Friday, May 12, 2023

Tasty Southeastern Beer Reviews & Food Pairings

By Owen Ogletree and Kerri Allen
Hooter Brown
Oyster City Brewing Company
Apalachicola, Florida
Imperial Brown Ale, 8.5% ABV
Deep brown in color with a moderate tan head, this beer offers aromas of dark malt, cocoa, chocolate, toffee, pie crust and mild, pleasant, dark fruit esters. The palate picks up alcohol warmth along with slightly sweet malt complexity backed by caramel and chocolate candy notes. There's also complexity from nuances of raisin, fig and ripe plum esters. Appropriately, almost no roasted malt character emerges in this wonderfully malty, medium-bodied brown ale. Pair with desserts such as cheesecake, fruit tarts and French vanilla ice cream.
Imperial Hopsecutioner IPA
Terrapin Beer Company
Athens, Georgia
Double IPA, 9.8% ABV
Almost clear with just a hint of haze, the deep amber color and long-lasting off-white foam make this strong ale quite attractive. Look for moderate aromas originating from a range of U.S. hops that are reminiscent of citrus, pineapple and pine resin. The hefty malt bill also comes through on the nose with notes of caramel and toffee. A bit sweet for style, the beer's crystal malts and toasted malts are lightly balanced by tropical, resiny hop flavors. The big malt canvas could perhaps benefit from a bit more hop bitterness, and the beer finishes malty and boozy with a hint of alcohol spice and warmth. Pair this potent ale with gumbo, pad Thai or Indian butter chicken.
Retrospect IPA
Arches Brewing
Hapeville, Georgia
West Coast-Style IPA, 6.5% ABV
This ale pours with a deep amber color that falls on the dark end of the style's color spectrum. Brilliantly clear, the ale also boasts a substantial layer of tan foam. The nose picks up malt, caramel, toasted bread crust, light fruity esters and hop notes of citrus, pine resin and a hint of blood orange pith. On the tongue, malty, toffee-like notes appear up front, followed by earthy hop flavors and hints of pine bark. Hop bitterness seems mild for the style, but the beer comes across as quite approachable. One taster noticed a nuance of dark berries and pineapple in the ester profile. Pour this beer alongside turkey burgers with brown mustard or lemon pepper chicken wings.
Passion on Ponce IPA
Three Taverns Craft Brewery
Decatur, Georgia
American IPA with Passion Fruit, Orange & Guava, 7.5% ABV
With a deep gold color and apricot hue, this fruited IPA pours with a fluffy off-white head and almost perfect clarity. Expect aroma notes of rich passion fruit along with some orange hints and an earthy, tropical fruit juice character. A touch of hoppy pine resin notes comes through in the background. The flavors seem more balanced than the fruity nose, with citrusy American hops peeking through the fruit canvas. On the palate, a light malt character transitions quickly into a mélange of orange pith, tart passion fruit and earthy guava. The beer finishes dry with a light/medium body and a tasty bitter hop/fruit nuance that lingers on the back of the tongue in a welcoming way. Drink this beer with a plate of Caribbean grilled shrimp or jerk chicken with grilled pineapple. 
Italian-Style Pilz
Ology Brewing Company
Tallahassee, Florida
Italian-Style Pilsner, 5.0% ABV
Expecting a crystal-clear, crisp pilsner? Think again. Ology's take on the style pours with a gold/orange hue and appropriate white foam, but the lager showcases an unexpected haze. Aromas come through that make the beer seem more like a hop-forward hazy pale ale with tropical fruit notes. There's pilsner malt in the smell, along with significant New World hop character. On the palate, the beer again comes across like a hazy India Pale Lager with earthy hops, mineral-rich water and tropical fruit notes similar to light papaya. The beer finishes with a chalky dryness and pleasing hop nuance. Overall, this selection is delicious and enjoyable, even if it doesn't match the Italian pilsner style guidelines to a tee. White pizza or raw oysters would make a beautiful match for this lager.
Pales in Comparison
Edmund's Oast Brewing
Charleston, South Carolina
Double Dry-Hopped Hazy Pale Ale, 5.0% ABV
The beer pours with a golden color, moderate haze and a light layer of off-white bubbles. Aroma notes include green tea, jasmine, Mandarin oranges, kiwi fruit, light malt and cereal grains. Upon taking a sip, the palate registers many of the same aroma characteristics. There are also hints of buttery cashews and light, fruity hop flavor notes. The ale finishes dry with mild hop bitterness and a tropical citrus nuance. This pale ale's malt profile produces an appealing, refreshing, light body and character. The cereal grains help create the haze and perhaps somewhat mute the malt and hop complexity. The dry nature of this beer makes for a smart pairing with gyoza potstickers or shrimp with lobster sauce.
Wild Streak
Bearded Iris Brewing
Nashville, Tennessee
Sour Ale with Rosemary, Orange Peel & Vanilla, 5.1% ABV
A golden tone, white foam and slight haze highlight the appearance of this complex sour ale. Rosemary and other herb notes dominate the aroma profile, with peppercorns, crisp lactic acid, passion fruit, citrus peel, lemon and cucumber nuances emerging to enhance the overall flavor canvas. Expect a light body and crisp, refreshing, fruity, dry finish that continues to showcase the rosemary/herbal character after swallowing. The beer seems reminiscent of a dry, lightly acidic, refreshing white wine. Good pairings would include green olives, linguine with clam sauce or oven-roasted potatoes.
Chandeleur Island Brewing Company
Gulfport, Mississippi
Golden Ale, 5.0% ABV
With a golden tone, nice layer of white foam and attractive clarity, this quaffable golden ale serves up mild malt aromas and flavors of lightly sweet bread along with some cereal notes from additions of wheat and corn. The light body comes across as soft and lightly creamy with a hint of malt sweetness in the finish, balanced by a touch of citrusy American hop flavor and mild bitterness. Fruity esters are restrained, and the ale could almost pass for a lager, due to the clean nature of the mouthfeel and finish. This classic "beer-flavored-beer" shines with subtle complexity and good technical merit. In the spirit of the Gulf Coast, this beer would pair perfectly with a grouper sandwich and fries.
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Friday, January 6, 2023

Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting Beer List: 1/21/2023

Scroll Down for the FULL LIST OF CASK ALES, winners, and photos from the fest:

Important Festival Notes:

  • WEAR YOUR BEADS. These are required for entry and for being served.
  • ALLERGENS: Some beers contain nuts and other allergens. Check descriptions below.
  • Ribbons for 1st, 2nd & 3rd place Avant-Garde and Classic-Style casks will be posted on casks at 4 PM. Festival attendees can use the link below to vote for People's Choice cask. 
  • Floors are wet - please use constant caution. 
  • Don't drink and drive! Use Uber and Lyft.
  • Attendees get 10% off delicious food items at Bold Monk today!
  • Beers are subject to change without notice.
  • ACAT code of conduct is posted below. 

CLICK HERE to vote for your favorite cask before 5 PM on festival day. Use the unique six-digit passcode from your green ticket to vote. 


01. 6S Brewing Oil Change Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout. An oil change is recommended every 5000 miles, but this Oil Change is great anytime! Our 7.5% ABV American Imperial Stout is bubbly, black and silky with notes of coffee, chocolate, toasted coconut and caramel. Aging for five months in Stranahan’s whiskey barrels helped create this smooth, aromatic, rich and creamy ale that offers whiskey on the nose and a warming finish.

02. Akademia Phobia Imperial Stout contains a powerful 13.0% ABV with additions of Nutter Butter cookies, Madagascar vanilla beans and chipotle peppers.

03. Arches Brewing Lost the Plot. This 7% ABV British-Style Strong Ale is reminiscent of decadent, rich English toffee and fruitcake with a firm, appealing bitterness for balance. Hop aromas offer subtle lavender and earth notes.

04. Athentic Bold Faced Rye is a 5.8% ABV Roggenbier. The mix of 60% rye in the grain bill and the Hefeweizen yeast creates rich and complex flavors of caramel, toffee, clove and pumpernickel bread. The mouthfeel is delightfully smooth and pillowy.

05. No Cask in This Slot

06. Bold Monk Dark Angel is a blend of ASW Resurgens Rye barrel-aged Sir Isaac Quad re-fermented with mission figs and two-year-old foeder fermented Angels in the Architecture. Bright notes of citrus and acid meld harmoniously with rich caramel and dark fruit - all brought together by spicy barrel rye notes and well-aged funk. 8% ABV.

