Thursday, March 26, 2020

Owen found some old photos of his trip to Chicago's 1997 Midwest International Beer Exposition to meet acclaimed beer writer Michael Jackson and Merchant du Vin founder Charles Finkel. The Beer Wench and Owen learned a great deal about craft beer at this event...

Chicago Craft Beer Conference 1997


Michael Jackson (right) introduced the world to craft beer back in the '80s and '90s.


Charles Finkel is the founder of Merchant du Vin beer importer.


The Beer Wench


Merchant du Vin tasting booth


Beer writer Randy Mosher (left) and Michael Jackson on the stage


Owen Ogletree


The Beer Wench and Owen visited Chicago's brewpubs.


Owen Ogletree


Michael "The Beer Hunter" Jackson with The Beer Wench


It was an honor to meet Michael Jackson.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Images from our Brewtopia France Group Trip 2020

In February of 2020, Owen Ogletree took 38 craft beer enthusiasts to Paris, Brittany and Normandy, France to experience amazing scenery, food, cheeses, cocktails, wine, craft beer, and excellent company.

Want to join a future Brewtopia trip with Owen?
Details: https://www.classiccitybrew.com/brewtopiatrips.html
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Just a few photo highlights from our French journey...
Photos by Mike & Deanne Stock and Owen Ogletree

What an amazing group of travelers!
First stop: a tour of the gorgeous Palais Benedictine Distillery
Benedictine cellar

Lovely tour, tasting and meal at Dupont Cidery.
These ciders are among the world's best.

Brewery La Bambelle grows its own malt and hops.

Brasserie La Tête Dure's Yannick & Sébastien

Jeff and Don pull pints for the group at Le Fous brewpub in Brittany.

Solène Barreau & Raphael Landreau gave a marvelous tour and tasting session at L'Âne Brasseur farm brewery.

Dinner and beer at Frog Revolution brewpub in Paris

A stirring walk on Omaha Beach

Tasty ciders from Normandy and Brittany
We made our way to the summit of the Eiffel Tower.

The French cuisine was to die for.

Brittany has some remarkable breweries.
The whole range from Brasserie La Tête Dure was scrumptious.

Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey

Fresh seafood in the small port town of Cancale

Valley of Saints showcases sculptures depicting Breton historic figures.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

