Showing posts with label legend brewing compnay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label legend brewing compnay. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

A Virginian Oktoberfest

This weekend sees the culmination of the ur-beerfest in many people's minds, Oktoberfest. While I have never been to the only Oktoberfest worthy of the name, nor actually do I have any ambition to go - beer festivals being generally not my thing - I do enjoy the Oktoberfest style lagers that are practically de rigueur at this time of the year.

Last year I bought myself a load of examples of the style to do a comparative tasting, only one of which though was from Virginia. Seeing as though our local Wegman's has a reasonable selection of beer, and customers can build their own 6 pack, I did just that, but with only Virginia brewed Oktoberfest lagers this time. The chosen six being:
In the fine tradition of Teutonic efficiency, I will dispense with the waffle and dive on in to my modified Cyclops tasting notes...

Devils Backbone O'Fest
  • Sight - amber, burnt orange, full inch of ivory foam that lingers
  • Smell - bready malts, a touch of hay, spicy hops, traces of cinnamon
  • Taste - bready again, think the crust of a Stollen, muted hop bitterness that fades, clean finish
  • Sweet - 3/5
  • Bitter - 1.5/5
Not a bad start to the tasting for sure, and I have to admit to bashing a fair few pints of this on Wednesday night in DC whilst at the conference. The body is medium to full, with a slightly slick finish that the hop bite just manages to overcome and make this a really easy lager to drink. As ever, Devils Backbone know how to make a good lager.

Blue Mountain 13.Five Oktoberfest
  • Sight - light amber, half inch off white foam, little visible carbonation
  • Smell - subtle breadiness, some floral hops, traces of graininess
  • Taste - sweet malts, not caramelly just sweet, like brown sugar, floral hops
  • Sweet - 3/5
  • Bitter - 1.5/5
Fuller bodied than the Devils Backbone, almost voluptuous. The sweetness flirts with the idea of being cloying but the hops bring it back into focus. As it warms though is starts to get a bit flabby around the edges, but still a fine beer.

Legend Oktoberfest
  • Sight - deep amber, light red highlights, thin off white head
  • Smell - cocoa, milk chocolate, toasty notes
  • Taste - toasty, cocoa, nutty, like nutella.
  • Sweet - 2/5
  • Bitter - 1/5
Not a particularly interesting beer to be honest. The cocoa/chocolate thing was really distracting, and the body was lacking, even veering toward an unpleasant thinness. Lurking in the background was an ickiness that I found really difficult to ignore. Blah.

Brothers Fest Bier
  • Sight - dark golden, light orange, inch of off white head
  • Smell - grassy hop aroma, suggesting Saaz or Tettnang, some light toast
  • Taste - juicy malt sweetness, brown sugar, herbal hop bite
  • Sweet - 3/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
Again a medium bodied beer, though with a slick mouthfeel that the clean finish just about managed to scrape away. Not one that I would hunt out but decent enough in a pinch.

Smartmouth The Princess
  • Sight - light amber, thin white head
  • Smell - sweet Munichy malts, floral hops, touch of lemongrass, slight hint of corn
  • Taste - well done toast, dulce de leche, floral hop bite
  • Sweet - 2.5/5
  • Bitter - 1.5/5
Medium bodied with a noticeably slick finish, really lacking a good hefty hop bite and clean lager finish to improve the drinkability, an odd vegetal note became more prominent as it warmed. Nope, not doing that again.

Port City Oktoberfest
  • Sight - amber, light orange, half inch off white head that dissipates quickly
  • Smell - light toast, floral hops, brown sugar
  • Taste - biscuity, touch of crackers, subtle honey
  • Sweet - 3/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
And a good beer to round out the selection. Rich rather than sweet and thankfully with a nice clean lagery finish that refreshes the palette. In the background were some nice subtle orange flavours going on that added to the complexity of a very nice beer. Yay for Port City!

The aim of this tasting was not to rank the beers, but I have to admit that I would only actively chose 3 of the 6 to drink again, the Devils Backbone, Blue Mountain, and Port City ones. So as Oktoberfest proper winds down this weekend, grab a six pack of one of them, a packet of proper German bratwurst, a tub of Dusseldorf mustard and go to town...prost!

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Lingering Lager Longing

I am sure I have mentioned this before, I have been on something of a lager kick of late. I am sure this is, in part, a consequence of my continuing mission to discover well made Pilsners in America, but also partly because I just fancy nice, clean, crisp beer at the moment.

As I have no doubt mentioned, ad nauseum, my favourite beer at the moment is Devils Backbone's beautiful Vienna lager, another growler of which was happily imbibed with abandon on Saturday night. On Saturday afternoon, Mrs V and I met with Eric from Relentless Thirst and his good lady other half, for a few pints and lunch at the Legend Brewing Company in Richmond. We were in Richmond as Mrs V had spent the morning winning a gold medal at a rowing regatta and needed liquid refreshment in the afternoon. Legend have a few lagers in their range, including a decent enough Pilsner, though at 6% abv it is significantly more potent than regular pilsners. On Saturday though, I was sticking to their run of the mill lager, called in a fit of creative mania, Legend Lager, which is clean, tasty and refreshing - just what you need sat on the deck in blazing sun.

