The Holidays are quickly approaching. This is supposed to be a season of giving. What better gift for a beer drinker than a beer event! On Wednesday December 19, RFD will be hosting a holiday beer tasting. Now this isn’t just any olde beer tasting; this is: Happy Holidaze! The Multiple Guest Brewmaster Winter Holidaze Extravaganzee.
This year will be amazingly enough the 25th, yes 25th, anniversary of this event. It is more than merely a tasting though. You’ll be able to gain some insight on the brews from the many local area brewmasters who will speak.
Doors will open at 6PM for the “7PM” start (like a beer event ever starts on time). Tickets are $45 and can be purchased on the RFD website.
I hope to see you there!
EDIT: I now have a list of the breweries which will be attending and it’s a great list: Lost Rhino, Sweetwater, Devils Backbone, Chophouse, Brewers Alley, White Marsh, Union Craft, Vintage 50, Rock Bottom, Gordon Biersch, Baying Hound, Dog Brewing, DuClaw, Heavy Seas, 3 Stars, and DC Brau!
I recently wrote an App for my Blackberry to make reviewing beers more efficient. It takes input of various aspects of the beer, allows you to take a picture and then emails all of this to you. This was in effort to get myself to review more beers. Well, the App works as intended but so far I haven’t been as successful in reviewing more beers. I think it will help because it helps me from forgetting certain aspects of the beer.
The first beer I reviewed using my App was the Widmer Brothers’ Citra Summer Blonde Ale. I love most beers made with citra hops so I had to give this one a try. It poured a light light golden blonde color with quick fading white head; as to be expected from a blonde ale. The aroma was all about the sweet citrus smells from the citra hops. It had a refreshing feeling even before I took a drink. The taste started with a sweet citrus flavor that faded into a crisp refreshing finish. At 4.3% it is a very light and sessionable summer beer. This is definitely a summer beer worth trying.
Recently, I saw this beer on tap at RFD and decided to give it a try. I’d had a few Harpoons and found them generally enjoyable but knew nothing about this beer. The idea of maple in a beer seemed like an interesting twist on all of the summer wheat beers that are now available. The name conjured images of frozen trees being tapped for syrup and snow being melted for beer which, in the middle of summer in DC, was a very tempting thought. I was hoping for a mild beer with a sweet finish. Sadly, the beer delivered none of these things.
The beer pours a caramel color with a medium head. There is very little aroma at all. The beer tastes like…actually, it’s hard to say. It doesn’t have the mild flavor that I expect in a wheat beer. It doesn’t have much maple flavor or any other sweet taste. There is a mildly bitter aftertaste that could be burnt sugar, probably from the syrup, but not something that improved the flavor.
Aside from the slight aftertaste it’s a drinkable beer but not at all what comes to mind when one thinks maple wheat. I guess I’ll just stick to summer wheats.
I hadn’t tried any beers from Florida Beer so when I saw this pretty big (10%) IPA I figured I’d give it a try.
As you can see from the picture, it poured to a clear-ish light amber color with little to no head. I gave it a smell…almost nothing, slight malt and even less bitter hop aroma. I figured my nose was just playing tricks on me because there was no way a high percentage IPA would have this little aroma. So I gave it to a friend to smell and he didn’t get anything either. Not a good start.
The taste followed suit with the aroma and was a bit of a let down. It started with a decently sweet hop flavor that progressed into a bland malt middle and a slightly bitter hop finish.
I was not very impressed with the first beer from Florida Beer. The only thing I can say that it had going for it is that when it was cold it hid the alcohol well, but even that left once it started to warm up.
This is at best a mediocre IPA, but I’ll give it one hop out of three because it’s strong…I like strong beers.
I was out on my usual Friday after-lunch beer browsing when I came across the Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA. Like most, I’ve had the 60, 90 and 120 minute IPAs, but I’d never seen the 75 before. I heard this was a brew that typically stayed at the brew pubs. Naturally, I had to give it a try.
Without even looking a the description I paid for it and went on my merry way. Once I got home I took a look and saw that it is a blend of the 90 Minute and 60 Minute with maple syrup added. Maple syrup in an IPA? I was worried.
It poured, as a typical IPA would, with a slight amber color. As you can see from the picture, it had quite a head on the pour (no it was not a bad pour by me!!). I attribute this to being naturally carbonated in the bottle.
The aroma was hoppy, similar to the 90 minute, but there was a slight sweet maple finish that blended quite well. My worries started to fade with the aroma, so I took a sip. Overall a mellow hop flavor started sweet, then progressed to a slightly bitter hop and back to the sweet maple flavor. The flavors melted together perfectly and could barely tell this was 7.5% beer.
