Thursday, January 26, 2017

ATLANTA CASK ALE TASTING 2017 Beer List & Photos

Delicious Casks & Winners at our 2017 ACAT


Our 2017 Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting was an amazing day highlighted by 51 cask-conditioned ales from the USA and UK. The morning judging session included former Stone brewer Mitch Steele, London beer writer Des de Moor and Steve Hamburg of the Chicago Beer Society. 

Look below for the full cask line-up, list of winners and photos from the event.
- Photos by Ale Sharpton & Phil Farrell -

01. Arches Brewing Southern Bel' Belgian Ale - A 6.8% ABV golden ale with Belgian pilsner malt and added depth from biscuit and honey malts. Accentuated by fruity esters from the Belgian yeast, the vanilla, coconut and spiced character arises from the unusual wood species that this beer is aged over.

02. Black Diamond Mo-Rakinox - A West Coast influenced IPA with some of the newest experimental hops we could get our hands on. Mosaic and Equinox provide bright, juicy tropical flavors, while Rakau hops add pure "dank." 6.5% ABV.

03. Burnt Hickory King Zeke - A powerful version of our Ezekiel's Wheel, King Ezekiel is dry-hopped with a load of Amarillo in the cask and big enuff to rope a tiger and hold off any Savior. 6.5% ABV.

04. Cedar Creek Dankosaurus American IPA. The Motueka dry-hops in this awesome cask ramp up the tropical notes of Danko while providing an interesting lime and lemon character.

05. Coastal Empire Wild Kingdom Pomegranate Brett Sour is an imperial wheat ale brewed with pomegranate and fermented with Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus. 9.7% ABV.

06. MAZURT The Dingo Drank My Stout Leatherwood Honey RIS - After babies, there isn't anything that tastes better to a dingo than a MAZURT Leatherwood RIS. This big, 13.6% ABV Russian imperial stout is heavenly infused with this tasty and rare honey found only on the remote island of Tasmania. Brewed with deep roasted, high-grade Kenyan coffee, Vermont grade-B maple syrup, Peruvian cocoa nibs, Madagascar vanilla and Leatherwood honey, this amazing stout is coveted by envious, sober, thirsty dingoes everywhere.

07. 5 Seasons Prado Cherry Bomb is our beloved Scotch ale aged in a Heaven Hill bourbon barrel, providing notes of vanilla and bourbon heat. Bing cherries marinated in bourbon complement the smooth malt character with a pleasing, tart nuance.

SECOND PLACE UK-STYLE: 08. Copper Creek Oatmeal Stout is a classic, fairly hoppy version of the style made with flaked oats for a silky body. Its inviting aromas and flavors are a mixture of roasty, chocolaty and malty tones.

09. Creature Comforts Double Koko Buni is our 8.7% ABV, rich and velvety imperial milk porter with toasted coconut, Condor Chocolate cocoa nibs, 1000 Faces coffee and vanilla.

THIRD PLACE CLASSIC STYLE: 10. Founders Red's Rye IPA. Noted for its distinct grapefruit characteristics and biting finish, this version takes it to a whole new level with the addition of Mosaic hops to the cask.

11. Harviestoun Old Engine Oil Engineers Reserve with Ghost Naga Chilies (UK - 9% ABV). After feedback from the USA suggested the ABV of our original Old Engine Oil (6%) was too low, we created this intensely flavored brew.

FIRST PLACE UK-STYLE: 12. J.W. Lees 2015 Harvest Ale aged in Calvados Barrels (UK - 11.5% ABV). Classic English barleywine with loads of rich Maris Otter malt accentuated by a fruity cider brandy barrel character.

13. J.W. Lees 2015 Harvest Ale aged in Sherry Barrels (UK - 11.5% ABV). Warming, malty barleywine balanced by classic Golding hops from East Kent and fermented in open, copper-lined vessels, followed by aging in sherry casks.

14. Moon River Cliffs of Insanity with Chipotles. This 8.5% ABV sneak peek of our new imperial stout was primed with dark brown sugar and cask-conditioned with dried chipotle peppers rehydrated with rum.

15. Morland 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, citrus and a deliciously smooth finish.

16. Paradox Beer Company Skully #46 Osa Frambuesa. We paired our red wine barrel-aged wild sour brown ale with luscious red raspberries. Subtle wine barrel character, our house Brettanomyces strain and raspberry aroma lead to a jammy, wine-like taste. 8.3% ABV.

