May 18th

One of the first stops after arriving in Virginia was to hit up the local Total Wine & More for the first of many trips to beer and grocery stores. At first the selection was overwhelming, with a good selection of singles (both small and large sizes) and packs (both four and six). There were a nice selection of seasonal beers to go along with the ready supply of American craft brews. There was lots of space given to the big guys, but they were tucked at the back, past the craft beer.

After much deliberation and one hefty bill, I was tucking beer into the fridge of Soph’s father. My first beer that night was the Stone IPA, a beer that I was really excited to try. It poured a pale gold and was surprisingly bland looking. Moderate aromas of floral and pine, with some toasted grain. The taste was pretty much all pine, and a really stale pine at that. Medium bodied, but overall really disappointing. I suddenly started to wonder if some of these American craft beers were over-hyped.

In reality, the problem with buying singles at stores like Total Wine & More is that there is no quality control. The bottle had no mention of a production date or best-before date (which, presumably, would be on the packaging you might find on a six-pack). I had no idea how long that bottle had been sitting on the shelf. So while buying a single bottle can be a good way to try a lot of beer without making a larger investment (or if you’re passing through town and don’t have the time for six), that bottle isn’t always the best representation of the beer. So I’ll have to wait till some other time and try to find a fresh bottle of the Stone IPA.

The next beer I had, the Brooklyn Local 2, was a much better experience. The Local 2 is a Belgian strong ale brewed with orange peel and honey, though you might not guess so when looking at the beautiful mahogany coloured beer. It pours with a bountiful white head that goes down to a nice layer of fluff. Aroma and tastes are identical: dark fruits (cherry and plums), candied sugar and yeast in the finish. No sign of the honey or orange peel, but the beer is definitely sweet (though not overpoweringly so). Dense, syrupy body and lots of Belgian lacing down the glass. As the beer warms up, the alcohol is definitely present, with some orange now poking through and some apparent breadiness. The Local 2 was really nice and I would love to have a couple of bottles stowed away to see how it changes over time.

Brooklyn Local 2 on Ratebeer

Stone IPA on Ratebeer

Today: 900mL. Year-to-date: 102.48L.

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