TWIB: Online Meets Offline and F%#^!@$ PLINY

This Week in Beer (TWIB) is a feature where I’ll highlight some craft beers I had during this past week mixed with some related (and unrelated) thoughts. Yes, it’s a play on the name of the show This Week in Baseball which I grew up on and loved.

What’s the first rule of the Internet? Don’t invite someone you meet online over to your house. Okay, I broke the first rule of the Internet. And since he didn’t kill me, and my wife somehow didn’t kill me, my Mom will surely kill me if she reads this post. But I’ll die a happy man because I made new friends and drank PLINY this weekend!! All this is explained in detail below.

Offline Meets Online

In the beginning…

Oliver, me and Bryan

Oliver, me and Bryan

Over the last few months a connection between Bryan, Oliver and I had formed. Having Twitter open all day at work was probably the cause of this. During this time we’ve had numerous blog posts mentioning each other and always talked about having a meet-up. When I got the thumbs up to host this month’s Beer Club at the Buffalo Wing Factory, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to have one. I asked Oliver to host and invited Bryan to join who made the long 6+ hour trek up to where I am in Virginia to stay with me.

Check out Bryan’s post on meeting us!

Beer Club

Beer Club at the Buffalo Wing Factory

Beer Club at the Buffalo Wing Factory

Let me take this chance to apologize to Oliver. Over the past several weeks he’s received at least three emails a day from me talking about Beer Club and my worries about everything related to it. But after way too many emails, phone calls and lots of daytime GChat conversations, we finalized our outline and ended up getting nearly 4x the amount of people that came to the last Beer Club.

Beer Club consisted of five rounds of two beers, tasted blindly, each paired with a talking topic, small course and trivia question for the 23 attendees.

Round 1

  • Beers: Three Brothers Great Outdoors Pale Ale and Ommegang Scythe and Sickle
  • Food Pairing: Blacked chicken and bacon salad with a peppery Parmesan dressing
  • Topic: American vs. Belgian Brewing
  • Trivia Question: Traditionally, in what kind of building was Belgium beer brewed?

Beer Club

Round 2

  • Beers: Flying Dog Dogtoberfest and Starr Hill Boxcarr Pumpkin Porter
  • Food Pairing: Kerrygold Dubliner cheese
  • Topic: Seasonal beers
  • Trivia Question: What state is the Great American Beer Fest held in?

Round 3

  • Beers: Natty Greene’s Buckshot Amber Ale and Anchor BigLeaf Maple Autumn Amber
  • Food Pairing: Spicy Honey BBQ Buffalo Bites
  • Topic: How beer gets its color and SRM
  • Trivia Question: What ingredient gives beer its color?

Round 4

  • Beers: Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale and Great Lakes Nosferatu
  • Food Pairing: Mushroom and Swiss burger slider
  • Topic: How beer gets its alcohol
  • Trivia Question: True/False – Alcohol is an ingredient in beer?

Beer Club

Round 5

  • Beers: Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout and Guinness
  • Food Pairing: Vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup
  • Topic: How and why Nitrogen is used in pouring beer
  • Trivia Question: What other beer is typically poured using Nitrogen? A) Sierra Nevada Pale Ale B) Sam Adams Boston Lager C) Fosters: Australian for Beer D) Boddingtons
Me letting Oliver do the talking

Me letting Oliver do the talking

Our winner, who got all the blind tastings and trivia correct and had to win in an extra trivia tiebreaker round was Jason, a longtime Twitter follower. Nice job, man! Jason, Scott, David, Larry, Mike, Tim, Mark, Colleen, and the other first-time Beer Club goers I really hope to have you back! Fingers crossed, I’ll be hosting another one in December or January where we’ll be drinking all the winter seasonals.

Thanks, Oliver for all the Beer Club pictures!

F%#^!@$ PLINY

What’s Pliny?

Here’s a quick Pliny overview if you don’t know what (or who) it is. Pliny the Elder was a Roman naturalist who was the first guy to write about hops. He died on his ship trying to save a friend of the family in Pompeii after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Some 2,000 years later, Pliny the Elder is one of the most sought after beers in the world. BeerAdvocate has it as #3 (with Pliny the Younger at #2) overall. It’s brewed by California’s Russian River Brewing Company and is nearly impossible to find on the East Coast.

Mission Impossible

Pliny the Elder

Pliny the Elder. In the glass.

Drinking Pliny the Elder is on my Impossible List, a list of challenges I work to accomplish everyday. My friend Dan invited me to a local wine and craft beer bar where he presented me with the allusive beverage. I can’t think of a way to repay him for this.

Anything with hype like Pliny usually doesn’t live up to their expectations. I knew going in that this beer wasn’t curing any diseases or giving me superpowers. Nonetheless, it’s a pretty damn good beer. I’m not even the biggest IPA fan and Pliny, a DIPA, went down so easily for me. It’s very florally with some citrus notes and not overpowering at all at 8% ABV. It’s a beer that I say you need to try at least once even if you can’t get it less than three weeks after bottling like Dan did.

