Showing posts with label american pale ale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label american pale ale. Show all posts

Thursday, February 21, 2019

#FlagshipFebruary - Blue Mountain Brewery Full Nelson

It's fair to say that I like Blue Mountain Brewery, and have pretty much from the moment we first walked through the, original, door back in 2009. We have watched them grow, both as a venue with the original brewpub at least doubling in size, and as a company, adding the Blue Mountain Barrel House and South Street Brewery to their fold. I have named a beer for them, Isabel, and we did a historic brewing project together, introducing central Virginia to the delights of 1920s Old Burton Ale. It is also fair to say that I simply do not get down there often enough, thankfully there are plenty of places in town to find their beers on tap.

Weighing in at 5.9% abv and with 60 IBUs, Full Nelson is Blue Mountain's flagship, a beer that when I found my notes from our first visit in 2009 I described as being "a delight". That was also my opinion when I most recently had a couple of pints, again sharing a pitcher with my mate Dave.


As you can tell from the picture, Full Nelson is squarely in the old school American Pale Ale category, old school of course not being any denigration of a lovely beer. Despite the 60 IBUs, there is enough malt to balance that out and make for one very drinkable beer, perhaps not a session beer, but certainly something worthy of a few pints in a single sitting.

Being an old school American Pale Ale, you get a good wallop of bitterness as well as the classic pine and citrus flavours that the style is known for. That bitterness though is softened by the almost Plzeňesque water source, which gives the beer a roundness that pale ales made from a harder water source lack, and in my world that makes it a more pleasureable drinking experience. In many ways Full Nelson is a throwback to simpler times in the craft beer world, before the IPAification of everything, before beer as murky as sheep phlegm, before endless new releases. In other words, a flagship, pure, simple, and endlessly enjoyable.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A New Starr

One of the benefits of working in the Starr Hill tasting room is getting to know what new beers are coming down the line for seasonals, the brewery's 'All Access' series, and other special beers such as Pro-Am for the GABF, and the annual(ish) Brew Ridge Trail collaboration beer.

Earlier in the year, at our quarterly tasting room managers meeting, we learnt that the summer seasonal for this year would be an American Pale Ale. We had heard rumour of there being a new pale ale on the horizon, and a few of us were hoping for a revival of the old Pale Ale, which I reviewed here back in 2009 (random fact, Fuggled is now 5 years old!). I was a big fan of the old Pale Ale and, like quite a few of our regular customers, a little disappointed when it was discontinued.

Another of the benefits of working in the tasting room is being able to taste beers before they are on sale to the general public, thus I acquired some of the new pale ale, which is called Grateful, an homage to our master brewer's favourite band. But what about the beer itself I hear you ask....well, it looks like this:


More of a golden colour than the old pale ale, but still with a good half inch or so of tight, white, foam. Yep, it looks like an American Pale Ale to me. In terms of aroma, you get that punchy citrus element that you would expect from a beer brewed with Centenntial, Chinook and Cascade, and sure there is a trace of pine resin, again classic, but there is something else, something different, something funky. Also in the hopping is Topaz, an Australian hop variety which has some earthiness to it, as well as the tropical fruit thing which is apparently common in Antipodean hops. Is Topaz where the beer is getting its grassiness from? By grass I don't mean the common garden stuff that makes a lawn, I am talking about special grass. Maybe it's just me, but I think it smells a bit like marijuana. So, plenty of interesting things going on in the smell department, but nobody in their right mind only smells beer, what about drinking it?


Up front and centre is a big whack of bright, tangy, citrus flavours, I wouldn't go as far as to say grapefruit, more bitter orange in my opinion, but it is there and very much a star of the show. The backing singers though are noticeable and certainly add harmony to the main attraction with a light caramel note, blended with a light toasty element which gives it just enough of something else so as not to make this just yet another hop transportation system. The body is just on the light side of medium, which makes it nicely pintable, though not really a session beer at 4.7%. I can easily see this being a regular beer in the fridge over the summer months.


So, where can you get this lovely beer? Erm, until May 1st only at the Starr Hill tasting room. Despair not though, especially those of you living in Virginia, this Saturday (4/20) is the release party at the brewery, so if you can, get along and try a very welcome addition to the Starr Hill line up.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I Gather You Hunt, Sir?

