Online brewing equipment shopping, upgrades and keg procurement

October 25, 2012

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot of about brewing equipment, upgrading mine and all the cost of turning my hobby into a career. I have spent way too much time recently browsing brewery supply websites. I’ve also been reading everything I can when it comes to laws, taxes and exactly what it takes to go from home brewer to someone who does it for a living. You could say it takes determination, love for what you do, equipment and all that other stuff, but what is really boils down to is money. Cold hard cash or the ability to come up with it.

I am blessed to have a pretty decent job. I live simply and within my means. I don’t care my house is sparsely furnished, or that there is more beer in my fridge then food. When it comes down to buying a furniture, clothes, shoes or beer supplies, it’s pretty obvious what I spend my $ on. When I determine I want a new piece of brewing equipment, I do my research, try to find the best price and then save up for it.

My last upgrade was a 55 gallon Blichmann Boilermaker Brew pot. It wasn’t cheap. All the home brew shops sell this for exactly the same price. My preferred shop, Rebel Brewer, is here in Tennessee. They ship Blichmann’s stuff for free. However, I knew if I bought from them, they have to charge tax which would add more to the price then I had to spend. I ordered from Austin Homebrew Supply and got the same free shipping but without having to pay tax since it was purchased out of state. I could have purchased a similar capacity stainless steel home made brew pot here in town for much less. It was a converted shipping drum. Many brewers (such as my buddies at Legit ) use these without issue. However, there’s a reason I passed on this cheaper brew pot. I have spoke with professional brewers and have been advised that there is a chance that if I tried to go pro, it may not pass inspection. This is because the  bottom does not have a sanitary weld.  This is where I am at on my search for new items to add to my home brewery. I want equipment that when I started my nano-brewery, I can use right away. Currently there is so much I want.

Since I am transitioning from typical home brewer equipment to more professional nano-brewer stuff, I’ve made the decision to phase out my old “corny” kegs to the industry standard sanke kegs. These are not easy to find, and they aren’t very affordable. I have researched and read so much about the cost.  A typical stainless steel keg cost around  $120-$150 new. This is pretty much what all craft breweries pay for them. When you purchase beer in a keg from a store or brewery, the deposit is typically half of what a new keg cost. People don’t always return them. Some of them are stolen off of people’s porches and sold from scrap. Home brewers are notorious for cutting them up to make brew kettles, mash tuns, etc. This may not affect the big guys like Budweiser, but it does effect the industry as a whole. Plus if you are using kegs that are branded by one of the macros, there’s a chance they can take them back no matter how you obtained them. Check out what happened to Calfkiller out of Sparta, TN last year.
So, as a home brew who wants to go pro, my only option is to buy brand new sanke kegs from a manufacturer. I’m thinking because of the upcoming holidays, etc, I’ll have to wait until next year to do this.

I thought I’d make a list of websites that sell equipment for transitioning home-to-nano brewers. These are places I’ve bookmarked and check every day. A guy can dream, can’t he?

Probrewer.com classifieds– This is a website for professional brewers. The classifieds are a great place to find used equipment. When a brewery upgrades or goes out of business, chances are their stuff ends up for sale on here. I call dibs on all the used 1 barrel stuff, so leave it for me, ok?

Stout tanks and Kettles– They have the best price on nano brewery stuff I have found so far. I have my eye on the 55 gallon conical fermenter with butterfly valves and casters. If I get my yearly Christmas bonus at work, it’s so mine.

Specific Mechanical Systems- custom fabrication of brewery components. What I find the most helpful about this website is the charts.

Bubba’s Barrels– local guy here in Knoxville who is fabricating nano-brewery systems. Great price and equipment for home brewers. He can build brew stands, and has a few conical fermenters that he’s working on.

Geemacher– A keg manufacturer in PA. They sell all different sizes of kegs and firkins as well. This is who I’ll probably buy mine from.

Rebel Brewer– Based outside of Nashville, this is where I purchase a lot of my smaller equipment and ingredients. Super fast shipping and excellent customer service.

Some upcoming Knoxville events I want to let everyone know of. Tonight (October 25th) I am doing another infusion event at Suttree’s starting at 7pm. It is also pint night, so the 1st 40 people get a free Lagunitas glass with purchase.

