Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Trappist Breweries: The grand daddy of them all

Here's to the Anheuser Busch of Trappist Breweries, Chimay. In fact, the name Chimay is almost synonymous with "Trappist". I've been surprised that in the last two or three years Chimay has made its way from small specialty beer bars (and stores) to your grocer's beer aisle all over the country. What's Chimay's story? Here goes:

The brewery was founded at Scourmont Abbey, in the Belgian municipality of Chimay in 1862. In order to meet their needs and to sustain employment in the region, since 1862 the Trappist monks of Chimay have produced beers and cheeses.

The brewery produces three commercially distributed ales and a beer exclusively for the monks. The brewery was updated in 1988, and currently produces 120,000 hectolitres annually. Since 1876 the monastery has also made cheese, and currently offers four cheeses.

As with all Trappist breweries, the beer is sold only for financial support of the monastery and other good causes. All of the profit from the sale of the beer is distributed to charities and for community development around the region. The water for the beers is drawn from a well located on the monastery premises. The filtered solids from the beer mash are recycled into livestock feed which is given to the same cows that produce the milk for Chimay cheeses. That's the monks way of keeping it Green!, no doubt.

Once brewed, the beer is transported from the monastery to the bottling plant 12 km away. The beer is then refermented in the bottle for three weeks before being shipped around the world. 20% of Chimay beer production is sold on the export markets.

The Beers

The brewing ingredients have been the subject of interest by many brewers world-wide, all the beers are made from water, malted barley, wheat starch, sugar, hop extract and yeast; malt extract is used in the Rouge and Bleu for coloring.

* Chimay Rouge (Red), 7% abv. It is known as Première. It is a dark brown color and has a sweet, fruity aroma. The malt in this beer has a nutty character that goes well with the hints of pepper from the house yeast.

* Chimay Bleue (Blue), 9% abv darker ale. It is known as Grande Réserve. This copper-brown beer has a creamy head and a slightly bitter taste. Considered to be the "classic" Chimay ale, it exhibits a considerable depth of fruity, peppery character.

* Chimay Blanche (White), or Chimay Triple, 8% abv golden tripel. It is known as Cinq Cents. This crisp beer bears a light orange color and a very bitter taste, and is the most hopped and dryest of the three.

* Chimay Dorée, 4.8% abv ale, brewed from very similar ingredients as the Red, but paler and spiced differently. It is intended only to be drunk at the abbey or at the nearby inn Auberge de Poteaupré which is associated with the abbey. The monks themselves drink this variety rather than the stronger three. The Dorée is not sold commercially and the rare bottles which make their way out are through unofficial sources. Even the brewery's own web site makes no mention of this variety.

The Cheeses

* Chimay with Beer, whose rind is soaked in Chimay beer.

* Chimay Grand Classic, a semi-hard pressed cheese.

* Chimay Grand Cru, made from pasteurized milk and matured for six weeks.

* Old Chimay, a hard cheese matured for at least six months.

Well that's Chimay in a nutshell. Pick some up next time your at the store, if you are extremely patient save a bottle or two and age it for a year or two.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Trappist Beer

A few days ago I shared a Koningshoeven Quadrupel with my father-in-law and Meg and I realized that it was a Trappist beer that I had never heard of. With the recent rise in popularity of Trappist beers, it got me thinking. How many Trappist breweries are there?

First, it probably makes sense to define what a Trappist brewery is. Trappist beer is beer brewed by Trappist monks. Who are the Trappist monks? They are Roman Catholic monks of the "Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance." According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (, this order was started by the Abbot de Rancé (b. 1626; d. 1700) in the Abbey of La Trappe, in France, in reaction to the relaxation of practices in many Cistercian monasteries.

The life of the Trappists is guided by the Rule of St. Benedict, written in the sixth century. As a "contemplative order", the Trappists live a life of prayer and penance. The day of a Trappist is divided between work and prayer. Manual work is preferred over other types of work and Trappist monasteries generally provide for themselves through the sale of goods produced in the monastery (e.g. beer, cheese). Except for the ill, they abstain from meat and fowl and eat fish on a limited basis. To the extent that it is practical, they are expected to remain silent throughout the day and most especially at night. They are expected to live a life of strict personal poverty with few personal possessions and limited contact with the outside world.

Currently there are nearly 170 Trappist monasteries in the world, the home of approximately 2,500 Trappist monks and 1,800 Trappist nuns. Despite the 170 monasteries, only seven produce beer commercially (six in Belgium and one in The Netherlands).

The posts to follow will cover each of these Trappist breweries.

Brew like a Trappist,


Sunday, December 21, 2008

So You Want To Brew?

Over the last couple of months some people have asked what one needs to get started brewing. Basically you need to two things (1) a bucket and (2) and some pot ... um, I mean a pot. Actually you need a couple of other things as well.

First, If your really interested in doing it right (not Mr. Beer), it would be a wise investment to purchase or checkout from the library, "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing" by Charlie Papazian. Its a great guide to getting started. I've also heard good things about, "How to Brew" by John Palmer. Either one or both will get you set in the right direction.

Basic Equipment includes:

-A Brewpot: If your lucky you may already own a suitable pot. You need a pot that can hold at least 4 gallons. Realistically if you enjoy brewing you'll probably invest in a 10+ gallon brewpot eventually. But to get started just borrow a 4 gallon pot from someone if you don't have one already.

-Stirring spoon


-grain bag: you can these things at a homebrew shop or online for less than a buck. Well worth it, the first couple of batches I brewed, I did not use one of these guys and it is a mess trying to get steeped grain out of the pot before you start your full boil

-hydrometer and test vial: important because it will tell you how my alcohol is in your homebrew hooch


-Carboy with stopper and airlock: plastic or glass will both work. Both have their advantages, plastic is lighter and thus easy to move around, but it retains the brewing odor (basically hops) due to being somewhat porous. Glass is cool because you can actually watch your beer ferment, but they tend to be heavier and there is always the off chance that you might drop it and it will shatter.

You can buy these at any homebrew shop or online. You can also pick up the plastic carboys at home depot for cheap, they require a little modification, but nothing that a wireless drill can't handle.

-vinyl tubing for siphoning

-bottle caps

-bottle capper

-about 50 cleaned beer bottles

-Cleaning solution

You pretty much need all of this to get started and then there is infinite extra gear that is available that makes life easier, but you'll figure out what you need/want after doing a couple batches.

A great idea is to purchase a beginner setup from a website like or They both have reasonably price beginner setups. Also if you have a local homebrew shop, they can help you get setup with the appropriate equipment.

Last, you are going to need some ingredients. Its probably easiest to pick up a kit that comes with all of the ingredients you would need to brew a specific style of beer, such as these extract kits. Most kits will come with malt extract, yeast, specialty grains, priming sugar, and hops!

Spend some time reading up before you get started and you'll have a successful first brew day.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Triple Bastard

One plus one equals three. Pretty good math for a CPA, eh? One plus one definitely equals three when your talking about enjoying Stone Brewing Company's full line of Bastard Ales. One Stone Arrogant Bastard followed up with a Stone Double Bastard (one arrogant bastard + one double bastard = three bastards).

Well the 2008 Double Bastard starting hitting the shelves a couple of weeks ago and it was only a matter of time before Meg and I picked up a bomber of this bad boy. I thought it would be a good idea to also pick up one of the regular Arrogant Bastard and do a side by side comparison. Here goes:

Arrogant Bastard

This has been one of my favorite beers for years. What's not to like? A big hoppy American strong ale that's available all year round, yes please.

Smell: Massive hop smell as well as toasted grains, fruity esters and alcohol.

Appearance: Reddish brown in color with an off-white lace. Really frothy, and sticky head that retains remarkably well.

Taste: Rich, full and complex. Big malty sweetness with caramel, chocolate and toasted/roasted flavours. Fantastic raw hop profile, very coarse. The hoppiness helps to balance all the malt flavors. Very assertive when cold, as it warms up the beer becomes smoother.

As its name implies this beer means business.

Double Bastard

Smell: Very sweet smelling, caramel and pineapple.

