From 6 pack to singles, Borgarnes, Iceland

After driving around all day in the wide Borgarnes vicinity, it was definitely time for happy hour. We didn’t really want to sit at the bar so I said let’s go check out the liquor store and grab something there and just come back to the hotel and enjoy. So we walked around the store and it’s quite interesting because you look at the prices. Right away you think that beer prices are tremendous in the liquor stores in Iceland. Something like $4-$6 for microbrew 6-packs.

Well, not so lucky. All the listed prices below a 6-pack are for the individual can or bottle. So, we’d see something like 440 kr or 390kr (which equated to about $4.50 or $4, respectively) and also a 6-pack with the paper ‘case’ torn apart or 1-2 cans missing. Very interesting. You can take a single or grab a 6 pack, whatever you want. This also makes a 6-pack come out to above $20.

Anyway, we opted to grab a  SÓLVEIG Hveitibjór NR.25 and ÚLFRÚN Session IPA NR.34 (could not find an English site for either of these). Both of these are brewed by Borg Brugghus.

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The first was 6% ABV, a wheat beer, unique citrus taste with some spice. The 2nd, the IPA, was 4.5%. It was great, not too hoppy (53 IBU) and pretty smooth.

To be very classy, we put these in water bottles because we didn’t want to sit in our room, and it was wet out and couldn’t just sit outside on our ‘patio.’ So we had our classy bottles with beer and sat in the lobby writing postcards.

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Viking and Einstök

Moving across the country in Iceland meant new hotel, new happy hour. Wow, this hotel in Vik actually had a 3-hour Happy Hour – 4pm-7pm. We could stay out late doing tourist stuff!

The two brews on tap we sampled in Vik were Viking Lager and Einstök Pale Ale.

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Viking Lager, per the site: The most popular draught beer in Iceland for some years, it is pleasantly mild with a slightly sweet flavour. Less filling and more refreshing than many other beers, it’s ideal for those who prefer a medium-strength beer with less bitterness. Tasting notes: Light golden, little sweetness, light, limited bitterness, corn, beans. ABV 4.5%.

My notes: A bit on the light side, nonetheless good. I like my beer to have a bit more body.

Einstök Pale Ale, per the site: Brewed 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle, we balance three kinds of hops with pure Icelandic water to create an ale unlike any other. It can only be described as an Arctic Pale Ale and it’s truly one of a kind. Cascade hops give it American character, while Northern Brewer and Hallertau Tradition add just enough bitterness to make this ale refreshingly Icelandic – and to make everything else pale in comparison. Key Ingredients: Pale ale malt, crystal malt, chocolate malt, American and Bavarian hops.  ABV 5.6%

My notes: Good crisp beer, not hoppy, good body and color, perfect to drink after a day on the road.

And, since these were both enjoyed at happy hour, bargain price at 50% off bringing them to about $8/pint. Cheers!

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Boli & Gull

When in Iceland, drink what the Icelandics brew! The first night in Iceland we hit Happy Hour at HVER Restaurant at the hotel. These hours, we found, can vary a lot place to place, and often end early. This bar had it from 4pm-6pm. Jumping way forward, one place had it for 1 hour only, making that hour totally happy, from 9pm-10pm. That’s way too late. Most of the time beers were 50% off during Happy Hour, bringing the price of a pint down to around a ‘reasonable’ $8.

So, back to this one, we opted to try Gull and Boli, both on tap. The Gull was pretty light, nothing too exciting. Better than Bud, but not something I’d get every day. The ABV was 5.0%. The Boli had a bit more weight to it, more color to it, a bit more taste. It was a lager, and came in with 5.6% ABV.

Nonetheless, these were a great kickoff for vacation. They were enjoyed after walking around Hveragerði and seeing hotsprings. These are what the town is known for.

Run for Beer

The title of the blog is pretty literal. Was visiting a friend in Seattle, who I happen to know via running. So I had to find a race for us to run so we could really catch up. Did some googling and found the Brewery Running Series. They do 5K at breweries around the city throughout the summer. You get a free beer with your registration fee and part of the proceeds go to benefit local non-profits. Not too bad.

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We took part in the first one of the season at Rooftop Brewing Company.

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It didn’t start until 11am, which was late for a race, but oh well. Was a perfect day for a 5K, then great reward — free beer! So I had to decide from quite the brew list.

I went for the Glorious Baser, their Hefe. Our Blood Orange Wheat Beer is built for Basking in the Seattle sunshine! Come enjoy this super refreshing adult beverage on our deck! 5% ABV. This was just perfect for a sunny spring day. Nice weight, nice citrus taste.

My friend I ran with doesn’t enjoy the enjoy this stuff as much as me so I was able to use her ticket for another great sample. For my second taste (these were pints — I couldn’t drink two full ones, we did run there, so had to run home), I opted for the No. 6 Pomegranate Cider.  6.5% ABV. Nice non-sugary cider. Could drink several of these problematically because you don’t realize they are alcoholic.