17. Red Brick Passion of the Bretts IPA - Our flagship Hoplanta IPA fermented with six complex strains of Brettanomyces, then conditioned in the cask with passion fruit.

18. Rivertown Brewing Vanilla Bourbon Pecan Imperial Porter comes from bourbon-aged 7.9% ABV Roebling Imperial Porter with tasty additions of vanilla and pecans.

19. Service Brewing Ground Pounder Pale Ale with black pepper and lime zest. We enjoyed the black pepper and lime notes from Pacific Jade hops so much, we wanted to double down in this cask with additions of black peppercorns and fresh lime zest. 4.6% ABV.

20. Slice & Pint Cloud 9 Barleywine. Finally, after 12 years, we recreated the old Dogwood Brewing barleywine recipe - an English-style barleywine with loads of English malt. We aged this cask for a year on French oak.

21. Steady Hand Beer Company Anthem of the Sun - A 6.4% ABV blonde stout with nutty biscuit and toffee notes. The smooth body, hint of floral hops and light caramel complement the golden toasted coconut character.

22. Thomas Creek Class Five IPA - A big Galaxy dry-hop addition to our new recipe for Class Five makes for a citrusy and crisp American IPA brewed for the true hop-head.

23. Three Taverns Funk Yard - A mixed fermentation sour ale made with Belgian yeast and Lactobacillus, then aged in oak barrels with Brettanomyces, and dry-hopped in this special cask with Mosaic and Amarillo. 6% ABV.

24. Twain's Salted Caramel English Strong Ale was aged with medium toasted American oak. It's salty-sweet up front but finishes semi-dry, preventing the caramel from becoming overwhelming. 9.0% ABV.

25. Urban Tree Ginger Zestanero Cider started with infusing our semi-dry cider with fresh ginger and habanero peppers. To make it even better, it was aged in a Nicaraguan rum barrel for nine months. And if that wasn't enough, we added several winter spices like cinnamon, anise and licorice - creating a unique festive cider. (Allergen Warning: spices were made in a facility that manufactures nuts.)

26. Wild Heaven Joni is an American wild ale crafted with generous additions of tart cherries and aged in aromatic Bordeaux barrels. 5% ABV.

27. Abbey of the Holy Goats - Goats in the Garden. The goats got into the elderflower garden, so we decided to brew a dry and refreshing saison with elderflowers and traditional Belgian beer spices. 7.2% ABV.

SECOND PLACE CLASSIC STYLE: 28. BlueTarp All I Want for My Birthday is a Big Booty Baltic Porter - Unlike a stout, smooth dark chocolate dominates over subdued roast coffee notes. Sweetness reminiscent of balsamic vinegar (without the acidic bite) makes for a creamy, mid-winter beer with a deep burgundy blackness. 9.2% ABV, 42 IBUs.

29. Cherry Street Fidel Casktro - Bourbon barrel O.A.S.I.S. Russian-style imperial stout brewed with sarsaparilla whiskey-soaked cocoa nibs and vanilla beans with Spanish cedar cubes and Cuban coffee added to the cask. 10.5% ABV.

30. Dry County Old 41 Oatmeal Stout with vanilla beans. We took our smooth and creamy Old 41 Oatmeal Stout and added vanilla beans to make it even more silky and delicious. 5.9% ABV, 25 IBUs.

31. Eagle Creek Bourbon Barrel-Aged River Street Praline Brown was aged in bourbon barrels for a year and offers subtle notes of caramel, vanilla, American oak and bourbon that permeate the palate. 

32. Fyne Ales Highlander (UK - 4.8% ABV). An amber, Scottish-style session ale with notes of caramel malts, toffee and a hint of citrus from Mount Hood and Celeia hops.

THIRD PLACE UK-STYLE: 33. Fyne Ales Maverick (UK - 4.2% ABV) ranks as a classic British bitter hopped with Bramling Cross and Challenger. A reddish copper ale with an aroma of mixed fruit and caramel malts.

34. Fyne Ales Ragnarok (UK - 7.4% ABV). American-style IPA with a fine Maris Otter malt backbone and pleasing citrus hop aroma and flavor.

