Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cheese and Beer Go Together Better

That's the headline that caught my eye over at Serious Eats. But we all knew that already, didn't we? However it would appear that craft beer fans still have some work to do to get the word out. The author goes on to say "After five and half years of teaching cheese and beverage pairing classes I've come to a startling conclusion: beer and cheese are better partners than wine and cheese."

Having made that discovery, the author offers his suggestions on some pairings to try. Interesting article. I'm of the opinion that in addition to working better, pairing cheese with beer is much simpler than with wine. The wider range of flavors found in beer offer more variety and options, and the carbonation helps to keep the palate fresh. Someone once opined that the reason wine and cheese pairing is so popular for parties is that the flavors of the cheese help mask the flavor of cheap wine!

See the Serious Eats beer and cheese pairing post here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Warm Beer To-Go - A sensible approach

Taylor Smack over at Blue Mountain Brewery penned a note on Facebook recently in which he addresses some of the myths about buying warm beer vs. cold beer. If you're worried about your beer purchase warming up a bit between the store and home, don't. A bit of warming and cooling just doesn't matter all that much. With Taylor's permission I have reprinted his note here.
Warm beer to-go...aarrghhh!!!
by Blue Mountain Brewery on Friday, December 17, 2010 at 1:31pm

We just lost a sale this morning and I am compelled to post as this has happened before. Here's the deal: sometimes customers want to buy their beer warm, because they are traveling with it. Seems OK, right? I mean, you can buy beer in the store warm and not worry about that warm/cold/warm/cold back and forth skunking the beer, right? So we should TOTALLY sell beer to people warm if they want it, right? WRONG! Here's the truth, folks: all beer is bottled cold; it's how you get the carbonation to stay in solution! IF you buy warm beer it is simply beer that was once cold that got warm. So if you buy our beer cold and let it get warm, at least it was kept cold (i.e. in the most stable, freshness-keeping state) as long as possible. Letting it warm up in your car one time is no worse (and in fact a lot better) than buying it warm at some store.

Yet this morning my hard-working staff were absolutely unable to convince a customer of this--he literally said he was going to drive 30 minutes to Beer Run in Charlottesville and buy Blue Mountain beer warm, for a couple dollars more per six-pack! What?!? Now, God bless the Beer Run guys and all our wonderful retailers but the fact is that if you buy our beer warm somewhere it is only warm because it was filtered cold, bottled cold, got loaded onto my distributor's truck where it warmed up a bit, sat in my distributor's warehouse for a few weeks where it warmed up a lot, got loaded on my distributor's truck (mid-August, anyone?) and then loaded onto a shelf at a store where it sat--wait for it!--WARM!

The kicker? Our distributor's delivery driver was out front overhearing this while he waited for us to finish a bottling run of the very beer the customer wanted! He laughed his ass off and told the guy, "Look, they're literally back there bottling this right now!" The fellow wanted to hear none of it. He wanted his beer warm. So if you're out there, buddy, congrats on the purchase of beer that was at least a month older than what you could have gotten today. And guess was once cold too, like the beer you passed up this morning! Aaarrrgghhhh!

Our staff occasionally has a hard time convincing people of the simple logic that warm beer is simply cold beer that warmed up, and they ask me to just give in and keep some warm beer out for these hard-headed folks, but to our loyal Facebookers out there...y'all get why I won't give in to this ridiculous breech in logic, right?

Venting over. Signing off to enjoy one of the fresh, cold Full Nelson's I just bottled!


This brings to mind the factory beer company that promotes their beer as "cold-filtered." Sure, just like every other beer.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Beer Dispensing System

I'm pretty familiar with the bottoms up emptying of a beer mug, but filling the glass from the bottom? I don't know if this is an idea that will catch on or not, but it certainly is interesting. GrinOn Industries has created the Bottoms Up Dispensing System®.  The system works by fitting a plastic cup with hole in the bottom that is sealed with a magnetic disk. The cups are placed on the dispenser and filled from the bottom. The manufacturer claims this results in less waste and faster customer service times. Shorter stadium beer lines anyone?

The GrinOn Industries website includes a video showing 44 draft beers being filled in less than one minute. What do you think?

You can visit the GrinOn Industries website for more information.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Virginia Craft Brewers Guild

A recent press release from the Virginia Manufacturers Association (VMA) announced the formation of the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild.
The intent of the Guild is to organize craft brewers for purposes of economic development, business development, supply chain management, tourism and government affairs. Membership will be extended to craft brewers and associate memberships will be extended to businesses and organizations that provide support services or products to the industry (e.g., equipment manufacturers, agricultural interests, economic development, etc.).

The Guild is developing a promotional campaign for craft beer, its own craft beer festival and a competition for the best craft beer in Virginia for 2011.  The Guild is also planning a Craft Beer Caucus for the 2011 General Assembly session and will hold a reception in February 2011.  The Guild will collaborate with partner organizations such as Nelson County Economic Development and the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association on future projects.

The VMA estimates that the craft beer industry could double in the next decade. Virginia has great potential to be a national leader in this burgeoning industry.

The list of founding members is a Who's Who of Virginia breweries: Bull & Bones At the River, Cally's Restaurant & Brewing Co., LC, Devils Backbone Brewing Co., Legend Brewing Co., Mad Fox Brewing Co., LLC, Port City Brewing Company, Shooting Creek Farm Brewery, Starr Hill Brewery, St. George Brewing Co., Wild Wolf Brewing Co., and Williamsburg Alewerks. That's quite a team.

Read the entire press release here.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Here's a delicious dessert Colleen put together for our Christmas day feast. It's a twist on the popular Italian treat, Tiramisu. This is sure to please your guests.

24 Ladyfingers
1 cup strong espresso coffee
1/4 cup Kahlúa
1 cup Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout
1 cup Mascarpone cheese
1 cup Ricotta cheese
1 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum

Combine espresso, Kahlúa, and stout in a bowl.
(Avoid temptation to drink the liquid right from the bowl.)

Stir together Mascarpone and Ricotta cheese with a large spoon until smooth.
Slowly add powdered sugar and whisk until smooth.
Add dark rum and whisk until combined.
Whip cream to soft peaks.
Fold whipped cream into cheese mixture keeping volume.

Dunk biscuits one at a time into liquid and place in serving glasses. Spoon cheese mixture into glasses, covering biscuits completely. Repeat until glasses are full.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Top with chocolate shavings before serving. Serves 6.

Old Dominion Brewing - The Bottles

I have been saving beer bottles for many years. There are several hundred bottles on shelves in our basement. While looking at them recently, I was struck by some of the changes in labels from some of our favorite breweries. I'll be posting pictures of parts of the collection in the future.

First up, Old Dominion Brewing Company. This is not representative of every beer produced by Old Dominion, but you can see some of the label variety. Note the Spring Buck, Ale, Lager, and Oak Barrel Stout label changes. Yes, that's a Dominion Ginger Ale bottle.

I hope you will enjoy seeing the variety of craft beer labels and bottles. At the very least, I'll have an excuse to get the bottles down and dust them off!

Click on the photo for a larger view.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

A light shall shine upon us this day: for the Lord is born to us: and He shall be called Wonderful, God, the Prince of Peace, the Father of the world to come: of whose reign there shall be no end.
Isaiah 9. 2, 6 

The Church at Shepherds' Field, Bethlehem
Photo by C. Turley, August 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mad Fox, Finally

Falls Church's first brewery, Mad Fox Brewing Company, opened this past July. Although I was eagerly awaiting the opening, it was only this week that I was finally able to visit. Bill Madden and crew have created an inviting and comfortable brewpub and restaurant.

