32°Clear

by Chris Teale September 27, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington will host its second annual “Pints 4 Paws” beer festival next month.

The festival, from 1-5 p.m. on Sunday, October 15 at Courthouse Plaza (2040 15th Street N.) will have unlimited craft beer tastings, food trucks and vendors offering animal-related goods and services.

Also included: a costume contest for dogs, with prizes including a stay at the Healthy Hound Playground, dog clothing from Winthrop Clothing Co. and tickets to an Ale & Asana yoga class with Beth Wolfe. Attendees can also play with some adoptable AWLA dogs.

Tickets cost $35 online and $40 on the door, with admission costing $10 for designated drivers and non-drinkers. Children under 12 are admitted for free. An option is also available for those who cannot attend to donate online. All proceeds from the event will benefit AWLA.

“What better way to celebrate the glory of autumn (cool temps, clear skies, hint of wood smoke in the air) AND support homeless animals?” organizers wrote.

by Chris Teale September 26, 2017 at 10:30 am 0

A new street festival this fall will celebrate the Four Mile Run Valley’s businesses and artists.

Valley Fest” is set for Sunday, November 5 from 12-5 p.m. on S. Oakland Street, and will include live music, local art on display and food trucks.

New District Brewing Company (2709 S. Oakland Street) is also offering two packages that include commemorative Valley Fest cups and beer tasting tickets.

Admission is free, and entrance to the festival is available from S. Oakland Street’s intersection with S. Four Mile Run Drive in the north, and from next to the Shirlington Dog Park in the south.

More from a New District press release:

New District Brewing Company is proud to present the inaugural Valley Fest Street Festival! Valley Fest is a collaboration and celebration of the Four Mile Run Valley Arts and Local Businesses.

Valley Fest was conceived from area leaders who wish to foster the growing Four Mile Run Valley as an active arts and community hub. This area is alive with significant cultural and civic groups such as Theatre on the Run, Jane Franklin Dance, and, Arlington Cultural Affairs. Please help us celebrate this momentous occasion on Sunday, November 5, 2017 from 12-5 p.m.

Area musicians and performing artists will set the stage for entertainment, local artists will showcase their pieces and, food trucks will offer tasty delights. A kids zone will keep the family busy while beer will be in abundance for adults.

Information and Tickets: www.arlingtonvalleyfest.com

Map via Valley Fest.

by Chris Teale September 21, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Capitol City Brewing Company in Shirlington is preparing to host its 18th annual Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest on Saturday, September 30.

The Teutonic, beer-filled festivities last from noon to 7 p.m. at The Village at Shirlington and close Campbell Avenue to traffic for most of the day.

For those imbibing, the cost of admission is $30, which includes a wristband, tasting glass and 10 drink tickets. Additional drink tickets are available for $2 each, with a five-ticket minimum. Admission is free for children and non-drinkers.

More than 65 breweries from around the region and 30 local restaurants will offer German food, more than 100 beers on tap, traditional music and Alpine dancing, according to organizers. And Capitol City will host its “Best Fest” competition, where a panel of judges will crown the best Oktoberfest-style beer.

More from a press release:

Willkommen! Capitol City Brewing Company is gearing up for its 18th annual Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest celebration. On Saturday, September 30, more than 65 regional breweries and 30 local restaurants will serve up their best fares at this year’s Oktobefest celebration. The eighteenth annual event runs from noon to 7 p.m. at The Village at Shirlington. Ticket sales begin at 11:30 a.m. and beer taps close at 6 p.m. Entrance is free for children and non-drinkers.

Enjoy a “familiennachmittag” or family afternoon like they do in Munich, Germany. Capitol City invites beer-drinkers and festivalgoers alike to dress in traditional German garb and enjoy the tastes of authentic Bavarian brews, bratwurst and brezlen – the German-style pretzel. More than 65 local breweries will set up over 100 taps and share ale and lager samples with the thousands of anticipated guests from the DMV region.  Notable breweries include Fairwinds, DC Brau, Hardywood, Heroic, Port City, 3 Notch’d, James River, Heritage, Atlas and Caboose.

Capitol City will offer samples of its featured fall beers, including the classic Oktoberfest Lager and a new signature brew, the Grumpkins & Snarks Pumpkin Ale. Festivalgoers can enjoy Alpine music while they taste authentic German cuisine and other American fare from various local eateries.

Capitol City Brewing Company will again hold a BEST FEST competition for Oktoberfest-style beers. A panel of judges, all certified by the Beer Judgment Certification Program, BJCP, will taste and vote on the top Oktoberfest brew at the festival. Best Fest awards will be announced at 2 p.m.

