Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pioneers of Beers Interview Series: Atlanta’s Richard Roper, winner of the annual Samuel Adams LongShot Homebrew Competition


Out of more than 700 competitors, Roper’s Friar Hop Ale gets top honors

There’s no doubt about it, Atlanta, Georgia’s beer scene is one of the most exciting in the U.S. thanks to the collective of pioneers, retailers, brewers and advocates, but local resident Richard Roper deserves the spotlight right now. My man Roper is one of the two winners out of more than 700 national entrants of the annual Samuel Adams American Homebrew Competition. Thanks to following the formula of the world’s other successful brewmasters—having a great recipe, choice ingredients, passion and a dream—Roper’s Friar Hop Ale possesses two slots in the 2010 LongShot “Category 23” variety six-pack that is now available at a retailer near you for $9.99. The remaining four spots in the hauler go to Rodney Kibzey’s Blackened Hops beer out of Illinois and Samuel Adams’ Employee Homebrew Winner Caitlin DeClercq, who concocted the Honey Bee’s Lavender Wheat beer.
Trust me, this is a huge deal!
In a nutshell, the Judge Certification Program (BJCP) divides beer into 22 different categories, but there is now a “Category 23” for beers that do not fall under any of the existing traditional styles. Samuel Adams decided to make Michael Jordan’s number the classification for this year’s batch of homebrewed submissions which allowed aspiring brewers to let their creativity run wild with flavors, ingredients and concepts. A panel of no-joke beer authorities which included Jason Alstrom and Todd Alstrom of Beer Advocate, my homeboy Bob Townsend from Southern Brew News, and the man himself—Samuel Adams’ founder and brewer Jim Koch—evaluated everything from the aroma to appearance, mouthfeel, flavor and of course, creativity. 
Thanks to Roper’s inventive hybrid of a spicy, sweet Belgian Ale with the hoppy, citrusy and fragrant character of an Indian Pale Ale, he won a trip to the Great American Beer Festival for the finals, walked away with a $5,000 royalty, and now has two customized bottles boasting a portrait of him grinning ear-to-ear in the 2010 LongShot six pack that’s available coast to coast.
Honestly, this is one of my favorite, most anticipated beer series I look forward to every year, so when I found out an Atlanta native won, I had to link up with him and get the scoop on how he became one of the LongShot’s chosen three.
Pull up a stool with me and Roper as we discuss how it all went down and what his plans are for the future.

Ale Sharpton: Congrats, Rich! How long have you been brewing and how did you learn?
Richard Roper: I’ve been home brewing seriously for the past 8 years. I actually brewed my first beer back in the early ‘90’s when I was in college using one of those Mr. Beer kits that I found in a magazine. I didn’t get back into it though until about 8 years ago, when I started brewing with extract kits on the stove top in my kitchen. About 5 years ago, I started brewing using ‘all-grain’, and that’s when I really started noticing a difference in the flavor of my beer. I learned on my own by just experimenting and using some books as reference. Two of my favorites are “The Complete Joy of Home Brewing” by Papazian and “How to Brew” by Palmer.

What do you like about the Longshot series and what were some of your favorites?
There are many things that I like about the Sam Adams LongShot series. I like that it’s all about capturing the intent of the home brewer in his or her beer, and making it available on a massive scale. Meeting and talking with Jim Koch and all the people at Sam Adams has been great too. It’s hard to name a favorite Longshot as I think they have all been good.

I hear you. I loved the Boysenberry Wheat by Ken Smith in 2006, but they are all pretty damn good! What is your overall style of brewing?
I brew all-grain and am usually making a high gravity brew of some sort. I have a propane burner, a 10-gallon cooler I use for mashing, and several brew kettles and carboys. I usually use whole hops in my brews when I can find them. I’m not sure if it gives it a noticeable difference, but I just really like seeing and smelling them in their natural state.

