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Draft Notes

One beer at a time…

Archive for the month “September, 2012”

Weeping Radish Brewery – Grandy, North Carolina

A couple of weeks ago I went down to the Outer Banks (Hatteras, NC) for a beach get away with my wife and some friends. Of course if I am taking a trip out of town, my first question is: Which breweries are nearby and what beers can I get not available in the VA/DC area? Fortunately the Bavarian themed Weeping Radish Farm Brewery in Grandy, North Carolina was on our way down and was immediately added to the schedule. The bonus that comes with this brewery is “Farm” part of the name as they also have a German style butcher on site selling Brats, Keilbasa, Liverwurst, etc, etc. Now I may be crazy, but I can’t think of a better stop to make on the way to the beach where grilling and beer will be a high priority.

No!

One aspect of life living in the beltway (or most other large cities) is dealing with and planning around traffic. Plan was to leave at 530am from Arlington with hopes for minimal traffic and to reach the Radish for lunch (yes, they have a restaurant too), pick up supplies, and drive the last 2 hours to Hatteras. We get on the road around 6am and it is a smooth ride out of the beltway south through Virginia. Traffic was nowhere to be seen and we are happy as could be until 4 hours pass and we arrive at the Radish at 10am, otherwise known as an hour before opening time. First off, a traffic free drive from DC through Richmond and Norfolk does not happen. The plan was solid; the traffic just did not show up. We pull into the parking lot and ask the goat (told you it was a farm) if we could get in early as no one else was to be seen. Goat says “no”, I shed a tear, and we are back on the road. Don’t worry though, other friends on the beach vacation team would be driving through the following day that would be able to pick up supplies and save the week. I also would be able to stop by on the way home to get a quick look in person.

The Weeping Radish beers we had at the beach were the Corolla Gold, Fest Beer, and the Weizen. Additionally we had Beer Brats, Brats, and Andouille for the grill. My favorite beer of this group was the Corolla Gold which is a Helles Lager and I thought the Fest Beer (Oktoberfest Marzen) was pretty good too. None of us were too impressed with the Weizen (Hefeweizen), but it was eventually finished. They sell all their beers in 22oz and kegs from what I could tell and they actually sell cases of the 22oz bottles online for $39. When we stopped in on our way home, I picked up the two beers we had not tried available in bottles to go: OBX Beer and Black Radish. OBX Beer is a Kolsch and Black Radish is a Schwarzbier/Dark German Lager.  The Black Radish, in my opinion, is clearly the gem of this brewery which you must try if you get a chance. The sausages were outstanding and we picked up some liverwurst which was really good too. All these products are made from local ingredients as part of their Farm to Fork theme.

The brewery has a bar where you can try samples of their beers or just buy a pint. As noted earlier, there is also a seating section for those looking for a meal. There is a cool upstairs look out area which overlooks the brewing area, so you can watch the brewers at work filling bottles, mashing, etc.  Great idea for those who may just want a quick glance, but may not want to walk the entire tour. They do offer tours for $5 with three samples included. The tour includes a look at the meat smoke house and butchery.  Outside they have a few goats wandering around which is fitting as the brewery itself looks like a big barn. Just be careful not to touch the electric fence. I have a feeling this electric fence could be entertaining later in the day/night as people consume a few too many pints and decide to try to play with the goats.

I would definitely recommend you stop by the Weeping Radish to try their Bavarian themed beers (Don’t forget to try the Black Radish) and meats. The 22oz bottles were about $4 a piece and a 4 pack of Brats were around $8-9, so you can definitely pick up a few bottles and some Brats for a reasonable price. They have a laid back environment, obvious tight link to the community, and friendly and helpful staff.  Learn more at http://weepingradish.com/index.php. Cheers!

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Unita Brewing Company Wyld Extra Pale Ale

After being sidelined for about a week with a cold, I am excited to be reviewing Unita Brewing Company’s Wyld Extra Pale Ale. Unita is located in Salt Lake City, Utah and is named after the Unita mountain range which is the highest range in the contiguous United States running east to west (Thanks Wikipedia!).  I will be the first to admit I have a soft spot for environmental issues, so I was excited to read about Unita’s commitment to sustainability and their green business practices. The Unita brewery became 100% wind powered in 2001 and recently installed solar panels making them 15% solar and 85% wind.  Additionally they have created their own brown glass recycling center and donate grain to local farmers to feed their livestock. All these efforts in line with other great breweries such as Sierra Nevada and Maui Brewing who get the job done with  great beers while respecting old mother earth. Now, I dismount that high horse and explain the beer to be consumed. Wyld Extra Pale Ale is part of the Organic Series available year round. An Extra Pale Ale is generally a light bodied pale ale which still contains a decent amount of hops as seen in a regular Pale Ale. This particular beer is dry hopped to get the hop taste and aromas of pale ale; however, weighing in at only 4% ABV.

Unita Wyld Extra Pale Ale

I purchased this beer for about $2 for a 12 ounce bottle, so it should run around $8 for a six pack.  I pour the beer into my favorite tasting glass (tulip) to see a cloudy orange beer with an inch of white fluffy head. The head slowly recedes leaving a moderate amount of lacing on the glass.  The aromas are very nice. I smell the floral hops, citrus, pine and something very earthy; all of which come together quite well. My first taste presents me with a glimpse of those floral hops, but the flavors are far from what I expected based on the aromas. It has a sweet taste with a bitter finish, though not a whole lot of anything which makes it slightly boring. The mouth feel is light and quite crisp with a little carbonation.  Giving a minor bump for the appearance and aromas which had me intrigued my overall rating for this will be 2.75 mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes Scale. So much potential up front, but an unimpressive beer from the most important stand point, taste. I look forward to trying other Unita beers, this one is just not for me.

