Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cruisin' For A Brewsin': Ale hits up The Porter Beer Bar!

Cruisin' For A Brewsin': Episode Three is in Full Effect!

Once again it's on! This time it is The Porter Beer Bar in Little 5 Points!

Here is the third episode of Cruisin' For A Brewsin' that is officially launched today as promised! It was a priority to feature a legit beer bar and The Porter is undoubtedly one of my favorites. Located in the heart of Atlanta's Bohemian paradise, Little 5 Points, I always hit up this spot when I want to stay close to home, mingle with fellow sippers, and want to know what's new in the world of microbrews throughout the U.S. and abroad. Thanks to their constantly rotating taps, knowledgeable staff and chilled-out vibe,The Porter never lets me down.
Much thanks goes to Molly, the always smiling and super cool co-owner of The Porter who rolled out the red carpet for me when I told her I wanted to feature her awesome bar on my show, Cruisin' For A Brewsin'. She was the perfect co-host as you can see (click here in case the above link is acting up). Nick, her husband and business partner, gets a shout out as well. Good looking out!
Also, this banging video wouldn't be possible without the extremely talented Studio 8 video crew believing in me and my goals to make Cruisin' a go-to show for beer lovers worldwide. They are obviously gangster on the filming and editing tip, so look out for more Ale Sharpton collaborations. This is only the beginning! 
So anyway, to you reading this and checking out my videos, I really appreciate the love and thank you in advance for supporting me as I continue to push and make this beer show a reality! 
Stay tuned for more Cruisin' For A Brewsin'! You haven't seen jack yet!
Your homey,
Ale

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Get ready for tomorrow's surprise!

Sorry for the delay! I really appreciate you checking me out but when you see what the hell has been keeping me so dang busy, I trust you will forgive a brotha! The Top Secret package (or Hop Secret for that matter) will be opened tomorrow at noon, EST. Why noon? Why not?! The West gets a taste at 9 a.m. and hell, 12 o'clock just sounds cool!
In the meantime, get your sip on and keep Cruisin' For A Brewsin'! (Hint! Hint!)
Ale

Friday, April 22, 2011

Three more crazy beer tattoos!

Whaddup!!! It's Easter Weekend so I trust most of you got half a day off on Good Friday, right? Well, even if you didn't, you have found the time to check out what your boy Ale has brewing. Thanks for the visit!
Now, since I had such a great response to the last posting I did showing a crazy beer tattoo, why not deliver another one for ya? Or two? Better yet, make it three! Enjoy!

Tattoo #1: Life Is Short

I like this one because you've got the barley, a beautiful hop cone in the background and what looks like a pale ale in the correct glassware. Judging the beer's color, I'd say it could even be an IPA, but not an imperial one because that would mean one of those 11-oz. glasses with a stem that bars would charge a couple bucks more for. Either way, this one gets a thumbs-up. Nice!

Tattoo #2: Free Beer
That must be something potent he's smoking because this cat is seriously proud to show off this 8-fingered masterpiece. Free beer is cool, I guess, but usually when it comes without cost, it also comes without body, mouthfeel, aroma, taste...need I go on? Not a good look here. Finding a gig will be a pretty damn challenging task, ya think? Well, wait, surgeons wear gloves, right? 

Tattoo #3: Can you stomach this?
I'm sorry, but since my mind has been permanently scarred from this image, so should yours! The last tatted beer belly that I posted here was a lot more clever than this one. Rod is missing an apostrophe and most importantly, dignity. But hey, the font is hot. The navel is not. Eeew.

Have a Happy Easter weekend! 

Oh! And a shout out to my late Grandpa Ken who was born on Good Friday and passed on Good Friday. Yeah, I know it's crazy. It's gotta mean something, right? 

Peace!

Ale

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ale Sharpton’s Homies: A Column Dedicated to Homebrewers

A batch sent by fantastic St. Louis homebrewer Ted O'Neill

During all my travels particularly in the U.S., I have developed a love and respect for homebrewing because it takes a certain amount of passion, dedication, patience, grasp of chemistry and overall fondness to brew ales and lagers. Thanks to my job as a beer writer, I have come across some of the most interesting, friendly and even eccentric men and women who stay true to the hobby of making their interpretations of 
what great beer is. Either through brewing clubs, beer social circles, introductions from friends or judging competitions, I’ve been blessed with numerous opportunities to experience beer brewed with some of the most imaginative ingredients and concoctions you could think of. From cantaloupe to bacon, the range of creativity is seemingly limitless and I truly believe that homebrewers should be rewarded with a section on the website that profiles them. After all, this is how our cherished microbreweries around the world begin. This is for you, homies.
With that being said…err… written, this is Ale Sharpton’s Homies: A Column Dedicated to Homebrewers.
First up is Ty Armstrong Sr., the founder and head brewer of TNA CandyBeers out of what Oprah and National Geographic have awarded the “Happiest Place in the U.S.”, San Luis Obispo, California.
Enjoy!
Ale

