If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet to the Biggest Tricities festival of the year, then I guess you’re not going. If you are planning on it, and haven’t bought tickets, you need to get on it. Chances are they are going to sell out soon. This is probably my favorite festival of the Year. It takes over a 6 block area of downtown Kingsport and a majority of it is free. In fact, the only cost is to get into the bier garden. I could go on and on about it, but everything that needs to be said has been said. Check out these links:
Also, if you want to go for the day and not spend the night, contact me. I know of at least one person going for the day that plans on driving back to Knoxville that night. Y’all could carpool and share gas. If you want to spend the night, you better hurry, most of the hotels are booked.
Well this is all for now. If I get a chance, I’ll write about last weekend’s bourboncation, if not I’ll be sure to tell you how Oktoberfest went. Hope to see you there and also don’t forget that the Brooklyn Brewery Tap Takeover is happening at Suttree’s tonight at 6. 17 taps with some super rare beers and brewmaster reserves that will probably never be available in this area again. If you see me there, buy me a beer? I’m broke as hell, but I can pay you back in homebrew.
Yesterday started off for me like most days do. When I wake up, two thoughts immediately come to mind: food, coffee. It doesn’t matter what order they are in as long as they pretty much around the same time. The hotel had the complimentary breakfast, but I knew that I’d have to walk to get a good cup of joe. I grabbed my laptop and headed towards my favorite morning locale, the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. I arrived and in my groggy pre-coffee state was confounded by the fact that the door was locked. I then noticed the sign that they don’t open until 11. “What sort of trickery is this?” I thought. I. NEED. COFFEE!!! It then occurred to me that I could look up other coffee shops on my iBrain. “Siri, what is the best coffee shop in Downtown Asheville?” “Looking up beast pooping spots in Downton Abbey.” “Siri… I hate you.”
I then decided to use what the old folks commonly refer to as “The Google“. I did a search for coffee and Izzy’s Coffee Den was at the top of the list with glowing reviews. I walked over, bought an iced Mexican Mocha and settled in to write. My blog post took forever to get together. Mostly because I am using a laptop from 2007, which is approximately 23 in techno-years. It does things like overheat, shut off at random, freeze up and generally be a pain in the ass. I’m currently writing the second third draft of this post having lost my first one two.
Two iced Mochas later, I was pretty buzzed because I consumed four times the caffeine I normally do. I finished my post and headed over to Bruisin’ Ales for the ABA Hoppy Saison bottle release. As I hung out, sipped, and shopped, Channel 13 filmed a segment on the special beer. Watch the video and see if you recognize anyone. After making my purchases, I headed back to the hotel to meet back up with K and to proofread the blog one last time before publishing. It was 2 hours until Belgians at the Ball Park, so we had some time to spare. We stopped by the Thirsty Monk for the downstairs Allagash/New Belgium tap take over and both got a flight of 4 different and delicious beers. We also got hooked up with some cool posters and glassware. Khaleesi shot a quick video of me talking about my flight.
This video doesn’t exist
After we drank our flights and stashed our beer swag back at the hotel, we headed over to Asheville Brewing Company’s Coxe Ave location for the Perfect Day IPA release. I brought a homebrew to give to Mike and hung out and spoke with him, Doug and the assistant brewers about the beer and future brewing plans. Mike gave me a shirt from the event. Unfortunately, they didn’t have one in Khaleesi’s size.
Mike Rangle finding me a shirt that will fit. ( I take a XL shirt but with size XXXL beer belly adapter.)
It was now time to walk the few blocks away to McCormick Field for the Bruisin Ales Belgians at the Ball Park event. This was something Kat and me had been really looking forward to. It turned out to be a small, intimate affair. There was an amazing beer selection, great food and camaraderie amongst the attendees. I met several brewers, representatives, and hung out with old friends. Honestly, I spend most of the time socializing and very little time paying attention to baseball. I know that the Asheville Tourist minor league team won, but that’s all I can really tell you about the game. Still, what an absolutely great time we had. We took a view videos as seen below. Katie did a great job on her first interview for the website. Check out her talking with Boulevard Brewing Company’s Elizabeth Belden.
This video doesn’t exist
After the game was over, we headed back towards the hotel. At this point we were both hungry again, and Asheville Brewing Company was on the way. We stopped to have one last drink for the night and slice of pizza. By this point we were both tired and headed back to the hotel to sleep.