I mentioned in passing last week that I had discovered the perfect pub, in Greenville, and part of its appeal was the Coney Island Mermaid Pilsner. I had never bothered with any of their beers before, for no particular reason, but again my lager kick was being demanding. It was only later on, as in a couple of days later on, that I learnt that it is in fact a rye pilsner, and hopped with a raft of American hops that almost make me feel bad about enjoying it so much. Needless to say, I will be buying some bottles from Beer Run at some point so I can do a more thorough analysis (that's my new title for getting shedded in the comfort of my armchair "More Thorough Analysis"). Again, the thing that kept me coming back for another pint was it's crisp easy drinkability.

A somewhat surprising addition to the "lagers I rather like" has been Sam Adams Light, a beer that I thought was pretty crap when I first arrived on these shores, perhaps as a result of being a fan of their Boston Lager and post-Czech life lager expectations. Sam Adams Light is one of the selections in the summer variety pack and being loathe to let beer go to waste, unless absolutely necessary, I popped open both bottles while bottling my Virginian Best Bitter (gravity fell a bit short for an APA, so I invented a new style). Again something easy to knock back that doesn't taste like gnat's piss when it gets slightly above 0 degrees Kelvin - I can see me buying a case of it for beachside drinking when I head to Florida for a week next month.

It is plain to see that I like my lagers, as any beer lover should, long may it linger.

Monday, April 18, 2011

In Praise of Growlers

I still remember the first growler I ever saw, perched atop one of the fridges at PK in Prague, a mammoth bottle sporting a swing top, capable of holding 2 litres of beer and with Svijany branding on the side. Given that pubs serving my favourite beers were but a few steps from my front door, I never bothered with a growler, though I often saw people in PK filling PET bottles with beer to take home. Only once do I recall someone coming in with a d?bán - basically a traditional ceramic jug used for taking beer home from the pub for dinner, the kind of task in more civilised times you would send the kids to do.

On moving to the States, I got a job working in the tasting room at the Starr Hill brewery, where you can still find me one day a month behind the bar, talking a lot and being asked where in Australia, South Africa (?!) or even Canada I am from. Seriously, nobody ever seems to get that I am British, I know my accent is all over the place but even just ten minutes listening to the World Service will put you on the right island. Admittedly my habit of muttering to myself in Czech may be a bit off putting. Anyway, we sell a lot of growlers, and we fill even more.

I now have three growlers, the Blue Mountain Brewery one in the pictures, and a couple of Starr Hill ones, which have a metal handle that makes them a little easier to carry that the one above, but it is the beer inside that is important. One Friday afternoon, my good friend Mark Stewart (seriously talented photographer and all round top bloke, soon to be moving to London, but here for a while yet) and I met up and drove out to Devils Backbone en route to going to his place for dinner. Mrs Velkyal had been at a quilting workshop close to Mark and his wife's place, so we decided to have a get together. Having two growlers to fill gave us a window of opportunity to sit at the bar and enjoy a few pints, and a chat with Jason about many things beer, including an upcoming brew we'll be doing - but more about that at the right time.

I filled up with Devils Backbone's Maibock, which is a deliciously smooth beer with something of a booze kick that creeps up on your from behind and smacks you across the head, I liked it. I also got a fill of my current "go to" beer, the Vienna Lager (another minor aside, I am researching the similarities and differences between Vienna Lager and Czech polotmavé pivo), which I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday afternoon.

Perhaps I am something of a stickler, but whenever I finish a growler, I make sure that I rinse it. Every once in a while I will give them a thorough cleaning - fill with hot water, add a teaspoon of Oxyclean and leave overnight, the next morning, rinse with hot water 6 or 7 times as Oxyclean leaves a slight film on the glass, once clean it gets closed and stored in the cellar until needed. Before I fill them again though, I will use my non-rinse One Step cleanser just to make sure - like I say, I am a stickler. There have been times though at the tasting room when people present you with a growler caked in all manner of crap and you just shudder at the thought of putting beer in it, and I don't mean the kind of crap a quick rinse sorts out.

I love having growlers, though they will never replace going to the pub for a few pints. A word to the wise though, it is never a good idea to drink 2 litres of Legend's 15.6% abv barleywine from a growler on a week night. Trust me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

As Things Should Be

If you are a regular follower of this website then you will of course know that Mrs Velkyal and I got out of town this weekend and headed up the I-64 to Williamsburg, oh and thank you for being a regular reader, it is much appreciated. We had in mind a few things to do over the weekend, admittedly mostly beer related though not exclusively. I am fairly sure that you are not here for the delights of Colonial Williamsburg, and delightful it is, but rather for the beer stuff, so to the beer stuff we go. Also if you read this site often, you will know that I planned to mark the 5th anniversary of meeting Mrs Velkyal with a bottle of J.W. Lees 2005 Harvest Ale, here's a picture, it was very nice!

