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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

by ARLnow.com May 15, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

World of Beer Gets Rebranded — The Ballston location of World of Beer is no longer part of the chain and has instead been rebranded as “Crafthouse.” The restaurant — along with former WoB locations in Fairfax and Reston — is now offering a full menu of American craft fare and a drink menu that includes local beers, bourbons, whiskey, wine and other spirits. [Reston Now]

County’s Stance on Rising Homeless Population — Via an Arlington County press release: “We believe that the increase in Arlington’s numbers this year do not reflect the long-term trend in our County,” said Arlington County Board Vice Chair Katie Cristol. “Since 2008, when we launched the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, Arlington has cut its number of homeless persons by more than half. We’ve made great strides in housing veterans and chronically homeless individuals and families.” [Arlington County]

Metro Changes Next Month — Starting June 25, Metrorail’s operating hours are being shortened while rail and bus fares are increasing, rush hour rail frequency is decreasing and some bus routes are being discontinued. [WMATA]

Freddie’s Named Top Brunch Spot — Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant, a gay bar in Crystal City that hosts a Broadway brunch on Saturdays and a Champagne brunch on Sundays, has been named one of the 100 best brunch spots in America by OpenTable. [OpenTable]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by ARLnow.com Sponsor May 5, 2017 at 12:45 pm 0

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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.

Hey, that’s today! From 5-8 p.m., join Virginia Beach’s Commonwealth Brewing Co. at Dominion Wine & Beer for a Cinco de Mayo party and beer tasting. Check out the beers that will be on tap tonight:

  • Mano Del Puma Blonde Mexican Lager
  • Wapatoolie Tropical IPA
  • Big Papi Double IPA

Those three beers, Papi Chulo IPA and Marvolo Imperial Chocolate Stout will be available in tall boy cans (see the photos below.) Stop by and taste all five beers and take some home.

Below are my thoughts on the five beers that Commonwealth has to offer tonight. Each beer is a fantastic example of its style — and they’re beautiful to look at. Check out my thoughts, then grab some cans or crowlers for yourself.

Mano Del Puma Blonde Mexican Lager (4.8% ABV)

It’s corn that makes a lager a Mexican one. Adding corn to the grain bill adds a sweetness and contributes to the crispness that you’d expect from a Mexican lager like Corona or Dos Equis. Mano Del Puma is a simple, but delicious brew. Inhaling, I get fresh herbs like parsley and cilantro bracketed by clean, white flour. The sip is crisp soda cracker with a subtle sweetness. It’s all on point. At only 4.8% ABV this is great for a hot summer day after mowing the lawn or grilling. This isn’t just crushable, it’s totally poundable.

Wapatoolie Tropical IPA (7.3% ABV)

Often I pour so-called tropical IPAs and I find only the typical aroma of passion fruit, while not entirely unwelcome, it’s kind of plain. Wapatoolie is anything but plain. This is the first time I’ve poured a tropical IPA and done a double take to make sure that I’m pouring a beer. Hazy and straw-colored, Wapatoolie smells like a piña colada — all pineapple and coconut. Lest you think that this is going to be a frou-frou cocktail of a beer, pineapple essence blends with creamy coconut milk, there is little sweetness. This is a serious beer that hits all the right “tropical” notes in a way that I was not expecting. It was delicious and made me smile the whole time I sipped it.

Papi Chulo IPA (6.5% ABV)

Do you remember the frozen concentrate juice blend, 5 Alive? It blended orange, lemon, grapefruit, tangerine and lime. Papi Chulo is a juice bomb that took me back to the days of standing on a stool with a big wooden spoon stirring a pitcher of 5 Alive. While the aroma suggests sweet mandarin orange and dank pine, the flavor is nearly as complex as the juice it reminds me of. Rather than just candied mandarin, Papi Chulo is a delightful blend of citrus flavors with just a hint of the dankness that I smelled. The result is a seriously fruity and crushable hazy IPA.

