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Peach Pints

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Last night (Feb. 21) Athens was lucky enough to tap a couple of rare kegs from Mother Earth Brewing from Kinston, NC. Every winter Mother Earth releases Silent Night, a BBA RIS. I was lucky enough to grab a bottle while in Winston-Salem before Christmas. It’s a great beer, even better on draft surrounded by friends at Trappeze Pub. A. Wall was able to secure a small keg from Jordan, GA’s beer rep for Mother Earth. She also brought along a very rare keg of from their new Windowpane Series, this one being Peaches, the second in the new series. Brewed with an abundance of local peaches and aged in Chardonnay barrels, this 8% abv beer is amazing.

Even better than the beer was getting to meet Jordan and talk beer, Mother Earth, Windowpane and drinking local. Next in the series is Figs & Raisins which is already in the market in NC, soon in GA. Followed by the last in the series, Raspberries. But soon followed again by the first, Blackberries. Windowpane is all about the local in drinking local. The highlight of each beer is sourced locally, but only when it’s a good harvest. Each beer is only a 20bbl brew, so it’s rare in quantity. Thankfully for Athens and Trappeze, Jordan sees the love here. She says we’ll see their beers on tap in the future along with Figs & Raisins.

Cheers to Jordan, A. Wall and Neil for a good night of drinking local with Mother Earth Brewing and Trappeze Pub.

Beer Run: Nantahala Trail Magic

Trail Magic

Trail Magic

This past Saturday, March 10, Nantahala Brewing Company had their first ever bottle release.  Everything before this has been on draught some where if not at the brewery.  You’ll recall last summer we stopped in after a rafting trip with my family at NOC.  I said it then and I’ll say it again.  There brews are solid.  Since the last time we were there they’ve changed head brewers.  Chris left to stay put in Atlanta.  Not sure why, maybe it was that day job in ATL while moonlighting as a brewer in North Carolina that did him in?  So now Greg takes the place as head brewer.  His words to me were, “It was a case of being in the right place at the right time.”

Saturday was gorgeous and we couldn’t have asked for a nicer drive heading north into the mountains.  We were of course late leaving, but Sarah did manage to get out of the bed shortly after I asked her to wake up.  Jumping in the car at 8:23 with GPS showing exactly 11:00 made me one happy beer run kiddo.  So off we go into those their mountains.  We make a few stops and get to the brewery around 11:20 or so.  For everyone else in Athens, make this trip.  441 almost all the way with hardly any traffic.  There’s probably 20 – 30 people on the patio socializing.  We notice A.J., newly dubbed Wort, and take up conversation about what each of us have done lately.

early crowd

early crowd

Being the first bottle release would have to be a big deal right?  And a big deal it was.  Friday night marked the first tapping of the first in the Trail Magic series.  A bourbon barrel aged stout.  Also planned for Friday night was a rare and homebrew bottle swap.  We didn’t make it, but heard it was a great time.  Saturday at noon when the brewery opened each person would be allowed to buy four 750mL bottles.  They were swiping cards using their iPads which was pretty nice.  As nice as the brewery if you’ve never had the opportunity to sit at that nice long bar.  The first person I had the pleasure of talking to was head brewer Greg.  He was nice enough to offer up a sample of their yet to be released Session Rye pale ale.  I told him we were up from Athens and his reply was that the Session Rye PA was loosely brewed after Terrapin‘s Rye PA, because of his enjoyment of it.  I had a sample of the Trail Magic and it was awesome.  I can’t wait to start popping those bottles.

We later were lucky enough to get a brewery tour from the owner’s fiance.  To our surprise, she mentioned they are actually living there at the moment with her daughter.  Since the last time we were there they’ve built a climate controlled barrel room.  I must say this is better than even our local brewery that I know I’ve noticed their filled barrels hanging around in the open parts of the working areas.  She was such a sweet lady, and a Dawg fan.  So thanks Jen for showing us around.  We didn’t hang around long as we had the drive back before us.  Though they did later that night tap a firkin of Trail Magic also.  Many bottles didn’t get sold.  They have since put those for sale in the brewery.  If you’re in the area or not to far away, I highly recommend it.

Belgian Dirty Blonde Golden

Belgian Dirty Blonde Golden

Greg also told us about the other two brews in the Trail Magic series.  The next is scheduled for June 8-9 and will be a lemon grass double IPA.  I told him we would certainly be there for it.  I’d even texted the rest of the Wolfpac (who were in Tampa for Cigar City‘s Hunahpu Day) that we could get a cabin for the weekend near-by and make the bottle swap on Friday night.  Twenty minutes down the road Sarah realizes and reminds me that we’re in Hilton Head Island that weekend.  Oh well, guess we have to keep our fingers crossed that they will still have some for sale the next weekend.  The third release will be a barley wine.  Hopefully during an away game in October, but not during the bye week.  As Sarah is in a wedding that weekend.

