Craft beer adventures and experiences… one pint at a time

Posts tagged ‘craft beer’

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. 🙂

Belgian Beer 101 – For People who Love People who Love Belgian Beer

Ideas to Help with Holiday Giving…

Every year when holiday season rolls around and I’m browsing my local craft beer aisle for new brews, I watch nervous parents, grandparents, husbands/wives, and other adults aimlessly scanning beer labels in hopes of choosing just the right combination of beers for their loved ones who love Belgian craft beer.

Harried sales clerks are often too busy to repeat their picks to yet another clueless customer whose son/daughter/boyfriend/girlfriend loves specialty beer.  While it’s easy to pick up a six-pack of something local, many are looking for an introduction to Belgian Beer so that they can make informed choices.

Note that beer drinkers are like art lovers or foodies!  There are often style/flavor preferences that differ between friends and family members about their beer preferences: the light beer drinkers who buy whatever is cheapest in the 24 can pack (stop reading now,) those who prefer Belgian beer (this is for you and yours,) those who are American craft beer lovers (see my next blog post,) while some are just getting into the “beer world.”   

For those who love Belgian beer and those who love them, I compiled Belgian Beer 101 – for yourself (if you want to know more) or print out for a loved one who simply isn’t as knowledgeable or passionate about Belgian beer as you are.  (You can thank me when you finally get a delicious gift of good Belgian Beer !)

One point to note – if you or your recipient is into BELGIAN BEER – buy Authentic Belgian!  

Don’t be swayed by a bottle or package of Belgian-style American craft beer (unless you’re really on a budget.)  Belgian imported brews have unique flavors that come through generations of pride, tradition, barrel aging and often wild Belgian (in the air) yeast.  It’s like being transported to Belgium and living the good life!  For me, the
deep richness that comes with my favorite Belgian brews are worth the extra couple of dollars I might spend.  (It might sound snobby, but I like what I like.)

Still stumped?

petrus-aged-red1Create a gift basket or 6 pack of several different Belgian beers:  For starters choose different styles that show the diversity of Belgian beers:

  1. One bottle of Lambic (you probably won’t think it is beer because it tastes more like a fruity champagne-style drink than a “traditional” U.S. style beer.  This is a great choice for anyone who might have to share their gift with someone who “isn’t really into the taste of beer” (we ALL know people who say this!)  Brouwerij  (Brewery) Van Honsebrouck N.V. brews St Louis lambics:  Framboise (French for Raspberry) and Kriek (French for Cherry);
  2. A couple of barrel-aged  brews such as the Brouwerij De Brabandere’s Petrus suite of beers including  Petrus Oude Bruin, Petrus Aged Red (my favorite – it’s deep  amber color and sweet) and Petrus Pale ale.  If you or your recipient are a bit adventurous, you might want to take a look at the combination “Sour Power 6-pack” (it comes with instructions on how to blend the brews to get your perfect taste!);
  3. One bottle each of a Dubbel, a Tripel and a Quad.

This would give you a nice varied six-pack of small (11.2 oz) bottles. If you want to create a basket – 2 or 3 of the larger 25 oz / 750 ml (wine bottle sized) bottles or a large and a couple of small bottles, together with a couple of Belgian beer goblets or flutes that match the brewery (or blank ones) makes a great gift. (I’d choose one of the Brewery De Bradandere’s barrel-aged brews, plus a Dubbel and a Quad for variation.)

Happy holiday season, and please share, like, comment – and let me know if this has helped you with your holiday giving !  If you’d like me to send you a copy by email, send me a note at caroldekkers@gmail.com with the subject Belgian Beer 101.  I’ll also be doing a Craft Beer 101 in the next couple of weeks.  Are you interested?

As the Belgians would say:  à votre santé (to your health) or Proost! (cheers!)

Belgian Beer 101 – Page 1

belgian-beer-101-2

Belgian Beer 101 – Page 2

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.)

#BBC2016 – #JAXALETRAIL – #BAYCRAFTED – #LIVEAMPLIFIED – Recapping the 2016 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference (Tampa) in Pics

It’s been exactly one month since the Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference (#BBC16) was here in Tampa, and, as a result, our entire bay area has benefitted from the hundreds of blog posts, publicity, beer pics, brewery visits, friendships made, beers consumed and follow-on business that any social media focused conference can amass.

It’s a privilege and a pleasure to be a part of such an illustrious group of passionate, optimistic and fun-loving people. For me, it’s also what I’d call “a happiness achievement” to consider so many beer bloggers and writers throughout the world my friends.  Thank you to Zephyr Adventures and everyone involved throughout the past 7 years who have made this such an inclusive and growing community!

