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.
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]
A Manassas-based brewery is hoping to open a location in Clarendon.
Heritage Brewing Co. has started a Kickstarter campaign with the hopes of raising $30,000 in startup costs to open a brewpub and coffee roastery on Fillmore Street, between Wilson and Clarendon Blvds.
So far, the company — which launched in 2013 with the help of another Kickstarter campaign — has raised just over $2,200.
Says the Kickstarter page:
We’ve found a vacant restaurant space in Clarendon, Arlington with the vision of making it into a fully functioning nano-brewery, coffee roastery, and small plate restaurant.
The Market Common location will be open 7 days a week with snacks in the morning and small plate meals throughout the afternoon and evening, paired with our barrel series and flagship craft beers.
In partnership with our sister company Veritas Coffee we will run a full fledged coffee bar every morning and afternoon featuring our patented cold press coffee as well as pour over and packaged varieties.
Our award-winning barrel series beers have long needed a space to call their own. In the new location, we envision giving them a chance to shine. We’ll offer barrel releases monthly, and limited edition beers aged on-site in both a variety of barrels and a seven bbl foder for unique flavor additions.
We imagine the space built out to fit our proud industrial American aesthetic. Plenty of wood barrels actively aging our beers for your enjoyment, and accents of their likeness spread throughout to adorn the space.
Your help and donations will go to outfitting the bar, purchasing glassware, barware, merchandise, fridges, menus, and paying for initial salaries of new hires. This is no small undertaking and the support we asked for during our initial start up was instrumental in the making of our success.
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 Notch’d Brewing Company and Oskar Blues Brewery Black & Goldings black ale (6.3% ABV)
Dave Warwick of Three Notch’d and Tim Matthews of Oskar Blues first met when they were starting their careers in Pittsburgh. Black & Goldings is their tribute to that time. This beer is pretty simple — the black malt adds a welcome bitterness that you don’t get with the refined Golding hops. Simple is not bad. This is classified as an American black ale, but it’s more porter (a black ale) than black IPA. Freshly poured, Black & Goldings smells enticingly of coffee and dark chocolate. The tangy bitterness imparted by the black malt borders on smoky giving this beer an unexpected flavor kick. This a limited offering, so I’d pick one up soon.
Old Ox Brewery Black Ox rye porter (6.0% ABV)
Back in August the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild held the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup — Black Ox won gold in the American Dark Ale category. It’s really no surprise why. Old Ox Brewery of Loudoun County brews this porter almost like a black IPA, with the rye really spicing things up — so to speak. The aroma blends the expected coffee with exotic licorice and a hint of floury biscuit. I’m no porter purist — I definitely love a hoppy black IPA — so this beer is pretty exciting. Despite the description on the web site, Black Ox in the can appeared to be hop-forward. It combined the bitter tang of the black malt, the peppery spice of the rye with a bit of the dankness that hops impart. This was the kind of beer that you finish and immediately think of pouring another. It’s frankly delicious.
AleSmith Brewing Company Anvil ESB (5.5% ABV)
San Diego’s AleSmith Brewing Company considers Anvil its flagship beer. This American take on the classic British pub ale, the Extra Special Bitter, is both classic and fresh seeming. Essentially, a bitter is a pale ale. When brewed with mild British hops, however, the malt tends to take over. Anvil, brewed with appropriate hops, nevertheless manages to balance the malty tendencies of the bitter. Before I even took a sip, I picked up the pumpernickel and brown sugar in the aroma. I was surprised, however, by the complexity of the flavor. I expected a malt bomb, but I got winey raisin with a malt backbone that is clipped by a slight bitterness in the finish. Overall, this was a super drinkable beer that wasn’t too much of any one thing. At 5.5% it’s even sessionable — share a 22 oz. bottle or enjoy it all to yourself.
Bell’s Brewery Roundhouse India Red Ale brewed with honey (7.5% ABV)
Ranked 7th among all craft breweries in America by the Brewer’s Association in 2015, Bell’s is large enough to offer great variety in its beers. Whether you’re looking for the reliably hoppy Two Hearted Ale or the hop bomb Hop Slam or one of their milder malt forward offerings, there’s plenty for you. Neither plain nor extra fancy, Roundhouse — with its playful boxing ring turnbuckle on the can — brings the hops and the malt to the party. Just smelling it gave me the impression that I was about to be assaulted by a malt-forward beer — bready malt mingled with earthy hops. Despite the aroma, Roundhouse starts out with a peach black tea bite that is softened by the malt in the finish. While I definitely don’t mind a good wallop from hops — and kind of expect it from a beer that puts “India” in it’s name — this beer pulls its punches. In the end though, it’s still a tasty brew that goes down much easier than its 7.5% ABV might suggest.