Today there is yet again many events to choose from. Adam Reinke’s Red Ale gets released at 4pm at Asheville Brewing Company, Appalachian Vintner is having a mini-fest at 5, and Mitch Steel from Stone is doing a book signing/ beer tasting at Bruisin Ales at 6. Add in the other various events around town and it’s another full day. Tune back in tomorrow to see where we’ve been and what we drank. In the mean time, let me know you’re out there reading this. Please leave a comment below, We’d love to hear from you.
Ever since last year’s inaugural Asheville Beer Week, I’ve been looking forward to the second one. With every month, week and day that has passed, my excitement has grown. Now here I am, a mere day away from my week long beercation, and I can’t wait to be back in the Paris of the South. Last year I had so much fun that I knew that no other vacation would even come close. Why waste my precious vacation days from work on anything else? A trip to the beach? I grew up near them in Florida. Look at me, out in the sun I practically burst into flames like the vampires on True Blood. PASS. Camping in the woods? For a weekend, maybe, but a whole week living like some burnt out hermit? PASS. How about going to Europe? What kind of high roller, made-of-money, jet-setter do you think I am? PASS. What about going to the West Coast? Sure sounds like fun, but costs a whole lot more in travel than a trip across the Smokies.
Craft beer is my hobby and my passion. Combine that with a world-class city full of great restaurants, bottle shops, breweries, interesting architecture and incredibly kind and generous people… THAT is my kind of place. It’s what brings me back every chance I get.
We do plan on making up for missing these events by attending as many things as possible between the Monday through Sunday that we’ll be there.
K and I were able to make a quick trip to Asheville and back on Friday night to attend Asheville Scene’s VIP kick-off party. We got to hang out and have a few beers with some good friends of mine, and make many new ones. I finally met several people I know from twitter in real life such as Thom O’Hearn, the beer writer for Mountain Xpress. I also met my fellow ABW guest blogger, James Raiford (we’re in the same shirt/media pass club). The rest of the crowd consisted of the beer-luminati of Asheville, from other bloggers and beer writers, to the Asheville Beer Week organizers, brewery owners, brewers and the godfather of the Asheville beer scene, Oscar Wong. It was a really short stay, but a great time. Katie drove us back to Knoxville afterwards. We both had a lot to do this weekend to prepare to be away from home for so long.
So here it is, my Sunday evening. Saturday, we hiked up Alum Cave Trail with a small cooler full of canned craft beers to sip while enjoying the view. I traded a rare beer yeast strain to a buddy in St. Pete and he sent me back a box full of Cigar City Deliciousness (Thanks Tom!). Sunday, I knew I needed to pack for the weekend, but had to brew a batch of my very much in demand Chocolate Covered Strawberry Stout. Tommorrow morning I will be going on a packing and loading the car rampage.. I hope I can remember to bring everything, including the homebrew I promised to a few Asheville friends.
I’ll be blogging every day for Asheville Beer Week. My plan is to start every morning by writing a recap and posting pictures of the previous day’s events. I will be tweeting as much as possible and posting my beer check-ins to Untappd. So, to my Knoxville friends who are planning on coming up at anytime during the week, text me so we can meet up. The same goes to any of my Asheville friends, I hope we get the chance to share some great brews and conversations.
There are so many events, there’s no way Katie and I can do them all. Here are some of the major ones that we have tickets to or are planning to go to:
Tuesday: A beer here, a beer there and then BELGIAN BEER AT THE BALL PARK MINI-FEST! Nine innings, 9 breweries, 27 beers. Thank goddess that there’s a free shuttle. With this kind of drinking, it’s doubtful we’ll do anything but pass out at the hotel afterwards. I’m ready to drink until I find baseball interesting.
Wednesday: Bell’s Tap takeover at Thirsty Monk, Stone’s Mitch Steele meet and greet book signing at Bruisin’ Ales, and App Vintner’s mini-fest (Sexual Chocolate, OMG!).
Thursday: Thirsty Monk’s NC v SC Craft Beer Civil War, Highland’s 6 Barrel Shoot Out, Wicked Weed’s Saison Tap Takeover, a quick pint at the Winehaus (free OB glass), and the Premier of Crafting a Nation film at Asheville Brewing Company’s Merrimon location.
Friday: Beer Marketing that Doesn’t Suck workshop at Hotel Indigo, High Wire brewing release at Thirsty Monk, Greenlife grocery beer and cheese pairing and Asheville Rare and Wild Beer Tasting.
Saturday: Touring Riverbend Malt House, Beer City Festival and beers afterwards at various bars/ breweries around town.
