Say Hello to The Brew Shop

the brew shop

I am lucky to live in a neighborhood that has lots of places to buy excellent craft beer. However, these places generally fall into two categories: 1) grocery stores with a particularly good beer selection, or 2) wine shops that have a shelf or two dedicated to craft beer. The neighborhood was missing a shop that put beer first – until now.

The Brew Shop officially opened its doors on January 29th, 2016. Owners Beth Helle and Julie Drews have brought a welcome addition to the NoVA (Northern Virginia) craft beer scene. In addition to a vast selection of quality beer, the shop sells supplies for homebrewing, and growlers to take a selection of draft-only beers home with you.

julie and beth of the brew shop

Owners Julie and Beth

I spoke with Beth and Julie about the new shop and its history. They first met at their previous jobs. They worked in the same field – litigation consulting – and discovered that they both had an interest in craft beer and homebrewing. They started brewing together on weekends, and after awhile, they started joking that they should open a homebrew shop. The “joke” soon became serious planning, and The Brew Shop was born.

The shop, Julie says, was “born out of wanting to do something different.” She describes the shop as a 180 from her old job, going from working with lawyers to working with beer people – a change she finds to be “very refreshing.” Beth adds that owning her own business was a dream of hers since childhood, and when Julie suggested they open their own store, something clicked – her lifelong dream could begin.

the brew shop sign

That dream has culminated into a brick-and-mortar shop on Wilson Boulevard. Beth and Julie chose the Court House neighborhood because of their desire as beer lovers to have a proper bottle and homebrew shop in the area. Beth has been a resident of North Arlington for many years, and a beer store was “something I’ve always wanted as a consumer.” Julie agrees, noting that the area is “a young neighborhood with people who like to drink,” and while there are lots of bars, proper beer shops were lacking.

My husband and I decided to pay The Brew Shop a visit on its second day in business. The first sight that greeted us was a table dedicated to local beers. What particularly caught my eye were mix packs put together by the store to highlight a) particular flavors, and b) particular flavors from a local brewery. I am a huge fan of mix packs, and my husband and I are much more likely to buy a pack of singles for ourselves than a uniform six pack. The customized mix packs are a good idea for something different, a way to highlight both local beers and particular flavors.

mix pack at the brew shop

One of many custom mix packs available in the shop.

The next sight that greeted us was a wide array of homebrew supplies. We saw tools, books, kits, and bulk ingredients. I am not a homebrewer – I prefer the role of “One Who Samples Homebrew Made By Her Friends” – but even I was impressed with everything they had. The local theme continued with homebrew kits from local breweries such as Heavy Seas. But what most impressed me was the wide variety of bulk grains and hops available. Most places I’ve seen in the neighborhood sell kits only, so this is a unique and valuable offering to people looking to make their own brews in the area.

bulk grains for homebrew at the brew shop

hops for sale at the brew shop

Being homebrewers themselves, Beth and Julie aimed to have a store that supplied beer brewers as well as beer drinkers. Beth notes that the Court House-Clarendon-Ballston corridor has a “huge homebrewing community,” but before The Brew Shop opened, there were no homebrew stores in the immediate area. Julie also notes that their shop is “the first, and currently only, metro-accessible homebrew supply shop.”

The shop also provides a vast selection of already-brewed beer, particularly from local breweries. In addition to seeing the usual slate of local breweries – DC Brau, Flying Dog, Hardywood, etc. – I saw a few bottles I hadn’t seen before, particularly Brewer’s Alley and Ocean City Brewing Co. The shop also sells beer from nationally-renowned brewers, including Founders, Stone, New Belgium, and Bell’s. However, the focus is on primarily local brews, which I always like.

single bottles at the brew shop

Julie describes their beer selection as a mix of what they know and what they hear about from fellow beer fans and customers. While they’ve sampled many of the beers they sell, they have not had them all, because they trust the craft beer community to steer them in the right direction. She says specifically, “Buzz is rarely wrong.” Beth agrees, stating that a constant desire to try something new helps to drive their supply. She specifies, “It”s got to be something we know we would like or would be excited to try.”