Though Halloween is over, there are plenty of treats to be had. These are just several of the delicious new offerings that this Fall is ushering in.
The following is the third in a weekly series of articles about a “day in the life” of companies at the MakeOffices coworking space in Clarendon. The mini-series, which will run this fall, is sponsored by MakeOffices.
Move over Willy Wonka, the employees at SharpSeat are now the ones offering golden tickets. Whether for concerts or sporting events or theater performances, SharpSeat hooks up secondary market buyers with their dream tickets. The service essentially “is like StubHub, but cheaper,” say co-founder Andrew McCulloch.
He and the other two co-founders, Mike Williams and Brad Kurtzman, met while attending James Madison University and moved to Northern Virginia to take jobs after graduating. They attended a lot of ticketed events upon moving to the area and found themselves giving advice to friends looking to buy good tickets, too. But there was one major problem.
“There’s a ton of fees that we got sick of paying when shopping around on other sites,” McCulloch says. “We saw an opening in the secondary ticket market.” That’s when they decided they could do it better.
The three did a lot of research on secondary market ticket sales and ended up using their industry knowledge to start SharpSeat as a side project. “We found the average person didn’t know to look any further than Stubhub for secondary [tickets]. We saw an opportunity there to give them a better alternative,” Williams says.
They all eventually left their jobs to work full-time on SharpSeat. “We basically wanted to find a way to make tickets cheaper for the end customer,” McCulloch says. “We knew if we could find a way to keep costs down and still get access to the same tickets the big guys were getting, we could pass the savings on to customers.”
Their average day is a lot different now. The employees live in Virginia Square — two live together and the other lives down the street — so the MakeOffices Clarendon location where they work makes for an easy commute.
“One of the best parts is not having the commute around D.C.,” McCulloch says. He also found it important to stop working from home every day. “Keeping work and life separate was big for me because working in my kitchen all the time I’m [distracted]… Plus, here we’re surrounded by a bunch of other entrepreneurs that are getting things done.”
Being among other entrepreneurs has helped the employees stay motivated when doing their daily tasks, which include maintaining the website, coordinating with site developers, researching what events are coming up and fielding calls from the customer service team. And according to Williams, one of the big challenges they constantly face is marketing.
“For every business, [marketing] is probably 90 percent of the battle,” he says. “Just getting the word out there and getting people to visit the site, more than just your family and friends.”
Thanks to the business’ growth since launching two years ago — there is currently about $2 billion worth of tickets listed on the site, although it fluctuates seasonally — the team recently has been able to hire out for help with that marketing burden.
“Now we’ve hired a marketing firm to help us and we’re really looking to expand,” Kurtzman says. “This is our first business so we kind of learn as we go. We had to teach ourselves everything.”
They also outsource much of the customer service to a team in Chicago, but not all of it. The co-founders all use their venue expertise to give advice to customers who contact them looking for tips on purchasing the best tickets.
“So often people ask what’s the best value and where’s the best place to sit,” says McCulloch. “We know where you’re going to get a better value… Just little intricacies like that help out when we’re talking to clients.” Williams agrees, adding, “We have good knowledge of all the D.C. venues so we help people out” with getting the best ticket for their money.
To remain experts in the industry, the three often do offsite work — attending different types of events locally as well as traveling to other cities to check out their venues. “Obviously, it’s really fun to do that, but it is a part of what we have to do [for research],” Williams says.
Kurtzman explains that traveling to sites is how they gain knowledge of the best seats so they can offer direct customer support. “StubHub doesn’t really do that kind of thing,” he says.
When the SharpSeat employees aren’t traveling, they take advantage of the amenities in the MakeOffices Clarendon coworking space.
“Getting dedicated office space around here… is pretty unrealistic, especially for a small company like us,” says Williams. “Even for something half as nice as this, if you want a dedicated space the rents around here are so much that it just never really made sense to us. When this space opened up we couldn’t believe how cheap it was for what you get.”
One of the perks included in that price is a set of rotating taps of regionally-brewed beers. The SharpSeat co-founders say they like to head to the kitchen to try out new brews, relax and meet employees from the other businesses in the coworking space.
“Plus, I love the massage chairs,” Brad says, as the others laugh. “I usually use them once a day.”