35. Gate City Chocolate Raspberry Terminus Porter is a luscious dark ale brewed with cacao nibs and organic raspberries.

36. Jekyll Brewing Southern Juice IPA is brewed with wheat and oats for an intriguing malt profile backed up with huge additions of Citra and Simcoe hops.

37. Left Nut Squirrel Nut Zappers is a light to medium bodied English-style brown ale brewed with pecans. This cask holds whole coffee beans from Yonah Coffee in Helen, GA and local white oak chips conditioned with bourbon. (Allergen Warning: contains tree nuts.)

FIRST PLACE SPECIALTY & PEOPLE'S CHOICE: 38. Lincoln Fill Station  / Cherry Street Triple Chocolate Chunk is a 12% ABV imperial stout with chocolate and toasted coconut aged on Ghana cocoa nibs in a Belle Meade bourbon barrel for eight months.

39. Max Lager's Choco-Mungo - St. Mungo Scotch Ale aged in a Four Roses bourbon barrel and cask-conditioned with toasted cocoa nibs from Ghana. 6% ABV.

THIRD PLACE SPECIALTY: 40. Monday Night Something Pretentious. The base beer is a double barrel (bourbon then rum) Scotch ale with added toasted coconut, vanilla beans, cocoa nibs and burnt orange peel.

41. Red Hare My Belgian Friend Came Over for Breakfast - Berry Belgian Waffle ale with vanilla beans and cinnamon, aged on bourbon-soaked oak chips.

42. Reformation Dry-Hopped Jude Reserve - A Belgian tripel with fresh pears and grapefruit. An abundance of Nelson Sauvin hops add white wine notes and strong fruit character to the aroma.

FIRST PLACE CLASSIC STYLE: 43. Scofflaw Double Dry-Hopped Double Jeopardy - A 10% ABV double IPA with an initial dry-hop of Galaxy and Simcoe, followed in this special cask with Centennial, Amarillo, Citra and even more Simcoe.

44. Second Self A Hopwork Orange - IPA dry-hopped with Mosaic, Huell Melon and Medusa hops in the cask, along with orange peel and fresh-squeezed Valencia orange juice.

45. Southbound Mystery Ship is a 100% Brettanomyces fermented imperial red ale dry-hopped with Mosaic and Rakau, providing notes of tropical fruit accented with 1800 Reposado soaked oak chips and fresh lime juice.

46. Southern Brewing Red N' Black Berliner - Southeastern Berliner re-fermented on 12 pounds of raspberries and blackberries. Tart tropical fruit notes complement the luscious berries.

47. SweetWater Raspberry Delight - A big, deep, black stout with strong coffee and chocolate notes balanced by the perfect hop profile. The kicker is the boatload of fresh Meeker raspberries from Oregon. 10% ABV, 69 IBUs.

48. Terrapin Tart Cherry Wake-n-Bake - Brewed with Wake-n-Bake coffee from Jittery Joe's and tart cherry juice added during fermentation, this thick imperial stout offers notes of coffee, ripe fruit and dark chocolate.

49. Variant Brewing / Dry Country Collaboration Imperial Breakfast Stout offers a notable presence of cinnamon with roasted coffee and maple sweetness. 10.5% ABV.

50. Wicked Weed Cuban Coffee Dark Age Stout was aged in bourbon barrels for nine months and spiced with coffee, cinnamon, smoked chipotle peppers, vanilla and chocolate.

SECOND PLACE SPECIALTY: 51. Wrecking Bar Coffee Coconut Barrel-Aged Siberius Maximus Imperial Stout. Our viscous, rich and complex imperial stout was well rested in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels with a decadent cask treatment on toasted coconut flakes and dark roasted coffee beans.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Budapest Beer Spots

Photos and text by Owen Ogletree
January, 2017

Budapest, Hungary loves its craft beer. Beer bars offering IPAs, imperial stouts, pale ales, wheat beers and other American and international brands are all the rage with young locals. Low prices, an easy public transport system, amazing architecture, friendly people and scrumptious food make up just a few reasons to visit this beautiful city.

Look below for my interactive map and photos of many of the best places in Budapest to enjoy a craft beer or two.

View from the River Danube.

Grab a pint of English ale at Budapest's John Bull Pub.

Marionett Craft Beer House is located
on the ground floor of the Marriott Hotel.

