Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Exciting Cask List Announced for the 2019 Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting

Look below for the list of delicious, unique, one-off cask ales coming to our awesome Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting! These casks won't be available anywhere else, so get your tickets today!
Sat., January 19, 2019
5 Seasons Brewing WESTSIDE
1000 Marietta Street
Check out the jaw-dropping cask list for 2019...

  • Akademia Noctua Chaos Erebus - This is our American Spirit Works whiskey barrel-aged imperial stout with Honduras and New Guinea coffee, vanilla beans, chocolate, and complex Palo Santo wood. 10% ABV.
  • Alcovy Brewing Dubbel Take is an 8.2% Belgian-style dubbel brewed using traditional ingredients. This classic, complex beer is yeast forward with rich malt, chocolate, banana, and dried fruit notes. One sip won't be enough!
  • Arches Brewing Brick & Maple puts an adventurous spin on our Brick & Mortar recipe. This specialty style is a classic British brown ale with caramel, nut, and biscuit notes accompanied by sweetness from a healthy addition of dark, organic Vermont maple syrup. 5.0% ABV, 20 IBUs.
  • Atlanta Brewing Beer Dad Barleywine is a strong ale fermented with lager yeast. This popular collaboration with Max Lager's registers at 11.5% ABV and is packed with appealing malt character.
  • Bearded Iris Breaking Atoms. This boldly structured double IPA showcases the power of elements in unison. Cashmere, El Dorado, and Citra hops are bonded to a malt bill of Golden Promise, wheat, and golden naked oats, alternately coalescing and splitting apart into notes of strawberry preserves, soft gummies, and shortbread. 8.2% ABV.
  • Best End Brewing This Party Sucks is a single malt, NE-style, hazy, imperial IPA dosed with lactose and excessively dry-hopped with Galaxy, Citra, Denali, and El Dorado. “But I’ve already had four hazy lactose IPAs, broh! This party sucks, who's driving me home!?”
  • BlueTarp Brewing - TBD
  • Bold Monk Stained Rose is a barrel-fermented saison with Brettanomyces and macerated Nebbiolo grapes and Balaton cherries. The beer was blended with a one-year-old "lambic" style mixed fermentation golden ale. 6% ABV.
  • Burnt Hickory I Did It All For The Cookie is an amazing bourbon barrel-aged stout enhanced by sweet, mouth-watering notes of Oreos. 10% ABV.
  • Carolina Bauernhaus June Princess is our sour rye saison aged on June Princess nectarines and apricots in neutral oak barrels. We used dried apricots in place of priming sugar in the cask and added a dry-hop of Grungeist and Mandarina Bavaria for a bright stone fruit and citrusy hop character.
  • Cherry Street Brewing Quit Stalin - A 10.5% ABV Russian imperial stout with organic coconut flakes, organic Columbian coffee, and Vietnamese cinnamon. Pleasantly spiced with hints of roast from the coffee and a smooth silkiness from shredded coconut.
  • Cigar City Brewing Maduro is an award-winning, 5.5% ABV English-style dark ale with a full body and appealing mouthfeel from additions of flaked oats.
  • Contrast Artisan Ales Luminiferous IPA comes from Chamblee's hot new craft brewery. Packed with Citra and El Dorado hops, this 6.8% ABV ale has a slightly hazy appearance and lively hop and malt finish. Get ready for the brightness.
  • Creature Comforts English Mild - This 4.03% ABV cask is our interpretation of a traditional English dark mild. It's designed for full sessionability with light notes of toast, toffee, coffee, and chocolate.
  • Dry County Mama Coco Imperial Stout offers loads of cacao and toasted marshmallows in the cask for a delicious play on hot chocolate. 10.5% ABV.
  • Eagle Creek Doomsday Milk Stout is a smooth, 6.5% ABV, cask ale aged with cocoa nibs and strawberries. Look for notes of roasted malts and  chocolate strawberries to shine through on the palate.
  • Eventide Grant Street Breakfast Stout is a 9% ABV, Russian imperial stout with Buteco Celebration coffee. Rich notes of dark chocolate and smoky caramel meld with the roasted character and fruit-forward aspects of Buteco's holiday coffee blend.
  • Five Seasons Ron's Export Porter. The only thing this cask contains is a traditional export porter. There are no chili peppers, fruits, vegetables, coffees, teas, lactoses, neither peanut butter, nor jelly, nor locally sourced doughnuts. We used flavorful Chevalier English barley, traditional brown malt, and a couple of other specialty malts to balance quite a bit of English hops. There is actually a bit of complexity in this simple beer, despite the fact that we didn't cram the aforementioned grocery list through the cask's bunghole. It's a cask festival, for God’s sake! :-)
  • Fyne Ales Avalanche is a quintessential, refreshing pale ale showcasing Cascade and Liberty hops. Clean citrus and grassy hop flavors meld with a balanced, bittersweet finish. 4.5% ABV. (UK - Scotland).
