Candy Crush, DC Beer Week, and Port City Maniacal Double IPA

Next up, Port City Brewing’s Maniacal Double IPA:


Apologies for my recent absence. I blame Candy Crush. I downloaded it for daughter 1.0 to play, but fell victim to its sick, sweet charms. I’m just like little whacked-out Tiffi following Mr. Toffee’s dubious charges and his trail of candy, which no doubt leads to a creepy, windowless van.

candy crush

Screw you right in the monocle, candy man!

Of course, like any astute crack dealer, Mr. Toffee knows he’s got you hooked.  When you run out of lives, your only option is to wait 10-20 minutes, pay for more lives, or reveal your problem to Facebook. Or, if you’re like me, you have descended so far down the deep, dark, spiraling Candy Crush hole, that you shamefully moved the date forward in the settings on your iPad to trick Mr. Toffee into thinking you patiently waited for more lives. And as you smugly admire your self-mastery, looking down your nose at the addicts who fork over money or plead to Facebook, you are missing important dates and family obligations because your iPad thinks it’s 3 days ahead of time. Then when you do remember to reset the date, Mr. Toffee cruelly reminds you just how sick you’ve become.

photo (2)

3748 more minutes of self-loathing.

Maniacal pours a beautiful golden-orange with a classic, fluffy white IPA head that presents more lace than a 16th century assisted living facility. The nose brings bright grapefruit, rich citrus, pine, and a little malt. The CTZ, Chinook, and Simcoe hops bring some seriously rich hop flavor – citrus, resin, pot, passion fruit, and peach – with a sweet malt backbone. It is a sweet IPA up front, but not overly so. And often IPAs with Chinook hops can be brutally bitter, but the finish on Maniacal isn’t at all brutal…in fact, it’s a pretty clean and pleasant bitterness. It has a slightly creamy feel, which I like in my double IPAs, but it avoids being excessively big. It’s a very nice IIPA.

I had Maniacal earlier this year. I very classily took some to the playground in the stroller’s drink holder. Fortunately, as part of DC Beer Week, Port City is trotting it back out at the brewery. As a bonus, Port City will be open all week, with a different event each night. Go get you some.

The Haybag: Ohhh, well look who put down Candy Crush long enough to write a post. How about you be a dear and go grab some Maniacal, too, while you’re at it?


Beerbecue Daycare: Day 2 – ¡Derecho!

Day 2 of Beerbecue Daycare found the Haybag at home teleworking. And the day started unceremoniously, as 2.0 awoke and loudly announced the results of her overnight diaper stress-test. Her insistent babbling translated to something like: Wakey, wakey, suckers. This piss-brick ain’t gonna change itself.

I didn’t break away for a beer until afternoon, but this gave me a chance to eat lunch with the Haybag. During lunch, 2.0 appeared to be working on a serious deuce. I didn’t think she had consummated the deal, though. And afterwards, the Haybag plucked 2.0 out of her chair and offered to go change her before getting back to work (presumably thinking it was just a wet D). Good thing for me. The Haybag ended-up changing the baby work-product that resulted from this face:


We now call this the “20 wipe face”.

Hey, I don’t make the rules. You find it, you clean it. It’s the beerbecue daycare jungle, dude.

Clean baby in hand, 2.0 and I headed to Rustico for a Port City Derecho Common. Port City is a local brewery that I am proud to pimp. Their beers are all dependable and some are quite good. Derecho came about last year after a freak derecho storm rolled through the area knocking everyone’s power out. Actually, our neighborhood didn’t go out. Everyone around us did. Oh well…don’t hate the playa. Hate the grid.

Port City had it especially bad, though. Their power ended up being out for 5 days, it was hotter outside than two bears in a treehouse, and they had 60-barrel tank of Downright Pilsner that would have preferred to ferment at 50 degrees. They eventually tracked down a big-ass generator, but not before the $20,000 worth of Downright Pilsner was not really Downright Pilsnery anymore.

Undeterred, they released it as a California Common (one could call it a Steam Beer if they wanted an IP bitch-slap from Anchor Brewing). California Common is a lager, like Downright, but it is fermented at higher temps…which, is what they did in California in the mid- to late- 1800s if they didn’t have refrigeration to get knocked out.