The $30 admission ticket for beer drinkers includes an official Oktoberfest wristband, a Capitol City branded tasting glass, and 10 drink tickets. Additional drink tickets are available for purchase for $2 each with a five-ticket minimum. Admission is free for non-drinkers. Beer-drinkers must be 21+ to purchase a ticket. DC 101 is sponsoring the eighteenth annual Capitol City Oktoberfest.

Capitol City’s Oktoberfest Beer Selections:

Grumpkins & Snarks Pumpkin Ale:  6.2% ABV 20 IBU  A malty amber colored ale with Red Crystal Rye and Golden Naked Oats, flavored with over 120 lbs of spiced pumpkin butter made in house from locally grown Jarrahdale Pumpkins from Brookefield Pumpkins.  Gently hopped with Saaz for a true fall treat.

Oktoberfest:  5.5% ABV  25 IBU  An easy drinking fall lager, brewed with Pilsner, Vienna, Munich, and CaraMunich malts then moderately hopped with German noble hops.  Full and rich malt profile, lovely copper hue; perfect for the fall season!

For more information on Capitol City Brewing Company, please visit: www.capcitybrew.com. Find Capitol City Brewing Company on Facebook: www.facebook.com/CapCityBrew and on Twitter: @CapCityBrewers.

Courtesy photos.

by ARLnow.com September 14, 2017 at 8:45 am 0

Arlington No. 6 on Highest-Income List — Arlington County is the No. 6 highest-income county in the country, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data. Three other local counties — Loudoun County, Howard County and Fairfax County — were Nos. 1, 2 and 3 respectively. D.C., meanwhile, was one of the only urban centers in the country to see a decline in its median household income. [Washington Post]

Local Oktoberfest List — A Reddit user has created a master list of local Oktoberfest celebrations and German restaurants. Among the events on the list is the annual Capitol City Brewing Oktoberfest in Shirlington, scheduled this year for Saturday, Sept. 30. [Google Docs, Reddit]

Arlington Ladies Auxiliary Van For Sale — For $3,500, you can be the proud owner of a 1967 Dodge van that once was used as the Arlington Professional Firefighters Association Ladies Auxiliary coffee wagon. [Craigslist]

Arlington Combating Opioid Epidemic —  Arlington County is reminding residents that opioid addiction remains a significant problem in the county and around the U.S. “Opioid use and cases of overdosing continue to rise,” the county said, on a webpage that lists resources for those trying to overcome addiction. [Arlington County]

Mobility Lab Director Touts Success — “We calculated that on a typical workday, our services in Arlington County helped shed about 40,000 trips from vehicles into biking, walking, et cetera,” says the Managing Director of Arlington County’s Mobility Lab, in an interview. “That’s equivalent to seven lanes of urban highway.” [Arlington Magazine]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by Chris Teale August 31, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

After months of delays and regulatory hurdles, new Columbia Pike beer garden BrickHaus is set to open on Labor Day.

The 2900 Columbia Pike restaurant will open its doors at 2 p.m. with full service inside and a range of freshly tapped beers and new food. Reservations are not available, and the patio will not be open until October, owner Tony Wagner said in a Facebook post.

It's time to celebrate! BrickHaus is at long last opening our doors on Columbia Pike on Monday, September 4th. Doors…

Posted by BrickHaus on Thursday, August 31, 2017

Most construction on the space has been finished since May.

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 have upstairs dining with a menu including steaks, German food and other entrees.

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.

“The oldest building on Columbia Pike will come to life once more, letting it all hang out!” Wagner wrote.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor August 25, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

Weekend Wine and Beer Guide logo

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.

Last summer, I wrote about Dogfish Head Brewing Company’s craft beer tourism efforts in Delaware while I was on vacation there. This year, we took a special trip to the island of Maui in Hawaii where I decided to pay a visit to the two commercial craft breweries there — Maui Brewing Company (MBC) and Koholā Brewery.

The former is a brewery that upgraded to a large, new facility in the South Maui town of Kihei and the latter is a brewery that took MBC’s place at their original Lahaina location.

According to the Brewers Association, there are 14 breweries in the state of Hawaii placing it 48th out of 50. But that stat doesn’t tell the whole story. When you’re in Hawaii, each island can feel like it’s own country.

Two craft breweries on Maui means that you have plenty of options as most popular restaurants and hotels offer either or both breweries as choices. Occasionally you’ll even find something from one of the other 12 Hawaiian breweries. Of course, Kona Brewing Company is always represented. But when you can have fresh beer from truly independent craft breweries that are just down the road, do it.