Appearance: Pours a thick brown with garnet highlights. a relatively fast-fading off-white head that leaves a ring of solid, foamy lace.

Taste: Crazy sweet! but in a good way. More of a berry sweetness, with far less maltiness than the regular Arrogant Bastard. Chewy and sticky mothfeel. There's also a very nice spicy bitterness that lingers well past the end of the sip, a very piney hop profile. The alcohol is very present, but this should not be a surprise since it's 10.5% ABV.

This would be a great one to age and to see the complexity of this beer reach full maturity.

Conclusion, I love the regular Arrogant Bastard and I think that its just more approachable. The double bastard at over 10% is tough to get through by oneself (they only come in 22oz. bottles ... they also come in this size, seriously). If you are in to big beers that push the limit, pick up two double bastards and have one now and age the second for a year or two.

Happy Holidays,


PS- I was inspired by this bastard-off and I think that I will be brewing something akin to Arrogant Bastard this week to have on draft around the house.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Beers to you

Man it's been too long since I've posted. Work is really starting to get in the way of my amateur beer blogging goals. Nothing too exciting lately in my world of beer except that I brewed a freaking ridiculous west coast pale ale recently. Usually I don't brag about my beer, but this pale ale is all one could hope for. Lot's of citrusy hop flavor, a nice malt body, and only about 5% ABV. The funny thing is that I kind of threw it together haphazardly when I was brewing a Belgian dubbel (still fermenting).

So here's to beer and here's to you!


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Keep their heads ringing

Last Friday, Meg and I hit up Norm's and I picked up something very new that I had not heard of and I thought I'd share. It's brewed by RJ Rockers. I know, it sounds like a fake brewery, doesn't it? The same way PJ Skadoo's sounds like a fake restaurant that might appear on a Saturday morning episode of Saved by the Bell. But I assure you that it is a real brewery in Spartansburg, SC. A couple of weeks ago Norm's was sampling two RJ Rocker brews, the Patriot Pale Ale and the Bell Ringer. Both brews were great. Here goes some tasting notes:

Patriot Pale

Pours a golden yellow color with average white head. The smell is very grassy. The taste was mostly citrusy with a little grassiness. Mouthfeel was medium bodied with an average amount of carbonation.

All in all this one was very drinkable. I was reading some of the reviews on BA and some people were comparing it to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, I personally thought it was a little different (maybe the grassiness) and worth picking up. This is what a pale ale should be, flavorful, but still easy to drink. I would have bought a sixer, but lately I have been home brewing pale ales like they are going out of style, so I decided to pass until I finish up my home brew pales. A great choice for tailgate season.

Bell Ringer

Right from the start I knew I was going to like this beer. With a name like Bell Ringer you know you are in for some "in your face hoppiness." I note that BA has this listed as a Double IPA. However, the RJ Rockers website does not classify this as a Double IPA. I like to think of it more as an American Strong Ale, mainly because the color is darker than your usual DIPA and the hops are not as aggressive as your usual DIPA. Whatever!

It pours a deep caramel color with little head. It smells of hops. There is a hint of malt, but the hops are dominate. Citrusy hops more than piney hops. The taste is complex, there is a fruity tartness to it that reminds me of purple sweet tarts (unique, eh?). There are plenty of citrusy hops, but not over done.

Don't drink more than a couple or the 8.5% ABV will sneak up on you and ... ring your bell. I picked up a sixer and I am loving it.


Saturday, November 1, 2008


Wednesday night Meg and I went for drinks with a friend in Arlington, on our way back we stopped at Westover Market. I had heard that this place a had a great beer selection, but wasn't convinced based upon the exterior. So we decided to investigate ourselves. The above photo was taken from their website. They have as termed on their website the "Great Wall of Beer" which is pretty true to form. Meg and I were very impressed with their selection of beers, they had all of our favorites (Victory, Stone, Avery, Troegs, etc.) and lots of stuff we weren't familiar with. the only criticism I had of the place is that its unorganized. You've literally got beer piling up all over the place, but that's not such a bad problem to have. We got to talking with the owner and he informed us that every first Friday of the month and every second Saturday, they have beer and wine tastings with live music. It all sounded very cool and in the spirit of promoting quality beer. Check out their website for more information:

So as of last post we had picked up a bottle of Hopsinjoor and Merry Monks. We also picked up a bottle of "Ale to the Chief" from Westover on Wednesday. Finally, we hit up Norm's lat night for the usual routine. Here is a quick once over on some of these beers:

Gouden Hopsinjoor: I can't get enough of these Belgian IPAs. Lots of fruit, pepper, and spice on the tongue. Starts off with a citrusy lemon zest and morphs into a piney hop explosion. The malt backbone is barely noticeable leaving only a little sweetness and body. Overall: B+

Weyerbacher Merry Monks: First, this bottle was impossible to open, Meg and I literally had to use wine cork remover to get this thing open. I believe this is considered a tripel, but it pours an orange color which is somewhat unusual for a tripel (rules be damned!). It had a nice balance of flavors with lightly toasted malts up front and a heavy dose of syrupy fruit flavors (largely apricots). It finished with a subtle hop bite on the back side. The alcohol remains well hidden. This is as it should be an exploration of malt and fruit flavors with just a touch of hops. Overall: B+

Avery Ale to the Chief: Now I usually don't like to post much in the way of negativity, but I just couldn't get behind this one. I think the most upsetting thing is that Meg and I are big Avery fans and perhaps we had high expectations (this beer scores well on beeradvocate). For a double IPA the hops were unremarkable. The alcohol taste is very present. Sharp and harsh bitterness in the finish. Meg and I didn't even finish the 22oz. bottle. Overall: D


Saturday, October 25, 2008


As usual Meg and I hit up Norm's last night to hang out with Rich and the gang while we were waiting for our sushi order. We sampled a couple of different things and I probably would have bought everything if money was no object. Here goes:

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

-I will undoubtedly buy a couple of six packs this fall, because nothing says its November like this annual favorite

-As usual it had a big hop flavor, but this year it tasted more minerally/soapy to me than in years past. Not as much floral hop kick as had two years ago.

He'brew Jewbelation Twelve

-This was a really cool beer. Brewed with 12 malts and 12 hops (oh yeah its 12% ABV). This beer was huge and tough to describe, a whole lotta flavors crammed into this bad boy. Very malty with caramel, toffee, and even some chocolate flavor.

-If you like barleywines or strong ales pick this one up.

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

-This is usually one of the best values on the shelf. In years past you have been able to pick up sixers of this for $7.99. Its tough to find big imperial stouts for that price.

-Last year I felt that BCS was kind of "hot" in that you could really taste the alcohol and feel it up in your nose. This year's batch tasted much smoother, almost creamy. I can't wait to pick up some of this for the colder months.

As usual it was a fun trip to Norm's. We ended up picking up a bottle of Weyerbacher Merry Monks and Gouden Hopsinjoor.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

This just in

Just got this message from Norm of Norm's Beer and Wine:

"There's a mountain of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale that just appeared in the store!"

Go on out and get yourself some SN Celebration.

That will make your day!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Keep On, Keeping On

Wow it's been too long since the last post. Things get busy at work .... yada yada yada ... blah blah blah ... and all of the sudden you've written nothing in the last three weeks. Seriously though work has been hectic lately and I really haven't participated in too many "beery" events. I have found a new beer recently that I have fallen for: Lagunitas Imperial Red. I'm pretty sure this is Lagunitas fall seasonal offering ... wait ... yep. Apparently its available in 6-packs and kegs ... that's an interesting mix of offerings. This is a must have for the nation of hop heads out there. Repeat after me!!! MORE CASCADE HOPS PLEASE!!! If your looking for that west coast taste this is it. A whole lot of grapefruit flavor as well as .. dare I say raspberry. If you find that you like the milder things in life then this beer is NOT for you, stick to Bud American Ale.

Things on the horizon:

1) Polino Engagement Party (this weekend) where I will unleash a Saison that I've been fermenting for the last two months and half months. Hopefully it doesn't suck.

2)Oktoberfest Dinner @ the Dogfish Head Alehouse in Falls Church, VA on October 27th. Not sure if we'll make it to this, but FYI.

