I would be remiss to not take a day during this week long celebration to recognize some great national events planned to promote, much like American Craft Beer Week, the culture and community of craft beer. Last year I included a list of notable some notable national events. This year I’ll be attending one of them.
On Saturday May 30, 2009, I was among the 1900 craft beer enthusiasts who gathered at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. to sample 136 beers from 68 American craft breweries paired with 32 food items for the 2nd annual craft beer and food experience, SAVOR. The event, hosted by the Brewer’s Association, is the premier food and beer event for American craft beers. I'm just saying -- it is an awesome event.
Here is how I plan to experience SAVOR this year.
Wednesday: Fly into Providence, R.I.
This is my airport of choice when traveling to the Northeast. First of all, flights are inexpensive. Second: Dinner at Al Forno. I’ve eaten at Al Forno more than I’ve eaten at many of my favorite restaurants in Houston. Much like many of my favorite restaurants, I’ve only ordered one main dish from the menu: The Spicy Clam Roast. This is a plate of longnecked clams, served in their shells, each with a spicy sausage slice and onions. The clams are set around Al Forno’s mashed potatoes and everything is topped with a tomato-based sauce. I'm confident that this dish was sent directly from the seafood gods.
Thursday: Long Island's North Fork and Atlantic City
We then head to New London, CT and catch the ferry to Long Island. Our North Fork itinerary always includes a few winery stops and lunch at P.J. Lobster House in Port Jefferson, NY. This year we’ll be sampling at two wineries I’ve never visited, Bedell Cellars and Paumanok Vineyards. Both are listed in Palate Press’ recent Nine New York Wineries to Watch. Port Jeff is the prototypical harbour city on Long Island and has a Northeastern small town charm that makes it a popular tourist destination. P.J. Lobster House was recommended to me when I worked a few seasons at nearby Stony Brook University. This half fish market, half restaurant has unbelievable prices, superb service, and very fresh seafood.
Normally at this point in the journey we stop in NYC for a few days. This year our schedule is tighter so we are heading to Atlantic City to shorten our Friday drive to Washington D.C. I scored a reservation to the somewhat mysterious Chef Vola’s a day before they received a 2011 James Beard Award, something I knew nothing about before finding their elusive phone number on Yelp.
Friday: Rehoboth Beach, DE and Washington D.C.
From Atlantic City we travel to Cape May, NJ to take the ferry to Delaware. Our plan is to spend the afternoon at Rehoboth Beach on their boardwalk before heading to Washington D.C. that evening for SAVOR. Oh yes, and Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats is going to happen while in Rehoboth (I at least have to restock my Dogfish liquors from their distillery there).
And SAVOR should be a pretty good time too.
May 20, 2011
Williamsburg Alewerks "400" Ale - Jamestown 1607-2007 (Williamsburg, VA)
"'400' Ale commemorates the founding of the first Virginia Settlement and with it, the founding of the American brewing industry. Beer was an essential component of everyday life in Jamestown, only the security and shelter provided by the triangular shaped fort and the cultivation of edible (no doubt including barley) crops outranked the production of beer in importance. Fresh water flowing in local streams and the recently excavated well provided a source of potable water, but beer and other 'processed liquids, primarily beer' were the preferred drinks.
This ale, like the ales of the time, is brown in color. This beer may be more robust than 18th century brews, a liberty we choose to take. How could we possibly do justice to so important an event of 400 years ago, with anything other than a truly robust, full flavored contemporary 'Imperial Brown Ale.' Cheers."
Serving: 22oz bottle
Style: Imperial Brown Ale
In keeping with the travel theme, "400" Ale is a bottle we picked up in 2007 while visiting Jamestown and Williamsburg. If you skipped the "Website/Bottle Information" above, then you missed a nice story about the role of beer as settlers landed in the New World.
I was reminded this was a brown ale while trying to detect its aroma prior to my first sip. It has very little hop profile and smelled bready (malty and yeasty). The flavor was good, but I found it a little hard to objectively assess a modern Imperial interpretation of an 18th century beer. When I checked Beer Advocate, most reviewers noted a strong sour flavor. In our bottle, the sourness must have completely gone away. I found "400" Ale to be much more pleasurable than BA reviewers that opened this in 2008. I'm just glad the beer was still enjoyable after five years in the cellar.
Color - A dark, almost opaque brown with a tinge of red.
Head - Minimum white head. Lightly carbonated. Tiny bubbles.
Smell - Sweet, maybe a cherry bourbon smell (without the boozy notes).
Taste - Smooth and delish! This is a tame beer, but it is packed with a chocolate/cherry flavor. The beer finishes with sweet darker chocolate notes. The beer is very good, and I'm sad to see it go. I would buy more if it was still available.
What a tribute to Jamestown 1607!! (editor's note: TwoPints has a bachelors degree in history. Can you tell? :)
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