Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). It is written by Garrett Cruce, a Cicerone Program Certified Beer Server.
Come celebrate the incredible Maryland beer scene! This Saturday, March 25, 2-5 p.m. Downtown Crown Wine and Beer is hosting its 2017 Maryland Day Beer Festival, inside the shop and outside under a tent. They will be serving a total of 44 Maryland beers — 22 on tap inside and 22 in the tent, and one special can release! Weather is forecast to be 73 degrees and sunny!
On tap inside:
- RAR Brewery Galaxy Hyde American IPA
- RAR Brewery Edward Hyde Double IPA
- RAR Brewery Pineapple Grenade American IPA
- Manor Hill Brewing Red Juice IPA
- Manor Hill Brewing Trinity IPA
- Manor Hill Brewing Hidden Hopyard 6 Double IPA (Reissue)
- Union Craft Brewing Older Pro Gose (Barrel Aged with Blueberries)
- Union Craft Brewing Wook IPA
- Union Craft Brewing Pajama Pants Coffee Oatmeal Stout
- Burley Oak Brewing Company Mango Blood Orange J.R.E.A.M.
- Burley Oak Brewing Company Fruit Of Our Labor: Boysenberry
- Oliver Brewing Co. Vae Victus Double IPA
- Waredaca Brewing Company Baymore NE Style Double IPA
- Flying Dog Brewery Barrel-Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter
- Jailbreak Brewing Company Czech The Technique Pilsner
- Red Shedman Farm Brewery Strawberry Rhubarb Blonde
- Diamondback Brewing Company Gone Till November Oat IPA
- Diamondback Brewing Company Jazz Cabbage Pale Wheat
- Steinhardt Brewing Framboise Flanders
- DuClaw Brewing Co. Sweet Baby Java
- Barley & Hops Grill and Microbrewery Working Girl Grisette
- Peabody Heights Brewery Acid Tripel
There is no entrance fee inside Downtown Crown Wine and Beer. The tent will have a $20 entry fee for six tickets redeemable for beer pours from 11 Maryland breweries and/or food plates from participating Downtown Crown restaurants. Enjoy live music and a big screen showing March Madness games outside. Bring the entire family because, in addition to beer, there will be two special sodas from Manor Hill Head Brewer Ben Little: strawberry and blueberry lemonade sodas.
(Updated 8:50 p.m.) Columbia Pike’s first beer garden appears to be almost ready for its first customers.
Work has been underway at BrickHaus at 2900 Columbia Pike for almost a year, and now seems to be approaching the closing stages.
In an email, owner Tony Wagner said the joint across the street from the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse should be open “by the end of April.”
The outdoor patio and fire pit facing the street now appear to be mostly complete, while photos posted on Facebook show the 24-tap draught beer tower has been delivered.
Construction crews found the original marble tile from the building’s former life as a bank earlier this year, and light fixtures are hanging from the original rafters.
BrickHaus will be a beer garden on the first floor, with some 20 beers on tap and an approximately 30-seat outdoor patio. The second floor mezzanine will be a sit-down steakhouse. Previous plans for rooftop seating fell through.
It will offer mostly regional brews from Virginia, D.C. and Maryland, in addition to perhaps a couple of German beers. Wagner said draft wine will also be available.
The aging building has received an extensive renovation after being vacant for years following the departure of Blanca’s Restaurant.
Clarendon appears to be getting its first dedicated outdoor beer garden.
Alternately called “The Lot,” “The Beer Lot” or “Lot 10” in filings and online posts, the beer garden is coming to what’s currently a used car lot on the corner of Wilson Blvd and 10th Street N., at the western tip of Clarendon, according to sources and a Virginia ABC filing.
We’re told the beer garden will feature an expansive outdoor seating area, some indoor or tented space, food — perhaps provided by a rotating cohort of food trucks — and a focus on local beers. It’s expected to open by this summer.
Social Restaurant Group, which recently opened Pamplona and is opening Bar Bao, both in Clarendon, is the company behind The Lot. A company representative could not immediately be reached for comment.
Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). It is written by Garrett Cruce, a Cicerone Program Certified Beer Server.
Do you have a favorite style of beer? Are you ga ga for goses? Are you insane for India Pale Lagers? What would happen if they all just disappeared?
