Saturdays for me are busy days. Shelby, the saint that she is, lets me lose to run around town so I can document what's happening. This usually means breweries.
I know my page is called I Heart Food but to be honest when it comes to regular events, it's usually the breweries that are releasing a beer, throwing a festival, or inviting a food truck or two that draws me to a location. In this post I'm going to do a quick rundown on a typical Saturday for me. This happened on February 27th, which seems like a while ago, but time just flies by! (Read, I'm always behind...)
First stop of the day was bottleBOX! This great little shop has been open almost a year, but it has been doing great! I've known the owners for a while, so it's nice to swing by to see how thing are going. Fannie and Melissa were opening and Fannie had a little surprise - the twins! Little Craig looks just like CJ, serious.
Coelacanth Brewing was the next stop. Kevin and company have done a great job since opening up. Their beers are are different and experiment in tweaking traditional styles. 905 Cafe & Grill were serving a pretty good She-Crab Soup. It was my first time trying any of their food, not bad! When I left the brewery I bumped into a group of Ghent Bar crawlers, love them or hate them, it was fun to watch them all bouncing around town.
I wanted to stop by O'Connor Brewing Co. real quick since I was in the area. The place was packed, as usual. I remember when they were in the spot on 25th St. It was tiny compared to the warehouse and it's hard to imagine them operating in such a small space now. Dan Pellegrino was on stage entertaining the crowd. The guy is super talented, check him out if you get the chance.
I didn't stay long at OBC because I wanted to hit one more spot before I headed home. I usually drive down Granby street or the surrounding area when I leave Norfolk, I like to see what's happening.
Wasserhund Brewing Co. was the last top while I was out that day. It was the Rascal Roggenbier release day! Rye and spice with a tiny bit of banana, not bad! I had a pour then headed home.
Well, I did make one more stop before home. I picked up some ribeye for Shelby and me. They cook fast and are delicious. I really needed something filling after running around all day.
I was contacted to talk a little bit about the local beer scene on the area's public radio station WHRO. HearSay with Cathy Lewis does a weekly segment called the "Delicious Dish" where Patrick Evans-Hylton, a well-known regional chef and author, talks with Cathy about food happenings in the area. Next month is Virginia Craft Beer month so today's topic was craft beer (of course.)
One of the first recipes I ever used to make something was BBQ sauce. It was from a Betty Crocker cookbook my grandparents gave us in a care package while we were stationed in Ft. Bliss, TX. Being a young, enlisted couple we didn't get out much at all. Getting a box full of dry goods and a cookbook was great. My grandparents were once a young army family and they knew what would be useful for us, they were very practical. Oh, I gotta write about the time I was trying to use the book to make biscuits but I read the recipe wrong. We didn't eat biscuits that night.
Fast-forward to the present time and we're still cooking! It's actually been a while since I made BBQ sauce but it's the first that popped into my head when I was asked to submit a recipe to the latest HR Growler. The theme was "Summertime", grilling! Who doesn't love to cookout over the summer. Fire-up the grill, open a good beer and take in the experience.
I wanted my sauce to have a little heat and, of course, beer! I made four different recipes before settling on a delicious, balanced sauce that goes great with chicken and pork. Just about any beer will work, I liked the Blue Mountain Brewery A Hopwork Orange and the Enjoy By 4.20 by Stone Brewing Co., stouts would work well too. Try it out, mix it up, add or remove what you like.
We always make sure to catch Grape and Gourmet's big tasting event, Cheap and Cheery, on the second Saturday of the month. It's a great way to try beers and wines you might not normally buy.
October 11th was a busy day. Saturday kicked off with the CRAFTED: Indie Arts & Craft Market at O'Connor Brewing in Norfolk, VA. Local crafters were joined by crafters from Richmond to display and sell their work. We saw a lot of friends and our buddies at HomebrewUSA were there serving up their beer; a demonstration on home brewing was setup for those who wanted to see how it's done.
