Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Chef Runneth Over

Home brewing doesn’t have to stay at home.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2015 at 1:50 PM

Give a man a beer and he wastes an hour. Teach a man to brew and he wastes a lifetime.

“I started because I didn’t think making great beer at home was possible, so I had to try it for myself,” says Jeremy Wirtes, brewer and co-owner of Triple Crossing Brewery. “I fell in love with the process and the endless possibilities of both ingredients and methods. I’ve been down the rabbit hole ever since.”

Hip as home brewing seems in 2015, Americans as far back as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson embraced it. What’s changed since colonial times is the culture around it, with swapping samples and competing with other brewers now a significant part of beer culture. Although you could drink your creation at home, the consensus is you’re missing out on a rewarding aspect of the beer community that way.

Got limited money and time? As with any hobby, you can spend as much as you want should brewing pique your interest, but a low initial investment makes it doable for almost anyone. Busy types take heart, too, because it can take as little as a few hours on two separate days to produce a batch of beer. And not just any beer, but beer your way.

“It’s creative expression. Think you’d like a mango beer? Try to make one,” says Anna Shore, president of James River Homebrewers. “We all want to know our food ingredients and processing, but what about our beverages? You can have control of this, too.”

Getting started requires tapping into someone else’s knowledge base. Shore suggests having a friend show you the process, but absent a savvy pal, check out a home-brewers’ club meeting or visit on a group brew day. The American Homebrewers Association sponsors two — Big Brew is the first weekend in May and Learn to Brew Day the first weekend in November — but Richmond clubs have events year-round.

Not that crafting your own beer requires justification, but keep in mind it’s educational, too. A recent Science on Tap event at the Science Museum of Virginia drew 1,200 hop heads to taste local beer, question brewing experts and learn the science behind beer.

“Huguenot Hops discussed alpha and beta levels and how essential oils impart different aromas in beers,” says Chrissy Caldwell, the museum’s manager of communications and curiosity. Repeat: It’s not just about drinking. It’s about learning.

First-timers can opt for the easiest method, a kit that includes directions, malt extract, hops and yeast. Besides ingredients, you’ll need a large metal pot measuring five or more gallons, a thermometer, a carboy or food-grade five-gallon bucket and an air lock, plus bottles, caps and a capper after fermentation. These basics are available at any of the suppliers in all-inclusive starter kits.

“Before buying any equipment, I always suggest borrowing as a great way to test the waters without the monetary investment,” Shore says. “For the first brew, start with a simple recipe and malt extract. In terms of style, I’d suggest the novice try a brown ale. It’s one of the most basic, least complicated.”

But be forewarned, home brewing isn’t all camaraderie and yeast. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of cleaning,” Shore says. “A brewer spends more time cleaning before and after brewing than the actual brewing.”

Where to Get Started

Artisans Wine and Homebrew
13829 Village Place Drive
379-1110
artisanswineandhomebrew.com

Original Gravity
6118 Lakeside Ave.
264-4808
oggravity.com

Weekend Brewer
4205 W. Hundred Road
796-9760
weekendbrewer.com

James River Homebrewers
Second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m.
Mekong
6004 W. Broad St.
Search Facebook for James River Homebrewers 

Mentoring Advanced Standards of Homebrewing
Third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m.
Sergio’s
4824 Market Square Lane
Search Facebook for MASHRVA

The Chef Runneth Over

Home brewing doesn’t have to stay at home.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2015 at 1:50 PM

Give a man a beer and he wastes an hour. Teach a man to brew and he wastes a lifetime.

“I started because I didn’t think making great beer at home was possible, so I had to try it for myself,” says Jeremy Wirtes, brewer and co-owner of Triple Crossing Brewery. “I fell in love with the process and the endless possibilities of both ingredients and methods. I’ve been down the rabbit hole ever since.”

Hip as home brewing seems in 2015, Americans as far back as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson embraced it. What’s changed since colonial times is the culture around it, with swapping samples and competing with other brewers now a significant part of beer culture. Although you could drink your creation at home, the consensus is you’re missing out on a rewarding aspect of the beer community that way.

Got limited money and time? As with any hobby, you can spend as much as you want should brewing pique your interest, but a low initial investment makes it doable for almost anyone. Busy types take heart, too, because it can take as little as a few hours on two separate days to produce a batch of beer. And not just any beer, but beer your way.

