Another Look Back, and Then Forward, On This American Craft Beer Week – Virginia Style

American Craft Beer Week, which officially began Monday, 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.

St. George PorterLooking back:  St. George Brewing Company’s Porter

American vs. English Porters, Stouts vs. Porters, we’re beyond these discussions, right?  Other than the origins of the individual ingredients that go into the beer, and a history lesson or two which are worth maybe a footnote these days, can’t we just move on to the beer?  Beyond the obvious – dark brown, often nearly black beers that are perhaps more complex than a brown but not as roasted as the average stout, Porters versions can be complex, malty (and possibly well hopped) experiences, and the best encourage one to (very) slowly sip and enjoy each sip thoroughly.  We’re lucky to have several in the state of Virginia, but one absolute standout for many years has been St. George’s (Hampton, VA) Porter.  An extremely smooth, medium like body delivers several delicious flavors that appear, vanish, and reappear like ghosts on your tongue.  Included are faint tastes of smoke, slightly charred wood, wisps of ash or charcoal, dark chocolate, and perhaps vague dark fruit.  All of these make for a somewhat rich, and certainly delicious, but very drinkable beer.  Of course, it is still very much a favorite to this day.

Champion Brewing Missile IPALooking forward:   Champion Brewing’s Missile IPA

From my hometown of Roanoke, the Charlottesville/Nelson County area is an easy, less than two hour craft beer destination.  With breweries that include Blue Mountain, Devils Backbone, South Street, Starr Hill, Bold Rock Ciders, and Wild Wolf, and stores such as Beer Run, the area has already become a hotbed of Virginia craft beer activity.  Enter newcomers such as Treehaus Brewing and Champion Brewing, and in a few months, the area will simply be even more of a spot to spend a night or two exploring the options.  One of those two new breweries, Champion, has been earning some favorable reviews online, with such beers as their Berliner Weisse and their Missile IPA.  Comments on the IPA not only point out plenty of orange and grapefruit flavors, with a firm malt sturdyness, but also ample bitterness, likening it to more of a west coast IPA.

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~ by thebeerroad on May 16, 2013.

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