Learn more about Unita Brewing Company here:  http://www.uintabrewing.com/ and more information on their green business practices here: http://www.uintabrewing.com/business_practices.php.

Shipyard Brewing Company Smashed Pumpkin Ale

As much I as I hate to believe it, summer is done and cold weather is ahead. The two benefits of this are fall seasonals and football. Eventually we will also have winter seasonals and football too. Trying to stay positive here! The first fall seasonal beer  I have decided to review is Shipyard Brewing Company’s Smashed Pumpkin Ale. This beer is part of Shipyard’s Pugsley’s Signature Series and any time you have a special series it often means high ABV of imperial stature. This pumpkin ale fits the bill weighing in at 9 % ABV. It took me a while to warm up to the concept of pumpkin beers and I am happy to say I am fully onboard after about 3 or 4 seasons of practice. Brewed in Portland, Maine, this beer contains Light Wheat and Munich malts paired with the spicy/earthy Willamette and Hallertau hops. You may be wondering why wheat malts are used in ale such as this, well according Beer Advocate they are often used in small quantities to help head retention. Moving on, time to try this Imperial Pumpkin.

Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin Ale

I purchased this beer in a 22oz bottle, retailing at $13 in North Carolina. My tasting was done in a Belgian beer glass to ensure I could take in all the aromas this beer has to offer. The color is a cloudy copper with a white head (which actually had little retention after all my educating above). The aromas of this beer are the obvious pumpkin and nutmeg as you will find in most pumpkin ales, but really not as overwhelming as other I have consumed. Taste once again incorporates the expected pumpkin and nutmeg, but the added bonus is actually being able to taste the spicy hops which tend to be buried in most pumpkin ales.  A little too much of the alcohol taste is coming through for my liking. Mouth feel is smooth, light to medium with minimal carbonation. Unfortunately the alcohol in beating out those hops in the lingering after taste. Overall, I like that this ale does not smell or taste overwhelmingly like a pumpkin pie with a pound of nutmeg. However, I was a little disappointed in the balance and inability to tame the alcohol taste at the end. I tend lower my rating based on the after taste because when I sit around drinking a beer, I can’t be swishing it around in my mouth the whole time. Therefore, I will give the Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin Ale 3.5 mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes scale.

This was my first Shipyard beer and I look forward to trying more of their offerings. To read more about the brewery, check out their website here: http://www.shipyard.com/. I plan on reviewing another pumpkin ale in the “Imperial” category as I would like to compare the finish on others to see if my expectations are too high. Look out for the Southern Tier Pumking review in the next couple of weeks.

Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale

Over the last week I was fortunate enough to spend some time with great friends in OBX (Hatteras, NC) and I decided it was finally time to bust out the Rogue Voodoo Bacon Maple Ale. Definitely the perfect time for a morning tasting with no responsibilities for days, so that is what we did once we got the bacon sizzling. Rogue, located in Newport, Oregon, is known for well… their rogue attitude when brewing beer. When I saw the bright pink bottle on the shelf offering a bacon flavored beer, I can’t say I was too surprised. This beer is named after Voodoo Doughnut, a legendary Portland donut shop known for their crazy toppings which I am proud to say I was able to recognize after seeing them on Donut Paradise (Travel Channel) a couple of years back. Don’t judge. With a little encouragement from the store keeper, I decide to make the $12 (22oz bottle) purchase to see if they could pull this off.

Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale

I poured out three four ounce samples for my first willing tasters and I. The appearance was a deep orange, maybe copper with white head. Nothing too strange there, but then I take a wiff of the aromas detecting a nice maple scent. Mentally it was tough to comprehend a sweet, sweet maple scent coming from my beer despite being fully aware of what I was getting us into. I was actually surprised that the bacon did not really stand out, though there was a smoke aroma which some may say is the bacon. Time to taste; so we clink the glasses to our morning start and dive in. Holy smoke! The 3 smoked malts used, to include house-smoked hickory malt, are quite overwhelming. Maple is definitely there, along with a hint of bacon and grain/wheat. The mouth feel is very smooth and moderately dense. I have only tried a couple, but the smoke taste immediately brought to mind a Rauchbier (specifically Sam Adams Bonfire Rauch). Overall, I was disappointed that the flavors didn’t really balance out well as the smoke flavor was way too harsh. It was definitely worth try, but I would not recommend buying this beer unless you have some friends around to finish the bottle with you. When I return home to write my review based on my notes and conduct additional research I realized this is considered a smoke beer (Beer Advocate) which some may say is the same as a Rauchbier. I did not taste expecting this, so I may not have been so taken by the smoke had I known. Hard to say either way. I give credit to Rogue for keeping it Oregon weird and will continue to try their off the wall ales. However, I have to give a rating of 2 Mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes Scale.

Read more about Rogue at http://rogue.com/index.php and for the curious doughnut fans: http://voodoodoughnut.com/index.php

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