This is the bleak future that might be ahead for black IPAs if recent line up changes at some major craft breweries and the article in the March 2017 issue of All About Beer — “Are Dark Days Ahead for Black IPAs?” — are any indication. According to data cited in the article, from research firm IRI, black IPAs are the only sub-style of IPAs that managed to lose market share from 2014 to 2016.
Perhaps the first, and largest shot across the bow of the black IPA was in January of 2015 when Stone Brewing Company ceased production of its Sublimely Self Righteous black IPA because of flagging demand. Nearly a year later, Firestone Walker put its Wookey Jack black rye IPA in moth balls to make way for more innovative styles. Like canaries in the coal mine of craft beer, the demise of these beers just might signal to any of the other thousands of breweries across America that black IPAs are bad for business.
But… But, I love them. I thoroughly enjoy a black IPA’s beguiling blend of roasted malt and hops. Like a well roasted coffee, they have both the light and the dark in one glass. They’re not juice bombs or tropical fruit pale ales, but they’re not porters or stouts either. They’re wonderful enigmas.
That enigma is probably what’s sealed their fate. Brewers can’t even agree on what to call them — I think that makes a huge difference. Some breweries call them Cascadian Dark Ales and some just call them Black American Ales. David Birks, General Manager of Downtown Crown Wine & Beer, related an anecdote about a local brewer who actually said that he’d sooner brew a hoppy porter than a black IPA. Before anyone pulls out their BJCP Styles to correct me, I maintain that whatever nuances there are between all these styles — hops and black malt are going to make a black IPA. Let’s just call it what it is. If another label is more sellable, fine.
The point is, there was no unified front. Now there’s almost no front to speak of. When I went to pick up the beer for this article I could only find two still on the shelves. Neither was “fresh.” One of them, Uinta’s Dubhe was already featured in an article from last Fall. So I grabbed a sixer of the other: 21st Amendment’s Back in Black. Below I give my thoughts on one of the holdouts in this fading category and repost some past thoughts on other black IPAs, including the defunct Wookey Jack. Enjoy. And do give this style a try. Lack of interest made it fade away, but increased interest can bring it back.
21st Amendment Back in Black black IPA (6.8% ABV) from this week
An American-style IPA — in the classic sense — with a diverse grain bill that includes black malt… duh. You know what, looking at my tasting notes they either look pretentious or unappealing. Maybe both. I love this beer — so take my comments with a dose of hops. I don’t talk enough about the appearance of beers, but it’s so important with this style. BiB pours clear and cola colored until the head begins to form and it’s suddenly black with a creamy, if thin head. Inhaling deep I get a complicated aroma that includes Dove soap, brown rice, herbs de Provence and charred wood. My sip was no less challenging, but fortunately that soapy smell resolves into a slightly spicy cardamom with cilantro and espresso. The finish is delightfully bitter and brought to mind hazelnut skin. Find some, it’s great for any occasion.
Rosslyn is slated to get a new 180-seat indoor and outdoor beer garden this April.
Or at least, that’s the plan, said owner Curt Large, who also owns nearby Continental Pool Lounge. Large is working to open a new hangout dubbed the Continental Beer Garden in a space currently used as a pop-up urban park with tables, chairs, potted plants and a mural at the corner of 19th Street and N. Moore Street.
“Everything still has to come together,” Large said. “We’ve made a lot of progress, but all the finishes need to occur.”
As ARLnow.com originally reported last August, the work includes a full renovation of the former service station located under the office building at 1901 N. Fort Myer Drive. That indoor area will be transformed into a bar and small seating area with a kitchen and bathrooms. But the real action happens outside, Large said. When it opens, the 4,000 square foot outdoor beer garden will have two bocce courts, picnic tables, outdoor sofas and comfy chairs.
“We hope that the seats fill up just because there’s demand for it,” he said. “As soon as the weather gets nice, people who are in offices all day will want to spend some time outside.”
At the bar, patrons can order beers from Virginia breweries such as Port City and Lost Rhino, Large said. The beer garden will also serve a couple German beers, a selection of wines on tap and happy hour mainstays such as sausage platters, meat skewers and pretzels with beer cheese.
Large started working on the former service station in 2013, when it was occupied by cars and two dumpsters.
“I walked past the space one day and had an epiphany,” he said. “This should be a beer garden.”
