Craft beer adventures and experiences… one pint at a time

Archive for the ‘Seasonal beer’ Category

Heading to VA for Business or Pleasure? Be sure to stop at Loudoun County (LoCo) Breweries

It’s always fun to experience local beer goodness off the beaten path, but Virginia farmland is not where I’d expect to find  yummy craft brews – yet Loudoun county, VA boasts close to 25 breweries in its 147,000 acres of farmland (the colloquial response when I our tour guides about the size of the county.)  Leesburg is the only urban sprawl in Loudoun County.

Thanks to the kind folks at the I took part in a LoCo (Loudoun County) media brewery tour day as a precursor to the Craft Brewers Conference #CBC in April in Washington DC.  The full day tour featured several stops:

1. Adroit Theory Brewing. (Adroit Theory Brewing 404 Browning Ct. Unit C Purcellville, Virginia 20132)

 

 

 

Owner Mark Osborne provided an overview of the brewery operations, generous samplings of their brews on tap, and insights (definitely non-conformist) behind this innovative brewery:

  • Androit Theory self-distributes in MD/VA, and has no big plans to go beyond (at this point in time.)  Their limited production line specializes in “big, boozy beers” such as their EBK, a New England style DIPA (a “sessionable” 8.5% abv brew with citra/mosaic/Galaxy hops)
  • “Consume life, drink art,” and “brewed to destroy” pay homage to the metal bands that are inspiration behind the brews, labels, and decor.

My favorite brew on tap was the cask Belgian Quad “All I see is Carrion” aged in Bourbon barrel a with cherries, almonds, and coconut, a 12.2% abv glass of smooth finish deliciousness.  The non-cask (bottled) version is available in limited supply at the brewery, and even without the almonds and coconut, it’s an outstanding value.  (I purchased one for an upcoming FL bottle share!)

Adroit Theory is DEFINITELY worth a stop based on the beer variety (a range of styles on tap) and the ambiance.  Merchandise available in the tap-room includes limited release bottles, t-shirts, winter headgear, glassware, and books.

 

2. Vanish Brewing/Black Hops Farm (42245 Black Hops Lane | Leesburg, VA 20176)

A truly organic hop farm and brewery operation featuring 4 acres of hops growing on structures fabricated out of recycled drilling pipe from Texas.

Inside the hop harvesting building sits the Polish manufactured/Slovenian-sourced hop picking and processing machine (purchased with the support of a VA state and Loudoun County matching grant) facilitates the 90 minute picking to processing timeline.

Brews include tangerine and orange brews, IPAs and a selection of always available brews.

My favorite was the tangerine on tap – served up in a six taster flight – Delish!  Merchandise available includes t-shirts, glassware, and other swag collectibles.

 

3. Delirium Cafe USA       (101 S. King Street, Leesburg, Virginia 20175)

This first of its kind in the U.S. – a formal location of the famed Delirium Cafe (Brussels) – hopes to be open “in 3 weeks”  (it’s been 6 years in the making) according to the owners/partners whose patience with licensing, contractors, and other delays is beyond the realm of most business people.  Their dedication to the craft of craft beer (in particular Delirium and other Belgian delights) carries over to their renovation of  a relic 170-year old building in downtown Leesburg.  Delirium Cafes in other countries are known for their brews but not their locations (often seedy) – and it’s nice to witness a new tradition in the making with this new locale.  It’s a standalone building (two suites were annexed into one) boasting hardwood floors and brick that creates a cozy, turn of the century, yet upscale/urban space that already feels like a trendy new spot even before it’s open.  I can’t wait to visit and try a few of their 25 draught taps and over 150 bottle varieties.

While the traditional Delirium Cafe in Amsterdam (and other locations throughout the world) typically focus on beer, this Leesburg space will also feature on-premise prepared food to go along with the fine brews.

Scheduled (for real!) to open this week (May 10, 2017!)  in downtown Leesburg, VA.

