Surprisingly I was not aware of this but it is National Beer Day! Congratulations to you all! Yesterday was also National IPA Day. Or was it International? I can’t remember. As I write this I am attempting to wade through the mountains of paperwork to finalize my loan from the Small Business Administration. We are also working on closing the lease for the location and will hopefully begin construction soon! I imagine as I get more time I will make some more changes to the website. If you haven’t done so, follow our Facebook Page. I update that far more frequently between scrambling around.
First Day of Fall
Today was what I call the first official day of fall. Yes, I know it is 900 degrees out but today was the first day that I saw Sam Adams Octoberfest in stores. This means that football is right around the corner and maybe, just maybe, it won’t be so miserable outside. What better way to celebrate National Beer Day than to pick up a new seasonal beer! Hopefully, I will have the store up and running during the football season and you can stop in for the latest seasonal offerings. Maybe by the time the winter beers start rolling out!
I have been woefully behind in updating you on beer events. This is partly because it has been in the 90’s for so long I never want to go outside again. That being said, one of the biggest beer events in the area is just around the corner. Snallygaster is a gigantic beer fest that I didn’t get to go to last year because it was when I first got my pup. I plan on going this year and I look forward to seeing some of you there. The All-American Beer Fest is this weekend (August 3) but I will not be able to make it this time. We’ve also got the Fairfax County Brewfest coming up in September. I went last year at Mustang Sally’s and it was a really good time! Well I think that is about it from me. Time to go enjoy National Beer Day!
Beer labels have become what album cover used to be, works of art. If you don’t know what an album is, Google it. Growing up, one of the most memorable albums covers was the cover of Molly Hatchet’s self-titled album. In the awesome looking cover you’ve got a dark Viking-looking dude atop a black stead. The man is carrying a large shield and an even larger bloody axe. You can’t see his face but he has red eyes. In the background is smoke and fire and what appears to be a vulture or eagle I’m not really sure. Either way, this image captivated me as a kid. Molly Hatchet continued to have great art on their other album covers. Beer labels today are starting to compete with a much smaller space to play with. Below is my top five beer labels.
5. Delirium Tremens
This may sound strange, but I still remember the first time I saw Delirium Tremens in a beer store. It was unlike anything else I’d seen to that point. Most beer I saw had boring labels on traditional brown glass bottles. This beer was different. For one, it had a bright blue label with a pink elephant. This really stands out above the rest. Also, if you hadn’t noticed, the bottle itself is not a traditional brown glass bottle. It is this light-colored, cream-looking bottle. It worked, I bought it.
4. Dead Guy Ale
One of my all-time favorite beers and favorite beer labels. Dead Guy Ale by Rogue has an excellently simple label with a black background and a white skeleton. The skeleton is sitting with his arms crossed carrying a pint of beer in his left hand. He (or she, you can’t really tell, it’s a skeleton) is also wearing some sort of hat. I have no idea what sort of hat it is but it looks cool. Spending a lot of time in pirate territory in Coastal Carolina, I have an affinity for skulls and skeletons. I like this label so much this might end up being one of my next tattoos. It wouldn’t be the first beer label I got as a tattoo. If anyone can guess what beer I had tattooed first you get a free case of beer on me.
3. Raging Bitch
Like Rogue above, I wanted to cheat and say all Flying Dog logos but I decided to choose Raging Bitch. If you recognize the art you are not alone. It is none other than Ralph Steadman best known for his collaborations with Hunter S. Thompson. If you don’t know either one of them maybe you’ve heard of the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. If not you have a lot of research to do, perhaps after buying some Flying Dog!
Magic Hat is yet another brewery with amazing beer labels across the lineup. If I had to choose one it would be Pistil. The Pistil beer label has a very groovy look to it and makes you feel like you were transported back to the ‘70’s. It’s almost like Dr. Seus did the artwork for Superfly.
1. AK Genesis Warrior
This choice was hard. Some of the above labels have been my favorite beer labels for years. Adroit Theory has an excellent artist they use and their beer labels come closest to matching the feel of those Molly Hatchet albums. The beer label I chose is AK Genesis Warrior Edition because it combines some of my favorite things, beer and Egypt. The art is incredible and it looks comic-book quality in the best possible way. So there you have it, those are my top-five beer labels. I encourage you to comment on your own and then very least try the above beers. If you want to see more beer labels check out our beer sections.
Are we witnessing the death of craft beer? There has been a lot of brewhaha (pun intended) over the recent purchase of craft brewers by investment firms or macro brewers. I for one share some skepticism but I am not up in arms. I think if it allows these breweries to operate rather than shut down then it is a good thing. However, if these large macro breweries want to buy them and force them to operate like they do then we are in trouble. I personally love craft beer because of the variety. As someone who has worked in the software development industry, I love experimentation. I think that is the biggest advantage of craft brewers, they can experiment. They are like the startups of the beer world. Without experimentation we would be stuck with the same boring beers we had decades ago.
One company I am not worried about is Sam Adams. Sam Adams recently purchased Dogfish Head for around $300 million and instantly people declared their death. I disagree. First, I would largely consider Jim Koch, the founder of Sam Adams, to be the father of the current craft beer movement. Second, if any macro brewery is good at experimentation, it is Sam Adams. I don’t think these purchases are a bad thing for the craft beer industry.
