Category Archives: Beer Run

ältesten Brauerei der Welt

Thankfully my entire time in Deutschland over the summer wasn’t all work.  I actually got a few days off here and there then finally things worked out and Sarah was able to come visit.  She did an amazing job planning a 10 day trip for the both of us to visit several great places in Germany; mostly southern.  While staying in Munich for three days she surprised me by planning a guided tour of Weihenstephan Brewery in Freising; just north of the city.

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Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan or Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan is the oldest continually operating brewery in the world; since 1040.  The brewery is in fact owned by the State of Bavaria and has been since 1923.  Along the brewery is the Technical University of Munich; where many brewers go to learn the art and science of zymology.  Many wind up being brewer assistants eventually leaving to brew elsewhere or opening a brewery.
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Sarah originally planned on us taking a 10am English guided tour on a Monday, but this tour was booked so she planned a 1pm German guided tour.  She was ensured all the guides speak both languages.  Once our tour group started to arrive and assemble (we were first; imagine that) we learned that there were other English speakers and even Americans in the group.  As tour time got closer we were pleasantly surprised that they arranged to have a smaller tour just for us; nine people total.  The other group was a large 30 something tour.

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Our tour guide was a great kid and explained a lot for all the questions.  I stumped him a few times asking about English measurements but thankfully I could convert his Metric measurements.  He’s working on his PhD and doing his dissertation on turbidity in water and bier.  The tours are described as ending with two samples of their beers.  Our group however had four samples and they were all great beers!  He did a great job showing everyone how to view, smell, taste and enjoy their beer; just like a judge would.  If you are ever in Munich you should do yourself justice and make the trip.  It’s less than an hour by car and right at an hour by train.

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For the love of German lagers

Für die Liebe der Deutschen Bieren! If you’ve wondered why the blog posts have stopped coming or where I’ve been; well if the title didn’t give it away then we just won’t talk about it. Ok, for those that can’t add; I’ve spent the majority of the summer in Germany working, from June to the end of August. I’m actually home a few weeks early. I’ve really missed Sarah, to the point that if I would have flown home again I’m not sure I could have put myself back on a plane to go back. Thankfully everything worked out and she was able to visit me for a week. Half way through her 10 day long trip I was requested home to take on twice as much responsibility at work. Now that work has doubled here I’m missing the 70 hour weeks in Deutschland (amazing huh?).IMG_0804.JPG

For those of you here that have never been to Germany or think that German helles, pils or even weizens fall into the group of mass produced domestic beers then you should really try them again. There is a reason, many actually, that beer, or rather bier is enjoyed before noon, after noon and all night. It’s simply delicious. If you don’t believe me then ask yourself if America has a state law on how beer should be produced. The German bier purity law, the Reinheitsgebot, or Bavarian Purity Beer Law was created in 1487 stating that beer can only be made with three main ingredients; barley, water and hops. It was not until the 19th century that yeast was added to the law because it wasn’t a known ingredient.

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Now that I’ve been back for over a week now I’ve already made a trip to Terrapin. This past Friday was their Great Pumpkin Fest. That post will be coming up next. The other exciting news is that in 10 days we should see high temperatures in the 70s and lows in the upper 50s. What that means is that after three days with lows in the 50s then it’s officially home brew season at our house. It’s a self imposed house rule.

[drink local]
Prost!

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Sarah wants a puppy

If you’re a friend and read that title you’re thinking this isn’t anything new.  Sarah has always wanted a puppy.  But instead she got to visit River Dog Brewing in Bluffton, SC.  Or rather, Ridgeland but who knows where that is; right?  We come to HHI once a summer with her family and always take this fun little back road off I-95 which gets us out of some traffic on US-278; the main road into HHI.  Thankfully for me their new brewery is off our typical travel route.  Which Sarah despises because it’s all back roads from Augusta to I-95, but now we have a reason to go that way.

tap handles

tap handles

River Dog has a nice corner spot in what looks like an office park.  Their tasting room seems quite small with only five or six tables and maybe six chairs at the bar.  I’m not sure if they let you mingle outside during busy times or not.  They have a nice size brew house, especially when compared to the last brewery I visited, Jailhouse in Hampton, GA.  They brew on a 15 bbl system and have six 30 bbl fermenters.  I think the guy told me they have three 30 bbl bright tanks too, or maybe they were 15 bbl, I can’t remember.

