Saturday, March 31, 2012

I'm helping put a new 'Spin' on Castleberry Hill!

Awwww...Spin's first tap! The memories.
It's been a blast coming up with the beer list for a new Atlanta pizza joint called Spin!

Okay, did March blow by ridiculously or what??? Well I know for me, the third month was a blur because of March Madness and...

  • Crazy traveling. I went to Charleston again (I can't get enough) to test drive the new Infiniti JX which was pretty impressive and I found two more chill spots: awesome food at F.I.G and a reggae-pumping bar called Boone's Tavern.
My shot of the new Infiniti JX in Charleston.
  • Starting my new creative company called AllWays Open with business partner Eric Nine (Yes, it's AllWays two "ls" because we're open to make just about anything hot and I can't wait to show you some of our work including photography, business cards, copywriting, branding... Man, wait until you see our logo and site!) We just finished Phase One with our first client, El Primer Mundo Cigars Things came out super hot so EPM brought us on for Phase Two immediately after they saw our work. Dope!!!!
Phase One complete!
  • Finishing crazy deadlines with Jezebel and Men's Book magazines. Please check out my article on the Braves' Chipper Jones and fashion guru James W. Brashears III.
Brother James.
  • And last but not least, being hired to develop the beer list, write the press release, do the photography and some other awesome duties for a new pizza joint called The Spinning Pie, aka Spin! Man, was this fun! Since I was a hotelie at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, it brought back memories of what it was like to open a spot! Sure, there are kinks and b.s. you deal with in the early stages, but seeing something like an eatery develop in front of your eyes is pretty damn awesome!
One of my Spin flicks.

Anyway, I was asked to do the beer list for Spin by owner Cortland Jackson because I gave him a freebie on the consulting tip for his adjacent business, 255, by telling him to add Victory Golden Monkey to his drink menu on tap. I thought a potent, slightly sweet Belgian Trippel-style beer that is well-respected, not too hoppy and possessing a cool name would be a slam dunk in a hip lounge like his. Ever since then, they can't keep it in stock. Anyway, about a year later, my friends at High Gravity Hip Hop told me Cortland wanted to get with me on developing his new beer list. I said hell yeah, and when he found out all the other things I did like photography, writing, consulting, etc., it was a done deal! 
We did a number of tastings, and although I wanted to bring some serious craziness in there regarding beers from all over the world, we had to consider cost, popularity, showing local love, what would pair well with pizza, and what wouldn't have his customers' palates shocked with something like a Rauchbier or a Sour. With that being said, I chose a few refreshing wheats (Allagash White, the classic Weihenstephaner), SweetWater Blue for some fruity notes of blueberry, of course an IPA (I went with the malty Heavy Seas Loose Cannon and Bell's Two-Hearted is on deck), the potent Founder's Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale, one of my favorite stouts (Old Rasputin on draft), the delicious Wild Heaven Ode To Mercy Imperial Brown, and we had to have a potent Belgian so Chimay got the nod on tap. Of course, we also wanted to have some familiarity so the top-selling Corona (based on 255's sales) and lager staple, Stella Artois got the nod, and PBR is going for like $2.50 on draft for the frugal. There are a few more goodies coming and the taps are always changing, so as our pizza-eating customers develop a more adventurous approach to the craft suds, I will get more creative with the selection.

Thanks for checking back with me and supporting my blog. I love writing for you and promise that something huge is on the way so be ready!
Here's the Spin press release by the way. Cheers!!!:

Spin Pizzeria and Craft Beers comes to Castleberry Hill

New eatery puts a new ‘Spin’ on Castleberry Hill with hand-tossed pizza and craft beer
Atlanta, GA. (March 29, 2012) – The consistently burgeoning Castleberry Hill District just west of Downtown Atlanta continues to thrive with new and exciting restaurants. One flourishing restaurant team continues to develop the area with its newest culinary concept—The Spinning Pie (259 Peters St; Castleberry Hill; 404.880.0703)—adjacent to their popular restaurant/lounge, 255. Affectionately called Spin, its interior décor is a flawless fusion of contemporary and rustic elements—gorgeous wood paneled walls, stained concrete floors, and a hand-painted mural of Atlanta’s skyline to mention a few. Coming from the oven, Spin will specialize in traditional, large slices and pies with a plethora of toppings. Everyone from hipsters to head honchos will enjoy indulging in everything from apple chicken sausage to goat cheese, marinated chicken, Kalamata olives, and dozens more encompassed in a garlic butter-brushed crust. There will be various other menu items including chicken pesto, lasagna, fettuccini Alfredo, a French Hoagie Meatball Sub, a variety of fresh salads; delectable happy endings including the S'Mores Pie which collectively promise to satisfy the most demanding appetites and palates.
Notably, there are numerous other elements of Spin that separate this eatery from the run-of-the-mill pizza shops, such as:
·         Craft beer: To embrace the boom of crafted ales and lagers, Spin has partnered with renowned beer expert Ale Sharpton—who pens for numerous national publications and his own award-winning website, to serve as the sommelier of the suds. Everything from Belgium’s revered Chimay  to refreshing product from domestic  breweries such as Bell’s, Heavy Seas, New Belgium and local king SweetWater, will perfectly pair with Spin’s fresh fare. Seven rotating taps and an extensive selection of bottled/canned items will be available, along with wine and an array of high-end spirits to choose from.
·         Live DJs will be spinning an eclectic selection of music genres ranging from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to the latest from Jay-Z on a nightly basis on a state-of-the-art sound system.
·         Three large, flat-screen HD televisions will be on high above the bar for everyone’s viewing pleasure.
·         Plus a number of special events, parties and other nightly attractions.

