Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My TOP 5 Craft Beers from RVA ROCK$ OnTap!

Here's my TOP 5 list of craft brews from the RVA ROCK$ OnTap! event. This list was diffcult to make because almost all of the beer I tasted at this event was great. Regardless of the difficulty there were 5 craft beers that stood out.

1. Isley Choosy Mother Peanut Butter Porter

This oatmeal porter is one of my favorite beers of all time now. The peanut butter, chocolate, and oats give more than enough reasons for loving this brew. An amazing feature of this beer is its distinctive aroma. When tasting, my nose basked in velvety peanut butter and chocolate. The volume is turned way up on the peanut butter aroma, but when tasting the malty sweetness, peanut butter, and chocolate are deceptively balanced. Having such a distinctive aroma and balanced taste was so fun to experience! I was actually giddy while tasting this brew.

2. Lickinghole Creek Magic Beaver

This delicious Belgian-style Pale Ale is interesting, balanced, and easy to drink. A spicy aroma plays nice along side subtle malts. Definitely a joy to drink such a balanced and well-crafted PA.

3. Hardywood Singel

Do I need to write much about this Abbey-style Blonde bombshell? Almost everyone who tastes this beer enjoys it. A beautiful golden pour topped with cloud-fluffy head distinctively marks this beer's look. The aroma is a balancing act of spiciness and fruitiness. It's a daily drinker that's easy on the palate and the head.

4. Midnight Not My Job Brown Ale

This ale is a dark brown Southern English Brown Ale. This was my first Southern English Brown Ale. I've had English Brown Ale, but according to some smart people, Southern or London English Brown Ale isn't brewed much in the US. After tasting this ale I have to say, it's a crime this style isn't brewed more here. A malty chocolate aroma is met by a deliciously smooth ale with a good story!

5. Center of the Universe Barrel Aged Scotchtown Scotch Ale

COTU really brought it with this barrel aged Scottish Ale. I'm not even going to pretend I understand what's going on in my mouth with this one, but you can believe it's all good. This ale is aged in whiskey barrels and has all of the complexity you can handle. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Brewery Spotlight: Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery and Midnight Brewery!

Sam and I had the pleasure of experiencing the first (of hopefully many to come) annual RVARock$ OnTap! on Mayo Island, in our home town of Richmond. It’s a beautiful thing when one can travel to a single location (in my case, a five minute walk from my home) and experience the brilliant concoctions of brewing masterminds. Every brewery in Central Virginia was present showcasing one to three of their best brews and proving that they are not competitors but brothers and sisters of the Virginia Craft Brew family.

About halfway through our quest to try every brew on the menu, we had the pleasure of talking to Sean and Shawn of Lickinghole Creek and Midnight Breweries, respectively. The two, being the gentleman that they are, were kind enough to tell us about the breweries that they represented, the beer we were sampling, and extend invitations to come visit soon (we will keep you abreast on that adventure as it pans out).


First up to bat was Midnight Brewery. Shawn offered us their Rockville Red, an Irish Red Ale that tastes as beautiful as it looks. The Not My Job, a Southern English Brown Ale, was a delight. I personally can’t wait till we can visit Midnight and sample their full array of offerings.

Subsequently, we stepped next door to Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery. Here, Sean introduced us to to the bit of heaven that is Magic Beaver Belgian Style Pale Ale. Lickinghole’s second brew was their Three Chopt Triple, which seemed to be one of the hits of the party, as the tap ran dry just before we arrived. We will have to save that one for another day.

I know it was a very busy day for all of the breweries that participated and everyone was a delight to meet, but I want to extend a special thank you to the time both of these gentlemen took with us. Midnight Brewery and Lickinghole Creek Brewery may be relative newcomers to the big stage, but make no mistake, these two are on par with the best RVA has to offer.

Triple Crossing’s First Day of Business

James enjoying a Saison and an Element 79.
Triple Crossing Brewing was a welcome addition to Richmond’s craft beer scene even before serving the public and Friday's grand opening has proven why it deserves to stay.

Preferences of the four brews offered were unanimous. The Falcon Smash was the clear favorite, even for those who don’t consider themselves ‘hop heads’.  Hopped, dry hopped, then dry hopped again, this IPA uses Falconer’s Flight and is a wonderful celebration of what an IPA should be. Don’t overlook the label and its reference to a certain punch with 8-bit text and shattered logo.

The Element 79 golden ale was a close second and will likely be the biggest crowd pleaser. Don’t overlook the label with the electron shell around the symbol for gold, the periodic table’s 79th element.

The Rye Pale Ale came in third with the rye enhancing the hop and malt without overpowering it with spice.

At 6.0% ABV, the Single Hop Saison was very drinkable and refreshing in the heat although tasting ranged from too sour to a bit spicy.