Oddly enough, the other day when Port City had a Derecho Common release party to commemorate the power going out a year ago, there was a big storm and the power went out. Luckily, it was back on by the next morning.


Derecho pours an unfiltered-looking pale gold with a delicate, but persistent, white head. The smell doesn’t bring the same bag-of-Noble-hops aroma as Downright, perhaps a little more Pilsnery malt and lager yeast character. The hop character isn’t absent from the taste, though. It has a pleasant bitter and spicy finish that builds as you work your way to the bottom of the glass (I would even say moreso than Downright). It’s a nice, crisp, and drinkable beer, but not one that you forget you’re drinking. And at 4.8 percent, it’s fine to pound a second one when you get your kid to take a bar nap.

The Haybag: I don’t buy that you didn’t smell that nasty D. And C totally smelled like a bar when you brought her home. Beerbecue Daycare is sketchy.

The Six-Pack Project: VA and DC

6pack logoWelcome to the Six-Pack Project, the brainchild of the hardest-working, unpaid beer blogger in the business: Bryan at thisiswhyimdrunk.

The Six-Pack Project is a new, collaborative effort between beer bloggers from around the country. Each blogger highlights a hypothetical six-pack from their State that best represents the State’s beer culture. If someone is coming to visit, what bottles or cans would we share? Or since I am woefully self-centered: If I came to visit, what beers would I share with me. The rules are, to-wit:

  • Pick a six-pack of beers that best represents your State or State’s beer culture.
  • Beer must be made in your State, including any “gypsy” brewed beers.
  • Any size bottle or can is acceptable.
  • Current seasonal offerings are fine, but try to keep selections to year-round brews as much as possible. Out-of-season beers are highly frowned-upon.

I live in Northern Virginia, several miles from DC. Thus, I have shrewdly negotiated my jurisdiction to include the District. I will lay claim to the rest of Virginia, too, and leave the Maryland parts of the DC Metro-area to some lucky Marylander in a future Six Pack Project edition.

The area’s beer production has improved significantly since the Haybag and I arrived in ’05. However, of the three NOVA/DC breweries that regularly sell bottles and cans, Alexandria’s Port City is the grizzled veteran. They first sent bottles out the door waaay back in February 3, 2011*. A handful of the many Virginia breweries outside of NOVA distribute some of their beers up here, but not nearly enough. With that in mind, here goes.

OTWOADC Brau On the Wings of Armageddon (DC) – This single hop Falconer’s Flight IIPA was brewed in honor of the end of the world (December 21, 2012). Then, after everyone realized the Chief Mayan Calendar-Maker was just a dick with a sick sense of humor, DC Brau made a new Baktun resolution to brew and can more OTWOA, as the kids like to call it. A total dank beast with citrus, tropical fruits, a doughy malt backbone, and a building bitterness. I would liken it to Fat Head’s Head Hunter, but a little more tropical and with more control.

LOCAL FLAVOR: Indicative of the largesse and excesses of Washington.

el hefeDC Brau El Hefe Speaks (DC) – American brewers have issues with Hefes. In fact, one would think that the difficulty level of making a good one falls somewhere between solving a Rubik’s Cube and licking your own elbow (you’re totally trying it right now…it’s OK, I’ll wait). They’re either too plain, too bitter, too clovey, or they’ve got some sort of sour aftertaste going on. Not El Hefe. Bananas, light clove, wheat, a little bubble gum, and a clean finish. Now if we can only find a good American brand of spatzle, we won’t need the Germans for anything anymore…amiright?

LOCAL FLAVOR: Washington solving America’s problems.

port cityPort City Porter (VA) – I sing this beer’s praises to anyone who cares to listen..and probably a few who don’t. It’s not too sweet, not too dry. And it’s subtle, with chocolate, light notes of coffee, cream, malt balls, and a light kiss of hops and roast bitterness. When you start drinking it you’re all like, this is solid like in a girl next door sort of way. But pay attention, cause by the end it builds and you’re all like this porter brings all the boys to the yard. Damn right. It could teach you, but it’d have to charge.