Big Papi Double IPA (8.0% ABV)

If Papi Chulo is like a glass of 5 Alive, it’s big brother, Big Papi is like the Hawaiian juice blend POG. Passion fruit, orange and guava are the juices in POG — get it? Just like the beers above, the very specific aromas — POG in this case — carry through amazingly into the flavor. At 8% ABV, this beer is slightly sweet with a bit of astringency, imagine if you spiked glass of the Hawaiian juice. Even hazier than its little brother, Big Papi has a velvety mouthfeel. This is a special beer — it’s big and delicious — that’s perfect for sipping and savoring.

Marvolo Imperial Chocolate Stout (8.7% ABV)

After all the bright and hazy lagers and IPAs from Commonwealth, this strong and sweet stout made a wonderful dessert. Pouring pitch black with a fine, tan head, Marvolo has a smooth body with fine carbonation. Flavors of sorghum molasses and cocoa combine to give this stout it’s namesake chocolatey-ness. There’s just enough bitterness from the black malt to keep this otherwise sweet beer from being cloying. Sip this at the very end of the day when the air begins to cool, but be careful — it’s so smooth that you might overdo it!

by Chris Teale May 2, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

More details are filtering out about Clarendon’s first dedicated outdoor beer garden, which hopes to open this summer.

“The Lot” beer garden, at 3217 10th Street N., will replace the used car lot once operated by the Prime Auto Group. Signs remain up for the car seller, but its telephone number and website have been deactivated.

Inside, work appears to be in the early stages on The Lot, which, according to a permit application filed with the county, intends to add a small kitchen and enclosed deck to an existing building, in addition to the outdoor seating. A license application filed with Virginia ABC indicates it wishes to have over 150 seats.

The site is currently zoned for a general commercial district and is close to other beverage-serving establishments like Northside Social and cold-pressed juice bar JRINK.

Owned by the Social Restaurant Group, The Lot is listed as one of six upcoming ventures for the group, alongside Bar Bao in the former Mad Rose Tavern space in Clarendon, which appears close to opening. SRG already operates Pamplona, also in Clarendon.

Staff with the Social Restaurant Group referred all requests for additional information to their media relations representatives. Those representatives did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

by Chris Teale April 28, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Columbia Pike’s first beer garden is preparing to its open doors next month as crews put the finishing touches on the building.

BrickHaus at 2900 Columbia Pike has been under construction for almost a year. It now has all of its outside signs up and furniture on its outdoor patio.

In an interview with the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, owner Tony Wagner — who also owns Twisted Vines across the street — said he expects BrickHaus to open in May. Wagner did not respond to requests for further comment.

The inside brick on the walls is nearly finished, while the outdoor fire pit has been successfully tested.

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 ARLnow.com April 27, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

McAuliffe Visits New District Brewing — Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.) made a “quick stop” at New District Brewing near Shirlington yesterday, touring the brewery and posing for photos. [Twitter, Twitter]

Caps Continue Playoff Fan Activities — For their Round 2 playoff matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Capitals are continuing a series of fan activities, including free yoga classes and viewings of team practices, at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. [Washington Capitals]

County Gets Planning Award — Arlington County is one of a dozen recipients of the American Planning Association’s Gold 2017 National Planning Achievement Award. “County government and the community have together built Arlington into one of the nation’s best places to live, work or play,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. [Arlington County]

APS Pushes Solar Power — “Clearing a legal hurdle that may affect other Virginia school systems, Arlington Public Schools has created a new type of purchasing authority so it may enter into power purchase agreements (PPAs) for solar power.” [Blue Virginia]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by ARLnow.com Sponsor April 21, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

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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.

Three notches, like small slashes, mark both an historic road running east/west through Central Virginia and an accomplished Charlottesville brewery. Three Notch’d Brewing Company takes its name and its trademark from the road of the same name. But it also takes its inspiration from it and its historical surroundings, naming most of its beers after places, events and artifacts of the local past.

Opened in 2013, this relatively young Virginia brewery has already managed to “make its mark.” With three locations from Charlottesville to Richmond and a national award — Hydraulion Red won the bronze in the Irish-Style Red Ale category at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival — Three Notch’d appears to be striking the balance between growth and relevance well.

RVA Collab House is their most recent location to open and is located in the historic district of Scott’s Addition in Richmond. In addition to a taproom, Three Notch’d installed a 3.5-barrel brew system that they use to collaborate with breweries, local businesses and other organizations.