2020 Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting Wrap-Up


  • Akademia Free Your Minds with Red Dragon Fruit is a refreshing, yet complex, kettle-soured Berliner Weisse featuring soursop, Florida strawberries and red dragon fruit.
  • Alcovy Brewing 4th Season is a Belgian-style dark strong ale brewed using traditional ingredients. This complex
    beer is loaded with rich malt, Belgian yeast and dark fruit notes, making for a perfect winter sipper.
  • FIRST PLACE CLASSIC STYLE: Arches Brewing Bob's Your Uncle is a no-nonsense English Strong Bitter brewed with UK malt and hops and fermented with a classic London Ale yeast strain. Taste the history in every sip.
  • Atlanta Brewing Nugatory Brown Ale is an American oak barrel fermented ale with light oak and vanilla highlighting a robust malt presence with hints of roasted nuts.
  • Best End Brewing's Hawker Hornet ESB is a medium/light-bodied English-style ale with notes of sourdough bread, biscuit and slight caramel balanced by a medium bitterness. This amazing beer was made using only hops, barley, water and yeast.
  • BlueTarp Brewing's Funky Booty Baltic Porter is a soured, port barrel-aged version of our All I Want for My Birthday is a Big Booty Baltic Porter. This cask is heavy on the oak and light on the funk.
  • FIRST PLACE SPECIALTY BEER: Bold Monk Excommunication Avec Figue Noire is a strong Flanders-style Red Ale with additions of black mission figs. This exquisite cask was blended from beer aged in two different barrels - whisky and port. 11% ABV.
  • Braselton Brewing's Gallus Scotch Ale is dark brown with ruby highlights and a nice, tan head. Expect a thick mouthfeel and malty sweet finish. 6.8% ABV.
  • Burnt Hickory Brewery's X-Tra Withered is an "Extra Proto Heavy Metal Blackberry Cobbler Berliner Weisse" that's named for local doom death metal heroes Withered. 5% ABV with additions of lactose and vanilla.
  • Carolina Bauernhaus Brewery & Winery's Old Newark is an homage to Ballantine Ale, often considered the predecessor to American IPA. It was made using six-row barley from our friends at Carolina Malt House, local corn from Riverbend Malts, English and American hops, oak staves and English ale yeast.
  • Cherry Street OASIS Nut Roll is our multi-award ACAT winning Imperial Stout with cocoa nibs and vanilla beans
    enhanced with salted nut rolls, caramel and peanuts added directly to this special cask.
  • Coastal Empire Mexi Cocoa Stout with Turmeric is brewed with generous amounts of turmeric, cocoa, ginger and a pinch of cayenne and black pepper. This healing cocoa recipe was born in Mexico and was meant to be consumed daily to improve joint health.
  • Contrast Artisan Ales Gingerbread Cookie Brown Ale. Oats, biscuit malt, cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger and bourbon-soaked Madagascar vanilla beans make for a creative, modern Brown Ale that will wrap you in a warm hug you while delighting your taste buds.
  • Creature Comfort's Ordinary Bitter Creature is our 3.5% ABV interpretation of a traditional English Ordinary Bitter, which is a delightful, low-ABV session beer. All ingredients came from England, including Maris Otter, Golden Promise, Golden Naked Oats, Amber Malt, and Fuggle and Golding hops.
  • Dry County Pineapple Fairly Local is a hazy IPA brewed with locally sourced wheat from Dayspring Farms. This fruity, refreshing cask ale was then conditioned on pineapple.
  • Etowah Meadery Kona Mocha Joe is a mead made with Georgia wildflower honey, cocoa powder, Kona coffee beans and Hawaiian vanilla. Finishing at 15.3% ABV, the pleasant sweetness at the end comes from residual honey.
  • Eventide Highlander Strong Scotch Ale. This version of our Wee Heavy boasts seven different malts and was cask-conditioned for a smooth profile. Notes of dark fruit, chocolate and caramel are rounded out by a slightly smoky profile.
  • THIRD PLACE CLASSIC STYLE: Gate City Brewing Company's Bro Sesh IPA is an easy-drinking session IPA packed full of Cascade, Chinook, Simcoe and Citra hops. Our heavily dry-hopped cask gets kicked up a notched with a secondary dry-hop featuring whole leaf Cascade hops. 50 IBUs and 5.2% ABV.
  • SECOND PLACE SPECIALTY BEER: Good Word Brewing & Public House's Hollowest Moon is a 9% ABV Imperial Stout with savory almonds, toasted coconut, cocoa nibs and ASW Maris Otter whiskey soaked vanilla beans.
  • Halfway Crooks Kelvin German-Style Smoked Helles. This 4.8% ABV lager offers notes of smoked honey, graham cracker, morning forests and campfire memories rounded out by whispers of noble hops and a clean, subtle bitterness that lasts through the palate.
  • Hopstix Hooligans Extra Special Bitter (ESB) comes in at 5.5% ABV and 40 IBUs. This elegant, British-style ale is known for its rich, appealing caramel and biscuit malt notes, all backed by spicy, woody English hops.
  • Indio Brewing Horchata Milk Porter weighs in at 6.6% ABV and is brewed with vanilla bean, almond, Mexican cinnamon and Ecuadorian cocoa nibs.
  • Jekyll Brewing P.C.C.P (Peppered Coffee Cinnamon Porter). A robust, medium body porter is used as the base for our Erin Go Braugh Irish Coffee Porter. This special cask holds Serrano peppers and a touch of coffee and cinnamon.
  • Khonso Brewing's I Feel Good. Just in time for winter, this orange peel and coriander spiced strong ale will have us all feeling good. Expect sweet, spicy and roasty notes in this exclusive cask ale that was aged on Uncle Nearest soaked oak spirals for a little something extra.
  • Left Nut Brewing's Old & In the Way. This special beer with vanilla beans and rum-infused oak cubes features notes of vanilla, cinnamon, dark sugar, molasses, toffee, dark caramel and chocolate.
  • PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Lincoln Fill Station / Cherry Street Collaboration Mistress in the Dark is a New
    England-style Black IPA slightly touched with toasted coconut, smoked pineapple  and a dash of lime zest and lactose.
  • Little Cottage Brewery Paper Kite is an English-style Brown Ale. At 5% ABV, this delectable brew offers notes of toast, caramel and mild nuances of chocolate.
  • Max Lager's Proclivity Pilsner cask is dry-hopped with German Mittelfruh and New Zealand Moutere hops. Look for clean, honey-like malt notes backed by spicy, floral aroma, flavor and mild bitterness from the elegant hops.
  • Monday Night Brewing's Delicate Decadence is a French toast inspired 12.1% ABV Imperial Milk Stout with a savory maple mouthfeel. Profound notes of vanilla and coffee make this beer one to enjoy with breakfast, dessert or anything in between. Cinnamon and nutmeg add the perfect balance.
  • Monkey Wrench American Imperial Chocolate Stout. At 9.1% ABV, this ale is brewed with an abundance of malts that provide a silky smoothness, deep complexity and rich body. With additions of oak spirals soaked in bourbon, the aroma is a medley of vanilla, oak, whiskey, dark chocolate and molasses.
  • Moon River Brewing's Lavender + Lemon Swamp Fox IPA. We created a firkin of our flagship West-Coast inspired IPA that we "dry-hopped" with lavender buds and fresh lemon zest. Citrus and pine notes from American hops mingle beautifully with the floral character from lavender and lemon.
  • New Realm Quality Foam Zwickel Pilsner. Brewed with German Barke pilsner, blonde oats and Vienna malts, this lager was dry-hopped with German Hersbrucker hops. Created in collaboration with Two Tides Brewing.
  • Orpheus Brewing's When All Goes Black My Shadow Seeks Me is a soft and creamy milk (lactose) stout with an addition of black coconut (coconut cooked for several weeks to produce rich caramel and toffee flavors). This cask is an indulgence in the struggle between lightness and the void that animates all things.
  • Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen Ship of Fools Munich Dunkel is our rich and malty Munich Dunkel lager with special additions of cocoa nibs and cinnamon sticks. 'Tis the season, we reckon!
  • Pontoon Chasing the Dragon is our signature sour base recipe with dragon fruit, lemon, lime, cherry and pineapple. Aged on American oak from freshly emptied whiskey barrels, this beer is like a tropical version of a whiskey sour with citrus and bright tropical notes of kiwi, pears, cherries and watermelon.
  • Rainy Day Brewery Double O Buzzin'. Named to honor the ACAT festival organizer, this coffee and vanilla milk stout with lactose is perfect as your first drink of the day or your last.
  • Red Hare Brewing's Cocoa Coconut Coffee Porter was brewed with copious amounts of sweet toasted coconut. We then added secondary doses of coconut, along with a blend of Brazilian and Guatemalan coffee beans from local roaster Cool Beans. To round things out, this special cask holds a touch of dark chocolate.
  • Reformation Brewery Hazelnut Coconut Imperial Stout is a strong dark ale conditioned with toasted coconut and hazelnuts. This full-bodied ale also features a heavy dose of tasty chocolate malts.
  • Sceptre Brewing Arts Waffle House Smoke Out is an Imperial Stout to remind you of the days you could smoke in Waffle House. Southern craft malt, maple syrup, vanilla and smoked pecans bump up the complexity of this 12% ABV brew.
  • Scofflaw Brewing DDH NE Pale Ale was created exclusively for ACAT. Sabro, Idaho 7, Strata and Galaxy hops provide intense aromas and flavors of pineapple, stone fruit, mango and pear with a hint of dankness backed by a soft, biscuity malt profile. 5.2% ABV.
  • Second Self Beer Company's Dad Made Breakfast. Remember mom's great breakfasts? Well, dad just puts down the coffee and a variety pack of cereal and calls that breakfast. We made an 8% ABV Imperial Stout with coffee, maple syrup, Cocoa Puffs, Golden Grahams, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Honey Nut Cheerios.
  • Service Brewing Company's Imperial Chocolate Cherry Stout ranks as a rich, smooth Imperial Stout brewed with chocolate and cherries for an extra dose of decadence.
  • Southern Brewing Company's Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut! This 10.5% ABV Imperial Stout starts with notes of coffee and dark chocolate before the addition of toasted coconut, almonds, Madagascar vanilla beans and a hint of cinnamon bark.
  • Steady Hand Banana Stand Money is a 6.5% ABV chocolate stout brewed with cocoa nibs, banana and Madagascar vanilla. If you like milk chocolate banana pudding, you'll love this beer!
  • SECOND PLACE CLASSIC STYLE: StillFire Brewing Olde Chief Inspector '19. A traditional English-style Barleywine offering the rich dark fruit and caramel character that makes many ales from the UK so popular. 11% ABV.