“It’s creative expression. Think you’d like a mango beer? Try to make one,” says Anna Shore, president of James River Homebrewers. “We all want to know our food ingredients and processing, but what about our beverages? You can have control of this, too.”

Getting started requires tapping into someone else’s knowledge base. Shore suggests having a friend show you the process, but absent a savvy pal, check out a home-brewers’ club meeting or visit on a group brew day. The American Homebrewers Association sponsors two — Big Brew is the first weekend in May and Learn to Brew Day the first weekend in November — but Richmond clubs have events year-round.

Not that crafting your own beer requires justification, but keep in mind it’s educational, too. A recent Science on Tap event at the Science Museum of Virginia drew 1,200 hop heads to taste local beer, question brewing experts and learn the science behind beer.

“Huguenot Hops discussed alpha and beta levels and how essential oils impart different aromas in beers,” says Chrissy Caldwell, the museum’s manager of communications and curiosity. Repeat: It’s not just about drinking. It’s about learning.

First-timers can opt for the easiest method, a kit that includes directions, malt extract, hops and yeast. Besides ingredients, you’ll need a large metal pot measuring five or more gallons, a thermometer, a carboy or food-grade five-gallon bucket and an air lock, plus bottles, caps and a capper after fermentation. These basics are available at any of the suppliers in all-inclusive starter kits.

“Before buying any equipment, I always suggest borrowing as a great way to test the waters without the monetary investment,” Shore says. “For the first brew, start with a simple recipe and malt extract. In terms of style, I’d suggest the novice try a brown ale. It’s one of the most basic, least complicated.”

But be forewarned, home brewing isn’t all camaraderie and yeast. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of cleaning,” Shore says. “A brewer spends more time cleaning before and after brewing than the actual brewing.”

Where to Get Started

Artisans Wine and Homebrew
13829 Village Place Drive
379-1110
artisanswineandhomebrew.com

Original Gravity
6118 Lakeside Ave.
264-4808
oggravity.com

Weekend Brewer
4205 W. Hundred Road
796-9760
weekendbrewer.com

James River Homebrewers
Second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m.
Mekong
6004 W. Broad St.
Search Facebook for James River Homebrewers 

Mentoring Advanced Standards of Homebrewing
Third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m.
Sergio’s
4824 Market Square Lane
Search Facebook for MASHRVA

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Hop, Sip and a Jump

The beer lover’s day trip to Colonial Williamsburg.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 17, 2015 at 12:00 PM

Bursting with historic charm, scenic beauty and Southern culture, Williamsburg has lots to offer its throngs of annual visitors. Though most known for major attractions such as Busch Gardens, the College of William and Mary, and Colonial Williamsburg, this area of James City County is also home to attractions that would appeal to craft beer lovers.

Brewery Tours

Make sure to visit the nice folks at Brass Cannon Brewing Co. in Toano. Three home brewers opened the spot in 2012, and they’re producing some mighty fine beer, including four year-round brews, three types of ale, one stout and a rotating selection of seasonal beers.

In addition, these guys put forth a series of small-batch experimental brews they call their Langrage Line. Langrage is the technical term for loading a cannon with whatever materials are around instead of an actual cannonball. It’s an exciting series that allows the brewers to test their creative limits and get these special concoctions to their customers.

A few exits away you’ll find the well-established Alewerks Brewing Co. — a must-visit for any craft beer lover. Tucked away in an unassuming industrial park, this brewery has produced expertly crafted ales since 2006.

Visit the taproom to sample what’s on draft, or take a brewery tour to learn about Alewerks’ brewing process.

Brass Cannon Brewing Co.
8105 Richmond Road, No. 105, Toano
757-566-001
brasscannonbrewing.com

Alewerks Brewing Co.
189B Ewell Road, Williamsburg
757-220-3670
alewerks.com

 
Gastropubs and More

If you’re looking for a cozy spot to enjoy some good food and excellent brews, head to the DoG Street Pub. With a rotating menu of draft beer selections — think Founders Breakfast Stout, Baladin Nora and the like — as well as plenty of bottle choices, this gastropub is the perfect spot to pause for while.

