[Beer Review] Flying Dog Dead Rise

Friends, this beer wins Summer 2014. Hands. Down. When Flying Dog Brewery of Frederick, Maryland bottled a new summer seasonal this year they struck at the hearts, minds, and stomachs of the residents in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Though I still hold on strongly to my New England roots, the Chesapeake Bay is really the second best place there is.

But wait you say – it is late August, pumpkin beer is out in full force, why bother focusing on a summer seasonal at this late date? Well the answer is simple – crabs.  When you buy blue crabs you buy them based on the point-to-point shell size. But the shells don’t grow continuously, crabs “size up” in the spring when they molt their shell and grow a new one (hence why spring/early summer is soft shell crab season). Once the shell hardens, the crab needs to grow into their new home, so an early summer crab is going to be “light” – lots of picking for little reward. But towards the end of August and into September the crabs are at their fattest (and people start thinking of fall foods, so prices drop too). So folks – the season for crab feasts is NOW.

Order up a few duz, and while you’re out look through the cold cases for a six or two of Dead Rise. I’ll tell you why below.

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Flying Dog, despite originally hailing from the great state of Colorado, knows the Old Line State. To me it is clear that their understanding goes beyond marketing studies – they know the difference between a Jimmie and a Sook, they know of the proud Chesapeake Bay heritage, they’ve been downey ohshin, and they know when to emphasize the “O” in the Star Spangled Banner. And I appreciate that.

Combining 75 years of history with Old Bay, and hundreds of years of history from Chesapeake Bay watermen is a pretty neat thing. Adding to the “make me wanna buy it NOW” feelings are the great name – a deadrise boat is a traditional working vessel commonly found in the Chesapeake for crabbing, oystering or fishing. With a sharp V-shaped bow designed to efficiently cut through chop, and a hull that tapers to a very shallow V to promote stability and provide accessibility in shallow waters – all welcomed traits in bay waters. To top it off, a portion of the proceeds from the beer go to True Blue, a charity dedicated to helping the struggling fisheries industry and to promoting sustainable harvesting of true Maryland blue crabs. Jeez – buy your marketing/branding folks a beer, they earned it!

Great branding means nothing without great taste, and Dead Rise is a winner in this department as well. Yeah, a lot of people are put off by the concept of Old Bay in beer – particularly those northerners who don’t understand how everything is made better with a dash of his heavenly offering. On your pizza, popcorn, or wings, as a rub on steak or seafood, around the rim of your Bloody Mary – the zesty pop of spice beats out nearly every other regional sauce or rub. Take a sip of a cold Dead Rise and the taste of Old Bay is immediately familiar, but not overpowering. Give a smell, you’ll start wondering when the steamer pot is ready for feasting. Dead Rise conjures warm summer nights, gathered around a table, mallets hammering away to reveal plump morsels of sweet blue crab. And there is absolutely nothing you can’t like about that.

But lets not forget it is a pretty nice pale ale as well. Hops are patient, lingering in the background – you’ll notice they are there if you take your time between sips as they cut away at the tongue coating Old Bay flavors. The nice medium malt character rounds out the beer with a touch of sweetness. The Old Bay flavor is king, but without the rest of the parts working in harmony it could be a dud of a beer. Fortunately for us, that’s not the case. In fact, demand was so high that Flying Dog sold out of what they predicted as a 5 month supply in 8 days. So for 5 weeks this summer the brewery dedicated 65% of its capacity to this single beer.

Damn. Go get some.

Old-Bay-Seasoning

Four More Bikey Books Worth Reading

Two years ago I offered up four books as suggested summer reads to enjoy at the end of a long day of riding relaxing sipping a beer, on a bike-camping tour after dinner has been enjoyed, in the middle of a utilitaire under a tree in a park, and even on those days when it is just too darn hot to ride.

I’ve torn through four more books this summer – and though the season is coming to and end (at least in our minds), I submit these for your consideration as worthwhile (bike related) reads.