Overall, what brewmasters do you respect and why?
I really respect Jim Koch and all of the hard work and dedication he put into creating Sam Adams. He did it at a time when “craft” breweries were few and far between. I recently met Bob Cannon at the Sam Adams brewery in Boston, and like what he is doing there.
I also respect Crawford Moran. His Dogwood Brewery in Atlanta created some of tastiest beers and was one of the first breweries I visited when I moved to Atlanta. The Dogwood Pale Ale was a favorite of mine. [Crawford is now the head brewer at the 5 Seasons Westside in Atlanta and I featured him here.]
Spike [Buckowski] at Terrapin Brewery is another great brewmaster. They are really creating some great beer.
Also on the list would be Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head. Their extreme beers were some of the first of that kind that I had tried.

Good calls on all these gents! Describe the process of being in the LongShot competition, what you submitted and how you found out you won.
I entered my beer into the contest (at my wife Daniella’s urging) around last April. The beer I submitted was a hoppy and spicy Belgian brew, similar to a Belgian IPA. There were several rounds in which they tasted and re-tasted each participant’s beer. At each stage, they would call and let me know that I made it to the next round. At the beginning of July, they called and told me I had made it to the final four. Sam Adams flew my wife and I out to Denver, put us up in a hotel, and gave us tickets to all of the GABF sessions along with several other beer events. They announced the winners and I got to serve my beer at the GABF for two sessions, which was amazing!

That had to be nuts! On the vain tip, do you like the art they did on your portrait?
I think the artwork for the LongShot was cool. All of the posters and graphic designs they did are unique and encompass everything this competition is about.

Yeah, it looks good. Do you get a portion of the sales for Longshot?
I wish! No, I actually received $5k prize money for winning, plus all of the perks and, oh yea, having my picture and name on six packs across the country!

You can’t be mad at that! What do you think about repping Georgia and what are your overall views about the state's beer scene?
I’m proud to be able represent Georgia on beer bottles across the nation. Georgia has a lot going on in the next evolution of beer. There are several new breweries and pubs opening and lots of new and experimental trends that are popping up. All you have to do is take a quick trip to Atlanta or Athens, Georgia to see it.

That what I’m talking about! So what is next for you?
Beer is always going to be a passion of mine. My wife I want to open a brewery, and have been looking into the nanobrewery concept. I’m currently looking into getting investors to secure funding for this.

Well I wish you a ton of luck and you know I have your back. Congrats, again, Rich!


For anyone who thinks they have what it takes to be a LongShot winner, go here for the rules and regulations: The 2011 Samuel Adams LongShot Competition. Good luck! 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pioneers of Beers Interview Series: David Kelly, co-founder of Rí Rá Irish Pubs & Restaurants


Ale kicks it with Big Dave prior to the launch of the new Rí Rá in Vegas!
Photos by Kat Goduco and Rí Rá

One of the great success stories in the beer world, Rí Rá Irish Pubs & Restaurants co-founder David Kelly, did it in extravagant fashion when he hosted the grand opening of his 12th location, Rí Rá Las Vegas in The Shoppes at Mandalay Bay on St. Patrick’s Day. It included the unveiling of an 8-foot-tall, 500-pound statue of St. Patrick dating back to 1850, live music and a long roster of other attractions. 
While dabbing my tears, I heard it was nuts! It really sucks that I have yet to storm the bustling streets of Sin City aka Las Vegas, but at least I was there in spirit for it thanks to a great conversation I had with David prior to the event.
Undoubtedly, when it comes to authentic Irish pubs, you don’t come any more legit than Kelly and his partner, Ciaran Sheehan, who are both originally from Dublin, Ireland. When they decided to head to the U.S., Kelly initially did marketing for Guinness and Sheehan pursued a career in design, but then they developed the idea of establishing a pub and restaurant business that embodies the atmosphere of the classic Irish pubs dating back to the 19th century. 

