Come Out For Blue 5′s Stone Enjoy By Party This Wednesday (And Support The Brewery Coming To Roanoke Too)

•April 14, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Blue 5 Enjoy By PartySomewhere down the road, we just might be able to say that Stone Brewing almost single-handedly brought the importance of the fresh-as-possible IPA to the consciousness of the mainstream craft beer drinker.  Their IPA with the date stamp for a name has consistently grabbed headlines since its introduction nearly a couple years ago, and has reinforced the issue of freshness with hop forward beers even among the most experienced craft curious folks.  The latest incarnation (for the moment) of the Enjoy By IPA has been consistently touted as one of the best yet, and the celebration surrounding its release is far from over, thanks to its not so hidden, read between the lines deadline for imbibing, April 20 (4.20).  As bottles of this beer will plainly tell you by the neck description of “Devastatingly Dank”, April’s Enjoy By is imbued with plenty of deeply rich citrusy, and yes, dank-ish type aromas and flavors, which, of course, are far more evident before the said date on the bottle.

This Wednesday, downtown Roanoke’s Blue 5 will celebrate Stone’s latest Enjoy By release by featuring it on draft, along with several other Stone beers.  There will also be giveaways of Stone Brewing merchandise, and the regional Stone Brewing sales representative is expected to drop by.  Not to be lost in the shuffle is Roanoke’s current interest in trying to persuade Stone Brewing to open up their east coast brewery right here within city limits.  So should you head out to Blue 5’s event for the party, consider taking some snapshots and sharing them on the Facebook page that was recently created to show Stone plenty of Roanoke area love.

The event starts at 6pm, so come out and enjoy plenty of Stone brews, and continue to make some noise for Roanoke’s chances for Stone to make the city its second home!

Chaos Mountain Brewing Company Readies To Enter The Growing Roanoke Beer Scene

•April 11, 2014 • Leave a Comment

wpid-20140411_143734.jpgIt’s been a long time coming for brewer Will Landry.  There was the possibility of brewing his recipes contract-style, on another brewery’s equipment, at least as a way to get started in the brewing industry.  Along the way, there was also the possibility of opening a brewpub on Grandin Road.  There were even thoughts of possibly moving away from the Roanoke area, at least to get his foot in the door at an already established brewery.  Yes, there were a few fits and starts, but what was obvious to anyone following Landry throughout those hopeful plans and slight setbacks was a persistence that seemed so tangible that you could’ve measured it in a warehouse full of beer kegs, which not so coincidentally, is exactly what the kind of thing one will see firsthand when they come out for the opening of Callaway’s Chaos Mountain Brewing Company, at which Will Landry has finally come full circle, as Head Brewmaster.

Throughout his trip to become the Head Brewer, there must have been many a day dream about what kinds of beers Landry would eventually brew and offer to potential fans.  A couple of weeks ago, his Chaos Mountain Chocolate Stout may have quietly shown up on a couple of draft lists at bars around Roanoke, but when the brewery opens, there will be nothing that feels “under the radar” about the brewery’s offerings.  Shooting for an opening around the end of April, Landry plans on having as many as ten beers available at the brewery, and eventually as many as five or six to offer restaurants and bars, and to retail outlets.  A few of these beers will be available at the April 25 edition of Cork and Crust’s “Friday Night Hops” events, held at the restaurant’s location in downtown Roanoke.

But until the opening, here’s a run-down below of some of the likely beers which will be available at the brewery’s opening.  Without a doubt, Landry will be there ready to pour you one, likely looking quite proud to finally serve pint glasses full of what he’s been dreaming about for some time.

Check out the Chaos Mountain Facebook page here.

Cheeky Monkey - A Belgian style blond ale brewed with an English Maris Otter malt as opposed to the traditional pilsner malt to give it an added malt character to go with the fruity notes of the Belgian yeast.

Mad Hopper IPA - A slightly different take on the IPA. With over a half dozen different hops, this IPA, while coming in at a pleasant 54 IBUs, has a modest bitterness with a big hop flavor and big nose you can drink all day.

Squatch Scotch Ale - A malty Scottish Ale that’s quickly sweet up front, then topped off with a slightly citrusy, earthy dose of hops.  In the Wee Heavy range of 7.5% ABV.

Cocoborealis - A chocolate stout, made with two different chocolate roast malts, cocoa powder, and finished with cacao nibs.

4 Mad Chefs - It will start out as available in 750ml corked and caged bottles and on draft at the brewery. This big 8.5% Belgian style quad has a big malty backbone to compliment the Belgian yeast.

Agents of Chaos – A Belgian Dark Strong weighting in around 10%. This deeply black beer, rimmed with a touch of ruby, is loaded with both the aromas and flavors of all the dark fruits you would expect from the style.