Notably missing from shelves, though, were beers from outside of the U.S.The beer selection is entirely domestic, probably the only place in the neighborhood with such a focus. Julie confirms that right now their focus is strictly on American craft beer. This is partially due to the vast amount of craft beer on the market and a subsequent practical need to keep the focus narrow. However, she also thinks the American market is strong enough that the focus can stay there for the near future. She states, “There’s so much good American craft beer that for now we’re not going to go outside of the U.S. [Years ago], American brewers all went to Europe to learn how to brew. Now Europeans are coming here to learn [new techniques] … it’s an interesting about-face.”

draft lines at the brew shop

In addition to bottles and cans, The Brew Shop features eight draft lines. Right now their draft lines are strictly beers from Virginia, Maryland, and DC. They do not sell pint glasses to drink in the shop, but they do have growlers for sale. One growler I was very happy to see was a mini growler that was 16 ounces. I’ve always been hesitant to get a growler because I could never finish one in the amount of time needed for peak beer freshness. The 16 ouncer will really come in handy for draft-only beers that I want to take home.

growlers at the brew shop

Beth and Julie have been very happy with the reception so far. Beth says she “couldn’t be more grateful for the community support,” and Julie notes that The Brew Shop has “only been open five days, but the neighborhood has been so welcoming.” Customer feedback has also been great – Julie reports that “people say they’ve been waiting for the store to open” and have been very complimentary upon visiting.

My voice can be added to those compliments. We left with a mix pack of our own (all local beers), and we will definitely return to restock our beer supply – and maybe get one of those mini growlers. The Brew Shop is a welcome addition to the Court House neighborhood. Cheers!

The Brew Shop
2004 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201
Hours: 9 AM – 11 PM Tue – Sat, 12 PM – 5 PM Sunday, closed Mondays

New Releases from South County Brewing Company

South County Brewing: New Release: Liminal Moment DIPATHIS JUST IN
FROM SOUTH COUNTY BREWING COMPANY

Beginning on March 2nd, their first canned beer, Liminal Moment Double IPA, will be available through distributors, taverns and grocery stores throughout the Susquehanna Valley, Philadelphia and select Maryland counties. Expect to see 12-packs at beer distributors. 4-packs and singles can be purchased at bottle shops and Weis Markets. You’ll also be able to snag cans of this DIPA at the brewery tap room in Fawn Grove, Pennsylvania.

“Canning our beer allows us to reach a wider audience,” said Brewer and Managing Partner, JR Heaps. “The can opens up new territory such as beaches, parks, music venues, boating, camping and the like.”

Liminal Moment is brewed with American and New Zealand hops to the rate of 3 pounds per barrel. “This beer is full of tropical fruit flavors and aromas that include peach, pear, pineapple, stone fruit, light pine and citrus. The flavors are balanced with the addition of oats in the mash to create a smooth mouth feel and softer bitterness,” according to JR.

Once I get a hold of a can of what I expect to be pure deliciousness, I’ll be sure to post my full review for you guys.


South County Brewing Co.: Virgil: Imperial Dark AleVirgil Imperial Dark Ale will be released February 27th at South County Brewing Co. taproom in Fawn Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels, boasts a 12.9% ABV and features local malt (Double Dutch) from Deer Creek in Glen Mills, PA. This dark ale is complex and rich with notes of bourbon, vanilla, oak, port, raisin, subtle chocolates and roast.

Check out the Bottle Release Party
Doors open at 11:00 am and the 22 oz bottles can be purchased at Noon. Food will be available for sale as well as other year round beers on draft and to go.


(Follow Me On: Twitter & Untappd: @dzyngrl | Instagram: @dzyngrl14)

Flying Fish Releases Exit 18 Baltic Porter

Flying Fish Exit18 Exit Series

February 4, 2016  SOMERDALE, NJ – Today, New Jersey’s most award-winning craft brewer, Flying Fish Brewing Co., introduced the latest in its Exit Series™ – Exit 18 Baltic Porter, the first lager-style brewed in its expanded Somerdale facility.

