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by ARLnow.com Sponsor June 15, 2018 at 11:45 am 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.

After a long, rainy Spring we seem to be crawling into Summer. We thought it would be a good time to look at some refreshing beers to enjoy as the weather turns warmer.

These three beers have one thing in common: they’re perfect for enjoying in the heat of the afternoon on your deck or patio. Ranging from sour to slightly sweet and malty, these three beers are perfect for days with more sunlight than moonlight. Though not necessarily seasonal beers — though one is — this time of year is ideal for all three.

I recently wrote about the first beer below, but, now that it’s actually warming up, it’s worth another look.

Raspberry Empress Kettle Sour IPA (6% ABV)

The first thing you have to do when drinking one of these is take in that guava pink color — made possible by the raspberries used in the brewing process. Then go ahead and inhale deeply — you’ll find an aroma of berries and Pinot Grigio with a distinct earthiness.

Sour IPAs can be exciting beers. For one thing, they tend to be slightly less tart than most sours. And, it’s interesting to taste how the hops interact with the sourness.

In this case, the beginning of the sip is distinctly fruity and tart. Midway, that fruit is offset by a bitter herbal flavor right before finishing with a biscuity malt. This is a tasty and flavorful sour that would be a welcomed beverage on a hot summer day.

Jackie O’s Scrip Grisette Style Ale Aged in Wine Barrels (4.5% ABV)

Apart from beer, the word “grisette” means “young working woman” and typically referred to women who worked in urban factories, as opposed to those who worked on farms. Think of a grisette beer as a counterpart to a saison or farmhouse beer.

These beers were brewed for industrial workers. In fact, Jackie O’s has named this beer after the factory town currency that was only good at the company store.

Scrip uses only saison and brettanomyces yeasts. It ferments for 2 months in stainless tanks and is then transferred to oak wine barrels for another 9 months.

Where the Raspberry Empress is kettle soured — made sour in the brewing process by the introduction of lactobacillus bacteria — a sour like Scrip is made using brettanomyces yeast and then aged to allow the “wild yeast” to change the beer.

This complex beer has an aroma of saltine crackers and lemon pulp with an astringent edge. The sip is light — both in mouthfeel and sourness — but flavorful.

Up front you get bitter orange and unripe pineapple with a healthy dose of earthiness, while saison yeast cuts the tartness. Enjoy this as the evening begins to cool slightly — this beer is both light and flavorful.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor June 1, 2018 at 11:45 am 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 Tafakor.

Rosé is huge in the states. I don’t need to tell readers that.

Most social gatherings, rosé is as common as a local craft beer. And why not? rosés are super drinkable, bone dry, with little to no sweetness, and can pair with any food you can imagine.

I literally had one with a PB&J sandwich the other day, and it was life changing.

The good news is rosé is here to stay and there’s a second wave of rosés coming into the market.

The past few years it feels like every winery in the world is now producing a rosé. Apothic, Kendall Jackson, rosé in boxes and even 40-ounce bottle rosés! You should find a bigger and better rosé section at any wine store.

With the flooding of rosés in the market, consumers have gotten more discerning when it comes to quality. Wineries have stepped up their rosé game and started producing enough to make them available year-round so they don’t get lost in the shuffle.

This is great news for wine drinkers, quality and quantity of producers.

Even though there’s been amazing rosés being produced for years, one trend that is starting to gain traction in the main stream is to sit on these delicious wines for a few years as opposed to just drinking the most current vintage.

A well-made rosé can last several years after it was bottled and will certainly get better with age.

An example of a winery producing a new rosé that is high in quality is the “The Palm” Rosé by Whispering Angel 2017 from Provence, France.

Whispering Angel, which is one of the best-selling rosés in the world, decided to make a second label. “The Palm” is actually cheaper and quite honestly just as good if not better than its more expensive counterpart.

Don’t take my word for it, my friend Hoppy buys a case of it every few weeks. I told her to sit on a case for the next year or two, but that seems impossible.

Another trend in wine that is gaining a lot of traction is wine in a can.

Like most consumers I was hesitant/skeptical about drinking wine from a can. This comes from a bias that wine out of a can is of low quality, and to be honest, when canned wines first came out a few years ago they tasted like crap. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor May 18, 2018 at 11:45 am 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.

