This weekend, our incoming store manager and I took a trip out to Ono Brewing in Chantilly. It was a great trip where we got to meet owners Scott and Cindy and tour the facility. Scott designed a lot of the facility including the massive and quiet walk-in refrigerator. They also have a pretty impressive back room with a gravity fed system Scott designed. Ono is still growing and just received some shiny new equipment, which we were allowed to check out. They’ve also got a 3d printer which they use to create unique tap handles. Currently, Ono only has kegs available for distribution because they are still hand canning. Ono’s Hawaiian vibe is derived from the decades the owners lived on the island.
Ono has an excellent outdoor seating area with a self-serve tap system that uses a digital card system. This allows you to try a little bit of all their offerings without committing to a full beer. It is a pretty solid system that contains a foam on beer system and a trick tap pull that prevents foaming. They’ve partnered with Odd BBQ to provide some excellent food onsite. Let me tell ya, it smells absolutely incredible back there! Like Mustang Sally, they are positioned in an office park and there is plenty of available parking. They also sell a few beers they hand can along with some merchandise. If you get a chance, I would definitely check out there tap room. If you see them on tap near you I would also encourage you to try them out!
Part of our trip involved meeting with Randall who took us through all of Ono’s current beer offerings. Their core offerings include Hellyes Lager, Manako, Riptide, and Howzit that are available year round. The current rotating offerings include Tsunami, Jack-O’, Hula Girl, Island Time, Black Pearl, and Hurricane Frances DIPA. My favorite beer of the day was the Black Pearl, a dry Irish stout with a coffee-like taste. It is absolutely incredible! Howzit uses cryogenically frozen hops that gives it a pretty crisp taste. Even at 7% ABV it was super smooth. The Manako is an American wheat beer infused with Mango. They made it a point to highlight they use actual Mango, not Mango syrup. You can certainly taste the difference.
Jack-O’ is their take on a pumpkin beer and it actually does taste like pumpkin pie. What I found refreshing is that it wasn’t in your face with the pumpkin but you knew it was there. A pretty cool story goes along with their Hurricane series of beers. The owners have been through several hurricanes so the Hurricane beers are named after hurricanes they’ve experienced. Pretty neat little backstory. Ono also makes it a point to buy local Virginia grown wheat and oats whenever possible. As supporters of local breweries, we are a big fan of this approach. I am looking forward to trying their Yuhu Chocolate Stout that is available starting this Halloween.
It’s been a while since I’ve provided updates on Black Dog Beer Shop. This week we are conducting a page-turning with the architect to finalize the store design. We want to ensure we have plenty of cold beer and shelving available! Once we finalize the design we will submit it to the county for approval. Once we are approved we will start construction which should take 6-8 weeks. It’s been a long process but we are getting closer! I started back in January of this year, so it will be almost a full year since the adventure began. Stick with us!
I’ve also identified a Store Manager and Assistant Store Manager and I am excited for you all to meet them. They both have extensive beer knowledge and will be instrumental as we grow. We’ll be looking to hire Beer Sales Associates in the coming months so stay tuned! We are looking for people who are passionate about beer and want to continue to learn. If you are just looking for any job, it’s probably not for you.
Recent Beer Activities
I attended Snallygaster this year and it was pretty awesome. Splurging for the VIP tickets got me in about two hours early and it was worth it. Several of the more rare offerings were gone before general admission gates opened. It was also perfect weather for the fest with overcast skies and cool weather. Gates opened for VIP at noon but I was a little late because my dog decided to lock himself in the apartment using the deadbolt. There were several great breweries from all over the country including local favorites like Aslin. I was trying to hit them all but cooler heads prevailed. Especially since Bluejacket was handing out pint-sized cans. If you didn’t know, Snallygaster is a mythical beast from Maryland dating back to the 18th century. Theodore Roosevelt proposed a hunt against a Snallygaster once.
