Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cask Ale comes to 7 Corners, Virginia

Public House No. 7

Over the past 10 years or so, there has been a remarkable increase of cask-conditioned ale (and lager) available in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area. Much has been good, but some not so much. That's a post for another time, but not today, because when a restaurant, for the first time, decides to serve cask-conditioned ale, and decides to serve it correctly, it should be an occasion to be celebrated.

Such will be the case this Wednesday, 30 March at Public House No. 7 Tap Room & English Pub, in the 7 Corners area of Falls Church, Virginia. At 7pm, General Manager Patrick Blakely will tap a fresh firkin of Loose Cannon Hop3 IPA, especially prepared for him, with locally-grown hops, by the Heavy Seas Brewing Company of Baltimore, Maryland. And that will be the first pour from the pub's first-ever firkin.

A firkin is a 10.8 gallon cask, containing real ale — beer so fresh, it's still fermenting when tapped. Loose Cannon, at 7.25% alcohol-by-volume, is a heavily hopped pale ale. The brewery states that it employs a triple hopping process to impart the ale with an aromatic, fruity aroma, rather than merely a tannic finish.

I'll be on hand, as well as the local representative for the brewery, to answer questions about the beer, the brewery, and the process of cask-conditioning.

Public House No. 7 has cask ale! (01)

  • UPDATE: Photos from the tapping: here.
  • Caveat lector: As a representative for Select Wines, Inc. —a wine and beer wholesaler in northern Virgina— I sell the beers of Heavy Seas.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 10/11/12, 2011.

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundup
A non-comprehensive roundup of three weeks'
news of beer and other things.

Weeks 10/11/12
6 March 2011 - 26 March 2011

  • 2011.03.25
    Fritz Maytag (founder of Anchor Brewing) and Ken Grossman (co-founder of Sierra Nevada Brewery) reminisce for the keynote speech at the 2011 Craft Brewers Conference.
  • Mad Fox awning
  • 2011.03.25
    The Washington City Paper selects the Washington, D.C. area's best new beer bar, for 2011: Mad Fox Brewing.
  • 2011.03.23
    Forever velvet. Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor has died.
  • 2011.03.23
    For over 50 years, when it was the Brickskeller, it had no draft lines in the main bar downstairs. Now, the Bier Baron does.
  • 2011.03.22
    'Craft' breweries sales volume increases 11% in 2010.
  • 2011.03.22
    Sam Calagione, owner of Dogfish Head Brewery, is nominated for a 2011 James Beard Award: Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional. [Why is there no beer category?]
  • 2011.03.22
    Bud break is underway in California vineyards.
  • 2011.03.21
    It's Virginia Wine Week, 18-27 March.
  • 2011.03.21
    "Beer making is a marvel of industrial chemistry," says Popular Science Magazine ... in an issue published in 1933! Via Brookston Beer Bulletin.
  • 2011.03.20
    Happy Spring Equinox ... Sunday, 20 March 2011 7:21 PM EDT.
  • 2011.03.20
    After 55 years, how Washington, D.C. got her beer back.
  • 2011.03.19
    The so-called Super Full Moon will appear at sunset tonight.
  • 2011.03.18
    Today's Birthday in Beer: Steve Hamburg, one of the premier 'real ale' cellarmasters in the US.
  • Blue Mountain hop trellis
  • 2011.03.16
    Imbibe Magazine names Virginia's Blue Mountain Brewery as one of "100 Best Places to Drink in the South".
  • 2011.03.15
    Orange slice in your beer? Just say no, says blogger 3 Baking Sheets to the Wind.
  • 2011.03.14
    For first time since the 'scandal' of the 2003 Brunello vintage, the US gives approval for importation of Brunello, the 2006 vintage.
  • 2011.03.14
    "Rather than removing members due to success, the craft brewing industry should celebrate growth." Nick Matt (CEO of F.X. Matt Brewing) on the proposed US Congressional BEER Act
  • 2011.03.14
    In the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake & tsunami: 7 simple ways to help.
  • 2011.03.14
    Japan’s breweries face uncertain future after disaster.
  • 2011.03.14
    A tale of two châteaux. The wine growing pains of China and Bordeaux growing pains.
  • 2011.03.12
    Daylight Saving time begins overnight in the US, but not in Arizona.
  • 2011.03.12
    The problems with beer blogging, and examples of how to do it better. Via beer writer Andy Crouch.
  • 2011.03.11
    Happy Lithuanian Independence Day!
  • 2011.03.10
    According to eCairn, 5 of the most influential alcohol websites in USA are blogs about craft beer.
  • 2011.03.10
    VeggieDag Thursday: A new logo and a 20th anniversary.
  • 2011.03.09
    The Washington Post's annual Beer Madness bracket-style competition with 64 US beers grouped by Malt, Roast, Fruit/Spice, and Hops.
  • 2011.03.08
    Arlington, Virginia has a problem with children enjoying acoustic guitar music, if their parents are enjoying beer. Westover Market
  • 2011.03.08
    Too much meat + too much sugar + too much (unfiltered) beer = gout.
  • 2011.03.08
    Captain Kirk delivers the wakeup call for the final mission of the Space Shuttle Discovery.
  • 2011.03.06
    Among all the recent good news for Virginia beer, there is some sad news. Via Relentless Thirst: Shooting Creek Brewery closing.

