are 20 days into the year, and I have had 25 new beers, so I could drink a Shiner. Thankfully, I have a couple of months to build up a headstart into the 2012 football season…

Whether you join in the challenge or not, I would highly recommend downloading the Untappd app and befriending me (Shintern1909). It’s a great way to track beers that people are drinking, know which bars those beers are currently available, and get quick beer reviews. Information available here: http://www.untappd.com

If you are up for the challenge, let us know in the comments. Depending on the amount of participation, I may discuss with Tonzi about ways to facilitate everyone’s progress through the interwebs. Right now, we’re just using the honor system and a shared Google Doc spreadsheet.

Happy (belated) New Year, and here’s to exploring!

— Shintern1909

P.S. Hopefully this will help lead to more postings on Brew Review Wednesdays, but I am not going to promise reviews of each beer…


Trademarks

What do trademarks and beer have to do with each other?  Quite a bit actually.  I was browsing the interwebs and came across an interesting article about beer and trademarks.  Normally I have no problem with breweries obtaining trademarks to protect their intellectual property (brew names and/or labels).  However, Anheuser-Busch InBev (with its recent purchase of Goose Island) has decided to trademark beer names that include area codes.  I’m sure this was originally intended to merely protect the newly acquired 312 Urban Wheat, but they have also been granted trademarks for area codes which there is not currently a beer name.  This includes D.C.’s beloved 202 area code.  The problem which arises from this practice is where does this stop? Are they going to trademark any number? Will they actively sue microbreweries with established names to strong arm them?

This is a slippery slope.  I fear that Anheuser-Busch InBev will use this as another method to attempt to push their microbrewery competition out of the market.  It will most likely stop a local brewery from using names which will identify it with their city.  I really hope that these trademarks will not be used for evil. What do you think?


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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Baying Hound: The Unheralded Local Brewery

Baying Hound

Like everyone else in the DC area I’m ecstatic about all of the new local breweries. When Port City’s beers started popping up I couldn’t stop drinking them, especially the Monumental IPA. Being at Meridian Pint for the release of DC Brau’s Public was one of the coolest days of my life, and also the day I met Tonzi and asked if I could help on this blog. Seeing the excitement on Dave Coleman’s face when he released 3 Stars Syndicate at Churchkey continued to reinforce the significance of having local options. When the tweet came up that Chocolate City finally got power and was that much closer to production I couldn’t help but smile. However lost in the shuffle of all these new local breweries is one spot that beat them all to the punch.

That spot is Baying Hound.

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Cooking with Beer: Beer Battered Catfish

Cooking with Beer

For this post on cooking with beer I will go over a beer batter recipe in which Boardwalk and I used Port City’s IPA as the base.  The recipe is based off of one from my favorite chef: Alton Brown.  He did Chips and Fish, but we stuck to the fish.

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An Ode to Stella Artois

Recently Shintern, Pyzocha, and I took a little trip to the great boot; Italy.  Though there has been a recent revival of craft brewing in Italy, we saw very little of it.   We spent most of our drinking time (and thus much of our time) with some of the cheapest beers you can find in Italy.  I now understand why Europeans love Stella, Beck’s, Heiniken, etc.

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T.G.I. Friday’s

I began seeing the commercials for T.G.I. Friday’s touting the use of Magic Hat #9 in some of their meals and I was ready to rip on Magic Hat for selling out to a chain.  Then I did some research and it is not Magic Hat selling out.  It was something much different: T.G.I. Friday’s is making themselves a craft beer hotspot!  Well, sort of.  They still have many crappy macro beers, but they are increasing the number of craft beers they carry.  Certain dishes will also be made with craft beer, including: a beer battered shrimp appetizer; entrees with steak, flounder, ribs and chicken either marinated or cooked with it; and a couple of beer-based desserts  (adults only).  While the selection varies by state, Friday’s will be serving some of the following beers: Harpoon IPA, Magic Hat #9, New Belgium Fat Tire, Goose Island Honkers Ale, Abita Amber, Alaskan IPA (Alaska only), Boulevard Wheat, and Uinta Cutthroat Ale (Utah only).  It would be great if each restaurant carried all of the aforementioned brews, but having any exposure to mass markets is great for craft beer.  Cheers to you T.G.I. Friday’s!

