This was a great year for beer in Northern Virginia. Full Sail is now distributed and Great Divide's beers are more widely available. Also, Bob Tupper got back into business after a few years of dryness. Finally, Church Key opened a few block from my office in DC. Hope you have a chance to try some of these beers this year.
Great Divide - Collette This is a special. Grab as much as you can when you see it. I spent a night driving from store to store buying everything that was left. The focus on this beer is not the hops, but the yeast. It is a different taste. This is a farm house ale with yeast in the bottle. My friends laugh at me because my pours end up with overflowing heads. Great in the spring or summer. We had it the other night with Raclette and it was excellent.
Great Divide - Titan IPA We first discovered this perfect IPA from Great Divide before the Collete. It is great when a brewery makes a beer so good that you want to try everything that they produce. The balance in the IPA between the hops is totally refreshing and not overwhelming like others fighting the hop wars. I'm never disappointed when pulling one of these out of the fridge.
Appalacian - Hoppy Trails IPA This IPA made me really appreciate the IPA style. It made be go back and try some others again like Full Sail. The semi-high alcohol punch of an IPA has to be balanced with a strong hoppy flavor supported by a robust malt. A regular in my fridge.
Tupper's Hop Pocket Ale Bob Tupper introduced me to so many different beers at the Brick. I was thrilled when Old Dominion started brewing his Ale because I knew he liked Celebration Ale. This was my friend's favorite until Tupper pulled it from Old Dominion. After a long hiatus, Bob found a brewery and his Ale is back. Dominion did a better job, but still wonderful to have it back.
Schlafly - Christmas Ale Normally this spot would be reserved for Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale. But this spot opened up this year because of the disastrous change in the recipe. But Schlfly's might have made it anyway. The hint of orange made it a wonderful taste in a full ale for the season. I recommended it to everyone in my annual Christmas Beer tasting this year.
Heavy Seas - Winter Storm I've enjoyed this for the past several Christmas seasons. It is now my favorite Christmas ale with a great Extra Special Bitter flavor. I'll stock up this ale. Nearly a perfect cold night brew to warm your bones. Arrg!
Breckenridge - Extra ESB I love ESBs. My favorite was Fredrick's Red Ale, but that is now defunct. Had another great one in New Orleans about 10 years ago. It is so hard to find a good one, nevertheless a perfect one. Breckenridge's is not perfect but better than good. It is amazingly consistent. ESBs can be so smooth. I keep this one around.
Full Sail - Pale Ale. About 20 years ago at the Brickskeller the bartender introduced me to Full Sail Ale and Red Seal Ale. They were mana from heaven. They would be my first request when walking down those stairs and seeing all the cans. But distribution stopped and I finally gave up the search. I had to visit the brewery when in Oregon but never expected to see it back on the East Coast. This was the great surprise of the year. And try their IPA as well. Both wonderful.
Full Sail - Session Found this at a bar and have stocked up with both the regular and the dark Session. It comes in a Red Stripe like bottle and is a tasty lager with only 4% alcohol. Often I don't need the full IPA punch so this is a tasty alternative. Expect it to be a regular this summer.
Bell's - Oberon Our summer beer for the past few summers. I cannot help but think about a warm summer day and the pleasant taste of this wheat beer. You know summer has arrived when Oberon is on the shelves. Coming again soon.