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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

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.

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?

by ARLnow.com Sponsor March 24, 2017 at 12:15 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.

Come celebrate the incredible Maryland beer scene! This Saturday, March 25, 2-5 p.m. Downtown Crown Wine and Beer is hosting its 2017 Maryland Day Beer Festival, inside the shop and outside under a tent. They will be serving a total of 44 Maryland beers — 22 on tap inside and 22 in the tent, and one special can release! Weather is forecast to be 73 degrees and sunny!

On tap inside:

  1. RAR Brewery Galaxy Hyde American IPA
  2. RAR Brewery Edward Hyde Double IPA
  3. RAR Brewery Pineapple Grenade American IPA
  4. Manor Hill Brewing Red Juice IPA
  5. Manor Hill Brewing Trinity IPA
  6. Manor Hill Brewing Hidden Hopyard 6 Double IPA (Reissue)
  7. Union Craft Brewing Older Pro Gose (Barrel Aged with Blueberries)
  8. Union Craft Brewing Wook IPA
  9. Union Craft Brewing Pajama Pants Coffee Oatmeal Stout
  10. Burley Oak Brewing Company Mango Blood Orange J.R.E.A.M.
  11. Burley Oak Brewing Company Fruit Of Our Labor: Boysenberry
  12. Oliver Brewing Co. Vae Victus Double IPA
  13. Waredaca Brewing Company Baymore NE Style Double IPA
  14. Flying Dog Brewery Barrel-Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter
  15. Jailbreak Brewing Company Czech The Technique Pilsner
  16. Red Shedman Farm Brewery Strawberry Rhubarb Blonde
  17. Diamondback Brewing Company Gone Till November Oat IPA
  18. Diamondback Brewing Company Jazz Cabbage Pale Wheat
  19. Steinhardt Brewing Framboise Flanders
  20. DuClaw Brewing Co. Sweet Baby Java
  21. Barley & Hops Grill and Microbrewery Working Girl Grisette
  22. Peabody Heights Brewery Acid Tripel

WWBG Maryland Day poster

There is no entrance fee inside Downtown Crown Wine and Beer. The tent will have a $20 entry fee for six tickets redeemable for beer pours from 11 Maryland breweries and/or food plates from participating Downtown Crown restaurants. Enjoy live music and a big screen showing March Madness games outside. Bring the entire family because, in addition to beer, there will be two special sodas from Manor Hill Head Brewer Ben Little: strawberry and blueberry lemonade sodas.

(more…)

by Chris Teale March 23, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

(Updated 8:50 p.m.) Columbia Pike’s first beer garden appears to be almost ready for its first customers.

Work has been underway at BrickHaus at 2900 Columbia Pike for almost a year, and now seems to be approaching the closing stages.

A Facebook post last month said construction is finishing soon and that the opening is “getting closer,” while another earlier this month said there are “only weeks to go until opening.”

In an email, owner Tony Wagner said the joint across the street from the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse should be open “by the end of April.”

The outdoor patio and fire pit facing the street now appear to be mostly complete, while photos posted on Facebook show the 24-tap draught beer tower has been delivered.

Construction crews found the original marble tile from the building’s former life as a bank earlier this year, and light fixtures are hanging from the original rafters.

BrickHaus will be a beer garden on the first floor, with some 20 beers on tap and an approximately 30-seat outdoor patio. The second floor mezzanine will be a sit-down steakhouse. Previous plans for rooftop seating fell through.

It will offer mostly regional brews from Virginia, D.C. and Maryland, in addition to perhaps a couple of German beers. Wagner said draft wine will also be available.

The aging building has received an extensive renovation after being vacant for years following the departure of Blanca’s Restaurant.

by ARLnow.com March 21, 2017 at 3:00 pm 0

Clarendon appears to be getting its first dedicated outdoor beer garden.

Alternately called “The Lot,” “The Beer Lot” or “Lot 10” in filings and online posts, the beer garden is coming to what’s currently a used car lot on the corner of Wilson Blvd and 10th Street N., at the western tip of Clarendon, according to sources and a Virginia ABC filing.

We’re told the beer garden will feature an expansive outdoor seating area, some indoor or tented space, food — perhaps provided by a rotating cohort of food trucks — and a focus on local beers. It’s expected to open by this summer.

Social Restaurant Group, which recently opened Pamplona and is opening Bar Bao, both in Clarendon, is the company behind The Lot. A company representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

Beer gardens, which have popped up all over the District in the past couple of years, are also coming soon to Rosslyn and Columbia Pike.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor March 10, 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.

