Category Archives: Beer Events

Hop Lovers Unite

Fall brings a lot of new things but one of my favorites is wet hop craft beer. Many breweries nowadays are doing this and the more the merrier. When hops are ready to harvest in the Pacific-Northwest breweries will place orders for fresh hops which are then flown overnight to be brewed with as soon as possible. For the past four years Terrapin has released a fresh wet hop beer called So Fresh & So Green, Green; which obviously pays homage to the band Outkast and we’re okay with that. Along with the release of SF&SGG is their annual Hop Harvest Festival which takes place at the brewery.

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This year’s version; which is brewed with a different hop each year is brewed with Simcoe. A favorite for many of us home brewers. Simcoe is typically characterized as citrus and piney and is typically high in alpha acids, like 11% – 14%. Each year is a different hop and naturally with Spike the first version in 2010 was Amarillo, followed by Challenger, Citra and last year Centennial. If I had to rank them all in order of liking them it would go: Citra – Simcoe – Amarillo – Centennial – Challenger. Yesterday they had SF&SGG running through a Randall of extra Simcoe hops; which really showcased the aromatics of the hop.

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Another neat thing for Hop Harvest is the cask tent. Each cask is Georgia Only! Golden Ale with a different hop in each one; most new or experimental hops. I only made it to the tent once and tried a new hop called Lemondrop; which gave hints of lemon and other citrus notes. There is always a barrel aged booth too pouring some unique and rare treats. As always a personal go to favorite is bourbon barrel aged Wake-n-Bake (Imperial Coffee Stout for the TTB). There was also BBA Hopzilla and a whiskey barrel aged Mosaic. The real treat came from knowing someone that knows someone that knowed someone and we got a few pulls of the soon to be release next Reserve Series, Moo-HooChiato. This is like a personal dream come true, Moo Hoo chocolate stout and Jittery Joe’s Wake-n-Bake coffee. This Reserve Series seems to keep getting better and better.

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Look for bottles soon of SF&SGG at your local glass house (bottle shop). This is certainly one you want to enjoy fresh so pop ’em when you get ’em. Cheers to the Terrapin crew on another great event in Athens.

[drink local]
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An anniversary for Mondays

Someone has a case of the Mondays

food court, draft trucks & casks Oh My!

food court, draft trucks and casks Oh My!

That’s a great line from a funny movie.  Having a case of the Mondays sucks unless it’s a case of craft beer from Monday Night Brewing Company.  We recently enjoyed their 2nd anniversary party held at the brewery.  Originally scheduled for August it was postponed until November 2nd; which worked out great for me and Sarah.  I was hesitant to go, but with the season Georgia is having I was a bit skeptical about the game.  Thankfully though the day before I felt good about the game which is when Kathleen texted about her going to the anniversary party, so to Atlanta we go.

A special lineup

Drafty Kilt NITRO

Drafty Kilt NITRO

Why throw an anniversary party if you aren’t going to make it special right?  I was lucky enough to tour Monday Night just before they opened and knew then it was going to be a great scene, now they just need a great lineup of beers on tap.  I’ve wanted to take Sarah to the brewery because I knew she would enjoy it, but we both wanted more variety than their three current beers.  Which are all great beers, but Sarah and I like to change it up when at breweries (disclaimer: Sarah had one 8oz pour).  Thankfully I keep up with their social media so I had an idea what the pour list would contain.  They had also put it out there would be some casks.