I’m a visual, right brained thinker so I tend to remember things through pictures (looking at my camera roll is better than a calendar!) As such, I’ve combined my pics into a google pictures “movie” as a recap of the entire Thurs-Sunday July 7-10, 2016 weekend.  Enjoy!  (And thank you to Kelli Matheny @ladycrafter for the idea to use google pics movie app!)

PRE-Conference (Thurs July 7) Excursion – Jacksonville FL breweries:

Visits included Bold City Brewing, Engine 15 brewing, #Kickbacks Gastropub, Aardwolf Brewing, Wicked Barley Brewing…  Thank you to #onlyinJAX and #JAXALETRAIL for arrangements!

Day 1 Conference (Fri  July 8) – Tampa FL,

Conference sessions, Green Flash reception, Beer Paired Dinner Marriott Waterside, Trade Show, Night of Many Bottles

Day 2 Conference (Sat  July 9) – Tampa FL:

Conference sessions, WOB Westchase (Miller Coors) luncheon, Live Beer Blogging (J.J.Taylor), Progressive Dinner (Coppertail, Cigar City, Ulele Springs)

Day 3 — 1/2 day Conference and Post-conference excursion (Sun Fri  July 8) – Tampa FL:

Conference sessions, Post Conference excursion to St Pete Clearwater breweries: 3 Daughters, Green Bench, Cycle, Rapp Brewing

 

Thank you !!!

to so many organizers, breweries, wait staff, Zephyr Adventures, the Marriott Waterside, Jacksonville Ale Trail, Visit St Pete Clearwater, Tampa Bay Beer Crafted, trade show participants, speakers, moderators, distributors, and fellow attendees. It was so great to have the conference here in the Tampa/St Petersburg area and showcase the talent, innovation and truly hospitable FL venues in paradise!

Slainte!

Tampa area Breweries Get Ready – The Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference is only 3 weeks away!

Ever since I attended my 1st (and the first) Beer Bloggers Conference in 2010 in Boulder, CO, I’ve wondered if the event would ever grace the tropical shores of Tampa Bay, and this year (the 7th annual event) – the Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference does just that July 8-10, 2016 at the Marriott Waterside Hotel in Tampa.

Our Tampa Bay region joins many in the nation where craft beer (and cider and distilling) has exploded exponentially since 2010. The result is a $20+ billion dollar national industry that refuses to slow down.

growth of breweries 2015

In Mar 2011, the website BeerandWhiskeyBros.com wrote: beer and whiskey bros mar 2011

2016: Are craft beverages a “bubble”?

With over 15 states in the U.S. boasting over 100 functioning craft breweries (including Florida!), an exponential growth rate of breweries opening (see the curve above) and an emerging millennial (Generation Y) population of over 66 million residents whose preference is craft beer, it’s safe to say that it’s a bubble that’s here to stay.

U.S. Innovation Leads the World in Craft Brewing

For over 20 year I’ve spoken on software engineering, leadership and project management topics worldwide — and watched the U.S. move from a position of dominance to one of survivability as the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies beat us with their low labor costs in software development.  The innovation and imagination in IT (Information Technology) that once led us to a number one position, fell away when cost-cutting and outsourcing became the norm.

It’s that same sense of innovation, adventure and imagination that propelled U.S. craft brewing to the top of the world game.  Using techniques and styles reminiscent of old European recipes (German and Belgian styles in particular,) the leading U.S., craft brewers add imagination and stretch the boundaries of what once was a mass-produced, close-to-purified-water industry.  We’re at the point today where the craft brewing world looks to the U.S. for new ingredients, styles and collaborations.  In the U.S., Craft Breweries are defined by the Brewers Association as being small, independent and traditional.

Craft Beer Gives Bloggers and Writers Tons of Content

The gathering of Beer Bloggers and Writers boasts a range of writers and writing styles:  from professional reporters for big name newspapers and journals, to mom-and-pop blogs for independent beer stores, to blogs for distributors/wholesalers, to people like me with a passion for people and the industry.

As the numbers of us continue to expand, so too are the angles that craft beer provides to write about:  Reviewing beers, reviewing styles, covering festival events and bottle releases, stories about breweries and brewers,  pairing of food and beer, innovations in brewing, legislation in brewing, the 3 tier system, differences across the nation with beer culture, recipes, trends, techniques, homebrew, challenges in brewing, beer culture, products from related industries (glassware to growlers to homebrew systems to dispensers…) – the list goes on and on.