New Brewery Profile: Rocket Frog Brewing Company

Location: 22560 Glenn Dr., Suite #103, Sterling, VA

Opened: May 5, 2018

Twin brothers David and Richard Hartogs partnered with David’s wife, Jennifer Showell-Hartogs to open the uniquely named Rocket Frog Brewing Company. They brought in their TV producer brother, Peter Hartogs, as an investor and Ph.D. in biochemistry, Russell Carpenter, as head brewer.

The Arlington-natives, David and Richard, have worked in and around beer for years between The Better Beer Authority beer review video series on YouTube and a craft beer meet up group called Beer Head on meetup.com. Now, they get to make the beers that they want to drink.

They’ve built a tap room for today’s beer drinkers with charging stations for phones and other devices, coat hooks galore and plenty of gathering space for hanging and trying their line up of beers. They’re hoping they can find their niche in the beer-rich LoCo.

I reached out to co-owner Richard Hartogs with some questions to figure out just what a “rocket frog” is and where they’re planning to go with the brewery.

What Is a “Rocket Frog”?

“September 6, 2013, a frog was propelled in the air by the Minotaur V rocket on Wallops Island, VA as the boosters blasted the rocket to space. The frog basically photo bombed a NASA photograph and it gained media attention. I thought Rocket Frog was a funny name and suggested it to David. He said yes.  It turns out the rocket was made by Orbital ATK, a mile from the brewery.” (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor May 4, 2018 at 11:55 am 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.

Lagers are truly the king of beers in the United States, if not around the world.

For years now, craft breweries have tapped into an already lager-hungry cross-over market offering traditional styles that contrast with hoppy or sour beers.

A well-made craft lager or even traditional import can be a refreshing alternative to the glut of ales on the market. Often low in ABV, though not always, and crisp and malty rather than heavy and fruity — they make the perfect addition to the Summer cooler.

At it’s root, the thing that sets a lager apart from an ale is the yeast. Ale yeast requires warmth in order to start the fermentation of sugar into alcohol, adding fruity flavors to the beer. Because ales are made at warm temperatures, the yeast remains near or at the top of the wort as it makes the beer — ales are also known as “top fermenting beers.”

Lager yeast actually begins fermentation at lower temperatures and is slower to complete it. That slower fermentation also happens at the bottom of the tank, giving lagers the designation of bottom fermenting beers. The result is a crisp, clean flavor that should be free of the fruitiness that ales display.

The word lager is derived from the German word “lagern,” which means “to store.” In fact, lagering is the process of storing the beer at temperatures around or below freezing for a period of time. Lagering allows the few flavor compounds created by the slow fermentation of the lager yeast to reabsorb and be processed out.

All the lagers that I’m exploring are relatively light in color, but they can also be brown or black as the yeast and the lagering is what makes a lager a lager and not the grain or the color.

Mano Del Puma Blonde Mexican Lager (4.8% ABV)

Mexican lagers are made by adding corn to the grain bill, which adds sweetness and contributes to the crispness that you get with beers 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. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor April 20, 2018 at 11:45 am 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.

Last Friday, Dominion Wine & Beer hosted Commonwealth Brewing Company for their weekly beer tasting. The Virginia Beach brewery was in the area to promote their upcoming beer festival and to share some recent, limited releases.

Lucky customers had a chance to win two tickets to Commonwealth Brewing Company’s 3rd Annual COMMON GROUNDS Collaborative Beer Fest & Camp Night on May 19 from 4-8 p.m.! This event will feature collaborations with some of the best breweries in the country, including Aslin Beer Company and Ocelot Brewing Company.

In addition to flagship favorites, Aureole Lager and Big Papi DIPA, Commonwealth shared limited releases Tinta Rosa Gose, Lethe Pale Ale and There Goes Gravity IPA.

Tinta Rosa Sangria Style Gose Ale (5.4% ABV)

The fourth entry in Commonwealth’s international street vendor drink series, Tinta Rosa is a gose in sangria’s clothing.

The purple coloration is the first clue that this beer might be just what they promise. While the aroma of lime and green plums doesn’t scream sangria, it does evoke a good gose.

