The Charleston Beer Exchange

While waiting for us gals to arrive on Saturday, our dad and Ed did some exploring in downtown Charleston. They stumbled upon a cute beer shop near the battery called Beer Exchange. We returned to Beer Exchange during our Charleston day, and after browsing their exciting selection, quickly decided to buy a few bottles for an impromptu (birthday) beer tasting.
The Beer Exchange was Charleston’s first craft beer store when it opened in the fall of 2008. In addition to 900+ bottles and cans, they have nine rotating draft lines to fill growlers, and will ship any of the beers listed on their website (state laws permitting). One of the coolest services they provide is personalized beer tastings for parties or business events. You can hire the Beer Exchange staff to come to your home and deliver a blind tasting of several different beers of the same style, brewery-specific tastings, or chocolate and cheese pairings– just to name a few of the options.
In contrast to our experience at Westbrook, the Beer Exchange staff couldn’t have been friendlier. After asking where we were visiting from, the cashier pointed out the famous Tørst glasses available for purchase–owners Scott Shor and Rich Carley have a close relationship with Jeppe of Evil Twin. We told her that a visit to Westbrook was on the agenda, and she suggested visiting The Revelry, a new brewery downtown, and Edmund’s Oast, a brewpub also owned by Shor and Carley. She was clearly passionate about beer, but totally unpretentious– a rare thing in the beer world.
Photo credit: The Beer Exchange
For our tasting we decided on two local beers and a couple interesting bottles from old favorites. Prairie’s Flare, a citrus-forward gose, and a black currant sour by SC’s Thomas Creek were the crowd favorites. But that, my friends, is a post for another day. Have a great weekend!

Dyckman Beer Co.


It’s official, my favorite part of working at Hops & Hocks is getting to meet so many interesting, inspiring NYC brewers. Last Saturday, Juan Camilo of Dyckman Beer Co. was in the shop sampling his Café Con Leche, a light, smooth, milk stout with a huge coffee flavor and notes of cocoa.


Four years ago, while working a less-than-stimulating job as an investment banker, Juan started homebrewing as a hobby. Shortly thereafter, while looking at a list of NYC breweries sorted by borough, he noticed a significant gap in his neighborhood of Uptown Manhattan. The wheels started turning. Juan threw all his energy into a business plan for what is now Dyckman Beer Co., a brewery inspired by the people and spirit of Uptown. The Café Con Leche exemplifies this inspiration. It’s made with Café Bustelo, a Cuban-style coffee and bodega standard in NYC. Juan decided to use Café Bustelo because he grew up seeing it in his local bodega and drinking it at home.


Unfortunately, the weather was gray and bleak on Saturday, so it wasn’t as busy in the shop as it’s been during past tastings. This gave me more time to talk to Juan about Dyckman’s plans for the future, though. They’ve been brewing at Thomas Hooker in Connecticut, but are in the process of purchasing an old bread factory in Uptown that will serve as a brewing facility, tasting room, and restaurant! Juan also told me a little bit about the beers he currently has in the works. Those in the NYC area should be on the lookout for Dyckman’s cherry red saison, passion fruit wit, and Suave IPA, a session IPA (love the name!). If those beers are as tasty as the Café Con Leche, Dyckman’s future is very bright. 🙂

National Beer Day

HELLO! Happy spring! Happy Thursday! Tuesday was a good day for beer. First and foremost, the new batch of Boulevard’s Love Child has finally landed in Blacksburg! AND GUESS WHO SCORED A BOTTLE? Me, bitches. While I want to drink this Goddess of a beer tonight all by myself, I’ve decided to save it for my graduation in May. Do ya hear that, Rach? Big fun ahead!

Want to know another reason that Tuesday was a great beer day?


Barrel Chest is a beer and wine store in Roanoke with one of the best tap lists in the area, in my opinion. Tuesday I stopped by with my friend Cindy to shop and drink. My favorite thing about Barrel Chest is that you can get reasonably priced 4 oz pours of all the beers on draft. With so many good options, this is a must! We sampled 5 awesome beers, starting with the Founders Rubaeus.


The Rubaeus poured a sweet pink hue, with just enough sweetness and flavor from the addition of the raspberries. Light bodied at 5.7% and slightly tart, this brew had us dreaming of summer dresses and garden parties. This is a warm weather beer if I’ve ever had one!


Next up, Terrapin’s Hop Selection Ella Double IPA. Personally, I’m a Terrapin fan in general, so this DIPA was a must try! Their Hop Selection program features their favorite hop variety of the season; in this case it was Ella, an Australian variety known for it’s floral, spicy aroma. We found the Hop Selection insanely juicy and packed with flavor. Cindy equated it to a Peach Mamba. We both decided Ella hops are straight up de-li-cious as we downed this brew in what seemed like moments.


We moved onto AleWerks Bitter Valentine…and wow.

“How do they make it taste so much like weed smells?”

That sums it up best for us on this one.

I guess it’s something about things grown in the Northwest? 😉


I had long awaited the moment I got to try our next sample: Stone’s Chai Spiced Russian Imperial Stout. I’m about that chai life. The nose was heavy spice, mainly cinnamon, and rich dark grain. It smelled HEAVENLY, YOU GUYS. This RIS was supa smooth and dark chocolatey, with ginger and cinnamon all up in there. I really wanted a bigger pour of this one.


After the heavy stout we were both craving something with a bite, so we went ahead and ordered one more sample. We chose the BFM Square Root 225, a barrel aged saison. For me, this beer stole the show. It was so funky and had the perfect amount of lip puckering. We both decided that sour beers would forever be our favorite style of beer. I honestly can’t get enough sour in my life.