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Kick Off The Weekend With Wine Gourmet’s All Stone Tasting

•April 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Stone Brewing 1Eight highly rated beers will be available at Wine Gourmet’s Friday evening (5p to 8p) beer tasting this week, more than reason enough to come by the store.  But this week’s tasting offers a slightly different approach than most.  As most have heard by now, the well known California based Stone Brewing is considering locations for an East Coast location, and Roanoke appears to be in the running.  As a way to introduce (or remind) the craft curious in Roanoke just how well made the brewery’s beers are, and to bring attention to the Star City’s interest in having the brewery open here, all eight beers which Wine Gourmet will have this week will be Stone beers.

Available beers for tasting will include Stone’s Enjoy-By 4.20 IPA, IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Stochasticity Project Grapefruit Slam, Pale Ale, Cali-Belgique, Sublimely Self Righteous, and Matt’s Burning Rosids (Smoked Cherrywood Imperial Saison).  As far as some of these individual beers go, first, do not miss the Grapefruit Slam, which is exactly that, an IPA infused with tons of fresh grapefruit peel, and is something that I described recently as tasting “like someone painstakingly wrung out whatever liquid could be rendered from a massive amount of grapefruit zest and peel into your glass”.  One might think it makes perfect sense, putting grapefruit peel on top of a beer in which the hops might normally give it plenty of flavors resembling the fruit anyhow, but until you’ve tasted it, I wouldn’t write off that you might know how well it’s done.  The grapefruit is front and center, with little malt sweetness to stand in its way, and makes for perhaps a bit of a different IPA than you might have tasted so far from Stone.  Some have considered the current version of Enjoy-By to be one of the best in the monthly released series so far.  Aromas of tropical fruit headline the aroma and then can be found within the beer, rimming a solid punch of bitterness throughout the flavor, yet it all seems to give way to an attention stealing amount of “dankness” running throughout the beer.  And should any of us forget just how good Stone’s “standard” IPA is (first of all, shame on us), the tasting gives many of us who’ve perhaps had the beer in the past a chance to revisit a darn fine, satisfying, hop-spicy IPA.

But these are only some of my own thoughts about just a few of the beers which will be available at tomorrow’s all Stone tasting at Wine Gourmet.  Come out, do some tasting, and form your own opinions about these great beers – and help show Stone Brewing how much we truly enjoy them here in the Star City.  Oh, and while you’re at it, consider taking a second to snap a few shots too, and share them on the Facebook page dedicated to helping bring the brewery our way, which you can find here.

Cheers!

A Glimpse Into What’s Brewing At Chaos Mountain

•April 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Chaos Mountain BrewingIn between the time a new brewery announces its plans to open and the actual opening day often lies plenty of anticipation, especially for the craft beer fans who live nearby the brewery.  At the very least, they may simply want the brewery to succeed, as it’s often natural for folks to want a homegrown business do well.  On a more personal level, they may even know the people behind the brewery, and want them to find success as well.  They may hope the new brewery will benefit the area as a whole, especially if it brings positive reaction and recognition to an already growing craft beer scene, such as the one we have here in Roanoke.  More likely, the prospect of a new brewery incites a mixture of all of the above.  But in the end, let’s face it:  when a new brewery is planning on opening, what most of us really want to find out is – what will the beer be like?

Chaos Mtn Chocolate Stout Blues BBQ 2When it comes to Chaos Mountain Brewing, one of the Roanoke area’s newest craft breweries, you might have gotten a “taste” of the answer for that question if you found yourself at Roanoke’s Blues BBQ Co. restaurant last week.  There on their tap list, sandwiched somewhat inconspicuously between the other beers, was written “Chaos Mt. – Chocolate Stout”.  It was likely the very first public sighting of a beer from the Callaway based brewery, which hopes to open by the end of the month.

Snuck onto a draft list for those fortunate enough to come across it, the Chocolate Stout reminded me of a tasteful dry Irish stout, yet infused with plenty of cocoa and chocolate aroma and flavor, given to the beer by the addition of both cocoa powder and cacao nibs during brewing.  Will Landy, head brewer at Chaos Mountain, promises that even a “touch more dark chocolate character” is coming for future versions of the beer, which will be one of five or possibly six offerings the brewery hopes to have ready to go when it opens in the coming weeks.

Chaos Mtn Chocolate Stout Blues BBQ 3In the meantime, put Cork & Crust’s “Friday Night Hops” event for April 25th on the calendar, which will be one of the first official introductions to the brewery.  Come out and support one of Roanoke’s newest craft breweries, and find out just what the beer will be like.  But trust me, if the stout was any indication, we’re in for many flavorful beers to come.