3) Also on Monday the 27th: Great October Beer Dinner at Pizza Paradiso.

If I had to choose I'd probably go to the Paradiso beer dinner. Maybe Meg and I will make it there.

It's Fall in DC, love it!


Monday, October 6, 2008

Please read this post

Please read this post on the above gadget. It had me rolling.

I can't say anything other than, I agree wholeheartedly.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

NoVa Brewfest

Meg and I had a great time volunteering at the NoVa Brewfest this past weekend. I don't think there is any reason why we'll not volunteer for this one in the future. We met a lot of great people and tried too many great beers to list. We got the chance to pour for St. George Brewery. Wow, what a great group of guys!


Brews Brothers

Decided to get crazy this weekend and brew two beers at once. As you can see from the pictures above I went with a large and small batch. The large batch is a Belgian dubbel that should be spectacular. The OG came out at 1.075, so we're looking around 8.5% ABV. In addition to the light malt extract, I partial mashed Caramunich and Special B malts. During the boil I added 1 pound of brown Belgian candy sugar. The second beer that I brewed was really an afterthought. I had extra malt and some california ale yeast. I decided that we needed a west coast pale ale on tap while the belgian was fermenting. In the third picture I am trying to get the fermentation temperature down to around 65 - 68*F. This is a technique that I learned online. If you drape a wet t-shirt over a fermenting vessel and speed up the evaporation process by blowing on it constantly with a fan you can drop the temperature of a fermentation by 6-8 degrees. Usually I don't mind fermenting at the ambient temperature of our condo, but this belgian yeast strain really produces the best results if the fermentation occurs in the 60s. This is the first time that I have tried this. So far so good, the temperature was around 67-68 last time I checked. The only hassle is that you need to switch out t-shirts every 2-3 days or you will start to grow mildew. Nasty stuff. I'll let you know how it all turns out. Ask for a sample if you see me around.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

NoVa Brew Fest

Come on out this weekend to the Northern Virginia Brewfest. Its being held at Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville. The event will feature over 40 different breweries. Some of my favorites will be there including: Victory, Dogfish, Lagunitas, Bells, and Oskar Blues. Additionally there will be live music and food. Meg and I will be volunteering Sunday afternoon from approximately 2pm - 6pm. I'm not sure who we will be pouring beer for yet, but hopefully something good. Check out the above link for all the details.

Here's the list of brewers (as of 9/25) and the beer that some of them will be bringing:

1. Abita (Fall Fest, Restoration)
2. Allagash (White, Tripel, some special stuff)
3. Ballast Point, California (Big Eye IPA)
4. Bear Republic
5. Beck's (Pilsner)
6. Bells
7. Birra Peroni (Peroni Nastro Azzurro)
8. Bitburger, Germany (Pils)
9. Blue Grass, Kentucky (Jefferson Bourbon Barrel Stout)
10. Boston Brewing Company (Sam Adam’s Oktoberfest, Boston Lager)
11. Boulder Brewing Company, Colorado (Hazed and Infused)
12. Brooklyn Brewing Company (Oktoberfest, Brown Ale)
13. Capitol City Brewing Co. (Amber Waves Ale, Hefeweizen, Capitol Kolsch, Prohibition Porter)
14. Clipper City (MärzHon, Loose Cannon, maybe a cask or two)
15. Dogfish Head
16. Duvel (Maredsous Triple 10)
17. Flying Dog (Dogtoberfest, Old Scratch)
18. Fordham (Helles Lager, Close Encounter)
19. Het Anker
20. Hofbrau Munchen
21. Hook Ladder (Golden Ale, Backdraft Brown)
22. Huyghe (Delirium)
23. Kona (Longboard Lager, Pipeline Porter)
24. Kostrizer, Germany (Schwartzbier)
25. Lagunitas
26. Lancaster Malt Brewing Co. (Oktoberfest, Hop Hog)
27. Leinenkugel (Sunset Wheat)
28. Mad Fox Brewing Company
29. Magic Hat (#9, Circus Boy)
30. Mendicino
31. New Holland (Mad Hatter IPA, Full Circle Kolsch)
32. North Coast
33. Old Dominion (Octoberfest, Ale)
34. Olde Richmond, Va (IPA & Brown)
35. Oskar Blues
36. Otter Creek/ Wolavers Brewing Co. (Oktoberfest, Pale Ale)
37. Peak Organic (Pale Ale, Nut Brown Ale)
38. Plzensky Prazdroj (Pilsner Urquell)
39. Raven (Raven Ale)
40. RedHook (Long Hammer, Late Harvest Ale)
41. Sierra Nevada (Pale Ale, Anniversary Ale)
42. Shenandoah Brewing Co.
43. Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu (Octoberfest)
44. St George, Va (IPA, Porter)
45. Starr Hill (Jomo, Amber Ale, Festie (Oktoberfest Lager), Love)
46. Van Honsebrouck (Kasteel)
47. Victory
48. Vintage 50
49. Weihenstephaner
50. Widmer (Hefeweizen)
51. Wild Goose (IPA)
52. Woodchuck Ciders

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Early ‘fest reviews

It’s only mid-September and I’ve been fortunate enough to have tried several Oktoberfest offerings already. I thought I’d give you my take and hopefully steer your towards some fantastic fall beers. Here we go:

Left Hand Oktoberfest

The reigning champion of my taste buds does it again this year. Last year this one really took me by surprise. It pours a deep copper color with a thin cream colored head. The smell is outright malty and sweet. Taste wise this is on the sweet side from start to finish, but not cloyingly sweet or syrupy. The hops finish with mild bitterness, which really doesn’t change the flavor of the beer, but it does help balance it out.

If you were so inclined you could sit down with a six pack of this and finish it. This stuff is eternally drinkable. The only bad part of this beer is the price, somewhat steep at $12 a six pack, and availability.

Rating: A

Samuel Adams Octoberfest

Sam Adams continues to disrespect the German spelling of this name by dropping the “k” in favor of a “c.” Perhaps this is Sam Adams’ (Boston Beer Company) way of keeping it American, no doubt. I’ve got friends who lose their minds every year when this comes out, this year I understand why. Last year this beer just seemed like a boring, watery ‘fest beer, but this year it’s like they remembered that this malt monster is something special. It pours an orange-amber color. The smell is subtle maltiness. The taste is an explosion of toasty, caramel, and roasted maltiness. The hops are middle of the road, but a bit more aggressive than the Left Hand and similarly they help balance out this brew.

This is a great one for fall tailgating or picnics. Another plus is that this one is a little easier on the wallet at around $8 a sixer.

Rating: A

Lancaster Oktoberfest

This one was a surprise. First to clarify my rating, I thought this was a cool non-traditional ‘fest beer as will be discussed, but I had to knock the overall down to a B, because of its departure from tradition. First, it poured an amber-copper color and slightly hazy. The taste was malty with brown sugar undertones and … wait for it … wait for it … a cider flavor. I don’t think that a cider flavor is desirable generally speaking in any sort of lager, but it kind of works in this one. Actually I think this one was Meg’s favorite Oktoberfest so far. I think that if you’re a lover of ales versus lagers then this might be the Oktoberfest for you. I say this because generally you associate ales with “fruity” type flavors and lagers are generally “cleaner” tasting.

We only bought two singles of this, so I have no idea how much a six pack will run you. Give this a try if you aren’t interested in the traditional Oktoberfest style.

Rating: B

Penn Oktoberfest

This one pours a clear tawny orange with a small foamy white head. Aromas and tastes are pretty straightforward: simple malty backbone with a touch of hops at the end and a clean aftertaste.

Rating: B-

Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest

Every year I try a couple German brewed Oktoberfests thinking that this year I’ve finally found the original, the mothership so to speak, but every year I am consistently disappointed. Maybe it’s because these German brewed babies are shipped all the way across the Atlantic and the conditions aren’t always optimal for storage. I suspect German brewed Oktoberfest tastes better in Germany. That being said this one receives pretty high marks on beeradvocate, so maybe I’m just off my rocker. Pours more of a reddish amber color, very clear. A little spicy in the nose, sweet upfront, but then it kind of just fizzles out. Not offensive, but I get kind of bored drinking this one.