  • Clamps and Gaskets is a weekly wrap-up of stories  not posted at Yours For Good Fermentables.com. Most deal with beer (or wine, or whisky); some do not. But all are brief, and many are re-posts from my Twitter account: twitter.com/cizauskas.
  • The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by Mike Licht at NotionsCapital.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Birthday in Beer: Michael Jackson (1942-2007)

Happy birthday to the late Michael Jackson, born this day, in 1942.

Like me, Jackson was of Lithuanian descent. Like me, he was a beer drinker.

Unlike me, he was a great writer. Unlike me, he was an inveterate traveler. Jackson combined at least three of the four attributes as The Beer Hunter, bequeathing us a great body of written work on beer —and whisk(e)y and other things.

His influence upon the perception of beer styles lives on. In fact the very notion of categorizing beer within styles, so debased today, began with Jackson.

Michael Jackson's autograph

When Michael Jackson died in 2007, he had been suffering from Parkinson's Disease, as had my father. A film is in production honoring Jackson's legacy. Donating now to its completion will also help to fight Parkinson's Disease.

We need your help to make Beer Hunter: The Movie a reality. Your donation of ten dollars - about the same as a six pack of good beer - will provide much-needed funds to kick start production on the film and corresponding series, The Last Beer Hunt. Ten percent of your donation will go towards establishing Pints for Parkinson's, a non-profit foundation aimed at preserving Michael's legacy while raising money for Parkinson's research and various local charities. Ten percent of all proceeds from the film will be donated to the Parkinson's Foundation. As a sponsor, your name will appear in the credits of the film and DVD, and you will receive a free download of the movie after its release.

J.R. Richards

  • I was tipped to the film by Stan Hieronymous, at his blog, Appellation Beer.
  • More posts on Michael Jackson, here on YFGF.
  • More of my short list of Birthdays in Beer.
  • Follow the Brookston Beer Bulletin's comprehensive calendar of beer birthdays: a marvelous resource for learning more about the folk who brew beer, deliver it, serve it, drink it, and write and talk about it.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pic(k) of the Week: Beer history, refilled

Mad DeGroens (01)

DeGroens was the brand name for beers once brewed by the Baltimore Brewing Company, located in Baltimore, Maryland, just off its Inner Harbor.

Opened in 1989 by Dutchman Theo DeGroen, the brewpub was well known for its German beer hall atmosphere, and for its German-style beers. Fans remember its Weizen (fresh yeast would be flown in annually from Weihenstephan Brewery in Freising, Germany), for its smoky Rauchbier (unique for its time in the US), its Marzen (many considered it a US benchmark for the Oktoberfest style), its Doppelbock (which garnered a gold medal at the 1995 Great American Beer Festival), and for its Pils (whose hop-drenched aroma and bracing bitterness was a revelation for many area drinkers). The brewery closed in late March of 2004.

In the photo, taken in February of 2011, a customer at Mad Fox Brewing Company —a brewpub in Falls Church, Virginia— ponders what beer to fill his growler with.

A growler is a resealable container, filled with fresh beer at a brewery or brewpub for customers to take home with them. In the US, many growlers are simple 2 quart jugs with screwcaps.

