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by ARLnow.com — July 30, 2014 at 9:30 am 2,011 0

Il Radicchio on Clarendon Blvd

‘Republican’ Not Found on GOP Candidate’s Signs — Republican candidate Dave Foster, who’s running to represent the 48th District in the Virginia House of Delegates, has a notable addition and omission on his campaign signs. Foster’s signs include a union label, but do not include the word “Republican.” Foster will face Democrat Rip Sullivan in a special election on Aug. 19. [InsideNova]

Arlington Transportation ‘What Ifs’ — Three shelved transportation proposals could have had a big impact on Arlington over the past 50 years. One would have seen a new 22-mile Blue Line built through Arlington, under the Potomac via a new tunnel, to Georgetown and eventually to RFK stadium. Another would have converted Route 1 through Crystal City to “Interstate 595.” A third would have built a new bridge from Spout Run Parkway to Georgetown. [Washington Post]

Clarendon ‘Good Morning Guy’ Profiled — Robert Gordon, the Express newspaper distributor who excitedly wishes Metrorail commuters in Clarendon a good morning on weekdays, says his is “the best job I can ever have in the world.” [WJLA]

Blues and Brews in Crystal City TonightClarence “Bluesman” Turner is scheduled to perform in Crystal City tonight for the monthly summer “Blues and Brews” concert. The event, in the courtyard of 2121 Crystal Drive, also features a craft beer garden. [Crystal City]

Courthouse Square Survey — Arlington County is inviting the public to weigh in on the latest design concepts for the Envision Courthouse Square project. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Jason OX4

by Nick Anderson — July 25, 2014 at 1:00 pm 734 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

The big news for beer fans this week is the arrival of a very special, highly anticipated release: Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America 12-packs. Featuring one bottle (or can) each of collaborations between the California craft beer icon and 12 of the most renowned brewers in America, the Beer Camp 12-packs are only one part of a massive celebration of American beer.

Sierra is taking the Beer Camp on the road with a nationwide Beer Camp Across America tour, with seven stops in various regions of the country offering a day of live music, food, and dozens of different breweries sampling their wares at each stop (Note: if you’d like to try to make it by one of the Beer Camp stops, the last two are in Philadelphia Aug. 2 and in Mills River, N.C. — home to the new East Coast Sierra Nevada brewery — on Aug. 3).

In an April press release, Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman explained the rationale behind Beer Camp Across America: “We’re about to open a second brewery in North Carolina, and while that’s exciting for us, it’s an even greater reason to celebrate the future of craft brewers everywhere.”

It’s an impressive undertaking, and all with the aim of promoting and helping the beer industry overall: the same Sierra press release revealed that “a portion of proceeds from the festivals will go to brewers guilds or other nonprofits in the host state of each festival, while a portion of proceeds from the sales of the 12-pack will go to hop and barley research,” a worthwhile cause as the rapidly increasing number of commercial breweries puts a strain on both commodities.

The Beer Camp 12-packs have been popping up and selling out at retailers all over NoVA this week — we’ll only be receiving a handful at Arrowine, probably around the time this column runs, and we’re lucky to be getting even that — so what’s the fuss all about?

Put bluntly this is a 12-pack unlike any that has come before, featuring new collaboration recipes from Sierra along with a murderer’s row of the American craft brewing scene: Allagash, Asheville Brewer’s Alliance (represented here by John Stuart of Green Man and Luke Dickenson of Wicked Weed), Ballast Point, Bell’s, Cigar City, Firestone Walker, New Glarus, Ninkasi, Oskar Blues, Russian River, 3 Floyds, and Victory.

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by Nick Anderson — July 18, 2014 at 1:30 pm 402 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

I’m not going to lie to you: the beer world is a little quiet this week. That’s okay — I don’t need everything to be going at a breakneck pace all the time, and it gives me a chance to write a column I’ve been wanting to get to for a while. There’s a good amount of time left in the summer, and many of us are still gearing up for our summer vacations. Here’s a list of beer-related books to read if you find yourself with some free time this season:

Michael Jackson’s Great Beer Guide: All of The Beer Hunter’s books are worth reading – Ultimate Beer; Great Beers of Belgium; Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion – but the Great Beer Guide is my personal favorite. Jackson reviews 500 classic beers in the Great Beer Guide, pulling off the incredibly difficult trick of translating sensual perceptions (sights, aromas, flavors) concisely and clearly, in language anyone can relate to.

