Sunday, October 25, 2015

Battle of the Pumpkin- NOVA Brewfest

  Last weekend I ventured to the fall edition of the NOVA Brewfest, which is sponsored by Mad Fox Brewing  out Falls Church. The brewfest is held twice a year at Bull Run Park in Manassas. It was a chilly and blustery day, but the beer was flowing and it kept you warm enough.

      Since it was the fall NOVA brewfest several breweries brought out their pumpkin beers. I tried three of them.

   First was from Capital City Brewing, it is their Dr. Punkinstein. This a very robust porter with a lot of flavors.  They have added chocolate, honey, crystal malts, oats, pumpkin, butternut squash, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. This is everything I love about fall. Wonderfully flavored, smooth and not too strong at 6.6 ABV%.

    Next was Hardywood's Farm House Pumpkin. This is their Wallonian-style Farmhouse Ale pumpkin beer. They use ripe, flame roasted Virginia sugar pumpkins and brown sugar, freshly ground Ceylon cinnamon, whole Grenada nutmeg, whole Madagascar clove and whole allspice and pounds of freshly sliced organic ginger root. This is much different than their Rum Pumpkin. This has the traditional pumpkin beer flavor but not over powering at all. At 8.5% this another to help you survive Thanksgiving dinner.

    The last pumpkin beer I had was from Tin Cannon. They had their Pun'ktin Ale. They used about 10 pounds of pumpkin for this malty, amber ale. Wonderfully spiced with pumpkin spice and other fall spices. This beer comes in at 7.5% ABV and will go perfect with pumpkin pie and that one aunt that still pinches your cheeks even though you are almost 40. You can only get this at the brewery so I suggest heading there asap and grab a couple pints, and maybe closer to Thanksgiving for a growler if its still available.

   Now I didn't just have pumpkin beers while I was here. I tried several other beers that I have not had before.  Some of the notable beers were Leesburg's Crooked Run's Shadow of Truth, which is a Black Belgian Tripel at 8% ABV and 30 IBU's was perfect for the cool fall day. Next was from Fair Winds out of Lorton. They had their Nautifest which is their Oktoberfest. Delightfully smooth and nicely flavored, with a 5.5% ABV and only 20 IBU's. Lastly was O'Connor Brewing's Great Dismal Black IPA, which is a wonderfully dark, full flavored beer and comes in at 7.5% ABV and 65 IBU's. 

    This was my first time being at the NOVA Brewfest and I had a great time seeing all the different breweries out there braving the cold and wind. Got to meet some new people and talk to some old friends. I heard from some people that the fall one was better than the spring. I don't know if that is true, but I will go next spring and see for myself. As should you.

Battle of the Pumpkin- Hardywood

    Next pumpkin beer we have is from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery out of Richmond. They offer two pumpkin beers. I chose the one from their barrel series, the Rum Pumpkin.

   This pumpkin beer is like no other that I have tasted so far. Hardywood ages this pumpkin beer in Caribbean dark rum barrels(which I am huge fan of when not drinking craft beer). You get a nice familiar pumpkin spice flavor up front and a sweetness from the brown sugar, then a great addition of the spiced dark rum. It has a great kick to it at 10.5% ABV! I think this the perfect beer for those wonderful family Thanksgiving dinners, not only will it taste great with dinner and desert, it will definitely help you sleep along with the food coma. 
     This is in limited release and sells out very quickly. I regret not getting more than one bottle when I purchased it. This is a pumpkin beer you do not want to let slip by. You may just have to take special trip down to Richmond before the holiday and grab yourself some. I might be doing the same thing if I cannot find it at my favorite local beer distributors.

Next up, pumpkin beer NOVA Brewfest edition.

Monday, October 19, 2015

South Street Brewery


       I started off the weekend by meeting some friends and my son just outside of Charlottesville at Carter Mountain to do a little apple picking. After walking up and down the trails, some apple cider donuts and 21 lbs of apples we needed some dinner. Being where we were I made several suggestions and we decided to venture to South Street Brewery. South Street is an old building in the downtown heart of Charlottesville, minutes from UVA.  When you get there you walk into a large room, with a wonderful fireplace, couches and chairs in the middle. Dining tables fill the floor, there is huge bar in front of their beautiful stainless steel brewing system, which is behind glass.  I have been to South Street once before for lunch and it was fantastic. I was looking forward to having dinner, and sampling more of their beers.

     We started our meal with a tall Oktoberfest Lager (5.3% ABV), wings, calamari, and veggie wonchos(kind of like chips and dip). The wings had a nice rub and were not too spicy so the kids were able to enjoy. The calamari was perfectly cooked and seasoned. It just the right amount of spiciness and flavor and was another big hit with the kids. My favorite had to be the veggie wonchos. These were fried wonton chips served with a bowl of vegetarian chili. The chili was amazing, it wasn't spicy it was more of a sweetness which went perfect with the Oktoberfest Lager.

     For dinner I had the Duo of Pork which is pork belly and a honey chipotle pork tenderloin, served with probably the best creamed corn I have probably ever had. The pork belly was cooked to perfection and the tenderloin was melt in your mouth tender. After dinner was over my buddy and I ordered a flight to finish the night off.