07. Braselton Brewing Handshake IPA - A subdued West Coast-Style IPA with Columbus, Loral, Azacca and Veterans Blend hops throughout. This delicious IPA starts floral and transitions to a piney finish.

08. Burnt Hickory Withered Cherry Blackberry Cobbler Berliner premiers as a 4.5% ABV fruit-forward tart wheat ale. Soured with proprietary bacteria and cleaned up in the kettle pre-fermentation, this beer has the sweet and tart flavors of pie and is named for Atlanta Doom/Black Metal legends Withered.

09. Cherry Street Brewing BananACAT is a 10% ABV bourbon barrel-aged Belgian-Style Quad aged for 12 months in a Four Roses 10-Year Select barrel with ripe bananas and toasted walnuts with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, dates and vanilla.

10. PEOPLE'S CHOICE CASK WINNER -- Lincoln Fill Station / Cherry Street The Buffalo Rider. An 11% ABV German chocolate Imperial Stout aged in a Buffalo Trace barrel with toasted coconut, dates, vanilla and Ghirardelli chocolate. Buffalo Trace barrel-aged maple syrup was used as the primer for cask-conditioning.

11. Cøntrast Artisan Ales Mammy's Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal Stout. We hope you're wearing a sweater, because it's about to get super cozy in here with this 5.3% ABV dreamy, silky Oatmeal Stout that embodies a favorite classic breakfast bowl. It's smooth, comfy goodness in a glass.

12. Creature Comforts Vuja De: London Porter. Vuja De is an exploratory series with historical influence that looks at classic beer brands in a new, yet familiar, way. With this 5.0% ABV addition to the series, we honor the legendary Fuller's London Porter. This special cask offers a creamy roast flavor with a touch of salinity.

13. THIRD PLACE CLASSIC STYLE -- Cultivation Brewing Simple Habits. This 5.8% ABV nod to traditional Farmhouse Ales was fermented with French Saison yeast and brewed with Pilsner and Vienna malts balanced by Hallertau Blanc and Nelson Sauvin hops.

14. Elsewhere Brewing Vaunted East Coast IPA. For this hazy IPA, we blended juicy and citrusy aspects. Additions of 2022 harvested Mt. Hood whole cone hops to this special cask help accentuate a warm spice character and create a unique and approachable 6.5% ABV offering with 20 IBUs.

15. Eventide Brewing Cup of Excellence is a 6.7% ABV coffee Milk Stout aged on Madagascar vanilla beans and oak spirals. Expect a sweet, malty profile with a creamy coffee finish.

16. Good Word Brewing Analog Life is a 3.6% ABV English-Style Dark Mild Ale that's loaded with elegant, subtle complexity and immense drinkability.

17. Halfway Crooks 10˚P Černé Pivo. This Czech-Style Black Lager with 4.2% ABV was done in collaboration with Cohesion Brewing in Denver, and the elegant beer uses Epiphany base and specialty dark malts. The hop bill is 100% Saaz. This Czech dark lager offers a touch more roasted character and dark color than a Tmavý. This exclusive version was krausened in the cask and cold lagered.

18. Hop Atomica Sweater Weather is an American Strong Ale with 9.3% ABV and 51 IBUs. It's hopped with Magnum, Goldings, Willamette and Saaz. Cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, grains of paradise, orange peel and vanilla beans were added to the cask to spice up this rich "winter warmer" ale.

19. Hopstix GMT is our 5.7% ABV take on a contemporary English IPA. We started with a foundation of Maris Otter and UK crystal malts, along with multiple hop additions in the kettle and a healthy dry-hopping with Olacana and Jester. These elements combine to form toasted bread and toffee notes highlighted with bright citrus and tea nuances.

20. Khonso Brewing Long Tall Sally. Just like one of our favorite songs by Little Richard Penniman, this 11.5% ABV Barleywine is fun. Our Barleywine offers a deep amber color, smooth body, caramel maltiness, and notes of raisin. This one is like Sally - built for speed!


