Beerstory #1- St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone. Seems like this cold that I have contracted is starting to win the battle and there will be no beer drinking this St. Patty’s Day. This unfortunate circumstance has lead me to create a new segment for this blog, which I am excited about! It is called “Beerstory,” which is Beer + History= Beerstory. I will be doing some light research into the history of beer and beer related events to add to my overall appreciation for beer!

I thought it would be timely to delve into St. Patrick’s Day as the holiday is synonymous with drinking beer (stouts come to mind) and whiskey. Speaking of whiskey, please head over to my main blog A is for Ambivalence to see my most recent post “Gentleman’s Yack!”…Now moving on to the Beerstory.

St. Patrick was considered to be the patron saint of Ireland. He was born in the late 300s A.D. In northern England and wasn’t even named Patrick. His real name was Maewyn Succat. He, for good reason, didn’t like being given a name you might find in the Lord of the Rings, and preferred to go by Patricius. Now, I know what you are thinking, on name alone, this guy sounds like a straight up leprechaun, but that’s actually not when they come into play. Patrick, as we will refer to him, was not a very religious fellow. He was captured by Irish pirates and brought to Ireland when he was 16 to be a shepard. He was later also captured by the French. It was after his experience in France that he started to get into the whole holy trinity thing and wanted to bring his new found Christianity to Ireland. So he willingly went back to Ireland and banished all their snakes and taught everyone the ways of the holy trinity by using the three cloves of the shamrock as a visual representation. Okay, he didn’t actually banish the snakes, as lore has it. Ireland never had snakes to begin with, but the first part with the shamrocks is true. The dude became very popular and started many churches, and as any civilization that is converted to Christianity does, they go apeshit about their new found religion. ” What about the beer,” you ask? Yes, let’s get to the drinking.

St. Patty’s Day started as a religious celebration in Ireland in the 17th century to commemorate St. Patrick (not an actual Saint by the way), and the arrival of Christianity to Ireland. They would have a feast day on March 17th as he was said to have died on that date in 461. He first ever St. Patrick’s day parade was held in Boston in 1737 when the custom grew more national popularity with immigration and such. “So.. Beer?” I hear you continuing to say. Well that comes in because in a roundabout drunk history sort of way, the day was observed as a reprieve from following Lent for one day, and you could feast. Drinking was still frowned upon in the old country, but as recently as the 1980s, Budweiser tried to convince us otherwise and popularized the notion that the Irish ( and fuck it, everyone) should also drink and be merry on that day.  Thank you capitalism! This perpetuated the belief that all Irish people like to get drunk, especially on this day. “So what should I do?,” I hear you asking. Well, if you are lucky enough to be in Ireland right now or have access to some of these good sounding brews, have a couple for me!

What to drink: Guinness and Jameson are the obvious choices. Really, any stouts or Irish beers would do. So here are the top 5 Irish favorites from Rate beers— 1.Galway Bay “Two Hundred Fathoms” (Imperial Stout) 2. Galway Bay “Of Foam and Fury” (Imperial IPA) 3. Western Herd “Back Beat Witbier” (Witbier) 4. White Hag “Black Boar” (Imperial Stout) 5. Western Herd “Siege Pale Ale” (American Pale Ale).

I hope to have all of those beers some day. Best of luck to everyone celebrating today, and please be safe.

March Hop Madness: A Review of Hop Duster DIPA from Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, VA

We decided to kick off the first Thursday of March with a visit to one of our local breweries for a steal the pint night. I was in the mood for something heavy hitting and hoppy (as usual) after a tiring day/week. It is also necessary to celebrate as best as you can whenever you are able to go out with a newborn. I ordered up the Hop Duster vaguely remembering it was tasty when I got it last year. The Duster pours a golden orange cleanish hue, with pine and citrus notes that hit your nose immediately. The taste replicates the powerful aroma with a very hop forward piney and citrusy jamboree and smooth finish. Per the brewery menu, they use Armillo, Simcoe, Cirta, Centennial , Falconers flight, and Cascade hops. That is basically all the hops any hop head could want in one drink. The beer is not overly carbonated and the 8.4% ABV is well hidden. If you are not careful this beer could take you under pretty quickly, though it would be a good way to go out. As you can tell from my picture, I dug a good deal into this one before I remembered I should probably get a picture. That alluring golden orange, sweet, sweet liquid candy! I found myself wishing that they had some bottled, or I had my growler on me, because I kinda wanted to bathe in those suds back home. Suffice it to say, it was a good outing and good reminder that fun can still be had as a new parent. Regrettably we couldn’t squeeze in another cold one before the timer started ticking on the next baby fit. I give this beer a 4.5 fly-by-dustings out of 5! Check out my main blog: A is for Ambivalence to see the double feature short story that goes along with this review! ( will be posted shortly)

Conception-Ale: A Double Feature Review and Story of Sisters of the Moon IPA from Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston, N.C.

