Thursday, October 20, 2016

Lincoln Fill Station in Belgium!

Tiny, Steph, Brad & Tara just returned from a beer tour in Belgium.

Summary by Tiny McClannan of Lincoln Fill Station
in Snellville, GA.


This amazing beer tour was booked through Brewtopia Events via Owen Ogletree.

We traveled through cities and country sides to find the origins of Lambic, Gueuze and Belgian Style Beers.

Our brewery visits included...

De Cam - Pure passion keeps this Lambic mixer driven.  Blending and aging De Cam was founded in 1997 by master brewer Willem van Herreweghen, and was later taken over by Karel Goddeau.  Karel brews for Brouwerij Slaghmuylder by day and blends lambic by nigh at De Cam 
Verzet - Joran Brewmaster at our very own Three Taverns got his start here.  There are only three Belgian brewers working in the U.S., and two of them are related. Joran Van Ginderachter follows in the footsteps of his uncle Peter Bouckaert, who today works at New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins.

Wesvleteren - a brewery founded in 1838 at the Trappis Abbey of Saint Sixtus.  The brewery's three beers have acquired an international reputation for taste and quality, Westvleteren 12 being considered by some to be the best beer in the world.  It doesn't hurt that the Monks are not brewing for commercial demands making the small quantites that are sold weekly coveted by locals and travelers from around the world, like us!   

Inter-Pol - This tiny, and I do mean tiny Brewery is owned and operated by Pol and his lovely wife who also have a charming Bed and Breakfast.  Most everyone, except me had to duck to enter this adorable brewery.  Every inch is covered with eye catching details and Pol is happy to tell you a story about every one!  

Het Anker - started brewing beer 5 generations ago in the Grand Beguinage of Mechelen. In the whisky distillery they are working on the Gouden Carolus Single Malt, which is the perfect combination between the family traditions of brewing and distilling. They also have a brasserie where we enjoyed lunch along with a tasting of their fantastic beers.
Duvel-Moortgat - These folks have been busy!  Moortgat brewery was founded in 1871.  In the early 1970s, when the company was struggling financially, Moortgat bottled and distributed the Danish beer, Tuborg.  In June 1999 they to set up massive distribution channels for their flagship beer, Duvel. 
Over the years they have aquired many of our most well known Belgian and American Belgian breweries, such as Ommegang, Brasserie d'Achouffe, DeKonick, Boulevard and Firestone Walker.

Stephanie and I both agreed that watching the bottling line was probably our favorite part of this tour.  Don't get me wrong our guide was fabulous but the OCD in all of us cannot help but be mesmerized by this massive line, cleaning recycled bottles, filling, labeling and crating this huge distribution.
Brewery Achouffe -  This is my happy place, gnomes, mushrooms, the valley of the fairies and amazing beers, yes please!   The entire tour whas gnomey goodness, just the cutest place.   In the late 1970s two brothers-in-law, Pierre Gobron and Chris Bauweraerts, decided to create their own beer, in their own brewery.  In the summer of 2006, the brewery's founders opted to entrust the fate of their beloved dwarves to the Duvel-Moortgat Brewery. The group is willing to invest in Achouffe and to develop the brewery's potential.  A must visit if you find your self in Belgium

De Halve Maan Brewery - The ‘Halve Maan’ (Half Moon) is an authentic and historic brewery in the center of Bruges. This brewery is a family business with a tradition stretching back through six generations to 1856.  You can totally tell, this brewery tour literally had me hanging on by my finger nails.  I am still overjoyed I managed not to fall down one of their extremely narrow and steep staircases winding throughout this ancient facility.  One of the highlights was a visit to their roof top where the cooling ship has open air to cool their beers overnight prior to barreling for fermentation. In 2016 a unique two-mile underground pipeline was built to connect the brewery in the city centre to its out-of-town bottling plant, just crazy, a beer pipeline.  They did mention locals were happy to help urging that everyone should have a personal tap along the route.