  • Fyne Ales Hurricane Jack - A delicious blonde ale from Scotland with fruity hops, 4.5% ABV, and 40 IBUs. Amarillo and Cascade provide lovely tangerine/citrus hop flavors backed by Maris Otter pale malt. (UK - Scotland).
  • Fyne Ales Maverick ranks as a classic British bitter hopped with Bramling Cross and Challenger. A 4.2% ABV, reddish copper ale with an aroma of mixed fruit and caramel malts. (UK - Scotland).
  • Gate City Black Forest Birthday Cake Stout is a 7% ABV sweet stout layered with chocolate malts and a dose of lactose. Additions of Cholaca, vanilla beans, and sweet cherries make this beer rich with flavor and easy to eat, we mean drink.
  • Good Word Governed By Love Imperial Stout. Experience delicious notes of lactose, toasted coconut, local coffee, cocoa nibs, and vanilla beans soaked in rye whiskey. 11% ABV.
  • High Card Brewing Pirate Queen is a rum barrel-aged white stout with cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, coffee, habanero and lactose. It comes in at 8.4% ABV and 68 IBUs.
  • Hi-Wire Bed of Nails Brown Ale is an American ode to a traditional English brown ale. This special cask contains almond tea with notes of apple, as well as whole cinnamon sticks. Light hop additions balance the malt sweetness, while the delicate body and dry finish allow flavors of toffee and dark fruit to shine through.
  • Hopstix West of Java is a foreign extra stout brewed with freshly ground Sumatra Mandailing coffee. Expect deep notes of espresso, roasted barley and 7% ABV.
  • Ironmonger Funky, Fruity Fresh Mind Palaceis a mixed culture ale with mango, kiwi, Lactobacillis, and Brettanomyces. It's a funky, fruity, and slightly tart ale with a small dose of El Dorado hops in the boil.
  • Jekyll Brewing Erin Go Braugh Irish Coffee Porter comes in at 5.7% ABV and 35 IBUs with flavors of chocolate and coffee accompanied by a smooth mouthfeel reminiscent of Irish cream liqueur. In remembrance of Erin Lundmark.
  • Left Nut Engine 209 Russian Imperial Stout. This bourbon barrel-aged version is named after the steam engine locomotive located in Gainesville that was commissioned for Nicholas II, the last czar of Russia. Nicholas planned an American tour that was canceled due to the breakout of World War I. Expect notes of coffee, chocolate, roasted barley, dark bread crust, and vanilla. 75.4 IBUs, 10.5% ABV.
  • Lincoln Fill Station/Cherry Street Continental Breakfast Stout is an 8.5% ABV Imperial oatmeal chocolate stout infused with Reese's Pieces and maple. Balanced roasty notes with hints of chocolate pancake in the finish. 8.5% ABV.
  • Macon Beer Company Feliz Navi-Nog. This eggnog stout's black and chocolate malts contribute a rich, creamy mouthfeel, with cinnamon and nutmeg adding delightfully deep notes of spice. We aged this brew on whiskey-soaked wood chips for delicious, subtle hints of smoke, vanilla, and toasted nuts.
  • Max Lager's St. Mungo BA 60 Shilling Scottish Ale is a Scottish-style ale barrel-aged in rye and bourbon barrels. Notes of spicy rye and vanilla play delicately with a sweet, rich caramel malt character. 6.5% ABV.
  • MAZURT Dupree's Last Meal. Judge said "Fact, it's gonna cost you your life." Dupree, with the Jelly Roll Blues, had killed for a diamond ring. His last meal request: a decadent cinnamon roll with toasted marshmallow and a cup of strong coffee. MAZURT has recreated this in their imperial stout brewed with Vermont maple syrup, Madagascar vanilla, Kenyan coffee, and Georgia honey. This cask was guest-brewed at Southern Brewing Company with added cinnamon, toasted marshmallow, and even more coffee.
  • Monday Night Pervasive Species is a mixed culture ale fermented with Lactobacillus, Brettanomyces, and a saison yeast strain. This American wild ale was the first to ferment in our French oak foeder. 4.5% ABV.
  • Moon River Turkish Coffee Captain's Porter. Our rich, 7% ABV, robust Captain's Porter starts with plenty of coffee flavor thanks to chocolate and caramel specialty malts. With a steep of freshly ground honey-roasted coffee from Savannah Bee Company, as well as spicy cardamom seeds, this cask replicates the decadent flavors of Turkish coffee.
  • New Realm 2018 Harvest Ale is an English strong ale inspired by the historical October Ales of late 1700s England. Brewed with 100% Maris Otter malt and East Kent Goldings hops, this brew undergoes a six-hour kettle boil to increase the gravity, during which the beer develops a deep, rich amber/ruby color and caramelized flavor. 10.8% ABV, 40 IBUs.
  • Old Rail Pullman Porter with Toasted Coconut. Black and chocolate malts dominate but do not overwhelm this 5% ABV ale. The addition of coconut complements the chocolate and coffee character of the dark malts, while adding a pleasant, smooth, rich finish.
  • Omaha Brewing Big Debbie Oatmeal Porter. The base-beer is an English-style brown porter that features toasted oats and brown and black malts. 6.0% ABV, 25 IBUs.
