Juicy Brews Summer Craft Beer Invitational at Triple Crossing!

Hop Culture is a daily online lifestyle magazine for the newest generation of craft beer drinkers, and they pulled out all the stops for their Juicy Brews Summer Craft Beer Invitational which took place Sunday, June 10, in Richmond VA at Triple Crossing Brewery’s Fulton Hill location.

Hop Culture asked participating breweries to do two things: make sure there was a brewery representative there to answer questions from the attendees, and to serve fresh, juicy beers. It was left up to the breweries to decide what qualified as a juicy beer. As it happened, the overwhelming majority of the beers served were hazy IPAs and fruit forward sours.

According to Hop Culture most craft brewers are first generation brewers and they come from a variety of occupations such as construction, finance, and even the military (Triple Crossing’s head brewer is  a former police officer). Because of this, these craft brewers don’t have decades of preconceptions of what a beer should be, and for that reason they’re not afraid to be creative and to experiment. This was evident in the wide variety of unusual, and unique beers at this festival.

There were 31 breweries and one meadery on hand to celebrate craft beer and creativity from AZ, VT, CT, CO, ME, NY, MD, TN, CA, OH, PA, NJ, NC, SC, and VA.  Some embraced the older, more traditional brewing methods while others preferred newer, more modern methods. Regardless of how they brewed, it was obvious none were afraid to try new ingredients, and new or exotic flavors. Here are just a few of the breweries that stood out.

Both Barreled Souls Brewing from Maine and Cellador Ales in California do 100% of their fermentation in oak barrels, which gives a unique character and a more complex flavor profile to their beer. Not many brewers use this technique today, and when they do, it’s most often used in the production of sours. However when stouts, IPAs, and other beer styles are fermented in barrels, the results can be exceptional.

Horus Aged Ales in California doesn’t ferment their beer in barrels, but they do age all their beer in variety of different wine and spirit barrels. This not only adds some character from the barrels, but also adds flavors and aromas from whatever was originally in the barrel, potentially creating a wide variety of subtle flavors and aromas. 

Schmoojee Wild Berry Pineapple Puffsicle Sour Ale- Imprint Beer

Sour ales are all the rage in some places, but many brewers have been a little hesitant to embrace these tart and sour brews. Partly for fearful of the yeasts that give rise to these flavors making their way into their other beers, and also because the extended time it takes (6 to 18 months) to ferment these brews. Of those that do go down that road, most opt to use cultivated, commercial strains of yeast such as lactobacillus or brettanomyces, while just a handful of brewers chose to use truly “wild” yeasts.

Resident Culture Brewing in North Carolina, in addition to some great IPAs and lagers, also create spontaneous “wild’ fermented ales. This involves leaving the unfermented beer, or wort, exposed to the air, usually overnight, allowing yeasts and bacteria floating around in the air to settle into the wort, before it is placed into barrels to ferment. The ultimate local ingredient, this yeast gives the beer a true local flavor, since the yeast is likely to be found nowhere else.

Southern Grist Brewing in Tennessee loves to experiment with contemporary beer styles and are best known for their constantly rotating selection of beers that utilize non-traditional ingredients and fruit forward flavor profiles.

Acai Bowl J.R.E.A.M Sour- Burley Oak Brewery

Burley Oak Brewing in Maryland also loves to experiment. Even after five years, they are still one of the smallest breweries in Maryland, and unlike nearly every craft brewery in the country they have no flagship brew. Instead, they brew a new beer every week!

New Park Brewing in Connecticut opened its doors just a little over a year ago,  and sold so much beer their opening weekend they had to close for two weeks just to restock!  They were serving Blackberry Berliner Weisse and Spectrum DIPA, and after sampling both, I am not surprised.

Juicy Brews certainly lived up to its name, Hop Culture did a fantastic job gathering some great breweries with great beer, and Triple Crossing was an awesome venue. 

This was a tremendous event, and good times were had by all who were in attendance. 

Until next time, here’s to your good health, and may your glass never run dry.

Slainte!

Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference- Coming to Loudoun County, VA!

In just 2 months, on August 10 and 11th the Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference will hold its 9th annual conference, and this year it will be held in Loudoun Virginia! This conference is not only for beer bloggers and writers, it is also for breweries, brewery guilds, Destination Management Organizations, and PR companies. This event provides a forum for industry professionals to meet with writers and bloggers to discuss trends, tourism, and innovations in craft brewing.

Beer tourism is growing fast, and conferences like this are a great way to build awareness for local and regional beers, breweries, and beer trails.

This conference will feature a number of pre and post conference excursions such as a trip to the Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House in Maryland, and a visit to Dogfish Head Brewing in Delaware, to talk to the brewers, hear about trends, and of course lots of tasting.