We safely arrive home with our goods.  One is chilling the rest are chillaxin in the beer closet.  It’s been tough putting words to paper, or monitor, file, site, however you’d phrase this.  Reason being tomorrow is vacation with a tight agenda.  We’re brewing a Belgian IPA at Gratis Brewing with hopes that it’ll be ready for the Athens’ Classic City Brew Fest tailgate, the day before the actually fest.  Their may be some first wort hopping going on tomorrow.  Keep Twitter running in the background people.  It may get kinda crazy.

Prost!

Beer Run: Natty Greene’s Greensboro Brewpub

This may be my shortest post yet, but it’ll be the most direct one too.  After leaving Foothills Brewing for the release of Olde Rabbits Foot we decided to head in the wrong direction, but for a damn good reason.  Only 35 minutes east of Foothills is Natty Greene’s Pub and Brewing Company.  Before going out of our way for nothing, Denver made a quick phone call.  It’s only 10:30 or so Saturday morning, so we need to make sure they’re at least open.  We also wanted to know what they were pouring.

Natty Greene's

Natty Greene's

So here’s how the conversation went down.  Denver tells the young lady on the phone that we’re from out of town and were curious about eating lunch there.  She replies that that’s perfect, because they were actually already open.  Ha, ya think?  You answered the phone.  (I’m dumb enough to think any business would have an automated answer service.)  So he then asks what house beers they were pouring.  This is funny y’all.  She tells him, well, we’re pouring the house beers we’ve made here.  Gotcha!  Thanks for helping.

She does give us a few of the beers and we head that way.  We have no problem finding the place.  If the inside, food and beers compare to the outside visual appeal, then this is going to be good.  Two story building with a large outside patio area with table umbrellas.  Once inside it’s a little plainer than outside, but who cares.  Their tap list is somewhere around eight to twelve different haus biers.  She did say they were pouring their seasonal which was an IPA (odd), and while on the board list, actually isn’t being poured.  Oh well.

Natty Greene's

Natty Greene's

Denver and I both get the Summerfest Dortmunder Lager, which is my first dortmunder and it’s quite nice.  Pounder gets the Wildflower Wit and Whiff gets the Old School Brown.  I order the bbq sandwich and it’s superb.  Best bbq sandwich i’ve had in awhile.  Simply put, it’s worth the drive to check out for lunch or dinner.  My only dissapointment was the DIPA wasn’t pouring which I wanted to try on draft after smuggling a four pack back to GA on a previous NC trip.

Cheers!  Pints Up!

Beer Run: Olde Rabbits Foot 2011 release

Friday evening, August 12, the year is 2011, it’s 2100 hours and a group of four beer geeks are getting on I-85 towards Winston-Salem, NC. It must be another limited Foothills Brewing beer release. Foothills does about three big limited releases every year. Around February they release Sexual Chocolate. I think in July they release barrel aged Sexual Chocolate. Now, on August 13 is the trio release of Olde Rabbits Foot. The blended wort of the imperial stout from three North Carolina brewers. Olde Hickory, Duck Rabbit and Foothills Brewing.

front of line

front of line

line behind us

line behind us

Saturday morning, 0209 and we finally arrive at Foothills Brewing. Just in time to miss last call after our 44 minute exploration to find gas and a toilet. I actually found a concrete ditch on the shady side of a laundromat. So now we empty the car of camping chairs, some Redbulls and a few bottles of water and Gatorade. Just as we sit down I text old Athens resident, now Winston-Salem local, AJ to bring us some beers from his house. He stands up besides us and manages to lose his chair, to only gather up a smaller version of a chair. To make bad use of an old phrase, ‘We’re in for the night’. See Foothills will only allow 250-300 people to purchase a max of four bottles per person. So at 0800 they open the doors, check id and give you a wristband with a number on it. There’s now five of us, so we’re 16-20, me being the oldest some how manages to get the highest number. Who gives a shit, I still land four bottles.

It’s now thirty minutes before the doors open and we’re semi waking up from taking semi naps all night. The people are moving around and setting the tables. They were kind enough to leave the outside speakers on and provide us with some serious Wu Tang Clan music. They however didn’t realize that the pseudo Marshal Mathers of Winston-Salem was going to try and freestyle to the Wu Tang Clan beats. Just as it looks like the doors are about to open with Denver and Pounder walking back after putting away our chairs and umbrellas, it begins to sprinkle. I think everyone inside got a nice smirk out of watching hundreds of people outside get soaked in the rain.