4. Lost Rhino Brewing Co     (21730 Red Rum Drive, Suite 142, Ashburn, VA 20147)

I love artistic spaces that celebrate beer and art and Lost Rhino is a perfect example!  Chalk art (by local Instagram artist “Chalkoholic Chalk Designs”) is everywhere creating an inviting and colorful tasting room.  If pictures say 1000 words, then the gallery below speaks volumes but doesn’t do justice to the innovation of the brews (more about that below,) and the ambiance created by the decor.

Lost Rhino Brewing gained international recognition in part due to it’s moniker “Rhino Chaser” (in surfer lingo it means seeking the largest wave) and due to the attention garnered by their “Bone Duster” Amber Ale, a 6.5% amber ale brewed with the yeast extracted from a millions of years old whale fossil.  The brew was featured in both the Scientific American Journal and PlayBoy’s 2014 online list of the World’s 10 most Interesting Beers.

In addition to creativity, support for Rhino adoption in Africa, and great brews, Lost Rhino also features live weekend entertainment staged in front of their lighted wall of empty beer cans (awaiting packaging.)  A must stop if you’re in the area!

 

 

5. Old Ox Brewing                (44652 GUILFORD DRIVE, UNIT 114,  ASHBURN, VA 20147)

According to the Old Ox Brewery owners (a family business named after a notable county road), the brewery caters “first and foremost” to their  customers in Northern Virginia with local package distribution.  As a 3-year old, community-focused company, Old Ox believes that it is more important to service their cadre of bar, restaurant and grocery accounts personally than it is to expand quickly, and they count their community partners and charitable causes as friends.

And they are innovative!  Old Ox’s imperial IPA embraced a bold step to brewing by using powdered hops (Humulus Lupulus) to gain a better batch yield.  IPA fans on our tour loved the brew, but as a non-hophead (come drink with me and you can have all the IPA’s!), I gravitated to the Funky Face Cherry Sour (a 5% ABV cherry sour) and enjoyed it thoroughly against the backdrop of VA cherry blossoms.

What a wonderful and delicious day it was – and a true testament to the imagination of craft brewers everywhere.  With 25 (and counting) craft breweries in Loudoun County (LoCo) alone, VA is becoming a BEERcation destination.

Many thanks to the Loudoun County organizers and the breweries who participated!

I’ll be back. 🙂

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Part 3: Orlando North TTD (Things To Do) – off the beaten (theme park) path…

Want a change of pace from the Orlando area theme park lines, crowds, fantasy and hype?

Why not get off the beaten theme park path and discover some hidden gems a short drive from the big parks?

(This is part 3 of a trilogy of posts – see also Beercation:  Take a look at Orlando North Seminole County FL – a Stones Throw from Theme Parks  and Part-2: Food Worth Going out for — Orlando North Delivers Taste over the top )

Here’s a few notable Seminole County (Orlando North) ideas for your consideration:

Just off of I-4 East of Orlando, the Lake Mary Marriott is a perfect pivot point for both Orlando proper and theme parks and Seminole County towns and villages.  In addition to comfortable rooms, the Lake Mary site boasts incredible food and catering (including craft beer and food pairings for events!)  Here’s a few pics to whet your whistle:

  • CRAFT BEER BAR:  Celery City Craft (craft beer taproom, wine, growlers, bistro) -Sanford, FL

Sanford, FL was originally known as “Celery Capital” based on the celery fields a hundred or so years ago.  Today, Celery City Craft is THE place for a wide choice of over 100 local, US and international beers (draught and bottles) with wine and food available.  Without the pretentiousness of many newfangled “craft beer” boutiques, Celery City is friendly,  down-home and a great place to grab a brew or two and settle in with good food.  Beer flights (sample sizes of multiple brews served on a “paddle”) available.

Make an entire evening out of dinner and live entertainment by  visiting the newly opened Route 46 area – stop for delicious country BBQ (with many sauces!) and then stay for live band entertainment at the outdoor seating area or visit the indoor “saloon” complete with a turn of the century bar.