The space sat vacant for about two decades before being converted to an outdoor seating area by property owner JBG and the Rosslyn Business Improvement District in 2014. In the past, the lot has seen a number of events, including a pop-up beer garden organized by the Continental two years ago.
Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). It is written by Garrett Cruce, a Cicerone Program Certified Beer Server.
Today at 5:00 p.m., Dominion Wine & Beer will host Ocelot Brewing Company in a special tap takeover. Ocelot will feature five recent releases: Sunnyside Dweller pilsner, Acquiesce IPA, Mi Corazon IPA, Uber Home IPA and Talking Backwards triple IPA. I’ll tell you about four of these beers below.
I had the pleasure of visiting and writing about Ocelot when they were only five months old. While they are basically the same great brewery, avoiding core or flagship beers in favor of constant change, they have begun to recognize that some beers deserve to be made again. In fact, in the time since I sat down with them, The Washington Post has recognized them as the Best New Brewery in the DMV. And they have joined the local ranks of Herndon’s Aslin Brewing Company and Cambridge, Maryland’s RAR in brewing buzz worthy beers that make craft beer lovers wait in lines for.
Talking Backwards Triple IPA (11% ABV)
One such beer is Talking Backwards IPA, Ocelot’s collaboration with Meridian Pint that sits at #7 on the Beer Advocate “Top Rated Beers: Virginia”. Though many of Ocelot’s beers are one-hit wonders, this strong IPA played an encore in December. The occasion of its brewing was momentous enough to be the subject of an article in the Washington, D.C. edition of the news site, Brightest Young Things, and was attended by Dominion’s own Arash Tafakor.
As Ocelot founder Adrien Widman puts it Talking Backwards is his tribute to Russian River’s Pliny the Younger. Not a clone mind you, but a big IPA in the same tradition. This beer screams special. The aroma is bursting with pine sap, cotton candy and mandarin orange juice. The sip — and I do suggest sipping– is strong and sweet, dominated by tangerine/mandarin but tempered by an herbal bitterness. Talking Backwards wears its ABV well, but you still get an alcohol burn that tickles your tongue. Share this one, you’ll make a beer friend happy.
Uber Home IPA (8.5% ABV)
Talking Backwards was totally billed as a dry IPA, but Uber Home nails dryness. A double IPA at 8.5%, Uber Home is fragrant with passion fruit, apricot and pine resin. Dry is the word when it comes to the flavor — the sip seems to come and go with little to linger on. Apricot and herbs combine with a light cracker maltiness finishing in a slight alcohol astringency. In the end, with a relatively high ABV and little sweetness, Uber Home is very drinkable. Be careful not to put it away too swiftly as the flavor belies the strong beer in your glass.
Mi Corazon IPA (6.2% ABV)
Though not an imperial IPA, Mi Corazon manages to combine both the full flavor and sweetness of a bigger beer. Reminiscent of juice bombs that I’ve enjoyed recently, the aroma is dominated by mango and tangerine. The sweetness hinted at in those fruits comes out immediately in the flavor, but fortunately it’s curbed by a slightly flowery bitterness. I felt that this beer could easily have been cloyingly sweet, but for the balance of bittering hops. This is both a simpler and more enjoyable beer than it’s fellow IPAs. These are all exciting beers, but Mi Corazon is especially fun to drink — it’s refreshing and tasty. At a more average ABV, it’s also easier to justify making the whole growler yours.
Sunnyside Dweller Pilsner (5.5% ABV)
This Winter has been anything but wintry. That must explain why I didn’t feel out of time drinking this clean and crisp lager. Befitting a pilsner, the aroma is biscuit flour and a hint of grass. Curiously, honey dew melon appeared as my beer warmed slightly, but I enjoyed the suggestion of fruit. The flavor, however, walks the lager line with a clean white bread maltiness and a delightful herbal bitterness — making a formidable one-two taste punch. This beer is more than drinkable: it’s poundable. I know that Ocelot eschews the notion of core beers, but there is a great case to be made for offering beer drinkers a couple of go-to beers. I’d buy this beer more than once.
Get out to Dominion Wine & Beer at 5:00 p.m. to enjoy these beers. Be sure to get your growler before the kegs kick. You might not see these beers again!
Let’s go on a field trip. Across the Wilson Bridge and up I-95 are some breweries that are making delicious beers. Some of them are beginning to distribute in Virginia, making it easier to experience their handiwork.
