That Moment I Changed My Mind on a Brewery

Starr Hill was the butt of many jokes of mine the past couple of years. To me they made so-so beer. I had no problem with them; I just knew I wouldn’t be ordering it out at a bar or buying it at Harris Teeter. You go do you, Starr Hill. I’ll be over here enjoying my “good beer.”

Yeah, I was a jerk. And it made me miss out on Starr Hill’s transformation over the past year or so. I have officially flip-flopped my opinion on them. Hey, if politicians can do this all the time and still get elected then why can’t I? Instead of being this local-ish brewery that I didn’t care for, Starr Hill is quickly becoming a regular contributor to my fridge and bar tabs. This post will cover why and I’ll go into detail on a couple of their newer beers.

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TWIB: Slamming Hops and Red Bullies

Well hello, there! I haven’t done a TWIB for a while. Today it felt right to talk about a couple hot topics, which is exactly what TWIBs are for. TWIB, in case you’ve forgotten, stands for This Week in Beer. It’s my play on words from This Week in Baseball. There are two topics I want to focus on this week – Bell’s Hopslam release and Old Ox’s legal battle against Red Bull.

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Old 690 Brewing Company

Wow! I can’t believe it’s been a month since I’ve posted. My other project has been sucking up all my extra time that I used to spend on this site. But I solemnly swear to keep bringing you awesome content about craft beer, Virginia beer and my great beer journey.

Come visit Old 690 in Hillsboro

Old 690 in Hillsboro, VA

Recently I got a chance to visit one of Northern Virginia’s newest breweries – Old 690. I’d like to take the next 1,000 words or so to tell you why you have to escape suburbia and drive down a gravel road to visit these guys.

The Beer

Before we go into Old 690’s atmosphere and the people behind it, let’s cut to the chase and get into their beer.

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Buffalo Wing Factory Releases First Beer Today

Buffalo Wing Factory releases Session IPA

Buffalo Wing Factory releases Session IPA

If you are a frequent reader of this site then you know I have a deep affection and history with my friends over at the Buffalo Wing Factory. They’ve been a local staple in the Northern Virginian community for over 20 years and they are releasing their first beer today – Buffalo Wing Factory Session IPA.

BWF Session IPA

5.3% ABV and 25.4 IBUs

The Buffalo Wing Factory, or BWF, is not a brewery so how will did they brew a beer? Beltway Brewing Company in Sterling, VA is a partner/contract brewery. That means that they make beer for other breweries or restaurants using their equipment. Locally-owned Crooked Run Brewing and Adroit Theory Brewing both use Beltway to brew larger batches of their beers. It’s still Crooked Run and Adroit Theory’s recipes but they just use Beltway’s industrial-sized equipment. This is what the Buffalo Wing Factory has now done as well.

BWF had a very small pre-release party on Tuesday where I got to try the new addition to their already packed tap lineup. And for all you Session IPA haters out there, it’s not your typical Session IPA. This beer clocks in at 5.3% ABV with 25.4 IBUs. It’s not hoppy to begin with but will finish with a hint of a bite. In comparison, Stone Go To IPA is 4.5% ABV with 65 IBUs and Founders All Day IPA is 4.7% ABV with 42 IBUs. So with the BWF Session IPA you’re going to get less of a bite, more maltiness up front with a sneaky higher ABV. It also has more body than other Session IPAs that I’ve had. A seasoned craft beer drinker should try this one out and see if they like BWF’s take on the style. This is also a good beer for any new craft beer drinker trying to transition into hoppy beers.

Today this beer will be $2 from open to close at 11:00pm at all four locations. Happy Hour is from 4:00-7:00pm where you can get other craft beers starting around $4. After today the BWF Session IPA will be $4 all day, every day. I’m not positive if they’ll be on the menu today but BWF has created two new menu items that use the beer. First is a beer cheese served with garlic bread, which everyone was raving about at the pre-release party. Second is a BBQ sandwich, which has the beer in the sauce if I remember correctly.

Head on out to your nearest Buffalo Wing Factory tonight and try their new Session IPA. I will most likely be at the Ashburn location around 5:00pm. Come say hi to me and make sure to be one of the firsts to check it in on Untappd too.

Growlers and Virginia

Growler

Pickup a growler at just about any brewery in Virginia

What’s better than draft beer? Draft beer at home. That’s what growlers do – allow people to take home draft beer from their favorite brewery. They come in different styles and sizes. Some have screw tops and some flip-tops. Each state has quirky laws when it comes to growlers. Some states it’s illegal to have a 64oz growler, certain states don’t allow growlers at all and some are awesome and allow you to fill up in bottle shops and grocery stores. I live in Virginia, a state somewhere between in the middle on growler leniency, and want to give a quick rundown on her growler laws.

In 2012, Senate Bill NO. 604 gave breweries the ability to sell beer “on-premise” (this word is important). Previously they were not able to sell their own beer unless they had a restaurant attached to it (aka brewpub). Before SB 604 they were only allowed to give free samples and sell bottled/canned beer for “off-premise” consumption. With the passing of SB 604, breweries can sell by the glass.

Why is that important? According to a Richmond.com article, growlers are considered glasses and it’s legal to bring your own glassware to a brewery (should I start doing that??? No more frozen false pint glasses…). Anything served in a glass is an on-premise sale. That’s where SB 604 comes in. Since a growler is a glass, it’s an on-premise sale therefore a brewery can now sell growlers.

A retailer, for example a grocery store like Whole Foods, can also sell growlers. However they need to have “on-premise” and “off-premise” licenses, which are harder to obtain. Depending on your local Whole Foods, they may have a wide variety of beers you can fill your growler with.

I long for the day when I can walk into my local grocery store and get a $10 growler of Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout. But at least I can drive over to Lost Rhino and pickup some New River Pale Ale.