Draft Notes

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Virginia Beer Month 2015 – A Beer a Day

While conducting my usual review of all things craft beer on the world wide web, I ran across an article by Chris Lang of “The Burg” which peaked my interest.  Chris proposed I (and anyone else who was listening) celebrate Virginia Beer Month with a different Virginia beer each of the 31 glorious days. My immediate thought… challenge accepted and it will be the 2nd return of Draft Notes to feed the 4 or 5 parched individuals frequenting my mighty blog each day. So here we are.

I was inspired by Chris’ list, but unfortunately our state beer availability is slightly different. Here is my consumption list which I will continue to update through the month. Also keep up on Twitter.

Saturday August 1, 2015
Brewery: South Street Brewery
Brewery Location: Charlottesville, VA
Beer: Virginia Lager
Style: American Light Lager
Notes: Crisp lager to get the month started. Slightly malty and sweet, works well on the patio during a hot day. Not exactly an exciting beer, but would take it over the big macro options.

Jet NoiseSunday August 2, 2015
Brewery: Young Veterans Brewing Company
Brewery Location: Virginia Beach, VA
Beer: Jet Noise
Style: Double IPA
Notes: Balanced DIPA which allows you to forget the 8% ABV quickly. Smooth, Nice hop aromas, sweet piney notes. Paired well with Jamaican Jerk Chicken off the grill.

Monday August 3, 2015
Brewery: Old Ox (Not to be confused with Red Bull)Ox
Brewery Location: Ashburn, VA
Beer: Year of the OX (2015)
Style: Double IPA
Notes: Beer created to celebrate the Old Ox’s 1st anniversary. Orange and grapefruit aromas. Grass and grapefruit notes. Bitter, boozy finish.

Tuesday August 4, 2015
Brewery: Heritage Brewing Company
Brewery Location: Manassas, VA
Beer: American Expedition
Style: Wheat Ale
Notes: This is a Honey Ginger Wheat which is extremely smooth and easy drinking. Really crisp and slightly sweet finish. Had this from the can, but in the past I had it on draft which was even better. Maybe I was just thirstier!

Wednesday August 5, 2015
Z damBrewery: Legend Brewing Company
Brewery Location: Richmond, VA
Beer: Z Dam
Style: Golden Ale
Notes: Limited aromas. Grass, ginger, and citrus notes. All very subtle. Dry mouthfeel. Interesting beer, but a little light for me.

Thursday August 6, 2015
Brewery: Champion Brewing Company
Brewery Location: Charlottesville, VA
Beer: Killer Kolsch
Style: Kolsch Style Ale
Notes: Crisp, bready, light hops. Another great summer beer. Champion took an ale and fermented it at cooler lager temperatures, hence the style is listed as kolsch “style”.

Ways and MeansFriday August 7, 2015
Brewery: Port City Brewing Company
Brewery Location: Alexandria, VA
Beer: Ways & Means
Style: Rye Session Ale
Notes: My hometown brewery and I dipped into one of my favorites. Spicy, full flavored work of art at 4.5% ABV. Holds up in all weather and I just had to throw it in the VA Beer Month mix.

Saturday August 8, 2015
Brewery: Blue Mountain BreweryOfest
Brewery Location: Afton, VA
Beer: 13.Five Ofest
Style: Marzen
Notes: A delicious Oktoberfest beer which quenches the thirst. Could drink it by the liter. As for the name, found this on the Blue Mountain website: What’s in a name? Only beer conforming to the “Stammwürze” law, which states a beer must have an Original Gravity of 13.5° Plato, can be served at Oktoberfest in Munich.

Sunday August 9, 2015
Brewery: Chaos Mountain Brewing
Brewery Location: Callaway, VA
Beer: Mad Hopper
Style: IPA
Notes: Big citrus aromas, all hops, no mercy. An in your face IPA.

Wildcat - Image from OBH website.

Wildcat – Image from OBH website.

Monday August 10, 2015
Brewery: Old Bust Head Brewery
Brewery Location: Warrenton, VA
Beer: Wildcat IPA
Style: IPA
Notes: Almost the opposite of last nights Mad Hopper. Still has the citrus, but a lot more balanced with sweet malts making their way through the hops. Great beer, but I definitely prefer the Bust Head English Pale Ale.


Abita Mardi Gras Bock

With Mardi Gras around the corner it is only fitting to take a look at Louisiana’s own Abita Mardi Gras Bock. Abita is probably considered the craft beer most associated with New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. The brewery is located about 30 miles north of New Orleans in Abita Springs/Covington, LA.Abita Mardi Gras bottle

Fans of HBO’s “Treme” , set in New Orleans, would have seen Abita’s Amber taken down in many scenes. I challenge you to sit through an episode of that show without tapping your foot to the tunes… impossible even for a guy like me with zero rhythm. Anyway, back to the beer.

Here is a quick breakdown of Mardi Gras Bock with information found on the Abita website. The brewery claims this beer is best described as a German Mai Bock. They use Pale, Pilsner, and Carmel malts and German Perle Hops. ABV is 6.5% with 25 IBUs. Nutrition information is also available if you are curious, but drink the beer instead.