The Oxford Companion to Beer: Garrett Oliver of the Brooklyn Brewery edited this nearly 1,000-page tome than includes sections on the history of beer, styles, food pairing, culture, and more. The Oxford Companion is a fantastic reference/time sink, with answers to nearly every beer-related question you can think of. Oliver’s own The Brewmaster’s Table is also highly recommended; a guide to the art of pairing beer with food, it’s a manifesto for the inclusion of beer among the ‘noble’ beverages of the world.

The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance: What else could the story of Stone Brewing Company be called? Co-founders Greg Koch and Steve Wagner along with freelance food/drink writer Randy Clements tell the history of one of America’s most renowned (and occasionally controversial) craft breweries. Not only does the book go into the philosophy behind Stone, but it gives valuable insight on what it’s like to start a brewery, and includes recipes for some of its beers and dishes featured at Stone’s World Bistro and Gardens. For a deeper look at the craft beer business, check out The Brewer’s Apprentice, by Koch and Matt Allyn, which offers some tips on brewing technique and ingredient information in candid, interview-style section with industry luminaries like Russian River’s Vinnie Cilurzo, Sierra Nevada’s Ken Grossman, and many more.

Brewing Up a Business: The first time I met Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione was at a beer dinner around the time Brewing Up a Business was released. If you’re a fan of Dogfish Head or interested in what drives its business approach, this is a must-read. As much an autobiography of Calagione as it is a biography of his brewery, Brewing Up a Business  is an engaging read that is also an unexpectedly open and candid mission statement of sorts.

The Craft Beer Revolution: A recent release that I’m about to pick up myself is The Craft Beer Revolution by former AP reporter and Brooklyn Brewery co-founder Steve Hindy. Jeff Alworth at Beervana reviewed the book this week, and it sounds like a fascinating look behind the scenes of the industry as craft beer came to prominence. In particular, Alworth calls the second half of Hindy’s book “a revelation. Here Hindy starts talking about the inside of craft brewing, the blood-and-guts reality that has been largely airbrushed out of the canon.  He treats the flood of money in the mid-90s with more details and insight than I’ve seen anywhere.  It’s a blend of big-picture trend analysis and anecdotes that reveal the more human aspects of that time.”

There are hundreds upon hundreds of beer books out there: do you all have any favorites? Until next time.

Nick Anderson maintains a blog at www.beermonger.net, and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings at www.arrowine.com/mailing-list-signup.aspx. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

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by ARLnow.com Sponsor — July 11, 2014 at 2:00 pm 670 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

While cleaning out some stuff around the house last weekend, I found an old price catalog from one of my distributor partners from 2005.

In a blog post earlier this week, I had some fun going through it and seeing what was/wasn’t available at the time (no Bell’s or Founders, for example), but in this space this week I wanted to go in a different direction. With plenty of concern over rising hop prices and the impact they’ll eventually have on the cost of beer, and with the discussion of beer pricing in general ongoing, I thought it might be fun to compare 2005 beer prices to where they are today.

Now, I’m not about to go talking about how much a distributor charged or charges for something: what we’ll do today is compare by what I would charge. The results were interesting in ways I wasn’t quite expecting. Sure, some beers have notably jumped in price: in the 750mL format I prefer, Delirium Tremens has gone from $7.99 to $11.99 per bottle. Most increases are shockingly mild, however–Bear Republic’s 22oz bottles (there was no six-pack production in 2005) have only gone up a dollar, from $4.99 each to $5.99 now. Spread out over nearly ten years that’s actually quite impressive, especially for an industry comprised mainly of small businesses.

What really surprised me was how many examples I found of breweries whose prices have held, or in some cases have even gone down thanks to distributor quantity-deal pricing that wasn’t possible when supplies were more limited. Mainstay beers like Hofbrau Lager and Weissbier remain in the price range to hit shelves at $10.99, but prices of $9.99 or lower are possible with the right number of cases ordered. In the case of Anderson Valley’s six-packs — the Solstice seasonal beers to be specific — while the ‘frontline’ price has increased, it hasn’t gone up so much that the retail price has had to move up from $11.99.

Quantity deals on the Solstice beers helps keep it in its price point, as does the fact that the now-available cans cost less at wholesale than the bottles do. Lagunitas six-packs have held steady at frontline, but quantity deals open up the possibility of retail pricing at $9.99 or even $8.99 per six-pack instead of $10.99 or $11.99.

The trend seems to be moderate price increasing on six-packs, while 22oz or 750mL bottles have gone up more significantly. Bucking that trend is Stone, whose six-packs are notably more expensive now than in 2005, while its 22oz bottles have increased only a little bit (bear in mind, this is before special releases like Enjoy By, RuinTen, the Stochasticity Project Series and others that are more expensive than the core Stone lineup).

