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Sun, Mar. 4th, 2007, 08:46 pm
sauergeek: A brewery tour (Blue and Gray Brewing) and three beers

On 3 March, I drove down to Fredericksburg, VA to visit a brewery I'd not been to before: Blue and Gray Brewing. It's in an industrial park with no streetsigns on the way in, so I missed it twice while trying to find the place. Fortunately, the third attempt was successful. The brewery is in a moderate-sized warehouse. They will fill growlers at the brewery; they also sell 22 oz (but not 12 oz) bottles of their beer.

There is a tour available; the tour guide goes into more detail than usual about the making of beer -- particularly the ingredients. One unique thing about the tour is that the tour guide will pull samples from the aging tanks for tasting. There were two beers in aging tanks on the tour: the Fred Red Ale and the Classic Lager (see both on the page of all Blue and Gray standard beers). The Fred Red tasted very much like its finished version, but a bit flat and with a distinctly thicker mouthfeel than the finished version. The yeast and trub had not entirely settled out, nor had the beer been filtered yet. The Classic Lager was more fizzy but very thin; when properly aged, it has a much more pronounced flavor.

I bought one 22 oz bottle of each of the Blue and Gray standard beers. On the way home, the bottle of American Pale Ale sprang a leak -- from the looks of things, the cap was not sealed properly. There was a bit of leakage because I had laid the case of beer (mostly) on its side for easier transportation.

Blue and Gray American Pale Ale A fairly standard Pale Ale, though a bit hoppier than most. It is medium amber, slightly heavier on hops than malt. The hoppiness is most noticeable in the finish. As I noted above, the bottle sprung a leak on the way home, so the beer was completely flat by the time I drank it. The sample I had at the brewery was carbonated normally, so I would expect that a properly sealed bottle would be adequately carbonated. The carbonation might also take the edge off the hops; I will have to get a second bottle to find out. Even flat, this would be a good session beer, especially if you like a bit of extra hop bite. I would be leery of having this beer with truly subtle foods, but it would do well with anything that is even slightly assertive. 3.5/5

Nectar Ales Red Nectar While by name I would expect this to be a Red Ale, Red Nectar has none of the roasted barley character I associate with both the color and flavor of Red Ales. It is medium amber in color, slightly lighter than a standard Pale Ale. There is little head. It is assertively hopped; between that and the strong citrus notes in the hopping it made me wonder if Red Nectar was a west coast beer. Nectar Ales is in fact from the west coast: they are in Paso Robles, CA. Do not expect a Red Ale from this beer; it is much more of a west coast style Pale Ale. I could detect neither the thickness of mouthfeel nor the color of roasted barley in this beer; if there is roasted barley in Red Nectar, it is likely a minor ingredient. Red Nectar is a good session beer for a hop-head; it would be a good variation for someone less interested in hops. This beer would do well with assertive foods; somewhat subtle ones will come in a distinct second to the hops. 3.5/5

Thirsty Dog Old Leghumper Robust Porter When I saw this beer in the store, I couldn't resist the name, so I bought a six. (It helped that I'd never heard of either the beer or the brewery before.) The label also says "So many legs... So little time!" This beer is contract-brewed by Frederick Brewing. Old Leghumper is a standard Porter: it is a black beer with little head and a pronounced flavor and smell of roasted malt. The hops, while present, are a distant second. Like most Porters, Old Leghumper fails the Maglite test[1]; however, absent shining a light through the beer, it is visually black. It will do well with most food from northern climates (such as the UK, Ireland, Germany, or the northern US) and will complement all but the most subtle desserts. As with nearly every Porter, Old Leghumper goes especially well with chocolate. This would be an excellent session beer for malt mavens, it would be a good variation for those who are less interested in malt. 4/5.

[1] Fill a clear glass with beer, shine a Maglite through the glass. If you can see the light through the beer, it fails the test. Some Stouts pass, some do not; most other beers fail.
(Deleted comment)

Tue, Mar. 6th, 2007 01:16 am (UTC)

Old Leghumper is a porter. It sounds like you're more interested in stouts. But even stouts have difficulty passing the Maglite test -- for example, Guinness (once it has settled) fails the Maglite test.
(Deleted comment)

Tue, Jul. 31st, 2007 07:39 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous): Ol Leg Humper

I lived in San Francisco for 14 years. Anchor Steam is an ale, not a porter. It is very bitter and for my personal efforts, only good as a second beer. It makes you squint as a first beer with a bitter bite.

Ol Leg Humper however is a fantastic dark chocolate malty beer with low carbonation. Agreed to surpassing most other beers in a foggy, wintery climate. Not an Arizona heat wave beer for sure :)

Lots of flavor, great aftertaste and highly recommended. I just bought my first case as a recommendation and will certainly buy another.

Another great beer with lots of flavor and a robust soothing aftertaste is Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale. A bit on the expensive side, but I've had other Nut Brown Ales and they dont compare.

- Pennsylvania Beer Fanatic/Connoisseur