local business designed casks

local business designed casks

One thing they did for Atlanta Beer Week, which I think was the week earlier, was put their Wee Heavy/Scottish Ale Drafty Kilt on a nitro tap.  So naturally that’s the first pour I go for.  I’m thinking of changing my touring philosophy from start little and go big to the complete opposite.  It’ll be like get drunk off your first two beers and slowly sober up over your next six.  That will work right?  The nitro completely changed this beer.  A big beer with a dry finish is now a creamy hot mess and delicious.  Much more appealing to me on nitro, but I’m a picky bitch according to Sarah.  They also had the Eye Patch IPA with Serrano peppers on tap, which I was told they are going to bottle for a limited release.  If you can find it, get it.  It has near perfect balance for a beer with peppers.  Some are bold with peppers so only enjoyable with food.  This one could be sipped on its own, or enjoyed even better with a great burger to add some spiciness.  Naturally there was the original Eye Patch, Fu-Man Brew (ginger Wit), Blind Pirate (DIPA released in bombers).  They also brewed a special anniversary beer with two types of malt and two types of hops.  It was a Helles lager and was a perfect representation for the style.

food trucks staying busy

food trucks staying busy

We arrived a few minutes before 5’o’clock and walked right in to a near empty brewery with the Georgia game being projected on the wall.  This made it near impossible to peel myself away and go outside for some cask pours.  There were five casks, each carefully thought up by local businesses using either Eye Patch or Drafty Kilt as the base.  I only had two pours, each a Drafty Kilt, one from West Egg Café which had bourbon and maple syrup, the other from FLIP Burger with cinnamon and nutmeg.  Both were good, but Kathleen said the one with vanilla and orange peel was better.

FLIP Burger #noms

FLIP Burger #noms

Outside was circle by food trucks giving people plenty of different options for grub why sampling beers.  We opted to wait on food hoping to eat dinner with Sarah’s parents until finally telling them to eat without us.  We happened to stumble into Austin and Sydney arriving as we were leaving, or did he stumble into us?  Since FLIP Burger is basically next door we couldn’t resist a good burger.  A must try if you’re in the area touring Monday Night Brewing or Red Brick Brewing.

Good cheer

I finally got the chance to meet Jonathon Baker, aka Mr. Monday Night.  He is a super nice guy even after I heckle him on Twitter while brewing on the weekends and pledging weekends aren’t over rated.  There’s a chance that something special is still on tap, so hurry on down to Monday Night and enjoy their great location and well thought out brewery.

Cheers!

Farm 255: A beer dinner

Farm 255

Farm 255

Last Wednesday (Nov. 14, 2012) marked a couple of firsts for Sarah and me. No, not the type of first to post on a blog or forum and scream FIRST! Firsts are fun for us, because typically you (or rather we) remember the first time we do something, even more if it’s together. So it was finally, and I say finally because we’ve talked about wanting to go so many times to Farm 255 to eat. How can you live in Athens, GA and not know about Farm 255. It was also Sarah’s first beer dinner and our first beer dinner together. We first heard about this beer dinner while hanging out at Aromas Wine Bar with the Rawlphs. Kevy Seas the beer ranger for Heavy Seas in the Southeast mentioned it to Cloudyfly and me, when I quickly added it to my calendar. Sarah was eager to go my nervous about the menu since she’s not a seafood chick. But she thankfully had some mussels at Five and Ten recently and loved them.

table

table

Most beer dinners have a plan, and we heard that this plan took two months to come together. The flyer was a hand showing four fingers stating 4 for $45. Yes I know, you won’t find a better deal. Also it included four big players. Farm 255 supplied the food of course, with two courses including cheese from South Georgia local Sweet Grass Dairy cheeses. The other two supplied the beers, from local favorite Terrapin Beer Company and the aforementioned Heavy Seas Beer from the DC area. One of the quick details that Sarah picked up on and pointed out was that HS Beer was being served in Terrapin glasses and vice versa. The four courses were creatively prepared by famous chef Whitney Otawka around four different regions of the world. She started the dinner by describing each course and its origin which I’ll mention later. Following her was new-found friend Matt Willey from Sweet Grass Dairy who talked about their existence, cheeses and each cheese in the menu. Next was beer ranger Kevin Fox, aka Kevy Seas, from Heavy Seas to talk about their beers in the menu and how each would pair with the course. Following was Dustin Watts, VP of Marketing for Terrapin. Later in the night was the first time the two of us officially met. Though I know him, he also mentioned he knew my name. Dustin did a great job talking up the craft beer community, talking about prohibition and the community. In fact all the stars talked about community. If you are the least bit involved with craft beer or have read countless articles lately about it, you will know it’s all about drink local, eat local and community. The fun fact of the night was Dustin talking hops and how AB completely funded the develop of the Simcoe hop through Hop Union only later to say they didn’t need such an aggressive hop profile. Needless to say the craft community was all over that anxiously awaiting an aggressive hop profile. The restaurant was set up family style with big tables and encouraging people to be a community for the night. We sat next to a cute couple passing through on their way back home to Charleston. She is a pharmacist and her husband is doing his residency in neuroscience to become a doctor. Yeah, I was the dumb one at the table. Though it was funny at the end of the night when Rachel came over to introduce herself. She helped me through emails and confirmed my reservation. He asked if I was kinduva a big deal. Too funny.