Cantillon - Need I say more?  This was certainly a highlight to our trip, all of us very much relishing the idea we would be standing in this brewery.  The brewery was founded in 1900 by Paul Cantillon, whose father was a brewer as well.   As of 2011, the owner is Jean-Pierre van Roy, fourth-generation brewer at Cantillon. Since its foundation the only major change has been a shift to organic ingredients in 1999.  Cantillon was one of more than one hundred operating breweries in Brussels  when founded, but the only one remaining through the 2000s.  Our tour guide was Cedric and he was by far the most energetic delightful and educated tour guide.  As we were on a very tight schedule Cedric manged to have us laughing and enthralled in the process of Cantillon's brewing, so much so that we returned the day after our official brewery tour ended to taste more!
Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen - Last but certainly not least on our tour.  The head of 3 Fonteinen, Armand Debelder, was our tour guide.  What an honor it was to have him guide us through their new facility. The founding of Drie Fonteinen dates back to 1883.  In 1961, Gaston Debelder, purchased the building and expanded their lambic blending business into the inn.  His two sons, Armand and Guido helped manage the Inn and Lambic blending.  Gaston eventually handed the business over to his two sons full-time in 1982. Armand became the head blender (and eventually brewer), while his brother Guido managed the Inn restaurant.  Listening to Armand talk about his triumphs and falters was amazing.  Such a passion for the culture of this beer and his family tradition.  I was very pleased this was our last stop and loved sharing a dusty bottle with him and our group!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Brewtopia's Italian Beer Trip Video

Here are video highlights of our Brewtopia group beer trip to Italy that took place in February of 2016. Owen Ogletree took 30 craft beer writers, pub owners, retail beer shop owners and craft beer lovers to Rome, Florence and Milan to discover the best beer pubs and breweries. 

CLICK HERE to find out how to join a future Brewtopia beer excursion! We organize a European beer trip each February and October.

Beer in the Bavarian Alps

By Owen Ogletree

Owen enjoys a liter of lager.
Munich ranks as a delightful beer city - filled with personable taverns, beer gardens and scrumptious Bavarian lagers and wheat beers, but to experience the true soul of Bavaria, rent a car at the Munich airport and venture south into the Alps. Along with the touristy Neuschwanstein Castle, southern Bavaria boasts breath-taking mountain views, terrific hiking and small breweries and brewpubs - all dripping with character, traditional German food and some of the world's best classic beer styles.

The small ski resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen makes the perfect central base for exploring the gorgeous Bavarian Alps by rental car, and the city houses some of the best beer halls and restaurants in the region.

Use my map below to navigate around the area and find the best beer spots. Photos follow that highlight a few of the outstanding destinations in the area. Prost!

Gasthof Drie Mohren offers a traditional pub with Paulaner
beers in the heart of Garmisch-Partenkirchen's old town.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen's Gasthof Fraundorfer is the place for
traditional food, music and Bavarian dancers in the evening.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen's delightful Braustuberl beer hall
serves the range of brews from Konig Ludwig.

Braugasthof Falkenstein in the rural Alps is a friendly brewpub with outstanding beers.

Braugasthof Falkenstein

On a German pub crawl, ask for a "schitt" - a small beer
in a large glass with foam. This allows for swirling, sniffing and moderation.

Don't miss walking around the grand Ettal Abbey and sampling the abbey
 beer and classic food across the street at the welcoming Ludwig der Bayer Bräustüberl.

Dachs Brau is a cozy, no-frills brewpub in the village of Weilheim in Oberbayern.

Gasthof  Olympiahaus in the old Olympic Village in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
serves the range of beers from Hacker-Pschorr.

Berggasthof Almhuette beer hall

On a rural hillside overlooking Garmisch-Partenkirchen sits the relaxing Berggasthof Almhuette
tavern with beers from the regional Mittenwalder brewery. Check out the hiking across the road.

