Young Veterans Break Ground
By Dan Yarnall
May 18 was the official start of the two-day Virginia Beer Festival and unofficially the kickoff of the summer beer season for local beer geeks. I run around that place like a kid in a candy store. Craft breweries from all over the country and world invade Town Point Park to show off their latest and greatest brews. However, there is one brewery that won’t be there this year, and that’s Young Veterans Brewing Co. The upstart brewery is planning on joining the Hampton Road fold in June. The brewery that is currently under construction will open its door a mere two blocks from Beach Brewing Co in Virginia Beach. At first, the close proximity to another brewery was looked at with suspicion. However with the announcement of a $20 million Green Flash brewery just a few miles down the road, Virginia Beach is quickly becoming a beer lover’s destination.
It is every homebrewers dream to open a brewery. Most don’t even attempt it. Some try and the dream fizzles out when dedication, desire and money… lots and lots of money don’t stack up high enough. Yet, these aren’t your typical hobbyists turn pro.
Thomas Wilder and Neil McCanon are obviously veterans that have done tours in Iraq and stateside. Neil recently graduated from the oldest brewing school in the nation, the prestigious Siebel Institute. Where he studied in Chicago and Munich. Also the website Kickstarter helped these guys get off of the ground with a successful fundraiser.
Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with these two guys and talk about their brew and getting started. I was lucky enough to sample all of the beers that they plan on having in their lineup. Due to production, they only plan on rolling out a few brews at a time. So without further delay let talk about their brew. First it’ll be their rendition on a German classic, hefeweissen. What does that mean? Hefe is the German word for yeast and weissen is the German word for wheat. Usually they are cloudy due to all of the yeast hanging around, which gives it the distinct taste and smell of bananas and cloves. Yup, it’s all due to the yeast.
Pineapple Grenade Hefeweissen is a bit of a mouthful to say when you are yelling it to a bartender in a crowded room. If my beer intuition is correct that will be occurring quite often in the area. As I pour this cloudy yellow brew into a tall hefeweissen glass it erupts with a surprising amount of carbonation. A brilliantly white head pops up and sticks to the glass like cookie dough. The nose is a nice combination of fresh bread, citrus, clove and banana. The taste is almost a mirror image of the smell with a distinct pineapple taste and sweetness. After a quick call to the brewer my belief was confirmed. They add pineapple juice to beer after the fermentation is complete. The flavors compliment the German style of brew and end with sugary sweetness and citrus. This is going to be a very popular brew.
Food Pairing: Steamed Shrimp with butter and a slice of lemon, a banana split or spicy nachos
Other notable beers in the style: Troegs Dream Weaver, Bell’s Oberon, Weihenstephaner HefeWeissen.
Next on tap, we have their Semper F I.P.A. Clever name guys!! I was told that this brew will pop up on occasion due to the shortage of one of the hops that this brew requires. However, whenever it does, I’ll be standing in line because it’s pretty darn good. The pour is a hazy, cloudy yellow with bits of hops floating around. Awesome. IPAs should never be filtered and this one definitely isn’t. The nose is equally exciting with huge mango and citrus flavors. As I wash it down, a medium bodied brew swishes around with honey, lemon and orange rind. A lingering bitterness remains on the back of tongue. The thing that impresses me the most about it is how clean this brew is. No technical flaws or funky flavors are present like most startup breweries. A lot of time and attention to detail went into this beer. Congrats and welcome to the neighborhood.
Food Pairing; Chicago style hotdog, Mediterranean Pizza or spicy chicken wings
Other notable beers in the style: Devil’s Backbone 8 Point IPA, Smartmouth Rule G, Avery’s IPA.