First off, I have to say that this may be one of the most meaningful beer reviews that I will write, which is why I have to combine this with a beer story. Man, am I happy I saved one of these beers this long.

The Review: The beer is salty and peppery with a bitter bite. You can taste the hops a little better when it isn’t ice cold. This beer tastes like it was made with some of the salt water from the Atlantic, which is nearby the brewery. The beer is almost impossibly effervescent, which makes it impossible to pour it into any glass because you will always get 80% head no matter how good of a pour it is. I, unfortunately, couldn’t find what hops are used in this, but whatever they are there is definitely some heavy floral and slight citrus notes that you can taste on the front end. The peppery and salty spice hits you in the back of the throat on the back end. It is 7% ABV and a fairly easy drink. Definitely reminds me of the beaches in NC and really takes me back to our story to come. I give the beer 3.25 out of 5 phases of the moon. Very unique tasting IPA, which may be best enjoyed while relaxing at the beach.

Now for the story…
The Riley Prologue:

In early Spring of 2016 we went down to Surf City, NC (Topsail Island) for a couple day getaway with our dog. It was the off-season so we were able to get a really good deal on a house with beach access. It was a somewhat spontaneous decision to go down there, and it really paid off. We walked the beach, ate good food, good beer, enjoyed good weather, and “actively planned” for the baby girl, Riley, we have today. It was pretty amazing to find such a place and have such a memorable time just over 5 hours and a handful of “don’t do meth” public service signs away. It was made infinitely more special knowing that 9 months later we were gifted with a new member of the family. We are looking forward to going back with our expanded family in tow, finding some more good beers to drink and perhaps making some more life changing decisions. Also, our Corgi, Hobbes, was a class act while we were there. He loved romping around on the beach meeting everybody and anybody that would give him attention. He also got a kick out of playing with the tide, and at one point hilariously falling into a tide pool.

Mini Double Feature Tasting Review #1

Okay, so my wife and I are kinda super cute.  We like to get mix six packs so that we can have home beer tastings with a couple of the beers over the weekend. We try to get some beers that we wouldn’t normally try out since we are just having 6oz of each. Yes, I know we are pretty much the most puke inducing couple in the world, but enjoy reading about at least one of these non-puke inducing beers!
New Belgium Brewing Company–Whizbang–Blonde Ale– In general, I don’t really go wild for blonde ales because they tend to be too mild in flavor for me, and are a little on the sweet end. This take on a blonde ale pushes it closer to a hoppy pale ale flavor than anything else, and keeps the mild drinkability of a blonde. Whizbang could have had a more flavorful malty backbone to it, but per their bottle info, they apparently think they do. It is 5.7% ABV and 45 IBU. It is hopped up with Mosaic hops, which I am kind of a sucker for. While I don’t agree that this beer is a hop explosion, as it is marketed, I would say that it was a nice hop Pop!  I give it 3.75 Fizz pops out of 5!

Magic Hat Brewing Company–Vamplifier–Hoppy Red Ale–For starters, in good Magic Hat fashion, this has a sweet label! That is about the only thing redeeming about this beer. I love red ales, especially when they are described as hoppy, like this one . My wife and I looked all over  and we could not find any of the hops this beer claimed to have. On top of falling flat on the hops, this beer also had bland malt to it ( usually what makes a red ale a red ale!) The front end is actually promising, but the back will leave you sad. Cascade and magnum hops are said to be living in this beer, but are likely overshadowed by the poor performance of the malt character. It has 5.2% ABV and 60 IBU.  Unfortunately, the 60 IBUs don’t have enough flavor to ride on, and taste a little bit like bum on the back end. I give this beer a dismal 1.75 taste sucking vamplifiers out of 5.

Beer with Black Eyeliner: A Review of Hop Gothic Double India Wheat Pale Ale from South Street Brewery in Charlottesville, Va.