Check out the brewery’s Facebook page here.  Cheers!

The “Session” IPA: Local Roots Restaurant & The Beer Road Take A Look At Stone’s “Go-To” IPA

•March 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Stone Go To IPA 1One afternoon last summer, a friend and I found ourselves debating a particular characteristic of beer.  No, it wasn’t one variety of hop over another, or whether we liked our Imperial IPAs more or less sweet, or the quality of the latest offering from one brewery or another.  It was alcohol content.  At the time, we both found ourselves planning trips to multiple day music festivals, and given the length of the events and the fact that both festivals allowed certain amounts of beer to be brought in, we were considering what beer to pack away in our respective coolers.  We were looking for something to enjoy at times throughout the festival, but considering that we both knew we’d want to take in as much music as possible, we were both also wary of the knockout punch higher gravity beers can deliver.  After all, it’s tough to enjoy your favorite band’s last set, much less their second encore, when your body is telling you that it would rather just give it up and call it a day.

Lower alcohol content beers, of course, are nothing new.  Even today, certain “styles” can lend themselves to lower abv offerings.  Many porters, pale ales, and ambers clock in at around six percent or less.  Certain types of stouts do the same.  However, in the land of craft beer, higher alcohol content beers – say, north of six percent at least – are very commonplace.  At the least, these beers certainly seem to be the ones that catch the most press attention.  Just think of some of the last Imperial stouts or IPAs you tasted or considered buying.  Chances are they were well north of eight percent, and I bet they were closing in on ten.  The large number of higher alcohol content beers on the craft market led one beer writer and blogger to help begin a movement a few years ago centered around the term “session beer”, defining such as any beer that, among other things, meets a specific requirement of coming in at 4.5% abv or less.  While that very specific definition might seem a little strict to some, the conversation that the movement started is worthy of consideration.    Especially when, let’s say, you have a three day music and camping festival coming up.  (Or camping trip, or day at the beach, or just lunch with a friend.)

Local Roots Restaurant, Roanoke, VaThe idea behind lower abv craft beers has definitely received a fair amount of attention since then.  Some of the reaction has been skeptical in nature, as some beer lovers have wondered why there might be a need to limit craft beer in any way.  Nevertheless, the trend has plenty of momentum, and there are even entire breweries that now specialize in offering lower gravity beers.  But across the board, the same styles, such as the ones mentioned above, always seem to get the most discussion.  Crazily enough, one style, perhaps the style with the most numerous examples on the entire planet, seemed to be on the outside looking in when it came to versions that sport a lower abv.  And while some claim that such beers are more akin to a Pale Ale than any “new” beer style, eventually, a market for what has become known as the “Session IPA” seemed to find a niche, and breweries like Founders and Lagunitas have since introduced their own versions.  But one brewery in particular, known far and wide for its stable of IPAs, has brought new attention to the Session IPA due to the recent release of its own offering.  Yes, Stone Brewing has entered the Session IPA market, with its “Go-To IPA”.  This evening (Friday 3/28), those of us in Roanoke will get a chance to taste this beer on draft at Local Roots Restaurant.

If there is a common thread with many session IPAs, it is that they seem to benefit from fairly extensive levels of dry hopping – additions of hops late in the brewing process – which mainly affect the aroma of a beer.  This technique seems to have somehow gained a slightly different approach in Stone’s Go-To IPA, if not just a different name, something Stone calls “hop bursting”, but it certainly sounds like some form of dry hopping.  As the description on the bottle states, “an irrational amount of hops are added during the final phase of the brewing process to coax out extreme flavors and aromas”.  No matter or what you call it, late additions of hops can definitely turn up the volume on those amazing aromas that hops give to beer, to the point that they seem to literally jump out of the glass when poured.  Stone’s Go-To IPA is a great example.  It’s not often that you can so easily smell the pine like, grapefruity aroma of an IPA at nearly arms length, but with Go-To, the aromas seek you out almost immediately after the beer is poured.

It is sometimes said that the flavor of many heavily dry hopped beers lean towards being overly grassy, a characteristic that definitely shows up in some amount with hop forward beers.  But with Go-To, this lays well underneath a more predominant layer of the grapefruity kinds of tastes you expect from most IPAs, edged by some pine and finished off with a palate cleansing and lingering amount of bitterness.  This all makes for a more complete “Session IPA” than many I’ve tasted.

Stone Go To IPA 2As my friend and I, both admittedly huge IPA fans, talked that day about lower abv beers, the discussion eventually got around to “sessionable” versions of the style we love so much.  At the time, there were already a few choices to choose from, and this summer, many other breweries are readying similar releases.  Stone Brewing is one of the first to hit the market this year with their “Go-To” IPA, just in time for me to start thinking about music festival season.