  • Pontoon Snozzberries: Dragon Fruit Edition - A fruited Berliner-weisse with black currant, strawberries, blackberries, red dragon fruit, lactose, and vanilla. Tart, over-the-top fruit, with a deep purple color. 5.2% ABV.
  • Red Hare The Czar Came Down to Georgia is our Putin's Paradise Russian imperial stout aged with Mexican chocolate, ancho, arbol, and guajillo chiles. At 11% ABV, this beer starts off with a false sense of semi-sweetness that turns to a warming, roasty blend of malt and chiles as it goes down your throat hole.
  • Reformation Brewery Strawberry Vanilla Hazy Pale Ale is dry-hopped with Amarillo, providing floral, tropical, and citrus notes. This special cask also provides nuances of berries and vanilla beans.
  • Scofflaw Neapolitan Milkshake Stout. The soft, velvety, chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla notes in this 5.5% ABV sweet stout will blow you away - without the pesky brain-freeze.
  • Second Self O'Doyle's Irish Coffee is our 13% ABV Olde Oyl imperial stout with a custom coffee blend by Slow Wave Coffee. We topped off this special cask ale with even more coffee, lactose and Irish whiskey-soaked oak chips. With this beer in your glass, you won't need a thick cable knit sweater to keep you warm.
  • Service Brewing High Speed Low Drag is brewed with PB2 peanut butter powder, cayenne, coriander, coffee, and lactose. This stout pours dark brown and greets you with peanut butter and chocolate aromas leading to a thick and creamy mouthfeel that starts sweet and finishes with a slow burn from the coriander and peppers. 7.6% ABV, 21 IBUs.
  • Southbound Brewing Dry Hopped Citrus Lager. Check out this cask of our Mountain Jam with extra Citra hops, key limes, lemons, and mandarin oranges.
  • Southern Brewing Smoked Sea Salted Caramel Milk Porter. We're calling this cask a "no-caf, half-milk, double salted, caramel latte for Sayrah."
  • Steady Hand Future Mind Porter is a robust porter with 6% ABV. A rich, bready and biscuit character emerges, all layered with notes of cocoa, toasted almonds and toffee to balance the smooth, roasted espresso aroma and flavor.
  • Straight to Ale Datin' the Devil & Raisin' Hell. We partnered with our in-house distillery Shelta Cavern Spirits to age our Laika Russian imperial stout in fresh rum barrels. We then infused this complex beer with fresh raisins and dates. Dark fruits, chocolate, vanilla, and a slight roastiness and sweetness are all present in this one-of-a-kind beast of a cask.
  • SweetWater Salted Caramel Imperial Stout. This 12.7% ABV stout was aged in a Heaven Hill barrel for two years. Caramel and pink Himalayan salt provide both sweet and savory flavors that complement the cask ale's boozy finish.
  • Terrapin Beyond the Galaxy & Beyond is our 100% Galaxy hopped IPA with an additional dry-hopping of Galaxy in this special cask. The extra hop addition truly takes this beer "beyond the galaxy."
  • Three Taverns Vanana Ooh-Na-Na. This 10% ABV dark ale is thick in mouthfeel and complex on the palate. This cask version of our Belgian-style imperial stout, the 2019 Theophan the Recluse, offers bold flavors and aromas of vanilla, banana, and coffee added to the cask.
  • Torched Hop Double Dry-Hopped Hops De Leon. This unique version of our flagship IPA was double dry-hopped with Citra. Our intense dry-hopping regime creates massive notes of citrus and tropical fruit. This West Coast-style IPA is well-balanced and highly drinkable.
  • Twain's Older & Weizer is a 7.9% ABV bourbon barrel-aged weizenbock with maple wood and notes of bourbon, oak, caramel-coated apples, banana, clove, and toast. We did a pro-am collaboration with heavily awarded homebrewer Ryan Stansbury, aged his signature weizenbock in a Buffalo Trace barrel, and then packaged the beer in a cask with maple wood.
  • Two Tides Brewing Take Me Back Again is a 7.5% ABV, zero IBU imperial sour ale that's a version of a beer we recently brewed to commemorate a not-so-recent trip to Thailand. Co-fermented extremely warm with Norwegian Kveik yeast and two strains of Lactobacillus brevis, this cask was conditioned on kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and galangal for a tart northern Thai vibe.
  • Variant International Taste Station is a 10% ABV maple, coffee, and vanilla imperial stout with deep, rich notes of dark malts and espresso with a lovely touch of maple goodness.
  • Wild Heaven Altair IPA features a bright hop flavor without bitterness from Mosaic lupulin powder and generous additions of Citra and Idaho 7 hops. This special cask holds a hefty dose of extra lupulin powder for increased hop intensity. 6.2% ABV.
  • Wrecking Bar Oatmeal Cookie Porter. This is our house porter conditioned atop rum-soaked raisins, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla beans. Literally like an oatmeal cookie, but in a beer!
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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Four Brewery Mistakes

