Republic Bierwerks

Bierwerks Offerings

*Guest blogger Derek Espeland

I was super excited to go to this brewery. One because I had never been, two because it was a considerable deviation from the formality of previous work related gatherings, and three I would be hanging out with about 100 co-workers from all over the United States.

I caught some crap as I left the bar with a flight of beer while my other much less sophisticated, knuckle-dragging colleagues chose pints to start their evening.  Below is my review of what Republic Bierwerks had to offer on May 3, 2017. 

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My Flight

Abide Blonde might be my favorite. A light refreshing, non-liver killing blond ale.Great on a warm spring/summer day. 5.2 ABV.    

Mothership Amber Ale was hoppy up front and in the middle, medium malt, and mouth feel is smooth with a light grip on the finish. 6.1 ABV

Thirdly, Firefly Maibock was quite Germanic and light hoppy. 6.3 ABV

Inaugur Ale Spiced Ale was a “NO SHIT” moment for me. This brewery was tapped to make two beers for Donald Trump’s inauguration.  I only tried this one, but wow!   It might be one of my favorite ginger beers ever. It’s a ginger ale with a light bitter hop finish. 6.5 ABV. Call me a stereotypist, but like all Gingers I know, this one is trouble.    The beer was light and lovely on the palette but sure to kick you in the soft parts if you have too much. 

Nightmare Stout was next. I was a worthy stout with chocolate notes. Gnarly and delicious.   If you like stouts, you will love this one.

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Beer Menu

Finally, Vanguard Irish Red Ale was very smooth, light, and barely malty with virtually no hops. Awesome!!! I loved  this beer. I described it over the phone to my lovely wife in Alaska and she provided the following quote:

“Sounds like a real red-head: deliciously coy and appealing until they murder you in your sleep. Damned gingers.”  (She’s Irish and occasionally colors her locks red.)

*On Tap List Here*

 

Brew Republic Bierwerks is run by a husband and wife team. He controls the beer propaganda (my words) and she comes up with all of the awesome beer. The staff were so friendly and took a lot of time to explain their brewing process, their history, and just hang out a little. They even let my bud, Steve, into the brewing room to gaze longingly at the brewing apparatuses.

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The “Pledge”
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Shiny Beer Pots

I cannot appropriately describe how cool the staff was and how much time they spent with me. Even though I am just a sub-blogger on my wife’s coat-tails they provided me with some cool merchandise. A special thanks to Ryan Heisey, Minister of Operations.

I was the designated driver so I was only able to sample a small amount of what this place has to offer. What I had was very good beer.   Anyone can find a beer they like at this Brewery.   I HIGHLY recommend it.  

Brew Republic Bierwerks

15201 Potomac Town Place

Woodbridge, VA 22191

703-594-7950

Apologies to Republic Bierwerks for the tardy blog.  May has been pretty busy with travel.  I’ve been all over Alaska and am currently enjoying  Belgian inspired beer in Talkeetna, Alaska. Another blog to follow.

Arkose Brewing: Winter Visit

The hubs and I decided to head out to Palmer to see what kind of fat bike trouble we could get into. The answer? A lot. A lot of actual trouble. We tried one area near a lake and I fell four times, had to get off and walk twice, and screamed on 3,000,000 occasions. So, due to my husband’s deep affection for me, he decided we’d visit Arkose and drink a couple beers instead of continuing the excursion.

My “art”, the “Moors”, and the menu

It was werewolf kind of weather. Beautiful fog hung low and it was very cold. Derek and I had a bit of fun chanting “beware the Moors” in various cottage-living-British-people voices on the drive to Arkose.

Upon arrival, we were happy to find a lovely list of options on the brewery menu. First up, Pumpkin Spice Porter. (I’m so suburban!) The dark auburn brew was thick and spicy for only a 5% ABV. I would actually describe it as heavy, and while I enjoyed it, one was enough. This seasonal treat was plenty of pie without any of the whip.

