Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ale Sharpton: The countdown to HOToberFest Beer Festival

Ale Sharpton: The countdown to HOToberFest Beer Festival: "238 different brews—plus one more—are almost here! Words and photos by your homey! Atlanta has been one of the hottest spots in the nation..."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The countdown to HOToberFest Beer Festival


238 different brews—plus one more—are almost here!


Words and photos by your homey!

Atlanta has been one of the hottest spots in the nation when it comes to beer festivals and I am happy to say that HOToberFest, one of my top favorites, is coming up this Saturday, October 2, at East Atlanta’s Glenwood Park (visit www.hotoberfest.net for details). Why is it the sheezy? Simple. After meeting founders Alan RainesTryon and Denise Rosser during their first HOToberFest in 2008, they have earned a lot of respect from Brother Ale ever since. Besides the killer music, hip schwag and monetary support to Trees Atlanta, their anuual event rocks because unlike all the others, we, the consumers, are the judges for what brews kicks the most casks, I mean, ass each year! (Visit www.hotoberfest.net for past winners). 


Mentioning cold ones, arguably the biggest reason HOToberFest is outta “firkin” control is because the beer list is increasingly more gangster with each year. And when I say gangster, I mean it; the list is at press time 238—you read me right— and these aren’t bullsh*t brews that are slammed down at frat parties cup after plastic cup! We’re talking North Coast Brewery’s Brother Thelonious, Lagunitas’ 2009 Ruben & the Jets (I don’t know how they scored this one!), Thomas Creek’s Up The Creek Extreme IPA, Maredsous’ Abbaye Abdij Tripel 10, Left Hand Brewing’s Chainsaw…all hell, here’s the list for ya: http://hotoberfest.net/pdf/2010-beer-ist.pdf


Beer Connoisseur Mag Editor Nick Kaye,
me and Alan at HOTberFest 2009
So, yep, Ale’s gotta show love to the HOToberFest crew whenever the topic of Atlanta brew festivals comes up and, hey, they show love back! Last week, I had the honor of joining the men of the Hot trio, “A-Plus” and “Mr. T,” to make two special casks with the one and only Nick Nock, the head brewer for all of that goodness pumped out of Atlanta’s own SweetWater Brewery (www.sweetwaterbrew.com). Besides being a super cool, down-to-earth cat, anything “Slick Nick” touches turns to liquid gold, so I couldn’t wait to see how he was going to pimp Alan and Tryon’s top secret ale.
It was perfect timing because prior to the session, I was able to scoop some copies of the latest Beer Connoisseur Magazine (www.beerconnoisseur.com) hot off the press, where yours truly had written a description on SweetWater’s tour experience (page s 9 and 39). I mean, hey, it’s pretty cool to have the #1 microbrewery in Georgia and #28 in the nation in terms of production in our backyard, so BC justifiably gave them some pub.
HOToberFest crew Alan and Tryon watching
"Slick" Nick add some spice to the mix
Choppin’ it up with SweetWater’s Minister of Propaganda, Steve Farace, and the HOToberFest posse a few minutes before working with Nick, we tossed around some ideas of what the cask ale should include. The final consensus was to just dive in and see what worked. After a lot of trial and error including using some pure pumpkin in SweetWater’s awesome IPA, the Nockster suggested spicing things up with some pepper as a main ingredient; he received a thumbs-up from the crew. 


Adding and subtracting here and there to perfect the future cash cow of SweetWater (okay, maybe not), we decided on the most impressive combo and made a communal blood oath to never disclose the recipe. Two casks later (not including a couple more Nick said he would mess around with), we toasted off the experience with a pint of the brewery’s newest Dank Tank concoction that was released in early September, the Crank Tank Rye’d Ale. It was a blast!

The only thing left to do now is count down the hours until HOToberFest, one hell of a Saturday that will feature beers brewed out of the simple love of the craft, including a spicy, one-time batch three enthusiasts and an expert came up with on that unforgettable Tuesday afternoon.

See you there!

Peeeeeeeeace!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ale Sharpton: California breweries oppose legalizing marijuana? ...

Ale Sharpton: California breweries oppose legalizing marijuana? ...: "California breweries oppose legalizing marijuana? Say it ain't so! After all, it's a family affair! Marijuana and one of beer's primary ingr..."
California breweries oppose legalizing marijuana? Say it ain't so!

After all, it's a family affair! Marijuana and one of beer's primary ingredients, hops, are relatives! 