Oliver Brewing Co., Baltimore, MD
In 1993, some brewing equipment imported from England was set up in the basement of The Wharf Rat, later becoming the Pratt Street Ale House. What started out as a specialty craft brewery focused on making traditional English beers morphed into a brewery making well-crafted classic styles with an eye to the trendy. In 2015, they grew into their current 12,000 square foot brewery where they package beer in kegs and cans. It’s a minor wonder that after more than 20 years in business, they only just began canning last March.
Oliver is famous for the music that they play during brewing and packaging — from classic metal to contemporary indie metal. Music drives the brewing and infuses their line up whether it’s a core beer like Ironman or their special collaborative double IPA (DIPA) series with beers like Pagan Science or Crown of Lies. The latter two named after songs by the indie metal bands The Well and Mothership, respectively, who collaborated on the brews.
This is a big beer — both drinkable and strong. It feels special. Inhale and the dankness of pine resin fills your nose followed by a hint of caramel. Full of flavor, I got strong pine and black tea with a delightful sweetness. there might be a (an awesome) skeleton king with a bloody sword on the can, but this DIPA is smooth and refined.
Union Craft Brewing, Baltimore, MD
Union began operations in 2012 with the introduction of it’s flagship beer, Duckpin Pale Ale. They may have started with a straight pale ale and not a trendy style, but their beers are constantly garnering accolades. From their Old Pro gose, which I’ve covered here, to Balt, their German Alt bier throwback, they’ve won national awards.
Named for the Baltimore native, John Waters’ film Cry-Baby, this rye IPA hits all the right notes for a delicious beer. Rye IPAs are among my favorite takes on the style — rye, long thought to only add to the pour of a beer (it can improve the density of a head), brings a peppery spice to the party that cannot be easily replicated. Here the aroma is a blend of pine, soda cracker and black pepper. That segues nicely into the sip, which is clean with a more floral hop profile and a light bitterness. The rye’s signature pepper shows up in the finish.
I’ve heard from more than one beer lover that they make sure to have some of this on stock while it’s in season. Rye Baby is a solid go-to beer that delivers on the promise of a rye beer. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Union decides to make this a year-round beer.
Denizens Brewing Co., Silver Spring, MD
Located just north of the District, is the two-year old Denizens Brewing Co. Started by Emily Bruno, Julie Verratti and Jeff Ramirez, Denizens was meant to have a neighborhood vibe that welcomed all beer lovers. Denizens began to package their beer within a year of opening. Sold in tall boy, pint sized cans, Denizens’ offerings range from a their staple rye IPA, Southside Rye, to their Belgian-style tripel, Third Party.
Named after Norman Lane, who is considered the unofficial mayor of Silver Spring, Big Red Norm is a perfect example of Denizen’s attention to its home. A homeless man who became a beloved fixture of downtown Silver Spring for nearly 25 years, Norman Lane has been immortalized in public art and in this tasty beer.
This red ale has more to offer than your average red. Bursting with black currant, wheat bread and caramel, the aroma is nearly reminiscent of an Oktoberfest. The dark berry explodes in the flavor, challenging my expectations of a red ale. More fruity than malty, this beer flips the script on red ales. I’ve been a fan of their rye IPA since I first had it when it was only on draft — Big Red Norm is now on my list of favorites from Denizens.
Manor Hill Brewing, Ellicott City, MD
Operating as a “farm brewery,” Manor Hill began production in 2014 after more than a year of political maneuvering. Being a farm brewery means that they have to use at least one ingredient from their own farm, whether it’s the hops or the grain. And they can produce no more than 15,000 barrels of beer a year. Manor HilI grows cascade, nugget, chinook and centennial hops on two acres of their farm, which already supported beef cattle and corn for feed. Though their beers are available in limited quantities in Maryland, they’re worth the short drive across the river.
This fruity IPA enters a market full of both fruit-infused and hop-derived fruity IPAs. Manor Hill started with their flagship IPA, a beer flavored predominantly with Mosaic hops, and added passion fruit purée. The result is a tropical smelling beer with clear passion fruit aroma mixed with honey and herbs. The flavor ends up being more generally fruity than specifically tropical, but is a pleasure nonetheless. This beer is a refined entry into the fruit IPA category with its fruity start and light, herbal finish. Though this beer isn’t yet available in Virginia, it’s worth a short drive to find it in Maryland.