They nailed the sangria flavor in the sip! Though it starts out extremely tart and sharply salty — as a good gose will — the orange and raspberry comes through evoking the fruited wine drink.

For fun, I’d pour several cans into a chilled pitcher with some fruit to complete the illusion. We may not be able to keep our warm days around, but Tinta Rosa was a welcomed beer on a recent warm day. Grab a four pack and hold on to it for when Spring finally returns. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor April 6, 2018 at 11:50 am 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.

On any trip to New York City, I try to get to my favorite watering holes and to find new ones.

Recently, I visited the Big Apple with my family. While there, I decided that I’d like to share my favorite restaurants and bottle shops for grabbing a beer.

Whether you’re waiting in long lines to get into the Supreme store in SoHo or in the long lines to get into the 9/11 Memorial & Museum or are waiting to get into the next showing of Hamilton — you’re probably going to want beer when you’re done.

Beer Table

(22 Grand Central Terminal, Across from Track 13 and WESTFIELD WORLD TRADE CENTER, 185 Greenwich Street)

My first stop was Beer Table in Westfield World Trade Center.

This small space had quite the singles selection with five beers on tap for filling in a variety of vessels that range from pint jars to mini kegs called “Gregs” — a contraction of growler and keg.

I couldn’t pass up a jar of Runcible, a Brett IPA from DC’s Right Proper Brewing Company. My literally pint-sized jar came cozily wrapped in a complimentary koozie and sealed well enough that the longish walk back to my hotel without immediate refrigeration did little to diminish the freshness.

As small as the Lower Manhattan location is, the one at Grand Central is even tinier. But show up on a Friday evening and you’ll find a line that stretches out their door and down the corridor. Thirsty commuters looking for some tasty beer for their train rides out of the city keep this location hopping!

They have big plans for the future, too. Their origins were in the restaurant business with a now-closed Beer Table restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Now, they’re returning to their roots with Beer Table Coffee Table on Third Avenue between 45th and 46th Streets.

While You’re In The Neighborhood…

When in the Financial District, be sure to grab a bite — and maybe some groceries — at Eataly.

Conveniently located upstairs from the Beer Table in Westfield World Trade Center, you’ll find a lot of Dogfish Head beers (they have collaborated on beers in recent years) and beer from an Italian craft brewery, Baladin. While I didn’t manage to try Baladin’s beer, they do make delicious sodas that we all fell for. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor March 23, 2018 at 11:45 am 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.

Opened in 2013, this Charlottesville, Virginia brewery drew upon the historic surroundings for their name and inspiration.

Their name — Three Notch’d — a peculiarly spelled moniker is derived from the old road that leads to Charlottesville. The road was made famous in 1781 by Jack Jouett, who rode it sounding the alarm that the British were advancing.

Three notches, like small slashes, mark the road. They used to also mark Three Notch’d Brewing Co., but recently they rolled out a complete rebrand. Three Notch’d ditched the slashes and historical looking fonts in favor of a clean, modern take on the historical references. They’ve also added bottles to their packaging options.

I reached out to Jack Murray, the Brand Manager at Three Notch’d to shed some light on the big changes we’re seeing. I wanted to find out more about this new design and whether they plan to phase out cans in favor of bottles. He started by explaining the new mark of three axes:

“The three crossed axes represent the tools used by Colonists to mark the original Three Notch’d Trail in Virginia.  Symbolically the tools represent three values our business strives for everyday — Radical Independence, Freedom of Expression and Civic Responsibility.  We hope our new mark grows our community and inspires them to live everyday to the fullest.”

Why redesign now?

“Three Notch’d has been continually and rapidly expanding both our product line and our distribution/locations since our launch in 2013. As is the case with many brands, as we’ve grown, our brand has evolved and over the course of the past year or so, we discussed the idea of refreshing our design elements to reflect this evolution.

“Most importantly, we wanted to tie the ‘red thread’ throughout our products and locations to create consistency for our customers, so that whether they are drinking a Minute Man, 40 Mile or new Blackberry Gose at a bar in Northern Virginia or visiting one of our locations in Richmond, C’ville, or Harrisonburg — or soon to be opened (in) Roanoke — they identify their experience as something unique to Three Notch’d. And, the timing of our rebrand nicely coincided with the opening of our new production facility and craft kitchen at IX Art Park in the heart of Charlottesville.”

