Monday, January 26, 2015

The Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting was awesome! Here’s why…

Doing the "Ale Pose," my homies Hamp Covington and Dan Rosen won the judges' top pick for their GANGSTER Tennessee Whiskey Barrel-Aged MAZURT Russian Imperial Stout. 
Meet the winners and entire list of casks including their descriptions!

Whaddup Everyone!

Since posting the seemingly countless events involving beer for the first month of 2015 here, one of the standouts was undoubtedly last Saturday’s 11th Annual Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting put on by one of Georgia’s top reasons we are kicking ass regarding craft beer, Brewtopia’s Owen Ogletree.
Taking place at both the T.MAC-Prado and 5 Seasons Brewery in Sandy Springs, I had the honor of judging with a group of distinguished, certified aficionados including my assigned partner and good friend Phil Farrell (voted the nation’s Beerdrinker of the Year in 2011). About 20 of us met at the Chapter Room at 8 a.m. to rank about 40 overall impressive submissions by existing and emerging breweries from the U.S. and U.K.
Some of the cool things about cask ales include…
  • how there will never be one of the same due to how the brew is still "alive" to the very last drop thanks mostly to the yeast and flavors still developing
  • the taste enhancers the majority of contestants inventively add including cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, maple syrup, peppers, etc.
  • the alteration of carbonation and texture (smoother, often less effervescence)
  • and being unfiltered, which also affects the mouthfeel, appearance and sometimes flavor compared to what is sold commercially.

Basically, these are 40-plus “one and dones” created by some of the most acclaimed brewers in the world. We are talking local beer slingers such as Monday Night (who was also the chief sponsor along with All About Beer Magazine), SweetWater, Wild Heaven, Second SelfWrecking Bar, Max Lager'sRed BrickBurnt Hickory, Red Brick, Three Taverns, Terrapin, Athens, Georgia’s Creature Comforts, to New Belgium, Oskar Blues, Heavy Seas, Green Flash and even Old Speckled Hen across the pond to name just a FEW!
Anyway, after taking a break around noon, the judges got some grub and chilled out for a bit before coming back to join the public from 3 to 6 p.m. and collectively get our sip on! (I kicked it with Catch 22’s Richard Miley and his fiancé Corey at 5 Seasons WestsideCypress Street Pint & Plate, and World Of Beer ). 
Before I list the winners (but no losers overall) and all entries, I especially want to thank those folks who pulled me aside to show love for this website and recognition for the hard work I have been putting in. That means a lot!
Okay, and now for the winners. Below lists not only the first, second, and third place winners in different categories including Classic Style (straight up), Specialty (pimped out with various additions), and U.K. submissions voted by the judges, but also the People’s ChoiceMajor dap goes to the aforementioned Mazurt, plus Creature Comforts, Old Speckled Hen and Cherry Street for earning top honors! As a bonus, I have all of the incredible submissions complete with detailed, mouth-watering descriptions to further illustrate how extraordinary this event was. (Besides my photos included in this post, check out my Instagram (@realalesharpton) and Twitter (@alesharpton) for some play-by-play action.)
Now here we go regarding who took home medals and hella bragging rights:
The Winners
Classic Style
First Place - Creature Comforts Dayspring Grisette
Second Place - Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye
Third Place - Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA

First Place - Tennessee Whisky Barrel-Aged Mazurt Russian Imperial Stout (RIS)
Second Place - Monday Night 3 A.M. & Single
Third Place - Red Brick Cinnanilla Imperial Stout

United Kingdom Beer
First Place - Old Speckled Hen
Second Place - Ilkley Mary Jane IPA
Third Place - Old Golden Hen

People's Choice
Cherry Street O.A.S.I.S. (Old As Sh** Imperial Stout)


The entire list of entries plus descriptions…

01 - 5 Seasons Booze Hound English-style ale was aged three months in a Heaven Hill Elijah Craig barrel before its secondary fermentation in the cask. A delicate malt character complements notes of vanilla, oak and a warm, bourbon finish.

