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).


RVA Beer Events Beginning March 10

Tickle the Tastebuds - Beers & Breweries

March 10

Pop-Up with Adam Hall and Triple Crossing. The Cask Café, 206 S. Robinson St., Richmond. (804) 355-2402. Adam Hall, head chef at Saison, will be cooking at the Cask, which will also be pouring drafts from Triple Crossing, including Falcon Smash, Paranoid Aledroid, Liberty or Death and Waxing Poetic. 5-10 p.m.

March 11

Heavy Seas 20 Beers for 20 Years. The Answer Brewpub, 6008 W. Broad St., Richmond. (804) 282-1248. Celebrate Baltimore’s Heavy Seas 20th anniversary. Besides 20 Heavy Seas beers – including vintage beers and seldom-seen favorites – the evening features owner and founder Hugh Sisson, brewmaster Chris Leonard, head brewer Chris Schultz and other pirate-loving persons. 4-10 p.m.

March 11-13

First Anniversary Party. Black Heath Meadery. 1313 Altamont Ave., Richmond. (703) 582-0856. Richmond’s only meadery celebrates one year and 14 meads. Six barrel-aged meads released throughout the weekend (available by the glass only). Pours and flights available. Friday, 3-8 p.m.; Saturday, noon-7 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.

March 12

Shamrock the Bottom. 7 Hills Brewing, 115 S. 15th St., Richmond. (804) 716-8307. Food and drink specials, including the Irish-inspired 42nd Street dry stout. DJ and dancing after 9 p.m. 11 a.m. till March 13, 1 a.m.

Sugar Shack Samoa Porter Beer Release. Strangeways Brewing, 2277A Dabney Rd., Richmond, (804) 303-4336. This collaborative beer celebrates the values of the two businesses’ founders, both focused on unique local ventures fueled by quality and passion. The 7% ABV, 16-IBU beer hits the palate with flavors of caramel, toasted coconut and dark chocolate. Available in bottles and on draft. 750ml bottles & on draft. 11 a.m.

St. Patrick’s Day Party to Benefit St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Center of the Universe Brewing, 11293 Air Park Rd., Ashland, (804) 368-0299. Live music, food trucks and beer, including two limited-release, one-off Irish red ales. As a benefit to conquer childhood cancer, the event also includes a silent auction and raffles. 1 p.m.

BrewCraft 2016 Results Announcement. Triple Crossing Brewing, 113 S. Foushee St., Richmond. (804) 308-0475. Home brew competition results announced, prizes conferred and judging sheets given to competitors. 1 p.m.

Brewer and Artist Series Release: Spirit Braid. Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, 2408 Ownby Ln., Richmond. (804) 420-2420. Celebrating the creativity of brewers and artists, this installment in the series highlights brewer Nick Walthall and artist Sara Gossett. The 5.2% ABV Spirit Braid beer is an unfiltered, bottle-conditioned, dry, effervescent Saison brewed with organic raw wheat with added Seville and Cara Cara oranges, fermented with brewers yeast and Brettanomyces claussenii. Artist Sara Gossett works primarily with watercolor, using vintage style and design. Spirit Braid is available on draft, bottles and four-packs. Live music begins at 5 p.m. 2-9 p.m.

Blarney Blast. 17th Street Farmers Market, 100 N. 17th St. A fun-filled, family-friendly day of Irish tradition featuring live music, an eating contest, kids’ activities, local food and adult beverages. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

March 13

Shamrock Run RVA 2016. Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, 2408 Ownby Ln., Richmond. (804) 420-2420. A new annual St. Patrick’s Day family tradition, including a 5k run and Lucky Leprechaun Kids’ Race. Packet pick-up begins at 9:30 a.m., kids’ race at 11:15, 5k at 11:30 and more. Food trucks, surprises and activities for kids and adults, including a runner’s costume contest.

Bench Grafting for Beginners. Blue Bee Cider, 212 W. 6th St., Richmond. (804) 231-0280. Learn how to make your own apple trees in this hands-on workshop. You’ll go home with a grafting knife and two semi-dwarf graftlings made from rare and heirloom variety apple scions. $30 per person. Noon-1 p.m.

March 17

St. Patrick’s Day at Legend. Legend Brewing Co., 321 W. 7th St., Richmond. (804) 232-3446. Celebrate at Virginia’s oldest brewery with traditional and not-so-traditional brews, Irish food specials, drink specials and Celtic performances by Pugsy Mohone. 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.

March 18-20

Ales Through the Ages. Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, 326 W. Francis St. and other Williamsburg locations. Symposium on beer and its colorful story, Beer experts from across the U.S., the Netherlands and Ireland will speak on such subjects as the beginning of beer in the ancient world, home brewing, the history of beer and brewing beer for today’s market. Speakers include Randy Mosher, Stan Hieronymus, beer scientist Karen Fortmann of White Labs and Mitch Steele. Ticket includes all programs, beer tasting, opening reception and a beer pairing with food. Single-day and event guest tickets are also available. $325. 800-603-0948 or

March 19

St. Paddy’s Day. Starr Hill Brewery, 5391 Three Notched Rd., Crozet. Featuring classic Irish fare by local chefs using locally sourced pork products, live music and contests. Starr Hill will also hold an Irish wake for the classic Dark Starr, their dry Irish stout.