LOCAL FLAVOR: I don’t know, but don’t you ever say nothin’ bad about Port City Porter.

pretty in pinkBluejacket and Lost Rhino Pretty in Pink (DC and VA) – This is more locally symbolic than the rest. It’s a collaboration between Rachel Cardwell, a brewer at Hardywook Park (an exciting Richmond brewery that will hopefully be getting up to NOVA soon); Megan Parisi, head brewer of the soon-to-open Bluejacket brewery in DC (they’ll have a modest 5,000 bbl annual capacity, but 19 freaking fermentation vessels, including open fermentation tanks and a coolship); Kristi Mathews Griner, brewmaster for the Leesburg brewpub Vintage 50; and Becky Jordan, the executive chef at Lost Rhino Brewing (the brewery in Ashburn where they brewed it…a brewery with significant connections to Dominion, which got snapped-up and whisked away by Fordham around the height of the area brewing’s John-the-Baptist-fasting-in-the-desert period). It looks like nuclear pink grapefruit juice. Smells like tropical fruit, flowers, with some slight peppery spice. Tastes like pomegranate, grapefruit, pineapple, and hibiscus. Very floral, dry with slight fruity sweetness peeking through, and lightly tart.

LOCAL FLAVOR: Empowered women and the past, present, and future of DC-area brewing.

dark hollowDark Hollow Chocolate and Coffee BBA Imperial Stout (VA) – This is from Blue Mountain  Brewery’s Barrel House, where they brew their higher-end beers that require barrels or a little extra love. I find the regular Dark Hollow decent, but it has a slight vegetal thing going on. This one is straight up balla’, though…well at least for the $12 price tag and relative availability. Big coffee and chocolate dominate, while the bourbon complements. Grab one of these with ease while the hype-whores stalk the delivery truck and the mailing list for a shot at your bottle store’s 12-bottle KBS allotment.

LOCAL FLAVOR: Whiskey and beer meet, legally, in the Blue Ridge Mountains…just under two hours from the moonshine capital of the world.

downrightPort City Downright Pilsner (VA) – Summer is on the way. And when it’s hotter outside than two squirrels making love in a wool sock, it’s not like you’re going to come in from mowing the lawn and ask for an barrel-aged baller. I’m grabbing a Downright. Now, I’ll let the style Nazis decide whether this is a Czech Pilsner or a German Pilsner. They can hash-out SRM 5 vs. 6, while I polish off my first refreshing beverage and tie into some more spicy Saaz hops and hefty but clean bitterness. I don’t usually get too tweaked over pilsner, but this is a good one to have on hand for the Summer months.

LOCAL FLAVOR: DC is a freaking swamp, people. Literally. It gets hotter than a pair of sweatpants full of BBQ.

The Haybag: I still think you should have thrown in a Dogfish Head. This area made DFH. If it weren’t for this area, Sam would still be vibrating hops into his 60 minute with one of those electric vibrating football table-top games.

You can check out the other Six Pack Project posts for this round as follows:

*DC Brau apparently started in 2009, but didn’t produce any cans until Spring 2011. Also worth noting, six more breweries in NOVA are supposed to be popping-up in the next year.

August/September Madness?! NCAA Beer Brackets finally completed

Finally: The completion to NCAA Beer Madness from back in March. I’m sure everyone was waiting with baited breath. In any case, this clearly illustrates why I’m not fit to be in charge of anything.

Dangermenparenting hunted down the finalist beers and brought them over one evening after our daughters spent the afternoon terrorizing the neighborhood pool. So much time had passed from the first round of the tournament that, due to beer emergency, or mere thirst, all of the original beers had long been consumed.  So, without further adieu, we have:

Port City Porter vs. Uinta Hop Notch
Port City Porter got here by trouncing Abita Save Our Shores Pilsner in the first round. And Uinta Hop Notch had an easy first round draw against one of my only Lagunitas disappointments: Cappuccino Stout.