Even when a brewery’s lineup has jumped in price overall, today production levels are such that distributors will offer retailers deals to get pricing close to 2005 levels, if not outright matching them — provided the retailer is big enough to take on 50/75/100 cases of a single brewery’s beers at a time.

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by Ethan Rothstein — July 8, 2014 at 2:00 pm 5,872 0

The second location of the Westover Beer Garden, expected to open near Clarendon in March 2015, is beginning to take shape.

The establishment will be called the Sehkraft Beer Garden and Haus, a play on words of “sehkraft,” which is German for vision or eyesight, but pronounced “say craft,” owner Devin Hicks said. The brewpub, at 925 N. Garfield Street, expects have a 10-barrel system to brew beer in-house, five taps straight from the tanks to the bar, five taps for house-made kegged beers and collaborations with other breweries, and 30 “guest” beer taps.

“We’ll do growler fills, which should be a big hit,” Hicks told ARLnow.com this morning. “Right now we’re working on getting some of our beers to be distributed so we can send them to various bars and restaurants. It’s legal in Virginia, but Arlington zoning has deemed it to not be permissible within Arlington County. We’re looking into fixing that with our lawyers that helped us with the county in Westover.”

The head brewer for Sehkraft Brewing will be John Peters, who most recently was the lead brewer for Lost Rhino in Ashburn. Peters worked with Hicks for a collaboration beer – a triple IPA with 150 bitterness units and 10.1 percent alcohol by volume – in 2012. Hicks said he already is planning collaborations with established West Coast breweries Stone Brewing and Sierra Nevada.

In addition, head chef Jay Jenks, currently the head chef at Westover Beer Garden, will be in charge of Sehkraft’s kitchen. The 10,000-square foot space will have a butcher shop, a small market, and seating for 210 on the inside and 122 in the outdoor beer garden. Hicks said he will soon be applying for a live music permit, and is in the application process for ABC permits.

“This is desired and deserved for Arlingtonians,” Hicks said. “It’s going to be really exciting for everybody. We’re going to have great beers, a lot of guest brewers from notable brewers across the country… The importance of beer gardens in Europe is pretty huge. It’s always been a social gathering spot for drinking their local beers, and we want to bring an American version of that.”

by Nick Anderson — July 4, 2014 at 9:00 am 473 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

What else did you think I’d be writing about this week? The Independence Day holiday falls on a Friday this year; it’s like a perfect storm of reasons to celebrate, and so we shall. Pool parties, cookouts, World Cup watching parties, you name it — there is reason after reason this weekend to crack open some great American beers.

Here are some of the brews that will be in my cooler this Fourth, and some recommendations for great summer party beers:

Three Brothers Drift: Not only is this my favorite new Session Pale (though at 5 percent ABV, it’s not technically a Session Ale), but it may be my favorite new beer of the summer. An abundance of Citra hops makes for a boldly flavored Pale Ale that is also refreshing; seemingly “evaporating” on the palate as my friend at their distributor says. Each swig of Drift invites you to the next, and you’re happy to oblige. It’s delicious, 5 percent, and comes in tallboy cans — I love this beer.

Devils Backbone Gold Leaf Lager: This is the beer to keep around for those friends of yours who say they just want a “beer.” Anyone can pop open a can of Gold Leaf and enjoy it. A light, easy-going malt profile and just enough hops to keep things crisp make Gold Leaf a great option for big crowds who usually drink more “mainstream” beers.

Abita Strawberry Lager: Don’t look at me like that. My love for Strawberry Lager is well-documented, so of course I’ll have some on-hand for the holiday. Bright in feel, with a bittersweet fruit note that never feels artificial or cloying, Abita Strawberry Lager is a mainstay in my fridge for as long as it’s available every year, and especially this Fourth of July.

Sixpoint Rad: This new seasonal from Sixpoint keeps winning me over a little more with each can I open. A riff on Radler, a blend of soda and beer popular in German-speaking countries and beyond, Rad blends a proprietary fruit juice blend rather than a sweeter soda, with interesting results. While my beloved Stiegl Grapefruit Radler is sweeter and easier to plow through, Rad has a tinge of mouth-puckering grapefruity acidity that defines the beer’s finish. Mandarin orange and peach notes dance on the palate, but Rad never loses touch with its acidity. At 3.2 percent ABV, Rad is a great option for a go-to sipper if you’re going to be outside for long stretches. You can also make cool little mimosa-type drinks with it if you have some sparkling wine around.

Hardywood Capital Trail Pale Ale: If you like your Pale Ales on the earthier, hoppier side, this beer is for you. I’ve developed a mild obsession with Capital Trail Pale since its release near the end of April. It’s a perfect (to me) take on the modern American Pale Ale: lots of dry-hopping gives it a touch of resinous, piney character but not so much that you think it might as well be an IPA. Great beer.