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Illuminate

Next up, Illuminate Black IPA at 5.6% ABV. So flippin’ good! It came to the table black as night (duh) and had little head. The sweet, almost spicy flavor was hop heavy but not tongue burning. The mouthfeel was fizzy and light. I could have enjoyed more, but Derek had already done me a solid by calling off the bike trip. It seemed wrong to punish him with an hour-long drive home with drunk Traci.

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Coziness & Poetry

While the lobby is small, it is quite cozy. There is a lot to do while you try out their delicious offerings. This day I partook in drawing (you can see that I am extremely talented) and poetry. I am a bit better at poetry I think. If you’re looking to shop gear, you won’t be disappointed. They offer T-shirts, sweatshirts, etc. and I’m happy to say they are well made and soft. I may own one…

img_4347Our final tasting was Soul Stout. It was a stronger 7% AVB. This was a kicker for me. I’ve mentioned before, but I do not love barleywine. It’s just too thick and syrupy. Soul Stout was pretty- almost black and had a creamy nitro topper- yet it was also heavy and sweet.

When we got to the brewery, we had asked why there wasn’t music playing. We were informed there is one channel that comes in clearly and he had grown tired of it. Trying to be accommodating, he turned it on for us. We were not ready. The channel is very much like the one that comes in around Beluga Point, right before one gets to Girdwood. It’s not quite as eclectic, but it gives good effort. We were quick to sympathize and switch back to silence. I truly hope the brewery opts for a CD player or Pandora channel soon.

Brewer: Arkose

Purchase Options: Bottles & Growlers available on-site and in local retailers

 

Girdwood Brewing Company

 

 

 

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No Time Like the First Time

We decided to go visit the new family in town: Girdwood Brewing Company. It’s got a great location, and a large parking lot. Views, of course, consist of Alaskan mountains, ski equipment, and dogs. Girdwood can always be counted on for a relaxed, welcoming vibe. The town has been a favorite destination for my family since the 90s. I really hadn’t thought about how it could improve until GBC opened its doors. In truth, the husband and I have been there three times now, but I’ll focus on our first visit within this blog.

Decor

I’m a sucker for extras. I’m someone who can spend hours on the internet reading about Easter eggs in movies. So, when a business takes the time to add unique elements to their space, I appreciate it. GBC has a mileage post in front with locations from Queenstown to Moab. It also took care to showcase the beautiful beer equipment with gigantic windows. Derek and I both took a moment to stare at the shiny metal, heaven-liquid producing, mashers and fermenters.

The entry is small, but the walls are lined with skis. Once through the main door the brewery space itself is quite open and comfortable. On this day, sun streamed through the windows and made us want to stay forever. Seats vary. Options run from high-tops with stools, to chairs at tables. It is also perfectly acceptable to meander about with your beer in hand.

Because of its open plan, it’s a bit loud and echoing. That said, the care taken with pops of color and ski-town detail makes it quite beautiful and the noise doesn’t bother. The other fabulous addition were all the locals- duh. Girdwoodians knows how to support new endeavors.

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Skis & Color

 

A Family’s Dream

We were greeted warmly and quickly offered a tour by Bret Marinco (an owner). He gave a brief, although pleasantly familiar backstory. He and his brother had worked for Conoco-Phillips and dreamt of opening a brewery together. They finally decided to take a very well planned jump. 29 meetings later (Girdwood had very interesting red tape) they were able to move forward to a dream realized. I love this. I could hear stories like this for the rest of my life and smile every time. Passion leads to wealth and happiness.

They have wisely considered the future, and there is room for expansion and a beer garden. The rest of the family was there, a little boy ran around the back, and a baby had arrived into the world not too long before. GBC will be around for generations, I’m sure.

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Beer

Derek and I picked up a flight of everything. The beer list was limited, but it was another precise decision made by the brewers. They wanted to launch small and build up to making enough beer for the actual amount of visitors. The choices were very well done.

