Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What to do on Hump Day? Red Brick’s 'Wild Card Wednesdays'!


Yet another reason why Atlanta's beer scene is killer!

I know Atlanta has a lot going on when it comes to brew (or this would be one boring-ass blog), but that is called a good problem! Now, thanks to one of its breweries from the old school, Red Brick (formerly known as the Atlanta Brewing Company that was established in 1993), Wednesdays are going to be even more happening for us sippers of the world's greatest beverage.
Yep, recognized as Georgia’s oldest craft brewery, the beloved Red Brick has something poppin’ between 5:00 p.m. to 8 p.m., where they proudly host “Wild Card Brew Wednesdays” at their home base (2323 Defoor Hills Rd. NW, Atlanta, GA. 30318). Here’s how it works: During each public tour on every Wednesday from now until August 31st, Red Brick is pouring an exclusive, one-and-done "Wild Card" cask/firkin brew for their esteemed guests. The cool thing is no one knows what the beer will be the day of the tour, so taste buds are left hanging until the first sip. That should be an intriguing, yet adventurous journey for any beer lover, so check them out. For two Lincoln bills (or one Alexander Hamilton), Red Brick is ready to surprise visitors every Wednesday with something they will never sip again, so take notes, a picture of whatever so that you eternally cherish each one!
For more info, check out their website or Facebook page.
Happy Hump Day!
Ale

Monday, July 25, 2011

Put on this ‘Drinking Cap’ out of Brazil!


 Real Deal Brazil gets crafty with microbrewery beer caps.

In case you didn’t know, your homey Ale loves some hats. This fact, coupled with my love for cool hunting, made me gravitate to the “Tarp Hat” made by the Greenville, NC-based company called Real Deal Brazil. This hat initially caught my eyes in the 2009 blockbuster flick Zombieland which featured Woody Harrelson  rocking it while while slaughtering decomposed flesh eaters, but when Real Deal took the coolness even further and added an optional band laced with bottle caps, I was sold!
Yep! That's it..
The hat itself is made from the authentic, recycled tarps that actually covered cargo trucks transporting goods throughout Brazil (which explains the company name since they are based in North Carolina). Now that’s cool already, but they took it to the next level for beer lovers like us by embellishing it with tops that come from some of the nation’s most well-respected microbreweries including Great Lakes Brewery out of Cleveland, OH; Shmaltz Brewery reppin’ New York, Michigan’s Bell’s, Great Divide in Denver and their nearby hero, Duck Rabbit.
“Our aim is always to include as wide a variety of quality beer brands among our caps as possible, with our home-state North Carolina brewers strongly represented, particularly top regionals like World Beer Cup gold-medal winner Duck-Rabbit in Farmville,” company rep Frank Rabey says. “We also mix in caps from some of the tastier and more interesting imports, and even a couple craft  hard ciders.” You gotta love how they are showing love to the micros. Real Deal emphasizes that they only use tops from breweries that are not what they term “…too pervasive in the marketplace,” i.e. Heineken.
So how do they make these killer bands? Rabey explains, “Consistently getting any quantity of quality used craft-beer caps is a challenge, though the actual crafting of our hat bands itself is very straightforward: We  cleanly double-punch all caps so they slide easily onto the strong synthetic cord, then uniformly space them a meager distance apart, affixing them with a high-melt-point glue.” Crafty!
Anyway, check out their site for more of their pimpin’ products including the Iguape Messenger Bag that I definitely want to get! Just go to realdealbrazil.com and see what else they have in their arsenal. (For specifically the beer band, click the link for “Tarp Hats” and scroll midway down, to "Beer Cap Hat Band - Craft Beer.")

Cheers!

Ale

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Drink SweetWater 420, get a glass and save the Chattahoochee River!


Hey Beer Nuts!
I know, I know. I have been gone for a minute but when family priorities call coupled with some assignment blessings from the gods of journalism (including Jezebel Magazine, GRIP Magazine, Men’s Book and others), I gotta answer! But enough of the excuses, I have so much stocked up for you, my cherished readers, to be entertained for a good minute through this blazing month of July and beyond. In fact, I was about to post something but then the inauguration of this weekly SweetWater get-together at Café 640 (640 N. Highland Avenue, 30306) Atlanta, GA took priority due to it starting tonight!
Read the official info below and get your sippin' and eatin’ on, and help the South’s #1 brewery continue keeping the local Chattahoochee River Basin drinkable! I’m off to the Wrecking Bar for a private media dinner tonight followed by the Tribe Called Quest documentary premiere (I love them!), so I‘m booked, but hopefully I will make another one of their Thursdays in the near future. I mean, damn, check out their grub to the left!

