Monday, January 31, 2011

Video: Ale Sharpton Cruisin' For A Brewsin' at Ale Yeah!


Ale says 'Hell Yeah!' to Ale Yeah!

What a weekend, huh?! Man, I am still recovering from awesome times at both the incredible Cask Ale Festival in Northwest Atlanta (thanks Owen!) and my boy Mike D's Winter Brew Festival at The Masquerade, followed by a sampling of the world's finest brews with some of Atlanta's top aficionados on Sunday at the world famous Brick Store. Look for a full recap soon, but in the meantime, I ran into a lot of friends and fellow imbibers who said they heard about a new beer store in Decatur, GA called Ale Yeah! (906 W College Ave, Decatur GA 30030; 404-371-4331) and wanted to know if I went there. I justly replied, "Hell yeah!"
Well, in case you haven't been to Ale Yeah! (check out their mission here), peep this slick video shot by the homey, MJ, the Atlanta editor of the ultimate Web version of a man cave, http://www.thrillist.com/. They documented my visit to the heaven-sent craft brew market, had it edited by the very talented Dave Presley in New York City, posted it on their website and recently made it accessible on YouTube. Now it's Ale's turn! Enjoy it and check out both Thrillist and Ale Yeah!

By the way, the brew that I bought on the video called Hoppin' Frog's Frosted Frog Christmas Ale was so damn good, I wrote about it here.

Look for more surprises on my site in the very near future See you at Ale Yeah! and other brew speezots soon!

Your homey,

Ale

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A practical use for a Budweiser!

The Ultimate (and cheapest) Snow Measuring Device: Budweiser!
Hey Brew Lovers! What's good?

I know there are a ton of us especially on the East Coast freezin' their tokkus off thanks to Old Man Winter still being pissed about something! Well, to combat the grief of shoveling and being delayed from demanding responsibilities due to those damn blizzards, there is always a warming ray of humor that is always welcome during these times. Gifted writer and my homey, Ryan Rees, was shoveling some 6-7 inches of snow off his driveway in Ellijay, Ga., and sent me a photo of what I consider the ultimate instrument to measure the snow's depth on the roof of his car. Voila! A practical use for a Budweiser!
So from now on, if you want to help out your local meteorologist, tote a can of Bud with ya in the trunk to be on the safe side in case you're rolling. Hopefully you won't need a six!

Thanks for the photo, Ryan! You can see some of his great car reviews @ www.thecarcouple.com.

Stay warm, fam!

Ale

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Beer Geek Tuesday Tonight! Cypress goes on 3 years in style!

Awwww man, I know. There is a major beer event tonight and I won't be going 'til late! Cypress Street Pint & Plate is celebrating their third year serving awesome fare and slinging some of the finest brews on this side of the Mississippi tonight starting 8 (VIP is @ 7), and I won't be in the house until way after. I am like Spike Lee and doing the right thing, taking Ma Dukes to dinner at Livingston and then seeing West Side Story at the Fox. That production has a history with us and with her being one of the most cherished people in my life, a survivor and just to the coolest, I gotta do what I gotta do. I hope my homey, Wes, who runs the brew there, saves me some sips. Just to rub it in, he sent me the list of lovelies on tap:

Terrapin Cask Black Saison aged on Black Peppercorns (Say what?)
Hebrew Cask Lenny Rye aged on Cedar Simcoe (Whoa!)
Terrapin Hoptaneous Combustion (Smmmmokin'!)
Terrapin Sound Czech (Crispy!)
Terrapin Big Daddy Vladdy (Unlike Divac, No flop here!)
Bells Hopslam (They, uh, ran out. Yeah, that's it. Don't order any!)
Founders Nemesis 2010 (Yep!)
Founders Breakfast Stout (One of the best!)
Wild Heaven Ode to Mercy Special Winter Ale (Lawd!)
Lost Abbey Gift of Magi (California knows how to par-tay!)
Jailhouse Smokey Wheat (And you know this, maaaan!)
Bells Batch 10,000 bottles (They're jingling, baby!)

If you are truly my peoples, save me some damn brew!

The Atlanta Winter Beer Fest is coming this weekend!