02 - Beavertown Black Betty Black IPA (UK - 7.4% ABV). Our concept revolved around the old chewy sweets "Black Jacks & Fruit Salads." We wanted a big IPA, laced with slight roasted malts and aniseed, blended with tropical aromas of Pacific West Coast hops.

03 - Boulder Slope-Style Winter IPA is a full-bodied red ale with a big, piney hop kicker at the finish. With a perfect blend of five malts and a blast of Nugget, Crystal and Horizon hops, this cask is a cold weather IPA that's off the rails! ABV: 6.4%, IBUs: 60.

04 - Brooklyn Dry Irish Stout. A blend of dark roasted, pale and flaked malts produce rich coffee and chocolate flavors followed by a clean, dry finish. This cask version weighs in at a sessionable 4.7% ABV.

05 - Burnt Hickory Mother of Mercy is a variant of our Eerie Von XXX Spiced Apple Ale - a brown, 8% ABV ale with apples and apple pie spices infused with vanilla. It's an evil "apple pie à la mode."

06 - CHAMRA (Cool Hipsters AdMire Real Ale) Mild - A traditional English-style dark mild ale with toasty, elegant malt flavors and a clean, subtle finish. 3.5% ABV with no vanilla, no coffee, no chili peppers, no whisky barrel and no mint.

07 - Copper Creek Deez Wee Cranberry Nuts - A 9% ABV wee heavy aged on toasted pecans and cranberries. Made from the first runnings of the brewpub's malty Scottish ale.

08 - Creature Comforts DaySpring - A traditional Grisette brewed with locally-sourced wheat and a highly aromatic strain of Brettanomyces yeast. A bright, barnyardy aroma precedes light citrus/fruit flavors and a bone-dry finish in this saison-like golden ale with a light body and 4.8% ABV.

09 - Green Flash Serrano Chili Double Stout with cinnamon and cocoa nibs - A spicy twist on our classic Double Stout, with notes of cinnamon and chocolate melding with a bold, roasty character, finishing with a subtle, spicy chili kick.

10 - Harviestoun Old Engine Oil (UK - 6% ABV) is a remarkably smooth, creamy, 6% ABV porter with a beautiful, velvety mouthfeel. Enjoy flavors of coffee, slightly buttered toffee, roasted malt, dark chocolate, earthy hops and a mild cherry ester.

11 - Heavy Seas Cross Bones Session IPA. A crisp, refreshing, 4.5% ABV hoppy ale bursting with floral and citrus notes backed by a satisfying, malty backbone. This cask contains additional hops and a dose of applewood.

12 - Left Hand 400 Pound Monkey. Any monkey can dump 400 pounds of hops into a kettle and call it an IPA, but it takes control and restraint to make a graceful English IPA. Enjoy this special cask that's dry-hopped with four ounces of Boadicea.

13 - Moon River Depravity or Divinity Abbey-style Dubbel with fresh ginger and cranberries in the cask. "Dubbel D" is an 8.3% ABV, malty-sweet brew with hints of raisin and plum from dark candi syrup and spicy yeast esters. Will it bring you closer to Depravity or Divinity?

14 - O'Dempsey's Your Black Heart Russian Imperial Stout. With an upfront deep roasted flavor, countered by the smooth, sweet taste of chocolate, this 90 IBU, 9% ABV cask packs flavors augmented by additions of Madagascar vanilla beans and cocoa nibs.

15 - Old Golden Hen (UK - 4.1% ABV). This quaffable English golden ale is made with the finest pale malts and Galaxy hops. Look for subtle tropical fruit notes and a deliciously smooth finish.

16 - Old Speckled Hen (UK - 4.5% ABV). A classic English bitter with a rich, amber color and graceful fruity aromas accentuated by gorgeous toffee malt complexity and a refreshingly dry finish.

17 - Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA. Pale malts, aromatic and carapils are thrown together to create the backdrop for a blend of nine different hops. Tropical citrus and sweet fruits lace the aroma and flavor, while toasted bread notes emerge in the finish. 4.9% ABV.