Arriving late Sunday afternoon, we got there before the dinner crowd and were seated promptly. My attention went first to the current beer list, while my dining partners perused the food menu. I opted to start with St. Swithin’s E.S.B.; others in the party selected Festivus Ale, and a Blackthorn Draught cider. Right off the bat I was impressed with our server Nick's knowledge of the beer. One member of our party is a cider fan, and Nick was able to provide advice on those as well as the house beers. We selected Buffalo style wings and the Frickles as appetizers. Both appetizers were very tasty, but the wings were especially a hit with my son. He later told me when we go back he thinks he'll just order the wings as his meal!

My ESB was very well done. There was just the right balance between the caramel malt and bitter, earthy hops. Although I tend to lean towards citrusy, hop-heavy beers, I am also very fond of well-made ESB's and this one from Mad Fox did not disappoint. Colleen ordered the Festivus Ale which she enjoyed as well. This Winter Warmer is spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. I tasted a few sips and found it well-balanced, but I'm not a big "spiced" beer fan. (I swore off pumpkin beers this year too.) There was only one universal complaint voiced at our table, that is that the beers were served much too cold. After a short period of time to allow the beers to warm a bit we were all very pleased with our selections.

As the main course, three of our party selected the St. Louis-Cut Ribs, while I opted for the Shrimp & Grits. As with the beer, the food was well done and quite enjoyable. Although I could have easily enjoyed another St. Swithin’s E.S.B., I wanted to try another offering, so I selected the Snapped IPA to go along with my Cajun-style entrée.  Snapped IPA is a bold, citrusy hopped beer that did not disappoint this hop head.

And what's a night out without dessert? Our group selected chocolate ice cream, the bread pudding, and the "Beeramisu" made with Mad Fox Wee Heavy. All were excellent endings to the meal, though the diners longed for a wee bit more of the Wee Heavy soaked into the Beeramisu cakes.

Was it worth the wait to finally get to Mad Fox? You bet! Will we be back soon? Yes again! Meanwhile I have the growler of St. Swithin’s E.S.B. I brought home to enjoy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Ale

On a recent cold evening, while we contemplated the arrival of the season's first snowfall, Colleen and I broke out a bottle of Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary - Fritz And Ken's Ale. This Imperial Stout is the result of a collaboration between Fritz Maytag and Ken Grossman, two pioneers on the American craft beer scene. Fritz And Ken's Ale is one of four limited beers Sierra Nevada did to celebrate their 30th Anniversary. The beer was released last Spring, and I've been holding on to it until just the right time.

The corked and caged bottle opened with a pop, I was glad I had a good hold on the cork. The dark chocolate and roasted malt aroma was immediately evident. A careful pour into two snifters produced a couple of inches of thick, sturdy head. The beer itself is as dark as it can be. The flavor was that of rich roasted coffee and bitter chocolate. The stout also features grassy, bitter hops that linger in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy. Despite the explosive opening and copious head, the perceived carbonation was not excessive.

It's often remarked that a good beer is an experience for all the senses, and Fritz And Ken's Ale is a feast for the eyes as well as the nose and mouth. I sat for a long time enjoying the sight, smell and flavors of this beer. It really was just the drink to linger over on a cold winter evening. And that thick head? After nearly an hour, there was still a quarter inch of foam left on top.

Colleen and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing the bottle of this Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Ale. It was the perfect way to close the day.

Winter Storm

Need I say more?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Devils Backbone Planning Expansion

The Devils Backbone Brewing Company has plans to build a new production facility. Managers say the facility would dramatically increase production and distribution of the company's award winning beer.

Devils Backbone General Manager Chris Trotter said, "We could go after certain markets and be in retail stores, restaurant accounts, things along those lines."

Managers say the goal is to break ground on the production facility within the next few months. The company is also looking to open a second restaurant location.
Exciting news, but not surprising given the success of Devils Backbone. Hopefully this means we'll see the brewery's award winning beers locally before too long.

Complete story and associated video here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

St. Nicholas and Samichlaus Bier

Happy St. Nicholas Day! Each year on December 6 we raise a glass of Samichlaus Bier in honor of this great Saint. The beer is brewed each year on December 6 and stored for 10 months before bottling. This year I opened a bottle from 2007 which means the beer was brewed on December 6, 2006. Samichlaus is best when aged for a few years and tonight's drink very smooth. Despite the 14% ABV the beer is very drinkable, giving off a pleasing warmth as you swallow. Slightly sweet with very little carbonation, Samichlaus leaves behind a flavorful coating on the tongue. An enjoyable way to honor the memory of Saint Nicholas and the generosity of his life, and to cap off a cold December evening.

For more on Saint Nicholas, see this article.

Dry Hopped Borman's Belgian Ale

Blue & Gray Brewery has made a special batch of their popular Borman's Belgian Ale. Jeff uses the term Belgian IPA to classify the beer. Intrigued, I stopped by the brewpub Friday evening to try out this special release.

From the Blue & Gray newsletter:
The brewers experimented with some Strisselspalt (a noble french hop) hops and added some whole leaf coned hops to 2 kegs of our Borman's Belgian farmhouse ale recipe for 10 days.

I asked one of the brewers to describe the beer and he said "think of that girl you dated that had a special aroma that you found yourself wanting more".  "OK",  I said, "I think I know what you're getting at (I didn't) but can you put it in terms our loyal brewery patrons are sure to understand?" Jimbo the brewer said "The aroma from this noble French hop is very mild and will remind you of a fresh field of hay from the Alsace area of France near Strasbourg."  I've never been to a hayfield in France, but I grew up around horses and hay, and that surely can't be what he wants to convey.  I gave up and decided to offer free samples in the brewery retail store during regularly scheduled brewery retail hours. For those who like hops and Belgian beers, think Belgian IPA.

The dry-hopped Borman checks in at around 9% ABV, but it's masked well. (At least until you've had a couple and a friendly bar patron buys you another round!) My first flavor impression of the beer was a mild black pepper spiciness, more than I recall from the regular Borman's. There's a lingering bitterness that I found enjoyable. A made a point of asking other patrons their impression of the beer. To a person, everyone liked it. Most people, myself included preferred this version over the standard Borman's Ale. I paired my beer with the Spicy Blue Buffalo Wings, which are prepared with the Belgian Ale.

I suggest you stop by the brewery during tasting hours, or the Lee's Retreat brewpub, and try the dry hopped Borman's Belgian Ale for yourself. And if you like it, let the folks there know so they will make some more!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Beer Mug or Art?

Since we were speaking of beer mugs...

I received a note from Jim Gottuso, a potter who's making some interesting ceramic beer mugs, or what he refers to as "alternative brew vessels." He passed along the poster below illustrating some of his work. You can see the mugs and other pieces available at his online shop.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Battle Mug

It's not too early to start shopping for Christmas gifts for your favorite craft beer drinker. If that beer fan also happens to be a fan of defensive weapons, I've got the perfect suggestion for you, the Battle Mug.
Hero-Gear started the Battle Mug project over 2 years ago as members of the staff sat around and contemplated what they should do with a slug of M4 carry handles they had laying around from a recent Police dept. upgrade to BUIS on their patrol rifles.

Long viewed as either “hardcore gun guys that like to drink” or “hardcore beer guys that like to shoot” it only seemed natural that they figure out a way of combining two great passions into one ass-kicking device.

Thus Battle Mug was born!

more ...

I'll make your shopping easy for you. I'd like mine to have a Sig Sauer logo please. You can find the full description and ordering details at the Hero-Gear website.

Hat tip to and photo courtesy of Oleg Volk.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Confession, "Shaker Pints"

You can't read more than a few beer blogs before running into a post about "proper glassware". I've written my fair share. Likewise, the expected post denigrating the "lowly" shaker pint. I've done that one too. Well readers, I have a confession to make. I admit I'm reaching for the shaker pint more and more frequently.