The Baltimore Brewing Company was one of the first brewpubs in the US to use 2-liter growlers —importing them from Germany— sealed with a much more secure enclosure: a swing-top cap, gasket, and metal brace (similar to a Grolsch bottle). Not only could customers refill their growlers at the pub, they could exchange their empties for freshly filled growlers at 'DeGroens filling stations': select retail shops in Maryland. The brewery eventually added bottling facilities.

Several years has passed since the brewery's demise, but the growler, above, still sports a DeGroens Pils label.

Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of images posted on Saturdays, occasionally (as is the case today) with a good fermentable as the subject.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

'Craft' breweries sales volume increases 11% in 2010.

The Brewers Association (BA) —a trade group for American breweries and brewpubs producing 6 million barrels or fewer— has released preliminary figures for 'craft' beer sales in the US for 2010.

Small and independent craft brewers saw volume increase 11 percent and retail sales dollars increase 12 percent over 2009, representing a growth of over 1 million barrels (31 gallons per U.S. barrel), equal to more than 14 million new craft cases.

The Association also reported a growth in the number of U.S. breweries, with eight percent more breweries than the previous year. In 2010, there were 1,759 operating breweries. Craft brewers produced 9,951,956 barrels, up from an adjusted3 8,934,446 barrels in 2009.

In 2010, craft brewers represented 4.9 percent of volume and 7.6 percent of retail dollars of the total U.S. beer category. The Brewers Association estimates the actual dollar sales figure from craft brewers in 2010 was $7.6 billion, up from $7 billion in 2009.

Overall, the U.S. beer industry represented an estimated retail dollar value of $101 billion. U.S. beer sales were down approximately one percent, or 2 million barrels, in 2010 compared to being down 2.2 percent in 2009. Total beer industry barrels dropped to 203.6 million, down from 205.7 million barrels in 2009. Imports were up five percent in 2010, compared to being down 9.8 percent in 2009.

The association defines a 'craft brewery' as small, independent, and traditional.
  • Small: Annual production of beer less than 6 million barrels. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition.
  • Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.
  • Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50 percent of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.
Last year, the Association came to grips with a looming problem. Several of its members were approaching the limit of the 'craft' brewery definition —2 million barrels or fewer. Any breweries past that limit would be kicked from the defined rolls of 'craft breweries', effectively punishing them for success. Boston Beer, the brewer of Sam Adams, was the most prominent.

To deal with that, the Association increased the limit of its definition by 200%, from 2 million barrels to 6 million barrels. It will be interesting to see how much of the 2010 increase was from the largest 10 'craft' breweries, versus the remaining 1,749. The full report will be released on Thursday at the BA's Craft Brewers Conference.


  • Graphic courtesy Brewers Association.
  • The entire press release can be seen at the BA's website: here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

It's Virginia Wine Week

Virginia Wine Week 2011

According to the Virginia Wine Board, Virginia is now home to 191 wineries. To celebrate, Virginia Wine Week began on Friday, 18 March, and continues through Sunday the 27th. Just as with some other beer and food weeks, that's creative calendaring. The 'week' is actually ten days, but it's more time to discover and enjoy Virginia wines.

Virginia Wine Week: Love By The Glass ... annual Virginia wine promotion will be held March 18-27. There are more than 340 restaurants and wine stores throughout the state signed up to participate and they will be promoting Virginia wine through specials, tastings and events...

It is the perfect time to go out and sample what Virginia wines have to offer. "Virginia Wine Week: Love by the Glass offers visitors the best of our culinary experiences: restaurants offering local wines and food as part of their menus and hotels that make it easy to plan and visit our scenic countryside and wineries," said Mrs. Maureen McDonnell, First Lady of Virginia. "In addition, many of the white wines from our previous harvest are being released at the wineries during that time, an excellent time to get out and visit."

The list of events is a little tricky to find. Click on the logo above. Find the "Filter by" box in the upper left of the page. Click on the drop down box labeled "Filter By Program." Scroll down to "2011 Spring Wine Week." Select to click, then click "Apply", and a page entitled "Where to Buy Virginia Wine" will appear. It's not exactly intuitive (why not provide a direct link?), and what appears is only that —a list of shops, restaurants, and wineries at which to purchase Virgina wines.

Many of those locations are Virginia ABC stores. That's a wonderful thing that state government-controlled stores sell local wines, but these shops are not exactly thrilling places in which to celebrate. A list of wine dinners, tastings, tours, and other special events, would have been more appropriate. (The blog at Virginia is for Lovers mentions a few such events.)