Well they took the idea and made it a reality, opening their first Rí Rá in Charlotte, NC in 1997, complete with hundreds of pounds of materials including the wood for the bars, artwork, nostalgia and fixtures shipped directly from their native land. Since then, Rí Rá  has been saving those beer lovers longing to sip a Guinness in Ireland a few thousand bucks by making the next closest thing in now 12 American locations, including Atlantic City, Louisville, Portland, Providence, Atlanta and, now, a 7,000 square-foot pub in Vegas!
500-lb St. Patrick

Well, during Kelly’s visit to his Rí Rá in Midtown Atlanta before heading to Nevada, we had one…or two…or three pints of Guinness from the tap (of course) and he graciously fielded my questions, which he said thankfully made him think and reflect. I told him the pleasure was all mine! Plus, he was just a down-to-earth, cool dude.
Let’s relive the experience. Feel free to grab a pint at Rí Rá and join us. Enjoy!

Ale Sharpton: First of all, congrats on all of your success, David. Could you talk about the major things that standout about Rí Rá compared to other bars?
David Kelly: I think the greatest ‘tangible’ point of difference between Rí Rá and other pubs in the U.S. is the authentic pub salvage. We literally have a master carpenter in Ireland creating each Rí Rá from real old pubs that we source; often, the process creates debate internally about what are the best available pieces and pubs, and it always takes a lot of time. There are limited old pubs to be found so we can only build Rí Rá one at a time. Despite all that, I hope that our customers remember the staff interaction and the fun of Rí Rá more than the actual physical pub.

Going back to your home, how would you compare the Irish pub experience to America’s?
This is a funny one for me because my experience runs counter to perception. I love different beers, I love to try them and in my experience, the U.S. has a much more dynamic and vibrant beer market than Ireland. The range and quality of micros and crafts by region is breathtaking. So America is a better beer experience overall. Having said that, I love Guinness and to enjoy it in an Irish Pub is one of the ultimate beer experiences.

Ha! You covered all the bases with that one. With so many locations, please discuss how difficult it is to honor the varying beer laws—ABV limits, distribution, etc.?
You have no idea how surprised I was when I moved to America from Ireland with Guinness. In Ireland, we have one set of laws to govern alcohol, serving and consumption, and one code of advertising regulation.
I have relatives in America and I spent a few summers there as a kid, but it was only when I moved there to work that I really started to understand the scale of America and the different cultures and customs, not to mention laws by region and state. I used to explain it to friends at home by saying that Dublin and Milan had more in common than New York and Miami. I don’t know if this is true, but it helps people in Ireland to understand that America is not a single small county like Ireland—which has a population similar to Philadelphia—but a vast continental market. This is one of the things that make America so exciting.
I’m off the point, though. I have found U.S. laws, even though they differ by state, for the most part to be easy. They are clear and black and white. In addition to which, as a parent, I strongly support the no nonsense nature of the way U.S. law expects those licensed to serve alcohol to do so responsibly. I don’t like the gray area in Ireland where I believe alcohol laws are not enforced. Bottom line, none of the U.S. state laws governing alcohol are difficult because they are clear.

Of course, the beers and whiskeys flow, but the food presented in an “Irish Bistro” approach, is also authentic and a hit at Rí Rá as well. What is your favorite dish that you serve and what is the best beer to pair with it?
My favorite Rí Rá dish: Oysters paired with Guinness that is ideally from a bottle and not too cold. The most popular dish, though, is our Fish & Chips. It’s first-rate, but we only use fresh cod or haddock. If there’s no fresh cod or haddock available, we don’t serve Fish & Chips!

Switching gears, you worked with Guinness, which is one of the top advertisers in the world of beer. Talk about that experience along with their best and worst campaign you were a part of.
Guinness has a unique history of advertising. It is an advertiser’s dream and no wonder when you consider the depth of the brand and the iconic status it deservedly holds. The best and worst ad? I have to say my favorite add is of course, ‘Anticipation.’ I was on the Guinness brand marketing team when the ad was made. To date, it was one of my best experiences. I will never forget the first internal screening when we showed it to the rest of the Guinness marketing group; it was obvious before it went on air that we had stumbled onto something powerful for the brand. I don’t know if you are familiar with the commercial as it never screened in the U.S. due to legal reasons, but it went around the world and it had a dramatic impact on the brand.
The worst commercial ever? I was on the brand team when we created ‘The Missing Link.’ It was terrible; I doubt you’ll find it on any Guinness website. Thankfully, ‘Anticipation’ aired on time to save our jobs; it really was that bad!