Pliny and Diet Pliny

Pliny and Diet Pliny

We also tasted Russian River’s Blind Pig, an IPA, which also gets splendid remarks from drinkers. It wasn’t nearly as good as Pliny the Elder though. Dan nailed it when he called it a “Diet Pliny.”

Regardless, I had a wonderful time. The empty bottle of Pliny the Elder is ready to be proudly showed off in my man room. The next day while I spent 5+ hours staining my deck, all I was thinking about was Pliny.

What’s next?

Next to check off my Impossible List is the Cicerone Certified Beer Server Exam. I’ will have this done by the end of November. If I don’t I want to make a vow that I’m not allowed to drink any beer until I do. I took a practice test and it looks like I still have some work to do with some off-flavors and my styles. Any help, resources or insight would be much appreciated.

What’s on your mind? Have you met online beer-friends before? What was your experience with Pliny the Elder? Any help you can give me with the test?

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Beer Club October 18th!

Hey guys! Oliver and I are hosting Beer Club next Friday October 18th. Here’s the gist of it:

Beer Club flyer

You’re missing out if you don’t come

There will be a 3ish ounce blind taste test of 10 beers. It’s a game and you get points for guessing them right. There’s also trivia where you can get points as well. The 10 beers are paired with a 5-course dinner featuring food from the Buffalo Wing Factory. After the dinner you get a choice of any of the 10 beers for your full beer and if you’re a top point winner a choice of prizes. We have beers from Great Lakes, Stone, Shipyard, Left Hand, 3 Brothers and more (just look at all the bottle caps on the awesome flyer).

There is limited seating. Please RSVP here:

or you can email chantillybeerclub@buffalowingfactory.com.

You’re going to miss out if you’re in the area and not coming. This is your chance to meet Oliver and I and if we’re lucky, another one of my favorite bloggers!

A New Spin on Beer Club

Hosting Beer Club at the Buffalo Wing Factory

Hosting Beer Club at the Buffalo Wing Factory

Friday I got to do one of the great things in life — teach people about beer. I hosted this month’s Beer Club at the Buffalo Wing Factory in Chantilly for the second time.

Beer Club typically consists of 5 4oz samples (usually refilled once) each paired with a course. After the dinner you get to select a full beer of your choice. This time I wanted to shake things up a bit and make it into a game.

The restaurant gave me 15 beers to choose from to make the dinner. Then I thought, why 5? Why not 15? That’s when it hit me — blind taste test. Let’s test everyone and see if they can guess what they’re drinking! Continue reading

My Big Debut – Beer Club #1

Hosting Beer Club

Hosting beer club at the Buffalo Wing Factory – Photo taken by Mitch Witte

Last Friday, February 22nd, was my big debut as a craft beer professional. Well, almost professional. Getting paid in beer is close enough. My buddy got me a gig hosting a craft beer tasting at a local restaurant, the Buffalo Wing Factory. I represented five beers all from different breweries.

  1. Lost Rhino Rhino Chasers Bohemian Pilsner
  2. Williamsburg Alewerks Washington’s Porter
  3. Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA
  4. Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
  5. Butternuts Moo Thunder Stout

The Rhino Chasers Bohemian Pilsner by Lost Rhino in Ashburn, Virginia was our first beer. I explained a bit about the history of the Pilsner and cold-fermented lagers. This was paired with an avocado salad with bell peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, sweet onions and lime juice. Continue reading

Hoppy Birthday and Happy Home Conclusions

Picture of Birthday Cake

Hoppy Birthday Cake

Saturday my wife and I hosted our first event in our new home we called Hoppy Birthday and Happy Home. It was a great success that I could have never pulled off alone. My wife spent the two previous days prepping and cooking while I kept worrying if we had enough beer (which we did).

The Beers:

Buckets filled with craft beer

Craft beer was not at a shortage

  • New Belgium Trippel
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • Bell’s Winter White Ale
  • Leffe Blond
  • Blue Point Toasted Lager
  • Brooklyn Lager
  • Anchor Steam Beer
  • Port City Monumental IPA
  • Stone IPA
  • Breckenridge Lucky U IPA
  • Troegs Java Head Stout
  • Bold Rock Virginia Apple Cider
  • Harpoon UFO Hefeweizen
  • Port City Optimal Wit

The Food:

Countertop full of food

No one left hungry

  • Beer Bread made with Leffe Blond
  • Buffalo Chicken and Blue Cheese Dip made with Breckenridge Lucky U IPA
  • Buffalo Chicken Bites made with Stone IPA
  • Praline Bacon with stout coating made with Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout
  • Buffalo Wings
  • Egg Rolls
  • Cheddar and Cottage Mac & Cheese
  • And more!

COnclusion

Hosting always makes me anxious but this went off without a hitch. I’m excited to host more and have some good ideas for next time.