This Saturday is the monthly Knox Beer Crew tasting. I’m not going to say much about this month’s tasting  other then I got a feeling that it’s going to be epic.

Next week the Tennessee Valley Homebrewer’s club will be putting together another Big ASS Malt Order or BAMO. If you join and become a member, you can take part in this and order some grains for home brewing at wholesale cost. Well worth the $25 yearly membership fee.

November 6th is election night. I brewed a clone of the Whitehouse Honey Ale and we will be pouring free samples of it at The Casual Pint downtown as we watch the election results. Come join us for this historic night while trying a copy of this historic beer.

Cheers,

Ratchet


#KNOXBEERCREW #GABF Beercation Day 3 Saturday Recap

October 13, 2012

Saturday was the last day of the Great American Beer Festival. I was lucky enough to snag a members only session ticket during the great Ticketmaster GABF fail of 2012. Many people missed out, but I got through. The rest of the crew had long sinced planned a trip to Fort Collins to visit the breweries there on Saturday. As tempted as I was to join them, I wantred to check out more of Denver and the festival.

Kevin LA was gracious enough to drop me off downtown. I got out of the truck and immediately realized I forgot my all important precious iPhone charger inside. I figured I’d have to find somewhere downtown and buy another. That’s when I got the call that they were coming around the block to bring it to me. Crisis averted, thanks for looking out fellas.

They drove off and I headed towards Falling Rock Tap House. I got there early, and they weren’t open yet. I headed down to Freshcraft instead. They had the foresight to open early because of the festival, and the place had a pretty good size crowd for only being 10 in the morning. I knew I’d have to get some food to power myself for the day. I got seated (by a wall charger, please) and ordered the best beer cheese soup I have ever had in my life. I also ordered some herb crusted cheese dippers that were to die for. Of course, I had to have a beer to wash it all down.

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Herb Crusted Cheese Dippers at Freshcraft FTW!

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First Beer of the day, Dry Dock’s Hefeweizen.

Big Bear at the convention center

I really like Freshcraft and hope to spend some more time there in the future. NextI headed to the convention center and was surprised how long the line was. Luckily I saw my buddies Erich  and Pam from Studio Brew & thier crew near the front. They invited me to join them and I was glad to!

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Erich and Pam and everyone waiting to be let in to the convention center floor

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We’re going in!

Going in! Woooo!

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I love being a member of The Brewers Association!

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The first place I headed to was Cigar City’s booth. I was the 1st person in line but NO ONE WAS THERE!

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Blurry picture but a really good beer by Russian River and a silver award winner

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Myself and Erich Chilling like villians

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The Stone Brewing Company Booth

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Maybe one day I’ll be set up in the brewpub pavilion. There’s some great beers in there.

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Random shot of the convention hall. There were no lines at first

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One of my favorite things at GABF is the bag pipes

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Myself with brewing celebrities, authors and all around cool guys John Palmer & Jamil Zainasheff

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Myself with Author & brewer at Stone Brewing company, Mitch Steele, I brought my copy of his IPA book to sign.

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Epic doesn’t even begin to describe the craft beer and cheese pairing. I almost cried it was so good.

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Here’s me rocking a Suttree’s sticker on my back. Because if there’s one thing I do well besides brewing beer, it’s representing the home team. #KnoxBeer

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Myself with one of the owners of Uinta Brewing company after the beer and cheese pairing

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These people right here? THESE ARE MY PEOPLE! #TeamStudioBrew

This man did more for craft beer consciousness then any person alive. R.I.P. to the Great Beer Hunter, Michael Jackson

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Myself with Catabwa Brewer Todd. He is one of the most artistic, creative and awesome brewers in the Sotuheast, and we are lucky to claim him.

The cutie in this picture is Melissa from Ass Kisser Ales. Always a pleasure to see her at Beer Festivals.

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I got that beer armor on for the last pour at GABF

It was a great session, but I wasn’t ready to leave the convention center yet. I saw there was an area that to get into, you had to have brewer credentials. I thought I might know some people back there, or at least meet some of the brewers that I didn’t get a chance to see. So I bluffed my way back there, it wasn’t even hard. I made a plate from the buffett and looked around for familiar faces. I didn’t see any, and sat down at a half empty table. The people there were really nice and come to find out they were volunteers. I didn’t stay long and headed out to continue my adventure.

