Psst, did you know August is Virginia Craft Beer Month? It’s okay if you didn’t, 2012 is it’s inaugural year, so word is steadily getting out there. All month, folks have been celebrating at local breweries, restaurants, and special events enjoying one or more of Virginia’s 40 breweries. And why not when, according to the Travel Channel, not just locals, Virginia is one of the North America’s Top 7 Beer Destinations. The celebrations culminate this weekend at Devil’s Backbone Brewery, who will host the Virginia Craft Beer Festival.
Just in time for Craft Beer Month, the beer I helped brew earlier this year arrived at my desk. “Finally!” declared my friends wife as she sat a lovely four pack on my desk with a laugh as I clapped my hands with delight. With vacations, being away from school, and off site meetings, the beer had been ready for over a month, but the delivery delayed . “Be sure to tell us how you like them,” she said before proceeding with the remaining deliveries. I think that was the day I had 13 “Blue Screens of Death” (Still working on that resolution…three weeks later). It was very tempting to crack one of these bad boys open, but I refrained. These bottles would be ones to savor. There was a lot of time and hard work that went into these, you know!
It has been only recently that I began enjoying beer. A year and a half ago, no way you would find me drinking it over, say, a glass of wine or Bushmills. It was actually my friends’ home brewed beer that turned me. They were serving it at their Memorial Day party and I thought, why not? Oh, it was delicious! It was a wheat ale, I believe, but there was an accidental twist. They had re-cycled bottles from a batch of root beer they had brewed with their son. Despite a good scrubbing and sanitizing, the root beer flavor had made its way into the beer. Oh, my goodness, it was awesome! So when they asked if I wanted to help with the next batch a few months ago, I said, “Sign me up!”
So what goes into brewing beer? It’s actually not that difficult, though the initial set up is a bit pricey, especially if you are really into it like my friend and his wife are. With the right gear and a good kit, you’re ready to brew! The kits we brewed were for an India Pale Ale (IPA) and an Apricot Blonde Ale from the Northern Brewer. I’m telling you, despite the long waits in between a few of the steps, brewing beer goes really fast! I barely even remember the steps, even with my notes. I did find the recipe online, though, if you’re interested. My favorite part was the malt syrup. Once you’ve added that in, you have what is called a “wort”, which will feed the yeasts that will turn it into alcohol (aka, beer!).
Now how did they taste? One word: YUM! The IPA was very, very powerfully hoppy. As it should be! I mean, look at all that hops in the picture above. My boys are huge fans of IPAs and I think they would love this one. I liked that the bitterness was refreshing rather than unpleasant. My favorite, though, was the Apricot Ale. It was lightly sweet and the taste of dried apricots played on the back of my tongue. Blue Moon is the closest I can think of to compare it to.
Now go enjoy the rest of Beer Month…even if you aren’t in Virginia!