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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!

Sixpoint in 5 Points

Sixpoint line up

Sixpoint line up

Wait, what? Yeah, Sixpoint Brewery out of Brooklyn, NY will be in 5 Points on Thursday, March 7th at Aromas Craft Works, formerly known as Aromas Wine Bar.  Well still known as Aromas to all of us.  Sixpoint Brewery has finally made it to Georgia.  They produce some great liquid in beers such as their IPA, Bengali Tiger and Resin, a DIPA.  Also 3 Beans, a Baltic Porter brewed with three beans.  This unique beer is brewed with Romano beans in the mash, cacao beans in the boil and coffee beans before being aged on oak.

Resin - epitome of pool beer

Resin – epitome of pool beer

One of the better things about Sixpoint is they only fill kegs and aluminum cans.  This makes them a perfect pool beer, if your pool is within walking distance like ours.  I’ve been able to bootleg some back from business trips in Kentucky.  In fact Resin is the epitome of pool beer.  Thankfully now we can start out with some Sweet Action or The Crisp.  One Resin on a 100 degree day wading in a pool for hours is the same as  moonshine in the midst of winter.  One of the more unfortunate things is that Athens won’t see any 3 Beans from Sixpoint.  A tweet from Sixpoint says it’s only for loyal accounts.  My reply that I’d drive eight hours for their beers didn’t garner a reply.

Back to the release on March 7th at Aromas, this will be hosted by local distributor Leon Farmer and Co.  Find out more from Kathleen’s post on their website.  I would love to meet up with everyone and talk great beer with great friends, but UGA’s last home basketball game against Kentucky tips off at seven.  It’s only a 12 minute walk according to Google, but logistics ruins any chance of making both since the wife works near-by and we refuse to have two cars out at once.  But if anyone does a release right, it’s LF & Co.  I’ve never been to one of their releases where I left feeling like I didn’t learn something.  I’ve been to other releases that were actually published in newsletters or social media and you never actually meet anyone.  Also, if you didn’t know from the release notes you wouldn’t know anything was going on.  Quite sad, as most of us self acclaimed beer geeks like to meet the brewers or reps and talk beer.

Righteous Ale

Righteous Ale

I was lucky enough to acquire some samples and I’m working my way through them in a really random order.  I’ve had Bengali Tiger and Resin before, which may very well lead the way for their beers.  Tonight I started out with the Righteous Ale, a rye beer, which was nice and spicy with a huge, great hop aroma.  Next was Brownstone and again, I’m not a brown fan.  This won’t beat Back 40’s Truck Stop Honey Brown, but it’s damn tasty.  Lastly tonight I had a 3 Beans. Instead of singing, “fat guy in a little coat?” from the movie Tommy Boy, it’s more like big beer in a little can.  Great mouth feel and almost has the smell of a good espresso.

3 Beans pour

3 Beans pour

I’m sure Atlanta will see Sixpoint this week too, if not already.  In fact if you can’t wait to Thursday, Chops and Hops already has The Crisp and Resin on tap.  So in closing, please make it over to Sixpoint’s release at Aromas Craft Works on Thursday.  Who knows, I may stop in for a pint of Diesel before the game.

Cheers!

The Return of Bumpkin

As life slaps me in the face, I turn a cheek and find some fun times had the past few months.  One of the funniest being Bumpkin Fest, or rather as it’ll be known for this year, The Return of Bumpkin.  You may recall last year at Gratis for the first time a pumpkin ale was brewed.  But rather than the traditional ho-hum pumpkin ale, we brewed inside a giant orange gourd.  Even on that day we started planning for this year’s version.  The pumpkin held up so well then that we decided to brew multiple batches through the same pumpkin.  This however would not work according to plan.

Punk Tun mash tun

We found out during Six Strain brew day that it is possible to brew three batches in the same day.  If you start before the crack of dawn and have enough people to handle all the other chores associated with brewing.  So again we start before the butt crack of dawn.  I arrive to meet Rick for the first time (co-founder of The Southern Brewing Co.) and his bro-in-law Eddie.  I’m not sure what Cloudy has against Eddie, but he was separating pumpkin seeds from the meat.  That’s a tough job at 6 am on a Saturday.  Getting a pumpkin that will hold 15 – 20 pounds of grain inside is tough enough, but getting two has to be a real chore.  Worse yet, this went down on September 8, planned around when we were both available and not a Dawgs home game.  Sarah was in SSI for a bachelorette weekend and UGA was preparing to whoop Mizzou later that night.  So imagine finding two huge pumpkins almost a month before October?