The brewery is situated on a side street downtown in a smartly-renovated old brick building that has been home to several local businesses. The interior mirrors the beer with a utilitarian sophistication mixing old basics with new finishes.

Seating is available both inside and outside on the porch, making the brewery a great place to meet a few friends after work or host a larger party for a special occasion. Its proximity to many of Richmond's great restaurants offers plenty of local dining options to enjoy before or after a session.

The event itself had three lines: a short one for purchasing tickets, a longer one used to redeem the tickets for beer, and a fluctuating line to the rest rooms. Although the crowd was large (it was nearly 6:30pm), the space never felt overwhelming and remained organized. The event offered a DJ, corn hole, and one food truck.

Already offering a fifth brew, a sweet stout, and future beers such as their Liberty or Death Porter & Nectar and Knife DIPA, Triple Crossing should and will remain on everyone’s radar.

For more information check out Triple Crossing Brewing's website or Facebook page.

Photo: James enjoying a Saison and an Element 79 at the Grand Opening of Triple Crossing Brewery.


Clay and I had a great time at the RVA ROCK$ ONTAP craft beer event. We sampled a few beers, took in the sun, jammed to the tunes, and met a few kindred souls. The weather was beautiful, and there was only a faint odor of sewage when the wind blew in a particular direction. Luckily, the wind did not blow in that direction very long. HA!
Yes please!
In all, we sampled 17 of 23 craft brews. We missed some mostly due to supply shortage. We skipped the Legend 20th Anniversary Imperial Brown, because we have a bottle at home. We're going to break that open soon so look for a post on or shortly after Legend's 20th Anniversary celebration on 4/19.

We're going to have a few posts coming up detailing our top 5 beers from ONTAP and a brewery spotlight. Stay tuned for that, and all we have planned for the next few weeks as the craft beer events start to heat up!


P.S. If you were there, hit us back in the comments with how many of the beers you got to, and how your time was!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

OnTap! Support local businesses by drinking beer

Want to support local businesses and a local non-profit by drinking beer all day? This Saturday RVA ROCK$ and Fetch A Cure are taking over Mayo Island with OnTap!, a beer festival celebrating with only local craft brews. Of course it wouldn't be craft brew without live music and food trucks on site. Tickets range from $25 to $50 and allow unlimited sampling of over 20 locally crafted brews from:

  • Center of the Universe
  • Extra Billy’s
  • Hardywood
  • Isley
  • Legend
  • Lickinghole Creek
  • Midnight
  • Rusty Beaver
  • Strangways
  • Triple Crossing – first tapping outside of their brewery!

Tickets are available here.

For more information on the event including beer, food, and music offerings check out the OnTap! homepage or Facebook event. If five hours is not long enough check out the Official AfterParty at Southern Railway Taphouse.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Triple Crossing Brewing Grand Opening!

Oh yeah, boys and girls! Here's an event you've been waiting for: The Grand Opening of Triple Crossing Brewery. It's happening on Friday, April 11th through Sunday, April 13th.

From Triple Crossing:

Tasting room grand opening! Popping Mealies food truck and Deep Groove Records DJ night on 4/11. All 12oz fills only $5. No growler fills.

Visit their website for more details:

Check out their youtube channel. They have a few cool videos up.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Shenandoah Nat'l Park & Blue Mountain Brewery

A few weekends ago I went hiking in Shenandoah National park with some friends. We drove the gorgeous Skyline Drive and ended up hiking around the Big Meadows area. We did Dark Hallow Falls and crossed over into a fire road and some of the Rose River loop. We worked up a big thirst in our five hours of hiking.

To quench that thirst, we made a beeline to the Blue Mountain Brewery. I ordered a Kölsch 151. This beer was exactly what I needed! It's an ale with a crisp, cool feel, light body, and a quick diminishing after taste. It was about 85 degrees outside, so refreshing was mandatory.

The perfect entrée to pair with my crisp Kölsch? Pizza. I know pizza can be cheese and sauce heavy and may demand a heavier beer or ale. But this pizza is different. I'm talking about the blow-your-%@#&ING-mind-pizza they serve at Blue Mountain Brewery. The wheaty thin crusts are seasoned with honey and olive oil. It's dressed with sauce and toppings that'll make you think hard enough to reconstruct your previously blown mind.

My friends and I got the bratwurst, apples, and onions pizza. See what I mean? My eyes told my brain I was eating pizza and drinking beer. My tongue told my brain I was drinking angel's tears and eating ambrosia.

The crisp, clean ale paired with the light thin crust pizza was way beyond my expectations. I couldn't believe the extraordinary flavors in my mouth. When I got the check, I was doubly impressed. If you like to hike in the Shenandoah Park, you have to check out the Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, Va. Do it!

No pics. Forgot to take them!


