Wednesday, November 23, 2011

#12 - North Carolina, "The Tar Heel State" - Intro

I've been going to North Carolina for vacation for as long as I can remember, but only recently did I venture away from the Outer Banks and to the rest of the state. The same can be said for my foray's into NC beer. As of this summer, the only beer I can remember having from NC was Duck Rabbit's Amber Ale. Since then, I've had several more brews from three or four more breweries from the Tar Heel State.

North Carolina is very diverse geographically, with mountains in the West and coastal communities on the East side. Last year I visited Charlotte, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Durham, each for the first time. Unfortunately I've been to pretty much every major area of North Carolina except for its undisputed beer capital, Asheville. Asheville is located in the Appalachain Mountains and it boasts a vibrant art scene.

Stats for NC:
Breweries/Brew Pubs: 49. Wow. Including 10 in Asheville alone.
Cleanest City: Charlotte. When we stayed downtown last year, it seemed like most of Charlotte had been built within the last year. Obviously not true, but it's really clean with wide sidewalks. Pretty small, but really cool.
Vacation Spot Least Like the Jersey Shore: The Outer Banks. Although it has become more and more popular, it's still a great place to go to relax and spend time on the beach. Plus the OBX Brewing Station is a high quality brew pub with really good food.

Here are the breweries I've tried from North Carolina:
Natty Greene's
Outer Banks Brewing Station
Mother Earth
Duck Rabbit

Check out this page for the rest of them.

I'll probably just get the map up and skip the in depth look at every brewery since I'm pretty far behind.

Maybe when I visit Asheville for the first time I'll revisit it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New York Brewery Map

I didn't follow through on profiling each of the New York breweries that I've either tried or been to, so I'll quickly finish up here.

I've been to three breweries in New York; Keuka, Horseheads, and Ithaca. Ithaca had my favorite brews, Keuka has the best tasting room, and Horseheads was small and somewhat non-descript. Still cool though. At Ithaca one beer we sampled was one that they do not serve on a large scale. It is an unfiltered version of their Apricot Wheat that they called Rough Draft. It's made with fresh apricots, rather than syrup as their regular Apricot is, and since it's unfiltered, it is a lot hazier than it's clear counterpart. We liked it so much that we bought a growler.

I've also been to two winery/breweries in the Finger Lakes; Wagner Winery/Brewery and Miles Wine Cellar. Wagner is a full scale brewery with tastings. Miles was a small operation that seemed to be pretty new to the beer game. They both have gorgeous locations on the East and West of Seneca Lake, respectively.

In general, New York has some really solid breweries. These are the other six that I have tried but haven't visited yet; Southern Tier, Saranac (Matt Brewing), Six Point, Brooklyn, Blue Point, and Brewery Ommegang.

This is a map for the places that I have visited or tried so far. Go to this page for the full list and map of the rest of New York State's breweries.

As everyone knows, there are two distinct regions of New York State; NYC and Upstate. I suggest visiting the breweries in that order, NYC first, and then go relax in Upstate.

1. Blue Point
2. Brooklyn
3. Six Point
4. Brewery Ommegang
5. Matt Brewing
6. Ithaca
7. Horseheads
8. Wagner
9. Miles
10. Keuka
11. Southern Tier.

View New York Breweries in a larger map

Friday, October 21, 2011

New York - Breweries and Music #3 - Keuka, Fang Island

The first two breweries I wrote about for New York were large, well distributed craft breweries. Keuka is much smaller and locally distributed but they have a tasting room and several styles of beers. So if you are doing a wine tour, it's well worth stopping by.
Quick Facts:
  • Opened in fall of 2008.
  • Located on the west side of Keuka Lake near Hammondsport.
  • What looks like a Y in their logo is actually the shape of Keuka Lake. I definitely like this logo.
My wife and I visited their tasting room in summer of 2010. It's tucked off of the main road on the west side of Keuka lake which is not really the main wine trail. They have a nice little tasting room and the son of the owner was pouring drinks for us.The story behind one of their beers is pretty unique. Their White Cap Wazz-berry is their White Cap Wheat but with raspberry added to the secondary fermentation. They say on their site that it is brewed for one of their favorite customers. I'm not sure if that means they brew it whenever he says "hey I want some," or if that just means he was the inspiration. I hope it's the former. Either way, I don't think I've ever heard of a brewery making a beer for one specific person.

Here's their selection: (although they say that this is just a list of a few of the beers they have available)
White Cap Wheat, White Cap Wazz-berry, Briglin Road Red, Hoppy Laker IPA, Bluff Point Brown, Full Sail Stout Ale.

Today's Brooklyn band is Fang Island. They are originally from Providence, RI, but are now Brooklynites (ers?). They have described their music as "everybody high-fiving everybody" which is definitely fitting. It's high energy fun music. This song is called "Life Coach."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New York - Breweries and Music - #2, Blue Point, The Hold Steady

Blue Point Brewing is the only brewery on Lon Gisland. That's not a typo, that's how people say it.
Quick Facts:
  • Founded in 1998. 
  • They use a direct fire brick brew kettle, which they say imparts a lightly toasted flavor.
  • They have a 25 barrel brew house.
  • Distributed in 11 states on the East Coast. NY, NJ, MA, Ct, PA, RI, FL, NG, VA, DE, NC.
I like their website because it includes a whole lot of information about their brewery, the beer, recipes to try with beer, and a really cool story about how the brewery was able to open in the first place. The two friends who started the brewery were having a hard time finding capital to buy their equipment. They found a perfect building but didn't have enough money to lease the building and buy the equipment necessary. So, they were about to give up, but the landlord of the building randomly said that he would give them the first year's rent for free just because he had a feeling about them. Luckily for both parties involved, they have done pretty well since.