Ty Armstrong Sr., Founder and Head Brewer of TNA CandyBeers

I received an email about a month ago from a gentleman named Ty Armstrong Sr. who heard about me via Facebook and through the beer “hopvine.” He informed me that he was a homebrewer out of San Luis Obispo, California who splits his days working with troubled teens and brewing a line of ales he has branded TNA CandyBeers (the “TNA” stands for his initials). I was already intrigued by his social commitments, but when I heard “CandyBeers,” I had to reply and find out what the hell they were. I didn’t think of it on the level of the infamous Four Loco line or other adult beverage ventures that have tried to compromise brewing integrity with artificially flavored liquid blasphemy, but I was still a little skeptical on what Ty’s angle was. Plus, his website and series of videos demonstrated a respect for brewing, and gave the impression that he knew what he was doing.
Anyway, when I called Ty, he happily talked about how he constantly hunts for the best brewing ingredients and supplies, and discussed his brewing routine using 5-gallon kits in his apartment’s kitchen.  Plus, he emphasized how his CandyBeers line was no crappy, sweetened excuses for ales and lagers. Ultimately, due to eight years of experience, he discovered a way to actually brew with candy and other exotic, natural flavors to the point where he has created a serious buzz and demand to pour his concoctions during various prestigious wine tastings, beer festivals and private parties throughout the West Coast.
With 40 beers under his belt thanks in part to a few partners he works with including his girlfriend Judy Shapazian and fellow homebrewer Cuddy Nunez. Ty has made a number of unconventional combinations including his Caramel Espresso Crème Ale, Belgium Red Raspberry Straw Abbey Ale, Blood Red Tangerine Dream IPA,  Red Hawaiian Pineapple Candy Ale and the Central Coast Imperial RootBeer Stout to name a few. “What the…?” I exclaimed. I have never heard of anything like this. Ty proudly shared how the consistent crowds he serves and growing fan base for his unique brews has influenced him to eventually open a TNA CandyBeer Brewery that would nobly lead to help finance his own shelter that would house, educate and counsel homeless teens. With all of that, my palate and heart was sold. I had to try this “CandyBeer.”
Gratefully, Ty arranged for me to get two samples: one was the Root Beer Stout (a tad lower in alcohol than the “Imperial” version he has), and the other was his Pom/Blubury CandyBeer. After saving both 750 ml samples for the perfect opportunity to have a few experts taste them blindly with me, the reviews were consistent. The body and carbonation with both brews were very similar to Champagne, but once the bubbly heads settled, everyone had tried to put a flavor to the nose because they have simply not smelled or tasted anything like it. Eventually, the roundtable gave a consensus that they had in their hands a well-crafted, tasty, lightly sweet stout and a Belgian-style fruit beer respectively, using descriptive words like “incredible” and “extraordinary.” Once I told them their titles, everyone agreed that they accurately reflected the tastes Ty had tried to emulate. In the end, the tastings were both wins for Ty and TNA. It was a medium-bodied stout balanced with the sweetness, licorice and vanilla notes of root beer, while the Pom/Blubury rivaled some of the best Framboise (fruit beer) varieties they have ever had, with just enough tasting properties of sweet and tart.
Ultimately, Mr. Armstrong & Co. have something here, and I can’t wait to explore the rest of his line. But don’t try to get him to disclose his secret on how he fuses candy, exotic fruits and other far-out flavors to make his brews; he won’t give up the goods. He will, however, give a fine interview.
Ladies and gents, in the first installment of Ale Shartpton’s Homies, welcome the founder of TNA CandyBeer, Ty Armstrong aka The Candy Man.

Ale Sharpton: My man, Ty, talk about how you got started with TNA and your overall fondness for beer.
Ty Armstrong Sr.: Actually, I started brewing beer for two reasons: I love to drink it, and I didn't even know there was such a hobby like this around until a friend of mine told me that you could homebrew legally in Cali, so I purchased my first homebrew kit about 8 years ago and have never looked back.
The first beer I made was a basic summer ale with my homebrew kit. It came out well, even though I was just learning water temps and how hop boils are so important, but sanitation is always first in brewing beer, period!
With that being said, passion, creativity and fun are the words that describe brewing beer to me. I don't brew beer the traditional way; I try new and exciting things with temperatures, fermenting, ingredients and other techniques. I think brewing basic beers like IPAs, stouts and porters don't excite me at all. Everyone is doing them and competing… that's not my personality at all. I am proud to be the first African-American in the U.S today to brew these types of beers as we know it!