DoG Street’s menu showcases American casual cuisine with a British flair, and there are dishes to please everyone. Choose from small plates, burgers, salads and typical pub staples like bangers and mash, and fish and chips.

If you’re at the pub past suppertime, check out the late-night menu, which features a healthy handful of hearty bar snacks. We hear the Reuben croquettes ($5) — corned beef, swiss cheese and sauerkraut rolled in bread crumbs and fried — are worth every mouth-watering calorie.

Another well-known and beloved eatery is the Fat Canary, right next to the Cheese Shop in Merchant’s Square. Elegant and upscale, the Fat Canary is a nine-time AAA Four Diamond-winning restaurant that offers a seasonal menu to tantalize your palate at any time of year.

Find things as varied as fresh seafood and French- and Asian-inspired dishes, as well as a line-up of decadent desserts to tempt your sweet tooth.

And, don’t be dismayed, beer lovers: The Canary carries local brews on tap and a small bottle menu.

DoG Street Pub
401 W. Duke of Gloucester St., Williamsburg
757-293-6478
dogstreetpub.com

Fat Canary
410 W. Duke of Gloucester St., Williamsburg
757-229-3333
fatcanarywilliamsburg.com

If you decide to stay the night, the Williamsburg Inn has 62 elegant rooms to choose from. - VIRGINIA TOURISM CORPORATION
  • Virginia Tourism Corporation
  • If you decide to stay the night, the Williamsburg Inn has 62 elegant rooms to choose from.



If You Stay

Should you decide to crash for the night, the ’Burg has plenty of places to rest your head.

If you’re watching your pennies — or collecting Marriott points — check out the accommodations at SpringHill Suites Williamsburg. Enjoy an indoor pool, free Wi-Fi and a complimentary breakfast at this central spot.

For a luxury stay, plan a night at the Williamsburg Inn, an elegant 62-room hotel in the heart of the Revolutionary city. Besides an unforgettable setting, top-notch service and golf and spa offerings, the inn also features guest-only events and discounts for tickets to Colonial Williamsburg.

After a good night’s rest, what’s better than a hearty breakfast?

Enter Shorty’s Diner, where you can enjoy a quirky, fun and filling dining experience. Choose from pancakes the size of your head, omelets galore and specialty breakfast platters like the Hangover ($6.49) — one egg, any style, on top of a large portion of corned beef hash. Served with a half order of biscuits and gravy, this pile of perfection sounds like a cure.

SpringHill Suites Williamsburg
1644 Richmond Road, Williamsburg
757-941-3000
williamsburgsuiteshotel.com

Williamsburg Inn
136 E. Francis St., Williamsburg
757-220-7978
colonialwilliamsburg.com/stay/williamsburg-inn

Shorty’s Diner
627 Merrimac Trail, Williamsburg
757-603-6674
shortysdinerva.com

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

More Than Beer

Richmond's New Buskey Barrel Cider Co. is working to turn cider into cents.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 10, 2015 at 1:11 PM

Will Correll started off like many entrepreneurs — running a neighborhood lemonade stand when he was a kid.

He moved on to selling pints of blueberries that he picked and loaded into his red wagon and peddled door-to-door to his neighbors in Franklin. By the time he was in the eighth grade, Correll had started a small fence-building business with friends.

“That’s when I got my first taste of entrepreneurship,” Correll says. “I knew it was for me.”

Now, Correll is gearing up to open a much larger business, the Buskey Barrel Cider Co., which will produce the alcoholic beverage that dates to colonial times and recently has surged in popularity.

Hard cider has an alcohol content similar to most beers, but the fermenting process is more like the one used in wine. The ingredients are simple and few — crushed apples and yeast. Ciders can be sweet, but Buskey Barrel is aiming for a semisweet, drier version, which is where the market trend seems to be heading, Correll says.

He learned about the booming cider business while he was a student at Hampden-Sydney College.

“I was very active in the entrepreneur society at Hampden-Sydney, and I was helping some guys out with a project when I heard about the cider industry explosion,” he says. “I started reading up on the history of it, and I liked what I read.”

Shortly after, he learned that the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services had released a feasibility report about starting a cider business in Virginia. Armed with his research and the entrepreneurial lessons he learned in college, Correll put together his business plan. He entered the Start Peninsula competition in Hampton, which rewards young entrepreneurs with startup money.