The back volunteer and brewer area

I left the convention center and took a pedi-cab over to Falling Rock Tap Room. I experienced first hand what all the hype was about. It is craft beer bar with an amazing selection. I walked in and ordered a pint of Rumpking. I was surprised how cheap it was considering everywhere else we went it cost $20-30 a bottle. I also overheard people talking about 521’s Wild Bear. They had a 2 year old aged keg, so knowing I would probably never see this beer anywhere else, I had to get it.

Outside at Falling Rock

Inside at Falling Rock

Avery’s Rumpking and 512’s Wild Bear

Outside at Falling Rock

I met some cool brewers while hanging out downstairs at Falling Rock, this is Justin, one of Twisted Pine’s brewers

A brewer from a small place in Florida. I feel bad for forgetting his name and the name of his brewery. Especially since we drank and talked together for a long time.

I saw on twitter that the Beer Advocate crew was hanging out at another local Denver beer bar I wanted to check out. I looked up the address and walked the few blocks away to The Star Bar.

The Star Bar

Inside at The Star Bar

Tap list at The Star Bar

The back bar at the Star Bar

I really dug the Star Bar. It’s probably my favorite bar of the whole trip. It was a small dive type bar, with a great selection. I met some really cool people and enjoyed a beer that was just released for the 1st time anywhere. While hanging out there, I recognized some social media and twitter celebrities that I follow and am a fan of. I introduced myself and got pictures taken.

Myself with twitter celebrity, Ashley Routson aka @TheBeerWench

Follow these craft beer people on Twitter: @TheHopfather and @BREWPUBLIC

Well my phone was dying and I knew it was time for me to find my way back to Kevin LA’s. The crew was back from their Fort Collins trip and were partying at Kevin’s downstairs bar. I went to a bus station and after trying to understand the routes, I gave up and took a cab home.  When I got there, the beer was flowing and everyone was having a great time. After a few rare beers from Kevin’s generous cellar collection, It was time for me to pass out. What a great time in Denver. I will (hopefully) being coming back next year as part of Studio Brew’s Pro-Am. It’s something Erich, Pam and I spoke about during our time hanging out at the festival.

Hope you enjoyed reading about my trip with the Knox Beer Crew. I had such a great time, met so many cool beer people, and am so thankful to Kevin and his wife for putting up with us. I hope that some of the people I met stay in contact with me. If you read my site, please leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter.

Everyone at home, I miss y’all and will see y’all soon.

Cheers,

Ratchet


#KnoxBeerCrew #GABF beercation day 2 recap

October 12, 2012
Friday morning started off with a couple of the crew nursing hangovers, but myself feeling completely refreshed. I got up and immediately started uploading pictures and updating this site while everyone got their things together. Eventually we got everyone motivated, hopped in the jeep and headed out on our adventure.

Denver!

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Hey Broncos, when you’re done can we have Peyton back?

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2 of my favorite things, Hops and Pie

First food of the day after a quick stop at Mile High Wine and Spirits for more bottle shopping.

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Big Magic caught me updating this website while waiting for Hops & Pie to open.

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Draft list at Hops and Pie. Started the day off with a sample pour of DogFish Head Bitches Brew. It’s the first time I’ve had it on draft.
I wish I would have taken more pictures there. We ate and shared samples of all kinds of super great beer. The next batch of pictures is our trip over to Crooked Stave.

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Crooked Stave is located in a little warehouse area. A lot of their beers are sours, wild yeast and barrel aged.

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The list at Crooked Stave.

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Big Magic strike a pose in front of a massive barrel

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Barrel room at Crooked Stave

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Matt and Jason chilling.

The next thing we did was drive to Downtown Denver and stash the car in a parking garage. We’re leaving it and taking a can home tonight. Then we walked a few blocks away to go somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for years, Great Divide Brewing Company in Denver Colorado.

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Yes!!

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The entrance & outside fermenters

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The tap list at Great Divide.

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The inside bar. This place was packed with people in town for GABF.