Maui Brewing Company

Maui Brewing Company, established by Garrett Marerro and Melanie Oxley in 2005, is like the older brother of craft brewing on Maui. You can find it in the South Maui town of Kihei, just up the hill from the highway that separates the foothills of Haleakalā and the ocean. The tap room at the brewery reminded me of Ocelot Brewing Co. with plenty of room for tables and even some indoor games. You’ll find a long bar with more than 20 taps featuring mostly Maui beers with several guest takeovers.

If you’re lucky you’ll even run into Garrett Marrero talking to beer lovers by the bar — you’ll see him in the lower right corner of the taproom photo. Sample some of their beers in flights, full pours, or to-go in crowlers, growlers or cans. Both craft breweries on the island have crowler machines to make it easier to enjoy their beers on the beaches where bottles are not allowed.

Specializing in whatever they happen to be brewing at the time, MBC takes inspiration from and regularly uses local ingredients and flavors. For instance, the Pineapple Mana Wheat Ale uses the extremely flavorful Maui Gold pineapple to create juicy, crushable Hawaiian-style hefeweizen. I sampled a few of their less common offerings to give you an idea of how rewarding a visit to their brewery can be.

Grand Wailea 25th Anniversary Gose (5.5% ABV)

It’s important to note that MBC occasionally brews exclusive beers for local businesses, this is one of those. It was only available at the South Maui resort, Grand Wailea. Brewed to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the resort, this gose was brewed with the popular salty and sour dried plum, li hing mui, and honey from the Big Island.

I enjoyed mine in a plastic cup by the Grand Wailea’s enormous pool, which was perfect. Definitely smelling of stone fruit, this beer is a mild gose — malty and salty with a light tartness. It turns out that in the tropical heat and humidity, such a beer just hits the spot.

Having this at the beginning of my trip, I had no idea what li hing mui was. I made it my mission to try li hing mui syrup, reduction, or powder on every shave ice that I had, what a treat.

Shave Weisse (3.5% ABV)

Speaking of shave ice — the popular Hawaiian frozen treat made by rotating blocks of ice across a blade to shave it and sweetened with syrups — MBC couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make this beer. Fruity and tongue-curdlingly sour, lemon, banana and unripened plum combine to make a liquid version of the popular treat. Though delicious and refreshing, I imagine this would be even better with a choice house-made syrup to take the edge off the sour. Either way, it’s a must-add to your flight.

Pineapple Mana Wheat (5.5% ABV)

The only MBC flagship beer that I included in my tasting flight — largely because I don’t gravitate toward this style — proved to be one of the most satisfying. As I mentioned above, MBC uses the sweet, aromatic native Maui Gold pineapple in this otherwise traditional wheat beer.

As you lift your glass toward your mouth, the expected banana and clove explode with fresh pineapple and a slight honey sweetness. This is a simple and refreshing beer — perfect at sunset as the temperature begins to drop.

The tourist luau these days is typically just a big dinner theater, often with an open bar and a traditional Hawaiian buffet. After the welcome Mai Tai, I ended up enjoying MBC’s Pineapple Mana Wheat for the whole evening at our luau — it was super tropical and sessionable.

Imperial Coconut Porter (9.4% ABV)

MBC first came to my attention in 2012 when the Coconut Porter won the Washington Post’s Beer Madness 2012. That was just the regular porter, now known as Hiwa Coconut Porter, the darkest MBC flagship beer. Since then, MBC has played with the winning combination of coconut and roasted malt making imperial versions that improve on the original.

One of the brewery’s offerings at this year’s SAVOR in Washington, D.C. was their rum barrel-aged imperial coconut porter called Black Pearl. That’s still my favorite version, but it’s very difficult to come by.

What’s easier to get and readily available at the Kihei brewery is the non-barrel aged imperial porter, winner of the gold medal in Field Beer at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival (GABF). It’s like drinking a coconut confection: toasted coconut, vanilla cake and a bit boozy. Being an imperial style, this was the strongest beer I had on the island. It’s a sipper unlike most of the beers that abound. Enjoy it in the light of the ubiquitous gas-fed tiki torches with the crashing of the waves always in the near distance.

Koholā Brewery

Koholā is the definitely the younger brother brewery — they even use sort of handed down equipment. Opened in 2015 by husband and wife, Christine and Ian Elumba in the original home of Maui Brewing Company, Koholā brews low alcohol beers to be enjoyed in the year-round sunshine on Maui.