Here is their selection:
Year Rounds: Toasted Lager, Hoptical Illusion, Blueberry Ale, RastafaRye Ale, Pale Ale, and Oatmeal Stout.
Seasonals: Spring Fling, Summer Ale, Oktoberfest, Pumpkin Ale, Winter Ale
Limited Releases: Double Blonde, Golden Ale, Old Howling Bastard, No Apologies, Sour Cherry Imperial Stout, BP Toxic Sludge, Double Pilsner, and an ESB (Extra Special Bitter)

I've only had the Toasted Lager and the Hoptical Illusion. If I had to pick three more that I would really like to try they would be the Sour Cherry Imperial Stout, The Old Howling Bastard barley wine (for some reason I really like barleywines. Maybe masochism?) and the ESB which is another of my favorite styles. 

You may be wondering about the BP Toxic Sludge. It’s a Black IPA (also one of my favorite styles.) If you haven't noticed, pretty much every style of beer is my favorite. It was released to benefit the birds harmed by BPs oil spill. 100% of the proceeds go to Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research.  It clocks in at 7% ABV and is hopped four times, which is one time more than the triple hops brewed actual sludge that is Miller Lite.

I've never been to Long Island, but since Blue Point distributes all along the East Coast, you don't have to go either. Grab a Sour Cherry Imperial Stout and let me know how it is. I'm intrigued.

No good musicians are actually from Brooklyn apparently, but a whole lot of bands have migrated there in order to hit the big time. One of them is The Hold Steady, who I was into pretty strongly a couple years back. Then my car's CD player broke and swallowed the two CDs of theirs I owned and I have somewhat lost touch with them. This one is called "Stuck Between Stations." I have other songs from them that I like more, but in this video, I couldn't help but think the lead singer looks a little bit like a young Bernie Madoff.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New York - Breweries and Music #1 - Brooklyn, Cults

I'm going to try something new for this month since the website I linked to in my intro post has pretty much every NY state brewery listed. Also, Brooklyn is home to some really amazing bands, so, I'm going to several short posts and talk about each of the breweries from NY that I've sampled as well as recommend a band from NYC. I'll start with the first brewery I ever tried from New York was Brooklyn Brewery.
Quick Facts:

  • They got started in 1987 and have been growing ever since. 
  • Their brewmaster, Garret Oliver is one of the most well respected brewmasters in the craft beer industry. 
  • In 2003 they made the switch to 100% wind generated electricity. 
  • They are distributed to 26 states (mainly the East coast and Midwest) as well as Canada, Europe and Asia.

My first encounter with a Brooklyn Brewery beer was their Local # 1 at a jazz club in Manhattan. Since then I've had 5 of their other beers and, in my opinion, they do really well with their bigger and more creative beers. I'm not that fond of their Pilsner or Lager and their Brown Ale is pretty standard. But the Post Road Pumpkin (in my fridge right now) is a great fall selection, and the Black Chocolate Stout is extremely tasty. Everything else I've yet to tastse, but I've only heard good things about their reserve series and I'd love to try the Monster Barleywine and the Intensified Coffee Stout.

Here is their full line of beers, pulled right from their website;

Core Brands: Brown, IPA, Lager, Pennant Ale, Pilsner, Weisse
Seasonals: Summer Ale, Oktoberfest, Post Road Pumpkin, Winter Ale, Black Chocolate Stout, Monster Ale(Barleywine)
Big Bottles: Local #1 (Golden Ale), Local #2 (Stong Dark Belgian), Pale Weisse-Bock
Brewmasters Reserves: Sorachi Ace, Intensified Coffee Stout, Cuvee De Cardoz (Spiced Wheat), Blunderbuss Old Ale.

Their website is real easy to use and designed nicely. For every beer they have listed, they give the specs of the beer, the history of the style of the beer, and food pairings that go well with the style. Definitely give them a taste next time you catch one on draft. I highly recommend the Black Chocolate Stout for this winter.

My musical selection for the day comes from a band called Cults. They have a 60's era sound and they have gotten a lot of love this year. I think it's pretty well deserved. This is a song called "Go Outside." I also really like "You Know What I Mean."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

#11 - New York, "The Empire State" - Intro

New York State was the inspiration behind starting my blog. During the summer of 2010 I visited the Finger Lakes for the first time and my wife and I did a tour of the wineries on Seneca Lake. The shear amount of wineries in that region as well as the brilliant marketing of those wineries as part of the Wine Trail made me wonder why there weren't more craft beer "trails" in the country. The proximity of wineries to each other based on geographical necessity makes them much more logical for an actual trail than craft breweries, which can and are based wherever they want to be. So, instead of trying to start up an actual trail of breweries, which would require lots of time and effort, I did the next best thing. Started researching them online and writing about them, even if I'd never even been to the state that they reside in.

