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.


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!


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!


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.


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


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.



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

7 Locks Brewing

Microbreweries are growing and growing.  One of the latest is in Rockville, MD (just outside of DC), 7 Locks Brewing.

7LB-logo1(logo source:

They have a nice spread of beer on tap, which can of course always change.


When I checked it out, my friend and I split of flight of 6 (4 oz each), which is only $8.  We also did this because they were sponsoring a 5K that we had to run not to long after we were going to enjoy the brew.  All were nice to try, not all were my (personal) favorites.

The brewery is great because they have lots of events, from runs to concerts to yoga, and more, all including beer.  Can’t go wrong with that.


Forrest Brewing Company

On the return day from visiting the 12 Sisters, we took a different route.  This let us stop at a brewery vs. a winery (for both drink and food).  The location, Forrest Brewing Company.


I decided to do a tasting and what’s nice is they don’t give you 4oz pours so you can easily taste everything on the 6-taster flight.  The pour is just shy of 2oz.  With this it comes on a nice wooden palate and you get:


Pilsner (no formal description) – nice and crisp

Silver top (no formal description) – bland/flat

Pale Ale (…lovely apple flavours then a lingering nudge of caramel malt. The finish leaves a refreshing crispness. The Cascade hops lend a lasting touch of bitterness gently balancing the malts. We let malt, Otways water, hops and yeast do all the work, you won’t find any preservatives in here. Best served cold and enjoyed whilst fresh. ABV 4.8%) – good bite

Irish Red (Coloured copper red with earthy malt flavours of dark caramel, chestnut and a touch of roasted barely. A spicy hop note dominates leaving a crisp refreshing bitter finish. We let malt, Otways water, hops and yeast do all the work, you won’t find any preservatives in here. Best served cold and enjoyed whilst fresh. ABV 3.6%) – just a bit awkward, would need to try it again when not sampling others

Sista Ginger (Our Forrest ginger beer recipe contains only the freshest natural ingredients, freshly grated ginger, hand squeezed lemons and choice exotic spices. We use slow fermentation to achieve a crisp, slightly cloudy, lightly carbonated and refreshing alternative to malt beers. Brewed using our ale yeast, it’s happily alcoholic.  ABV 4.1%) – clear, like water, not great

Pobblebonk (Our Autumn seasonal beer is a French style Saison de Miel. Named after a local frog and using Otway’s Strawberry Clover honey, plenty of orange zest, it’s even got a stella hop…s Pouring golden orange with white foaming head, it’s a fruity number with peppery spice, clove, orange and honey notes. An interesting beer yet refreshingly easy to drink. One for a sunny afternoon by the river or slow contemplation on the veranda. ABV 7%) – citrus all that way

For lunch several of us had:

Eggplant Brulee Salad – Caramelized with sticky soy sesame marinade, Asian noodles, snow peas, yellow capsicum, bean shoots, greens, fried shallots.

Porterhouse Sliders

Feelin’ Crabby – softshell crab sandwich





All the food was great and the beer was quite nice to enjoy/taste.

Blue Star Brewing Company

Last Day in San Antonio…time to try some local brew.  I had seen this place on a super long exploratory walk (10+ miles) the first day I was there.  Now had 4+ hours to kill before catching my plane, why not walk a bit to check this place out for some local fare, in more ways than one?

So, walked a couple miles (south) on the Riverwalk to the Blue Star Brewing Company.


Checked out the beer menu and wanted to do a sampler.  You can pick any of their brews and get as many as you’d like in 4-oz. pours.  Great idea!  And they cost $1-$3 each.  After reading and reading the descriptions I finally picked four — I’m not going to start with more than a pint’s worth of beer.  And, some of the ABVs on these were high.


So I went with:

Texican:  South Texas Lager, dry, crisp & mild.  Flavors with leave you thirsty for more, 4.0% ABV. — This was my favorite!

Flying Pig:  Extra Pale Ale, Refreshing, beautifully hopped, well balanced light colored ale, 5.0% –  good hops, not overpowering.

Dunkelhead: Dark, bold and refreshing lager, 5.6% — not my style, glad I tried it, though.

