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Hop Lovers Unite

Fall brings a lot of new things but one of my favorites is wet hop craft beer. Many breweries nowadays are doing this and the more the merrier. When hops are ready to harvest in the Pacific-Northwest breweries will place orders for fresh hops which are then flown overnight to be brewed with as soon as possible. For the past four years Terrapin has released a fresh wet hop beer called So Fresh & So Green, Green; which obviously pays homage to the band Outkast and we’re okay with that. Along with the release of SF&SGG is their annual Hop Harvest Festival which takes place at the brewery.

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This year’s version; which is brewed with a different hop each year is brewed with Simcoe. A favorite for many of us home brewers. Simcoe is typically characterized as citrus and piney and is typically high in alpha acids, like 11% – 14%. Each year is a different hop and naturally with Spike the first version in 2010 was Amarillo, followed by Challenger, Citra and last year Centennial. If I had to rank them all in order of liking them it would go: Citra – Simcoe – Amarillo – Centennial – Challenger. Yesterday they had SF&SGG running through a Randall of extra Simcoe hops; which really showcased the aromatics of the hop.

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Another neat thing for Hop Harvest is the cask tent. Each cask is Georgia Only! Golden Ale with a different hop in each one; most new or experimental hops. I only made it to the tent once and tried a new hop called Lemondrop; which gave hints of lemon and other citrus notes. There is always a barrel aged booth too pouring some unique and rare treats. As always a personal go to favorite is bourbon barrel aged Wake-n-Bake (Imperial Coffee Stout for the TTB). There was also BBA Hopzilla and a whiskey barrel aged Mosaic. The real treat came from knowing someone that knows someone that knowed someone and we got a few pulls of the soon to be release next Reserve Series, Moo-HooChiato. This is like a personal dream come true, Moo Hoo chocolate stout and Jittery Joe’s Wake-n-Bake coffee. This Reserve Series seems to keep getting better and better.

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Look for bottles soon of SF&SGG at your local glass house (bottle shop). This is certainly one you want to enjoy fresh so pop ’em when you get ’em. Cheers to the Terrapin crew on another great event in Athens.

[drink local]
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Terrapin Beer Great Pumpkinfest

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

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

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

Pints Up and Prost!

More suds

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

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

photo credit CCBC

Creature Comforts

Creature Comforts

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

credit CCBC

CCBC tanks arriving

photo credit CCBC

Line up!

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

The Southern Brewing Company

The Southern Brewing Company

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

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

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

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

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

Rick fisting a gourd

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

Farm 255: A beer dinner

Farm 255

Farm 255

Last Wednesday (Nov. 14, 2012) marked a couple of firsts for Sarah and me. No, not the type of first to post on a blog or forum and scream FIRST! Firsts are fun for us, because typically you (or rather we) remember the first time we do something, even more if it’s together. So it was finally, and I say finally because we’ve talked about wanting to go so many times to Farm 255 to eat. How can you live in Athens, GA and not know about Farm 255. It was also Sarah’s first beer dinner and our first beer dinner together. We first heard about this beer dinner while hanging out at Aromas Wine Bar with the Rawlphs. Kevy Seas the beer ranger for Heavy Seas in the Southeast mentioned it to Cloudyfly and me, when I quickly added it to my calendar. Sarah was eager to go my nervous about the menu since she’s not a seafood chick. But she thankfully had some mussels at Five and Ten recently and loved them.