Oh, and come back tomorrow. I have something seriously gangster for you!
Deuces!
Ale
 -------------------------------

CAFÉ 640 INTRODUCES 420 AT 640
 SweetWater Drinkers Unite to Benefit Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper Efforts
Weekly Thursday Dates Begin July 21 at 6:40 p.m.
Beginning, tonight, Thursday, July 21, local dining favorite Café 640 (formerly Café di Sol) will introduce their weekly 420 at 640 series, a philanthropic effort benefiting the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper efforts.  Guests will have the opportunity to give back to the Atlanta community, simply by stopping in for a SweetWater. Running through August 1, a portion of all SweetWater beer sales will be donated to the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. Guests will also receive a SweetWater glass to take home with their first purchase and can register for the chance to win a custom painted SweetWater kayak - perfect for a hot day drifting down the Chattahoochee.  The winner of the kayak will be announced amongst live music and passed small plates at a September 1, 2011 bash at Cafe 640.
WHAT:          420 at 640
WHERE:        Café 640 - 640 N. Highland Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30306         
WHEN:          Thursdays at 6:40 p.m., beginning July 21 through August 1.
CONTACT:   For more information, please visit www.cafe640.com or call 404-724-0711
About Café 640:
Located at 640 North Highland Avenue in Virginia Highlands, Café 640 is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.  Weekly events include Buy One Get One Free Burger Monday, Wine Wednesday, Live Music Thursday, and the Sunday Crawfish Boil. For more information, visit www.cafe640.com or call 404-724-0711. Follow Café 640 on Twitter at @Cafe640, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Cafe640.

About Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper:
Established in 1994, Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (UCR) is an environmental advocacy organization with more than 5,000 members dedicated solely to protecting and restoring the Chattahoochee River Basin—drinking water source for 3.5 million people. UCR was the 11th licensed program in the international Waterkeeper Alliance, now close to 200 organizations strong. From the north Georgia mountains to the Florida border, the Chattahoochee River is impacted by unplanned development, storm runoff and trash from industries, roads, and construction sites, and discharges from sewage treatment plants. Withdrawals from the river by municipalities and industries also affect its health through consumptive loss of water that is not returned to the river, impacting downstream water quality, recreation and ecology. While significant improvements have been made in the river, much remains to be accomplished.  UCR actively uses advocacy, education, research, communication, cooperation, monitoring and legal actions to protect and preserve the Chattahoochee and its watershed.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pioneers of Beers Interview Series: Julie Baggett


Beer expert Julie Baggett discusses everything from being a lab tech with Bell’s Brewery to being a woman in the world of brewing.

I am a part of an exclusive circulating email group for beer writers, pub owners, brewers and straight-up beer nuts. We talk about everything from who is selling limited releases of ales and lagers, to leading a rally to get rid of laws that compromise our rights to sip whatever kind of beer we want. Well, during various exchanges in cyberspace, a woman named Julie Baggett consistently offered her two cents in frank and often hilarious fashion. I always loved what she had to say and judging from her input, proved to know a helluva load about the suds.
The brew gods had us finally cross paths at a beer pub gathering and Julie, a native Atlantan, was even funnier in person, yet passionate about everything regarding beer. From selling sanitizing solution for brewing tanks to consulting pubs worldwide on how to store, serve and preserve what she terms “the ultimate beverage,” Julie had some fascinating stories. It was only right that I feature her as the next expert of my Pioneers of Beers Interview Series. My last edition featured Richard Roper, one of the three winning brewers of the latest Samuel Adams Longshot Series with his Belgian Hop Ale here.
Just finishing her latest gig as a consultant with the new pub in Atlanta’s Little 5 Points called The Wrecking Bar (Make sure you check it out!), Julie and I got together at The Porter a couple blocks away (here’s my vid with owner Molly here), ordered a few Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stouts on draught and, well, here ya go!
Enjoy!

Ale: Let’s start simple. What is 'beer' to you?
Julie Baggett: Beer is the ultimate beverage as it has been used as food, medicine and mind-altering sacrament since the beginning of man's existence. It even played a major role in the transformation of mankind from a hunter-gatherer clan to actual agriculture and ultimately civilization. Ultimately, a well-made beer should be a solace to the soul and a joy to the senses whenever consumed. Brewing of beer is equal parts art and science.

Amen! That was tear-jerking. Okay, tell us your story.
I started my beer journey 20 years ago when as a junior pre-med in college. I met the analytical chemistry prof from England and was introduced to Mackeson's Sweet Stout, Woodpecker Cider and Chimay Red. I took a graduate course in the chemistry of beer and winemaking from him and brewed ginger beer, spiced brown ale and the first incarnation of my Mojo Metheglyn—a mead with both medicinal and flavoring spices. I was hooked by the brewing bug from then on.
When medicine started turning into managed health care, I nixed my reconstructive surgical medical career for pursuing professional brewing on the advice of my now deceased sommelier brother. I started working without pay at Marthasville Brewing Company and Blind Man Ales to get my hand in the profession. I worked for 9 months straight, 7 days a week as a postpartum CNA in hospital as well as a home health aide to raise tuition and living expenses to attend the 1996 UC Davis Master Brewers Certification. I was the only woman in my class and the third to attend the program.

You go girl! So you got love from major breweries after that course, right?
Yep! Anheuser- Busch sent me interview paperwork before I'd even completed my final at UC Davis. I worked at A/B Cartersville for a year before I became Senior Head Brewer for Abita. I also worked as staff brewer and lab tech for Bell's Brewery.
I've worked for a variety of brewpubs, homebrew stores and production breweries in Atlanta and I have learned a great deal about what not to do in business over the years, which I feel is more important than  knowing what to do. I spent over five years in technical sales with Loeffler Chemical, meeting brewers from around the country and learning the chemical solutions to any potential sanitary issue that may come up in a brewery. In 2006, I finally had the opportunity to brew my own recipes, of which I did well and was very proud of. In 2008, I did it again, restoring befouled brewing equipment to pristine, sanitary condition and producing great, award-winning beers that were distributed from Raleigh to Pinehurst, NC. I look forward to making great beers or spirits again very soon in the future.

It sounds like you have done some serious traveling. What U.S. city has the best beer scene and what city abroad is kicking ass with the suds?
In my travels, Brussels, so far, is the best beer city worldwide. In this country, Boston and surrounding suburbs has had the best beer offerings.

Well Atlanta is definitely moving up in beer city recognition. Speaking of which, what are you doing in the ATL?
I just wrapped up at the Wrecking Bar Brewpub as a lackey and consultant. I got really dirty helping Brewmaster Chris Terenzi get the brewery cleaned up and ready for brewing. It's been a great opportunity to pick up new skills like soldering copper pipe, dealing with what construction needs to be completed in what order, passing inspections and getting permits.

So what’s next?
I can eye proper real estate sites, choose appropriate equipment and utilities for the job within a budget, get the site ready for the receipt and installation of equipment and plan recipes according to the client's preferences. It's also a good way for a future boss and yourself to try each other out, insuring that your future dealings will be harmonious and constructive as you transition into brewmaster. 
Who knows? I could end up in a brewpub, production brewery or distillery.

Staying on the topic of Georgia’s capital, who are the gangster brewers out there you respect?
The Atlanta brewers I respect the most include Chris Terenzi (Wrecking Bar, Max Lager’s, U.S. Border Brewery and Cantina) who's got mad construction skills and a good eye for saving  money; John Roberts, who continues to brew good beer year after year without making a fuss about it (Max Lager’s, Atlanta Brewing Co.); Spike Buckowski and John Cochran who have the most savvy business skills in the industry (Terrapin); and Brian Campbell, who despite working full time for Loeffler, brews nearly every weekend as good as professional (an awesome homebrewer).

Good calls. You named all gents, but as a woman in this industry, what is that like? Is it difficult?
As a woman in brewing, it's not difficult working in a man's industry, but you have to prove you can do as much work as they can and not take any crap off them, but not be too easily offended or hung up on political correctness. I'd love to see more women in the industry, but it's very physically and mentally taxing work and you have to be of a certain mindset to put up with it.

Word! So what would you change in the brewing word if you could?
If I could change anything in the brewing world, I would want government to eliminate some of the more blatant examples of restraint of trade from its books and let capitalism do its thing. Make three tier optional. Let brewers self-distribute if they choose. Let them give away POS schwag and advertise on their websites where you can find their beer. Let brewpubs sell growlers and attend beer festivals without having to align with a distributor. Oh! And let people buy beer 7 days a week, which is coming in Georgia I heard. I liked that Cruisin’ For A Brewsin’ episode you did on it, by the way! I am sure it helped.

Thanks homey! I need to have you in one. You are hilarious and know your beers!
Anytime!

Friday, July 8, 2011

On-Ice Beer Dispenser for the house? Yep!

Straight Chillin'!

I just heard about this dispenser that guarantees ice cold beer with ever pour in the comfort of your own homeor office (I won't tell anyone). Anyway, the innovative people at HomeWetBar.com have launched this gadget that has an acryllic cylinder to hold ice in the center, chill the brew surrounding it and, most importantly, not watering down your already watery light beer (unless you bought the good stuff!).
Truthfully, since beer snobs like myself usually drink ales that have to be on the cool side rather than the polar bear weather most lagers demand, I probably won't dish out the loot-$44.95. Regardless, I dig the idea for those pilsner lovers. Now if only there was a damn pro basketball or football game we could watch and truly utilize this!

Well at least college kids are not locked out. 