18 - Rahr & Sons Snowmageddon Imperial Oatmeal Stout is named to commemorate the collapse of our brewery's roof in 2010, due to heavy snowfall. In this cask, we've infused fresh, organic mint and roasted cocoa nibs to create "SnowMintCocoageddon."

19 - Red Brick Cinnanilla Imperial Stout. The base beer is our newest Brick Mason release - an imperial stout based on our 20th anniversary recipe. Its big notes of dark chocolate and espresso beans are complemented by subtle additions of vanilla and cinnamon.

20 - Service Brewing Wheat Wine shows off a deep amber color with an aroma of apple, raisin and honey. With assertive notes of sweet malt, followed by light hints of spice and fruit, this potent brew ends with a complex, warming finish.

21 - Thomas Creek Coffee Oatmeal Stout with blueberries and maple syrup is an 8% ABV, creamy black ale with a dark roasted flavor and delectable coffee aroma. Additions of fresh blueberries and pure maple syrup add an interesting allure.

22 - Three Taverns Dubbel Shot is an 8% ABV oatmeal coffee Belgian-style dubbel with an addition in the cask of bourbon-infused coffee nibs, cocoa nibs and vanilla beans.

23 - TN Whiskey Barrel-Aged MAZURT RIS. In the hills of Tennessee, whiskey is king. A fast car, Daisy Mae and a gallon of hooch. Our Russian imperial stout is brewed with deep roasted Kenyan coffee, Vermont grade-B maple syrup, Madagascar vanilla, organic Peruvian cocoa nibs and GA wildflower honey. This MAZURT RIS version was recklessly aged in a TN whiskey barrel. 13.6% ABV.

24 - Twain's Nelson Blaster Oatmeal India Red. Boom! Get blasted with New Zealand Nelson Sauvin hops in this 6.3% ABV, wildly dry-hopped ale that'll rock your face! Brewed with Columbus, Citra and Chinook, then dry-hopped in the firkin with Nelson Sauvin.

25 - Wild Heaven Invocation Belgian-style strong golden ale with cranberries, ginger and cinnamon. Belgian aromatic malts provide hints of dried fruit, while added cranberries and spices amp-up the complexity. 8.5% ABV.

26 - Abita Vanilla Oatmeal Stout is a cask version of Naughty Quaker aged with Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans. Expect pronounced flavors and aromas of vanilla and dark malts. 6.5% ABV, 35 IBUs.

27 - Cherry Street O.A.S.I.S. (Old As Sh** Imperial Stout). The 40th birthday beer made for our over-the-hill brewer Chris, this 10.1% ABV imperial stout is infused with cocoa nibs and vanilla beans soaked in Sarsaparilla whiskey. 

28 - Dark Star Revelation (UK - 5.7% ABV). Pale ale with Chico ale yeast and Warrior, Cascade, Columbus, Crystal and Chinook by the sack full - then dry-hopped using our 'Hoptimizer' industrial-sized hookah. Expect plenty of tangerine, citrus and tropical fruit flavors.

29 - Eagle Creek What Time is it? Peanut Butter & Jelly Time! We started with our roasty, dry Irish stout and crammed it full of honey-roasted peanuts and fresh local strawberries. It's a very light-bodied beer with flavors that remind you of being a kid.

30 - Hobson's Manor Ale (UK - 5.5% ABV) - Brewed to celebrate England's Severn Valley Railway Manor Class steam engines, this amber ale offers aromas and flavors that reflect fresh grains, hops and biscuit crust.

31 - Ilkley Mary Jane IPA (UK - 6.0% ABV) is a trans-Atlantic India Pale Ale that relies on English hops for bittering and North American hops for a floral aroma. Based on an award-winning Yorkshire ale, this version boasts notes of honey and a pleasant, lingering bitterness.