First, why all the disdain? Too heavy. Too boring. Wrong shape. The list goes on. And those points are not by any means completely invalid. But are they enough to relegate these glasses to the back of the cabinet?

Generally the objections to the shaker pint revolve around the shape. However, the shape of the glasses make them easy to hold. There's certainly enough room to get even my nose down near the beer. There's plenty of glass to look through to see the beer as well. I happen to like the heft of the glass better than, say, some light snifter. They're inexpensive and stack in a small space. The shape makes them easy to clean. (My understanding wife ensures all beer glasses are washed by hand.)

Many of my favorite memories about enjoying craft beer revolve around pubs and friends. In most pubs, you'll find the ubiquitous shaker pint. Those memories stick. When I'm entertaining friends at home, especially when there's a crowd, I'll bring out the collection of pint glasses to ensure there's enough glasses to go around. Many of those glasses sport logos from brewery or festival visits which bring back enjoyable memories as well. That is what good beer is all about; creating and sharing memories. Perhaps there's just something deep in our memories that just makes the shaker feel "right."

My name is David, and I'm a shaker pint user.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sierra Nevada Celebration; Marking the Season

I picked up the first Sierra Nevada Celebration of the season this weekend. I always look forward to this perennial favorite, both for it's intense flavors, but for the way it introduces the oncoming "Winter" beer season. The wintery scene of the label reminds us of the upcoming colder weather and the joyous Christmas season. I am also reminded that soon I'll be enjoying some of my favorite seasonal beers. Personally, I don't look forward to the short days and cold nights, but the beers of Winter are among my favorites. Sierra Nevada Celebration heralds their arrival.

For some interesting background on Sierra Nevada's Winter seasonal, see "Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale – Clearing Up Myths" at

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Today, raise a toast to all of the men and women who have served our Country.

Enough said.

Friday, September 24, 2010

8th Annual Fredericksburg Oktoberfest, This Weekend

The 8th Annual Fredericksburg Oktoberfest takes place this weekend at the Blue & Gray Brewery. The brewery's new location allows for an expanded venue so there's plenty of room this year. I stopped by Friday afternoon and enjoyed a couple of 1/2 liter mugs of the Blue & Gray Oktoberfest. I always look forward to this annual offering, and this year's batch seems especially well-done. I picked up a growler last week when it was first released, enjoyed it over the weekend, and will surely go back for more.

The Oktoberfest celebration continues on Saturday, starting at 11:00AM, with activities all day until 8:00PM. German food will be available outside, as well as special menu items inside at Lee's Retreat. As always, this is a family event so bring the whole gang and enjoy the day.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Capital Ale House Oktoberfest

On Saturday, Capital Ale House held it's second annual Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg. I was spending time with family in Maryland, and enjoying Polock Johnny's sausages and Guinness, so was unable to attend. Judging by the "live" updates I saw on Facebook, the estimated 15,000 folks attending had a great time. I'll point you to an article in today's Free Lance-Star for more information and pictures from the event.
With a swing of a mighty wooden mallet, Mayor Tom Tomzak kicked off Oktoberfest in downtown Fredericksburg at noon yesterday.

He hammered home a tap in the first keg, then handed a stein filled with some of its foaming contents to Evan Judd, a World War II veteran who took part in the Berlin airlift.

Article continues...

And don't forget, local Oktoberfest celebrations continue next weekend, September 24 - 25 with the 8th Annual Fredericskburg Oktoberfest at Blue & Gray Brewing Company.

Virginia Brewers Show Their Metal, Again

Western States like Colorada, California and Oregan get a lot of (well-deserved) attention for the the fine craft beers produced there. However, Virginia brewers continue to show the world that good beer comes from these parts too! Three Virginia breweries came home with medals from this year's Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado.

The 151 judges at GABF judged 3,523 beers in 79 style categories. That's an amazing feat by itself!

Devils Backbone Brewing Company in Roseland, VA was awarded four medals:
  • GOLD in Category 6: Coffee Flavored Beer for Baltic Coffee
  • GOLD in Category 24: American-Style or International-Style Pilsener for Gold Leaf Lager
  • BRONZE in Category 51: English-Style Mild Ale for Ale of Fergus
  • BRONZE in Category 61: South German-Style Hefeweizen for Wintergreen Weiss

Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, VA came away with two medals:
  • GOLD in Gold Category 1: American-Style Wheat Beer for Sandy Bottom
  • BRONZE in Category 41: German-Style Kölsch for Kolsch 151

Great American Restaurants (Sweetwater Tavern) in Centreville, VA brought home one medal:
  • GOLD in Category 53: Extra Special Bitter or Strong Bitter for Gar Pale Ale
Congratulation to these Virginia brewers! You can see the complete list of awards at GABF web site.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Shooting Creek Brewery at Capital Ale House

We've been following Shooting Creek Brewery in Floyd, VA since mid-2008. Although they started distributing beer in March of 2009, I've not had the opportunity to try any of the beers. That changed a couple of weeks ago when the Capital Ale House "Steal the Glass Night" featured two beers from the brewery.

The first beer I ordered was Shooting Creek Rebel Ale. Shooting Creek describes Rebel Ale as "Brewed with malted barley and rye for a unique flavor-quenching zip, rich malt character, and deep amber glow. Moderately bittered using Cascade hops grown by Shooting Creek Farm brewery." The beer (at right) pours a cloudy, golden-amber color. I noted very faint grainy notes in the aroma. The taste is somewhat sweet, with some toasted malt detected as well. There are bitter citrus notes that come through at the finish, leaving behind a dry finish. Overall it's an easily drinkable beer, but not extraordinary.

Capital Ale House was also serving Shooting Creek Buffalo Brown Ale. Not wanting to shirk my duty to try both beers for the benefit of the readers of The Musings, I ordered a Brown Ale, and a Chicken Tostada appetizer to go along with it. This American Brown Ale poured a dark, cola brown with a thin beige head. There is a strong presence of citrusy hops in the aroma, as well as some toasted malt. The flavor followed suit. There was an enjoyable kick of bitter citrus rind on top of the sweet, dark malt. I wasn't sure how a brown ale would stand up to the spicy appetizer, but the citrus hop flavor enabled the beer to do just that.

I discussed both beers with a few other patrons. Folks were divided between disliking the Rebel Ale or finding it "just okay." Everyone I spoke to preferred the Buffalo Brown over the Rebel Ale. No one disliked it, and several found it quite enjoyable. More than one person remarked on being (pleasantly) surprised by the hop level of the beer.

My experience with the two Shooting Creek beers left me looking forward to trying out more beers from this small, southwest Virginia brewery. While "Steal the Glass Night" is a fun excuse for adding to one's glassware collection, the opportunity to try new and hard to find beers is a true treat.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Free Beer for First Responders Saturday, 9/11

This just today from Blue & Gray Brewery.
Free Beer in the brewery retail store 10am-1pm.

Also, and/or a free pint glass from Lee's Retreat Brewpub for First Responders this Saturday, September 11th.

To All First Responders: The Blue & Gray Brewing Co. and Lee's Retreat Brewpub want to acknowledge and say thanks for the work you do. The brewery retail store is offering a free growler fill from 10am-1pm (ABC law states the pub can not process beer give-aways, so you'll need to enter the retail side). Lee's Retreat Brewpub, though, is offering a free pint glass on Saturday with the purchase of a beer in the brewpub during brewpub hours 11am-11pm.

During these specified times, this offer is available to all Police, Fire, and Rescue personnel, (federal, state and local) including volunteers this Saturday, September 11, 2010.

Jeffrey & Lori Fitzpatrick
The folks at Blue & Gray have a long history of supporting our military and first responders. That tradition continues.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg, Twice

Craft beer fans, and fun-loving folks in general, will have two opportunities to celebrate Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg this month. (Yes, the Munich Oktoberfest actually does start in September.)