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Drinking outside in the fermenter farm. Must take a lot of glycol to keep these cool in the sun.

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One of the grain augers attached to the silos

Inside brewing equipment at Great Divide

The bottling area at Great Divide

Another view of the boil kettles and mash tun inside Great Divide

The Line was way too long, so we just walked on by

Freshcraft, where we we’re able to slip in for a quick drink

The Bar at Freshcraft

I know you can’t see it in this blury picture, the the beer menu at Freshcraft is on video screens. What an awesome idea.

Flight at Freshcraft, from right to left: Oskar Blues Richard Lifter, Ska Brewing’s Hoperation Ivy, Denver Beer Company’s Pueblo Chile, Great Divide Espresso Yeti.

We were slowly making our way towards the Convention Center for the Friday Night GABF session, so we didn’t stay at any one place for long. After sharing my sample size beers, we headed off to the next stop.

Task master Matt keeping us on track. He said “no pictures.” so I snapped one because my phone was in my hand and I could.

The last place we stopped at before going to the convention center was Euclid Hall. We had one more beer because we all knew we’d have a long wait to get in to GABF.

Euclid Hall. Someone in our crew remarked “It’s the Suttree’s of Denver.”

Inside walking into Euclid Hall

The upstairs bar at Euclid Hall

The Road to GABF poster at Euclid Hall

It was time to get in line. The closer we got to the convention center, the craziier the energy got. People were trying to scalp tickets, and there was a big crowd forming. The air was thick with anticipation. At this point, the battery for my iPhone was almost dead, so I didn’t take a lot of pictures. Here’s a few.

The member entrance line

They came through the Members line, scanned our tickets and gave us our wristbands! Time to drink!

Well they let the Members line go in 15 minutes early. They wouldn’t pour beer for that time. It was such a tease. Instead I sought out the superstar booths to get some pictures.

Myself with the world famous Greg Koch of Stone Brewing Company. The first real beer celebrity I met.

Well, at this point I looked all around the convention center for a backpack to purchase to carry all my stuff. I was upset that they didn’t allow outside bags. Seemed like a stupid rule to me. I finally bought a cool bottle opener for $5 just so I could get the canvas bag to carry stuff in. I also found a a place to charge my phone and left it there for almost the whole event. Most of the following pictures are from near the end. I plan on taking more on Saturday.

Myself and Billy, one of the owners of Catabwa Brewing Company. He’s a really nice guy and we chatted for a few minutes near the end of the session.

Myself with my buddy and fellow TN Valley Homebrew club member Paul Hethmon. Paul is pouring his Pro-am entry at The Smoky Mountain brewery booth. Here’s to wishing they get a medal.

Giant banner

This is one of the booths I drank the most at.
NOT.

Random guy pouring beer photo

Great slogan that I can get behind

shut up and take my money

“We want you to leave here broke”

Well this is all for now. Hopefully I’ll get better pictures Saturday.

Remember you can follow along on twitter and untappd.

-Ratchet


Blogging #KnoxBeerCrew #GABF #Denver #Boulder #CraftBeer Day 1

October 11, 2012

Thursday morning couldn’t come soon enough. After months of waiting and anticipation, my Beercation to Denver and the GABF had finally arrived. I couldn’t sleep to well the night before. I kept waking up every 45 minutes or so to stare at the clock to see it was time to get up yet. At 4:45 am, I got up and got ready. I drove over to Matt Crowell’s house where Nick and Mark were. We had to go pick up Jason and head to the airport. Before we left, we thought it only appropriate to kick off our trip with a toast. This crrepy little guy is what we drank:

Creepiest bottle label I’ve ever seen. Le Petite Prince Farmhouse table beer by Jester King.

Well we picked up Jason in and headed to the airport where Beverly dropped us off. Here’s a picture we snapped before we went in.

Knox Beer Crew ready to fly. From left to right, Mark, Matt, Jason, Nick and Ratchet. #GABF is the twitter hashtag for this event.

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Getting on the plane in Knoxville

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After a long flight in tiny, uncomfortable seats, we arrived at the terminal. Kevin LA was there to greet us with a proper sign.