  • SweetWater Brewing Company's The Beachcomber is a traditional gose with a tiki twist. Pineapple, coconut, orange and nutmeg were added to this easy-drinking ale that was inspired by the Painkiller cocktail. Take a sip and feel the sand between your toes! 4.7% ABV.
  • Terrapin Beer Company's Mosaic Red Rye IPA is made with 100% Mosaic hops, an abundance of rye malt, and three types of crystal malts. Taste the great malt background and appealing hop depth.
  • The Eighth State Brewing Company's Arcus is a sour ale with additions of blueberry, lemon, cinnamon and marshmallow. The beer's acidity comes from a strain of house yeast and bacteria cultures, not from kettle souring.
  • The Lost Druid's Alban Arthan '19 Maple Wood-Aged Winter Warmer. This bold beer with big flavors weighs in at 7.7% ABV and was aged on hard maple wood that previously held smoked maple bourbon. The nose presents bright, yet luscious maple syrup, soft citrus peel and subtle smoke that transition into sweet cookie notes and toffee.
  • Three Taverns Aztec Ruin is Theophan the Recluse, our Imperial stout, re-fermented in this special cask with chili peppers, whole vanilla beans and whole cinnamon sticks.
  • Torched Hop Brewing DDH Cheesin' Hard. This exclusive cask of hazy IPA was double dry-hopped with the freshest crop year of Galaxy, Mosaic and Citra. Notes of mango, papaya and pineapple burst from the glass. You'll be cheesin' hard before you know it.