-Pyzocha


Brewery Tour – Port City

PORTCITYSIGN

A few of us reviewers and some friends visited the Port City Brewing Company’s facilities in Alexandria the weekend before last.  It was a brief tour and we were provided with five five oz. samples for five dollars.   The brewery has their tasting and tour schedules available on their website.  You can take a virtual tour here: http://www.portcitybrewing.com/about/brewery-tour (if you’re afraid of leaving your home).  However, with the in-person tour you get to taste the IPA before it fully matures, and you can ask the tour guide some in-depth questions about their brewing process and future plans.  The pineapple that sits atop their entrance sign is a symbol of welcoming that mariners used to indicate they were receiving visitors.  I was the designated driver, so I didn’t partake too much in the sampling.  I liked the Monumental IPA the best.  Freshness of the beer aside, the Essential Pale ale and wit were good, but not exceptional.  A good way to kill a few hours on a Saturday before your evening revelry.  Pick up a reasonably priced growler of brew and some Port City swag while your there.

X’s and Shintern’s take on the beer and tour are below.

-Donny V

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Drinking — OUTDOORS

While the weather has been decidedly wet recently, it won’t stay that way before long.  Pretty soon a full blown DC summer will blow into town.  Warmer weather opens up one of summer’s classic past-times: drinking outside.

I’ve always maintained that drinking makes virtually any other activity (e.g., cooking, reading, watching sports, heckling samdinning) better.  Its always more better to relax and crack open a beer, even the most mundane tasks can be improved with a nice beer. Add an outdoor element, and things just got even better: instead of cooking you’re BBQing, watching sports is a lot more fun sitting in left field on a sunny afternoon, and heckling samdinning is a lot more fun when his humiliation is public.

Summer drinking outdoors is also remarkably much more acceptable. Tell a colleague you sent the weekend holed up downing imperial stouts and reading Colonialist history sounds pathetic, and when done before 12 is in fact pathetic.  Saying you sat outside read the paper and had a few beers sounds downright respectable.  Basically, a no brainer.

National's Park is actually one of the best outdoor drinking places in the city

The problem (okay, one problem) with DC is there just aren’t a ton of great outdoor bars.  Most spaces that have significant outdoor seating areas either have limited beer selections, or are filled with a bit more doucheyness (e.g., CBR, Wonderland) than I’m capable of handling. Panning no small number of DC denizens, I have still failed to find a good, consistent bar to sit outdoors, relax, and drink some craft brews.  They have to be out there, but where???

Know a great bar in DC for outdoor drinking? Let us know!

-X


Beer Madness! (An ode to ale, college basketball, and day drinking)

You are probably an American or living in America.  (If you are not, please click this link.)  Since you are an American or have had America thrust upon you, then I am sure you are aware of the big month-long amateur sporting contest that begins this week.  This contest is a great opportunity to gamble and to slack off at work while doing research* for your impending gambling binge.  The great thing about this implicit endorsement of wagering on the physical performance of 19-year-old boys, is that everyone can participate and anyone can win.

Your college is not represented?  Fill out your bracket predicting the 1st round demise of your hated rival.  You don’t know the difference between a box-in-one and a box of shit?  Fill out your bracket based on which mascot would win in a fight. You know more about college basketball than Dick Vitale and Bill Raftery?  I guarantee your bracket will not win.  Karen from accounting is going to win because she likes Kansas State’s purple uniforms.

In honor of this great gambling orgy, J Street Beer is doing you a favor.  We have combined your two favorite things into one great thing. Alcohol and gambling. Together at last! That’s correct, we are hosting our inaugural J Street Beer Madness Super-Brew Tournament For The Ages (JSBMSBTFTA, for short).  Over the next few weeks we will whittle our 64 brews down to one supreme beer champion.  View the bracket below and then vote on the individual match-ups. The voting will be for a complete 24 hour period and each match-up will coincidentally be voted on during the same day as the corresponding match-up in that other tournament that everybody in your office will predict better than you.  When we get to the excellent eight final beers, J Street Beer will have head-to-head taste tests to determine the winner.

On to the match ups…

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Washington Post Beer Madness!