Brian found plenty of pumpkins, two giants plus multiple others to use in the mash and boil if needed.  He would start the brew day brewing last year’s recipe with some tweaks, mainly the yeast and spice additions.  But not before the feared brew day phantom showed its wrath.  The first pumpkin gets plumbed and we discover a leak.  Now last year’s was solid, but had a leak also.  By the end of the mash and sparge last year we had lost maybe 2 – 3 cups of wort.  This pumpkin was loosing water at a rate of about a cup every 2 – 3 minutes.  Brian made some adjustments to the copper manifold inside to try to level it through rind, since it appeared it was coming through at an angle.  Looking back at last year’s pumpkin just now it was completely flat on one side from growing that way without being turned.  So maybe for next year we’ll hunt down a flat bottom pumpkin?  Second giant pumpkin is gutted and ready as Brian finally comes to senses that this one isn’t going to work.  Eddie gets screwed again separating seeds from that stringy mess.  We fill the second pumpkin with water and realize it’s not going to hold enough mash and water for the brews we’re looking at doing.  So Brian begins to dig out some more meat when he realizes that I was standing there with the temperature probe through the wall and uses it to dig a gash into his hand.  This was only the first brew day phantom’s attack.

dry graham cracker ingredients with rice hulls

The beer I was brewing would be the second batch of the day.  A pumpkin porter brewed with graham crackers.  I was content on adding real graham crackers to the mash, but Brian (with much more knowledge) was certain it would plug the grain bed.  So he found an Alton Brown recipe for graham crackers and purchased the dry ingredients for me to use in the mash.  The brew day phantom showed again and the pumpkin was leaking after the first batch finished.  We found it Rick cleaned the spent grain using a small electric wet/dry vac from Lowes.  Well, he labored away and shoveled out most of the grain.  The vac was a good idea and held up well with the heat.  I have a video that WP won’t allow me to post unless I pay them.  Brian and I start racking our brains on how to get the punk tun to stop leaking.  Apparently his idea is to slice his hand on some tin and bleed every where.  My idea is to trash the pumpkin and use the actual lauter tun.  After enough blood for one day he reluctantly bows and I think the brew day phantom has left the premises for this day.  My brew finishes without hiccups and the third batch of the day gets underway.

Miley’s spicy shrimp & grits

The third batch is a wicked with ingredients, maple bacon coffee, coconut, pumpkin of course and finally after fermentation, aged in whiskey barrels on more coconut.  This batch finishes with no problems also.  Some where during all the mass confusion of brewing Chef Miley showed up and brought over lunch, spicy Cajun shrimp and grits.  I finally dug into some after my brew finished and damn it was good.  We finally get around to cleaning everything up and getting myself into shower.  It’s a good thing after sweating in a brew shirt all day I smelled worse than wet puppy dog.  Meanwhile during all this beer brewing and shenanigans Jen had been slaving away in the kitchen.  It was pot luck style so she cooked everyone’s pot luck.  She also made turtle burgers, which are burgers with hot dogs through the body to protrude as the legs, head and tail of the turtle.  Plus bacon lattice is used for the turtle’s shell.

Jen’s now famous turtle burgers

After dinner a sheet was hung outside and we enjoyed the Georgia game against Mizzou.  We enjoyed the second half more than the first.  A few bottles were popped too.  Oh, and nearly after all the brewing was done Matt and Kathleen showed up with a closet full of BBA Sexual Chocolate.  So that, a Hunahpu along with the (at the time) Nantahala’s only bottle releases, a BBA RIS and a IIPA.  I think a combination of slight dehydration and lack of sleep the next morning was brutal.  I almost caught wind while everyone else cleaned.  Jen saved the day again with breakfast.

All that is left to do now is to open all the bottles, along with mine and the lone bottle of last year’s Bumpkin.  Which may very well happen during tonight’s NFL game.  Brian also created two great beer labels.  Along with a poster of The Return of Bumpkin, which is framed and hanging in our garage.