Who did you work with on the redesign?

“We worked with local artists and designers on the redesign. We enlisted the original artists to re-create the illustrations on our Flagship cans to better suit the new look, and had a local designer create the system template from which to work with. Each new packaged beer is then designed to suit the product by an in-house team.”  (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor March 9, 2018 at 11:45 am 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.

New Brewery Profile
Name: Precarious Beer Project
Location: 521 Prince George St, Williamsburg, VA
Opened: December 2017

Opened in December 2017, Precarious Beer Project is the brewery attached to the Amber Ox Public House on Prince George Street in Williamsburg, VA.

Far from tapping into the colonial history of Williamsburg and nearby Yorktown, Amber Ox and Precarious Beer Project look to today and tomorrow for inspiration. From a modern pub that serves up gastropub fare to a brewery that seems to be uninterested in doing anything too boring or expected.

When Williamsburg’s 24 year old tradition of having a First Night celebration came to an end with the disbanding of the planning committee, Amber Ox and The Hound’s Tale spearheaded a new public event. Despite being only a month old, Amber Ox Public House and Precarious Beer Project sponsored a block party named PG-500 (the “500” refers to their block of Prince George Street).

Like First Night, their party would welcome everyone, but it was still a party. There was live music, barbecue and local beer — featuring recent releases from Precarious Beer Project.

Below are two Precarious beers. Dominion Wine & Beer is one of the few places outside Williamsburg to get limited kegs on tap from time to time.

Precarious Beer Project Cheapbeer (5.8%)

Even their plain old yellow beer has a fun name — CHEAPBEER.

They’re not yelling, they’re speaking in all caps. It may be a yellow cream ale, but it’s well made. There’s a clean white wine and cracker aroma.

The sip starts out with a crisp, winey white grape that finishes a bit sweet and malty. It goes down super smooth. This cream ale would be a great alternative to actually cheap American lagers on a hot summer day.

Precarious Beer Project Capoeira Capybara NEIPA (6.8% ABV)

Ooo. A New England IPA. This juicy IPA is a marriage of lower hemisphere ingredients: Patagonian malt and Australian hops. The result is a delicious and hazy beer with the expected smooth mouthfeel.

Just inhaling is part of the fun — melon rind, passion fruit, bubble gum and ruby red grapefruit.

The sip starts out a little sweet, like juicy fruit gum, then becomes grapefruit bitter. It does sweeten a bit more as it warms, but it never loses that tasty bitterness.

I’m not going to lie, I was disappointed when my crowler was empty.

Don’t miss the Friday tasting today, March 9 from 5-7 p.m. at Dominion Wine & Beer. They’ll be launching another new brewery to the area, Collective Arts Brewing from Canada.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor February 23, 2018 at 11:45 am 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.

In October 2014, Pleasure House Brewing opened its doors.

Led by owners Tim O’Brien and Kevin Loos — who you might meet in the taproom — head brewer Drew Stephenson and his wife Alex, Pleasure House is passionate about two things: making great beer and serving their community.

Each batch of beer is brewed on a seven barrel system, meaning that they are a Virginia brewery serving Virginia.

When it comes to the making-great-beer part, they’re not shying away from trying new things. They have brewed an estimated 175 different beers in the more than three years that they’ve been open.

Drew divides the styles by IPAs and European styles with a particular emphasis on British, Belgian and German beers. That leaves the door open to just about any style you can think of from lagers to sours.

As for serving their community, Pleasure House holds a potluck called Crock for a Cause every Sunday to raise money for local charities. Proceeds from their Rain Barrel Bohemian Pilsner — brewed with rain water collected at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation headquarters — goes support the Foundation.

In addition to it’s financial support of local groups, Pleasure House is the first Ocean-Friendly Restaurant for the Virginia Beach chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, and frequently help out with the Better Beach Project.

Pleasure House believes that the community that they are part of makes them a better brewery. Now they are excited to share their beer with their distant neighbors to the north. I got to try two of their most recent brews.

