Category Archives: beer_review

On the Road Again – Weihenstephaner Braupakt by Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Hefeweizen

OK, first thing, I know that the name of this brew is really long and cumbersome. And the name is not is not completely right either. So lets try to solve both of these problem before getting into this really excellent Hefeweizen.

First, this beer is made by for Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan (Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan). Yes, I know, why so many syllables?  Well, it is German and you get a great beer but it comes at a cost.  Second, it is also the product of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, who provided the hops and the brewing water, so it is not a pure European product.  As of 2016, it is the seventh-largest brewing company in the United States.[2] It is a hybrid and this hybrid is an excellent example of what can be done with 500 years of brewing is with mixed with a little Yankee ingenuity.

The Weihenstephaner Braupukt, by Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan Weihenstephan, Freising, Bavaria, Germany (no street address) and Sierra Nevada Craft Brewery Company (1075 East 20th Street, Chico, CA 95928 Voice: (530) 893-3520 is a delicious and complex beer. It is an ABV 6% and a dark gold color. The aroma is an apricot and banana smell, but the taste is where this Hefeweizen really leaves the American versions (and a few of the German) ones in the dust. The smooth apricot and banana flavors mix well and get stronger rather weakening.  This moves this beer up into the German reaches rather than down in the American doldrums. And it does it holding the US line on price. I wish I had ordered a larger amount – it was really good!

Bayerische Staatsbrauerei + Sierra Nevada Brewery Hefeweizen

This marks the one of the few times that a German and American brewery have really put aside the competition and worked on a hybrid that has worked. I know there have been collaborations before, but this has a special emphasis on success that the others have not had. It is nice to see.


Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan





Sierra Nevada Craft Brewery Company

1075 East 20th Street,

Chico, CA 95928

Voice: (530) 893-3520



On the Road Again – Two Up Two Down by Commonwealth Brewing Company

It is nice when you find a beer that fits the very mood that you are in. You just close your eyes and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, the cool breeze from the wind on your cheek and the cold ripple of the liquid moving across your lips and into your mouth. Beer is good!

This is the sensation of having a Two Up Two Down sour gose by Commonwealth Brewing Company (2444 Pleasure House Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23455 Voice: (757) 305-9652 this evening at High Side Craft Brewing. All I am missing is my honey.

sour gost
Two Up Two Down Commonwealth Brewing Company sour – gose

The Two Up Two Down is a ABV of 6.8% with a murky gold color. The aroma is a sour lemon with a slight hint of grapefruit and nectarine. The taste is more of the same with sour coming through on the lemon and grapefruit at first and then comes the nectarine and it finishes up with an apple. The tail end is smooth. The mixture is really well done and more sour goses should try to emulate the mixture that Commonwealth has formulated. It is really good.

The Two Up Two Down will take you back to those heady days of summer. The taste is light and fruity – just a nice reminder of why you ordered a sour gose. Sit back, you and your honey, and watch the sun going down with this great beer easily within reach. That is what summer is for.


Commonwealth Brew Co.

2444 Pleasure House Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23455

Voice: (757) 305-9652

Mon-Wed 3pm – 10pm

Thursday 3pm-11pm

Fri 3pm – 12am

Sat 11am – 12am

Sun 11am – 9pm







Places to Go – The Chubby Squirrel Brewing Company, Fairfax City, VA

Word had come across the beer channels that a new brewery was going to be opening in the near future in Fairfax City. Stylish and functional, it was going in near the Safeway in Old Town Fairfax and so I scheduled a time on the calendar to go after they had their soft opening the week before last.

The Chubby Squirrel Brewing Company opened to fanfare in Fairfax City. It claims to be the first nanobrewery and brewpub in the city. (What makes it a nanobrewery when they have six of their own plus Right Proper Brewery and another brewery is a mystery…) When I arrived the second night (I will explain), they had a good crowd, mostly runners and it took a while of waiting to belly up to the bar and put in an order for a Black Squirrel Oatmeal Stout. When it came, it was the right color and it was a bit cold, so I looked for a place it could work my magic on the elixir.

I guess I did a little too good of a job, because it had a notably flat taste that comes from being too dependent on oatmeal and a little weak in its stout configuration. The flat taste just kind of ruined it.

Black Squirrel ABV: 4.7 Chubby Squirrel Brewing Co.

