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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Is your beer truly seasonal? A rant about pumpkin ales.

September 17, 2012

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about my favorite season, fall. I love the cooler weather, the shorter days, the changing leaves and football. Fall is also Oktoberfest, pumpkin ales and fresh hop IPAs. These are seasonal beers and the subject of this post.

When it comes to beer, what does “seasonal” really mean? For some people it means the time of year that beer is available on the market. Do you expect to see a wet hop IPA in the spring? What about pumpkin ale in May? I would avoid both of these then. For me, a “seasonal” beer can mean a beer brewed to be drank at a certain time of year, but it can also mean a beer brewed with specialty ingredients that were harvested and added in when the beer was brewed. With that being said, let’s talk about pumpkin beer.

A few years back, I was really big on pumpkin ales. I remember waiting in the lines at Brewers’ Jam for a taste of Catawba’s King Don’s Pumpkin or Cottonwood Pumpkin Ale. When I got back into brewing after a few years absence, I decided to brew one myself. I researched recipes, found one online based on Thomas Jefferson’s pumpkin ale, made some rather significant changes and went about gathering my ingredients. It was near the end of summer. My garden was bountiful. I went to the Market Square Farmer’s Market in search of pumpkin and couldn’t find any. I asked around and spoke to many farmers who informed me that the pumpkins were still a month out before they’d be ripe. Huh.  Well this enthusiasm to brew this style lead me to my end of summer seasonal, my butternut squash Ale. I had plenty of ripe squash in my garden. After more research, I changed my recipe and brewed my now famous beer. You know what? I like it better than any pumpkin ale. I can’t imagine going a year without brewing it. Using freshly harvested squash is the only way to go. I guess I could can some squash and use it in next year’s batch, but that wouldn’t feel right to me. I want that freshness.

Which leads me back to this year’s pumpkin ales. They started showing up on the shelves in July. Beers showing up this far ahead of the time they are traditionally enjoyed is referred to as Seasonal Creep. There is no way that pumpkin is anything but canned. Pumpkin is a late harvest fruit, which is why it’s a big thing around Halloween. Pouring beers at The Casual Pint, I have tried a few. I found that I didn’t really like them. It seems like I’ve lost my taste for this style. I have noticed at least one of them has a slight metallic taste. I completely believe this is because of the pumpkin being in a can for a year. Plus I don’t even want to taste something pumpkiny when it still hot as hell outside. Pumpkin flavor is for the fall, period.

The other big fall seasonal beer is traditionally brewed in March. This type of beer is called Marzen which in German translates to “March Beer”. You might know it as Oktoberfest. We have many of these hitting the market right now. This style was traditionally brewed in March and stored or “lagered” until September. This famous beer style originated in Munich Germany where THE Oktoberfest celebration takes place. For a pretty good reviews of Oktoberfest lagers, I recommend checking out The Knox Beer Snob’s post from last year. My favorite (at least on draft) Oktoberfest bier would be Spaten from Munich. “Lass Dir raten, trinke Spaten.”

In the next months or so, we will start seeing “Winter Warmers” hit the market. I’ll save discussion of these for a later post.

Well, to change the topic a little, I want everyone to read the Metro Pulse’s  beer article. This is an article about beer and the local craft beer scene written by Cari Wade Gervin. I know she’s been hard at work on this for about a month. She came out to our last Knox Beer Crew tasting, and had spoken with Lou from Blue and Bar-b-que and several other people around here. It’s a very good read with lot of information. Also the Metro Pulse sent out a photographer who caught me in action pouring beer at The Casual Pint last Saturday.

Can I mention how excited  I am about this weekend? Why is that? IT’S KINGSPORT OKTOBERFEST!!!! I have so much to do this week to get ready for it, that it’s almost overwhelming. I’m going up Friday night before. I am going to try to live post the whole weekend, from the Friday night pre-party to Saturday’s biergarden and Beer University classes to my Sunday day trip to Asheville. Should be a whole lot of fun.

Did you get your Brewer’s Jam tickets yet? Stop waiting and go to The Casual Pint and buy them now. It’s going to sell out. There are only a few dozen left in all of Knoxville. There won’t be any available at the gate.

One more thing for those of you asking. The next infusion night at Suttree’s is on Thursday September 27th. Once again we I will be using shredded coconut and cocao nibs as the ingredients. The beer being infused is Atwater’s Vanilla Java Porter. This is a really popular beer that hasn’t been around in a couple of months. This is going to be tasty and I hope to see y’all there.

So I want to hear from you. Add a comment at the bottom of this post and I’ll mail you some beer stickers from my stash.