  • NATURAL ISLAND GETAWAY WITH KAYAKS AND BBQs (in a city neighborhood!)  – Wekiva Island – 1014 Miami Springs Dr, Longwood, FL 32779

Nestled against the Wekiva River, this close to zero carbon footprint recreation area features craft beer (25 local and national craft beer taps + over 100 cans,) wine, foot trucks (Check out Firepit Fridays!), kayak and canoe rentals, boot launch, cabana rentals (weekday and weekends,) event areas (think weddings, receptions, corporate events), a gift shop and weekend entertainment.  Bring the family and friends and spend a lazy day/evening in the wilderness against the natural backdrop of FL cypress, the slow-moving Wekiva River, otters with BBQs available with all cabana.  Check their website (link above) for special events and evening hours. Boat stowage available.

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One word for this craft beer and wine bar (come furniture store by day) – AMBIANCE!  When the sun sets on the fine furniture at Washburn Imports in Sanford, the bar opens and the place comes alive.  Aside from the incredible artistic bar (designed by local artist Blair Sliger,) the beer is fresh and local, the wine exquisite and the decor – well, think about sitting on heavy, expensive, imported wood furniture that eeks of Malaysia or the Philipines.  If I lived closer, this would be my #1 choice for a Friday or Saturday night romantic spot – even if I didn’t have a date!  A must see in Sanford… even if you just stop in for a single nightcap.

  • SOMETHING DIFFERENT WITH FRIENDS – LimoCycle.Com – Sanford, FL

Ever wanted to convince yourself that you are burning calories and improving your health during an evening of bar-hopping?  I’m not a fitness and drinking crazed person, so I always opt for the “no-peddling” seat, but the Limo Cycle is lots of fun and exercise.  Drinks are included with the price (as low as $40 per person) and reservations are accepted.  Tell Steve (the owner) I sent you – he’s a great guy and knows plenty about the local area history.  Options range from 2 hour pub tours, game events to 5 hour birthday party tours.  Whether you’re single, a couple or part of a group that wants to try something different – LimoCycle.com is a good option with lots of available potential stops (Sanford Brewing, Wops Hops Brewing, Celery City Craft, etc.)

A typical Beery Saturday in Tampa Bay… May 14, 2016

It’s an epic time to be a Floridian with a burgeoning craft beer scene and lots of events going on every weekend.  In fact, it’s been stated that on some weekends, there’s simply TOO MUCH going on, making it hard to choose where to go.

Today is no exception – there are three notable events happening and I’d love to be able to attend all three. Two are charity events and one is an out-of-state brewery event:

1. Barns and Beer Craft Beer Festival – Old McMickey’s Farm, Odessa (just north of Tampa)

**** TICKETS AVAILABLE AT THE DOOR ****barns and beer updated may 14

This is the second craft beer event for the farm (a 501c3 charity) to raise money for their charitable programs including military weddings, children’s camps, and a host of other worthwhile endeavors for the community.

In addition to unlimited tastings, entertainment will be provided by the Black Honkeys (a celebrated local band!) and there will be mechanical bull rides, egg races and more.  Professional brews from around Florida are the focus of the tastings.

I still need a few more VolunBEERs (you get in free in exchange for working 1/2 the festival to pour beer, work the gate, etc.) – here’s the link if you’d like to sign up:  http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c084da5af2caafa7-barns

Tickets available at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/barns-beer-may-2016-tickets-22499606930

2. St Pete Beach Beer Festival

St pete beachThis is the second charity beer fest this weekend – this one focuses on homebrewers and their wares plus local breweries in the bay area.  A growing community festival worth checking out if you’re close to the beach.

Tickets available at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/st-pete-beach-beer-festival-tickets-24607898888

3. Blue Point Toasted Tour

blue point

Blue Point Brewing is bringing their Toasted Tour (based on their flagship brew: Toasted Lager) and will feature entertainment and beer in downtown Tampa at Waterworks Park.

