Thursday, August 30, 2012

Are You Ready for the BEASTS tonight???

My biz partner Mike Moore representing AllWays Open!
Tonight is gonna be nuts!
Unleash your BEAST!

After coming back from an time kicking it in Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and of course, the mountains of Virginia for the inaugural Virginia Craft Brewers Festival, it has been all about preparing for I'm A Beast: The Second Killing!
Yep! That's me as the Beast "Wrapped Up" hooked up by Eric Nine!
What the hell is that? some of you may ask. Basically, it's one of the illest art shows you will ever see hosted by my new creative agency AllWays Open, including biz partners Eric Nine (one the most talented artists on earth) and top-notch photographer/videographer Mike Moore; plus ridiculously talented sculptor Shawn Knight, and prized prop man Chris Rindal.
It's the celebration of Beasts, people who are incredibly awesome at what they do that we artistically morphed into actual Beasts.
The original line of Beasts were off the meter (see my breakdown here), and the new line-up will be unveiled tonight! Plus, there's live music by the Grand Prize Winners From Last Year who were recently Rolling Stone featured ; the globetrotting DJ Rasta Root on the ones and twos; live art by one of the most celebrated artists in the business, Hebru Brantley; plus original work by Flux; and craft suds poured by Oskar Blues! (There had to be beer if I'm involved, right?)
Ah, hell, just look at this hot flyer below and tell me if it is going to be hot or not?!

And for a measly $5, there is no excuse!!! Be a part of history tonight!It's at Space 2 (next to the Sound Table) 485, Edgewood Ave SE, Atlanta GA, 30312, 8 p.m. until... Get there early! and Creative Loafing have already showed us love! You should too!
Much love!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cruisin' For A Brewsin': Operation Baltimore

Jason at Max's Tap House holding up one of his faves.
 En route to Virginia Craft Brew Festival, I hit up ‘Charm City.’

I am planning on having an awesome weekend in Virginia for the inaugural Virginia Craft Brewers Festival on Saturday, August 25th, at Devils Backbone Brewery in Nelson County. Besides this historic day, the entire state is running an awesome promotion to get the word out about their breweries throughout the month, so you know I had to come through and see how they get down in the VA. I am actually a big fan of Virginia thanks to my last visit to Norfolk. (I’m going to provide a detailed list of places to eat, sip brews and chill when you visit there (the Green Onion and Birch Bar are two of my joints!), so keep an eye out for that!
Anyway, before heading over to the Commonwealth state, I made sure I visited my Uncle and good friends in nearby Baltimore, MD. I mean come on, the crab cakes are reason enough, but it is a fantastic city regardless. My good friend and business partner of AllWays Open Creative, Mike Moore—a B-More native who now lives in Atlanta—hooked me up with his homey Nigel who knows the city in and out. Since Nigel knew how serious I was about craft beer and my passion to enlighten the world on where to get it during my travels, he was excited to show off his local digs. The result? Man, B-More is the shizznit for beer and, of course, crab cakes! Here are some flicks from visit. You haaaaave to check out these spots when you hit up the land of the Ravens!
First up, I was starving when I arrived at BWI Airport around 1:30 in the afternoon and I was starving! Nigel expected as such and took me to where he considers the best crab cakes in Baltimore reside, a spot called G & M about ten minutes from the airport. The outrageously huge crab cake was straight-up lumps of sweet crab and extra moist in the middle; it basically dwarfed the fries on the side and confirmed Nigel knew what he was talking about. Our mutual homey Mike swears by another spot called the Windsor Inn being the best, but I had no idea if I would have a chance to compare the two. Regardless, G & W was one hell of a competitor!
Since they pretty much only had the macro breweries on tap, I waited like the beer snob that I am for our first stop, the Abbey Burger Bistro. It was a chill spot in the back of a cobblestone alley donning the flags of various Maryland sports teams. Let’s get it on!
Jon, a laid back general manager who welcomed us with open arms, made sure Nigel and I were taken care of by bringing out a hard-to-find bottle of  Gulden Draak 9000 out of his personal stash (delish!), along with tastes of the impressive Dominion Double IPA and other ales from the region. Besides Abbey’s dedicated beer list (they even had Fruili on tap, a Belgian white and strawberry a recommend especially for the ladies which is crazy hard to find in Georgia), this spot is known for the best and most eccentric burgers in the city (kangaroo, anyone?). Since I was full from the crab cake thrashing, I rainchecked a future dining experience with these super cool folks.
Next up, Max’s Tap House. In one word, this place was pretty much unbelievable. Set on a corner of the charming Fells Point district, I fell in love with Max’s from the moment I walked in the door. Bob, the bartender who has been there for more than a decade, immediately yelled “Ale!” and gave me a pound (that’s a handshake, folks.). The energy, knowledge, and overall appreciation everyone exuded who worked there (whaddup, Jason!) was rooted from the owner, Ron, who gave me the grand tour from the keg room in its basement, to the eye-popping four floors of beer art, event spaces, beer cellars, office spaces decorated with nostalgia, and even an apartment in the works for visiting brewmasters and reps! With almost 120 taps and 2,000 bottles to choose from, I will make it a point to hit up Max’s any chance I get!
Last up, I had to see my grand Uncle Billy, a legendary Tuskegee Airman, who, at 92 years-old, is still sharp as a tack. He was down to hang out for dinner, so after swinging by his house near Towson, MD, he had me go to a local spot right around the corner. My jaws dropped when I found out what it was: the Windsor Inn, Mike’s crab cake spot! And the ballots are in. This is the best crab cake by a nose…err, claw.
Of course, my charming Uncle Billy was a little busy getting some extra attention while I raved about the grub, but hey, after seeing this pic below, you would understand too. Thank you, Baltimore.
 Now, after a little bit of travel drama (a long story), it’s on to Virginia and I can’t wait! Stay tuned for my coverage of a little bit of history in the making, the first Virginia Craft Brew Festival ever!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Southeastern Brewer's Challenge has a winner!

