drink local

This post was written on 2015-10-12 and revised, updated, and published on 2016-08-12. It’s sort of disjointed even though I already split it up into two separate posts, but I just wanted to be done with it, so I clicked publish.

Drinking local beverages, whether that be coffee, tea, soda, beer, wine, or liquors, is an extension of the recently popularized “eat local” movement. To people just a few generations ago, this idea would have been common sense, but capitalism and some wars and insane advertising happened and for several decades Americans have had options limited by just a few major producers with limited offerings and mediocre quality. Many local producers had to close up shop because they couldn’t match the prices of mass producers or meet the crazy regulations placed on them by the government.

The eating and drinking local movement has become popular again recently because, in my opinion, it is a way to support local artisans, businesses, and chefs. Supporting local shops has become a more normal thing to do and people have started to understand that it helps everyone involved and cycles money back into their own families and businesses, encourages diversity, strengthens the community, and is more sustainable (see this Time article or this Huffington Post article to learn more). People enjoy creating something unique and doing it for their own community and sharing it with their friends and neighbors. These products combine local ingredients, history, and names, are often higher quality than mass produced products, and are a reason to be proud of your local community.

Local craft breweries have been opening up all over the area and it’s really exciting to me. Within 10-15 miles there are several establishments that I can drive to for a good meal with delicious food and fresh beer. I can bring home a growler or stay a few hours to see local original music. It’s one of my favorite things. There are also local distilleries and meaderies and wineries and cideries and coffee roasters that are passionate about what they produce and are eager to share what they do with anyone who is interested.

Recently someone in my life asked what I was doing that weekend and I responded that I was attending a craft beer festival (Cheesetoberfest). That person then asked me what craft beer was. I did not know how to respond. It took me by surprise and it’s something that I thought every adult who isn’t living under an actual rock knows about.

One of the hardest things that I have learned about becoming an adult is realizing that not everyone in my life has had the same privileges or experiences. It’s weird to say, but craft beer and purchasing/drinking local is something that I am excited about. Not everyone understands this or understands how to brew beer or taste beer, but everyone can enjoy beer. It just takes time to communicate with people who may have a completely different perception of what beer is. Once someone can understand that and taste a style of beer that they enjoy, I feel like they get it. There is more out there than just American adjunct light lager.

The craft beer industry is complicated. I’ll eventually follow this up with a post about my thoughts on macro beer monopolies and craft beer ownership, but for now I’ll just say that you should know who makes the beer that you drink. Many local breweries make great beer, and we should be proud of that. Here is a map to show you where the closest brewery to your location in the USA.

Also, here is a photo of me and my wife at Cheesetoberfest, an excellent event run by Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company in Dover, DE:

Mead

The first time that I tasted mead was a few years ago in Maine. Erin and I saw a bottle of Maine Mead Works HoneyMaker Blueberry mead on a shelf in the grocery store and decided to try it out since it was blueberry season and we were on vacation.

I have been listening to a ton of homebrew and beer industry podcasts in the past year. One of the better meaderies mentioned occasionally is Moonlight Meadery. Mead is somewhat hard to find in local liquor stores, but State Line Liquors in Elkton, MD, has everything, so I went to their mead section and found a bottle from Moonlight Meadery that sounded good. “Wicked” is flavored with Madagascar-Bourbon vanilla and ginger. It was subtle and spicy and sweet and delicious.

This year two meaderies are opening in Delaware – Liquid Alchemy Beverages in Wilmington, and Brimming Horn Meadery in Milton. I’m excited about both of these. Craft distilleries, meaderies, & cideries are the next wave of the craft beverage industry and are hopefully going to grow rapidly and expose people to the excellent diversity of delicious libations available to them.

Mead has been on my list of things to try homebrewing for a while now. I have some ideas for flavors, now I just need to make the time to “brew” them. It isn’t as complicated a process as brewing beer, so I really should just do it.