    The flight consisted of:
Bumper Crop- Fresh hop ale using wet Nelson County Cascade hops. Has an 8.3% ABV and incalculable IBU's.  Sweet up front with floral hints and nice earthy hops at end.

Anastasia's Chocolate Fantasy- Russian Imperial Stout. This dark stout has 10.5% ABV and 40 IBU's. This stout has a wonderful chocolaty flavor with a nice roasted barley and malt flavor.

Bar Hopper- American IPA. Which has a 6.8% ABV 60 IBU's. A little bit hoppier than I normal like, but it had a great caramel wheat flavor.

Fruit Lups- American Wheat Ale, with a 6.5% ABV and 33 IBU's. I was looking forward to this one and it did not disappoint. Nice golden color with a fruity honey flavor. I didn't think it was to bitter at all.

Satan's Pony- Amber Ale with 5.3% ABV and a very low 12 IBU's. One of their most popular beers and I can understand why. Great flavor and not very filling at all. Low ABV and IBU means you can have a few of these.

JP Ale- Pale Ale with a 5.0% ABV and 30 IBU's. Had a nice fruitiness flavor and little bitterness which comes from the Centennial and Cascade Hops.

      Overall my experience at South Street Brewery was a great one. The food was excellent and the beer was delicious. For the non beer fans they also have wine and some selected mixed drinks. Also for those of you who didn't know South Street is part of the Blue Mountain family. I would suggest this brewery to anyone that is visiting or wants to visit Charlottesville and wants to have a great meal and some great beer.

     This was just the beginning to my weekend. I will have a couple of more posts later this week.
As always, drink up and eat well!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Battle of the Pumpkin- Aleworks

     For round 3 of my #pumpkinbeerchallenge I chose Pumpkin Ale from AleWerks Brewing Company out of Williamsburg.

     This Spiced Ale has had the strongest spice flavor so far. The initial aroma is that of a pumpkin pie. It definitely reminds of fall and the stuff I love about this season. The beer consists of "Munich and Biscuit malts. American Fuggle hops. Pumpkin, spice, brown sugar". You can really taste the pumpkin and spice at first, the brown sugar kind of rolls in at the end for me. The alcohol volume for this is 7.3% which will warm you up nicely on a chilly night. This one is not for the people that dislike pumpkin beer, this is for the pumpkin spice beer LOVERS. I thoroughly enjoy this beer and will continue to drink this through the fall.

     AleWerks has also mentioned a limited release of an Imperial Barrel-Aged Pumpkin Ale, that you can only get in the brewery. I would love to get my hands on some of this. If anyone wants to grab me a bottle, let me know!  For details follow this link: Alewerks Facebook

     Either at the end of this week or over the weekend I will be trying Hardywood's Rum Pumpkin. I can't wait.

Until then, drink up and eat well!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Battle of the Pumpkin- Blue Mountain

    The next pumpkin contender is from the formidable Blue Mountain Brewery. I was able to pick up their version of pumpkin beer Spooky. This choice is from their barrel house series(which means it's been aged in something great). I actually had this for the first time at the Virginia Craft Brewer's Fest and could not wait to get my hands on a bottle.

     Spooky is an "Un-spiced Imperial Pumpkin Ale with Cocoa Nibs aged in charred American White Oak Rye (Claremont Springs) and Heaven Hill bourbon  barrels. Dominant barrel flavors of vanilla and oak/coconut. Over 200 pounds of puréed pumpkin in every batch"(Direct description from site).  I tasted the pumpkin and the bourbon flavors right away. They complimented each other wonderfully. . I shared this with a friend of mine, because at 8.2% ABV, I was not going to drink it all myself. He is not a pumpkin beer fan but admitted that it was really good and wanted to know if I had another bottle. I did not. I think this would be a good choice for someone that does not like the "spices" that are added to pumpkin beer, but wants something with a lot of flavor and especially if they like the barrel aged beers. I will be sure to grab another bottle or two and possibly let one of them age until next fall.

    Coming soon I picked up some of Alewerks Pumpkin Ale, Hardywood's Rum Pumpkin and Epic Brewing and DC Brau's collaboration Fermentation without Representation    an imperial pumpkin porter. So stay tuned for these reviews.

Remember to drink up and eat well!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Battle of the Pumpkin- Starr Hill

    Every week or so for the next couple of months I'm going to be trying the ever infamous Pumpkin Beers. There is a lot of opinions on pumpkin beer, either you love it or you think its an abomination to beer drinkers everywhere. I happen to like pumpkin beers. I think it's something different from the norm. 

    Anyway, this week I am drinking Starr Hill's Boxcarr Pumpkin Porter. Starr Hill describes it as an english style brown porter with pumpkin and spices.  The initial aroma is definitely the smell of fall and pumpkin pie. The taste I think is great, you get the subtle spices right up front and the pumpkin taste on the back end. The pumpkin spice and nutmeg and whatever else they use is definitely not over powering for this porter. This is a very nice full porter with only a 4.5% ABV, which is great for a nice chilly fall day or evening. Even if you don't like pumpkin beers, but like porters I suggest giving it a chance. I have not decided what to do next, maybe Blue Mountain's Spooky. We will just have to see.

Until then drink up and eat well!
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