Beer Running! @BeardenBeerMrkt @CentralFlatsTap @YazooLeah

February 17, 2014

Hey y’all, figured it was time to write again. Since my last post, I’ve been picking up more and more hours working at The Market in Maryville’s Beer Den while I wait for my new full time job to start next month. I absolutely love everything about being part of the team at The Market and if they could afford me, would be more then happy to be there full time. Alas, they are a struggling mom and pop store and can only justify so much in employee wages, which I completely understand and sympathize with.

In the meantime I really enjoy getting paid to do something I love and am good at, sell beer. We have 8 constantly rotating taps. Pints are always only $3, we do growler fills and you can get a flight of all 8 beers for only $8. Not to mention the bottle selection is incredible. I love when people ask for suggestions or want to know more about a particular style of beer. I also love getting to know the regulars.

Since my last post, many of these regulars, my friends and my readers have asked me the same thing. “Are you really giving up on the idea of opening a nano-brewery?” This is something I thought long and hard about before I came to my decision. Like I said in my last post, I found myself spending to much thought energy on it, and stressing out. I think about it in these terms. The idea of opening a brewery is like a seed. I put that seed in the ground and my thoughts were like watering the seed. Well if you are constantly watering a seed, eventually you are going to drown it and it won’t grow. My decision was one to step back, stop watering it, and let nature take it’s course. For now I have other personal goals and things I want to accomplish. Maybe after I get a firm grip on those things, I’ll be in a better position revisit this idea and have some tools at my disposal to make another effort. In the mean time, we changed the name of our home brewery from Ratchet Brews to We Know Beer. When I say “we” it’s because the home brewing is about more than just me, it’s a team effort. Richard and Todd have become a big part of this, and deserve credit and recognition. This will be our official name when we represent at festivals. Not “We Know Beer brewery” or “We Know Beer brewing company“, simply We Know Beer. This new name encompasses everything we want to be about. It’s more then just about brewing beer, it’s also about education and appreciation, along with other things. We are having our logo developed and hope to debut it along with a mission statement and new merchandise in time for Thirsty Orange in April.

Until then I really need to do an inventory of ingredients and schedule a brew day. It’s kind of hard right now because I am in this inbetween place of working on the weekends while waiting to start my fulltime job. Once I am settled into a regular routine, we’ll be back to brewing on a regular basis. When this happens I’ll let you know.

There’s a few other things I want to write about before I end this post. When I made my goals for this year, getting back in shape was right there at the top of the list. Luckily there is a great beer running community. I love to run and several years back I would do so everyday. Then things happened and I slowly fell out. I started eating a lot. I was in a stressful and unhealthy relationship. Eating, drinking, staying up late and constantly arguing took it’s toll. I gained a bunch of weight. I became depressed. I finally arrived at the point when I said ENOUGH! I’m not doing this anymore. Since then, I haven’t been happier. I eat very sparingly now, mostly a juice diet. I still drink but not everyday and not as much. This balances nicely with my diet. I take yoga classes, weight train and started running again. I’ve was able to transition off of toxic and potentionally long term damaging anti-depressants simply by changing how I react and think about things. When I feel negative thoughts creeping in, I smile and think about all I do have and how blessed I am. I laugh more and I do my best to avoid stressful people and situations. Helping with all this, like I said, is the beer running community. Being around and getting to know other positive, health minded craft beer drinkers has made a world of difference. Monday evenings are now one of my favorite nights of the week because of the fun run at Bearden Beer Market. It’s a great challenge and keeps me working. I have an end of summer goal to be able to do the run at a 9 minute mile pace, including the big killer hill near the end. I’m also going to start the Thursday evening run that takes place at Central Flats and Taps.

Last Saturday morning I joined the Yazoo Barely a 4k run at Central Flats and Taps. Getting up early to start at 8am with 100 or more other people in the cold was exhilarating. I ended up running my personal best time so far. The run ended back at the bar where a round of Yazoo Fall Lager was waiting for us with a complimentary breakfast. We hung out and enjoyed the company of friends while watching the USA vs Russia Olympic Hockey game on tv. There are some great pictures on Central Flats and Tap’s facebook page of the run. I want to thank @YazooLeah for herding the cats to put this together. Yazoo is having a pub crawl through the Old City on her birthday, March 3rd. You know I’ll be there for this one.

This is all for now. It’s been so long since I’ve been at any beer related event that I’m really looking forward to my trip to All Ale to The Queen festival in Charlotte, NC on March 21st and 22nd. So far I’m still traveling solo, so if anyone wants to split gas and help me work the infusers at the festival, let me know.