Currently only available in kegs, Koholā’s various beers can be found around the island at hotels and restaurants and at the industrial-style tasting room inside the brewery in Lahaina. I was reminded of the intimate setting inside Aslin’s garage doors.

Named using the Hawaiian word for “whale” — a common sight off the coast during the winter months — these beers are far from the typical craft beer connotation of the word. Meant to be accessible and drinkable, Koholā’s beers are the opposite of the whales, hard-to-find beers, that cause lines to form and populate Instagram and Untappd.

The smallish 21 and over tasting room was hopping with a combination of locals and curious tourists. Patrons at the bar chimed in with the both Christine and Ian as we chatted about the beers on tap and favorite local businesses.

After consulting with both Ian and Christine, I chose three crowlers of their super fresh beers.

Lokahi Pilsner (5.5% ABV)

Invoking the Hawaiian word for harmony, Lokahi pilsner is truly a balanced and refreshing brew. Winner of the bronze medal in the German Pilsner Beer category at the 2016 GABF, this is a clean and simple lager. The aroma was jam packed with Italian bread, chamomile, green apple and white grape.

Sweet and smooth, Lokahi is a malt balanced lager with a slightly floral edge that cuts the grain. As we relaxed by the pool on our final day, I opted for this crushable pilsner over a tropical mixed drink and was not disappointed. It’s a great beer at cookouts, after yard work or with friends on the beach.

Shaka Island IPA (5.5% ABV)

A true session IPA, Shaka Island is meant to be enjoyed liberally in the very warm climate of Maui, particularly in Lahaina, which is Hawaiian for “cruel sun.” It’s a hop balanced IPA with a slight malt backbone.

I enjoyed the bright herbal flavor that was enhanced by a dry bitterness. This is not a sweet, cloying IPA, but rather it’s one that refreshes with a relatively brief burst of classic hop flavors. Made for day drinking, grab this IPA if you prefer more hops than a traditional pilsner provides. Grab a crowler and enjoy it al fresco.

Mean Bean Coffee Stout (6.4% ABV)

The impression that I got from my brief, but engaging conversation with Ian is that Koholā focuses on simple, approachable flavors in their beers. So, I was a bit surprised when he said I had to try their Mean Bean Coffee stout — coffee stouts are simple enough, but this is still more involved than their other offerings. He assured me that it had a good story to go along with it.

It turns out that there are coffee farms on Maui — you’ve heard of Kona coffee (that’s on the Big Island). The space next to Koholā is occupied by the Maui Grown Coffee Company roaster. Some of the Maui Grown Coffee employees are regular visitors to the brewery and suggested a collaboration.

They could bring the coffee and Koholā could bring the brewing equipment, you get the idea. They ended up using a variety of bean called the Red Catuai, a wine-like coffee bean that is grown up the highway on Maui Grown’s Ka’anapali farm.

The result was my favorite beer that they had to offer. The aroma is rich with espresso, vanilla, cereal and cocoa –pretty expected. What I was not expecting was the sip — a light mouthfeel with healthy amount of bitterness from the coffee and the roasted malts — which was almost reminiscent of a black IPA.

The use of bittering Magnum hops and flavorful classics, East Kent Goldings adds to the complexity of this stout and perhaps allows a drinker to blur the lines between styles. Though Mean Bean is not hop forward, there’s still a dance between all the flavors that makes this a beer for a variety of beer lovers. Incidentally, Ian recommended the coffee at Maui Grown, which was heartily seconded by a couple of the locals at the bar. It’s good stuff, I only wish I had known earlier in the trip!

Though you have to travel to Hawaii to find Koholā beer, you can find Maui Brewing Company’s flagship beers along with some seasonal offerings at Dominion Wine and Beer. Wherever you go, you’re bound to find great beer. Maui is a perfect example of this. As they say in the Aloha State: aloha and mahalo. Cheers!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor August 11, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

Weekend Wine and Beer Guide logo

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.

Two local stories are part of Dominion Wine & Beers expansion of non-beer or wine fermentables: Baltimore’s Charm City Mead Works and Upstate New York’s Graft Cider (more about their local bona fides later).

I thought I would take a break from writing about fermented water, grain and hops to shed some light on recently or soon-to-be available fermented water and honey and water and apple cider. The fact that neither of these companies makes their beverage in the way that I think is typical or expected makes them compelling.