Anyway, NY is the reason I do this blog, and so, I was not surprised to find several actual New York brewery maps and trails online. The first one I found had a clickable map, with links and lots of information about every brewery listed. I went through the list thinking that it was comprehensive, but soon found out that at least two breweries that I had physically been too were not on the list. So I found a second list and, it does seem to be comprehensive, or at least as comprehensive as you're going to get, cuz I'm not searching anymore.

So, my game plan is different this month. Since the information is already out there, and very easy to use, I'm not going to try to recreate that by going through every brewery. I'm going to deal with only the ones I've had before, and then you can use the map at the page that already exists to find the rest. I may drop a line or two about the ones I haven't tried, just to keep the old joke muscles warm.

Beer Stats for NY:
Population: 3rd in the U.S. with 19 million.
Size: 27th most land in the U.S.
Areas infested by hipsters ironically drinking PBR: NYC and spreading.
# of Breweries: Upwards of 30, I'll get the real count down eventually
# of Brewpubs: At least 15, most likely a lot more.
Average price of a craft brew in NYC: $38*

*Estimate based on guesswork based on a feeling based on some previous experience.

I've been to three breweries in New York, all in the Finger Lakes region, and I've had beer from about twelve breweries total, so I think I'll start with those and see where that gets me.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Virginia Brewery Map

Like I've said before, Virginia is a big state, so it will take at least a week to do justice to visiting all of these breweries and their surrounding areas. This map starts from the Southwest part of the state hits the beach, and then finishes in Northern VA.

A. Wolf Hills
B. Roanoke Railhouse
C. Jefferson Street
D. Blue Lab
E. Blue Mountain
F. Starr Hill
G. Legend's
H. Beach
I. O'Connor
J. St. George
K. Williamsburg AleWerks
L. Blue Gray
M. Port City
N. Shenandoah
O. Lost Rhino
P. Holy Brew

Have fun in VA. I'm starting on New York this week.

View Larger Map

Virginia Trailies

Virginia Trailies:
Best Beer Name: Lights Out Holiday Ale, Blue Mountain. It's a high ABV winter ale. Embarrassing incidents are sure to ensue.
Best Story behind the name: Starr Hill, The Love. The website has this story from the founder; "A friend of mine would smuggle wheat-beer yeast back  from a brewery in Germany, and he won the National Home Brewers' Competition one year with this yeast he'd smuggled. I asked him if he would 'share the love' and let us borrow the yeast, and 10 years later he finally did." Good story, and it's not a bad beer either.
Best Beer Concept: Imperial Lager, Roanoake Railhouse. It's a German style helles-bock with a more American hop aroma and higher alcohol (7.8% ABV.)
Best Overall Beer Selection: Williamsburg AleWorks. Their year round selections are pretty standard, but comprehensive. And their reserve beers caught my eye. A barleywine and a bourbon barreled porter.
Best Brewery Logo: Lost Rhino Brewing. It was a close call between two breweries using surfboards (Beach and Lost Rhino), but put a surfboard on a Rhino's back and you've won me over.
Best Label Art: O'Connor Brewing. They look like pencil sketches you might find on an old elaborate map. Nothing too crazy or hilarious, but classic and simple.

Most Likely Label Art to Get a Brewery Sued: Tripel Dubbel, Black Couch Brewery. It is exactly like the old 76ers logo. I emailed the brewery about the logo and got no response, so I have no problems putting it here. I'm no lawyer, but I would expect that they would have a hard time using this one without some legal issues.

Tripel Dubbel logo from Black Couch's Website. 76ers pic from

Most Pandering Brewery: Holy Brew. You're not fooling me with that light, corn based beer b.s. I've said it once and I'll say it again, there is a time and place for junk beer. But I will not be paying craft beer prices for the privilege of drinking a "Heavenly" copy of Bud Light.

This months winner for best search term that led to my site: 
"Tony Tarasco and his personal life." This term is the very reason I started this blog. So that people would have a place on the web that they could go to for details of Tony Tarasco's off-the-field life. If you don't know who Tony Tarasco is, he is a former Baltimore Oriole and a key figure (along with 12 year old Jefferey Maier) in one of my worst childhood memories. I couldn't find the video, but here's picture proof. Check out my Maryland post for more details.
Picture from SI.Com. Tarasco was camped under that pop up!
Best URL that led to my site: - Canadian government website about a program that allows Australians to travel and work in Canada for up to two years. I don't see a single add on their site, so I have no idea how someone went from there to here. Sometimes I don't believe Google's analytics. This is one of those times.