River Dog flight

River Dog flight

With the new South Carolina pint law they have no problem selling you beer either.  I quickly order a flight which was a taster of all six beers they had on tap.  From right to left in the picture was their American Wheat, next a Toffee Holiday ale which was great.  This beer is described as an amber Belgian ale and brewed with Belgian candy sugar and chocolate covered toffee from River Street Sweets in Savannah.  Next was their Chocolate Rye Porter and was possibly my favorite on tap.  It came off obvious at the substantial amount of rye used in this recipe which added great depths to the beer.  I got some spice from the rye plus some nice chocolate and roast notes from the rest of the grain bill.  Moving down the list was a Lowcountry Lager which would please even the Silver Bullet drinkers of the southeast.  Next was a great IPA with a load of fruity and citrus hops.  Their website contradicts itself saying it’s 5.8% abv but also says it’s a 7.6% beer, while their tap list says it’s 6.3% abv.  Its balance was a little off, more hop forward and could use some extra body.  At 7.6% it would be great and it wasn’t bad at any means, but it could have been better and more balanced.  It’d be interesting to know why I see three different numbers.  Naturally Untappd has it at 7.6%, but that number won’t change unless River Dog edits it.  The IPA was one of my favorites still.  Last and certainly not least because this could be filed under save the best for last was their Citrus Sour.  I didn’t want to sour my palette plus this was a beer to sip and enjoy.  Sarah loves sours, probably not as much as puppies though, so she got a pour of her own too.  Huge citrus flavors with a nice tartness and surprisingly light and way to refreshing at 6.8% abv.  This made it a toss of favorite beer of the day between the rye porter and the sour.  Wish I would have gotten growlers of both.

tap list

tap list

fermenters

fermenters

The bar keep guy told us they were planning to release around five sours this quarter also.  So I suggest keeping an eye on their social media to see when those happen.  Denver and I have already mentioned making a day trip if we have to.  But we’ll both be down here in May and I think only a week apart this year; normally its two – three weeks apart.  Plus when we go back I have to tip the guy big time.  They use an iPad as method of payment and I was looking at the screen so I only saw confirm payment which I hit.  After we walked out then Sarah tells me I didn’t tip the guy that there was a space on the iPad to add tip amount.  Naturally we never have cash and were rushed to get to Sea Pines registration to check-in before they closed.  So now I’m trying to figure out a way that the guy will forgive me for my oversight.  Sorry dude!  They recently sent a cask up to Atlanta also for ACAT and that I believe was a kriek and was superb from what I’ve been told.  So it seems they’re killing it on the sour front.  Which is a good thing for southeast brewers.  It would be great to be known for having a line of refreshing sours to convert the Steel Reserve drinkers over to local.  Well, you may not convert those guys because who’s gonna stop drinking a six-pack of 211s that only cost four bucks?

This should make it on the list of musts people and it’s not that far off I-95 for those traveling.  I know I’m already looking forward to visiting again in May and trying to get my sister-in-law drunk.

citrus sour > puppy

citrus sour > puppy

Jail Broke

Way far away

Niagara FallsThe subject of this blog is about exploring the world of craft beer and homebrew in, around and not too far outside of Athens, GA.  Sometimes though we can get kinda far away from Athens.  Back in May Sarah and I were blessed enough to take our five-year anniversary trip to the Niagara region of Canada.  We explored the world of craft beer AND wine way far away from Athens.  We did the usual tourist trap of visiting the falls; which I have to say is a must for anyone.  I wouldn’t recommend staying on either side (stay on the Canada side for sure), but I would plan on getting there at sunrise, plan your entire day to be spent on both side of the falls and do everything.  I would recommend staying in Niagara on the Lake.  It’s pure gorgeous and a short drive to the falls even taking the scenic route by the water the entire way.