  • Twain's Brewpub & Billiards High Grade ESB is a traditional British-style cask ESB with Kent Golding and Fuggle hops. Taste this elegant ale to find out why this style is so popular in the UK.
  • Two Tides Brewing Company Mixed Signals Pale Ale is a dry-hopped pale ale lost somewhere between England and the East Coast. Simple and tasty, this beer is dry-hopped with extra Cashmere and El Dorado in the cask.
  • Urban Tree Cidery Mull It Over is our semi-dry cider base blended with seasonal mulling spices. It's a fun take on a traditional hot mulled cider - the perfect drink for winter.
  • THIRD PLACE SPECIALTY BEER: Variant Brewing Company's Sugar High is a huge, creamy, rich Imperial Stout with additions of maple, cinnamon, vanilla and almond.
  • Viking Alchemist Meadery Digby's Demise is a semi-sweet, savory ginger and rosemary mead that's a contemporary take on a medieval white Metheglin recipe. Crafted with North Georgia wildflower honey and English ale yeast.
  • Wild Heaven Beer Double O Weizenbock was brewed at our new West End Brewery & Gardens in collaboration with Owen Ogletree, ACAT founder and director. Enjoy this traditional, blonde German-style Weizenbock with added flare from additions of sweet orange.
  • Wrecking Bar Just the Tip of the Cap English Mild. This cask version features a healthy addition of toasted pecans and fresh vanilla for a slightly sweet and nutty (yet balanced and crushable) finish. 3.4% ABV, 15.5 IBUs.