I'll put the Virginia Brewery Map up separately.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cape May Brewery

If anyone out there is trying to open their own brewery, take Cape May Brewing Company as proof that you can get started small and build from the ground up. My wife and I stopped by their location in Cape May, NJ recently and it's essentially a scaled up homebrewing operation in a warehouse space. I imagine that's similar to how every brewery starts but I've never been to a commercial brewery that's at such an early stage of development.
The mixture of risk and possibility of a new brewery seemed exciting to the guy who is running it. He was all over the place trying to pour beers, explain stuff to people, and take pictures of the crowd that had gathered inside the garage. They had just brewed a new beer (honey porter using local honey) and they showed off their small custom brewing system and explained the details about how they incorporated the honey. A wheat and an IPA were on tap for tastings. During the 45 minutes or so that we were there, at least three people came in for growler refills, so it looks like they have some solid support from the locals. If you are ever at the Jersey Shore near Cape May, give them a visit.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

California Trip

In July, my wife and I went on vacation in California for 11 days. I wrote a post about it for the blog Road Trips for Beer so check it out on their site. Read up on their other articles too if you are interested in travel for beer. If you are interested in festivals and other beer events, their weekend beer forecast goes up every Wednesday and lists out basically every festival/event relating to beer all over the country.

This map shows the route we took and the major places we visited along the way.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Virginia - Breweries in Planning

Just in case you were as interested as I was, I emailed Blue Mountain Brewery to find out how using whole flower hops affects the flavors of the beers that they brew. The response I got was that the whole flower hops create a much stronger aroma than pellet hops. Pellet hops are better at bittering and for adding flavor. So there you go.

These are the breweries in Virginia that are in the planning stages and are not yet commercially available.

Bedford Alehouse, Bedford. No Website.
Treehaus Brewery, Charlottesville.
Creek Bottom Brewing, Galax. On hold due to lack of funding.
Northern Neck Brewing, Kilmarnock. No Website.
Ardent Craft Ales, Richmond. No Website.
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Richmond.
Haxall Brewing, Richmond. No Website.
Old School Brewing, Richmond.
James River Brewing, Scottsville.
Beaver Run Brewery, Stanley.
Kilt Brewing, Williamsburg. No Website
Black Couch Brewery, Alexandria.
Robert Portner Brewing Co, Alexandria.
Lost Soul Brewery, Burke.
Jurnee Brews, Centreville.
BarnHouse Brewery, Lucketts.
Corcoran Brewing, Waterford.
Virginia Brewing, Winchester.

I'll finish up Virginia later this week with Trailies and the Map.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Virginia - Northern Virginia Breweries and Road Trips

I visited Blue Lab Brewery in Lexington, VA this past weekend. Unfortunately we couldn't take a tour, but they have a small tasting room and the wives of the two guys who run the brewery were there to educate us about their beers. They were extremely nice and answered a bunch of questions that our group had. We got to try their Fresh Hop IPA that they made with recently harvested hops from Southwestern VA. It was not as bitter and had more aroma than their normal IPA. More proof that good breweries are popping up all over the map, even in sleepy small towns (perhaps especially in sleepy small towns) like Lexington. If you are ever on I81, take a short detour and give them a visit.

Sign out front of Blue Lab Brewing in Lexington, VA.
Ok, let's get to the Northern VA breweries.

Port City Brewing, Alexandria. Started in January 2011. Their slogan is "Brewing Great Local Beer for People Around Here." Ugh. Gotta work out the slogan kinks. They are new though, so I'll cut them some slack. They make an IPA, a  Pale Ale, a Porter, and a Witbier, whose labels are use the same logo but with different label colors. They are distributed in D.C. and VA.

Shenandoah Brewing, Alexandria. They are a brewery, brewpub, and B.O.P. (Brewery on Premise). Their four beers (Pale Ale, Red, Scottish Ale, and Oatmeal Stout) are available in VA and D.C.

Lost Rhino, Ashburn. Old Dominion Brewing used to be Virginia's most successful and prominent brewery. Then they outgrew their location and relocated to Delaware. Lost Rhino was started by people who used to work at Old Dominion and they bought back the old brewery equipment in order to start making their own beer. Seeing as how they have some big time experience and a slogan like "Experience the Adventure and the Awesomeness" I expect that they will do pretty well. Their Face Plant IPA has a picture of a BMX biker ditching his bike and about to smash his face into the ground. They have four beers, the IPA, a Marzen (Oktoberfest style), a Pale Ale, and a Pilsner. I really like their logos. It seems that currently they only fill growlers at the brewery, but they probably distribute to bars in the D.C. area.

Blue and Gray Brewing, Fredericksburg. Good God, the website is a disaster. All caps white text on a blue background. It looks like it was designed in Geocities. (If you don't remember Geocities, you didn't mess around with the interwebs enough in the mid ninety's.) Wow. I've never had the beer, but I hope it wasn't brewed in 1994. They run a brewpub that was opened in 2002, and before that they contract brewed at other breweries. They have four year round beers and five other beers. The most interesting I saw was a Chocolate Raspberry Stout. I'll give them a try, but I'm starting to like them less. Their description for their Fred Red Ale is "Fred Red is the best beer you've ever tried." Problem is, they only distribute in the Fredericksburg area, so most of us have probably never tried it. Dang.

Holy Brew Brewing Co, Leesburg. They make two brews; Heavenly Light and Purgatory Pilsner. The Heavenly Light says it's brewed with corn and a small bit of hops and "is highly carbonated and light in body, this product lends itself to a highly thirst quenching profile." Anytime you hear thirst quenching, high carbonation and light body in the same description, be very skeptical that it's going to be good. It's 3.8% ABV and Purgatory Pilsner is 4.3% ABV, so it seems to me that these guys are trying to take away from the Bud/Miller/Coors Market. That's fine by me, but I won't be helping them out. Distributed in VA and D.C. if you are interested.

