I'm lucky to live in an area with an abundance of small breweries.
I wrote about the Big Boss taproom last year. Since my birthday fell on one of their tour days, I got a group together and went out. The weather was gorgeous that day, 75 and sunny, and two food trucks had set up shop in their parking lot. When we got there about 15 minutes before the tour started at 2, there were at least 50 people in line already. The tour is free, but you can buy tickets for samples for $1 (up to 3 per person). When you hear sample, you think 4 ounces or so, right? Ha, this is a full glass of beer (12 or 16 ounces, I'm not sure). They had three brews on tap: D'Icer, their new dunkelweizen, Aces and Ates, their coffee stout, and possibly High Roller IPA, I'm not sure. I didn't have that one. Whichever it was, it was one of the hoppy ones. You can get one before the tour and the rest after. With the beautiful weather and the food trucks, their parking lot turned into a big party.
I had the D'Icer. It was good, though it wasn't Weihenstephaner. Probably not a fair comparison, that. I had 3, anyway, so I liked it pretty well. (Ben was driving.)
Lone Rider isn't having brewery tours at the moment due to space issues. But they had a cask night at my local bar (which seats about 35 people, if some stand at the bar) last week, where they had bourbon-barrel-aged DeadEye Jack porter with cacao nibs (and you got to keep the glass!) It was smooth and delicious. Porters, I've mentioned, are hit or miss for me, and last year's regular Jack was a little on the hoppy side for me, but still drinkable. Barrel-aged with the cacao nibs, it was amazing.
I tried their seasonal dubbel, Belle Starr, and that was also excellent. There are still a few bottles at the co-op. Maybe I'll pick another one up before they vanish.
Triangle Brewing had a tap take-over night at a restaurant in Durham, and we went there with a couple friends. I wanted to try their bourbon-aged dubbel, and they also had a habañero beer, which Ben tried. It wasn't overly spicy, unlike the one he tried in Vienna (at 7Stern), which tried to knock his teeth out.
The dubbel was excellent, fruity but not too sweet, and lightly carbonated. Ben liked it. We wanted to get a growler of it, but Ben could never get hold of them to see if they were open. There's always next year. For year-round beers, their white and golden ales are nice.
A decidedly not local brewery that I'm fond of is Colorado's New Belgium. Their 1554 black ale is easy to drink. It's got dark stouty notes, but it's a lot less dense.
Their Lips of Faith series includes a Berliner Weisse (straight, no shot), which I enjoy immensely and a dunkelweizen. The dunkel pours Coke-black with some carbonation and is vaguely sweet, which you'd expect from a dunkel. At $7 for a 22-ounce bottle, I'm not sure I'd buy it again, since Weihenstephaner is $3 for half a liter.
What I'm looking forward to this summer, and need to ask the beer orderer at the co-op to get for me, since I'm apparently the only person who buys it, is Dogfish Head's Festina Peche, a peach Berliner Weisse. It's kind of like drinking a beer made with peach sour gummies. If that sounds good to you, try it. If not, well, more for me.
I tried their Midas Touch on a friend's recommendation, and it's very strange and sweet and good. We picked up a bottle of Sah'Tea once, and it was like drinking black chai beer. Ben likes their pumpkin ale; I'm not fond of it. (I prefer Shipyard's, which is based on a hefeweizen, while Dogfish's is a brown ale.) I wasn't impressed by Theobroma, but a couple of my friends were. Raison d'Etre is a brown ale, so Ben likes it more than I do.
If I take up another hobby (homebrewing), I'm going to try my hand at a Berliner Weisse, I think. They're good, and nobody* makes them. Then I'll try to replicate Malheur 12, which I have a bottle of in my fridge that I've been saving for a special occasion. It tastes what I want red wine to taste like.
*Notice I said that after listing 2 Berliner Weisse. But they're both seasonals.
As much as I tend to love Dogfish Head's brews, I was really disappointed by Theobroma. I'll stick to Sahtea and Midas Touch, meself.
Yeah, I don't know what it was about Theobroma that I didn't like, but I preferred Sah'Tea by a mile.
I still can't wait for Festina Peche, though. :9
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