Hey Sip Pimps!

I just ran across an article in the progressive Huffington Post about the California Beer & Beverage Distributors (CBBD) dishing out funds to oppose marijuana legalization. As I read on, Sierra Nevada and Stone Brewing Company earned hella cool points in the half-closed eyes of pot smokers when they defiantly said they had nothing to do with the opposition of the November proposition to legalize the funky green. Initially, the article suggested that the CBBD was a little shook up with the idea that weed would take away from beer sales (although they go together like P&J...from what I've heard), but an update at the bottom of the report said they were only haytin' on the way the proposition was constructed. 

According to the article, CBBD's spokesperson Rhonda Stevenson said, "First and foremost, we are not opposed to the legalization of marijuana. We have no position on that...That's for the voters to decide. Second of all, we do not think of [marijuana] as a competitive product in the marketplace. That's not the issue. Our issue is it's a poorly written initiative."
Whew! I honestly think a lot of the brew enthusiasts nationwide would be disappointed if the initial allegations were true and the Left Coast's breweries were strictly all about the Benjamins. 
Here's the link to the article:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cruisin For A Brewsin’: 
New Wild Heaven's brews deserve halos

Location: The Brick Store Pub, Decatur, Georgia
Subject: Wild Heaven Craft Beers enters the market

Nick Purdy
Hallelujah! Georgia has another brewery to add to its roster called Wild Heaven Craft Beers and judging from their pair of first gangster brews that I had the pleasure to sip on prior to their public release—“Invocation” and “Ode to Mercy”—they are reppin’ the state to the fullest! Nick Purdy, the founding publisher of the music mag Paste, has proudly kicked in the door with his new brainchild, Wild Heaven Craft Beers (www.wildheavencraftbeers.com). Thanks to the recipes of Eric Johnson, the head honcho of the awesome bar Trappeze in Athens, GA., the South now has a new, bold duo of cold ones that are straight up delicious, well-crafted and deceptively potent!

I met Eric at the celebration for the launch of Atlanta’s first Food and Wine Festival pumped out by PR firm extraordinaire, The Reynolds Group. It was held on the rooftop of White Provisions and before I could even enter the spot, a good friend ran up to me and said, “Oh my God, Ale, you have to try the beer!” Beer? I was expecting wine and a few mainstream breweries, but not one that had my homegirl show so much love for! I assumed it had to be a lady friendly witbier or something, but nope! I grabbed one of the last pints from the keg and its golden color (8 SRM*) firm head, and citrusy aroma instantly teleported me to Belgium. Sure enough, the first sip of this medium-bodied liquid bliss possessed a subtle hoppiness (48 IBUs) balanced with just enough sweetness to hint it was a strong one and a semi-dry-finish. How could they afford to give away imported kegs of a high quality, strong golden Belgian ale at this joint? I thought. To my surprise, it was a new brew two cats in Georgia produced which had me going nuts!

The Invocation was slammin'!
I met the man behind the recipe of this heavenly creation, Eric, and we chopped it up while sipping the last glass of what would be called Invocation. He agreed that the brew was indeed a Belgian-style strong golden ale, but emphasized that it was made with all grains, which was “… a departure from the traditional Belgian practice of adding candy sugar which is also what most American breweries are doing,” he professed. “An all grain version gives the beer better body and mouthfeel as well as a depth and complexity you won't get from sucrose. It is fermented with Westmalle yeast to give it that wonderful Belgian spiciness along with tropical fruit esters.” Well whatever Eric used, he knew what he was doing and with the Bruce Lee kick of 8.5%, it was immediately one of my favorite beers that I would happily patronize again.

Photographer Kat Goduco
getting her sip on
That was back in early June of 2010, so I had to wait until mid-September to officially sip the Invocation and his other creation, the Ode to Mercy, both contract brewed at Thomas Creek Brewery in Greenville, S.C. (www.thomascreekbeer.com; stay tuned for my visit there). My homegirl Caren West set up a one-on-one sipping session with Wild Heaven owner Nick at one of the best brew pubs in the world (and one of my favorites)—The Brick Store (www.brickstorepub.com) in Decatur—where . Photographer and good friend Kat Goduco (www.katkaduco.com) joined a brotha as we fell in love with the Ode.