Devil's Backbone Eight Point IPA

I've been waiting for this for weeks. Devil's Backbone Eight Point IPA is quickly becoming one of my favorite IPA's. This IPA is crisp and bitter ale blew my mind when I first tasted it. I actually tasted the Eight Point IPA at a tasting a while ago and liked it a lot.

For some reason, I never got around to getting a six or two. I remembered it when milling around the grocery store's beer and wine section yesterday. I spied the eight point buck on the cardboard, and the memory of the tasting came back fresh.

This IPA is made with all kinds of hops. All of the hops give the ale a complex bite! I'm not afraid to say that some of what this IPA is doing in my mouth, I don't understand. The notes I do understand are complex floral, strong but fast diminishing bitterness, and slight sweetness.

I like that the the bitterness doesn't blow you away. This is a very drinkable IPA. I had this ale with spicy burritos, cold cuts, and huevos rancheros. It didn't overpower any normal meal I had, but it also goes great with some heat.

I really like the cover design on the cardboard and bottles. I think the artwork lends a lot of character to the whole package, and defines Eight Point very well. I would recommend this to any IPA drinkers out there. It's not going to knock your socks off with bitterness, which makes it very drinkable. But it has a deep quality to its bitterness that I don't taste in many of the IPA's I drink.

Pick up a six pack at most grocery stores in VA.

IBUs 60, ABV 5.9%
Their website:

Richmond's own Legend Pilsner

So this is the new blog. It's all about beer in Virginia. If you're a reader that isn't in the Commonwealth of Virginia allow me to fill you in on our heritage with a short random list of factoids:

1.    We have sent seven Virginians to the White House
2.    The state was named after Queen Elizabeth I
3.    The state is often called the 'Old Dominion'
4.    Our state beverage is beer.

OK, so I made that last one up, but it should be because we have a long history of refined -and not so refined- beer making. The largest breweries in Virginia are Budweiser in James City County and Coors near Fredericksburg. There are also hundreds of microbreweries in the state that provide color and richness to our beer heritage.

The beer I want to talk about today is the Legend's Brewing Co. Pilsner. I have to be honest, I've lived in Richmond, Va (where Legend's is located) my whole life, and I've never had this beer. Actually, this is only the second lager style beer I've had from Legend's. Usually, I'm nose-deep in a Brown Ale or one of their two IPA's (which are fantastic). I didn't go to Legend's Pub to the get the Pilsner, instead I picked it up at the local grocery store and enjoyed it at home. With most Pilsners I usually want to eat something while I'm drinking to help fill out the missing parts of the body that are sacrificed to achieve a crisp and refreshing beer.

With Legend's Pilsner there's enough body for the beer to stand on its own. It's much maltier than a lot of Pilsners I've tasted and pays tribute to Legend's flagship Ales by smoothly emulating them. The aroma has malty notes, but the spiciness of the hops is evident in every sniff. The smooth yet thin feel is awesomely balanced and makes this beer a very modern Pilsner. The finish is crisp and dry and reminds you that you're drinking a Pilsner despite the full bodied smoothness to start.

I highly recommend this beer to anyone who can find it. It's definitely in the groceries stores around Richmond, Va., but I'm not sure how far Legend is being distributed throughout the state. I do know they get down to Williamsburg and out to Charlottesville. If you're coming through the capitol, remember to pick up a case!


The Love by Star Hill – An awesome hefeweizen

I’ve been working myself through a six pack of The Love on this windy, cool spring night, and figured you guys should know about this amazing wheat beer.
It’s very low in bitterness, light bodied, smooth drinking and finishes with light sweetness.

When I first bought this beer I was skeptical. Being of the hops-loving variety of craft beer drinkers, and a staunch misogynist I figured this would be a lovely addition to the ever growing list of ‘chick beers’ (only joking ladies). But like most situations involving beer, I found I was both wrong and pleasantly surprised about this brew.

It pours very light honey with a very small head –an eighth of an inch. You can see the sediment in the glass, and can watch it flow as the beer pours. It mingles with bubbles and swirls in tiny dervishes of momentum. This wheat beer is unfiltered. The aroma of the head isn't particularly powerful but isn't nondescript either. It’s relaxed and has hints of fruit and spice.

The first taste is refreshing. It’s cool and clear. Banana and spice notes are notable and flesh out the taste. Toasted spice carries the wheaten flavor over the palette and makes for a light and enjoyable mouth-feel. The finish is lightly sweet and leaves a clean and sweetened aftertaste.

If you’re into hoppy beers, please take note of the flavor and try not to miss it. I've recognized that after enjoying many bitter full-bodied beers, it easy to miss the delicate notes of a light-bodied beer like a hefeweizen, especially one as light as The Love.

A lot like it’s easy to miss the delicate and simply pleasures in life when we’re focused on the heavy ‘important things.’ This beautifully named beer reminds me that I love life and I love the world. And I should take some time out of my days to slow down and enjoy life. To love life by relaxing and just being.

Star Hill's website: