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.

Beer gone to the dogs

Every now and then I find it’s fun to attach a theme to my beer purchases. For example from one of my earlier posts you could infer a summer/winter seasonal theme.

So I found myself examining the brews at Wegman’s a few weeks ago and looking for something that would catch my eye. And with thoughts of my 9 month old chesapeake bay retriever I was drawn to two 6-packs that prominently featured dogs in the name or artwork. Heck, there are worse themes to go with, especially considering on my favorite beers of late is Smuttynose’s Brown Dog Ale.

First up, is Ellie’s Brown Ale from Avery Brewing Company. Now it’s not just that the dog on the label looks exactly like my Chessie but I’ll definitely be heading back to pick up more of this. Fresh from the Rocky Mountains, this dark ale features a nice chocolate taste that is more reminiscent of a porter than what you usually think of as a typical ale. Smooth and fulfilling as an after dinner drink it’s been the perfect brew to chill after a hard day’s work and enjoy.

Now if one beer label looks like my Chessie, of course I also had to reach for the beer that reminded me of my 12 year old Black Lab – Black Dog Ale from Spanish Peaks Brewing.  And just like my Lab, this beer was smooth and calming on the soul like that big dog head resting on my lap.  There’s a very nice malty flavor to it that makes a pleasant and smooth drinking experience.

So the lesson I learned was what?  That beers that remind me of my dogs can’t go wrong? No, not quite.  But it did point out that putting together a “beer theme” can be a fun way to pair up beers you may not have thought of before.  Or at least it adds some joy to the shopping experience.

Multiple Beer-sonality

Or as one might say “An Ale of 2 Seasons”.

I usually don’t venture to the Giant unless it is to explore the expanded beer section. And what a variety I had to choose from the other night.

The weather is getting colder which is an opportunity to put aside the light and refreshing taste of the summer ales and embrace beer’s dark and heavier side. So my taste buds were automatically drawn to the holiday porters. A choice had to be made between a holiday Dominion Porter and Michelob’s Winter Bourbon Cask Ale. Well since I no longer have any loyalty to Dominion it was an easy choice (more on that later).

Ahh… but as I walked back up the aisle, there was that last remnant of summer calling my name. Kona Brewing Company’s Longboard Lager. So I grabbed a 6 pack and pondered the dichotomy of the situation.

And you know what? It works! At the end of the day and during a dinner the lighter lager refreshes. And for an evening of relaxation the darker cask ale provides a satisfying respite. If this keeps up, I’ll have to find some other summer/winter mixes to enjoy. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.

First memories of witnessing history

My children witnessed history this week.   My 4 year old son has been proudly wearing his “Little Democrat. Big Obama Fan” shirt for the past 2 weeks anyway but he didn’t really comprehend what it meant (other than he got to stay up late to watch speeches).

We woke the kids up early on Tuesday and stood in line at 6 AM to go vote.  As much as we asked them to be quiet they felt the need to every now and then say “Go Obama” (our districtic is most definitely liberal so everyone fortunately laughed).  We then woke up the next morning after I told them that Obama won and watched his speech as a family on YouTube.

I thought back to the first election that I remember.  1976 and Jimmy Carter.  I remember being in my parents bedroom and talking about the election though I don’t remember what was said.  Quite frankly until this election and thinking about what my kids would remember I hadn’t even thought about it.

So, 20 or 30 years from now when their kids are recognizing their first presidential election what will they say?  Will they remember the energy and passion, the tears of joy in everyone’s eyes, the feeling of hope and will they remember what is yet to come (which we can really only guess)?  And what will they tell their kids about that time?

Political feelings aside, this has been a momentous week.  How will we remember it and how will our kids remember it.   I pray they have fond memories and feel hopeful.

Hey John McCain, mudslinging won’t work

I love Google Trends… and John McCain’s staff better check it out.

5 of the top 20 hot searches on Google right now are about the Keating-5/savings-and-loan scandal which John McCain was connected with a long time ago.  Not a single search about this terrorist guy that Obama was linked to.

Disclaimer.  I won’t say who I’m voting for and can neither validate or confirmate the accuracy of such mudlinging or what any given candidate did or did not do.  All I’m saying is people are researching one over the other.  Draw your own conclusions.

Fall is in the air….

And that can only mean one thing. Octoberfest!

After a long grueling day at work yesterday, I sped home took the dog for a good walk in the drizzling rain as a Nor’easter blows into Virginia. Wet leaves, chill in the air and it all added up to the first beer that caught my eye when I had to run to the grocery store for some last minute dinner supplies.

I figured, “I’ve held on to the light effervesence of the summer brews for a while. So long light, citrus. C-ya next year o’ delightful opacity of the unfiltered wheat. Bring on the full flavor and belly satisfaction of Octoberfest!”

So to celebrate my first official Octberfest brew of the season, I salute my Northern Virginia neighbor – Old Dominion Octoberfest. Bring it on boys. Football season and beer time. Always a surefire crowd pleaser.

Now, my wife reports that Wegman’s has a whole aisle of Octoberfest brews…. sounds like this project needs more research.

My hopes for Bud Ale fade

I hate to admit it… I’ve been looking forward to trying this new Budweiser American Ale. I’ve been thinking, “Wow, here’s a major brewer that’s finally listening to their customers and are saying we can deliver more than just a full and lite version of my swill. Maybe they’ll impress me.”

My delirium about expectations of a major brewer faded last night. I attended the National’s baseball game and Miller Lite was sponsoring a “1/2 way to St. Patty’s Day” promo complete with Irish dancers, bag-pipe playing firemen and green Nat’s hats with a Miller Lite logo on it. As I sat in the stands during the 3rd inning feeling a bit parched, the Beer Man came through. I thought “what they heck let’s get in the spirit and try a Miller Lite” (yes, my wife and kids did look at me like I had suddenly developed leprosy).

WHAT WAS I THINKING???? Ohhhh I felt suckered all right. But then I remembered, that this is the kind of marketing schtick that major beer brands go through. Create a bit of hope, pull you in and sell you some sort of beer flavored water.

Which brings me back to Budweiser American Ale….. Are you guys for real with a flavorful beer that adds to the experience? Or are you resorting to the same thing in a different package (with a higher price point) with the hopes of digging deeper into my pocket.

We’ll see.