Photos by Phil Farrell and Ashton Smith 

 
ACAT Sponsors:
 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Greenville's Craft Beer Destinations

By Owen Ogletree
 
40 years ago, downtown Greenville, South Carolina was basically a ghost town with derelict warehouses and vacant stores lining Main Street. Thankfully, over the last 30 years, civic leaders, pioneering businesses and the city's Economic Development Department have brilliantly transformed downtown into an appealing, thriving destination filled with hotels, condos, shops, walking paths and restaurants. No revitalized city would be complete without a spattering of amazing pubs and craft breweries, and Greenville does not disappoint. What follows is a rundown of just a few of central Greenville's craft beer spots.
 
 
The owners of Birds Fly South Ale Project describe the place as a "progressively old school urban farmhouse brewery." Located just a short drive to the northwest of the city center, Birds Fly South offers a hip tasting room and outdoor beer garden spaces in which to enjoy owner/brewer Shawn Johnson's scrumptious range of classic ales and lagers alongside award-winning, Belgian-inspired farmhouse saisons, sours and barrel-aged concoctions. The owners have lived in several places around the country, but once they flew south and landed in Greenville, they realized this is where their dream brewery should be hatched. Shawn Johnson adds, "Greenville is such a great town with a stronghold on the old and a passion for the future. We are excited to be here because the beer community has a wonderful mix of older craft beer veterans and a new influx of creators that continue to spark our culture."
 
Australian-born restaurateur and craft beer aficionado Josh Beeby opened the beloved Greenville location of Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria almost 20 years ago. Beeby's pioneering efforts helped ignite the craft beer revolution in Greenville, and Barley's is still a mandatory beer destination in the city. The beer hall offers two floors stocked with a wide range of the best U.S. and international craft beers available in the state, and Barley's pizza oven cooks up hearty, mouth-watering pies and calzones. After a visit to Barley's, remember to walk around the corner to check out the growler taps and impressive packaged beer selection at The Greenville Beer Exchange.
 
Trappe Door
 
Over ten years ago, during a visit to his birthplace in Sydney, Australia, Josh Beeby first experienced an authentic Belgian-themed restaurant. He was so blown-away that he immediately decided to clear out the long-abandoned cellar below Barley's in Greenville and begin construction on a classic Belgian beer tavern with old brick walls, heavy wooden beams and a cozy, low ceiling. To this day, Beeby's Trappe Door restaurant remains a Greenville favorite for world-class Belgian cuisine paired with a massive selection of Belgian-style draft and bottled beers.
 
Head just a few blocks north of downtown to check out The Community Tap. This popular Greenville taproom and bottle shop serves pints from an exceptional list of craft beer taps, and ciders and select wines are also on offer. Co-owners Mike Okupinski and Ed Buffington believed that their Greenville neighborhood was ready for a sociable taproom and gathering place, and The Community Tap opened its doors in July of 2010. Mike and Ed enjoy picking the best available beverages for their customers and sharing their passion and knowledge with patrons. Great beer is best with food, so The Community Tap also hosts a regular rotation of the city's best food trucks.
 
Look for Eighth State Brewing just a short distance south of downtown near Fluor Field and the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum. This hip, industrial-style brewery produces an intriguing range of house beers that includes sour ales, IPAs, fruit beers, meads, fun collaboration ales, a crushable pilsner and interesting guest taps. Muffin pans serve as beer flight trays, and wines, cocktails and in-house food items such as wings, charcuterie, cheeses and gourmet sandwiches and pizzas are also available.
 
