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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

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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.

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…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor November 3, 2017 at 1:00 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.

Halloween may have come and gone on Tuesday — a day dedicated to chasing away frightening and ominous spirits by disguising ourselves and giving out sweet treats — but you can now get a little voodoo anytime you want. Pennsylvania’s Voodoo Brewery is distributing down here and is now available at Dominion Wine & Beer.

On Arch Street in Meadville, PA, just across the street from the post office, you’ll find Voodoo Brewery, started by Matt Allyn in a former cabinetry store. In the ten or so years that Voodoo has been around they’ve grown from one brew pub to five locations in and around Eerie, which is just to the north. Each location features a generous tap room with extensive tap lists of both regular and rare Voodoo beers.

Voodoo brews 5 flagship beers, a bunch of seasonal beers and has made a name for itself with its barrel-aged program. Their maple syrup infused Big Black Voodoo Daddy called Grande Negro Voodoo Papi Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout ranks 62nd on Beer Advocate‘s list of Top Rated Beers.

I grabbed 3 flagship brews to share with you. Read my reviews then head over to Dominion Wine & Beer today, November 3, for the Friday tasting of Voodoo Brewery offerings between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m.

Hoodoo IPA (7.3% ABV)

An unfiltered IPA, Voodoo threw in 7 different hops, all of which start with the letter C. Seven different hops, there’s a lot going on here. This is an exciting beer! I got a complex aroma of peaches and candied mango with a malty white bread and herbal green grass undertone.

The sip revealed a dry, but fruity beer that finishes spicy and lightly bitter. Think melon and black pepper. Hoodoo is a unique IPA, it’s flavorful and light bodied while still packing a punch at 7.3% ABV. Grab a six-pack of this complex IPA if you need a diversion from tongue-coating, juicy IPAs.

Gran Met Belgian Style Ale (9.2% ABV)

Gran Met means Grand Master, which is an apt name for a tripel that hits all the right notes. Fruity and clean, this beer gives off the expected banana and clove aromas with sweetness of lightly caramelized sugar. In fact, Voodoo slowly feeds their fermenting Gran Met a mixture of cane and beet sugar, making for a stronger beer in the tradition of this style. I found this to be a solid American version of the classic Belgian tripel. Gran Met is hefty and smooth and drinkable — it’s everything that this style should be.

Voodoo Love Child Belgian Style Ale (9.2% ABV)

What if you took the delicious tripel, Gran Met and you aged it with some fruit — maybe some cherries, raspberries and passion fruit? What? Voodoo already did that? Oh, I get it — Voodoo Love Child. The cherries are really the star here, bringing a syrupy cherry compote flavor to this already tasty beer. I’d drink this beer with dessert any day.

Cheers!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor October 20, 2017 at 12:30 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.

Now that temperatures are finally dropping and we’ve left the pumpkin beers and Oktoberfests behind (almost) it’s time for Winter ales to begin appearing. Back on the shelves, we welcome the classic Winter ale from DC Brau: Stone of Arbroath. I snagged a can to review along with a couple of other perennial favorites from the local brewery.

If you want to fill up on some fresh On the Wings of Armageddon Imperial IPA, it will go on tap in the growler station at Dominion Wine & Beer for a special price ($19.99 down from $24.99) on 64 oz. growlers today, Friday, October 20th.

Founders Brandon Skall and Jeff Hancock, both DC residents, joined forces to bring the District its very own locally brewed craft beer. Bringing their years of experience in brewing — Jeff Hancock started with Franklin’s Restaurant and Brewery, moving to other breweries including Frederick, MD’s Flying Dog Brewery — they began to build a brewery that has become a household name and won awards, most recently The Washington Post‘s Best Brewery distinction on their “Best of DC” list.

Whether you’re looking at their flagship beers, their seasonals or their rarer fair– you’ll find a can of well crafted beer.

Brau Pils (4.5% ABV)

Brewed in honor of the District’s founding father of brewing, Christian Heurich, Brau Pils is a German-style lager. Simple and straightforward, this beer smells of water crackers with an earthy wild flower spiciness.

The clean lager yeast gets out of the way, leaving a sweet and malty brew that is just lightly bitter in the finish. This pilsner goes down super smoothly and is gone before you know it. It’s a good thing this is available year round.

On the Wings of Armageddon (OTWOA) Imperial IPA (9.2% ABV)

Clever. This beer was made in honor of the Mayan calendar’s apparent claim that the world would end on December 21, 2012. Fortunately, it didn’t and we can still enjoy this single-hop imperial IPA. Made with the proprietary, brand-name hop Falconer’s Flight, OTWOA is bursting with big citrus aromas that are deepened and complicated by hint of caramelized sugar from the malt — like a candied grapefruit peel.

Despite the inhaled suggestion of hop forwardness, this beer is actually quite malt balanced. It’s sweet, part citrus part honey. Having Armageddon in the name suggests a Palate Wrecker-type beer, but this is really very drinkable and smooth. Just don’t over do it!

Stone of Arbroath Scotch Ale (8.0% ABV)

DC Brau’s Winter beer, Arbroath is a Scotch Ale. Perfect for colder temperatures, the Scotch Ale (like the Old Ale, barleywine or even Belgian Quad) is a sweet, strong beer that tends to have little to no bitterness.