By Owen Ogletree
"By seeking and blundering we learn." 
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
We like to think of craft brewers as sudsy rock stars who crank out batch after batch of award-winning, creative, mouth-watering, perfect brews. In reality, craft brewers sometimes screw up, with many tanks of experimental brews going down the drain each year. Even Dogfish's Sam Calagione can run down a list of dozens of new brews that just didn't make the cut - like his infamous, salted, sour ale brewed with snail meat and shells. He swears that "Escar-gose" sounded like a bright idea at the time.
The best brewers and brewery owners examine and analyze all aspects of mistakes and work hard to see blunders as valuable learning experiences. This article features memorable missteps of four southeastern brewers who turned adversity into advantage. Check out the "Big Bang Theory" inspired titles...
Wayne Wambles (left) and John "JR" Roberts collaborated on a special brew at Wild Heaven Beer in Georgia. 
Cigar City: The Open Fermentation Excitation
It was a sweltering summer day in Tampa in 2011, and Cigar City's Wayne Wambles had installed a 30-barrel, non-pressurized tank with a loose metal lid in the back corner of the brewery to ferment Guava Grove sour ale using the local Saint Somewhere yeast. A few days later, Wayne noticed that a couple of bottles in every new six-pack of Jai Alai IPAseemed to be infected with a touch of funky Brettanomycesyeast.
"The open fermenter of sour Guava Grove was located right next to the packaging line," notes Wayne. "This was a pretty terrible idea. Brett was spreading around, and the sanitizing solution in our bottle washer was not set strong enough to killBrett, only to do a basic sanitization and rinse. Some bottles were getting an unintentional dose of Brett, and this led to aBrett Jai Alai that was delicious but not something we wanted in our Jai Alai six-packs."
Up until this point, most procedures at Cigar City were done by feel and instinct. The Brettanomyces infection convinced Wayne and the entire crew that Cigar City needed a quality control lab. "We brought in a consultant with a PhD in brewing microbiology," Wayne recalls. "He explained the lab processes that we needed, and we eradicated the Brett issue. Without this infection, I don't know how much longer it would have taken to get our lab going. The infection was pivotal in wrapping our heads around scientific quality control."
Cigar City now owns a wide array of lab equipment that includes a PCR analyzer. Instead of plating a beer sample on growth medium and placing it in an incubator for several days, the PCR machine carries out DNA sequencing of any wild yeast and acid-producing bacteria in the beer sample and determines in just a couple of hours if an infection exists. This has proven invaluable in keeping the brewery's beers in top condition.
 Old Rail brewer Matt Horney produces an outstanding range of classic beer styles in his Mandeville brewpub.
Old Rail Brewing: The Thermal Deviation
Brewer Matt Horney's beers at Old Rail brewpub in Mandeville, Louisiana are widely considered to be some of the finest in the state, but when the brewery was being constructed, the build-out consultant claimed that due to lack of space, a cold liquor (water) tank was not necessary.
"After working in larger production-style breweries in the South I knew that not having a cold liquor tank would be a major mistake," Matt recalls. "With city water temperatures reaching 90 degrees in the hot Louisiana summer, I quickly found how hard it was to cool our wort. The original system used glycol that would supposedly supplement the city water in the cooling process. We had a two-stage heat exchanger, but the glycol just couldn't keep up. It was ridiculous."
Matt's wort cooling was sluggish, the glycol system was stressed and the filtered water that passed through Old Rail's heat exchanger and collected in the hot liquor tank (HLT) exceeded the HLT tank's volume. Matt notes, "We were losing precious filtered water, and this was gut-wrenching, not economical and didn't make environmental sense. After some searching, I found two large poly tanks that could provide ample cold water. We now cool faster, recapture all our water, create less stress on the glycol and have cold water for other processes. The takeaway is to design your system with the local climate in mind and make sure all of your brewing needs are met."