“I went out there expecting to learn how to lose and what I would do different the next year,” he says, “and I ended up winning.”

He was awarded $10,000.

During the last semester of his senior year, Correll convinced the administration at Hampden-Sydney to allow him to do an independent work study so he could spend time on his project while earning course credit. The school also provided faculty assistance and put Correll in touch with influential alumni.

“Most people think that the time to start a business is after you have graduated, but I think it is just the opposite,” he says. “There are so many resources available to you while you are still in school. I had the luxury of bouncing things off professors all the time.”

Correll also enlisted the help of the Triangle Business and Innovation Center, a mentoring program that helps new businesses get off the ground. The group was impressed with Correll and his idea from the start.

“He’s sharp, extraordinarily articulate and very confident,” says Bill Bean, director of the center and a business professor at the College of William and Mary. “Investing in a company is all about confidence, and he certainly had that.”

Correll came up with the name Buskey Barrel after learning that buskey was a term used by Ben Franklin and his friends, who enjoyed drinking hard cider, to describe the feeling of being tipsy.

“I really like the alliteration and the tie into the history of cider and colonial times,” he says.

Buskey Cider is now in the Alcoholic Beverage Control approval process. Correll plans a fall opening at 290 W. Leigh St. in Scott’s Addition, behind Fat Dragon.

Kitchen Starters

Don’t be afraid to put a little beer in your food. Give these Blackout Stout cupcakes a try.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 10, 2015 at 1:04 PM

Did you know not all beers can be cooked? It’s true, and it means if you aren’t used to cooking with beer it’s probably best that you test the beer you want to cook with first just to make sure it will cook down in a desirable fashion.

The best way to test the ability of a beer to successfully cook down and reduce is to cook it over low to medium heat in a saucepan on the stove. Taste the beer as it cooks down — does it taste good, or are less than desirable flavors being produced? Naturally, things like sugar and acid can be added to reductions to change the taste. But first and foremost, you need to decide if the beer tastes good, or even decent, when cooked on its own.

So what makes a beer cook-able? Generally speaking, beers with higher malt content reduce the best. Residual sugars in the beer caramelize as the beer cooks down and, if enough water is evaporated off and some sugar is added, malty beers can reduce down into some amazing syrups and glazes.

Styles with a significant amount of caramel malts, like ESBs, Belgian dubbels and Scottish ales, work really well with a variety of foods, especially pork, duck, dried fruits, and nuts. These beers can cook down to a syrup that is comparable to caramel, so these beers also make excellent glazes. Dubbels can get fruitier when reduced with sugar.

Roasted malt beers, likes stouts and porters, typically work best with dark meats, like steak and lamb, chocolate dishes, and mushroom sauces. Roasted malt is extremely complementary to browned meat, coffee, chocolate, and earthy foods. However, roasted malt is typically too strong and overwhelming for more delicate foods like shellfish, chicken, and vegetables. (When reduced down all the way, these beers resemble chocolate and coffee syrups.)

Wheat beers, pale Belgian styles, and pale lagers make excellent cooking partners for the lighter meats like chicken, seafood and shellfish, veggies, and fruit desserts. They are also the preferred styles for beer batters. They reduce to honey-like syrups (especially the Belgian beers).

Hoppy beers are typically the hardest styles to work with in the kitchen. The bitterness in the hops tends to concentrate as the beer reduces, making for a really bitter sauce. These beers are typically reserved for marinades and dressings. They can also be used for beer batters and, on occasion, they may be used in super spicy recipes.

Excerpt from “The Beer Wench’s Guide to Beer: An Unpretentious Guide to Craft Beer,” Ashley Routson, © 2015. Reprinted by permission of Voyageur Press.

------

VOYAGEUR PRESS
  • Voyageur Press

Blackout Stout Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe by Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Because most baked goods require a liquid of sorts, whether it is milk or water or something else, they are some of the easiest recipes to infuse with beer, especially those with roasted malts (porters and stouts). The dark chocolate and espresso flavors in stouts make them a slam-dunk match for any chocolate dessert. And the richer (bigger and alcoholic) the stout, the richer the end product.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups Great Lakes Brewing Co. Blackout Stout (or other imperial stout)
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup canola oil
2 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coffee extract (or strong brewed coffee)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the stout and cocoa powder, and set aside. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the brown sugar, eggs and oil. Mix on medium speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream. Mix on medium speed until no lumps of sour cream remain, about 1 minute.