It was so good to see Kevin LA waiting for us. He was holding a beer sign and also wearing an old faded shirt for a store I owned and ran briefly in 2001. I had completely forgotten about those shirts, and don’t even own one myself!

Kevin had this tasty treat waiting for us at his Jeep. Our first official beer of our Colorado Beercation. Thanks bro!

The ride to Kevin’s. Cheers!

Well 1st thing we did was go to Kevin’s place and drop off our stuff. Kevin’s house is absolutely amazing. Once we seen his basement bar, each member of the crew remarked how if they lived there, they’d never want to leave the downstairs. His house has enough guest bed rooms, so we walked through the house calling dibs on each one. I got a very comfortable one right next to a restroom on the main foor. The rest of the guys are downstairs and Kevin is upstairs. It’s a really great set up, and I can’t thank Kevin and his wife, Brit enough for their hospitality.

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After getting situated it was off to Boulder and Southern Sun for lunch and beer.

Cheers!

http://www.mountainsunpub.com/beer.htm

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A flight of really tasty beers at Southern Sun in Boulder, CO

Flight time! Check it out on Untappd

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Oh yeah. That hits the spot. Check it out, I’m representing for Knoxville with a Saw Works shirt.

Beer menu at Southern Sun

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You can’t drink all day on an empty stomach. I had to get my grub on with a tasty avocado and cheese sammich.

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When we were done, I went and had a min-tour with the brewer. I’m always trying to learn something new. Southern Sun brews on a 10 barrel system (that’s 310 gallons per brew) and has 7 fermentors. They also have 2 other locations called Mountain Sun.

The next place we went to was a great little craft beer spot called Back Country Pizza and Tap House. I have heard about this place way on the other side of the country because they are known for their incredible beer selection.

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The storage room at Back Country Pizz and Tap

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The bar at Back Country Pizza and Tap House

Kevin looking over the beer menu at Back Country.

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I got the last of the 2 year old aged keg of Ommegang’s Aphrodite. A brettanomyces finished fruit beer. It was unbelieveably good.

The best part of this adventure so far is hanging out with my Knox Beer Crew homies Mark Baggett, Nick “Big Magic” Walsh, Jason “Animal” Anderson, Matt “Google Matt” Crowell, and Kevin LA and sharing different beers.

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Some rare Crooked Stave Brett beer shared by Big Magic and Mark (in background)

Nick photo bombing me.

After Back Country we headed to a place I’ve been wanting to go to for awhile. One of the most popular beer spots in Colorado: AVERY BREWING!!!!

AVERY!

Avery tap list in the front room

The barrel room at Avery

The crew in front of the barrels at Avery

Chilling with the best Coffee beer I have EVER had. Avery’s Tweak, bourbon barrel edition.

I had so many great beers at Avery. I could have stayed there all night.

Avery’s so corporate.

After an hour or so at Avery, we went up the road to a brand new nano-brewery that had just been open for 3 weeks. It’s called Wild Woods Brewery. We went in checked out the list and ordered 2 flights so we could sample everything. For a place that hasn’t been open long, they have a pretty solid line up. I took a look around and realized that they are brewing on a 2 barrle system! That’s only 1 more barrel then me! When I see places like this that are making it, it gives me hope. If they can do it, surely so can I.

Entance to Wild Woods Brewery

Tap list at Wild Woods

Wild Wood’s tasty brews

Wild Wood’s 2 barrel system. We were pressed for time so I didn’t get to meet the brewer to ask questions about the set up.

We didn’t stay long at wild woods, so we headed over to Twisted Pine. A lot of people have heard about this brewery and their famous Ghost Face Killa pepper beer. I had no intentions of getting anywhere near something like that. Instead I opted for some of the other yummy beers they offered. I really liked this place and met some really cool people there.

Twisted Pine

Tap list at Twisted Pine

Nick’s got a little tree growing out of his head.

Packing room at Twisted Pine. Didn’t think to ask for a tour.

Wu-Tang!

Some info on GHOST…FACE….KILLA!!!

The Bar at Twisted Pine

When ever I have a few, I get fearless. Here’s me laughing in the face of Death.

We still had a few more places to visit, so off we went. Next on the list was Hazel’s Beverage World, a giant liquor store with a great selection of Craft Beer. I picked up a few things to ship back home.