21. Liquid Nation Brewing Lick The Wrapper. This 5.5% ABV peanut butter and chocolate milk porter will make you question whether you’re drinking a glass of suds or munching a peanut butter cup. We start with a generous use of roasted and chocolate malts, sprinkle in just the right amount of hops, mix in some peanut butter and let it “bake” until ready. Expect a sweet porter with big notes of chocolate and peanut butter.

22. Little Cottage Beyond the Edge of Existence. This 4.8% ESB was brewed with Maris Otter and a touch of crystal malt for the grain bill, along with Nugget and East Kent Goldings for the hop additions. A toasted, bread-like character with a little caramel comes through in this full-bodied UK-style bitter. A medium hop bitterness rounds things out.

23. Lost Druid Menai British-Style Golden Ale is a 5% ABV rounded and smooth cask that features a unique blend of hops that showcases a highly-desired orange marmalade note while providing a balanced, hop-forward, subtle bready malt backbone. Golden straw in color, this style is a thirst quencher. Once produced solely as a refreshing summer beer, British-Style Golden Ales are now enjoyed year-round in the UK.

24. Magnanimous Brewing Sorath is a 6% ABV Czech-Style Dark Lager constructed with elegant European malts and Hallertau Mittelfruh hops. Expect a clean fermentation profile highlighted by impressive malt and noble hop character.

25. Mandatory Fun Beer Works Blood Stripe. This Irish Red Ale Braggot from Smyrna was aged in a rye barrel with additions of orange blossom honey. 

26. Max Lager's Fooler's ESB makes for a truly classic cask. Look for a full-bodied, amber-colored ale with medium bitterness and pleasant fruity notes. East Kent Goldings hops were used for an earthy, herbal English hop character.  ABV: 5.4%.

27. Monday Night Prague Fog Czech Dark Lager is brewed with noble hops and floor-malted dark Bohemian pilsner malt. Its character is balanced by roasty/toasty notes. With this 3.7% ABV ultra-drinkable beer, you’ll find yourself ensconced in Prague Fog all winter long.

28. Monkey Wrench Brewing Coconuts & Bolts is a 6.3% ABV English-Style Porter constructed with six different malts. Look for upfront notes of espresso balanced with coconut and cacao nibs.

29. Moon River Apparition Ale is an English-Style Pale Ale that sits at 5% ABV. Brewed with Maris Otter malt and traditional Timothy Taylor ale yeast, this beer begs to be cask-conditioned. A special dry-hopping of East Kent Goldings in the firkin accentuates the honey-like caramel qualities of the malt.

30. New Realm Yankee Invasion ESB is what we are calling an "International ESB." Brewed in the English style with all English malts, this cask also features German Mandarina Bavaria hops and American Amarillo hops. It's amber in color with impressive biscuit and caramel malt character, along with fruit-forward hop flavors. 6.4% ABV, 49 IBUs.

31. Normaltown "A Proper Mountie Breakfast." We sought to create a strong breakfast stout that could stand up to a cold Canadian winter. With flaked oats, maple bacon extract, oak spirals and a hint of cinnamon, this dark ale won’t fail to warm you up and remind you why breakfast is the most important meal. 10.5% ABV, (Note: Contains soy and dairy from the maple bacon extract.)

32. Orpheus Ultramega Imperial Stout - A silky rye strong stout with layers of dark chocolate, molasses and baking spices. No adjuncts were harmed in the making of this powerful brew that comes in at 11.4% ABV.

33. Piedmont Brewery If I Could Quit - A clean 5.0% ABV lager brewed with a heavy-handed amount of honey malt balanced with Hersbrucker hops. A subtle sweetness and lingering honey flavor on the back end make this an appealing winter lager.

34. Pontoon Brewing AquaChronic Double IPA is 8% ABV and dry-hopped with Galaxy, Enigma and Citra. This is a bigger brother of our AquaTronic Double IPA with beefier hops. 

35. Gate City Dunkles Bock with Spices is a malty German-Style amber lager with tasty additions of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg. 6.5% ABV. 

36. Red Hare The Last Big Beer in a Small Town is an 8.5% ABV barrel-aged Milk Stout brewed with Ecuadorian cocoa nibs and aged in a bourbon barrel that previously held our award-winning rum. Part of our ongoing “double barrel” projects, this sweet stout provides notes of chocolate, vanilla, plum and warming rum. 