People's Porter Randallized through coffee and Warrior hops

People's Porter Randallized through coffee and Warrior hops

Eight a.m. we’re in early enough to finish filling up the bar. Right in front of the People’s Porter randallized through coffee and Warrior Hops. Yes, it’s 8:00a.m. Saturday and we’re just now starting to drink. A porter ran through coffee served with a sausage biscuit. I now know what the true meaning of the breakfast of champions actually is. Because we felt like kings sitting at the bar drinking as people were still outside in the rain trying to get in and get a sub 300 number.

10:00 a.m. and they finally call numbers 1 – 50 to come forward to purchase their bottles of Olde Rabbits Foot. A quick rewind and there was this one chick with her chair back to the front of the door. So close no one can get out. What made the day was to see her NOT be the first to get her bottles. You may have a #1 on your wrist but you can’t yell FIRST as you walk to the back to pick up your bottles. AJ could though. He disappears then walks back around with a pint of ORF and give us all a sample. We’d forgotten it was on tap the day before the release and all morning. So we’re sold now that it’s solid. “Four please.”

One other nice thing about Foothills, and many other North Carolina brewpubs and breweries is their ability to allow almost anything. The release was very much a meet-up to sample and enjoy any beer you have on hand. It was quite obvious you could brown bag in your own beer. They also have a mug club. For a yearly fee you get to drink from a 20oz mug instead of the normal 16oz, along with discounts on food, swag and daily meal rebates. Hopefully some Georgia pubs or breweries will follow suit.

Foothills Brewing mug club

Foothills Brewing mug club

We finally made it back home to Athens around five or six Saturday afternoon. I’m now done to three ORF, with plans to have another possibly for a big event between now and New Year’s Eve. Another for my birthday unless I score another big beer for it. The last week be doing a vertical tasting of Olde Rabbit’s Foot 2012. If you ever get the chance to make it to a Foothills release, I strongly advise it. We’ll be there in February in a tent with some heaters. Come say hi!

And just what we do when we toast or salute one another? #PintsUp

Olde Rabbits Foot 2011

Olde Rabbits Foot 2011

Nantahala Brewing Co.

Nantahala River

Nantahala River

My last blog was about visiting Heinzelmannchen Brewery in Sylva, NC the day before white water rafting down the Nantahala River near Bryson City.  My last blog also commented on how NC wins 2-0 over Georgia on beer laws.  The first was the brewery can actually sell beer to the consumer.  The second point was that not only can you buy beer, but you can also buy a growler and have it filled AFTER you get a free sample of what you’re buying.  Georgia won’t allow you to buy beer at a brewery, nore sample at a growler shop.  Another point for NC is that you can even visit breweries on Sunday and buy beer from that same brewery and even get a growler fill from the exact same brewery.  That’s like winning penalty kicks in overtime after you’ve already won in regulation.

Nantahala Brewing Co.

Nantahala Brewing Co..

So not only did my wonderful wife say we could visit Heinzelmannchen Brewery on Saturday, but she strongly encouraged me to visit Nantahala Brewing Company in Bryson City, NC on our way home.  This is just how sweet she can be.  I had to beg her to raft and promise I wouldn’t let her come out.  After having a fun time down the river, then changing, saying our goodbyes to the rest of the family, we grab a bite right over the river.  On the way home I decide we should just hurry home, but nope, Sarah insisted I visit the brewery.  “Well yes m’am.”Bryson City and the brewery are just right off 441 highway.  I almost didn’t need GPS to find it.  I gotta say, if anyone wants plans to open a brewery and make it classy, follow these guys.  Some one, or some three sank some big money into renovating this place.  Inside has dart boards, a huge Jenga set, along with large, long bar.  Hell, even the pisser is nice and new.  All done in rustic cabin’esce lumber and decor makes it fit right into the feel of the area.  Outside the front door is the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.  Upstairs looks like an old hotel from old western movies, yet they’re actually offices.

quitters

quitters

Nantahala has been in operation for 15 months.  They, as all others, were uncertain on start up size and capacity.  Choosing to go with a small 10 barrell system seemed like a good idea.  Wrong!  They sell all 1000 barrells they produce.  Good I know, they sell it all.  Bad if you plan on producing more than the system can handle.  Sounds like someone is about to force their bright tank into a push system.  I hope not, because Nantahala makes some damn good beer.  I had a Noon Day IPA at a pizza joint in Sylva Saturday night.  I had the Up The River Amber for lunch after rafting.  I tried the wheat, blonde and famous ATX Pale Ale all at the brewery.  Thursday before our arrival they put up their special DIPA.  It was gone in a day and a half.  Too bad for me.  Really bad for Sarah when we drive back three hours just to get it.