Max Lager's: The Face Bang Collision
The now successful and popular Max Lager's Wood-Fired Grill & Brewery in Atlanta always seemed to be a little ahead of its time, and it was a struggle just to keep the doors open in the early years. In 2002, brewmaster and managing partner John Roberts (a.k.a. "J.R.") was holding down multiple duties at the brewpub that included brewing operations, floor management and kitchen supervision.
J.R. learned a painful lesson in 2002. "I was always stressed with hours of daily work and minutes to do it," he says. "One day I was transferring a beer into a serving tank. I finished a bit early and decided to clean the source tank before I had to work the floor for lunch. I opened the bottom drain, dumped the yeast and sediment, and assumed the tank was empty. I climbed the ladder to pop open the top manway to begin rinsing. On the way up, I noticed I hadn't opened the racking port to ensure pressure was off the tank. The pressure gauge was on zero, so instead of being safe, climbing back down and opening the racking port, I decided to go ahead and open the manway."
J.R. had barely cracked the seal on the manway when he heard a deafening hiss followed by a boom like a cannon being fired. The manway blew open and caught J.R. directly in the jaw. "I shouted 'F%$K! I've broken my jaw!' When I stood up I felt blood rush across my chin and neck. After six hours of bleeding on an emergency room floor, I got eight internal and eleven external stitches where the manway had split my skin down to the bone. I felt like I had gone eleven rounds with Mike Tyson. After a few days and a few strong pain killers, I went back to the brewery to see that my chin had actually bent the steel manway."
The injury reinforced in J.R. the principle that safety in a brewery should always come first. No matter how much there is to do, safety procedures should never be rushed. J.R. also learned he was pretty good at taking a punch.
 Highland Brewing's president Leah Wong Ashburn proudly displays her lineup of rebranded ales and lagers. Photo courtesy of Highland Brewing.
Highland Brewing: The Head Brewer Departure
After taking over the reins from her father and becoming president of Highland Brewing in 2015, Leah Wong Ashburn began plans to revitalize and rebrand the pioneering Highland beers. In August of 2017, Leah sat in her office looking over new beer brands and label ideas when Highland brewmaster Hollie Stephenson walked in with unexpected, distressing news. Hollie told Leah that she had accepted the head brewer position at the new Guinness facility near Baltimore.
Considering Hollie's successful two and a half years at Highland, Leah had no idea that her brewmaster might be looking for other prospects. Leah points out, "A great opportunity simply fell into Hollie's lap. When she told me she was leaving, we both cried for a minute, and then I was in a panic. We are still friends and we love Hollie very much, but I felt a deep loss. My mistake was that I wasn't aware she was looking for something that she wasn't getting at Highland. We moved so far ahead with Hollie that it was easy for me to be content and happy, and I stopped asking enough questions about improving relationships and operations."
When Hollie departed, Leah began tightening up the job description of Highland's brewmaster and soon realized the advantage of having multiple people fill the role and work together. "Our brewers love to make new, creative beers," notes Leah. "With more than one lead brewer, we now get the best creative outcomes with multiple sources of input and ideas, and our new brewing team is simply brilliant. The company now feels more engaged about what's brewing in our pilot system, and we have involved the entire staff in this renewed creativity. Mistakes can be stressful and scary, but with creativity and teamwork, mistakes often lead to innovation."