In a separate bowl, sift together all dry ingredients. Add them to the sugar mixture and turn mixer on low speed. While mixing, slowly add the stout and cocoa mixture. Increase the speed to medium-low and mix everything until it’s just combined, about 1 minute.

Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full and bake for around 16 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Or, line two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper, fill three-quarters full, and bake for 22 to 24 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Top with buttercream of your choice and enjoy! Makes about 24 cupcakes or two 8-inch rounds.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Summer Specials: Five Hot Happenings at Richmond Breweries

Posted on Wed, Jun 3, 2015 at 12:30 PM

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery’s Armchair Adventures

You can start your summer reading with Hampton Sides, Charles Slack, Dean King and Bill Gifford, who will be on hand to sign books Sunday, June 7, from 4-6 p.m. 2408 Ownby Lane. Call 420-2420 or visit hardywood.com.

Isley Brewing Co.’s Second Annual Luau

Grass skirts are optional, but you might want to start practicing your hula-dancing skills and limber up for the limbo competition on Saturday, June 13, from noon to 10 p.m. You’ll find beer specials and live music, and the patio will be open to pets. 1715 Summit Ave. Free. Call 716-2132 or visit isleybrewingcompany.com.

The Return of Strangeways Live

Also on Saturday, June 13, Strangeways Live will bring back the Fool’s Day Comedy Troupe for an evening of adult comedy with guest Scarlet Starlet. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 9. $10. 2277 Dabney Road. Call 303-4336 or visit strangewaysbrewing.com.

The 2015 Brewers Ball: a Celebration of Richmond’s Finest

Gear up for live entertainment, local craft beer, lots of food and a silent auction at this select event Thursday, June 18, at 6:30 p.m. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation fundraising honorees — all young professionals — will be recognized for their efforts and festivities will take place at the Virginia War Memorial, 621 S. Belvidere St. $75. Visit brewersballrva.com.

Beer Brunch at Ardent Craft Ales

Pizza Tonight will spin breakfast pies on Sunday, June 28, from noon to 3 p.m., and Greenleaf’s Pool Room will offer up maple-bacon ice cream on french-toast cookies and strawberry ice cream on coconut shortbread cookies. Plus, Ardent will have new releases to try. Also look for Sunday brunches July 26 and Aug. 30. Free. 3200 W. Leigh St. Call 359-1605 or visit ardentcraftales.com.

Discover more events anytime in Style’s events calendar.

Brews in the Breeze

Six summer beers from Virginia to help you fight the heat.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 3, 2015 at 12:15 PM

Blasé brew be damned. If you’re looking for an all-day-long drinker for the river or beach, Virginia breweries have you covered. Here’s a selection of concoctions that are low on alcohol and big on flavor.

SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist

Petty Larceny, 5 percent alcohol
The Answer Brewpub, Richmond

There’s nothing trivial about one of the first beers to come out of the Answer’s on-site brew house. To be a session IPA, Petty Larceny boasts a bold Mosaic hop profile that’s bright and fresh as an early summer beach morning. Citrus and pine notes make for intoxicating sips and an ultra-clean finish. Did we mention that this beer won’t knock you on your butt? Surprising given the taste, but true. Word on the street is that head brewer Brandon Tolbert is working on a hop-forward blond ale that should be released this summer too. Given that guy’s track record, we’re going to go ahead and say it would be criminal to miss that one, too.

 

SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist

Soulshine, 5.2 percent alcohol
Starr Hill Brewery, Crozet

Ever wonder what a summer day tastes like? This light, crisp, Belgian-style pale ale tantalizes the senses with a burst of citrus aroma and a refreshing smidge of bitterness thanks to a hearty blend of Falconer’s Flight, Cascade, and Simcoe hops. The finish is what you might expect of libations crafted with Belgian yeast strains — dry and mildly spicy with subtle black pepper notes. We aren’t the only ones who think it’s simply awesome. It snagged a bronze at the U.S. Open Beer Championship in 2014. Soulshine is available in six-packs and as part of the summer tour box set that also features some killer Starr Hill brethren like Reviver Red IPA, Grateful Pale Ale and the Love.