Harrison Release. Blue Bee Cider, 212 W. 6th St., Richmond. (804) 231-0280. Get a taste of culinary history with this small-batch cider of 100% Harrison cider apples. Harrison was the leading cider apple in the Mid Atlantic and eastern U.S. in the early 1800s and 1900s. Rediscovered in 1976, the apple offers full-bodied complexity with notes of allspice, golden raisins and orange zest. Food and music.

Dead Rock Double IPA. 7 Hills Brewing, 115 S. 15th St., Richmond. (804) 716-8307. The brewpub releases this big, hoppy and bitter DIPA. Music throughout the afternoon and evening. 11 a.m.-midnight.

This Ain’t Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Oatmeal Porter. Isley Brewing, 1715 Summit Ave., Richmond. (804) 716-2132. Aging Isley’s dark-roasted oatmeal porter with its notes of coffee and chocolate in bourbon barrels from Reservoir Distillery creates a Richmond-centric beer. Noon-10 p.m.

March 19-20

The Irish Festival in Church Hill. 25th & E. Broad Street in Church Hill, Richmond. (804) 356-1093. Entertainment, family fun, Irish vendors and food, and adult beverages. Proceeds benefit a variety of neighborhood causes. $5.

March 20

Spring into Local Beer with Isley Brewing Company. Capital Ale House Midlothian, 13831 Village Place Dr., Midlothian. (804) 897-5815. Five Isley brews on tap plus three Isley-designed burgers to pair with the beers, such as the Picnic Burger with cheddar, peanut butter, jelly, and bacon paired with Isley’s PB&J (Choosy Mother mixed with Blueberry Plain Jane). 1-4 p.m.

Pruning the Urban Orchard. Blue Bee Cider, 212 W. 6th St., Richmond. (804) 231-0280. Owner and cidermaker Courtney Mailey and Blue Bee horticulturalist, Linda Anderson, prune the urban orchard in Manchester, teaching participants the basics of fruit tree pruning and giving them hands-on experience. $10 per person. 1:30 to 2:30.

March 26

The Capital Ale House Virginia Beer and Bluegrass Mini Festival. Capital Ale House Downtown, Music Hall, 623 E. Main St., Richmond. (804) 780-2537. Presenting bands and breweries from the three regions Capital Ale calls home – Harrisonburg, Fredericksburg and Richmond – with folk, Americana, and bluegrass music, Virginia beers and Capital Ale House cuisine. 2 p.m.


Celebrating Ireland in Virginia

Tickle the Tastebuds - Beers & Breweries

St-Paddys-Mug, Starr HillAmerican beer drinkers can thank the Irish for some of our tippling traditions, including an appreciation for dry stouts, Irish red ales, hard cider and a proper party on St. Patrick’s Day. Though we as Americans are a few years ahead in the craft beer movement, we can still learn from our cousins across the pond.

Charlottesville’s Starr Hill Brewery agrees, collaborating with O’Hara Brewery/Carlow Brewing not just once, but twice. In 2015, Starr Hill brewer Robbie O’Cain visited O’Hara brewmaster Conor Donoghue at this independent, family-owned brewery in Ireland, creating Foreign Affair Session. 

“We went for a red IPA, the idea being to combine an Irish malt red ale style with American hops,” explained O’Cain.

The American-influenced ale was a hit in Ireland.

“The scene in Ireland is very similar to the craft beer scene in Virginia,” Donoghue told me, “except maybe three or four years ago. [About] two percent of the entire market share is craft beer, which is actually a lot of growth over the last few years… It’s a young, really exciting time.”

The two-percent share compares to an 11 percent share that craft beer claims of the total U.S. beer market.

This February, Donoghue traveled to Starr Hill, brewing a classic dry Irish export stout, similar to O’Hara’s Leann Folláin Extra Irish Stout. The high-gravity beer uses crystal and chocolate malts, oats and East Kent Goldings hops. The oats give the stout a full, creamy mouthfeel to complement the dark chocolate notes while the British hops lend a European touch. 

Named Blackthorn, the stout celebrates the changing of seasons, as blooming blackthorns mark the beginning of Irish spring.

Since founder Mark Thompson retired in 2015, Starr Hill has rebranded the business, promoted O’Cain to brewmaster, modified the beer lineup (including 10 new releases this year) and announced a second location in Norfolk.

When I visited O’Cain and Donoghue after the February brew day, O’Cain showed me the brewery’s new centrifuge, like a proud papa posting baby pics on Facebook. He raved not just about the equipment’s ability to remove solids from the beer without removing flavors but also on the system’s efficiency – extracting more flavor more quickly with less wastewater provides a benefit for the brewery’s bottom line and for environmental health.

The Blackthorn release will coincide with Starr Hill’s St. Paddy’s Day celebration, March 19. Sadly, Starr Hill will also hold an Irish wake that day as they retire their classic Dark Starr dry Irish stout.

I asked Donoghue if the Americans have inflated St. Patrick’s Day beyond Irish traditions, but he assured me that the holiday is indeed a big deal in his homeland. March 17 in Ireland sees parades and festivals, feasting to celebrate a one-day break from Lenten abstinence and a day off work – plus deeper meanings, too.

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day 2016, Richmonders can celebrate at one of several festivals and enjoy beers that pay tribute to the Emerald Isle’s styles.

Read more...

Virtual AWT




Mysterious Traub Video
A Perfect Travel Book