Rating: C

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Is the Doctor in?

The wife and I met a friend at Granville Moore's on Saturday. It's an out of the way Belgian beer bar located in the "up and coming" atlas district of DC. On your trip down H Street you might be asking yourself is there really a cool beer bar in this somewhat sketchy part of the city? The answer is you betcha. The restaurant is apparently named for the previous tenant of the space. Dr. Granville Moore was apparently a doctor who worked pro bono twice a week on H street.

To start, on a busy Saturday apparently the wait can be quite long for a table. As we approached the front door a lady was taking names and phone numbers and we were told that it was going to be close to a 2 hour wait to get a table. Fortunately, we were able to find standing room at the bar which quickly parlayed itself into three bar stools opening up. We started off with some beers on draft, Meg and Kevin got a Brasserie Caracole Nostradamus, and I got a Pauwel Kwak. A year or two ago I had a Kwak and wasn't overly impressed, but this time it was on point. We started off with an order of frites. The frites were done right twice fried, salted, and seasoned. Unfortunately the frites were so good that I think I ate too many. After awhile we placed our order, Meg and I both went with the Steak et Fromage sandwich(which came with a mountain of frites). My friend ordered a pair of scallops to start along with a bowl of gazpacho. To break up the wait for the dishes and to continue the revelry we moved on to another round of beers. Meg went with a Brasserie Lefèbvre Barbar, I can't remember what Kevin ordered, and I got a De Dolle Ara Bier. The Ara was very interesting. It started off with a nice Belgian yeasty-ness (is this a word?), moved onto a tart lemony flavor, and finished big with a wall o' hop bitterness. That was one unique Belgian beer. The food came and I think everyone was content. My steak et fromage was served on an onion brioche with a nice hunk of cheddar cheese, and a creamy horseradish sauce. Meg got the same thing and her opinion of the food was that she thought "it was something she could make at home." I got the opportunity to taste Kevin's scallops and they tasted very fresh and meaty (not rubbery at all).

All in all I think this is a cool little place tucked away in a part of the city that is still flying under the radar. I definitely recommend it to anyone who is up for a little adventuring away from the typical stomping grounds in NoVa and DC.

Keep it Belgian,


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Duvel on Draft

Just saw this on BA and I thought I'd put it out there:

"With all of the recent Duvel draft talk and Duvel Moortgat saying in the past that they'd never release Duvel in kegs, I figured I'd go to the source to get the 411. An official press release is in the works, but Duvel Moortgat told us that Duvel draft is indeed coming to the US very soon.

Here's what we can divulge to everyone in BA-land:

* The kegs are on their way.

* The official public launch will be Oct 1 or the 15th, at 20 or so bars in NYC--followed by a wider release. This all depends when the ship arrives.

* It could be pouring at The Return of the Belgian Beer Fest on Sep 27.

* Duvel draft is not the Duvel Gefilterd "green lettering" version seen here: , even though the branding shows that Duvel draft will have green lettering vs. red and seperate glassware.

* Duvel draft is the same exact beer that goes into the bottle version. The only difference being that unlike the bottle, there will be no third fermentation in the keg, which means it's fermented only twice and will have a lower ABV (6.8%) as a result. Duvel goes through a primary fermentation and then a secondary fermentation in maturation vessels, the bottles go through a third (aka - bottle conditioning).

* It sounds like the goal of this release is to compliment Duvel in the bottle by providing the same Duvel experience on draft, with a slightly easier to drink beer (less alcohol) that will hopefully introduce the Duvel brand to a whole new audience of consumers--like draft beer drinkers."

All in all I think it would be great if bars across America started regularly offering Duvel, so this seems like a good thing. If you've never had a Duvel stop by your local beer store and pick one up. The only issue is that it looks like they've tinkered with the recipe so to speak (no bottle conditioning), and hopefully they will continue to offer the bottle conditioned version as well. You can technically "bottle condition" a keg, so I wonder if that was ever discussed as a possibility.

If you find that you like Duvel try to find Lucifer by Riva, I personally think that its an even better strong Belgian pale ale.



Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday Morning Brews

Fired up the the brew pot this weekend (two weekends in a row, maybe I should go for three). A friend of mine is having an engagement party in late October and asked if I could brew something for the occasion. How could I say no? I decided to go with a saison. I've never brewed a saison before, but I have drank my fair share. I covered the style a few weeks ago in my beers you've never heard of series here. The timing on this one is going to be tight, but I think the beer should ferment fully and hopefully bottle condition properly. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Keep it brewing,


Monday, August 25, 2008

Holzburg Happenings

Despite having an action packed weekend, I managed to sequester a couple of hours Saturday morning to brew. I experienced a near tragedy while preparing ingredients. Several months ago I stocked up on hops and had been storing them in the freezer. For a period of time I had so many hops in our freezer that it looked like we were peddlin' weed. In preparing ingredients during the boil I realized the hops I had planned to use on Saturday were completely spoiled and they smelled like rotten cheese. Fortunately other hops in the freezer had kept pretty well and I was able to substitute some whole hop cascades for the centennial pellets that went bad. I decided on brewing an everyday stout to have on tap around the house. My aim was Sierra Nevada's Stout. Just to mix it up in addition to black patent malt and roasted barley I steeped a 1/2 pound of Franco Belges kiln coffee malt. Its supposed to accentuate the coffee flavors you frequently taste in a stout.

As you can see in the picture above, we are already bubbling away. In fact, Meg and I got back from a long afternoon/evening of babysitting for some friends on Saturday and the fermentation had taken off and had practically exploded through the airlock. I caused quite a mess.

Keep it bubblin',


Old Dominion Brew Pub Closes

Bad news, looks like its over for the Old Dominion Brew Pub. I stopped going there last year when the new management took over, its a shame b/c I used to love going out there for a couple beers or the tour. Fortunately the brewery is still churning out that oak barrel stout, I love that stuff. My best guess is that the new ownership decided that they didn't want to be in the brewpub business. Frankly the location of the pub was kind of crappy, but regardless it was always worth the hike out there to try some of their new experimental brews. You will be missed.


Friday, August 22, 2008

5 beer styles you've never heard of: Schwarzbier

Back in Black motha' truckers. Schwarzbier is a style that defies the stereotypes. Typically people bucket beers into two categories light and dark beers. Usually when I tell people that I am a beer enthusiast they say, "Oh, do you like those heavy dark beers?" I usually respond that the color of beer doesn't dictate the body of the beer. Schwarzbier is German for "black beer." Despite "dark beer's" reputation, Schwarzbiers usually are light bodied and 3.5% to 5% ABV.

Unlike other dark beers, like porters or stouts, Schwarzbiers are not overly bitter with burnt and roasted malt characteristics that the others tend to depend on. Instead, hops are used for a good portion of the bitterness. Very refreshing and soul lifting beers, they also make a great alternative during the winter months. Especially when you are looking for a lighter beer, but one with depth of color and taste.

In doing research on the origin of Schwarzbier I found a wonderful article written by Horst Dornbusch over at I was planning on paraphrasing some of his article, but he is such a great writer that instead I thought I would quote this paragraph and list the link to his entire article. Its definitely worth reading!

"Schwarzbier is arguably the oldest European beer style for which we have hard, scientific brewing evidence and, because of this, Kulmbach [Germany] is probably the place with the longest uninterrupted brewing tradition in the world. The evidence for these assertions is an amphora-shaped crock that was discovered in a prehistoric burial site seven miles west of Kulmbach, in 1935. The grave dates from the early Iron Age, around 800 B.C., and belongs to the so-called Celtic Hallstatt culture. The crock is now in the Beer Museum in Kulmbach. And inside the crock scientists identified residues of crumpled up, blackened bread - the standard raw material of ancient Germanic brews. In this particular instance, the bread was baked from wheat flour. It ranks as the oldest evidence of brewing in Central Europe. Because the beer made from such toasted loaves would be dark, too, we can reasonably assert that the Hallstatt crock contains residues not only of the first known beer in Central Europe, but also of the first Schwarzbier!"