Road Trips:
I might be a little bit biased, but there are a lot of cool things to do in Virginia. If you're visiting the Northern Virginia breweries they are all within about an hours drive to D.C., so you can visit the museums on the National Mall. From the farthest North down to the farthest South brewery it's about a 6 hour drive on I-81 which, for an Interstate, has some good scenery. Take Skyline Drive through the mountains for at least some of the trip. It goes slow, but the views, especially in the fall, are great. Make a stop in Blacksburg to see Virginia Tech, which is one of my favorite college campuses. There is a bar called Rivermill in Blacksburg that has a great craft beer selection. From there you can cut across the Southern part of the state and go to the VA Beach region. There you can fish, do historical stuff at Williamsburg, or chill at the beach. Virginia is a lot bigger than it seems, so to get a decent feel for all three regions and have time to check out the breweries definitely would require at least 5-7 days.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Virginia - Southern Virginia Breweries and Music

I've decided to start with the Southern VA breweries. I've had to explain many times that "yes, I am from Virginia" but "no, I don't have a crazy moonshine-making Southern accent because I'm from Northern Virginia." So my arbitrary decision that "Southern" Va is anything below Fredericksburg comes with a disclaimer. I am including some breweries that are geographically in the Northern part of VA, but they might not exactly fit the social mold of what is known as NoVA, since they reside outside of the two or three closest counties to Washington D.C. There aren't too many farms in NoVA, but there are plenty in what I am calling Northern Virginia, if that makes any sense.

Last week I went on vacation that involved me driving from Northern VA down I81 to Blacksburg then across the Southern part of the state and into North Carolina on mainly small highways. On the way home we drove through VA Beach and up the Eastern Shore of VA. So, essentially I drove most of the the border of the fine Commonwealth in the last week. Unfortunately I didn't parlay that into much VA beer drinking and I'm disappointed to say that from the brewers on this first list, I've only had beer from Starr Hill.

Wolf Hills, Abingdon. Located in SW VA near TN they distribute to a few towns in VA and TN and I think they want to stay that way, because they emphasize fresh and local on their site. They make three year round beers and seven limited releases. Each beer is named after something relating to the geography or history of SW VA, and the story behind each name is on the website. In general I like when breweries put stories on their bottles, or at least explain how the specific beer is made. If I'm going to kill brain cells while I'm drinking your product, I'd like you to at least educate the ones I have left.

Blue Mountain Brewery and Hops Farm, Afton. Founded in 2007, they bottle, can (first in VA to do so), and run a brew-pub. They have 9 year round and 20 seasonal draft-only brews. Decent logo, nothing flashy, but respectable. 2500 barrels a year, VA distribution. I think the coolest part about this brewery is that they grow their own hops, which are used in their Full Nelson Stong Pale Ale. They also use their first 150lbs of freshly picked hops for a harvest celebration beer. Many breweries make beers with freshly picked hops in the fall, so wherever you are, be on the lookout.

Starr Hill, Crozet. Outside of Charlottesville. Started in Charlottesville in 1999, they moved to a bigger location a little bit out of town in 2005 due to growing demand. They distribute to D.C., MD, VA, WV, NC, TN, SC, and FL. 6 year rounds, 3 seasonals, and 3 reserve beers. I like the Lucy, which is a light, low ABV, spiced golden ale. Also, if you dig unfiltered hefeweizen's, The Love is one you should check out. I had one down in Blacksburg and it turned into three.

St. George Brewing, Hampton.Opened in 1991 as a BOP, they have grown and are now distributed in D.C., NC, SC, MD, and VA. They make 11 beers (7 year round and 4 seasonal) and they do some contract brewing as well. Their labels all have a medieval theme and their beers do not have specific names. Their website could use an update.

Blue Lab Brewing, Lexington. My grandparents live in Lexington and my Grandfather tipped me off to Blue Lab a while back, close to when they opened in January 2011. However, I will be down there next weekend, so maybe I'll get a chance to swing by and see if they actually exist or are just a figment of my Grandfather's imagination. Happy Birthday Grandpa.

Jefferson Street Brewery, Lynchburg. They are located in downtown Lynchburg, and they opened in 2007 as part of a revitalization of downtown. They brew their beers for the restaurant that they are located above. They also do tastings and tours so you can sample the 5 styles that they brew.

O'Connor Brewing, Norfolk. Their philosophy is "Fresh is Better." The president and founder quotes Jack Handey (from SNL) on his bio, so I immediately like him. They make four beers, I like the style of the artwork on all of them, and their names relate to nautical terms or geographical locations in Southeast VA. They are distributed in SE Virginia from Williamsburg down to Chesapeake.

Legend Brewing, Richmond. Opened in 1994. They make five year round beers and four seasonal specials and distribute all over Virginia and also operate a brew pub in Richmond. Last year they made 5000 barrels.