Contact: 259 Peters St; Castleberry Hill; 404.880.0703
Spin’s hours: Sunday through Wednesday, 11:30 am to 1 am: Thursday through Saturday, 11:30 am to 2:30 am


Friday, March 16, 2012

Cruisin’ For A Brewsin’: Charleston, S.C.!

I love this city! 

Kickin' it with my homeys from Palmetto Brewing, one of the awesome breweries in the state of South Carolina, during the Charleston Wine + Food Festival.

It seemed like yesterday when I was rolling to Charleston, S.C., one of my favorite cities in the U.S., to cover their annual BB&T Charleston Wine +Food Festival along with the burgeoning food writer, Andrea Janise. Man, I had a blast thanks to so many people who live and brew in that city. They showed your homey much love and rolled out the red carpet. With so many places to hit up in so little time, I didn't get a chance to make it to all of the stops I had on my list like tours of Coast, Holy City, and Palmetto breweries, but I still got a chance to kick it with some of their reps and sip some fantastic suds they produce.
Anyway, here are some cool spots you don’t want to miss when hitting up the coastline city of C-Town if you are Cruisin’ For A Brewsin’:

The Charleston Beer Exchange

Whenever I get to Charleston, I make sure to make my visit to the Beer Exchange a priority. One of the pioneers of craft beer retail in the South, these gents have done so well slinging some of the hardest beers to find including constantly rotating growler taps, they are setting up shop in Greenville, another great South Carolina destination. Get your allowance money saved up because it is virtually impossible to leave this shop empty handed.

Closed For Business

All my fellow beer geeks in Atlanta swore by this place (Whaddup, Beer-Talk!), so I had to go. Yep, as usual, they were on point. After his book signing, I  joined Timmons Pettigrew, the author of the wonderful book, Charleston Beer, and chilled out at a spot called Closed For Business right on the main strip, King Street. Closed had me open with a fusion of contemporary décor and some cozy furniture you’d find in Bruce Wayne’s study. 
My main man and author
extraordinaire Timmons P.!
The impressive tap selection allowed me to select the delicious American IPA/Belgian Trippel-style hybrid, the Green Flash Le Freak, out of San Diego County, California. Awesomeness! We had to bounce after a few glasses, though. They were setting up for a Victory beer dinner and we had a wine event to cover. (Shhhhh…I snuck in a Wild Heaven Ode to Mercy Imperial Brown Ale for Timmons to try and he loved it!) Definitely check out Closed for Biz.

Kudu Coffee and Craft Beer
Sippin' a breakfast for champions, the Ertvelds Wit out of Belgium, with Kudu head honcho Josh looking on. The coffee is kickass too!
I also discovered a cozy spot that would be my morning stop everyday if I could:  Just off of King Street (and two block from Closed) is a hipster destination that explores every meaning of the word “brew,” specializing in selling coffee and craft beer called Kudu Coffee and Craft Beer. Sure, there’s a similar coffee house in Atlanta called Octane, but Kudu had an awesome patio and their fresh pastries looked damn good! It was ten o’clock and I still was able to get a Weyerbacher Old Heathen Imperial Stout on tap! Talk about good morning! Co-founder Josh did a great job setting this place up. Stop by when you need a shot of java…or hops!