After O'Connor went headed over to Smartmouth Brewing--also in Norfolk--because Shelby saw that New York Souvlaki was setup there that day. We kept missing it when it was out so this was the perfect opportunity to finally try it. It was great! Lucas inside poured me a nice, cool Rule G Shelby and I finished while we ate our chicken and pork kebabs.
We went to Cheap and Cheery at Grape & Gourmet in Virginia Beach, VA after we finished up at Smartmouth. I've posted plenty of Cheap and Cheery event photos and it's one of the events Shelby and I look forward to every month. We bumped into a bunch of friends while perused and sampled wines, beers and ciders on the tables. A great event that lets you sample things you might not normally buy. Wen we finished at Grape & Gourmet we took a little break at home to finish up a pita full of meat called "The Bomb" we got from New York Souvlaki earlier. After our brief down time we headed out again.
The last stop of our run for the day was at Lynnhaven Pub to meet the local chapter of Barley's Angels. Barley's Angels Coastal Virginia is a group of female craft beer enthusiasts who aim to educate and promote craft beer in their region. One of the ways they do this is through volunteering and that night's meeting was a big one because the next day they were going to work the Treasure Chest event.
San Diego brewing company Green Flash has held a breast cancer awareness benefit called Treasure Chest Fest. This year is special for Virginia Beach because it was going to the first one and held on the future spot for a brand new Green Flash brewery! We bumped into a lot of friends and met the friendly people from Green Flash mingled about.
We headed home at a decent time but I still stayed up too late. In the morning I was headed to Treasure Chest Fest where I was asked to be the event photographer. I'll write about that later.
Our friend recently came down for the weekend and we met for drinks at Lynnhaven Pub in Virginia Beach, VA. It was nice because I got to trade some beers with Rob McGraw (Pub owner) and take some photos for an upcoming story I wrote for HR Growler.
Make sure you read my post about the food at Lynnhaven Pub here.
August's "Cheap and Cheery" at Grape & Gourmet had a special guest, Drew from Champion Brewing Company out of Charlottesville, VA. He was at the tasting table with Gabe, pouring Champion's Killer Kolsch and Missle IPA. I recently had the kolsch at home and think it's a great beer to drink chilled on a hot day. The Missle IPA was very good, blended with 5 hops it didn't over-power you and was herbaceous.
The wine tables had some sangrias and other good stuff we enjoyed. Shelby and I ended up buying a bunch of beer and my new stand-by red La Cappuccina.
Check out the photos!
Grape and Gourmet's monthly open house for beer and wine tasting. I love this event. It's homey, friendly and I always find something I like on the tables. In addition to the pouring they have a spread for cheese, crackers and dips. We dropped off some of Sloane's Smoked Gouda Dip from The Creative Wedge. I bumped into Barbara earlier that day at the Old Beach Farmer's Market, she asked if I would take one with me to share. I love that stuff, they're lucky it even made to a table.
The new O'Connor Brewing Company facility is huge, especially compared to the old building the next street over. Standing on top of the roof you can see for miles over the low rooftops of the industrial area, past the neighborhoods and beyond. Taking in everything around the building, getting a bead on the location. What caught my interest was the old coffee roasting plant a couple blocks away. It used to house First Colony Coffee & Tea, the 109-year-old business closed it's doors in 2011. I asked brewer Skylar Sickles what he thought about the new place.
“I love it.” he said.
I stopped by O'Connor Brewing Co. to check out the new spot before the huge grand opening dubbed “O'Connoroo.” I was greeted by their marketing director, Hannah Serrano, who gave me a quick tour around the warehouse. She then handed me off to the brewers, James Moriarty, Brian Mandeville, and Skylar Sickles who were there getting the new tanks hooked-up. The 211 W. 24th Street location started out as a food processing plant, then furniture warehouse before being converted into a brewery. The wide, open space allowed O'Connor to triple the annual output to 15,000 barrels. The building houses a cooler and docking area too; this will allow them to produce and hold more beer in addition to convenient shipping. This all equals higher product output.