Exit 18 Baltic Porter reflects a truly international style.  Influenced by English Porters and Russian Imperial Stouts, Baltic Porters originate from countries surrounding the Baltic Sea. This exceptionally complex beer starts with a rich chocolate and toffee nose, an initial sweetness on the tongue that evolves into a satisfying roast with licorice flavors in the finish. Hops are secondary in this beer, providing a bit of bitterness and spiciness that compliments its initial sweetness.

As with all Exit Series brews created by Flying Fish, this beer represents the spirit and cultural influences of the area for which it’s named – Exit 18 of the New Jersey Turnpike, roughly the areas of Secaucus and Carlstadt, also known as the gateway to the George Washington Bridge. This area has strong ties to the Baltic Region – the large Polish community that immigrated to and remains in the area to this day is evident through the businesses, churches and civic organizations that populate the region.

“The specialty craft beers in the Exit Series are an ode to the state that I love – the state where I was born, raised and educated. They are as diverse and interesting as New Jersey itself. I hope I capture a little of the tapestry that is New Jersey with each new brew in the series,” says Gene Muller, President and Founder of Flying Fish.

The Exit Series of beers is a multi-year brewing experiment to brew a series of beers as diverse as the great state of New Jersey. The idea originated when Gene Muller was stuck in traffic on – where else? – the New Jersey Turnpike. These big beers–each beer is 750 ml and packed with flavor– will be unveiled individually; each will celebrate a particular exit of the state-long artery, the New Jersey Turnpike, focusing on a characteristic of the area surrounding the exit for which it is named. Exit 18 is eleventh in the 750 ml Exit Series. Some of the more successful releases have reappeared in 12 oz. bottles as seasonal or year-round offerings.

Celebrate 20 Years of Victory Brewing with XX Anniversary Imperial Pilsner

victory XX

Celebrating Twenty Years of Victory with European Tradition and American Ingenuity: Anniversary XX Imperial Pilsner Makes Its Debut

Downingtown, PA, February 5, 2016 – Victory Brewing Company (Victory), is ringing in its 20th year with the launch of Anniversary XX Imperial Pilsner, a deliciously drinkable beer that’s culturally inspired. Victory invites craft beer fans to join in the milestone celebration while enjoying the very best of German hops in one memorable concoction.

Fans love what’s inside and outside of Victory beer bottles. The anniversary label features a striking “XX” as its focal point so consumers know; Victory beer has been bold for 20 years and counting. Rich green and yellow imagery reflect the coming together of old-world Europe and new-era America to produce a brew that’s as full bodied with herbal hop notes, as it is deep malts. Craft-beer collectors will relish this unique packaging that embodies the past, present and future of Victory.

Anniversary XX Imperial Pilsner makes its debut mid-February and is available through April in a 750 ml bottle. Retailing at approximately $9.99, this intense, yet soothing brew demonstrates the full character of the German noble hops which balances this substantial beer of 8.0% ABV. Pilsner malts band together with Tettnang, Spalt and Mittelfrueh hops to create a unique Imperial Pilsner style, which holds true to Victory’s renowned approach to craft brewing. For two decades, the brewery has tapped into its founders’ roots in European brewing and this anniversary batch is no different.

Once poured, the pilsner’s color gradates from straw to golden yellow and tops off with thick white foam. Slight herbal tea, hay and floral notes dominate the carefully cultivated aromas while delivering a rich earthiness. As for taste, the subtle spiciness of hops meld with the warm flavors of German barley malts. Light citrus flavors cap off this bold combination for a revolutionary experience that’s perfectly drinkable.

Long before the anniversary celebration began, Victory had perfected their pilsner recipe. Most notably in Prima Pils, a brewery favorite, and strong, established brand with a loyal following of fans enamored by the compositions of malt and hops.

“Since Prima Pils has been one of our longest standing brands, it only makes sense that we debut this Imperial Pilsner in celebration of our 20th Anniversary,” said Victory’s President and Brewmaster, Bill Covaleski. “After twenty years of brewing, we’re proud to deliver Anniversary XX to craft beer fans as we look ahead to innovate on tradition for the next 20 years.”