Port City Porter is not too sweet, not too dry. And it’s subtle, with chocolate, light notes of coffee, cream, and a light kiss of hops. One of my favorite porters. It flops its big hairy toe into the Stout category in some ways, but I don’t think enough so to book it (if I were the type of style-Nazi who was so inclined to do so).

I have given Uinta Hop Notch chance-after-chance. Each time I am cautiously optimistic from the tropical hop aroma. Then I taste it and it’s a little creamy, which I like in IPAs, but the hop flavor has never fully delivered for me.

Beerbecue: Port City 60, Uinta Hop Notch 40.
Dangermenparenting: Port City 60, Uinta Hop Notch 40.

Southern Tier 2X Stout vs. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald
Southern Tier came out of the first round with a surprise victory against Nugget Nectar. This still has me bitter. And Edmund Fitzgerald soundly defeated Sixpoint Bengali Tiger.

The 2X Stout smells like double chocolate milk. It’s sweet, but not nearly as sweet as the nose lets on. Chocolate with a little coffee come out to play. There’s some roasty, smoky business up in there, and some nice hop character, too. It’s surprisingly complex.

I don’t get as jacked-up about Edmund Fitzgerald as some (namely people from Ohio). I think it’s a good, drinkable porter.

Now, I clearly prefer the 2X Stout (especially for breakfast), but I am not going to beer bong it or haul off and drain a couple on a hot day. Edmund Fitzgerald might be better suited to those purposes. But since I’m too old for beer bonging anymore…

Beerbecue: Southern Tier 51, Great Lakes 49.
Dangermenparenting: Southern Tier 53, Great Lakes 47.

FINAL: Port City Porter vs. Southern Tier 2X Stout

Beerbecue: Port City 55, Southern Tier 45.
Dangermenparenting: Port City 51, Southern Tier 49.

Blatant homerism, people. Plus, I have said it a million times: Port City Porter is better than a Benihana chef on the SP-12.

And in the consolation match for third place, Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald took out Uinta Hop Notch, by a wide margin. Although this mismatch demonstrated the weakness in our scoring system (percentage of time you would get one vs. the other). Although, unless you only matchup like styles in a shootout like this, you are going to run into this problem.

Maybe we’ll try this again next year. And we’ll shoot to finish before August/September.

You can see dangermenparenting’s March Madness finale post here.

Port City Revival Stout: The Walrus and the Carpenter

Next up, a review of Port City’s Revival Stout (made with oysters), set to “The Walrus and the Carpenter”.

Port City and War Shore Oyster Co.
Were walking close at hand.
“Let’s make an oyster stout,” they said,
Gazing ‘cross the sand.
Now we must go to find some oysters.
Surely this will be grand.

Like the Walrus and the Carpenter
They led valves to the wort.
Neatly queued in a tidy line
The mollusks did assert,
“Just cause we don’t have any nerves,
Don’t mean that we’re not hurt.”


Dark as night with a dense, tan head,
Two fingers at the most.
Choc’late ‘n coffee in my nose
But notably the roast.
Tastes the same with a min’ral twang,
Guess that’s an oyster’s ghost.

The finish: Dry, slight bitterness.
Guess that’s an oyster tear.
Though, perhaps it’s the roasted malt
And hops used in this beer.
Last, at 5 point 5 percent,
Your noodle will stay clear.

Port City and War Shore Co. proclaimed,
“Oysters come join the fun.”
“You need to try this tasty beer.”
But answer came there none–
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d guzzled every one.

Haybag: I don’t know this to be
A new high or new low.
Beer reviews in verse it seems…
Oh, screw it. I don’t know.
Try this drinkable, tasty brew.
Leave poems to Thoreau.

NCAA First Round Beer Madness

I am blowing off work today to eat BBQ, drink beer, and watch the first round of the NCAA Tournament with dangermenparenting. He, quite nobly, actually worked a half-day. But, at the Haybag’s request, I steam-cleaned our rugs. That’s what I call banking some marital equity; and that means dangermenparenting is starting out underwater, and I’m starting off with some equity to burn.

I updated this post periodically through the day, uncut and uncensored. You can read Tony’s at dangermenparenting here.