Hop in the Saddle; A Guide to Portland’s Craft Beer Scene, by Bike

HopintheSaddleThis pocket sized guide to the incredible craft beer scene in Portland, Oregon will either inspire you to make a pilgrimage to this fabled Pacific Northwest republic – or will melt you into a puddle of envy. Fortunately for me, I had a trip Planned to Oregon this August!  Divided into five portions, one each for Portland’s five (yes five) quadrants – the bike describes the must visit craft breweries,restaurants, bike shops and tourist spots. A map and cue sheet is provided, and extended “Beer Nerd” routes are also provided.  I particularly enjoyed the book because it had a strong focus on local, neighborhood spots as opposed to the tourist traps. Actually, Portland seems to have strong neighborhood identities, which means that the breweries (mostly brewpubs) reflect the neighborhood identity. Same goes for the collection of “can’t miss” restaurants and bike shops in each quadrant. And of course getting around by bike is bliss – the bike infrastructure is just plain top notch.

Hop in the Saddle is available HERE.  Don’t blame me when you melt into your puddle of envy.

Mud, Sweat, and Gears; A Rowdy Family Bike Adventure Across Canada on Seven Wheels – Joe “Metal Cowboy” Kurmaskie

Mud_Sweat_GearsI’m a sucker for bike touring adventures – and a family sized adventure “across” Canada seemed like it would have to be packed with valuable insights, hilarious anecdotes, and a little bit of drama. Unfortunately, the book didn’t live up to those lofty expectations. The trip “across” Canada (I say “across” because most of the time you have no idea of where the family is actually riding) is really a memoir that alludes to how much of a jerk the “Metal Cowboy” it to his wife and family, and how he eventually realizes how much he cares about them – interspersed with weird conversations about his mother, and his bedtime conquests as a young man.

I can’t help but feel that Kurmaskie writes purely to stroke his ego (which reveals itself to be fairly massive), actually – it seems that he rides to stroke his ego as well. Tortuously long days in the saddle with three young kids and critiques of all of us “working stiffs” are interspersed with actually funny and insightful commentary. It’s not all negative – the book is a fast and enjoyable read –  but after reflecting upon the 303 pages I read in two sittings I feel like I just don’t like the author.  A lot of us aspire to go on great long journeys – but none of us want to feel like scum because we didn’t abandon our family and children to pursue those dreams.

A Dog in a Hat – Joe Parkin

doginahatOn the opposite side of the spectrum from Joe Kurmaskie is Joe Parkin – an American who scraped his way to Belgium (specifically Flanders) on the advice of Bobke Roll to make his way as a pro racer. Parkin is brutally honest – of his skills, of the other riders, of the general culture of the time  (which generally centered around lying team managers, riders buying/selling races and taking performance enhancing, or decreasing drugs). It is refreshing to hear a genuine story of a man with boatloads of talent, as he learns his way in the peloton, learns about the business of professional cycling, and learns that he won’t be the champion he envisioned when he first arrived in Belgium. It was another quick, plainspoken read, though it ends rather abruptly – a segue into the Parkins follow-up book about his return from Europe and a second career in the US. I felt like I was riding along with Parkin, which is the closest I’ll ever get to riding among the pro’s. I highly, highly recommend this read if you even have the slightest interest in pro cycling.

Slaying the Badger; Greg Lemond, Bernard Hinault and the Greatest Tour de France – Richard Moore

slayingthebadgerA Frenchman en route to becoming the first man ever to win six Tours of France, an American freak of nature (in the kindest way) attempting to fulfill his destiny as the first non-European to win the grandest of Grand Tours – and both teammates. The tension, intrigue and controversy captured by Moore is evident from the outset. Moore spends the first half of the book interviewing both riders in their respective homes, craftily building narrative (and tension) as he tells the dramatic story of each rider from childhood through the 1985 Tour, which culminates in Lemond helping the ailing Hinault to Paris and a fifth Tour victory, and in turn gaining in turn a promise that Hinult will be Lemonds domestique in ’86. But things don’t always go as planned – or – things aren’t always as they seem. Hinault attacks Lemond relentlessly in ’86, and Lemond must learn how to cope, lead a peloton, and win. If A Dog in a Hat revealed the hard life of an American mid-level pro in Europe, Slaying the Badger took it a step further – the hard life of two true superstar GC contenders, and the additional stresses that factor in such a riders life.  The book is amazingly packed with details and emotion, perhaps the only reason to watch the recently released documentary of the same name is to see those beautiful beautiful La Vie Claire jerseys from ’86.