 

SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist

Evelyn, Session IPA, 4.9 percent alcohol
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Richmond

As part of the Brewer and Artist series, Hardywood brewer Kevin Storm and self-taught artist Mike Baker collaborated on everything from the beer concept to the label. The result? A vibrant, mildly hopped IPA named after Baker’s daughter that’s as beautiful and badass as the tattoo flash bottle design might suggest. It doesn’t roll hard though, folks, and that’s a good thing. You can throw this easy drinker back for hours and still be a suitable, upright host at your cookout.

 

SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist

Totally Tubular Zitrone Radler Lemon, 3.2 percent alcohol
Strangeways Brewing, Richmond

This rad as hell Radler packs a powerful pucker punch that’ll sock your senses. Brewed in honor of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships happening in the River City this fall, the style takes its name from the German word for cyclist Radfahrer and dates back to Munich circa 1920. Bavarian Franz Xaver Kugler came up short when hosting 13,000 thirsty pedal-pushers at his beer garden and whipped up a creative concoction that paired lager with sparkling lemonade to make things stretch and keep the crowd happy. A known quencher, this is perfect for those not into your run-of-the-mill beer styles. If you dig the lemon, be sure to check out the others in the series, Apfelsine Orange and Pampelmuse Grapefruit.

 

SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist

Z Dam Ale, 5 percent alcohol
Legend Brewing, Richmond

Kick off your flip-flops and slip your feet into the James. You might look at a pint of this clear, golden brew and suspect an ordinary experience. Nothing could be further from the truth. Named after a stretch of the James River that connects Pony Pasture and William’s Island, Z Dam Ale is a subtle, citrusy delight with a creamy mouth feel and surprisingly malty backbone. Orange and lime zest are added to the boil alongside fresh ginger for a complex, but easy-to-drink brew. A portion of sales from the seasonal offering go toward the James River Outdoor Coalition. Pairs well with one of the best views of the city skyline on the Legend patio.

 

SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist

American Expedition, 4.5 percent alcohol
Heritage Brewing Co., Manassas

Ginger lovers will rejoice when this brew hits their noses and palates. One whiff of its crisp, clean aroma will energize you during even the stickiest dog days of summer. Balanced with sweet, earthy honey and a hint of citrus, one hazy golden glass of the wheat-based beer goes down way too smoothly. Good thing it’s only 4.5 percent alcohol. The Manassas-based makers are passionate about local ingredients. Ninety-two percent of what’s in your hand is made right down the road. An homage to the great expedition of Lewis and Clark, this brew in a can makes it an easy traveler. Perfect for high seas or dusty trails.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pucker Up

Sour beers are on the rise in Richmond.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 1:56 PM

You may have noticed that there’s always a trend or hot-ticket beer in the craft brew scene. One month, it’s adding hot sauce to the brewing process. The next, it’s crafting a beer in such limited batches that people are selling it on the black market.

It’s fun to see what the breweries have in store next, but there’s one style gaining lots of new fans: sours.

Sour beers get their tartness from certain bacteria, yeast strains and aging techniques, most commonly by barrel-aging for years at a time. If you’re a newbie, you might want to start with Lindemans Framboise, a raspberry lambic that’s sweet as well as sour. It’s very sippable on its own, but is even easier to drink when mixed with a wheat beer.

New Belgium’s La Folie, a sour brown ale, might be an alternative gateway to sour love. Rich and malty like your typical brown ale, the additional oak barrel aging is where the acidic and fruity sourness emerge.

A few of the leading American-made sours are by California-based brewer Russian River, but they’re difficult to come by on the East Coast. Russian River is still a privately owned brewery. It uses only a handful of distributors, and the demand exceeds supply.

With monikers such as Supplication, Temptation and Consecration, these sours have lived up to their names and have become top-rated on beer fan sites. If you’re curious but don’t plan to visit the Philadelphia distribution area or don’t have a source on the West Coast, here’s a home brew recipe to try (see sidebar).