Tried a delicious flight of samples at our newest local meadery this past Saturday for National Mead Day. I loved the “Sweet Nothings” base mead and the “Thai Grrr” (chili peppers + lime) & we picked up a bottle of the “Choco-Cherry-Bon-Bon” (cherries + cacao nibs). Check out Liquid Alchemy Beverages near Newport/Elsmere Delaware if you get the chance.

We also got to taste some of the new Twin Lakes (they moved to a new location) brews that same morning at a 5k fundraiser run. I’m not sure why beer is served after runs, but it happened. That night we were also able to join some friends and check out The Creamery of Kennett Square, a new beer garden. It’s dog friendly, which was so nice, and it had great music and lighting and decorating and seating and weather. Made for a wonderful evening.

The Creamery
The Creamery

Badgerbrews

At the start of 2016 I started a new Instagram account called Badgerbrews. I have debated about whether or not to start a separate blog for beer and brewing related posts and I have decided for now to just keep all of my content in one place here on this site. I keep going back and forth about whether that is a good choice, but it is just easier for me to use a single site. I’ll put a link to this “Beer & Brewing” category in that Instagram profile link so that only the beer posts show up for visitors from that source.

This is my journey through the world of fermented craft & homebrew beverages. Some of the content will be about commercial beers and breweries, some of it will be me homebrewing beverages, and other posts will be about other vineyards, distilleries, meaderies, cideries, and fermented beverages that I can find.

I plan to expand on some of the stories and posts that I upload to Instagram here on this blog.

Most likely I will use this as sort of a brew log with photos and recipes and processes and measurements from each batch which I will slowly upload over time. In 2015 I was trying to brew 100 gallons, for no specific reason other than that I thought that I could hit that threshold. I ended up brewing 21 batches (totalling 83.4 gallons) of beer that year, which taught me a ton about brewing processes, ingredients, & sanitization. Most of those batches were either for sharing with friends at Firefly music festival, for entering in the state fair homebrew competition (my Peach IPA won 2nd place in the Delaware ingredient category), and for our wedding, where we had 8 different homebrews + a homebrew cider + a homebrew wine.

Lots of batches fermenting and waiting to be bottled:

In 2016 I have not brewed as much, but when the summer heat starts to die down I’m sure I’ll start brewing more. I have a few new ideas for some fall and winter beers.

IPA Day 2016

Hops, hops, hops!

Hop vines growing in my garden, August 2016
Hop vines growing in my garden, August 2016

Yesterday was National IPA Day 2016. My wife and I visited Two Stones Pub Hockessin and had some great local and non local brews.

Delaware Today put together a nice article on some top Delaware-area IPAs.

Here are some of my other favorite IPAs. These probably aren’t all on someone’s list of best IPAs in the world, but I enjoy drinking them. Let me know your thoughts. If you think you don’t like IPAs but all you’ve tried is a Dogfish 60 Minute or a Lagunitas IPA or a Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, you should revisit the style. There are a lot of exciting new variations.

Imperial IPA
– Dogfish Head – 120 Minute
– Firestone Walker – Double Jack
– Stone – RuinTen Triple IPA (they had this on tap last night and it lived up to my memories of how good it is)
– Stone – Enjoy By Series
– Union – Double Duckpin
– Sixpoint – Resin

IPA
– Sierra Nevada – Torpedo
– Evil Genius – Stacy’s Mom
– Dogfish Head – 75 Minute IPA
– RAR – Nanticoke Nectar
– Blue Earl – Walking Blues

Other IPA (Session, Black, White, Fruit, etc.)
– Ballast Point – Mango Even Keel (quite possibly my favorite new beer of the past year)
– Lagunitas – Night Time Ale
– Manor Hill – Passion Fruit IPA
– Mispillion River – Black Tie

I’ve also brewed a few of my own homebrew IPAs, session IPAs, & double IPAs that my wife, friends, & I enjoy drinking them fresh.