Get a Round In?

by | Aug 9, 2010 | POLITICS

Here in Richmond we have truly hit the doldrums of Summer. Sizzling days give way to equally humid and unforgiving nights that leave us wanting nothing more than the power of freon. Nevertheless, I still find the courage to walk to favored watering holes on steamy nights. After a few blocks on foot, my need for a beer becomes abundantly necessary. Upon entering, my gaze desperately turns to tap hands, combs the beer menus. What do I need? Frankly, I am looking for light beer.

No, not the tasteless domestic fizzy stuff, but beer that is golden, flavorful and hopefully independent. I better be able to get four or five down and still be able to wake up early the next day without a headache. What I am looking for is what is commonly called a “session” beer, and many Richmond bars and retails shops are happy to give me this fix. A “session” beer commonly refers to beers that will not overtly punish the drinker if he or she were to take one pint after another over the course of a few hours. It should have flavor, but never become the center of attention. For the sake of stamina, it should be under 4.5% alcohol by volume (but under five gives more options.) And that last one of the night should taste better than the first.

Here in Richmond we have truly hit the doldrums of Summer. Sizzling days give way to equally humid and unforgiving nights that leave us wanting nothing more than the power of freon. Nevertheless, I still find the courage to walk to favored watering holes on steamy nights. After a few blocks on foot, my need for a beer becomes abundantly necessary. Upon entering, my gaze desperately turns to tap hands, combs the beer menus. What do I need? Frankly, I am looking for light beer.

No, not the tasteless domestic fizzy stuff, but beer that is golden, flavorful and hopefully independent. I better be able to get four or five down and still be able to wake up early the next day without a headache. What I am looking for is what is commonly called a “session” beer, and many Richmond bars and retails shops are happy to give me this fix. A “session” beer commonly refers to beers that will not overtly punish the drinker if he or she were to take one pint after another over the course of a few hours. It should have flavor, but never become the center of attention. For the sake of stamina, it should be under 4.5% alcohol by volume (but under five gives more options.) And that last one of the night should taste better than the first.

Let us see what we can find. First up is German Kölsch. There are about 24 breweries in Cologne, Germany that are legally allowed to be called “Kölsch.” Of those, three make it to the US, and all three can be found in Richmond. Each has slight differences, but the idea is the same: all-malt golden ale, fermented and stored at cooler temperatures in order to make it crisp, dry and refreshing. Sounds good to me. Gaffel, Reissdorf and Sunner can be found on rotating tap lines at Secco Wine Bar, Commercial Taphouse and Can Can Brasserie. Also on the German brews, 4 – 5%abv Hefeweizens from Paulaner, Hofbrau and Schneider & Son are serious thirst quenchers. Hofbrau can be found at Garnetts in Fan, Paulaner at New York Deli in Carytown, and Schneider is even available at the VCU Kroger.

On the domestic side, look out for a new Bell’s Brewery beer that fits the glass. Oarsman is a 4%abv wheat beer with a dry and tart finish. It finds it groove after the third pint – on draft at Commercial Taphouse on Robinson Street, bottles coming soon. Stone Brewery has a 4.4%abv session ale called Levitation – dry and pungently hoppy, it proves you don’t need a lot of booze to get flavor – only available in bottle shops as far as I’ve seen – look for at Once Upon a Vine on MacArthur Avenue, as well as its Southside location. Dogfish Head has the summer seasonal Festina Pêche – 4.5%abv, it’s a sour wheat beer like Oarsman, but with a sharper tang and fruiter aroma – Check for it at Secco Wine Bar and River City Cellars. Southern Tier produces a hoppy light wheat beer of 4.4%abv called Hop Sun, of which I always a few bottles in the fridge this time of year – found at all fine bottle shops in the city. If Pilsner is your preference, look out for a few of my favorites: Victory Prima Pils 5%abv and Jever Pilsner 4.9%abv. These are some of the hoppiest examples available, but for hot weather drinking their bitter-crisp finish makes for great extended bar nights. The Capital Ale House locations often serve Prima. For Jever, check with Mekong Restaurant, where it is a nice reprieve after a few of An’s big Belgians.

If you’re looking local, St. George Brewery makes an English summer ale at 5%abv, and hometown Legend Brewing has a seasonal Hefeweizen. For strait from the source drinking, stop by the brewery in Manchester.

As for the Preferred Beer of Richmond, it does sit at 4.7%abv, and is pretty easy to drain in large quantities. However, it was recently sold to C. Dean Metropoulos, a food investor who’s looking for your dollars and little else, and it is contract brewed by MillerCoors, a new combined corporation between London based SABMiller (originally a South African Company) and Molson Coors Brewing Company, based out of Ontario. Poundable as it may be, I avoid beer that has too many hands in the kettle, and too many dollars in the pockets of millionaires.

Drink Local or Drink Independent….

R. Anthony Harris

R. Anthony Harris

I created Richmond, Virginia’s culture publication RVA Magazine and brought the first Richmond Mural Project to town. Designed the first brand for the Richmond’s First Fridays Artwalk and promoted the citywide “RVA” brand before the city adopted it as the official moniker. I threw a bunch of parties. Printed a lot of magazines. Met so many fantastic people in the process. Professional work: www.majormajor.me




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