Definitely make the trek to Oberstdorf to seek out the Dampfbierbrauerei that
makes rare house beers at warmer temperatures that showcase spicy, slightly fruity notes.

The small brewhouse at Dampfbierbrauerei in Oberstdorf. 

Oberstdorf is a wonderful walking village with inviting beer taverns and outdoor biergartens. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Guys Behind Southern Brewing Company

The Guys Behind Southern Brewing Company
SBC's Brian Roth & Rick Goddard

Southern Brewing Company
Keepin' It in the South
Story and photos by Owen Ogletree

It's fair to say that Southern Brewing Company's co-founder and brewer Brian Roth has suffered from an intense craft beer obsession for the past several years. He's toured 515 breweries, homebrewed since 1993 and produced almost 400 test batches of beer on his impressive home system known lovingly as "Gratis Brewing." Many of these early recipes can now be tasted during a tour of SBC's popular facility in Athens, Georgia, and the Gratis equipment currently serves as the pilot system at SBC.

Brian, along with co-founder Rick Goddard, began construction of SBC in July of 2014. Rather than install a brewhouse in an existing building, the business partners made the ballsy decision to build an 11,000 square feet brewery from scratch on 15 acres of purchased land near Athens Technical College. SBC opened its doors on May 14, 2015 with a sparkling new 30 barrel brew kit. "We're the first modern craft brewery in Georgia to actually construct its building," notes Brian. "We wanted a large brewhouse that would allow for future growth, and the land around our brewery makes a great space for art, gardens, our bike trail, amphitheater and building expansion."

Homebrewing History

Brian's passion for personable beer began in his days as Craft Beer Manager for the Leon Farmer beer distributor in Athens. 15 years ago, when Brian found it difficult to instill an appreciation of craft beer in the distributor's salespeople and drivers, he started a program of taking the employees on brewery trips around the country. Brian recalls, "During these trips, I took about a billion photos of grain handling, piping, taste sheets, lab sheets, brew systems, brewery layouts - just about everything. I used these photos for ideas for SBC."

Leon Farmer employees were also invited to Brian's home to brew on the Gratis system. The strategy worked extremely well and had the fortunate side effect of creating a desire in Brian to brew on a larger scale. "We've taken some of the crazier moments at Gratis and are revisiting the recipes at SBC," Brian explains. "Look for playful stuff like Green Tomato Carrot Kolsch, Maple Bacon Coffee Imperial Stout, Beet Kolsch, Watermelon Tart andGingernaut with chocolate and gingerbread."

A Southern Flare

Rick Goddard served in Washington, DC as an advocate for commercial breweries and met Brian Roth at a wholesaler's meeting. The two became fast friends, and Rick soon brought up the idea of creating a craft brewery with a Southern personality. "12 years ago, many Georgia drinkers were just learning about craft beer, and I wanted to come up with interesting beers that people in the South would definitely embrace."

With a desire to include true southern DNA in their beers, Brian and Rick isolated wild yeast strains from Georgia wild azalea and Cherokee Rose blossoms that are now actively fermenting at SBC. Brian adds, "We've worked with 35 scientists from local colleges, cultured 42 wild yeasts and even ran the genetics on eight strains. Wild yeasts change with each generation, and the wild azalea strain lost its sour properties after ten generations, so we had to figure out a new propagation process to create a starter from the original yeast in three days rather than 16 weeks."

Both Brian and Rick point out that one of the most rewarding aspects of owning SBC comes from having great relationships with neighboring breweries. "When our glycol chiller broke down in June when it was 110 degrees outside, we called our brewer buddies for help," notes Brian. "If we ran a car dealership, I couldn't call the dealer down the street for advice. The guys at Terrapin, Creature Comforts, Wild Heaven, Max Lager's, JailHouse and many others have been huge friends to SBC. We're not competitors - we're all part of a craft beer community."

