Cindirene’s Southern Emporium, Ayden NC

In a search for Duck-Rabbit products, Paul and Ken suggested we try Cindirene’s because it was:

  1. most likely to have a selection of the seasonals
  2. a very cool place to buy beer
  3. near (mmmm mmmm!) barbecue

They were absolutely correct on most accounts.  Chuck Dunn, the owner, was a wonderful host and was gracious in sharing information about his amazing little store (and serving room!)  He found us some Porter, Barleywine and Wee Heavy, but, by no fault of his own, we couldn’t get the Brown Ale or the Milk Stout.  It’s a question of supply and demand, and there is a big demand for these beers!

If you’re ever in Ayden [okay – if you’re ever in Greenville or Snow Hill (inside joke for Mark’s sake!), it’s just down the road] Cinderine’s is a fun little place with a great variety of wines and beers from all over.  And since they can split cases in NC, he will mix and match.

Chuck pointed us away from Paul’s recommendation (Skylight Inn, which I’ve now read may be one of the best ‘cue spots in the world, however, according to one blog posting, that might be old news…some things have changed) and across the street to Bum’s.  I can’t find a website, but there is a link to the health department’s assessment (I’m glad I didn’t read it first!) and I found one website that praised Bum’s, and suggests it is owned by a relative of the now deceased owner of Skylight.

Bum’s was convenient, and we were hungry, so that’s mostly why we chose it.  But I’ll tell you what…this place had a hominess about it, the food was really good (D and I agree that the collard greens are the BEST we’ve ever had, and the peppery vinegar sauce was outstanding!)  We each got an order of barbeque with two sides, which also included a dense cornbread and a cornbread stick, and we had sweet tea.  It was extremely satisfying.  Welcome to North Carolina!

Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, Farmville NC

How very lucky for us that Duck-Rabbit was brewing on Friday, and accepted us as visitors!  This crude-on-the-outside building on the edge of town is a sparkling vision on the inside.  The smell of brewing came wafting out the doors, and it was fabulous to meet the friendly guys inside.

Paul (the owner and head brewer) and Ken (the self-described crazy homebrewer and right-hand man) are masters of the craft and extremely personable guys.  They run a great operation, and focus on dark beers.  Paul is a philosopher (formerly a professor, if I understood correctly), and Siebel graduate.  He’s been brewing for 20 years, and worked in Cincinnati and Louisville (Pipkin – now defunct) before opening this facility with a 20-barrel brew kettle.

They can’t sell on the premisis, but pointed us in the direction to where we could purchase Duck-Rabbit products.  But we were offered tastings of the four standard brews.  Here are a few (brief) impressions:

  • * Amber – good tasting American amber; high in carbonation
  • * Porter – really enjoyable; dark, roasty and a smooth oiliness in the mouthfeel
  • * Brown Ale – my favorite of all the ales; full hoppy flavor – made with Amarillo (YUM!) and Saaz hops, it had a fabulous aroma and equally pleasing flavor; not an English Brown, but a hopped-up good ol’ American brown
  • * Milk Stout – the subtle sweetness of this stout gave it a bright, lively flavor

We learned that the Brown Ale is made with a process called First Wort Hopping (FWH), which was a new concept to both of us.  It raises the IBU’s without creating an overpowering hop aroma or bitterness, resulting in a more balanced beer.  Perhaps that is the other reason I liked it so much.

We also learned about the seasonals: Barleywine (made with 95% Amarillo hops) in the winter, Rabid Duck Imperial Stout in the spring, Wee Heavy Scotch Style Ale in the summer and Baltic Porter in the fall.

I hope to get photos up as soon as we get home…we’ll see if that happens!

Capital Ale House, Richmond VA

What could be better than a 28-page beer menu with full annotations?  We made Capital Ale House a stop on our trip down I-95, and it was absolutely worth the wait.  We sat upstairs (street level) where 30 taps and two hand pumps awaited our decision.  Downstairs, an additional 10 taps are available, and there are many, many pages of bottled beers, as well as a page of wines, and, unlisted, three macros.

The food menu was equally pleasing.  We each had a vegetable soup – mine a vegetarian vegetable full of chunky veggies, broccoli and chickpeas, and D’s was a thick, creamy chicken vegetable.  And for dinner, I enjoyed broiled Rock Fish with asparagus and rice, all prepared with a peppery citrus sauce.  He had a fried oyster sandwich on very crusty bread.

But this is a blog about the beer!  So, here’s what we had (one each with dinner, and one each for our dessert):

  • *  Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye (ABV 8%) – I loved this strong ale!!  It was an amber IPA with assertive hop, but such a well balanced flavor.
  • *  St. George Winter Stout (ABV 7.6%) – D let me taste this, and it was all about the roastiness…  A very nice beer.
  • *  Avery – Czar Imperial Stout (ABV 13%) – The more this warmed, the more it reminded me of a barleywine.  It was so full of candy flavors and spice, including dark flavors like molasses and anise.  It was warm and complex.  A fabulous dessert beer that could only be sipped.
  • *  Legend Brewing – Imperial Stout (ABV 8%) – This was D’s dessert beer.  I was not nearly as enjoyable as the others because it lacked balance.  But I found a lot of pleasure in the unexpected hop aroma and initial hop flavor.  It unfortunately didn’t blend well with the other flavors (the annotation described it as a “food fight in your mouth,” but I think it’s just a small but serious conflict.)