The first order of business over the weekend was a trip to Williamsburg Alewerks, a brewery that could very easily become a favourite of mine. At the Connoisseur session of the River Bend Beer Festival last month, I tried their Cafe Royale, a barrel aged imperial stout aged that is obscenely smooth and drinkable for such a potent brew, so I knew I wanted to get down to the brewery do a tasting, pick up some more beer and perhaps get some merchandise.

Down a winding lane in an industrial estate, the brewery has a shop right next door and it has to have been one of the best tasting/merchandising setups I have seen in a brewery. Everything was nicely laid out and it felt clean and welcoming. We did our tasting, including their porter from a wooden cask, though not primed I believe as it was flat, but it made an interesting counterpoint to their standard porter, with which I filled one of my growlers. I also bought a boxed set of their Brewmaster Reserve series, which includes the aforementioned Cafe Royale, an American Barleywine and a Farmhouse Ale.

As I have written about before, I have a soft spot for glassware. That doesn't necessarily mean that I am convinced by the whole glass shapes for certain beers thing, but I like to have branded glassware floating about. The hand-blown goblet I got on Saturday then has instantly become one of my favourites, not quite in the same league as my Lovibonds glasses, but still, very, very nice. I am sure you'll see it around on Fuggled when I post tasting notes, but you can also see the type of glass here.

While at the Alewerks, we were talking with the girls in the shop about a pub that had been recommended independently to both Mrs Velkyal and myself, a place called Green Leafe. Having been assured that it was worth going to, we went to. One quick aside, parking in Williamsburg can be a pain in the backside at times, especially when you don't look a little bit into the distance and so circle the parking garage a couple of times before realising that's what it was.

Green Leafe is quite simply a pub, as a pub should be. Not too bright, bare wooden floor and an atmosphere suggesting that serious drinking gets done in this place, oh and they had a hand pump! Unfortunately though they had nothing on cask on Saturday, but they had some very good beers including the 10.10.10 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing. The only bum note beer wise was having Old Speckled Hen from a nitro tap. We ended up sat at the bar for a few hours, chatting with the excellent bar staff and enjoying some of the best fish and chips I have had in a very long time, and discovering the joys of soft pretzels with mustard just in case the fish and chips hadn't quite only filled my left leg. In the world of Mrs Velkyal and I, we can only give Green Leafe the highest praise possible, if we lived in Williamsburg, it would be our local.

All in all then we had a good weekend, with plenty of good beer, decent food and walking for hours on end with our dog, rounded off with a stop in Richmond for lunch at Legend Brewery with Eric of Relentless Thirst fame.

Is it possible to have a better weekend?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Something Soft

I spent much of Monday morning driving around from specialist shop to specialist shop looking for key ingredients for mincemeat, which Mrs Velkyal is making for the first time this year. The things we needed at that point were ground rump steak, currants and mixed peel. The ground steak was easy in the end, I just went to our local supermarket and asked if they could grind some for me, and they were more than happy to do so.

The currants were a bit of a nightmare because Americans don't call them just "currants" like we do in the UK, instead they called them "Zante Currants". Having not found them at Whole Foods, although I did find something rather nice there - more of which in a bit, I came home and decided instead of driving around town I would call the other specialist shops to see if they had the stuff I was looking for. Several calls later and I was on the road to Foods of All Nations to pick up the currants and mixed peel, and having been in there before I decided to see if Fentimen's soft drinks were as good as Dave from the Woolpack Inn in Cumbria says they are. Therefore, I picked up a mini-bottle, 125ml, of the Curiosity Cola and Ginger Beer.

For those not in the know, drink are "Botanically Brewed" and use natural ingredients, I was very happy to find them here in CVille, though I believed they are made under licence in Canada.

There really is only one thing I can say about the Curiosity Cola, if this is what cola drinks originally tasted like then I can understand entirely how it became the world's most popular soft drink style. This stuff really is delightful, refreshing and not cloyingly sweet and the ginger zing in the background just rounds it off perfectly.

I have always liked Ginger Beer in general, particularly the Marks and Spencer ones, but this one was just a revelation. It probably sounds ridiculous to say it was full of ginger, but it was massively zingy and tangy and just simply oh so good! I can safely say that these soft drinks will be making regular appearances in my fridge, and my brain is wondering what mixed drinks I could make with them, especially given the choice of funky little bottles (they do have big ones as well) - perhaps Ginger Beer and brandy? Curiosity Cola and Jameson?

Skipping back a little bit to Whole Foods, I picked up a bottle of Legend Pilsner from the Legend Brewing Company in Richmond - a brewery I have heard much about from my good friend Mark. Regular readers will know that pilsner in this country has so far left me disappointed, but this one was quite good, nice and malty body with a good hoppiness you would expect from a nice Czech pilsner, though a bit strong at 6%abv, probably the equivalent of a 14˚ lager back in the Czech Republic. Whilst not up there with my favourite Czech lager, not bad at all, and in my Chodovar glass it certainly looks the part!

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...