The Beer Guild of Charlottesville?

The Beer Guild of Charlottesville?

Posted on Sep, 08. 2010 by

Categories: Beer

I’ve never been ashamed of the “geek” label…in fact, I wear it with pride. And if there’s anything I geek out about more than wine, it’s beer. I brew it, I drink it, I write about it, I talk about it for hours…hell, if it were socially acceptable, I’d bathe in the stuff! Now, I know that this little gig of ours is called the Wine Guild, but I have to believe that our collection of sophisticated palates appreciates the barley- and wheat- based beverages as well. And so, I’m embarking on a little project of my own to bring you all some of my favorite beers (at the always-fabulous Wine Guild pricing). If you love good beer, this is for you. If you’re relatively inexperienced when it comes to the “other” fermented beverage of choice, well, I invite you to sample what I bring in and see if it’s for you. And if, by some unfortunate stroke of bad luck, you have pre-(mis-)conceptions about beer because of its misplaced status as a “low-brow” cousin to wine, well, I’m issuing a challenge to you: hear me out, try some of it, and see if I can’t change your mind. Onward and upward!

I’ve started out by bringing 3 beers to the Guild, each of them unique, well-crafted and seasonally apt:


Weihenstephaner Festbier

(AKA Oktoberfest, AKA Marzen) is something that most are familiar with, but the style is wide open to interpretation. Originally called “Marzen” because it was originally brewed in March (Marzen) and lagered (cold-aged) until August/September, it is typically clean, clear and malty to the core. The Americanized versions tend to overaccentuate the malt (and a malty sweetness) with a bit of aggressive hopping, while the original German style ranges from a deep caramel-colored richness to what we have here: a light, almost helles-like festbier with lighter weight than most and a very refreshing quality. This is always one of the first O-fests to hit the shelves in late August, and rightly so: the heavier styles are perfect for October’s chilly nights, but as you are all aware, it’s still quite warm. Weihenstephaner is the world’s oldest brewery still in operation, and while they could follow the modern stylistic tendency towards darker, maltier beers, they instead stick with a light, fresh beer, absolutely perfect for this early part of the autumn season. A slight bitterness and fresh hop flavor round out the sweet malt and dry finish, resulting in a classically-styled, refreshing, yet seasonally-adjusted light lager.
Weihenstephaner Festbier
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: 6 Pack – $9.08 • Premier Cru: 6 Pack -$9.49 [/private_member]
Buy Now!


Lagunitas A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale

Lagunitas has long been known for their, uh, eclectic offerings, but never without a sense of humor. After their copper ale, “The Kronik”, got rejected by the labeling gestapo for its obvious drug references, they renamed it “Censored Ale”; several of their new offerings are homages Frank Zappa, and they’ve even brewed a beer (‘Undercover Shutdown Ale’) to commemorate their run-in with the law on drug-related charges. All of that aside, they make damn fine beers, and this one is no exception. The LSS is a wheat-based beer, hazy golden-orange in color, with their trademark west-coast-hop character. What really draws me in is that there’s a very expressive hop flavor and aroma, but the hop bitterness is relatively subdued and integrated. That spicy wheat maltiness combines with explosive grapefruit and pineapple character to give you a wheatie pale ale on steroids. A great end-of-summer brew, hoppy without being brutal, refreshing without being boring, this is a real crowd-pleaser. I’ve got maybe 5 or 6 six-packs left, and this is a very limited release (I almost didn’t get any), so please let us know what you’d like ASAP.
Lagunitas A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: 6 Pack – $8.25 • Premier Cru: 6 Pack -$8.63 [/private_member]
Buy Now!


New Holland Ichabod

Pumpkin beer is a fickle mistress; the mood surely has to strike the both of you for it to work. Some people hate it, some people love it, and there are few in between. I, for one, love the stuff…as long as it’s done well. It, to me, is the ushering in of autumn in liquid form, a welcome reminder that in a scant few weeks, pumpkins will ripen, kids will be knocking at the door demanding sugar in exchange for the fact that they’re dressed up, and, well, pumpkin bread is sure to grace my table in short order! Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t love just any pumpkin beer. There are plenty of subpar examples; some are so subtle as to simply be nondescript amber ales with the faintest hint of spice; others beat you over the head with cinnamon. The ones I love are balanced, with a pleasant pumpkin-pie-spice character (cloves, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg), a touch of malty pumpkin sweetness, and the slightest bitterness to balance it all out. Ichabod from New Holland (one of my favorite ‘new’ breweries!) fits that bill to a tee. It has a pleasant toastiness on the nose, like burning autumn leaves and pumpkin bread, but it’s not heavy-handed at all. Instead, it’s a humble introduction to fall in the south; something that is quaffable, but not too sweet or too pungent or hoppy so as to overwhelm the palate. Genteel, perhaps, is the word. In any case, this is my go-to pumpkin beer. And you?
New Holland Ichabod
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: 6 Pack – $8.25 • Premier Cru: 6 Pack -$8.63 [/private_member]
Buy Now!

So, there you have it, my first stab at the Beer Guild. Let us know what you’d like…and if there’s a particular beer style that interests you, I’m all ears.

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