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1154253177946609/ 

General admission – No charge to get in, Blue Point beer available for $5.  – VIP Tickets available (includes beer.) but I couldn’t find a link to the ticketing site.

Enjoy your weekend responsibly!  I hope to see you out and about enjoying the best brews Tampa (and beyond) has to offer.

SLAINTE!

Tampa Bay salutes National Beer Day with over 50 local Breweries

April 7, 1933 was proclaimed by President Roosevelt as the first National Beer Day formally ending prohibition and signaling the beginning of brewing freedom in America.  Today, in Tampa Bay (my home) we lay claim to over 50 local and award-winning craft breweries from mom-and-pop start-ups brewing on a 3 barrel system to monolithic giants brewing millions of barrels a year.

Here’s a short video from WFLA Channel 8’s Daytime segment about National Beer Day:

Channel 8 National Beer day Apr 7 2016According to the Craft Brewers Association, a craft brewery must be small (less than 6 million barrels produced in a year), independent (less than 25% of its ownership lies outside the craft brewing industry) and traditional (in other words the brews rely on barley, hops, yeast and water and exclude malt beverages.)  It’s a great time to be an American – free to consume the beverage of choice, and for me, that means craft beer!

For men and women everywhere, today is a day of celebration… moderately and responsibly – enjoy!

Channel 8 WFLA segment – National Beer Day 2016

Cheers,
Carol

The 5th annual #TBBW! Let the festivities begin…

From humble beginnings and the first #TBBW in 2012, to becoming a 501c6 not-for-profit organization, Tampa Bay Beer Week has emerged as one of the premiere beer weeks in North America involving the Florida Brewers Guild, Best Florida Beer, and scores of breweries, brewpubs, bars and restaurants throughout our multi-county region.

For five years running, #TBBW has featured local breweries (now numbering close to 50 in the region) and some of the finest brews and friendliest people around.  There’s just one small problem… how can anyone who works full-time really get out and enjoy the festivities?

tbbw2016

Some people I know have taken the week off from work, but unless you’re a tourist here on vacation or independently wealthy, this is simply not an option for many of us.  I’ve seen the entire event lineup at www.tampabaybeerweek.com and while there are adventurous types who will turn #TBBW into a marathon tasting event, I’m going to be taking in the weekend events and a select few in between.

I hope you’ll find some great things to do and taste some great local brews here in Tampa Bay.  Thank you for being a part of the vibrant craft beer industry here in Southwest Florida, and for reading this post!  Wishing you a week of enjoyment, new friends, fun times and responsible drinking.  PLEASE arrange to get home safely (Lyft and Uber or a designated driver) – so you can enjoy many more #TBBW to come!

Slainte!
Carol

————— Short list of don’t miss events #TBBW 2016 (Full details at tampabaybeerweek.com/events)———–

fb_img_1456761244639.jpgTHURS Mar 3, 2016 – 6:30-9:30 St Pete Beach, FL – All Tapped Out – A Tasting Extravaganza… (click for tickets) — unlimited tapas and draft beer pairings at Tapz and Tapaz, 348 Corey Avenue St Pete Beach. Tickets $25 adv/$30 door

 

 

Ultimate BrewerFRI Mar 4, 2016 – The Ultimate Brewer – 8-11:30pm at Rapp Brewing Company, 10930 Endeavor Way, Ste C, Seminole, Florida 33777. 14 local breweries debut their special recipe in a blind tasting competition along the lines of the Iron Chef.  Each brewery was given a list of secret ingredients ranging from Oranges and Old Bay Seasoning to Oysters and Hot Sauce to Horseradish to…  Tickets  only $20 advance.

fbg listSAT Mar 5, 2016 – Florida Brewers Guild Craft Beer Craft Beer Festival 2-5 pm (VIP 1-5 pm) -Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, 601 Old Water St, Tampa.  Featuring brews from around the state (and beyond) in an open air setting in downtown Tampa.  Benefits the non-profit trade association dedicated to advancing the craft brewing industry in Florida.

