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.