The extra space will allow the brewers to experiment with small batches. They've done this in the past, but they'll have more to share and they can test out barrel aging. Barrels are going to be brought in from distilleries in the surrounding area. The brewers said they're going to love the extra space and the large windows that line the brewery's walls can be opened to let air in. I remember spending a couple hours with the brewers in the old location a few years ago. It was summer and it was hot, damp—the new space will be a lot more comfortable. The old spot on 25th Street has been shuttered up and the tanks there will be going to Midnight Brewery outside of Richmond, another craft brewery that started in 2011.
Kevin O'Connor, said, “I just love the way the place looked, architecturally, and how the place felt.” I can understand the feeling. The space allows the brewery to add a lot more the O'Connor experience. There is a mezzanine “VIP” area above the taproom bar. The bar is housed in what was formerly a refrigeration area—you can still see the large doors that was used to access the units. Twenty-one taps will be behind the warmly lit, wood-worked and corked lined walls. For the curious, the cork walls are original to the building, insulation for refrigeration units. As I was leaving I couldn't wait see how this place would be put together in a week for O'Connoroo!
The weather was perfect. We showed up to O'Connoroo around 3:30 PM, this was the official grand opening of the new location. We missed the 2:00 PM kick-off—pipers, ribbon cutting and the small crowds. The place was packed already with lines for beer tickets winding out of the gate! The docking courtyard was lined with food trucks and pop-up restaurants. The trucks included Karnage Asada, CXB BBQ and Eats, Granby Street Hot Dogs; the pop-ups were from Waffletina, Belmont House of Smoke (the brisket was very good!), Cogan's Pizza, 80/20 Burger Bar and Colley Cantina. In the center were spots to hang out and play cornhole. Speaking of games, if you go inside, there is a gameroom. They still have their oversized Jenga from the old joint and there is a shuffleboard court to boot. More games will be added in the future.
A proper stage has been built in the brewery to host their weekly performers. The O'Connoroo had four bands to check-out: The Framers, DJP and MrT, The Dahus, Big Virginia Sky. Between the stage and taproom are long tables and a bar with stools that runs the length of the lined-up tanks. The seating allows patrons to check out the brewing area and equipment in addition to anyone on stage. We moved around the facility a bit and made our way up to the mezzanine. A smaller bar was up stairs to cater the VIP area. A good number of people from the area's craft beer scene were there to help celebrate O'Connor's big day.
Approximately there were 5,000-6,000 people who walked through the gates to attend O'Connoroo. This made for long lines for beer and the brewery posted an apology and promised to make good in futures events. They will definitely honor any beer tickets people held onto. So if you have some, don't throw them away! All the tickets O'Connor had available were sold by 8:15 PM that night. 42.5 barrels of beer was consumed, which roughly translates to over 10,500 pints poured! So much beer was pulled that the tasting room will only be open Friday and Saturday the week after O'Connoroo to allow them to refill the kegs.
Even though there were lines for drinks, everyone took it in stride. It was great seeing the community come out and support the area's spearhead unit into the craft beer scene. They've come a long way since opening in March 2010. Here's a little traditional Irish toast to close:
May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, beer beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.
I changed that a little bit, hope you don't mind. See all the photos from the event here.
(Special thanks to Michael Palfrey Jr., OBC Tasting Room Mgr., who let me ping him for information.)
After doing a little running around one day the other week I ended up stopping by Tubby's Tavern in Virginia Beach. They had a new beer on tap from Magic Hat called Dream Machine IPL, a mix of an IPA and amber lager. I love lagers (yeah, I admit it), this sounded interesting. Hops are good, but sometimes I feel like there are so much in a glass that it burns out the palate.
Once I got into Tubby's I said "Hi" guys and gals working there and ordered a beer. The Dream Machine was pretty good. With the weather changing, I wouldn't mind having one of these after doing some yard work, winding down. R.W. told me a couple of reps from Magic Hat were going to be showing up. That's great! I love meeting the guys who represent companies or the regional folks who are interested in how their product is doing.
