AboutScott Johnson – PorchDrinking.com
Oh sure, people talk about the Pacific Northwest, Denver, California… but what about the Northeast? Our craft scene should never be ignored, and 2018 only further proved that point as breweries continued to impress. The PorchDrinking.com Northeast Team wanted to share a few thoughts about the year in beer, 2018.
If you’ve been paying attention to the Gourmet YouTube scene, many classic publications are rejuvenating themselves through spectacular new digital content series. Bon Appétit has been pushing forward with glorious junk food recreations in “Gourmet Makes” and fermentation experimentation in “It’s Alive With Brad.” America’s Test Kitchen has transitioned to online magnificently through highly informative videos on products and cooking techniques. But the series that’s been most interest in terms of flavor analysis is “Price Points” by recipe index Epicurious.
Autumn is the season of pies. Whether it’s pumpkin, sweet potato or pecan, we all know the colder months bring forth a nostalgic desire for those traditionally warming, sweet sensations. So when the wave of pumpkin-spiced everything (including beer) takes over, how do you stand out? Brothers Craft Brewery cuts to the core of this dilemma by releasing a specially brewed apple ale, Blonde Betty.
There is no beer scene in the Shenandoah Valley without the influence of Brothers Craft Brewery, formerly known as Three Brothers. These guys have been providing wonderful beers in the Appalachian Mountains since the Virginia beer boom in 2012 by catering to both sides of the craft beer spectrum. They recently won Best in Show at the Virginia Craft Beer Cup for their flagship Lil Hellion; their barrel-aged beers like Resolute and Drunken Mornings are loved by rare beer collectors.
Last Christmas, my extended relatives decided to gift me a few deliveries of The Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club. Opening these mail packages felt like a relic of a different era when getting craft beer required more effort and planning. It can be a fun gift to give to the beer fan in your life when they’ve had everything at the supermarket. I’ve received beers from breweries in New York, Pennsylvania, and Iowa that I never heard about before, but the best beer to come from these shipments was Mt. Carmel Brewing Company’s Coffee Brown.
The number one thing you will learn as a brewer is that there is always room to improve. Even the most professional people in the business know this. The very first beer I ever brewed was an amber ale that somehow surpassed all expectation by getting infected and tasting like sour lemons. There’s no shame in admitting it because everyone has gone through a similar, baffling situation in their first year of brewing.
Thanks to criticism from professional judges, I’ve found out what has been the bane of my brewing existence since I moved to a new apartment. Three of my beers were found to have medicinal off-flavors, resulting in band-aid/astringent tasting bottles. This type of problem can occur due to over-crushing grains or yeast contamination, but I was convinced it was a problem with the water. These reasons are why I constantly advise brewers to learn about the chemicals in your water source (using a system like Ward Lab) or by talking out the issue with other local homebrewers. Using the Brewer’s Friend Water Chemistry Calculator is a good way to figure out what needs to be added to accommodate your beer recipe.
Everyone has a favorite cocktail. Not just from the base recipe or primary ingredient, but it isn’t your cocktail unless it’s made with your favorite brand. So when you jump from the 10 major brands of whiskey to the hundreds of available pale ales in your state, the search becomes a massive task. That’s where I’ve taken the steps to help narrow down the best Braggot Cocktail that will get you started on the road to personal perfection.
A braggot is technically defined as a beer mixed with mead; however, the beverage can exist through traditionally brewed recipes. The Beer Judge Certification Program would list it as an Alternative Sugar Beer (31B) where honey is used as the primary ingredient. They can vary wildly in terms of flavor, weight and sweetness. You would think this style would appear more often in our age of experimentation, but finding a commercially available braggot has been very difficult lately.
There’s nothing quite as special in the world of animation as Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe. Rebecca Sugar created this pastel wonderland out of her love of classic anime, space opera, and enchanting melody. The result of her hard work is not only one of the best cartoons of this decade but an incredible examination of sci-fi-infused LGBTQ discovery.
The adventurous spirit of the brewer gives life to the craft beer industry. From humble beginnings creating experimental homebrews to large scale operations, the way styles and ingredients revolutionize our palates is nothing short of incredible. That’s what gave me a real appreciation for Scratch Brewing Company whose philosophy of forage-to-keg brewing really tests what beer is capable of. I had to own their book “The Homebrewer’s Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to Making Your Own Beer From Scratch” after our fellow PorchDrinking writer David Nilsen covered it in loving detail.