30 Second Beer Review: Ommegang Rosetta

ommegang rosetta

So, Jonas happened, and with all that fresh beautiful snow, how could I not indulge in some #beertography? I grabbed the first beer in the fridge and cracked it open. This wasn’t my first Ommegang Rosetta, but after a few sips and sharing it among friends, I felt like this is one you would want to hear about.

Ommegang Rosetta is a blended beer made in collaboration with their sister brewery, Liefmans. Rosetta is derived from Ommegang’s Oud Bruin (a tart Flemish brown ale) and Liefmans’ Cuvee Brut (a lively and fruit-foward Kriek). It pours a deep brown color with just a tiny tint of ruby red, which I found to be delightful.

ommegang rosetta 2

So what did I think?

I really enjoyed the cherry flavor in this beer, but I wanted more. I wanted it to be like a cherry cobbler kriek, like the Selin’s Grove Kriek, like the Lindemans’ Kriek, but instead I got a weaker almost watered down kriek. I understand why they did this: it’s not overly tart, it’s not overly sweet, it’s not overly thick either. This beer is much easier to market and will suit a broader demographic this way. That’s fine. It just isn’t what I was hoping to find. Will I drink it again? Definitely. Will I go out of my way to try to obtain it? Nope.

Style: Fruit Beer
ABV: 5.6%
Recommended pairing: brie + crackers, vanilla ice cream, fresh spinach salad + vinaigrette 

Powder Keg Brewing: An Emerging Colorado Favorite for Sours

In Colorado, we’re lucky to have so many breweries that make excellent sours, and you’re probably familiar with the prominent ones – Avery Brewing, Casey Brewing and Blending, Crooked Stave, New Belgium and Trinity Brewing – just to name a few. Colorado is a great beercation destination for sour beer lovers, and you can’t go wrong with any of the aforementioned breweries. But if you find yourself in Colorado looking for a good sour, I recommend you add Powder Keg Brewing in Niwot to your list. Powder Keg opened less than two years ago, but it has quickly made a name for itself among Colorado craft beer lovers.

Last weekend, Powder Keg released Palisade Reunion, a blonde sour aged on 700 pounds of peaches in 6.3 barrels. Peach is my favorite fruit, so whenever I see a beer with added peach, I have to try it. This isn’t a tart bomb like some sours; the acidity is on the moderate side, but this helps the peach shine. The lactic acid and peach complement each other rather than overpower the fruit. I do love a good tart bomb, but for me, delicate fruit flavors sometimes disappear when a beer’s acidity is overly aggressive.

Powder Keg BrewingAlong with Palisade Reunion, Powder Keg had several sours on tap and in bottles, including Premiere Blanc, which is the first sour Powder Keg brewed. This beer made me miss patio drinking. Premiere Blanc was aged with three brett stains in Champagne barrels, which seems appropriate because it drinks a lot like crisp, dry bubbly with a tart kick.

While Powder Keg brews some delicious sours, it also offers a variety of other styles. My favorite of the night was Vietnamese Brunch, an imperial milk stout brewed with Madagascar vanilla and a coffee blend from Boxcar Roasters, which happens to be my favorite local coffee shop. Vietnamese Brunch is full bodied, sweet and creamy up front, but the coffee provides a nice bitter contrast on the end. This beer would make any coffee lover happy.

In addition to its own beer, Powder Keg has a great rotating tap list of visiting breweries. Several delicious offerings made the list, so I had to drink a few that called to me.