When did you decide to use candy? Talk about the experimentation process, what finally worked and your brand name.
I decided to start experimenting with candy in beers about four years ago. A lady friend of mine told me that I should try making a beer for the female crowd because she and her friends were not feeling the ‘bitter’ taste of beer, so I had a dream one night of infusing hard candies in beer recipes.
This took years of kitchen mistakes, yeast experiments, hop flavorings and many bottle bombers
 to make this unique beer happen. Well, what finally worked was that I could balance the candy
flavors, fruits, teas with the malts, hop boil time, and yeast fermentation to achieve the true candy and beer balance that I wanted, and, eureka! I found it! Now it's like riding a bike, you never forget how.
As for the brand name, "TNA" are actually my name initials for Tyrone Neal Armstrong. I told my girl Judy Shapazian about coming up with the name for the beer, and she instinctively said, ‘How about TNA?’ and then laughed right after because the first thought that came to her mind was ‘Tits n’ Ass.’  But in the end, it kind of just fit the brand to name it after me, but this is the first thing most people think of when they see ‘TNA.’ Oh well!

Well it doesn’t hurt because it will be remembered! How has your beer been received by the public and the experts of the brewing world?
Honestly, Ale, the beer always had a positive following by the public. We have done a few beer shows and had an overwhelming positive feedback from 98 percent of our tasters, who were quoted as saying, ‘I have never tasting anything like this!’  Their facial expressions
are what Judy and I love the most. The reason I think they like it so much is due to the uniqueness of the flavors, the high carbonation Champagne taste, and the overall result of my brewing process, which keeps it in the beer family. In fact, the most unique features about this beer, I think, is the longer it ages, the more it takes on a Champagne appearance and taste.
As for the big companies and circle of distributors in the brewing industry, I feel it is a tightly knit community that, for the majority, is not receptive to the ‘little guys,’ meaning kitchen homebrewers like myself trying to come up in the industry. They won't let you in unless you’re a friend, relative, know someone major, etc. This is the thing that I feel gives the beer industry a black eye in my opinion.
I, on the other hand, will never forget the ‘little guy" when I become a successful brewing company. I will teach brewing, co-op with other homebrewers to help start their own businesses and find other ways to work together. I'm not into competition. Like so many other things in the world, greed, fear or whatever it is that brings negative energy will eventually kill you.

Dig it! Describe some of the CandyBeer varieties, how they taste, the alcohol by volume (abv) ranges, aromas, mouthfeel and other properties.
Well we have made over 40 CandyBeers to date. Some of my favorites are my Dark Jamaican, the RootBeer Stout, and my latest to date, the Pom/BluBury Ale. These consist of many different types of hard candies—
which I can't reveal—fresh tropical fruits, special malts, and our unique way of brewing, fermenting and serving our beers. The Dark Jamaican has a reddish tint with a filtered clarity; a very unique, fruity punch taste of different hard candy flavors that we make in-house. It kind of has that island tropical punch mouthfeel to it: very sweet and smooth with a creamy head appearance, complete with a highly carbonated Champagne body at about 6.0 percent abv. It is great with any spicy pairings like Mexican, BBQ tri-tip, or our TNA CandyBeer Cupcakes.
My RootBeer Stout came as an idea of making a legitimate…well, root beer, so I developed a one-of-a-kind RootBeer Stout. It has the taste and smell of licorice, but gives you that root beer flavor and an ending with a chocolate-type palate and a nice hop balance. It is a dark ale with a smooth, creamy head retention there, at about a nice healthy 6.5 percent abv. It’s a great pairing for any type of red meat, BBQ, or spicy foods.
And last but not least, my Pom/Blubury CandyBeer. This beer was a combo effort made by me and my girlfriend, Judy. We just thought how good it would taste to combine special candy, fresh blueberries and pomegranates together in a very low hop beer; this is what we came up with. It’s a unique, sweet, creamy smooth body, with heavy hints of blueberries and poms; the candy foundation is really indescribable with words. It also has highly carbonated Champagne or soda feel, but don't let the smooth taste fool ya! This beer carries a weight of 6.5 percent abv and it will knock a lightweight drinker out, because it is deceptively easy to drink. I like it with any food pairing, but catfish, in my opinion, is the best.
All of these CandyBeers and a secret "Mystery Beer" will be present for tasting at the Cambria Lions Club Holiday Wine And Beer Festival on Saturday, July 2, 2011. All proceeds will fund my Cambria Teen Center Program. You can go to my www.tnacandybeer.com website as well for more details.