First Course: Welsh – Welsh Rarebit

Welsh Rarebit

Welsh Rarebit

Not to trying at all to down play the course, but simply put, its bread covered in cheese. Described as “sweet grass georgia gouda, terrapin hopsecutioner, pain au levain, roasted frisée, georgia apples” and more simply put as it’s going to be hard to be the first course. If you follow along you know I’m a huge SGD cheese fan. I’ve wanted to try their gouda and achievement unlocked. This was paired with HS Pale Ale and paired nicely. Nice until the waiter grabbed Sarah’s beer with two sips left and she is all about getting every pennies worth. I quickly calmed her after she realized they were refilling the half pours during each course.

Second Course: Belgium – Moules Frites

Moules Frites

Moules Frites

It was hard for me knowing the menu and deciding if I was more excited about this course or the next. Ingredients listed were “leeks, shallots, housemade bacon, terrapin golden ale broth, fries,
roasted garlic aioli
” and paired with this year’s stellar Citra wet hopped Terrapin So Fresh and So Green, Green. Crap! I’m just realizing I haven’t blogged about Terrapin’s Hop Harvest Fest were SF&SGG was released. Sorry guys & gals, I’ll get on that. The frites (fries) were fabulous and I’m sure some people wonder why I mention that? Could you imagine eating mussels with McDonald’s or Zaxby’s fries? The mussels were great, along with the brother. If at home I would have cereal milk bowl drank that broth. Whew it was good. Not to down play anything, as this course was awesome I pondered how it would pair with a Monk’s Revenge, which is Terrapin’s Belgian Imperial IPA. Wonder if I can sneak (byob) a Monk’s into Farm 255 sometime and try with mussels? As good as the first course was, this one topped it.

Third Course: Czech Republic – Braised Short Ribs

Braised Ribs

Braised Ribs

Now could a seafood lover enjoy a meat course after a stellar seafood dish? This course included “terrapin india brown ale, potato pierogi, sweet grass dairy thomasville tomme, caramelized onion” and paired with the great HS Beer Small Craft Warning Uber Pils. Now we talk about beer and food pairings. The smooth bittering of the pilsner along with the subtle sweetness from being an imperial contrasted well with the richness of the meat. Not to mention I may be a sucker for SGD Thomasville Tomme. This was my first time having a pierogi, which is a dumpling of unleavened dough per Wikipedia. Several people made comments that they had never seen a pierogi so big. This beer dinner is turning out to be an endless mountain climb in regards to how well I like each course.

Final Course: Germany – Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Cake

All I can say is chocolate > seafood. This delicious chocolate cake came along side ice cream made with HS Beer imperial stout with a spread of brandied cherries sauce on the dish. Did I mention I like chocolate? So pair this with the recently released 2012 Terrapin Moo Hoo chocolate milk stout and I could sit here all night until I popped. Okay, so I could only eat my piece before I wanted to pop. Though I’m bias, this was MY favorite dish of the night. I’d be willing to be that many favored the main course.