Have you ever watched a movie that made you go “I wish I could watch this again, but while drinking with my friends?” Then this is the Ultimate 6er for you! Enjoying a movie that falls in this sweet spot is just as important as finding any unearthed gem. There is no better way to experience these forms of unbridled enthusiasm than without any limits. So that’s why I’ve compiled the best pairings of the best beers to have with movies beyond regular enjoyment.
“He made me feel warm like glitter was exploding inside me”
These words are from the first episode of CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and I have felt that way ever since. When the show first came out, everyone (myself included) rolled his or her eyes just because the title evokes that same type of romantic drama we know too well. I couldn’t be more wrong; Rachel Bloom’s comedy-musical series was one of the most original, introspective takes on will they-won’t they wacky love featuring great commentary on mental illness. Along with the witty writing, you get high quality, hilarious songs that riff on every genre like the Marilyn Monroe inspired “The Math of Love Triangles” and the best pop-punk song since 2009, “Ping Pong Girl.”
The Veil Brewing Company’s is still gathering long lines of dedicated fans from across the United States for their phenomenal beers. Yet, what I really appreciate about them is that even though they are considered one of the best breweries in Virginia; they do not rest on their laurels. They are willing to alter a perfect recipe just to give drinkers a new flavor experience. Hornswoggler has worked as the great canvas to show off their brewing skills by using difficult ingredients beyond what anyone could have believed.
Netflix has become the new home for incredible original content spending six billion dollars for this year alone. As more people are ditching cable for the comfort of streaming, we expect to see shows that can do great things without corporate oversight. Last year, I talked about the best pairings with this company’s more publicly renowned shows, but this time we’ll point out the newer, more innovative series around!
Homebrewers are driven by the desire to make new recipes. Usually when we recreate an old recipe, we try to improve on past mistakes or change ingredients to make a better product. This is the one beer recipe I’ve made more than once thanks to it’s quality. I present to you my award-winning Top of the Morning Cream Ale!
Sapporo Holdings Ltd, owners of the oldest beer brand in Japan, have announced they will purchase all equity interest of San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Company on August 31, 2017 for $85 Million. The Sapporo Group’s decision to buy Anchor is based on a new “Global Business Expansion” policy to continue growth in the US and Southeast Asian markets. This is the second brewery acquired by Sapporo since the $400 million deal for Canada’s Sleeman Breweries in 2006.
I have known about Smartmouth Brewing Company for a few years now, loving their Alter Ego Saison and enjoying the brewery’s delightful detailed scientific labels that adorn its year-round brews. The first time I had heard of Safety Dance Pilsner, the beer appeared as the Best in Show Winner for the 2017 Virginia Craft Beer Cup. So when I saw these cans in my local bottle shop, I knew I had to pick some up for these muggy, summer days.
SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience is one of the most premier craft beer events on the East Coast. The Brewers Association, in partnership with the historic National Building Museum, brings forth this incredible event to give beer lovers a chance to meet brewers, find rare delicacies and experience unbelievable combinations that bring new meaning to taste and smell. In our long history of covering this event, PorchDrinking gave me the opportunity to savor a beer festival unlike any other.
ABV: 4.6% | IBU: 41
If you’ve had a fever for a drinkable coffee stout in the summertime, Pro Re Nata Beans Deep will cure what ails ya. It’s a soothing beer at a bucolic brewery.
Beer is a luxury. An accessible luxury like a movie ticket or restaurant visits, but a luxury nonetheless. It’s really difficult for me to splurge up to fifteen dollars on a 22 oz. bomber of beer unless I’m sure of the brewery’s quality or the style makes the price worth it (imperial stout or gueuze). I much prefer making a decorative mix-six for the same cost, giving me more beers to experience all at once. The love of finding new beers is what led me to beer trading in the first place.
ABV: 7% | IBU: 20
Have you ever had an incredible taproom-only beer and wondered if it’ll ever come back? Three Notch’d Brewing Company out of Charlottesville, Virgina is all about producing exciting, innovative new beers on a weekly basis. The brewery has even expanded this philosophy at their satellite taprooms in Harrisonburg and Richmond thanks to dedicated small batch managers. And the greatest success to come from this the yearning to create, is the New England Style IPA, Minute Man.
ABV: 6.1 | IBU: 40
For any serious homebrewer, the ultimate dream is for one of their recipes to ultimately reach out to audiences beyond their immediate reach. Starr Hill Brewing, located in Crozet, Virginia, has made that dream a reality when recreating the Vernal Equinox English IPA.