1608 Imperial Cream Ale with Rosemary (7.4% ABV)

The Brewers Association classifies cream ales as hybrid ales, meaning they’re brewed with either ale or lager yeast at the warmer temperatures of an ale then lagered or stored for a period of time.

They tend to be blond in color and relatively low alcohol. They also tend to be rather plain — making for a great pairing with stronger flavors like coffee. Well, consider Pleasure House’s Imperial Cream Ale an extreme hybrid beer.

Of course, the “Imperial” adds up to a higher-than-usual alcohol content — 7.4% as opposed to around 5%.

The rosemary first appears like a whisper in the aroma among wheat bread and wine. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor February 9, 2018 at 11:45 am 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.

In 2013, Jake Endres and Lee Rogan took to popular crowdfunding site Kickstarter to raise capital to start their brewery.

Both brewers had been home brewing for several years, and agreed that the time was right open their dream brewery. Starting as a “nanobrewery” — a brewery that only brewed in small batches — out of their downtown Leesburg location, Crooked Run first brewed a classic English pale ale and a Belgian ale. They even held the distinction of being the youngest brewery owners for a time.

In 2017, Crooked Run expanded to nearby Sterling, opening a 10 barrel brewhouse, a tap room and even a taqueria — a joint venture with Leesburg’s Señor Ramon’s Taqueria.

In addition to adding space and brewing capacity, they’ve added a coolship — a special vessel for fermenting beers that is open — for sours and spontaneously fermented beers. They have been producing beers using the coolship for nearly a year and are looking forward to releasing some mixed-fermentation sours this summer. Also coming soon are some strong, barrel-aged beers.

Crooked Run has also begun to rack up recognition, namely taking gold at the 2016 World Beer Cup for their Supernatural Saison and silver at the Virginia Craft Beer Cup for their Dulce De Leche Stout.

Whether through awards or by word of mouth, they are having success. With the opening of the Sterling brewery, Crooked Run began canning their most popular beers. Now available at local bottle shops, like Dominion Wine & Beer, the cans come in four packs. They aim to increase the production of their canned offerings based on the response.

I’m going to look at three of their cans.

Raspberry Empress Sour IPA (6% ABV)

The first thing you have to do when drinking one of these is take in that guava pink color. Then go ahead and inhale deeply — you’ll find an aroma of berries and pinot Grigio with a distinct earthiness.

Sour IPAs can be exciting beers. For one thing, they tend to be slightly less tart than most sours. And, it’s interesting to taste how the hops interact with the sourness.

In this case, the beginning of the sip is distinctly fruity and tart. Midway, that fruit is offset by a bitter herbal flavor right before finishing with a biscuity malt. This is a tasty and flavorful sour that would be a welcomed beverage on a hot summer day. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor January 26, 2018 at 11:45 am 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.

Last week was a fun one for Dominion Wine & Beer and their sister store, Downtown Crown Wine & Beer. First, Dominion collaborated with Herndon-based Aslin Beer Company to brew Haka, a double IPA (DIPA) using exclusively Nelson Sauvin hops that released on January 20. On Saturday, January 27, Dominion will tap their final two kegs of Haka starting at 10 am — Aslin has already sold out of their stock.

Also, on January 20, Cambridge, MD-based RAR Brewing sent out modified ice cream trucks to deliver three flavors of limited beers to Max’s Taphouse in Baltimore, Brookand Pint in the District and Downtown Crown Wine & Beer in Gaithersburg. The guys at Dominion and Downtown Crown captured the festivities on video. I’ve got some thoughts on the beers below.

RAR Pulpsicle American Pale Ale (6.0% ABV)

The first and lightest of the confectionary beers that RAR trucked to Downtown Crown happens to also be the one that I couldn’t get enough of. All the flavors were fun, no doubt, but this one tapped into nostalgia.

What’s funny is that I never even liked creamsicles with their sweet fake orange coating and blandly creamy “vanilla” centers. But RAR has put together a beer that both evokes the specific experience of eating a creamsicle and transcends it.