Speaking of travel, let’s go global. You worked with a lot of breweries particularly with Europe prior to Rí Rá. What were your favorite European locations for indulging in ales and lagers, including the brewery and country?
Wow! The best country for a brewery, Ireland with a Guinness is no doubt for me. The next best country for a brewery? Pilsner Urquell at Pilsen (Plzeň) in the Czech Republic. I worked as brand manager on the Pilsner and used to love to visit the brewery, experiencing draught Pilsner Urquell in Pilsen. It is up there with Draught Guinness in Dublin; I can still taste it. I used to visit the brewery when Czechoslovakia was still one country; I could never understand how Slovakia would want independence considering the town of Pilsen and its unbelievable brewery would end up in the Czech Republic.
Another favorite location is Germany. The first brand I worked on was Furstenberg from Donaueschingen, Germany; in the Black Forest; what a beautiful place to visit. On my first ever business trip overseas, Guinness sent me to Germany to visit the Furstenberg brewery: the day I was there the Berlin Wall came down. We sank a few Furstenbergs that day. Man, talk about timing!

Do you have a favorite Rí Rá location? I know it's like asking who your favorite kid is, but take a shot at it!
The dynamic and local nature of the beer category is very exciting. Our goal is to offer a range of the highest quality beers, both import and true craft or micro where possible, supporting the local brewers. As such, both our draught and bottle lineup are dynamic. It is a fun aspect of the job to stay current in beer in such a changing market.
Now my favorite location? That’s very hard. Following your analogy, Charlotte will always be special as it was our first pub, but don’t tell my kids or the eldest will misinterpret and take advantage! Seriously, Rí Rá is in such cool locations, I genuinely love to visit all of the pubs. I work from home in Ireland and I still feel a sense of excitement when I prepare for my periodic trip to the US, wherever I am visiting.

Okay, David. It’s time to chill. Thanks for the time, my friend. Hopefully we will kick it in Vegas soon.
No! Thank you, Ale. I love the name, by the way! And yes, Vegas!

For more information, visit the Rí Rá website at www.RiRa.com.

Cheers!


Ale

Friday, March 18, 2011

But in the meantime...the craziest beer tattoo yet!

Hey Fam!
I am eyebrow-deep in work and travel, but I got something for ya coming very freakin' soon! Please excuse the hiatus, but in the meantime, I came across one of the illest tattoos regarding brew that would make "The Situation" even jealous (who totally sucked on the Donald Trump Roast by the way). Check this out!

Wowzerz!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ale Sharpton finds two of the world's strongest beers!


No, those aren’t Photoshopped alcohol percentages or prices on these brews. That’s the real deal!

Okay, check it:  As many of you know, I am a fan of “Imperial” brews—typically beers that are bolder in various characteristics and typically higher in alcohol potency ranging from 7 to 14 percent alcohol by volume (abv).  I regularly like to feel like royalty and sip brews that are taken to the extreme, so you’ll always find something in this range of potency in my fridge—especially stouts and India Pale Ales. What you won’t find in there yet due to my budgetary constraints are these two eye-poppers I spotted today at Green's on Ponce, a popular package store here in the ATL that boldly put this duo on the shelves: BrewDog Brewery’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Sink the Bismarck. At 32% abv and 41% respectively, I would call these tyrannical. They're the world's strongest! And no, these are no crappy, do it to do it brews solely for shock value. BrewDog’s rep is impeccable. Check it...
Two cats named Martin and James started BrewDog Brewery in Scotland because they were tired of ales and lagers in the U.K. having less muscle than Gumby going vegetarian, so they kicked in the door with some seriously bold, eccentric and downright potent brews that turned the world of beer on its ass. In fact, their Hardcore IPA (9.2%) I got from Hop City has received my hard-to-come-by  “Gangster” rating in terms of brewing quality; it’s the epitome of an Imperial IPA, so BrewDog knows what they’re doing.
Anyway, regarding the Tactical and Bismarck above, they're the world's strongest beers. Don’t you love the packaging and fastener at the top so no one will boost them or be slick and switch them out with some other brews? At that price, who knows, they might be totally worth it, so if you happen to score one or both of these (assuming they are still available), please holler at your main man Ale so that I can report how serious they are. Of course, to maintain my integrity in journalism, I would have to taste them J.