On September 18, the Fredericksburg Capital Ale House will celebrate Oktoberfest in downtown Fredericksburg with a block party in front of their Caroline Street location. The event will kick off at noon and continue until 10:00PM. This will be the second annual event for Capital Ale House in Fredericksburg. Entertainment will be provided by the SGTEV Hirschjager German dancers and German music by Heidi und Heimat, The Continentals & Low’n’Brows. A large children’s area will include three inflatable attractions, face painter and balloon artists. Food and beverages will be available. Other Richmond are Capital Ale House locations will celebrate Oktoberfest on September 24th & 25th, and October 2.

After you've spent the work week recovering, the party starts again the following weekend. The Blue & Gray Brewing Company will hold their 8th Annual Fredericksburg Oktoberfest all weekend long, September 24, 25, & 26. Family-friendly fun activities include sing alongs, a stein holding contest, Oompah music, ginger bread walk, K-9 demonstration, face painting for the kids, and the Low’n’Brows. And of course, plenty of the ever-popular Oktoberfest Beer from Blue & Gray Brewing will be available along with other Blue & Gray beers. See the event page for the complete schedule of events.

The newly opened Lee's Retreat Brewpub at Blue & Gray will be serving delicious German foods and pastries. Beer will be available for sale in 12oz or 16oz mugs, or a 33.8oz (maas) commemorative stein. Festival hours are Friday 5:00PM-10:00PM, Saturday 11:00AM-7:00 PM, and Sunday 12:00PM-4:00PM.

It's a great month to be a craft beer fan in Fredericksburg!

Update, September 7: This just in from Jeff at Blue & Gray, "VA ABC regulations require us to reduce our weekend event to 2 days, Friday and Saturday."  So plan your weekend accordingly.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hop Picking at Blue Mountain

Do you enjoy the aroma of very fresh hops? The Annual Hop Picking Day at Blue Mountain Brewery is Monday, August 2.

From Nelson County Life Magazine:
Join us Mon, Aug 2nd from 10am-7pm for our annual Hop Picking. Volunteer 2 hours and receive a FREE sandwich and side. (ABC law says we can’t give free beer but you can grab a beer while you pick, after you pick or both.) We’ll be brewing 1,000 gallons of a Cascade Tribute Pale Ale with the hops our volunteers pick. The rest of the hops will be dried the following day and used in our beloved Full Nelson Pale Ale throughout the year.

Event Date: Monday 2nd of August 2010 10:00 AM
Location/Address: 9519 Critzers Shop Road, Afton, VA 22920
Contact Telephone: Please call 540-456-8020 for more information

Monday, July 19, 2010

Four Virginia Breweries Collaborate on Special Brew

Brewers from Starr Hill, Blue Mountain, Devils Backbone, and South Street breweries got together last week to create a special beer. Five brewers from these Virginia breweries met at Starr Hill on Friday to create a Black IPA style beer. Jacque Landry, (partner & brewer South Street Brewery) Matt Nucci, (brewer and co-owner Blue Mountain Brewery) Mark Thompson, (owner and brewmaster Starr Hill) Aaron Reilly, (brewer Devils Backbone) and Jason Oliver, (head brewmaster Devils Backbone) all contributed to the effort. The special brew will be released at the Brew Ridge Trail Music Festival on August 21.

Nelson County Life has photos from the brew day, along with more information. Brewer Jason Oliver was also featured in a video interview with Charlottesville station NBC29.

See this post for details on how you can win two free tickets to the Brew Ridge Festival.

Photo courtesy Nelson County Life.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Win Two Tickets to the Brew Ridge Trail Music Festival

The second annual Brew Ridge Trail Music Festival will be held Saturday, August 21. This festival features beer from Starr Hill, Blue Mountain, Devils Backbone, and South Street breweries. The event takes place on the concert grounds at Devils Backbone Brewery in Nelson County (45 min. from Charlottesville) and Musings Over a Pint readers have the opportunity to win a pair of tickets to the festival. Simply post a comment below, as a reply to this post, between now and July 31 and you'll be entered to win. I'll select a winner at random on August 1 to receive the pair of tickets.

The not so fine print: If you post anonymously, or the ID you post with doesn't provide contact info, it won't count. (For example, if there's no contact info on your Blogger profile, I can't contact you.) The winner will be notified via email on August 1 and their contact information forwarded to the event promoter. The tickets will be available at the will call counter at the Brew Ridge Trail Music Festival.

Good luck and I hope to see you there!

Update, August 1: The winner of the tickets is Chuck Triplett. Enjoy the festival Chuck!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

More About Lee's Retreat Brewpub

The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, published an article today about the new brewpub at The Blue & Gray Brewing Company. You can read what Bill Freehling has to say about Lee's Retreat, and view a few pictures, by following the link below.

Blue & Gray opens brew pub in Bowman Center

Saturday, July 3, 2010

How very Capital of you! In Richmond

I've mused often about the Capital Ale House in Fredericksburg, but did you know there are three other CAH locations? Recently The Happy Hour Guys visited the original Capital Ale House in downtown Richmond.

Watch on YouTube

Visit The Happy Hour Guys web site to see videos of other craft beer places of interest.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Lee's Retreat is Open

That's right folks, Fredericksburg now boasts TWO brewpubs. The long-awaited brewpub at Blue & Gray Brewing opened this week. The brewpub is open Tuesday -Thursday, 11am-9pm, and Friday - Saturday until 11pm.

The Lee's Retreat menu is posted here. The chef, Frederick T. Heller (Fritz) is originally from Hackensack, NJ and has 20 years experience in the restaurant business. Fritz has built most of the interior of Lee's Retreat and was instrumental in menu development. I've not had the chance to visit, but you can be sure I will very soon. The photo of the bar at right is take from the Blue & Gray's Facebook page.

The pub has Blue & Gray beer to go as well. During brewpub hours, you can purchase 22oz bottles, and swap out screw cap growlers and beer bombs. No dine-in required.

Did I mention there are now two brewpubs in Fredericksburg?

Brew Ridge Trail Music Festival

The second annual Brew Ridge Trail Music Festival will take place on Saturday, August 21 at the Concert Grounds at Devils Backbone Brewery in Nelson County. Music and beer will combine for a family-friendly, fun-filled day.

The festival will showcase 16 craft beers from national and world acclaimed breweries that line the Virginia Brew Ridge Trail: Blue Mountain Brewery, South Street Brewery, Starr Hill Brewery and Devils Backbone Brewing Co., the 2010 World Beer Cup Champion Brewery and Brewmaster (Jason Oliver) for a small brewpub. Both tasting and full portion pours will be available for purchase.

Discounted advance tickets can be purchased online or at local outlets. Complete ticket information is available here.

Update, July 18: Win two tickets to the festival, details here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Twilight Tattoo

Wednesday evening we attended the Twilight Tattoo at Fort McNair in Washington, DC. This regal performance features Soldiers from The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), the U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own" and other proud men and women of the U.S. Army. It is quite an amazing performance. It was refreshing to see so many young people in attendance filled with patriotic American pride.

What's that you say? Where's the beer connection? Well, according to, a tattoo is defined as "a military display consisting of music, marching, and exercises. [from Dutch taptoe, shutting off of taps, signalling the closing of taverns at the end of the day].