table

table

Most beer dinners have a plan, and we heard that this plan took two months to come together. The flyer was a hand showing four fingers stating 4 for $45. Yes I know, you won’t find a better deal. Also it included four big players. Farm 255 supplied the food of course, with two courses including cheese from South Georgia local Sweet Grass Dairy cheeses. The other two supplied the beers, from local favorite Terrapin Beer Company and the aforementioned Heavy Seas Beer from the DC area. One of the quick details that Sarah picked up on and pointed out was that HS Beer was being served in Terrapin glasses and vice versa. The four courses were creatively prepared by famous chef Whitney Otawka around four different regions of the world. She started the dinner by describing each course and its origin which I’ll mention later. Following her was new-found friend Matt Willey from Sweet Grass Dairy who talked about their existence, cheeses and each cheese in the menu. Next was beer ranger Kevin Fox, aka Kevy Seas, from Heavy Seas to talk about their beers in the menu and how each would pair with the course. Following was Dustin Watts, VP of Marketing for Terrapin. Later in the night was the first time the two of us officially met. Though I know him, he also mentioned he knew my name. Dustin did a great job talking up the craft beer community, talking about prohibition and the community. In fact all the stars talked about community. If you are the least bit involved with craft beer or have read countless articles lately about it, you will know it’s all about drink local, eat local and community. The fun fact of the night was Dustin talking hops and how AB completely funded the develop of the Simcoe hop through Hop Union only later to say they didn’t need such an aggressive hop profile. Needless to say the craft community was all over that anxiously awaiting an aggressive hop profile. The restaurant was set up family style with big tables and encouraging people to be a community for the night. We sat next to a cute couple passing through on their way back home to Charleston. She is a pharmacist and her husband is doing his residency in neuroscience to become a doctor. Yeah, I was the dumb one at the table. Though it was funny at the end of the night when Rachel came over to introduce herself. She helped me through emails and confirmed my reservation. He asked if I was kinduva a big deal. Too funny.

First Course: Welsh – Welsh Rarebit

Welsh Rarebit

Welsh Rarebit

Not to trying at all to down play the course, but simply put, its bread covered in cheese. Described as “sweet grass georgia gouda, terrapin hopsecutioner, pain au levain, roasted frisée, georgia apples” and more simply put as it’s going to be hard to be the first course. If you follow along you know I’m a huge SGD cheese fan. I’ve wanted to try their gouda and achievement unlocked. This was paired with HS Pale Ale and paired nicely. Nice until the waiter grabbed Sarah’s beer with two sips left and she is all about getting every pennies worth. I quickly calmed her after she realized they were refilling the half pours during each course.

Second Course: Belgium – Moules Frites

Moules Frites

Moules Frites

It was hard for me knowing the menu and deciding if I was more excited about this course or the next. Ingredients listed were “leeks, shallots, housemade bacon, terrapin golden ale broth, fries,
roasted garlic aioli
” and paired with this year’s stellar Citra wet hopped Terrapin So Fresh and So Green, Green. Crap! I’m just realizing I haven’t blogged about Terrapin’s Hop Harvest Fest were SF&SGG was released. Sorry guys & gals, I’ll get on that. The frites (fries) were fabulous and I’m sure some people wonder why I mention that? Could you imagine eating mussels with McDonald’s or Zaxby’s fries? The mussels were great, along with the brother. If at home I would have cereal milk bowl drank that broth. Whew it was good. Not to down play anything, as this course was awesome I pondered how it would pair with a Monk’s Revenge, which is Terrapin’s Belgian Imperial IPA. Wonder if I can sneak (byob) a Monk’s into Farm 255 sometime and try with mussels? As good as the first course was, this one topped it.

Third Course: Czech Republic – Braised Short Ribs

Braised Ribs

Braised Ribs

Now could a seafood lover enjoy a meat course after a stellar seafood dish? This course included “terrapin india brown ale, potato pierogi, sweet grass dairy thomasville tomme, caramelized onion” and paired with the great HS Beer Small Craft Warning Uber Pils. Now we talk about beer and food pairings. The smooth bittering of the pilsner along with the subtle sweetness from being an imperial contrasted well with the richness of the meat. Not to mention I may be a sucker for SGD Thomasville Tomme. This was my first time having a pierogi, which is a dumpling of unleavened dough per Wikipedia. Several people made comments that they had never seen a pierogi so big. This beer dinner is turning out to be an endless mountain climb in regards to how well I like each course.

