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Yeast week

WLP007 1L starter

WLP007 1L starter

So this past week saw a scheduled Friday off.  A day that is usually consumed with way too many chores scattered through-out the day to plan anything fun.  Even if it’s just lunch downtown with the wife.  Even though I caught a little expected grief on missing lunch I was excused to finally brew at the house.  I also threw some meat on the smoker.  It’s an inexpensive one from Academy but will do the job once I figure things out.  The second smoking was better than the first, so hopefully I’ll have it figured out next try.  It’s not near as bad as brewing beer.  I haven’t dumped a smoked butt yet.  It all gets eaten!  But I digress.  Back on topic of yeast.  I recently posted about washing yeast for the first time.  This is the process of saving $8 per brew to reuse yeast from the previous brew.  “Shit actually works!”

WLP007 & WLP300 starters

WLP007 & WLP300 starters

We wandered into 5 Points Growlers Beer & Brew Supply awhile back when Amber & Ty were in town for fills.  I always check out the yeast cooler to see if they have what I want or I’m curious about.  I found the only vial of White Labs WLP-007 Dry English Ale yeast and its fresh w/ a best before by date of 4/11.  Which means it was packaged on 1/11 this year.  Most beers aren’t that fresh.  Usually Monday before brewing is just recipe creation day, but I have more up my flask this week.  I made a 1 liter starter with that WLP-007 vial.  Denver used this in an IPA and it kicked ass.  This yeast is highly flocculent with high attenuation, which means it makes a clear beer and eats lots of sugars to produce a dry finish.  I want to use this yeast in a pale ale brewed at Gratis, so I can’t ‘waste’ it in this week’s brew.  Which means on Wednesday I ‘stepped’ it to 2 liters.  I crash chill the starter for the day and make a 2 liter starter on Wednesday after work.  I decant off the beer and pour the yeast slurry into a new starter.  I wake up Thursday morning to find it’s blown through the airlock.  Thankfully I save Star San while these things are happening.  I pull the airlock to cleanse and sani it before work.  By the time I make my sandwich for lunch the krausen is already pushing into the airlock.  “Hope it (the airlock) stays wet until I get home!”

I also got a 1 liter starter going with the White Labs WLP-300 German Hefeweizen yeast along with 1/4 tsp of yeast nutrient.  When I checked on the yeast Thursday morning I was overly excited to see this yeast going strong.  Success!  A quick manual stir and the krausen woke up and spit right out of the air lock.  Now I’m not only cleaning up krausen from the WLP-007, but I have foam running down the cabinet doors in our laundry room.  If I shut the door with the HVAC vent open this room will stay almost exactly 70*F all the time.  Which is near perfect for ale yeast fermentation.

Thursday I finished a recipe and decide on a white pale ale.  This style recently came to life from a few select brewers and is still not recognized by the BJCP.  Some of the more famous beers are Deschutes Chainbreaker IPA, Westbrook White Thai and the Founders Brewing collab with Green Flash for the Linchpin White IPA.  The differentiating here is that I’m doing a pale ale, or a pale wheat and using a blend of WLP-007 and WLP-300.  While I didn’t measure yeast counts, I feel like I had a bigger slurry of 300 over 007, thus hoping to have a dry finish with a cloudy beer.

Friday rolls around and NO WORKY FOR ME!  I realize quickly that I’ve driven over my good water hose end and it’s inoperable, SOB!  So out comes the old hose which thankfully isn’t frozen.  I get the coolers sanitized to get some ice and Gatorade in them.  Finally get some charcoal burning in the smoker and get the pig’s bottom and whole yard bird on there with hickory chunks.  It’s too bad it’s Friday and no one is in the cul-de-sac to salivate other than me.  I’m pretty impressed with myself in that I get the mash water heating up at noon and by 5pm the yeast is pitched.  The grain bill is simple in Brewer’s Malt, White Wheat and some Cara-Pils along with some Sorachi Ace hops from Japan which are known for their lemon/citrus flavor.  Throw in the common American Cascade hops at 15 minutes and 5 minutes along with some fresh orange zest at 15 minutes and we should have a great citrus white pale wheat with around 5% abv just in time for front porch homebrew this Spring!

Don’t forget that the Classic City Brew Fest is just around the corner.  Go ahead and buy tickets, you may get a chance to brew with The Southern Brewing Company on their pilot system along with a tour of their new space before it’s open.  I’ll post links tomorrow, or just Goggle tonight.  Hope to see everyone there.

Slainte!

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!