The effort is a start, however, and there are indeed many well-made and delicious wines produced in Virginia. Some of the wineries are quite small —nano-wineries, if you will. Virginia Wine Week could provide an opportunity for people to discover otherwise unknown gems.

Wine Regions of Virginia

The website supplies other links to information on Virginia wine and wineries. For example, there are downloadable guides to all of Virginia wineries, and an interactive map with links to the state's AVAs (American Viticultural Areas).

For more information:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

How Washington, D.C. got her beer back.

Christian Heurich BreweryThe Christian Heurich Brewing Company began brewing in Washington, D.C. in 1873.

Eighty-three years later, in 1956, it would be the only brewery to remain in the Nation's Capital. Recognizing the futility of competing against the much larger national breweries, Heurich's board would vote that year to close the brewery and sell the property. Shortly thereafter, the Heurich brewery buildings would be razed to make room for a bridge over the Potomac River and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

A 'mere' six-hundred and sixty-two month-long gap would intervene before another production brewery, albeit smaller, would open in the nation's capital. Per Lagerheads of the Washington City Paper, St. Patrick's Day 2011 was an auspicious day.

It's official. DC Brau is the first production brewery to operate inside the District of Columbia in more than 50 years. On Thursday [17 March 2011], founders Jeff Hancock and Brandon Skall received their Certificate of Occupancy... Today, [18 March 2011] the brewing begins.

DC Brau

Public Ale, the small craft brewery's pale ale, will be the first brew out of the tanks... Public Ale cans and kegs should be available throughout the Metro area by the second or third week of April.

This historic occasion follows another local brewing milestone. In February 2011, the Port City Brewing Company opened in Alexandria, Virginia, becoming the first production brewery to operate in that city —situated just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.— since the Robert Portner Brewing Company closed in 1916.

A Meeting of 2 Beer Minds
Brandon Skall (r) of DC Brau talks with Bill Butcher (l) of Port City Brewing.

The brewers at DC Brau have told me that "our first brew went well." A thirsty city waits!

UPDATE: Photos from the public release party, 15 April 2011, for the ianugural brew: The Public Pale Ale.

  • Heurich beers were again available in the greater Washington, D.C. area from 1986 until 2005. They were not brewed in the city, however, but in Utica, New York, by the F.X. Matt Brewing Company, under contract to Gary Heurich, Christian Heurich's grandson.
  • Three additional production breweries have announced plans to open within D.C. in 2011: 3 Stars, Chocolate City, and Black Squirrel. The Washington City Paper's Lagerheads has the story. A fifth brewery, Logan-Shaw Brewing Company, is in the planning stages.
  • At present, there are other breweries operating in Washington, D.C., but these are brewpubs, or restaurant-breweries. Capitol City Brewing Company, locally owned, was the first, opening in 1992, followed by the District Chophouse and Gordon-Biersch, both of which are franchise operations. A production brewery, by comparison, such as D.C. Brau, is not a restaurant; it produces its beer only for off-site sales, in bottles, cans, and/or kegs.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pic(k) of the Week: Scotch Ale Afternoon

Scotch Ale Afternoon

In an American 'craft' beer scene awash with hoppy monsters, it's refreshing to taste a beer that celebrates the fermentable heart and soul of beer: malted barley.

Above, a snifter filled with an American interpretation of a strong Scotch ale. Deep brown/red, unctuous, flavors of toffee, caramel, some roast and plummy fruit. Served cask-conditioned, 13 March 2011, at Mad Fox Brewing Company, in Falls Church, Virginia. Brewmaster and owner, Bill Madden, has won several medals for previous iterations of this Scotch ale recipe —at other breweries— including a gold at the former US Real Ale Festival, and a gold and silver at the Great American Beer Festival.

Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I would be a British beer drinker ... if I lived there.

"Proud of British Beer" is a short film produced by the Society of Independent Brewers. It features brewers, both large and small, hop and barley growers, maltsters, and industry suppliers. Our concerns are that the continued above inflation increases in beer duty are destroying this indigenous British industry. Pubs, which are an integral part of the fabric of British society, are also being forced to close at the rate of 29 per week.