First we sipped the IP-AK, the house IPA. It was very foggy, had little to no head, and a smooth mouthfeel with a hoppy punch- sweet up front, bitter (not too) toward back of palate. Derek and I argued a bit about hops. In the end he said it was “Essence of Seattle IPA with Girdwood flair.”

“What’s Girdwood flair?” I asked.

Shrug “They just put some Girdwood in it.”

Fair enough. A lot of things in Girdwood can’t be explained.

Second up was the Down the Chute Kolsch. This brew was very clear and golden. It had a good milky head, sweet oat smell, and clean flavor. The smooth mouthfeel lead to very easy drinking.

Derek said “Clean, crisp and heavenly. One of my new favorites.” (Dare I say “high praise”? Can there be too much Nick Cage?)

Finally, the Hippy Speed Ball Stout had a lovely smell of coffee, and was the color of a sexy brunette. (I’d date her or at least have hair envy.) There was no head and there was a surprisingly light mouthfeel. It was a bit bitter on the tail end. For this one, Derek offered up a “random Legend quote”:

“Black as midnight, black as pitch, blacker than the foulest witch.” -Blix

Left to Right: Kolsch; Stout; IPA

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We had our girls with us on this visit. They partook in the Kombucha and helped prove the brewery was family friendly. It was so nice of them to take that hit for us. Research is hard sometimes. Getting a teenage smile is a big “win” though, and I was glad we dragged them along.

More Views


Final Thoughts

We love it. We will be regulars. We will be adding more posts! This place shows what a perfect dream looks like. Congratulations to the family!

Bleeding Heart Brewery

I have a treat for you today. My Mother’s Day gift, and my mother’s Mother’s Day gift, was a trip to Bleeding Heart Brewery in Palmer, AK. I was lured their way on this special day, not because of my mother’s love of beer (she doesn’t have one), but because of the owners’ fabulous commercial.

All of my readers know by now it doesn’t take much to get me to a new brewery, but I can’t think of a time I’ve been more eager. These owners had just the personality I was looking for- approachable, thoughtful, and smart-assy.

But would these desirable traits translate into everything I was looking for in a beer?

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Bleeding Heart Brewery & Inspiration Board

Before I answer, let’s look into the joint a bit more. The location is perfectly Palmer. It’s in an unassuming industrial area and there is a picnic table out front for when the weather cooperates. Inside, there is limited seating, but it’s quite welcoming. It’s a lot like my grandmother’s house actually, and I mean that as a compliment. I love my grandmother and her house. There’s a distinct feeling of comfort. And, much like my grandmother’s house, there’s also plenty of banter between guests to disrupt the comfort with a laugh.

The owners, Zack Lanphier and Stefan Marty, were at the bar when we arrived, and I quickly asked for my free “mom” beer. Their first response?

“Wow. You even brought your kids to prove it. That’s going above and beyond! I mean, we would have trusted your word.”

Perfection.

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Marty at work, and the bar.

After this boisterous greeting, my husband and I chatted them up about their brewery vision and I complimented them on the commercial. Lanphier laughed and pointed to the wall. What I saw only reinforced the owners’ and bar’s persona- a hand written script jotted down on yellow notepad paper. Marty laughed and the two began discussing how they want to make consistently delicious beer, creative beer, and beer the patrons ask for. There’s a chalkboard available to all who visit. Ideas go up, and the best, sometimes riskiest, are chosen and brought to life.

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Super Professional Commercial Script

We initially got a flight because it’s important to try all of one’s options before picking a free beer. For science! (And of course we always get a flight when visiting a new brewery. Duh.) Some high notes were hit with Grounds for Divorce Coffee Porter and Kold Shoulder Kristallweizen. By now you know I love a good coffee porter, and this one did not disappoint. It was dark, smooth, and carried a distinct coffee flavor that didn’t linger bitterly on the tongue. (Spoiler- this ended up being my mother’s day choice.) Kold Shoulder was fresh, crisp, and golden.