37. Reformation Brewery English Barleywine pays tribute to the rich, complex and intense Barleywine style that is now making a thankful comeback. This 11.2% ABV cask version is brewed with additions of blackstrap molasses and Tahitian vanilla.


38. Rock Solid Brewing Not My Gumdrop Buttons! is a flavorful American Stout that comes in at 7.3% ABV with cinnamon, ginger and clove added to this exclusive cask.

39. Round Trip Brewing Decocted & Concocted is a decocted Czech Amber Lager made with Weyermann floor-malted Bohemian Pilsner and Carared malts. A dose of cold brew coffee from Docent Coffee Roasters was added to this special cask.

40. Sabbath Brewing Three Bedrooms on Beech Creek Orchards - Our oak-fermented wild sour ale base was re-fermented on carbonic macerated wild foraged muscadines from Beech Creek Orchards. 6.9% ABV.

41. Sceptre Brewing Arts Hexproof is a 4.3% ABV double dry-hopped Pale Ale brewed with Riverbend Southern Craft Malt and oats with heaps of Zappa and Loral Lupulin hops, along with a dose of Hopzoil Hazy.

42. Schoolhouse Brewing Cran Piano. This 6.0% ABV kettle-soured Berliner Weisse was loaded with cranberries, resulting in a beer that is both tart and invigorating.  Sophisticated and classy, yet intense, it'll have your taste buds humming along in contentment. 

43. Shiner Candy Cane Porter is crafted with two-row malt accompanied by a duo of dark malts for color and toasty flavors, as well as flaked oats which impart a smooth mouthfeel. In addition, we infused this 10% ABV sipper with a vast amount of cocoa to give it a comforting chocolate note to partner with the fresh mint that was added near the end of fermentation in the same vein that one would dry-hop an IPA. The complex porter in this firkin was marinated on wood that was soaked with Garrison Brother’s Bourbon.

44. Six Bridges Innit Bruv Ordinary Bitter. This 4.6% ABV session ale contains Maris Otter, crystal 45, biscuit and Victory malts, along with Fuggle hops and London yeast. Like the older bloke at the pub used to say, "Need that balance in your life and your beer, mate. That malty character is a real delight innit. But mind the bitter finish - it's cracking skulls, bruv! Look at that color too, mate, blimey! Pour this one in the glass, and then Bob’s your uncle, innit?"

45. Southbound Brewing Hot'lin IPA uses our popular Hop'lin West Coast-Style IPA as a base, with additions of jalapeno and pineapple cranking up the complexity in this mouth-watering cask that holds 6.3% ABV and 40 IBUs.

46. STATS Brewpub Albatross is a 6.4% ABV American IPA conditioned in the cask on mangos and serrano peppers. Expect an appealing hop profile backed by wonderful fruit and chili notes.


47. FIRST PLACE CLASSIC STYLE -- StillFire Brewing Withershin Walter's Old English Ale. This delectable, malty ale comes in at 9% ABV. Enjoy this classic English-Style Old Ale that was aged tenderly for maximum flavour and complexity.

48. Terrapin Athens Cask Perception Imperial IPA starts with our base beer Depth Perception, and finishes with additions of CTZ, Centennial and Simcoe dry-hops in the cask. Our 9.1% ABV red ale base is aggressively hopped with CTZ, Chinook and Crystal hops, while backed by CaraMalt and crystal 45 for a pleasant sweetness and full mouthfeel. 

49. Terrapin Atlanta Walk & Balk is a twist on a complex classic beer style. Our Golden Weizenbock has been combined with chocolate, paying homage to a ballpark favorite combination of bananas and chocolate.

50. SECOND PLACE CLASSIC STYLE -- Three Taverns Double Dry-Hopped Night on Ponce IPA. We took our base IPA and dry-hopped in the cask with an additional charge of Galaxy and Simcoe hops. Expect an extra layer of tropical fruit, grapefruit and pine notes, along with the prevalent citrus character of A Night on Ponce IPA.

51. Torched Hop Wai Wai Express IPA. This 7.9% IPA was heavily hopped with New Zealand-grown Nelson Sauvin and US-grown Citra. Phantasm powder from New Zealand grape skins was added to the kettle, and the beer was fermented with a thiolized yeast strain. Look for notes of Pinot Gris grapes, mango and tropical fruits.