A little bit later a spiffy looking van pulled up manned by Amanda and Dan of Magic Hat. You could probably guess what the van was named--Dream Machine! The Dream Machine was equipped with a large screen display, photo booth, taps...everything! I actually got to take a quick ride in the rig, helping them position it in a better location in front of Tubby's.
Dan told me they're driving around the country to promote the seasonal Dream Machine IPL and they had swag to give away too. They had a little plinko game I got to play, I won a high-five!
The weather was great so we were outside hanging, R.W. brought out some pub fries for us to munch on too. Amanda and Dan filled a pitcher and gave us a couple rounds on them and after a while packed up to move to the next spot.
Look out for the Dream Machine, maybe you'll get lucky and win a high-five too.
Check out the rest of the photos here.
I was putting together events on i-heart-food.com's new event calendar and saw the bottles and taps were going to be flowing this weekend. It's been a while since I posted a map to the local booze trail. Here's what's going on and make sure to check out my calendar for more details on the events:
1 May - Beer Tasting at Grape & Gourmet
- Weekly selection of new arrivals and favorites to try in the store.
1 May - ABSOLUT Artini at MOCA (Sold Out)
- 1920s themed Artini event at Virginia MOCA. Sadly it's sold out but there are rumors of getting tickets if you go to their page and poke around.
2 May - Wine Tasting at Farm Fresh (Great Neck)
- Farm Fresh always pours a couple of wines in the store if you're shopping. Good if the kids are getting on your nerves and you want to take the edge off.
2 May - Wine Tasting at Grape & Gourmet
- Weekly Friday night tasting with regulars. Good stuff!
2 May - Wine Tasting at Yiannis Wine Shop
- Yiannis always has something good on the table and if you're lucky maybe something special.
3 May - Big Brew Day at Homebrew USA
- Big Brew Day is a collection of beer enthusiasts who setup shop outside of Homebrew USA and show you how it's done at home. Last year there was a whole pig, hot dogs, hamburgers and much more. Free to the public. I don't think I need to mention there is going to be a lot of beer there right?
- Town Center will be cordoned off to keep merry makers in while they enjoy the area's finest craft brews. Food and entertainment will be there too.
- The 8th Annual Wine Classic returns to Town Point Park running both Saturday and Sunday. Lots of events and wine will be available.
3 May - Mariner's Museum Craft Beer Festival
- The Mariner's Museum will celebrate craft brews from the Southside and Peninsula in the museum. I haven't been to one yet, but they're supposed to be fun. The Hampton Roads Beard and Stache Society will be volunteering too.
Back Bay Brewing Co. soft opening a few weeks back let everyone know—in a big way—they were setting up a permanent location in Virginia Beach. It was packed. There was a line out the door with people trickling in and out most of the night. Zeke's next door was open with a live art demonstration, good coffee and poke bowls, then there were several food trucks out back hooking up everyone with everything from fish tacos, BBQ, all the way to cupcakes.
I've been excited about the news coming from Back Bay ever since they chose Norfolk Ave. location for their operation and brought on local beer nerd Dan Yarnell as head brewer/COO. You can find Back Bay beer in the area restaurants and they have participated in both the Battle of the Beer events in Hampton Roads, but I realized I didn't know a whole lot about Back Bay Brewing Co. in general. I figured I'd send some questions to them, picking their brains for a little info.
I was answered by Josh Canada. He's a Beach local whose first job was at WRV back when it was on Norfolk Ave., right where Back Bay has settled-in. Only this was a few years back. He said building Back Bay in the same spot of where he first worked at 14 had historical significance. Not mentioning the location, sandwiched between a couple of popular eateries near the Beach. The popular Shadowlawn neighborhood will definitely have Back Bay on the radar as the local watering hole, they'll walk to the tasting room.
Back Bay Brewing Co. was founded in 2011 by a group of friends in Virginia Beach. Sitting in a duck blind, Josh Canada and Charlie Burroughs brainstormed ideas that might help them see their dreams of brewing beer a become a reality. They selected three more local friends—George Powell, Will Yearick, and Josh Malbon who all shared their love for the outdoors and beer. The five of them worked to put out their first beer, False Cape Ale.