Between their core beers, which are solid entries in their respective style; their seasonal releases that show up on Instagram and Untappd; and their small-batch collaborations Three Notch’d can appeal to both the casual beer drinker and the beer geek alike.

On Friday, April 28, Three Notch’d will be releasing some new beers and taking over the taps at Dominion Wine & Beer from 5-8 p.m. In addition to six-packs of Hydraulion Red Ale, 40 Mile IPA, The Ghost Pale Ale, G IV IPA and Minute Man IPA, the following beers will be on tap:

  • Hydraulion Red Ale
  • Brew Betties — a Maibock
  • Peach Ghost — Ghost Pale Ale brewed with peaches
  • Minute Man IPA
  • G IV IPA
  • Sticky Wicket Dank IPA

Below are my thoughts on three of the releases available from Three Notch’d.

Three Notch’d Brewing Company Declaration of Hops Series G IV IPA (7.5% ABV)

The historical reference here is one that strikes close to home for the brewery — it’s named after the founder’s father, George Henry Kastendike IV or Big G4. The brewers claim that this bold West Coast IPA is reminiscent of the way Big G4 lived. What a life!

Inhaling the aroma, I get peach nectar and citrus zest with just a hint of pine. The flavor is equally bold — bolder — with grapefruit tang and bitterness, a combination of the pith and flesh. It starts out sweet, but quickly turns bitter and dry. The slight dankness suggested by the hint of pine in the aroma peeks through mid-sip, but doesn’t linger or overpower. The current trend may be toward cloudy New England IPAs, but this fruit-forward beer stands along side the trendy ones in flavor.

Three Notch’d Brewing Company Minute Man IPA (7.0% ABV)

The can’s art evokes both Minute Maid orange juice and the historical volunteer-based militia Minutemen. Orange juice is the main thing here. I detected orange juice concentrate, Nilla wafer and pine resin in the aroma. Not bitter at all — the 20 IBUs tell you that — the sip is sweet and dank with a juicy finish.

I was surprised that the orange didn’t dominate the flavor in the same way that it did the aroma, but I think that’s for the better. So many fruit-forward IPAs focus solely on citrus flavors, but I appreciate how this one had the extra dimension of pine. The sweetness makes is tasty without becoming cloying.

Three Notch’d Brewing Company Hydraulion Red Ale (5.3% ABV) (originally posted 2/20/2015)

Named after the only fire engine that the University of Virginia’s first fire department owned, Hydraulion is a tribute to Three Notch’d Brewing’s hometown. It’s also like a bit of history itself. Eschewing the hoppy ambers and reds of today, Three Notch’d has made a malt-balanced red ale, truly in the Irish tradition.

The addition of the English Golding hops, rather than an American variety means that the hops will be more subtle. Though this beer does not lack hop bitterness altogether, it is definitely not pronounced. What you get, instead, is a tasty malty brew that is pleasantly offset by a slight hop bitterness around the edges. You can’t go wrong with this 2014 Great American Beer Festival Bronze medal winner for Irish-style ales.

Come down to Dominion Wine & Beer to check out Three Notch’d next Friday. Cheers!

by Chris Teale April 11, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

(Updated at 2:25) The finishing touches are being made to the Heritage Brewing Company’s new gastropub, set to open tonight at Market Common (2900 Wilson Blvd) in Clarendon.

General manager Kyle Kearns said the team anticipated being ready for customers the past few days, but tonight is actually the night and they’ll open for dinner at 5 p.m. with a limited peak menu, several mainstay draft beers as well as some limited edition and seasonal brews.

Heritage had originally intended to open in February. It began a Kickstarter campaign last November to help fund the restaurant’s launch.

Kearns said that with representatives of Manassas-based Heritage Brewing Company in D.C. for the Brewers’ Association Conference, it was perfect timing to open tonight.

“We were looking for the right opportunity in terms of everything lining up for when we could open, so today happens to be the day,” he said.

Booths handmade from barrel pieces have been added, and three sets of draft beer taps have been installed. The new gastropub touts 18 craft beers on tap, a contemporary food menu, cocktails, wine, Veritas Coffee and takeout options.