Do you have a favorite style of beer? Are you ga ga for goses? Are you insane for India Pale Lagers? What would happen if they all just disappeared?

This is the bleak future that might be ahead for black IPAs if recent line up changes at some major craft breweries and the article in the March 2017 issue of All About Beer — “Are Dark Days Ahead for Black IPAs?” — are any indication. According to data cited in the article, from research firm IRI, black IPAs are the only sub-style of IPAs that managed to lose market share from 2014 to 2016.

Perhaps the first, and largest shot across the bow of the black IPA was in January of 2015 when Stone Brewing Company ceased production of its Sublimely Self Righteous black IPA because of flagging demand. Nearly a year later, Firestone Walker put its Wookey Jack black rye IPA in moth balls to make way for more innovative styles. Like canaries in the coal mine of craft beer, the demise of these beers just might signal to any of the other thousands of breweries across America that black IPAs are bad for business.

But… But, I love them. I thoroughly enjoy a black IPA’s beguiling blend of roasted malt and hops. Like a well roasted coffee, they have both the light and the dark in one glass. They’re not juice bombs or tropical fruit pale ales, but they’re not porters or stouts either. They’re wonderful enigmas.

That enigma is probably what’s sealed their fate. Brewers can’t even agree on what to call them — I think that makes a huge difference. Some breweries call them Cascadian Dark Ales and some just call them Black American Ales. David Birks, General Manager of Downtown Crown Wine & Beer, related an anecdote about a local brewer who actually said that he’d sooner brew a hoppy porter than a black IPA. Before anyone pulls out their BJCP Styles to correct me, I maintain that whatever nuances there are between all these styles — hops and black malt are going to make a black IPA. Let’s just call it what it is. If another label is more sellable, fine.

The point is, there was no unified front. Now there’s almost no front to speak of. When I went to pick up the beer for this article I could only find two still on the shelves. Neither was “fresh.” One of them, Uinta’s Dubhe was already featured in an article from last Fall. So I grabbed a sixer of the other: 21st Amendment’s Back in Black. Below I give my thoughts on one of the holdouts in this fading category and repost some past thoughts on other black IPAs, including the defunct Wookey Jack. Enjoy. And do give this style a try. Lack of interest made it fade away, but increased interest can bring it back.

WWBG Back in Black beer21st Amendment Back in Black black IPA (6.8% ABV) from this week
An American-style IPA — in the classic sense — with a diverse grain bill that includes black malt… duh. You know what, looking at my tasting notes they either look pretentious or unappealing. Maybe both. I love this beer — so take my comments with a dose of hops. I don’t talk enough about the appearance of beers, but it’s so important with this style. BiB pours clear and cola colored until the head begins to form and it’s suddenly black with a creamy, if thin head. Inhaling deep I get a complicated aroma that includes Dove soap, brown rice, herbs de Provence and charred wood. My sip was no less challenging, but fortunately that soapy smell resolves into a slightly spicy cardamom with cilantro and espresso. The finish is delightfully bitter and brought to mind hazelnut skin. Find some, it’s great for any occasion.

(more…)

by Tim Regan February 28, 2017 at 11:15 am 0

Rosslyn is slated to get a new 180-seat indoor and outdoor beer garden this April.

Or at least, that’s the plan, said owner Curt Large, who also owns nearby Continental Pool Lounge. Large is working to open a new hangout dubbed the Continental Beer Garden in a space currently used as a pop-up urban park with tables, chairs, potted plants and a mural at the corner of 19th Street and N. Moore Street.

“Everything still has to come together,” Large said. “We’ve made a lot of progress, but all the finishes need to occur.”

As ARLnow.com originally reported last August, the work includes a full renovation of the former service station located under the office building at 1901 N. Fort Myer Drive. That indoor area will be transformed into a bar and small seating area with a kitchen and bathrooms. But the real action happens outside, Large said. When it opens, the 4,000 square foot outdoor beer garden will have two bocce courts, picnic tables, outdoor sofas and comfy chairs.

“We hope that the seats fill up just because there’s demand for it,” he said. “As soon as the weather gets nice, people who are in offices all day will want to spend some time outside.”

At the bar, patrons can order beers from Virginia breweries such as Port City and Lost Rhino, Large said. The beer garden will also serve a couple German beers, a selection of wines on tap and happy hour mainstays such as sausage platters, meat skewers and pretzels with beer cheese.

Large started working on the former service station in 2013, when it was occupied by cars and two dumpsters.

“I walked past the space one day and had an epiphany,” he said. “This should be a beer garden.”