Between the MakeOffices benefits and the satisfaction of doing a job they love, the SharpSeat team experiences something many typical employees don’t: They actually enjoy going to work.
“At my old job, I hated going to work. Now I love coming to this office,” Kurtzman says. Williams agrees, saying with a smile, “It’s kind of crazy that we’re voluntarily coming into an office after we wanted so badly to get out of one.”
The Rosslyn BID is scheduled to transform the site of the forthcoming Continental Beer Garden at the corner of 19th Street and N. Moore Street into a pop-up Oktoberfest beer garden on Thursday, Oct. 27, from 4-8 p.m.
During the event, attendees can buy drinks such as Spaten Oktoberfest, Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse and glasses of wine from Continental Pool Lounge. Additionally, the Rocklands BBQ food truck will be on hand to serve barbecue.
The pop-up beer garden will also have live music from The Polka Brothers and “fun fall temporary tattoos done by a local artist,” according to the BID.
Though admission is free, all attendees must be 21 years of age or older.
Photo via Rosslyn BID
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.
In the mid-nineties two breweries opened across the United States from each other. One in a former mechanic shop in Utah and the other in a brew pub in Delaware. They each had a philosophy that drove them. They each developed an aesthetic that defined them. In 2016, they both underwent a facelift, a redesign of their core beer labels.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery started in 1995 as a brew pub in Rehoboth, Delaware. From the beginning, Sam Calagione saw his beers as intrinsically connected to food. Whether it was his use of the wine-bottle sized bottles to encourage sharing over a meal or the exploration of beers that used culinary ingredients, the brewery was establishing a consistent approach. In the 21 years since opening, Dogfish Head built a recognizable brand with the shark logo and Sam-inspired “Doggy” typeface.
The importance of the ingredients and the basic elements of Dogfish Head’s design have come together to create the new look of their core releases — their IPAs and other year-round releases. Prior to this year, Dogfish labeled its core beers with a plain label that used “Doggy” and the shark, while its ancient ales had unique labels that featured imagery that evoked the origin of the beer. Now all of the core releases, which includes some ancient ales, sport colorful labels that feature painterly illustrations of key ingredients along with brewery ID and beer name/description in playfully set “Doggy.” Off-centered, like it’s beers, is the shark logo as it breaks out of the label. Dogfish Head’s in-house department worked with Boulder, CO-based food and beverage packaging design studio, Interact, to develop the new look.
Uinta Brewing Company
Out west, in 1993 Uinta Brewing Company set up shop in the state with the fewest beer drinkers. Their first beers included three that remain in their core beers to this day: Cutthroat Pale Ale, King’s Peak Porter and Trader IPA. In 2005, Uinta created the specialty brewery called Four +, which was responsible for beers like Monkshine and Wyld. In 2011, they introduced the compass to their brand. This year, the compass at the center of their brand and their various 12 oz. releases finally came together to form a consistent Uinta-infused look.
Working with studios like Portland-based Sincerely, Truman and Nashville-based Anderson Design Group, Uinta introduced both a new logo and refined look that ties all their core releases together. Starting with a new logo that streamlines the well-known compass and mountain range mark to feature a simple east-west pointing diamond with a clean, bold typeface. The labels tie together beers like Punk’N and Monkshine — whose labels were simple and type only — with their illustration-based releases like Dubhe and Cutthroat. Prior to this redesign, the illustration-based labels used WPA-style images that evoked National Parks posters. Now all of their labels feature the colorful nature images, uniting all their beers and making them stand out on the shelf.
In this age of Instagram and Untappd, breweries’ core releases are increasingly considered passé by beer drinkers looking for the next big thing. A good redesign generates fresh buzz. A good redesign gets at the essence of a brand — the personality and the visual style. A good redesign re-introduces a brewery to beer drinkers. We all win with these two redesigns, since we get attractive packaging and delicious beer. Go ahead and judge these beers by their labels, you won’t be disappointed.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Midas Touch Ancient Ale (9% ABV)
Part of the Ancient Ales category, Midas Touch always had a unique label. An oversized golden fingerprint sat a top a solid purple label with the words “Midas Touch” in an evocative typeface that suggested Mesopotamia. Now, the purple carries forward with the gold transferring to the beer name. Rather than referring the golden touch that King Midas was said to have, Dogfish focuses on the ingredients. That, after all, is what makes this beer so unique. The illustration under the Dogfish shark logo depicts generous amounts of muscat grapes, barley and honey comb.
