Infusion video, @KTPOktoberfest round up and a lazy Sunday enjoying #AVLBeer.

September 23, 2012

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,

Cheers,

Ratchet
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.

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Live blogging from @KPTOktoberfest http://kingsportoktoberfest.com/

September 22, 2012

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:

Step one, brew Butternut Squash Ale.

Step two, remove the squash and hops from mesh bag, freeze until the day before you intend to make pie. Then thaw it.

Step three. Follow this recipe using the butternut squash and hops mixture. I made a simple graham cracker crust using directions on the graham cracker crumb box.

Step 4. Profit.

Ok, We’ll see how it goes. For now, I got to set up everything. Before I do that I just want to give a shout out to everyone that I hung out with at the “Growl at The Moon” Friday night pre-party. It was great chilling out with Jimie Barnett of Barnette’s Best Brew who I happen to be set up next to today. When ever Jimie and I hang out, things get rowdy. It’s like Snoop Dogg said ” Compton and Long Beach together, now you know you’re in trouble.” I also want to go give a big shout out to Matt (who is featured in my Brewer’s Summit video) for providing some incredibly strong and tasty libations. Also it’s always a pleasure to see and hang out with Erick from Studio Brew . A big hug for Kitty and Erica from Highland Brewing who are staying at the same hotel as me. We hung out and had drinks at Stir Fry cafe last night and then shared a cab last night and back to the site this morning.

Well I have a whole bunch of work to do today. I will try to post as much as I can, but if it gets too busy I’ll at least post pictures up. Stay tuned.

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The Ratchet Brews Super Store

All set up and ready to pour. Richard is here and I have Flipper and Lindsey from Johnson City helping me out. Since I am set up, I think I’m going to wander about & check out what else is here.

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Wife and husband Lindsey and Flipper were an enormous help all day! Thanks y’all, you rock!

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Who had the best barrel aged beer at Kingsport Oktoberfest? This guy, Erick from Studio Brew.

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Society of Fermentation. I had their curry stout and it was great. It won an award.

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My kegs.

Had a little near panic moment when I realized that my iPhone battery was almost dead. Luckily I brought this along:

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This little device has saved the day on more then one occassion.

The bier garden is open and the beer is flowing.
Knox Beer Snob Don is here with his festival buddy. They have a master blaster thing going on.

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Don and the Next generation of beer snob.

Photo booth!

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so fun!

I was wondering why it wasn’t busy. Then I found out that so far it was only VIPs, here comes the rush!

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Here they come!

Well Kingsport Oktoberfest is in full swing. The best part of beer festivals are the people that you meet. Fellow homebrewers are my favorite. Like the crew of Music City Brewers.

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Music City Brewers representative.

It’s almost time for my infusion workshop.

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Only beer I have left is my Rauchbier and a keg of Terrapin’s Rye Pale Ale that we’re infusing with cascade and centennial hops.

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My beer ran out fast

Look! It’s Adam Palmer from Saw Works Brewing Company!

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Jimie Barnett from Triple B Brewing with a hop garnished Hopijauna IPA

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Jimie’s neck must be hurting for the weight of all the medals that he won for his great beer.

So many pictures, so little time, sobriety & patience to post. Here’s a picture of me with my friends from Highland Brewing.

Kitty, Ratchet, Erica, Oscar, Eliza

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Lens flare and some random guy on the end.

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Good times!

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My friend Steve of Friendship Brewing couldn’t make it, so I poured his Misty Melon watermelon kolsch for him. It won an award

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Those wild and crazy guys from legit brew were set up next to me. Good people with good beer.

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What do you do with a slice of Butternut Squash pie that has been in an infuser all day, and is beer soaked? You eat it, duh.

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Went to Stir Fry cafe after packing up the booth. Had dinner and a beer with Moccassin Bend brewery and Studio Brew. The place was packed and people were dancing on the sidewalk.

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Erick of Studio Brew being a goof ball.

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Gettin’ Crafty w/ Eagle: a distributor’s tasting of what’s to come for #KnoxBeer cc: @KnoxBeerGuy

August 29, 2012

One of the signs greeting attendees to the event

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.

Eagle’s craft beer manager is Jeremy Walker (aka @KnoxBeerGuy on twitter), who has a passion for good beer. He invited me to an event I went to last night and the title of this post. Gettin’ Crafty With 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!!!

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.

Cheers,

Ratchet


Live blogging of my big ass brew day

August 11, 2012

Today is the day I am planning on brewing 35 gallons of lager. As promised, I going to try to update my website with a play by play. A lot can go right & a lot can go wrong. I’ve been preparing all week for this. Every bit of my free time has gone into cleaning, grinding grains, buying extras like ice, food, charcoal for the grill & obtaining over 70 gallons of Love’s Creek Spring Water. without further ado, here we go.