In the early days they brewed where they could, eventually contracting with St. George Brewing Co. in Hampton. This is a common practice for small, start-up brewers; local, larger companies will share their facilities to help the little guy out. Back Bay's new facility will have their own tanks for brewing but the lagers will probably continue to be brewed in Hampton for now. Having the capability to brew on premises will allow them to experiment more with their recipes. They would like to poll Shadowlawn and the surrounding area to get a feel for the types of beers their neighbors would like to drink. Once they know what the people want, they plan to have it brewing within two weeks Josh said.
They want to keep things moving and be innovative with their product. Experimental brews like a Coffee Coconut Stout will be offered and most breweries offer seasonals that change with the weather. They currently offer their signature red ale, lager, pale ale, and a porter. Dan told me they're working on a German style beer that could be similar to a Helles. The facility has a gourmet beer permit which allows home brewers to brew small batches on-site. Back Bay can keg it for them too.
Back Bay Brewing Co.'s Grand Opening will be Saturday, April 26, 2014. The doors open at 1:00 and there will probably be a line to get into the tasting room. There is a 100 person capacity for the tasting room. From what I saw at the soft opening they'll have a good system in place to have the beer orders out of the tap and to the patron's hand in no time. Again, like the soft opening, there will be food trucks and even some live entertainment on site. There will be at least one new beer for everyone to try too. Don't miss it!
I don't know who thought it up, but yesterday was National Beer Day!
I celebrated with a couple of beers I had in the fridge:
Mikkeller Keeper and a Stillwater Artisanal Ale Classique
Both were easy to drink. The Classique was a saison with a little hop to it and the Keeper had the "arm pit" funk I get from hoppy beers. I know that probably sounds gross, but I swear that's what I get. I've learned to read it better these days and maybe I should call it something else (cat pee maybe?)
Hope you all enjoyed a nice beer yesterday. If not, you can do it today...or tomorrow...or the day after...
I saw that Karnage Asada was going to be at Young Veterans Brewing and I knew I needed some of more of those Kimchos they make.
Nachos with Kimchi on them! Seriously, they're good.
After work, we hopped in the car and drove over. After taking a quick look at the menu we ordered the Kimchos--adding pork and anything else they'd put on them. We also ordered a "full rack" of tacos and some beans and rice. The full rack had one of each of their tacos and served in the shells fried right there in the truck. Donna in the truck told us that they have a little deal going on with the brewery, if you buy food you get a pint for $2! Perfect.
After ordering we went inside Young Veterans, it was Shelby's first time in the shop. She looked around a little and I took her to the bar. Kasey was working the taps and I introduced Shelby to her. I ordered a Pineapple Grenade, their weissen that always kicks quickly, and Shelby got a flight. This was perfect because she hasn't had too many of their beers yet.
After finding a place to sit our food was brought in by Donna. You get a ton of food with the large order of Kimchos. Loved the sauce they put over the whole thing in addition to the kimchi and cheese. Shelby liked her tacos but was full after two. I ate about half of what she had in her box and we took the rest home for lunch the next day. I probably could have eaten everything but I was already full and I was at the point of eating just for the sake of eating. It's hard to stop when you're eating something that tastes so good.
Swing by Young Veterans Brewing Co. and definitely catch Karnage Asada if you see them parked somewhere.
This past Friday was set to be an busy, but exciting day. A couple of big events were happening: Back Bay Brewing's soft opening in Virginia Beach and Chayce's band, Long Division, playing their CD release show in Norfolk.
First, Back Bay Brewing had a soft opening over the weekend. Friday and Saturday they were going to have the taps pouring for anyone who might stop by. Friday night Nick Vitale from Zeke's Beans & Bowls next door invited some of the area's food trucks to hang out and serve food. There was no shortage of food options.
From what I hear, about 1,000 people came through the tasting room. I was impressed with the staff, they kept the drinks coming and didn't skip a beat (with the lights flickering here and there.) We met our friends John and Connie and shared a couple of flights while catching up with a few familiar faces. Afterwards, we decided on dinner at Field Guide; and made our way to Norfolk.
