We know you like beer, but why do you hate children?

January 25, 2012

Most of the people I know in the Knoxville Craft beer community are real fine outstanding folks. As a whole, they support a wide variety of causes, and donate their time and energy to many charities. I image most of them think of themselves as progressive. It just makes me wonder, why do they hate kids?

Whoa, whoa there Ratchet…What the hell are you talking about?

You know what I’m talking about. If they don’t hate children, then why haven’t they bought their tickets yet to the Tennessee Winter Beer Festival?

Wait…, What? What does that have to do with kids? I’m confused.

Well then, let me fill you in. The Tennessee Winter Beer Festival is about more then great craft beer, amazing food and camaraderie in the shadows of the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s also about helping kids. Specifically abused and neglected kids.

How so?

I’m glad you asked. It’s because 100% of the proceeds from this festival go directly to New Hope Blount County Children’s Advocacy Center. The Children’s Advocacy Center is a child-friendly, safe place for child victims of sexual and physical abuse. Children, along with their non-offending family members, receive necessary services at the Center for return to optimal functioning. The Center is designed to be the “child’s office,” where multiple agencies and professionals convene to coordinate and deliver services in one place so the child only tells their story one time.

Many times when people plan on attending a beer festival, they focus primarily (of course) on the beer, and not where the $ from the fest is going. I wanted people to know. As a father, I take the health and well being of children to heart. As someone who works in a law firm, I hear heart breaking stories of abuse all the time. This is your chance to make a difference while having a good time.

I have talked to people in the Knoxville community about this fest. I know $45 may seem like a lot for a festival with only 4 participating breweries. However, I have heard this from people who have no problem shelling out $30 and up for 1 uber-limited bottle of beer. When you think about it, what is being offered for the price is well worth it. First you are getting unlimited beer from Marble City Brewing Company, Woodruff Brewing Company, Smoky Mountain Brewery and Jonesboro based Depot Street Brewery. Woodruff even brewed up a special batch of beer for this event. In addition to the brews, Miss Lilly’s Cafe (who host the monthly Townsend beer club dinners) is providing some amazing food. Seriously, you could very well spend that much on dinner for you & your sweetie at their restaurant. For your money you also get a shirt and a pint glass. This festival is really small. Only 180 tickets are being sold. Think of this less then a festival, and more of a private beer dinner with you and your close friends. Since the event is so intimate, you’ll be able to talk with and learn whatever you would like from the actual brewers themselves. For even more information, check out the festival’s website, this article from the New Sentinel, and this article from The Daily Times as well.

People who attend are going to be talking about this event for a long time. I encourage everyone who reads this to go get a ticket soon. After all, you don’t hate children, do you?

See you there,


Live from Asheville’s Winter Warmer beer fest #AvlBeer

January 21, 2012

It’s here, it’s here, it’s finally here!!!! Asheville Winter Warmer Festival. I’ve been wanting to go since last year! Twenty something breweries, 2 bands and free food included in the ticket price! YES!!!!!

I’m back in my favorite city, Beer City USA. Yesterday I stayed in Hot Springs, NC which is about an hour trip from here. If you ever get a chance to go there, do it! As far as accomodations in Hot Springs go, Cabin 10 is where it’s at. I spent a whole day in my own private spring feed hot tub, soaking and drinking. I did take a dinner break to go explore “Downtown” Hot Springs which is only a block long (if that). While Hot Springs doesn’t have a brewery, there was a decent craft beer selection at the Iron Horse Saloon. The food is top notch, this is definitely the place to eat in town. Honestly, If I ever won the lottery, I would immediately make plans to open a brew pub in that quite little town of Hot Springs on the Appalachain Trail.

After Breakfast & some morning hot tubbing, I got in the car and made the short drive to Asheville. I checked into my fave hotel- Downtown Inn and Suites and then headed over to the best bottle shop ever, Bruisin’ Ales. Every one loves Bruisin Ales & its alway a pleasure to see the owners Julie & Jason. I browsed through the selection while sipping on Pisgah Brewing Company’s newly released Chocolate Stout. This trip I’m on a more limited budget, so I couldn’t get everything I wanted. However, I did pick up a decent selection of hard to find brews, as seen below:

2:58 pm: So now I’m heading into the Festival, there is a big ass line going down the block. >

I need to eat so I’m going to hit up the food first. I will try to live update this site every hour or so, but you can always see what else I’m up to by following my twitter and untappd feeds to the right ————>
3:15 pm: My first beer is Asheville Brewing Company’s new Dark IPA, Ashevillian. It sure is handy to wash down this hard as a rock spinach stamboli from the food line.
3:46 pm: I’m several samples in. I love Highland Brewing. I love their Cold Mountain winter seasonal. I do NOT like it Aged in Jack Daniels barrels. Taste more like shitty TN whiskey then beer.