Compared to 2009's "I Am a [US] Craft Brewer", this video promoting British beer somehow manages to appear justly proud rather than merely supercilious, inclusive rather than smug. It's a call to Britons to protect their beer, their heritage. It extols British beer by revealing its inherent qualities, rather than by denigrating other beverages. *

Then there's that pub thing: those cozy third places of good beer that are rare here in the US, and a threatened species in the UK. And there's that session cask ale thing: 'living' beer of a reasonable alcohol level that refreshes and nourishes rather than inebriates.

There's one particular moment in this short video that captures the quintessence of British beer in a pithy manner that eludes the US video in its defense of US 'craft' beer. The narrator asks, "What's so good about British beer?" Beer blogger Marverine Cole responds, seemingly astonished by the self-evidence of the answer: "Oh, come on!"

It makes me, at least, want to have a British beer ... that is, if I lived there.

  • *For the most part, the script takes the high road. There is one 'beer is better than wine with food' comment. Both good fermentables have their place at the table.
  • The beer 'duty' in the UK is somewhat akin to beer excise taxes here in the US. A bill currently (March 2011) under consideration by the Maryland General Assembly would increase the tax on beer by over 1,100% at the state level.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

How to offer help to Japan

Network for Good is a clearinghouse for contributing to NGOs involved in the rescue, emergency aid and shelter, and reconstruction in Japan, following yesterday's 8.9 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami. The death and injury tolls are expected to exceed 10,000. The many organizations participating include OxFam, Save the Children, and Doctors Without Borders.

In this photo, evacuated brewery employees are pictured near the toppled tanks of the Kirin Brewery, in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, in northeastern Japan, the area hardest hit by the earthquake and tsunami. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Kyodo.


Pic(k) of the Week: Stainless steel row

Tank farm (01)

In a stainless steel row, conical-bottomed uni-tanks hold beer in various stages of fermentation, in the cellars of Legend Brewing Company, in Richmond, Virginia.

Developed in the early 20th century, the unitank is nearly ubiquitous in today's micro-breweries. The tank can hold fermenting beer in a sanitary, semi-sealed environment, as well as beer that is maturing and beer that is lagering at temperatures near 0 °C. The bottom 60° angled cone can collect yeast that settles from solution during and after fermentation. Those all-in-one features gave rise to the name unitank.

The photo was taken at Legend on 27 February 2011, during festivities marking the brewery's 17th anniversary.

Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

VeggieDag Thursday: A new logo and a 20th anniversary

VeggieDag Thursday

VeggieDag is an occasional Thursday post on an animal-free diet and its issues.

Today, I'm proud to unveil the new logo for VeggieDag Thursday, a series of occasional Thursday posts on an animal-free diet. This beautiful graphic was created by my friend Thomas Lee. I call the column VeggieDag in solidarity with Meatless Thursday, first declared in 2009 by the city of Ghent, Belgium. ('Dag' is Flemish for 'day.')
[Mayor] Tom Balthazar has officially declared Thursday meatless in his city of nearly a quarter million people. In an effort to make the connection between meat consumption and greenhouse gases (18 percent of which come from livestock production), Balthazar has asked his fellow civil servants to abstain from meat every Thursday.
Kim O'Donnel
Mighty Appetite
14 May 2009
This also marks a milestone for me. It's been twenty years now, and counting —17 January 1991— since I last consumed animal flesh.

My 'last meal' was a New York Strip, with lotsa butter, —served 16 February 1991, at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, off Dupont Circle in Washington D.C.— preceded by a Caesar Salad made table-side, with pulverized anchovies and whipped raw egg yolks.

In the ensuing two decades, I've learned to avoid the terms vegan and vegetarian. I do NOT define myself as "Thomas, the vegetarian" just as I wouldn't as "Thomas, the blazer-wearing beer salesman." Labels can confound rather than clarify.

'Vegetarian' and 'vegan' imply things that I'm not, as opposed to things that I am. The term vegetarian is so often modified by exceptions that it has become rendered meaningless. After all, what's vegetable-ian about eating fish, as in pesco-vegetarian, or eating chicken eggs as in ovo-vegetarian?

Is my decision a moral marker? No.

Do I miss animal flesh? No.

Simply put, not eating animals is my dietary choice ... but there are other considerations.