Hazel- Boulder, CO alcohol and craft beer superstore.

The selection went on and on.

Whoa! There’s a plane coming right for me! Cool decorations at Hazel’s

After loading up our haul at Hazel’s we headed to the last stop of the night. World Famous oskar Blues Liquids and Solids. Time for some dinner and one more round.

We saw this sign from a mile or so away.

The bar ar Oskar Blues

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Well, it was time to head back to kevin’s place and enjoy his massive cellar list. At this point, I was done and opted to go to sleep instead. Especially when I saw that Big Magic busted out with these bad boys:
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Well, that was day one. Day 2 begins, so tune in later if I can keep my iPhone charged.

Cheers,

Ratchet


Brewer’s Jam recollection and looking forward to #GABF with #KnoxBeerCrew

October 8, 2012

What a weekend! I want to write about Brewer’s Jam, but don’t think I’ll do it justice. Instead I’ll just tell you about my craft beer weekend in general.

If you read my last post, you know I was going to be busy. Friday night is somewhat of a blur, but what I can recall was amazing. I got off work and headed to World’s Fair Park to help load the cold truck. There were plenty of volunteers and I didn’t stay long. After a while I went home, cleaned myself up and headed to Adam and Shellie Palmer‘s wedding reception at SawWorks. On the way I dropped off kegs at Saccy‘s for the party.

Many of my craft beer friends were at the reception. On tap was the brand new “Dirty South” Brown Ale brewed by SawWorks exclusively for The Casual Pint. It’s an incredible beer and completely different in taste then the SawWorks Brown. Get down to one of The Casual Pint’s locations and try it for yourself. I drank my fair share at the reception.

It was great spending time with some of my favorite people in the Knoxville craft beer community on such a joyful occasion. One of the highlights for me was seeing Dave Ohmer’s face when the guys busted out with the Dave is my Homie shirts that Adam had printed. I made sure to hand mine to Dave with a sharpie to sign it, as seen in the picture below:

Dave sign’s my “Dave is my Homie” shirt

I can’t wait to see the rest of the pictures of taken at the reception by Rebecca Tatum and hope that she post them soon. Thanks to an idea formulated during a conversation with her, I started interviewing for interns that can read me beer books in a english accent as I do chores around my basement brewery. So, yeah, thanks for that Becca.

Well I wanted to stay at the reception longer, but I did commit to Saccy’s Party, so I headed over there. Downtown was a complete mess when it came to traffic and parking since it was First Friday. I eventually found a spot, grabbed my tap box and walked over the his condo. This event took place in the building’s community room, and when  I walked in, I was treated like a rock star. It was unbelievable. The party had been waiting in anticipation of my arrival to tap the kegs. The same time this party was going on, there was the brewer’s reception across the street at the Woodruff building. I went over there for a few minutes, had a drink, said hello to a few people and went back to Saccy’s. After this things start getting a little blurry.  I do however specifically remember having a great tasting homebrewed Pale Ale that stood out for it’s fresh hoppy character.

Well the party eventually died down, so I headed over to The Casual Pint. Stayed there really briefly, then headed to Suttree’s. Somehow I end the night at the Peter Kern Library. I over did it and had a little too much fun. The next morning was rough.

Brewer’s Jam morning I overslept and woke up dehydrated with a pounding head ache. Drinking beer all day a festival was the absolute last thing I wanted to do. The bad part is that I knew better. I should have been drinking water the whole time the night before. I missed most of the morning chores of delivering ice and kegs to the brewers. Thankfully there were plenty of people to take up my slack. I still feel bad about it and I’ll make up for it next year. I brought a cooler to Brewer’s Jam with bottles of vitamin water and a gallon of spring water. I was constantly mixing Emergen-C , and I drank more of that then I did beer during the day. By the time the gates opened, I was fully recovered.