Below are the descriptions of the two directly from the BrewDog website. Get at me!

Tactical Nuclear Penguin:
“This is the world’s strongest ever beer, ever (yes ever).
“No Penguins were harmed in the making of this beer; some humans did get very, very cold though. It was worth it.
“The Antarctic name, inducing schizophrenia, of this Ÿber-imperial stout originates from the amount of time it spent exposed to extreme cold. This beer was initially double barrel aged for 14 months; maturing in the deep, rich oak of Scottish whisky casks. After this epic maturation the beer was then frozen, then frozen again, then frozen again.”

They even have a bugged out video for it. Peep it: http://www.vimeo.com/7812379

As for their claim, they need to update the “world’s strongest beer” claim with the Tactical because the Sink the Bismarck is 41 percent!

Sink the Bismarck:
“An unsettling development has arisen in mainland Europe which BrewDog have found impossible to ignore.
“Armed with their 40% ABV beer, German brewers have infiltrated our front lines, slipped under the defences and straight onto the radars of you – the noble beer drinkers of the Empire.
We ask of you to keep calm and carry on whilst saluting the valiant efforts of Tactical Nuclear Penguin whose fall has allowed the Germans to recapture the world record for the strongest beer.
“We are wheeling out the big guns this time. Sink the Bismarck is a quadruple IPA that contains four times the hops, four times the bitterness and frozen four times to create at a staggering 41% ABV.
“This is IPA amplified, the most evocative style of the craft beer resistance with the volume cranked off the scale. Kettle hopped, dry hopped then freeze hopped for a deep fruit, resinous and spicy aroma. A full out attack on your taste-buds ensues as the incredibly smooth liquid delivers  a crescendo of malt, sweet honey, hop oils and a torpedo of hop bitterness which lasts and lasts.”

Yep! They have a video as well:  http://vimeo.com/9491802

Cheers!
Ale

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ale Sharpton TV in full effect!

Cruisin' For A Brewsin' launches Episode 2: 'Ale Does Shots!'

Well it's on again! I couldn't wait to launch the second episode of Cruisin' For A Brewsin'! Leeman with Luxeve did a terrific job on the Sunday Sales piece, and my homey Keven Digital for KRJ Productions kept the quality consistent with my visit to the Sandy Springs Gun Club and Range. Please go to my Vimeo channel here and see the result of some pure talent. I hope it loads up smoothly for ya. A lot of people love YouTube so I try to utilize both services.

Anyway, hitting up the Sandy Springs spot, I had a blast there (no pun intended). Besides the lounge, variety of firepower, personable service and overall decor, I thought it was interesting that the range is owned by two women. Thanks to the super cool Arleen giving me the tour, her shooting lessons that followed were totally on point. I have (a-hem!) unloaded a few rounds in past (all recreational), but I went along with Arleen's beginner's instruction and still learned a lot about the pistola.
Tackleberry holding his best friend!
So does this make me a brother version of the trigger-happy Tackleberry from the Police Academy flicks? Slow down. I'm all about peace, love and brew, but you got to admit: the power, design and constant media exposure those firearms get made it a no-brainer to head to this location just outside the perimeter and safely release some stress by swiss-cheesing a zombie (they had pictures of them on some targets). In fact, I honestly would love to go back and put some even more impressive holes in targets. I mean, hell, I shot a happy face on one. Maybe next time I will do a frown to make it more gangster!
Anyway, enjoy the videos, leave a comment and keep showing the love by spreading the word. I really appreciate it! I will return the favor by continuing to keep you in my thoughts in regards of keeping things outside the box. Stay tuned for the next episode which is going to be awesome!
Cheers!
Ale

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Raise a Stein! Der Biergarten Launches Elite New Club for Beer Lovers

How awesome is this?!