52. Twain's Brewpub & Billiards Brux Ambré is a 6% ABV Biere de Garde that was aged for four years on Brettanomyces bruxellensis yeast in a red wine barrel. Look for rich barrel elements and notes of red wine with deep, funky Brett character. Sip slowly, as this ale develops over time in your glass.

53. THIRD PLACE AVANT-GARDE STYLE -- Two Tides How Much Cheese is too Much Cheese? Check out our mint chocolate cheesecake Imperial Stout that's made with Andes mints, cheesecake, graham crackers and vanilla. 9.9% ABV.

54. Variant Brewing Broken Mind is a 13.5% ABV imperial pastry stout with additions of macadamia nuts, white chocolate, sea salt and a blend of Tahitian, Papua New Guinea and Peruvian vanilla beans.

55. SECOND PLACE AVANT-GARDE STYLE -- Viking Alchemist The Raven Mead. Don't miss this luscious dark cherry mead made with additions of blackberry, black currant, blueberry, clove, cinnamon, allspice, vanilla and orange.

56. FIRST PLACE AVANT-GARDE STYLE -- Wild Heaven 5 Points German-Style Doppelbock ranks as our fifth collaboration with Bulleit Frontier Whiskey. This traditional strong dark lager was aged in Bulleit 95 Rye barrels. Expect notes of rich, toasty buttered toffee, raisins and rye bourbon. 9.25% ABV.

57. Wrecking Bar Wreckinator Dopplebock. A rich and robust Bavarian-style strong lager with notes of gooey caramel, burnt sugar and dark fruit. There are no adjuncts here - just beer! 6.8% ABV. 

CLICK HERE to vote for your favorite cask before 5 PM on festival day. Use the unique six-digit passcode from your green ticket to vote.

ACAT CODE OF CONDUCT: ACAT is dedicated to a harassment-free festival experience for everyone, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, race or religion. We do not tolerate harassment in any form. All communication should be kind, appropriate and inclusive for all audiences, including people of diverse backgrounds, sexual orientations and cultures. Sexual language, harassment and imagery are never appropriate. All festival participants are expected to conduct themselves with responsibility, integrity, courtesy and respect for others. Participants violating these rules will be asked to leave at the sole discretion of the festival host and/or organizers. Thank you for respecting these important rules.


Photos by Mary Fiorello, Patricia Watt and Ashton Smith. 

Sunday, October 23, 2022

The Erdinger Experience

Our recent Brewtopia Tours trip to the 2022 Oktoberfest in Munich brought the group into Bavaria a day early to recover from jet lag. Staying for one night in a Munich airport hotel, our group's choice of an early bonus beer experience was easy. We grabbed some taxis and headed to the nearby town of Erding to enjoy a marvelous tour and tasting at the world-renowned Privatbrauerei Erdinger Weißbräu Werner Brombach - a classic beer producer known for its namesake Bavarian wheat beers.
Some participants on our Bavaria tours express the opinion that wheat beers are not their favorite. This state of mind evaporates immediately after one sip of the extraordinarily fresh and satisfying wheat beers available in the region. Erdinger did not disappoint. 
Erdinger's wheat beers express wonderful, complex notes of refreshing banana and clove weizen yeast fermentation character. These lightly-hopped wheat beers boast a high level of carbonation, wheat and cereal grain notes, a dry finish, fluffy mouthfeel and a typical ABV range of 4.3-5.6%. Adding some caramelized malts to the wheat beer recipe produces a darker version known as Dunkles Weissbier. Boosting the fermentable sugars produces a higher alcohol version of the style called Pinkantus Weizen-Bock. Erdinger also produces flavorful non-alcoholic wheat ales. 
The Erdinger experience begins in the brewery's "fan shop" where visitors can purchase all types of Erdinger merchandise and fresh beer to take home. An experienced guide takes groups on a fun and educational walk through the brewery and the history of Erdinger Weissbiers. See the brew kettles, warehouses, bottling line and massive distribution bays. 
After the tour, beer fans experience the full range of Erdinger wheat beers alongside traditional Bavarian snacks in the brewery's atmospheric tasting room. Savor the brewery's flavorful range of wheat beers alongside traditional white sausages and massive pretzels. Including the tasting, Erdinger's tours last around three hours. See more information on booking a tour by clicking HERE

