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:

poop

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.

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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.

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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.

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.