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Prost Brewing

Last time I was in Ft. Collins was able to visit another new (to me) brewery — Prost Brewing. They also have a location in Denver. To find this place, you have to walk down crazy back alleys and around corners. Sort of hard to find, but very fun.

They have a huge menu of German-style brews, and offer all of them in small pours (as well as quite large ones), so you can get a good taste range. They have based what they offer on quite a history of alcohol & beer in the US. The way they craft their suds is from German influence and you get great bier satisfaction at this place. And, they welcome dogs. How can you go wrong with that?

There were a few of us there and we ordered several small pours to share. I know I grabbed the Weißbier and Kölsch. Both just great. The others around the table were equally as enjoyable. Glad I was able to check this place out.

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Big Beaver Brewing Co.

When recently in Colorado, I of course had to try a new brewery. This time I checked out the Big Beaver Brewing Co in Loveland.

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Wanted to get a taste of all their beer so opted for a sampler — the Beaver Teaser. They give you hefty 3oz. of 8 beers for $6.50. They say it’s only supposed to be 2oz each but that doesn’t happen. All the beers have great names, as noted below to the left.

A description of the beers, per the brewery:

Wonder Weiner Wheat: This beer is brewed in the Bavarian tradition with notes of cloves and bananas. No, we do not put bananas or cloves in the beer. The aromas are produced by special yeast that are neither lager nor ale yeast. ABV: 4.6%, IBU: 10

Bust-a-Nut Brown: Our most popular beer, this brown ale is brewed in the Northern England malt forward tradition. A light, sweet malt flavor with a clean, nutty finish. ABV: 4.6%, IBU: 10

Shaved Tail Ale: This classic Belgian ale is brewed with Belgian yeast, hops and malt. It contains a minimal amount of hops, which gives it a crisp finish without the bitter bite. ABV: 6.0%, IBU: 10

Juicy Peach Ale: A sweet twist on Belgian ale, this beer has the light aroma and flavor of a ripe peach picked right off the tree. A subtle citrus flavor balances the peach and hop bitterness. ABV: 5.8%, IBU: 10

Amber Was Her Stage Name: Amber was her Amber’s bright copper in color with a golden head, medium bodied, and smells of fresh biscuits. She’s made of flaked barley, has a moderate amount of Horizon hops for bittering, and a slight residual sweetness from caramel malt. ABV: 5.8%, IBU: 35

Whiskey Dick Stout: Bourbon soaked French oak chips are used to make this well balanced stout. Finishes smooth and the bourbon is not overwhelming. And darn it all… who took a sip of the stout before I finished taking the photos? ABV: 6.0%, IBU: 17

Screw the Pooch Ale: This American Pale Ale is a 100% domestic ingredient beer, made with hops and barley grown in Washington State. Citra hops produce a citrus aroma and flavor. Crisp finish and a pleasant bitterness will make even non hop lovers’ palates tingle with excitement. ABV: 5.7%, IBU: 24

Potent Peter IPA: This IPA is nicely balanced with a moderate dose of bittering hops and crystal malt. A variety of hops are used to dry hop this beer, which produces unique aromas and flavors. ABV: 5.7%, IBU: 42

The Wheat was nice and I loved the Peach — would be perfect during the summer. The Shaved Tail was also a nice standard beer. The others were good to try but not ones I would reach for all the time. Overall, though, nice beer making and glad I checked this place out.

 

CO Beer

Was in CO awhile back and was of course overwhelmed by microbreweries. They have new ones popping up nearly every week.  What’s fun about this is that every time I head out there for a visit I have new places to check out. During my trip, I tried some new suds at breweries in Ft. Collins, Estes Park and Colorado Springs. Had to cover as much territory as possible. *Note, all of these were new to me, some had been around for a bit.

#1 Jessup Farm Barrel House, Ft. Collins, CO – This one is in a barn, which is fun. Also has outdoor seating. Their philosophy “By blending beers with different fermentation variations we are able to create unique and original flavors. Our goal is to take the robust characteristics from the barrels, and blend to bring out the complexities and nuances of the flavors.” They have plenty of options, almost overwhelming. They do offer flights, which I highly recommend splitting between 2 people because of the high ABV of some of the brews.

#2 McClellan’s Brewing Co., Ft. Collins, CO – Their in-house beer (they also have ‘other’ taps) are done in Celtic style. ‘Our Cask Ales are a British Isles style of beer naturally carbonated through the fermentation process. We utilize a beer engine to manually pump the beer from a firkin to your glass. We Americanize our ales by serving it cold, and it still maintains a smooth and unique flavor profile that is less filling than it’s carbonated relative.’

Nice because you don’t get it very often. You go to breweries that all have unique beer, but this is very unique.

 

#3 Maxline Brewing, Ft. Collins, CO – This is one of the locations that had just opened when I was there. And DOG FRIENDLY! Lots of great options. And, since they had just opened they made us sample tons of them, shucks! Look forward to being back soon and seeing how much they’ve grown.