After finding out that I am indeed going to be in town this weekend, I had to do more scrambling than Michael Vick working at Waffle House to get tickets for some brew events going on this weekend. I solidified some for the Atlanta Winter Brew Festival popping off at the Masquerade this Saturday from 5-10 pm. I undoubtedly will be thereespecially for the VIP "Beer Geek" section that will be featuring select goodies from Southern Tier out of New York (I loooove the Unearthly IPA), Terrapin limited joints like the Double Feature, some seriously potent Samuel Adams brews, Abita, and Wild Heaven's dynamic duo that I have proudly raved about: the Ode to Mercy and Invocation. You have to get these tickets in advance (if there are any left) and this opens at 4.
But don't trip if you just go to the main area, because besides the celebration of Georgia's awesome breweries like Terrapin (Athens), SweetWater (The A), Red Brick (The A) and Wild Heaven (The Dec), New Belgium, Magic Hat, Peak Organic, Yuengling and Southern Tier will be in the house as well. Live music will be played while you get your sip on and possibly, if weather permits, some beer pong and other shenanigans going on, so bring a super cool friend who will offer to drive, cab it or walk. Just be responsible so you can really kick it!

Besides the official flyer above, here's the info:
Atlanta Winter Beer Fest

Saturday January 29, 2010
5-10 pm
The Masquerade
$30 advance, $35 at the door
VIP Tickets $60 (advance only)
Music with Yacht Rock Schooner and Stokeswood
http://www.atlantabeerfestivals.com/

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ale’s Draught Picks: Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum

Hoptimum earns my top rating: Gangster.

I am loving 2011 when it comes to brewing innovation. It has been a great year so far thanks to the fantastic brews that I have had the pleasure of sipping in January. Already excited about featuring an unprecedented way beer has been served in my lifetime—hot as tea with the saucer and the whole nine thanks to Atlanta’s 5 Seasons (go here)—in the matter of a week, I have lots more to write about. Thank you, brew gods! With that being the case, I am starting a section on my site called “Ale’s Draught Picks” exclusively dedicated to limited edition beers that hit the shelves and taps, but when they’re gone, they’re gone!

Regarding brewing excellence, here is the first Draught Pick you have to snatch up: Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum.

The Bell’s Hopslam has definitely garnered the most hype year after year in the land of India Pale Ales (can you believe I haven’t tried this year’s edition yet?!), but even when I do, I truly believe Hoptimum deserves the same love, if not more.

God bless the hop!
Already the #2 selling craft brewery in the nation, Sierra has been celebrating its 30th year of brewing excellence in style. The year-round standards like the Pale Ale, Porter, Stout and Torpedo have a solid following, but I love how the seasonals and limited selections have been maintaining this California brewery’s thirst for innovation. Answering the growing demand for more hops, Sierra and their revered “Beer Camp” brewers did just that with the Hoptimum, one of the best IPAs I have had in a long time. It's a whole-cone Imperial IPA at 10.4 percent ABV boasts an astounding 100 IBUs (International Bitterness Units-check out the breakdown of what that means here), but is still well-balanced and quite simply, delicious! I’m talking an amber-orange color; the perfect thickness; the nose of pine, cedar and oranges; mouth-pleasing notes of grapefruit, and even a little honey and caramel; and a subtle, yet potent alcohol presence that warms the soul.

Available in a 24–ounce, robust bomber that’s hooked up with some pretty cool art: a whole hop cone dressed like a distinguished politician from the colonial days crowned with a cool futurist font full of serifs surrounded by a crest of hop vines.

This earns my top rating: Gangster.

Get a bottle. Now.

Here are the specs courtesy of the Sierra Nevada website:
Alcohol Content: 10.4% By Volume Bittering Hops: German Magnum
Beginning Gravity: 22.8 Plato Aroma Hops: Simcoe and New Proprietary Variety
Ending Gravity: 4.5 Plato Dry Hops: Simcoe and New Proprietary Variety
Bitterness Units: 100 Torpedo Hops: Citra and Chinook
Yeast: Ale Malts: Two-Row Pale, Golden Promise, Munich and Wheat

What the hell are IBUs?