Two other brews, Valley Trash Dirty Blonde and Bleeding Heart IPA, left a bit to be desired. First, I have read nothing but lovely reviews on both since visiting. Second, I’m in a tumultuous relationship with IPAs, and strong hop flavors in general. (We see plenty of other people. Sometimes we fall for each other again, but I find myself betrayed months later…) Third, I’m a girl who loves pink and purple, so a pink or purple beer was bound to be the Best. Beer. Ever. Tragically, the Red Beet IPA was terrible- stunning, but hard to swallow. What does all of this prove? Well, possibly my tastebuds were just not “in love with hops” that day. I could also be the only person in the world who doesn’t like them. Whatever the reason, I plan on doing more research on the subject the next time I’m in Palmer. Again, for science!

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Flights and Red Beet IPA

Final thoughts? Disliking beer is part of the journey, part of the whimsy, and part of the bit of unpredictability in a world that is all too often predictable. I’m actually hoping these guys make more unique beers for me to dislike because it means they’re doing something right. They’re standing out from the Alaskan brewery crowd and creating their own distinctive taste. I will be back with a big smile, ready tastebuds, and a craving for personality.

 

*Some of my more particular readers may have noticed it has been a very long time since Mother’s Day. True. I really liked Bleeding Heart and struggled with doing them justice, and being honest about my experience. This was not a quick nor easy write. At last, I am satisfied with my work.

 

Beer Blog: Kenai River Brewing

It’s cross country season for our two teens and that means our annual trip to Soldotna, AK for the Skyview Invitational. My husband and I love this race. We put the girls on the bus for “team bonding” and we drive my little, red Audi TT down the highway as fast as the curves call for.

Once there, we cheer for our girls (we’re not monsters) before ditching them to hit up local breweries.


On this year’s trip, we were able to enjoy Kenai River Brewing Company’s new location. Nice digs! Wood tables are found throughout, with the log shape being maintained. Metal accents at the bar and on the chairs continue the swanky yet rustic decor.

We were greeted by two employees behind the bar who were smiling and more than willing to chat about beer. We learned the nitro system is a delicate one, and beer had been lost the day prior because it wasn’t set up right. Derek and I have wanted a system at home, and were thankfully provided with some tips for success.

Excusing ourselves from great company, Derek and I wandered about with our first beers:Resurrection  Summer Ale and Breakfast Beer (on nitro) respectively. Derek described the Summer Ale as quite drinkable and a great malt flavor. It is a bit too malty for my taste though.

The Breakfast Beer is a classic I’ve had before, but the nitro was a great addition. It was smooth and had a delicate coffee flavor. It’s color was also quite pretty. I would love a blanket made of this brew so I could wrap myself up in it. (Imagination people!)

Winter Warlock was my second brew. It is high alcohol, 9.2%, and very good. Lighter in color than expected, the deep spice notes are chewy and it warms the bones on the way down. I didn’t want more than a glass of this one, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Breakfast; Resurrection; & Warlock

Kodiak Custom’s art adorns the walls of the brewery. They are Alaskan photographs wrapped on canvas by Kristin Dunn. Kristin is also, conveniently, a brewery employee. Such talent!

Wall art by Miss Dunn

As we were on our way out, we stopped to marvel at the shiny beer equipment one last time. Our audible compliments were rewarded with a quick tour of the facility, including its canning machine. Very cool Kenai Brewing. Very cool.

Sunday Beer Blog: Cold Brew IPA

So I’ll admit…today I woke up at 11 am. This does not happen often. I’m a grown-up after all, but today it did. Once my husband and I woke up, we got to cooking breakfast and taking care of pups. Derek was sweet and made us scrambled eggs and bacon while pups sunned themselves. I mention this because while bacon is amazing, it influences the tastebuds.

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Once the cold brew IPA was opened it was obvious from the smell that we had a true coffee beer. I read the bottle Rogue notes and they promised a coffee start with a “punch” of hops in the end. I teased Derek that he was going to get hit with the hops, but we didn’t have that experience. In fact, I felt lied to. The coffee flavor was smooth and quite delicious, but the hops were just as delicious. They were complimentary. WTF? Don’t get me wrong, they were yummy, they just weren’t a punch.