#4 Estes Park Brewery, Estes Park, CO – Checked this one out after going to some very scenic parks and being outside on a cold day. Here you can either pay for pints in the restaurant of get healthy free sample.  You get 5-6 (depending on who’s doing the tasting) hefty pours of their brews (of your choice). And when you have several people there, if each of you picks different ones, you’ll taste everything! They have a very nice spread of beer, and some decent food to help soak it all up.

#5 Butcherknife Brewing Co., Steamboat Springs, CO – You can tell this is a popular place. Packed! One of their pieces of info “If great water makes incredible beer then Steamboat Springs has got to be the soul center of the craftiest beer on the planet. Our location provides us first use off the Continental Divide which means pure, unadulterated, fresh, clean water goes into the heart of every batch we make.”

I personally didn’t love most of what I sampled, I think it was because the ABV was high on those we chose/were able to get on all but one. Was still fun to check out!

 

Sofie-Mosa

I have a great side job of working wine and beer tastings.  You know when you walk into a wine store and get free wine or beer samples?  I’m one of the people who stands behind the table.  Talk about a great job.  I get paid to learn about, drink and advocate this stuff!

So I had to do a training recently about Goose Island‘s newest ‘campaign’ — the Sofie-Mosa.  It uses their relatively well-known Sofie Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale and OJ.  Hmmm.  Where did they get that name?  I tried it after the training.  That stuff is pretty darn good.  And, think about the ABV on beer vs. bubbly…about half.  Sofie is 6.5%.  I’m not advocating going crazy, but you’re not going to get as tipsy having the Sofie-Mosa.

So you can make this great drink 50/50 of each ingredient or do the ratio of your choice.  Definitely give it a try.

Cheers!

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Noble Shepherd Craft Brewery

Awhile back I visited another great craft brewery, this one in the Finger Lakes.  It’s Noble Shepherd Craft Brewery.  It was started by a couple a few years back as they just wanted to move onto new things.

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Opted for a sampler while visiting and the brews tasted included:

-Mosaic Foundation Pale Ale – 6.4% ABV
-Watermelon Wheat – 5.5% ABV
-20A IPA – 6.3% ABV
-Belgian With IPA with Spruce Tips – 6.6% ABV

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The Mosaic was definitely my favorite.  I would give you a great description of it but I didn’t write it down and they don’t have it on tap anymore so I can’t copy/paste it from their site.  So all I can say is that it was really good.  We left with a growler.  How does that sound as additional endorsement?

The other cool thing is they have the machine that put the tops on the large cans if you want to leave with one of those.  So much fun to watch it in action.

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Check this place out if you’re up in the Finger Lakes area. Definitely worth the visit!

DC Brau

Finally made it to a pretty well known local DC brewery, DC Brau.

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I knew it was somewhere in NE DC, but wasn’t sure where.  Finally as I was getting there I figured out it’s in one of the developing areas, right off 50, near the relatively new Costco.

Went on a Sunday, a bit after they opened so it was pretty quite.  Opted for a sampler so that I could try several of their brews.  Ended up with the first six on the list.  Of course there is a quite a bit of power to most of them.

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Info on the beer, straight from the DC Brau’s site:

Brau Pils was our newest summer seasonal alongside El Hefe Speaks, NOW YEAR-ROUND.

EL HEFE SPEAKS! is a traditionally brewed German-style Hefe. It is fermented around 65°F and hopped with German Tettnang hops. 11 IBUs and 5.3% ABV make this one extremely drinkable.

The Citizen is one of the original flagships brewed here at DC Brau and draws inspiration from the stronger ales made famous over the centuries by the Trappist and Abbey brewers of Belgium. Although the label denotes “Pale ale” this is mainly a reference to the color of the beer and not the bitterness of the beer as is commonly associated with American Pale Ales.

The Public™ Pale Ale is brewed in the classic American Pale Ale style. Assertive bitterness backed by C-60 and Vienna malts which lend notes of rich, yet semi-dry caramel. Then followed up with a nice white grapefruit and citrus aroma that begs for a follow up sip.

The Corruption™ IPA is DC Brau’s take on a Pacific Northwest IPA. Brewed with Pale 2 row, C-10, Honey and Victory malts. Exclusively hopped with 40 lbs of Columbus hops per brew to ring in at 80 IBU. “The Corruption” comes in at 6.5% ABV. This beer straddle’s the line between IPA and Imperial IPA and has a supportive malty backbone with an assertive hop presence that smacks your mouth with a dank, resinous bitterness followed by pleasant aroma’s of pine sap and burnt spruce.

The Hefe was great with the Citizen being another great one.  The Imperial IPA was a bit strong.  Overall, a great time and the staff was awesome to talk to.

The final one is a cask beer that changes all the time.  Very strong…

The Hefe and Citizen were probably my favorite.  Overall great time at the brewery, chatting with the staff and enjoying some local, cold beer.

 

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