Field Guide was packed, it's not uncommon for there to be a little wait if you go in for dinner or lunch. The line was moving fast though and the wait gave us a moment to check out the menu. Shelby grabbed a specialty cocktail made with the house soda and gin. I had a sip, it was refreshing. After a bit we were seated and we ordered our meals. I got the Lou-Wow and Shelby ordered the Boaring Meatloaf. The Lou-Wow was a delicious pork BBQ with a little Hawaiian flair and the Boaring Meatloaf was a pork meatloaf served with mac and cheese and kale. Both dishes were beautiful and delicious--I have to say it was tragic later that evening when we got home and I forgot the leftovers in the car overnight! I almost curled up into a ball on the couch the next day after I realized what I did. Oh! I need to mention that I had a Smartmouth Safety Dance Pilsner. This is served exclusively at Field Guide at the moment - loved it.
After finishing up at Field Guide we had about an hour so we decided to head over to The Birch and say "Hi". We met our friend Matt, who was at the bar with Malia - owner of The Birch; and the other Matt serving behind and bar. I ordered an Italiano TipoPils, it’s my go-to when I’m there--it's good!
We had just enough time to chat a little bit, take a few goofy photos before we were off to Belmont House of Smoke on 21st St. That's were Long Division was playing.
Super Bonus: Marleigh was meeting us at Belmont. She drove down from Richmond to see her brother play what might be his last show with the band before he leaves for the Navy.
It was about 10:30 when we arrived at Belmont. There was a good crowd upstairs where the band was playing. They were still setting up for their set we walked in. We said our hellos to the those we knew in the room and I ordered a Smartmouth Rule G.
Long Division played to a packed out and the set was great. I really am going to miss not seeing Chayce on stage playing with the band. Knowing this was going to be one of his last shows with the band made it special.
After the show we chatted with Chayce and several others, then we hit the merch table for some Cds and a t-shirt. We bought a copyof their new album for John and Connie and one for our friend Cappy who was there too. We made the rounds and headed out.
John drove us home. Sadly, our leftovers never made it out of the car. I hope it didn't smell too much like BBQ pork in the morning.
Listen to Long Division at their Bandcamp page. Here is one of my favorites off their new album called Skipping Rocks.
Shelby and I recently had dinner at The Bier Garden in Portsmouth, VA. One of the first establishments to have an extensive beer menu in Hampton Roads. It's the "opa" in our craft beer scene!
We walked around a bit and check out the bar--warm, cozy--it reminded me of some the places we actually ate at in Germany when we lived there. We made our way to the dining area and ordered dinner. We both loved our food, I can't wait to go back. Of course, I had a nice Ayinger Weisse and Shelby had a Duchesse De Bourgogne sour. You're not taking in the whole experience without sipping a good beer while there.
Norfolk's O'Connor Brewing Company turned 4 years old today -- St. Patrick's Day! I remember hearing about the brewery first coming around through rumor and then opening. It's come a long way since then and it's only getting better: it'll be moving to a new location soon, they've been putting out great seasonals, and the crew is getting bigger.
Shelby and I didn't go out tonight but I did get a early St. Patrick's Day pull this past Saturday when the brewery celebrated its anniversary and three wins from the Dublin Craft Beer Cup. Turn-out was great and delicious food was being served by one of the newer food trucks in the area -- Karnage Asada. I'll write a little more about them in a separate post but I will say they're worth stopping for if you see them parked somewhere. I had a "full rack" of tacos and Kapow Kimchos, kimchi nachos. Seriously, it was good!
The weather was perfect. They had a couple of pouring station working on the inside and did a good job at keeping the glasses filled, growlers topped-off, and flights flying. Live music was being played by a three piece outfit and there was even some dancing going on. People were playing cornhole outside next to picnic tables occupied by merry-makers.
Happy Birthday O'Connor Brewing Co. and congratulations on the awards.
P.S. - You probably know this already, but in case you don't...the oak tree you see on the sign is part of the ancient, Irish crest of the O'Connor clan.