The brewery had good business within the last hour of their Sunday opening.  So I will give the guy that was serving everyone some slack on not being very personable.  Then again, it would be hard to follow up how nice Dieter Kuhn was at Heinzelmannchen.  The guy wasn’t a brewer either, so I just enjoyed my beautiful company next to me.  Thanking her for insisting we visit and even more for driving my drunk ass home.  Okay, I wasn’t drunk, but she knew she should drive

Nantahala brewery bar

Nantahala brewery bar

So a great weekend gone by.  Another great weekend coming when we find some free time to go back.  It’s a pleasant three hour drive up 441.  Who’s with us?

Salute!

Heinzelmannchen Brewery

Gnome Brewery

Gnome Brewery

After a lot of convincing, my parents and I finally have Sarah half way beliving that if she’ll go rafting, she won’t fall out of the raft.  So my mom booked us a trip down the Nantahala in Western North Carolina.  The day before our rafting trip Sarah says we might as well go up a day early so we don’t have to drive at the butt crack of dawn.  So I happily said, “Ok let’s go!”  See I had done lots of pre-planning already.  I knew Nantahala Brewing Company was very close.  But, no hotels in Bryson City.  So I’m on Google Maps scanning around for hotels nearby.  That’s when I run across another brewery that I had totally forgot about.  Having seen their name countless times in the NC Brewers brochure, you’d think I’d remembered where it was, since it’s actually 30 minutes closer to Athens than Nantahala.

tap list

tap list

So we head north and arive at Heinzelmannchen Brewery around 4:30 Saturday.  It’s tucked away on the (for us) outbound lanes in Sylva, NC.  One would think that this time of day on a Saturday would be super busy.  We walk in and wonder if anyone is even there.  Then out of no where pops the owner and head brewmeister, Dieter Kuhn.  Dieter being from Germany sticks to his roots in all his beers and brews them in true Germany style.  North Carolina is different from Georgia in that they charge you for tastings, but can sell you a growler directly from the brewery.  Georgia strictly will not allow the brewers to sell beer to the customer.  With us not being in my manual shift car I was set, and even given permissions to sample all seven beers on tap today in 4 oz. samples.  For probably the first three or four samples the brewery is still only occupied by us, Dieter and Hannah, who is in the brewhouse working away in her ‘milking boots’.  I guess since this is a brewery and not a dairy farm those were actually brewing boots.  Finally a couple of guys walk in and get growler refills.  You can get free 2 oz. samples when getting a growler fill.  Again, better than Georgia in that, yes, we now have growler shops.  No you have no idea what those 64 oz. of craftbeer that you’ve never had before is going to taste like when you get it home.  North Carolina 2 – Georgia – 0.

Hannah mashing in

Hannah mashing in

I can’t begin to describe how friendly and open Dieter was to us.  He had a steady flow of business the entire time we were there.  yet he would still educate and entertain us even as he’s filling their growlers.  We talked beers, beer styles, brewing, you name it for the next hour and half.  Hannah would step away from her work from time to time to get a drink of water or grab more ingredients as she was in the process of brewing another batch of their Middleworld Brown.  We start talking dark beers and hops while I sample the Black Forest Stout.  Which he tells us is actually a schwarz bier but he calls it a stout, well, because he’s the brewer, he can do that.  This was my first time having a schwarz, which is actually a pils base with dark malts to give it a dark color ofcourse and roasted type taste.  Yes, it too was damn tasty.  That’s when he tells me Hannah has brewed a black IPA on their 5 gallon SABCO system that they use for speciality brews.  He then goes over to her and asks for a 4 oz. sample, which was brewed 4 days ago.  Ha!  Not yet released beer score for me.  Super nice hop aroma and light IPA’eske body, and it’s only 4 days young.  He then brings over the hand written brew sheet (hand written = awesomeness!) so I can see the hop build after I asked about it.  Now how many brewers will do that?  Terrapin will only tell me that Sunray uses a German style yeast.  Lazy Magnolia will only tell you that they add pecans to their malts.  I don’t really blame her on that one though.  Dieter says it should be ready in another three or so weeks.  (I’m glad I can make it a day trip.)

growler

growler

I was super shocked at home small the place was, but they certainly make it work.  Being in the brewery industry for eight years means something is working.  The location and the cute small downtown area just go hand in hand with one another.  Unfortunately for us, no t-shirts.  Although Sarah over heard him tell another group that was in for growler fills that he’d have some by next week.  So I hope they’re around when we go back for a fill of the black IPA.  After he spent so much undivided time with us, we couldn’t walk out empty handed.  Plus Sarah had commented several times on how much she likes the flip top growlers he was selling.  Once I told her that they’re functional for me other than just a growler, like making yeast starters, she said I could buy one.

If you are anywhere near Sylva, or even want to experience a beautiful drive up highway 441 from Athens, stopping into Heinzelmannchen Brewery is well worth it.  I’m sure Dieter Kuhn will be just as nice to anyone interested in his craft made beers.

Cheers!

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