Niagara on the Lake (NotL) is known for its wine; more famously known for the amount of ice wine it produces.  Ice wine is a very late harvest.  It’s not harvest until the grapes have been frozen for three consecutive nights.  Why you ask?  When frozen the water in the grapes is, well, frozen; so all that is left is sugar.  So as you might have figured out by now ice wine is stupid sweet.  It’s fermentation is usually capped around 10% ABV to save the sweetness, or else a superior yeast would dry it out and you could end up with a ridiculously high alcohol wine.  It’s also stupid expensive for even small quantities, but damn good.

NotL is also getting it’s taste buds into craft beer.  We visited two of them while we were there; Silversmith Brewing Company and Oast House Brewery.  Sarah was the best on our trip; I love that girl.  She was all about checking them both out all to please me.  We tried to check out Silversmith but they were closed.  Some time later, or maybe the next day they were open.  Very small, start-up brewery that was still brewing on their pilot system and installing their brew house.  Known for their black lager that I must say is quite nice.  Subtle roast notes, mild hoppiness as a true lager and quite drinkable.  They had a few others on tap and let me sample them all.  We talked beer for some time and I even gave some suggestions on a ‘beta’ beer; dubbed Beta One.  A hoppy beer not akin to the England/Canadian likes.  Its balance was off, too bitter, it stripped the tongue it was so bitter.  They were not off much, but it reminds me of a Clown Shoes beer.  I did walk out with a bottle of black lager and enjoyed it back at our bed and breakfast, The Pillar and Post.

pilot brew system new brew houseBrewed the hard way located in an old churchblack lager clever tap handles beautiful tap room

We made it to two or three wineries and eventually over to Oast House.  FYI, an oast house is used to dry hops and has a conical roof that turns.  They have their act down; stock the brewery with nice looking ladies with enough knowledge to keep the common mans attention.  However only the brewer’s girlfriend could answer most of my questions.  We showed up on Friday, the day of our anniversary and the day they tapped their newest beer a Biere de Garde.  It had a nice taste but you could tell by the body and mouthfeel it was young and needed to age.  I was too eager to get a bottle home to share and paid the price; an explosion in my luggage on our flight from Buffalo to Atlanta.  I believe temperature was to fault as the beer was still bubble wrapped; only the bottom was gone and it’s contents on everything else in my suitcase (most of which was Sarah’s clean clothes).  I still salvaged their nice Saison that I plan to open with Brian when we find time.  Their beers were damn good.  We had a farmhouse ale, biere de garde, saison and a smoky irish stout.  It was pretty damn good and they almost seemed in awe that I enjoyed it.  I think they’re use to the English-like only liking milds or local wines.

wine trip bus made a stop smoky Irish stoutnice old wine bottle holdersnice line-up just for our anniversaryOast House BrewerySaisonFarmhouse Ale

Later back at the B&B we enjoyed some tapas and a drink.  Sarah went for a martini and I had another Oast House with my poutine.  Y’all, the way to my wife’s heart is french fries and she’d never had poutine.  When we go to Taco Mac for wings she has to have their fries.  She likes the damn shoestring kind like they serve.  You can’t make poutine with shoestrings those and these were awesome with nice cheese curds too as an appetizer portion.  So just now as I type this I remember I owe her a trip to The Royal Peasant for some poutine.  If anyone knows of good poutine in Athens let me know.  My wife will kiss me on the mouth for some.

Basically guys; if you want to have a happy wife, visit NotL; voted #1 destination for food and drinks on Trip Advisor in Canada (I just saw that tonight, btw).  I’m looking forward to what our 10th Anniversary will look like.  Maybe Ireland; Seattle or even back to Hawaii?  On the forefront it’s about to happen; the first brew of the season.  It’s going to be a Saison since that yeast can handle the temperatures we’re seeing now.  It’s not hot, but it’s not 68F in the house either.