Cheers,

Jason


Live Blogging! #CraftBeer Run to Georgia. Visiting Burnt Hickory @BHB_brews, @BrickStorePub and More!

August 17, 2013

Hey y’all. It’s time for another edition of beer travel with Ratchet. Today’s trip is to Burnt Hickory Brewery in Kennesaw, GA. This trip came about when my good friends and fellow Knox Beer Crew members Terry and Aimee invited me along for the ride. Being that drinking craft beer and checking out new breweries are my favorite things, I couldn’t resist! It just happened to work out that I got a nice bonus at work the day before, so I can do some bottle shopping as well. Terry told me all about this brewery. They are a nano, brewing on a 2 barrel system. Apparently they only offer tours once a month on a Saturday from noon until 5pm. The tour cost $10 and you get a glass and five four ounce samples. You can buy more samples if you please. They really try to make this a big event with music, food and brewery exclusives every hour. I’m really looking forward to checking them out, trying their beers and learning more about the nano-brewery business.

I’ll be providing a play by play of the day’s trip. So far the plan is to spend the day at Burnt Hickory and possibly drive down to Decatur to check out the world famous Brick Store Pub and also do some bottle shopping. So check back periodically for updates and live vicariously through us!

11:20 am. We are in Kennesaw. Currently eating lunch at Big Pie in the Sky Pizzeria. This place was featured on the tv show, Man vs. Food. Starting the drinking day by splitting a bottle of Terrapin’s Golden Ale. This is Georgia exclusive, only available for purchase in the peach state.

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11:39 am: At Burnt Hickory. Just bought my glass and tickets. Getting ready for my first pour.

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Burnt Hickory from the parking lot. You’d never know it was there.

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My tasting glass and tickets

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12:30 pm: It’s rainy outside but it’s nice inside. A lot of good people & beers. Taking my time and on my second beer, 9353, a Belgian Peach IPA. Very good!

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Draft list at Burnt Hickory

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My friends Aimee and Terry

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A view inside

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Yes I get excited by grains

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The Millennium Falcon, Burnt Hickory’s 1 barrel Blichmann Brewhouse, essentially this is what I have without the fancy brew stand.

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Climate controlled fermentation room

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Only a brewery geek & aspiring nano-brewer like myself would say “Look at the ventalation sysytem, I better get a picture of that.”

1:05 pm: Just did the tour & tried a rare taste of Noggin Knocker Imperial Egg Nog Milk Stout. Wow!

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The Burnt Hickory’s personal beer cellar and stash. Talk about seeing beer geeks drool!

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Dark Lord anyone?

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These guys have a serious stash

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More of Burnt Hickory’s stash

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Stuff that they’ve bottled in the past

1:09 pm: Drinking a kick ass Mojito IPA.

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My Mojito IPA at the tasting room. Big lines at this point.

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They are using Corny kegs just like I do!

1:40 pm. I absolutely LOVE this brewery! I’m learning so much! Just got some amazing advice from head brewer, Will.

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2:30 pm: I tried to upload video but phone keeps dieing. Meeting great people, drinking amazing beer. Lines are long at this point & I’m a little bit buzzed. Here’s a pic of my new friends John, Bob & Mary:

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I met so many friendly people like my new friends, John, Bob and Mary.

Here’s another video of the tour:

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3:30 pm: Me Ratchet. Me drunk. Lucky me no drive. Me now talk like caveman. Me hungry. What me just drinked be on untappd.

6 pm: Ok, ok I sobered up & came to outta cave man mode. We left Burnt Hickory & headed to ATL. We just stopped at Greene’s liquor store where I bought some rarities. We are now heading to Brick Store Pub where our friends have a table for us.

What I picked up at Green's

What I picked up at Green’s

6:15 pm: At Brick Store. I just ordered Straffe Hendrick Quad.

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Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel is very good!

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Knoxville friends from Left to right: George, Sammi, Aimee, Terry and Ratchet.

7:37 pm: I had to take a break and eat something. Didn’t finish my delicious beer. We walked over to Twain’s Brew pub. I just ordered a flight, even though I don’t think I can drink it all. We are going to The Porter Beer Bar next.

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Twain’s

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Sign at Twain’s

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Twain’s house beer list

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I had a flight.