In the past, whenever Mrs Velkyal and I headed down to South Carolina I had but one thing on my zythophilic mind, a trip to the Flying Saucer. While we were in Columbia over the Christmas period (am I allowed to say Christmas? Isn't it "the holidays"?) I decided that I really needed to finally get my arse round to Hunter Gatherer, Columbia's only brewpub. I wish I knew why we had never visited, it may have had something to do with Flying Saucer's high flying mini-skirted waitresses, but I digress.

I was getting snippy last Monday, I don't know Columbia well enough yet to feel confident driving without the good lady wife, or her father, but I needed to get out of the house and have some me time (in Myers-Briggs speak, I am an INTJ and need me time to re-charge batteries). A quick look on Mapquest showed me that from the in-laws' place to Hunter Gatherer was about 7 miles. So, I announced to the gathered family members that the next day I would walk into town for a beer or two, Mrs V having promised to help paint her grandmother's kitchen.

So yes, I walked 7 miles to go to the pub. I had my Walkman on (it is a Sony Walkman MP3!), listening to Wolfstone, and set off, notebook, camera and tastebuds in tow. The walk took me about an hour and 45 minutes, so I must assume that your average Mapquest user is in fact a three toed sloth. I arrived just after opening time, and just in time for lunch, and having read they do 4oz pours for $1 ready for the flight that followed.


First up was their American Wheat Ale, a style which so far has left me cold, and not particularly refreshed. Anyway, this Wheat Ale poured a slightly hazy golden, topped with just a wee bit of white head - I had seen the head straight from the tap and it looked decent, but seemingly American drinkers like their beer head to look like scum on top of a London cup of tea. Back to the beer though, the nose was distinctly malty, bready and biscuity. There was however an aroma I couldn't quite place, until as I inhaled deeply with my eyes closed I realised it was wet cat. Finally I understood why American hops were considered "catty" way back when. As the beer warmed, the expected grapefruit citrusy thing came through more. Tastewise, this was rather like a nice lemon meringue pie, with a digestive biscuit base. Overall, a decent refreshing beer, though I fear American Wheat Ales won't be jumping to the top of my must have beer list any time soon.


Next up was their Pale Ale, which is a deep orange amber colour with a touch of white foam. Being a classic American Pale Ale, can you guess what the nose was? Yes, citrusy, grapefruity hoppiness - which is exactly what I want and expect from an American Pale. Drinking the beer was an exercise of sweet caramel malts providing a nice counterbalance to the zingy, orangey bite of the hops. Clean and very easy to drink. When I took Mrs Velkyal to the pub the next day, she had this and remarked that it would rival her beloved Primator English Pale Ale for preferred beer - high praise indeed!


Third in the line-up was the ESB, which as you can see from the picture pours a deep copper, again with a white head. The nose was sweet candy and spiciness, which put me in mind of Goldings hops - I did ask but the brewer wasn't around and the barman didn't want to say for sure. Tastewise, this was quite tangy in an almost sourdough bread way, the spicy hop bite playing nicely with the maltiness of the beer. Overall, I thought this to be a good solid bitter, crisp with a long dry finish.


Their special on the days I visited was a winter warmer called Ye Olde Bastarde, a deep russet beer topped with a dark ivory head. The nose was full of cocoa and sweet grass. The sweetness of caramel malts was very much to the fore in the flavour department, with cocoa and toffee dominant, but the hops play through with a mild spicy bite that stops the sweetness from being overpowering. Very smooth drinking, and drink plenty more of it I did, but had there been a live fire in the pub I would have abandoned my station at the bar, and any plans on being coherent when I returned to the in-laws'.


Being lunchtime, I decided to have a stab at the food. When I lived in the Czech Republic, I had a routine, when I went some place new, I always tried their fried cheese and chips - I am convinced that quality fried cheese is always a good sign in a kitchen, either that or I just like peasant food. Anyway, my equivalent here in the States is to try the burger and chips, which, in this case, came topped with horseradish cheddar, and hash browns rather than chips. A good solid burger at a decent price, no complaints at all. The following day when we returned, I had their special of beer braised chicken thighs, served with grits and a mushroom onion gravy, and it was excellent.