If you’re reading this blog it’s probably because you really like good beer, or because you secretly want to have Shintern’s children (a clue: he’s game).  So if you love beer, and want an opportunity to provide your biased opinions to a wider audience, here’s your chance.

The Washington Post is looking for judges for their annual “Beer Madness” event in March.  Send in a witty, clever, or sultry email and you might get selected to help pick the winners of their domestic craft brew bracket.

Good Luck!

-X


My Vision for the Future

You get a table at a fancy restaurant and after you order your meal the server asks if you’d like a drink with the meal.  Not knowing what will go well with your meal, you ask what the server would suggest to be paired with your order. Unsurprisingly the server suggests a wine, but in my vision for the future, the server also suggests a beer.

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J Street Beer Momentous Occasion

Tonight is a special night! 

Our very own Pyzocha is celebrating a birthday! (I won’t tell you his age… we’re embarrassed)

To celebrate this occasion, we’ll be having A BIG BOTTLE BEER BLOG BLOWOUT!!!  Tonight, at about 8pm, we’ll be ripping through a laundry list of big bottles, tasting, drinking, pounding, and hopefully coherently live-blogging the whole thing!

Join us here for this momentous occasion tonight at 8!

WE’VE STARTED CLICK BELOW TO READ ON!!!

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Bar Review – Chinatown Coffee Company

I’ve explained my life to people as one perpetual dehydration/hydration cycle.  Drink too much coffee during the day, pound water, drink beer at night, pound water before bed, and back to coffee in the morning…

And then someone I must have explained this to told Chinatown Coffee Company (CCC) to get a liquor license and start selling bottles of craft beer.  So I’ve only got two wishes left on that magic lamp.

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Adventures in Tailgating

TailgatingNot much beats tailgating for a football game.  You have grilling, games and most importantly beer.  Unfortunately the beer of choice at most tailgates is some sort of light macro brewed beer.  This is generally okay because tailgating is more about socializing, having a good time with friends and of course getting a good buzz on so you don’t have to pay for $8 stadium beers.  On my most recent adventure, I decided I would try to class up the beer selection a bit.
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Beats and Beer, Sounds and Suds, Music and Malt Beverages?

Music and beer tend to go hand in hand.  Think about the times you’ve been drinking a beer in complete silence.  It doesn’t happen often does it?  (unless you’re like me and hide in a dark corner pounding through Miller Lites… I kid, I kid)

Music is often times an important part of the drinking experience.  Remember that Presidente you had at the resort in the Dominican Republic with the salsa music echoing in the background?  What about the Coors Light at the country bar where Garth Brooks was saying something about friends in low places?  The Natty Light at the frat party with the hip-hop beat pounding in your ears?  Or maybe it was the Jolly Pumpkin La Roja you were sipping at the Big Hunt while listening to that Aesop Rock track that managed to stick in your head for the next 8 hours?

Regardless of the situation, there’s a very good chance that there was music playing in the background while you were enjoying your last tasty beverage.  So, my questions to you are these:  What do you listen to when you drink (assuming you have control of the music)?  What song would you play, if given the opportunity?

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Monday Morning Hangover: Coherent Stupidity

Everyone enjoys drinking.  Well, most people enjoy drinking.  For those of us who do enjoy drinking, there are various levels to our drunkenness.

Many of us can have a few drinks and enjoy our evenings.  A few beers, or a couple glasses of wine, nothing crazy, just something to take the edge off; make us relax a bit.  This is something that can make us more sociable and enjoy the evening.  Although, there is a step, just past the “sociable” level, that I like to call “coherent stupidity”.  Everyone knows it.  It’s the point where the guy that’s been drinking quite a bit isn’t quite wasted, and definitely isn’t sober, but he’s trying to carry on a rational conversation.  A conversation that is definitely beyond the scope of reason for the amount of drinking he’s done.  If this guy were sober, he would probably make sense in this conversation.  However, in his current condition, it’s really not a good idea.