Now, I know what you are thinking. What is an India wheat pale ale, let alone a double India wheat pale ale? If you are familiar with the brewery, you might also be thinking, South Street…Really? Well.. to all of those questions I don’t really have any answers, but I’m fairly sure the beer is made up. None the less, this is a beer that I wouldn’t pass up. It clocks in at a strong 8.52% ABV and 72 IBUs. You can taste a good portion of that 8.25% ABV, but you also get a strong wallop of tasty Simcoe, Falconers Flight, Citra, Centennial, and Amarillo hops. Yeah, that’s a whole lot of hoppy goodness.
This beer does not have high drinkability (would keep it at one per sitting for sure). I also heavily recommend drinking this one without food accompaniments so you can get a full appreciation of the complex splash of hops. This is definitely an interesting one for hop heads, but if that’s not your thing, stay clear of paying up for this one. I give this beer a solid 3 out of 5 American Gothic pitchforks.

Just Give Me A Minute: A Review of Minute Man IPA from Three Notch’d Brewing Co. –Charlottesville, Va

This New England Style IPA packs quite a orangey/ citrusy wallop as the can suggests. It somehow conjures this flavor from Idaho-7, Galaxy and Mosaic hops. As is the custom, this IPA has a very slight orange haze and goes down smooth, clocking in at 7% ABV and only 20 IBU’s!

This beer compares well to Blue Mountain Brewery’s ” A Clockwork Orange,” but has better west coast hops pop to it, and 100% more Minute Maid copyright infringement (check the can again). While you will be able to find many other New England IPAs with better west coast hop flavor, I would challenge you to find one with as much flavor to drinkability ratio (scientific term, look it up).

I would recommend drinking this beer out on the porch while enjoying a nice spring or fall day. This beer would pair well with chicken or fish, spicy or not, and would pair particularly well with your mood if you are reminiscing about America’s colonial days and feel like really sticking it to the lobster backs! I would recommend drinking this beer in VA or MA for full colonial feel, and you get extra life points if you drink this beer at Umass for obvious reasons. I give this beer a perfect 5/5 tri-corner hats!

From Buds To Suds: How My Love For Beer All Began

It was a hot summer day in Northampton, MA and I was itching for some beer, and also possibly because I was developing a heat rash. I was with a newly found buddy of mine at graduate school walking the sticky downtown streets. He asked me if I wanted to get a drink at a bar after one of our late night classes. “Sure why not?” It was not too long ago that I was drinking natty light/ice by the caseload with friends while in undergrad. I prided myself a more mature man of sophisticated taste because I had most recently been drinking Yeungling and Shock Top for the flavor and not exclusively to get drunk. My buddy asked me what my favorite type of beer was as we walked up to the first outdoor bar. He said that his favorite beers were IPAs. I agreed that that was also my favorite, because I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t know there were different styles of beer, and I also didn’t want to ask what IPA stood for. He ordered us two local IPAs. They smelled extremely pungent with European piney hops. I drank in a big manly “This is my favorite beer” gulp, and my mouth got opened up to an explosion of bitterness that I was not prepared for. What the hell had I gotten myself into? I thought beer was supposed to essentially taste like tainted carbonated water, and not what I would imagine liquified potpourri tastes like. While I was not happy with the ordeal I had just put my mouth through, I slugged the rest of the beer down like a champ..and then maybe had one or two more for good measure.

–Northampton Brewery–

I guess good tasting beer is similar to coffee in that it is an acquired bitter tasting beverage. It makes absolutely no sense why a person would like the taste of it, let alone try to persevere through multiple times of water boarding one’s tongue just so that it gets some weird Stockholm Syndrome with it all in the end. I am not necessarily just talking about IPAs or beers with hop forward flavors, I am also talking about those sludgy stouts and porters that can sometimes almost be quite literally loafs of bread in a glass. All of those tastes legitimately make no sense for anyone to like, but here I am years later, psyched about when a new brewery is moving in across the street from another brewery.

I would say that I am fully submerged into the beer filled rabbit hole these days, and I can’t appreciate my Northampton buddy enough who normalized good beer for me. I’m raising a glass to you, Pete, may your pale ales always be drinkable, your IPAs hops blasted, your saisons funky, your stouts smooth and chocolatey, and your sours..well…. sour.

In this blog I hope to continue exploring how beer and beer culture has intersected with, and enhanced, my life. You will find me showcasing individual beers for review, and also just reminiscing on good stories. I would end this off with a “Cheers!,” but as an American saying that, it kind of reeks of preppy or hipster d-bagginess. So instead, I will end off with this period. Period.