 More Hop for the Hip!
To let hop heads like myself, aspiring experts and, uh, crybabies know how bitter the brew is, the International Bitterness Units scale is the official form of measurement. Hops are one of what I term "The Funky Four" in brew, so for special styles like India Pale Ales, the brewmasters add extra hops to kick up the bitterness and enhance the aroma that can favor grapefruit, pine and cedar.

Stone's Ruination claims 100+ IBUs! Gangster!
 So what's the breakdown? To make everything relative, the wimpy light beers that dominate the States are as low as 5 IBUs, English Bitters hit the 30 mark; stouts typically range between the 30s and 50s (unless they are imperial); American IPAs start around 60; and Barley Wines and double IPAs peak 100 IBUs (like Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot and Hoptimum, Stone’s Ruination), pushing the absolute limit of some serious bitter lovin.’ But keep in mind, you can add a mothership's load of hops, but if the taste isn’t balanced with some maltiness and other flavors, you don’t have jack!

By the way, there is one brew that hits 13 percent ABV and an outrageous 200 IBUs: Founders' Devil Dancer Triple IPA. I had it and man, it was quite an experience to say the least. Founders is one of my favorite breweries and I'd definitely do it again. Since it is so crazily complex, I am going to let them describe this one directly from their home base of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Founders says:

"Founders most complex, most innovative, most feared and yet most revered ale produced. Massive in complexity the huge malt character balances the insane amount of alpha’s used to create this monster. More IBU’s than any brewery has documented, more than you would believe and dry-hopped for twenty-six days straight with a combination of 10 hop varieties. Dangerously drinkable and deliciously evil. We dare you to dance with the Devil."

200 IBUs??? Now that's some serious hoppin'!



Friday, January 21, 2011

‘Lady Gaga’ is hot!

The 5 Seasons’ beer version is, at least!

Beer as hot as coffee, anyone? Yep, you’ve heard right! The complete opposite of those commercialized mega brews that supposedly create glacial weather and charging soul trains (like this) has arrived! I had the pleasure of sipping a steaming beer from a coffee cup complete with the saucer at the 5 Seasons Westside a few streets from Downtown Atlanta. Wild, right?

Brew lover Matt Crowther and cutie
Andrea Janise were chillin' with me, too
Crawford Moran, the original brewmaster and co-founder of the Dogwood Brewery back in 1995—which served the Southeast great craft brews for a decade before closing doors—has since flexed his creative muscle for the popular 5 Seasons North and West brewery/restaurant combos and decided to unleash five gallons of his newest masterpiece, the “Lady Gaga”—a hot beer to combat the infamous ice storm Georgia’s capital has suffered from earlier this month. “It’s weird, kinda hot and for some reason we don’t understand, people like it. That’s why we named it after Lady Gaga,” Crawford said.
It was a pretty interesting sip to say the least; it had the physical properties and mouthfeel of hot cider, fumes favoring bourbon helped expose the 7.0% ABV and the flavor of tart black cherries dipped in chocolate laced the palate. Crawford later told me that it started out as a “…dark saison, then we let it sit on several pounds of fresh cherries, added just a little bit of some great espresso from Octane Coffee—our neighbors.” He said he added some other secret goodies to the heated brew as well, all in the name of growing our asses back after freezing them off! For only $3.50 a coffee mug, this one-time only sipper was totally worth it.

5 Seasons' regular, Brandy, was the guest
cask tapper of the Milk Stout. Go girl!
An added plus: sipping the absolutely delicious and creamy Milk Stout that got its first pump at promptly 5:55 pm with some fellow beer nuts I discovered were sitting at the same bar I was thanks to Twitter made my visit that much more enjoyable.

Make sure you check out one of the 5 Seasons locations sometime. Although all three have the same name, they fervently claim total individuality, brews and fare to the point of almost throwing up gang signs!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

SweetWater Brewery's Dank Tank gets 'Mean' with new Imperial Porter!

Here comes the Mean Joe Bean Imperial Porter!

Just when their delicious, limited edition Exodus Porter would be the only time SweetWater would brew in this style, here comes their new Mean Joe Bean Imperial Porter in February brewed with coffee from local Atlanta coffee and wine house, JavaVino.