This beer gave off a delightful aroma of dried stone fruit, hazelnuts and yeast rolls. Light and smooth in mouthfeel, Stone of Arbroath blended the dried fruit zip with a brown sugar sweetness to form a malt forward taste that finishes just a tad bitter. That change at the end keeps this big beer from overstaying its welcome with each sip. Despite the sweetness, you want to keep sipping. Since this just released for the season, stock up. We just might have a doozy of a winter.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor October 6, 2017 at 12:30 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.

Two breweries are newly available, one at Dominion Wine & Beer and one at its sister store Downtown Crown Wine & Beer in Gaithersburg. The former is welcoming Athens, Ohio’s Jackie O’s Brewery, while the latter is offering several bombers from Brooklyn-based, Sterling-brewing Grimm Artisanal Ales.

Jackie O’s Brewery — Athens, Ohio

In the small college town that is best known as home to Ohio University sits a brewpub that began life in 1995 as O’Hooleys, but became the famed Jackie O’s in 2005. Art Oestrike bought the brewpub and began a new era of brewing in Athens, naming it after it his mother Jackie. The name was to be a sort of memorial as she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer around the same time.

In 2013, Jackie O’s purchased a former cheese factory building and opened their 8,000 barrel production brewery. They have already distinguished themselves from their peers as they have four beers currently on Beer Advocate’s Top Rated Beers list, all of them dark, rich beers.

While their stouts have made that list, they are also known for IPAs and sours. As Jackie O’s production capability expands, so does their distribution. The modest, but superlative Midwest brewery began distributing from coast to coast. Their beers, which are kegged, canned and bottled, are currently available at Dominion Wine & Beer.

Berliner Weisse (5.2% ABV)

“No kettles were soured in the making of this beer.” So goes the claim on the 16.9 oz bottle. Jackie O’s ages their cultured beers in the solera method, which usually involves moving beers from one vessel to another as the liquid ages.

The Berliner Weisse ages for three months before being packaged and distributed. Pouring a light amber, this sour wheat beer gave off aromas of bitter citrus — lemons and oranges — with a faint hint of acetone. Given the fact that Jackie O’s avoids the typical lemony tang of kettle-soured beers, this is a complex tasting beer. Sour plum and green apple combine to bring the tartness while the malt adds a slight sweetness, which lingers on the tongue. Refreshing and refined, this sour deserves a good look, especially in these summery Fall days that feel warmer than October should.

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by ARLnow.com Sponsor September 22, 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 was written by Arash Tafakor.

Simply put, Prosecco is an Italian White Sparkling wine. But many customers do not know exactly what Prosecco is other than it’s Italian, it has bubbles and they like it. 

Prosecco sales have soared in the United States the past 10 years, and in 2013 worldwide sales of Prosecco topped Champagne sales for the first time ever. Prosecco’s light body, citrus flavor profile, off-dry nature and affordable prices make it a much more approachable every day sparkler than Champagne.  

So what is Prosecco? 

Prosecco is made in the Northeastern regions of Italy with a grape named Glera. Dating back thousands of years to the Ancient Romans, the Glera grape was widely used to make still white wine until the 20th century when secondary fermentation was discovered. 

Unlike Champagne, Prosecco is made with a method of secondary fermentation (what creates the bubbles) called the Charmat method. Instead of the labor intensive and time consuming Champagne process of secondary fermentation occurring in the bottle, Prosecco undergoes secondary fermentation in large stainless steel tanks which greatly reduces costs. The end product is a vibrant, fruity, low in alcohol, affordable sparkling wine that is meant to be consumed young and fresh. 

For around 10-15 dollars you can get a Prosecco that offers delicate fruit and enticing aromas. On the palate you can expect Prosecco to deliver ripe assorted apple, pear, citrus and often some nutty flavors. Since most Prosecco is on the drier side and inexpensive they are also perfect for mixing with orange juice, grapefruit juice and especially peach puree to make a famous Italian Bellini. Next time you are hosting a brunch and need a mixing sparkling wine for Mimosas, the smart choice is Prosecco. 

You can also pair Prosecco with a variety of foods. Traditionally used as an aperitif or by itself, Prosecco pairs well with most cheeses and light charcuterie as well as seafood, Asian fare, Spicy food and creamy Italian sauces. Prosecco is a very forgiving food friendly sparkling wine option. 

by ARLnow.com Sponsor September 8, 2017 at 12:30 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.

In June, the Brewers Association announced a seal that craft breweries could use to identify themselves as “independent.” The seal is a way for craft breweries who do not have the distribution power of big beer to differentiate themselves.

In the wake of craft brewery purchases by international beer companies like Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) and Heineken, it is apparent that distributors and consumers might be a bit confused about who is being mass produced and who is still a local or regional — or even national — craft brewery.

An upside-down bottle with the words “Certified Independent Craft” comprises the seal, and is intended for use on everything from windows to packaging. Not restricted to members of the Brewers Association, they require only that you be a commercial brewery and that you meet their requirements for being a craft brewery.

The idea is to draw a bright line between those breweries that appear to be independent, but are part of a larger corporation, and those that have retained their independence.

While the seal has spawned a strong reaction in the form of a defensive video from ABI’s High End and a parody video that followed on Facebook, it appears to be gathering steam.

Since June, more than 2,000 of the 5,000 craft breweries in the U.S. have signed on to the program. Though the Brewers Association hasn’t published a list of participating breweries, an informal survey of local and nearby breweries includes Port City Brewing Company, Solace Brewing Company, Black Hoof Brewing Company and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.

Here’s my big question to you: Will this seal help you choose beer in the future? 

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