During the last course Spike, head brewer for Terrapin spoke some and thanked everyone. Kevy and Dustin both spoke and asked for applause for the Farm staff and Chef Whitney. The peak of the mountain was meeting Chef Whitney Otawka afterwards as we spoke with friends and thanked them. Chef Whitney seemed very down to earth and not full of herself like some would expect from a local celebrity that you see on television often. She listened to questions about Monk’s versus SF&SGG and gave the great response that the latter was a more special beer and she was seeking a special night. Job well done and cheers to Chef Whitney for a great night of community!

[photo credit to Matt Willey of Sweet Grass Dairy 
& Emily Garrison of Shiraz Athens]

Stout Day

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So this past Thursday, November 8th was International Stout Day. It’s just another pseudo social media holiday created by someone who’s name will not be hard to find via the Google machine or a visit to StoutDay.com. Last year on a whim, me, Denver and Miley decided to drink a couple of stouts over at Miley’s house. Unlike this year, last year Friday totally sucked. The list this year was just as bad ass as last years, except we were accompanied by three others plus a couple of wives, Sarah included this year to even out the butt whooping we would have had. Miley mad a big batch of Green Flash Double Stout chorizo chili with chocolate thrown in. Yeah, it was as good as it sounds. As far as what the list looked like? You can check out my Untappd list for Thursday, or look at the picture.

Cheers!

#IPAday PWNd

#IPAday banner

Social media has indeed changed the world as we once knew it.  Even the title of this post is the result of social media.  Which actually reads India Pale Ale day owned.  The hash tag is a result of Twitter while PWN comes from the online gaming world.  Back to the subject at hand, August 2nd marked the second annual IPA day.  IPA day started in 2011 by The Beer Wench, Ashley Rouston and friend Ryan Ross, in an effort to educate more people about craft beer.  It’s described as a

“grass-roots movement created to unite the voices of craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers, and brewers worldwide, using social media as the common arena for connecting the conversation together.”

Just like everything else in life, which each new year you have to try to go bigger or better.  I believe that was accomplished, I know we did our best to go for gold (if #IPAday was in the Summer Olympics that is).  But with that, and like everything else in the news lately, people think that they are entitled to force their opinion onto the masses.  Friend AJ posted about why he wasn’t ‘hopping’ on the bandwagon of #IPAday.  He brings a valid point, why have a day dedicated to a certain style while trying to educate the masses about craft beer.  There is already a craft beer week every year, so why not have #IPAday embedded in that week?  There’s no doubting that the IPA isn’t the flagship of the craft beer movement.  Ask most any guy or gal drinking good beer in a bar, pub or restaurant what their favorite style is and IPA will win hands down.  But Ashley has a great post over on Craftbeer.com about the style and while I’m knowledgeable of the style, until it’s put on paper or lcd monitor it’s hard to see how diverse the style truly is.  The BJCP organization has three categories of IPA, English, American and Imperial (double).  But the post lists another 11 ‘other’ IPAs, including Belgian, Black along with newer ones like White IPA and Session IPA.  White and Session have really begun to populate beer coolers the past half-year or so.  I’m fond of both styles too.

Another blogger by the name of Craft Suds tried to push his perspective of #IPAday over on The Beer Wench too.  His point of view was much the same in that it’s solely focused on social media.  The statistics that Ashley wrote about all involved how large of an event it was on the social media world, mainly Twitter.  He doesn’t see the point of it and asks how does that educate those not already in the loop.  He probably wasn’t expecting the face palm he got in return.  The most interesting fact and one that is large enough to confirm the sole purpose of #IPAday, to educate, was that Craftbeer.com saw 15k more site visits on Aug. 2 than any other typical day.  There’s a good chance that every one of those 15k visits learned something.

#IPAday beers

#IPAday beers

So you ask why all this fuss and nothing to show for it?  Well, we celebrated at our house this year. Chef Richard, Denver and Caleb all dropped in knowing the requirements of a secret handshake plus two bottle limit would gain entrance.  If we learned anything it’s that the youngest brewery represented was everyone’s favorite beer.  I opened a bottle of Nantahala Brewing Company‘s second Trail Magic bottle release.  This is only the second beer they’ve bottled and is a lemongrass DIPA.  It’s awesome and I’m glad they all agreed.  I have one more left along with their first release which was a barrel aged RIS.