Tickets $45 GA / $65 VIP.

 

 

 

best-florida-beer-ogSUN Mar 6, 2016 – Best Florida Beer presents Brewers Ball – 12noon-5pm – Water Works Park Tampa, 1710 N Highland Ave, Tampa, Florida 33602. The Brewers Ball festival celebrates the best beers in Florida. The top three beers in each class of beer, mead and cider will be served up for your enjoyment. The Brewers Ball has been held for over 10 years celebrating the breweries, the brewers and the beer they make right here in Florida. Tickets $65. (includes food)

SUN Mar 6, 2016 – 5 pm  – 7th ANNUAL BREWERS’ BALL AFTER PARTY!! (even if you don’t go to the Brewers Ball) –  at Independent Bar & Cafe, 5016 N Florida Ave, Tampa – Special brews on tap for the event, and will also be serving burgers and brats outside to satisfy the hungry folks coming from the beer festival. LIVE MUSIC 6-9 PM BY LAURIS VIDAL! NO COVER!

WED Mar 9, 2016 – Rare and Big Beer Night -7 pm at Rapp Brewing Company,  10930 ENDEAVOUR WAY STE C, Seminole FL. No ticket fee. Come join us as we bring out all of our rare and big beers for your enjoyment! Some have never been available!

THURS Mar 10, 2016 (2nd Annual Mini Festival) Jester King, Jolly Pumpkin one off’s and Cantillon on draft & in bottle. Plus a Blend your own Gueuze class!  7:30 pm, Tickets $35 in advance.  Mr Dunderbak’s Biergarten and Brewery, 14929 Bruce B Downs Blvd, Tampa. Jester king, Jolly Pumpkin & Cantillon will be on draft and in the bottle. Including a wide range of sour, funky beers from Shelton.Blaugies, De Ranke, De La Senne, Drie Fonteinen, Green Bench, Saint Somewhere and more….. European Cheeses and Artisanal bread will be provided to cleanse the palette. Starts at 7:30. Tickets (very limited) call JB @ 813-977-4104

THURS Mar 10, 2016 – Special Hoperations Fundraiser – 7-9pm Hidden Springs Ale Works, 1631 N Franklin St, Tampa. Tickets $15 non-members, (Members: Free)  This is a fun social event to help raise funds for local Tampa homebrew club Special Hoperations. We’ll have taps in the brewery flowing with medal winning homebrew from the #1 homebrew club in Florida along with a 50/50 raffle and some Special Hops shirts floating around.

THURS Mar 10, 2016 – The Wild Beer JAM at the Witch with Green Bench Brewing & more…., 3-11 pm (entertainment after dark) –  The Ale and the Witch, 111 2nd ave NE Downtown St Pete, No cover, beers a-la-carte pricing.Hosting 7 breweries (Green Bench, Almanac, Prairie Artisan Ales, Jolly Pumpkin, Central State, St Somewhere, Jester King) 14 taps, bottles and cans

FRI Mar 11, 2016 – 3rd Annual Brew and BBQ – 5pm, Pair O’ Dice Brewing, 4400 118th Avenue North, Ste 208, Clearwater.  $10-$15.  Back by popular demand, our own Ken Rosenthal will team up with Out Of The Pot to cook up his famous Texas-style brisket. We’ll be pairing Pair O’ Dice brews with lots of competition quality, 18 hour slow smoked brisket served Texas style. That means white bread, pickles, and onions with sauce on the side because this brisket is so good it just doesn’t deserve to be covered up. Sides will include baked beans and creamed corn. BBQ plates will be available for purchase first come first serve while supplies last so you better get here before the meat runs out. #GetAPair  – I’ve missed this one two years in a row because the brisket sells out quickly!  Don’t miss it!

FRI Mar 11, 2016 – 3rd Annual Foeder for Thought Festival, 5pm-midnight, Green Bench Brewing Company
1133 Baum Ave, St Petersburg.  Tickets $60. Foeder for Thought celebrates oak fermentation. This is one of the most unique and intimate festivals during Tampa Bay Beer Week offering beer to sample from across the country.