Sunday: Searching for replacement liver, last minute bottle shopping and going home.
Enjoy the pictures below from the Scene VIP party. I am also linking this Video of Beer Guy Tony Kiss interviewing a few people. If you look closely, you’ll see Katie and me in the background of a few shots.
We’ll be in Asheville by Monday afternoon, see you then.
Myself and other guest blogger, James
Myself, Doug the head brewer of Asheville Brewing company, and author/ Oscar blues representive Anne-Fitten.
Band playing at the event
A view from the inside of the Mill Room looking out towards the door.
Myself with Anne-Fitten of Oscar blues
Joe Zinich and Myself
Myslef with Mike Rangle, president of Asheville Brewing Company
Beers on tap at the event.
Got to try great new beers from new breweries Burial Brewing Company and Hi-Wire brewing.
Originally this post was going to be another live blogging of brew day. I actually started it that way, but brew day was incredibly busy and fun as you’ll read below. There is no way I could have blogged everything in real time. Instead, this post is my recollection of what could possibly be the best weekend I’ve had in months. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. I started off Friday evening by heading to my 4 favorite watering holes downtown. Of course I’m talking about Downtown Grill and Brewery, Suttree’s, The Casual Pint and The Peter Kern Library. I wanted to be out enjoying the weather and the company of friends after a long work week.
On the Megatouch Machine at the upstairs bar, Downtown Grill and Brewery
He’Brew’s Funky Jewbelation 16th
Schlafly’s AIPA on the front patio of Suttree’s
Nena at The Casual Pint (she’s up for best bartender in Metro Pulse’s best of)
Weird scene as these 2 groomed each other for minutes on the sidewalk. Downtown Knoxville WTF moments.
My friend and attorney Chris Irwin enjoying his Murphy’s stout at the Peter Kern Library.
Finch’s Cut Throat Pale Ale, Saturday night at The Casual Pint
I spent the 1st half of Saturday doing, chores, cleaning my house while enjoying the spring breeze blowing through my open windows and screen doors. Later I spent some time with my son, then headed downtown to see Cutthroat Shamrock play a free show at Market Square. I planned on getting a lil’ swilly, so I left the car at home and walked the less then a mile from my house to downtown (never drink and drive y’all- it’s a horrible idea). I pre-gamed with a beer at home, some blackberry moonshine (thanks Nijoli!) mixed with coca-cola and ice in a to go cup for the walk. Once downtown I stopped by The Casual Pint where I met with a few friends. I slowly sipped on a beer until it was time for Cutthroat to take the stage. Once the band started, I realized I was sobering up and should do something about it. I didn’t want to pay $2 for a wrist band to buy $5 crappy beers on the square, so I walked over to Downtown Wine and Spirits and grabbed a bottle of Bourbon. I was able to sneak it in my pocket, went to Subway and bought a large coke. Mixed it up and took my cup to the front of the stage where I met up with more friends. I got to say, I love this band. Now I don’t like to talk about it on my blog, but my close friends know my personal life. Let’s just say it was a rough week. As the bourbon worked it’s magic I cut loose. Dancing to Cutthroat Shamrock’s celtic/punk/bluegrass/ piratey tunes was absolutely cathartic. I was in motion for the whole time. I shared my drink and others did the same. Flask were passed about, beers were shared, complete strangers danced with arms around each other. The show came to an end around 10:30 but I was so amped there’s no way I wanted to go home. I knew Suttree’s was packed, so I headed back over to see my friends at The Casual Pint. There was only 2 people working and they were super busy. Nena was worried about underage people coming in, or people stealing beer off the shelves. I offered to play doorman for a while for a couple of beers. I sat at the door and checked IDs. People I knew walked past and stopped to talk. I remember more beer being shared, a snort or 2 of someone’s homemade white lightning and a few swigs of wine. 11:30 and I knew it was time to walk home. I had planned on going to The Casual Pint’s Bearden location the next morning for their kegs and eggs event before brewing beer. It was a long, rough walk home with many stops to rest on the way. I got home, past out, woke up in the middle of the night, drank some vitamin water and took some ibuprofen. 7:30 am alarm Sunday morning and I got up, made coffee and headed to breakfast.
Cutthroat Shamrock at Market Square
Cutthroat Shamrock played their encore song in the middle of the crowd.
Kegs and Eggs, Sunday morning. Nathan and Jon.
Breakfast of Champions: Murphy’s Irish Stout and a kick ass omelet.