5:15 am: Stumbled downstairs, hooked up propane, fired up the burner for the mash water. Must. Make. Coffee!

5:35 am: Ahhhhh, coffee. Damn it sure is early. At least I have this view from my back porch as I enjoy this almost fall like morning.

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6:19 am: Getting ready to mash in. Hagin just arrived to lend a hand.
6:35 am: Hagin stirring while we mash in.

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Hagin stirring the grains

6:55 am: Mashed in. Time to smack the packs.

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Wyeast & a Highland Thunderstruck Coffee Porter

7:00 am. Is it to early for a beer? Not if it has coffee in it.
8 am: Waiting on the sparge water to get up to temperature.
8:40 am: Dalton is here & we are Sparging.

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Hagin & Dalton

9:45 am. Boil is going on & we are cleaning out the mash tun.

10:30 am: Last hop addition on the Rauchbier, getting ready to stop boil & whirlpool. Got the mash tun cleaned & restocked and the new strike water for Oktoberfest going. Almost time for another beer. So far just me, Hagin & Dalton hanging out.

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Dumping the spent grains out of the mash tun

12 pm: I’ve been to busy to post. The Rauchbier is going through the chiller into carboys. The Oktoberfest grains are currently mashing. Dalton, Hagin and I are hanging out sampling some brews & waiting for the next step, which is cleaning the brewpot & bringing the next batch to boil when the grain conversion is done.

3:30 pm: Sorry for lack of updates for those following along. The Rauchbier is in the fermenters, the Oktoberfest doesn’t have long left in the boil & several people have shown up with beer. Knox Beer Crew is being represented by Richard Groves & Mark Baggett. Several other friends like Chris Irwin, James Kane & Aaron Russell along with Hagin & Dalton are hanging out. When the next batch is chilled & fermenting, there is still massive clean up to do, hopefully these guys don’t bail when it’s time for that, lol.
3:45 pm: Conversing on the nature of conversation. Deep thoughts.

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4:30 pm: Beginning cool down of the Oktoberfest. Should figure out cleaning order, I suppose.
20120812-154930.jpg5:30 pm: Done. Beer is in the carboys, the big equipment is clean. Finally sitting down. I’m still waiting a little bit before pitching the yeast to the Oktoberfest. I want a beer but I’m too tired to move. Everyone bailed except Richard & Hagin who helped with the clean up. Thanks guys.
7:30 pm: Everything is clean, the wort is chilled, oxygenated & in the carboys awaiting the magic of fermentation. The guest took off. I am making something to eat & then going to pass out.

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Waiting for fermentation to begin

Thanks for following along today’s post. I might come back & post updates on the status of the fermentation. Now I’m going to pass out after I enjoy my reward for all the hard work of today: Young’s Double Chocolate Stout (from the nitro can) & pizza. Goodnight.

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A reward for a hard day’s work

    Next day update:

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Getting ready for a big brew day on Sunday 8/12

August 7, 2012

I haven’t been able to brew in awhile. Not that I haven’t wanted to, just that my schedule (and finances) haven’t allowed it. I’ve been working weekends at The Casual Pint downtown, which is a second job that I love dearly. I know that the fall beer festival season is coming up, and I have to get ready. I asked for and got a Sunday off work to brew beer. I know I needed to maximize my brew time, so I borrowed the big equipment that is owned by the Tennessee Valley Homebrewers club and has been in the use and care of my friend Tyrone “Chris” Harris of Secret City Brews.  I’ll be brewing 20 gallons of my beloved Rauchbier and 15 gallons of an Oktoberfest Marzen. It’s going to be so good to see all my carboys full again.

I’m inviting friends to come hang out and help if they are so inclined. I forsee this brew day being a combination workshop, tasting, cookout and party. I already have a few people confirmed that they’re coming.  If you ever wanted to see what it’s like from start to finish to brew a batch using all grains, this is your chance. I’ll be starting at the ridiculously early time of 6 am. The brewing schedule (if according to plan) goes a little something like this:

6 am: Get up, stumble downstairs to start the water going.
7 am: Strike grains with water, mash for an hour.
8 am: Start vorlauf.
8:30 Start sparge.
9:30 Finish sparge.
10 Hopefully at boil at this point, 1st hop addition.
11 End of boil and whirlpool.
11:30 End whirlpool, begin cool down.
12:45-1pm Hopefully carboys are full and cool down to yeast pitching temperature.
1:30 Brew pot is cleaned and refilled with water, mash tun cleaned and restocked with grains.
2:15-2:30 Strike 2nd batch of grains with water, mash for an hour.
3:30 Start vorlauf.
4pm Start sparge.
5 Finish sparge.
5:30 Hopefully to boil.
6:30 End boil, whirlpool.
7 End Whirlpool, begin cool down.
8 Hopefully carboys are full, yeast is pitched and equipment cleaned.
8-9ish Rest, drink heavily.
9 ish Thank remaining guest for coming, then pass out from exhaustion.

