Friday, December 9, 2016

Richmond's Buskey Cider Stretches the Way You Think About Cider

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 11:30 AM

Strange things are going on over at Buskey Cider. You might find a few unexpected ingredients in its latest releases.

“We’re doing some different stuff,” founder Will Correll says. “Collaborations are interesting — they’re tons of fun and we’ve got a lot of friends in different industries.”

Cider exists at the nexus between beer and wine. Like wine, it’s fermented from fruit juice, but it finishes with carbonation that’s more reminiscent of beer. Cider’s flavor profile is a flexible one — it can go from dry to sweet. And because it isn’t as assertive as say, a big bold cabernet sauvignon or chocolaty porter, it can lend itself to experimentation.

It helps the process to have different perspectives from other industries. Buskey co-founder Matthew Meyer, who’s the head winemaker at Williamsburg Winery, brings an important layer of expertise to cider-making. Alex Steinmetz, an experienced brew master, offers a different viewpoint.

“Most cideries act like a brewery or act like a winery,” Correll says. “We don’t see cider as either.”

Buskey is about to start fermenting in wine barrels, he says. So far, in collaboration with Reservoir Distillery a few blocks away in Scott’s Addition, the cidery has only finished and aged cider in bourbon barrels. Right now, there’s a heavier, darker Trappist-style cider that’s barrel-aging. The team is ready to try something a little different.

Earlier in the year, Buskey and Confluence Coffee joined to produce Nitro Coffee Cider. It was a natural collaboration — Buskey already was serving nitrogen-infused cider at its tasting room, and Confluence uses the technology to produce its creamy cold-brew coffee. The result? A tangy drink with the deeper, savory flavors of coffee — and a little jolt of caffeine to go along with the alcohol.

Some of the more exotic ciders have been single batches made with a method more commonly used in breweries. A device filled with fruit or herbs called a Randall is hooked up between the tap line and the tap itself. The cider then flows through the flavoring ingredients, infusing it right before it hits the glass. The result has been unusual concoctions such as jalapeño-lime or mango-mint. Plus, the flavoring ingredients never touch the keg’s tap line, so an entirely different recipe can be whipped up and served from the rest of the keg, if that’s what the folks at Buskey feel like doing that day.

For the holidays, Correll says, the cidery is releasing a cranberry-basil variety. “The idea for putting seasoning in came last Christmas before we were open,” he says. “My sister asked me if I’d make a cider to match the turkey — she asked for rosemary-thyme cider. It turned out great.”

Some of Buskey’s most popular innovations have been hopped ciders. Given the scarcity and price of hops, it’s expensive to produce, Correll says, but Citra-hopped cider has been a big hit. Steinmetz also is experimenting with Cascade hops in a spontaneously fermented cider — a method similar to the one used to make sour beers.

By mid-January, Buskey should have its cider in cans and on store shelves — small local spots at first and larger stores in the spring. At the taproom, the experimentation will continue.

“We can come up with an idea and have that product done and selling in a couple of weeks,” Correll says.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Light That Fire: Six Richmond Winter Seasonal Beers to Warm Your Solstice

Posted By on Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 11:30 AM

Winter seasonals offer beer-lovers an adjunct to hibernation. Cravings shift to richer, deeper beers, to strong ales suitable for sipping such as imperial stouts, flavored porters, barley wines and bocks, some barrel-aged and others with tastes of the holiday. The Richmond area’s newest breweries have your winter cravings covered.

  • Scott Elmquist

Dam Sturgeon
10.3 percent alcohol
Ammo Brewing, Petersburg

The smooth, rich, creamy malt notes of this imperial chocolate stout can make you feel as if you’re floating gracefully across the stage like the Nutcracker prince, while the daring, dark, smoky flavor conjures visions of the Mouse King. Because Ammo doesn’t yet distribute, you’ll need to visit its Old Town Petersburg taproom for the full experience.

  • Scott Elmquist

Dark Ages Imperial Maple Brown
8.7 percent alcohol
Castleburg Brewery & Taproom, Richmond

A hint of roast from brown malts, the sweet, earthy tasty of Vermont maple syrup and a hint of cinnamon — this rich, imperial ale is reminiscent of wandering through a quiet forest on an early winter afternoon. Castleburg has taken the recipe from its award-winning Bishop’s Brown Ale and added malt and seasonal flavorings. The brewery isn’t distributing yet, so you’ll need to enjoy Dark Ages in the tasting room or at home by the fireplace with a growler by your side.

