Category Archives: Local Tap

First tour!

On Friday we were invited to visit what will become The Southern Brewing Company off Collins Industrial road in Athens. Everyone was parking on the side of the road when we arrived and walking probably 100 yards down a two rut path. Once in the clear we were greeted by Brian Roth, co-owner and founder of The Southern Brewing Co. We grab a pour of Jailhouse Brewing 4-D IPA v.18 Cloudy McFly, a collaboration with SBC. and walked towards the entrance of the brew site.IMG_2042.JPGFrom the entrance we talked about Brian’s vision of what and how it will feel driving in and around the bend to discover the brewery hidden from passers by. Everything is still on schedule for a spring 2015 opening. We stopped back by the jockey box for another pour and then talked beer with Mark Mooney who is the brewer for SBC. We’ve been brewing with Mark at Gratis for a couple of years now and have learned a lot. He studied at the Siebel Institute in Chicago and recently shared a Berries Bourbon County Stout with us at Gratis for Bumpkinfest that he helped with while studying at Siebel.IMG_2044-2.JPG
It was now time to grab a fresh pour, which by the way if you are around Athens and see this beer on tap I highly recommend it. The only trouble is this will be a tough first beer to follow-up but Mark and Brian already have plans on how to improve it; tough job! So we grabbed another beer and walked towards the erector set going up in the back of the property. Brian pointed to areas of the site and talked about what will be where. He then described the vision of the brewery, like where we will park, where visitors will park, where roll up doors will be and where the farmer’s market will be. Then we stepped inside the brewery and from there you can start to envision where will enjoy our first beer at. The great thing about start from dirt is you can pour a floor that’s made for a tank farm with a drain and a sloped floor. I can say I’m the first person to check into a SBC at SBC on UnTappd. We then talked to Rick Goddard about our thoughts on the beer and we agree it’s going to be tough to make it better but they all want to make it better.IMG_2045.JPGAfter talking beer for a couple of hours everyone was rounded up and we all went to Catch 22 for dinner, also SBC collab beer was on draft there too. While it’s off topic I will say that I think Chef Miley has a winner with his Porknado Burger. It’s a burger with pulled pork, bacon and bacon mayo and it’s delicious.IMG_2047.JPG
If you are out and about this weekend in Athens stop into Trappeze, Catch 22, 5 Points Growlers, Grindhouse and Savory Spoon. By early next week you will be able to find it at Fuzzy’s Taco, Turtle Creek and The Volstead. Do yourself a favor, find it and drink it fresh.

[drink local]

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Catch 22 gastropub Stone Brewing beer dinner

IMG_2039.JPGOn Wednesday night, October 15 Sarah and I enjoyed a great four beer, three course dinner at Chef Miley’s Catch 22 Gastropub. We arrived around 6:15p and found a seat at the front community table next to Cousin Owen and The Beer Wench. We talked for a few minutes and met the new Stone Brewing rep. Andrew before the entry beer was served.
IMG_2027.JPGThe opening beer was Reason Be Damned, an 8% Belgian Strong aged in red wine barrels. My likeness for Belgian yeasts comes and goes, but this was superb. So much so that Sarah even liked it, she even got another half pour before dinner started.
IMG_2029.JPGThe food pairings started off great and it’s hard to imagine how they could possibly get any better. The first course was a intensely spicy roasted poblano soup with hominy, which was paired with Bang Bang. Bang Bang is a hoppy red ale aged in bourbon barrels at 7.5% and was touted as being the only keg in the state. If so or not I’m glad we got to enjoy it. The bourbon doesn’t shine much which would be okay if sipping this beer solely but paired with this amazing soup made the bourbon shine and accentuated the bitterness of the hops. Everyone was raving about the pairing and the base of the soup. It truly was great. IMG_2033.JPGSarah and I were discussing our excitement for the dinner a few days earlier and I told her I was anticipating a southwest course being Miley’s roots from Cali and Stone being San Diego based. The main course is duck two ways, a roasted thigh and beer braised leg tamale. Sides were ancho creamed corn, smashed avocado with green onion and lime. Pair that medium rich course and slight heat with Enjoy By 10.31.14 and now this is debatably the best course. Typically I’m not a fan of the hugely bitter Enjoy By beers, but this course and that great tamale gave perfect balance to the beer. Thankfully there was plenty of corn and we were given left overs. Score!IMG_2037.JPGThe last course would certainly fall short but I was looking forward to finally trying this Chris Banker/Stone/Insurgente Xocoveza Mocha Stout. It’s an 8.1% stout brewed with cocoa, coffee, peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg which sounds like a lot but comes across as, well, a mocha stout. Paired with an amazing pumpkin latte trifel and white chocolate whipped cream and you suddenly have a pumpkin spice latte. The huge coffee bitterness of the stout cuts through the sweetness of the dessert. There was a cookie that I quickly devoured, so I can’t say much about it. Just like the cookie, the last course was great.