Thinking Outside the Six-Pack

More than 20 innovative beers flow from the taps in the SBC tasting room where touring visitors also enjoy live music and spicy boiled peanuts. The gorgeous tasting room bar, a collaboration with a local carpenter who's also a craft beer fan, is made from reclaimed wood and a few scorched boards from Athens' burned Georgia Theatre. The Georgia blue granite countertops were donated by a local geologist who had them in storage for 30 years.

SBC acquired a handsome oak foeder from Missouri's Foeder Crafters of America. Brian explains, "Right now we have 50 barrels of saison aging in the foeder for three months. 30 barrels will be released, then new beer will be fed on top of the remainder to keep the microbes going. We primary ferment with a saison yeast, then six different yeasts go into the foeder."

An extensive barrel-aging program is underway with a wide array of beers now "in the wood." SBC also installed a 113-gallon puncheon barrel and four 60-gallon, hand-thrown, clay amphoras for fermentation. "Some breweries work on one basic beer style for years shooting for perfection, but I like variety," Brian relates. "I never homebrewed the same beer twice, and this taught me creativity. Without creativity, what's the point of perfection?"

Rick adds, "Brian and I came into this business as two friends, and now we're family. Our greatest reward for all our hard work is seeing people enjoy our beer at local pubs and restaurants. We love the South, and it just wouldn't make sense to sell SBC beers in California, New York or Canada, so we'll keep it local and keep it in the South."

- Article published originally in Southern Brew News -

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Beer Bloggers Conference 2016 in Tampa

Owen and The Beer Wench had the good fortune to share a weekend in Florida with a crowd of other beer journalists from around the country at the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference in Tampa on July 8-10. 
Highlights of the annual event included a stirring introductory address from the Brewers Association's Julia Herz, an update on the craft beer industry in Florida, a delicious reception hosted by Green Flash, seminars on increasing engagement in social media, a writing discussion from Bob Townsend and Carla Jean Lauter, visual content tips from Deschutes' Gina Schauland, and a sour beer tasting with the guys from Petrus in Belgium.
Live, speed rotation beer blogging is always a blast at the event, along with Sunday's seminars on building a beer community and growing beer tourism. The post-conference bus excursion to St. Pete and Clearwater was filled with amazing beer and useful networking. 
If you dabble in beer blogging, consider attending next summer's conference to be held in the classic beer town of Milwaukee! Here's the LINK for more information.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Southern IPA Elite 8 Results

Owen Ogletree set up eight American IPAs that were poured at last April's Classic City Brew Fest in Athens in an "IPA Elite Eight" blind tasting bracket. All the IPAs were produced in breweries from the Southeast, and the beer judges chose a beer from each pair that seemed to have the most impressive IPA character and hop profile.
The tasting panel was comprised of Owen Ogletree, Steve Holzman, Aaron Wallace of Highwire Lounge and Trappeze Pub, Daniel Pittard, Richard Miley from Catch 22 Gastropub, Dean Graves, Gail Graves, Pete Dasher and Ian Meents of Southern Brewing Company.
From the BJCP American IPA style description...
American IPA: A decidedly hoppy and bitter, moderately strong American pale ale, showcasing modern American or New World hop varieties. The balance is hop-forward, with a clean fermentation profile, dryish finish, and clean, supporting malt allowing a creative range of hop character to shine through. 
Vital Statistics: 
OG: 1.056 – 1.070 
IBUs: 40 – 70 
FG: 1.008 – 1.014 
SRM: 6 – 14 
ABV: 5.5 – 7.5%
Here's how the blind brackets went down, with Southbound Brewing's Hop'lin IPA taking "best in show"...
Our Bling Tasting Notes:
SweetWater IPA
Light hop aroma; citrus; kiwi; a hint of lemon; well-balanced; light, lingering bitterness; pleasant; subtle.