So there you go.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wolf Hills Expansion Complete

I recently mentioned the planned expansion at Wolf Hills Brewing Company in Abingdon. Today I received word from the brewery that their new, expanded location is ready to open:
A year ago, Wolf Hills Brewing Co. opened to the public with a dream of sharing fresh, craft beer with Abingdon and southwest Virginia. Despite numerous warnings to the contrary, we had faith that our neighbors were dissatisfied with mass produced, watered down beer offerings and were ready for more flavorful choices. We were right. Armed only with our tiny one-barrel system in a 288 square foot back building, we set forth on our mission to dispel myths that our area would not support a microbrewery. Over fifty Growler Hours later, not only have you embraced us and our beer, but you have encouraged us to expand our equipment, facility and beer styles. When former light pilsner drinkers clamor for more Double IPA, we must be doing something right.

Wolf Hills would like to invite you to share in the next step of our journey. In keeping with our theme of drawing from Abingdon’s rich history, we have renovated the Old Ice House at the end of Park Street, a 5,000 square foot facility where ice was once made and sold prior to refrigeration. Installed there now are our new seven-barrel brew house and four seven barrel fermenters, along with the other equipment necessary to vastly increase our production.

Beginning Thursday July 1, please join us for Growler Hours at the Old Ice House, 350 Park Street, Abingdon, Virginia from 5:30-8 p.m. Discover one of our many styles for yourself . . . you’ll be howling for more.

This is exciting news for fans of Wolf Hills, and Virginia craft beer in general. Congratulations to Chris, Cameron, and the entire team at Wolf Hills.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest

The Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest was held this past weekend in Leesburg, VA. Colleen and I made a late afternoon visit to the festival on Sunday. The temperature was near 100° when we arrived, and there was a very brief afternoon thunderstorm, but neither dampened the spirit of those in attendance. It is after all, the Summer brewfest.

Due to schedule conflicts, this was the first beer fest of 2010 that I've been able to attend, so I was looking forward to the day. I always run into old friends here, and without fail make a few new ones. That is a greater reward than the good beer at hand. But, the beer is not to be ignored! Our first stop was the tent of Mad Fox Brewing Company, soon to open in Fall Church. The local chatter this past week was that Bill Madden would be bringing firkins of the first beer brewed at the new site. Sure enough, his American Pale Ale was being served "Zwickelbier style." The firkins were filled directly from the fermenter, and the fresh beer was experienced the same way the brewer first experiences it. Bill told me that the beer was brewed just two weeks ago. The beer was unfiltered and still had suspended yeast. The American Pale Ale was robust with Centennial hops and full of flavor. I found myself going back for seconds.

There were a number of interesting beers being served Sunday. Another standout was the Victory Scarlet Fire Rauchbier. This smoked beer is typically available only at the brewery in Pennsylvania. Smoke beers can be hit or miss for me, and this one was a hit. The smoke flavor was strong, but not overwhelming. I could detect bitter citrus hops and a caramel malt base. New Holland is another brewery I typically look for as Dr. Joel usually brings along a treat or two. When I checked in with Joel he told me about a beer that soon lost me in it's description; pears, raspberries, chardonnay barrels, and on he went. I'll admit that he almost lost me with the fruit, but we had a go at it anyway. Envious was darker than I expected, with a complex mix of chocolate, molasses, fruit... I'm still not a fruit beer guy, but enjoyed it nonetheless.

Colleen and I also sampled beers from Allagash (both the Black and the White), Clipper City, Lagunitas, and Founders among others. We were also pleased to spend a fair amount of time chatting with long-time friend and fellow C.R.A.B.B. menber, Tom Cizuaskas. In a flash from the past, I found Tom under the Heavy Seas (formerly Clipper City) tent pulling from a fresh cask of Loose Cannon. Loose Cannon on cask remains one of my all-time favorites, so I of course did not pass up the opportunity to enjoy it once again.

Beer is not the only culinary delight to be found at beer festivals. This weekend Colleen and I discovered a wonderful bakery from North Carolina, Elaine's Slices of Heaven. Elaine had a wide assortment of fresh baked breads, and she treated us to numerous samples. It was tough to decide which we wanted to take with us, but we eventually left with a loaf of a bread labeled Morning Glory, described on Elaine's website as a "delectable blend of carrots, raisins, apples, coconut, & pecans." Despite my premonitions, we managed to get the bread home without consuming it in the car.

The crowds were light Sunday afternoon and we never waited in line for a beer. That's certainly a mixed blessing. This festival, along with the sister event, the Northern Virginia Fall Brewfest, provides an excellent, well-organized venue for enjoying a variety of craft beers, including ones you won't find elsewhere. The events deserve to be well-attended. Perhaps I'll see you this fall in Centreville?

I was lazy and didn't even bring along a camera. However, Tom Cizauskas has posted numerous photos from the BrewFest here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Brewers Association Interview with Chris Burcher of Wolf Hills

The Brewers Association recently posted an interview with brewer Chris Burcher of Wolf Hills Brewing in Abingon, VA. In the interview Chris relates a problem any new brewery would probably envy; too much demand. Wolf Hills had to pull out of most restaurants in their area because they couldn't keep up with demand. Currently their major distribution method is the weekly "growler hours." However, in order to meet demand, the brewery is expanding. Chris reports they are increasing production from a 4 bbl a week capacity to 14. Brewery tours are also in the planning for the future.

Wolf Hill Growler Hours are held every Thursday at the brewery from 5:00 PM till 8:00 PM. See the Wolf Hills website for more details. You can also keep up with the brewery expansion work at their Facebook page. The Brewers Association interview is here.

Wolf Hills is garnering a lot of attention these days, tho' I'm still waiting to get my hands on some of their beers. (HINT)

Friday, June 18, 2010

2010 Summer BrewFest Breweries Posted

The participating breweries for the Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest have been posted. The festival folks sent this note today.
We are pleased to announce the list of participating breweries for the 2010 Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest.

Five (5) breweries will participate for the first time: Yards Brewing Co. of Philadelphia and Nectar Ales, Green Flash Brewery, Firestone Walker Brewery and Speak Easy Ales & Lagers of California.

Outstanding local breweries participating include Presenting Sponsor Vintage 50, Capital City, 28 North and Holy Brew. They will be joined by regional favorites such as Starr Hill, Blue & Gray, Clipper City, Dominion and Fordham.

Returning to the BrewFest are many popular breweries such as Gordon Biersch, Left Hand, Magic Hat, Dogfish Head, Duck Rabbit, Flying Dog, Legend, Mountaineer and Hook & Ladder.

For a complete list click on Food & Beer on the Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest website.

The actual brewery list is buried a few clicks deep off of the link listed in the press release above. You can find the list directly here. That's 58 breweries from which to choose!

The Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest will be held June 26 & 27, 2010 at Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia. The festival hours are 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM on Saturday and 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM on Sunday. Tickets are available online or at the gate.

Monday, June 7, 2010

World Beer Fest Richmond - This Weekend!

Don't forget, the World Beer Festival is this weekend, June 12, in Richmond, Virginia. We've been waiting for years for the All About Beer folks to bring their magic to Virginia. Daniel Bradford made an appearance on Richmond's WTVR to give us a preview.

Link to the video:

There's still time to get tickets.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Privatization of Virginia ABC Stores - An Update

We've been following the story since early 2009. The drive to get the Virginia government out of the liquor business gained new life under Governor McDonnell. Proponents point to the immediate cash influx and lasting benefits of competition. The Washington Post Virginia Politics blog is reporting that the Governor's administration has been meeting with affected parties to build support for the idea.

Many of the opponents posting comments on the story seem more worried about the appearance of "seedy private liquor stores." As opposed to seedy government liquor stores I suppose?

See the Virginia Politics post here.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Virginia Craft Beer Fests Ahead!

June looks to be a great month for craft beer fans in Virginia. Here are two great events coming up next month. It's not to late to make your plans to attend.

World Beer Fest - Richmond
The folks at All About Beer magazine are bringing their World Beer Festival to Richmond for the first time. I've enjoyed this event in Durham and Raleigh, NC in past years and it's always a fun time. The one-day event offers two sessions on June 12. You can buy your tickets here.

Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest - Leesburg
The 3rd Annual Summer Brewfest will be held June 26-27 at Morven Park in Leesburg, VA. This event is always well-run and a lot of fun. Short lines and good craft beer, what else could you ask for? Get your tickets online here or at the gate.

Either, or both, of these events would be a great kickoff to Summer. Hope to see you in line!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Shooting Creek Brewing Video

Ray, over at Shooting Creek Brewery in Floyd, VA sent me a link to a great video featuring the brewery. Shooting Creek is making quite an impression in southwest Virginia. I've not had the opportunity to try out any of their beers yet, as they are only distributed in their local area. It would seem a road trip is in order. And soon.

The Shooting Creek Brewery from Dennis Frenier on Vimeo.

Please note that the brewery itself is not open for tours, but the beers are available in local markets.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Battlefield Brewing Khyber Pass IPA & The Pub

Fredericksburg's first brewpub, Battlefield Brewing opened in October of last year, and they've been slowing adding to their repertoire of beers. Last week, the brewery's first IPA made its debut and I stopped by Friday evening to try out Khyber Pass IPA. Brewer Lyle Brown tells me he used Munich Caramel 40 and Carastan malts, plus a touch of wheat in producing the beer. Khyber Pass IPA is hopped with Centennial, Cascade and Amarillo hops. The beer is finished by dry hopping with those same hops. This presents a beer light in aroma, but well-balanced in flavor and slightly bitter. The finish is dry with a lingering bitterness. This IPA checks in at 5.7% ABV, which is on the low side for an IPA but makes the beer quite quaffable. It went very well with my dinner of fish & chips.

Battlefield Brewing is located in The Pub. The Pub is located in a shopping center and consists of both a smoking pub and a non-smoking dining room. I've written in the past how the two sides, in practice, were not well-separated. Even on the non-smoking side, the smoke was very heavy at times. This was the first time I've visited since Virginia's restaurant smoking restriction went into affect. Since the two sides of the establishment are "technically" distinct, smoking is still allowed on the pub side. Management has added a swinging door between the two that is only used by staff, and this does help the situation. I was in the restaurant for about three hours and there was very little cigarette odor bleeding over.

When we placed our food orders, our waitress Laura remarked that she reads these Musings. "I've read the whole thing" she noted. Later, when one of our party ordered a (non-house) beer, she made a point of asking if his preference was for a room temperature or frosted mug. Good show Laura. (Although he chose incorrectly in my opinion.)

Reduced smokiness, and a growing selection of locally brewed beers makes The Pub and Battlefield Brewing a place you don't want to miss. BTW, Monday night is "Meet the Brewer Night." All house beers are $2.50/pint from 7:00 PM on, and one of the brewers is in attendance for an hour or two, depending on the crowd.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wolf Hills Featured at East Coast Beer Cast

Chris Burcher of Wolf Hills Brewing in Abingdon, VA was the featured guest on the East Coast Beer Cast recently. It's a great interview with a guy who's living his passion. The Wolf Hills "Growler Hours" have been well-received in their local area. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to try some of their beers soon.

Listen to the interview here.
Previous Musings about Wolf Hills here.

Hat tip to Edmond over at VA Beer for bringing this interview to our attention.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Kybecca to Host Beer & Tapas Dinner

Fredericksburg's kybecca wine bar will host their first Beer and Tapas Dinner on Wednesday, April 21. The five-course dinner will feature various beers imported from Quebec by Jocelyn Cambier. The beers to be presented are new to the U.S., and kybecca is the only local source for them. One of these, Le Trou du Diable, is extremely limited. Only 10 cases made it to the United States!

The Menu

1st Course: German potato salad with pancetta paired with Simple Malt Altbier
2nd Course: Spicy lentil soup paired with Simple Malt IPA
3rd Course: Smoked oysters on the half shell paired with Simple Malt Double Porter
4th Course: Garlic chicken and cannellini beans paired with Le Trou du Diable La Buteuse Strong Ale aged in Calvados Barrels
5th Course: Cheese course with Colston Bassett Stilton paired with Enigma Barleywine aged in Port Barrels

The cost for the dinner is $45 per person. Tickets are limited and available by calling kybecca at (540) 373-3338.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

World Beer Cup Judges Recognize Devils Backbone Brewing and Other Local Breweries

Jason Oliver and Devils Backbone Brewing Company showed beer fans around the world how it's done! The World Beer Cup was held April 7-10 in Chicago, IL and the awards were announced yesterday. Devils Backbone Brewing Company in Roseland, Virginia was named the Brewers Association World Beer Cup 2010 Champion Brewery and Brewmaster Small Brewpub. In total the brewpub took home five awards.

Brewers Association World Beer Cup 2010 Champion Brewery and Brewmaster
Small Brewpub

Devils Backbone Brewing Company, Roseland, VA
Jason Oliver

Category 7: Coffee Flavored Beer (47 Entries)
Bronze Medal: Morning Bear
Devils Backbone Brewing Co.
Roseland, VA

Category 30: German-Style Schwarzbier (38 Entries)
Bronze Medal: Schwartz Bier
Devils Backbone Brewing Co.
Roseland, VA

Category 31: Traditional German-Style Bock (25 Entries)
Bronze Medal: Kollaborator
Devils Backbone Brewing Co.
Roseland, VA

Category 40: Baltic-Style Porter (28 Entries)
Gold Medal: Danzig
Devils Backbone Brewing Co.
Roseland, VA

In addition, another favorite Virginia brewery, Blue Mountain Brewery and brewer Taylor Smack also brought home a medal.

Category 2: American-Style Wheat Beer (16 Entries)
Silver Medal: Rockfish Wheat
Blue Mountain Brewery
Afton, VA

The Charlottesville Beer Trail continues to attract attention, and that's good news for all Virginia beer lovers. Of course, other regional breweries in Virginia and Maryland did well also. Other favorite breweries here at the Musings, including Heavy Seas (formerly Clipper City) and Flying Dog, both in Maryland were also awarded. Fellow C.R.A.B.B. blogger, Tom Cizauskas has more on these and other regional winners at Yours For Good Fermentables.

The complete World Beer Cup 2010 winners list is here.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tickets on Sale WBF - Richmond

I received the following press release from All About Magazine today:
Tickets on Sale Today for the World Beer Festival
Presented by local charity, FETCH a Cure, the World Beer Festival is one of the premier beer events in the country

March 30, 2010 (Richmond, Va.) – Tickets go on sale today, March 30, for the World Beer Festival, premiering in Richmond on Saturday, June 12, 2010. Produced by All About Beer Magazine, the World Beer Festival is one of the top beer events in the country. The event celebrates the world beer culture, offering attendees a sampling of hundreds of beers from more than 200 domestic and international breweries. Festival goers can also enjoy educational sessions by industry experts, food from a variety of local restaurants, plus live entertainment by local musicians. The festival is presented by local Richmond charity FETCH a Cure, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping pet owners make better, fully informed decisions about caring for their aging pets.

“Tickets for the festival in both Durham and Raleigh sell out fast,” said Ola Nilbrink, events and operations manager for the World Beer Festival. “Although this is our first festival in Richmond, we are noticing a lot of excitement building in the community. Ticket sales during our pre-sale period out-paced advance sales for our first year festival in Columbia, SC, a sure sign of interest here in Richmond. As awareness grows, we expect tickets to continue selling, and sell quickly.”

The festival offers two four-hour sessions, from noon to 4 p.m., and from 6 to 10 p.m. General admission to a single session is $40 in advance, $50 day of the event, which includes beer samples, music by local bands, educational sessions by industry experts, and a festival tasting glass. VIP tickets are also available for an additional $35. Added VIP benefits include admission to the VIP lounge, which offers samples of special limited-availability beers available, music and free catered food, as well as a commemorative festival glass. VIP tickets are only sold online.