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9:45 pm: Walked around Little 5 Points. Bought clothes at Rag-O-Rama. Had one last beer at The Porter Bar. Drank WestBrook’s One Claw. We are now in the car heading back to Knoxville. I’d like to thank Terry and Aimee again for taking me on this trip. My phone wouldn’t cooperate on loading all the videos and pictures. I’ll try again soon.

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The door to the Porter Beer Bar

Beer list at Porter Beer Bar

Beer list at Porter Beer Bar

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Bar at Porter

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The sign outside where we were allowed to drink our beer on the sidewalk in Little 5 Points. There were cops standing everywhere and they just didn’t care. This is in major contrast to Knoxville.

Thanks for following along. Just a few more things I’d like to let y’all know about. This Thursday, August 22nd I’ll be infusing Flat 12 bierwork’s Cucumber Kolsch with lemons, cilantro and basil at Suttree’s starting at 6. This is going to be good, trust me. I hope y’all can make it out. Also this Saturday is the Knox Beer Crew tasting, taking place at Vic’s. More info on the calendar at KnoxBeerCrew.com

Until next time….
Cheers,
Ratchet


Happy MLK Day everyone. I too have a dream.

January 21, 2013

rbfinal

I’m very serious about the whole starting a nano-brewery thing. I dream about it every night. Some days it’s all I think about. There is so much to learn and figure out. I’m almost done reading the Tennessee Department of Revenue’s Alcoholic Beverages and Beer Tax Guide and have been talking to people to clarify things I don’t understand. I have the Tax and Trade Bureau’s website bookmarked and read it constantly. I still have to register my trademark and I have the US patent office’s website in my favorites. I am always checking the Brewer’s Association website and look forward to the day I can join that organization and announce to the world that I am officially “a brewery in planning“. Next thing I plan on studying is OSHA regulations.

Right now the thing that seems to be holding me back from applying for permits, getting my trademark registered, etc is finding a location to set up. I have a very limited area I am looking at, all within walking distance of downtown.  I don’t need something big, just enough space to build an office, brewing area, cold storage, fermentation room and the actual bar area/ tasting room. I need something affordable, which unfortunately rules out most of downtown. I like the Fourth and Gill area. That neighborhood is needs a small bar. I’ll keep looking. Craigslist, news paper, word of mouth, friends and driving around searching. Once I DO find a spot (and I will) then the fun begins. Negotiating lease terms, making sure it’s zoned right, inspections and construction, the actual raising of funds and the mountains of paperwork. I KNOW it is going to be hard and test the limits of my sanity, but dammit, I am completely dedicated. Once I find a place I plan to go from living in a comfortable house near downtown with a killer view, to basically being a couch surfing & urban camping brewer. This is because I’ll need the money going towards my house to use for the commercial space. If I have to basically live like I’m homeless to see my dream take off, so be it.

Until then, I have updated a few things on my website. I finally put together a bare bones store page to sell the shirts and other stuff that I have for sale at the various beer festivals I attend. It’s a work in progress and I currently only have a fraction of my merchandise on there. I’ll post more as I can.

I also put together a brewery wish list. People are always asking what they can do to help. I have people asking if I need investors. Yes, I do. However I am not going to start actively soliciting donations or raising funds until I have my location on lock down. I put together the wish list mainly for myself, to have the satisfaction of crossing things off the list as I acquire them as a measure of my progress. Also there is part of me that hopes that there are people out there who happen to have spare equipment, knowledge or insight and can help me cross these things off.

On another note, I had a pretty successful brew day on Sunday. I put together a recipe for an IPA. My friends Richard, Dalton and Todd came over and lent a hand in it’s creation. Katie arrived later on with snacks and moral support. I hadn’t thought of a name for this beer and asked for suggestions. Todd suggested calling it Blitz IPA. After a quick check on untappd, we saw that the name was open. Hop Blitz is what we settled on. Here is the recipe for 10 gallons for those who are interested:

24 pounds organic 2 row brewer’s malt.

2 pounds Pilsen malt

1 pound cara-pils

2 pounds Vienna

1 pound wheat

1 pound crystal 60

1 pound corn sugar

2 ounces of East Kent Goldings Hops (Leaf, 6o minutes)

2 ounces of Cascade (leaf, 30 minutes)

2 ounces Columbus (leaf, 15 minutes)

2 ounces of Centennial (pellet, 15 minutes)

2 ounces Belma (leaf, 5 minutes)

2 ounces of Columbus (leaf, at flame out)

2 Whirlfloc tablets at 5 minutes left

Strike grains with 9 gallons of water to to mash at 152 degrees for 60 minutes

Sparge with 9 gallons at 170 degrees

Yeast- 1/2 gallon starter of Safale S-04 Whitbread English strain.