Cheers to Gratis, Denver, Jen, Miley, Rick and Eddie.  We wait patiently listening to Wu-Tang Clan on SBC’s birth.

Graham Kraken

Return of Bumpkin

Athens Craft Beer Scene

After calling out Cloudy, then a total touche move in return he calls me out publicly.  So with one blog in draft and another on my mind I decide to push out whats new and finish whats way late.

Trappeze Pub in Beer Advocate

Recently Asheville, NC was voted Beer City USA again.  I think this may be the third year in a row and another close running with Portland, OR.  The part of dismay is that not even Atlanta was on the ballot, much less Athens.  Understandably though Athens in its current form has just one brewery and a single brewpub.  That will change sooner or later (hopefully).  But there’s more to the local scene than breweries or brewpubs.  It’s the community, the bars and the restaurants that make the Classic City, well, Classy.

Back in April I had to take a day off work to be home for the cable guy.  I hate missing work for something that’s not so enjoyable.  The good part was I finally had the day off to try the lunch special at Trappeze Pub.  Just my luck it’d be a day with no special, but it was fine no matter.  Trappeze, while well-known is still like the local neighborhood pub.  It’s nice when every one knows you.  Neil walks in, sits down beside me and starts chatting like we’re old pals.  He points out the article in Beer Advocate about Athens’ own Trappeze Pub.

Chef Miley’s deep-fried moon pie

This morning I open up the spring issue of Beer Connoisseur just to skim through it before I really get into reading it front to back.  Without looking that hard when I get to the cooking with beer article I notice mention of friend Richard Miley and his deep-fried Moon Pie recipe.  Richard is known for his great beer dinners and how well he pairs beer to specific food.  You may recall my post about Chops & Hops second anniversary beer dinner from back in January.  While the restaurant sits just outside of Athens in Watkinsville, no one here has a problem including it in the Athens Craft Beer Scene.

Terrapin Beer Co. continues to keep us intrigued with Spike’s take on beers and styles.  While the brewery is in the midst of some brewing and fermenting capacity upgrades, a new Side Project is finally set to release early next week.  Samurai Krunkles is an Asian-inspired IPA brewed with jasmine rice, jasmine green tea and ginger.  In the recent news letter it was announced that since it’s an election year we will see a return on All American Pilsner along with voting for us, The Beer-drinking Public.  The election will include a list of past beers with the winner seeing a second coming in 2013.  Voting will start in late to mid July, but the real question is, what beers will be on the ballot.  I will go out on a limb and say Depth Charge will not be on the ballot.  But what about Dos Cocoas, or Sarah’s sadly removed favorite, Sunray Wheat?

Vote! for Terrapin

Denver and I just had a short conversation with Eric, owner of Trappeze Pub and co-founder of Wild Heaven Beers, about the craft scene in Georgia.  As archaic as the laws are and as much of a hit you take from the state on taxes (only second to Alabama), the beer scene is growing.  It’s growing because people love Georgia and we will make this a beer attraction state, regardless of our absent minding government.

So pints up and toast the Classic City.  It didn’t get the name “A drinking town with a football problem” for no reason.

Cheers!

Classic City Brew Fest weekend kicks off

Last night kicked off the weekend leading up to the Classic City Brew Fest on Sunday.  If you’ve followed along then you know it’s four days of great craft beer at different venues just begging for good companionship.  Sarah and I headed down to Trappeze Pub to sample the 3 pins of Phlux Capacitor, Terrapin Beer Company‘s new side project offering.  Each cask was flavored using differently ingredients.  Vanilla beans, maple syrup and Nelson Sauvin hops were used to produce three different beers from one.  Trappeze never disappoints with rare and unique beers either.  We met up with Kathleen who chose the Evil Twin Ryan and Beaster Bunny.  While Sarah was excited for the New Belgium Valentines.

Terrapin Beer Co Phlux Capacitor cask flight

Terrapin Beer Co Phlux Capacitor cask flight

Denver made it over to Chops and Hops for the Randall of Terrapin Hopzilla plus taco and pint night.  The Hopzilla was randallized through guava, lemons, ginger and vanilla beans.  This may be one of the prettiest Randalls I’ve seen.  The comment was made that Hopzilla never tasted so good.  The featured pint was newly released to Georgia, Blue Point Hoptical Illusion paired along side hickory smoked Wagyu tacos with pickles and Dijon.