On top of that, it was not particularly cold, which is OK for a stout, but it came out of the same tap as all of the other beers and I am wondering if all them are held at the same temperature.

The decor of the place is pretty good for a brewery. They have a long lot and I had a feeling they had a more of a design that was equal sides. Just the way certain things were arranged, like the register (it is tucked into the corner in the rear), the big chalk board (this thing is really big and you can’t ready the whole thing) and the restrooms are more arranged for a square rather than a long rectangle.

Some of the things they got right…
…And some of the things they did not.

Now, why did I go there two nights instead of one, you might be asking yourself, if I had successfully scheduled a time to go? Well, because the first time I went, it was closed on Tuesday at 9:00pm. Locked tighter than a drum. It was also closed on Monday and Wednesday, so Thursday (the day I scheduled) was the first night I was able to go. It is not unusual for a brewery to be closed on Monday, or even on a Tuesday, when they are in a quiet area (rural or suburban, it is kind of expected) but a brewery that is in a busy area, a busy beer drinking area, that is closed three of the seven days is not a good indicator that they have thought this out.

Like so many businesses, this one has a couple of hills to surmount before it will be successful. I will be going back to sample the rest of their beer, but I don’t think it will be much better than the Black Squirrel Oatmeal Stout. I will give this brewery two years on my calendar and if they can turn it around, then we will have a good brewery in town. If not, they will be looking to let the space.

Chubby Squirrel Brewing Company

Monday – Wednesday: Closed

Thursday & Friday: 2-9PM

Saturday: 11AM-9PM‍‍‍

Sunday: 12PM-6PM‍‍‍

The Art of Science and the Old Ox Brewing Company

OK, I admit it, I am a scientific enthusiast, or at least those are the guys and gals I root for in the movies. (Hey, I blew up plenty of stuff in my study of Political Science!) So, when someone advertises marrying up science and beer, you know I will be there.

This was the situation on Tuesday night.  After dropping off my sons at the Dulles Airport, Old Ox Brewing Company  was hosting The Science on Tap which is partnership between Loudoun County Library and the brewery. The presentation that evening was by Peter Wilcyznski who provide an overview of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) to include updates in Planetary Science, Astrophysics, Heliophysics, Earth Science and NASA’s reimbursable program mission areas. He is a Program Executive in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters.

Old Ox Brewing Company

The presentation was well received by the crowd of mostly scientists, engineers, science enthusiasts and science teachers. NASA has 46 program and project areas that they are either responsible for or they are the main source of the research.

Before the presentation got underway, I decided to grab a beer from Old Ox’s tasting room. I tried a Festivale Cherry Saison which has a ABV of 5.5% and 7 IBU. The beer had a pleasant cherry smell and it tasted of having a sour cherry base with a nice saison flavoring. It was a nice combination of the two.

Think I will go with the Festivale Cherry Saison…
…mmm that is good beer! ABV: 5.5% and 7 IBU.

The presentation ended, we had a few questions, and then we broke up. The room emptied pretty slowly so I made a quick exit and headed for the door.  It was a really a nice presentation that overcame the fact that my boys were gone and the house had the empty feeling upon my return.

You could at least see the tasting bar
The audience is waiting.


Old Ox Brewing Company

44652 Guilford Drive, Unit 114
Ashburn, VA 20147
(703) 729-8375

Tues – Thurs: 4pm – 9pm
Friday: 2:30pm – 10pm
Saturday: 11am – 10pm
Sunday: 11am – 7pm

The Corridor

Craft Beer Makes Its Entrance into the Mainstream

Lately, I have been taking the train (or driving) down and back up on a section of I-95 that I have been referring to as “The Corridor.” From Washington, DC down to Richmond, VA and finally down to Fayetteville, NC, it is pretty much a straight shot. As you can imagine, there are some pretty boring sections and there are parts that make you sit up and say “hmm.” Remind me to tell you that part about three big Confederate flags sometime…

So, one Monday morning, I got out my electronic beer map and decided to see what breweries had been developed along with the interstate. Surprise! Outside of the section from Washington to Richmond, there was not much developed at all. (Raleigh, NC will be covered separately because I do go that way on occasion) So, with that in mind, I am going to lay out all of the breweries along the Corridor and give a brief glimpse of those that I have been able to visit on my journeys. Some are pretty interesting, and some I have a hard time qualify as breweries.