Before the gates opened, I had a chance to wander around and say hi to a few people. I stopped by and saw Kitty at the Highland Brewing booth. Next I went to Asheville Brewing Company and purchased an awesome shirt. Sadly my friend Mike didn’t make the trip, but it was great meeting the guys who were working the booth in his absence. I went over to talk to the guys at Green Man and flipped out when I noticed they had a bottle of their super rare sour ale, Maceo, at the table. This beer was just released on Thursday. Only a few beer stores in Asheville got a case. No one was willing to hold or ship bottles. It was first come, first serve. I had tried bribing friends to go get it since I couldn’t get out of my plans to drive to Asheville, but had no takers. As soon as I saw the bottle at the booth, I took all the money out of my wallet and offered it to the guy there for it. He wouldn’t sell it. He did tell me to check back and we could work something out at the end. Every hour or so I went back to check if it was there. Eventually near the end of the day, he sold it to me. He said since I was persistent, he would sell it to me for the same price it sold for in Asheville. I was so happy. This really did make me feel like Brewer’s Jam was better than Christmas. It also completes my collection of beers that Green Man has released bottles of. I am going to save this for a special occasion.

I saw this and freaked out. I had to have it no matter what the co$t…

Thank you for selling it to me. You have no idea how happy it made me.

What happiness looks like

When the gates opened, my beer was the 1st being poured. Both my Butternut Squash Ale and Oktoberfest were side by side. I worked the taps. We had the longest line at Brewer’s Jam. It was crazy! It stretched all the way across the lawn of World’s Fair Park. My beer was a hit and I poured it until it was all gone. The whole rest of the day people would come up and compliment me on it. It’s a great feeling knowing that I make beer that people really seem to enjoy. It was also so nice meeting and talking to people in line who I had never met in real life but read this blog. Thank you! More then once I heard “I hope this isn’t weird, but….” then the person describing how they read my blog, or seen me at one of the downtown bars, or I’ve poured them a beer at work, or they feel like they know me because of my website. Let me tell you. NO. It IS NOT Weird for you to approach me. It’s AWESOME. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Feel free to stop me and say hi anytime. I love meeting new friends. Every person I met that told me something like this, I tried to give one of my bottle cap fridge magnets. If you see me around, say something and I’ll give you one as well. I try to keep a few on me when I’m out in public.

The Homebrewers booth always has the longest line at Brewer’s Jam

The weather was the best it could have been, and was the best I ever remember it being. It was overcast (so I didn’t get a sunburn) and it was chilly, so I wore my new hoodie the whole time. For the entire time it looked and felt like it could rain at any moment but not one drop fell from the sky. This year I didn’t drink very much, but still had a great time. At festivals, I tend to try for beers I haven’t had before. There were a few I really wanted, but passed because the lines were too long. I also very rarely wandered out into the main crowd of the packed festival lawn. I knew there were many of my friends (Lou of Blues and BBQ for example) that were there, but I just didn’t run in to. I mostly stayed behind the tents where it was less crowded and other brewers were hanging out. I wish I had taken more pictures of Brewer’s Jam and maybe some video, but just forgot. At the end of the festival I was completely sober and hungry. I packed my car, drove home and went with a friend to dinner at the Downtown Grill and Brewery. I sipped some Maker’s 46 for the hour or so we were there. After that headed to Suttree’s where half way through a sample size of Lindeman’s Framboise, I crashed. I had hit the wall and it was like someone flipped an off switch for my body and brain. A lack of sleep had caught up to me. I couldn’t focus on conversation and I couldn’t keep my eyes open. The night was still early, but I couldn’t hang anymore. I got dropped off at my house walked in the door, kicked off my shoes and let myself literally fall into bed. I fell asleep mid fall and woke up 9 hours later completely refreshed.

Lindeman’s Framboise, my Saturday night “off switch”

My weekend ended with me working the Sunday afternoon shift solo at The Casual Pint and reminiscing about the last couple of days with my good friends. I also met a really nice couple who own a winery in Virginia and are planning a brewery. I’m didn’t catch their names or the name of the brewery, but I am hoping they email me so I can take a road trip and visit them and their brewery someday.

Well that was this weekend. Next weekend I’ll be in Denver for the GREAT AMERICAN BEER FESTIVAL! I am flying out with 4 other members of the Knox Beer Crew. We will be repping hard! I am going to make another effort to blog everyday of the trip so those of you who can’t make it can live vicariously through my adventures. It’s going to be epic, so check back Thursday through Sunday to follow along.