Promisingly, I found aromas of sweet cream, tangerine and a hint of lemon rind. The sip begins sweet — orange cream soda — only to have the sweet vanilla cream flavor intensify next. A light and welcomed bitterness settles in in the finish. That bitterness is exactly what sets this beer apart from the everyday creamsicle. What a way to make a Winter day feel like Summer!

RAR Neapolitan Complex American IPA (7.0% ABV)

Neapolitan Complex may not have been my favorite, but it did not disappoint — besides it has one of the best beer names I’ve heard in a while. It makes me smile every time I read it.

Really, though, this was a tasty and oddly accurate beer. Sweet and thick, Neapolitan — a name that immediately indicates the flavors you should expect — delivers with a combo that begins with a Yoohoo-like chocolate and finishes with a distinct strawberry tang. Where Pulpsicle was sweet, but still retained some bitterness, Neapolitan and Ice Cream Seas are completely dessert beers.

RAR Ice Cream Seas DIPA (8.0% ABV)

Ice Cream Seas gives away nothing by either its name or its artwork. What is an ice cream sea? It sounds awesome.

Is it salty? I hope not. Great news. It’s not salty and it tastes like you’d hope a sea of ice cream would taste. There’s a little citrus, a little herb and a sweet cream like homemade divinity swirling in every sip. Despite its 8% ABV, Ice Cream Seas remains smooth without any overt alcohol astringency or burn. This adult milkshake is on point.

Aslin Beer Company and Dominion Wine & Beer Haka Double Dry Hopped DIPA (8.5% ABV)

I had the pleasure of writing about Aslin Beer Company for Dominion back in 2016 when Aslin was only 8 months old and Dominion was about to begin serving their beer. By now, Aslin has grown beyond its original location, and Dominion has embarked on multiple collaboration brews with area breweries.

Dominion’s latest collaboration yielded a NEIPA that, true to Aslin’s reputation, is delicious and bold. Made with the popular exotic hop from New Zealand, Nelson Sauvin, Haka is a singular experience.

Aromas of musk melon, Valencia orange and grape skin precede the juicy sip that’s full of white grape and ruby red grapefruit. Thoroughly smooth on the tongue, Haka is fruity and light without much sweetness and a bitter finish. It’s a shame this isn’t a larger run beer, I’d stock my beer fridge with this one.

Don’t wait until Saturday to come down to Dominion Wine & Beer because on Friday, January 26 they’ll have their weekly beer tasting featuring beers from Ocelot Brewing Company, Omnipollo and Weihenstephan USA from 5-7 p.m. Cheers!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor January 12, 2018 at 11:45 am 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.

Billing itself as the first brewery in Utah since Prohibition to brew only high alcohol beer, Epic Brewing Company has carved out a niche for itself in both sours and stouts. Founded by David Cole and Peter Erickson, the Salt Lake City brewery began as a way to celebrate the big beers the two had been accustomed to drinking in California and the “epic” adventures that they enjoyed as partners in an aquaculture business. A law change in Utah in 2008 made their postponed dreams possible.

It didn’t take long for Epic to grow. In 2013, Epic opened a brewery and tap room in the River North district of Denver. There they were able to expand their barrel aging and open a proper tap room — Utah law requires that beer stronger that 4% ABV be sold in bottles.

In late 2017, Epic expanded west by striking an investment deal with Santa Barbara’s Telegraph Brewing Company. According to Epic’s press release, the plan is to offer new packaging and, by moving foeders (tanks used for aging sour beers) there, to expand both Epic’s and Telegraph’s sour beer program. Now they distribute to about half the 50 states and Washington, DC.

This week, a fresh shipment of beers from Epic dropped at Dominion Wine & Beer. Among the new arrivals was the juicy, Citralush New England-style IPA in cans, Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout and the souped up Triple Barrel Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout. I’ll share my thoughts on their already classic Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout. Be sure to get in to pick up these Epic beers.

Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout (11.7% ABV)

Big Bad Baptist — such a fun, irreverent name — is part of Epic’s Exponential Series, beers that they describe as being for the “accomplished consumer.” Whatever that means to them, what it means to us is that this is part of a series of big beers — really big ones. Big Bad Baptist weighs in at a hefty 11.7% ABV. Brewed with cocoa nibs and coffee and whiskey-barrel aged — a different coffee is used each time — Baptist is a flavored stout, but it’s no novelty.