Midas Touch has been in the Dogfish Head line up since it first arrived in 1999. This early example of the wine hybrid beer adds mead to the mix — based on analysis of residue in vessels taken from the tomb of King Midas in Gordion, Turkey. Make no mistake about this beer — it’s not in the same vein as their much loved IPAs — this is a sweet, delicate brew with grapes, honey and malt at the fore. Let Midas Touch warm slightly out of the refrigerator and you’ll get a nose full of ice wine. If you have a taste for dessert wines, you’ll enjoy the sweet fruitiness up front. A malty finish keeps you from forgetting that this is still a beer. Despite its sweetness, I always feel that the honey takes a backseat to the grapes. Enjoy this winey beer with some cheese or a creamy alfredo.
Uinta Brewing Company Dubhe Imperial Black IPA (9.2% ABV)
Uinta’s year-round black IPA made a modest change from its previous look. Dubhe’s previous label featured a nighttime scene in a Monument Valley-like setting featuring the name swooping underneath the mountains. Now, the setting is the same, but at twilight as the smallest amount of orange light remains on the horizon. In the foreground is a red VW bus, which sits directly above the name, which is now set in a condensed sans serif typeface that appears hand drawn like the illustration above. Shining brightly in the dark sky is the official star of Utah, Dubhe, which makes up part of the big dipper.
Dubhe pours stout black with a rich, creamy head. Between the appearance and the aroma, which balances black coffee and cocoa with the cardamom sharpness of pine sap, you’d be excused for confusing it with a spiced Turkish coffee. This beer is appropriately sweet, thanks to the alcohol, but the dark roasted malt combines with the dank hops to create a richly flavored beer that evokes the spiced coffee that is hinted at in the aroma. Black IPAs are one of my favorite emerging categories and this beer is regularly a go-to for me.
Total Wine and More opened in Ballston this morning, a day later than first anticipated.
An “occupancy permit issue” prevented the store from opening on Thursday, as scheduled.
About 15-20 customers were already perusing the aisles of wine, beer, food and accessories shortly after Total Wine opened the doors Friday morning.
Located at 800 N. Glebe Road, the store includes special features like a cigar humidor, a growler fill station, a classroom and meeting space and free Wifi.
The store’s hours are 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m.-8 p.m. on Sunday.
The harvest period for hops in the Pacific Northwest happens to coincide with the end of Summer and beginning of Fall. As rows and rows of bines — that’s what hops grow on, though they resemble vines — fill out with bright green leaves and hop cones, farmers reap what they sowed. Most hops are processed in a kiln to dry them and keep their valuable oils stable. A certain portion of hops are shipped directly to breweries so they can use them to make “fresh hop,” “wet hop” or “harvest” (though there can be confusion between a fresh hop “harvest” beer and a brown ale called a “harvest” beer) beers.
Fresh hop beers can only be made during and immediately following the hop harvest as the wet hops (they are literally wet with moisture and fresh hop oils) have a short life span if they are not dried. The oils risk spoiling and worse, the moisture can lead to rot. Before long all those lovely, fresh hops are garbage. That’s why fresh hop beers are so special. That’s also why Fall is truly the one seasonal period for craft beer that cannot be superseded by seasonal creep. A fresh hop beer cannot be made before its time.
Thomas Cizauskas gave me the idea in a comment on my last column. He inquired about whether I had any favorite fresh hop beers that are limited to Fall. Since that article was about my faves up to that column’s release, I couldn’t say. There just weren’t any fresh hop beers available to me.
As it is, I had to cross the Potomac to Dominion Wine & Beer’s sister store, Downtown Crown Wine & Beer to find two locally brewed fresh hop beers. These beers represent another aspect of the fresh hop category: the appeal to locavores. Both are made using only locally harvested hops, while one even uses locally sourced grain and honey.
Waredaca Brewing Company, Whetstone Session Pale Ale (4.4% ABV)
Located in Laytonsville, MD, Waredaca is designated as a farm brewery, which means that they include at least one ingredient grown on the farm. Established on the Waredaca farm, the brewery brews small batches of draft-only beer. Their Whetstone is a fresh hop beer that is made with Cascade and Chinook hops from their farm and a Maryland hop farm, Pleasant Valley. The result is a beer that smells of biscuit with an earthy overtone and a hint of pear. The sip is light-bodied with a subtle hop fruitiness that gives way to hints of pine. While there’s a bitterness in the finish, it’s very light. As it warms, the green grass that can be a hallmark of fresh hop beers begins to come out in the flavor. Subtle is THE word with this style and certainly this beer, too.