  • Hill Farmstead Dorothy: Hill Farmstead just started distributing kegs to Colorado last week, so I was excited to finally get my hands on this. Dorothy starts with a mild level of brett funk and finishes with lots of citrus-like hops and a hint of spice.
  • Elevation Beer Co. Oil Man: As a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout, Oil Man is one of my favorite local releases. In my opinion, this year’s batch is better than the previous version. Don’t get me wrong. Last year’s Oil Man was still tasty, but the bourbon seems smoother in this batch.
  • Off Color Brewing Dino S’mores: Whenever I see this imperial stout on tap, I have to order it. I love how the touch of smoke plays into the sweet vanilla and chocolate flavors. This is campfire beer at its finest.
  • Crooked Stave Nightmare on Brett With Cherry: Crooked Stave makes a lot of phenomenal sours, but this is easily one of my favorites. Nightmare on Brett is a dark wild ale aged in Leopold Bros. whiskey barrels. This beer has a thicker, heavier mouthfeel than most sours with prominent oak and whiskey. The cherry adds a slightly sweet pop that melds together well with the other flavors.

Most of the breweries around here serve food via food trucks, but Powder Keg has a kitchen and offers a few appetizers, small plates and sandwiches. My husband and I decided on the warm pretzel with whole-grain mustard and a charcuterie board. Cheese is one of my many food weaknesses, so anytime a charcuterie board is on the menu, you can bet I’m eating it. The cheese selection varies by day but always comes from Cheese Importers, based in neighboring Longmont, Colorado.

Besides Powder Keg, Niwot is also home to Bootstrap Brewing and Vindication Brewing, and it’s only about 20 minutes northwest of Boulder. The next time you find yourself in Boulder, make time for a side trip to Niwot for some brewery hopping. You won’t regret it.

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Flying Dog Celebrates 25 Years with Tropical Bitch

flying dog tropical bitch

Flying Dog celebrates their 25th anniversary in 2016, and to honor the occasion they’re launching a new addition to their beer family, Tropical Bitch. Tropical bitch is a variation of their Belgian-style IPA, Raging Bitch, with added pineapple, mango, and passion fruit.

What will it taste like? Obviously, fruit! It sounds like a beer turned smoothie, and we can’t wait to try it! Raging Bitch is well-respected on its own, so it can only be great with tropical fruit additions.

The beer officially launched on 1/28 at the brewery, but will be available throughout their distribution footprint 2/1/16 in limited supply.

Happy 25th Birthday, Flying Dog!

Suggested Reading:

 

Cheese, Trappist Beer, and Fun

On January 20, 2016, I had the pleasure of attending a Trappist beer and fondue pairing event at D&T Drive Inn in Houston, Texas. This event was hosted by Erik Ogershok, formerly of Real Ale Brewing and Victory Brewing along with D&T Drive Inn and Treadsack.

When I first heard about this event, my mind first went to the thought of pairing fondue with rich and flavorful beers. I quickly decided this sounded like a great event to meet Mr. Ogershok and learn more about Trappist style beers from a long-time professional brewer.  There are conflicting thoughts on beer dinners/pairings; however I am a firm believer that over anything else, they should be a fun and educational experience. Quickly after arriving at D&T last Wednesday, I realized this is exactly what would unfold throughout the evening.

It's time for fondue!

It’s time for fondue!

D&T transformed their patio into an outdoor 70s style living room with blankets, fondue pots, settings for family style sharing, and a very warm and inviting atmosphere. The tables had cheeses blended with Belgian and pilsner style beers for your dipping pleasure.  For those who wanted a different spin on things, there was a pot of beef broth to cook beef, various crusty breads, or vegetables. My good friends named it the “meat Jacuzzi.” If you ever are curious about dipping French bread into beef broth and then into fondue cheese, just pursue it, it’s a glorious combination of richness and dairy. I also high recommend the brightly colored enamel pots for fondue; they make events like this one more festive.

We deemed our one pot for fondue dipping, the "meat Jacuzzi."

We deemed our one pot for fondue dipping, the “meat Jacuzzi.”

One can’t forget the main point of this event though, the beers.

We sampled 5 Trappist style beers throughout the fondue and beer pairing.

We sampled 5 Trappist style beers throughout the fondue and beer pairing.