(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) A Manassas-based brewery and coffee roaster has plans to open a new Clarendon brewpub later this month.
Heritage Brewing’s Arlington outpost is scheduled to open its doors at 2900 Wilson Blvd by the end of February, according to Sean Arroyo, the company’s chief executive officer. The company launched a Kickstarter campaign last November to help open the restaurant.
When it opens to the public, the gastropub will serve small-batch beers in addition to a lineup of IPAs, pale ales and wheat beers.
“We’ll have a brew pilot system there,” Arroyo said. “We’ll do small batches and exclusive beers for the Arlington community.”
Though the food menu isn’t yet finalized, it will be more than “your typical pub and grub,” Arroyo said. Dishes from executive chef Donal Crosbie will include roasted chicken, steak, burgers and fish.
“There’s a lot of thought in the menu and in the dishes,” Arroyo said. “Everything is fresh. We’re purchasing local ingredients. You’ll see Virginia chicken and beef.”
Another idea Heritage plans to implement is to serve beef from cattle that were fed some of the brewery’s spent grains.
“It’s the ultimate farm-to-table,” Arroyo joked.
Inside the eatery, repurposed wooden barrels, brick walls and reclaimed wood will help create a style Arroyo calls “barn chic meets industrial rustic.”
“All of the benches and booths that are in there are made from barrels that once aged whiskey and then aged our beer,” he said. “We want you to feel all-encompassed while being comfortable.”
Above all else, Arroyo said he’s just excited to start serving food and beer in Arlington.
“Most of our consumers are from Arlington,” he said. “We know that we will have a great community there.”
(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) A brewery in Shirlington is planning to celebrate its one-year anniversary with a special beer release.
New District Brewing Co. (2709 S. Oakland Street) will officially kick off its four-day birthday celebration later this evening, said general manager Anna Waigand. The brewery opened its doors last January.
But the focal point of the festivities will be Saturday, when the brewery begins selling bottles of a spiced Belgian beer dubbed “Abbey Ale.” The beer is the first to be made and bottled in Arlington in nearly 100 years, Waigand said.
The limited-release beer is $11.99 per bottle, and each patron is limited to buying just two.
New District’s employees spent all day last Saturday bottling and corking the beer.
“We bottled them all by hand,” said Waigand. “Saturday was a very long day. We all needed a beer at the end of that one.”
The brewery will also hold a beer-themed trivia night later this evening, revive one of its most popular IPAs on Friday and sell growlers at a discount on Monday.
“It’s like a thank-you to our community,” Waigand said.
Get ready to enjoy everyone’s favorite faux race with your best bud, BFF, partner or spouse at a steep discount with today’s ARLnow Daily Deal. For the next 24 hours, purchase two 1K Wine|Beer Walk tickets for the price of one!
Tickets are usually $25 at the door or $20 online. With this Daily Deal, you can purchase two tickets for only $20 (plus transaction fees).
Choose the beverage of your choice, select your heat, and get ready to make your way through the course stopping at “hydration stations” throughout the Crystal City Shops and the Art Underground where you will be able to sample from up to 20 different wine and beers. As always, the wine and beer selections are hand-picked by the experts at the Crystal City Wine Shop where all offerings are also available for purchase.
Celebrate your personal best (i.e., your favorite taste) at a fun-filled finish festival that includes additional tasting stations, great music and complimentary bites. Come dressed in your most creative or obnoxious race-wear and be ready for photos, social media, and prizes.
WHEN: Saturday, January 21st – Heats Available at 2, 3 and 4
WHERE: The Landing, Crystal City Shops @ 1750 Crystal Drive, Arlington, VA 22202
WHAT: Everyone’s favorite faux race, the 1K Wine|Beer Walk is right around the corner. Choose the beverage type of your choice, select your heat, and get ready to make your way through the course stopping at “hydration stations” throughout the Crystal City Shops and Art Underground where you will be able to sample from up to 20 different wine and beers.
The Oxford Companion to Beer mentions several pre-20th century Winter beer concoctions that used heated ale and dessert ingredients like spices and egg and bread. With names like “ale posset” and “egg flip,” these drinks were like drinking beer bread pudding or custard. Since the early 20th century, however, we’ve moved on to styles similar to what’s available now.