Taco Mac Beverage Manager and SBC founder Fred Crudder
toasting the winner. (Click on this flick to see the label.)
Congrats to John Southard and his Queens Imperial Chocolate Cherry Porter! 

Whose pour is it anyway?
It's Friday and it is going to be one helluva weekend for John Southard to celebrate his delicious homebrew, the Queens Imperial Chocolate Porter. J.S. has crafted the winner of the inaugural Southeastern Brewer's Challenge, a contest spearheaded by Taco Mac Beverage Manager Fred Crudder. I joined some of Atlanta's beer-sippin' elite to pour, drink, and judge the best homebrew to be brewed by the competition's host, Red Brick Brewery. Not only will this porter be served in Taco Mac's ultimate man cave, The Fred, but the Brick squad will also be bottling this bad boy and distributing it to various locations throughout the Southeast! 
I had a ball indulging in the mastery Atlanta's legion of competing homebrewers cheffed up for us with a bunch of fellow beer geeks including veteran beer scribe Bob Townsend, Tappan Street/Beer Street Journal's Reid Ramsey, Taco Mac owner Bob Campbell, and a select crew of others who know their suds. 
Honestly, there were some tough choices to make, but when it came down to appearance, carbonation, aroma, style legitimacy, and overall taste, the majority bowed down to the "Queens" in the end. It's well-balanced blend of dark chocolate, coffee, black cherry, and even a lil' toffee won by a nose. To show extra love, we were digging others like the "BRipa" Belgian IPA by Brian Borngesser, Chris Payne's "St. Issadore" strong ale, and the "Muddy Paws Chocolate Java Stout" by JT Beckham to name a few, but we painfully could only pick one. 
Fred and some homies checking the ABV of some beer entries.

Ultimately, it's awesome to know that Georgia's capital is hosting a growing number of excellent homebrewers, and it's even more gratifying that local breweries and restaurants like Red Brick and Taco Mac respectively show this kind of support! 
Look for John's victorious porter during the first quarter next year. Oh! And it looks like my design team, AllWays Open Creative, will be handling the bottle artwork too! You know we're going to kill it being BEASTS and all (see below)!
Be safe and hey, continue supporting local suds, huh?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Monday Night Brewing's movin' on up!

Monday Night Brewing's Jonathan Baker sitting on gold.
Atlanta's own goes from homebrewing after Bible study to a 25,000 square-foot-brewery!

Whaddup Brew Heads!

After my homey Jonathan Baker—one of the founders of Atlanta’s own Monday Night Brewing and self-proclaimed MNB Master of Mind Control—invited me to check out the new headquarters for the brewery, I was there in no time. 
See, MNB and I go back like bra strap since my first post here. I loved how Jonathan, along with the rest of who I call the “J-Crew”—CEO and Brewmaster Jeff Heck, and Head of Operations Joel Iversonstarted MNB out of a Bible study group. Besides football, their homebrew get-togethers on Monday nights in Jeff’s backyard since 2006 (hence the company name) were the shiznit! 
After they got their business plan together, said the hellerr, heck with itand officially launched Monday Night Brewing on August 8, 2011, with Thomas Creek Brewery in Greenville, S.C. as their contract brewery (they make awesome stuff, too). Now it's exactly one year later and MNB is about to install a 30 BBL barrelhouse, a bottling line, and some cool attractions for beer geeks to enjoy 6 months from now. It’s tear-jerking, man!
When I got to the location (which Jon wants to be secret for a bit), I can’t front, I was blown away. For starters, the floor space dwarfs a number of existing microbreweries I have visited throughout the U.S., and abroad. Then there's the potential for killer parties, its close proximity from my neck of the woods, and the surrounding beer culture…man, it looks like their prayers were answered in a big way! 
After Jon gave me a tour, I took a couple of pics and then hit him up with an interview. Ladies and gents, my homey J.B. aka the Mind Controller of Monday Night Brewing. Cheers!