Before choosing our dessert beers, we had already made a decision to share a St. George Cask IPA (5% ABV) – winner of a Gold medal at the 2000 Beauty of Hops English Ale Awards.  It was cask-conditioned, and since all cask beers at Capital Ale House only come in 20 oz servings, we planned to share (most other beers come in small and large, so we had smalls (50-cents off each small went to charity that night!))  The unfortunate part of this story is that we missed out on this lovely treat.  The tap was kicked and something less appealing was on…

Our waitress sent us home with a menu since the menu changes weekly.  We’ll be reading an enjoying for a long time, and looking forward to our next visit (there is a second location, and soon to be a third, so we should get back!)

Happy Anniversary, Selin’s Grove!

The week was busy, and I didn’t get to Selin’s Grove as soon as I wanted to (like, in time be one of the first 120 beverage buyers and get an etched glass), but I did get there on the evening of the 23rd to fill growlers and enjoy a piece of anniversary cake!

The Razz Merry was on tap – it was tart and tasty, but there were a few other appealing beers that overshadowed it for me.  The X Solstice Dubbel Ale was the anniversary beverage – a blend of the ’03 and ’06 Dubbels.  The Chipolte Porter was back – I didn’t ask questions, but suspect they found some sitting around?  The Barleywine continues to be on tap (really nice as a blend with Razz Merry and the Triple!) 

But my new favorite Selin’s Grove beer is the Old Frosty IPA.  It’s a darker, higher alcohol IPA than what they usually serve.  The hop flavor and aroma were so intense and earthy.  Intuition tells me the Old Frosty is what was left after the firkin was filled…

First Firkin Fotos

Hooray!  The Guther’s sent me photos from First Firkin Friday (December 1)!  I’m so glad they brought the camera.

Firkin at Selin’s Grove

Above is the untapped firkin, and then the official tapping process began (great job, Heather!) 

Tapping the FirkinBy the way, HAPPY 10th ANNIVERSARY to Selin’s Grove Brewing Company.  I hope to get up this weekend for the specially blended Solstice Dubbel and a piece of cake!

Breakfast Stout-a-Like

Oatmeal Breakfast Stout

It was November 19 when we brewed this one, and I stumbled upon the photos tonight.  You can see the oil slick on top of this rich, dark ale.  It’s an oatmeal stout brewed with two types of coffee (Kona and Sumatran) and both milk and dark chocolate shavings.  Scott suggests, ” it might pick you up as much as it knocks you down!”  The scent during the brewing process was amazing, and I can’t wait until it’s ready to drink.

Holiday Homebrew

Frothy boil!               Hops have been added.                     

Holiday shopping, decorating and baking?  Absolutely not.  The cards haven’t been purchased, the gift lists aren’t created (the tree is up – thanks to D.)  It’s been an amazingly busy December with work, more work, volunteer commitments and a little time with family (and then, more work!)  Myna and I aren’t even getting our daily recommended allowence of walking in these days.

BUT tonight I’m putting off bedtime because when I arrived home from work, the holiday brew (officially, I think we’re calling it Christmas Porter?) was waiting for me!

Scott and D traded off the bottles today, and he opened one.  I didn’t grab the camera when the foamy head was at it’s best, but this is a lovely dark beer with a light brown froth.  The maple, vanilla and cherry fruit flavors offset the maltiness.  Roasted notes of porter are present, and this beer is initially dry to the tongue, but finishes with a hint (just a hint!) of sweetness.  I am very impressed, and even though D let me drink the whole bottle, I wish we’d opened one of the bombers tonight.  Delicious!

Christmas Porter(all photos from the October 22 Brewing night) Stirring it up!

First Firkin Friday

I’m back-dating the time stamp on this post because I should have gotten it out ages ago (I’m just working too hard to post these days!)

Friday, December 1 was First Firkin Friday at Selin’s Grove Brewing Company.  I took the afternoon off from work to spend time with our friends and visit the pub.  I warmed up by drinking a pint of Organic Baltic Porter while playing a heated game of Chutes & Ladders with Ethan and Sydney (the traditional board game, not the drinking version.)

At 4 PM, Heather tapped the single firkin of Winter IPA, and in 95 minutes, that tasty brew was gone!  I understand it was crafted with Amarillo hops, which is probably why I was so fanatical about it.  It really was a beautiful beer.

We have photos – unfortunately on someone else’s camera – which I hope to post soon, and I was thrilled that my dad could join all of us.  We all really enjoyed this terrific once-in-a-lifetime beer, and I slept all the way home after two big beers…  Now we’re looking forward to the 10th anniversary celebration on December 21!