The color was caramel and the head was decent. The flavor was light, smooth and lingering in a good way. I highly recommend this as a coffee beer. I can’t say there’s a very “special” ingredient or flavor, but it’s quite good, and I’ll be buying it again.

The best thing I can think of that came out of this tasting was a brain storm: hops flavored syrups for lattes! You’re welcome. Seriously, someone make money off this. (I’m talented, but apparently sworn to make zero profit off of said talent.)

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If you’re curious about the pineapple, here’s the story. A student of mine knew I was allergic to apples, so he brought me a pineapple. I felt like that gesture deserved “fame”. I love this pineapple. XO

Beer Name: Cold Brew IPA

Brewer: Rogue

Region: Northwest

Alcohol Content: 7.5%

Purchased From: Wine Styles

Sunday Beer Blog: Espresso Stout

LaurelwoodCollageHappy April 4th! I cannot believe we have started a new month already. While I’m enjoying the changing season, those of you who live in Alaska know it’s not one of our finest. Our trees and grass are brown, there’s mud everywhere, and the only fragrance is an odd mix of dog poo and freshly awakened bear. How will I survive this awkward Spring awakening? Beer. Duh.

Our selection today is Laurelwood Brewing Company’s Organic Portland Roasting Coffee Espresso Stout- whew! That’s a mouthful.  I sent my hubby out with instructions to pick up something “substantial”. He didn’t disappoint. The stout satisfied my urge for something heavy and flavorful. The smell, unlike nature’s current concoction, is earthy and heavy on the coffee. The taste is like a really good mocha: light sugar, smooth, and primarily coffee flavored. I won’t say it has a chewy mouthfeel, but it isn’t remotely light.

LaurelwoodI appreciate that Oregon’s Laurelwood partnered with a local coffee company on this one. In business since 1996, they became carbon neutral in 2008 and intend to stay that way. If you visit them, it becomes clear coffee is their “baby” and it shows in this collaboration.

Derek wasn’t too comment-y on this one. I got to enjoy most of it myself. (Whoot!) His only suggestion was that I “please don’t duck-pout” when I was taking pictures of myself drinking.

First, as if! Second, pshaw! I don’t duck lip unless he does it too and we send the pic to our teenage girls. That is a perfectly understandable situation. To be sure I kept him happy, I photo bombed him so he could monitor my lip movements.

Serves him right.

Beer Name: Organic Portland Roasting Coffee Espresso Stout

Brewer: Laurelwood Brewing

ACV: 6.3%

Purchased From: La Bodega

Extra Shout-out: Portland Roasting Coffee

Sunday Beer Blog: Petroleum

Valentine’s Day was celebrated in the best way ever this year- Deadpool on the big screen! I also got roses and beer, but Deadpool truly took the fucking cake. In honor of a perfect holiday spent with my man, I decided to make this blog entry a bit mushy. There are hearts, there are roses, and there’s beer. Go ahead, throw up in your mouth a little. At least make those gross, dry-heave noises.

No really, take a minute.

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Ok, so the Valentine’s beer was Petroleum. It was an imperial stout by Belo, a brewery out of Brazil.  I was intrigued by this one due to its being brewed with cocoa powder. The label itself advertises a beer “loaded with cocoa chocolate and coffee aromas”. As I’m sure you’ve noticed I love a good chocolate beer, so this was a must try for me.

Upon first poor it was clear this beer was well named. “Pours like oil too,” were the first words out of my husband’s mouth, and I quickly noticed there was zero head to speak of. The brew was as black as I’ve seen, and had an extremely yeasty smell.

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Still having faith in the label’s description, I took a sip. As luck would have it, Derek did too. (We usually wait for each other so we can read each other’s expression, or beerspression if you will, but not this time.) Derek’s initial take was it was certainly a sipping beer. Mine was it sips like oil too. Sips is redundant. That’s not by accident. This beer has a pleasant taste, but please dear reader, sip it.