One last side note on my level of nerd.  I made the list of most #IPAday tweets at 16.  Looking at my other Untappd check-ins, that could have been almost 20.  My last comment to Ashley and those involved in Stout Day, please PLEASE make it a Friday from now on.

Prost!

Classic City Brew Fest Twenty Twelve

finish him patron

finish him patron
(photo credit DenverP)

I know this is well over due, but sometimes the joys of working get in the way of the joys of life. Plus it gives everyone time to get their feet under them (if they can stand) and opens the mind to joyful memories from days gone past. This year was the 17thedition of the annual beer festival held in Athens, GA in early spring. The festival is always boasting many of beers from craft breweries around the world. Many of the breweries in the southeast and some that have distribution here will even supply a few kegs for draft sampling. This is has always been my favorite area of the festival. Well besides the socializing.

FIRST!

FIRST!
(photo credit DenverP)

Last year we were in pretty bad shape after wards, though not in the same kind of shape as the two guys here. Granted the previous day’s festivities took a tougher toll than last year (I blame it all on Terrapin’s Anniversary Carnival), every effort was made to enjoy as many beers as we wanted to that we don’t get on a regular basis. Thankfully we sampled a lot and don’t feel like we missed anything, most of the time, the wife and I spent talking with the Athens beer circle. We even ran into some non-local beer people, like Wayne Baxter who’s opening Monkey Wrench Brewing in the suburbs of Atlanta. We finally met Twitter beer buddy Ian, who lives two miles from us, two long miles apparently. He was pouring for Unibroue, so Sarah and our buddy Kathleen had to visit for some tastes. We kept running into all of our buddies from Leon Farmer and Co. Whether it was Pine, Cloudy or Leon himself, we made time to chat. Ort as always seemed to be everywhere, wholeheartedly.

Copper Creek Big Richard

Copper Creek Big Richard
(photo credit DenverP)

Some would think how could a beer festival not get old after 17 years? This year was the first for having a separate cask ale pavilion which provided around 15 different casks from almost as many breweries. Most were one-off creations and ranged from beer to good to amazing, I want more but it’ll never be duplicated. What made it even more enjoyable and engaging was people were allowed to vote on their favorite cask. One thing that is a love/hate for many is that Owen Ogletree doesn’t release the actual beer list until Friday night before the festival. One it keeps you eager to what will be there. While some may think, “Well if I knew what was pouring, I’d go.” I’m gonna go ahead and say there will be plenty for you to enjoy, regardless. For those of you that roll with the latter statement and don’t think to check back, here’s the cask list.

  • COPPER CREEK BIG RICHARD – DOUBLE IPA W/ OVER ONE LB. OF HOPS IN TEN GALLONS
  • EAGLE & LION BRASS MONKEY MILD ALE
  • HEAVY SEAS / O’DEMPSEY’S PEG LEG STOUT W/ CRANBERRIES & COCOA NIBS MANZANO PEPPERS, VANILLA & CHOCOLATE NIBS
  • HIGHLAND GAELIC ALE WITH WARRIOR DRY-HOPS
  • JAILHOUSE SAISON REPRIEVE W/ KAFFIR LIME LEAVES
  • LAZY MAGNOLIA BONNIE BLUE BOMB – SO. PECAN W/ BLUEBERRIES, COCONUT, LEMON & CINNAMON – SECOND PLACE PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD
  • MAX LAGER’S IMPERIAL MOCHA OATMEAL STOUT ON DARK ROAST COFFEE & GHANA COCOA NIBS – THIRD PLACE PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD
  • MOON RIVER SWAMP FOX IPA
  • PEAK ORGANIC OAK AGED MOCHA STOUT
  • RED BRICK SPRING HOP IPA
  • RED HARE WATERSHIP BROWN W/ MAPLE SYRUP & VANILLA
  • SWEETWATER HOPPY BROWN PORTER – IPA, EXODUS PORTER & GA. BROWN W/ CENTENNIAL HOPS
  • TERRAPIN 10TH ANNIVERSARY ALE
  • THOMAS CREEK RIVER FALLS RED ALE CASK – IRISH-STYLE RED ALE ON TOASTED OAK CHIPS & DRY-HOPPED WITH SORACHI ACE
  • TWAIN’S SUPER STARBURST MAD GUAVA PEACHY PALE ALE
  • WRECKING BAR SLAP-YO-MAMA SMOKED PORTER W/ TAHITIAN VANILLA BEANS – FIRST PLACE PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD
  • WRECKING BAR HOPPY HOBBIT SESSION IPA – 3.8% ABV BUT LOADED WITH MALT & HOP COMPLEXITY