SweetWater has always been kicking major ass in the Southeast U.S., so brew enthusiasts always look forward to whatever 22-ounce bottle of imperial goodness with crazy names like Big Ol' Belgian Blue Balls the Dank pumps out. At 8.5 percent abv, the Mean Joe should pack the same amount of punch the legendary Pittsburgh Steeler, Mean Joe Green, had back in the day (remember this commercial with Coke?).
I have been looking for a good porter lately and this should end the hunt! Here is the exclusive art for the bottle:  Mean Joe Bean bottle art

Holla!

Ale
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By the way, here is the official press release. Usually I don't post them but verbatim but SweetWater's are always fun reads:

Have a Bean and a Smile! Mean Joe Bean Debuts This February
SweetWater Brewery’s Dank Tank Unleashes Again

ATLANTA – Football season never ends at SweetWater, hence the release of Mean Joe Bean, a bean-to-beer experiment and the latest in the rarely released randomness dubbed their Dank Tank series. These creations emerge from SweetWater’s dark side – brewed only when the itch gets so bad, they just have to scratch it - and they are few and far between.

Staying true to their local roots, SweetWater brewers partnered with Atlanta coffee favorites JavaVino, located in the Highlands, to create this Imperial Porter brewed with coffee beans. This coffee and wine house brings in their signature coffee from Nicaragua and is produced by co-owner Heddy Kuhl’s family. The Kühl Family picks the coffee beans, exports, imports, roasts and brews them right in Atlanta. For more on JavaVino and their sixth generation family coffee farm visit http://www.javavino.com/

As the name suggests, the tale of this beer is legendary. As their creative sense of history touts, “Rodger the Dodger and his Imperial Porter bone offense didn’t stand a bat wing’s chance once we dipped our Nicaraguan bean sack through his facemask! We blindsided his 8.5% Alc/Vol jock strap back to the fields to pick more beans, resulting in this Immaculate con-Catch-tion of intense forearm shivers of chocolate malt, a body like the Bus and blitzes of gridiron hops, all clothes lined by intense coffee overtones. It’s so good that you’ll need your terrible towel to wipe the tears.”

Mean Joe Bean comes in 22 ounce bottles and on draft and is best when fresh to be able experience the crushing beauty of flavors this brew delivers. But, fans act fast because this will be off the field before you know it with only the jersey off its back as a souvenir; it is the perfect pint for the porter drinker and coffee lover in all of us.
-------------------------------
And speaking of craft beer, join SweetWater Brewing Company this March for their second annual Brew Your Cask Off on March 5th. Visit www.brewyourcaskoff.com for info and tickets.

About SweetWater Brewing Company: SweetWater Brewing Company is an Atlanta-based craft brewery specializing in aggressive West Coast style beers. SweetWater’s brews are unpasteurized and designed to be consumed fresh so distribution is limited to the Southeast. The award-winning lineup of year-round brews includes SweetWater 420, Sch’Wheat, IPA, Blue and Georgia Brown. SweetWater also features a Catch and Release series of beers available on a limited basis throughout the year, and an experimental, one-time-only Dank Tank series. The SweetWater Brewery, open for tours every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2:30 p.m., is located at 195 Ottley Dr NE, Atlanta GA 30324. For more information about SweetWater Brewing Company, please visit www.sweetwaterbrew.com.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lost Abbey,Southern Tier and Pizza Port hit up Decatur in full force!

It's Tuesday and you want something major to do regarding brews? Go to the Brick Store Pub and then Leon's Full Service in Decatur for major love from the East and West Coasts, thanks to New York's Southern Tier Brewery, and Southern Cali's Lost Abbey and Pizza Port from 5 pm, on! (Awww, hell, I'm already late!)
Here's what they sent me:

Lost Abbey/Pizza Port Launch
"Meat & Greet" with Tomme Arthur
... head brewer Tomme will be with us from 5pm - 8pm and we'll have a wonderful charcuterie board with house-made meats, picklin', & crackers. (hence the "meat & greet"). Hailing from San Diego, CA this is one of the finest breweries in the country if not the world. Don't miss this event!! The Line up of beers is amazing and we're only the 8th state in the country to be able to offer these beers:

Lost Abbey has the...

Avant Garde, Devotion, Gift of the magi, Inferno, Judgement Day, Lost and Found, Red Bam

Pizza Port is bringing...