Oliver Brewing Company Harvest Ale (5.6% ABV)
Oliver Brewing Company started in 1993 with a focus on traditional English style beers. Since then, they have expanded from the basement of a brew pub to their current location and began to can their flagship beers. They still brew smaller batches of special beers, like Harvest, that are only available on draft. I had actually just sampled this fresh hop beer at the Ale House of Columbia days before grabbing my Crowler from Downtown Crown. Oliver’s fresh hop ale is more of an amber ale that gives off a delightful scent blending honeycomb, Nilla wafer and dark berries. Similar to the Whetstone, Harvest is light on the tongue. The flavor is more malt than hop flavor, though a hint of smoke appeared as my glass warmed. Oliver sourced its fresh hops from Black Locust Farms in Maryland, its grain from Copper Fox Distillery in Virginia and honey from Miller Bee Yards in Maryland.
These two beers aren’t merely entries in a brief annual release schedule, they are celebrations of local farming and economies. I set out to learn more and to share with you about a style that I knew existed, but hadn’t given much attention. I ended up finding a style that can be used to epitomize the concepts of #drinklocal and #shoplocal.
Check out Dominion Wine & Beer to see what fresh hop beers they have. These subtle beers are worth exploring now since the season for them will be gone before you know it. Cheers!
ACPD Officer Played in NFL — Arlington County Police officer Dorian Brooks was formerly an offensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers. At 6’3″ and 280 lbs, Brooks has lost some weight from his playing days — which included a 2011 Super Bowl appearance — but remains an imposing figure on the beat. [WUSA]
Write-in Candidate: Congressman Stole My Porn — Write-in congressional candidate Mike Webb continued his press release barrage early this morning with a curious one: an evidence-free accusation that Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) broke into his home and stole cell phone chargers, digital cameras and an external hard drive containing his porn stash. The subject line of the email: “VIP Beyer Steals External ‘Sex Drive’ and Impotent Webb Wants Good Porn Bac [sic].” Webb inadvertently made headlines earlier this year by releasing an image showing tabs for porn websites on his computer, later claiming that he was just testing said sites for viruses. [PDF]
Flights Canceled Due to Matthew — Hurricane Matthew’s jaunt up the Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina coast is leading to numerous flight cancellations at Reagan National Airport. [WJLA]
New Bishop Is an Eagles Fan — The Diocese of Arlington’s incoming bishop, Michael Burbidge, is a big fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins’ NFC East foe. He received the call telling him the pope had appointed him to replace Bishop Paul Loverde in Arlington during the recent Eagles-Steelers game — though he unknowingly let the call go to voicemail. [News & Observer]
Columbia Pike Fall Wine and Craft Beer Fest — Sponsored — Sample Columbia Pike’s unique wines and rare craft beers at this family-friendly, ticketed event. It’s taking place Saturday, Oct. 8 from 3-8 p.m. on Adams Street at Columbia Pike. Food and beverages from Pike restaurants will be available for purchase, and a children’s area and musical performances will keep all visitors entertained. [CPRO]
Garvey to Hold Book Discussion — Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey is launching a series of community book discussions on various topics. Tonight Garvey and School Board Chair Nancy Van Doren will discuss the best-selling book “Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School.” The discussion will take place at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) from 7:30-9 p.m. [Facebook]
Beer Store, TechShop Collaborate for New Kegerator — Crystal City Wine Shop (220 20th Street S.) has teamed up with nearby TechShop to create a new kegerator. The custom-modified refrigerator allows the store to offer varieties of craft beer that aren’t available in bottles or cans. Customers can take the beer home in fillable cans known as crowlers. [Washington Business Journal]
Cosi Files for Bankruptcy — The Cosi chain of sandwich and salad restaurants has filed for bankruptcy and closed 40 percent of its locations. Among the closed stores: the Cosi in Courthouse. A rep for the company told us yesterday: “The decision to close this restaurant was based on its financial performance and market density. At this time, we do not have any plans to reopen this restaurant.” [Nation’s Restaurant News]
Flash Flood Watch Continues — Forecasters are expecting several more inches of rain to fall between now and Saturday. The potential for flash flooding along streams and low-lying areas remains and a Flash Flood Watch is still in effect. [Twitter, Twitter]
It’s wonderful to be able to drink and talk about pumpkin ales and Oktoberfest lagers in the actual season they are made for. With the first day of fall on Thursday, we are officially in the season of beers that began appearing on store shelves in August. Some of these and some recent releases have become my “faves” of the season. I’ve gone back to these beers, savoring them, and now I’d like to share them with you.
