Of course I’d start up a blog and then ditch to the East Coast for two weeks..
A year ago when my college roommate Mark called to announce his engagement, I was naturally thrilled and honored to be included in his cadre of groomsmen. My anticipation of the event, marked by a current of nervousness at performing a reading and jitters at the prospect of seeing so many people after 5+ years, somewhat abated after hearing the beer lineup: Sam Adams Summer Ale, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, and Allagash White. The former two are readily available in Oregon, but Allagash has fallen through the cracks of distributorship here, sadly.
When I started drinking craft beer in college (I would buy a 30-pack of Schaefer and a 6-pack of 60 Minute, feigning financial efficiency), and then started home brewing in my junior year, Mark hopped right into the hobby with me, and was, while in med school, far outpacing my own output until I got to Eugene. Now as a doctor he brews less, but enjoys more.
Anyhow, another upside to the eastward sojourn was the opportunity to do some extensive “research” on the craft beer scene in the DC area, whence I hail. Surprisingly to my Oregon-centric mind, there are breweries sprouting up all over the Mid-Atlantic states. I have to throw in another aside here:
Customers frequently request Yuengling, which is the oldest brewery in the country. Having been gone so long, I had dismissed it as “just another pseudo-craft lager,” lumping it in with National Bohemian and Olympia as passable alternatives to PBR and BMC products. But while it is not the shiniest of examples, I have to laud it as a mild, pleasing Amber Lager– not quite a Vienna Lager like Negra Modelo, but far toastier and smoother than your standard large-scale American Lager, especially if served at higher-than-freezing temperatures. If you’re back east, give it a whirl and a nod as the best “old standby” out there.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to try them all. Otherwise I’d be at Churchkey in D.C… I managed to sample some of the District’s finest: DC Brau. Their pale ale is of Northwest descent, with a dry-hop haze and grapefruit + floral aromas that belie a gentle bitterness. Also in the fridge were two from Duck Rabbit Craft Brewery in Farmville (yes, it’s a real place) North Carolina (no, the beer didn’t taste like blue cheese buffalo wings…). Their Brown Ale was smooth but somewhat roasty for the style (it went great with sesame/ginger kebabs), their Porter was spot on, just darn tasty.
Whenever I travel, the challenge is to drink beer that the Stein can’t get; this way I learn about local flavors, local palates, local trends. For instance: the sour beer craze has not fully hit the Mid-Atlantic states. IPAs are, overall, more malty than West Coast versions (my opinion: there is nothing wrong with that unless it is too sweet!). Many restaurants are catching on, and adding good beer stock with their good wine stock.
Next up: a whirlwind (literally!) trip across America, mostly Denver and Bend.