 

2014 Hoppy100 Update

I messed up – and will certainly mess up many more times – Perhaps it is the tragic flaw of the Hoppy100.

OK, We  are replacing Mad Fox with Capitol City Brewing in Shirlington.  And amending the start time to 0900 (meet a little before then). Oh.. it also looks like Denizens might have changed their hours and they may not be open. BUT, I still want to include a ride-by in the tour (as we have done in years past) so that we know how to get there by bike in the future.

New Route is posted HERE

Cheers! (Oh, and whats the little hand for on those whirly numbers things on our wrists?)

6

Playin Around

 

X J Z U H G O S Y K X I T L G T A X K X
X K R W D S A K U X A V S E W R A E G G
A S K H C B A T B E S P Z Q V H Q A A E
N M G M Y O E G O S M T W T P E W M T E
T Q Q S N H E Z N K C U G K S B R C S A
S Z X B F P V G C I A W P A O H H B E G
D E O R E H I V B Q R X H D K B X M R Y
Z Y F O Y S D J B Y W U O C L J B I P P
O X A C W Z B J Y D K N O Z H W E X Y U
L A D E P C H Q K G A E G T C A U D L L
E W E R Q I T N U M C A D S H S K G S E
Q N O F A P R Y I U W Q E Z T O L W W E
P C H Q F G W H E D E I C H Q I N D R T
J U B A F B S B E F D Y E X A D N V K S
F R I H T Q E W M C F T N R H G B K Y U
P A N N I E R A U L K S T B T V T Q F Z
T F R G L E F F R L Y E U Y E P E I S Z
S J J I L O S R G D T I R Z N S F M H K
X E C D L L B L A V M E Y T T D R L I P
M C D T C J S Q U M I H G V R Q Y Q F F
G A Q E B T J O N S E G V R R T E X T B
S G M F U N G S L N E I S A A C X R T Y
U S S S V D T X F E G E P R L Q E E I T
H S D F C A T A Z C P L C O T Q N E F C
Z L R D M H M D N A K A Z R S R G B R G
P E C D K S G V M L X R I D N N K A T P
D Q Z G O M O E M H J D Y N S Q N W W V
N O B R A C H N O T P M O R B K E J E T
L Y N X S L B T O P L X H Y V J G M J P
E Y N U U Y U U U Z S R Y K F I B P S O
Q Y A G Y Z T R N Y S Q X V C P I T E K
U G G X C M A E C E O K O A W E K M W V
D E I K J J L A U B X I B Z G W E P V H
D H I F A W S M D B I J A E E S P U L S
J H Q D D S D A S U J V S M N I Z U J K
Y Y O N E B B K R Q K C M T S R P A H D
X J L T P E A O V K A T S N Q C Y C L E
O V T R Y G D V S R V F N S R D Y H K M
F E S V U M V D Y E V J A G Z U F K M U
A N P F Q S L Z A P T V L U A M D T E J

 

ADVENTURE BEARD BEER
BIKE BREVET BROMPTON
CARBON CASSETTE CENTURY
CRANK CYCLE DEORE
DIRT FRAME FRED
FUN GEAR LUGGED
PANNIER PEDAL PRESTA
RALEIGH SADDLE SHIFT
SHIMANO STEEL SURLY
TOURING TRAIL TREK
ULTEGRA

 

[Beer Review] Hardywood Saison Rustica

I’m a little afraid to say it out load – but this summer has been so wonderfully mild in DC. Unlike last year when a run or bike ride in the hot, humid, polluted air would cause my eyes to burn and my lungs to constrict, it seems like this year we have had one very long spring. Sure, the temperature has crept up, let’s call it Spring+™. That being said, I’ve had less and less of a desire to seek out “summer beers” recently – the conditions still feel perfect for mildly hopped, crisp beer – preferably with a little extra fun in the yeast department.