We started off with the Belgian Dubbel styles and worked our way through the various brands/varieties of Belgian Trappist styles that were offered throughout the evening. Erik Ogershok was our host and I quickly realized that he was one of the big influencers in making Golden Monkey for Victory Brewing Company and Hans Pils for Real Ale Brewing. Upon further introductions about himself, it was clear to the guests that Belgian beers have been a huge influence for Erik and his career as a brewer. Don’t let the long hair and metal t-shirt fool you, this guy is not only passionate about craft beer, he adores Belgian beer too. While striking up a conversation with Erik, he mentioned that Belgian beer has been a part of his life for over 20 years and he’s been presenting about Belgian beer for more than a decade.

Ogershok smelling the aroma of Trappist beers.

Ogershok smelling the aroma of Trappist beers.

The two beers that stood out the most during this event were the Westmalle Dubbel and St. Bernardus Abt 12. Westmalle Dubbel is a dark, ruby colored beer that as most Trappist beers has a second fermentation happen in the bottle. This beer was full of richness, bright malt flavors, and finishes dry.  The monks have been brewing this specific style of beer since the mid-1800s. Erik pointed out the fruit flavors in this beer that are very present when smelling the beer.  Many people noted the possibility of figs or other dark fruits. The beer only sits at 7%, which makes it a great beer to start off a beer pairing event.

BeersDelivered

The St. Bernardus Abt 12 was our last beer, and it was referred to us as our “dessert beer.” This beer is known to many as a Belgian Quadruple style beer, and also is known for the high ABV.  This Belgian is around 10% and deems one to sip slowly on the dark colored beer due to the higher levels of alcohol. St. Bernardus Abt 12 is also quite malty, but with the presence of fruit, it has a very balanced flavor profile. This beer has an extremely fruit forward aroma, but finishes much more hop forward than the Dubbel we had earlier in the evening. It made for a nice ending to the event.

The other beers that were consumed are found in the picture below. If you have not had the pleasure to enjoy Orval, I highly recommend you find the closest store that has this beer and purchase one for yourself. You won’t be disappointed!

A view of the tables and set-up for the pairing event.

A view of the tables and set-up for the pairing event.

My hope is that more places will do more casual beer pairing events with great hosts like Erik Ogershok. It helps to have a well-known brewer present about popular beers/beer styles, but to keep the event fun and light-hearted. Cheers to more fun beer dinner events in our future!

**Many thanks to a number of the photographs that are courtesy of Treadsack.**
Learn more about the latest adventures of Erik Ogershok here.

Welcome to the Zoo

“Not my zoo; not my monkeys!” Except they are mine. As a parent, I find myself constantly surrounded by a zoo full of animals. Some days a clear head is needed in order to keep things running smoothly; others…Well, let’s just say that a beer would be helpful. To help you all negotiate the running of your own menagerie, I have put together a field guide that will offer proper beer pairings for each animal you encounter.

Specimen 1:

Specimen 1: The Tiny Whiney Orangutang

Specimen 1: The Tiny Whiney Orangutang

The Tiny Whiney Orangutang – This creature is best spotted by it’s very distinctive warble. Their vocalization occurs at a higher octave than normal everyday communication and words are drawn out. The common word “mom” becomes: moooOOoommmm Other characteristics include the apparent melting of leg muscles while their arms stay out stretched and pulling the closest adult down.

Pair this particular beast of burden with a nice tart sour beer. The sharpness of this beer will cut through the oozing high pitched siren song of the Tiny Whiney Orangutang and help snap you back to your senses in order to shut the whining down.

Specimen 2:

Specimen 2: The Raging Head-Strong Bull

Specimen 2: The Raging Head-Strong Bull

The Raging, Head-Strong Bull – This particular animal usually rears it’s head when sufficient sleep has not been acquired. The bull will not do anything other than what it wants to do and if tried to be convinced otherwise…. it will use any part of its body to show its dominance. A 40 pound Raging, Head-Strong Bull will possess the strength of a grown man who goes to the gym for 2 a days. WARNING: Beware of flailing extremities and being rammed by the bulls head. Visible horns may not be present but know that they are still there.

Pair this animal and your multitude of bumps and bruises with a pain numbing Imperial anything. You are looking for something with a high abv in order to relieve your sores as quickly as possible.

