AugustFest at Gallery 5

Richmond has known for a long time that Gallery 5 is an awesome place.  They host a wide variety of events including  comedy shows, music, and displays of art.  A visit to Gallery 5 during First Fridays Artwalk is always a treat but tonight they are hosting their first beer tasting with a unique selection of Virginia microbreweries.

Starr Hill

Double Platinum — IPA,
Lucy — English Pale Ale
Festie — Amber Lager

Legend Brewing Co.

Belgian Quad
Belgian Triple
Hefeweizen

Roanoke Railhouse Brewery

Track 1
Loose Caboose

Blue Mountain Brewery

Full Nelson
Kolsch 151

Blue Mountain Barrel House organic line (brand new soon-to-be-opened)

Mandolin
Dark Hollow

O’Connor Brewing Co.

Great Dismal Black IPA

Bull and Bones Brewhaus

Maroon Effect Brown

The tastings start at 7pm ranging from $1 – $3 per sample.  Read more over at the Facebook event here.

Mekong Celebrates Sweet Sixteen

Coming off a victory from last weekend’s dragonboat competition, Mekong will start the celebration of their 16th anniversary this Thursday August 4th.  This year’s party is so big it exploded to cover the rest of the month.  Every Thursday in August will have special tappings.  Here is just a little of what to expect this week.

  • Firkin of Hanssen Geueze
  • Alvinne Cuvee Freddy
  • Alvinne Wild Undress
  • Gulpener mestreech Aajt
  • 2009 BFM Bon Chien
  • Ommegang Zuur
  • The Bruery Marron Acidifie
  • 2009 Duchesse de Bourgonge
  • 2009 Bockor Jacobrunow Rouge
  • Echt Kriekenbier
  • Petrus Aged Pale
  • Liefman Cuvee Brut

The beer lists for the upcoming weeks can be seen on the Facebook event page here.

Rise of the Richmond Gastropub

It is no secret that I love trying new things whether that be food or beer.  I was ecstatic when I discovered I could have everything my foodie heart desired in one sitting.  And to think, I almost went with sushi the night I tried my first gastropub,

I know what you are asking. What is a gastropub? Wikipedia defines a gastropub as “a bar and restaurant that serves high-end beer and food.” I know that is a very simplistic definition that is open to interpretation.  So far I have had the opportunity to eat at three gastropubs, The Oxford in Raleigh, NC, Victoria Gastropub in Columbia, MD, and Mad Fox Brewing in Falls Church, VA.  Of course, they all had craft beer and great food but there was something unique about each one that stuck in my memory.  The thing I remember most about The Oxford, other than it being my first gastropub, was the British themed decor. That and the braised lamb shank I had was just amazing.  I will always remember Victoria’s for their duck fat fries; once you have had them you will never want to go back to regular fries.  So far, Mad Fox has been the best I have ever had.  Not only do they brew outstanding beer but all of their food is made from scratch or locally sourced.  On a trip up to DC earlier this month, Mad Fox was my first stop; I was so impressed with the beer and the food I had to make it the final stop on our way home as well.  Imagine a place that makes their own banana bread just to make french toast.

So, what does this have to do with Richmond?  Two new restaurants,The Roosevelt and The Blue Goat, in town may just be ready to take up the mantle of gastropub.

The Blue Goat has dubbed itself as an urban gastropub.  I have not had the chance to check it out myself but their drink list has some familiar craft brews listed though some styles may be under represented.  While their bottle selection lists names that would be new to me and would be intrigued to try, I would rather these be on tap so that I can have a sample before committing to a pint.  As far as their menu, appetizers that list pig ears and pork dust as their components have me intrigued.

The Roosevelt just opened it’s doors this past weekend to a flurry positive reviews. All this without them having secured their ABC license.  I am hearing that they will be a haven to craft beer lovers.  I am not sure I will be able to wait until they are able to serve beer. Why? Two words – bacon jam! It’s funny that I just recently heard the term on an episode of Eat Street on the Cooking Channel.  Skillet Street Food, out of Seattle, was featured as putting bacon jam on burgers. Needless to say, I could not just hop on a plane to Seattle just for street food though the thought was tempting.  Luckily, The Roosevelt decided to save me the airfare and put some bacon jam on their double cheeseburger.

So what say you RVA? Do you think these two deserve to be considered Richmond’s first gastropubs?  Are there other places in town that you think fit the bill?

RVA Misses Out on Very Yummy Beer Tasting

Maybe it was the heat, but the turnout for the beer tasting at The Empress this past Tuesday was less than desired.  Though the Facebook event had a good number of people listed as attending, the turnout was not there.  That was fine with me as the lack of turn out resulted in us having Taylor Chenery of Specialty Beverage all to ourselves as we tasted our way through the beers with the different pairings.  It is not often that I get a chance to sit down one-on-one with a distributor to see what they are jazzed about.  I will say right off that my favorite dishes of the night were the bison burger and the duck cracklins; so much so that I think they should be added to the menu as one dish.  It was amazing how Melissa and Carly pulled this off on the same day they reopened after a two week vacation. Chef Carly put her stamp on snack food with the combination of art and taste that The Empress has become known for. For your drooling pleasure, Richmond here are drool worthy pictures of the food and beer that you missed.

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The Empress Throws Yummy Beer Tasting

Fresh from their vacation in Spain and Italy, The Empress reopens today after two weeks and is having a beer tasting starting at 7pm.

Here are the 5 beers that they will be featuring:

Schneider Aventinus Wheat Dopplebock
Ommegang Hennepin Farmhouse Saison
Nectar India Pale Ale
Breckenridge Avalanche Amber Ale
Crispin’ Velvet with Crispin’ Cider and O’Haras Irish Stout

Each beer will be paired with most inventive snack foods Chef Carly can envision and let’s face it she can invent some crazy good stuff.  The last drink selection has me intrigued.  At first, I thought it was a mistake, but this is a drink called a Snakebite. At least that’s what I was told it was called a few months ago; it was explained as a Black & Tan made with cider instead of a pale ale.  The Wikipedia entry for Black & Tan gave me the correct name of the drink as a Black Velvet.  While I thought the drink was good, I was not sure I wanted to try it again. Though if Chef Carly is cooking something to go with it, count me in as a willing guinea pig.

Head over to the event page and get yourself on the list here. Cost for the tasting is $20.

Remember 7pm at The Empress. If you’re lucky, Chef Carly will pull inspiration from her time in Barcelona and Italy.

The Empress
2043 W Broad St
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 592-4000

New Belgium Rolling into RVA this Fall

With the news that New Belgium Brewing would start distributing their beers in Richmond this fall, craft beer lovers are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Colorado giant.  With no frame of reference, I decided to take a look at New Belgium’s beer list. To say the list is big would be an understatement. New Belgium boasts twenty year round beers which does not include their 4 seasonals and 5 collaboration beers.  From where I am sitting, 29 beers is a very impressive numbers.  It would be easy to say I’d like to try all of them, but I’ll try and narrow it down to just a few.

Abbey Grand Cru

As a homebrewer, I have to respect co-founder Jeff Lebesch for bringing his first homebrew to market.

2° Below

It uses Sterling hops so as far as I’m concerned that makes it awesome.

Super Cru

I love saisons. I love the taste of asian pears.  Putting them together sounds like a winning combination. some may even say “SUPER!”

Fat Tire

It is probably New Belgium’s most well known beer.  Of course, it makes the list.

1554

They call it an Enlightened Black Ale.  With all the studying of centuries-old Belgian texts, I expect it to take me back in time.

That is just a little of what could be in store for Richmond craft beer lovers.  Like the coasters in the picture, check them out over at Copper Blog to scoop them up.

Experiencing the Beer and Food of SAVOR!

Photo © Eddie Arrossi

Richmond’s World Beer Festival may have been canceled but that will not stop me exploring the ever expanding world of craft beer.  Saturday June 4th marked the second day of SAVOR, Washington, D.C.’s premier craft beer and food event. Tickets for this event sold out in a matter of minutes after going on sale.

Now in it’s fourth year, Brewers Association has expanded SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience to two nights inside the beautiful National Building Museum.   The effect of SAVOR on DC’s craft beer scene has been even more outstanding.  The number of restaurants and bars championing craft beer has almost tripled since Savor’s inception.

But why should SAVOR be important to craft beer lovers in Richmond?  Simply put, it is the possibility of new beers in the market that were previously unavailable locally.  Before I go on, let me explain a little about how breweries are selected to attend Savor.  In total, there were 72 breweries in attendance, 12 of which are supporting breweries who  attend every year.  The other 60 breweries are selected by a lottery system. Even though it is the luck of the draw, the breweries selected deserve the honor they have just received. Nothing proves this more to me than the fact two of my favorite North Carolina breweries, Big Boss Brewing and LoneRider Brewing, were in attendance for the first time.

The Wednesday prior to Savor, Big Boss took over the taps of Birch & Barley, serving their entire beer line-up.  At SAVOR, Big Boss was serving their two heavy hitters Monkey Bizzness and High Roller. With High Roller, Big Boss has managed to create an India Pale Ale that has the required bitterness and hoppy aroma but not overpowering at the same time.

Meanwhile, LoneRider brought in my two of my favorites of their beers. Their hefeweizen, Shotgun Betty, was a no brainer to pair with banana bread.  LoneRider had their brown ale, Sweet Josie, on hand. Once again, I was seduced by this beer. I was not too sure on the pairing of this beer with the Shrimp in  a Blanket dish. Personally, I thought it also went well with the banana bread.

Another first timer this year was Mad Fox Brewing out of Falls Church, VA.  Now here is a true cinderella story;  Mad Fox has only been opened for little over a year.  The owner rightful beamed with pride as he poured me some of his Kolsch Ale.  From the aroma to the taste of a two ounce pour, you could tell this was a beer made by a guy who truly loves what he does and is good at it. Expect very big things to come out of Mad Fox.

Here are some other highlights from my night.

Lazy Magnolia Brewing had their Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale rightfully paired with banana bread.  Their Indian Summer was equally as tasty.

Fort George Brewery’s 1811 Lager was very smooth and refreshing.

DOG Brewing had a Pub Dog Wild Cherry Porter has a tartness that will win over sour beer lovers.

Ommegang’s Three Philosophers was excellently paired with a braised lamb shoulder slider.

Bayou Teche Brewing’s La 31 Boucanee had a unique smokiness that is uncommon in wheat beers.  This beer would be perfect a hot summer barbecue.

Of course, I could not end without mentioning SAVOR Flowers.  This collaboration beer brewed by Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Jim Koch of Boston Beer Company was a shoe-in to be the most talked about beer of the night.  It is almost a shame that this beer will not be seen out side of Savor.  When I first heard about the beer and the steps they went to, one of my first thoughts was how many roses do I need to make rose water to brew a batch at home.  Yes, you heard correctly; they created their own rose water just to make a batch of beer.  Add in some experimental hops and age in barrels originally used for Sam Adams Triple Bock in 1993/94, you get an unique beer with the most pleasing floral aromas and a flavors that leave you in a sense of euphoria.  It is collaborations like this that will keep SAVOR going strong for years to come. I will keep a look out for when tickets go on sale for next year so maybe you can be a part of the experience. Cheers!


Photo © Eddie Arrossi