I may not make it out Friday but hope to get some reports from Aromas during their barrel aged Brewhaha.  The list looks amazing, but to see the full list you’ll have to visit in person.  The surprises will only be on the tap board.  Who knows what Saturday will bring.  Not sure what to do?  Here’s the full list of events.  Athens Craft beer weekend

Stay classy Athens.  Prost!

hickory smoked Wagyu with Blue Point Hoptical Illusion

hickory smoked Wagyu with Blue Point Hoptical Illusion
(photo courtesy of DenverP)

Terrapin Hopzilla Randall

Terrapin Hopzilla Randall
(photo courtesy of DenverP)

Athens Craft beer weekend

Chops & Chops taco pint night

Chops & Hops taco pint night

If there is ever an instance of people jumping on the bandwagon that I will praise, this is it. This year marks the 17th anniversary of The Classic City Brew Fest. The before mentioned bandwagon consists of the finest beer serving establishments around Athens offering special tapping of great craft beer, some being very rare. The weekend kicks off on Thursday the 12th and comes to a close sometime in the wee late hours of Sunday the 15th, though that may roll over into Monday. The list is not yet complete, but will get updated throughout the week, so check back.

Thursday, April 12th

  • Randall plus taco & pint night – Chops and Hops
    • Chops and Hops kicks off the weekend by making a good beer even better. Chef Miley has the only Randall in the area and will have Terrapin’s Hopzilla running through guava, ginger, lemon and vanilla beans. Plans are to have the Randall flowing Friday and Saturday also. Thursday will also feature a taco and pint pairing. Chef Miley is preparing house made Wagyu (American Kobe) Pastrami with pickles, swiss cheese and Dijon mustard on a corn tortilla. The featured pint will be from recently introduced to Georgia, Blue Point Brewery. Order a beer, keep the pint. If you’ve read the hype, now is your chance to try their great food while in town. – Chops and Hops / 2 S. Main St. / Watkinsville, GA / 706-310-1101
  • 3 Pins of Flux Capacitor – Trappeze Pub
    • Terrapin’s next Side Project, Flux Capacitor, an American strong ale makes its Athens appearance with three different treatments. One with maple syrup, one with vanilla beans and the last with fresh Nelson Sauvin hops. All three will tap at 6pm on Thursday. – Trappeze Pub / 269 N. Hull St. / Athens, GA / 706-543-8997

      Terrapin 3 pin Phlux Capacitor

      Terrapin 3 pin Phlux Capacitor

Friday, April 13th

  • Brewhaha Barrel Aged Edition – Aromas Wine Bar
    • Aromas is hooking up all their draft lines to barrel aged awesomeness. Rare beers like Founder’s Brewing Curmudgeons Better Half, 2008 Stone Brewing Imperial Russian Stout and Lost Abbey Deliverance. Though not everything will be dark stouts, there’s even Makana Meadery iQhilika African Birds Eye Chili Mead from South Africa. That’s not the entire list they’ve posted on their Facebook page either. I’ve spoken with staff about some other VERY rare treats also. Not all of this will blow on Friday, so if you’re from out of town, check by on Saturday too. But rest assured the best stuff won’t last. – Aromas Wine Bar / 1235 S. Milledge Ave. / Athens, GA 30605 / 706-208-0059
  • Firkin of Terrapin’s Tree Hugger – Trappeze Pub
    • Aaron Wallace, general manager at Trappeze, filled me in on this. They are tapping a special firkin of Terrapin’s Tree Hugger Altbier with boiled peanuts added. – Trappeze Pub / 269 N. Hull St. / Athens, GA / 706-543-8997
  • Southern Tier tap take-over – The Beer Growler
    • Southern Tier will consume five taps at the Beer Growler in Athens beginning Friday and running through Saturday (or when they blow). The line-up consists of Oak-Aged unEarthly, 2x IPA, 2x Stout, Porter and Eurotrash Pilz. – The Beer Growler / 1059 Baxter St. / Athens, GA / 706-850-6565