Well I enjoyed my omelet with Richard and his wife Sandy, and headed home to start brewing. I had success cultivating Heady Topper‘s yeast strain, Conan, from a couple of cans I saved for just that. I took my direction from this wonderful blog past and was able to step up to a 4500 ml starter between Wednesday and Saturday. Honestly, I was very worried it wouldn’t work. I made the starter on Wednesday, pitched the yeast dregs from the cans into the flask on the stir plate and waited. Two days went by with no activity. I thought my experiment was a failure and was already planning to use my old standby, Safale US-05. However by Saturday morning the starter was rapidly fermenting. YES! This yeast strain was a big part of the batch of beer I planned, and I knew it wouldn’t be the same without it.
Sunday my friends Jerry and Millie were the 1st to arrive. Jerry was very helpful when it came to getting everything set up. Usually I start brewing at the crack of dawn, and starting at 10 am instead is a lot later than usual. Having an extra set of hands, along with Millie documenting everything, was awesome. Next to arrive was assistant brewer Richard, followed by Todd. Millie ran to Earth Fare and picked up an incredible variety of sushi.
Once we got going, I started texting friends to come over. Beer and buddies on a perfect spring like day, what could be better? My friend Chris is hosting a group of law students from Kansas who are interning for his environmental law center on their spring break. I told him he was more than welcome to bring them over to learn to brew beer and enjoy a few. I was expecting maybe 3 or 4 people, and the next thing I know, there is a dozen or so people gathering in my basement brewery. Awesome! The more the merrier! The spring breakers were absolutely thrilled to lend a hand and learn about the brewing process. Terri and Aimee from the Knox Beer Crew came over. More and more friends arrived. At one point there were 24 people there laughing, talking, drinking, and dancing to good Irish/celtic punk like Flogging Molly, The Pogues, The Tossers, Cutthroat Shamrock and Dropkick Murphys on my Pandora feed. This was a proper St. Patrick’s day party! The beer was really flowing and I was on top of the world! We drank down my stash and I can honestly say I now have room for food in my upstairs refrigerator again.
Cheers to you Jerry!
Conan Yeast Starter
Jerry pouring crushed grains into the Mashtun
Sour Face after sipping the incredibly yummy and tart Liefmans Cuvee Brut provided by Richard
Richard Groves pose.
Group Picture time
These ginger irish leprechauns found the gold at the end of the rainbow
They always after our Lucky Charms!
This picture is both funny and disturbing.
Hey! Why is my Glass empty?!?
Crooked tree IPA dry hopped with Simcoe!
Richard is always stirring things up!
That’s not right!
Debra and Richard
My favorite Portter
MMM MMM so good! Thanks Todd!
Terri and Aimee brought this gem
Absolutely amazing Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout from a can. Thanks Todd!
One of my favorite beers of all time. Meant to be drank warm.
Todd shared this rareity. So good!
Great beer, Thanks Richard!
The last one, thanks Todd!
Well brew day eventually came to an end. With all the people there, cleaning was a breeze. People started taking off a few at a time. The law students wanted to go check out Ijams Nature park while it was still light out. The crowd got smaller and smaller. Eventually I was by myself, exhausted but incredibly happy and a little bit buzzed. I laid back on my couch in my brew basement for a few minutes and enjoyed the silence with a big old grin on my face. I knew I should eat dinner. I didn’t want the weekend to come to a close so I got up and walked back downtown for food. I ordered a half Dan’s pasta at the Brewery and went and visited Suttree’s for a sample size beer while my food cooked. After a few minutes I picked up my order to go and brought it over to The Casual Pint and washed it down with 2 more sample size beers. As I walked back across the Gay Street bridge while the sun set, I thought about how no matter what’s gone on recently in my life, I am truly blessed. I have good friends, I brew beer people enjoy, I have food, clothing, shelter and a good job. All that and I had one hell of a weekend.
PS. Every brew day should be a party. I plan on brewing again on Sunday, April 21st. If you’d like to come over, send me an email or text me. Also Nantahala Brewing Company’s next Trail Magic bottle release is this Saturday the 23rd at Noon. Richard and I are going if you’d like to join us. We plan on getting there by noon and being back in Knoxville by 4 pm or so.
Well I didn’t originally plan on doing this, but I’m going to try to live blog today’s beer road trip adventure from my phone. I intended to post about it after the trip, but I figured as long as I have my all important phone charger I might as well. Plus this way those of you who didn’t make it can live vicariously through me. Just grab some beer & refresh this page every half an hour or so for live updates. Of course real time drinking stats can be found on my twitter & untappd feeds.