Cool rapidly to 65 degrees and pitch yeast. I split into 3 carboys for fermentation, roughly 11 gallons fermenting away.

Original Gravity 1.074

Estimated final gravity:1.018

Estimated ABV 7.34% Estimated IBUs: 63.5

Hop Blitz happily fermenting away

Hop Blitz happily fermenting away

Richard, Todd and myself sampling some unfermented Hop Blitz after clean up.

Richard, Todd and myself sampling some unfermented Hop Blitz after clean up.

This weekend I’ll be in Asheville for the Winter Warmer beer festival. Expect a post afterwards. If you are going, and we haven’t met, feel free to introduce yourself. For you Knox Beer Crew guys and gals going, what do say we go to Wicked Weed for dinner afterwards?

Until next time…

Cheers,

Ratchet


In case you missed them, read these post from other #KnoxBeer blogs:

December 12, 2012

With the busy holiday season upon us, I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to post again. Maybe after this weekend’s short jaunt to Chattanooga, or perhaps after my yearly Christmas beercation to Asheville. Either way I think I’ve done good this year posting as much as I did. With that said though, I am going to redouble my efforts to post even more in 2013! I also hope to make serious strides to go from homebrewer to pro.

Anyway, enough about that. Last weekend I had 2 beer events going on. Friday night I poured samples of my “I’m Warming You!” and Oktoberfest at Jackson Avenue Market. Saturday I provided beer for a private party at Saw Works Brewing‘s headquarters. Instead of writing more about that, I’ll refer you to a friend of mine’s website. If you aren’t checking out Saccharomyces Rex’s blog on a regular basis, you should. It’s written from the perspective of a downtown dwelling mini-dino who loves drinking craft beer. It was his party I provided the beer for. Check out his blog post about it HERE. Disclaimer: A few people asked me if I am really the person behind Saccy’s blog. I promise that I am not.

Another local blog to follow, (and the one that inspired me to start mine), is the Knox Beer Snobs. They have a great post about what to get the Beer Snob in your life for Christmas.

Does anyone know of any other Knoxville beer blogs? Since it’s such a small scene, I figured I’d know of them, but am asking just in case. I am specifically want to know about ACTIVE blogs.

A podcast I’ve been listening to during my morning workouts is the Brewing Network’s Brew Strong. This show is hosted by brewers and authors Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer (both I met at GABF).  Recent shows have focused on all issues pertaining to starting and running your own nano-brewery. If you are even mildly interested in beer, I recommend going to The Brewing Network’s website and downloading a few of the free episodes.

Westvleteren XII was released in the US today. Find out more about this super limited Trappist beer at this website, or listen to this NPR story about it. A 6 pack box with 2 tasting glasses is going for $85 retail. Unfortunately supplies and very limited and it’s not available for sale in Tennessee. I do have friends however that are getting this and promised to hook me up with a bottle. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping this happens.

Well this is all for now. I will try to post again soon, but in case I don’t get a chance to do so before the holi-daze I want to wish everyone a Beery Christmas and a Happy New Beer!

Have a Beery Christmas-Ratchet Claus

Have a Beery Christmas
-Ratchet Claus

Cheers,

Ratchet


TONIGHT 12/7/12! Come try some of my #Homebrew, for FREE!

December 7, 2012
Chocolate Milk Stout with Spicy peppers

Chocolate Milk Stout with Spicy peppers

Hey y’all just a short update this time. Let me start out by saying that last Sunday was a pretty successful brew day thanks to the Help of Richard Groves and Todd Z-Machine. Followed by an incredibly tasty lunch thanks to Kat. We busted out 10 gallons of all grain Belma Hopped Pale ale that I’m calling KBC 505 in honor of an inside joke with some Knox Beer Crew guys I went to GABF with. (No, I’m not going to explain it, ask Mark Baggett, Big Magic, Animal or Matt Crowell to explain it to you- if they can remember the details.) It’s pretty much done fermenting and I anticipate kegging it next weekend. I also anticipating brewing again next weekend, but at this point I’m not sure what.