32 - Ilkley Mayan Chocolate Chipotle Stout (UK - 6.5% ABV). They may not have gotten all their predictions right, but they knew how to brew great beer! Inspired by an ancient Mayan recipe, this extraordinary stout is velvety smooth, bittersweet, and has a subtle, smoky fire in its belly.

33 - JailHouse Slammin' Melons. A voluptuous handful of juicy Huell Melon hops went into this cask of our popular Slammer Wheat. Look for cantaloupe and honeydew aromas backed by a base of pilsner and wheat malts. 5% ABV.

34 - Jekyll Hop Dang Diggity IPA double dry-hopped on cedar. After sitting on dry-hops for several days, this bad boy went straight from the fermenter into the cask, where we added a second dose of dry-hops, along with aromatic cedar chips.
35 - Max Lager's Mystery Cask - A blend of Scotch ale, Rye Doppelbock and Imperial Stout primed with a krausen of Hopsplosion. This beer sat in the cask with toasted oak for two years, proving that the brewer sometimes forgets he made a cask!

36 - Monday Night 3 A.M. & Single is a cask version of Eye Patch 6.2% IPA aged on coffee, vanilla and dark Godiva chocolate. This bold-flavored cask screams, "I just broke up with my cheating boyfriend, so I'm gonna eat whatever I want - straight from the carton!"

37 - Mother Earth IPA - Light copper in color, with an intense hop aroma and bitterness from our hopback that allows fresh hop cones to take this IPA to unexpected places. This special cask includes a dose of a hybrid strain of Cascade and Chinook whole flower hops grown on our own estate.

38 - New Belgium Portage Porter dry-hopped with US Goldings. A 6.3% ABV dark ale with notes of coffee, chocolate, toast, hops and smoked almonds. An upfront sweetness and slight, roasty bitterness give way to a creamy, dry finish.

39 - Red Hare Rumple-Sticky-Stouts-Kin is our Oatmeal Sticky Stout with a kick of dark chocolate and one other special, boozy ingredient. Can you guess its name?

40 - Second Self JunIPA is an IPA inspired by gin. Brewed with Amarillo, Centennial and Ahtanum hops plus juniper berries, the beer is then dosed with juniper and rosemary - producing flavors similar to a citrusy gin.

41 - Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye. Rye's black pepper-like flavor has been prized by distillers and brewers for centuries, and this character comes to life in Ruthless - a rugged IPA with fruity, citrusy and herbal hops countered by dry, rye spiciness.

42 - Southbound The Reaper is a fruity, spicy, warming Belgian style quad with toasted coconut, toffee and coco nibs. 9.6% ABV.

43 - Starr Hill Belgian-Style Tripel with red wine-soaked oak chips offers aromas of fruit, spice, pepper, coriander and wood followed by sweet and spicy palate notes highlighted by earthy hints, tannins, mild hop bitterness and alcohol warmth. 9.5% ABV.

44 - SweetWater ​​Chicks Dig It. IPA dry-hopped with Nelson Sauvin and Simcoe hash, with a generous amount of fresh raspberries and a hint of mint.

45 - Terrapin Wake 'N' Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout. This delicious cask is infused with vanilla beans, four pounds of raspberries, and primed with grade-B maple syrup. 9.4% ABV.

 46 - Wrecking Bar Oatmeal Cookie Porter - A traditional brown porter brewed with flaked oats for added smoothness, and infused with rum-soaked dark raisins, Indonesian cinnamon bark and a touch of vanilla to emulate a freshly baked oatmeal raisin cookie.

47 - Yes Face Brass Monkey Nuts. A 4.0% ABV, English-style session brown ale meets Georgia's state bean -- the peanut. The result is nuts!

And again, there were no losers in this joint so a congratulations to everyone! Just like the last ten ACATs, we all had a blast! Don’t miss 2016’s! 

Your homey,


* By the way, good lookin' out to my brother Lamont and whoever took that shot of me with the crowd. I was a buzzin' like my cousin to remember who it was. For real, my memory does really suck sometimes. Forgive me.

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