So where am I going? This picture can explain it more then typing a long ass description with my thumbs can.
Nicholas “Big Magic Beer” Walsh He’s all about the 505 and @eggs
Say something to the people following along at home Nick. “For the love of craft beer!”
12:20 We are on the bus. Did I mention there is a ton of beer? Good thing this bus is equipped with a restroom.
One of the many coolers of beer in the front seat
We are on our way! There is a lot of good people and good beer on this bus. My 1st official beer of this trip is Dogfish Head’s Positive Contact that I brought to share.
12:50 pm: Wow. 7th or 8th beer cracked open & WE’RE NOT EVEN TO THE STATE LINE! Big Magic just said “what am I drinking now?”
1:51 pm: I slowed down a little on the drinking. I’m still sipping though. I’m trying to finish reading Asheville Beer by Anne Fitten Glenn ( aka @Brewgasm on twitter). Word is she might meet up with us at the Highland Brewery release. I hope so. I can finally meet her in real life & get my book signed.
2:30 pm. Big whoops of joy as we pulled into Pisgah.
Pisgah’s tap room
Myself with a flight of Pisgah’s finest. Picture of me taken by Jen Parker.
Also Jen just did my Tarot reading:
It was kind of spooky accurate.
Look, it’s Adam Ingle!
Ladies & gentlemen, that man who made this all possible, Mr. Matt McMillan! Aka Matty Mac:
Thanks to Matt from Bearden Beer Market for putting this trip together.
4:12pm: Pisgah was freaking awesome! We are now back on the bus. I’m feeling pretty good. I wandered back where the magic takes place and snapped some pictures.
Jason Caughman, owner of Pisgah took time to meet with Adam and myself. Here he is venting one of the barrels to let us have a smell. He also shared a 3 year aged Christmas ale with us.
Jason Caughman of Pisgah, Adam Ingle of Smoky Mountain Brewery and Matt McMillan of Bearden Beer Market.
Behind the scenes I met with Jason Caughman, owner and Co-founder of Pisgah. We spoke for awhile about brewing and Pisgah’s plans for expansion. I could have talked beer with him all day but it was time to go.
Big Magic! He looked around the massive space and declared “It’s the Home Depot of beer!”
A picture taken before the place got completely packed
I got one of the last pours of El Lupulo before it was gone. The small batch stuff ran out quick!
Right before we took the tour. We had to wear safety glasses. Safety first!
200 barrel fermenters
I did meet Author & twitter celebrity Anne Fitten & got my copy of her book signed
5:46 pm: We’re still at Highland Brewery, I’m enjoying a 2012 Cold Mountain. Had to pick up a couple of the big blue bottles, since I know how rare this beer is going to be.
Hungry! Thankfully there was a food truck and a hot dog cart at Highland. I had to get me a free range organically fed tofu beast dog.
Outside Patio at Highland
6:50 pm: Faded! On the bus again.
8:08 pm: We stopped by Appalachian Vintner for some bottle shopping. They have 10 beers on tap but my off switch kicked in so I didn’t drink. I did however spend more then intended. At least I got some goodies to share.
A small portion of my score.
8:52 pm Last stop of the night. Time for one last beer & dinner. Luckily the last stop is at one of my favorites Asheville places, Asheville Brewing Company on Coxe Ave. I’m getting a veggie quesadilla & washing it down with batch 272 a small batch dry hopped IPA. I also picked up a 6 pack of Shiva IPA cans.
Well we got back on the bus for the trip home. By that time we were all pretty faded from a day of drinking. I somehow managed to sleep for most of the trip back. Somewhere around the Dandridge exit, a drunk ass Big Magic started singing Toto songs to entertain us. Somehow that degraded into him rapping Easy E lyrics. Half of the bus was groaning while the other half was laughing. Big Magic can be pretty funny sometimes.
Back at BBM I was too tired to say good byes to all my buddies I just adventured with. I just got all my stuff to my car and drove home.
Thanks again to Matt and The Bearden Beer Market for putting together this great Asheville beer run. I look forward to the next one.
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.
Hey Broncos, when you’re done can we have Peyton back?
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.
Big Magic caught me updating this website while waiting for Hops & Pie to open.
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.
Crooked Stave is located in a little warehouse area. A lot of their beers are sours, wild yeast and barrel aged.
Big Magic strike a pose in front of a massive barrel
Barrel room at Crooked Stave
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.