The space sat vacant for about two decades before being converted to an outdoor seating area by property owner JBG and the Rosslyn Business Improvement District in 2014. In the past, the lot has seen a number of events, including a pop-up beer garden organized by the Continental two years ago.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor February 24, 2017 at 12:20 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.

Today at 5:00 p.m., Dominion Wine & Beer will host Ocelot Brewing Company in a special tap takeover. Ocelot will feature five recent releases: Sunnyside Dweller pilsner, Acquiesce IPA, Mi Corazon IPA, Uber Home IPA and Talking Backwards triple IPA. I’ll tell you about four of these beers below.

I had the pleasure of visiting and writing about Ocelot when they were only five months old. While they are basically the same great brewery, avoiding core or flagship beers in favor of constant change, they have begun to recognize that some beers deserve to be made again. In fact, in the time since I sat down with them, The Washington Post has recognized them as the Best New Brewery in the DMV. And they have joined the local ranks of Herndon’s Aslin Brewing Company and Cambridge, Maryland’s RAR in brewing buzz worthy beers that make craft beer lovers wait in lines for.

WWBG Talking BackwardsTalking Backwards Triple IPA (11% ABV)
One such beer is Talking Backwards IPA, Ocelot’s collaboration with Meridian Pint that sits at #7 on the Beer Advocate “Top Rated Beers: Virginia”. Though many of Ocelot’s beers are one-hit wonders, this strong IPA played an encore in December. The occasion of its brewing was momentous enough to be the subject of an article in the Washington, D.C. edition of the news site, Brightest Young Things, and was attended by Dominion’s own Arash Tafakor.

As Ocelot founder Adrien Widman puts it Talking Backwards is his tribute to Russian River’s Pliny the Younger. Not a clone mind you, but a big IPA in the same tradition. This beer screams special. The aroma is bursting with pine sap, cotton candy and mandarin orange juice. The sip — and I do suggest sipping– is strong and sweet, dominated by tangerine/mandarin but tempered by an herbal bitterness. Talking Backwards wears its ABV well, but you still get an alcohol burn that tickles your tongue. Share this one, you’ll make a beer friend happy.

WWBG Talking BackwardsUber Home IPA (8.5% ABV)
Talking Backwards was totally billed as a dry IPA, but Uber Home nails dryness. A double IPA at 8.5%, Uber Home is fragrant with passion fruit, apricot and pine resin. Dry is the word when it comes to the flavor — the sip seems to come and go with little to linger on. Apricot and herbs combine with a light cracker maltiness finishing in a slight alcohol astringency. In the end, with a relatively high ABV and little sweetness, Uber Home is very drinkable. Be careful not to put it away too swiftly as the flavor belies the strong beer in your glass.

WWBG Mi CorazonMi Corazon IPA (6.2% ABV)
Though not an imperial IPA, Mi Corazon manages to combine both the full flavor and sweetness of a bigger beer. Reminiscent of juice bombs that I’ve enjoyed recently, the aroma is dominated by mango and tangerine. The sweetness hinted at in those fruits comes out immediately in the flavor, but fortunately it’s curbed by a slightly flowery bitterness. I felt that this beer could easily have been cloyingly sweet, but for the balance of bittering hops. This is both a simpler and more enjoyable beer than it’s fellow IPAs. These are all exciting beers, but Mi Corazon is especially fun to drink — it’s refreshing and tasty. At a more average ABV, it’s also easier to justify making the whole growler yours.

WWBG Sunnyside DwellerSunnyside Dweller Pilsner (5.5% ABV)
This Winter has been anything but wintry. That must explain why I didn’t feel out of time drinking this clean and crisp lager. Befitting a pilsner, the aroma is biscuit flour and a hint of grass. Curiously, honey dew melon appeared as my beer warmed slightly, but I enjoyed the suggestion of fruit. The flavor, however, walks the lager line with a clean white bread maltiness and a delightful herbal bitterness — making a formidable one-two taste punch. This beer is more than drinkable: it’s poundable. I know that Ocelot eschews the notion of core beers, but there is a great case to be made for offering beer drinkers a couple of go-to beers. I’d buy this beer more than once.

Get out to Dominion Wine & Beer at 5:00 p.m. to enjoy these beers. Be sure to get your growler before the kegs kick. You might not see these beers again!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor February 10, 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.

Let’s go on a field trip. Across the Wilson Bridge and up I-95 are some breweries that are making delicious beers. Some of them are beginning to distribute in Virginia, making it easier to experience their handiwork.