The taps at the Marionett contain tasty craft beer, and the puppets
do a little dance when a tap is pulled.

Spiler offers interesting Hungarian craft beer
in bottles and a tasty pub menu.

Pleasant craft beer bar.

Mosselen Belgian Beer Café.

Bottled Beer Company's cellar bar.

Caledonia Scottish Pub - the perfect place in Budapest for a Scotch whiskey or a draft pint from Belhaven.

Just one of Budapest's many craft beers.

For Sale is a touristy pub with hay and peanut shells
on the floor, loud music, a limited draft selection and food.

Jonas is a friendly, industrial-themed, craft-beer focused
bar on the Danube River in a shopping district. Nice staff and
and a well-selected range of local beers.

Pepin is a friendly craft beer pub with interesting brands.

Eleszto - a complex of craft beer pubs and drinking rooms down a short pedestrian alley. Look for a small food counter, a cask ale bar, homebrewing center and main bar. Don't miss this place while in Budapest.

Beer menu at Eleszto.

Neked Csak Dezso is a modern, two-story pub with quite an amazing selection of Hungarian craft beers.

Szimpla Kert - a funky complex of flea market stalls and bars.
Apparently, these type of bars are known as "ruin pubs."

Szimpla Kert's interior.

Hops Beer Bar

Hopaholic Pub

Csakajosor is an excellent beer store with seats to enjoy your selection on site. It's owned by the nearby Hopaholic Pub.

Legenda Sorfozde is an unpretentious beer bar with a respectable bottle selection.

Another Spiler location in Budapest.

Spiler's interior.

Monyo Cafe & Pub is a basic bar with a half dozen Hungarian
craft beers on draft and an interesting bottle selection.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Take a Walk on the Craft Beer Side

Story and photos by Owen Ogletree
First published in Southern Brew News

Forget Pokémon Go. It's much more fun and delicious to venture out on foot in a new city to collect new friends, beers and experiences while searching out the best craft beer spots. With the current craft beer craze taking solid hold in the Southeast, and new breweries, brewpubs and pubs springing up like kudzu, every state in the region offers areas where the concentration of craft beer outlets makes for a pleasant day out on foot. Here are five places to start…

South Slope - Asheville, North Carolina

Once home to rows of derelict warehouses, Asheville's "South Slope" now pulses with new condos, shops and restaurants, but beer is the real reason people flock here. Start in the morning, or there's no way to complete this walk in one day. From the center of downtown, walk west on Patton Avenue, eventually heading downhill on Coxe. Stroll five blocks south to Tasty Beverage Company to peruse the range of packaged beer on offer and try a few samples from the taps to rouse the palate. Next, get in line across the street at Wicked Weed's Funkatorium a few minutes before opening to insure a prime seat at the bar to taste a massive range of sour, funky, fruited and barrel-aged brews.

Just across Coxe from Wicked Weed, Twin Leaf Brewery offers a pleasant atmosphere in which to sip through an extensive assortment of classic beer styles. Nothing beats pizza on a pub crawl, so walk a little over a block north to check out Asheville Brewing Company and pair a slice with one of their perennial favorite house brews.

Around the corner sits Hi-Wire Brewing, where a flight of solid lagers, European styles and barrel-aged tart beers is in order. Also pop next door to Ben's Tune Up to experience their regional craft beer selection and house-made sakes.

Head back south on Coxe for visits to the gorgeous Catawba Brewing tasting room and the eccentric Burial Beer Company for a flight labeled with a coroner's toe tag. Next, compare the fun, crusty, original Green Man Brewing facility with the shiny, multi-story, new brewery just a few doors down.

Lastly, hike back uphill to the corner of Coxe and Patton for a cask ale at Jack of the Wood pub and late night snacks at Thirsty Monk where craft beer flows upstairs and classic Belgian ales reign in the cellar.

Busy upstairs bar at Asheville's downtown Thirsty Monk

Nashville's Craft Beer Mile

Nashville's got country music, spicy hot chicken and marvelous craft beer. After lunch, start at Hops & Craft near the corner of 12th Avenue South and Pine Street for a warm-up beer, then walk east to Nashville's pioneering Yazoo Brewing for a tour and a couple of flights of brewer/owner Linus Hall's solid, popular recipes.