Having had a couple more pints of Ye Olde Bastarde, and spent my entire time there looking wistfully at the bottle of Talisker right in my line of sight, I sent Mrs V a text message simply saying "Flying Saucer has serious competition". Good beer, a nice neighbourhood pub atmosphere, good food and reasonable prices, only $3.75 a pint for the standard range of Wheat, Pale Ale and ESB, makes Hunter Gatherer a must visit place whenever we are in South Carolina.

Monday, July 5, 2010

IHP Pale Ale a la A Homebrew Log

The plan was simple, trade homebrew with a fellow homebrewer and blog about them. The original plan was to swap American Pale Ales brewed for the International Homebrew Project which I organised back in January and blog about them. Well, James from A Homebrew Log and I met a couple of weeks ago to swap beers, and last night I popped up his version of the IHP recipe.

As ever, I use my version of Cyclops.

  • Sight - amber, volumous rocky white head and lots of carbonation
  • Smell - grapefruit hoppiness, but not extreme
  • Taste - a nice balance between the hops and a smooth sweet maltiness
  • Sweet - 2/5
  • Bitter - 2.5/5
A very, very nice pale ale indeed! A nice smooth body with a long dry finish which was just perfect to end the day with. I could certainly, and happily, drink large volumes of this! One of my criticisms of pale ales at times is that they are thin and the hoppiness often makes drinking it like puckering up and sucking a lemon, James's beer is most definitely not in that ball park.

Originally I planned to drink this alongside my own version of the recipe, which I am calling Copper Head Pale Ale, but like a doofus I gave the remaining bottles of my version away. So this post ends a few paragraphs early, but you can read what James has to say about the Pale Ale and my Scottish 80/- ale here.

On Wednesday I will be writing about the other beers James gave me, and if they are as good as the pale ale, then it should be a fun Tuesday night's drinking preparing for a Wednesday's posting!

Monday, March 22, 2010

International Homebrew Project - The Beer is Here

After 5 weeks of waiting, yesterday I popped open the first bottle of the American Pale Ale I brewed as part of the International Homebrew Project. For those unaware, you can see the recipe that we chose to make here, but here is a quick rundown, we brewed an American Pale Ale, hopped with Centennial, Amarillo and Cascade, the choice of yeast was left to each participant, in my case I used the American Ale II from Wyeast and followed my usual fermentation and conditioning schedule, 2 weeks of the former and 3 of the latter.

Once the two weeks in the primary were up, my variant had gone from an original gravity of 1.046 to a final gravity of 1.014, giving me an abv of 4.3%. The OG was low for the report I got from Beertools.com for the same set of ingredients, which had predicted an OG of 1.058, but it was within range for the style apparently, so I wasn't unduly concerned. Anyway, enough of the geekery (another cynical thought, home brewers would be better served obsessing about flavours and aromas rather than numbers), and on to the beer itself, which you can see below.


For the sake of ease, I will, as ever, use my version of Cyclops to describe the beer.
  • Sight - amber, dark gold edges, tight white head
  • Smell - generally citrus, distinct grapefruit
  • Taste - sharp bitter up front, mellow sweet background
  • Bitter - 3/5
  • Sweet - 3/5
This is a nice beer, and one I will be brewing again, though perhaps modified a touch (read more hops and upping the malt), but overall I am very satisfied with my first stab at an American Pale Ale, and enjoyed deciding the style and ingredients of the beer by cyber committee. I know of at least one other person who took part in the project, James over at A Homebrew Log, whose beer is reviewed here. If anyone else took part, let us know and leave a comment with a link to your post about the beer.

There will be an International Homebrew Project 2 later on in the year, with brewing to take place the first weekend of September, so put a date in your brewing diaries!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Gold and Guinness

I like Bitter. I like Ordinary Bitter, I like Best Bitter, I like Extra Special/Strong Bitter, so of course I wanted to brew my own - ah the joys of being a homebrewer, being able (at least in theory) to make some of the beer styles you love and in essence grew up on. I have said it many times on here before, I was never much of a lager drinker before I went to Prague, for reasons I may have to delve into in order to ascertain whether I was in closet with regards eventually discovering craft beer.