Saturday, April 14th

  • 10th Anniversary Carnival – Terrapin Beer Company
    • Terrapin is holding their 10th‘mathematical’ anniversary at the brewery, stating that mathematically they were founded in 2002. Though we all know Spike and John were brewing before then and the brewery didn’t open until 2006 in Athens. Here is what I’ve been offered so far that will be pouring.
      • 10 casks – In casks will be
        • Monk’s Revenge
        • Hop Karma
        • Hopzilla
        • Rye PA w/ Nelson Sauvin hops.
        • Tree Hugger on oak
        • Phlux Capacitor
        • Easy Rider
        • Hopsecutioner w/ Amarillo, Falconer’s Flight and Zythos hops.
        • Reunion 2011
        • Anniversary Ale
      • 4 barrel aged beers – Substance Abuse (W-n-B coffee oatmeal imperial stout in a Jack Daniel barrel), Monks Revenge in a red wine barrel, Tom Foolery in a Woodford Reserve barrel and finally (this sounds awesome) Indiana Krunkles also in a Woodford Reserve barrel.
      • Also pouring from 4 regular bars (2 inside, 2 outside plus the tap trailor) are Golden, Rye Pale Ale, Hop Karma, Hopsecutioner, Hopzilla, Road Warrior, Rye Squared ’11, 10th Anniversary Ale, Easy Rider, Reunion ’11, Tomfoolery, Gamma Ray, Big Daddy Vladdy and Tree Hugger. (#drunj will follow)

The party will run 4:30 – 8:30 and pre-sale glass vouchers are strongly encouraged. Though sales ended for online purchases at 5p.m. on Friday, April 6. You can still purchase them in person at the brewery all week. All pre-sale vouchers have been sold out. There will be 1000 tickets available at the door on Saturday. Terrapin is encouraging people to arrive early and take public transportation, as parking is limited. They suggest taking Athens Bus route 8 and calling a cab to take you back downtown. Hope to see everyone there. – Terrapin Beer Company / 265 Newton Bridge Rd. / Athens, GA / 706-549-3377

  • Terrapin’s 10th Anniversary Ale – Trappeze Pub
    • Trappeze Pub will tap a keg of Terrapin’s 1oth Anniversary Ale in case you didn’t make it out to the brewery for all the other goodness. Taps at 9pm. – Trappeze Pub / 269 N. Hull St. / Athens, GA / 706-543-8997

Sunday, April 15th

    • This marks the 17th year that Owen Ogletree has put on the annual spring ritual which is touted as one of the best beer festivals in the southeast. With all proceeds going to the Athens Area Humane Society it’s hard not to buy tickets knowing it’s going to a good organization. This year the festival will feature a cask only tent with almost 15 one-off cask beers, many being rare already. Plus taste over 250 different beers from around the world without buying a special VIP pass for the cask tent. Tickets are $39.99 (plus processing fee) and are pre-sale only. A few tickets may still be left, maybe and they are still looking for volunteers. Some of the already announced highlights are JailHouse Saison Reprieve w/ Kaffir lime leaves,Uinta Detour Double IPA, Ommegang Seduction, and Max Lager’s IMOS cask on coffee and cocoa nibs to name a few. We usually receive a full list email a day or two before the event. I may post some of them here (so I remember later) or I might not and you have to buy a ticket to find out for yourself. There is music from Steel String Session and the line starts forming early though the event opens at 2:30 – 6:00. Find me and Sarah there, we’ll be the happy couple smiling. – The Foundry Inn and Spa / 295 E. Dougherty St. / Athens, GA / 706-549-7020
Update – Here’s the link to this years beer list: CCBF brew list.

  • Terrapin Easy Rider – Trappeze Pub
    • To kick off the post CCBF celebration Trappeze will tap Terrapin’s Easy Rider with fresh Nelson Sauvin hops. – Trappeze Pub / 269 N. Hull St. / Athens, GA / 706-543-8997

There you have it folks! If you haven’t booked your hotel room yet, you probably should. I hope the guy below did last year, but please don’t over indulge, it’s a tasting event not a dank tank. Hope to see everyone around town next weekend.

Cheers!

Don't be this guy

Don't be this guy
(photo courtesy of DenverP)

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