Come back, bring ya lady friend and cheers!

Bring on Mondays

Monday Night Brewing

Monday Night Brewing

Certainly you didn’t think we made a trip to ‘Da A’ just to visit Red Hare Brewing at lunch time than retreat to our more traffic pleasant town of Athens?  Although I must say on this 21st day of December after water fell from the sky on this thought to be defunct Earth according to the Mayans, that traffic sucked.  With it raining yesterday at a rate of possibly .25″/day, motor horse drivers were obviously confused or impaired.  But I digress.  After leaving Red Hare, we ventured south, away from the snobs of Cobb (publisher’s note; Sarah is from Cobb County and thoroughly enjoys me saying this) to the midst of traffic Hell.  Our gps was aiming at Monday Night Brewing.  We turn down a side street, down a short hill with a view of a fenced in or fenced out park, not sure which, and into a small lot populated with work trucks.  We’re met in the parking lot by MNB sole sales force, Rachel.

Large tasting room

Large tasting room

Jonathon Baker was under the weather and not here.  So this marks twice that I’ve not met him.  We’re escorted into the office area and quickly pours of Fu Man Brew and Drafty Kilt are hitting glasses.  There’s also some non-labeled Eye Patch Ale bottles being popped from a cooler.  Rachel talked about MNB, their coming about, the site, their beers and who’s brewing them presently.  With her making sure everyone had a pint, she invited us into the vast space of the tasting room.  On the wall hung CAD drawings and prints of the brewery build-out.  The vast contrast of this place and others is that they are actually planning.  Red Hare, Red Brick, Terrapin, all have seemed to fit their brewery into a building with little thought of the tasting room size.  My favorite brewery that I’ve visited is Nantahala Brewing in Bryson City, NC.  Which may soon fall to second favorite once Monday Night opens albeit on a Monday night.  Everything has been thought of.  A huge tasting room with the bar next to the entrance wall with 12 tap handles.  Behind the bar is two garage doors, which will open to outside for pouring.  Outside will have 2 bocce courts too and a few flower beds.  The view of the park will be shaded in afternoons by large trees.  The restrooms will be stadium style with no doors.  Before you balk at that, stadium style helps with lines and no nasty door handles to touch.  A nice size barrel room adjacent the facilities.  Opposite that will be a very large cooler.

Inside the brewery

Inside the brewery

Even the brewery is well thought out.  Instead of cutting the floor and installing drains and then pouring the floor again, drains were added and the floor raised.  But why is the wet floor above the dry floor?  Why does it matter?  There are drains in the raised floor to keep the dry floor, well dry and saved lots of money cutting concrete.  The best part of this brewery?  What any other local brewery doesn’t have, a damn lab!  That’s what I like to call planning for the future.  Sure, all of us can make beer at home without a lab.  Even big breweries can do it.  But does the added cost of tossing out yeast that is still viable or not infected get passed on to us consumers?

One of the nicer things about the tasting room will be a huge mural on the far opposite wall once entering.  They were still painting it while we were there, but finished it shortly after.  You can see the finished image on their Facebook page.  To stick with the heritage of how the guys got started and the name, they will open on Mondays and use the mural wall (the plain white area naturally) to view Monday Night Football games from an overhead projector.  Which will be really cool in that large tasting room.  Hopefully a nice sound system gets installed.

Mural being projected for painting

Mural being projected for painting

Well there’s not much that can pull me to Atlanta, but this is turning out to be one of them.  While there I felt we were close to Red Brick, so I did a Google Map search of the area.  While it’s only 1o miles between the four breweries it could be an hour with infamous ATL traffic.

Thanks for being a great host Rachel and congratulations to the entire Monday Night crew on their forthcoming soft opening.  Hopefully we’ll be there for it.

Weekends aren’t overrated in my book, but Mondays look a lot better.  Cheers!

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