The entrance & outside fermenters
The tap list at Great Divide.
The inside bar. This place was packed with people in town for GABF.
Drinking outside in the fermenter farm. Must take a lot of glycol to keep these cool in the sun.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Well by the end of yesterday’s Oktoberfest celebration in Kingsport, I was beat. I packed the CR-V and walked over to Stir Fry Cafe where I had dinner with the owners and brewers of both Moccasin Bend Brewing Company and Studio Brew. I love the comaderie that brewers have, and I always gain some insight and learn a lot about the industry that I some day plan on joining. I ate and then shortly made my way back to my hotel to finish uploading pictures before I passed out. What a great event and once again a big thank you a shout out to Aaron Carson and Das Krew for organizing this and inviting me to participate. A special thanks once again got to Lindsey, Flipper and Richard who were an immense help to me. Because of their assistance I was able to have a very enjoyable time.
Today I woke up, and wrestled with my slowly dieing computer and slow ass hotel wifi to convert the video Richard took on my iPhone of my infusion workshop. It went well. It was way better and easier that last year’s infuserless fiasco. So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, here it is:
So today I figured I’d go spend a few hours relaxing in Asheville, updating this site and sipping on brews. I made the drive and Richard followed. We planned on meeting up for lunch with fellow Knox Beer Crew member Matt Crowell, but got here and found out that he bailed. After driving past a few closed breweries, I come to the realization that nothing happens (beer wise anyway) in Asheville until noon. When Asheville Brewing Company on Coxe ave opened, we came right in. I have tried the newest beer to their line up, Coconut Booty, a porter with, you guessed it, coconut. I also dropped off several bottles of my Butternut Squash Ale for Mike Rangle, the owner and a friend of mine.
I am going to go to Bruisin Ales where I intend to pick up a few things for myself and friends back home. Some breweries I wanted to visit are closed today (Craggie) and other places open late. I plan on being back to Knoxville in time to have dinner with my son, so I can’t stay in town long or drink too much. Maybe I’ll just visit Thirsty Monk for 1 beer then some water before heading back home. I really like Asheville, and wish I could stay longer then a few hours. I guess that’s why I am planning a Christmas vacation here again this year.
Well this is all for now. Thanks to everyone I met this weekend. I hope our paths cross again. Until then,
Update 3pm. I was on I-240 just left Bruisin Ales when I decided that I wasn’t ready to leave. I turned around and was the 1st customer in the door at The Thirsty Monk when it opened at 3. I got a half pour of Catawba’s Arlo’s PB & J brown ale. It’s amazing and the story… Well, make sure you hug your kids.
It’s Saturday morning and I am at the Oktoberfest site in Downtown Kingsport, getting ready to set up my booth. I got to in to town late yesterday afternoon. I spent the night before and most of the day on Friday getting everything ready and packing my old trusty CR-V. There is a lot that goes into setting up and pouring homebrew at a festival. One of the things I did was to bake minature butternut squash pies and mini cupcake sized pies. I am going to try to infuse my Butternut Squash Ale with mini-pie slices. I honestly don’t think it’s going to add anything to this beer, I am doing it mostly for presentation. I wanted to do something memorable. Something that people will talk about. Worse case senario is that it turns into a big gloopy mess and clogs up my lines. If so, I’ll just bypass the infuser. I made several pans of the mini-pies for people to eat. I think it will be a nice treat for the V.I.P.s who paid for early admission. I used the butternut squash that was left over from brewing the last batch. It cooked really well in the beer wort, and it has some bitterness because the whole leaf hops were cooked with it in the mesh bag. For anyone who is interested, here’s the recipe:
In Knoxville’s small but growing craft beer scene, I find myself in quite a few discussion about the local beer distributors and the role they play in our available choices. To give you some background, you need to know about the three tier system that was established for the sale of alcohol after prohibition. The basic structure of the system is that producers can sell their products only to wholesale distributors who then sell to retailers, and only retailers may sell to consumers. There are a few exceptions here & there. In Tennessee, you can self distribute within the county your brewery is located. For example, Woodruff can deliver kegs of their beer anywhere in Knox county, but don’t expect to see them on tap in Maryville. That is, unless they sign an exclusive contract with a distributor. I know of 6 craft beer distributors who deliver to Knoxville. We have the big boys that are either owned or run by the “big 2“. The big 2s are Eagle, which is primarily AB-Inbev (Budweiser, etc), and Cherokee which is MillerCoors. There are several other smaller distributors with their own much smaller portfolios. There is Molo-Tenn based out of Chattanooga (Ft. Collins, Sam Smith, Flying Dog, McNeils to name a few). There’s also Lipman Brothers out of Nashville (Craggie, Lost Coast, Boulder, etc.), Bounty Bev (Green Flash, CalfKiller, Lucky Bucket, etc.) and Beverage-Control of Knoxville (Stone, Mendocino). Each one of these distributors has both their pros and their cons. For example, Beverage-Control can bring in Stone’s beers in bottle, but not kegs since they don’t have refrigeration in their warehouse. My point is that there is no such thing as a “perfect” distributor.