SAT Mar 12, 2016 – Hunahpu’s Day – sold out months ago.  This specialty festival’s limited tickets and pricing ($200. minimum for festival entrance and 4 bottles of Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout) is a #TBBW staple and sought after festival.  Unless you are an oil baron or financier, you’ll have to find other events to keep you busy today. Worth a mention just because… you can’t get in.

SAT Mar 12, 2016 – Pucker up with Almanac Brewing Company and Cascade Brewing – 6pm, Independent Bar & Cafe, 5016 N Florida Ave, Tampa.  No cover, drink prices vary.    If you love sour beers, you can’t beat this one… We have some amazing sour beers coming from ALMANAC BEER CO. AND CASCADE BREWING BARRELHOUSE!!    DRAFT LIST! (Flights will be available)
Valley of the Heart’s Delight (Sour Blonde with foraged Apricots, Dates, and Mulberries)
Peach de Brettaville (100% Brett Saison with local Peaches)
Farmer’s Reserve Blackberry (Sour Blonde with Blackberries)
Hoppy Sour Mosaic – Sour Blonde dry hopped with Mosaic
Almanac IPA – West Coast IPA with Citra, Simcoe, and Cascade
Cascade Figaro
Cascade Bourbonic Plague
Cascade Vlad the Imp Aler

SUN Mar 13, 2016 – Hunahpu’s Hangover Day at 7th Sun (two locations: 7th Sun Brewing, Dunedin, and new Tampa (parking lot) location 6809 N Nebraska Ave, Tampa) 11am – 5pm.  Buy four beer tickets to get in ($20 total), purchase additional beer tickets at $5 each (beers will range in size from 8 oz to 12 oz). This year for Hangover day, we are christening our new location with a lot party in honor of you. Since we are still in the process of building-out for the new facility, the parking lot will host the event. And because Dunedin is where it’s started and what you made possible, we’re also going to continue the tradition of Dunedin Hangover Day too. (Dunedin location only – extended hours 11am-10pm)

Be safe…

Prelude to Tampa Bay Beer Week… Mar 3 Food & Beer Pairing!

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Countdown to THIS Thursday- did you buy tickets? Food and craft beer pairing event Thurs, Mar 3, 2016 at Tapz and Tapaz in St Pete Beach.  Only 150 tickets, $25 advance, one night only – unlimited tapas paired with local craft beer! Join us!

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/all-tapped-out-tasting-extravaganza-aka-the-perfect-pairing-prelude-to-tbbw-tickets-22052597914?aff=efbevent

Tell your friends and join us!

What’s in a name? That which we call a beer by any other name would taste as sweet.

I have an affinity for Shakespeare’s quotes and his famous “Rose” quote came to mind as I mused about discussions with homebrewers, bloggers and others over the term “Microbrew(s)” vs “Craft beer.”

“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet 

Perhaps I’m old school (I’m no longer 30-something,) by still using the term “Microbrews” instead of the new, hip term “Craft Beer” – but isn’t it all beer after all?

I find it interesting that aside from industry insiders, whose passion or profession is craft beer, everyone else I meet in the U.S. or abroad knows about mass-produced beer or microbreweries, but not so much about “craft beer.”

So, despite ongoing quips and comments from industry “insiders”, I’m staying the course and keeping MicrobrewsUSA as my blog name (with due thanks to Shakespeare!)

Here’s a bit of background that I presented last month at the European Beer Bloggers Conference in Brussels (#EBBC5):

terminology craft beer1
terminology craft beer2

To me, changing terminology is an issue in every industry (I wrote a blog post for the software engineering audience last month on this topic: “In a few words: why IT is intimidating”)

So, tell me, what do you think:

Does it matter whether you call your beer microbrewed, craft, specialty, ale, lager, Belgian, or something else, if it all “tastes as sweet”?

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