Here is their official description:



On-Ice Mixed Drink and Beer Dispenser Details

Lets face it, running to the keg or ice-box in the middle of the big game is a hassle (you never know what you'll miss) and your wife isn't very well going to let you park your cooler in the middle of the living room. Presenting the solution to warm beers and frequent trips to the ice box! This brilliant beer dispenser keeps 80oz of your favorite brew or drink at a finger’s touch away and ice cold in it's separate beer tower compartment without diluting the flavor! Great for game-days, restaurants, or outdoor entertaining; with it's polished, chrome plated base, and a non-diluting ice chamber, this acrylic beer dispenser is practical and perfect for chilling and pouring up ice-cold ales, liquors, white wine, mixed drinks, or shots! Simply fill the interior chamber with ice, the exterior with your favorite libations, and enjoy a delicious, undiluted drink! On-Ice beer dispenser measures 20½”x7” and has a 5¾” clearance from table to spout.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

American Homebrewers Association lists Top 50 Beers in the U.S.!

Pliny the Elder comes out the Top Gangsta!

There are plenty of folks who claim they are beer authorities and opinions are like, ummm...brains, everyone has one (at least physically). The American Homebrewers Association (AHA)--arguably the most respected non-profit organization founded in 1978 that proudly represents homebrewers and established brewers throughout the U.S.--recently gave us their interpretation of what the best suds are via their popular Zymurgy magazine.
Well, honestly, there is no right answer when it comes to the best beer because it's what your palate has grown accustomed to, but I am certainly not mad at the ales (and a couple of lagers) that garnered top rankings. In fact, there are only four I haven’t had yet, so I am on a mission, but my homey at the Twitter address @Dawgontap made a great observation: There is not one out of the Southeast! What's up with that?
Anyway, Santa Rosa, California’s Russian River Brewery came out on top with their India Pale Ale, Pliny the Elder, for the third straight year (dizzzamn!), and Dogfish Head out of Delaware received the  most votes collectively for a number of their world-renowned ales. Stone, Sierra Nevada and Samuel Adams got hella love too! Evidently, hops rule!
All in all, make it a point to sip as many of these selections as you can if you can find them. Microbreweries are what make the beer world go ‘round so support them, expand your beer knowledge and enjoy!

The American Homebrewers Association’s Top 50 Beers in the U.S.

1. Russian River Pliny the Elder
The official description of Pliny on its Russian River Brewery website says:
"Pliny the Elder was a Roman naturalist, scholar, historian, traveler, officer, and writer. Although not considered his most important work, Pliny and his contemporaries created the botanical name for hops, "Lupus salictarius", meaning wolf among scrubs. Hops at that time grew wild among willows, much like a wolf in the forest. Later the current botanical name, Humulus lupulus, was adopted. Pliny died in 79 AD while observing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. He was immortalized by his nephew, Pliny the Younger, who continued his uncle's legacy by documenting much of what he observed during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.”
8.0% ABV

2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
3 (tie). Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
3 (tie). Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
5. Bell’s Hopslam
6. Stone Arrogant Bastard
7. Sierra Nevada Celebration
8 (tie). Sierra Nevada Torpedo
8 (tie). Stone Ruination
10. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
11. Stone Sublimely Self Righteous
12. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine
13. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
14 (tie). Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter
14 (tie). Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale
16 (tie). Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
16 (tie). New Glarus Belgian Red
18. North Coast Old Rasputin
19. Bell’s Expedition Stout
20 (tie). Deschutes The Abyss
20 (tie). Left Hand Milk Stout
20 (tie). Odell IPA
20 (tie). Samuel Adams Noble Pils
20 (tie). Surly Furious
20 (tie). Troegs Nugget Nectar
26 (tie). Rogue Dead Guy Ale
26 (tie). Samuel Adams Boston Lager
28. Anchor Steam
29 (tie). Bear Republic Racer 5
29 (tie). Ommegang Three Philosophers
29 (tie). Oskar Blues Ten Fidy
29 (tie). Three Floyds Alpha King
29 (tie). Three Floyds Dark Lord
34 (tie). Avery Maharaja
34 (tie). Dogfish Head Indian Brown
34 (tie). Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
34 (tie). Three Floyds Gumballhead
38 (tie). Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA
38 (tie). Lost Abbey Angel’s Share
38 (tie). New Belgium La Folie
38 (tie). New Belgium Ranger
38 (tie). Oskar Blues Old Chub
43 (tie). Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
43 (tie). Great Divide Yeti
43 (tie). New Belgium 1554
43 (tie). Russian River Blind Pig
43 (tie). Ska Modus Hoperandi
48 (tie). Alesmith Speedway Stout
48 (tie). Dark Horse Crooked Tree
48 (tie). Green Flash West Coast IPA
48 (tie). Summit EPA
48 (tie). Victory Prima Pils