Not too shabby for National Beer Day!


Milk & Hops

On Monday I checked out a new beer shop/bar that’s super close to Union Square, Milk and Hops. The owner has two similar stores in Astoria (Astoria Bier and Cheese), and just opened the Manhattan spinoff in late February.
The Milk and Hops space is sleek and inviting. They have a decent selection of bottled/canned beers and 10 taps. I took a seat at the white marble bar (#loveit) and asked to sample the SingleCut George Calme Ale D’Abbaye, a Belgian Dubbel. This was actually the first non-IPA SingleCut beer that I’d come across since living in NY, so I was obviously intrigued. The George is medium bodied with dark caramel sweetness and a bitter finish. As the beer warmed I got a bit of booziness, but it remained refreshing and drinkable throughout.
As I sipped my beer (and took notes, obviously), I chatted with the extremely friendly bartender, Caroline. We talked about working in beer shops and she entertained me with stories from her many years of New York living.  She once had a gig spray-painting the side of a bus in Bushwick, and was almost finished when it started to pour! She powered through and finished the bus, and then promptly schlepped to the closest bar for a beer..or five.
Next I ordered the Other Half Forever Ever, but not without annoyingly asking to sample three other beers: Captain Lawrence Frozen Flowers, Finback Double Sess, and Big Alice Queens Honey Brown (sorry Caroline!). Milk and Hops tries to keep mostly NY beers on tap, and other than SingleCut’s Billy 200-Watt DIPA, I hadn’t had any of their other offerings. I particularly enjoyed Big Alice’s honey brown, but was in the mood for hops, so I went for Other Half.
I hate to say it, but Forever Ever is probably my least favorite of the Other Half beers that I’ve tried. This could be because it’s a session IPA, and I’m not typically a big fan of sessions. It’s light bodied and well balanced with with a nice piney hoppiness, but I just didn’t find it to be that flavorful. I enjoy their bolder, hoppier IPAs a lot more.
 Milk and Hops has such a pleasant atmosphere, it’s hard to believe they are just down the street from the chaos of Union Square. Their cheese plates, which are artfully arranged and served on slabs of jagged slate, look amazing. I was enviously eying the couple’s next to me, although I did have complimentary salted corn nuts to snack on! I want to make the trip to the Astoria locations soon, and the lovely Caroline promised to come visit me at Hops & Hocks!
Have a great Wednesday!

NYC Beer Week!

It’s New York City Beer Week! This annual event is put on by the NYC Brewers Guild to promote awareness of its brewing members and increase visibility of local beers. Although many of the NYCBW events are a bit pricy (i.e. an $85 dinner at Birreria with an Other Half beer pairing for each course of the meal!!!), there are tons of free and cheap events going on around the city as well. Bars are holding tap takeovers featuring local breweries, breweries are throwing release parties for their new brews, and beer shops are having more free tastings than usual. The beer shop that I just started working for, Hops and Hocks, is having a free beer tasting by a different local brewery every day this week! We kicked things off on Saturday with a tasting by War Flag, one of the city’s newest breweries. I was impressed with their flagship beer, the smooth, flavorful American Pilsner.
Image by NYCBW
Reps from Brooklyn Brewery will be coming into H&H on Tuesday, and I was already able to try one of the beers they’ll be talking about: the Wild Horse Porter, a porter from their Brewmaster’s Reserve series that’s brewed with Brett. If you’re thrown by the combination of a full-bodied, chocolatey porter and the sour and funky flavors that Brett provides, don’t worry, I was too. It’s absolutely delicious though- rich and complex but also very drinkable and refreshing. I took a growler of Wild Horse to Ed’s on Saturday night and we pretty much devoured it.
If you live in NYC be on the lookout for fun Beer Week events now through March 1st. It’s an opportunity to support local breweries, and an excellent excuse to drink more beer than you normally do on weekdays…

Swig Away

Last night I went to a free beer tasting at a beer shop on the Upper East Side, City Swiggers. The featured brewery was Two Brothers Brewing Company, which is located in Warrenville, IL, right outside of Chicago. It’s kind of funny that there’s a Three Brothers Brewing in VA, and a Four Sons Brewing in CA! Now we need some sisters up in there..dontcha think?


I really liked all of Two Brothers’ beers, even their gluten-free option. The standouts for me were Revelry (an imperial red), Ebel’s Weiss (a hefeweizen), and Sidekick (an extra pale ale). Despite having 120+ IBUS, Revelry is extremely balanced and drinkable. The weiss has a strong, but pleasant banana aroma and flavor, and Sidekick is the kind of light, juicy beer that would be a real crowd-pleaser at a cookout.


The Revelry... check out that lacing!
The Revelry… check out that lacing!


I also want to mention their Peppermint Bark Porter; I had never heard of a peppermint flavored beer! When I smelled my tasting cup I was a little nervous, because it has a lot of mint on the nose, but the peppermint flavor is actually quite subtle. The brewey rep said he was hesitant when the brewers decided to attempt this, but was pleased with the result. It’s basically just a delicious, chocolatey porter with a smidge of Christmas.


Swigger City is really cool shop. At the front there’s a huge wooden bar surrounded by shelves and refrigerators of assorted bottles. This is where the tasting was held, and it was nice that there was actually room for everyone to stand around the bar! I didn’t have to fight my way through a crowd of people for each sample, or feel like I was blocking others from getting to the beer.


In the back there’s a bar with 14 taps and plenty of tables to sit and enjoy a pint. I didn’t stay for a full beer because I’m trying to be responsible and save money (groan), but I’ll definitely go back with friends on the weekend. Thanks to the generous pours of the Two Brothers rep, I got my buzz on fo’ free last night. 😉