You can look your bottle up on Epic’s web site to find out where the coffee in your stout came from — mine is a #93, which makes the coffee Blue Copper Coffee. Put your nose up to it and you’ll find some warming vanilla, sweet chocolate syrup, chicory and coffee beans. The sip takes you on a ride starting with dried plums and sharp alcohol up front, iced coffee in the middle and a smooth vanilla sweet finish. I know I refer to the “sip” all the time, but here it’s a must. This is a tricky and strong beer, which must be sipped. It’s a real treat!

Join Dominion Wine & Beer on Friday, January 12th from 5:00-7:00 PM for their weekly beer tasting featuring Prairie Artisan Ales, Brothers Craft Brewing, Vanish Farmwoods Brewery and Commonwealth Brewing Company!

Cheers!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor December 15, 2017 at 11:55 am 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.

Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery (LCCB) — “Virginia’s Farm Brewery” — opened its doors in September 2013 northwest of Richmond in Goochland, VA; and has continued growing its capabilities and offerings ever since. I first became aware of LCCB in 2013 when they grew a large Instagram following with nothing but photos of their first plantings and the construction of their brewery building. It was clear then that this was a unique brewery.

The brewery and its farm is “water-conscious and biologically friendly,” they use well water and they reintroduce purified waste water back into the Lickinghole Creek watershed. A main aspect of their mission is to begin with their farm for the ingredients they need, then outsource for those that they cannot get. In fact, its Estate Series was created to use as many LCCB-grown ingredients as possible. While their other beers may not be made from ingredients grown on their own farm, they are often sourced from local farms or providers.

Their conscience doesn’t stop at their borders either. In fact, philanthropy has its own page on LCCB’s website. According to the page, 2017 saw donations of $5,000 to benefit the Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services’ Domestic Violence Prevention and Housing Program. They go on to list the even longer list of beneficiaries from 2016 and 2015. It’s a core value for LCCB. Now, they are canning flagship beers that are each linked to a cause that is near and dear to LCCB’s heart. With these new year-round cans, craft beer drinkers can do good and drink good all year long.

Maidens Blonde Ale (4.5% ABV)

Named for the Maidens Landing James River watershed, the area that Lickinghole Creek feeds into. In fact, portions of the proceeds of this beer go to funding the clean up of the James River. Blonde ales always seem like the light lagers of the ale world. Do you know what I mean? They’re usually simple and malty. Refreshing, but never terribly exciting. LCCB’s new flagship blonde is like the style’s cooler cousin. Pear and green apple team up with frosted flakes in the aroma. This ale is clean and crisp — malt balanced by floral hops. Maidens is a pleasant beer fit for just about any beer drinker.

Scarlet Honey Hoppy Red Ale (4.9% ABV)

An ode to the main pollinator of our food crops, bees, Scarlet Honey uses honey from the Lickinghole Creek Estate. This beer is helping to protect Virginia’s bees. The key word here is “hoppy.” Very pleasantly, Scarlet Honey smells of Christmas trees and wheat bread. That doesn’t sound that great, but for a red ale — typically malty — this is tasty. The piney hops overpower the malt, resulting in an ale that’s essentially a red IPA. I could see stocking up on this sessionable ale throughout the Winter to off set the strong, seasonal beers. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor December 1, 2017 at 11:45 am 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.

The Oxford Companion to Beer defines Christmas ales as beers that are typically on the strong side and often contain dark malts, spice, herbs and fruits. Check. This week I have some holiday beers that go perfectly with dark evenings and chilly air.

American craft brewers may have resurrected the holiday ale by adding spices when Fritz Maytag’s Anchor Brewing Company made its Christmas Ale in 1975, but the earliest Western example is positively Medieval. One recipe that remains is for a brew called “lambswool.” According to The Oxford Companion to Beer, lambswool was made with roasted apples, nutmeg, ginger and honey.

Spicing beer continued on in England with the tradition of the “wassail,” a mulled wine, beer or cider. For the most part today’s holiday ales are relatively tame, but a welcome change from the squashy pumpkin ales and ubiquitous Oktoberfests.