Top Seven Reasons Why We Love Hofbräuhaus München

Beer and a hearty meal at Munich's state-owned Hofbräuhaus rank as a goal on many craft beer lovers' bucket lists. Several reasons exist as to why the Hofbräuhaus just might be the most recognized bar in the world. Our recent Brewtopia tour group to Oktoberfest in Munich was capped off by a joyful and boisterous evening at Hofbräu in the center of the city.
Here are the top seven reasons why we love the Hofbräuhaus:
Upon walking through the doors of this Bavarian institution, visitors are immediately struck by the historic and intriguing interior of the building. The expansive space is marked by traditional wall décor and arched ceilings. 
Hofbräuhaus is where visitors from around the world flock to soak in the true Bavarian beer hall experience. “Oans, zwoa, drei, Gsuffa!” 
The "oompah" band cranks out all the traditional, favorite songs and tunes that encourage customers to have fun and enjoy the food and exceptional beers. You'll be singing along in no time. 
Looking for hearty, traditional Bavarian fare? Look no further than the roasted chicken and pork dishes at the Hofbräuhaus. The tavern serves millions of plates of food each year, but we've never had a bad meal there. Customers are assured not to leave hungry.
Hofbräuhaus produces excellent examples of classic Bavarian beer styles such as Helles, Dunkel, Bock, Festbier and wheat beer. When ordering a beer in a glass smaller than a liter, patrons might get a judgmental glance from the waitstaff, but it's all in good fun. There's something special about hoisting a liter of amazing lager inside the Hofbräuhaus.
People who shy away from the massive crowds at Munich's Oktoberfest don't need to worry. The party atmosphere of Oktoberfest exists in a somewhat smaller form at the Hofbräuhaus tavern that's filled with Gemütlichkeit - a German term used to convey a state or feeling of warmth, friendliness and happiness.
Pick up your liter stein of beer and toast with new friends from across the globe at Hofbräuhaus. It's impossible to be in a bad mood when seated at this extraordinary Bavarian beer hall. Prost!

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Brick Store's Cask Bar: What's Old is New Again

