About- Chris Hilliard
Confession: I never wanted to be a beer snob. In fact, I fought it. But I wouldn’t be writing this if I succeeded.
I started drinking craft beer because I didn’t know better. All I knew was I liked it better than the macros. Before long, I was drinking craft beer because I did know better. Words like “boozy” and “barnyard” and “mouthfeel” entered my vocabulary. At bars, the hunt began with the most expensive. I researched the history of lambic and pilsner and bière de garde. And to complete my snob-ucation, I joined a beer club.
We’re hitting the end of a hot North Carolina summer, which means we can look forward to the days being less hot, humid, and sticky. Hopefully you haven’t let the weather change many of your plans this year. But when you do venture outside, I recommend taking with you Lonerider’s new dry-hopped American wheat ale, For A Few Hops More.
Welcome to the next installment of Beer and Book Club! Today, my good friend Ben and I discuss Jeff VanderMeer’s genre-bending, science fiction-ish novel Annihilation (buy it here). Along with it, we’ll drink Double Helix, a Belgian-style blonde ale produced by Twin Leaf Brewing out of Asheville, NC.
Somehow I’ve managed to go years without reviewing a single thing from Burial Beer Company, one of the better-known, Asheville-based brewers in North Carolina. Today we make an end to that with One For Me, Burial’s collaboration Helles Lager brewed with Other Half Brewing out of New York.
YesterYears is a thing of the past. YesterYears Brewing, I mean. And from its ashes rises Vecino Brewing Company.
This very weekend, even as I type this, the room is full of patrons, a musician in the corner, and bartenders and food runners and dish collectors (oh my), all of whom are here for Vecino’s grand opening weekend celebration, Cinco de Vecino in Carrboro, North Carolina.
Ben and I are back for another installment of Beer & Book Club (NC chapter)! After our last meeting in the UK, we’ve hopped back across the pond into the good ol’ US of A. Manhattan, New York, to be precise. There we met Joe Pitt, the enigmatic, vampiric protagonist of Charlie Huston’s pulp, noir, detective novel Already Dead. To complement our discussion, we drank Blood Orange Wheat from New Sarum Brewing out of Salisbury, NC.
Drinking beer is as much an adventure as an education. At least, for me it is. For example, just the other week I discovered yet another new style, the kvass, a traditionally Slavic beverage, brewed with rye bread that is low in alcohol (≤1%) and slightly sour. A quick read on Wikipedia informed me of kvass’ long, historic journey from the Middle Ages to modern-day.
Fear not, fellow PorchDrinkers, I have returned with my friend Ben for the next installment of Beer & Book Club. We’ll discuss Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day over a couple of pints of Old Speckled Hen, one of the most British beers you can get your hands on.
Raleigh’s own Big Boss Brewing is at it again with a limited release of Saints on Raspberries. A tart, fruity twist on their Flanders red-inspired Saints & Sinners, Saints on Raspberries is another feather in the cap that is their foedre-aged “Strange Cargo” series. The twist? Six extra months in wine barrels soaking up raspberry essence. Now, without further ado, the beer.
This installment of Beer & Book Club takes us to England, turn of the 20th century, where we immerse ourselves in three of H.G. Wells’ most recognized works: The War of the Worlds, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and The Time Machine. To complement the discussion, we’ll indulge ourselves with a fine specimen of a milk stout, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout.
Things of late have been eventful for me, dear readers. A new home, a newborn nephew, and now my first foray into SweetWater Brewing Co.’s The Woodlands Project. The Woodlands opened its doors around this time last year (October 2016) and ever since has served as HQ for SweetWater’s barrel-aging program where they produce small-batch “funky, sour, or otherwise awesome beers.”
The next stop on North Carolina’s sour beer train takes us to Charlotte, home of The Unknown Brewing Co. This summer they released 3.5ish, a gueuze-inspired lambic-style ale, to celebrate three-and-a-half years (more or less) of beer brewing.
D9 Brewing Co. hits on all cylinders with their Systema Naturae program. As a reminder, Systema Naturae “emphasizes the exploration of scientific processes and ingredients exhibited throughout the natural world.” What that means in practical terms is they embrace a …
ABV: 9.1% | IBU: 22
We’re well into summer in the southeast United States. That means it’s hot, sticky and, depending on your locale, it can be pretty miserable outside. What better way for a beer fan to fight the oppressive heat and humidity than with a bright new brew? Let me assure you, there is no better way. This one comes all the way from Athens, Georgia, and the famous Terrapin Beer Company.
Fellow readers and PorchDrinkers, I apologize for my extended absence. You see, I’ve been reading a big book; more than 500 pages of fantastical mythology weaved with American sensibilities. I’m talking, of course, about Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.
Featured image courtesy of Ponysaurus Brewing
How many of you have tasted a bière de garde? I bet not many. Up until recently, I was included in that bunch. Truthfully it’s not the most common of beer styles in the U.S., and in North Carolina, it’s even rarer. As a matter of fact, I can think of only one brewer (no doubt there are more) who produces this style of beer: Durham’s own Ponysaurus Brewing Co.
We at PorchDrinking are no strangers to Big Boss. They’re one of Raleigh’s best and brightest breweries. But we are strangers to their new oak-aged “Strange Cargo” trio. At least we were, until now.
PorchDrinking is starting a beer and book club! Each installment will discuss a particular book along with a beer, a bar, a brewpub or what have you. The first meeting of Chapel Hill’s little chapter of Beer and Books (that is, my friend Ben and myself) convened at The Speakeasy in Carrboro, NC, and we discussed “A Voyage to Arcturus.”
ABV: 6.0% | IBU: 34
Imagine you’ve just received an email from a local brewery notifying you of the imminent release of a new spring seasonal. Compelling, right? Who doesn’t love to see new beer on the scene? So, you keep reading. “If you would like a sample, please provide your mailing address…” How do you respond? If you’re me in that moment, you play it cool.
ABV: 13.0% | IBU: 40
I just enjoyed the strongest beer I’ve ever had. Coming from one who actively seeks out high gravity beer, I feel like that’s something of an accomplishment. Even more so considering it’s from North Carolina, a state where the statutory limit of alcohol in beer is 15.0%. And while I don’t see much point in setting a legal limit at all, it’s very much preferable to the previous limit of 6.0% (I mean, really?). Thankfully this was lifted in 2005 when former NC governor Mike Easley signed NC HB 392 into law. I feel safe speaking for beer aficionados across the state when I say, “Thanks, Mike.”