Wheathead: Refreshingly satisfying wheat beer, ABV 5.2% — off/odd for wheat.  I was expecting more of a Hef.

There food was good.  Had a delicious salad with salmon.


Great way to close out my week in San Antonio.  Check this place out if you’re looking for some local brew and you’re in the area.

3 Stars Brewing Company

Washington, DC is becoming a growing microbrew market, between the city proper and local areas.  Many of the new ones are in the city, and are helping some of the run-down areas get a face lift, since they cost less to operate (lower rent) and then bring traffic to the area.  I was recently housesitting and found out about 3 Stars Brewing Company that was less than a mile from where I was staying — perfect!  It’s right near Takoma Park in DC/MD.  It’s in the far east side of the NW quadrant of DC.  Go a couple blocks and you’re in NE.


It’s very hidden in a row of industrial buildings — they could use a bigger sign.  They’re open Thursday-Sunday for tastings and tours.  They also have an area for homebrewers to come get the ingredients they want to brew their own stuff, aka their Homebrew Shop.

The menu is pretty vast and you can taste 4oz. pours for $1.50.  You can’t go wrong with that.  The ABV range is also pretty wide so you also have to be pretty cautious on some levels.



I’m torn between the Peppercorn and Ghost as to which one was my favorite.

In addition to the nice tastes, you can of course get pints as well as growler fills.  This would be there perfect place to go on the weekend with their picnic tables, They mentioned food trucks also swing by so you can fill the stomach with food in addition to beer.

New Brews

Had the chance to sip some new brews this weekend.  Love veering from wine from time-to-time.

First was Flying Dog’s Single Hop HBC-431 Imperial IPA.  You could sip this beer all day.  And, if you did you would be in extreme trouble, both physically and financially… It’s 10% ABV and runs about $15/6-pack.  I’d never had a single hop beer.  You could taste some orange, apricot and it was a tiny bit thick.  So good and worth the money.



Also had Blue Moon’s First Peach Ale.  I love the majority of their stuff so had to try this.  Could be a pro or con depending on your palate.  It tasted just like peach iced tea.  I am not an iced tea fan, let alone peach tea.  So, I would much prefer just a traditional Blue Moon.  But for some, this Seasonal could be a winner.

IMG_3048[1]Have you tried either of these and have any feedback?

Brew on

There was just a great article about the Best New Breweries in the US in The Daily Meal.  They are everywhere across the country, showing how much microbreweries continue to grow.  And as noted in the article, according to the Brewers Association, an average of 1.5 new breweries opens every day in the U.S. alone. In 2014, 13 states reached the 100-brewery milestone (along with some other great stats).

Photo Source:

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While continuing my great getaway in Colorado and enjoying some brews at Fort Collins Brewery yesterday, it came to me — if the wine industry has sommeliers, does the beer industry have the same?  So, of course I can’t stay quiet when I have such a question.  I asked our bartender what he knew about the topic, and he provided the info. You definitely learn something new everyday.

Those who taste and critique the brews aim for/earn the title of Cicerone. Other than the basic name, let me help you find out a bit more about it.  All info below is taken directly/verbatim/copied & pasted from the Cicerone Certification Program website.

cicerone_logoLogo source:

What is a Cicerone?

The word Cicerone (pronounced sis-uh-rohn) has been chosen to designate those with proven expertise in selecting, acquiring and serving today’s wide range of beers.

What is the origin of the word Cicerone? 

Cicerone is an English word referring to “one who conducts visitors and sightseers to museums and explains matters of archaeological, antiquarian, historic or artistic interest.” A Certified or Master Cicerone® possesses the knowledge and skills to guide those interested in beer culture, including its historic and artistic aspects. These titles now designate a person with demonstrated expertise in beer who can guide consumers to enjoyable and high-quality experiences with great beer.

In the wine world, the word “sommelier” designates those with proven expertise in selecting, acquiring and serving fine wine. At one time, some beer servers adopted the title “beer sommelier” to tie into the credibility of the wine world. But in the years since its founding, the Cicerone Certification Program has become the industry standard for identifying those with significant knowledge and professional skills in beer sales and service.