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Your Beermonger: Harvest Time, 2014

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

Some odds and ends this week, and then a couple recommendations for Harvest/Wet Hop Ales that I’ve been enjoying so far this season.

The big news of the week is the news that Stone has decided to put its East Coast facility in Richmond. We’ve been following the rumors and speculation for months, and Richmond finally won out over Norfolk and Columbus, Ohio. Stone Richmond is estimated at a $30 million dollar investment that will bring somewhere in the area of 300 jobs to Virginia, not to mention solidifying Richmond’s status nationally as a Beer City.

Also, there are a pair of noteworthy articles I’ve read over the past couple weeks: Craft Brewing Business dives into this year’s poor barley crop, and the potential ramifications for brewers of all sizes (be sure to read the Reuters article CBB links to as well for more info).

Also worth spending a few minutes reading this week is this Esquire piece by Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s Greg Engert. Engert takes an interesting angle on the “drink local” movement, looking at possible pitfalls as markets become saturated with breweries. Greg’s gotten where he is in our industry for a reason, and gives a very smart, reasoned take here.

This past week also saw the 2014 edition of the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Breweries from our area once again made a great showing for themselves, and once again Devils Backbone led the way. This year Devils Backbone won four beer medals and for the third year in a row was a Brewery of the Year winner (this time as a Mid-Size Brewery). Richmond’s Hardywood Park Craft Brewery won a Gold for its Raspberry Stout; Charlottesville’s Three Notch’d took a Bronze for its Hydraulion Red; Capitol City Brewing Company’s Shirlington location won an impressive Silver for Amber Waves (Amber was a highly competitive category this year); DC Brau’s Citizen Belgian Pale Ale won a Silver; and Maryland’s DuClaw, Heavy Seas, Union Craft, and two Gordon Biersch locations all medaled. Check out the full list of GABF winners here.

To wrap up this week, I’d like to mention a couple beers from what is increasingly becoming a favorite seasonal style for me — the Wet Hop Ale (sometimes classifies as Harvest Ale). With hops coming off the vine and going into the beer before they have a chance to dry out, Wet Hop Ales showcase a spectacular clarity of aroma and flavor without overbearing the drinker with aggressive bitterness or overly-rich citrus flavors (for more on Wet Hop Ales, read this past column).

This year, I’ve developed a minor obsession with two Wet Hop Ales in particular. Hardywood’s RVA IPA uses fresh hops from two local farms along with folks who have received some of the hop rhizomes given out by the Richmond brewery every year (the RVA IPA label estimates the number at around 1,000). As a “community-sourced” Wet Hop Ale, RVA IPA is as much as statement of how far Virginia’s beer scene has come over the past few years as it is a seasonal effort. Beyond all of that, the beer is simply delicious: focused floral aromatics give way to a palate that is balanced and elegant; hoppy but with a sense of restraint and an easy mouthfeel that belie its 7 percent ABV strength. Supply is surprisingly good, but RVA IPA won’t last long.

More limited to us in Virginia is the new Sixpoint Sensi Harvest. The Brooklyn, N.Y.-based brewery just released this beer and we went through our first run of cases over the course of a couple days last weekend. Sensi is a lower-strength beer than RVA IPA at 4.7 percent ABV, but feels more akin to what you might expect from a “hoppy” beer: there’s a “greener” element to Sensi that contributes just enough extra bite to the style for hopheads who might otherwise find Wet Hop Ales too mild. We’re going to stock up as much as possible on Sensi Harvest while it’s around, but at the rate it’s selling I’d say if you’re interested in it pick it up when you see it–it likely won’t be there again if you pass it up. 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. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Community discussion guidelines: Our sponsored columns are written by members of the local business community. While we encourage a robust and open discussion, we ask that all reviews of the businesses — good or bad — be directed to another venue, like Yelp. The comments section is intended for a conversation about the topic of the article.

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