Specimen 3:

Specimen 3: The Grumpapotamus

Specimen 3: The Grumpapotamus

The Grumpapotamus – This beast finds joy in nothing. Having cotton candy for dinner? That’s stupid and they hate it. There will be growling and foot stomping. No matter how kind and loving you are to them they will refuse to show any happiness. These animals will require a lot of your attention. If there are siblings around you will need to shield them from the Grumpapotamus’ wrath.

Pair this animal with a barley wine. Pour it at the onset of the transformation into the Grumpapotamus and enjoy sips as you find a spare moment. The flavors will change and develop as the beer warms so don’t worry about having to walk away every few seconds.

Specimen 4:

Specimen 4: The Bouncing Off The Walls Kangaroo

Specimen 4: The Bouncing Off The Walls Kangaroo

The Bouncing Off-The-Walls Kangaroo – This marsupial will wreak havoc on your nice things. They are unable to sit still, unless they are perched on top of a bookshelf, ceiling or some other unstable, hard to reach spot. Most of the toys in your house will be scattered everywhere and at least one thing will be broken. Most likely it will be something of yours because your things are more fun to play with.

Pair this animal with a super hoppy IPA. Sometimes you just have to say: “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Sit back, put your feet up and enjoy your own “hopping” around. The beasts will eventually wear themselves out.

Specimen 5:

Specimen 5: The Broken Record Parrot

Specimen 5: The Broken Record Parrot

The Broken Record Parrot – Be wary of this animal. At first you might think you can simply answer the calls being bleated at you. “Mom. Mommy. Momma. Mom. Ma. Momma.” But it will be to no avail. This flightless bird only seeks to repeat the same word in a few different variations. There is nothing you can say that will detract this wonder from its mission.

Pair this annoyance with a cotton ball in each ear, your favorite beer and that article you have been wanting to read.

 

Specimen 6:

Specimen 6: The Sleeping Sloth

Specimen 6: The Sleeping Sloth

The Sleeping Sloth – They are so cute when they are asleep. As long as they are in their own beds. For the entire night. When this miracle takes place, skip the beer, head to bed and catch up on some sleep. There will be plenty of more animals and beers tomorrow.

Pucks and Pints: Our Favorite Hockey Beers

washington capitals

The Washington Capitals get ready to take the ice.

When it comes to beer and sports, football gets a lot of love. However, April and I are both fans of another cold weather sport: hockey! With a good game comes a good beer, and here are some of our favorite beers to sip during the good old hockey game.

April

HOCKEY, HOCKEY, HOCKEY, I am OBSESSED with hockey — even more so than I am with beer. Living outside of Columbus, Ohio, I have the great joy and heartache of being a Columbus Blue Jackets fan and season ticket holder. Attending a game is one of my favorite pastimes. There’s nothing like an arena experience, whether it’s hockey or any other sport. I love the rush and exhilaration of cheering for your team, interacting with other fans, and of course, drinking a few cold ones.

Lucky for me the Nationwide Arena offers a wide variety of craft selections. My two favorite beer stands in the arena are Ohio Crafts & Drafts and Arch City Ales. Last Saturday the Columbus Blue Jackets hosted the Colorado Avalanche, and I was able to attend the game with my cousin. The home team pulled ahead of the visitors with 1:07 left in regulation to make it a 2 to 1 game.

nationwide arena beers

Not only did we win, we had great seats, appeared on the Jumbotron, and drank an excellent selection of beer. My selections of the night included:

*Land Grant’s 42-1 Imperial IPA (ABV 8%) — This was my favorite selection of the night. The smell was very enticing with a strong piney and citrus smell. Taste was grassy and earthy and just spot on. I give it 5 stars.

*Founder’s Dirty Bastard (ABV 8.5%) — Unfortunately I only had a sip of this Scotch Ale because the keg ran out (insert sad face). I really enjoyed it. It was dark and creamy, full of caramel and toffee flavors with a hint of smoke.