This is hard work but you don’t have to lift a finger if you just want to come chill. I may (hopefully) fire up the grill (depends on how much help I have). There will be beer to sample, but it’s limited so BYOB is encouraged. For those who do help, I will be breaking out some rarities from my secret stash to share. I’ll also make sure to give you some of the finished product (it’s a lager, so you’ll have to wait 2 months). I also plan on live blogging with picture this brewday on my website for those of you who can’t make it. If you do plan on coming, please email me at jasoncarpenter1974@gmail.com for directions and to let me know what time you think you’ll arrive. You’re welcome to coffee & breakfast if you plan on helping at the start. Everyone is welcome to come whenever and stay until 9ish, when I anticipate being so tired I involuntarily pass out.

Cheers,

Ratchet


Report on the Thirsty Orange Brew Extravaganza @ThirstyOrange

April 19, 2012

This is my third attempt to write about last weekend’s Thirsty Orange beer festival in Johnson City. My original idea was to live blog from the festival. I even set up the page the night before. However, there was so much to do and I was so busy it just wasn’t possible to live blog. I hardly even had time to take my phone out of my pocket to check emails, text and tweets.
So here it is, almost a week later. Let’s see how much I can actually recall.
Here’s some background first. I am currently moving. Everyone knows that packing and moving is a big pain in the ass. Luckily I pretty much have a whole month to do it. I am renting a slighly bigger house on a hill that is closer to downtown. The view is pretty great and the fact that I have a whole basement to brew in is what sold me on the house.

Well, I have a brew schedule that I am trying to stick to. I didn’t want to try to move my fermentation fridge and carboys while they were in mid-fermentation. So I did what any slightly crazed beer obessessed homebrewer would do. I got up extra early Friday morning and started brewing. I ended up mashing in around 5:30 am. I figured, if I was going to move full carboys that I should do it right after brewing so the sloshing caused by the car ride would help oxygenate the wort. Yeast needs oxygen to help get it going. So as I brewed, I cleaned. I moved my small lagering chest freezer into the back of the van. Once I was done brewing my Maibock, I drove the whole set up to, and set it up in, the basement of the house I’m moving in to. I plugged in the fridge and thermostat control and put the two 5 gallon carboys to ferment at 48 degrees. I was done completely around 11 am. I then went over to the Downtown Grill and Brewery and picked up the Woodruff Brewing beer that I took to the festival.

I than went home and packed the van full of tubs, beer, kegs, ice and merchandise.  I then drove to Johnson City. Arriving there I quickly checked into my room. The festival site was at the Mellow Mushroom just down the road, so I headed there to meet with the organizers. I stashed the kegs in the walk in cooler, had a beer and taked plans for the next day. Well as you can imagine, I was exhausted from getting up at 4:45 am that day to brew. I knew Saturday was going to be hectic, so I went back to the hotel and passed out early.

Saturday morning, I rolled out of bed, made some crappy hotel coffee and headed to the site. I was still pretty tired and the crappy hotel coffee just wasn’t kicking in. Thank goodness one of the guys there, Andrew, had brought a carafe of great coffee to share. After “irishing up” a cup of it with a shot of baileys, I was good to go.

While crews set up tents and generally prepared the site for the days festivities, I worked on getting my table, kegs and jockey box set up. I was also on infuser duty. I had my own infuser to run beer through and the festival had it’s own. Responsible for the festival’s infuser was a cool dude (who I had the pleasure of working with) that they called Flipper. I showed him the ropes on how to pack it, how to set up the lines, etc. He picked up on it rather quickly and was able to take the infuser around  and fresh infuse different beers with different ingredients all day. It was definitely a hit of the festival.

Well once the gates were open, things were hectic. I still hadn’t completely set up my merchandise when a line began to form at my table. I was very greatful that the festival organizers had provided me with someone to assist me at my booth, as I honestly could not have done it by myself. Right at the start, I had a beer line break in my jockey box. My first clue that it occured was when beer started pouring out the sides. I lost the whole keg of chocolate ale that I had brewed for the Iron Brewer challenge. I had to cut the bad section of line out and rehook it up to a different keg.

Once all the kinks were worked out, the festival went really well. I did my share of drinking, slipping away from my booth a few minutes at a time to try other beers. I met more then a few really cool people, fellow homebrewers from all over and tried many great brews. It was also really good to see and hang out with my Knox Beer Crew friends who had made the trip up from Knoxville. They left before the end of the festival, but we did have time to squeeze into the on site beer photo booth and get our pictures taken.