Typically I like to say which of the courses was my favorite but Chef Miley made that really tough. We stayed a bit after so I could enjoy another pour of the stout, Sarah had a pour of Southern Tier Pumpking, and we talked to our vast group of local beer geeks and how much we all enjoyed the dinner. We left full but not stuffed and not overly served, which is great. Most beer dinners set out to get you hammered and Chef Miley didn’t do that. Catch 22 has had two recent beer dinners so their tap list and new fall menu is great, so I strongly suggest a visit soon. Thanks to Chef Cora so the extra ancho creamed corn too, it paired great with cast iron seared pork chops and sautéed broccoli at home the next day. Great job to the chefs and everyone at Catch 22!

[drink local]

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Terrapin Beer Great Pumpkinfest

Being home early from Deutschland has its benefits. Like getting told to put down the toilet seat, working 55 hours a week (scratch that), Autumn in the south (though that is still a few weeks away temperature wise) and pumpkin beers. Pumpkin beers are big, they have been for a couple of years now. However they suffer more from what I call ‘season creep’ than any other beer. Season creep is when beers are out before the season is, well, in season. You read, see or hear about pumpkin beers showing up in August. In the south August is the season of water only. The good thing though is that it means Autumn is coming.
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On Sept. 5 Terrapin held a fun day at the brewery dubbed The Great Pumpkinfest. This meant a few things; I had a reason to leave work ‘early’ (because 10 hours is a short work day), I could see people I missed, beer, hot Georgia heat on a Friday afternoon and beer. A couple of the boys from work showed up (one stayed behind to cover my tracks; thanks Jeff), Denver picked us up on the way and Sarah came over after work. Sarah actually got there first and we jumped way up in line with her. Once in those of us in the know went for the prize first. Back track for a minute and let’s talk special beers for this event. If the name does not give it away then Pumpkinfest was release and pouring was Cuckoo Fest, a Southern Fest Bier, but the star release was the Reserve Series Imperial Pumpkin Pie Porter. Now can you guess which beer Denver, Sarah (yes my wife is a coveted beer geek now) and I all went for? The Imperial Pumpkin Pie Porter is the third in the Reserve Series (first this year) which was preceded by Cinnamon Roll’d Wake n Bake and White Chocolate Moo Hoo. It poured with a nice thickness but had a dry finish that didn’t feel too bad on this hot day. The nose is really impressive with big hints of cinnamon and spice like you would expect exactly of pumpkin pie. The tastes all came together more as it warmed and the mouthfeel you can say would almost match that smoothness of pumpkin pie. The other stars were the always enjoyable Pumpkinfest lager. A good refreshing beer that comes up a little short of that pumpkin beer that most people are expecting. But once you understand it’s a lager you begin to appreciate the quality of it. The Cuckoo Fest Bier, a Side Project release, is a fest bier or marzen brewed with Blue Ridge Mountain grits. It was really enjoyable as was the Liquid Bliss on tap plus Recreation Ale on tap.