Roanoke Railhouse Brewery, Roanoke. Their slogan is "Engineering Balanced Craft Beers" so brace yourselves for some straightforward beer styles with cheesy railroad names. I haven't even looked at the website yet, but I can almost guarantee it. Ok. I looked. I was half right. They make three beers; Track 1 lager, Caboose Imperial Lager, and Railhouse IPA. I don't mind the labels and an Imperial Lager is definitely not something I've seen before.  The names are definitely cheesy train names, but hey, if you're going to commit to a theme, you gotta go 100%.  After all, a beer from a railroad themed brewery named Choo Choo Chocolate Stout wouldn't make sense if there was a picture of a turtle on the label. They distribute all over VA and NC.

Beach Brewing, Virginia Beach. They brew six beers year round, and several seasonals. The beer names are all ocean related. They distribute all over the VA Beach area but nowhere else and it looks like it's just on draft, no bottles. The founder has a quote on his bio page that I think is slightly funny. "I don't understand what the big deal is with these new 55 and 64 calorie beers. It's not like it's a new concept; Deer Park and Aquafina have been bottling water for years." ZING! That's my kind of joke.

Williamsburg AleWerks, Williamsburg. Opened in 2006. They brew six beers year round and even though they aren't flashy I think these are my favorite labels so far. They make three seasonals, one of which is a Coffee Milk Stout, which I generally love. They also make two reserve beers (a Bourbon Porter and a Barleywine) and two brewmaster's choices (one is a 9.4%ABV Belgian Farmhouse). I like the styles of beer these guys make. They are the most creative brewery I've found in VA so far and they are distributed in VA, MD, DE, and D.C. so if you are on the East Coast, check them out.

Carbon Leaf is a band that started in Richmond and got a lot of airtime in D.C. in the early 2000s with their song "The Boxer." They have a Celtic feel to a lot of their music, but they also rock out and their songs have some really good stories/thoughts behind them. One of my favorites is "Life Less Ordinary."

Virginia Coalition (VACO) started at T.C. Williams High School, which was made famous in Remember the Titans. They have a lot of funk inspiration. I've seen them three times and they really really put on a good show. Yup. Two reallys. Check out this live video of "Walk to Work."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

#10 - Virginia, "The Old Dominion State" - Intro

I've been on two great vacations in the last two months and as a result had to work a lot in between them. But now I'm back on the trail with Virginia.

A lot of breweries are popping up near D.C., bringing with them a little bit of character and style to a region that lacks an accent. It very well may be that as a teenager I was blind to some of the cultural aspects we did have, but to me, the sense of shared local experiences built up over time isn't as deep in the D.C. metro area as it is in other places. Possibly because about half of the people are transplants that work for the government or the military*. But I love Virginia, so my hope is that with the growth of craft breweries comes the growth of other cultural measuring sticks like art, film, music, and a wider breadth of industries.

Southern VA is a whole different ballgame and that is where most of the older micro-breweries in VA are located. There are some really beautiful rural areas, and some nice little towns.

*Complete guess, but probably accurate.

Population: 8 million people (12th largest state)
Breweries: 16 currently operating
Breweries in Planning: 18. Some of these 18 projects have already been put on hold, but even if 10 full breweries get off the ground, that will be 26 breweries in VA.
Brew Pubs: 15
Suburbs: Too many too count. If you are in Northern Virginia and you get lost, good luck finding any landmarks to help guide you to where you want to get. "Go past the office park" "drive by the sub-development" and "take a left after the next supermarket but before the next oversized high school" could lead you in about 4000 different directions.

Virginia is my home state, but when I lived there I knew very little about beer and I think Virginia as a state also lagged in the beer department. However, these days, the beer scene in Virginia is exploding. It makes sense to me; the state has a lot of people, it's centrally located on the East Coast, and it has three metropolitan areas to support a growing desire for craft beer. We'll see how many of them can stick around for the long haul. Perhaps Virginia is destined to be the next big state in the craft beer world, alongside California, Oregon, and Colorado.

Hopefully later this week, I'll get the post on the first set of breweries up.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Maryland Brewery Map

Coming back down the east coast from Boston, on your way to South Carolina, and passing 4 states you've already been to, you can take a stop through Maryland to visit a bunch of breweries. I never said that the Beer Trail was going to be the most efficient trip around the country. I only promised the correct chronology based on statehood.

Here are the Maryland Breweries I could find on the map. I talk a little about each of them in this post, so if you want more information, check it out. I couldn't locate a specific address for Stillwater, Natty Boh, or Baltimore-Washington Beer Works, so just wander around Baltimore until you stumble across them.

A. Eastern Shore
B. Bawlmer
C. Clipper City
E. Flying Dog
F. Baying Hound
G. Hook and Ladder

Friday, August 26, 2011

Massachusetts Brewery Map

Massachusetts has so many breweries that it would be tough to fit a tour of each into any vacation. But just in case you want to try, here is a map showing the breweries I could find addresses for on Google Maps. And if you want to read more, here is the link back to my post about these breweries.