One of the very first craft beers I fell in love with was Saranac's Black Forest. The beer pours a dark black color with a creamy light tan head that possesses good retention and lacing. The aroma is sweet with caramel and hints of roastiness. The mouth feel is smooth and creamy.

Similar to the Belgian saison, American brewers make more schwarbiers than the Germans. Great American versions of this style include Samuel Adams Black Lager, Saranac Black Forest, and Sprecher Black Bavarian. Some excellent Bavarian examples of this style are brewed by Köstritzer and Einbecker.

The natural pairing for Schwarzbier or any German beer really is sausage. A surprisingly delightful pairing is cajun food. Schwarzbier is great with blackened chicken or pork chops.

Drink your Schwarzbier!


PS- This concludes the 5 beer styles you've never heard of series. I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bottle Bombs Beware

I was perusing Beer Advocate yesterday and I noticed the following information was posted about some explosive beer bottles:

Man severely injured by Atwater beer bottle (Fox video)

See the following link for the actual story.

Apparently there have been issues with Atwater Brewery's bottled beer. Based upon some of the information that has been posted, its sounds like there may be a possible infection in their bottling system that has caused both off tastes in the beer itself and excessive pressure to build up in the bottles. Some of these bottles have exploded. I know Atwater is available here in the DC area and it might be prudent to wait on picking up some of their beers until they figure out what is going on with their brewing/bottling system. I believe they said they were going to conduct an investigation before pulling beer from the shelves.

Just an FYI,


Friday, August 15, 2008

Oktoberfest Update

An update to yesterday's post. I just received another email from Norm's in Vienna saying that they have just received Penn, Stoudt's, and Mendocino Oktoberfest as well.



Thursday, August 14, 2008

Oktoberfest is among us

Well its official, the summer is over. Oktoberfest beers are hitting the market and that's a signal that its the beginning of fall. I got an email last week from Norm's in Vienna, VA that said they just received the following Oktoberfest beers: Spaten, Hacker-Pschorr, Paulaner, Lancaster, Hofbrau, and Dominion. Last year my favorite 'fest beer was from Left Hand Brewery. I traded some posts on Beeradvocate with Mike a rep for Left Hand and he said that they are currently shipping their Oktoberfest and that Virginia should be getting some soon. That is great news!

As sad as it is to see summer go, I love the fall weather here in the DC area and thank God its almost football season. Let's Go! Hokies!


Monday, August 11, 2008

5 beer styles you've never heard of: Scotch/Scottish Ale

Aye! HolzBrew back again with another style discussion. This post is going to cover Scotch Ale (or Scottish Ale). Now I think everyone is familiar with a few Irish drinking songs, but the Scottish like their drinking and singing just as much, so I thought it would be fun to include a classic Scottish drinking song to start off this post, you may have heard it before if you've ever hung out with a Scotsman:

"Well, a Scotsman clad in kilt left the bar one evening fair
And one could tell by how he walked that he'd drunk more than his share
He fumbled 'round until he could no longer keep his feet
And he stumbled off into the grass to sleep beside the street.

About that time two young and lovely girls just happened by
One says to the other with a twinkle in her eye
See yon sleeping Scotsman so strong and handsome built
I wonder if it's true what they don't wear beneath the kilt?

"They crept up on that sleeping Scotsman quiet as could be
Lifted up his kilt about an inch so they could see
And there behold for them to view beneath his Scottish skirt
Was nothing more than God had graced him with upon his birth!

They marveled for a moment then one said we must be gone
Let's leave a present for our friend before we move along
As a gift they left a blue silk ribbon tied into a bow
Around the bonnie star the Scots kilt did lift and show.

Now the Scotsman woke to nature's call and stumbled towards the trees
Behind the bush he lifts his kilt and gawks at what he sees
And in a startled voice he says to what's before his eyes
Oh, lad I don't know where you've been but I see you won first prize!"

Officially "Scotch Ale" is the name given to a strong pale ale originated in Edinburgh in the early 1800s. The term "scotch" generally brings thoughts of a certain brown spirit. It is important to remember that whiskey is simply distilled beer and that this famous liquor did not even exist until the 1800's. By that time the Scots had been brewing beer for literally thousands of years. Catholic monasteries established commercial breweries in Scotland during the medieval times. By the 1400s public breweries began to appear throughout Scotland. During the 1800s Scottish breweries were major distributors to the rest of Europe, North America and India.

From the very beginning Scottish ale has always been different than most types of British beer. The main reason for this is because hops do not grow in the cold and windy Scottish climate. Originally the early Scot brewers used spices, herbs, and even roots to help balance out the sweetness of the malt. In more modern times the Scots have imported hops in order to brew their Scotch ales. The problem with importing hops is that they were both expensive and ENGLISH! All things "English" are held in skeptical regard by the Scottish people. Scottish beer drinkers did not care for the flavor of the English hops and that is why hops are only used sparingly in Scotch ales. In reality the Scottish brewers recognized the hop as having tremendous preservative quality and begrudgingly have used hops in their beers. Malt flavors were emphasized by Scot brewers and still are today.

Scottish Ales traditionally go through a long boil in the kettle for a caramelization of the wort. This produces a deep copper to brown in colored brew and a higher level of unfermentable sugars which create a rich mouthfeel and malty flavors and aromas. Smoky characters are also common. Additionally, Scottish beer ferments differently than English beer. The colder temperatures lead to a slower fermentation. Long cool fermentations tend to produce malty beers with less fruitiness. Due to this some Scotch ales bare closer resemblance to Bavarian lagers versus English ales, despite the usage of ale yeast strains.

Strong Scotch Ale is also known as Wee Heavy. Examples of beers brewed in the USA under the name Wee Heavy tend to be 7% ABV and higher, while Scottish brewed examples, such as Belhaven's Wee Heavy, are typically between 5.5% and 6.5% ABV.

Some great examples of Scottish Scotch Ales (and Wee Heavys) that you can find easily around the DC area are: McEwan's Scotch Ale, Orkney Skull Splitter, and Traquair House Ale. As with all styles American brewers have taken to brewing this delicious brown ale. Exceptional American versions of this style that are readily available around the area are: Oskar Blues Old Chub (this is one of my favorites), Samuel Adams Scotch Ale, and Magic Hat Jinx.

To fully complement the maltiness of this delicious ale, buttery cheeses such as brie, gouda and swiss make great pairings. Additionally, all smoked meats taste great with this beer.

Go out and find some McEwan's or Old Chub when you get a chance and discover all that this style has to offer.

Drink your Scotch (ale),


Saturday, August 2, 2008

5 beer styles you've never heard of: Saison

The farmlands of Wallonia (right next door to Stankonia), the French-speaking region of Belgium, are home to an incredibly refreshing beer, Saison (also referred to as a farmhouse ale). “Saison” is the French word for season, and the season that is in question is Spring. During the early weeks of spring the Belgium farmers would brew there last batches of beer because in the days before modern refrigeration ales would be impossible to brew during the summer. These beers had to sustain the farmers into the harvest season. Although now most commercial examples range from 5 to 8% abv, originally saisons were meant to be refreshing and thus had alcohol levels less than 3%. Because of the lack of potable water, saisons would give the farm hands the hydration they needed without the threat of illness.

Saisons are not as prevalent as they once were, only a few saisons are produced today. They are brewed using pale malts which lends to the light and refreshing taste. Some recipes also use wheat and the usage of botanicals such as orange peel is not unheard of. These beer were aggressively hopped as they needed to be preserved though the hot summer months. Currently, saisons are moderately hopped. These beers are usually more carbonated than other Belgium beers lending to its light peppery spritzy taste.

Saisons generally go well with a wide variety of foods from meaty dishes to spicy dishes. Saisons are truly utility players. One of my favorite pairings is a saison with a spicy thai dish. The bright spiciness of the beer really makes the spices in the food shine through.

Some fantastic Belgian examples of saisons are: Saison Dupont, Fantome Saison, and Avec Les Bons Voeux. Interestingly enough there might be more American versions of this style currently in existence. Probably my favorite saison is Hennepin which is brewed by Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY. Frequently you can find a 750ml bottle of this fine brew for about $5, which is one of the best values for your money currently on the shelves.