On the Road Again – You’re in the Jungle Baby! by Evil Twin Brewing

Ever had a hot beer? No, I don’t mean a beer at room temperature, I mean the kind of beer where you take small sips of the frothy beverage because it stands up and says “Hah! You can’t take a full taste of me! Go ahead, I dare you!”? Yeah, I said the same thing, “Why would I want such a beer?”

Well, leave it to Evil Twin Brewing (446 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, NY, 11249, to introduce a beer that is all that and more – and you get and leave the bar and say to yourself “I liked it!” It is called You’re In the Jungle Baby! and it is scintillatingly good.

You’re in the Jungle Baby! by Evil Twin Brewery

The beer itself is not so common among the bars in Northern Virginia and I discovered it in the fridge at the Spacebar (709 W. Broad Street, Fall Church, VA 22046 V: 703-992-0777; Spacebar is a post-industrial themed bar owned by the same people who own Galaxy Hut. Their drafts move pretty quickly (they have 24 drafts) and they have few in a fridge immediately to the right. That is where You’re In the Jungle Baby! lurks.

Spacebar, 409 W. Broad Street, Fall Church, VA

Now for the information: 12% ABV (this beer brings its own strength), the color is dark, and the aroma is hot and spicy (you can feel the heat in the glass even though it is cooled down). The taste kind of sneaks up on you and when you think it is safe to make a pronouncement, it stings you. Like wild fire. There is a strong pepper flavor that just leaps up and takes a hold of your mouth by the tongue. But the sensation is actually pleasant. Its hot but not in the way that reminded me a Mexicali pepper. It is deeper and richer. The crazy part is that you would like to have more of it even though you know what happens.

It takes a few minutes to calm down, but by then you are confident you are going to tear up. It took about 2 hours for the reaction to finally settle itself out. But it still creates an interesting question: Would I do it again?

Answer: Hell yeah!

On the Road Again – Abolistionist Ale House

However, if you thought that this was all the evenings activities was completed, you were wrong.  The evening in Maryland and the Smoketown Brewing Station was far from over. I could turn for home or I could venture out a little further into the hinterlands and reach Charles Town, WV. I opted for a visit to a state that sided with the Union in the Civil War and found the Abolitionist Ale House.

Wedged into row of small mixed used store fronts, the Abolitionist Ale House (129 W Washington Street, Charles Town, WV 25414 v: 681-252-1548 is nicely modern on the inside. The brewery consists of two gutted two buildings (at a minimum) and then connects them together to give a nice large floor plan. They support about sixteen high end brews on a continuous basis and have the ability to handle a large number of folks. After I scooted over there (it was a 15-20 minute drive on some fairly twisty roads in Maryland) and got parked on Washington Street, I received a nice bar brief and made a selection – a West by Quad.

West by Quad by Abolitionist Ale House

The West by Quad is one of their better beers and their is a reason for the care: It is really good! It is a Belgian Quad that is fermented in Breaux wine barrels and West Virginia honey combs. Rich malty flavors dominate with hints of dark fruit and honey sweetness, finishing with hints of oak. Color is dark and the aroma leaves you with red wine and honey. The beer has a feeling of envelopment and you really lose yourself in the oak and nicely placed bits of honey comb. It has a 9.5% ABV.

It gave this 4 1/4 stars on Untappd.

The next beer I tried was the Rye Pale Ale.  Now as pale ale goes, this is pretty standard stuff, but what I was really interested in was the rye. Rye is used as a flavoring agent, but it is usually in such large amounts that it overwhelms the rest of the beverage.

Rye Pale Ale by Abolitionist Ale House

The rye in the Rye Pale Ale is part of a nice blend that goes along with the hops. It adds a slightly nutty flavor, but not an overwhelming sort. It has an ABV of 5.3%, a color more akin to dark copper and an aroma with a high hop count.

The marketing information give a nice summary: “An copper amber beer hopped with Mosaic and Citra hops, it has fruity hop flavors balanced by a malt backbone with subtle hints of caramel and spice.”

The combination of the hops and the rye really gave the drink the kick that it needed. Smooth to the touch, the Rye Pale Ale was a nice complement to the West by Quad, though I don’t think I could made it a recommendation.

I gave this beverage 4 stars on Untappd.