Oliver Brewing Co., Baltimore, MD

In 1993, some brewing equipment imported from England was set up in the basement of The Wharf Rat, later becoming the Pratt Street Ale House. What started out as a specialty craft brewery focused on making traditional English beers morphed into a brewery making well-crafted classic styles with an eye to the trendy. In 2015, they grew into their current 12,000 square foot brewery where they package beer in kegs and cans. It’s a minor wonder that after more than 20 years in business, they only just began canning last March.

WWBG Feb 10 2017 Crown of LiesCrown of Lies Double IPA (8.5% ABV)

Oliver is famous for the music that they play during brewing and packaging — from classic metal to contemporary indie metal. Music drives the brewing and infuses their line up whether it’s a core beer like Ironman or their special collaborative double IPA (DIPA) series with beers like Pagan Science or Crown of Lies. The latter two named after songs by the indie metal bands The Well and Mothership, respectively, who collaborated on the brews.

This is a big beer — both drinkable and strong. It feels special. Inhale and the dankness of pine resin fills your nose followed by a hint of caramel. Full of flavor, I got strong pine and black tea with a delightful sweetness. there might be a (an awesome) skeleton king with a bloody sword on the can, but this DIPA is smooth and refined.

Union Craft Brewing, Baltimore, MD

Union began operations in 2012 with the introduction of it’s flagship beer, Duckpin Pale Ale. They may have started with a straight pale ale and not a trendy style, but their beers are constantly garnering accolades. From their Old Pro gose, which I’ve covered here, to Balt, their German Alt bier throwback, they’ve won national awards.

WWBG Feb 10 2017 Rye-BabyRye Baby Rye IPA (6.5% ABV)

Named for the Baltimore native, John Waters’ film Cry-Baby, this rye IPA hits all the right notes for a delicious beer. Rye IPAs are among my favorite takes on the style — rye, long thought to only add to the pour of a beer (it can improve the density of a head), brings a peppery spice to the party that cannot be easily replicated. Here the aroma is a blend of pine, soda cracker and black pepper. That segues nicely into the sip, which is clean with a more floral hop profile and a light bitterness. The rye’s signature pepper shows up in the finish.

I’ve heard from more than one beer lover that they make sure to have some of this on stock while it’s in season. Rye Baby is a solid go-to beer that delivers on the promise of a rye beer. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Union decides to make this a year-round beer.

Denizens Brewing Co., Silver Spring, MD

Located just north of the District, is the two-year old Denizens Brewing Co. Started by Emily Bruno, Julie Verratti and Jeff Ramirez, Denizens was meant to have a neighborhood vibe that welcomed all beer lovers. Denizens began to package their beer within a year of opening. Sold in tall boy, pint sized cans, Denizens’ offerings range from a their staple rye IPA, Southside Rye, to their Belgian-style tripel, Third Party.

WWBG Feb 10 2017, Big Red NormBig Red Norm American Red Ale (6.8% ABV)

Named after Norman Lane, who is considered the unofficial mayor of Silver Spring, Big Red Norm is a perfect example of Denizen’s attention to its home. A homeless man who became a beloved fixture of downtown Silver Spring for nearly 25 years, Norman Lane has been immortalized in public art and in this tasty beer.

This red ale has more to offer than your average red. Bursting with black currant, wheat bread and caramel, the aroma is nearly reminiscent of an Oktoberfest. The dark berry explodes in the flavor, challenging my expectations of a red ale. More fruity than malty, this beer flips the script on red ales. I’ve been a fan of their rye IPA since I first had it when it was only on draft — Big Red Norm is now on my list of favorites from Denizens.

Manor Hill Brewing, Ellicott City, MD

Operating as a “farm brewery,” Manor Hill began production in 2014 after more than a year of political maneuvering. Being a farm brewery means that they have to use at least one ingredient from their own farm, whether it’s the hops or the grain. And they can produce no more than 15,000 barrels of beer a year. Manor HilI grows cascade, nugget, chinook and centennial hops on two acres of their farm, which already supported beef cattle and corn for feed. Though their beers are available in limited quantities in Maryland, they’re worth the short drive across the river.

WWBG Feb 10 2017 Passion Fruit IPAPassion Fruit IPA (6.8% ABV)

This fruity IPA enters a market full of both fruit-infused and hop-derived fruity IPAs. Manor Hill started with their flagship IPA, a beer flavored predominantly with Mosaic hops, and added passion fruit purée. The result is a tropical smelling beer with clear passion fruit aroma mixed with honey and herbs. The flavor ends up being more generally fruity than specifically tropical,  but is a pleasure nonetheless. This beer is a refined entry into the fruit IPA category with its fruity start and light, herbal finish. Though this beer isn’t yet available in Virginia, it’s worth a short drive to find it in Maryland.

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