Just recently I popped open one of the treasures from our now annual spring trip to Richmond, Virginia – a 750ml bottle of Saison Rustica, purchased at the source in the tasting room at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. It really hit the spot!

Hardywood Park seems like it is rapidly becoming a go-to brewery for their many special or seasonal releases like Hoplar IPA, the famous stouts (Gingerbread and the Sidamo Coffee versions), the Great Return IPA and recently their Virginia Blackberry White Ale. Having opened in 2011 there has been ample time to hone their skills, and the results are delicious! Every time I try a new brew I am amazed at the diversity, quality and craftsmanship that are captured in the bottle. Their mission statement says it all…

Our Mission: to become one of the most respected brewers in the United States through integrity in our ingredients and in our business practices, through respect for brewing heritage, and through the inspired creation of extraordinary beers.

hardywood

So back to the beer – what about Saison Rustica got me so excited on a Spring+™ evening that I wanted to write about it? Well to start let’s give the basic rundown – Rustica is a Belgian inspired saison brewed with fresh local lemongrass, peppercorns and star anise. Not too crazy I know – you have probably had something similar by another brewer. However, in this beer the quality of the ingredients and artisanship seems to come through. Raise a glass of this hazy yellow beer to your lips and take in the grainy and yeasty aromas. Your first sip will bring a bright, sweet, fresh lemongrass taste and an enlivening peppery mouth feel. This transitions – not too fast, not too slow – into a mellow anise flavor providing a nice depth of flavor. The lemongrass and peppercorn flavors are subtly brought into check leaving you with a clean finish and a slight back of the mouth tartness. The way the flavors play so nicely together shows me that the recipe was not created on a whim… “Hey let’s make saison, bring a ton of lemons, it’s what everyone is doing!”

I highly recommend taking the drive south towards Richmond, bring your mountain bike to hit the trails, then bring back a few bottles of whatever is available in the tasting room (some for me too please!).

2014 Hoppy 100 Planning

Mark your calendars, it’s time to start thinking about the 2014 Hoppy 100 – a darn long bike ride interspersed with beer stops. What is the Hoppy100? Read my 2013 recap here to find out.

hoppy100

Every year there are new twists to this adventure, and application of some lessons learned. This year we will call the ride “Less Blood, More Beer” edition. If you were around last year you know what I mean, if not well… be happy it isn’t more blood, less beer.

So, here is what we have in store for this year:

Date: Saturday August 23th, 2014

Departure Time: Meet at 730ish, depart at 800am-ish

Departure Location: Washington Monument

Distance: 40-ish miles, featuring the Mount Vernon Trail, The Custis Trail, the W&OD Trail, the C&O towpath (there is always some off-roading), the Capital Crescent Trail AND the Metropolitan Branch Trail. We’re going trail crazy this year! Check out the route and cue sheets HERE!

Stops:

1) Mad Fox Brewing (Falls Church) – Traditional stop for kinda breakfast/kinda lunch. If you want to make a shorter route, skip this one and meet at Fletchers Boathouse!

2) Denizens Brewing (Silver Spring) – Maybe we stop in if the brewery is up and running. It’s new!

3) 3 Stars Brewing (DC) – We haven’t visited them before, and it is past due.

4) Atlas Brewing (DC) – This time we’ll find them (I hope).

5) Bluejacket (DC) – As time and interest allows, a few samples and maybe food? Honestly, it’s so close to my apartment that it is really a selfish way to end the ride.

Things I can Guarantee:

1) We might get lost once or twice. I haven’t ridden all of this route, so there may be surprises!

2) Nobody will be dropped, this is a long day so it needs to be fun as well.

3) We may deviate from the planned route for any number of reasons (we always get lost).

4) Food stops will happen – specifically at Mad Fox, where we always get food.

5) Nobody under 21 should plan on riding.

6) Zero tolerance for getting on a bike if you have had too much to drink.

7) I take no liability/responsibility for anyone other than myself. Ride along at your own risk.

8) Rain or shine event – (It almost always rains).

 

Let me know if you’re coming!