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Funny story, the lines were long as usual and expected for an ‘event’. I jumped out of the big line and walked over to see what was pouring with the cooler taps. A college aged guy behind me yells those aren’t pouring good. I told the others it was Liquid Bliss and Pumpkinfest and we would have beers after 8 people instead of 38 people. I guess what he meant by not pouring good was that there was an inch of head.

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The other cool part about the event that we did not enjoy was that Kate Lloyd; Tour Supervisor, Cask Mistress and Hop-Back Braniac was pouring beer through a big ole’ white pumpkin. What the beer experience would have been fun the line experience was wrapped about 40 deep. So all in all a good great afternoon even though we perspired a little. Now go ahead and order your Hop Harvest tickets before it’s all sold out. Hopefully we’ll see you guys and gals over there.

Pints Up and Prost!

Welcome to Athens Creature Beer

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Everyone please welcome Athens’ newest craft brewery, Creature Comforts Brewing Company. Thursday we were fortunate enough to visit Creature Beer before their official public opening during Athens Twilight weekend. The space they are in, which is the old Snow Tire building has gone through a beautiful rebirth. I actually remember sitting in the lobby while getting tires put on my old Chevy truck while gazing out the large windows looking on to Hancock Street. Now I gaze out the windows with a beer in my hand.

I met Blake during Classic City Brew Fest and he gave us our first tour of the brewery. We started in what will become the barrel room and then moved on to the 30bbl brewhouse. We then walked over to the tanks, with sizes of 30bbl and 60bbl. Naturally with them only starting their only doing draft now and by now I mean it’s already around town; just look for them. The best news of the day was when Blake announced during the tour that they would go into cans. Yes, aluminum cans, what helps pay the bills around our house.

We didn’t venture outside, but only because inside is so dang nice. They have two bars inside, each of which has plenty of taps. We also were treated to Misty Valley Rye, which is Reclaimed Rye Amber aged or brewed with local 1000 Faces Coffee. It was spectacular and I hope a prelude into what brewery only beers will be like.

If you are planning on attending Twilight then do yourself the favor you know you have to do, get there early. But go even a little earlier and check out Creature Beer before watching the bikes go around and around. Make sure you enjoy the Athena Berliner Weisse because it’s all about downtown Athens in the summer.

Cheers to Blake and the other guys for having us down for the soft opening.

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More suds

Every beer blog I read has already posted a two thousand and fourteen page talking about beer this year, etc.  So here goes mine, but there’s really something to be excited about other than saying I’m going to write more (many of you would prefer me to write less or even none).  You see what’s about to happen in Athens, Georgia is the local breweries are actually going to double.  How many people can say that?

Currently Athens is home to, the now ever vastly expanding, regional brewery Terrapin Beer Company.  It’s also home to Copper Creek Brewing Company, also known as the home of wing night.  They have great wings on sale Thursday night and if I’m lucky Sarah lets me go twice a month, but normally only once a month because she loves me.  In 2014 Athens will see doors open and beers pouring from two new breweries, Creature Comforts and The Southern Brewing Co.

photo credit CCBC

Creature Comforts

Creature Comforts

is housed in the old Snow Tire Co. building on W. Hancock St. downtown.  With Creature Beer being downtown, it’s a prime location which will certainly be at capacity during game weekends.  They recently received their tanks and posted plenty of pictures over on their blog.

credit CCBC

CCBC tanks arriving

photo credit CCBC

Line up!

From reading their site they will brew on a 30 barrel brew house and as you can see above, has a lot of fermentation capacity from the rip.  They posted on Facebook that their Berliner will be in cans, so let’s hope all of their beers wind up in our favorite aluminum container.

The Southern Brewing Company

The Southern Brewing Company

has acquired land along Collins Industrial Boulevard, which runs alongside highway 29, and is across from McLane Trucking.  They are working on plans for clearing land and building right now.  Brian Roth, a 10 year brewing veteran, is working diligently to make his dreams come true.