Get ’em while they’re hot, beer lovers. Discover (or further explore) the complex world of sours, and unearth those acidic brews that perfectly pucker your palate.

strangeways_sours.jpg

Local Sours

Isley Brewing Co. Sour Relations

Strangeways Brewing Uberlin Berliner Weis

Strangeways Brewing That’s My Jam Berry Sour

Strangeways Brewing Oscillate Wildly Blueberry Wild Sour Ale

Strangeways Brewing Portia Raspberry Wild Sour Ale

Strangeways Brewing Beatrice Mixed Berry Wild Sour Ale

Strangeways Brewing Olivia Blackberry Wild Sour Ale

consecration_clones.jpg

Russian River Consecration clone

Beer Style: American wild ale/sour ale

Recipe Type: All-grain

Batch Size: 5 gallons

Mash Type: Single infusion
(60 minutes) 158 degrees Fahrenheit saccharification rest
(10 minutes) 168 degrees Fahrenheit mash out

Grain Bill: 11 pounds Rahr 2-Row
1/2 pounds acid malt
1/4 pounds Carafa I
1/4 pounds Special B malt

Hops: 1/2 ounce Styrian Goldings (90 minutes)
1 ounce Sterling (30 minutes)
1 ounce Sterling (1 minute)

Other: 2 pounds dark Belgian candi sugar syrup (15 minutes)
Whirlfloc tablet (5 minutes)
1/2 pounds dextrose (1 minute)

Yeast: Abbey Ale liquid yeast

Fermentation: For 3 weeks primary at 65 degrees Fahrenheit, then add Wyeast Roselare Belgian Blend for 4 months primary at 65 degrees.

Notes: At secondary fermentation when you add in the Wyeast Roselare Belgian Blend, you will also want to add 2 pounds of fresh or dried currants. Do your best not to let your temperature go above 65 degrees. Taste the beer at about 3 months to gauge the sourness. If it’s just about right, then soak 4 ounces of either oak cubes or oak chips in Cabernet Sauvignon (Vinnie Cilurzo from Russian River recommends using a Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon because it’s widely available and of good quality), place those in the fermenter and let the beer finish up to a month or two. As a last step, prior to bottling, add some Rockpile RP-15 dry wine yeast to allow the beer to bottle condition.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Beyond the Michelada

Richmond bartenders create cocktails that will challenge the way you think about drinking beer.

Posted on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 12:00 PM

SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist

Brecker in the Rye
by Kyle Stinson at Tarrant’s West

Ingredients
2 1/2 ounces of Bulleit rye
1/4 ounce toasted fennel syrup
2 dashes of Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters
1/4 ounce Branca Menta
2 ounces Breckenridge Brewery Nitro Vanilla porter

Directions
Stir all of the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Strain over ice in a rocks glass and float the beer on top. Garnish with an orange twist.

Continue reading »

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Beer Rivalry

Exploring Richmond’s long history with breweries.

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 at 4:27 PM

“Richmond Beer: a History of Brewing in the River City,” published by the History Press, is available for purchase at several bookstores, including Chop Suey Books, Fountain Bookstore and Barnes & Noble, as well as at area breweries and online at amazon.com and historypress.net. - LEE GRAVES
  • Lee Graves
  • “Richmond Beer: a History of Brewing in the River City,” published by the History Press, is available for purchase at several bookstores, including Chop Suey Books, Fountain Bookstore and Barnes & Noble, as well as at area breweries and online at amazon.com and historypress.net.

Although the explosion of microbreweries across town seems like a recent phenomenon, Richmond has always had a strong brewing tradition. After the Civil War, the city directory listed 16 different businesses brewing or bottling beer.

In 1868, D.G Yuengling Jr., the oldest son of the owner of Pennsylvania’s D.G. Yuengling and Son — now owned and operated by the family’s fifth generation — built a five-story brewery, the James River Steam Brewery, at Rocketts Landing. Unfortunately, its success was short-lived, and it closed in 1878. But while the German community in Richmond swelled, so did the business of beer.
Author Lee Graves, former beer columnist at The Richmond Times-Dispatch, explores the ins and outs of this city’s love of beer in his book, “Richmond Beer: A History of Brewing in the River City.” In a modified excerpt he shares with RVA Growler, Graves details just how heated the competition could get at the end of the 19th century. — Brandon Fox

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