  • Scott Elmquist

Coffee Milk Stout
5 percent alcohol
Stone Brewing Co., Richmond

Making this seasonal release even more special, the coffee that tantalizes your tongue as you sip this smooth milk stout comes from local coffee company Lamplighter Roasting Co. The touch of bitterness from the coffee — apparent but not overwhelming — and the creamy sweetness of the milk sugars make bittersweet a pleasure. Big in taste, deceptively low in alcohol.

  • Scott Elmquist

Lucky 45 Graham Cracker Porter
6.8 percent alcohol
Trapezium Brewing Co., Petersburg

Richer than the average porter, Trapezium’s dark seasonal beer leaves the taste of honey grahams on the back of the palate, like a chocolate-covered cookie. Pair it with a brick-oven pizza from the Trapezium kitchen or look for it at other Petersburg restaurants for a trip beyond the familiar.

  • Scott Elmquist

Belsnickel Weizenbock
8 percent alcohol
Kindred Spirit Brewing, Goochland

Inspired by the crotchety German Christmas folklore figure — see YouTube for Dwight’s memorable portrayal in “The Office” — Kindred Spirit’s wheat bock offers a full-bodied mouth feel with spicy, clovelike notes and a rich, satisfying malty finish. Per German guidelines, this amber beer is made with 50 percent wheat and with ale yeast.

  • Ash Daniel

The Dawson Sweet Potato Ale
6.5 percent alcohol
Steam Bell Beer Works, Chesterfield

The ubiquitous sweet potato casserole isn’t always a welcome guest at family holidays. Such is the tale behind the Dawson, named for founder Brad Cooper’s grandmother, who tried in vain to appeal to her grandchildren with a variety of holiday dishes with the bright orange root vegetable as star. Finally, Cooper says, he found a worthy sweet potato recipe — in a beer. Brewed with an amber ale base, it presents a caramel nose and finish, with a touch of earthiness from sweet potatoes, squash, sorghum syrup and toasted pumpkin seeds — yet without the spices that can sometimes overpower seasonal gourd-based beers.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Five Don’t-Miss Holiday Events for Richmond Beer Lovers

Posted By on Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 2:45 PM

Thursday, Dec. 8
Christmas caroling has fallen by the wayside, but if you’re in the mood to belt out a few bars of “Joy to the World” or softly sing “Away in the Manger” — with feeling — while raising a glass with a few friends and friends-to-be, Center of the Universe Brewing Co. can make that happen. You don’t need talent, but you do need enthusiasm for a Beer and Hymns Christmas taking place on Thursday, Dec. 8, from 6-8:30 p.m. cotubrewing.com.

Friday, Dec. 9
It was Dec. 5, 1933, and Congress, after 13 long years, finally ended Prohibition. If you think that’s a date worth remembering, you’re not alone. Blue Bee Cider wants to celebrate with you at its new digs in Scott’s Addition. It has asked James River Cellars Winery, Isley Brewing Co. and Black Heath Meadery to join them, and you can enjoy the local libations with a few hors d’oeuvres while you tap your toe to live music. And for those who really want to drill down on the Prohibition-ending 21st Amendment, the Virginia Historical Society will be there at 7 p.m. to provide all the details. The celebration takes place on Friday, Dec. 9, and will last from 6-9 p.m. bluebeecider.com.

Saturday, Dec. 10
If you love beer, you probably have someone else in your life who’s pretty fond of it, too. Sure, you can wrap up just about anything and palm it off as a holiday gift, but if someone is expecting a little something from you this year, you can head over to Ardent Craft Ales on Saturday, Dec. 10, between 1-6 p.m. for its annual Beer Craft Market. You can pick up artisan-made openers, fancy growlers, glasses and beer-centric art. Added bonus: Ardent will release a limited run of Imperial Milk Stout, too. ardentcraftales.com.

Saturday, Dec. 17
Richmond chefs and bakers are firing up their ovens — or at least, thinking about it. On Saturday, Dec. 17, from noon-4 p.m., the Answer Brewpub will throw a party for Terrapin Beer Co.’s Wake ‘n’ Bake-Off. Brew Gastropub, the Camel, Goodrich Gourmet Catering Co., Idle Hands Bread Co., Sergio’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant, Tricycle Gardens and Uptown Market & Deli will whip up special dishes that include a not-so-secret ingredient, Terrapin beer. You can expect live music and an auction that includes a corn hole set, backpacks and gifts, with 10 percent of the proceeds to benefit the Richmond SPCA. theanswerbrewpub.com.

Monday, Dec. 19
Garden Grove Brewing Co’s ongoing Taproom Dinner Series will host Dutch and Co.’s Caleb Shriver and Phillip Perrow and their new American cuisine for a five-course dinner paired with the brewery’s beer at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 19. Tickets are $38 plus tax and tip. Reservations are required. gardengrovebrewing.com.

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