I will be consuming my Mardi Gras Bock from a 12 ounce bottle poured into a trusty pint mug.

Appearance is copper with a snow-white head. The head quickly recedes.

Abita Mardi Gras GlassAromas are malty, quite clean, not much really there.

Tastes I detect are obviously from the malts. I pick up biscuity, rich flavors which are sweet and a bit metallic. Not a lot of contrast in the flavors: starts rich and malty and finishes in the same manner. Ahh, maybe a little spicy bitterness.

Mouth feel is a medium body (Abita describes it as full), medium carbonation, and a dry finish.

Overall this beer is not overly impressive. I think the slight metallic taste throws me off a little, though it does check the boxes you look for in a bock. Malt forward and quite rich which sets it apart from other lagers. This beer would hold its own against some of those New Orleans creole dishes and would be easy to suck down a few. Give it a try, especially on the streets of New Orleans if you are lucky enough to be there!

Other Abita beers that I have tried and would recommend over the Mardi Gras Bock would be their other bock beer, Andygator, and a brown ale named Turbo dog. Both are pretty delicious.

Peak Organic Weiss Principal Ale

Peak Organic Brewing Company (Portland, ME) prides themselves on using organic (duh) and local ingredients to brew a high quality product. I have long been a fan of their beers, but yet to discuss any on Draft Notes. I came across one of their beers which I was unfamiliar with and also a fairly unique style, so today I will be taking a look at Peak Organic Weiss Principal Ale.Weiss Principal Bottle

Weiss Principal is described on the bottle as an imperial German style Hefe-Weisse: The international love child of a Hefe-Weisse and an American Double IPA. Beer Advocate lists this ale as a Weizenbock and Rate Beer slides it in with the American Strong Ales (huh?). One thing they all do agree on is the fact that it is a hybrid mixing a Hefe-Weisse with an imperial IPA. Two styles I enjoy, but am yet to mix.

The serving I will be reviewing is from a 22oz bottle poured into a tulip. I am anticipating some IPA like aromas, so sided with the IPA glass over a tall hefeweizen glass. Pour it out…

Weiss Principal Pour

Appearance is a rich honey colored body with a lingering off-white head.

Aromas I detect are dominated by tropical fruits – pineapple, mango, lychee, and banana stand out.

Taste continues with the tropical theme. I pick up pineapple and mango. Cloves of the hefe are in there, then a slight booze finish with a bitter bite.

Mouth feel consists of a medium body, high carbonation, leaving a syrupy film.

Overall, I am not totally impressed, but far from disappointed with this beer. Little too fruity and sweet for my taste, but it is what it says it is… A DIPA dressed in a Hefe’s clothing. A really sweet DIPA that is. I wish the piney hops would have pushed through a little more to align with my favorite IPAs. Weiss Principal Glass and Bottle

Instead of this one, I recommend checking out Peak’s seasonal ales. They all seem to be very solid and sessionable, especially the Summer. Additionally, dive into their Fresh Cut Pilsener if you run across it at your local bar or store.

Learn more about Peak Organic here: http://www.peakbrewing.com/ . You will note that Weiss Principal is not listed as one of their beers, so I have to assume it is discontinued or a special release.

Odell Brewing Company Isolation Ale

This week I continue my look at winter seasonals with that of one of my favorite breweries, Odell Brewing Company. Odell’s winter seasonal, Isolation Ale, is more in line with your traditional winter warmer than last week’s Snow Blind, yet far from a cookie cutter. A theme I have hammered in past posts is my affection for tasty session beers. Isolation Ale is as close to a session beer as a winter warmer gets with its 6% ABV and 29 IBUs.Odell and Glass

Odell Brewing Company is located in Fort Collins, Colorado and was opened in 1989 (2nd oldest microbrewery in CO). Unfortunately for us in Virginia and the rest of the east coast, their distribution is limited to about a dozen states (primarily in the Midwest) and the UK. Being one of my favorite breweries, the distribution is a bit problematic so I have to resort to online orders. Ugh.

Unlike most of my reviews, I have actually consumed Isolation Ale and I will tell you up front that I am a big fan. Here are my notes…

Appearance is deep reddish-brown with fluffy off white head which recedes leaving a heavy lacing on my glass.

Aromas are fairly mild, I pick up caramel, malt, and toast.

Caramel sweet, malty flavors come through up front with a crisp and bitter hop bite to close it out. Bitterer than I would expect at 29 IBUs, regardless the balance is perfect.

Mouth feel: medium carbonation, medium density, dry.Odell Label

Overall, I love this beer. It is not the over spiced heavy ale you think of in the winter warmer style. I believe this would be just fine as malt forward ale year round due to its drinkability. I have also seen it categorized as an English Strong Ale, which I find more accurate. If you enjoy ambers, alt biers, English ales or awesome beer, you should try Isolation Ale before the shelves empty of this winter brew.

Learn more about Odell at: http://odellbrewing.com/.

