Photogenic & Fermented: June 2014 Beertography

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It’s the end of the month, which means it’s time for my regular roundup of beertography from the last few weeks. I was really happy with the amount of beertography I was able to capture in June. I don’t know what hit me, but I suppose I was feeling extra creative.

Below you’ll find some of my favorite, recent shots, which you may also come across on my Instagram page, Twitter account or even Untappd. The photos below are just a few of the ones I took throughout the month, but you can find all of them on my Instagram account.

All my shots are taken with my iPhone 5 unless otherwise noted. The space where I shoot my photos – around the house – offers somewhat limited opportunities for pretty backdrops, which is why I try to get inventive with my photo ideas and did some traveling this time around.

Let’s see what June had to offer…

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout – Framed Perfection

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Mother Earth Endless River – Back to the Source

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Troegs LaGrave – Rest in Peace

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Sierra Nevada Rain Check – Summer Storm

sierra nevada-rain check-stout-rain-beer-beertography-photo-picture(Above shot with Nikon D90)

Heineken Desperados – Riding Across Scorched Earth

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As always, you can go back to see previous beertography posts:

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

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This is What Happens When You Visit Three Breweries and THEN Go to Dogfish Head: Beergrimage 2014

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Click to enlarge, if you dare.

WARNING: #Longread

I make no qualms about the purpose of this blog. The title is poking fun at the idea of hosting a beer blog – I’m not drunk when I’m producing content. I swear, mom. There’s a very real reason why I do this.

Part of that reason is my adoration for Dogfish Head, which launched what I assume will be a life-long love for all things beer. All the details are here, if you feel so inclined.

That said, sometimes it’s important to let yourself go a little. Sometimes you’ve got to have fun. Sometimes, you’ve got to go on a Beergrimage.

It’s a time for friends, but no time for check-ins. It’s a reason to be silly, but no reason to get stupid. It’s an opportunity to celebrate beer. For the third year in a row, that’s what a buddy and I did, this time accompanied by Friend of the Program Josh from Short on Beer, who also offers a recap on his blog.

This year’s trip wasn’t just to Dogfish’s Rehoboth Beach brewpub, as in year’s past. We put a new spin on the effort, turning it into a mini beer road trip. Fun abounds.
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A Taste of Pure Michigan: Arbor Brewing Lineup

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Sure, Founders and Bell’s breweries may get most of the attention for Michigan beer thanks to wide distribution, but there’s plenty more to be had.

That’s something Friend of the Program, Mark Graves, touched on with his Six-Pack Project entry for Michigan. There are about 100 total breweries spread across the Great Lakes State, so there’s something to be had by all.

The Missus recently made a trip to Ann Arbor, where upon her kindness and the suggestion of a local grabbed me a mixed six-pack of Arbor Brewing‘s lineup. Baring the slogan “Mitten Made,” I can’t imagine of a more fitting way to be more “Pure Michigan” for my tastebuds. Let’s take a dive into some of their offerings, which seem to have a uniquely Belgian inspiration.
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The Six-Pack Project: Beers from Around the Country

six pack-beerWith Memorial Day in the rearview mirror, we’ve entered the (unofficial) start of summer. Barbecues, beaches and vacations lie ahead.

But what’s a trip away from home without throwing beer into the mix?

Enter the Six-Pack Project. It’s a new, collaborative effort between beer bloggers from around the country to highlight a six-pack of our state’s native brews that we believe best represent what the beer culture of our respective states offer. If someone is coming to visit, what bottles or cans would we want to share?

Here are our rules:

  • Pick a six-pack of beers that best represents your state and/or state’s beer culture.
  • Beer must be made in your state, but “gypsy” brewers are acceptable, so long as that beer is brewed with an in-state brewery and sold in your state.
  • Any size bottle or can is acceptable to include.
  • Current seasonal offerings are fine, but try to keep selections to year-round brews as much as possible. No out-of-season brews preferred.

Welcome to the inaugural round of the Six-Pack Project. I hope to include bloggers from across the U.S. in future versions, so contact me on Twitter if you or someone you know may fit the bill.

Some quick notes to about selections for my state, North Carolina:

1. I approached this task as if I were building a flight of beers for you to try. Because of that, I’ve picked six different styles of beers that would (hopefully) take you through a great North Carolina beer experience, although subjectively selected by me.

2. All of these picks can be found year-round in NC beer shops.

Without further adieu, let’s find out what North Carolina has to offer…
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Cherry Bomb: New Glarus Belgian Red

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“Flavor: Highly carbonated and intense with cherry flavor and bouquet”

No kidding.

That’s taken from the New Glarus description of their beer, Belgian Red. There is over a pound of cherries that go into each bottle (not IN the bottle, but, you get it). Never in my life have I uttered the words while drinking a beer, “This could really use some more alcohol.”

This is not a knock against Belgian Red. At 4 percent ABV it’s meant to share with friends as a delightful session beer, however that pound of cherries really packs a wallop. It’s got a 97 on Beer Advocate.
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Flying Dog Brewery Wildeman

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There are traditional kinds of hybrid beers based on the yeast used – kolsch or California common – and then there are mashups that kind of surprise you by mixing styles. Take my beer-cider mix, for example.

Why am I not surprised, then, that a beer named “Wildeman” came from Flying Dog Brewery and offers a wonderfully novel take on a Belgian IPA? Not quite Belgian brew, not quite IPA, the beer has an 84 on Beer Advocate. This farmhouse-style India Pale Ale mixes the use of saison yeast with a secret concoction of hops to offer an experience unlike any IPA I’ve ever had.