Port City Brewing Downright Pils/Derecho Common: No matter which version of Port City’s Pilsner you opt for, you’ve got a great summer beer on your hands. I personally lean toward Downright myself, but Derecho has a smoothness on the palate and a fullness to its hop character that many prefer, and it is a delightful seasonal release. (more…)

by Nick Anderson — June 27, 2014 at 3:00 pm 424 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) I’ve had a thought festering in my head for some time now, but hadn’t been able to crystallize it until a conversation I had with my wife recently. We were talking about Vintage Ads; a repository for images and videos of classic advertisements from yesteryear. My favorite posts on Vintage Ads are often the food-related ones, which tell the tale of American food appreciation throughout the 20th Century.

My wife was pointing out how in the span of a few decades, Americans went from Hot Buttered Cheerios, Squirrel-in-Cider, gelatin-molded veg-all “pie-plate salads,” Impossible Cheeseburger Pie, and frosted ham to a nation of organic, biodynamic, locavore, gluten-free, non-GMO, traditionally-styled/fusion/niche cuisine-craving foodies. That’s when the thought finally came together in my head, as we both realized that beer has taken a very similar path…

We are all Beer Geeks now.

Follow me for a moment: A media star rises, suddenly opening the eyes of an American audience to the history, culture and possibility of their consumables. Most importantly, Americans learn that doing it themselves is easier than they think — and it sparks a revolution. Other celebrities follow, and within a couple of decades an entire industry comes alive, spurred on by those who were inspired by that first exposure, and an American public newly awakened and curious about what it’s been missing out on.

Of course I’m thinking of Julia Child, but I could also be writing about the late beer writer Michael Jackson. In the wake of The French Chef, America discovered more culinary guides: Jacques Pepin, Graham Kerr, Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain… hell, throw in Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, and Martha Stewart — it’s a big tent, after all, with room for many tastes and interests. Millions were inspired to start cooking for themselves at home; a small percentage of those went on to careers in the restaurant/food industry. Just like that, you have a revolution in food culture in the United States.

Jackson brought history, context, and a nobility to beer that largely had not been considered by America before him. With President Carter’s passage of HR 1337 in 1978, Americans began making their own beer in greater numbers than ever before; within a few short years, many of the pioneering craft breweries were already up-and-running: names like Anchor, Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams, and Bell’s began to stake out territory for a fledgling industry still seen as a curiosity by much of the country.

Their work found an audience thirsty for world-class American beer. One generation of craft brewers inspired the next to not only push the envelope in terms of flavor, but in the ambitions they had for the reach of their breweries and corporate philosophies.

For all the trends and fads, the overall arc of American interest in food has been a continually rising one. The “foodie” phenomenon has grown to the point where now fast food restaurants are offering “healthy” alternatives and are racing to out-do each other with artisanal-sounding ingredients. Neighborhood grocery stores now stock organic, sustainable, gluten-free items — stuff you had to search far and wide for 10-15 years ago. You can buy organic eggs at the 7-Eleven on Washington Blvd in Arlington now. The foodies have won. There’s no going back; this is the new normal. (more…)

by Nick Anderson — June 20, 2014 at 2:30 pm 645 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

“We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory-maybe something with a multi-million dollar ad campaign aimed at convincing you it’s made in a little brewery, or one that implies that their tasteless fizzy yellow beverage will give you more sex appeal. Perhaps you think multi-million dollar ad campaigns make things taste better. Perhaps you’re mouthing your words as you read this.”

So sayeth the back label of Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale. For many of us beer geeks, those words were formative as we began to delve into the world of craft beer. They were a rallying cry; a call to arms against the ‘Big Beer’ industry. The debate over what a ‘craft’ brewery is and when a brewery grows beyond ‘craft’ status has always been vigorous, but for many, television ad campaigns have always been a line of demarcation.

That boundary may soon be put to the test. It’s been nearly twenty years since Arrogant Bastard’s debut, and while a screed like the one on its back label may satisfy the aging punk in all of us, there’s no denying how large and competitive the craft beer industry is now. For some breweries, advertising — specifically television advertising — is going to come into play as a method for reaching new audiences as their distribution grows, while for others it may be seen as a way to cut through the din of an increasingly cluttered marketplace.

A recent article on Advertising Age reported on the recent debut of a campaign by the Craft Brew Alliance on behalf of one of its breweries, Kona Brewing Company. With Anheuser-Busch/InBev owning nearly 1/3 of the Craft Brew Alliance, the CBA’s breweries benefit from access to the InBev distribution network (which is why you see Kona, Redhook, and Widmer beers everywhere now, FYI).