<hate> In fact, one of them (and I’ll go ahead and name names), is so univerally hated by the Knoxville craft beer scene that I rarely hear their name without an expletive thrown in before it. If you are part of the Knoxville beer scene, you know who exactly I’m writing about. Fuckin’ Cherokee. Honestly, I could rant for a whole post about how bad they are, how they don’t seem to give 2 shits about anything besides Miller or Coors (& usually with the word “lite” thrown in somewhere.) When every other city or town in the southeast is enjoying thier Hoptimum, Torpedo or Estate Ales by Sierra Nevada and we can’t get them here in K-town, just know they are responsible. Rumor is that they even pulled Duck Rabbit’s Milk Stout off the shelves at local Ingles because according to an unverified source “people don’t want to drink dark beers in hot weather.” ARRRRGH! </hate>
On the opposite side of this kind of behavior by a big distributor is the love, respect and value shown to craft beer by Eagle Distributing. Yes a majority of their sales are the Budweiser line of products. Unfortunately this can sometimes earn them the ire of uninformed craft beer lovers. People without a firm grasp of history tend to ignore the contributions Anheuser-Busch has made overall to the beer industry. Do I like the taste of Bud? Not really, but at the same time I wouldn’t turn a cold one down, or pull a beer douche card and look down on someone for their beer choice. Budweiser makes a consistent clean product, that pays the bill for Eagle. This allows Eagle to distribute the smaller brands that I love. Yazoo, SawWorks, New Belgium, Magic Hat, RJ Rockers and Brooklyn are all distributed by Eagle.
Jeremy Walker- @KnoxBeerGuy on twitter. Follow him and you’ll have your thumb on the pulse of Knoxville craft beer.
Last night’s event was an informal tasting, information session and all around good time. The guest list was most of the bar owners, staff, store managers, account reps and movers and shakers of the Knoxville beer scene. The focus was to let us all know which craft beers and brands are coming soon to the local market and to let us try them and learn about them. I am not so good with doing reviews of beers. I rather leave that to better writers than I such as the Knox Beer Snobs or Lou of Blues and BBQ. Plus I know taste is all subjective. A beer I despise may be a beer that you love and vice versa. I did however try to take pictures and notes so I could tell my readers what to look out for.
Todd and Matt from Jackson Avenue Market in the Old City
I got to the event promptly at 5:30 and immediately ran into Matt and Todd of Jackson Avenue Market. I grabbed my 1st beer, New Belgium’s Peach Porch Lounger. This is a brettanomyces beer that is packaged in 22 ounce bottles. I really liked this one and the brett was way more predominant then the last Brett beer from NB. I liked this one and plan on snatching up a case for my cellar, since this is a bottle conditioned beer that will age well. While sipping on this Matt told me that Jackson Avenue Market is now carrying almost 250 different beers. They are still planning on going for their high gravity license, so look for their offerings to expand. I own them a visit, since it’s been a couple of months. We even discussed briefly hosting a free tasting of my homebrew there sometime in the future.
More folks trickled in and I saw Neil McCormick of Yazoo. He had brought some of their delicious smoked porter, Sue. It’s been a few years since I enjoyed this last and all I can Say is WOW! I can’t wait until we can get this locally on draft and it bottles. There’s a reason why it’s 99 on Ratebeer.com This was one of my favorites of the night and I kept going back to it. Neil also told me about the Tennessee Craft Brewer’s Guild meeting in Chattanooga and plans for the first fundraiser. It’s going to be in Nashville and sounds like a whole hell of a lot of fun. Think craft beer prom with a twist. More details will be forthcoming, I assure you.
Welcome back Terrapin Beer Company!