Concept 2 - phase 1 includes a 10k sq. ft. brewery with huge bier garden

Concept 2 – phase 1 includes a 10k sq. ft. brewery with huge bier garden

He has the help of long time friend and co-founder Rick Goddard (you’ll soon realize he’s not American once you go to his bio page) and brewer Mark Mooney, so he’s surrounded by good help.  I’ve never seen anyone as proficient as Rick clean not one, but two giant 15 gallon pumpkins in a single brew day.  If you ever need a trust worthy bottle filler then call on Mark.  I’ve never seen Mark pull a bottling bucket off the table while bottling and I can’t say that about Brian.

What’s great about SBC is their love for brewing, the community and the camaraderie that comes with it.   We started out as a cleaner at Gratis Brewing, the home brew pilot system for SBC, and have moved up to collaborator.  Remember the great things we said about Rick?

Rick fisting a gourd

It’s a very rough timeline because there are still a lot of hurdles to jump or knock down, but they are tentatively planning to brew on their system in July.  I didn’t think I’d ever say this but summer can come soon enough.

Catch 22 Gastropub ready to open

Catch 22 Gastropub

Catch 22 Gastropub

This Saturday marks the welcoming of football to Athens this fall.  It also welcomes the opening of the much-anticipated (at least locally) Catch 22 Gastropub.  Nestled right outside the Athens-Clarke County line in Oconee County on Epps Bridge Rd means you no longer have to hear friends say, “It’s too far to drive all the way into Watkinsville.”  Executive Chef Richard Miley has been hard at work for the past month completely redesigning the former site of Choo-Choo’s west side location.  Along with the remodel comes great artwork featuring the brewing process from front to back.  An open kitchen to the community styled dining area only separated by a large window, makes for a full view of the chefs working away.

brewing process decor

brewing process decor

We were lucky enough to be invited in a few days early to trial the awesome menu and prepare the staff for what opening during football season may be all about.  Chef Miley has put as much work into the menu as he has the ambience of his new endeavor.  The portion sizes are as big as his friendly ego and almost as ambitious.  If you’ve never heard of a gastropub, it’s defined as a restaurant with a high upscale food menu and a serious beer menu to match.  Featuring all canned craft beer along with a huge draft list it has something for everyone, including PBR tallboys served in a paper bag.

Haute Dog, Filthy Fries & Finch's Secret Stache stout

Haute Dog, Filthy Fries & Finch’s Secret Stache stout

If it’s fresh that you are into then you’ll be happily surprised to find that Catch 22 doesn’t have a freezer or a microwave on site.  All the dough is made fresh daily and it shows as we started with a salted pretzel with wasabi honey mustard.  This was a nice spicy start to pair with an Avery India Pale Ale that I chose to wet my whistle with while admiring the aforementioned artwork, all of which the images were supplied by local brewer Brian Roth, co-founder of The Southern Brewing Company opening in Athens in 2014.  SBC has their first signage ever hanging in the pub.  If you want comfort food then you absolutely must order the filthy fries, they are to die for, and good enough to devour as an entrée all alone.

House burger w/ bacon jam

House burger w/ bacon jam

Our entrees for the evening consisted of a Haute Dog, a Kobe beef wiener wrapped in bacon and hidden by large slices of avocado.  As large as it was it was half the size of Sarah’s House Burger.  A double patty burger with bacon jam, grilled onions, aged cheddar and srirachi-up (yes, Srirachi ketchup).

One of the greatest things of Miley’s new place are the two large community tables that line the middle of the spot, from front to back.  Intended as first-come-first-serve and for people to pull up a high chair and meet their neighbors, all while enjoying Miley’s amazing food menu and love for good, good beer.  Be prepared to stop in Saturday before or after the Bulldogs home opener, order a pretzel an amazing beer on draught and discuss Clowney for the next few hours.  I mean it is all about the friendship.

We’re really looking forward to being at Catch 22 Gastropub again this week to try the rest of the menu.  Miley intends to change it monthly along with keeping a long list of local Georgia beers on tap.  Hope to see you at the community tables this weekend!

Executive Chef Richard Miley (I've never seen him actually cook)

Executive Chef Richard Miley (I’ve never seen him actually cook)

Cheers to all your hard work Chef Miley!

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