Ardent Swine & Brine

Tickle the Tastebuds - Beers & Breweries

ardent_beer_dinner_settingIt's back, and better than ever! 

Ardent Craft Ales presents its 2nd annual Swine & Brine on Friday, April 22 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the brewery. The over-the-top outdoor food and beer festival is even bigger this year with cooking from The Roosevelt, Metzger Bar & Butchery, ZZQ, Saison, Sabai and Amuse. Chefs from each eatery will be smoking and grilling a killer line-up of pork dishes and their own homemade sides. Plus, Rappahannock Oyster Co. will join the festivities with steamed and roasted oysters, as well as fresh crab cakes.

And, of course, there's beer – 14 special Ardent beers, to be exact:

  • Saison 
  • Virginia Common 
  • IPA Batch #9 
  • IPA Batch #18 
  • IPA Batch #19 
  • IPA Batch #20 
  • IPL 
  • Robust Porter 
  • Batch 100  
  • Golden Ale 
  • Earl Grey Brown Ale 
  • Altbier 
  • Szechuan Peppercorn Saison 
  • Oyster Porter Cask 

Cost is only $20 per person, which includes three tickets redeemable for food or beer, as well as a limited edition Ardent Craft Ales bandanna. Additional tickets will be available for purchase at the event for $5 each. Must be 21 or older to attend and ID is required upon entry. All food items are 1 ticket (with the exception of a few larger portion items).

Come on! Make a pig of yourself!

Ardent Swine and Brine


King's Dish: Fit for The Bard

Tickle the Tastebuds - Beers & Breweries

Kings_Dish_BtlNot often does a beer appeal not merely to my appreciation of literature and history but also to my palate for a finely crafted beverage. King's Dish from Breckenridge Brewery manages to hit all three sweet spots.

King's Dish is a Burton style ale, a resurrected style that initially arose in England's Burton-upon-Trent. (Don't you love those English town names? Like Shakespeare's Stratford-upon-Avon. Perhaps my Virginia hometown should call itself Richmond-upon-James.)

You may assume that a Burton ale is a traditional IPA - after all, the oft-told tale of highly hopped IPAs that made their way over the seas to India is of how the town of Burton produced and popularized the export.

The style's story is richer, though, as rich as the color of the ale. As beer-style-and-history guru Randy Mosher describes it in All About Beer, "Right behind IPA is another style, once highly celebrated and so synonymous with Burton that it actually took the name of the town for its own. This was the strong, sweet, and long-lived Burton ale." 

Mosher notes that trade with the Baltic countries, including Russia, provided a booming market for Burton brewers. "As a later observer noted, Peter the Great and his Empress Catharine loved Burton ale, ‘which in those days was highly coloured and sweet and of very great strength and especially suited to the Russian palate.’" The Russian export business crashed in 1822 when the Russians slapped a tariff on imported beer, but the style eventually found a following in its home country.

The dark color, Mosher explains, likely came from the use of amber malt, known today as amber or biscuit malt.

Read more...


Limited-Release Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Tickle the Tastebuds - Wines & Wineries

Sip Some Seasoned Wood

Virginia ABC will offer a limited inventory of E.H. Taylor, Jr. Seasoned Wood Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey from Buffalo Trace Distillery. The one-time, small-batch wheated bourbon, Virginia ABC reports, “was aged in barrels seasoned in several ways, including outdoors in natural, open air and bathing in an enzyme-rich proprietary solution, [which] extracted unique flavors from deep within the American white oak.”

To get some of this 100-proof spirit ($67.99 for 750 ml), you must sign up on the ABC website on March 31 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Available bottles will go first come first served to those who sign up, notified by April 6.


Starr Hill's Four Kings IPA Variants

Tickle the Tastebuds - Beers & Breweries

Attention, hop heads!


Starr Hill Four KingsLooking for some new IPAs to tickle your palate? Starr Hill has you covered in their new Four Kings IPA 12-pack, with King of Hop Imperial IPA and three different variants: Grapefruit, Habanero, and Lemon-Lime.