I conducted one of my interviews as the Aslin Beer Company in Alexandria. It’s a cool little place off of Van Dorn Street in an industrial park. They have an upstairs area that is setup like a living room with couches and chairs. I don’t know their art designer is but they have a really cool vibe and I picked up a shirt and some beers. This weekend, the Store Manager and I are headed to Ono Brewing out in Chantilly this weekend to check out some of their beers. Hopefully the next update will include more good news! Meanwhile, checkout out the list of beers we are likely to feature.
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.
It has been a while since my last update but I’ve been traveling all over. First I went to San Antonio then to Montreal. One thing that came up during my travel is my love of travel beers. I am not talking about travel beers that you take with you on a trip. What I am talking about is when I travel I seek out the local beer and that is my go-to at times. The attributes of a travel beer are that it is brewed nearby and is widely available. In San Antonio it was Shiner Bock. When I went to Montreal I originally anticipated that it would be something like Labatt Blue but instead it ended up being Molson. For me this is because Molson has a really cool old building in downtown Montreal.
Now some of you may be questioning why I would drink something like Molson because it is a macro brewery. While this may be true I feel like when you travel you owe it to yourself to try their local macro offerings even if they are terrible. Maybe it is like a sacrifice to the beer gods, I’m not sure.
Canadian Grand Prix
I was at the Canadian Grand Prix this last weekend and it was incredible. While Lewis Hamilton won on a technicality I believe it was the right choice. Unfortunately, Haas was horrible this weekend but maybe they will make up for it next race. The only real beer available at the venue was Heineken which is ok. Next race I am definitely going to splurge to get out of the sun because something about 8 hours in the sun is exhausting.
Some updates on Black Dog Beer Shop. I received the Small Business Association paperwork this week and I am finalizing the lease now. Hopefully we will begin construction soon and bring great beer to you!
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.
Man it has been too long since I wrote a blog post. I’ve been cranking away at fixing and updating the beer section of the website, talking to distributors, and working on finalizing a location. The first location fell through but the second location is looking much more promising. It has been a few weeks since the Chinese Grand Prix but there were some pretty exciting outcomes. The most confusing part for me was Ferrari issuing team orders to Leclerc to let Vettel pass then Vettel not doing anything with it essentially ruining Leclerc’s race. The most impressive by far was the back to back pit stops by Mercedes. For those who don’t know F1 teams only get one pit location and they have two drivers so typically they bring them in on different laps. Not Mercedes! Instead they brought them in at the same time and as Lewis was pulling away Bottas was pulling in. It takes unbelievable coordination to make that happen smoothly and that is probably why Mercedes keeps winning each year.
Today is the DC Brew Fest at Nationals Park and there are going to be tons of vendors. What is really exciting is there are going to be breweries there that don’t usually distribute in our area such as Bold Mariner Brewing Company out of Norfolk, VA. I plan on updating Instagram as I go along but I may be too busy with the beer who knows. Hopefully now that I have the website mostly how I want it, I should have some more time to update the blog. Check my Untappd and follow us on Instagram for pics of the DC Brew Fest.
I know I am way behind this week but things are moving along rather quickly. If you missed it, man what a race! As you can tell in the picture above things sort of fell apart for Charles Leclerc. Opening the race on pole he fell back quickly but was able to overcome his slow start and take back the lead. One of the best sequences of the weekend was Hamilton and Vettel battling it out which eventually resulted in Vettel making a mistake and spinning out. Again, this shows the pure talent and determination of Hamilton. Unfortunately, it was heartbreak for Leclerc whose car let him down but he still managed to limp it home to the end and to remain on podium. My prediction was correct, Leclerc did finish above Vettel but that was my only one that was right! Hamilton and Bottas finished 1-2 and Max Verstappen was quickly catching Leclerc but finished 4th. Haas did not finish in the points with yet another DNF for Grosjean. I am starting to think resigning him was not smart. Williams didn’t finish last but they did finish last of those still running. Sadly it looks like they still have a long way to go no matter how many people they drag out of retirement. Next up is the Chinese Grand Prix 12-14 April. I would love to see the two young guns Leclerc and Verstappen go at it. Maybe Grosjean will finish a race, who knows! My friend Gary turned me on to this Reddit thread called the World Destructor’s Championship which tracks the team and driver with the most damage. Check it out when you get a chance. Until next time.
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