As I always make a point to emphasize, Atlanta is one of the best places to be if you are a beer lover. Well Der Biergarten, Downtown ATL's super-authentic rendition of the world famous open-air drinking spots Southern Germany originated back in the 19th century, is at it again. This time, they have launched their "Stein Club" for the VIPs who get a ton of perks! Well I am undoubtedly going to be at their official launch party on March 22nd and will join their exclusive, limited list of  Stein Club members. In case you didn't see the video I collaborated with Der Biergarten during their grand opening, here it is again. This place is one of the best to have a brew and complemented with some delicious German fare, but when you drink a liter of suds out of those monstrous glasses complete with the handle, it just makes it that much cooler! 
Below is the official press release. See you there!
Ale
----------

Der Biergarten, Atlanta’s new hotspot and authority on authentic German cuisine and beer, introduces a VIP experience for any beer lover in town.  The new Stein Club – recently launched with a limited number of memberships available now – serves up exclusive access to unique beer specials and events, dining and retail discounts and even your own personalized Stein.  The club’s inaugural kick-off party is set for Tuesday, March 22 from 6 – 8 p.m. at Der Biergarten, and Steins will be officially assigned to members at the event. 

A $60 membership fee gains you the following benefits for one year, from date of activation:

  • Assignment of numbered Stein – to be held for your personal use at Der Biergarten
  • Der Biergarten t-shirt
  • $8 draft beers – all day, every day, every draft beer
  • Exclusive launch party – Tuesday, March 22 from 6 – 8 p.m.
  • Tuesday Stein Club specials
  • VIP invitation to special events
  • Quarterly beer seminar/tasting
  • 20% discount on retail merchandise
  • Stammtisch table discount: Stein Club members are invited to reserve the Stammtisch table and receive 20% off their food purchase for the entire table, once annually.

A limited number of memberships are still available.  To secure your Stein Club card now, visit Der Biergarten in the Luckie Marietta District at 300 Marietta Street, Atlanta, GA 30313.  For more information, call 404.521.2728 or visit www.derbiergarten.com.  

Membership Rules:
• Must be of legal drinking age
• Stein will be kept at Der Biergarten at all times
• Only club members shall drink from club steins
• Drink responsibly - Don’t drink and drive


Monday, March 7, 2011

Brew Your Cask Off Winners

 Some of my samples prior to the madness. 


Man, the second annual Brew Your Cask Off this past Saturday was a mad house! Packed to the brim with brew lovers from all over Georgia came through to check out the one-time casks created by retailers, organizations, brewmasters and homebrewers at SweetWater Brewery's headquarters in Midtown Atlanta. Since I was one of the judges, I got an early seat to see what was in store for this year's extravaganza. Off the bat, the quality and workmanship of remixing the base beer provided by SweetWater was so much better than last year; so much to the point that the wall-of-shame category, The Biggest Loser, got kicked to the curb. Impressive! 
Anyway, I will be adding more pictures and the official press release later on but I wanted to make the word was out in terms of who won on Saturday. Congrats!!!!


2011 JUDGES PANEL AWARDS

1st PLACE:  Cask #38 Final Gravity Home Brewers | Lika-Titi-Coco Porter

2nd PLACE:  Cask #1 The Porter Beer Bar | The Sch’it
3rd PLACE:  Cask #75 Fontaines | Two Pump Chump
PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD

Cask #62 Cypress Street Pint & Plate| Samhain

BIGGEST LOSER
SweetWater said: "We had so many amazing brews this year that we seriously had a hard time picking a loser for loser’s sake.  So we have decided to retire the golden toilet seat this year!"