I must say that Sarah and I, along with others voted for the Jailhouse Saison with Kaffir Leaves. We were hoping it would win, as it was fantastic. Sarah really liked the Twain’s Starburst guava peach pale ale. So much she might have had 3 pours. The Moon River Swamp Fox IPA is always good, though I prefer the rosemary cask version. I also dug the Copper Creek Big Richard DIPA. I’m going to have to suggest a version for Athens only brewpub, as it was worthy of seeing a regular tap placement there. Here are my other favorites of brew fest.

  • Eagle & Lion mild ale – really enjoyable, even for a true real ale. Glad to see the state brewpub law has been changed and we’ll see casks around town soon.
  • Peak Organic oak aged mocha stout – nice roast notes with that hint of oak. Wish we’d see some bottles of this.
  • Rogue Good Chit imperial pilsner – my first sampling of this. Always nice to have big & light in the same bottle.
  • Twain’s Tropicalia IPA – if the name doesn’t give it away, big tropic fruit notes from the hops. We could see these guys in Athens soon if they start distribution under the new laws.
  • Twain’s Hell for Society Stout
  • O’Dempsey’s Your Black Heart RIS – I’m just starting to see these bottles around Athens so I’ll have to grab some. Another new GA beer!
  • Moon River Wild Wacky Wit
  • Monk’s Mead – yep, it’s mead and not beer. But they are brewing out of Terrapin, so it’s local and it’s good.
  • Heavy Sea’s Plank II doppelbock – aged on Poplar wood I believe and it’s as intriguing as you can imagine.
  • Southern Tier Pumking – what can you say? It’s Pumking in April.

The day didn’t end after brew fest though. I had a great conversation with Leon walking what seemed like up a mountain to Trappeze Pub. We talked about beer, the industry and even Georgia football. Hey it’s Athens, fall isn’t the only time we talk about football, plus the spring game was the day before. When we arrived at Trappeze we were greeted by Kathleen saving us a huge table with a bunch of others. This was the first time I had a burger here and I’m ashamed to say that. They had a cask of Terrapin’s new session ale Easy Rider. It kicked quick at Terrapin the day before, but I grabbed a pour at CCBF. But I must say, the cask version was awesome. It poured a nice straw color with a thick haze and drank even better than it poured. Brian had made his way in later and was chatting with Spike when he grabbed this photo.

Easy Rider Spike

Easy Rider Spike
(photo credit Gratis Brewing)

We made it home and quickly climbed in bed but it wasn’t as near as late as last year’s brew fest. We had an even better time this year than last and didn’t over indulge. It might have been because Sachin wasn’t feeding us salt beer like last year, though I missed hanging out with him at Trappeze. I did see him at CCBF and he had kind words to say about me winning a gold medal in the Peach State Brew Off in 10-A, American Pale Ale. Oh, I haven’t mentioned that yet? The medal should be in the mail today finally.

Cheers to Owen, Kerry, Brian, The Foundry and all volunteers. We’ll drink to you!

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