At the start of the conference, there will be a Kickoff Party at Farm Brew Live, northern Virginia’s first destination brewery.  Then during the conference attendees will hear about the current state of the craft beer industry, diversity in craft beer, learn about the art of negative feedback, podcasting and Instagram, talk to brewers and brewery owners, and of course beer tasting. They will also hear from Sam Calagione with Dogfish Head Brewery, see a presentation by Devils Backbone Brewing Company, and do more beer tasting. There will also be a reception and dinner at Vanish Farmwoods Brewery where 24 of Loudoun County’s breweries will be present to offer still more tastings of some of their best hand-crafted brews!

Finally, after the conference wraps up, there will be yet another excursion, this time to Richmond, VA, for  a tasting tour of the Richmond Beer Trail!

This conference is going to be incredible! If are a brewery owner, an industry professional, or just want to raise awareness about craft beer in your area, there is no better place to meet with the bloggers and writers who can get the word out.  

I’ll see you there!

Cheers!

 

Special thanks to the conference sponsors:

Visit Loudoun,the Loudoun Convention & Visitors Association, is going all out to ensure the success of the conference.

The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) represents America’s 3,300 licensed, independent beer distributor operations in every state, congressional district and media market across the country.

CraftBeer.com, published by the Brewers Association, a website that supports independently owned breweries and the world of American craft beer.

Devils Backbone Brewing Company, born in the Heartland of Virginia, this craft brewery has created some amazing German and American style craft beers that has become the standard for what a craft beer should be.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, after 22 years of brewing excellence, is still just as passionate and dedicated their craft as they were on day one, “to bringing off-centered goodness to off-centered people”.

Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House, which is the first Guinness presence on US soil since 1954 and a beer legend known around the world.

Prince William County, Virginia, close without being too close to Washington DC. Located only 30 miles from DC in northern Virginia, Prince William is known for their parks and trails, Civil War battlefields, amazing craft brews and wines, museums, and a robust arts and culture scene.

Kilfrost is a global leader in safety critical chemistry. They are probably best known for developing a range of Advanced Low Viscosity heat transfer fluids, including ALV Plus, which for the first time gives breweries a fluid that’s highly efficient and non-toxic, as well as cost efficient and environmentally-friendly.

Juicy Brews Summer Craft Beer Invitational This Weekend in RVA!

Don’t miss the seventh annual Juicy Brews Summer Craft Beer Invitational in RVA this weekend!

On Sunday, June 10th, 2018, come meet the brewers and try unlimited pours from over 30 of the best breweries in the country. There will be food, beer, music, and exclusive merchandise and glassware from designer Sam Taylor.

Purchase your ticket online and use the code VACRAFTBEER to get 15% off your ticket!

Click here to get your advance ticket before it is too late!

The LoCo Brewfest Presents Some of Loudoun County VA’s Best

On June 2, 2018, Loudoun County, home to 28 breweries, and the LoCo Ale Trail, once again held their LoCo Brewfest, which showcased Loudoun craft breweries, and their finely crafted brews.

The event took place at Loudoun Station, which is mixed residential and commercial community with some great restaurants, shops, and residential living space.  The streets were closed to traffic, and festival attendees were given a glass and all the craft beer they’d care to taste from 24 of the finest craft breweries in Virginia.

There were some amazing beers on tap. All were good, but some were exceptionally good.  Here are some of the beers and breweries that stood out to me.

Phase 2 Cream Ale with Basil

Phase 2 Brewing had a cream ale that was really good, then they dropped a crushed basil leaf in it and POW!  The flavor became even more intense and a little sweeter. Truly remarkable. When I asked what made them think to put a basil leaf in their cream ale they said, “That’s just how we roll.”

Lost Rhino Brewing had a dry Irish stout that could make you think you were in a pub in Dublin.

Not to be out done, Dog Money Brewery also had an Irish style stout that would make an Irishman proud.

Rocket Frog Brewing had a kettle sour that was the very definition of what a kettle sour should be. Pleasantly tart and sour, with a little sweetness.Many brewers are a little weary of brewing sour beers for fear of contamination from the yeasts used to make sours, and it can take significantly longer for a sour beer to ferment (a year or more verses 2 weeks for most ales). But more and more brewers are starting to experiment with sours. Good job Rocket Frog!

Of course, Rocket Frog wasn’t the only brewer there with a sour beer. The Craft of Brewing Brewery had a sour Hefeweizen that was truly exceptional.

Dirt Farm Brewery had a fruit forward ale with an amazing fruity aroma, with hints of apricots and peaches which carry over into the taste. So good!

Bear Chase Brewing isn’t open yet, but they were here at LoCo Brewfest giving everyone a preview of what they can look forward to when they do open in July. I understand their brewery will also include an Air B&B, and a spectacular view of the valley.  If their Pale Blue Yonder Pale Ale and Anarchy Ale are any indication of what we can expect when they open, I think they will be very, very, good.

There are lots of restaurants in Loudoun Station. No matter what you are in the mood for, it’s there. Kababs, burger, sandwiches, pizza, or even bacon wrapped meatloaf, it’s there. I got ahi tuna tacos from The Zone, and they were so good, I had to go back and get them again.

This was a great event. The weather was nice, not too hot, with none of the expected rain. The beer was cold and delicious, and brewery owners and brewmasters were there to answer questions.

If you were there, you don’t need me to tell you what a great time you had. But if you were unable to be there, well, maybe next year?

Until then, may you have good health, and may your glass never run dry.

Cheers!

 

Scott’s Addition In RVA!

If you are planning a mini-vacation, a weekend getaway, or just a night out, I can’t think of a better place than Scott’s Addition in Richmond, VA. This historical district currently boasts 5 craft breweries, 2 craft cideries, a meadery, and a craft distillery, not to mention over a dozen restaurants, coffee houses, and even a bakery: all within a 4-block radius!

Scott’s Addition was originally planned as a residential neighborhood. However, in 1927 it was re-zoned for industrial and a number of large plants, commercial buildings and warehouses were built, sometimes replacing the existing homes. The area thrived for a time, but then it started to decline. More and more buildings became empty as businesses began to close or relocate to larger and more modern facilities.

Fortunately, in 2010 a renaissance began in this mostly forgotten neighborhood. Buildings were renovated and turned into apartments, new apartments were built, and businesses began to return. Seeing the potential of this revitalizing neighborhood, Isley Brewing Company was the first craft brewer to move into Scott’s Addition, opening their doors on Oct. 23, 2013.

Since then they have been joined by Ardent, The Veil, Väsen, and Three Notch’d craft breweries. Buskey and Blue Bee cideries also moved into the neighborhood, as well as Black Heath Meadery. And of course, we shouldn’t forget Reservoir Distillery who opened their tasting room doors in 2009!

But there are more than just craft beverages in Scott’s Addition. Each brewery is likely to have a gourmet food truck parked right there, and if you’re looking for something a little different, there’s the Urban Farmhouse Market & Café, Peter Chang’s, Lunch|Supper, ZZQ Texas Craft Barbecue, The Dairy Bar, and many more restaurants. No matter what you are in the mood for; Chinese food, barbecue, seafood, burgers, sandwiches, or even a hearty breakfast, it’s there.

And did I mention The Circuit? It’s an arcade bar and, while it’s not a brewery, it does feature 44 self-service taps with both craft and non-craft beer,  ciders and wines, and an arcade with pinball machines and some of the best classic arcade games like Crazy Taxi, Asteroids, Donkey Kong, Defender, Frogger, Galaga, NBA Jam, Guitar Hero, Packman and more!

If you’re into award-winning craft beer or cider, mead, finely crafted distilled spirits, good food, live music, and/or vintage video games, you should check out Scott’s Addition.

So, what are you doing this weekend?

Barleywine Fest at Mad Fox Brewing

This past weekend, Feb 24th and 25th, Mad Fox hosted its 8th Annual Barleywine Fest at their brewery in Falls Church, VA.  There were wide variety of barleywines on hand. Several were produced right there at Mad Fox, while others were there from local and regional breweries and still more from craft breweries across the country. And there was more than beer. Mad Fox Brewing has a kitchen and a full menu with lots of tasty options to choose from. I had the smoked salmon, and it was fantastic.

For those who don’t know, a barley wines is essentially an old ale style beer with a higher than usual alcohol content. While most beers are meant to be consumed within a few months of being brewed, barley wines are often aged for a number of years.  American barleywines, as with most American styles, tend to be hoppy, while English styles tend to be less bitter, and darker in color.

Most of the barleywines on hand were produced in 2017, but there were also several from 2016, 2015, 2014, and even 2013! Mad Fox Brewing’s 2013 oak aged Slobberknocker was an amazing example of an aged barleywine which had a rich and slightly hoppy flavor with a strong roasted malt character and a wonderful depth of flavor in no small part due to aging in rye whiskey barrels. However it was not to be out done by 2013 Olde Scoutters brewed by Bear Republic Brewing out of California.

Star Hill Brewery was represented by its Debut Barlywine which had a caramel malt and toffee smell and a rich malt sweetness with a hint of fruitiness, and Fairwinds Brewing’s 2017 All Hands Anniversary Ale with its sweet rich caramel notes and hop bitterness balanced with hints of fruit and citrus.

Some of the other notable barleywines present were the 2014 Old Crustacean Barleywine brewed by Rogue Brewery out of Oregon, 2014 Devil’s Milk brewed by DuClaw Brewing out of Maryland, 2015 Barleywine Ale brewed by Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewing in North Carolina, and 2016 Bigfoot brewed by Sierra Nevada out of California, and many more. Between the large selection and higher alcohol content, it would be extremely difficult to sample everything and still remember who was supposed to take you home, but the options were so good, it was also difficult not to try.

If you managed to stop by Mad Fox last weekend, you probably enjoyed yourself as much as I did. And if you missed it? Well, there’s always next year.