This beer is very solid, but in limited supply, so if you see it get it! Dogfish sells it on their website, but make sure they deliver to your state before ordering.
Friday is supposed to be Big Bottle Breakdown day, but it’s been a while since we did one, so we’ve got three in store for today: Duclaw’s Double-Spice 31 Munich-Style Dunkel, He’Brew’s Hop Manna IPA, and Southern Tier’s Gemini Imperial Blended Ale.
DuClaw Double Spiced 31 Munich Style Dunkel
A beer brewed with Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Clove, & All Spice isn’t exactly a typical spring offering, which is exactly why I picked it up. It poured a nice dark amber with luxurious off-white head. On the nose: Nutmeg. A little Cinnamon and clove, but I mainly picked up nutmeg. It overwhelmed any and all other smells. For taste, well, you can guess where this is going: Nutmeg. There’s a solid, slightly sweet malty backbone, but the spices are really what shine through. But they shine through in a good way. DuClaw has done a really nice job of providing a spiced beer that didn’t have me grasping for a glass of water after every sip (like the Hoppin’ Frog Christmas). It still drank really smooth and finished without too much lingering taste from the spices. If you don’t think cinnamon or nutmeg belong in beer, you will not like this beer. If you enjoy something a little different every now and then, or maybe a new winter option, this is a solid bet.
He’Brew Hop Manna IPA
An IPA dry hopped with Citra, Cascade, and Centennial? Amarillo during the boil? It’s gotta be good, right? Nope. Pours a clear copper color with no head. There’s a piney/grassy aroma aroma on the nose, but nothing too strong. There’s some sweetness up front in the palate and then a light bitter taste with a really bland finish. At the end of the day, it was just really blah. All the hops combined to produce absolutely nothing. No good spiciness or complexity from the Citra, no great bitterness from the Amarillo or Cascade. Just eh. I really can’t find anything that redeeming about this beer.
Take a great beer like Southern Tier’s Unearthly and combine it with another great beer like Southern Tier’s Hoppe and what do you get: a REALLY great beer. This beer pours a cloudy yellow gold clearly indicating its unfiltered format and a small white head. There’s a great spicy piney/citrus aroma on the nose that I could smell despite seasonal allergies. There are just an incredible spicy hop notes with good fruity characteristics. Tangy with some notes of orange/pine. A slight bitter finish on the tongue, but just what you’d expect from a beer like this. Overall a phenomenal effort.
As you may or may not have been aware of Fairgrounds has replaced the Bullpen and Das Bullpen as the pre-game spot to grab beer around Nationals Park. Fairgrounds has taken over the whole area along half street which makes this place humungous! With this added space the typical beer stands, stage for a band, and corn hole remain as in years past. This year there are also little shops inside the shipping containers surrounding the Fairgrounds selling various clothing and knickknacks. The food trucks made their way to the additional space as well for the opening day game, I hope this will be a recurring event because additional food is always welcome. Now onto the beer.
The District Beer Hunt is back! Last year’s event was a huge success and we hope this year will be as well. Our friends over at DC Beer have taken over the organization of this year’s Hunt. Don’t worry, many of us at J Street have been a part of the planning and will be judges again.
I haven’t written a review in a while so I figured I better start back in with a bang. I was out with a few friends one of which was an ABInBev rep, so of course I was offered the newest and greatest beer: Bud Light Platinum. I saw all the commercials and, I’ll be honest, I was a bit intrigued. So I tried one.
I comes in a very blue bottle and smells like a regular old Bud Light, Miller Lite, etc. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about you aren’t missing anything.) The only difference I noticed so far, was that the bottle said 6% (higher ABV the Bud and less calories, I can drink and be thin!). I was worried, a “light” beer that is relatively higher in alcohol. My brain tried to stop me, “This is going to be horrible” it said. This wasn’t going to be stopped.
Now that the holidays are finishing up it’s time to spend that gift money.
As you know, Tonzi moved to Chicago (that’s their flag to the left) and without our leader the rest of us have slacked on posting new content. All of us here at J Street would like to apologize for our…well…laziness. We will be making a concerted effort to get back into the swing of things with more reviews. I know we’ve all been drinking and have plenty of ideas for new posts.
First, we would like to thank Tonzi for everything he’s done for the blog. He started it and pushed to to try and write about new beer. More importantly we would like to thank him for his loyal friendship. He is immensely missed. Second, as a small token of our gratitude for all that he’s done for us, I put together a gift. (more…)
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.