If you don't go out and buy a baltic porter or doppelbock I understand because those beers are not for everyone. BUT you owe it to yourself to go out and buy a saison and try it out.

Drink your saison,


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Stone

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming, "Beers you've never heard of" for a review of the Stone 12th anniversary ale. First, why do breweries call these anniversary ales? Shouldn't it be a birthday ale? I guess we'll just agree to disagree. That issue aside, I picked up a bomber (aka deuce-deuce) of this years Stone anniversary ale at Norm's in Vienna for 6.99.

To start I really like almost every beer that Stone puts out. Every year I try to pick up a couple of the anniversary ales b/c they tend to do something a little different every year and its usually spectacular. The last couple of anniversary ales, if memory serves, have been Belgian-style ales. This year they decided to go in another direction and came out with Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. I heard a few months ago before this beer even came out that the intention was to highlight alternative bitter agents for beer, because of the current hop shortage. The idea was that unsweetened cocoa could be used in place of a lot of the hops. Kind of a cool idea, considering the times we are in.

Now lets get down to the tasting. Last night I decided not to have this beer during dinner b/c we were having chicken parmesan and I thought that would be a weird combination. When your talking about Imperial Stouts people usually advise that you pair it with some sort of sweet desert. I personally feel that Imperial Stouts are so big and viscous that usually they are desert enough by themselves, and that's what I did. I had this bad boy for desert. You'll notice from the picture up (sorry for the poor quality of the picture, I like to use my camera phone) above that this beer pours with little head. In fact the beer on the right was poured first and most of the head dissipated by the time I poured the second glass just seconds later. The aroma bursts of chocolate and roasted malts. The immediate impression upon imbibing is that your dealing with a big velvety beer here. I suspect this beer gets some of the big mouth feel from the oatmeal that is referenced in its name. The beer tastes quite chocolaty, but as the name states it finishes brutally bitter. The chocolate is so bitter that it was hard for me to pick up much in the way of hops. I know they are there b/c we are talking about a beer brewed by Stone, but the chocolate is the overwhelming bitter agent here. There are also lots of roasted, smoked, and burnt flavors throughout this beer. Last, topping the scales at over 9% ABV the beer is quite boozy, I was actually flush for about an hour after drinking this one.

All in all I'd have to give this imperial stout a blue-collar B (not a B-, not a B+). I give it style points because its uniquely different from other imperial stouts because of the massive chocolate flavor, but there are better American imperial stouts out there. My personal favorites include North Coast Old Rasputin and Victory Storm King Stout. If your not sure about buying this beer, try the chocolate stout brewed by Rogue, if you like that then this beer is that beer on steroids. Also worth mentioning, I appear to be in the minority in that the average rating for this beer on I believe is an A-.

Hopefully by the end of the week I'll be back and posting another entry in the "Beers you've Never Heard Of" series, but until then Cheers!


Thursday, July 24, 2008

5 beer styles you've never heard of: Doppelbock

Part 2 of 5, continues with the thrilling style of doppelbocks (or double bocks). I was recently drinking a doppelbock with my father in law and he asked me what exactly a dobbelbock was and I thought this might be a great topic for this series of posts. Seeing that this style is based on bock beer, it probably makes sense to discuss what a bock beer is first. Bock is a strong lager which has origins in the town of Einbeck, Germany. The name is some variation on the town's name Einbeck (you say beck, I say bock) and additionally the word literally means goat in German. Its common to see a goat on the label of a bock beer.

Bock was traditionally brewed for special occasions, usually religious festivals such as Christmas, Easter or Lent. Bocks have a long history of being brewed and consumed by Catholic monks in Germany. During the season of Lent, monks were required to fast. High-gravity Bock beers are higher in calories and nutrients than lighter lagers, thus providing sustenance during this period. Similar high-gravity Lenten beers of various styles were brewed by Monks in other areas of Europe (we are talking about Trappist beer here folks). It was rumored that Martin Luther drank this beer during the Diet of Worms (I am not going to pretend to be a specialist on the Diet of Worms, see the following link for more if you interested).

A doppelbock is essentially a big bock. The beer was first brewed by the monks of St. Francis of Paula. Alcohol content ranges from 6% to over 10% by volume. Historic versions had lower alcohol content and higher sweetness, and was considered "liquid bread" by the monks. Most versions are dark colored, but pale versions do exist. Doppelbocks are not usually known for being hop bombs, but rather malt monsters (its fun speaking beer geek). Personally I enjoy a dobbelbock with a smooth toasty-bready flavor. The Minim monks who originally brewed Doppelbock named their beer "Salvator", which today is trademarked by Paulaner. In homage to the original, it is traditional for breweries to give their Doppelbocks names that end in "-ator

Some great examples of German brewed doppelbocks are Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock, Paulaner Salvator, Spaten Optimator, and Weihenstephaner Korbinian (this brewery can trace their roots back to the year 1040, mind blowing). There are several great American brewed versions of this style that you can readily find locally: Victory St. Victorious, Bell's Consecrator Doppelbock, and Troegs Troegenator.

In his book, "The Brewmaster's Table" Garret Oliver says that the perfect pairing for a doppelbock is venison. Additionally, he says that the sweet maltiness of the beer pairs well with classic fruit sauces like a sour cherry reduction to top the venison. He additionally lists duck, goose, and pork as other great pairings. I personally enjoy a rare steak paired with a doppelbock.

Drink your bock,


Thursday, July 17, 2008

5 beer styles you've never heard of: Baltic Porter

I personally find beer styles to be an incredibly interesting subject. Beer more so than any other fermented beverage covers a vast spectrum of flavors. Don't believe me? Try a german pilsner, followed by a flanders red ale, and then jump into the world of american hop bomb IPA's. Chances are you'll soon realize that beer is a incredibly diverse beverage.

I thought it might be fun to write a series of posts on beer styles that aren't mainstream, in that, you won't find these types of beers at Champps or Outback Steakhouse. Recently, I brewed a Baltic Porter and several people have asked me what exactly is a Baltic porter.

According to the BJCP ("Beer Judge Certificate Program", that's right there is a certificate program to judge beer) style guidelines a baltic porter "often has the malt flavors reminiscent of an English brown porter and the restrained roast of a schwarzbier, but with a higher OG and alcohol content than either. Very complex, with multi-layered flavors."

Baltic porter was first brewed in Britain during the 18th century as a top-fermenting (ale yeast) beer. It remained an ale when local breweries - such as Carnegie in Sweden - began to produce it in the early 1800s. When breweries around the Baltic converted to bottom-fermentation in the second half of the 19th century, many began to brew their Porter with a lager yeast. Today only a few remain top-fermented.

Some great examples of baltic porters around the world are Sinebrychoff Porter made in Finland, Zywiec Porter made in Poland, and D. Carnegie & Co. Stark Porter from Sweden. A lot of these international baltic porters are difficult to find in the US, but definitely worth looking for. Easier to find are US versions. Ones that you can readily find in the DC area are Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter and Victory Baltic Thunder. Both of these can be found at Total Wine, Chevy Chase Liquors, and Norms in Vienna. Victory Baltic Thunder was originally a beer made by Heavyweight Brewing in New Jersey and when the brewing unfortunately went out of business Victory owners Ron and Bill worked with the Heavyweight ownership to keep their baltic porter alive.

IF you'd like to try to pairing a baltic porter with food the smokiness of the porter pairs well with BBQ and earthy cheeses such as Camembert and Fontina.

Drink your porter,


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

AB/InBev Deal

I saw this bit last night on the Colbert Report. Freakin' hilarious!