*Binding Brauerel’s Schofferhofer Grapefruit (ABV 2.5%) — This was my least favorite of the night. It was very sweet and the grapefruit took over. I think I would enjoy it more on a hot summer day. It reminded me of a Leinenkugel Shandy.

*Sweetwater Hashbrown (ABV 6.2%) — An India Brown Ale, infused with hop hash. Need I say more? Thumbs up.

Other beers available were brewed by Great Lakes, Bells, Atwater, Southern Tier, Elevator Brewing, Rhinegeist, Madtree, DuClaw … you get the point. There are many options to choose from.

Yearly Event — Every year the Columbus Blue Jackets host a special event called Hockey N Heels. Women are invited to attend a Q&A with team personnel. The personnel include the GM, announcers, refs, players and more. Food and drink are served and every one in attendance receives a gift bag (plus a ticket to that night’s game). Sadly I cannot attend this year, but I was able to attend last year. It was informative and of course I always love meeting a player.

april and carey

2015: Me (Left) and Carey (Right) at Hockey N Heels; 2016: Me (Left) and Carey (Right) at the game

Sonora

I married into hockey fandom. I was so clueless about both hockey and the Washington Capitals that in 2010, when the new man in my life (now my husband) said he liked to “Rock the Red,” I assumed he was a fan of the Cincinatti Reds. However, once hockey season rolled around, he was more than happy to introduce me to his other true love, starting with watching playoff games at a local bar and culminating into several live games per season. I have since become a Caps fan in my own right, having favorite players (my #1 is Goalie Braden Holtby) and picking up on the cheers and traditions each game holds.

tj oshie jersey

Christmas gift from my husband featuring another favorite player of mine: Right Wing T.J. Oshie.

One of my favorite traditions is having a cold beer during the game. The Capitals play at the Verizon Center, which is like many big arenas — expensive food and even more expensive beer. Overall, the Verizon Center has a decent beer selection, featuring an impressive number of foreign beers, including a whole stand dedicated to Guinness, Harp, and Smithwicks; and Hoegaarden appearing on a few draft lines. There are also several good domestic choices, namely Goose Island (the Goose IPA is available in cans as well as on draft), Blue Point, and Elysian.

residence pub at the verizon center

Average “pub” at the Verizon Center. The beer is good but it’s also expensive!

However, across sports, my favorite way to celebrate a local team is to drink a local beer. This leads to my main beer gripe with the Verizon Center — the local options are lacking. This normally wouldn’t surprise me at a major sports venue, but last year, there were tons of local options, including Flying Dog, Starr Hill, and Devil’s Backbone. This really impressed me, and led to a major letdown when I returned for the 2015-16 hockey season to find almost all of them gone. There’s still good beer to be had, but having less local options somewhat diminished the beer portion of my hockey experience.

hockey beer

Hockey game checklist: toque, jersey, and beer.

This is all the more reason why I’m grateful for the local option that’s still available. Throughout the stadium, Heritage Brewing Co. (based in Manassas) appears alongside the other domestics. If you want Heritage on draft, there are an assortment of brews to choose from at The Bone, a barbecue place on the 100 level. My favorite to get on draft is Kings Mountain, their scotch ale — it’s a perfect blend of earthy, smoky, and sweet. However, if you’re in the upper levels, you can find cans of their American Expedition. This is a honey ginger wheat ale, and it’s very delicious. During games, I usually prefer lighter brews that aren’t heavy in alcohol but do pack the flavor, and American Expedition more than fits the bill. I usually get this when I go to games, but sometimes get Guinness or Harp to switch things up.

Beer is but a part of the hockey experience, and it’s a fun part for me. I love toasting the Capitals, and it felt really good raising my pint to cheer them on as they played the New York Rangers. On top of a great game (in which the Caps won 5-2), Right Wing Justin Williams scored a hat trick (when one player scores three goals in one game), a feat I have never seen in person. Toques and other hats flew through the air while everyone cheered (and held onto their beers, of course). The energy in the stadium couldn’t be beat.

What are some of your favorite hockey beers?

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