What’s gone wrong with food in the last hundred years has been a mixed bag of progress and self-destruction. There is no need for anyone in the world to go hungry; yet people do. There’s no reason for food to make us ill, either from chronic disease or communicable ones; yet it does. There’s no need for agriculture to poison the land, air, and water. All of these ills can be remedied, and yet it appears the situation worsens year-by-year.
Mark Bittman
13 years, the columnist of The Minimalist
New York Times
2 February 2011
If eliminating animal from your diet is too daunting, reduce the amount and frequency. (Maybe avoid consuming animal on Thursdays, or Meatless Mondays, another US trend.) That's one beauty of avoiding the term vegetarian. You avoid any confusing preconceptions.

Now, beer: ahh! That is, indeed, a wonderful vegetarian foodstuff. (We'll avoid mention of cask-conditioned beer ... at least for today.)

Follow #VeggieDag Thursday on Twitter.
  • Suggestions and submissions from chefs and homecooks welcomed!.
  • See prior VeggieDag posts.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Mad at Beer Madness?

It's almost time for the collegiate basketball championship tournament, colloquially known as March Madness. Mirroring that, the Washington Post Food Section conducts an annual Beer Madness Tournament. This year 64 US 'craft' beers were selected by the Post's beer writer, Greg Kitsock, and the beer director for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, Greg Engert.

The Gregs placed the beers into into four categories: Malt, Fruit & Spice, Roast, and Hops. I dig that: beers are judged according to broad flavor similarities rather than geographical mismatches.

Beer Madness 2011 brackets (02)

A panel of beer fans and beer professionals, including Kitsock and Engert, was selected to taste and judge the beers blind, that is, except for knowing the category, not knowing what the beers were.

Similar to the basketball tournament, Beer Madness is not a round robin, but an elimination, the field whittled in half each successive week, until only one beer remains. By the 'Final Four' judges will be voting with stylistic preferences in mind, as beers from different categories will be facing each other.

The first round eliminations will be announced by Kitsock on 16 March; the 'Sweet 16' on 23 March; and the 'Elite 8' on 30 March. The 'Final Four' will be announced on 6 April, which will pit the favorite in the Malt division versus the favorite in Fruit/Spice, and that of Hops versus Roast. The winners of those will then be judged against each other; the ultimate champion will be revealed on Wednesday, 13 April.

Just as with the basketball tourney, the competition can be followed along, and predictions made, on brackets. Post readers can vote for their favorites on-line, but their votes will not influence the tournament, whose tastings and choices have already been conducted. The full story is at the Washington Post: here. [The Post's on-line brackets are not as informative as they could be; click on the photo above —the print version— to see the full 64-beer lineup.]

Complaints about beer choices and beer omissions have been posted at the story. These miss the point of the exercise. Beer Madness is not the Great American Beer Festival; it's a fun diversion. And, by its very nature, it must exclude beers that are the freshest: draft beers from brewpubs. The few exceptions are from brewpubs close to the judging venue: Oliver Breweries, DuClaw Brewing, and The Brewer's Art.

In a manner, the exercise mimics the manner in which real world beer judges —consumers— choose beers. They purchase those beers they favor; they don't bother with official style guidelines. Of course, to avoid brand favoritism in this case, the 'judges' tasted the beers without seeing the labels.

There are eleven beers in Beer Madness from the tri-state area of Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia (from where I 'blog'). These are:

Oliver Breweries Dark Horse
eliminated 16 March
Starr Hill Amber Ale
eliminated 16 March
Williamsburg Alewerks Tavern Ale
eliminated 30 March
Hook and Ladder Backdraft Brown
eliminated 16 March
DuClaw Misery

Fruit & Spice
Stillwater Stateside Saison
eliminated 23 March
Brewers Art Ozzy
eliminated 23 March

Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning Uber Pils
eliminated 16 March
Tuppers Keller Pils
eliminated 16 March
Flying Dog Raging Bitch
eliminated 6 April

Port City Brewing Porter
eliminated 23 March

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Pic(k) of the Week: A venerable pour

Pouring the cask (01)

The third 'course' at a beer dinner and tasting at Bilbo Baggins Restaurant, Alexandria (Old Town), Virginia.

Michael Armellino —Bilbo Baggins' proprietor— pours pitchers from a freshly tapped firkin (10.8 gallon cask) of Heavy Seas Brewing Loose Cannon Hop3 IPA: conditioned within the cask with Maryland-grown hops and 471 year-old wood chips rescued from the venerable, fallen, Wye Oak of Maryland.

25 February 2010.

Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays.