Empress Invites Fellow Glutenites for Beer Pairing

So here I am in Denver and all I can think about is how awesome tonight’s beer pairing at The Empress.  Ok, maybe not the only thing, but if I were there this would be on my top of my list of things to do tonight.  So why all the excitement over this pairing? Well, imagine for a change that you could not enjoy a majority of beers because of the debilitating side effects caused by being a celiac.  Now, I’m actually surprised it’s taken Carly & Melissa this long to come up this event.  I imagine finding six gluten free beers that would pair  well with food was a challenge.  I remember going to Whole Foods and looking for gluten free beer to take to a friend and only finding two choices.  I’m pleased to see that this number has increased.  I am a true believer that there should be a beer for everyone to enjoy without risking their health.  With their plans to produce a strawberry gluten-free beer, it appears that Dogfish Head agrees with me.  I hope the inevitable success of this beer prompts other craft brewers to follow suit. 

Wow, sorry about getting all soapboxy on you.  I’ll step down and get back to the food.  If there is anyone in Richmond that could pull this off, it would be the ladies of The Empress.  Take a look at the menu below complete with personal invitation from The Empress(es) themselves.

This week we are treating all of our fellow “glutenites” to a night of carefree fun. Our 6 gluten free beers (no ciders tonight) will be paired with 6 foods we crave yet can NEVER eat. You don’t have to be gluten free to enjoy this tasting, but if you are then you might just be in heaven. Our menus are much more health conscious usually, but we wanted to really give you all what we think you crave the most.

St Peters G-Free 4.2% with GF Fried Cheese Sticks
Described as ‘a clean, crisp gluten-free ale with a pilsner style lager finish and aromas of citrus and mandarin from American Amarillo hops.

New Grist Sorghum Session 5.75% with GF Seitan Sliders on GF Italian Rolls
Lighted toasted malts upfront. Possibly some hop character hiding in the background, lending just a hint of bitterness. Finish is sweet and tart like green apples.

Redbridge 4.8% with GF Deep Pan Pizza w/ Crispy Chorizo, Mozzarella, Bella Vitano & Fresh Basil with Homemade Tomato Sauce

A rich red ale, full-bodied lager brewed from sorghum for a well-balanced, moderately hopped taste.

Brooklyn Bards 5.0% with Bison, Vegetable, & Cheese Stuffed GF Shells with Red Sauce
Grainy malt up front with some lightly sour bread notes. Some dry caramel in the middle and a bit of spicy hop character. The dry toast character lingers into the finish with moderate hop bitterness and some more herbal hop flavor.

Greens Triple 8.5% with GF Fried Chicken w/ Red Cabbage Slaw
Similar to the aroma, it is too sweet and grainy. That said, it has some nice layers of fleshy fruit, banana and clove. Ends with a stitch of spicy hops

Greens Endeavor Dubbel 7% with GF Cookies & Cream Ice Cream
The taste is red fruit, sweet, overripe grapes, some nondescript earthy graininess, and soft, slightly funky, Belgian yeast. The carbonation is average, the body light, and a bit watery. It finishes off-dry, the fruitiness persisting, getting warmer in concert with the temperature.

The Empress has doubled the number of seats they normally hold becuase of the buzz surrounding this tasting.  Make sure you get yours by reserving a spot on the event page. Tasting starts at 7pm for $25.

The Empress
2043 West Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23220
(804) 592-4000

New Day, New Belgium Beer

After almost two months, today is the day when Richmond will finally get the opportunity to enjoy New Belgium beers locally.  You saw what my initial picks were back then.  We will see if any of those besides Fat Tire were selected.  A little birdie tells me that Whole Foods in Short Pump will be sampling their New Belgium selection all day today. So head out and give something new a try.

Crossroads Dogfish Head Tap Takeover

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Crossroads Coffee & Ice Cream on Forest Hill had their taps taken over by Dogfish Head beer. Were you there? If not, here is a little of what you missed.

Lawnmower — a beer so limited it is typically only sold in Delaware.

Namaste — Belgian style White with organic orange slices and lemongrass

Theobroma — one of Dogfish’s Ancient Ales.  There is no description that could do this beer justice.

90 Minute IPA — I’ll admit I tried this beer to get an Untappd badge but if Dogfish Head keeps making beers like this one, they will turn me into a hophead soon enough.

Now this was only half of the beers on tap.  Someone asked me why Crossroads was doing this. The only response I could give is because they are awesome! Thanks to Crossroads, I will crave pistachios with my beer from now on. Don’t believe me; go to Crossroads and prove me wrong.

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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