With tasty, approachable recipes like its Wailua Wheat Ale and Longboard Lager, Kona is being positioned by the CBA as a gateway brand; one that can draw in more casual drinkers and those just becoming aware of craft beer. To that end, Kona is now available in 39 states on the mainland in addition to its native Hawaii.

In light of such an ambitious expansion of its potential audience, it makes sense for CBA to take to the airwaves to promote Kona. With the ABI investment in CBA, most craft beer fans don’t consider Kona to be a ‘craft’ beer anyway at this point — so it’s not like there’s any silly sense of ‘street cred’ to lose there.

It’s when beloved craft beers and independents step into the ad game that things start to get more contentious. The best example of this is the Boston Beer Company, makers of Sam Adams, who have been running national television ad campaigns for years. Sam Adams can actually be used in any number of Bugs & Daffy-style “Duck Season/Rabbit Season” arguments over what a ‘craft brewery’ is or isn’t, but the TV ads have long been a point of contention.

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by Nick Anderson — June 13, 2014 at 2:30 pm 839 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

Escondido, Calif.-based Stone Brewing Company has been very publicly searching for a location on the East Coast to open a second brewery this year, and it appears that a final decision may be coming soon.

The earliest speculation had Stone settling in Horry County, S.C. near Myrtle Beach; the state legislature even proposed a bill to make South Carolina a more attractive option for breweries in general, which quickly became known as the “Stone Bill.” That bill was signed into law last week by Gov. Nikki Haley, and it seemed like Stone Brewing to South Carolina was a done deal.

This week, however, brought news of a list of “finalists;” locations on Stone’s shortlist for its new facility, along with the 300-plus jobs and  $20-30 million investment it will bring. Horry County was out, although Greenville remains on the list to keep South Carolina’s hopes alive.

We talked about the growing craft beer business in North Carolina’s Triangle region a couple of weeks ago; Greensboro is on Stone’s shortlist, with some reports mentioning Charlotte as well. Philadelphia and Cincinnati have appeared seemingly from nowhere, and then there’s Virginia: Richmond and Norfolk have both emerged as potential destinations for Stone.

The future Stone East Coast would be more than a brewery; like the World Bistro and Gardens at its original North County San Diego location, the new Stone facility would house a brewery, a packaging/distribution center, restaurant, and retail location. Richmond is attractive as a city with a long brewing history, not to mention a hotbed of up-and-coming craft breweries and restaurants.

This isn’t the first time a big-name craft brewery has seriously considered opening a location in Virginia: Sierra Nevada was seriously considering Roanoke before settling in the area of Asheville, N.C. in early 2012 (this is a great rundown of how close Sierra came to deciding on Roanoke).

Virginia’s native craft breweries are making some national noise, and that attention is opening the eyes of the industry to our state’s potential. Green Flash Brewing Company is working to get its Virginia Beach location open in 2015 — might Stone be the next San Diego craft brewer to set up shop in Virginia?

Don’t go putting any money on this on my account, but I’m going to guess “yes.” Stone President and Brewmaster Steve Wagner reportedly has said that Norfolk’s port access is intriguing, and with Stone ready to sign paperwork on the European brewery it has sought for years now (supposedly outside of Berlin, Germany according to Stone COO Patrick Tiernan) that’s going to make Norfolk very attractive. Embedding itself in the emerging Richmond craft beer scene also seems like an awfully good fit to me, too. Look for a final decision to possibly come as soon as next month.

Until next time.

Nick Anderson maintains a blog at www.beermonger.net, and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings at www.arrowine.com/mailing-list-signup.aspx. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com. (more…)

by Nick Anderson — June 6, 2014 at 2:30 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

Just a couple months ago, we looked at how breweries using different formats, packaging, etc. for their beer was re-shaping the beer aisles of grocery stores and retailers everywhere. One of the more notable aspects of this experimentation to me is the rise of the variety pack.

Variety packs used to be largely a method by which breweries would introduce themselves to new customers; a relatively straight-forward sampling of core beers from which people could pick out a favorite. Only over the past couple of years have craft brewers come around to the idea that variety packs could be used as a way to get limited-release beers to the public, while also tapping into potential sale increases not unlike those for seasonal releases.

Unsurprisingly, craft breweries are coming up with new themes and variety pack formats all the time. He’Brew has just recently released its Hops In He’Brew 12-pack featuring some of its best-known, hopped-up Ales along with an exclusive hoppy Lager, but I’m partial to the Holiday Packs – complete with eight beers and candles for you to make your own “beer Menorah” with during Chanukah.