Many locals consider Fireforge Crafted Beer to be the most enjoyable and welcoming small brewery taproom in Greenville. Spouses Brian and Nicole Cendrowski have created a haven for craft beer drinkers in downtown, and their delicious house beers include Comic Saaz Pilsner, Cracker Soul Kölsch, Parrot Face Berliner Weisse, Fires of Helles Bock, Tampanian Devil Tripel, The Fixer Baltic Porter, and a range of classic, hazy and "milkshake" IPAs. "With Fireforge, we wanted to create a place for people to connect in person, and we sought to ignite a spirit of adventure and exploration through beer," explains Nicole Cendrowski. "When our big doors are open, it feels like we're all on a front porch together. We're a little sweaty in the summer, yet happy because we're sharing beer with friends and family."
 
A fashionable gathering place for young and older craft beer fans, Liability Brewing Company also offers toys, treats and doggy water bowls for furry family members. The owners always called awkward or embarrassing people and situations "liabilities," so it was natural for them to use this term for their brewery. They say, "Life is better with a little liability." Humorous house beer names include So Much Drama in the LBC IPA, Carl Von Cloudwitz IPA, Feral Garden Gnome Belgian Blonde, Clutches Pearls Barleywine, Mortal Wombat IPA, Nerdy by Nature Pale Ale and Ted Danzig Schwarzbier. Liability doesn't serve food but encourages folks to bring in barbecue from nearby Moe's or pizza from World Piece next door.
 
For a change in atmosphere, pull into Mac's Speed Shop to catch the game on one of the many televisions and choose a pint from a draft list with "more beer choices than days in a year." Other than beer, Mac's is known for its barbecue, with executive chef Kevin Kuruc placing in the top five at the World Championship of Barbecue.
 
 
For folks who track beers on the Untappd app, Greenville's Pour Taproom is nirvana. Walk in, hand over a credit card and get an electronic bracelet "key" that unlocks over 70 self-serve craft beer, cider and wine taps. Pay by the ounce, not by the glass. The dog-friendly place also has comfy sofas, huge TVs and a game room.
 
 
On a hunt for rare and unusual beers? The Whale: A Craft Beer Collective prides itself in pouring some of the more uncommon selections in Greenville. The owners track down elusive beers from around the world and also collaborate with local breweries in the creation of exceptional partnership ales and lagers. The owners began their first taproom in Asheville in 2017, followed by Greenville in early 2019. 
 
 
Known for its locations in Tennessee, Yee-Haw Brewing Company launched its downtown Greenville brewery in 2018 that serves a varied range of classic and experimental beer styles that are wonderfully clean and well-crafted. The place also houses a kitchen that dishes up tasty tapas, sandwiches, wings and tacos.
 
Seek out Brewery 85 that's located a few miles southeast of Greenville near I-85. The brewers use traditional German-style techniques in crafting house beers such as Quittin' Time Helles Bock, Fishin' Beer Lager, GVL IPA, 864 Weizen and Leon's Lederhosen Marzen. The brewery also showcases live music, and the owners have partnered with Mexibilly's BBQ to serve patrons "southern barbecue with a Mexican twist."
 
Quest Brewing Company's tasting room, known as "The Keep," is situated a few miles due east of downtown and offers live music, trivia, yoga, happy hours and a range of tasty house brews. Be sure to try Golden Fleece Belgian-style Pale Ale, Smoking Mirror Smoked Porter, Issaqueena Mango White Ale and Ponce Cucumber Jalapeno Saison. After visiting Quest, note that the Greenville location of Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant sits less than a mile away.
 
As the O.G., pioneering craft brewery in Greenville, Thomas Creek Brewery has been family owned since 1998 and still does a fine job in producing a lineup of flavorful ales and lagers. Swing by the brewery that's located south of downtown near the I-85/I-185 interchange. The taproom opens seven days a week.
 
Located east of downtown near Greenville Technical College, Grateful Brew ranks as a neighborhood favorite that serves gourmet coffee during the day and craft beer at night. Fill your pint glass or growler jug with one of the many local brews on tap and nibble an entree from guest food trucks. Grateful Brew welcomes well-behaved children and pups.
 
Shoeless Brewing on Mauldin Road is a tasty, small-batch brewery with a homebrewing supply store attached (Grapes & Grain). Monthly meetings for homebrewers are held here, and the place ranks as a neighborhood favorite.
 
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