#1: start with the King of Hops, which uses Citra, Simcoe, Amarillo and Falconer’s Flight: it weighs in at 7.5% ABV and 50 IBUs, dry hopped for fresh aroma and citrus notes. This base beer, King of Hop Imperial IPA, won the gold medal for the India Pale Ale category at the Virginia Craft Brewers Festival in 2014, the same year of its release. 

#2, add to that real lemon and lime zest, a perfect complement to the hops. Ever tasted Bud Light Lime? This mix of hops and citrus zest will outrank that big time (unless you prefer a mild, watery taste in your beer).

#3, add real grapefruit zest. Yes, you can taste the tart grapefruit that complements the hops. If you like Grapefruit Sculpin, give this a try! It’s a beautiful blend!

Finally, #4, add a touch of habanero peppers. It’s not so much pepper that your digestive system rebels, but just enough to add the essence of the pepper taste. The hops and pepper blend quite well!

The Starr Hill Four Kings IPA Pack will be released on March 24 in the Starr Hill Brewery & Tap Room, then shipped to retail April 1 on draft and in package.

“The hop build in King of Hop pairs extremely well with a range of flavors, so our brewing team
had a lot of fun experimenting with test batches past year,” Starr Hill Brewmaster, Robbie O’Cain says. “With Citra providing a strong citrus characteristic to the base of this beer, the fruit and spice variants bring a new level of complexity for King of Hop.”

To find out where you can get these hoppy gems, visit the Starr Hill website.



Declaring a Mutiny Against Gluten

Tickle the Tastebuds - Beers & Breweries

New Belgium Brewing's New Glutiny Beers

New Belgium Brewing in Colorado has introduced their first gluten-reduced beers, the Glütiny-series beers (they’re declaring a gluten mutiny): Glütiny Golden Ale and Glütiny Pale Ale.

The Golden Ale is fairly light in taste and alcohol, at only 5.2% ABV, with a nice, malty flavor – just like beer, imagine that! At 20 IBUs, bitterness is not a factor, just enough to counteract any overt sweetness, leaving a moderate dryness on the palate. Oats in the mash contribute to a faint creamy smoothness.

The Glütiny Pale Ale clocks in at 6% ABV, still reasonable. Hops definitely dominate this aroma and flavor, primarily a grassy essence with a touch of pine and fruit, from the Chinook, Equinox, Cascade and Crystal hops.


Till recently, most gluten-reduced beers have been made strictly with ingredients that don’t contain gluten (makes sense, huh?!), such as quinoa, rice, sorghum and millet instead of malted barley and, sometimes, wheat. More recently, scientists have discovered an enzyme that will break down gluten. This enzyme can be added to a barley-based beer during the brewing process and reducing the gluten levels to below the mandated 20 ppm to qualify it as “gluten free.”

As New Belgium explains on their website, “We add this enzyme in the brewing process and analyze the finished beer in the lab using the industry-supported R5 Competitive ELISA method. This creates a beer with all of the barley malt-derived flavor without all the gluten.”

Note to celiacs, New Belgium also states: “This product is fermented from grains containing gluten and crafted to remove gluten. The gluten content of this product cannot be verified, and this product may contain gluten.”

One of our coworkers here at the Navigator magazines is gluten intolerant and thus has tried every gluten-free beer he can get his hands on. He declares these the best he’s tried so far!

These New Belgium beers are on store shelves in the Richmond area, so give them a try!

Also available locally year-round for gluten-intolerant beer aficionados are Stone Delicious IPA and Triple Crossing Element 79 golden ale, available at the respective breweries. You can also check out Ardent Craft Ales and Garden Grove Brewing – both of these Richmond breweries regularly offer gluten-reduced beers using non-traditional beer ingredients (as in, not barley or wheat but alternative ingredients).

Virtual AWT




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