Charm City Mead Works — Baltimore

Fellow mead lovers, James Boicourt and Andrew Geffken, founded Charm City Mead Works in 2014 after meeting at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum where they both worked. Very much like their brothers and sisters in beer, the pair parlayed home brewing enthusiasm and skill into a full-time business.

Mead has a rich history in nearly all ancient and many contemporary cultures. Found in Chinese vessels that date back as far as 7000 BCE, residue of honey and evidence of fermentation show that the fermentable sugar in honey has been known for a very long time.

More recently, sort of, the Norse — Vikings — wrote elaborate stories about the divine properties of mead. Notable is the story of how Odin stole the Mead of Poetry, a tale of murder and deception and a divinely sourced mead that gave the drinker great powers of poetry.

It has been an alternative to foul and filthy water, the drink of gods, the drink of Renaissance Fairs, but Charm City just wants you to enjoy the labor of their love. They offer 12 oz. cans of carbonated meads — albeit lightly carbonated — and larger bottles of still mead. They recommend either enjoying them on their own or as mixers in cocktails.

I tried a few of their offerings.

Wildflower Mead (6.9% ABV)

I’m going to be honest, my experience with mead prior to writing this article was with the treacly sort that purports to be the official drink of the Ren Fair. I was not prepared for the white wine-like experience that I had.

When Charm City claims that this is the Champagne of meads, they’re not far off. I almost couldn’t believe my nose at first, I tried to paint a picture that was not white wine until I had to admit that what I was experiencing was, in fact, very much like wine. It’s even fruity and lightly sweet, but you won’t be disappointed as the finish leaves a distinct honey flavor lingering in your mouth.

At 6.9% ABV, this is certainly not wine and it went down very smoothly. I enjoyed mine chilled and maybe even a tad too quickly. It’s that drinkable.

Mango Comapeño Mead (6.9% ABV)

Billed as “Not too much heat, not too much sweet,” this mead is a limited Summer release that celebrates warm sunshine. Inhaling, I got more white grape mingled with clear mango and red pepper flakes — an intriguing mix to be sure.

I’ll admit that I didn’t know what the Comapeño pepper was — I still don’t know actually. Is it going to be unbearably hot like the habanero Sculpin? The reassuring answer is, no. I found just enough heat to get my attention that started mid sip and continued through the finish. This is a fruity mead that doesn’t necessarily convey the aroma of mango into the flavor, but still manages to create a summery experience in the glass.

Rosemary Mead (12% ABV)

Though Charm City makes a carbonated mead with hops, this still mead uses rosemary as a bittering flavor. They even claim that rosemary works better with mead than do hops. Since I was not able to try the carbonated hopped mead, I can only speak to the experience of drinking their rosemary mead.

White wine in the aroma shouldn’t surprise anyone by now, but I also got a distinctly sweet clove spiciness. In the mouth, the rosemary mead was lightly sweet — like a Riesling — and slightly tart, again avoiding the syrupy sweetness I kept expecting. What rosemary flavor I got came through as a clean, almost pine flavor that stayed in the background.

You’ll notice that this still mead is almost twice as strong as the canned meads above. I’ll confess that it did not seem so strong to me, it was so drinkable. As for how to drink it, I enjoyed mine on its own. But, Charm City reached out to me to recommend using this mead as mixer. I’ll definitely try that next time I get this.

(more…)

by Chris Teale August 1, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

A new wine store and gourmet shop is coming to Pentagon City, according to a Virginia ABC application.

The store, called Pentagon City Wine Merchant in the application, would be located at 1330 S. Fair Street, near The Millennium at Metropolitan Park apartment building and across from Costco.

It may replace the Tutti Frutti frozen yogurt store, which closed in 2015 and had gone unfilled until now. The new store will also be next door to the Epic Smokehouse, an upscale barbecue restaurant that opened in 2012.

As of Tuesday, August 1, no building permit applications had been filed with the county.

Calls to the phone number associated with the ABC application went unreturned.

In addition to facing competition from the Costco across the street, the store will also compete with the Whole Foods store a block away.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor July 14, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

Weekend Wine and Beer Guide logo

Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). It is written by Arash Takafor.

Thanks to Reverie Distribution out of Richmond, Prairie Artisan Ales are now available in Virginia. Reverie, a small boutique distributor that also distributes popular Virginia breweries such as Veil, Ocelot (RVA only), and The Answer specializes in distributing fresh beer to high quality establishments.

Since most of the breweries Reverie distributes release such a limited quantity outside of their taproom, getting these brews are a privilege. Even though Prairie is distributed throughout the U.S, getting their brews has proven difficult for most avid craft beer drinkers, especially in Virginia.