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Georgia Bites & Brews Winners

Graduate Athens
November 4, 2018

Congratulations to the beers chosen by the crowd as the best pairing with each food item. Brewers: I will have your award plaques to you soon!

Station 1:
Cranberry Smoked Gouda with Pita
Arches Mexican Empire - toasty Vienna-style lager

Station 2:
Smoked Potato Soup
Dry County Old 41 Stout - creamy oatmeal stout

Station 3:
Southern Corn Crab Cakes with Old Bay Aioli
Oconee Brewing Mean Machine - Irish-style red ale

Station 4:
Blackened Grilled Shrimp
Akademia Hoprodite NE IPA - hazy/juicy IPA with pungent citrus notes

Station 5:
Fried Pork Belly Tacos
Red Hare Tangerine SPF 50/50 IPA - IPA blended with house-made tangerine soda

Station 6:
Lamb Lasagna
 Terrapin So Fresh & So Green, Green 2018 - wet-hopped IPA with spicy Glacier hops

Station 7:
Fried Mushrooms with Horseradish Aioli
Savannah River Brewing Dynamite Brown Ale - American brown ale with balancing hops

Station 8:
Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Figs
Cherry Street Coconut Porter - notes of cocoa, vanilla and coconut

Station 9:
Beer Brined Grilled Wings
SweetWater 420 Strain G13 IPA - terpenes and natural hemp flavors enhance the hops

Station 10:
Kalamata Olive Tapenade with Toast Points
Orpheus Brewing Over and Over - American sour wild ale with pineapple complexity

Station 11:
Citrus Bread Pudding Bites  
Steady Hand Circles of the Sun - toasted coconut blonde stout

Station 12:
Chocolate Torte (gluten free)
 Southern Brewing Co. Red & Black - raspberry/blackberry sour Berliner weisse

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Vintage Beer Tasting

In October of 2018, Owen Ogletree gathered The Beer Wench, Dean and Gail Graves, Ian Meents, Ashton Smith, Flavia Costa and Andrew Borchert to taste and comment on ten strong craft beers that were aged for several years. The tasting was done in blind fashion, with the group only knowing the style and age of each beer.

The tasting concluded with the group choosing the top four beers that seemed to stand up the best to aging. Look below for winners and tasting notes...

Photo by Ashton Smith

FIRST PLACE: 2011 Phantom Canyon Winston Smith's Barleywine-Style Ale aged in whiskey barrels.
Comments: deep brown color; light wood, vanilla aroma; dark fruit sweetness; bitter fruity flavors; lightly burnt toffee; moderately dry; nice hop bitterness; warming; whiskey and caramel are both subtle. 

SECOND PLACE: 2011 Southern Tier Oat Imperial Oatmeal Stout.
Comments: beautiful black color; chocolate; sherry; prunes; dates; espresso; roasty; toasted caramel; burnt sugars; maple hint; dark fruits; mineraly; lingering cocoa/roasted malt notes; tastes great; bittersweet finish; could be a bit thin for style, but nice. 

THIRD PLACE: 2011 Widmer Brothers' Reserve Galaxy Hopped American Barleywine.
Comments: nice brown color; light, old hop note; woody; earthy hops; dry finish; light toffee and caramel; herbal hoppy hint; light butterscotch note; caramel hard candy; pleasing bitterness. 

