Kick Off American Craft Beer Week 2013, Virginia Style.

American Craft Beer Week, which officially began today, both celebrates the current culture surrounding craft beer in the country as well as commemorates it.  As with any event such as this, it is a chance to live in the moment as well as reflect on the past.  While many will celebrate this week with their attention fully wrapped around the former, whether by visiting the latest brewery to open in one’s area, or maybe by trying that newest release they’ve been on the edge of their seat for, personally, I always seem to have a soft spot for the latter, in the a spirit of reflection.  After all, most anyone will agree that it’s important to look back occasionally, no matter what the circumstances, to honor the choices you’ve made – the ones that worked out at least – and to revel a little in the soft, warm glow of nostalgia.  (And if that doesn’t work, you can revel in the glow that a nice tripel often has when you hold it up to a light.  Am I the only one that gets lost in that kind of stuff?)  Nevertheless, I also enjoy the latest brewery news and releases as much as anyone.  So, it is with a little reflection that I take a look at a couple beers that helped get us to where we are today and also call out a couple recent releases that are pushing us into the future – and by “us” I mean that we’re keeping focus squarely within the borders of the Commonwealth.  I’d say there’s plenty going on right here in Virginia to celebrate, and commemorate, American Craft Beer Week.

Blue Mountain Brewery Full Nelson Pale AleLooking back:  Blue Mountain’s Full Nelson Pale Ale.

Back when I still couldn’t quite figure out exactly what flavors I was enjoying in beers that were “hoppy”, or at least “hoppier” than anything I had drank before, Full Nelson both helped define what I was beginning to care for, and helped steer my choices.  It remains a favorite to today, and as Virginia grows in craft beer credibility, is one of our most solid gold star beers.  Full Nelson combines ample grapefruit-rind bite and pine flavors, along with a slightly sweet delivery and rounded out mouthfeel to make for a kind of beer that often gets overlooked these days – something not too extreme, but with plenty of flavor.  If you perhaps haven’t tasted it yet, it’s fairly easy to find.  Better yet, if you happen to be craving a road trip soon, jump in the car and head to Nelson County and taste some fresh.

Smartmouth BrewingLooking forward:   Smartmouth Brewing’s Alter Ego Saison

In the interest of full disclosure, I have yet to sample this beer, so go ahead and tell me that I’m going out on a limb here.  But I have a feeling I’m not.  At the very least, there’s something to be said for a brewery that opens up, as Smartmouth did in late 2012, with three beer offerings, and one is a Saison.  With distribution that currently, and understandably, only makes the rounds in the Portsmouth, Norfolk, Suffolk, Williamsburg and the like, it may take a short while to get a taste of this one – but comments on the two sites and have folks pretty impressed.  Fruity, citrusy, grassy, dry, slightly peppery all are common adjectives – a touch of funkiness is even noted.


~ by thebeerroad on May 13, 2013.

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