Founded by brothers Chase and Colin Healy in Tulsa, Okla., Prairie set out to brew complex farmhouse and barrel aged beers. Believing that the craft beer industry was getting crowded with common types of brews, Chase worked on brewing expressive beers such as inventive sours, wild ales, and other funky barrel – aged projects.  With his brother Colin in charge of label art and marketing, the Healy brothers have created a niche product for beer geeks.

Due to a large geographic footprint and a limited amount of barrels abled to be brewed, Prairie’s beers are in high demand and low supply. Being able to be one of the first in Virginia to be able to sell these brews to the public is extremely exciting. One of Prairie’s cult like following beers is called Bomb! A 14 percent stout aged with espresso beans, chocolate, vanilla beans and ancho chilies.  Drinkers go nuts for it’s harmonious flavor.

Right now at Dominion Wine and Beer we have stocked from Prairie:

  • BOMB! – Imperial Stout aged on espresso beans, chocolate, vanilla beans, and ancho chili peppers.
  • Birthday BOMB! – Stout with a complex mix of hops and malt with a healthy dose of the signature coffee and spices.
  • Paradise – Coconut vanilla stout
  • MERICA – Single malt, single hop farmhouse ale
  • Funky Gold Mosaic – Dry hopped sour ale with Mosaic hops.
  • Funky Gold Citra – Dry hopped sour ale with Citra hops
  • Prairie-Vous Francais – Refreshing Farmhouse ale with Brett. Slightly tart  and a touch hoppy.
  • 4th Anniversary – Sour beer aged on ginger.
  • Phantasmagoria – Prairie’s version of a West Coast Style Double IPA. Low in Malt, high in hops.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor June 30, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

Weekend Wine and Beer Guide logo

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.

Those three words were the catalyst for two-week old Solace Brewing Company’s name. Co-founder Jon Humerick woke up in the wee hours one night in the months leading up to the opening of his new brewery. Find. Your. Solace. He shared it with his partners immediately, and the rest is history.

Now the Dulles brewery that Jon, and partners Drew Wiles and Mike Arms brought to life is open and bearing the inspiring name. I had an opportunity to visit Solace a week after they opened and sit down with Jon Humerick to sample their brews and learn a bit about Loudoun County’s newest craft brewery.

Jon and Drew met at Beltway Brewing Company, the Sterling contract brewer where Jon was director of operations and Drew was production manager. After years of brewing beers for others, the idea of doing it themselves began to ferment. Then in December of 2016 they broke ground on their own brewery.

Capable of brewing 3,000-4,000 barrels annually, Solace is currently a draft-only brewery, with pours on premises and growler fills. They look forward to offering crowlers soon, as they have the machine, but are waiting for the cans. Even further into the near future, they will use a mobile canning system to can some of their beers.

Once Solace has established itself, it plans on being a force for good — partnering with local charities to brew collaborative beers and donate proceeds. For the time being, the crew at Solace are happy to entertain their neighbors. The space is enormous and designed similar to good friends Ocelot Brewing Company who are just down the road.

There’s a bar on one side and a large seating area that will comfortably accommodate large crowds of both beer geeks and families on the other. In fact, the seating area is separated by a low wall that makes for a nice corral for families with small children.

Speaking of beer geeks, I don’t get the sense that Solace is trying to be the next “line-around-the-corner” brewery. Their aim is to brew beers they like for others to enjoy.

Just look at their opening line up: an India Pale Lager brewed with Ocelot Brewing Company, a brown ale, a watermelon summer ale, a wheat beer, a session IPA, and an IPA. Approachable. Even better, they have, on limited offering, coffee on nitro from Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters for the designated driver. If they’ve run out of the coffee, you can always get a flavored seltzer water — a welcome change from the beer or canned soda choices of other local breweries.

I sampled all of their starting line up. What variety! While each of Solace’s first beers was interesting, three stood out to me as a great sign of where they might go.

(more…)

by Chris Teale June 29, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

A new beer garden in Rosslyn will open tomorrow afternoon, just in time for the Fourth of July holiday celebrations.

The Continental Beer Garden at 1901 N. Fort Myer Drive will open to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, June 30. Its regular hours will be 3:30-11 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. It will have space to seat 180 people: 150 outside and 30 inside.

Also outside are two full-sized bocce courts, with picnic tables and other seating dotted around the space. Work included a full renovation of the former service station located under the office building.

As of Thursday, workers were putting the finishing touches on the outdoor seating area and bringing in barrels of beer and other drinks.