I got Southern Appalachian Copperhead Amber to wash out the Jack Daniels taste.
4:08 pm: I’m starting to feel good! Currently ENJOYING Oyster House’s Moonstone Stout. It’s a stout brewed with oysters & it’s tasty!

4:29 pm I just got done playing a round of drunken trivia. I won a shirt. Did you know a hippos milk is pink? Me neither…

5:05 pm: Spoke with Aaron from Kingsport Oktoberfest for awhile. My buzz wore off. Currently in a slow ass line for Nantahala’s beer. They are from Bryson City up in the Smokies, and they seem to use the same template on their website that I do. Well, all that and their beers are damn good.

5:15 pm : Dammit these bathroom lines are TOO DAMN LONG!
5:33 pm : Catawba’s Belgian Pumpernickel Rye is the truth! This may be my favorite of the fest so far!

5:47 pm. Did Lexington Avenue Brewery name this beer after me?

6:03 pm: My liver needed a break so I went and saw Braumeister Dieter at Heinzelmannchen & got me the best root beer on the planet.

6:40 pm: 20 minutes left , gotta make them count. Drinking a Craggie Choconut. I taste Belgian yeast, a tinney tiny bit of chocolate but no coconut.
7:10 pm: Fest winding down. I’m feeling pretty good but not slurring my words, seeing double or stumbling. Most of the breweries are packing up.

7:30 pm: Parting Winter Warmer beer fest, here’s me & Matt McMillian representing the #KnoxBeerCrew!

8:45 pm: I went to the hotel where I ate pretzels & drank water for awhile. Decided to go out. I’m currently waiting in line at French Broad Chocolate Lounge. This place was highly recommended. Going to get something yummy.

9:53 pm: That liquid truffle was possibly the best thing I’ve ever had. After indulging in chocolate, I walked a few blocks over to Asheville Brewing Company’s Coxe Avenue location to have their new Dark IPA, Ashevillian. Next in going to one of America’s top beer bars, the Thirsty Monk next to finish out the night.

11 pm: Well it’s late. After earning my badge for my 200th unique check in on untappd with Ommegang’s Seduction at Thirsty Monk, it’s time to call it a night. Thanks for following my adventures today. I’ll post again soon.




The growing #KnoxBeer and @KnoxBeerCrew scene

January 12, 2012

Over the last several years beer culture has exploded in the United States. Market share of the big 2 beer companies (AB InBev & MillerCoors) has taken a hit because consumers are becoming saavy about craft beer. In the “Scruffy Little City” of Knoxville things have changed big time in just the last 5 years. We’ve gone from having 2 breweries to 3. Bearden Beer Market opened the first completely beer focused store (sorry Leaf and Ale, you’ve always been mostly cigar focused in my mind) and others followed. Don and Rob of The Knox Beer Snobs started their website which gave me inspiration to start mine. We’ve had a small but dedicated homebrewing group here for a long time, but just in the last year or so I’ve become aware of others like Legit Brew and Underground Brewing Company. Social media and apps like Facebook, Twitter and Untappd have made it incredibly easy to connect with and share craft beer experiences with others. So yes, the Knoxville beer scene has grown considerably.
This growth has lead to the creation of a new local club, The Knox Beer Crew. We’re a group of fellow beer connoisseurs who have bonded over our love of this tasty fermented malt based beverage. Some of us knew each other in real life, some of us met through twitter and untappd check ins. I see it as a natural outgrowth of use of the #KnoxBeer hashtag on twitter. I’d remember spreading this idea around to some of the guys at the Brewer’s Jam. I’d use the hashtag whenever I was going out to have a beer, or if there was any events or news about the local beer scene I wanted to share. Others were using it to and pretty soon it morphed into #KnoxBeerCrew. This was used to announce beer runs and get togethers amongst us twitter friends. Local web developer, fellow beer geek and all around cool guy Matt Crowell put together a website for Knox Beer Crew. Matt designed it to help organize and expand our small but growing scene. On this site members can post a profile that includes their favorite beer and beerstyle, a wish list of beers they’d like to try and a link to their untappd page. Members may also post their craft beer related pictures and can post beer related events to the calendar.