Just this week, Stone Brewing Company sent its special Mixed four-packs to Virginia. The Stone Mixed Pack features four of its 22-ounce bomber bottles bundled together; out of the bunch only one (Imperial Russian Stout) is a special release, but the pricing of the Mixed Pack is very attractive.

When it comes to variety/sampler packs though, the 12-pack still reigns supreme. Devils Backbone released their Adventure Packs this year, which will rotate out some previous draft-only and one-off brews every few months or so along with two of their hit year-round offerings. Hitting stores in Virginia this week is Victory Brewing’s Summer Variety 12-pack, which will include their popular Summer Love and Whirlwind Wit seasonals along with two previously draft-only beers from their Hop Ticket Series.

Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp 12-pack debuted in 2008, with participants from the restaurant, retail, and distribution sides of the business going to Sierra’s Chico, Calif., brewery to develop recipes with them. The 2014 edition of the Beer Camp 12-pack take the concept to another level: Sierra is teaming with a dozen of the biggest and most influential craft breweries in the U.S. to create all-new recipes in celebration of its new brewery opening near Asheville, N.C. Look for Beer Camp 2014 to arrive later this summer.

As craft breweries proliferate and retail space gets more and more crowded, look for variety packs to be used more often. What are some of your favorites?

Nick Anderson maintains a blog at www.beermonger.net, and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings at www.arrowine.com/mailing-list-signup.aspx. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com. (more…)

by Nick Anderson — May 30, 2014 at 2:00 pm 503 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

Looking for a quick read about craft beer this week (besides this column right here)? Check out this retrospective on Founder’s KBS; it’s almost a mini-history of how quickly “big beers” and bourbon barrel-aged everything became widely popular seemingly overnight.

The article caught my eye not only because seeing the letters “KBS” paralyzes me with fear (retail quirk), but because I’ve been thinking about the pros and cons of the proliferation of barrel-aged beers lately. I’m the first to admit that bourbon barrel-aged beers aren’t for everyone, and for those of us that enjoy them not every one that’s made is good.

There are a lot of imbalanced bourbon barrel beers out there, whether by virtue of being too “hot” (boozy, astringent to the point of unpleasantness), too sweet, or the result of beer styles being applied to barrels that perhaps shouldn’t have been. Personally, I still think after all these years that when bourbon barrel-aging works, it’s great. What I’ve been curious to see is a greater diversity of barrels being used for aging beer, and now we’re starting to see that happen.

Wine barrels seem like a logical next step to me, and more breweries are beginning to experiment with them. Victory has found success with Red Thunder (their Baltic Thunder Porter aged in red wine barrels) and White Monkey (Golden Monkey Tripel in white wine barrels), and Allagash has aged its Interlude in red wine barrels for years, making for an elegant Belgian-style Ale with the vinous notes you’d expect.

Not all experiments work out, of course; I think breweries looking to use wine barrels either should have a knowledgeable “wine guy” on staff or one who can consult them in barrel selection. It’s too easy to overlook elements like Brettanomyces that are widely used and accepted in beer but considered a flaw in wine.

Brett can make some beers more interesting, but if you’re building a wine barrel aged beer for cellaring the wild yeast can sap the beverage of sweet or fruity notes prematurely. Scaldis Prestige de Nuits is a great example; it’s a wonderful Belgian Quadrupel aged in barrels bought by the brewmaster at the Hospice de Nuits St. George. With the barrels emptied and bottled back at the brewery, the Prestige was added to the freshly emptied barrels. The combination is magic.

Belgian brewery Hof Ten Dormaal has been trying out alternative wine/spirits barrels with its Barrel Aged Series. Dormaal has spent the past couple of years taking its outstanding Blond and Dark Ales and putting them in everything from Armagnac barrels to Port, Madeira, Sherry, Brandy, and Grappa barrels. They’ve even sourced Scotch barrels from Ardbeg and Port Charlotte. (more…)

by ARLnow.com — May 29, 2014 at 11:15 am 2,810 0

Retailers at the new 2001 Clarendon Blvd building (image via 2001clarendon.com)A 7-Eleven, a Hair Cuttery, a nail salon and a new gourmet store are all coming soon to the Courthouse area.

The four retailers are those announced so far for the nine ground floor retail spaces available at the new 2001 Clarendon Blvd building, which is expected to wrap up construction soon. The seven-story, mixed-use building, which replaced the former Taco Bell and the beloved Dr. Dremo’s Taphouse, has 30,000 square feet of retail space and 154 “trophy” apartments.

