A Tribute to Stone Brewing

This is a love story about a boy who met a brewery who introduced him to a whole new world. This is a tribute to the Stone Brewery in San Diego, California. Stone embodies the vision of what I see craft beer culture to be. Before Stone, I was wasting money on what Stone’s founder, Greg Koch, likes to call “fizzy yellow beer.” To me, there are two rock stars in craft beer. You have Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, who is your nice guy leader from the East Coast. Then you have Greg Koch of Stone Brewing, who is your arrogant warrior from the West Coast. I grew up learning the way of the warrior.

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Craft Beer in Naples, Florida

You never know where you’ll find good beer. This was exactly what I was saying while I sat at Citrus, a restaurant on upscale 5th Avenue in Naples, Florida with my wife and her grandparents. It was at Citrus, where we were introduced to Paula Powell [proprietor], Jay [Paula’s devoted husband], and Dave Koch [sommelier extraordinaire and Canadian import]. During dinner, I enjoyed a Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale [Tampa, FL] to go with my blackened fish tacos and finished with a Belgian Palm Ale. Dave asked more questions about what I thought of the beer than what I thought of the food. The guy loves the food at Citrus, but also appreciates a fellow beer lover. Just in case I didn’t say it enough to you already Dave, the Maduro was filled with a ridiculous amount of smooth roasted malts and subtle notes of chocolate. At the end of the night, Dave introduced me to the folks a couple patios over at Avenue Wine Café to see their beer list. After seeing the extensive and impressive list, I promised the bartender I would be back the following day.

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Philly Beer Weekend

My wife and I made a trip up to Philadelphia this past weekend for the huge Tattoo Convention held annually at the Sheraton Hotel. While we were in town, we took in some history with the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the National Treasure Museum. Okay, that last one was a lie. We had authentic cheesesteaks from Pat’s and enjoyed the many cultures that attend the convention. But the real story is behind the two visits we made to a brewpub and gastropub.

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My New Favorite Homebrew Shop

Jay’s Brewing, in Clifton , VA is my new favorite homebrew shop. My wife and I met Derek at the shop last Tuesday while I was looking for my Imperial IPA ingredients. The shop is very small and in a quaint part of town. The shopping space is about 100 square feet. They have a back room just larger than that which holds all the ingredients. Most of the pre-packaged kits, kettles, and tuns are in the shopping area. They even have a homemade brewing system on display right when you walk in the door. If you need any reading material, they have that too. Please check them out if you are in my area. I haven’t seen them in the American Homebrewers Association list of homebrew shops nor the MidAtlantic Brewing News publication. This needs to change as these are great guys who absolutely love what they do. Send e-mails to these two and let them know that Jay’s needs to be added to their lists. I bought eight pounds of pale liquid malt extract, two pounds of crystal malt grains, eight ounces of hops for the kettle, and 2 ounces of whole hops for dry hopping. The varieties were Amarillo, Centennial, and my favorite – Cascades. Derek was extremely knowledgeable and courteous during my stop in the store. As a matter of fact, I called the shop for assistance after my beer exploded. That’s right. My yeast was devouring so much sugar that the rubber stopper blew right off, spewing krausen all over my kitchen. I cleaned up my mess and asked the guys for some words of wisdom. They were great. Eventually I breathed in and out, saying, “Relax. Don’t Worry, and have a homebrew.” All you Northern Virginians looking for a great place to buy your ingredients to brew your first or 100th batch of beer should make your way to Jay’s Brewing in Clifton, VA. They are truly “Living the Craft Beer Lifestyle”.

Wedding Beer Run

Being a former Marine, I am no stranger to making hard decisions in tough situations But let me tell you this, I had never been faced with a hard decision like the one I had to make on June 17, 2010. That was the day I had to choose the alcohol for our (my wife Alisha and I) wedding day.

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