Keeping it real, aren’t you, Ty? I understand you have a team behind you. Talk about working with your partners Judy and Cuddy, and what they bring to the table.
Well first and foremost, I want to talk about the real brains and inspiration behind TNA CandyBeers, Judy Shapazian. It's not me or Cuddy, it's my girlfriend Judy who has the brains behind TNA. Judy will be debuting her first tasting video next weekend, so stay tuned to for that as well. Judy has kept this whole thing going financially, inspirationally…she is the overall motivation behind this endeavor. As the ol’ saying goes, ‘Behind every successful man, there's a good woman.’ It stands true with her because I wanted to quit the whole thing because of the frustration associated with this business of politics, no funding, backslaps by others many times. She keeps me praying, brewing, and most of all, staying grounded. 

Word! And Cuddy?
Cuddy is a new and dynamic type of cat we added to the TNA family. He has the enthusiasm, hunger and swag to make it in this business. I have known him since he was 15 years-old and he will definitely appeal to the Hispanic community with beers like the Sangria, Horchata, the Mexican Mystery CuddyBrew and others on his CuddyBrew label. He's my brewing apprentice and I have big hopes for him. He is a rising star!

What are your plans for TNA?
That’s easy: Money, money, money! Our plans are to get funding sources from anybody we can in the hopes of starting our own microbrewery here on the beautiful Central Coast in the San Luis Obispo, CA area. We would like to start to distribute to counties, then the state, throughout the U.S and then worldwide one day. I hope that everyone has the chance to taste our unique CandyBeers and learn how non-traditional brewing can create new and exciting opportunities in the craft beer industry. Trust me, I will never forget the little guy!
I also want to thank you, Ale, and your readers for learning about TNA CandyBeers, ‘The First Beers in the U.S Today for Candy Addicts’!

And finally, is Ale your homey?
And you know that!

Please visit www.tnacandybeer.com and join TNA on Facebook. For more information, email Ty at tarmstrong@tnacandybeer.com or call (805) 461-8622.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Last Thursday in Atlanta was crazy!

Your homey Ale with a case of the Mondays.
The 420 Fest and Longshot Homebrew Competition rocked!

As I prophesied, Thursday was crazy (see the crazy line-up here)! I had to go to the reserve tank and muster everything I had to make it through the rest of the weekend which included the 42o Fest but since it is Monday, I guess I made it! As a recap, the first stop after closing down my laptop on Thursday afternoon was Hop City and the historic 5:00 p.m. first legal pour of growlers in Atlanta, Georgia. A monumental event indeed, I got there around 4:30 to take a few pics of my man Reid, the Atlanta Beer Master, doing his thing and running the
festivities. 
It turns out that the phenomenal selection of 16 taps pouring everything from Red Brick's 16th Anniversary to New Belgium's 10-10-10 and the state's introduction of Stillwater Brewery out of Minnesota. Plus, Wild Heaven Brewery kicked ass as well with their Ode To Mercy getting a ton of orders. And how would I know this? Because I was pouring them! I actually put down the camera and began sanitizing the bottles with Hop City owner Kraig Torres and his loyal crew, and then got my tap pulling on to fill 64-ounce jugs with some of the world's best ales and one fine pilsner—Victory's new Braumeister Harvest Pils. I actually had a blast serving the long line of eager beer enthusiasts who wanted to be the first to get a growler filled in Georgia's capital. I didn't end up leaving until about 7 but it was well worth it! 
Knowing that I still had two stops to make, I jetted over to meet Urthel Brewery's lovely brewmaster, Hildegard Van Ostaden, at the Brick Store in Downtown Decatur. When I got there, one of my friends chilling outside said that she was gone. Just when my spirit was about to drop, he informed me that she still might be around the corner at Leon's! Sure
enough, there she was having her last beer in the company of her cool husband and business  partner, Bas, along with co-owner for both Brick Store and Leon's, Dave. We all chilled out for a while sipping on the good stuff a shooting the breeze for a few. Make sure you try Urthel's brews. Hildegard is the mother of the first Belgian IPA, the Hop-It, among others, and Bas is responsible for the killer artwork and freaky glassware. What a team!
After that, it was all the way to Marietta for the Longshot Homebrew Contest hosted by Wild Wing Cafe. The outdoor event was packed with beer nuts and aspiring homebrewers whose product was judged by the esteemed panel consisting of veteran beer writer Bob Townsend, Matt Simpson aka the "Beer Sommelier," and 2010 Longshot winner Richard Roper who proudly represents Georgia. Besides sampling a variety of beers Samuel Adams' reps constantly passed out including the Imperial Stout, Latitude 48 and Noble Pils, the audience also received tastings of the contestants' entries which was a really cool highlight of the event.
After hours of imbibing, eating and conversation, the $500 winner was announced and that is when the controversy started. I heard from an anonymous source that the winning order got mixed up and the wrong name was announced for first place! By this point, the huge $500 cardboard check was held up, pictures were taken, thank yous for support were given and the whole nine! Luckily, the gent was a good sport when he was notified of the unfortunate eff-up and he took it like a man. Truthfully, his beer was good but the star of the night and grand prize winner was justly Douglas F. and his Dark Musings Russian Imperial Stout at a gangster 10.5% abv. Now I knew of Douglas' brewing mastery before when I blindly awarded him my #1 winner in another homebrewing contest, so he evidently knows what the hell he is doing! In fact, here is the breakdown of the beer from the brewmaster himself! Hit it Doug:

"Dark Musings is a very rich imperial stout with three different hops—Chinook, Amarillo, and Willamette—and eight specialty grains. Contributing to the depth of flavor are dark organic molasses and Indonesian vanilla beans. It has been aged with very dark toasted French oak cubes that have been soaked in Maker’s Mark Bourbon. This imperial stout flavor is strong and complex, while offering a smooth finish to a full-bodied beer.”

Amen!

Doug's son and partner in crime, Justin, proudly raised his dad's hand and they jointly let out a sigh of relief for being victorious in something his pop has always been so passionate about. Awesome job, Doug, and good luck in the Longshot finals held up in Massachusetts by the Adams Family! On the real, between Doug's Musings and the other submissions, Georgia has some no-joke homebrews that are good enough to bring home the crown a second consecutive year.
By the way, I want to give a shout out to the head man of Wild Wing Cafe, Ryan Bing, Scott Hedeen, Ed from the Brewmasters Warehouse, and the Burnt Hickory Brewery for a four-pack sampler of their fantastic brews (I love their Old Wooden Head Imperial IPA)!
All in all, as I had expected, Thursday was nuts!!! As for the rest of the weekend, the 420 Fest rocked, Dogwood Festival had perfect weather on Sunday, and the NBA was faaaaantastic, except for my damn Lakers losing! (Pictures from the weekend are coming. My card slot is acting up in my damn laptop.)
Last but certainly not least, look out for a very special series I am launching tomorrow on this site. Thanks for reading and showing support for your homey.
Cheers!
Ale


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Three reasons why beer is king in Atlanta today!

Starting at 5 p.m., Atlanta’s first growlers are legally poured, one of the top brewmasters in the world will be personally handing out three versions of her liquid mastery, and a Samuel Adams Longshot Contest for Georgia’s homebrewers is being held at Wild Wing Café in Marietta, Ga. at 8 o’clock! Like I said, beer is king in Georgia’s capital. Here is the run down…

Hop City gets their ‘growling’ on!

Growlers? Huh? What? Those 64-ounce glass jugs can now legally be filled in the ATL? Yep! And Kraig Torres, the proud owner of Hop City on Atlanta’s west side, announced that he will be proudly pouring 16 constantly rotating taps of beer not available in bottles into growlers, sealing them and making them available  for sale for the first time in the city’s history starting today at 5 p.m. Trust me, having the legal right to do this is a huge deal! The beer is fresh from the tap, pretty inexpensive (refillable growlers are $4.99) and, I mean, a half-gallon of the best beverage known to man in your fridge? What more do you want? I’ll be there for the historic first pour my homey Reid Ramsay aka the Atlanta Beer Master reportedly has first dibs on. Nice!


Urthel’s Brewmaster Hildegard Van Ostaden is in the house!

Urthel out of Belgium is regarded as one of the best breweries in the world and the woman behind their award-winning masterpieces, Brewmaster Hildegard Van Ostaden, will be visiting the Brick Store at 5 o’clock. Hildegard’s the mother of the first Belgian IPA ever brewed, Hop-It, and the seriously potent quadruppel, the Samaranth. This duo, plus her new, refreshing Saisonniere will be getting poured, so it’s only right to make this a must. Hopefully she will be chilling there for a while because I am coming right after history’s made at Hop City.

And then…
The Samuel Adams 2011 Longshot Contest is tonight!