“We are pleased to bring our World Beer Festival to Richmond, and join its burgeoning beer culture,” said Daniel Bradford, publisher of All About Beer Magazine. “We hope that the World Beer Festival-Richmond becomes a gathering place for all interested in the exciting world of beer—consumers, retailers, wholesalers and suppliers.”

Tickets and information about the World Beer Festival–Richmond are available at

The World Beer Fest Richmond will be held on Browns Island. It should be a great time!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

There Was Pouring at the Blue & Gray Festival

Pouring of beer that is. There was indeed some rain as well on Saturday, but the intermittent and sometimes heavy rain didn't dampen enthusiasm at the Blue & Gray Brewing St. Patrick Day parade and festival. By the time I arrived for a late lunch, the parade was over but the event was still packed with folks enjoying themselves. I ended up parking quite a ways away and walking through the industrial park to the brewery.

One of the notable aspects of this annual Blue & Gray event is the family-friendly atmosphere. The annual parade is much anticipated and folks always stay afterwards to enjoy the festivities; inclement weather notwithstanding.

The entertainment was under a large tent which was filled to standing room only. I ate my meal of bangers and mash standing inside the future home of "Lee's Retreat", the brewpub under construction at the brewery. My meal was followed by a welcome pint of Blue & Gray Stonewall Stout as a foil against the cool damp air. Stonewall Stout has a nice balance of roasted malts and mild sweetness. The finish is slightly bitter. It has a creamy mouthfeel with light carbonation. Overall it's a well-done stout that is sure to satisfy and is my favorite among Blue & Gray's year-round beers.

I've posted a few pictures from the event here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Virginia Beer Wednesdays at CAH

The email from Capital Ale House let me know that Blue Mountain Brewery's MacHayden's Wee Heavy was a "featured beer" in Fredericksburg this week. That's a Virginia beer that I've not yet tried. Since every Wednesday is "Virginia Beer Day" at all Capital Ale House locations, when drafts of Virginia beers are discounted, I decided to stop by for a pint after work yesterday. Many Virginia breweries are represented in the CAH lineup, including Blue Mountain, Starr Hill, St. George, Blue & Gray, and Olde Richmond.

Blue Mountain MacHayden's Wee Heavy pours cola-brown with a beige head. (Cell phone photo at right.) There's not a strong aroma, but I detected light smoke and caramel notes. The taste is very pleasing with bready, dark malts. There's a bit of bitter hops to go along. I found it to be a well-balanced and enjoyable drink.

I could have easily enjoyed a second MacHayden's, but I decided to order another Virginia beer that I've missed trying out, Olde Richmond Batch No. 11 India Pale Ale. I admit I don't know much about this Hampton Roads brewery. Batch No. 11 IPA pours a golden yellow with a very thin head. The aroma is light citrus. The flavor was bitter citrus rind with a sweet malt in the background. It was an enjoyable, though not extraordinary IPA.

I enjoyed my brief visit to "Virginia Beer Day" and I got to try out two, new-to-me beers. Since this is a weekly event, I look forward to returning again to support our local breweries.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Northern Virginia BrewFests: Save the Dates

If your schedule is anything like mine, your calendar fills fast. This seems especially true during the summer. So it's not too early to start making plans for the two annual Northern Virginia BrewFests.

3rd Annual Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest
Saturday, June 26, 2010 - 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Sunday, June 27, 2010 - 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Morven Park, Leesburg, Virginia
Advance tickets are now on sale here.
See for more information.

You can see my report from last year's NoVA Summer BrewFest here.

4th Annual Northern Virginia BrewFest
Saturday, October 23, 2010 - 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Sunday, October 24, 2010 - 11:00 AM - 7:00PM
Special Events Center, Bull Run Regional Park, Centreville, Virginia

Tickets go on sale online August 15, 2010
See for more information.

Read my report from last year's NoVA Brewfest here.

Both of these are not-be-missed events for craft beer fans in Virginia and surrounding areas. Mark your calendar today!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spring Comes to Blue Mountain Brewery

Our friends over at Nelson County Life bring us this story as a hint of the upcoming Spring. The folks at Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton were planting hops on Monday.
Temps made it to the middle 60’s Monday afternoon in the Rockfish Valley of Nelson County, and people that have been waiting on the warmer weather made use of it! Our Paul Purpura caught up with Stan Driver, owner of Riverside Horticulture & Nursery in Nellysford, getting the ground ready and putting in hops at Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton.

The hops will be used in the beers produced at Blue Mountain. For more on the hop farm at Blue Mountain see the brewery's web site.

More photos at Nelson County Life.
Photo By Paul Purpura : ©2010

Blue & Gray St. Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration This Weekend

The 8th annual St. Patrick's day parade at the Blue & Gray Brewery will be held on Saturday, March 13. There is a full day of events planned. The parade starts at noon on Saturday, March 13, through the Bowman Center. Irish entertainment will take place at the brewery from 11:00AM - 3:00PM.  The Rappahannock Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society will be giving rides on historic rail cars on nearby tracks starting at 11:00.

Beer by the glass and food will be available for purchase. Homemade soda and hot dogs for kids too!

Like all Blue & Gray events, the St. Patrick's Day celebration is family-friendly. This is a always a fun day and I look forward to seeing you there and enjoying some fresh, local beer.

Pictures from previous years are here and here.

Monday, March 8, 2010

NoVA Magazine Sponsoring Snowmageddon Sorrows Contest

I received this in an email today from the folks a Northern Virginia Magazine. It's probably most suited for our Northern Virginia friends, but I thought I'd pass it along. The magazine is holding a content to help folks get over any blues brought on by the recent Snowmageddon.
We are currently holding a contest for March where we’ll be giving away 10 $100 gift certificates to different bars across the NoVA area and thought your readers might be interested. We’ve focused on March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day, and have 5 sports bars and 5 Irish pubs who have donated the certificates. The contest is a drawing of sorts, and we thought your readers might like to take advantage of the offer and maybe win some free beer money!

Just fill out the survey at to be entered to win. But, you better hurry, the deadline is noon on March 10.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kybecca Wine Bar Gets Beer Props

Northern Virginia Magazine did a piece this month on Wine Bars. Fredericksburg's kybecca wine bar & shop was among the featured shops. Locals know that in addition to wine, kybecca also boasts an excellent craft beer selection; both in the wine bar and in their store. Northern Virginia Magazine took note of this as well.
The Snyders’ commitment to craft beer is just as great, as evidenced by the dozens of artisan brews they showcase, including: a boatload of Belgians (Maredsous 6, Gulden Draak, multiple Chimay, Orval), the best of North America (multiple Dogfish Head, Unibroue, Bell’s Brewery) and even some gluten-free bottles.

See the complete article here.

Hat tip to City Beat Blog for the pointer to the article.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Holy Brew Founders Featured in Loudoun Independant Newspaper

Holy Brew founders Scott Kasper and Warren Brown were featured in a video interview and accompanying article in the Loudoun Independant newspaper. Holy Brew is based in Loudoun County, VA and their two beers are available throughout Virginia. Currently Holy Brew offers two beers. Heavenly Light is a light American Lager and Purgatory Pilsner is a "Deluxe American Lager." During the interview they let on that they have a "hoppier" ale coming out soon.

