Starting in the Old Dominion with Starr Hill’s The Gift

We haven’t quite left home, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start my beer journey.

So for lunch, I took the opportunity to crack open a bottle of The Gift -Winter Bock Lager from Starr Hill Brewery.  I love this beer for two reasons.

1)  It’s the last of the truly “local beers” in that it’s brewed in Virginia.
2)  Other than sneaking in a Bell’s Christmas Ale, it’s been my holiday beer of choice for 2009.

It’s got a great blend of tastes that really mix it up and take it out of the category of lagers (I owe that to the Bock style) so don’t let the “lager” category fool you.  Or as Starr Hill says on their website:

  • A German-style Hellerbock with a few twists, The Gift is Starr Hill’s holiday offering. The beautiful golden color only hints at the fire inside. Made with two-row and Munich malts and balanced with German noble hops, The Gift is the perfect accompaniment to any holiday event or festivity.

Either way, it’s been a perfect compliment through the holidays as I’ve been cooking, cleaning and spending time with family.  So it seemed a fitting way to start this journey.

Next stop, Maryland where we stay before flying out of Baltimore tomorrow morning.  

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Beer Travels Well (or is that it makes travels better, i’m not sure)

I’m heading out today for a family trip which will take me through at least 4 states with a final destination in Colorado.  So what does any good beer drinker do?  Look at travels as an opportunity to sample local beer.  Keep an eye out for some upcoming posts about where we have ended up and what beer I’m sampling.

Variety is the spice of life. Hand me a turtle!


Or so they say about things in general. And in looking at my fridge right now I’m one spicy kinda guy. I have at least 5 different beers in there and that doesn’t even count my home-brew that’s lagering.

But the one that has captured my palette tonight is Big Hoppy Monster from Terrapin Beer Co. A friend was visiting from out of town last week and brought this one over because her husband is friends with the brewmaster. I’ve been drinking a good bit of Dogfish Head lately so I wasn’t to hopped up about hops so I held off until this weekend and had another tonite.

OMG!!! What was I waiting for? At first glance when pouring it into the glass it had all the appearance of a mix between an amber and a porter with a lovely tone to it. And then… and I swear I’m not making this up… it seemed to be almost have texture just in looking at it. Ahh… and the first taste. Yep. Hoppy just like the name. But not overpowering like some IPAs are. It was just right and provided a perfect balance of malt and hops to top off the evening.

So, I have two thoughts I look at my now empty glass:

1) Gotta run to Whole Foods and pick more up (that’s where my friend found it)
2) I really need to go visit my friend and her husband so I can go visit the masters of this brew.

Hockey Beer – Ideas?

It’s hockey playoffs here in the Nation’s capital. (GO CAPS!!!)

Since my wife is from Pittsburgh it’s easy to pick a beer for her to drink while we watch the games (Iron City, of course. And yes, I do not let her sit on the couch if she’s going to root for the Pens).

But what beer should I have in my hand to symbolize our local team?

  • Old Dominion? Nope. Brewed in Delaware.
  • Clipper City? That’s Baltimore.
  • Dogfish Head? While that seems to be the emerging local favorite, it’s still Delaware

I could run to a local Brew Pub like Capitol City Brewing but it would be really nice to have a bottled beer available in my local stores to sip and savor while watching my local teams.

I’m open to ideas….

Learning to Home Brew

My wife loves me. Really.

How do I know that? For Christmas she got me my first home brewing kit. And since I’m a self-professed non-expert (just a fan) she kept it simple and got me the introductory kit from Mr. Beer.

I’ve spent lots of years drinking beer and watching the occasional show on Discovery on brewing and such. But I’ve never actually STUDIED brewing. So I poured over the instructions and read them over and over trying to make sure I hadn’t missed a step. And then over the weekend I meticulously followed the steps and brewed my first batch of home beer.

Of course, I have questions and here’s the realization. I’ve known there’s a community of beef aficionados and had heard of many people with home brewing as a hobby. But it’s fun to discover all the resources and help forums.

So for those of you who want to make the leap from consumer to producer, take a deep breath, pull a mouse up to the Home Brewing Wiki and feel confident that you’ll be able to figure it out… at least I’m hoping I’ll be able to.

Winter hits Northern Virginia

It’s gotten cold here in Northern Virginia.  17 degrees when I walked the dog this morning.  And the wind chill?  Let’s just say BRRRRRRRRRRR…….

So it was perfect night to come home and enjoy the butternut squash soup my darling wife had made for dinner.  I opened the fridge and looked for a hearty winter brew to compliment it.
And here’s where I have to take back my previous post.  I had picked up some of Old Dominion’s Baltic Porter.  Paired with some sourdough bread, savory soup and fresh sharp cheddar cheese it provided a smooth compliment to the meal and an even better after dinner beverage.   Dark in color, smooth, chocolate-like flavor and a pleasant aftertaste.
I have to agree with David over at Musings Over a Pint that this is a fine example of another good seasonal brew from Old Dominion – and I do hope they keep up the quality when they move to Delaware.  I just wish that a beer named after my state was still going to be in this state.