Mount Pleasant, S.C.
Seared Sea Scallops with Charred Corn and Shrimp Salsa, and Jalapeno Beurre Blanc at Red Drum in Mount Pleasant. Hungry yet?
Oh yeah, and don’t sleep on Mount Pleasant, which is another section that is a hop and a skip from Downtown Charleston. It was easy to make myself at home with the open arms I received from the restaurateur Charlie Chance. I had dinner at his Red Drum gastropub which was fantastic, and the next night, I covered the New Belgium Beer Dinner at his bistro restaurant next door called, well, Next Door

I was joined by All About Beer's Publisher Daniel Bradford, and a table full of media all-stars and beer distributors as we indulged in top-notch fare prepared by some of the best chefs in the business including Ben Berryhill (Red Drum), Robert Carter (Carter’s Kitchen), Donald Barickman (Culinary Institute of Charleston), and Brett McKee (Eli’s Table). For a flawless breakdown of what we had, check out Charleston City Paper food scribe Erik Doksa here. The beer standouts NewBelgium hit us with included the spicy Biere de Mars (6.2%) form the Lips of Faith Series; the La Folie sour brown ale (6.0%); and the rich Cocoa Mole ale (9.0%).

Coleman Public House
I also managed to find time to sip a flight (about four or more beer samples) at the ColemanPublic House a few miles down the road from Next Door for a nightcap. I met Eric there and I suggest if you ever venture outside the Charleston city limits, make it over there to sip some liquid hard-to-finds on tap. Just keep an eye on the ever-changing chalkboard announcing what liquid deliciousness is served by the second.

All in all, Charleston is consistently a great time whenever I go and with burgeoning breweries like the aforementioned Holy City, verteran Palmetto, Westbrook (the Thai and SaisonPiggly Wiggly's Pig Swig blowing up (contract brewed by Thomas Creek), this city will continue to be a force to reckon. 

Pig Swig is kickin' pigtail
at Piggly Wiggly!
From the southern charm, to palm trees, friendliness, rich history, esteemed culinary scene,  and, of course, appreciation for beer, This is undoubtedly one of my favorite U.S. cities.

Friday, March 9, 2012

ATL Bite Life's in the house!

ATL Bite Life shows Ale love!
What's good!
I juuuuuust got back from New Orleans so as soon as I get settled, I have some great stuff for you to check out including the new installment for Cruisin' For A Brewsin's travel journal. This time it's Operation: Charleston. I am also going to post flicks from my upcoming judging of SweetWater's Brew Your Cask Off which is going to be nuts this Saturday!!!
But until then, I just got the pleasant surprise that food blogger and show host Nick Love for ATL Bite Life. He just posted his footage of me giving him a little tutorial session on Stella Artois at the 2012 Atlanta Chef Expo a couple weekends ago. It came out pretty hot for doing it on the fly and I applaud his progress in the food scene. 
Peep it here:
We are going to do another one on beer hella soon so be on the look out for that. Nice job, Slick Nick!
If y'all are heading to SweetWater tomorrow, grab me and say whaddup!!! I might be a bit toasted, though. I am judging these wonderful casks starting at 1 p.m. The event doesn't start until 6! It's going to be legendary!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Got Milk...Stout Nitro?

Ground-breaking Left Hand Nitro is now in Atlanta!

Whaddup Brew Heads?
Here is the latest from one of the best breweries in the nation, Left Hand Brewing Company. They are revolutionizing the game by stocking shelves throughout Atlanta’s fine package stores with their new Milk Stout Nitro in a bottle, the first of its kind! The “Nitro” bottles create an amazing effect by making the brew pour and sip smoother than a freshly shaven Billy Dee Williams. Seriously, I’m talking about the similar cascading effect in the glass when poured, plus the creaminess that could rival gelato minus that widget noisemaker found in other cans that creates the similar nitro characteristics. 
The original
Don Dada!
Left Hand promises it will be like a pub pour, but out the bottle instead of the tap. The original Milk Stout is an awesome fusion of coffee and dark chocolate, but this one will leave a “Got Milk… Stout Nitro?” mustache after the first sip. I am down to see how gangster this brew truly is. In fact, I am going to Leon's Full Service tonight to taste it for the first time thanks to Left Hand making a stop there to pour us some! They will also be having a ton of other tastings today and tomorrow (see below for locations and a Q & A on the newbie) but I am out of town, heading to Charleston for their Food + Wine Festival. 
Anyway, check out the Milk Stout Nitro because I damn sure am!

Left Hand is the first craft brewer in country to release a Nitro beer in a bottle!