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Monday Morning Hangover: The Race For The Cure

This is the first installment of a, hopefully, weekly series involving tips and tricks surrounding drinking and drinking’s aftereffects. I say hopefully because I only have about six weeks of material right now…

It’s Monday morning, and like most other Monday mornings, this morning finds me hungover from a drinking event with my fellow J Street-ers while watching my fantasy team AND the Cowboys go down the shitter. While I’m not in the state I was on NFL opening weekend (literally did not remember the end of the Cowboys-Redskins game until my Philly-fan friend decided to make me suffer), I am in hangover hell. To make matters worse, I’m sitting at my desk in a windowless, florescent-lit room that I call “cube-ville”. Perhaps you are in similar pain because the weekend is too short and D.C. now has too many good beers on tap – either way, read on as I delve into one of my desk drawers that I lovingly refer to as my Office Hangover Arsenal:

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See? They Do Have Beer In The Sticks!

All this week I’m out in Rockville, Maryland for training.  It’s at a location that’s pretty hidden away, about a mile from Shady Grove metro station.

For those of you that don’t know the metro system, Shady Grove is the farthest you can get out of the city on the red line in the northwest direction.  It’s so infrequently traveled to, that the metro actually alternates trains traveling out that far.  So, every train going northwest goes at least to Grosvenor.  If you want to go to the last 4 stops on the line, only half the trains go out there.  I like to call them the red-headed step-children of the metro system.

Since I’m all the way out here in no-man’s-land, and we often get nice long breaks for lunch, I decided to wander a bit.

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At The Beach With The Kelpie

Imagine this:  It’s a warm summer afternoon.  You’ve packed up your towel, your sunscreen, and your frisbee (obviously).  You’ve made the trip to the coast.  You lay out your towel and settle down on the sand.  You take a deep breath.  What’s that smell?

At most beaches it a nice mixture of warm sand, ocean air, and seaweed.

That’s the type of feeling you’ll get from the Kelpie.

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What do you like about that beer?

capsI used to hate that question.  I never knew what to say because  I couldn’t tell you about hops or malt or yeast or anything specific about beer.  All I knew is that I liked certain beers more than others.

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Ode to the Shower Beer

I’m 30 years old.  I’m married.  I have a steady job.  I’m mature (or at least I’m supposed to be).  There is one thing that I really enjoy doing, that brings me back to my college days, and that’s the good ol’ shower beer.

What makes you feel more like a college kid than drinking a beer in the shower (well, besides lecture halls, frat parties, co-eds, and college sports… whatever)?  It’s like having a miniature party in your bathroom.  I like to blare music in the other room, leave the bathroom door open, crack open a beer and jump in the shower singing along to my favorite songs.

You know how in the movies and TV shows, you’ll occasionally see a woman sitting in a bubble bath with scented candles around her, sipping on a glass of champagne?  Well, this is the male version of that.  It’s just not as sexy.

It’s relaxing for me.  Enjoying an ice cold beer in a hot shower.  It’s like kicking back in a hot tub, without having to pay for the hot tub and not having to worry about what’s floating around in there.

So, for those of you out there who haven’t tried it, please allow me to provide a little guidance.

  • If you’re going to drink a shower beer, I recommend a bottle for 2 major reasons:
  1. It has a small opening, not letting in much water and soap.  A can tends to collect any stray water on the top and eventually pour it into your beer.  A Grolsch-style flip top would be ideal, but not every beer comes in a flip top.
  2. The glass tends to insulate the beer a little better than the aluminum can.  Keeping your beer cool is an important component.
  • Put your beer in a place that’s not likely to get direct spray.  I would recommend a shower caddy, or a small bin to put your beer in.  Others would recommend placing your beer just outside the shower curtain, I’m just against allowing any cold air into my shower.  The next step would be installing a basket that would fit at least two beers, and a bottle opener (my wife will kill me if I even bring that up).
  • Go with something light.  Remember, you’re in a shower.  Sipping your way through a 750 of an imperial stout may not be the best decision.

So, next time you have an easy morning (or afternoon), grab yourself a cold beer for your shower.  You’ll thank me.


A Shoutout to GABF

There’s one beer event that I look forward to every year (and I’m sure most of you beer drinkers out there feel the same):  The Great American Beer Festival!

I wish I could go every year, but money and responsibilities always preclude my trip.  (Damn you Responsibility!)

I was, however, able to attend in 2008, and believe me… if you ever get the chance to go, GO!

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Beer and Football. That’s what we DO!

It’s that magical time of year again.  The time when it’s socially acceptable to get drunk on a Sunday.  FOOTBALL SEASON!!!

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