From A-R
A - Paper City
B - Opa Opa
C - Berkshire
D - Element
E - Wachusett
F - Wormtown
G - Sherwood Forest
H - Cody
I - Mercury
J - Pretty Things
K - Endurance
L - Harpoon
M - Sam Adams
N - Blue Hills
O - Mayflower
P - Cape Cod
Q - Cisco
R - Just Beer

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Connecticut Brewery Map

After spending your last month in Georgia with all the nice Southern people, you get to drive all the way back up the East coast and get yelled and honked at people in NYC before you get to the calm of Connecticut with its welcoming feeling of being lost in a forest that you get on every road.

The state of Connecticut isn't that big, so getting around to all the breweries won't be an exercise in long term travel. I've also laid out the route so that, once you are sick of drinking beer in Connecticut, you can hop right across the border to your East and you will be in the next state on the trail, Massachusetts.

Here are the breweries from A to E: (and a link to the post about them.)

A - New England
B - Cavalry
C - Thomas Hooker
D - Olde Burnside
E - Cotrell

Monday, August 22, 2011

4 Steps to Geting Hooked on Craft Beer

Beer Flight
Since I'm not doing any new U.S. Beer Trail posts this month (in September I'll be back with Virginia), I thought I would do a quick one about ways that anyone can get involved in the world of craft beer. Craft beer is growing at a double digit pace while sales of the mass produced beer that this country has been force fed for years declines year after year. There are thousands of high quality beers out there, produced by independently owned craft breweries all over the country. Each brewery has it's own style and character that is not based on million dollar advertising campaigns. If you do these four things, I can almost assure you that you will have a good appreciation for what they do and you won't ever order a beer the same again.

1. Start a beer club:
This is how I got involved in craft beer. Grab a few friends, colleagues, or family members. Then, at a specified interval (every month, every other month, or ever quarter) have everyone buy a case of whatever craft beer they would like. Split up the cases equally amongst the group members. Any number of club members works, but try to get at least 4, and probably no more than 8. You want a good balance between number of different beers, and quantity of each beer. Try not to repeat your selections from month to month and try to branch out to different styles of beer. One month get an IPA then next month get a Hefeweizen. Set a target case price range within $10 so that no one feels like they are getting ripped off. Some people may go under or over in certain months because they see something really intriguing, but over time it evens out. And anyhow you are going to try a bunch of new beer, so stop complaining. I've been in my club for almost two years and so I've tried about 150 new beers over that time. It's helped me figure out what I like (most everything), and it's helped me hone in on my favorite breweries.

2. Variety Packs:
If you don't want to commit to the club idea, figure out what the closest brewery is to you, and then pick up their variety case at the distributor. In case you haven't been introduced to them before, this is a great way to figure out if you like them. You might get something like an IPA, an Amber, a Pale Ale, and a heavier beer, but it will vary based on which brewery you are getting it from. This is also another method of determining which styles of beer you enjoy. Plus, since they are the local brewery, you might find a new go-to beer. It will always be available at your local distributor and most likely will be on tap at most of the bars in town. So, when you aren't in the mood to search for a brand new undiscovered beer at your distributor or the bar you'll default to your local brewery's best and not to the cheapest, most watered down, option available.

3. Substitute Craft Beer for Big Beer at the bar:
Instead of getting 2 or 3 Big Beers at the bar next weekend, get 1 or 2 good craft beers. It will cost you about the same, and since Big Beers are about 4.4% ABV max, one or two 6-7% beers will do the same damage. Don't get me wrong, there is definitely a time and a place for cheap, light beer. I'll admit it. I drink it. Tailgating, drinking games, when it's later on in the night. However, it's never the first beer of the night, or the third for that matter. Any farther than that, and I'll consider it. Unless I'm at an awesome bar with a million brews. If you substitute at the beginning of the night you'll remember the beers better too. I sometimes use the beers I get out at a bar as a way of getting ideas for my next case for beer swap club.

4. Take a Brewery Tour:
The people that work at independently breweries are almost always entertaining just by nature. Plus you'll get to see how beer is really made. Every small craft brewery I've been to makes their beer by hand, (i.e., mixes the ingredients by hand, has actual people determine when they are ready, and has actual people working the bottling lines.) So it's really cool to see people putting a bunch of effort into making the highest quality product they can. And every one I've ever been to will give you free beer either during or after the tour.

If you do all four of these things and you're still not interested in trying new, great tasting craft beers, then you clearly like your liquor. Cheers.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Georgia Brewery Map

Over 800 miles separate the capital of the dirty Jerz and the capital of the dirty South. But to get from Trenton, New Jersey to Atlanta, Georgia only two major highways (I95 and I85) are required. That makes for a pretty long and monotonous journey. So stay off the interstates, use the business routes, and stop at the local bars to see what brews are being served along the East Coast.

Once you get to Georgia you won't have to travel far to sample the microbrewery culture, as most of it is centered around Atlanta and Athens is only an hour and a half east. Check out my post about Georgia for more info.

Breweries A to D:

A - Sweetwater
B - Atlanta (Red Brick)
C - Jailhouse
D - Terrapin

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Jersey Brewery Map

If you were to follow this New Jersey Beer Trail, you would get a great feel for how diverse a state New Jersey is. Starting in the north near the city, making your way southwest and passing through Trenton before ending up back near Philadelphia. The only part of the Garden State you would miss is the shore. So when you are done touring, reward yourself by grabbing a nice case and hanging out at a beach town for the weekend. And if you need a guidebook for your tour, bring this post along. Just don't read it to any locals. It's fairly disparaging of the state.