Since a beer called Burton ale (generically referred to as an Old ale), Winter ales have been mostly brown ales that are stronger than your average beer. American craft brewers brought back the concept of adding spices beginning with Anchor Brewing Company’s Christmas Ale in 1975. Whether they are called Christmas ales or Holiday ales or Winter ales, these beers will provide a nice respite from the blistering cold outside.
Despite not containing any food like those old beer drinks, Winter ales can still be a bit like having your dessert in a glass. Not as syrupy as a flavored cocktail, but full of the sweet flavors of Winter baked goods. Whether it’s a heavy, boozy fruit cake or Christmas pudding or cookies — there’s a whole array of sweet flavors to be enjoyed.
Below are four Winter ales that take the chill off.
Blue Mountain Brewery Lights Out Holiday Ale (7.0% ABV)
Located in the Blue Ridge mountains, Blue Mountain brews this Winter ale at their Blue Mountain Barrel House in Arrington, VA. It’s available through December. This relatively light Old ale is bursting with the aroma and flavor of bread pudding with raisins. Bready malts and spicy hops combine with a slightly sweet finish to evoke the dessert. Lights Out stands up well on its own and is just light enough to go well with a hearty stew or roast.
Great Lakes Brewing Company (GLBC) Christmas Ale (7.5% ABV)
Cleveland, Ohio’s Great Lakes Brewing Company started as a pub in 1986, but had expanded to include a separate brewing space by the time Christmas Ale was born in the 90s. An early entrant in the spiced ale category, Christmas Ale has a solid fan base. Brewed with honey from the region, cinnamon and ginger, this beer jollily evokes cinnamon graham crackers. In fact, my nostalgia for the ubiquitous children’s snack made me want some chocolate and toasted marshmallow to complete the dessert as a s’more. It’s good that Christmas Ale only comes once a year, because its delicious flavor and light body might make moderation difficult. GLBC is even getting social with their #ChristmasAleSpirit contest. It doesn’t even require the possibility of winning something to put drinkers of Christmas Ale in the #ChristmasAleSpirit.
St. Bernardus Christmas Ale (10.0% ABV)
Brewed at one of the few remaining Abbey breweries in Belgium, St. Bernardus, Christmas Ale is a traditional Quadrupel or strong dark ale. Like a good fruit cake — an oft maligned, but tasty treat when fresh — this beer is redolent of fruit like tropical papaya and banana, as well as molasses and dried figs. Belgian ales tend to be quite effervescent as their special yeast tends to continue creating carbon dioxide in the bottle (this is know as bottle conditioning), but Christmas Ale avoids the bubbly bite with a fine mouthfeel. The result is a smooth and strong ale that is just sweet enough to please without being cloying. This is great paired with roasted meat like fowl or pork or enjoy it on its own.
Avery Brewing Company Old Jubilation Ale (8.3% ABV)
This Boulder, Colorado-brewed Old ale even looks like it’s from a different time. The Currier and Ives-style painting on the can and the ornate script in the name gives this traditional ale a traditional look. If we’ve had bread pudding, graham crackers and fruit cake so far, it seems we’re missing a good old fashioned Christmas pudding. Those beguiling British desserts that are prepared by boiling in cheese cloth and are topped with a brandy-infused butter called “hard sauce” have a particular flavor combination of the caramel of dark sugar and the bright sweetness of the sauce. Similarly, Old Jubilation is a swirl of molasses and brown sugar from the combination of malts that is brightened by the light booziness of alcohol. This beer is a fantastic sipper fresh or aged. It’s just the thing to pop open after a commute in 20 degree weather!
What Winter ales are you enjoying? Tell me below. Cheers!
Yesterday was the first day of December and while it might not quite feel like Winter, I think it’s safe to say that we feel like it’s time for Winter to come. The seasonal releases of barrel-aged or spiced or flavored or Imperial stouts (sometimes all of the above!) cannot come at a better time. Done right, a strong stout is a balancing act of roasted malts and sweet alcohol. That dance of flavors works well in these days that can start out frigid and end mild — they’re just bitter enough to be interesting and sweet enough to warm you.