Check out Stone’s “Go-To” IPA, going on tap at Local Roots Friday, 3/28.

Looking To Introduce (Or Reintroduce) Yourself To Some Stone Brewing Beer?

•March 25, 2014 • Leave a Comment

**Updated 3.27**

Considering the recent news that Roanoke is possibly being considered for Stone Brewing’s East Coast brewery location, it’s no surprise that there will be some Stone Brewing related events coming up soon in the area.  If you’re interested in coming out and not only tasting some outstanding beer from the California based brewery, but also in showing plenty of support and interest in the brewery and their beer, here are a couple that are on the radar so far:

Stone Brewing tasting at Roanoke’s Wine Gourmet, Friday April 4.  Wine Gourmet is planning a tasting event that likely will include several Stone brews.  More details to come!

Release Party/Event for Stone Enjoy By 4.20.14 IPA at Blue 5, Wednesday April 16.  Come out and get a taste of the latest edition of Stone’s monthly released “Enjoy By” IPA, considered by some to be the best rendition yet.  Here are some of the other Stone brews likely to be on tap: Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean, Matt’s “Burning Rosids” Imperial Cherrywood-Smoked Saison, Stochasticity Project Grapefruit Slam, Arrogant Bastard, and Double Arrogant Bastard.  Plenty of brewery swag will likely be available as well!

In addition, Martin’s Downtown Bar & Grill posted this morning that they also would be putting Enjoy By 4.20.14 IPA on draft sometime soon…

…and don’t forget, consider posting a photo of yourself enjoying that Stone brew to the Facebook page “Stone Brewing Co.: YES Roanoke Is Worthy

Cheers!

(Updated) Local Roots Puts On Draft Stone’s (Stochasticity Project) Grapefruit Slam IPA

•March 20, 2014 • Leave a Comment

***Updated Monday 3/24.  Well, that was fast!  Over the weekend, Local Roots ran through the entire keg of this delicious beer.  I decided to leave the post up for the time being because also over the weekend, I noticed bottles were still available at local stores in Roanoke.  So if you weren’t able to come by Local Roots to try Grapefruit Slam on draft, I spotted bottles still available at Roanoke’s Wine Gourmet, and I believe they are still available for sale at Blue 5 Restaurant in downtown Roanoke.***

Any serious craft beer fan would be quick to point out that Stone Brewing does indeed make beers representative of other styles than just IPAs.  And of course, that would be true, and they are excellent – Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout, Smoked Porter, Lukcy Basartd, Old Guardian Barleywine, and the iconoclastic Arrogant Bastard ale all come to mind.  But you’d be hard pressed to find a fan that in the next breath didn’t at least somewhat agree that Stone is ground zero for some of the most highly regarded IPAs in the business.  If you tick off only the most well known in the brewery’s repertoire – Stone IPA, Ruination, RuinTen, the Enjoy By series – it’s enough to make the point.   Their association not only with the style but with producing some of the best examples of it out there is so agreed upon that when rumor of a new Stone IPA release begins to circulate among craft beer forums on the internet, the comments often begin somewhere along the lines of a slightly tired sounding “ok…it’s yet another IPA from Stone”, yet said always with an implied grin, as the very next comment goes something like “and…since it’s from Stone, of course I’ll be trying it!”.

One of the latest such releases is a side project IPA called (Stochasticity Project) Grapefruit Slam.  The thought seemed simple (but delicious) enough – back up the much loved citrus like aromas and flavors which certain hops can bring to many an IPA by including “an immense dosing of fresh grapefruit peel” in the beer.  The result was a pale amber colored, clean tasting, drying, mouth puckering experience unlike many of the brewery’s other IPA releases.  Set apart by featuring a little less of a malty (sweet) body and balancing flavor than some of Stone’s other IPAs, Grapefruit Slam reminds you of its concept through every sip, which tastes like someone painstakingly wrung out whatever liquid could be rendered from a massive amount of grapefruit zest and peel right into your glass.

The release, like many other one off projects from Stone, was a limited one, and bottles weren’t necessarily easy to come by here in Roanoke.  So in case you missed grabbing one, or perhaps didn’t, and would like to taste what this next installment of tasty IPA from Stone is like on draft, Local Roots Restaurant has put it on tap in the last 24 hours.  As with all Stone limited brews, chances are it won’t last long, so make your way down to get a taste of this delicious IPA from Stone Brewing – yes, another Stone IPA (grin implied).

**Roanoke craft beer fans – check out last week’s post about the possibility of Stone Brewing coming to our fair city, and if you haven’t yet, take a moment to check out and join the Facebook group “Stone Brewing Co: YES Roanoke Is Worthy“!

 
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