Linus Hall, Yazoo's owner/brewer

 Just for a change of pace, continue walking east to Pour House Burgers, Bourbon & Brews to try a dram from the expansive whisky list before hitting Jackalope Brewing just a block or so north. Standouts from Jackalope's talented lady brewers include Leghorn Rye IPA, Thunder Ann American Pale and Snowman Mocha Stout.

About two blocks east from Jackalope, across the train tracks, sits Tennessee Brew Works - a two-story craft brewery with outstanding ales and lagers, a sparkling brewhouse, live music and yummy small plates. Finally, meander a few blocks north to the casual and cozy Czann's Brewing to chat with loyal locals and meet brewer/owner Ken Rebman, who always seems to be there.

New Orleans' St. Charles Avenue

Board a rickety streetcar and take the scenic ride through the lush Garden District down St. Charles Avenue all the way past Audubon Park. When the streetcar makes a sharp right on Carrollton Avenue, hop off and duck into the classic Cooter Brown's Tavern to check out the "Snooty Cooter" back bar that's loaded with craft beer. For sustenance for the day, munch on fresh oysters, boudin balls or a savory shrimp po-boy.

Jump on the streetcar, heading back toward downtown, and exit at Louisiana Avenue. Walk five blocks south and two blocks east to The Bulldog pub on Magazine Street where patrons sit in the outdoor patio with a local beer and relax to the sounds of the decorative beer tap fountains. Want a beer to go? Nab a plastic cup before leaving, as it's perfectly legal (and encouraged) to walk the streets of New Orleans with a drink.

Owen relaxes on the patio of The Bulldog Pub

Turn right out of Bulldog and walk down Magazine to take a right at Seventh Street. After about six blocks, look for NOLA Brewing that offers enjoyable tours and an impressive, two-story taproom with upstairs balcony. NOLA really jump-started craft beer in the city a few years ago.

Head back north on Seventh Street to catch another streetcar toward downtown and disembark at the Euterpe stop for a bite and a mind-blowing beer menu at Avenue Pub - THE 24-hour Big Easy craft beer destination run with love by beer fanatic Polly Watts.

Before or after Avenue Pub, seek out beer flights at Courtyard Brewery and the new Urban South Brewery - both just a few blocks away by foot or taxi. Check brewery opening hours to decide which to visit first.

Decatur, Georgia - Atlanta's Craft Hotspot

For this walk, be sure to visit on a Saturday and start with an early lunch and beer sampler at the neighborhood's much-loved Twain's Brewpub & Billiards, then summon a taxi or make the 30 minute walk on East College Avenue toward Avondale Estates to My Parents' Basement to enjoy a pint and poke around the pub's comic book shop. It's where craft beer geeks and comic book nerds collide.

When exiting My Parents' Basement, take a right to head back toward Decatur, turn right on Maple Street and look for Wild Heaven Craft Beers where brewer Eric Johnson crafts a range of phenomenal and unconventional ales.

The guys of Wild Heaven

From Wild Heaven, walk west on East College Avenue for more beer sampler gratification at the laid-back Blue Tarp Brewing and the beautiful, Belgian-themed Three Taverns Craft Brewery before ending the night with pints and plates in downtown Decatur at Brick Store Pub, Square Pub and/or Leon's Full Service gastropub.

Sunny St. Pete

Start the morning in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida soaking in avant-garde art at The Salvador Dalí Museum before seeking out lunch at the amazing Z Grille just north of the gallery.

Now the brewery visits begin! Walk west on Central Avenue North or 1st Avenue North to find Cycle Brewing and St. Pete Brewing for succulent local brews, then continue west about six blocks to the award-winning Green Bench Brewing for an exceptional range of hoppy, dark and sour ales.

Beer sampler trays are pouring a bit farther west at Pinellas Ale Works and Cage Brewing - just across from each other. Next, trek three blocks to 2nd Avenue South for 3 Daughters Brewing, where the idea of making beer began when the owners, who are former chefs, brewed an original beer for their fish batter. Today, 3 Daughters' tasting room offers 14 taps of outstanding ales and lagers.

Finish the night at the Urban Comfort Restaurant & Brewery location that once housed a gas station along St. Pete's "Automotive Alley." Pair a house-made brew with fried green tomatoes, "hott" chicken or meatloaf with smoked gouda and bacon gravy.