Hop 15, Mongo, Old Viscosity, Shark Attack, Wipeout IPA, +3 others too awesome to mention!
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

LEONs Full Service

Southern Tier Brewery Take-Over, a world class brewery from Lakeland, NY
Here's what we're tapping at 5pm

Phin & Matt's Pale Ale, 2XIPA, Unearthly Double IPA, Hoppe Belgian Farmhouse Ale, Farmers Tan Imperial Pale Lager, Krampus Imperial Helles Lager, Choklat Imperial Stout, Cuvee #3 American Strong Ale

All on Draught - come have a pint with us as these won't last long!!!
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See ya there!

Ale

Monday, January 17, 2011

Breckenridge Brewery gets their cans covered

This is some new sheezy!
       Okay, so I stopped by one of the most knowledgeable and stocked brew spots in the state, Hop City, next to 5 Seasons on Atlanta’s west side.  And yes, I could've chosen so many other brews, but I try to go against the grain every once and a while, so I grabbed a canned six of the Breckenridge Lucky U IPA (6.2% abv) that came with a this red, plastic top cover that I have never seen before. I figured it would be cool to add this new apparatus to my ridiculous breweriana collection, plus my boy Tashir said their Lucky U IPA was on point. Honestly, the packaging—complete with two finger loops—helped seal the deal. I did a little research and found out it was made by a company out of Eugene, Oregon called PakTech which strives on making the transport of beverages more convenient, eco-friendly and resourceful. Additionally, I figured with the can tops being covered, it helped shield utterly disgusting things that could amass during distribution and storage.
Thinking it was going to be an awesome double IPA with a lot of punch—plus store owner Kraig Torres described the brew as “a fight against an IPA and an ESB with the IPA winning at the end”—the result was anti-climatic; kinda like a draw and no real winner. I desired a knockout with a lot more malty backbone, hop aroma and thicker mouthfeel.  After questioning my boy on the recommendation which has always been solid, he said he loved the Small Batch 471 Double IPA, instead of the Lucky U. I have no idea how I mixed that up, but eff it. I am back out on the hunt. My expectations were initially very high because I thought it was an imperial IPA (the abv is not on the can) so the Small Batch sounds like a winner.  
At least sales from the Lucky U goes to a great cause: a portion of the proceeds go to preserving the historic Tivoli Brewery building in downtown Denver, which is now a student complex called the Auraria Higher Education Center for the Metropolitan State College of Denver, University of Colorado Denver Metropolitan State College of Denver and University of Colorado Denver. And hey, Ale is all about positivity, so let me know what you think of the Lucky U. You know the ol’ “opinions” saying. If you agree or disagree, comment on it! It’s all for the love of craft brewing.
Regardless, PakTech’s can carrier was cool and did make carrying a six-pack of cans easier. Then again, there’s not much to compare to considering me purchasing canned brew is not often, unless it’s Oskar Brewery’s stuff or someone else comparable.
Oh, and a birthday shout out to The King of Peace!
Happy sippin’!
Ale

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Hip Hoppin’ Frog’s Frosted Frog Christmas Ale!



What's hoppin’? Frog’s Frosted Frog Christmas Ale, that’s what. I did a cool video for the slick website geared for cool cats named Thrillist.com that was right up my alley, touring the new brew spot called Ale Yeah! in Decatur, GA. (I am posting that video this week.) Anyway, the Hoppin’ Frog’s Frosted Frog Christmas Ale (try saying that fast!) I bought at the end of the clip was absolutely delicious. It was my kind of winter ale—thick, walnut brown, sweet, potent (8.6% abv), and full of spices including nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. It reminded me of one of my favorite pumpkin ales, Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin, a little bit, but clearly has its own identity. The price is a little steep for the 22-oz. bomber at 7.99 but well worth it! In fact, I tried to score the Barrel-Aged version but I was out of town in a place where it was unavailable. I’ll get ya next year unless one of my fellow beer geeks has one saved up that I could sip (hint, hint!).Until then, I am looking forward to trying more from Hoppin’ Frog out of Akron, OH. So far so freakin’ good!
Holla!

Monday, January 10, 2011

'The Michigan Invasion': Rockin' times at The Porter!