Ballast Point Brewing Pumpkin Down Scottish Ale with Pumpkin (5.8% ABV)
San Diego’s Ballast Point Brewing is known more for it’s West Coast IPAs and fruit infused beers than it is for earthy, spiced brews. But, every once in a while, they make an Indra Kunindra — a curried stout — or this pumpkin-loaded version of their potent Scottish ale, Piper Down. Once you pour this dark amber beer, the earthy aroma of squash mingles with cinnamon and nutmeg obscuring a malty honey wheat. Ballast Point avoids creating a pumpkin pie beer by rooting this in the malt forward style of the Scottish Ale. Slightly sweet and spiced at first, Pumpkin Down turns slightly bitter with the flavor of cooked pumpkin flesh. I’ve bought a couple sixers of this delicious Fall mashup. It’s tasty and versatile — enjoy it with a meal or on it’s own.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Punkin Ale (7.0% ABV)
Punkin Ale has been a staple of the Dogfish Head line up since their earliest days — 1995. It’s distributed in nearly every state and might be the entry point for many into their beers. Though they have controls and labs and all, they are still a craft brewery that relies on humans for analyzing the flavors of their beers. What this means is that some years their Punkin Ale is just alright and some years it’s fantastic. This year’s falls into the latter category — and it has awesome label art. Bursting with aromas of sweet potato pie, cinnamon, nutmeg and sweet biscuit, Punkin seems to be poised to be a Pumpking-like beer. But it isn’t. It’s a solid brown ale that warms the palate with pumpkin pie spices, more winter warmer than typical pumpkin ale. Only in the finish is there a pumpkin presence, and it tends to be more of an earthiness than straight up pumpkin. Whether you’re looking for another pumpkin beer to try or can’t stand the sight of another, this beer might just be right for you. Available in four-packs as a strongish seasonal, this beer is worth a visit or a revisit.
Sixpoint Brewery Tesla Hop-Charged Lager (7.1% ABV)
You can always rely on Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Brewery to have fun with it beer names. Tesla, named for the inventor and not the electric luxury car brand, refers to the story that Nikolai Tesla once electrified a neighborhoods water supply causing homeowners to get a shock. Joining the recent trend of hoppy lagers or so-called India Pale Lagers (IPLs), Sixpoint has “hop-charged” this lager with American hops for a big, juicy lager. As you’d expect, the aroma is packed with tropical fruit and pine sap from the hops with a hint of Nilla wafer from the underlying lager. This beer is crisp, which is to say that it’s a typical lager, but almost immediately the hop flavors explode your mouth. What I enjoy most about hoppy lagers is that the beer is a nearly neutral vehicle for the varied and robust flavors of hops. This strong lager comes in the signature Sixpoint can and it goes down smooth with very little bite.
Great Lakes Brewing Co. Oktoberfest (6.5% ABV)
I had to include at least one Oktoberfest beer in this article. Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing Company delivers one of my Fall Faves in their own Oktoberfest. Hewing close to tradition, they brew their Fall lager with the darker Munich malt, which lends this beer its brown bread and raisin aroma. Malt is the name of the game here, too. I confess to crave the sharper flavors of an IPA or a sour, but each Fall there is something comforting about a malt-bomb of an Oktoberfest beer. The flavors here round out with a nuttiness that is satisfying. Grab a couple bottles or a Crowler of this traditional style and enjoy the cooling days.
These favorites and more are available now at Dominion Wine and Beer. Cheers!
With high temps in the 80s and 90s, one does not exactly get the twigs and acorns crunching pleasurably beneath one’s boots feeling that traditionally prompts a craving for fall-related items — you know, the ever-popular pumpkin spice latte or a malty Oktoberfest beer.
Starbucks has been offering the “PSL” since the end of August (McDonald’s now has a version, too) and Oktoberfests and pumpkin beers started hitting local store shelves even earlier than that.
We know that such seasonal beverages are popular choices when the air gets crisp and the days shorter. But are they popular now before the official start of fall? (The autumnal equinox is Thursday.)
Given the proliferation of Starbucks and the crowds at our fall beer tasting event over the weekend, it seems like the answer might be yes. But let’s see whether actual consumption so far this season actually bears that out.