Foothills Hoppyum

Piney; hops are upfront; hoppy finish; good malt balance; hint of pepper; hint of malt sweetness; hop flavor is restrained; woody hops; citrus and grapefruit emerge after a bit; tasty.
Red Brick HopLanta - RUNNER UP
Slight fruit nose; metallic hint; pine-like bitterness; citrus hops; spicy hops; grassy; herbal hint; bright and crisp; bold hops.

Monday Night Slap Fight
Earthy hop note; nice, lingering bitter finish; herbal, tannin-like hops; hints of citrus; hops are in background behind malty character.

Highland IPA
Light pine tannin hops; very drinkable; a touch earthy; great color for style; hops are pleasant but light; soft, appealing, moderate carbonation.


Sweet, malty notes; pineapple; hint of alcohol warmth; balanced malt/hop profile; guava; fruity; wonderful after-taste; light piney hop note; medium body; a touch murky with chill haze; delicious.

Jekyll Hop Dang Diggity
Clear and bright; tropical fruits; kiwi; earthy hint; light bitterness in the finish; smooth hop notes; mild bitterness; pleasant balance.

Lonerider Hoppy Ki Yay
Hop aroma is mild; slight metallic flavor; hops and malt seem restrained; lots of fruity esters; seems malt-forward with interesting fruit complexity.
Photos by Gail Graves

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Owen Ogletree's Articles from "All About Beer" Over the Years

AUTHOR: OWEN OGLETREE, All about beer magazine

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    October 20, 2014 - Everards Brewery team leader Mick Trevor and Terrapin Beer Co. brewmaster Brian “Spike” Buckowski unlatched the lid of the Everards mash tun and peered through steamy haze at the thick, gooey grain bed containing 10% sticky rye malt. Draining the sweet wort from this glue-like porridge was proceeding slower than Trevor had anticipated. Seemingly unfazed,...View Article
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    Sidebars - Travel Features


    September 1, 2011 - For those who can’t plan their own events, here’s a list of established happenings… Tri-Beer: The Triangle Beer Meetup – Beer gatherings and special events in the Raleigh, North Carolina area. Lagunitas Skunk Train – Annual beer train through the redwood forests of northern California. Good Beer Lunches – Australian group bringing craft...View Article
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    Full Pints - Travel Features


    September 1, 2011 - Twenty craft beer lovers, all wearing the same T-shirts, walk into a bar. No, this isn’t the beginning of a joke―it describes an organized pub-crawl for charity. Across America, people are realizing that craft beer can form the impetus for switching off the TV, getting off the couch, heading out of the house and bringing...View Article
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    Full Pints - Travel Features


    March 22, 2010 - With sheets of rain blanketing our SUV, windshield wipers pounding out a mind-numbing rhythm, a stream of crimson brake lights ahead to the horizon and two stressed-out beer reps in the back seat on their Blackberries, all I could think was, “Man, I really need a beer.”
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    Culture - Live Beer - Sidebars - Travel


    November 1, 2007 - Unfortunately, several southern craft breweries of the early ‘90s were perhaps ahead of their time and not able to survive. New Orleans’ Acadian Brewing (closed in 2002) produced a crisp, hoppy pilsner for a time and offered a pleasant beer garden for visitors. A delightful brewpub that featured live jazz, Port City Brewery in Mobile,...View Article
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    Culture - Live Beer - REVIEWED_POSTS - Sidebars - Travel


    November 1, 2007 - Here’s a handful of distinctive brews you can find only in their home region. Terrapin Rye Pale Ale, Terrapin Beer Co., Athens, GA Medium gold in color with a crisp American hop nose and flavor. Finishes dry with touches of rye spiciness and light bitterness that fade quickly, leaving a clean palate.
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    Culture - Full Pints - Live Beer - Travel


    November 1, 2007 - While Oregon and Washington, Colorado, Maine or California amongst others saw explosive craft brewery growth, the Southeastern states seemed trapped in light lager culture and a persistent prohibitionist mindset. Beer remained stuck at sports bars and tailgating parties.