HONORABLE MENTION: 2013 Olde Hickory Irish Walker Barleywine. 
Comments: deep, dark brown in color, almost black; too dark for style; toffee; hint of coffee; lightly bitter; chocolate hint; burnt toast crust; bitter finish; burnt cocoa nibs; smooth and creamy.

2012 Samichlaus Bier Helles - Blonde Doppelbock.
Comments: dark amber in color; plums; prunes; creme brulee with plums; candied apricots; sweet toffee; butter hint; rich, earthy honey; pleasant; rum hints; cognac note; sweet, malty finish. 

2010 Terrapin Iron Tankard Old Ale.
Comments: dark amber in color; prune; figs; sherry; sweet; raisin; light chocolate; caramel; toffee candy; mild alcohol; dry finish; malt driven; milk chocolate; held up well. 

2013 Smuttynose Gravitation Belgian Quad.
Comments: dark amber hue; paper note; earthy; light fruit; light malt; sherry nose; mild kumquat; nice fruity esters; caramel; figs; oxidized note; lemon; some sweetness. 

2009 Great Divide Old Ruffian Barleywine Whiskey Barrel Aged.
Comments: dark brown; clove hint; toasted bread; somewhat thin mouthfeel for style; oak tannin note; winey; toasty; wet cardboard hint; dull flavors; did not hold up well over time; herbal; dark fruit; dry and slightly astringent in the finish.

2008 Weyerbacher XIII Imperial Stout with Belgian Yeast.
Comments: black in color; Belgian esters come through; nice complexity; spicy; raisins; warming alcohol; caramelized sugars; dark chocolate finish; medium/full body; clove hint; loaded with dark fruit notes; earthy hint; coffee nuance.

2011 Victory Dark Intrigue Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout.
Comments: black color; paper-like; alcohol character is big; minty; clove; lots of bourbon barrel; not too complex for style; wood tannins; menthol-like warmth; roasty; dark, bitter chocolate finish; dry and bitter; might be a bit thin for style; light fruit complexity in the background. 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

2018 Craft Beer Reviews for Fall

By Owen Ogletree
- Akademia Brewing Hunker Down Brown is an American-style brown ale loaded with brown malt complexity that provides notes of roasted nuts, dark biscuit crust, light caramel and balancing hops. This ale goes down extremely well during UGA football season.

- Atlanta Brewing Company Soul of the City American IPA is a smooth, pleasing, thirst-quenching IPA with hops that give wonderful nuances of citrus, pine and pineapple. Light esters provide an elegant complexity.

- Creature Comforts Context & Memory Pale Ale is an easy-drinking, 5.5% ABV American pale ale with generous additions of Mosaic, Citra and Galaxy hops that provide juicy, herbal, tropical fruit notes backed by pleasing malt complexity. "Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one's life." - Anthony Bourdain.

- Creature Comforts The Silent World. This smooth, clean, black lager gets its inspiration from classic, roasty, German schwarzbiers. Expect a dark malt-focused brew featuring roasted malt, caramel hints, mild cocoa and nuances of toasted bread crust. Classic German hops provide a pleasing balance in this 5.5% ABV lager.

- Gate City 1864 IPA is a malty, slightly sweet ale with pleasant malt complexity backed by mild American hop additions. The aroma is malt-forward. Pair with roasted chicken or grilled scallops.

- Monks Meadery Abstinence in the Abbey is a Belgian-inspired mead with coriander, orange peel, grains of paradise and Belgian ale yeast. Light additions of Nugget and Mt. Hood hops are included for bitterness and flavor, and the mead offers beautiful notes of clove, spice, fruit and witbier coriander complexity. Monks Meadery is even looking into producing the mead with chickpea bean water for added complexity and mouthfeel.

- Pontoon Snozzberries Taste Like Snozzberries is a rich, fruity Berliner weisse with strawberry, blackberry, black currant, vanilla and sweet lactose. Like a tart fruit smoothie, this 5.1% ABV ale packs a mouthful of fresh fruit character and mild lactic acidity.

- Red Hare Hasenpfeffer Oktoberfest is a classic German-style m√§rzenbier with an elegant nose and palate of toasted bread, light nutty malts and hints of toffee and caramel. This clean lager comes across as malty, with no fruity esters. Pop a can alongside a salty, soft pretzel with mustard.