(LONGMONT, CO) – That’s right. Since this past February, craft beer’s FIRST nitrogen bottled beer has been rolling out of Colorado and making its southeast debut in Atlanta! After 2 ½ years in R&D, Left Hand Brewing Company took Milk Stout Nitro from its draft variety and perfected the science of bottling the innovative beer. Since the Nitro bottles inaugural unveiling during the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado, craft beer fans across the U.S. have been eager to pick up a six pack of their own.
“Customers have really taken to Milk Stout on nitro. They’ve supported us around the country in bars & restaurants – psyched to have a nitro stout that’s made right here in the US,” said Chris Lennert, VP of Operations for the brewery. “Now we’re happy to offer Milk Stout Nitro in 6pks for them to take home.”
Dark & delicious, America’s great milk stout will change your perception about what a stout can be. Pouring hard out of the bottle, Milk Stout Nitro cascades beautifully, building a tight, thick head like hard whipped cream. The aroma is of brown sugar and vanilla cream, with hints of roasted coffee. The pillowy head coats your upper lip and its creaminess entices your palate. Initial roasty, mocha flavors rise up, with slight hop & roast bitterness in the finish. The rest is pure bliss of milk chocolate fullness.
The 2012 national rollout of Milk Stout Nitro will cover seven cities, kicking off in Chicago and ending on March 23rd in New York City. Atlanta will be the first & only city in the South where Nitro will be available for the initial rollout. During the Mar 1-2nd kickoff, craft beer fans will have the opportunity to try Milk Stout Nitro at 12 different tastings across Atlanta. What's more, each evening will cap off with Nitro release parties at Leon’s Full Service and the Fred Bar.

For more information, including “How to Pour the Perfect Pint”, go to
Please see the attached schedule for a complete look at the complete Milk Stout Nitro Atlanta Rollout.
Here are the Nitro Tastings:

Whole Foods 4-7pm
650 Ponce De Leon Avenue NW
Atlanta, GA 30308
Whole Foods 4-7pm
650 Ponce De Leon Avenue NW
Atlanta, GA 30308
Whole Foods 4-7pm
2111 Briarcliff Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
Whole Foods 4-7pm
2111 Briarcliff Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
Whole Foods 4-7pm
77 West Paces Ferry Road NW
Atlanta, GA 30305
Whole Foods 4-7pm
77 West Paces Ferry Road NW
Atlanta, GA 30305
Whole Foods 4-7pm
5930 Roswell Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30328
Whole Foods 4-7pm
5930 Roswell Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30328
Whole Foods 4-7pm
1311 Johnson Ferry Road NE
Marietta, GA 30068
Whole Foods 4-7pm
1311 Johnson Ferry Road NE
Marietta, GA 30068
Octane 5:30-7pm
1009 Marietta Street NW Atlanta, GA 30318
Total Wine 4-7pm
124 Perimeter Center West
Atlanta, GA 30346

Rollout Parties

Leon’s Full Service 9pm
131 E Ponce De Leon Ave Decatur, GA 30030
The Fred Bar 8pm
5600 Roswell Rd
Atlanta, GA 30342

Milk Stout Nitro FAQ’s

Q: Where do you get your nitrogen?

Q: Do you use a special bottle?
A: The bottle is specifically designed to release the beer as you empty it.

Q: What does the n2 do for you?
A: Nitrogen forms small densely packed bubbles which create a beautiful head on beer.  Nitrogen bubbles are also less resistant to breakage in the atmosphere, because our atmosphere is mostly nitrogen.  This lends itself to long lasting, visually stimulating head.

Q: Why does it cascade?
A: It is due to the friction on the side of the glass.  The bubbles on the side of the glass have to fight with the friction of the glass surface.  The bubbles in the center rush up the middle and then get pushed to the side by the bubbles behind them.  This causes a downward flow on the sides of the glass as they cannot flow up they flow down into the center and out.

Q: What made you decide to do this?
A: Our Milk Stout Nitro bottle is designed to replicate our draught product that has been so successful. We love drinking our beer in our bars and restaurants, but wanted people to have that same experience at home.

Q: When do you add the nitrogen?
A: It starts in the brewhouse with designing the beer.  We also take specific steps during fermentation, filtration and packaging to end up with the nitrogenated beer.

Q: How do you get the nitrogen into the beer?
A: Very carefully with tiny tweezers.

Q: Why don’t you use a widget?
A: We found that due to the unique physical properties of our Milk Stout, the development of a widget would be an unnecessary waste of millions of pounds, er… dollars.

Q: Why is it necessary to “pour hard?”
A: In order to force the nitrogen out of solution in the beer to create the desired head.  This is similar to using a restrictor plate on a draft nitro faucet.

Q: Whose idea was this?
A: It was a total team effort.  It didn’t take long for the whole company to buy in as we strived to become the first craft brewery to put nitro beer in a bottle.

Q: What about regular (CO2) Milk Stout 6pks?
A: We will continue to brew and package Milk Stout 6pks. We have found that some customers prefer Milk Stout carbonated with CO2, which is more effervescent, where others prefer Milk Stout Nitro for its silky smooth creaminess. Why deny our fans either one?

About Left Hand Brewing Company
Celebrating eighteen years of brewing a well-balanced portfolio of craft beers, Left Hand Brewing Company is located at 1265 Boston Avenue in Longmont, Colorado. The brewery has received 17 medals at the Great American Beer Festival and 8 medals at the World Beer Cup, and its beers are now available in 27 states. “Sometimes you’re not in the mood for what everyone else is having.”


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