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ale Sharpton’s debut for Cruisin’ For A Brewsin’: Episode One: Sunday Sales


Let’s get this clear: The main focus of Sunday Sales is not about being able to buy beer, spirits or wine via retail stores on the last day of the week. The bottom line is being able to have the power to choose by vote—the base of our democratic spirit that has birthed this nation—to whether or not our direct communities will allow the sales of alcohol on Sundays. During the historic rally in Downtown Atlanta on Wednesday, February 23rd held by the grassroots organization, Georgians For Sunday Sales along with supporters  (and a few detractors) on the steps of the Georgia State Capitol at exactly noon, it was a peaceful, yet impactful engagement to get HB 69  and  SB 10 considered by the Georgia Legislature . The powers that be tried to discretely sweep both of these bills under the rug thinking that there would be no major feedback. Wrong.
During the first officially aired episode of my show dedicated to the world of brewing, Cruisin’ For A Brewsin’, I made sure that the people’s voice was heard worldwide via the Internet. Since words alone do not wholly affect the masses, I, accompanied by the talented video crew of Luxeve Media and banging music by Rashad "Suede" Byron, have done our best to show the people’s dedication to preserve the freedom of speech and right to choose. This is the first of many episodes of Cruisin’ For A Brewsin’, so definitely stay tuned.
Feel free to do your duty to circulate this video and further support the movement that fights to give the people the right to decide how their communities want to live.
Fight the power!
Ale

Here is the video:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Guinness Perfect Pour Competition rocked!




TAP’s ‘Buggs’: The hero of the 'Pour'!

Brother Buggs flossing his
hardware and winning pint
Last night's Guinness Perfect Pour contest at Taco Mac's Lindbergh location was a one wild affair to say the least! There was an MC with a mic; a stage hoisting a trio of taps and three judges; a rowdy, chanting sea of the competitor’s supporters; and a collective of Taco Mac staff from various locations to handle the blitz. With names situated in March Madness-like brackets, bartenders dropped one by one due to disqualifications like an overflowing pour, heads with excessive bubbles, and pints that simply weren't, well…perfect. Basically, three pourers went up on the stage to their assigned taps and poured their Guinness pint in an official glass in front of three sets of scrutinizing eyes—judges direct from Europe who were trained to spot faults of microscopic proportions. (Of course, all participants filled their pint glasses in the customary Guinness two-pour ritual.) The winner of the three contestants advanced to the next round until there were only two left.
Like March Madness, there is always an upset: The reigning champ that yours truly featured this past weekend, Megan Martin (here), was dethroned in the first round by one bubble too many at the top her pint’s head, so the field was blown open after that.
In the end, a cool cat named “Buggs” —a self-proclaimed rabid Steelers fan and bartender at Midtown Atlanta’s Tap—raised the Guinness trophy victorious. I have to give Brother Buggs credit: he had unwavering confidence and swagger since the first round as if he knew he was going to win. Buggs served me a few pints within the last month or so and his demeanor was no different this night, so it was evidently another day at the office for him. Congrats man!
Oh! And just to show you how super cool people in the beer world are, as soon as B-Diddy was awarded the winner, Megan immediately bought him a congratulatory shot (it looked like an Irish Car Bomb) and a pint of Guinness. That’s sportsmanship at its finest!
A shout out to Arthur Guinness!
Overall it was a fun, unforgettable night all in the love of beer and honoring Sir Arthur Guinness, the legend who once fought off authorities who were trying to cut off his brewery’s water supply.  Thank goodness Guinness’ fire and passion saved his legendary Dublin, Ireland brewery that has flourished since 1759 and paved to way for all of those thousands of gangster, microbrewed stouts like these that we enjoy daily.

Slainte! Guid forder! Peeeeeeaaaace! 

Ale