Monday, July 7, 2008

End of Session Oppression

For the last couple of weeks I haven't had more than a beer or two on any given day. Whereas its good for your liver to drink in moderation (blah, blah, blah), its always nice to get together with family and/or friends and drain the stockpiles from time to time. This past Fourth of July weekends was one of those times. The wife and I headed out to Columbus, OH for the long weekend to see her folks. One of the great things about going to see the in-laws is that my father-in-law shares the same passion that I do for things fermented. He managed to save up a nice selection of beers for our visit. Well here goes a few notes on some of things we sampled:

Three Floyds "Dreadnaught IPA"

Anytime you get the opportunity to drink anything from Three Floyds take it. This is one serious double IPA. As I was once told many many years ago from an old man I worked with at a moving company "Richard's don't play" when he was describing to me his favorite types of malt liquors, well "Dreadnaught don't play." This beer is the epitome of an American Hop-Bomb, the beer literally finishes with a wall of bitterness. To some that might not sound good, but I absolutely loved it.

Avery/Russian River "Collaboration Not Lititgation"

The back story on this beer is kind of interesting. Adam Avery (of Avery Brewing) and Vinnie Cilurzo (of Russian River) both realized that they offered a belgian beer called Salvation. Instead of suing one another to decide who could keep the rights to the name of those delicious brews, they got together and created a beer by mixing those two beers together and realsing it under the above stated name. This beer is viscous with a spicy clove and banana flavor upfront which is followed up by some floral hop flavor that really helps balance out the maltiness. The viscousity of the beer and its maltiness reminded somewhat of molasses. Anyone who likes belgian beers needs to try this one.

Brasserie de Rochefort "Trapisstes Rochefort 10"

All in all I think I had great expectations for this beer. Not bad, but definitely not earth-shattering. It had a very smooth creamy flavor and it hinted at a banana smoothie. Deceptively smooth so much so that its hard to believe that it is in excess of 11% ABV, scary.

Unibroue "La Fin Du Monde"

Loved it. A fantastic tripel with a peppery and clove spiciness and a nice dry finish. Buy some of this!

Unibroue "Trois Pistoles"

I remember liking this, but I can't recall any specifics about it. I think I had already had a couple of beers at that point.

De Proefbrouwerij "Saison Imperiale"

I did not enjoy this one. Enough said.

Elevator "Doppelbock"

Really good, but I think it is miscategorized. It tasted a lot like a porter or maybe a stout. It lacked that german smoothness that you usually expect from a doppelbock.

Until next time,


Sunday, June 29, 2008

pale ales and kegs ohhh joyous day


Wow, its been awhile since I actually wrote a substantive post. Things get busy sometimes and you just forget to keep your blog up to date. What's a guy to do? Brew!

So my birthday was earlier in the month and my beautiful wife gave me the best gift a guy could ask for ... permission to fill our already crowded condo with more beer equipment. Primarily she said she was down with me kegging beer. Well a couple of weeks of research resulted in my decision to get a chest freezer to convert to a kegerator. The benefits of a chest freezer are that they hold a substantial number of corny kegs (I hope to have four kegs on tap, eventually) and that with a simple override apparatus you can manipulate the temperature quite easily. Your standard refrigerator is somewhat more difficult to manipulate and it would look somewhat ridiculous if we had two refrigertors in our 10 x 10 kitchen.

So far I have accumulated all of the gear that one would need to keg beer: a pair of corny kegs, a dual co2 regulator, a co2 tank, hoses and fittings, the chest freezer, and the temperature override. One thing that I haven't done yet is to fill the co2 tank with co2. My understanding is that "Bars by Bud" down Lee Highway fills co2 tanks. Additionally, for the time being I will be dispensing beer out of the standard picnic nozzle rather than a nice perlick or ventamatic faucet. Oh well, it wouldn't be any fun if I had everything I wanted right away.

So you've heard about the hardware, but what about the software? The main reason I am not currently serving draft beer is that I don't have any finished beer. What's a guy to do? Brew!

Two weeks ago a brewed up a 5 gallon batch of belgian pale ale that is currently fermenting away. I decided to make an approachable (approx 6%) pale that used honey as 1/3 of the total fermentables. Because honey ferments more completely than most sugars this should result in a light bodied pale that is being fermented with a golden belgian ale yeast strain. Oh yeah as usual I was generous with the American hops.

Today I decided to brew another pale ale. This one though was inspired by a recent business trip to the State of Michigan. While traveling to northern Michigan I stopped at Right Brain Brewing Company in Traverse City. Wow, talk about an awesome place. The pub had about 8 - 9 beers on draft and two other beers on cask. Despite trying many different beers while I was there, one in particular was overwelmingly memorable. It was called little italy honey basil pale ale. Now basil is not something you usually thing of when talking beer, but I've got to say it was magnificent. So today I brewed up what I hope will emulate that spectacular pale ale.

Hopefully in a couple of weeks I will be reporting to you that both of these pale ales are on tap a la casa Holzman. Stop by if you get the chance and pour yourself up a pint (seriously!). Ultimately I think I will colar the freezer and add tap faucets, similar to the following link:

See you aroud Charlie Brown,


Thursday, June 12, 2008

$46 Billion Large

$46 BILLION ... whats_news

I really don't know what to think of this:

InBev Makes Offer for Anheuser
June 11, 2008 5:05 p.m.

Belgium beer giant InBev NV has made an unsolicited bid of $46 billion for Anheuser-Busch Cos., Anheuser said Wednesday.

Anheuser said in a statement that its board will carefully evaluate the non-binding, $65-a-share proposal. The board "will pursue the course of action that is in the best interests of Anheuser-Busch's stockholders."

The St. Louis company didn't say when the board planned to respond. It would make its determination "in due course," the release said.

Anheuser is the world's third-largest brewer by volume and the dominant U.S. beer maker. InBev, based in Leuven, Belgium, is the second-largest brewer by volume after London's SABMiller.

InBev had been weighing a takeover bid for Anheuser for weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.

The last large American brewery.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Anheuser Busch being bought out by the Belgians? ... d=91143039

Anheuser-Busch Takeover Talk Shakes St. Louis
by Matt Sepic
Morning Edition, June 4, 2008

People inside Anheuser-Busch say a takeover of the St. Louis brewer by Belgium's InBev is possible -- though the company has not commented on a possible deal. Talk of the company's takeover has people in St. Louis on edge. The brewer is part of the city's identity, and not just as a major employer.

When word got out that InBev was interested in Anheuser-Busch, the nail-biting commenced. Layoffs are certainly a big concern. But the company's 6,000 local employees aren't the only ones who are worried about what foreign ownership might bring.

Anheuser-Busch is not the largest employer in St. Louis, but most visitors would be forgiven for thinking so. The name is everywhere: the law school building at Washington University, the August A. Busch Conservation Area, and of course the famous ballpark, now in its third incarnation.

Even though I don't care for their products, it almost seems wrong for such an American institution to be owned by a foreign company. Thoughts?


Friday, May 30, 2008

ABs pride and Coors fried

Every year Fortune magazine comes out with a list of America's most admired companies. Interestingly enough 'ole Anheuser-Busch was ranked number one this year. This list purports to be based upon eight metrics: Innovation, People Management, Use of Corporate Assets, Social Responsibility, Quality of Management, Financial Soundness, Long Term Investment, and Quality of Products and Services.

If you haven't figured it out by now, I've never been a big fan of ABs beers. That is why I was somewhat surprised that they ranked at the tops of the "innovation" list. I suppose it depends on what you consider innovation. If Bud Light Lime is innovation then I guess you've got a winner. But I can tell you what you won't see coming out this year from AB is a Belgian inspired beer, or a beer aged on South American aromatic wood (i.e. Dogfish's Palo Santo Marron). That being said I am not surprised by many of the other metrics. Financially speaking AB I think has always been an attractive investment. I think Warren Buffet would consider them a Wide-Moat investment. As far as quality, I think it depends on how you define quality. But one thing is for sure AB does make a tremendous effort to make sure their beer is consistently the same. I mean if you were able to safely store a canned Budweiser from five years ago, you would probably find that it tastes almost exactly the same as a Budweiser you bought yesterday. That says something about their quality control.