Well I stayed until the very end, and was the last brewer set up and pouring until my ride came and got me. I packed up, said my goodbyes and went back to the hotel. After settling in, I went downstairs to get something out of the van and realized that there was a comedy show taking place in the hotel’s restaurant. I drunkenly wandered in and sat in the back unlit portion of the space and laughed for awhile. Then I wandered back upstairs and passed out.

It was a great festival and Aaron and his crew always put together a good event. As far as I could see, everything went smoothly and everyone had a fun time. If this happens again next year, you can count me in to be there.

Ok, will this is all for now. I don’t feel like this write up is all that good, but I had to post something. If you read this and were at the Thirsty Orange, please leave a comment with your thoughts below.

Cheers,

Ratchet

Announcing some of the Homebrew contest winners at Thirsty Orange

 


A Great Weekend for #KnoxBeer

October 25, 2011

The liver is evil and must be punished. Saw this on a shirt the other day, and it (almost) sums up my weekend. I don’t think I’ll make this post really long. The Knox Beer Snobs have posted a great review of all the Knoxville Beer events this weekend, so I’ll refer you to them. I will tell you that I had a great and memorable weekend.

Every year the Homebrew Club does a lot of the beer related grunt work and preparation for Brewers Jam. My weekend pretty much kicked off on Thursday night. The homebrew club does what we call  “Pretzel Jam” where we drink beer and make pretzel necklaces to sell at the event. I had a ride, so I was able to partake in the “leftover” entries from the TN Valley Fair’s Homebrew competition.

Friday I worked a short half day and then headed down to World’s Fair Park to help load the cold truck. The brewers show up, unload the kegs from their vehicles and we move the kegs to cold storage. It was mostly sitting around drinking beer with the occasional heavy lifting. I took a break from that for a few hours and headed over to the grand opening of Marble City Brewing Company’s tasting room, The Quarry. Knoxville really came out to show support for the hometown brewery. The place was packed! The owners even had authentic deep dish pizza flown in for the event. After a few beers, a slice of pizza and some great conversation with fellow craft beer enthusiast, I headed back to World’s Fair Park.  When that was over, it was time for the brewer’s reception in a top secret location. Most of the brewers both local and out of area were treated to beer, cigars, food, and a live bluegrass jam. There was even free jars of locally produced salsa, courtesy of Big S Farms. Pretty much every one of my beer friends were there. I remember looking around at the crowd and thinking if a bomb went off in that room, there wouldn’t be anyone left in the Knoxville craft beer scene. That reception went on long into the night. I left around 11 pm since I was hosting out of town guests and we all had to be up early to work the morning shift.

Saturday morning I made coffee and my guest (fellow homebrewers Shanezilla and Pam) and I headed out. We stopped by Just Ripe on Union Avenue in downtown for a quick breakfast. Then it was on to Brewers’ Jam. There was a whole heck of a lot of work to do before the gates opened at 1pm. We had to deliver the kegs to the brewers, along with Ice. There was also our booth to set up and a few other details to attend to. About 30 minutes or so before kick off, we were pretty much done. This is my favorite time of of the Knoxville Brewer Jam. All the brewers are set up, and everyone has a chance to socialize and try one another’s beers before it gets hectic. Before they opened the gates, we had our customary speech given by Knoxville Police Department, as seen in the following video:

Then the fun begins. It is amazing to see a wave of people pour in when they open the gates. The lines were as far as the eye could see. My 1st keg of Butternut Squash Ale was on tap, and I happily doled out samples to thirsty drinkers. It made me feel like I really know what I’m doing as a beer brewer when people would tell me how much they enjoyed it. I even had some of the most critical members of the homebrew club come back for seconds and thirds. Whenever my 1st keg blew out, I let someone else take a turn pouring while I happily went in search of other tasty beverages to imbide. I saw many of my fellow Knox Craft beer friends and walked around drinking and enjoying their company. Later on in the afternoon, I came back and put on my second keg of Butternut Squash Ale and poured that as well. Near the end of the event, I went and filled several growlers of beer to take home for later. I ran into Mike from Asheville Brewing Company who gave me a really cool Moog filtered Ale shirt.

Well, I went and caught the rest of Cutthroat Shamrock’s show at the end. The jam closed down, the beer stopped flowing, and I started packing out. I finally got my vehicle packed with everything I brought, along with a cooler full of growlers, bottles of beer, merchandise and other stuff I scored at the Jam. I walked over to my office where I spent a few hours drinking water and listening to the Vols football game on the radio. I ended the night eating pizza and thinking how I am already looking forward to next year’s Brewers Jam.

Enjoy the pictures below, click to make big.

Cheers,

Ratchet