Beergrimage

Every year fellow beer blogger Bryan Roth and his friend Justin take a roadtrip to Dogfish Head in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware affectionately called, “Beergrimage.” This year their wolfpack grew by one – me.

You can find Bryan’s write-up on our adventure here

The Mission

Take a roadtrip from our meeting point in Washington, DC hitting up four breweries on our way to the Atlantic. These breweries are DuClaw Brewing Company, Eastern Shore Brewing, 16 Mile Brewery and lastly Dogfish Head Brewpub. Mission accepted.

**Note: Justin manned up and was our responsible designated driver for the whole trip. Don’t drink and drive.**

DuClaw Brewing Company

We climbed into Justin’s Mazda and left DC around 9:30am making our way up to Bowie, MD to DuClaw Brewing Company. We were those guys knocking on the door to let us in at 10:59am when they open at 11:00am (hey, it was cold out). You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning. Here’s what I ordered (from left to right in the picture):

  • Sweet Baby Jesus (of course), which is their famous Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter
  • Anti-Venom Pale Ale
  • Bad Moon Porter, a Robust Porter on Nitro
  • eXile 7 (X7) Imperial Amber Ale
  • Hellrazer IPA
  • Naked Fish, a Chocolate Raspberry Stout
DuClaw Brewing Flight

DuClaw Brewing Flight

Each was a delicious 4-ounce pour. I can’t complain about any of them. The dark beers were all superb making it really difficult to choose my favorite. You can’t go wrong with Sweet Baby Jesus, Bad Moon Porter or Naked Fish. Their Cuban sandwich was spot on and gigantic especially for only $11.

Outside of DuClaw

Outside of DuClaw — Me (left) and Bryan (right)

Eastern Shore Brewing

With full stomachs and some beer in our systems we headed to our next stop about an hour away in St Michaels, MD – Eastern Shore Brewing. The tasting room looks like a well-lit hunter’s cigar lounge. Comfy chairs and couches surround the wooden walls with animal heads and guns held by deer hooves on them. There was a small L-shaped bar to the right of the entrance where we pulled up at.

Eastern Shore Brewing

Eastern Shore Brewing

Byran and I each got a flight of their 5 beers. The kinda weird, super optimistic bartender explained that they brew based on the season meaning we’re going to get darker beers. Cool – right up my alley, right? Well not so much. We each had a scotch ale, black IPA, amber ale, a porter and the same porter on cask infused with coco nibs. The beers were all very thin-bodied and felt watered-down. They weren’t filled any with off-flavors or a ton of flavor of any kind. Only the cask porter with coco nibs had distinction to it. Too bad. But we weren’t about to let some watered-down beers ruin our trip.

Aside – The brewery is adjacent to a winery AND a distillery. This might make for a fun afternoon if you’re in the area. Just hit up the brewery last and maybe the beer will taste better.

16 Mile Brewery

I wish that I had seen the movie 8 Mile so I could make some joke about how 16 Mile is twice as good as it. I digress.

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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?