Below are four holiday ales that will warm your belly. And for those who aren’t looking for spiced brown ales, I’ve got a tasty IPA here too.

Harpoon Brewery Winter Warmer Spiced Ale (5.9% ABV)

When I discovered this lightly spiced beer in 1995, Winter Warmer was already nearly 10 years old. Now approaching 30 years old, this brown ale made with cinnamon and nutmeg is a bit tamer than it seemed back then. There’s more competition and there are more extreme beers, but the consistency of this light holiday ale still pleases. What says the winter holidays better than aromas of cinnamon, raisins and graham crackers? And there’s the comforting malt forward flavor that finishes with a light but bright spice. This is the most sessionable of the beers covered here.

Great Lakes Brewing Company Christmas Ale (7.5% ABV)

Cleveland, Ohio’s Great Lakes Brewing Company first brewed their famous Christmas Ale in 1992. An early entrant in the spiced ale category, Christmas Ale has grown to be a 6-time medal winner at various world beer championships.

Brewed with honey from the region, cinnamon and ginger, this beer jollily evokes cinnamon graham crackers. But it’s flavor is so much more than a children’s snack — between the peppery ginger and the herbal hops, the sip is balanced between malt and slightly bittering ingredients. It’s good that Christmas Ale only comes once a year, because its delicious flavor and light body might make moderation difficult. Don’t wait until Christmas to open this tasty brew. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor November 17, 2017 at 11:45 am 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.

Inky black. Creamy head. Sweet and strong.

It’s the time of year for Imperial stouts to come out of hibernation. Cooler temps and falling leaves are signs that it’s time to set aside the lighter beers of Summer and Fall, and embrace the heavy and dark beers of Winter. Stouts are making a big showing — I’ve seen everything from oatmeal stouts to milkshake-style stouts this season. But the imperial stout stands apart from the rest thanks to its intoxicating blend of sweetness, roastiness and alcohol.

Brother to the porter, stouts started as stronger versions of regular porters — beers brewed with dark, roasted malt giving it a dark brown (almost black) color and mild bitterness. Eventually stouts became their own style altogether with subcategories like milk stouts, oatmeal stouts, flavored stouts and, of course, imperial stouts.

We actually have Russia to thank for our extra strong imperial stouts. In the 18th century, rich Russians loved imported English stouts. The long trip north and east was not ideal for the average stout. So, special stouts were developed for export using more hops and malt giving them a much higher alcohol content so they could stand up to the long journey. They were designated as “imperial” or “Russian imperial.” Today, we label nearly any beer that has a very high alcohol content “imperial.”

I have four classic American imperial stouts to share this week.

Founders Brewing Company, Breakfast Stout (8.3% ABV)

Subtitled “double chocolate coffee oatmeal stout,” Breakfast Stout has the potential to go wrong in a number of different ways. However, Founders delivers on its complicated promise with a beer that seems to contain all the flavors and textures listed. Distinct aromas of chocolate syrup, diner coffee and malted milk hint at the flavorful ale that is more dessert than breakfast.

The sip is smooth — thanks to the oatmeal — with a big coffee flavor up front, giving way to dark dried fruit on the way to a boozy finish. Before the alcohol bite overwhelms Breakfast Stout, the dark roasted malt kicks in with its subtle bitterness. It’s no wonder that this delicious beer has won awards — Silver at the 2014 Shanghai International Beer Festival and Bronze at the 2006 World Beer Cup — but what’s more surprising is that there aren’t more. Available each year from October to January, this is the time to stock up on this classic American imperial stout.

AleSmith Brewing Company, Speedway Stout (12% ABV)

This Great American Beer Festival (GABF) silver award-winning stout is formidable. It’s certainly the strongest of the imperial stouts that I sampled for this column. Speedway is brewed with coffee from San Diego’s Ryan Bros. Coffee, but I’ll be honest I didn’t get much coffee like the beer above. Instead, I found deeper and richer aromas and flavors. I smelled licorice, black strap molasses and alcohol. The sip was boozy and sweet with a strong showing from spicy sassafras and pitch black licorice candy. This sipper is great for dessert — a special modern classic imperial stout. (more…)

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