Saturday, January 31, 2009

The perfect case of beer


We stopped by Norm's last night for the usual friday night routine and my was it a fantastic trip. If it wasn't just the holidays I would have thought it was Christmas come early. We put together one of the greatest cases of beer known to mankind: 2 six packs of Bell's Hopslam, 1 six pack of Troegs Nugget Nectar, and 1 six pack of Sierra's new Torpedo IPA. For those not familair with any of the above listed beers, they are a hophead's dream come true. Norm's recieved all three Friday afternoon and we were assured that their stock of all three beers would be gone in a day or two. As if it wasn't sweet enough to construct the perfect case of beer, Norm's had also received a shipment of 22oz. bottles of Stone's Cali-Belgique. At first we were given the bad news, that although Norm's received this shipment on Friday, they had completely sold out of it before we arrived at the store. But through generosity Raul, our buddy who frequently works the Friday night shift, was willing to part with the bottle he had saved for himself in the back b/c he knew how excited we were to try it. Now that's friendship folks. Needless to say it was a great night.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

HolzBrew - Black Beauty Stout

Poured up a tall glass of HolzBrew Black Beauty Stout when I got home this evening. I've had this on draft for probably close to 10 weeks now. Meg and I just buy too damn much beer to drink our own libations quickly. Sierra Nevada Stout served as the inspiration for this one. Mainly stuck to cascades for the hopping and I kept the ABV reasonable, about 5.2% ABV. The Keg is just about kicked. Which is good because I plan to have my HolzBrew Strong Ale on tap in a couple of weeks.

I brewed an imperial pilsner yesterday and placed it in the kegerator. Can't wait to see how its turns out. The OG was at 1.075, so it should be large and in charge. I don't brew a lot of lagers, hoping for the best on this one.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

Sierra has announced that two new beers will be added this year to their current year round offerings. If you love everything Sierra makes as much as I do, you'll be pumped to hear that the first of these new brews is going to be an IPA (actually they are calling it an Extra IPA b/c it is somewhere between an IPA and a double IPA). From what I hear this stuff should be hitting the shelves here in the NoVA around March. For now all we can do is drool over the above picture.


Trappists III - Rochefort

Rochefort, the brewery, is located inside the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy, near the town of Rochefort, and has been brewing beer since 1595. There are approximately 15 monks resident at the monastery. The monks are very secretive about the brewing process, and the brewery is not open to the public, therefore much of the information publicly known about the brewery comes from only a few sources.

Circa 1230, Gilles de Walcourt, count of Rochefort, founded a monastery for Cistercian nuns called Secours de Notre-Dame. In 1464 Louis de la Marck ordered the nuns to leave the monastery which had decayed and they were replaced by monks. During the Eighty Years War the abbey was ravaged by the protestant armies of the Seventeen Provinces (a personal union of Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, a part of the North of France, and a small part of the West of Germany) and the Austrian armies of John of Austria (1577). Around 1595, the first brewery was founded within the abbey.

In the 17th century the abbey suffered from war, famine and the plague. On 30 April 1650, an army from Lorraine, lead by baron Châtelet, invaded the abbey. The monks had to flee, and again in 1652 and 1653.

In 1789 the French revolutionary army invaded the Austrian Netherlands, and in 1797 the abbey was closed and sold to Lucien-Jospeh Poncelet. Poncelet demolished the abbey around 1805 and converted it to a farm. Material of the abbey was used for buildings in the town of Rochefort.

On 11 October 1887, father Anselmus Judong from the Trappist Abbey of Achel (we'll cover these guys in an upcoming post) came to the old abbey and on 21 December 1887 the buildings were bought by the monks of Achel. The abbey was restored and new buildings were raised. A new brewery was founded, but it would take until 1952 for the brewery to produce enough beer to be sold.

Like many strong Belgian beers, those produced at Rochefort age well and can be cellared for up to five years while maintaining quality. Each of these beers is brewed to the same recipe, with the only difference being the alcoholic content. The water for the beers is drawn from a well located inside the monastery walls.

It produces three trappist beers :

* Rochefort 6 (red cap, brown beer, 7.5% ABV). Reddish color, almost like autumn leaves, very consistent texture with a slightly spicy aroma and an intense taste of caramel, fruit, and hints of raisins. It is only brewed about once per year, representing approximately 1% of total beer production. Strangely this beer can be easily obtained in the Northern Virginia area. I know several of the Whole Foods regularly carry it as well as Norm's in Vienna, Va.

* Rochefort 8 (green cap, brown beer, 9.2% ABV). Yellowish-brown color. This variety constitutes the largest proportion of production. I can honestly say I've never had this beer and that it is fairly hard to find in the NOVA area.