Servin' the Ode to Mercy



Nick told me how he got the name for his brewing venture came from R.E.M.’s cut, "Near Wild Heaven" from their 1991 Out Of Time album, the stellar band that is also a product of Athens. He then shared my sentiments when I said how I was not a fan of the usually mild brown ales that don’t have the boldness I craved, but happily insisted that the Ode was “imperial” (high gravity), robust, French oak-aged and brewed with Athens’ own local Thousand Faces Coffee. After that description, I was already sold, but the java and citrus hops (40 IBUs) that enticed my nose; the smooth, creamy texture; and perfect balance of vanilla, dark chocolate, roasted nuts and, yes, lovely oak barrel, with 8.2 % potency sealed the deal. High-fiving Nick, I finally had a mahogany ale (20 SRM) to call my own!  And thanks to Heaven, I will rock the quality, stretchy cotton (not the cotton that rivals the warmth of a fur coat) Wild Heaven t-shirt with confidence because their duo of craft brews of angelic purity deserves halos.


Look for bottles at the end of the year. Until then, make sure you demand the Ode and Invocation at the speezots below:

Where to find Heaven
I'm feeling the Wild Heaven shirt!
Look for Wild Heaven at these killer Georgia brew spots (in alphabetical order no less!): Brick Store Pub (Decatur), The Corner Pub (Decatur, www.pubalicious.com), Cypress Street Pint & Plate (Midtown, www.cypressbar.com), The Fred (Sandy Springs, Taco Mac, fredsbeerpage.blogspot.com), Leon’s Full Service (Decatur, www.leonsfullservice.com), The Marlay House (Decatur, www.themarlayhouse.com), Midway Pub (East Atlanta, www.themidwaypub.com), Octane (Westside, www.octanecoffee.com), Ormsby’s (Westside, www.ormsbysatlanta.com), The Porter Beer Bar (Little Five Points, www.theporterbeerbar.com), Steinbeck’s (Oakhurst, www.steinbecksbar.com), Taco Mac – Perimeter Place (Dunwoody, www.tacomac.com), Thinking Man Tavern (Decatur, www.thinkingmantavern.com), Trappeze Pub (Athens, www.trappezepub.com, duh!), Muss & Turner’s (Smyrna, www.mussandturners.com), Diesel (Virginia Highlands, www.dieselatlanta.com), Twain’s Billiards (Decatur, www.twains.net) and Young Augustine’s (Grant Park, 404.681.3344).

Holla!!!

* SRM (Standard Reference Method): An American scale that classifies the color of brews. Although you see IBUs (International Bitterness Units) and ABV (Alcohol By Volume) more often, it is good to know 0 (zero) is basically water (or crappy light beers) while a 40 is the most chocolaty, dark roasted, ninja stout you could find (my steez!).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ale Sharpton In The House!

What's up, brew heads?
It has been a minute but the wait is finally over! This website is going to feature all of my adventures in the world of beers and I want to take you with me so let's get sippin'! Here's what's on deck:

  • We'll pull up a stool next to some of the most prominent, important and talented individuals who make the greatest beverage on earth, beer, the best it can possibly be. I'm talking Brooklyn Brewery's brewmaster Garrett Oliver, Rí Rá Irish Pubs' co-founder David Kelley and gangster Unibroue label designer Asaf Mirza...
  • We'll get on planes, trains and automobiles and visit the coolest spots to indulge in the world's most complex ales, crisp lagers and everything in-between. I'm talking Atlanta (my hometown), San Fran, Jacksonville, New York, plus overseas locations in France, Germany, St, Lucia and Belgium of course!
  • I'll make sure that although brews are the main focus on this bad boy, I will also discuss anything else cool (and I am not talking temperature!). From spirits, to the hottest kicks, interviews with musicians, the illest rides, awesome travel destinations, grub...you name it!
  • There will be links to other articles I have written for Beer Connoisseur Magazine, Jet, J'adore Magzine, Hiphopwired.com, etc.; interest-grabbers others have authored; websites, and tons of other sheezy. 
  • I love shooting, so look for a lot of flicks of whatever catches my wandering eye during my crazy adventures so be ready to get some shine in this site if I happen to catch you having a cold one with your homey!  I'm always strapped with the camera, so be ready!
  • And most important, I am dedicated to showing love to you, so if there is something you want me to cover, just give me a shout in the comment section or email (alesharpton@gmail.com).

To show you how serious I am to rep the Ale Sharpton name, I've got this website, these kick ass logos below designed by yours truly and my boy Vince (chojin10@yahoo.com) and a lot more surprises on the way, so let's do this!


Thanks for the love!
Ale