CCBF tailgate

lambic vessel

lambic vessel
(photo credit of DenverP)

Just as last year, we honor Classic City Brew Fest by brewing over at Gratis Brewing.  This year was a lambic that’s surely to wreak havoc on all the brewing equipment.  Not so fast Rhino-virus!  Brian got smart (sorry if this sounds like a recent accomplishment) and acquired a ceramic vessel before used to ferment sauerkraut in.  I just realized we need to name it, since we have so much fun naming all the brews out of Gratis.

For instance the last brew that Brian and I did together was a Belgian IPA.  We were talking about being politically correct while bottling.  Later he manages to tug so slightly on the bottling hose and pull the bottling bucket off its perch some 3′ – 4′ in the air.  In super slow-mo (from my vantage point) he reaches out with a bent arm and catches the bucket inside his elbow, kicks his pint glass 6′ half full without it tipping over and realizes the bottle with the wand in it has fallen over with a single drop out of it, that I quickly stand up.  We later decide via some back and forth text messages that “One Arm Snatch” isn’t ‘pc’, so we called it “Single Arm Snatch”.

Rambling is not as cool as shuffling, sorry.  The lambic had some crazy 5 step mash process with increasing steps of only a few degrees for 15-20 minute ranges followed by a two-hour boil.  With all the extra hands hanging around though helped finish brew day after the 6:30am start.  The vessel didn’t want to play well when it came time to chill the wort and pitch the yeast.  So we did that later in the night.  The two-hour boil gave us plenty of time to enjoy the huge lunch Jen Rawlph supplied of burgers, brats and wieners while sharing some homebrew and popping some good craft beer, although the libations were kept to a least because we had somewhere to be.

Terrapin 10 glass

Terrapin 10th Anniversary glass
(photo credit of Gratis Brewing)

And there’s nothing better than being on the VIP list for a beer festival, no matter how small it is.  Whether you call Terrapin Beer Company’s 10th Anniversary Carnival a blown-out brewery tour or a beer festival is up to you.  They didn’t bother to hold anything back and if they did I can’t wait to be there when they let it all out.  Even the glasses were representative oh just how big of a deal this was.  If you kept count last week you know they had 500 pre-sale vouchers and would release 1000 at the door the day of.  Terrapin kept Tweeting and updating their FB status on their suggestion to arrive early.  I have to be honest, if I wasn’t lucky enough to be with the crowd that I was with and saw that line wrapped down the front of the building, along the side of the building.  Then turning a 180 all the way back to the road almost making a 90 degree turn going away from downtown and stretching to the next road where people were walking up from parking down the road from the brewery, I’d kept driving until I got to J & J Flee market and looked for a beer there.  While I’m not complaining one bit, I was a little shocked, disappointed and in awe that beers were gone by 4:30 with more gone by 5:00.  But by the time we made it behind the cask tent with everyone else of the local ‘elite’ beer community all my sorrows were gone.  My glass was kept full by the awesome beer community that we have here and those that made the trip to enjoy it with us.  Cheers to everyone at Terrapin for having us.  We thank you for what you do for the Athens Craft Beer Scene, even if we are second sometimes to our big drinking brother known as Atlanta.

Gustungling

Gustungling
(photo credit of DenverP)

Once back at Gratis and after a great dinner, the fun continued around the fire pit.  More homebrew and great craft beer began popping and being passed around for everyone to have a pour.  Earlier we had fabricated up a couple of new copper gustungling rods.  Gustungling is the old colonial error method of inserting a hot rod into beer after being poured to caramelize some of the malt sugars.  Its super cool when doing it as the head will begin to climb your glass you hear the rod making a dense boiling noise while in the beer.  The beer remains cool and the flavor can change from slight to extreme.  I suggest everyone try it, CAREFULLY!

Sarah later decided I needed to go home and made me start walking.  No, she was nice enough to hang out with us and bring me home.  She was even nice enough to take me to CCBF the next day where the weekend would climax (I just wanted to say climax in one post, so deal with it).

As great as CCBF was last year and this year, the close-knit friendship we enjoyed on Saturday far outweighs it.  Cheers to great beer and greater people!  Pints Up.

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)

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.

Denver pouring in grains. Me stirring mash.

Denver pouring in grains. Me stirring mash.

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.

Rob Lucente and Owen Ogletree

Rob Lucente and Owen Ogletree (photo courtesy of Denver)

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.
Blockader table

Blockader table

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!”

Prost!

moron 1

moron 1

moron 2

moron 2

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