The craft beer industry is still expanding as new jobs are created, new breweries are opened, and new opportunities abound to educate consumers, entertain (through events and beerfests), and satisfy (through the variety of products and even beer-tourism) the burgeoning population of craft beer lovers.

And You’re Invited to Tag Along…

While many of the sessions and excursions at the Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference are limited to officially registered beer bloggers and writers, you’ll likely see a few events where the general craft beer loving public can take part.  One such pre-conference gathering is on Wed July 6, 2016 at 6;30 pm at the Brew Bus Brewing Terminal on Florida Avenue in Tampa where our own Florida Women in Brewing, together with Beer Bloggers, (and you!) are invited to stop by and mix and mingle over a pint.  Brew Bus Brewing is one of our newest local craft breweries and the terminal for one of our most popular and successful beer tourism companies, and has even won a medal at GABF for one of their brews!

Craft beer in Florida (and throughout the U.S.) presents a genderless, ageless, and culturally independent reason to get together, enjoy a few laughs and savor the goodness that barley, hops, yeast and water can bring to an ordinary workday or weekend.  And, in a matter of days, the Beer Blogging and Writing community will find out just how good that can be here in Tampa.  Welcome!

Slainte!

Carol

 

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!

We Want Brew! Fest – Feb 6, 2016 – A unique Craft Brew Festival to Benefit USO Central Florida

What do you get when you cross the experience of award-winning home-brewers with the creativity and passion of young service men and women?  The result is a one-of-a-kind craft beer festival to raise funds for a charity (USO Central Florida) committed to military families on Feb 6, 2016 (6-8pm) at the oldest St Petersburg craft brewery:  Brewers’ Tasting Room!

We Want Brew! Fest

WE WANT BREW! FEST
FEBRUARY 6, 2016   6PM-8PM

is the first ever craft beer festival that connects the Tampa Bay craft brewing scene with the military, laid out in two different sections:  The Tour of Duty and Band of Brewers Competition (see further info below.)  Guests will  to sample (until the kegs run out!) 20+ beers from local home-brew clubs and will vote for their favorite military team’s beer to decide the winner of the first annual Band of Brewers Competition.

BAND OF BREWERS:

Six teams from the Tampa Bay area representing each branch of the military are poised to compete against each other with individually brewed beer. Festival attendees vote for their favorite beer and one branch is declared Band of Brewers Champion.

Teams are composed of by team captains (award-winning home-brewers) and team members representing the air force, army, coast guard, marines, navy, and national guard/reserves.  These teams met during for a “Brew day” during Nov/Dec 2015 to brew their own secret beer recipe.  It is going to be a fun evening of sampling their results and networking with these incredible teams!

THIS JUST IN:
Rick Wolfe, owner of Brewers’ Tasting Room announced that the Winning team from the Band of Brewers will be invited to pour their beer at the BTR tent at Hunahpu’s Day 2016 on March 12, 2016 at Cotanchobee Park in Tampa.  May the best team win!

TOUR OF DUTY:

We have also engaged with local home-brew clubs to brew beers representative of the Coalition Force countries working with the US military around the world. These beers may be a literal interpretation of a beer from the chosen country or highlight a unique food or spice that has become synonymous with that country. This will certainly be a fun, unique and creative section to visit at the festival.

The following home-brew clubs are brewing several specialty beers to feature at the festival:
– Beer Can Island Brewers – Belgium
– Brandon Bootleggers – England
– PUB Guild – Germany
– St Pete Brew Club – Morocco
– Suncoast Barley Mashers – France


We have also invited our local professional breweries to donate gift baskets and other items for a fund-raising raffle!

It’s going to be an evening of camaraderie and gourmet beer tasting.  Coincidentally, Feb 4 is the 75th anniversary of USO serving military families, so the Feb 6 festival is apropos for our fund-raising efforts.

Please join us on Feb 6, from 6-8 pm to raise funds for the USO Central Florida!

**** Update:  If you live out of the area or you can’t make it to the festival, consider buying a “support” ticket (a tax deductible donation -ask for a 501c3 if you’d like to deduct it!) – on the same site for $20 (money goes to USO Central FL!) and you get to choose which team you’d like to support. The team that raises the most money wins a happy hour for 50 friends at Brewers’ Tasting Room.

Tickets (click on this link) are only $20 in advance ($25 at the door)  for unlimited tastings of the Band of Brewers brews and Tour of Duty home-brews!  Come out and support the teams and taste some of the finest brews in the Tampa Bay area.  (After the festival you can stay and purchase pints!)

Here is our link to the TV Channel 8 – WFLA segment that aired on Daytime on Jan 12, 2016:  We Want Brew! Fest

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