Think of a company like Google. The vast majority of their revenue comes from the Google search page and the ads they run. While this may be their macro operation, it does not impact the company from experimenting. Same with Amazon, their macro revenue came from the Amazon site, yet they experimented with AWS and their streaming offerings. I would view these large purchases as a way to allow these companies to live on while giving them the resources and backing to continue to experiment. I seriously doubt that we are witnessing the death of craft beer. People have been drinking beer for millennia and we will carry on!
Good beer glasses can be really hard to find. I have tried several different types of beer glasses but only two really stand out as my favorites. According to people on the Internet, certain beers are better in certain glasses. Unfortunately I don’t judge my beer glasses by that criteria. I judge by beer glasses look, feel, and volume. While typically pint glasses are the gold standard, they can been kind of boring. While you can add your logo and make them unique, as a glass they are lacking. Now don’t get me wrong, I have a cabinet full of regular pint glasses. It is not like they will let you down, I just like something a little more.
One of the coolest looking beer glasses of all time and for all time are beer steins. Beer steins are typically made of stoneware or other materials, are characterized by ornate designs and a hinged, pewter lid. Allegedly the lid appeared during the Black Plague to prevent the spread of disease but historians dispute this. I will choose to believe it anyway because it makes for a good story. There are a few beer steins waiting for me at my parent’s house. I should pick those up and add to my collection!
While awesome looking, steins are not my favorite beer glass, that honor falls to the simple, dimpled pint glass. Dimpled pint glasses are easy to grip and they also resembles an old school grenade. Allegedly they almost completely disappeared but they have been making a comeback and for that I am grateful. If you don’t have one, I would suggest adding one to your collection, you will thank me later. If you want a good beer to go with your new glass, check out our beer page.
As a believer in supporting local craft breweries, I always make it a point to seek out local beers. In fact, it is one of my favorite aspects about traveling. From San Miguel in the Philippines to Ballast Point in San Diego, local beers always offer something unique. One such unique offering is the Grapefruit Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point. At first I was a little skeptical about grapefruit and beer but it turned out to be pretty good! If you see one around give it a try!
I am a huge fan of supporting your local craft breweries. What is great about the growth of craft beer is the increase in variety that comes from all the different offerings. Even without leaving your state, most people can get a large variety of craft beers. The state of Virginia’s own website actually has a pretty awesome craft beer map that shows the variety of breweries in the state. I have also noticed and increase in beer festivals and I often have a hard time keeping up with all that is going on.
One of my favorite local offerings is Mustang Sally Brewing. I was there last year for the Fairfax County Beer Fest and again this year for a happy hour. Last time I was fortunate enough to meet and chat with owner Sean Hunt. I also got to try some of their exceptional beer including a rather unique sour called Dark Cherry pHreak Sour. If you don’t know where to start then the DC Brew Fest is the place to be. With over 80 breweries in attendance you are sure to find your new favorite, providing you can remember what you had! Checkout their site and buy your tickets for the April 20th event.
I am a sucker for beer variety packs. I love trying different beers and nothing is better for that than a variety pack. Most variety packs give you three each of four different kinds of beers. This weekend I enjoyed Spring Tour from Starr Hill and the New Belgium Variety Pack. Seasonal variety packs are the most common but many breweries offer variety packs based on other criteria. Starr Hill Brewery, for example, has their Say It Ain’t Sour, Hopped as Hell, and Box of Chocolates beer variety packs.
With spring right around the corner, many of the spring seasonal packs are coming out. My all-time favorite seasonal variety pack is Sam Adam’s Winter Classics. The Winter Classics variety pack contains Old Fezziwig Ale, which I think is one of the coolest beer names around. I assume it is named after the character from a Christmas Carol but I could be wrong.
The one downside with beer variety packs is sometimes you get a beer you just don’t like. The upside though is that you usually only have three of them. Despite my love of variety, I rarely partake in building my own six pack. I think this is because I prefer a theme to my variety packs. I recently that shops are starting to move away from this feature as well. At least we still have wonderful beer variety packs!
If you haven’t gone out and bought a spring variety pack do yourself a favor, by one this week try them out, add them to your Untappd app, and tell us all about them.
Yup! I guess I was living under a rock in August 2018 when this beaut opened but yes there is an amazing looking Guinness brewery in Baltimore. I try not to cross the Potomac very often but this looks well worth the trip. And how fitting is it that I discover this just three days before St. Patrick’s Day! This is their first U.S. based brewery since 1950 and I for one am definitely planning a trip now. Probably not on St. Patrick’s day but someday soon. With Guinness in Baltimore the city has added one more reason to make a visit.
While not considered a craft beer really, it is one of my favorite international beers ever. Despite it’s dark appearance Guinness is one of the smoothest beers and is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. If you haven’t had a Guinness with loaded potato skins I question your life up to this point. If you are a vegetarian I suppose you can just get normal potato skins, but still.
Back in the day (circa 2006) there used to be a really cool Irish pub (is it just a pub since it is already in Ireland?) in the airport in Shannon, Ireland and they would pour the absolute perfect Guinness but when I returned years later that place was gone and some gaudy modern bar was put in its place. Ireland is a place I’ve never really spent any time in and that is a shame. Maybe I will plan a trip soon. If you are interested in checking out some of the beers we offer from the region please check out our beer section and come on by!
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