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?

April Dirty Thirty Day 25 – Sixpoint Bengali Tiger

Soooo I’ve been bad. I broke the post streak and I won’t lie to you, I missed a day of not trying a new beer. I could make excuses and I should (since I actually have an awesome excuse for once) but I won’t. I will just pick up where I left off.

Tonight’s April Dirty Thirty beer is…

Sixpoint Bengali Tiger

Sixpoint Bengali Tiger

Sixpoint Bengali Tiger Ale

Critical Information:

  • 6.4% ABV
  • 62 IBUs
  • 13 SRM

My Experience:

– POUR

Poured from can into pint glass. It has an orange color and is mostly transparent. It has a large, puffy white head that clings to the glass.

– SMELL

It has an aroma of fresh hops and is citrus-y.

– TASTE

It’s bitter, then hoppy, then bitter again. It’s straw-like (is that something??) and has a hint of grapefruit.

– FOOD PAIRING

Gouda cheese or Peruvian chicken. Fried yuca anyone?

Continue reading

April Dirty Thirty Day 8 – Laughing Dog Brewing IPA

Today’s review is on…

Laughing Dog Brewing IPA

Laughing Dog Brewing IPA

Laughing Dog Brewing IPA

Critical Information:

  • 6.4% ABV
  • 5.3 SRM
  • 66.5 IBU

My Experience:

– POUR

It has a transparent, light golden-brown color with an airy white head that sticks to the sides of the glass. Lots of tiny bubbles float up to the top. Continue reading

April Dirty Thirty Day 1 – Adroit Theory B/A/Y/S Ghost 003

Well here we are. April 1st is upon us. Baseball has started and so has the April Dirty Thirty! First up to bat is…

Adroit Theory B/A/Y/S Imperial Stout

Adroit Theory B/A/Y/S Imperial Stout

Adroit Theory Brewing Company B/A/Y/S Ghost Batch #003

Imperial Stout

The Mud Hound Sessions

Critical Information:

  • 9.1% ABV
  • 80 IBU
  • 38 SRM

My Experience:

– Pour

Poured from a corked bottle into room-temp mug. Beer warmed up to about 50 degrees (recommended 52-56). Deep, dark black color not even penetrated by iPhone flashlight. Small head with not much to hardly any carbonation.

– Smell

Strong smell of cherries accented with some rubbing alcohol and hazelnut (a little angry that it says cherry and hazelnuts those on the bottle. I got the cherries right off the bat before I read it then was able to find the hazelnuts after).

– Taste

Potent. But hey, it’s an imperial stout. I could really taste the cherries and some woodiness. I sensed some black licorice too.

– Mouthfeel

It coats the mouth very smoothly without any carbonation.

– After taste

I’m typing this while drinking it so as I write this I feel the alcohol content and cherries lingering. The coating left from the previous sip/gulp keeps the flavors active for 2+ minutes.

– Food

This would be an after dinner dessert drink. I could see it being paired with an ice cream or anything with whipped cream.

– Overall thoughts

This beer is 80 IBU but you wouldn’t know that unless you read the bottle. It is also, as I said earlier, potent. The strength of the flavor is definitely in conjunction with the beer style. Personally I’m not the biggest fan of the high-alcohol content imperial stouts (even though I will gladly drink a regular stout any time of the day). However this is a local beer made by a new brewery and real, regular people. That definitely helps me enjoy the beer more.

Score: 5/10

Brewery and B/A/Y/S Information

Adroit Theory was started in 2011 by Mark and Nina, the owners, and Greg joined this March as the brewer. Nina decided on Adroit which means “clever” or “skillful with the hands.” Mark chose Theory because, “it captured the theoretical, boundry pushing concepts we try to put into our recipes.”

They hope to have the build out of our warehouse done later this summer, and with the proper licenses in place, have a few soft openings this fall.

B/A/Y/S is, “an acronym based on the lyrics “Black As Your Soul” taken from a lyric by a Nine Inch Nails song. Given the mysteriouos and multi-layered dimensions in the bottle artwork, we thought it was a clever turn of phrase. Plus it perfectly describes the pitch black aspect of the brew.”

What’s different about B/A/Y/S from other imperial stouts is that it’s aged on Chestnut wood. “Chestnut is virtually extinct, and we have to take reclaimed wood from old barns etc, and plane them down into staves. The Chestnut gives an earthiness to the stout that I have not tasted anywhere else. When paired with the cherries and hazelnut additions, I think it really works.”

Thought for the Day

One thing I truly believe is that beer tastes better when you can connect with it on a personal level. Knowing who the brewers are and what went into making the beer makes any beer better. I hope Adroit Theory keeps pumping out new batches and continues to succeed. This was a great start to April Dirty Thirty. What did you start #AprilDirty30 with?