Whether you’re standing in line for the latest release of Hardywood’s Gingerbread Stout or breaking up a four pack of Dogfish Head World Wide Stouts, there is no shortage of strong stouts on the market. The stouts in this article aren’t going to blow up your Instagram feed or earn you a rare badge on Untappd, but they are delicious. And they’re on the shelves now!
Lagunitas Brewing Company, High West-ified Imperial Coffee Stout (12.2% ABV)
Hands down this is the strongest beer in this article, though it trails the aforementioned World Wide Stout by a few percentage points. But who’s counting? This is a total sipper. Brewed using coffee from Chicago coffee roaster, Metropolis Coffee and aged for more than 15 months in rye and bourbon barrels from Utah’s Hight West Distillery, this is one flavorful beer. These whiskey barrels have mellowed what was no doubt a boozy beer. I expected my first sniff to be slightly shocking with the sting of alcohol, but it never happened. Inhaling conjures up Christmas pudding — dark stone fruit and black strap molasses. Big flavor and no alcohol burn are the highlights of the sip. Despite having coffee in the mix, there seems to be little of its flavor remaining. Instead, there’s a huge fruity sweetness that makes this a fine dessert pairing.
Stone Brewing Company, Xocoveza Mocha Stout (8.1% ABV)
As we move through the stouts in this article, the ingredient lists get longer. Xocoveza was made with coffee, cocoa, pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and lactose. The end result is more horchata than hot chocolate, but that’s just fine. The lactose — sugar derived from milk — makes this a milk stout and gives it a creamy sweetness. When you combine that with the big cinnamon bite, this beer warms while painting a picture of the sunshine and warm weather of San Diego. Unlike the coffee stout above, a good long sniff brings out coffee and cinnamon with a hint of char from the roasted malts. The horchata I already alluded to is tempered by an espresso coffee flavor. Though no session stout, this beer is lighter tasting than its ABV suggests. With all that cinnamon and sweetness, enjoy this on its own or even with some tres leches cake.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Beer for Breakfast Stout (7.4% ABV)
I just returned refreshed and rejuvenated from a two-night stay at the Dogfish Inn in Lewes, DE — see my July column about their craft beer tourism for more information about what they have to offer. My stay included the behind-the-scenes “All-Innclusive” tour of the brewery with other inn guests, a lunch with the group and our designated driver Dogfish co-worker, and culminated with an hour-long fireside chat with founder and craft beer evangelist, Sam Calagione. During my two days in the Dogfish bubble I heard one repeated refrain from “Uncle” John, who led our tour, to our innkeepers to Sam himself — Dogfish prides itself on using whole, real ingredients in its beers.
It’s on their new packaging and it’s particularly apparent in this beer. Are you ready for the list of ingredients in this one? There’s cold-pressed Guatemalan Antigua coffee, maple syrup, Rapa brand scrapple, molasses, lactose, brown sugar and chicory along with a diverse grain bill that includes a smoked barley. Just reading about this beer is a real doozy, and, if you’re adverse to scrapple like I am, perhaps a bit intimidating as well. Let me put your mind at ease. This complex, drinkable stout is definitely not the soup that its ingredients suggests. While I definitely got some of the meatiness in the aroma — more corned beef than processed meat — I also got a good nose of smoke and delightful Turkish coffee. The flavor all but avoids the strong umami flavor that meat provides, instead favoring a sweet and darkly bitter coffee and finishing with a distinct smokiness. This is a special release right now, but I hope that it makes it’s way into the line up like Flesh and Blood and Seaquench ales have managed to. This is one of my favorite beers of the year.
What stouts can you just not get enough of? Let me know below. Cheers!
Sugar Shack Donuts (1014 S. Glebe Road) has applied for a Virginia ABC license to serve beer on premises. The application was filed Nov. 7.
Owner Rob Krupicka wasn’t ready to discuss his beer-related plans when contacted by ARLnow.com.
“Need to see if we get a permit,” he said via email.
Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). This column is written by Dominion owner Arash Tafakor.
A brewer once told me that it’s not just ingredients and skill that makes a beer taste delicious; that it’s the love and passion for brewing that makes a beer shine.
You begin to discover these special beers more and more as a result of brewery collaborations. The magic of collaborations occur when breweries, restaurants and/or bottle shops from all over the world combine to brew something unique and limited. These beers are brewed based on each participant’s strengths, passion and craft trends. A couple of key factors that make the product extra special are the love and fun that flows into the process.