So what’s the point in having a beer club and a website like this in Knoxville? Well, primarily it’s a way for us to share our love and appreciate of craft beer. It’s also a way to help each other experience new beer. Many of us have gone out of town and brought back hard to find beers. We also often get together for tastings. The other night we were invited to a last minute tasting of beers from Brooklyn Brewery, Sweetwater and Yazoo at Bearden Beer Market. So check out the website, add us on untappd and twitter, join the crew. You’ll be glad you did.

Like I said above, I did get to try some offerings from Brooklyn Brewery. A few of their tasty brews will soon be on the shelves in Knoxville. On January 23rd we’ll be able to get their Brown Ale and their Lager. Both are really tasty, but I found that I loved the Lager. It’s an all malt lager, no corn and rice adjucts that I’ve come to associate with American Lagers. The brewery rep, Jeff also brought along a keg of their wheat wine, The Companion. It blew my mind on how good it was, but unfortunatly he said it won’t be available around here. If you go somewhere they have it, grab me a bottle! One of the coolest thing about Brooklyn Brewery is that the Brewmaster is none other than the world famous Garrett Oliver. Since he helped write The Oxford Companion to Beer, to say he knows what he’s doing would be a understatement. This man is a genuine beer genious. After seeing a copy of the aforementioned book, I knew I had to have it. It’s 900+ pages, but expect a post with a review when I’m done reading it.

Well I won’t write post until a week from Saturday. That’s when I’ll be attending Asheville’s WINTER WARMER BEER FESTIVAL!!!! Another great beer fest in my favorite city. I’m so excited about. The 21st can not get here soon enough. I think I will try to live update this website from the event. Remember those post of my live updates of my brew days? Think of that but with a lot more drinking. Should be informative, entertaining and funny! Let’s see if I can actually pull it off. Until then…



Rejoice! There’s a new winter #KnoxBeer in town! @WoodruffBrewing

January 4, 2012

Anyone who reads my blog knows what a huge fan I am of the beer Woodruff Brewing Company produces. Since the Downtown Grill and Brewery has been opened, it has been my go to place to get a locally produced craft beer. Woodruff’s beers are tried and true English and German style ales. They have a core line up of seven different beers (Pale Ale, Alt, Kolsch/Blonde, IPA, Porter, Nut Brown and Stout, repectively) that are incredibly solid, tasty and well liked by locals. Other then a very limited run of Pilsner back around 7 years ago, this line up has not changed. Until now that is. Today, January 4th, 2012 Woodruff released thier newest recipe. It’s a Winter Warmer called Captain’s Winter Ale. The name is a reference to Captain Woodruff, for whom the building that houses the brewery (& the brewery itself)  is named.
I spoke with brewer Dave Ohmer about this beer. He tells me that only one batch of this was brewed. It’s an extremely limited edition beer. When it’s gone, it’s gone. I asked him after all these years, what made them decide to brew a seasonal?  He told me there were many factors, but said that it is primarly inspired by the Tennessee Winter Beer Festival that is taking place in Townsend on February 4th of this year. They wanted to brew something special for it. The timing was right and they were able to fit it in to their brewing schedule. I asked if this is something we can expect in the future, specifically are they going to start doing seasonal beers. The impression I got from him is that it’s not very likely. The reason is that Woodruff only has so much brewing capacity. Their beers tend to turn over rather quickly, and the brewing schedule doesn’t normally allow for more then what they already have. Not to say to rule this out completely, because you never know.
So what type of beer is it? Dave tells me it’s Woodruff’s take on an English Old Ale or a Winter Warmer. Also known as an English Strong Ale, these types of beers were typically made during the Winter months and were the precusors to Porters.

So how is it? It’s delicious! It’s a high gravity dark beer that isn’t as thick as a stout. I pick up hints of chocolate, vanilla  and roastyness in the smell. When I drink it, the mouth feel is great with a nice carbonation. My taste buds pick up on coffee, hints of roasted chocolate and alcohol warmth. The malt and hops are balanced nicely.  All in all, I really like this beer. Like I said, they didn’t make very much so I highly suggest going immediately to the brewery to try this before it’s gone. Dave tells me there won’t be any kegs of this. Growler fills are not available either. Hell, it’s not even available in pints. They are only offering 7 ounce pours and when this runs out, that’s it. When it does I’ll switch back to drinking my usual IPA, but until then, warm me up with Captain’s Winter Ale.



Captain's Winter Ale