In all fairness, the label on this beer was reason enough to think something unique was going to happen while enjoying this beer.
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A Unique Experience with … DC Brau

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Along with the requisite trip to the original Dogfish Head brewpub during my recent beergrimage, I was taken to one of Washington, D.C.’s great up-and-coming breweries, DC Brau.

When the brewery opened in 2009, it was the first brewery to operate inside the District of Columbia since 1956. Now it’s joined by several others, including Chocolate City (2011) and 3 Stars (2012). Given its lead in opening, DC Brau is the most commercially advanced of these, shipping six-packs of cans around the immediate DMV region.

With DC-themed, near-graffiti art on its walls, the DC Brau headquarters is split into two sections – a small tasting/hang out room and its canning/fermentation space. I really liked how open their building was, which allowed my friend, Justin, and I to get a look at some of their equipment:

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After grabbing some samples, we decided to share a couple six-packs of their flagship brews. The Citizen, a Belgian pale ale, and Corruption, an IPA, both impressed.
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A Unique Experience … with Orval

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This bottle of Orval is special for several reasons:

  1. It’s fresh from Belgium, having been bottled in July for its ideal seven(?) week conditioning.
  2. It was delivered to me from Belgium, by way of my brother who visited the Orval brewery a week ago.
  3. Instead of a proper serve, it was enjoyed at room temperature, straight from the bottle after traveling across country with my brother.

All this amounts to a rather unorthodox way of drinking his beer, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t fantastic. Since I didn’t pour out the beer, I can’t comment on its visuals, but I assume the mixing of the beer through multiple flights gave it some wonderful characteristics after flying from Belgium to Seattle to upstate New York, where my family recently gathered.

This beer contains: water, hops, barley, candi sugar and yeast. But it smelled like pepper and damn-near tasted like a pumpkin spice beer. It had a refreshing dryness to it. I have no idea why, but can only assume the aromas and flavor was a conglomeration of all the contextual variables that brought the bottle from Belgium to my hand. I’ve had Orval a long time ago, but I couldn’t comment on this bottle’s taste compared to one found at a beer store here in the States.

I can’t give detailed impressions because I didn’t take notes – just enjoying a beer with my brother – but it was a great beer that was wonderfully carbonated and offered a great spicy tingle on my tongue.

These are all odd descriptors, but added up to a great beer drinking experience I’ve never had before. I hope to have it again.

Big Boss … Big Operator

While it may not seem obvious from the list of brews I’ve sampled in recent months, I still love beer made right here in North Carolina. Among my favorite local breweries is Big Boss, which just never seems to make a bad beer.

Which is why I was happy to find a new one to try recently – their Big Operator Belgian black brewed with raspberries and cocoa. Just like IPAs, apparently it’s fun to see how other styles turn out when you supplement traditional grain bills with more experimental options. In all honesty, it works for this beer. It’s got a 88 on Beer Advocate.

The fun of this beer is in addition to it’s competing flavors of roasted grain and Belgian esters, it’s made with raspberries. The pour of the beer was naturally jet black, but I swear that the head initially appeared almost pink. I couldn’t be absolutely certain because it disappeared rather quickly to leave what simply looked like a heavy(ish) stout. That itself was odd because this beer was punctuated by an incredible amount of carbonation – a case of the the Belgian yeast doing their thing. It still felt odd watching it happen, considering the appearance (dark, dark black). I found this competition of traditional beer styles really cool.

Hit the jump to see just how good this beer tasted.
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Boulevard Brew Company Sixth Glass

This is another top-flight beer sent through a beer swap with Scott from Beerbecue and it is another winner. I have now sufficiently enjoyed my first Boulevard Brew Company beer – Sixth Glass.

Per Scott’s suggestion, I paired this Belgian quad with a medium steak (and potato for good measure). I wasn’t let down on this combo or the beer. It’s got a 90 on Beer Advocate.

I found this brew to not necessarily be one of the more tame American-made Belgian beers, but offering so many quality-but-not-overbearing characteristics it was hard to get bored while drinking it. It poured a great amber color with an awesome head that produced big bubbles lacing the glass as the beer disappeared. Wonderful smells lifted out of the snifter I was using.

It was easy to find a couple of the prominent aspects of the beer you might expect, including fruity esters offering an earthy raisin characteristic and fig. Also spices – cloves, perhaps? There’s just a touch of sour funk, but nothing truly discernible because Belgian candi sugars knock that out pretty quick. There’s also a great amount of malt sweetness to it as well, rounding it all out.

The flavor or the beer was a real show-stopper, starting with that Belgian candi sugar flavor right up front, but transitioning into caramel sweetness from the Munich malt used in the beer. I made a note that I sensed brown sugar and lo-and-behold, it’s one of several sugars Boulevard throws in this beer. This part of the brew actually tasted wonderful with the potato I had made – a natural pair. Not to be outdone, the beer showcased pepper, toffee and toasted malt flavors. To me, any hop bitterness is non-existent.

What surprised me most was how hard it was for me to notice alcohol in this beer. At 10.5 percent ABV, it can give you a kick in the pants, but I feel like you’d be hard-pressed to really find it. Even still, it paired wonderfully with the steak – the richness of the meat and fat melted into the carbonated sweetness of the beer. It was even better as the beer got warm.

Hit the jump for my “Rate That Beer” sheet.
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