Anyway, to my theme, brewing a best bitter. That was the plan at least, but the OG was slightly low and so it became an ordinary bitter, something low in alcohol and refreshing was the plan. Last weekend Mrs Velkyal and I went to visit her cousin and Sicilian husband in Greensboro, North Carolina, and I took a couple of bottles of my bitter with me for them to try, and they liked them, so I thought I should do a proper analysis of the beer I had called Ring of Gold - fermented with Ringwood Ale Yeast and hopped only with East Kent Goldings.


I am not sure the colour really comes through from that picture, but it was light copper, with almost straw like edges, the picture does though capture the head perfectly, white, thinnish and with plenty of stickability. As I had used EKG for my hopping, the nose was very lightly floral but Mrs Velkyal when asked for her opinion suggested, albeit through a slightly stuffy nose, a light citrusiness. Tastewise, again, being an ordinary bitter, it had touches of toffee and a certain grassiness that I put down to the hops, so not wildly sweet nor a hopbomination. Overall, a perfectly drinkable bitter that wouldn't disappoint if served on a warm summer's day as it was refreshingly clean, though a bit on the thin side.


One beer which did however catch my attention this week was Guinness Extra Stout, a six pack of which I picked up for a 3 way taste test to come soon, but I had a couple of bottles last night anyway. Extra Stout is the one without the nitrogen widget, and what a difference it makes, a light brown head, plenty of roasted goodness on the nose and the taste is just as a stout should be. Thank goodness this still exists, even though brewed in Canada.


This weekend will see lots of bottling and brewing work. Into bottles will go the Samoset Orange Barleywine, to condition for Thanksgiving, and the American Pale Ale which I brewed as part of the International Homebrew Project. Being brewed this weekend is another batch of Gael 80/- and then a dunkelweizen, for which I am yet to settle on a name. So a good weekend is in prospect, and a good weekend I wish you all! 

Slainte!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Just a Reminder

This weekend is a brewing weekend, but not just any brewing weekend. This weekend is the beginning of the Fuggled International Homebrew Project, when those who want to take part will be brewing the American Pale Ale which is the product of all those polls I ran.

For those unaware of this project and interested in taking part, the recipe is here.

Originally I intended everyone to post about their beer on Monday 21st March, however I have decided to make the posting day Friday 25th March, just to make the schedule a touch easier.

On a side note, I bottled LimeLight 2.0 on Sunday. This version of LimeLight is a trial batch for a friend's wedding in April, when I am planning to make sufficient beer to give every adult a bottle. This version is far spicier than the original, and has more of a hoppy bite to it, so I have great hopes for it when I try it after 3 weeks conditioning. If the aroma that burst out of the fermenter is anything to go by though, it will be good.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Recipe Time

The recipe for the American Pale Ale to be brewed by those taking part in the International Homebrew Project is really quite simple. The recipe is formulated for a 5 US gallon batch and is:
  • 9.8lbs 2 Row Pale Malt
  • 1.7lbs Caramel 10
  • 0.6oz Centennial boiled 60 minutes
  • 0.5oz Amarillo boiled 15 minutes
  • 0.5oz Cascade boiled 1 minute
  • Whatever yeast you want
I will be perfectly honest you, I used the "Beer Generator" option at Beertools.com to generate this recipe, and according to the report that was output, the beer should be as follows in terms of IBUs, colour and gravity:
  • OG - 1.058
  • IBU - 37.5
  • SRM - 6.98
  • ABV - 5.5 - 6%
For those doing an extract based recipe, I found a formula for converting from base malt to dry malt extract which multiplies the weight of base malt by 0.6 - which gave a result of 5.9lbs. Those using liquid malt extract, multiply by 0.8, making it necessary to use 7.8lbs of extract.

If, like me, you brew less than 5 gallons at a time, re-scale the recipe as necessary, and I would recommend using the lightest possible extract, hence I will be buying Munton's Extra Light instead of the usual light I use.