Breweries A to F:
A - High Point
B - Cricket Hill
C - New Jersey Beer Co.
D - Climax
E - River Horse
F - Flying Fish

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pennsylvania Brewery Map - West Half

This is a lot of driving for four breweries. But you don't have anything better to do. Plus there are more breweries in Western PA than I had time to read about. After spending some time in Happy Valley at Penn State book it east to Jersey to pick up the next leg on the trail. Check out my post about the West half of the state here.

Breweries A to D:
A - Troegs
B - Iron City
C - Erie
D - Otto's Brewpub

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pennsylvania Brewery Map - East Half

Since you would be coming from Delaware if you stay true to the order on my site, these directions start you off in Philadelphia, take you up to Wilkes-Barre and back down to Lancaster, where you can head west to pick up the second half of the PA trail. Before you go, read up on the first half of the Keystone State.

Here are the breweries listed from A to J:
A - Philly Brew Co
B - Yards
C -  Victory
D - Sly Fox
E - Weyerbacher
F - Lion (which is where Intercourse is also brewed)
G - Yuengling
H - Stoudt's
I - Lancaster
J - Spring House

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Delaware Brewery Map

You can literally drive to each of the 5 breweries within Delaware in 2 hours and 35 minutes, according to Google. I haven't been to all of them, but I went to Dogfish Head and 16 Mile in one day and it couldn't have been more than a 20 minute drive from DFH to 16 Mile. You have no excuse. Plus, if you go from South to North, you'll be at the second state on the trail by the time you are done sampling all the suds the state of Delaware has to offer. Check back on my first post to read about these breweries.

From A to E:
A - Evolution
B - 16 Mile
C - Dogfish Head
D - Fordham
E - Twin Lakes

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Brewery Maps and New Pages

So, I didn't know how blogger worked when I first started creating the state brewery maps. I created them as pages, rather than posts, because I wanted them to always be accessible. However, blogger only lets you keep 10 pages. So since I'm almost at 10 states, I am going to start posting the maps so that I can use the pages for other stuff, like a best-of trailies page, an about me page, a page dedicated to good music from each state, and a list of beers and breweries I've tried.

Here are some other ideas I've thrown around in my head for what to do with the newly blank pages;
- A page dedicated to listing every digit of pi.
- A page where one of those computerized midi files plays Mary Had a Little Lamb on loop.
- A page where I explain how my closet is organized.
- A page with streaming video of the Salt Lake City public library.

I don't know, now that I've written them down, those don't look like the greatest ideas. Some things seem better in my head.

Anyway, I'll be posting the brewery maps, so if you hadn't seen them before, they are new to you. If you have seen them before, use them and get out to some breweries.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New Hampshire Brewery Map, Trailies

So, I have mentioned before how Blogger allows you to monitor what websites referred people to your page. This month gave me one that inspired me to start a "Page Reference or Search Term of the Month" Award. Hopefully each month will give me something that I think is funny. And if you are the person who came here by way of the random link, please let me know what you were looking for or how you ended up on this site. We'll give a retroactive award to our Russian friend from I'm still looking for some explanation man. Gimme the story. This is America. We have free speech here.

So, without further ado, the inaugural award; Somehow, someone got to my blog from Montel Williams' Wikipedia page. I searched all over it but I could not find any links to my site on his wiki entry. Not that I expected there to be one, but someone found a way to get here from there. So, either Google is lying to me or there is a way to fake the URL that you came from before getting here. Pretty strange. Now, what I really need is for someone to actually put up a link to my site on his wiki page.

Back to the trail. New Hampshire has a pretty strong craft brewing community, and they are very focused on building sustainable communities by using local sources for everything that goes into running a successful brewery and making world class craft beer. All of it's breweries are fairly close to each other, so a full state brewery tour could be done in a few days to a week, depending on what outdoor activities you want to fit in during your trip. Here is the map with all of the breweries listed;

A. Throwback
B. Smuttynose
C. Portsmouth
D. 7th Settlement
E. White Birch
F. Squam
G. Woodstock Inn
H. Tuckerman

Best Beer Concept: 6288 Stout, Tuckerman Brewing. It's not really the concept of the actual beer, but the concept behind the name that makes me like this one.
Best Label Art: Dippity Do American Brown, Throwback Brewery.
Best Beer Name: Indomitus, White Birch Brewery.
Most Local Community Loving Brewery: All of them. I couldn't give this to just one brewery. I tried, but they each declined and tried to give it to the rest of the breweries collectively. They really all believe in cultivating community and living sustainably and blah blah blah... I'm sick of the hippie speak.

And finally, I look at my site as the 2011 version of the 2004 Howard Dean Presidential campaign. New Hampshire is one stop of many. So, not only are we going to New Hampshire, Tom Harkin, next up is Virginia, then New York, then on to North Carolina, then Rhode Island, and then we're gonna go to Washington and take back the White House.... yeaaarrrhhh!. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out this clip. Skip to about 0:50.