The Atlanta Beer Mafia commences at The Porter. Salute!

L to R, me, Steve, Lee and Ronnie give Michigan props at The Porter!
Okay, we had lots to sip on to bring in the New Year and then the recuperating process so that the first work week of 2011would go according to plan. But as soon as the weekend arrived, I hit up The Porter Beer Bar in Little 5 on Friday the 9th, sharp! They hosted a "Michigan Invasion" where select craft breweries from the "Great Lakes State" including Grand Rapids' Founder's, Short's out Bellaire (which doesn't distribute to Georgia yet), and Bell's out of Galeburg showed off their cutsomers' favorites and hard-to-finds by the tap. It was a no-brainer for us beer nuts to drink everything from Short's highly revered Key Lime Pie, Bell's Batch 10,000 (see "I'm Baaaaaack!" ) and one of my faves, the Founder's Breakfast Stout. It was like a reunion of the Atlanta Beer Mafia with my homey Lee, the Brick Store Beer Manager; Owen Olgeltree, the founder of Classic City Brew; Terrapin Brewery's rep, Steve; the legendary beer scribe Bob Townsend; crazy-ass beer lover, Ronnie; and Reid the ATL BeerMaster to name a few. We had a ball!
Oh! And the Porter's damn delicious cheeseburger broke my year's hiatus for eating red meat (and two-year break from the swine thanks to the bacon served on top extra crispy). Take a gander to the right. It was well worth it! I haven't had one this good since Holman & Finch's.
Anyway, I had to bounce at a respectable hour since a Downtown Decatur pub crawl with my homies Jen O'Connell & Co., was on deck for the next day (follow her on Twitter here). It was still an awesome Friday! Stay warm, especially if you are in the South right now!
Ale

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bell’s Hopslam is coming on January 10th!

Lace up your running shoes next Monday.

The employment status of current University of Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez isn’t the only national headline going on in the Wolverine State. The Kalamazoo-based brewery, Bell’s, has recently announced the arrival date for the excruciatingly limited edition of their most newsworthy brew, the Hopslam Double India Pale Ale.
Last year's Hopslam
January 10, to be exact.

Let’s face it: Bell’s makes some damn good beer. Plain and simple. While credited with being the brewers of one of the top ten India Pale Ales in the world, the Two Hearted Ale, plus an ever-growing roster that exceeds 60 variations, the Bell Fam has also mastered the art of virtually starting shopping riots that rival Black Friday annually thanks to their American Double IPA, the Hopslam Ale!

A few website entries ago (see “I’m Baaaaack”), I mentioned how Bell’s had a heartless knack for making us beer lovers scurry to find their product from time to time. In fact, just a few weeks ago they had us in training for another one-time release, the Batch 10,000, which I scooped a couple of bottles of before it ran out in one day. Admittedly, I find it a fun challenge to get novelty beers and one-timers, but scoring the Hopslam is a whole different league; playtime’s over because copping this baby is a necessity, not a family picnic scavenger hunt. This delicious, potent Double IPA at 10% abv is an attractive, deep orange concoction that tempts the nose with citrusy hoppiness followed by an initial taste of sweetness thanks to the addition of honey. Its malty backbone coupled with grapefruit notes, amazingly subtle alcohol punch and smooth, viscous mouthfeel seals the deal. Ultimately, the Hopslam’s, well, slaaaaamin’!

A pain in the ass to get but blissful when sipped, find out who’s carry this year’s batch. It’ll be worth it. I mean, hey, I am sipping it in the photo and logo above, so it has to be gangster, right?

Here is the official press release straight from Bell’s website, http://www.bellsbeer.com/ that came out yesterday.

Keep cruisin’ for the brewsin’.

Ale

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Hopslam Ale release information

Bell's Brewery

01.04.2011

The 2011 Hopslam Ale season will begin the week of January 10th. We are currently shipping to our various wholesale partners and will fill as many trucks as we can fit onto our loading docks this week and next. The beer will be released to the market on Monday, January 10th, but depending on when they receive it at their warehouse, as well as the delivery schedule for your local retailers, you may not see it until sometime later in the month. Rest assured: we're moving to deliver all of our Hopslam Ale to you as swiftly as possible at every level in the logistics chain.