* Rochefort 10 (blue cap, dark beer, 11.3% ABV). Reddish-brown color, with a very compact and creamy head and an aroma of figs, feels like honey in the mouth. The alcohol profile is a major component in the flavor of this strong ale. This beer can be found in the NoVa area, but it usually leaves the shelves quickly.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2009 Dogfish Release Schedule

Year Round Beers:

- 90 Minute IPA
- 60 Minute IPA
- Raison D'Etre
- Indian Brown Ale
- Palo Santo Marron
- Midas Touch Golden Elixir

Seasonal Beers:

- Spring: Aprihop (available in March & April)
- Summer: Festina Peche (available in June & July)
- Autumn: Punkin' Ale (available in September & October)
- Winter: Chicory Stout (available in December)

Occasional Rarities (limited quantites, while supplies last):

- 120 Minute IPA (available in January, May & September)
- Burton Baton (available in March, July & November)
- Red & White (available in January & February)
- Black & Blue (available in March & April)
- BRAND X (will be available in April & May, but we're not ready yet to tell you what it'll be!)
- Immort Ale (available in April & May)
- Chateau Jiahu (available in June & July)
- Theobroma (available in July & August)
- Pangaea (available in September & October)
- Olde School Barleywine (available in October & November)
- World Wide Stout (available in November & December)
- Fort (available in November & December)

For the sweet fridge poster, click here.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Trappists II

Orval Brewery (Brasserie d'Orval)

Orval Abbey is a Cistercian monastery founded in 1132 in the Gaume region of Belgium and is located in Villers-devant-Orval, part of Florenville in the province of Luxembourg (not the country!).

In 1793, during the French Revolution, the abbey was completely burnt down by French forces, in retaliation for the hospitality it had provided to Austrian troops, and the Trappist monks dispersed. In 1887, the land and ruins were acquired by the Harenne family. They donated the lands back to the Cistercian order in 1926 so that monastic life could resume on the site. Between 1926 and 1948, under the direction of the Trappist monk Marie-Albert van der Cruyssen, the new monastery was constructed, and in 1935 Orval regained the rank of abbey.

Despite not commercially producing beer until more recently, Orval probably always had a brewery onsite, brewing beer was customary in these areas ill-suited for vine-growing. Beer was first and foremost considered for its nourishing properties : it was called "liquid bread". Various facts corroborate this idea : topographical references on old drawings; a detailed description of production left by a Franciscan visitor three hundred years ago; and an area called the "hop-field" very close to the monastery.

In 1529, the Emperor Charles Quint granted the monks authorization to establish a foundry which would provide the necessary revenues for the monks to financially support themselves. When Orval later (circa 1926) began to rise again from its ruins after more than 130 years, the enormous task of rebuilding the monastery required considerable financial means; a brewery was established to assume the role of the former foundry.

This newly established brewery employed lay-people. The first master brewer was a German by the name of Pappenheimer; he is buried at Villers-devant-Orval. The origins of Orval's very distinctive beer can probably be attributed jointly to Mr. Pappenheimer and to the Belgians, Honoré Van Zande and John Vanhuele who were working in the brewery at the same period. They were adventurous brewers who employed methods that were not used by any local monasteries or brewers at the time. Several of these methods, such as the infusion brewing and the "dry-hopping" are English: probably owed to John Vanhuele, who brought them from England.

Currently the brewery produces two trappist beers:

* Orval Trappist Ale, 6.9% ABV, often referred to as The Queen of Trappists. It was first made in 1931, and has a complex and unusual flavor and aroma produced by a unique strain of yeast. The beer is light in color, slightly cloudy, and has a large, foamy head. There is a complex aroma of leather, horse blanket, spice, and many other earthy components.

* Petite Orval, 3.5% ABV, beer brewed only for the monks. Although not generally available for sale, it can be purchased in the monastery itself or the café near the monastery.

Because the beer is bottle conditioned, its flavor can improve over the years with aging, although its hop character and relatively low alcohol make it less suitable for this purpose than some other Trappist ales.

As with most Trappist beer, Orval is considered to be world class quality and highly critically acclaimed. Orval is also known for its unique "skittle" shaped bottle.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Bull & Bones

I was excited to see that a brewpub has just opened in Blacksburg, Bull & Bones Brewhaus. It's one of the newest additions to the First and Main shopping complex in Blacksburg. The place has a sports bar with pool tables, dining room and over a dozen high definition televisions.

The website ( says that they have seven beers on draft: All Nite Light, Lunch Pale Ale, Maroon Effect Ale, Sun Lit Wit, Strick's Dark Lager, St. Maeve's Stout, and a rotating seasonal tap.

I'll make sure to post a review next time I'm down in the burg and get to check this place out.

Go Hokies,