Homebrewing, the crafting of ales and lagers in the comfort of one’s own home (or garage, backyard, or mom’s basement), is the reason we are enjoying thousands of variations of ales and lagers worldwide. It just takes a recipe, different ingredients, brewing techniques, some creativity and voila! Another interpretation of a good beer is born!
Well, thanks to the annual Samuel Adams Longshot Series, three winners of their national homebrewing contest get two slots in an awesomely (yes, this is a word) designed six pack which gets distributed pretty much everywhere.
Georgia’s own Richard Roper won the 2010 competition with his fantastic fusion of an IPA and Belgian-style ale, the Friar Hop (which is on the shelves now), won $5,000, and most importantly, eternal props from the brewing world (see my interview with him here). Can there be a repeat in the Peach State? Well, tonight, Wild Wing Cafe in Marietta, GA is hosting a statewide contest for this year’s Longshot entries starting at 8 p.m. Although a winner for this evening will be awarded a local prize, all of the homebrewing entries will be shipped on Wild Wing Café’s dime to Samuel Adams for national judging by a panel of esteemed beer nuts. The requirements for contestants include bringing in at least a 6-12 pack for the public to taste, so up to 75 people who pay $20 will be getting their sip on! The word is there will be at least 20 different beers to try, so you know I will be one of ‘em!

Let’s cross paths and toast to ATL, the beer capital of the South.

Cheers!

Ale

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The SweetWater 420 Fest is almost here!


Don't spend this weekend in Atlanta without going to 420!

Last year's 420 was a blast!
One of my favorite festivals of the year, the now three-day SweetWater 420 Fest, is right around the corner and it has become increasingly awesome over the years. From Friday, April 15 at exactly 4:20 pm, through Sunday, April 17, it’s all about cool vibes, eclectic vendors, grub, a Kid Zone for the brats…er…kids, celebrating Earth Day, and of course, SweetWater brews including the winning concoction of this year’s SweetWater Brew Your Own Cask Off, Final Gravity Home Brewers' Lika-Titi-Coco Porter! (Go here for details.)

What I also love is that the festival takes place in one of the most beautiful areas of Atlanta, Candler Park. Just down the street from Little 5 Points and a couple blocks from the Candler Park MARTA train stop, trees and green galore surround this awesome festival. By the way, the incredible line-up of live musical performances includes the homegrown, platinum artists, Arrested Development, on Saturday night at 8!

So get your brownie points for doing the family thing and still have a blast, or just come with some friends and have a smoking good time! After all, it is 420 and it's all for the love of everything green!

See you there!

Ale
----------------------------------------
The official press release:
Be Prepared With the 411 on SweetWater 420 Fest!
Join SweetWater Brewery For The Most Environmentally Clean Fun You’ll Have All Year

ATLANTA: We’re just a week away from Atlanta’s best celebration of Earth Day and we’re here to give you the break down on everything you need to know to experience your best SweetWater 420 Fest yet! This year we’ve expanded to three days of great music, stand-up comedy, crafted brews from SweetWater Brewery and more, so we can celebrate 2011 Earth Day the best way we know how. In addition to the live entertainment, check out what local artists have for sale including a variety of homemade goods, like dog treats, vintage clothing and glass-blown art. If that’s not enough to keep you occupied all weekend long you can check out Planet 420 presented by Gas South to learn how to be more environmentally-friendly through different vendors and sponsors. There’s even an obstacle course - Dizzy Bat Race and everything - to help learn more about preserving the greatest Mother we’ll ever have. For those with younger children, we’ve got that covered with a Kid Zone. I told you we had an action-packed weekend planned for you!

GENERAL INFORMATION

• The festivities begin on Friday, April 15 at 4:20 PM and will go strong until 10:00 PM. Doors will open on Saturday, April 16 at 12:00 PM and on Sunday, April 17 at 12:30 PM.

• 420 Fest is a free event open to the general public. Guests who are 21+ with a valid ID and would like to enjoy SweetWater’s brews can purchase a $5 wrist band. Proceeds from the wrist band go toward Park Pride for Candler Park improvements.

• For the convenience and safety of all attendees, no outside beverages, coolers, glass bottles, pets, illegal substances or on-site soliciting will be permitted on the festival grounds.

OFFICIAL MUSIC LINEUP

The official lineup for this year’s bands, including new additions Arrested Development, Rusted Root and Gurufish, has been released! Plan your weekend accordingly, knowing exactly when to hit up the stages to see your favorite artists or check out some hot new music. For a full listing of all performers on the SweetWater Stage, Planet 420 Solar Stage presented by Gas South, Relapse 420 Comedy Tent presented by Relapse and the Kids Zone presented by The Home Depot visit our website at www.SweetWater420Fest.com.