The timeline, as I previously suggested, is as follows:
  • Feb 12/13 - brew the beer
  • Feb 26/27 - bottle the beer
  • Mar 19/20 - try the beer
  • Mar 21 - write about the beer
If you are planning to take part, leave a comment here or email me to let me know.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fuggled Review of the Year - Pale Ales

Pale Ales, whether English, American or of the India sort, have formed a large part of my drinking this year and form a nice little juxtaposition to the situation with Pale Lagers - the first 6 months of the year saw the occassional decent Pale Ale, while the second half has been a veritable flood of the stuff. I am sure some will find it too vague to lump together the various pale ale styles into a single grouping, of course not forgetting styles like bitter here, but it works for me (minor aside, does any one else find the BJCP style guides a bit hair splity?).

From a very strong field, the following three beers stood out:

In my final month in Prague I was unemployed, having been made redundant, and was researching for my book, The Pocket Pub Guide to Prague (available very soon). On the days when Mark and I weren't sitting in various drinking holes, taking notes and pictures (which I have been setting in the text and they are fabulous!), you could often find me in Tlusta Koala just round from my flat imbibing this simply wonderful IPA. Seriously hoppy, served perhaps a tad cold but just right for the warm early summer afternoons, it was the refreshment of champions, or at least this champion of Kocour.

Recently I went on a day trip to Northern Virginia's breweries with Dan from
CVille Beer Geek (most of the breweries were disappointing to be blunt), one of the highlights of the trip though was the Kybecca bottle shop in Fredericksburg where they keep a good stock of beer. It was there that I picked up a bottle of Sierra Nevada's gorgeous Torpedo. I am discovering that I like hoppy beers which have a good malty body, Torpedo is almost its perfect expression.

Charlottesville's best bottle shop/pub/nacho place is the magnificent Beer Run (seriously, the nachos are awesome and they have Fuller's Vintage Ale for just $9.99!!!) and it was here that while waiting for Mrs Velkyal to return with her ID and for the friends we were meeting that I decided to have a swift half of the Bell's Two Hearted Ale, and I was blown away, simply a gorgeous beer full of the citrusy flavours you expect from an American made pale ale, but with a subtle spiciness behind it and that sweet maltiness that I love.

Again a difficult decision to make, and for the first time this year a Fuggled award comes across the Atlantic, but only just. The Fuggled Pale Ale of the Year is:

  1. Bell's Two Hearted Ale

One of the best discoveries of the last six months and simply good beer.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tour of Northern VA Breweries

I spent most of Friday on the road touring various breweries in the northern Virginia area, visiting a very good bottle shop, a slew of small breweries and a brewpub with cask ale.

It was the cask ale that caught my imagination. The place in question was Capital City Brewing in Shirlington, one of 3 brewpubs, the other two are in Washington D.C., while the beer was their Pale Rider Ale, an American Pale Ale hopped with Simcoe and Amarillo. Unfortunately I didn't have a camera with me, and I didn't bother with tasting notes, simply put, on cask it was delicious.

Of course in the name of science I tried a bit of the regular keg version alongside the cask, and really there was no comparison. On keg it is a lovely beer, on cask it was simply superb!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Taste of Things To Come

On Saturday night Mrs Velkyal and I went for dinner and beers with some friends of ours, who I took great delight in introducing to the wonderful 11° kvasnicové lager from Pivovarsky dv?r Zvíkov. As our friends had just returned from Virginia they brought back a bottle of local beer for me to try, thus it was I got my hands on some Starr Hill Pale Ale - Starr Hill are soon to be one of my local breweries and I am very much looking forward to getting to grips with their full range.


Anyway, to the beer. It pours a rich copper colour, slightly darker than amber, and the head is white but rather thin and disappeared a bit quickly, although a little remained doggedly until the end of the drink. Being an American Pale Ale (a style of beer thankfully that I am really starting to get into!) the nose was very much full of citrus, with a slight touch of pine resin. Up front this beer is very bitter, although it has a delightfully honeyed undertone which stops it from being the equivalent of sucking lemons. The finish is dry and long, and the beer is very refreshing. In many ways this beer reminded me of my favourite pale ale, Galway Hooker - high praise indeed.


So my first beer from Charlottesville (well ok then, technically Crozet but I believe they started in CVille) has given me great encouragement, and will almost certainly be a staple beer in the fridge as it is full of flavour and yet very easy to drink.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...

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