- Southern Brewing Company Mulberry Grove Golden Sour Ale is part of the brewery's Southern Woodpile Series. Aged in oak for more than a year, then dosed with a load of fruit from Lexington, Georgia, this reddish hued, tart brew offers notes of stone fruit, crisp lactic acid, strawberry jam, cranberries and mild Brettanomyces. An elegant fruit ale.

- St. Feuillien Grisette is available now in cans. This version was inspired by a light-bodied, yet complex, Belgian ale that was popular with Belgian miners early last century. Notes of wheat, fruity esters and mild bittering hops make for an extremely impressive session ale that goes well alongside light cheeses and buttery fish dishes.

- SweetWater 420 Strain G13 IPAcontains special terpenes and hemp oils, providing a mildly dank, cannabis-like aroma and palate. The 6% ABV IPA offers a medium body, slight haze, and an even greater depth of dankness from additions of resiny Columbus and Simcoe hops.

- Terrapin Touch of Grisette. Terrapin's version of this historic style of Belgian ale boasts hints of wheat, farmhouse complexity, light bittering hops, and a touch of acidity. This low gravity ale goes extremely well with goat cheese or raw oysters.

- Wild Heaven Fest Beer. Brewed in the style of an Oktoberfest m√§rzen lager, this beer from Avondale Estates, Georgia also contains a slightly pungent, experimental German hop called Greungeist that provides a unique, interesting twist. Greungeist is a Hallertau derivative. The beer comes across as quite poundable.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

2018 Great American Beer Festival: Favorite Moments

By Owen Ogletree

Even having judged for several years at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver, I still find the entire experience enjoyable and exhilarating. GABF ranks as the largest and most impressive craft beer festival in the USA, and brewers from all over the country enter beers in hopes of bringing home a coveted medal. 

In 2018, the GABF festival hall was arranged in simple alphabetical order (unlike the regional layout of past years), and attendees cruise the massive aisles looking for beers that strike their fancy. Beers are served in one-ounce pours, allowing patrons to sample from a multitude of booths and chat with GABF volunteers and brewers. 

GABF judging is carried out in a nearby hotel, with hundreds of knowledgeable judges from all over the world coming together to sip the beers and award medals to the top beers in each category. Judges provide valuable feedback to brewers, and all judging is blind, with judges only being told about any special processes or ingredients for beers in each specified category. Judges look for off-flavors or any aspect of a beer that might make it not entirely true to style. 

Here are just seven of my favorite things about GABF...

1. THE PEOPLE. Craft beer people are the best people. Interacting with brewers, judges, other media, and festival attendees brings a great deal of joy. Thousands of people coming together in one city to celebrate craft beer is absolutely amazing.

2. THE DIVERSITY OF BEER. Craft beer in the USA is a creative, artistic phenomenon, with thousands of small breweries making fun, interesting, eclectic styles and brands. "Hazy, Juicy IPA" was the largest GABF category this year - even though 2018 was the first time the category existed. Beer styles are always being updated.

3. DENVER BEER EVENTS. During the entire week of GABF, the city is abuzz with special events, tappings, side events and open houses. Check the GABF website for a full list of special events taking place during the festival.

4. EPIC BREWING'S 50 FIRKIN FIASCO. During GABF, Epic Brewing always throws a huge party featuring food trucks and 50 special cask ales made from the range of Epic beer. Each 10.8 gallon cask contains a few special ingredients to make the beer tickers and untappers super excited.

5. HITTING BREWERIES ALL OVER TOWN. It's so much fun to Uber and Lyft all over Denver during GABF week to sip beer flights at the extensive list of breweries. Each brewery offers a unique atmosphere and lineup of house beers.

6. EXPERIENCING THE PROFESSIONALISM AT GABF. This event must be seen to be believed. Every aspect of GABF is professional, and the event runs like a well-oiled machine. The Brewers Association puts in an impressive amount of work to make this massive festival go off without a noticeable hitch each year, and attendees seem to take notice.

7. THE GABF PRO-AM BOOTH. One of my favorite spots at GABF is the Pro-Am area that features a tasty range of beers produced by partnerships of professional brewers and amateur homebrewers. These guys work together to produce and showcase a delicious array of interesting recipes.