The 7thAnnual SweetWater 420 Fest SweetWater Stage Lineup Includes:

*Times and line-up are subject to change. Lineup as of 4/08/11

Friday, April 15Saturday, April 16Sunday April 17

Rusted Root4:20 PM Bitteroots 11:45 AM Rollin’ in the Hay12:30 PM

Anders Osbourne6:05 PM Dead Confederate2:20 PM Greensky Bluegrass2:15 PM

Galactic8:20 PM 7 Walkers feat. Bill Kreutzmann 4:50 PM Railroad Earth5:00 PM

Arrested Development 8:00 PM


PARKING AND TRANSPORTATION

We get it. You’re excited about three days of celebrating Mother Earth with your closest friends. How could you not be? But let’s remember this is about being environmentally friendly. Go Green and choose from a few options that get you to the festival with a minimal carbon footprint. MARTA is located a few blocks away from the festivities and cyclists can use our complimentary bike valet, thanks to Atlanta Bike Coalition and Camp Twin Lakes. If you really insist on driving to the event, keep in mind the area around the park has limited parking and be mindful of our gracious Candler Park neighbors.

Speaking of fuel-efficient vehicles, Zipcar will be there so you can confess all of your previous behaviors that may not be that eco-friendly (we’re looking at you, the owner of an SUV). Be purged of your sins and tag a Zipcar with your promise to be more eco-friendly in the future. You’ll visit the recycling center more than once a decade, or maybe even start walking to places? You tell us.

2011 SweetWater 420 Festival sponsors include: Gas South, Xfinity, Coca-Cola, Mobile Media Enterprises, Hotel Indigo, Moe’s, California Pizza Kitchen, Where Atlanta, 99X, Rock 100.5, Creative Loafing and 790 The Zone.

SweetWater 420 Fest is a Happy Ending Productions Event. For more information, please visit www.SweetWater420fest.com, follow us on Twitter@420Fest or become a fan on Facebook. We’re everywhere.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sunday Sales are about to happen in Georgia!


Finally, the Peach State will have the option of making runs at halftime during the NFL season (...assuming there is going to be a season) and grocery shoppers will be able to throw a six-pack or a bottle of Riesling in the cart for the upcoming week. Whatever the reason, Georgians are on the brink of having the liberty to purchase alcohol on Sunday thanks to the House's passing of SB 10 around 9:45 pm, April 12.  The Bill passed with flying colors with127 yeas against 44 haytin' neas. It was the first freakin' time the House had the opportunity to vote on it since it was always buried in the Senate every time the idea was proposed thanks to particularly the heavy influence of hardcore religious conservatives. 
Here is the board showing the players and
the hayters, courtesy of http://www.jasonpye.com/.
A glimmer of hope shined from the beer gods when former Georgia Governor Purdue kicked rocks and current Governor Nathan Deal stepped in, who promised that if the Bill made his desk, it was a wrap; he was signing it. With this monumental decision, some counties that still will have elections in 2011 will be able to make retail Sunday sales of alcohol a reality as soon as this November.
Overall, thanks to the rallies, lobbyists and initiatives like the Georgians For Sunday Sales Coalition who supported the right for counties to choose what laws they want enforced in their neighborhoods!
Here is a Crusin' For A Bruisin' video flashback showing how we all fought the power to get  this SB10 poppin'! Cruisin' For A Brewsin': Sunday Sales. Besides my boy and video producer Leeman with Luxeve who did an awesome job, a special thanks goes to everyone who got this episode played by the masses via Twitter, Facebook and email.
Now let's keep it up! Growlers are next with Hop City being the first to make the 64-ounce jugs full of brew accessible in stores this Thursday. Holla!
Ale

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Looks like I'm missing the Classic City Beer Festival. Damn!


The gods of responsibility got your boy Ale in a headlock!


At least there is Lady Gaga in that cup!
Remember this?
Man, oh man. What a way to wake up. I just go an assignment that is due today along with a bunch of other duties (like taxes!) that the gods of responsibility are pressing me with. With that being the case, I am not going to be able to roll out to Athens, GA with Reid Ramsey, the Atlanta Beer Master, for the awesome 16th Annual Classic City Beer Festival that my good friend and beer authority Owen Ogletree is hosting today from 2:30 to 6:00. 150 different beers are yelling “Come and get me, Ale!” I hear them faintly in the 70-mile distance, but it looks like I just can’t do it. Since returning from the Atlantic City Beer Festival aka Celebration of the Suds, it has been a whirlwind, plus, judging the Miss Latina Georgia Beauty Pageant took my whole Saturday. Damn!