1:15: We met up at Pork Barrel BBQ in Del Ray. I was late because of a motorcade…or the cop was just being a dick and not letting me on 395. The BBQ was OK. Had pulled pork and brisket. Even at the edges, the crust and smoke ring were only mildly tasty. Overall pretty dull tasting. The sauce is tasty, though. And the sides pretty dang good. Nowhere near my favorite South Carolina place, and my BBQ is way better; but these guys have to crank out some serious amounts of meat. So I can understand. Had a Miller High Life. Don’t judge.

1:30: Scoring system is set. Since we are going to have mismatches, the standard is: What percentage of time would you have Beer A vs. Beer B?

2:15:  The brackets are set:
EAST: Tröegs Nugget Nectar vs. Southern Tier 2 X Stout.

SOUTH: Port City Porter vs. Abita Save Our Shores Pilsner

WEST: UINTA Hop Notch IPA vs. Lagunitas Cappucino Stout

NORTH: Sixpoint Bengali Tiger vs. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald

You might find these match-ups odd. We didn’t coordinate ahead of time ( only that we needed one from each region). This is what would happen in the first round if i was involved with setting the NCAA Tournament brackets: Montana vs. Long Beach State, Kentucky v UNC, and ND playing an intrasquad scrimmage (which I have a feeling is the only way my Irish would get to the second round).

2:30: East:

Nugget Nectar- It should be clear by now how I feel about Nugget Nectar. It’s awesome (despite the whole communist mind-control thing it’s got going on).

2XStout – It’s as dark as blaxpoitation flick, but not super oily. It smells like double chocolate milk. Not nearly as sweet as I thought it would be. In the taste, chocolate is there, but a surprising amount of coffee comes out to play. I am picking up some smokey chicory thing, too, and some nice hop character, too. I was expecting this to be a blowout, but I am going to have a tough time scoring this one.

Scores: Tröegs 52, Southern Tier 48, in OT. Tony had Southern Tier winning 57-43. Average has Southern Tier winning 52.5 – 47.5. Sorry Troegs…I still heart you. Perhaps it was that I had not had a good stout in awhile. I felt like Troegs could have gone deep but for its first round draw, and Tony being wrong. 🙂

2:53: South Matchup:

Abita donates 75 cents on every bottle to help save the environment. Hippies. 5 point deduction. Pours about like a mid-morning piss (you’ve had your coffee already, but not enough H2O), with way more head than a piss should have, regardless of the time of day. Tastes way better than I thought it would (not shocking, considering my first impression). It is fairly sweet for a pilsner. You can taste some floral and spicey hops, and it has a heftier mouthfeel than your usual pilsner. Had I bought this to purchase on a 102F day, I would be a little pissed because it isn’t exactly the most refreshing pilsner I have ever had.

Port City – My thoughts on Port City’s Porter are well-documented. It rocks. Not too sweet, not too dry. Subtle. Chocolate, light notes of coffee, creamy, and a light kiss of hops. One of my favorite porters.

Score: Port City Porter 75, Abita Pilsner 25. After Abita’s 5 point hippie deduction: Port City 80, Abita 20. Tony had Port City winning 78-22. Average: 79-21

3:18: West matchup:

Uinta Hop Notch IPA – I expected great things from this. I had heard someone call this the Pliny killer (Pliny the Elder), which seemed little dubious. This is very smooth, somewhat creamy. I think I am picking up citrus and some tropical fruits, and a slightly piney bitter finish. It is a solid IPA, but it is no hop-lover’s delight.

Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout – Pours much lighter than I thought it would. It’s almost like a dark Brown Ale, with red highlights. It smells nice: a pleasant coffee, with hints of chocolate. Tastes sweet and bitter with a funny sour aftertaste. I can’t tell if the bitterness is from the hops (about 30 IBUs) or the coffee. I think it must be the coffee. This is my least favorite Lagunitas beer (and Lagunitas is one of my favorite breweries). I am having a hard time figuring out when I would get this again. Perhaps if I found myself north of the Arctic Circle, delirious, unsure whether it was 9pm or 8am, all I had was beer, and I needed a little pick-me-up combined with a little coping mechanism for being north of the Arctic Circle. It could happen…

Score: Uinta 90, Lagunitas10. Lagunitas gets +10 for being one of my favorite breweries. 80-20. Tony had Uinta winning 66-34. Average had Uinta winning 78-22. I think Tony is an Anti-IPA-ite.