Final Course: Germany – Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Cake

All I can say is chocolate > seafood. This delicious chocolate cake came along side ice cream made with HS Beer imperial stout with a spread of brandied cherries sauce on the dish. Did I mention I like chocolate? So pair this with the recently released 2012 Terrapin Moo Hoo chocolate milk stout and I could sit here all night until I popped. Okay, so I could only eat my piece before I wanted to pop. Though I’m bias, this was MY favorite dish of the night. I’d be willing to be that many favored the main course.

During the last course Spike, head brewer for Terrapin spoke some and thanked everyone. Kevy and Dustin both spoke and asked for applause for the Farm staff and Chef Whitney. The peak of the mountain was meeting Chef Whitney Otawka afterwards as we spoke with friends and thanked them. Chef Whitney seemed very down to earth and not full of herself like some would expect from a local celebrity that you see on television often. She listened to questions about Monk’s versus SF&SGG and gave the great response that the latter was a more special beer and she was seeking a special night. Job well done and cheers to Chef Whitney for a great night of community!

[photo credit to Matt Willey of Sweet Grass Dairy 
& Emily Garrison of Shiraz Athens]

Vote Terrapin 2012

2008 (l) & 2012 (r) All-American Imperial Pilsner

2008 (l) & 2012 (r) All-American Imperial Pilsner

Back in July I first mentioned Terrapin Beer Company’s 2012 campaign. It’s an election year, so we’ll see another run of All-American Imperial Pilsner. Terrapin also has an election online to vote for a re-brew of a past beer. Voting isn’t over, but I think both parties have elected their top contenders. Right now the people’s choice is Oak-aged Rye Squared. But a late push might see Hoptaneous Combustion try to take over Rye2.

To help get voters to the polls Terrapin had an election party at Trappeze with the current president 2012 All-American Imperial Pilsner with past president, 2008 Pilsner. I put the two presidents side by side to weigh their tastes on some common issues. (See what I did there?) To be four years old, the 2008 has held up great. Slightly malty sweet, with not a lot of lingering hops. I never had it during its golden years, so I don’t know how much hop presence was there to start with. Being a pilsner, one wouldn’t think there would be much to start with. For the currently elected president, 2012 All-American Imperial Pilsner is deliciousness. It has a slightly drier finish and a lighter color, just darker than a golden straw color. It’s smooth enough that you don’t get the booze heat of the 2008, but the 8.5% abv is hidden. So hidden you may start talking politics to your glass before long. There’s just enough hops presence to balance it out perfectly. The 2012 gets my vote over the 2008. Maybe Terrapin can get gas prices back to what they were in 2008?

2012 All-American Imperial Pilsner Tap Hat

2012 All-American Imperial Pilsner Tap Hat

With any election party, there has to be a character socializing among the political figures. So Terrapin brought along this year’s Pumpkinfest as a running mate. So my running mate Sarah had a debate with it. Not as much pumpkin that we tasted in the original side project version. This year you seem to get cinnamon up front, in the middle and on the back side. I won’t pass much judgment just yet because I’m not in the pumpkin beer mode just yet.

Terrapin had a nice booth set up for patrons to cast their vote on the election of past beers to make another run as supremacy. I normally wouldn’t tell everyone how I vote but it was for Hoptaneous Combustion. Sarah voted for Sunray Wheat again. I know some time back John had said Sunray only sales during the summer, but I know many people that miss it. They also miss enjoying a wheat beer during brewery tours too. I know our visits to the brewery have been fewer and fewer since they ‘kicked’ Sunray from their lineup.

Keep your eye on Terrapin’s vote page to see how the polls are going. Cheers to picking the beer you drink and the beer Terrapin brews!

UPDATE!  At this time the polls show that Hop Shortage Ale IPA is only 21 votes behind Oak-Aged Rye Squared.

Terrapin voting booth

Terrapin voting booth

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!

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