Beers from Virginia and Germany will be served by the pint or pitcher, while wine can be ordered by glass or carafe from kegs. A slushy machine will also be among the drink offerings.

On the food menu is a selection of sausages including bratwurst with sauerkraut and a classic D.C. halfsmoke with grilled onions and cheese. There will also be other snacks, entree salads, a selection of skewers served over basil quinoa salad and hot sandwiches like grilled cheese and pulled pork.

The beer garden is owned by Curt Large, who also owns the nearby Continental Pool Lounge. The project received support from the Rosslyn Business Improvement District and landlord JBG.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor June 16, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

Weekend Wine and Beer Guide logo

Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). It is written by Arash Takafor.

When it comes to Rosé wine, vintage is more important than most people think. Rosé recently has become the cool thing to drink outside amongst friends. I mean, why not? It’s fresh, fruity and goes down extremely easily. Even men will slug a couple glasses of rose instead of their usual craft beer these days.

However, there is much more to Rosé wine than just a light refreshing summer drink. Simply put, producing a great bottle of Rosé takes skill by the wine maker to decide when the grapes are perfectly ripe to pick based on the weather the region had that year.

The amount of sun and rain and other important factors determine how good or bad the vintage will be. More sun and less rain equals more concentrated flavors, while less sun and more rain equals diluted flavors. Winemakers love a balance between the amount of sun and rain the grapes are exposed to, but timing of these events is important as well.

When it comes to Rosé, the grapes used are generally riper than others. The fruit flavors of the grapes show better, especially in Rosé, which is all about the juice since it’s made to drink fresh.

In Provence, France, the 2016 vintage was a dry vintage, which producers say turned out to be great for quality but bad for production. Given that 2016 was a dry year for Provence, the grapes were smaller and more concentrated but yielded 25 percent less juice than normal. Since almost every wine region produces Rosé wine now, picking the right Rosé can be difficult, but it all comes back to how good or bad the vintage of that particular region was.

Here are some of our 2016 Rosé recommendations at Dominion Wine and Beer.

2016 Commanderie de la Bargemone Coteaux d’Aix Rosé, Provence, France

One of the most old school, well known Rosé producers out of Provence, this estate was founded by the Knights Templar in the 13th century.  This delicious Rosé is full of ripe red fruits, is bone dry, crisp and ready to drink. It showcases the quality 2016 vintage of Provence.

2016 Wõlffer Estate “Summer in a Bottle” Rosé, Long Island, New York

Similar to Provence, Long Island had an abnormally dry vintage resulting in wonderful ripe, lush fruit full of aromas and ideal to make great Rosé. Hints of melon and lychee fill the glass; the mouth feel is lush and vibrant with bright fruit and lively acidity. Most importantly, the bottle is beautiful.

2016 Margerum Riviera Rosé, Santa Barbara County, California

A warm dry summer with a few heat spikes made these grapes ripen earlier than usual, which is great for grapes destined for Rosé. This popular Grenache-based Rosé is light and almost effervescent in the glass. Tastes of lime, watermelon and peach make this a delicious choice for your next Rosé.

by Chris Teale June 12, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

Despite delays, a new beer garden on Columbia Pike is still on track to open soon, its owner says.

BrickHaus at 2900 Columbia Pike had anticipated opening last month, having finished construction and put the final touches on the space once occupied by Blanca’s Restaurant.

But the restaurant remains unopened, at least for now. In an email, owner Tony Wagner – who also owns Twisted Vines across the street — said BrickHaus is “in the midst of inspections,” and that he could have a “good idea” of an opening date as early as this week.

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 have upstairs dining with a menu including steaks, German food and other entrees.

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.

by Chris Teale May 22, 2017 at 1:35 pm 0

Rosslyn’s new 180-seat indoor and outdoor beer garden is slated to open next month.

The Continental Beer Garden at 1901 N. Fort Myer Drive transforms what was once a service station under an office building.

Continental’s outdoor space is equipped with bocce courts, patio sofas and lounge chairs, picnic tables and a long communal high top table for 150 people. Workers also added lights, flower boxes, tree planters and a mural.

Inside, reconditioned garage doors open to an indoor bar and kitchen with seating for another 30 people. The beer garden is owned by Curt Large, who also owns the nearby Continental Pool Lounge. The project received support from the Rosslyn Business Improvement District and landlord JBG.

Beers from Virginia and Germany will be served by the pint or pitcher, while wine can be ordered by glass or carafe from kegs. A slushy machine will also be among the drink offerings.

