2011 Classic City Brew Fest
Let’s start this blog with the happy ending (but please keep reading). I can’t wait for the 2012 Classic City Brew Fest. Because this year was the first time I’ve EVER been. Shocking, I know. Last year I talked myself out of buying tickets multiple times. The day of the brew fest, I even had a chance to buy tickets. Talked myself out of that too. Thankful, my loving wife remembered all of this and forced me to buy tickets this year. Not exactly forced, but allowed encouragement to buy tickets.
As much as I hate to say this, our livers were champs this three day period. Friday started off with a trip to Chops & Hops in Watkinsville. There was some beer on tap that she insisted on having. Who am I to tell her no, she can’t go drinking? Our friend Richard Miley was in the kitchen, and finally made an appearance. It’s always a pleasure talking beer with him. Coming from California, he’s had almost all of it. Even better, if he has it in his personal stash, he doesn’t mind sharing. Also the pulled pork sandwich is on point. Pair it with a hoppy IPA or a high gravity stout for a good time.
Saturday, oh boy Saturday. I was invited to a friends house for the second time during a brew day there. I get super excited to go since he has a stellar all grain setup. It’s basically a self built Sabco Brew Magic system, similar to the one Sam from Dogfish Head advertises for. It’s a three burner system and all the kettle’s liquids are moved by a RIMS pump with a built in heater. Very handy during the cooler brew systems. Denver met up with me and it was just the three of us for most of the brewing session. Others started to join right about the time we were doing clean-up. Second to last in the not fun at category to none other than bottling.
Special guest for the day, and it always seems to be someone, was Rob Lucente, co-founder for Peak Organic Brewing Co. Soon as the clean-up was done, but what to our wondering eyes should appear? Well a cask of Simcoe Spring Ale ofcourse. It was pulled directly from the fermenter, so not cask conditioned at all. Talk about fresh as fresh could be. Just think, not too long before our first tasting of this, these Simcoe hops were in an organic hop field sun bathing. After another superb bbq dinner and some foods created with beer (I could have eaten all night), everyone headed back outside for some casks attacks. Evan from Blockader showed with some homebrew growlers. I shared some homebrew, along with others and our host. Thankfully, Sarah showed for dinner and we called it a night midway through the beer sampling. I really could go on and on about this day, but this blog is really about the next day.
Now onto the next day. We slept in a little longer than normal, then headed out for a nice lunch, or did we eat in? Most of the day ended up like that, super fun, but not so much rememberable. There were so many beers to sample. Our first stop was the Southern Tier table. Distributed by Leon Farmer and Co. and today, being poured by The Beer Growler gang. The only thing better than them pouring would have been to hang out with them sampling all day. Next was the Peak Organic table. After enjoying the Simcoe cask, Hop Noir and Crimson the night before, why not do it again? My goal for the most part was to try all casks and most of the kegs if they sparked my interest. Sure there were plenty of bottles to sample, but if I can get it in the store later, I’m saving my liver capacity today for the rare stuff. Here’s a short list of my favorites.
- Highland Legato Saison – the rep. told me they have a small trial system and this was the third try at this saison. I say it’s sellable now.
- Highland Cherry Wood Smoked Chocolate Stout – possibly my second favorite of the festival.
- Heavy Seas Peg Leg Stout – this had actually soured slightly, and people convinced them to pour it anyways after debating not pouring it. Good choice to pour.
- Liefmans Fruitese – I still think this was some red drank. Thanks to Kathleen from Leon Farmer and Co. on helping me find this. Sarah was surprised with a hidden chilled bottle and one as a present for her birthday this past weekend. It’s still some red drank. Might even be some Cam Juice.
- Jailhouse Slammer Wheat & Mugshot IPA – I hear not as good as the Breakout Stout that I forgot to go back and try. Both are okay.
- Moon River Rosemary IPA – this has won several awards and is worth each of them.
- Red Brick Brown Ale w/ Smoked Vanilla Beans – Very good, this should be apart of their new 4 pack series.
- Bells Hopslam – yep, it’s Hopslam. Great that I didn’t pay $24 for a tasting.
Now, those are ofcourse, not all that I tried. Those are the highlights of what I tried. The best thing about brew fest is the social aspect of knowing a good many people there. It was nice to know people pouring and people consuming. Running into friends and fellow beer geeks, giving directions on what we had and where we had it. Hunting down what they had had as well. As the three hour event wrapped up, many of us made plans to head to Trappeze Pub for dinner and discussion on another successful Classic City Brew Fest. Denver, Caleb and myself each had to enjoy a KBS since it was on draft. Sarah was once again the best wife, knowing how much I was looking forward to this day and letting me enjoy it without complaint. Trappeze was like the celebrity after party of the Emmy’s. We talked to so many ‘beer people’ there. Including Leon Farmer III and his wonderful wife, along with most of his management staff, Sachin Patel from Five Points Bottle Shop, ATL Beer Master (Reid Ramsay) and his girlfriend (so I hear I met her), also Rob Lucente from Peak Organic. We also talked to Eric Johnson, owner of Trappeze Pub and co-founder of Wild Heaven Beer in Decatur, GA at brew fest. As we were finishing up dinner and waiting on our check, we were pleasantly surprised that we were given beers instead of a bill and that our check had been picked up. The beer community in Athens, GA is close knit and has that small town feel that I grew up knowing. Growing up in a small town and people knowing your name when you walk into a business is nice. Back then it was because of my parents and it was a tiny small country town. Now I’m all grown (and growing) and have that feeling again, but now it’s a town 100 times the size population wise. So cheers to Athens, all it’s people that make me call it home, visitors and residents alike.
One final note on brew fest. These photos are not what it’s all about, but sums it up in these few words. “Athens, Georgia Baby! Some people can’t handle it!”