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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]

Jail Broke

An anniversary for Mondays

Someone has a case of the Mondays

food court, draft trucks & casks Oh My!

food court, draft trucks and casks Oh My!

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

A special lineup

Drafty Kilt NITRO

Drafty Kilt NITRO

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

local business designed casks

local business designed casks

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

food trucks staying busy

food trucks staying busy

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

FLIP Burger #noms

FLIP Burger #noms

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

Good cheer

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

Cheers!

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!

Single hop ale – Cascade

First runnings

First runnings

Probably the last beer I’ll brew until Fall unless things work out for the better.  It’s the first week of May and unlike last year, we have yet to turn on the air conditioner.  So we could have brewed a batch but again, time is short now a days.  After Denver brewed an IPA using Dry English Ale yeast as Stone Brewing does, Brian and I had to get on the bandwagon.  As I’ve done with all the beers I brewed this year, we’ve stuck with lower ABV targets, all under 5%.  But brewing on Gratis Brewing’s system gave us a better efficiency.  Even with a yeast mistake this single hop Cascade pale ale still attenuated to 5.5% ABV.

oxygen insertion

oxygen insertion

By no means can I say I’m knowledgeable of  all hops, but I might know someone who is.  I do know which ones I have brewed with and of those that I really like.  Cascade would be the major one that I really enjoy.  There are many commercial examples of beers that solely use Cascade hops.  It is also one that falls in the bittering and aroma category.  Thankfully Mark over at 5 Points Growlers and Home Brew Supply opened a fresh bag of Cascade leaf hops for me.  Posting a full Ziploc bag holding six ounces of Cascade hops had quite the remarks on BookFace.  Using Gratis’ setup warranted some recipe changes since I’m not fully familiar with brewing what I would consider double batches.  I have yet to brew a really good beer on his system too.  But I have no problem wearing a rookie shirt and brewing in the minor leagues still.  One day though, right?  I think I ended up adding 5.25 oz of Cascade hops.  I should have asked Brian to dry hop the two carboys, which would have been tough with those .75 oz of Cascade hops in my fridge at home.

Cascade carboys

Cascade carboys

The yeast mistake garners the minor league pay too.  Using a very fresh vial from 5 Pts. I propagated it to 1 liter.  Then I split it, using not quite half of it for the White Pale Mutt along with the German Hefeweizen yeast.  That beer did turn out really well.  Still too much banana and bubble gum from that WLP-300 yeast strand, but the WLP-007 dried it out nicely.  So I took the harvest Dry English Ale yeast from the fridge and propagated that to 1L, then I stepped it to 2L and would use that to pitch with.  My FG was only 1.o20 which isn’t bad, but I was hoping for more like 1.013 FG.  With the super efficiency of the soon to be known Southern Brewing Co. pilot system, it still shot over our 4.8% ABV and ended up with 5.5% ABV.  The beer is drinking nice with a mild bitterness and some subtle sweetness with the higher final gravity.  My hop schedule was 60 minutes, 30, 15, 10 and finally 5 minutes.  Without the yeast mess up and some dry hopping, this would be a great beer.  It’s going to be just fine as a good beer to get us through the Summer months.

cheers to rainy days

cheers to rainy days

Now if we want to talk about great beers brewed the same day using the same yeast strain then I have to mention the SBC Racing Mud Puddle IPA.  Last night served kind of like the release party for SBC Racing.  Brewed with a first wort hopping of NZ Hallertau, then bittered constantly throughout the boil with Motueka and finally dry hopped with Citra.  It runs the color of a murky Georgia red clay mud puddle and drinks like a peach NEHI.   Such a great beer and check out SBC Racing on BookFace.

Later we’re going to talk about our first attempt at brewing parti-gyle style.  An ancient brewing style that uses the same grain to produce different batches of beer, all being lower in ABV from the original.

Cheers race fans!

SBCR mud puddle IPA

SBCR mud puddle IPA

SBC Racing Mud Puddle

SBC Racing Mud Puddle

Chase the Rabbit gets easier

tanks, tanks, tanks

tanks, tanks, tanks

25 ton grain silo peaking around the corner

25 ton grain silo peaking around the corner

Recently I was able to sneak along on a lunch time trip to Red Hare Brewing in Marietta, GA. If you recall, Sarah and I visited Red Hare back on Cinco De Mayo with Amber and Ty. So this wasn’t a totally new endeavor for me. But skipping work to hit up breweries isn’t so bad. The view however has changed drastically since May, with new tanks going in constantly. This was the first time I’ve talked with Roger, co-partner to Bobby, their head-brewer. They are now 8 employees and estimate to see 14,000 visitors this year. They are nearing some added capacity that will bring them to 9,000 barrels a year in terms of productivity. They’ve also erected a new 25-ton silo just outside for mass grain delivery and storage. Their biggest installation for me is their canning line, capable of 32 cans per minute. Jessica, marketing and tasting room manager gave us a tour and showed off the new canning line. We were fortunate enough to see a brew day in progress, but I was really hoping for some canning to be in process. I’ve seen the awe of speed when cans are manufactured, but have yet to witness the beauty of canning. Which I feel kind of resembles a broken folding lawn chair.

topless Gangway IPA

topless Gangway IPA

The really exciting news is what 2013 looks like. Their flagship Long Day Lager is already available in cans. The Gangway IPA is now out in cans, though still scarce. Soon the Watership Brown Ale will be getting canned for the first time. Their artwork is great, so these all look great canned. Much better than what a bottle would portray. The plan is to package the lager in 12 packs also. They are also thinking of releasing the IPA and brown in bigger boxes down the road too. And are also hoping to get these cans out to golf courses around the area. In the past they’ve done four Rabbit Reserve beers, five if you include the rare Atlanta Craft Beer Week coffee cream stout. The original chocolate porter (which is great), an imperial red IPA, a good Saison, then an Oktoberfest. This year will only see two Rabbit Reserve beers. In February a new double black IPA and in October, the ACBW coffee cream stout. There’s also potential plans to offer these in 22 oz bottles. 2013 will see three seasonal beers, in March, August and October. Those may be past RR beers, but that wasn’t laid out, nor was packaging.

That’s not all the great news for next year, but I will just suggest to follow Red Hare on Twitter and like them on Bookface. Along with checking out their website, Red Hare Brewing, which unlike some other breweries, they keep updated.

Cheers to the entire Red Hare for a great midday hosting!

Canning line presenter Jessica

Canning line presenter Jessica

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