On the food menu, chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley has introduced a selection of sausages including bratwurst with sauerkraut and a classic D.C. halfsmoke with grilled onions and cheese.

Meek-Bradley, who was a finalist on the 13th season of the Food Network’s “Top Chef,” has added other snacks, entree salads, a selection of skewers served over basil quinoa salad and hot sandwiches like grilled cheese and pulled pork.

Once open, Continental’s hours will be 3-11 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. A firm opening date has not been set yet.

Courtesy photo

by ARLnow.com Sponsor May 19, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

Weekend Wine and Beer Guide logo

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.

Just what is the difference between a craft brewery and “big beer”? The Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade association for American craft breweries, defines a craft brewery as a small brewery (6 million or fewer barrels brewed per year), an independent brewery (less than 25 percent can be owned or controlled by a non-craft company in the industry) and a traditional one (this one is more complicated these days).

The key factors that differentiate a craft brewery from a company like Anheuser-Busch InBev are the production limit and the ownership stake. If a craft brewery is assumed into a company as large as ABI, is it still craft to you?

In 2011, ABI bought a 58 percent stake in the Chicago brewery that makes Goose Island beers, including the coveted Bourbon County Barrel-Aged Stout. The division of ABI that absorbed Goose Island is know as The High End.

They also oversee their imports like Stella Artois, Becks and Bass; and their pseudo craft labels like Shock Top wheat ales and Landshark Lager. After spending a couple years increasing Goose Island’s production, maintaining a boutique stout brand that has people lining up for it, and blurring the lines of what craft beer is, they began a cross country shopping spree.

In February 2014, Long Island’s Blue Point Brewing Company was the next to join ABI. Later that year, in a purchase that I remember garnering negative attention on social media, ABI picked up Oregon’s 10 Barrel Brewing Co. 10 Barrel’s local presence with brew pubs in both Oregon and Idaho endeared them to craft beer lovers in the Pacific Northwest.

Going from the homegrown experience that had been 10 Barrel to the ABI-owned piece of the High End portfolio appears to have had little lasting negative effect on the brewery or its beers.

In 2015, ABI stepped up its acquisitions by taking control of Seattle’s Elysian Brewing Co., California’s Golden Road Brewing Company, Denver’s Breckenridge Brewing Co. and Arizona’s Four Peaks Brewing Co. It was a whirlwind year! If all that wasn’t enough to cause consternation, they actually started the year with a mocking commercial during the Super Bowl in which ABI (in the guise of Budweiser) pokes fun at beer geeks and the beers they drink (pumpkin peach ale!).

A bit of irony followed when Elysian — famous for partnering with Sub Pop records to make the independent-spirited Loser IPA and making the derided pumpkin peach ale — joined the High End division of ABI.

2016 saw only the acquisition of Virginia’s Devils Backbone Brewing Company. That felt like a surprise, but I was assured by a spokesperson at the time that the company would be no different under ABI. Indeed, their quality appears to have remained the same. In fact, their collaboration 12-pack proves to be one of their stronger offerings as they continue to work with nano and micro breweries in Virginia.

However, it was this move by ABI that gave me the clearest view of what their end game might be. Attending game one of the Stanley Cup quarterfinals at the Verizon Center, I went off in search of a craft beer. Between the vendors with buckets, the fancy carts and the built-in counters I saw only ABI brands — mostly Bud and Shock Top.

Eventually, I stumbled upon a cart that also had Devils Backbone. That was when the lightbulb went off. If you have precious little shelf space or tap space, how much easier is it to deal with the company you’re already working with for your biggest beer sales? If ABI has a craft brewery in a major market — look at a map and the companies above — they can get their “local” “craft” beer offering on the menu instead of an actually smaller brewery that could benefit from the exposure.

Now, ABI has bought Wicked Weed Brewing along with their sour beer meccas Funk Works and Funkatorium in Asheville, N.C. There has been a lot of pixels and ink spilled about this move. Wicked Weed’s annual Funky Beer Festival, a collaborative brewing event that benefits a charity, has been cancelled because of swift retaliation by still-craft breweries who are disgruntled.

The jury is out on whether Wicked Weed will continue to suffer for their decision to follow the money or whether their fan base will only grow with access to more distribution channels. I will be particularly interested to see if they can retain the creativity that they enjoyed when they were independent.

How do you feel about the breweries that have joined ABI’s High End brands? Have you noticed a change in quality for those breweries that were independent, but aren’t anymore?

×

Subscribe to our mailing list