Cheers,

Ratchet


Knoxville Brew Fest live photo post

June 23, 2012

Welcome to the Knoxville Brew Fest! I know I am going to be very busy serving my beer & sampling others. I will be live tweeting all day. What I plan on doing is updating this all day with photos from the Fest. So keep checking back until my iPhone battery dies. If I take your picture, or you are checking out my website for the 1st time, please leave a comment below.

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Holy crap! Look at that line! About to get slammed!

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THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

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What a great festival! It’s the first time I’ve been at a beer fest & not even come close to getting a buzz. That’s alright because I had so much fun meeting people & talking about my beer. After the crowds left, I was able to get a few growlers filled from the leftovers. A big thank you goes out to the organizers, the brewers (pro & home alike) & all the craft beer lovers who made this a roaring success. I can’t wait for next year!

One last thing, I’d like to invite y’all to come out to Suttree’s on Wednesday night. We are going to be infusing one of the last kegs of SweetWater’s Happy Ending with hops, cocoa nibs & shredded coconut. I hope you see you all there.

Cheers,
Ratchet


Mark your calendar for these upcoming #KnoxBeer events

June 15, 2012

Hey y’all. Life has been pretty hectic for me since I got back from Asheville Beer Week. Between my day job, beertending at Suttree’s, and chores I am just now getting caught up. Figured it was time to write another quick update.

There are  Knoxville beer events coming up that I hope everyone already knows about. Just in case, I’ll tell you about them. Everyone knows that I beertend part time at Suttree’s. On Wednesday, June 20th at 7 pm we will be having a beer trivia night sponsored by Sweetwater Brewing Company. Brush up on your beer facts, do a lil’ research about SweetWater and thier beers and come on down to Suttree’s to win some great swag courtesy of SweetWater.

Then on Saturday June 23rd, is the Knoxville Brew Fest going on at the Southern Railway Terminal on the edge of downtown. I did this event last year, and it was great. The early admission VIP tickets are well worth the price. I will be set up there pouring samples of my beer, so make sure to come say hi. I will have about 25 gallons, and I’m sure it will go fast.

The Brewer’s Summit is coming up on Friday July 13th. This event is a fund raiser for the TN Craft Brewer’s Guild. Brewers from around the state will talk about the laws and tax issues affecting your craft beer choices in Tennessee. Beers will be paired with cheese, and more food provided by Nama and Pizza Kitchen. I will be serving a tasty mulberry stout on nitrogen. There are less then 50 tickets still available for this event, and we anticipate it selling out soon. You can buy them, and find out more about this event at the Brewers Summit Website.

I know it’s still awhile away, but I have October on my mind. Brewer’s Jam tickets are already on sale at the Casual Pint. This year I am going to be skipping one of my favorite beer festivals, the Asheville Oktoberfest. I am skipping it because I AM FLYING OUT TO DENVER FOR THE GREAT AMERICAN BEER FESTIVAL!!! WOOO-HOOO! I’ve been talking about this for a year now with Knox Beer Crew founder, Matt Crowell. He has a friend, Kevin LA, who has graciously invited Matt to bring along a few other members of the crew to stay at his place in Denver. I am stoked! The GABF is the biggest and best of all the beer festivals in America. I’ve heard countless stories over the years and have been dying to go. Thanks to Kevin I can afford it because I’m not paying an arm and a leg for a hotel room. I bought my plane ticket yesterday, and the AHA member tickets to the event go on sale on July 31. General public tickets go on sale August 2nd. According to Matt, Kevin is going to take us brewery hopping in Fort Collins and around Denver. We are flying out the morning of Thursday October 11th and returning on Sunday evening. I am attending 2 of the festival’s tasting sessions, one of them being an AHA members only session. I can not wait!

On another note I finally got the 30 gallons of beer I had fermenting into kegs. Now I have empty carboys, so it’s time to brew again. I really want to have a stout on tap at home. The 10 gallons I have is going to be given away at the Knox Brew Fest and at the Brewer’s Summit. Therefor, this Sunday I plan on brewing it again. I think after this batch, I’ll brew some more Rauchbier.

One last note to end this post. I want to give a big shout out to all the craft beer drinkers in Knoxville that have been showing Suttree’s some love. On the limited days I beertend, I’ve gotten to know some regulars. I have met some great people who share my love and enthusiasm for craft beer. I am also always surprised when someone I haven’t met tells me that they read my blog. Thank you! That means a lot to me, and if you come in while I’m working, please introduce yourself.

Cheers,

Ratchet