Ale: Talk about the transition from serving your beer on a few taps throughout Atlanta to getting your own, ridiculously massive brewery.
Jonathan Baker: It's been an exciting ride! We always wanted to build out our own space, be a larger part of the community here in Atlanta, and have the freedom to do more interesting things with our beers and brand. This space will allow us to do just that.

What have you learned since going from homebrewing to getting your own brewery?
We've learned too much to even begin. Brewing beer for fun is completely different from the industry of craft beer. Fortunately, even with the differences, there are enough similarities. For example, we still love beer. And we still love the community that beer creates–just as we did when we were homebrewers. Now we know a lot more about laws, distribution, operations, etc. You know, the fun stuff.

Talk about this new location. You guys scored big time with this one. I dig it!
Man, we just feel so blessed to be where we are. It's perfect. On the Westside, close to such a great, upcoming cultural area, but tucked in a quiet little alcove. We wanted to place that had the same vibe as Jeff's garage, where we started brewing. And we found it.

What's the next step?
Open the doors! But there are a lot of mini steps to get there.

So what are you getting bottled, bro?
We want to bottle all three products we have now Eye Patch Ale (6.2%, pale ale), Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale (7.2%), and Fu Manbrew (5.3%, Belgian-style wit). I'm honestly not sure which we will bottle first. What do you want?

Hell man, I am open to all three. Bring it! Are there any new beers on the horizon?
We've started tinkering with our double IPA recipe again, Blind Pirate. We don't launch a beer until we're ecstatic with it, so we don't give timelines on new brews, but that's probably going to be the next one out of the gate.

Arrrrrgh! Bring that one out, matey! I am a hop head to the max!
You got it!

Look for more fun sheezy from Monday Night Brewery, including a scavenger hunt and, of course, some good ass brew! Check out their site and blog here.



Tuesday, August 7, 2012

SweetWater’s Motor Boat is coming!

Don't stop, get it, get it!

Whaddup Brew Heads!

My homies at SweetWater Brewery just let me know that their wondrous interpretation of an ESB, the Motor Boat (I love their names!), is making a comeback like Terrell Owens, but more malty, bitter, and shiny medals like the back-to-back silvers at the Great American Beer Festival. Motor Boat is brewed with Cascade, Sterling and US Golding hops, and dry-hopped with Cascade for that extra mmmmmwaaaah! The final numbers on this unfiltered beauty are 42 IBUs and 5.6 percent ABV. Since this ESB is a member of SweetWater’s Catch and Release seasonal series, it will be in six-packs in mid-August (in some spots this Friday I hear from an inside source) and thrown back in the ocean in October, so grab a few when you get the chance.

Oh, and here’s another heads-up from 195 Ottley Drive: 
You see Chong doing his thing, right? Ha!
Although SweetWater’s LowRYEder rye IPA has been making celebrity appearances on taps in selected areas this summer, it’s about to go to the six-pack level in the Southeast this fall. To get your mouths watering, I hustled and got the numbers and ingredients on this one just for you!:
6.2 percent ABV
Hops: Columbus, Mt Hood, Centennial
Dry Hop: Cetennial, Mt Hood
Grain: 2 row, Rye Malt (25 percent), CaraRye, Rye Flakes, Munich

The LowRYEder will be a year-rounder so sip it relaxed. It’s not going anywhere, ya heard?!

For more information on Motor Boat, LowRYEder and SweetWater Brewing Company, visit



Thursday, August 2, 2012

Happy IPA Day...err...year!

What IPA are you sippin' on?

What up, Brew Crew!

I'm a hophead so it's year-round for me, but today is officially National I.P.A. Day! I trust everyone knows that IPA stands for India Pale Ales, the most hoppy in the business and for good reason. The history goes back to the extra hopping of brews during long boat trips by particularly the British during the days of colonization and trade in the 1800s. Of course, the U.S. took things to the next level and made the hopping extreme!

Well, I, along with thousands of hopheads around the country and abroad, are toasting off to the plethora of hop varieties today (and every day), but today is something special! My choice brew this evening is Sierra Nevada's Hoptimum. At 10.4 percent ABV, and 100 International Bitterness Units (Trust me, that's gangster!) due to the whole-cone love from the Left Coast, it's so damn good I had to get the hat and t-shirt directly from the brewery when I participated in Beer Camp #80! There are a ton more out there and will be meeting with Ale Atlanta in a few minutes to taste more, but I would love to hear what your favorite IPA is. Let me know below! Also, be sure to look up spots that are having special IPA deals. There has to be a cool beer bar near you!

So cheers to you and everyone who has the open mind to embrace one of the four horsemen when it comes to making beer, HOPS!!!