By Owen Ogletree 

Around two years ago, Dave Blanchard walked up the stairs of his popular and pioneering Brick Store Pub in Decatur, Georgia. He glanced to the right at the small, non-descript seating area at the top of the stairs, and an ingenious plan popped into his mind. He thought, "Why not bring a tiny bit of England to this small section of Brick Store?" The journey toward the pub's beloved cask ale bar had begun. 
Brick Store Pub opened its doors over 25 years ago with a mission of spreading the love for classic craft beer styles in Decatur and Atlanta. The laid-back main bar serves outstanding draft craft beers alongside a creative and eclectic pub food menu. Several years ago, the owners installed a beautiful Belgian-themed bar upstairs to the left and a vintage beer cellar room to the right that houses prized high-gravity bottles at a cool 50 degrees F. The pandemic then tasked the Brick Store with creating a lovely outdoor beer garden in the backyard that boasts a Bavarian-like setting. All that seemed missing was a little flavor of the British Isles. 
Brick Store co-owner Dave Blanchard shared the idea of a small upstairs cask ale bar with business partners Mike Gallagher and Tom Moore. 10.8-gallon "firkin" casks could be stored in the chilled vintage cellar, with an insulated pipe running through the wall to supply cask ales to handpump taps on a compact bar in the seating area at the top of the stairs. Gallagher and Moore seemed not too optimistic about the success of this venture but agreed to let Blanchard give it a go. No one expected the impressive level of success that the Brick Store's cask ale bar would achieve since it opened almost a year ago. 
Cask ale was not new to the Brick Store. Most days, the downstairs bar offered a cask ale, and many customers seemed interested and supportive. "When we started in 1997, the first cask we put on downstairs was Blind Man Espresso Stout from Athens, Georgia," notes Blanchard. "I've traveled to the UK several times and came across some beautiful beers. For me, it's more about the culture of the pub, how the beer is drawn, and the traditions involved. People now come upstairs to our new cask bar who have never seen an English-style beer engine handpump, and it's fun to explain the process. Once you've tasted a proper cask ale, you get hooked."
Blanchard was never thrilled with the former vibe of the seating space at the top of the stairs, and creating a cask ale destination there seemed like the perfect solution. "Before COVID, this area was a small dining space without the energy, intimacy and appeal of our Belgian bar," Blanchard explains. "I saw it as kind of a purgatory area. We talked about the vintage cellar providing a cool place to house the casks, and the idea of building a bar and popping the plumbing through the wall made lots of sense. We had to get the measurements down to within inches to install this cask bar and the new seating."
Once the cask bar was built-out, plumbed, and decorated like a classic UK pub, Blanchard began locating excellent quality cask ales from independent regional breweries. This task presented a bit of a challenge at first, but as soon as word began to spread about the unique vibe of the cask bar, local breweries began lining up to fill firkins. Blanchard adds, "We now have great relationships with many impressive craft breweries nearby."
Along with a bunch of new cask bar devotees, Blanchard now enjoys spending time in the new area. "The whole project has been fulfilling," he says. "The cask bar is centrally located where customers can look down into the restaurant. People love having English and European soccer on the television behind the beer engines, and the cask ales have been extraordinary. Most brewers love cask ale and want others to love it as well."
A challenge for local breweries making special, traditional brews for the Brick Store has been how to sell the remainder of the beer that doesn't go into firkins for the pub. Unfortunately, English mild ale, bitter, ESB and UK golden ale styles don't currently create a great deal of excitement with younger craft beer drinkers who frequent brewery taprooms. Blanchard notes, "The nearby Three Taverns Brewery made us three firkins of a delicious clone of the UK's Old Peculier Ale. Our firkins were consumed in only three days, but the rest of the beer on tap at Three Taverns took a while to sell out. Halfway Crooks brewery has a small test system to brew one-barrel batches, and they've used this to create some firkins for us a couple of times."
Other breweries supplying mouth-watering cask ales to the Brick Store include Wild Heaven Beer, Monday Night Brewing, Arches Brewing, Green Bench, Bell's and New Realm. Blanchard was pumped when Sierra Nevada in North Carolina agreed to keep the Brick Store stocked with casks of its exceptional unfiltered pale ale with Cascade dry-hops in each cask. Blanchard recalls, "A couple of Sierra Nevada brewers were in Atlanta for a meeting, and they stopped by Brick Store to check out the new cask bar. When they were impressed enough to immediately get on board, I knew our cask bar would succeed."
Neil Callaghan, beer manager at the Brick Store, has been thrilled with the public's reception of the cask bar. He notes that the contagious excitement for cask ale among the staff spreads quickly to customers. "The success of our cask bar shows that the consumer understands and appreciates the uniqueness of the program and how great cask ale can be," he says. "Our biggest challenges with the cask bar include planning ahead, coordinating between the different breweries, and keeping an inventory of firkins. We just can't look at distributor inventory sheets and order firkins like we do kegs. Casks are special." 
Blanchard loves that some local breweries are now filling casks with fabulous UK beer styles made from ingredients on hand. Creature Comforts in Athens, Georgia, produced an exceptional clone of Timothy Taylor Landlord ale made with American hops and barley along with the classic Timothy Taylor yeast from the UK. The beer, known as Vujà Dé Landlord, inspired Creature Comforts to recently install its own UK cask cooler and beer engine in the Athens taproom. 
Blanchard, Zaboroskie, and Callaghan 
Sam Zaboroskie has served as Brick Store's general manager for two years. Her favorite aspect of the cask bar is sharing samples and educating customers. She notes, "In a typical week, I can share so much love of cask ales with our patrons. Customers seem to think more about what they are drinking while they sit in this intimate and cozy atmosphere." 
Blanchard devoted many hours to ensuring that every little detail of the cask bar came across as perfect. The cask bar pays loving homage to English pub traditions, from the dartboard and hidden television that pops out for English football to the classic UK pub wallpaper and eclectic photos that adorn the walls. "The atmosphere of the cask bar is just so pleasant and authentic," Blanchard adds. "It's amazing that every time professional brewers show up, they head straight to the cask bar. This is the greatest validation for the project that I could ever hope for."
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