By now most everyone knows that Terrapin Beer Company’s tasty selections are back in town. Several selections are already on draft and on the shelves. At Eagle’s event there was chance for those unfamiliar to try Hopsecutioner IPA. Terrapin brews beer that I (and everyone I know) loves. Since they’ve been gone, I’ve never neglected to bring back some during my treks to Asheville. Knox Beer Snob Rob told me that he will cry if we are able to get Wake N Bake coffee oatmeal stout here. Well buddy, I’ll be shedding tears of joy myself if this happens. We shall see.
Brooklyn Brewery was well represented at the event as well. Since I have access to a steady supply at my weekend job, I elected to stay with their high gravity offerings from them. I rather enjoy Local Number Two, so had some along with Local one. I also revisited Sorachi Ace. The last and only time I had this beer, I was a bit disappointed. For whatever reason, The hop character for which this beer is named was muted and overpowered by the Belgian yeast strain. That was not the case this time at all. The lemony Japanese hops stood out and balanced very nicely with the yeast and malts. I’m glad I had it again. My guess is that maybe when I tried it in the past, it had sat too long and the hops dropped out. I don’t know, but I do know I love this beer now.
As I mingled and moved between the 2 rooms this event took place in, a friend of mine mentioned RJ Rocker’s high gravity Pumpkin Ale. I in turn mentioned the RJ Rockers pumpkin to a friend of mine who is a server at Barley’s and beertends at Fort Sander’s Yacht Club, so we went back to the 1st room where we tried it. I missed it the first time around because it was being dispensed from a kegerator behind the table where bottles of Black Perle and Bell Ringer were being poured. I’m not really keen on pumpkin ales, especially this early in the season. I had just tried Terrapin’s Pumpkinfest, and found it way over spiced to my liking. The RJ Rocker’s Gruntled Pumpkin was in sharp contrast to the Terrapin one. I absolutely loved it. I thought to myself, we have a winner! It’s everything a pumpkin ale should be. Not too spicy, not to sweet, well balanced with the flavor of the actual pumpkin. After having this, I don’t think I could be content with any other pumpkin ale from now on.
Jeremy: “Who wants to win this?” Crowd: “I do!”
Near the end of the event there was a drawing for prizes. Everyone who came in was given a raffle ticket. There was some seriously cool stuff given away, and everyone was hoping they would win the Yuengling boat. While Jeremy pulled tickets and read numbers, I talked to Curtis from Sweetwater and drank some of the Low Ryder IPA. What a solid, enjoyable beer. He informed me that it is going to be available year round starting in October. He also told me that a majority of the next Dank Tank series, Danktoberfest will be shipped to the new accounts in Alabama. That state just passed a law allowing 22 ounce high gravity beers. He also said that due to demand, it will not be on draft, bottles only. This does not bode well for Knoxville, and if we do get any, I anticipate it being snatched up within hours of it hitting the stores. Like I said before, follow Jeremy on twitter because he’ll let us know when it lands.
Well, I knew I had committed to run early in the morning so I didn’t stay long. I said my goodbyes, loaded up of free swag left over from the raffle, got a promise from a friend to come visit me at work on Sunday and headed out. I really want to sincerely thank Eagle for all they do for beer in this area and for hosting this killer event. I can’t wait for the next one.
A few more things to mention before I end this post. Adam of SawWorks Brewing has started a new early morning running group. This morning was the 1st run. We meet every week day at 6 am at Saw Works headquarters. The run goes through downtown, over the Gay Street Bridge and back. We stop by Old City Java for free coffee on the way back. I haven’t ran for over 9 months. I have always made excuses, and have found that my health (and waist line) have suffered for it. Well no more. I am committed to doing this daily. Even though my legs are sore, it felt good to get some early morning exercise to start my day. I encourage people to join us, even if you can only walk instead of run at first. I can only run a small portion of the route and a snail’s pace, but you have to start somewhere.
I also want to let everyone know that this Thursday I will be once again doing an infusion at Suttree’s. I know what we are planning to do, but you’ll have to come out to see exactly what it will be. You will be pleasantly surprised by the tasty treat I have planned. All I can say is that every time we do an infusion, it gets better and better. Don’t miss this, or you’ll regret it. We’ll start at 7, so come on down.
The last thing before I sign off is that I just received my shipment of merchandise to sell at Kingsport Oktoberfest. I do plan on launching my online store real soon. Shirts, magnets, stickers and glassware will be available. All proceeds go towards helping a needy homebrewer (me) buy more ingredients to brew beer to share with his friends. Be on the lookout for my next post where I shamelessly beg for you to buy my (really cool) crap.