Interesting to note is that Coors listed as the least admired company in the US. Considering that I classify most of their products in the same class as ABs products, I don't know if I could even begin to explain this disparity. I have heard that Pete Coors is an ardent right wing politically inclined individual and I'd have to wonder if that plays into their least admired status. I mean being an outspoken republican isn't exactly "popular" currently. Also the fact that Coors allowed themselves to be bought by a Canadian company (Molson), probably factored into this as well.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Savor the Flavor

Due to the availability of some last minute tickets from a friend at work (Thanks Kevin!), M and I attended the Savor craft beer event this past Saturday at the Mellon Auditorium in DC. First, the Mellon Auditorium is a beautiful venue for an event like this. It is also conveniently close to the Federal Triangle metro stop, which a great option for a beer fest (read: designated driver).

Each session was limited to 700 people and apparently every session sold out. It was nice to attend an event like this that was limited in size. Usually brew fests get rather crowded, but I think this one wasn’t too bad. A nice thing about an event of this size is that you actually had some access to the brewers and reps.

The idea behind this brew fest was that each brewer was to bring two beers and pair them with an appropriate food selection. The food was prepared in appetizer style. The selection of breweries who attended this event was great. I’d list them, but instead I’ll link them here. Some memorable pairings were Four Peaks 8th Street Ale and rosemary chocolates, and Full Sail Session Lager and bite-sized stout burgers. In addition to the pairings some very memorable beers were: St. Louis Brewery’s barleywine, ’06 and ’07 Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, and Russian River’s Pliny the Elder. I really wish Four Peaks and St. Louis Brewery distributed in the DC area, hopefully, one day they will.

M and I were having so much fun walking and talking the booths that we did not even attend any of the speeches that were made. I think the crowd as this event was perfect, almost everyone was nicely dressed and polite. Generally, people went out of their way to move aside after they had been served their sample and continue their conversations without being to obstructive of the booth. Probably the only complaint that I had was the bathroom scene. There was only one men’s bathroom with two urinals and two stalls. This resulted in a rather lengthy bathroom break.

In conclusion, I think this was a great event for craft beer. It showed the pairing versatility of craft beer and food. It also was a classy event, yet the crowd wasn’t too snooty. At the end of the day we have to remember that we are talking about beer here and its something that is fun and yet it is to be respected.

Respect Beer,


Monday, May 12, 2008


I poured up a Guerrilla Stout after dinner and I couldn't resist snapping a photo for the site.

Through darkness you'll find enlightenment.


Polo Loco

So this past weekend M and I found ourselves at the Americas Cup of Polo in Leesburg. This particular match was between the Italians and Americans. Now hanging out at Polo matches is not our usual scene, but my buddy Chris (actually his new lady friend, Katie) came through with some free VIP tickets and it sounded kind of cool. Next week I think I'll check out a fox hunt or maybe a cricket match.

Before the match began we were all thirsty and looking for some beverages. There was no beer in sight, but a couple of different Virginia wineries had tents with multiple offerings. Our foursome pulled up to the Vino Curioso tent to check out their vinos. After a brief discussion with the guys working the tent Chris and I picked out a Cabernet. The Cab was OK, but lord knows I was jonesing for a brew. After seeing a few people walk by with Yuengling, I realized that the VIP tent was handing out FREE BEER! Glory Hallelujah!

Meg and Katie made a beer run for us and Meg picked us up a Bierra Morretti and a Morretti LaRossa. Now the Morretti was a fairly average Euro Pale Lager, but the LaRossa was a really nice malty Dobblebock. I was just pumped to be drinking a beer at a hoighty polo match. The best thing about it was that probably twenty people came up to our foursome to ask us where we found the beer. That crowd was thirsty and the only thirst quencher for them was beer.

All in all it was a great Saturday afternoon. I learned a little about the sport of Polo and I learned a lot about the power of beer.



Thursday, May 8, 2008

Whats Happening

Hey, I haven't posted in awhile due to a company retreat in the Dominican Republic. While the vacation was awesome, the Caribbean is not the place to go for good beer. Most of the Caribbean is dominated by tasteless macro lagers, each island has its own brands. The DR has Presidente, Brahma, and Bohemia Especial. The only saving grace if you can find it (which I could not this time) is the Guinness Foreign Export Stout. That stuff beats the tar out of the Americanized Guinness.

Not much to much to post about, but I wanted to let everyone know about the Happenings in the area. Some of which I hope to attend.

1) Larry Bell will be visting Rustico in Alexandria on May 13th. Larry Bell is the owner of Bell's Brewing Company. Larry will speak to a 6 course menu created by Rustico Executive Chef Frank Morales and paired Bell's beers. Tickets are a little steep on this at $80 per ticket.

2) Sam Calagione founder of Dogfish Head, will be signing copies of his new book, "He Said Beer, She Said Wine," on Wednesday, May 14, at the Dogfish Head Alehouse in Falls Church, VA.

3) May 13 and 14 Brickskeller welcomes the Lupulin heroes!

featuring five of the countries best of the best craft brewmasters!

Tomme Arthur of San Diego 's Pizza Port and Lost Abbey Breweries

Vinnie Cilurzo of Santa Rosa 's Russian River Brewing Company

Adam Avery of Colorado 's Avery Brewing Company

Rob Tob from Maine 's great Belgian style brewery Allagash

and Sam Calagione of Delaware 's Dogfish Head Brewery

Sample what may well be the finest lineup of beers presented at one sitting in the entire country this year. Tickets for this event are $35.00 each!

Thats it for now,


Monday, April 28, 2008

Just Gruit

Finally got around to brewing a gruit yesterday. It was definitely strange to brew without hops, it just didn't feel right. I brewed a small 2 gallon batch just to see if I am even into hopless beer. Before starting the boil, I steeped some dingeman's biscuit malt in the water for about 30 minutes to impart an earthiness to the gruit (A gruit seems like it should be earthy to me). Duirng the boil I added a variety of herbs and spices: sweet gale, spruce tips, paradise seeds, and coriander. I also threw in some crushed juniper berries after the boil ended. Most of the ingredients were purchased with the exception being the spruce tips.

I took a morning jog on Sunday and I passed some spruce trees showing signs of spring growth along the W&OD trail. I picked off a handful of spruce tips and finished out the jog. I was laughing at myself the whole way home, because it must of been funny to see me running with a handful of green vegetation.

This morning the gruit was bubbling away and it looked like a healthy fermentation. Because of the small batch size I got a chance to break out my old brew pot, it was nice to be to get a boil started in under an hour. There might be some more small batches in my future.

Have a good week,


Friday, April 25, 2008

History of Beer, Part Dos


The Sumerians' resourcefulness and prosperity soon became a magnet for other people around them. These strangers probably wanted all of the fantastic beer the Sumerians were brewing. Newcomers, mostly Semitic tribes from the north and west, began to move into Mesopotamia - sometimes they were friendly and sometimes not so much. As a consequence, the Sumerians eventually began to be absorbed by their neighbors and gradually disappeared as a culture. By the beginning of the third millennium BC, Sumer had faded almost completely. In its place arose a new culture, which historians call Babylonian.

Initially, the future of beer in Babylonia seemed promising, because the new rulers of Mesopotamia, like all good conquerors, took what was working for the Sumerians and made it their own. While beer in Sumeria was mostly a matter of religion, beer in Babylonia became mostly a matter of politics. And similar to modern society the Babylonians started to regulate beer.

Unlike the loosely regulated (liberal-minded) Sumerian culture the Babylonians loved their discipline. All things in Babylonian society were heavily regulated and beer was no exception, especially once Hamurabi, the 6th king, took over. Hammurabi’s famous Code classifies beer into 20 different categories, each of which we would now call a beer style. By defining beer categories in the legal code, Hamurabi was the first to regulate the production of beer. The consumption of beer did not escape his regulation either. Hamurabi slapped price controls on the brewers and innkeepers, a historical first!

In Babylonian times beer was cloudy and unfiltered (hefewiezen say what?). Drinking straws were used to avoid getting the bitter brewing residue in the mouth. Beer from Babylon was exported as far away as Egypt. Hammurabi’s Code established a daily beer ration. This ration was based on the social standing of the individual, a normal worker received 2 liters, civil servants 3 liters (who says government jobs don’t pay?), administrators and high priests 5 liters per day. In these ancient times beer was not frequently sold, but used as barter.

That's the Babylonians and beer in a nutshell,