Sunday is a wrap.

Instead, it’s a ton of work, beating the Uncle Sam deadline, trying to find a good deal on a laptop and camera (preferably a Canon G12 so if you have any hook ups, email me @ alesharpton@gmail.com) , and then a well-deserved break at around 3 with my boy who is in town at the Brick Store. Eff it.

It’s all good. There are a few great beer events coming up next week along with the SweetWater 420 Fest that I will be posting up tomorrow, so things look good on the horizon.

And Athens? I am coming for you, big time! I am talking Terrapin, hitting up my man and brewing genius Eric at his Trappeze Pub, paying a visit to the world-renowned Five Points Bottle Shop and maybe catching a Bulldogs game when the football season starts. Until then, keep those lovely brews in a cooler for a brother.

At ease.

Ale

Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's National Beer Day! Here's why...


It's A Celebration!

Hey man, things have been crazy over the last week or so, but hey, I can't complain because it is, after all, National Beer Day!!!

The "D" stands for Dap!
Now some ask what the hell that is, but come on, do you need a reason??? While National Beer Day is every day for me, the U.S. has made it an official one on April 7, thanks to something called the Cullen-Harrison Act and the signature of the President of the United States in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt. See, to put an end to that damned-to-all-hell Volstead Act (coupled with the 18th Amendment) that prohibited the sale of alcohol starting on January 17,1920, Senator Pat Harrison and Thomas Cullen fought the power, scripted the aptly titled Cullen-Harrison Act to make alcohol consumption legal again, got the Congress to give it a thumbs-up on March 21, 1933, and only needed President Roosevelt's autograph to seal the deal. Well, the next day, the Prez's middle initial immediately stood for "Dap" (the knocking of fists and handshakes) because he got a lot of it when he signed off on the bill. Okay, so the beer's potency level was set at only 3.2% (by weight) which makes it about 4.0% by volume (yuck!) at the time, but things have obviously gotten a lot more potent since then (except for the drafts in Utah!). Anyway, from April 7th of 1933, the day when the law went into effect, this date in the States became the shiznit!
The Fight The Power Baby!
So celebrate today, hit up a pub with an awesome selection, give some dap to anyone who has love for the suds, and enjoy one of the most significant law changes in history. I know I am! Atlanta is absolutely gorgeous right now so I have to take advantage of it. Brewhouse Cafe, I'm on my way!
Holla,
Ale

Friday, April 1, 2011

Atlantic City Beer Festival: Let's do it!


It's time to for Cruisin' For A Brewsin' on Jersey's shore! 

After an absolutely hectic week in Atlanta, I was looking forward to jumping on the plane and setting up shop in Atlantic City, NJ to attend the 6th Annual Celebration of the Suds aka the 2011 Atlantic City Beer Festival. I have heard great things about it, and knowing that 75 breweries are represented here including a lot of northern breweries that don't make it down to the ATL, I know there will be some new styles I have yet to encounter. From April 1st through Saturday night, about 20,000 craft brew lovers and future connoisseurs will be indulging in some of the world's best beers, 4 ounces at a time! But until I go for the 12-4 pm session tomorrow, I will be chilling at The Chelsea tonight, a sheik boutique hotel, and eating at their award-winning Chelsea Prime restaurant. From there, I am finding the best bar to watch the Lakers slaughter the Jazz. I heard Firewaters at the Tropicana has more than 50 taps so I have that down as a serious consideration.
Since it's hard to get up North, I made it an extravaganza and have a few of my homies from Ithaca, NY, my birthplace, coming up as well, so we will all make it a huge weekend themed around beer. But it wouldn't be complete without hitting up the Tun Tavern down the street, the only brewery on the strip. In fact, I have to give a shout out to Tim Kelly, the Tun's chief brewer, who held a homebrewing contest for the Festival and awarded locals Vince Masciandaro and Evan Fritz the winners with their Belgian Triple hops concoction. (I heard through the "hopvine" is amazing.) Fritz and Masciandaro, who've been brewing for 20 years, have to be stoked because their winning formula will be available for tasting during the festival for thousands to enjoy. Man, I can't wait to see how they get down in "New Jeroos." I'll save you sip!
Anyway, besides all of the aforementioned destinations, the legendary Knife and Fork Inn will be getting a visit by yours truly, especially since it is run by a fellow Cornellian! Go Big Red!
Okay, look for cool photos and alladat coming soon. It's time to get my grub on.
Oh, look! It's The Situation! "Great job on the Donald Trump Comedy Roast, buddy! Stick with the abs!"
Ale