“Our small team is built around a culture of passion and pursuit,” a section on the website reads. “We are passionate about our work and fortunate to have the privilege of crafting and melding that which we love. Our pursuit of excellence extends beyond our craft and process, and into our lives as proud citizens, dedicated friends, and loving family members.”

by ARLnow.com Sponsor April 7, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

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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.

I’ve been listening to the soundtrack to the musical “Hamilton” on repeat for the last two weeks. In the third song, “My Shot,” Alexander Hamilton’s friend John Laurens boasts that he’s on his third Sam Adams. Then I listened to Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch tell his own story on NPR’s How I Built This podcast.

It made me start thinking that maybe I should take another look at this venerable craft brewery. Samuel Adams’ Boston Beer Company may not have existed before the mid-80s — that’s 1980s of course — but they were among the founding fathers of modern craft brewing.

I know what you’re thinking: Sam Adams feels ubiquitous — often they are the only craft beer option on tap at national chains. For the craft beer connoisseur, there’s little to be excited about in their unsurprising offerings. Despite their forays into West Coast IPAs (a bit behind the curve) with the Rebel series of IPAs, their beers are seen as also-ran.

And they don’t seem terribly small. At nearly 4.5 million barrels of production across seven brands, Boston Beer Company ranks second among the more than 5,200 craft breweries, behind Pennsylvania’s D.G. Yuengling & Son. The Brewers Association limits craft breweries to 6 million barrels annually.

Another key stipulation of being a craft brewery is that less than 25 percent of the craft brewery can be owned by a company that is not a craft brewery. Samuel Adams’ parent company, Boston Beer Company, meets all the basic criteria. To put this in perspective, Anheuser-Busch brews more than 100 brands in the U.S. alone.

Sam Adams may be the second largest craft brewery in America now, but they were one of the first craft breweries to capture the imagination of American beer drinkers. The origin story, which Jim Koch vividly recounts on the podcast, sounds like the story of American craft beer.

So, I started thinking: What if I’m wrong about Sam Adams? What if we all are? For instance, I’d recently written about their Oktoberfest and how it’s exemplary of the style. I decided I had to try again and see for myself. I selected three recent releases and gave them a fresh look. I wasn’t disappointed.

First up: Samuel Adams Boston Lager (5.0% ABV)

This is a classic, a relic of another time. Boston Lager won the Best Beer in America at the 1985 Great American Beer Festival. It’s easy to see how. Today, in a sea of local nano brews rather than macro brews, it might seem less adventurous.

Sometimes a beer is an experience, but sometimes it’s just a beer. That’s when a simple, tasty brew like this really hits the spot.

Amber in color — more like a Munich lager than the more common pilsner style — it smells like honey and Wheaties. Each sip is sweet and malt-balanced, definitely a beer from a time when hops were an accent and not main contenders. In fact, the use of old world noble hops from Germany suggests a nod to tradition rather than a reach into the future.

Even if this isn’t where the hottest beers are going, it’s refreshing to know that there’s still a solid and delicious lager just about anywhere you buy beer.

Next: Samuel Adams Fresh as Helles Lager (5.4% ABV)

This lager looks and tastes more like the beer that Americans have known as lager. Inhaling deep, I got soda crackers dipped in clover honey. In the mouth it’s crisp and honey flavored without being too sweet.

Typical of a light colored lager, the sip is brief but full flavored. I didn’t get much of anything from the orange blossom, but this beer was so enjoyable that I was fine with that. This a great one to have in your beer fridge when the days get warmer and you just want to chill.

Last, but not least: Samuel Adams Hopscape Wheat Ale (5.5% ABV)

I’ve had this twice now. Once on tap — I think that bar might want to clean their lines — and once from the bottle. The bottle wins, hands down.

Hopscape was the most complex beer I tasted from Samuel Adams and it’s very tasty. The aroma was an enticing blend of roses, honeydew melon and biscuits.

That melon carries through in the flavor — more musky cantaloupe than honeydew — along with a slight sweetness and a subtle malt backbone.

Though not a wheat beer in the style of a hefeweizen, Hopscape has a typically effervescent mouthfeel. Altogether, this fragrant, flavorful beer satisfies. It’s just subtle enough to feel like it belongs in the Samuel Adams lineup without being too old fashioned.

Do you have a secret (or not-so-secret) favorite from Sam Adams?

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