The nail salon, Modern Nails, appears to be from the same owner as the Modern Nails salons at the Pentagon City mall and Ballston Common Mall.

The 7-Eleven store is located on the Clarendon Blvd side of the building, only a few blocks away from an existing 7-Eleven store at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Quinn Street.

On the Wilson Blvd side, the Hair Cuttery will be adjacent to a gourmet store called The Olive Oil Boom. Reached by phone today, owner Judith Westfall — who moved with her husband from Texas to Arlington (Va.) just over a year ago, following a career in the oil industry — says Olive Oil Boom will sell  olive oils, balsamic vinegars, wine, beer, cheese and other gourmet products.

The 1,360 square foot store will have an “oil company theme,” she said. Customers will be able to enjoy their purchases outdoors in a courtyard space next to the store.

Westfall says she’s hoping to open at some point this fall.

Image via 2001clarendon.com

by Nick Anderson — May 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm 779 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

We’re diving back into how the alcohol business “works” again this week.

This past Tuesday saw news break that San Diego’s AleSmith Brewing Company would expand their distribution into North Carolina. I’ve been fielding questions about AleSmith beers for 10 years now, and with yet another state being opened up for their beers I anticipate the frequency of the questions to increase once again from Virginia craft beer fans.

With the AleSmith news this week, I wanted to see what I could find out about why North Carolina was chosen over Virginia, so I could more thoroughly explain to my customers as well as for my own education as a retailer. I wanted to take this opportunity to confront my suspicions and assumptions, and find out what truly affects a brewery’s decision-making process. Here is what I discovered:

AleSmith signed on with a company called Mims Distributing in North Carolina, which, according to its website, serves nine counties in and around the “Triangle” region of the state. Mims represents a diverse assortment of breweries both domestic and foreign: Yeungling, Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Anchor, Foothills, Bear Republic, Innis & Gunn, Palm, Rodenbach, Boon and more.

Based off of July 2013 estimates, the population of the nine counties served by Mims is just under 1.6 million. By comparison, the population of the Northern Virginia counties that would account for most of AleSmith’s theoretical Virginia sales (Arlington, Fairfax, Loudon, and Prince William) is just over 2.1 million by January 2013 estimates. A half million people is a big number, but it’s not as big a difference as I thought I’d find. So if potential market size isn’t an issue, what gives?

I contacted Mims Distributing to ask about its territory and new deal with AleSmith. Roger MacKay, Vice President of Sales for Mims, told me that the demand for craft beer in their part of North Carolina reflects the rise of craft beer in the U.S. overall: “There are so many people following everything they can read about, blogs, sites, podcasts, the list goes on.”

MacKay also cited the state of North Carolina’s efforts at promoting its own craft beer industry as a factor in this rise. When asked about how many of Mims’ accounts they consider to be “craft” oriented, MacKay said they tend to “fall into three categories, all craft/import, all local craft, a mixture of craft, domestic and import,” noting that “(t)rue loyal craft accounts are definitely growing every day.”

Mims’ commitment to representing AleSmith in North Carolina makes sense of the “Why there?” part of my question, but what about the “Not here?” This is where some of my early suspicions bore out, as I reached out to a Manager for a beer distributor here in Virginia. (more…)

by Nick Anderson — May 16, 2014 at 2:30 pm 533 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

With SAVOR having come and gone, the beer industry moves straight into American Craft Beer Week, which wraps up this weekend. Speaking from my own personal and professional experience, I’ve seen first-hand the dramatic rise of American beers within every niche and category.

I’m nearly at the point where I’m starting to worry about American beer geeks becoming too myopic, but I also know these things work in cycles, and one of these years German and British beers will once again be in demand. That’s not what this week’s column is about, though — I come to sing the praises of American craft beer, and so I shall.

Over the past few years, what I’ve enjoyed from America’s craft brewers isn’t only the preponderance of great hoppy IPAs and Pale Ales — though new arrivals like Lake Erie Monster from Great Lakes and Against The Grain’s Citra Ass Down always make me happy — it’s the way our breweries are preserving and experimenting with obscure traditional beers styles, as well.

Just this week, we’re seeing the first wave of Anderson Valley’s The Kimmie, The Yink, And The Holy Gose hit Virginia. For those who aren’t yet familiar, Gose is a 1,000-year-old German style of Wheat Ale (traditionally with at least 50 percent of the malt being Wheat, with the balance made up of Barley malt) utilizes coriander and salt to make a beer that is light and refreshing — something of a precursor to the Belgian Witbiers that would come along in the 15th century.