I was at Pizzaria Paradiso in Dupont Circle and saw that BrewDog and Stone collaborated to make a Black Double Belgian IPA called the Bashah (that’s a mouthful). Not only did they have it, but it was on tap. Waiting for it I was practically drooling: I love Belgian IPAs, I had never tried a Black Belgian IPA and this was a double (twice the fun). I had to have it! But would it live up to my high expectations?
This 8.6% ABV brew poured a deep opaque black with a small toasted marshmallow colored head. The aroma was not overpowering toasted malt was the dominant smell followed by a typical hop aroma. With the first sip the toasted malt became even more apparent but in a much more complex way. There was a bit of smokiness and spice (couldn’t quite put my finger on which ones, but tasty none-the-less). The hops followed, and unlike other brews made by Stone and BrewDog they were not overpowering. They were a perfect compliment to the maltiness. The finish was slightly sweet and fruity.
So did this beer live up to my expectations? Absolutely! I had my first couple sips and said to Boardwalk, “This is probably the best Black IPA I’ve had.” I’d recommend going to Pizzaria Paradiso to try this ASAP!
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.
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.
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.
I’m becoming a big fan of Epic Brewing so when I saw this bottle I just had to try it. The Hopulent is an IPA that Epic is changing throughout the season. They are changing the grain bill and they are doing everything over the top, lots of hops and lots of malt.
This particular Hopulent was the Release #13. Epic has a website describing when each beer was brewed and which ingredients were used. The #13 was brewed on February 13, 2011 using Premium Briess Two Row with a nearly equal amount of Ultra Premium Maris Otter as the base malts. Briess Munich Malt and Weyermann CaraMunich finish off the bill nicely. Next the hops:
In the Boil: Columbus, Chinook, Centennial, Simcoe and more Simcoe. The Dry Hops: Chinook and Centennial. (Now us homebrewers need to figure out how to clone this one) This grain bill resulted in an 8.4% ABV beer.
The pour was light and cloudy with a very small white head. The aroma was exactly what I like in an IPA: very sweet hops and lots of them. The taste followed the aroma with very sweet hops upfront, but then a solid malty middle and a slightly bitter finish created a beautifully balanced big beer.
Now unfortunately this is a limited release beer and I’m not sure how many are around, but if you can find one definitely try it. This was an awesome beer!
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.
Smoking is one of my biggest pet peeves. The smell of cigarette smoke absolutely disgusts me and the ensuing coughing is not something I enjoy either. Despite my hate for smoking I absolutely love smoke beers. Initially I was a bit confused at how the flavor could be anything besides repulsive but after my 2nd taste of Stone Smoked Porter I’ve been hooked. Throw in the fact that my brother went to Cornell and loves Ithaca brewery and I couldn’t resist trying out Gorges, their smoked porter.
Gorges pours a dark brown with a solid 1 inch of creamy brown head. The smell of smoke comes on strong immediately but not in a way that is too overpowering. One sip of this beer and I was hooked. Despite smoke being the dominant flavor, this beer is well balanced with a very nice malt backbone. The sweetness and a bit of smoke linger sensationally leading to a surprisingly mellow feel on the tongue as the flavors linger.
When Ithaca produces a quality beer I’ve found that they tend to be not only solid but also usually phenomenal. Gorges falls into this mold very well and is certainly in the upper echelon of smoke beers that I’ve tried.
Even though you won’t ever find me smoking don’t be shocked if I’m enjoying a great smoke beer like Gorges in the near future.
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.
Living on the east coast I don’t get to try many Alaskan Brewing Co. beers, so I was excited to see a big bottle of it when I was in Seattle. I am generally a big fan of imperial IPAs and even better – this was a pilot series beer. The Alaskan Imperial IPA was brewed in the American Imperial IPA style, which “was developed and made popular by west coast American brewers. The style is most often characterized by a gold or copper color, citrus hop character, big malt body and lingering bitterness.” Let’s see how it stands up to their characterization.
This 8.5% brew poured a very dark brown with a toasty white head, solid start, but that ended with the aroma. It was quite lacking, with mostly a caramel malt with a very slight hint of citrus hops. The taste followed suit with a malt that overpowered any hops that could be found. It finished with refreshing bitterness. They seemed to hit on all the points of the style but appeared to miss the ratios.
I had high expectations for this Imperial IPA, but it was quite a let down. It’s an odd recommendation for an Imperial IPA to have less malt and more hops, but that is what this beer needed. Normally, for a rare beer like this I would recommend trying it, but not this time.
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.