It's always a fun to see Virginia craft brewers get mentioned in the press. See the article and video interview here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

World Beer Festival Coming to Richmond

After being postponed last year, the World Beer Festival is coming to Richmond, VA on Saturday, June 12, 2010. All About Beer magazine sent the following press release.
The World Beer Festival Coming to Richmond
Presented by local charity, FETCH a Cure, the World Beer Festival is one of the premier beer events in the country

February 23, 2010 (Richmond, Va.) – The World Beer Festival, one of the top beer events in the country, will premier in Richmond on Saturday, June 12, 2010, on Downtown Richmond’s Brown’s Island. Produced by All About Beer Magazine, the World Beer Festival is a celebration of the world beer culture, offering attendees a sampling of hundreds of beers from more than 200 domestic and international breweries. Festival goers can also enjoy educational sessions by industry experts, food from a variety of local restaurants, plus live entertainment by local musicians. The festival is presented by local Richmond charity; FETCH a Cure, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping pet owners make better, fully informed decisions about caring for their aging pets.

"We are excited to bring the World Beer Festival to Richmond and are thrilled to be partnered with All About Beer Magazine,” said Joanne Silverman, director of FETCH a Cure. “Highly exclaimed within the beer loving community across the country, this festival is a unique opportunity for Richmonders to sample different beers from around the world while learning more about the history and culture of beer."

All About Beer Magazine has produced the World Beer Festival for more than a decade. It is recognized as one of the premier beer events in the country, with, USA Today, and Wired all calling attention to it. Each year the World Beer Festival is held in Raleigh and Durham, NC, where each has sold out all tickets for several years running. In 2009 the festival added Columbia, SC to its roster of cities.

“We are pleased to bring our World Beer Festival to Richmond, and join its burgeoning beer culture,” said Daniel Bradford, Publisher of All About Beer Magazine. “We hope that the World Beer Festival-Richmond becomes a gathering place for all interested in the exciting world of beer – consumers, retailers, wholesalers and suppliers.”

The festival offers two four-hour sessions, from noon to 4 p.m., and from 6 to 10 p.m. General admission to a single session is $40 in advance, $50 day of the event, which includes beer samples, music by local bands, educational sessions by industry experts, and a festival tasting glass. VIP tickets are also available for an additional $35. VIP benefits include admission to VIP lounge, samples of special beers available only in VIP area, special VIP-area music, and free catered food in VIP area.

Tickets for the World Beer Festival will go on sale in late March at Subscribers to All About Beer Magazine have the opportunity to purchase tickets prior to their being offered to the general public. For more information on the Richmond festival, visit

I've enjoyed previous World Beer Fests in Raleigh and Durham, NC. I'm looking forward to attending this event closer to home. See you there!

Win a Trip to the GABF

Want to attend the Great American Beer Festival? Want to go for free? Here's a chance to do just that, and contribute to a good cause at the same time. Pints for Prostates is giving away a trip for two for the event to be held September 16-18, 2010 in Denver.

The winner and a guest will get a chance to sample beers from an estimated 450 breweries serving more than 2,100 brews at the GABF. They will also receive tickets to one of the top gourmet beer events in the nation: The Denver Rare Beer Tasting II, along with visits to great craft breweries and special access to insider beer events.

The trip includes:

-- Round Trip Airfare for Two to Denver (from anywhere in the continental U.S.)
-- Three Night Hotel Stay at a Convenient Downtown Location (Double Occupancy)
-- Two Tickets for Three Sessions at the Great American Beer Festival (Thurs./Fri./Sat. Nights)
-- Two Tickets to the Denver Rare Beer Tasting II (Friday 1-4 p.m.)
-- Hosted Pub Crawl with Rick Lyke, Beer Writer and Pints for Prostates Founder
-- Special Access to Insider Beer Events to Meet Brewers and Taste Limited Release Beers
-- Gift Cards for Lunch & Dinner at Denver Brewpubs & Beer Bars

The total estimated value of the trip is $2,500. The winner will be selected on Aug. 21, 2010.

Tickets will be available where legal at beer festivals and other events for a $10 donation or three for a $25 donation. If you cannot get to one of our events, you can still enter. Mail a check made out to "Pints for Prostates Inc." for the number of tickets you would like, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope so we can send back your ticket stub(s) to: Pints for Prostates/GABF, 12673 Overlook Mountain Dr., Charlotte, N.C. 28216-6726. You must be at least 21 years old to enter and to take the trip.

All proceeds benefit the Pints for Prostates campaign, which supports programs to fight prostate cancer and help men and their families battling the disease. For more information, contact Rick Lyke at here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Whiskey Toothpaste?

This is a funny ad, but apparently for a real product advertised in a 1961 issue of House and Garden. I don't think this would be the breath freshener of choice if you were trying to cover up a night on the town.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

3rd Annual National IPA Challenge

It's that time of the year again. The folks at Brewing News are putting on their third annual National IPA Challenge. They've assembled a field of 128 IPAs to go head to head in a taste test. It's unscientific but a lot of fun. And the best part? The person with the winning picks will receive a free case of the 2010 NIPAC championship IPA!

You can see all the details, register, and pick your winners at the NIPAC website. But you better hurry, the first round of judging takes place February 14. How will your favorite IPA do?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blue Gray Breweriana Show Starts Wednesday

The annual Blue Gray Breweriana Show starts February 10 and continues through Saturday, February 13. This year marks the 31st year for the annual Fredericksburg event. This year's show promises to be as exciting as ever as they celebrate the 75th anniversary of the beer can. In addition to endless displays of beer-related collectables, the gathering is also known for ongoing tastings of special beers sent by brewers from around the country. There will be beers brewed especially for the event, as well as beers generally not available outside of their home region.

It's not too late to register. Your registration gets you in every day of the show. See the web site for more information. For ongoing reports of the show, be sure to visit the Blue Gray Facebook page as well.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Kybecca Will Consolidate Locations

From the kybecca blog:
As a result of Ukrop's closing kybecca has decided to consolidate the store at 4264 Plank Road with the original location at 400-402 William Street. Ukrop's was the anchor tenant that provided traffic and synergy, and their closing has made this location redundant. Our last day at the Plank Road store will be March 2, 2010.

The Plank Road kybecca was the closest place to my home to get good beer. The store's closing is disappointing, but not unexpected. With closing of Ukrop's the shopping center is without an anchor store. If recent Fredericksburg history is any indication, the old Ukrop's location will remain empty for a long time. Good beer, wine, and cheese can still be found at the downtown location, along with the kybecca wine bar.

See the entire press release here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tuppers' Hop Pocket Ale - It's Here!

We've been following the story of the eminent return of Tuppers' Hop Pocket Ale since late 2008. Well, that long-awaited day has finally arrived. The beer officially (re)debuted at the Hard Times Cafe in Bethesda last week. Greg Kitsock writes in The Washington Post about the event.
Last Tuesday night, Bob and his wife, Ellie, senior production editor for the American Society for Microbiology, were glad-handing customers at the Hard Times Cafe in Bethesda (their home town) and handing out logo glassware for the bar staff to fill with their eponymous Tuppers' Hop Pocket Ale.

The rollout marked the beer's first appearance in more than two years. The previous batch, notes Bob, rolled off the bottling line of the Old Dominion Brewing Co. on Nov. 30, 2007. Earlier that year, the Ashburn brewery had changed hands, and the new ownership balked at brewing the Tuppers' beer because it was time-consuming and expensive.

The Tuppers developed a near cult following for their beers in this region. Fans have been waiting for 2 years to be able to drink Hop Pocket Ale once again. I had a sample at the Northern Virginia BrewFest and it was every bit as good as I remember.

The production at St. George Brewing won't match the capacity previously brewed at Old Dominion Brewing Company, so it may be hard to find for awhile, especially as fans eagerly snatch up early stock. Keep an eye on the Tuppers' news site for updates on retailers and pubs where Hop Pocket Ale is available. Hopefully, I'll be able to do a full review on The Musings soon.

Read the complete Washington Post article here.