3:49: North Matchup:

Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter: This is new to the DC-area. I have heard great things about this beer, particularly from Ohio-based beer blogger behindthebrews. It’s dark, dark, dark brown, with amber highlights. Sturdy 1-inch head. Light coffee and bittersweet chocolate smell. Same with the taste, with maybe an addition of toasted malt and smokiness. This is an extremely drinkable porter. It doesn’t blow me away, but it is tasty and I could throw down many.

Six Point: Dull gold. Nice-looking, rocky-type IPA head. Looks pretty. Don’t smell much…some distant hops in the nose. The can claims: citrus, pine, and resin. I taste grassiness up front and citrusy-pine in the finish. It has a bitter aftertaste that isn’t worth the flavor down-payment. Therefore, this beer does not make it through my underwriting department. This is my second Six Point, and I was disappointed in both. I have seen a bit of hype around Six Point. Meh.

Score: Great Lakes 55, Six Point 45. Tony wants even numbers now, so I gave Great Lakes +1 point because they are from Cleveland, and they have a beer named after the time the Cuyahoga River caught on fire. So, 56-44. Tony had Great Lakes winning 86-14. Great Lakes won the average: 71-29

4:30: I haven’t paid much attention to the basketball thus far. I know Montana is getting their asses handed to them, and Syracuse is about to bust everyone’s bracket. I do know that the tournament would be better if they got to pick special tournament names, ND bookstore basketball tournament style…with no censors. Then the world would not be deprived of glorious names such as: Kentucky Harry Ballsagna, UNC Hung Dong Millionaires, Marquette Sofa King Awesome, UNLV How I Met Your Mother, Gonzaga Would You Please Stop the Bus and Let My Brother Jack Off.

Check back for the semi-final match-ups: Uinta vs Port City and Great Lakes vs Southern Tier.

Beer Review: Port City Oktoberfest

After alienating Germans in my previous post, I should probably make up and review one of their beers…or at least a take on one of their beer styles: Port City Oktoberfest. We grabbed a growler of it from Port City in Alexandria this weekend.

I am not as familiar with German beers and Oktoberfest as one with the last name Probst should be.  But I think Oktoberfest originated in 1810 from some Bavarian prince’s wedding party, which was so f-ing epic that they have celebrated it annually for the past 200 years.  And apparently it only gets cancelled when Germany has a massive cholera outbreak or when Germans are trying to conquer the world…which works out to like 12 percent of the time.  Seriously, I did the math.

Prince Ludwig I: the Keith Moon of early 19th Century Bavaria.

From what I know about Oktoberfest style beers, it seems that long ago the Germans, by law, weren’t allowed to brew during the summer…something about an increased risk of fire (I guess from all the book burnings) and spoilage. So, they would brew an arsch-load of beer in March (Marz, hence Marzen style beers) so they could store it in caves using the ice that would have otherwise melted by April (April, hence…April).

They apparently drank the beer over the summer, then during Oktoberfest polished off the remainder before brewing season started back up (apparently enough was left for Oktoberfest to make lederhosen seem like a good idea).

Beer #19. Nope, still a bad idea.

And this is all a testament to the orderliness and law-abiding nature of Germans.  Because when you tell Americans not to make booze, you get this:

Where's that cute fella with them long socks?

Taste: Port City’s Oktoberfest makes you want to nostalgically run and jump in a pile of dry, freshly-raked leaves (this is my first requirement for an Oktoberfest/Marzen beer). This beer pours amber in color, pretty clear, and with an impressive white head. If you stick your beak up close and take a huff, you can take in its pleasant and mild malty smell. As for the taste, it has an excellent malt character with an ever-so-slightly flirtatious sweetness.  The finish is crisp and clean. I could drink it all day.  All the hallmarks of a good Oktoberfest beer.  Go pick up a growler before they run out.

Why one may not like it: You don’t like beer.

Next time: We drink lederhosen.