In a growing and rapidly changing beer industry, collabs are nothing new. They’ve been around our industry for a very long time. But in a market with increased competition between breweries, distributors and bottle shops, collaborations are an escape from our increasingly evolving industry. Sharing ideas, developing long term relationships, and bringing people together help bring a sense of community within the Craft beer world.
Dominion Wine and Beer is no stranger to collaborations. Recently, we coordinated a collaboration called All Eyez on Me with Aslin Beer Company (Herndon, VA). All Eyez on Me was a New England Style Double IPA with a unique hop profile. Aslin is well known regionally and nationally for brewing incredibly juicy IPAs. The opportunity to brew a beer with such a fine brewery was an incredible experience for Dominion. Dominion also brewed a Citra Hopped low IBU IPA beer with Three Notch’d Brewing Company (Richmond, VA) that turned out fantastic and we can’t wait to brew again.
Three Notch’d also recently launched a new project called “RVA Collab House,” to enable individuals or groups in the Richmond community to leave their mark through the art of Craft Beer. If anyone is interested, the signup form is attached HERE. Both collaborations proved to be a huge hit and very popular among the beer community. The Aslin / Dominion All Eyez on Me lasted about 15 minutes, flying out of the cooler in our pre-filled crowlers. Similarly, our Three Notch’d collaboration lasted only a couple of days on the menu and sold out quickly at the brewery. These results exceeded our expectations.
Jace Gonnerman, the Beverage Director of Meridian Pint, Brookland Pint, and Smoke & Barrel, three craft beer centered restaurant establishments in Washington D.C., is the “King of Collaborations” in my opinion. I spoke to Jace about this article and he explained to me how collaborations are an integral part of his restaurant group’s identity.
If a local brewery crosses your mind, there’s a good chance that Jace has already been there to brew a collaboration. Jace noted that collaborations help support local breweries and foster lifelong personal and business relationships with brewers and breweries. Jace’s collaborations are also legendary. His collaboration with Ocelot Brewing Company (Dulles, VA), called Talking Backwards, is an extremely drinkable high ABV Triple IPA, was considered one of the best IPAs ever brewed in Virginia. The industry cannot thank Jace enough for all his hard work and dedication to the craft. He sets out and pursues collabs, invites friends of his in the industry to come share the wonderful experience.
Be on the lookout for the following upcoming collaborations:
- Boulevard Collaboration No. 6 Barrel Aged Blend with Firestone Walker, a blend of each breweries barrel aged beers.
- Aslin and Manor Hill out of Ellicott City Maryland are brewing an IPA, bringing MD and VA together.
- Meridian Pint, Downtown Crown Wine and Beer, and Union out of Baltimore have a collab scheduled for early next year.
What are your some of your favorite collabs? Any we should be on the lookout for to put on tap?
Thanksgiving Travel in D.C. Area — More than 1 million D.C. area residents are expected to leave town for Thanksgiving, and 9 out of 10 of them will be traveling by car. The worst day and time for traffic in the region is expected to be next Tuesday afternoon. [Washington Post]
Arlingtonians Spend Big for the Holidays — The average Arlington household is expected to spend $1,741 celebrating the holidays, according to a new survey. That’s the highest expected holiday spending in the region and the 13th highest in the U.S. [InsideNova]
GMU Renames Building in Arlington — George Mason University’s Metropolitan Building in Virginia Square has been renamed for one of the school’s Nobel Prize laureates. The building will be renamed Vernon Smith Hall in a ceremony tomorrow (Friday). The university-owned building, at 3434 Washington Blvd, also houses the new Virginia DMV office. [George Mason University]
Beer Coming to Donut Shop — It’s a combination that would make Homer Simpson drool. Sugar Shack Donuts on Columbia Pike has applied for a Virginia ABC permit to serve beer. The application was filed Nov. 7. No word yet on how soon the store may be offering cold brews to pair with its donuts.
Good Stuff Eatery Opening at DCA — Burger restaurant Good Stuff Eatery is opening a new location today in Arlington: specifically, at Terminal B of Reagan National Airport. [Good Stuff Eatery]
Students Win Video Contest — “A team of students from the Arlington Career Center has won the fifth annual student video challenge sponsored by the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA), taking home the top prize for the fourth year in a row.” [Arlington Public Schools]