While there was a chocolate flavor, I was reminded of many a coffee stout I’ve tried in the past. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy, so it was hard to tease out the sweetness. This was not a beer I’d crave and the flavor lingers long enough to remind you not to believe everything you read on labels.

Brewer: Belo

Beer Style: Imperial Stout

Region: Brazil

Alcohol Content: 11%

Purchased: Anchorage Wine House

Sunday Beer Blog: Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout

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I am an unabashed word-nerd, so when I saw this brew on tap it was lurve! I point this out because it’s important for you to know, dear reader, that there is zero chance this post is unbiased. This beer could have been the worst. It could have been a delicate combination of flavors such as rotten eggplant and earwax, and I would still have nothing but glowing things to report.

“If you love those yummy Harry Potter jelly beans, you’ll love this!”

“Who hasn’t wondered what old eggplant tastes like blended?”

“Smoooooooooth.”

With that warning done, this brew was quite good. (Trust me.) It pours a night-black with foggy clarity. Initial sniffs return with yeast and sweetness. Rogue describes Shakespeare as a “mellow chocolate stout” created with “free range coastal water”. I include the first descriptor because it’s aligned with my thoughts. I include the second because it made me laugh out loud. I’m Alaskan. I read “free range coastal water” and I think moose pee. Indelicate, I know, but the absolute truth. See how I would like this beer no matter what?

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This stout was smooth, dark chocolate in view, and milk chocolate in taste. It was very easy to drink and fit the winter weather perfectly. I was surprised by the carbonation level- higher than most stouts. The only possible negative I have is it did have a slightly bitter aftertaste that lingered.

I know I would usually have a comment from my husband included that would give you another opinion, but my drinking buddy was Chowder. (He insisted I drink it all by myself. He’s a very thoughtful chihuahua.) Instead, I leave you with wise words from the bard:

10. Macbeth: Act 2, Scene 3

Drink sir, is a great provoker of three things….nose painting, sleep and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes; it provokes the desire but takes away the performance. -Shakespeare

Beer Name: Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout

Beer Style: Stout

Brewer: Rogue

State: Oregon

ABV: 5.8%

Purchased: Anchorage Wine House

 

Sunday Beer Blog: White Mountain Porter

*Alaska the beautiful. Photo taken by Traci Hollowell
Photo taken by Traci Hollowell

Hello beer lovers! Long time no blog.

Today I’m reviewing Big Island Brewhaus’ White Mountain Porter. It was a gift from my bestest friends. (They have earned the title through sweat, tears, and a shared love of alcohol.) The lucky ducks travel to Hawaii on a regular basis and are kind enough to bring goodies back to little ol’ me.

This particular brew was over-tanned tourist brown, had a fizzy mouthfeel, nice malty-ness and was more coffee than not. Fans of the blog will know I have a bit of a coffee-flavored beer bias. White Mountain didn’t do anything to change that.

Derek, who doesn’t drink coffee but finds it acceptable once fermented with hops and barley, said it was, “pretty good, smooth drinking.” I consider this solid, positive feedback.

To quote the awesomely adequate Nick Cage, “High praise.”

Big Island Porter

White Mountain is brewed with 5 malts, American hops, and toasted coconut. The brewers use local coffee from Hamakua Coast for the delicious dark roast flavor. The bottle’s label recommends consuming with Thai or Mexican food. Ice cream is also suggested- that “floats” my boat! (Punny, right?)

I am lucky enough to be married to a man who cooks. When he cooks, it is usually fattening and delicious. (I am lucky enough to be married to a man who also doesn’t point out when I’m getting a bit “softer around the edges”.) On this night he was kind enough to cook up some surprisingly healthy fajitas to complement the porter, and boy was that label smart. The meal/beer combo was perfect.

Beer Name: White Mountain

Beer Style: Porter

Brewer: Big Island Brewhaus

Happy Sipping!

-Traci