Once again, I would like to thank my readers, friends, twitter followers and people I met this weekend for all the kinds words. Hope we all meet and share beer again real soon.

Cheers,

Ratchet

A glass full of Sunsphere


Let the drinking begin!!! Brewers Jam weekend, it’s better then Christmas! @knoxbrewjam

October 5, 2012

So here I am sitting at my desk at work, waiting for 4 pm so I can go start my weekend. The weekend of Brewers Jam is more exciting to me then any other holiday. Christmas always seems like a let down, New Years is meh and I don’t want to celebrate my birthday anymore because getting old kinda sucks. But BREWERS JAM is the day I wait for and anticipate every year. This year’s event is going to be especially fun for yours truly.

Last night the homebrew club I am a member of met for our annual “pretzel jam” where we get together to make pretzel necklaces to sell at Brewers Jam. This year’s Pretzel Jam was right down the block from my house. I walked there so I could imbibe and not worry about getting a ride home. It was a very short walk. At our yearly Pretzel Jam, we hang out, drink homebrew, eat pizza and pick up our shirts and passes for Saturday. We stand around and share information and tell stories of our homebrewing. Our membership has different levels of experience from the just starting out with extract, brew-in-a-bucket beers to the “I’ve been doing it for 30 years” to multiple award winners and all the way to the truly obsessed OMG I gotta start a brew pub members like myself.

Tonight is going to be incredibly fun, and I will be all over the place. I am going to try to duck out of work early if I can, and head over to World’s Fair Park to help load the cold truck. It’s the drop off point for the brewers when they come into town. My work will consist of sitting around, sipping some brewski’s and waiting for brewers to arrive. When they do, I’ll get off my ass and with help from many of the other club members, move kegs from the brewer’s vehicles to the truck. Then I’ll sit back down and shoot the breeze and sip more beer. It’s a hard duty, but someone has to do it. About 5:45 I’ll head home to grab a few things and then I’m heading to Adam & Shellie Palmer’s wedding reception at SawWorks. Adam is the owner of SawWorks and a good friend. They got married in a private ceremony in Providencials in the Turk and Caicos Islands. The reception tonight is small informal gathering for friends and family. I am bringing a couple of bottles of my homemade mead for the newly weds to enjoy. I can’t stay long, because I have 2 other parties to attend this evening.

Hopefully y’all know and aware of another downtown beer blogger and my good friend, the Knoxville Beer Dinosaur, Sacchromyces Rex. Ol’ Saccy is throwing a pre-Brewers Jam beer party in his building on Gay Street. I see Saccy all the time when I am downtown. When he first approached me months ago about throwing a party, I was all about it. When he finally picked a date, it turned out to be perfect. I agreed to bring some of my homebrew. I actually kegged up 3 gallons of a special rum barrel edition of my Butternut Squash Ale for the party. At the same time I’ll be drinking with my Dino friend, the Brewer’s reception is taking place pretty much across the street. Dinner is at 8, so it looks like I’ll be doing a lot of walking back and forth so I can attend both parties.

I know that I’ll want to, but can’t, stay out all night. I have to be at the World’s Fair Park Saturday morning bright and early to help set up. Once the gates open, I will be pouring beer at the homebrewer’s tent. I have 2 kegs of mine, an Oktoberfest and my famous Butternut Squash Ale. I don’t know when they will be tapped, but when they are, I’ll tweet it. These are only 5 gallon kegs, and they tend to get drained within 15 minutes. The afternoon I am responsibility free and will be able to cut loose and have some fun. This is what I am most excited about. Drinking good beer, hanging with friends. Hell I might even be inebriated enough to get my groove on to some music from the fine bands playing. After the Jam ends, who knows where I’ll end up? I know there is an after party at Market Square and I would be down for seeing friends at The Casual Pint, Suttree’s and going to my new favorite speakeasy, the Peter Kern Library. Like I said, who knows?

I can’t wait to see my friends and meet some new ones. If you recognize me, or read my blog, say hi. Let’s raise a toast, throw back a few cold ones together and celebrate this greatest Knoxville holiday.

Brewers Jam, aaaaaaaaaahh.

Ratchet
4:15 pm:

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