Starr Hill Snow Blind Doppelbock Lager

Starr Snow Blind With the holiday season in full swing, I decided to take a look at a couple of winter seasonals before they get by me. Today I have selected a beer from in state (Virginia) brewery Starr Hill named Snow Blind. This is the first year Starr Hill has released this doppelbock lager which weighs in at 7.4% ABV and a mere 13 IBUs. I appreciate them going a less traveled winter route by choosing this style over the more common spiced up high ABV ales.

Originating in southern Germany, doppelbocks are defined by their complex malts, roasted flavors, and low bitterness. You may have noticed that many breweries choose to name their doppelbocks with a name ending with “ator”. Randy Mosher’s “Tasting Beer” explains this trend originated with Paulaner Brewery creating the first in 1629, named “Salvator”. This name was used generically to describe all doppelbocks (like in the US we use the brand Kleenex to describe a tissue) until the 20th century when Paulaner decided to protect their brand. German breweries kept the “ator” as we see in beers such as Ayinger Celebrator and Spaten Optimator. Furthermore, some American craft brewers pay homage in beers such as Troeg’s Troegenator and Bell’s Consecrator. After explaining all this you will note that Starr Hill did not follow the trend. Oh well, let’s drink.

Appearance is a deep mahogany brown with a light tan head.

Aromas I detect are chocolate, caramel, and a touch of roasted barley.

As I sip this beer, the malts are obviously dominating – no surprise there. I taste roasted flavors, sweet caramel, and then eventually boozy, coffee finish.Starr Snow Blind w Glass

The dominant sensory impact with this beer is the mouth feel. A very heavy carbonation dominates and slowly dissipates in the mouth leaving a syrupy lip smacking finish.

Overall, I like this beer and it grows on me as I sip and write. The roasted flavors are perfect for the winter weather and dominant malts make the beer quite smooth and easy drinking. The style is not for everyone, but if you like ambers or porters you may be attracted to the malty and roasted goodness. Hop Heads need not apply.

You can read more about Starr Hill and their beers (to include Snow Blind) at http://www.starrhill.com. Their beers can be found in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. Personally I am a big fan of their Starr Pils and Grateful Pale Ale.

Coming Soon!

Where the hell have I been? Well every man has a time in their life where beer commentary has to take a back seat. A new house, a new town, and a future beer drinker later (baby boy for those who need translation) I will be back on the interwebs. Will be adjusting the format a little and hope to upgrade the site navigation. Check back soon! Cheers!!! That is a hand model, not mine. Besides I would never use that color polish.



Tommyknocker Brewery Maple Nut Brown

A few months back I received a gift of a Beer of the Month Club membership. I honestly have not had much to speak about from my deliveries; however, this week I received a beer which peaked my interest from Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs, Colorado. I am going to take a look at their Maple Nut Brown. Not a rare beer find or anything, as they distribute to over half the country and I have actually seen this beer at my local store. I have only had one beer with maple in it and that was Rogue’s Maple Bacon which was in my opinion a bit of a disaster. I have to think I can find better uses of maple out there.Tommy glass 2

My first question about this brewery is: Why the name Tommyknocker? Well, the brewery is located in a small Colorado mining town and Tommy Knockers are mythical creatures which live under ground in the mines. These creatures apparently are known to notify miners when a collapse is looming by making knocking sounds with rocks. Furthermore, they are usually the first suspect when I miner lost tools or were broken.

Couple of other quick facts about old Tommyknocker Brewery. The brewpub was founded in 1994, the town is at an elevation of 7500 feet, and they also make four types of soda. Wow!Tommyknock label
Maple Nut Brown is brewed with Perle and Willamette hops alongside 2-row, Munich, Crystal (75&150), Carapils, and Chocolate malts. As mentioned above and in the name, there is dash of maple syrup in the mix. The ABV is 4.5% and IBU level clocks in at 20. Let’s drink.

I am pouring a 12 ounce bottle into a beer mug as suggested by the beer club. The recommended serving temperature is 47-52 °F, so I let the bottle sit on the counter for 10-15 minutes to let it warm up a little.

Appearance is Amber Brown with a small amount of white head receding almost immediately.

Aromas are dessert worthy with roasted and nutty notes along with a dash of brown sugar mixed in.

Tastes I pick up immediately are caramel, nutty, and vanilla, followed by a zing of maple syrup in the finish.

Mouth feel is a medium body and minimal carbonation. Not as thick or syrupy as I expected. I think when maple syrup comes to mind, those are the qualities I am expecting and thankfully that is not the case. Quite smooth really.

Tommy glass n capOverall I am pleasantly surprised with this beer. It is very easy drinking with most of the traditional nut-brown flavors and a nice subtle twist of maple. I feel like it could be better by adding a little more toasted flavor and carbonation (a bit flat for my liking). I will rate Tommyknocker Maple Nut Brown 3.75 Mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes scale.

For more information on Tommyknocker Brewery, check them out here: http://www.tommyknocker.com/

Want to know more about Tommyknockers? Check out the American
Folklores website

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