Nearly lost to history, Gose has experienced a resurgence as beer geeks, fond of all things tart and/or sour, started to demand more of it in the market. Today, not only do I occasionally receive shipments of the Leipziger Gose from Germany, but I regularly stock Troublesome Gose by Off Color Brewing in Chicago. Troublesome is a more classic take on the style, while Anderson Valley tweaks the style by dialing back on the coriander and by adding lactic acid before the boil, rather than ferment with lactobacillus along with the brewer’s yeast (“The Brewer’s Yeast” is the name of my Arcade Fire-style hipster band, by the by).

The beauty of the current American beer scene is this combination of reverence for classic styles working alongside a willingness to tinker with them: for every Sly Fox Royal Weisse that brings the banana/clove notes of a textbook Hefeweizen, there’s a Schlafly Raspberry Hefeweizen or Boulevard 80 Acre willing to alter it with the addition of fruit or more hops. For every Maine Beer Company Peeper that carries the clean, fresh, grassy notes of the English Pale Ales of old, there are the Dale’s Pale Ale and DC Brau Publics of the world with massive hops additions that wouldn’t have been considered 30 years ago.

Great dark beers and barrel aging? Try Hardywood’s Sidamo Coffee Stout, Bourbon Sidamo, or Bourbon Cru; Barrel Aged Scotchtown by Center Of The Universe; Three Brothers Resolute or Rum Barrel Dubbel; Port City Revival Oyster Stout; or Lost Rhino 2200 pounds Of Sin Barleywine — and those are just beer from Virginia! Barrel aging, the comeback of cans, Imperial everything – the world has taken notice, but they all started here in the U.S., where any insane idea can be a successful one if enough people like it. (more…)

by Nick Anderson — May 9, 2014 at 2:30 pm 553 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

SAVOR, the Brewer’s Association’s annual showcase event focusing on craft beer and food pairing, is back in D.C. where it belongs for 2014. The event itself kicks off tonight, and by the time this column runs, many of the great local bar/restaurant events planned for “SAVOR Week” will have already taken place.

That doesn’t mean you’ve missed all the fun, though: SAVOR tickets may be difficult or impossible to come by, but there will be special beer events in our area through Sunday. The gang at DC Beer have done a great job compiling a list of SAVOR-related events, along with brewery profiles for nearly all of this years’ participants.

I was originally planning to attend SAVOR, but a scheduling conflict means I’ll be missing out this year. If you are attending, consult the DC Beer profiles to see which breweries pique your curiosity the most, and here is a list of the breweries whose tables I had put on my “must-see” list, in alphabetical order:

Allagash: If you’re attending SAVOR, you are probably as familiar with Allagash as I am. Their table made my list because Rob Tod is a really good guy who is always great to chat with, and because they’re bringing their Coolship Red to sample along with their new Saison. The Coolship beers have all been outstanding so far and the Red — aged in wine barrels with raspberries — sounds like another great Sour Ale.

Elysian: Elysian has been around for a while, and is available in Maryland and the District, so perhaps it’s old hat for some of you but outside of a couple collaboration beers I haven’t been able to try anything of theirs. Their Dragonstooth Stout sounds like a treat, but it was the Dayglow IPA with its Mosaic, El Dorado, and Centennial hops that I was looking forward to trying.

Funkwerks: If you’re into Belgian-style Ales and you aren’t familiar with Funkwerks yet, get familiar — this Fort Collins, Colo., brewery is on the rise. I got to try their Tropic King Saison a couple months ago with some friends and fell hard for it; the beer had a beautiful, complex yeast character that never felt too rich or overpowered the rest of the beer. If you find your way toward them at SAVOR, you’ll get to try their Saison and a Cognac barrel-aged version of Deceit, a strong Belgian-style Ale featuring a great deal of Pilsner malt.

Great Raft: Prior to opening Great Raft Brewing last year in Shreveport, Louisiana, Andrew and Lindsay Nations lived here in the area, where Andrew was an editor for DC Beer. Great Raft’s SAVOR offerings are a pair of Lagers, the hoppy Southern Drawl Pale Lager and Reasonably Corrupt Schwarzbier. Andrew and Lindsay are good people making, by all accounts, some great beer. Seeing them with a table at SAVOR is pretty damn cool.

Kuhnhenn: I’ve only known Michigan’s Kuhnhenn Brewing by its reputation as a brewery unafraid to try anything, and usually make something great out of whatever it tries. From Raspberry Eisbock to Imperial Crème Brulee Java Stout, Kuhnhenn takes chances for the fun of it, and many consider them to be the best brewery in Michigan — high praise. SAVOR attendees will be able to sample their Fourth Dementia Olde Ale and DRIPA–Double Rice IPA, paired naturally with rice pudding. (more…)

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