Measuring Grains for the KBC 505

Measuring Grains for the KBC 505

Mashing in early morning

Mashing in early morning

Mash temps are VERY important

Mash temps are VERY important

So the KBC 505 begins fermentation

So the KBC 505 begins fermentation

Anyway the main point of this post is to invite everyone out to Jackson Avenue Market in the Old City tonight. I am doing a First Friday event with my good friends the Weidenhamer brothers (Matt and Todd). Starting at 6pm I’ll be pouring samples of my Winter seasonal, “I’m Warming You!” which is a Chocolate Milk Stout brewed with Tennessee Cherry Chilis and Jalapenos. My beer is free. However, I think Jackson Avenue Market wants you to purchase a pint glass to pour the beer in. As far as I’m concerned, you are welcome to use your hands to cup beer in, just as long as you clean up any messes afterwards. There is other tasty beer available to purchase and if enough people show up, I’ll hook up my last keg of Oktoberfest to sample after the Stout is gone. I suggest getting there early for several reasons.

  1. The Christmas parade starts at 7 and goes right past the market.
  2. Parking is going to be a bitch (see reason 1).
  3. There’s an awesome band fronted by my friend Jen Parker that is going to rawk the house.
  4. Space in the market will be limited because of reason 3.
  5. My samples are limited. I’m only bring 10 gallons of beer. We are expecting in excess of 100 people showing up to this event, so even giving out sample size pours (and my close friends drinking much more then that), we will go through these kegs pretty quickly.
  6. The most important reason. We don’t hang out enough. I want to see you, my friends and my friends to be.

So please, come out, drink my beer, tell me if you like it or not (be honest, I HATE people who don’t tell you the truth to spare your feelings). If you don’t like it, tell me why.

If you would like to support my ongoing efforts to raise my brand awareness and get my nano-brewery off the ground, I’ll will have a few t-shirts and bottle cap fridge magnets for sale.

I’ll see you tonight, and don’t forget to tip your bar tender 😉

-Ratchet-


Solo #homebrew day, new hop variety, brewing of KBC 505 and Hurricane Sandy relief

November 12, 2012

There’s a few things coming up in the Knoxville craft beer scene to tell y’all about. First a note on a few things that already happened. Last Tuesday was the election and America voted another term for the first president to have beer brewed in the White House. The other choice was a guy who has never drank a beer in his life. I personally don’t trust a guy who has never drank beer, and it seems a lot of people didn’t either. For election night, I had brewed a copy of the White House Honey Ale. The recipe and video were published on the official White House blog. It was a really easy extract based brew. I was able to brew 5 gallons in the short few hours I typically have after work and before bed time. I followed all the directions as per the White house, so it would be as close to their recipe as possible. For election night we poured free samples for people to taste and enjoy at the Casual Pint’s downtown location. There was a pretty big crowd come out to try it and watch the election returns.

So how is this beer? It’s really basic, very drinkable but a bit on the English side of the ale spectrum. Although I liked it, It’s not a beer I’d likely make to keep on tap at home. Other people seemed to really enjoy it. My pal and fellow blogger Saccy drank a bit and I made sure to constantly fill his cup. He wrote about it and posted this cool picture on his website.

Saccy’s sign. Thanks for your vote! Check him out at Knoxbeerdinosaur.wordpress.com

The Tennessee Valley Homebrewer’s latest Big Ass Malt Order or (BAMO for short) just wrapped up. Collectively the club ordered 2 pallets of grain. I did my part and ended up with 325 lbs. The bulk of my order was organic 2 row brewers malt. I also picked up more Rauch Malt, some vienna, light munich, and crystal 60. This should cover my base malt needs for the next 6 to 7 brews. For me this buying in bulk at wholesale price is well worth the yearly dues I pay to the club. If you are a homebrewer and in Knoxville, click here to find out more about joining. It’s well worth it, even if you don’t brew all grain. Members can get malt extracts at cost as well.

Back of my CRV loaded with my BAMO order

I also recently ordered bulk hops from the website HopsDirect.com. This website is by Puterbaugh farm out in the Yakima Valley. It’s a family run farm that grows and sells fresh leaf hops by the pound. I was shopping around for leaf hops on their site when I came across a proprietary hop they grow call Belma. This is the first year they are releasing this hop and the description sounded wonderful. The best part is the price, $5.25 a pound! This is unheard of for any hop variety. Even Cascade which everyone grows and is the most readily available hop cost $13 a pound. I know that this is an introductory price and in the future this hop will probably be in the $15 to $18 a pound range. So I bought 3 pounds. I ended up selling one of them at cost to my friend Kavon who is also a homebrewer and bartends at Suttree’s. But still I have 2 pounds. These hops smell fantastic. Much like other American hop varieties, they have a very citrusy aroma. I couldn’t wait to use some of it, so I brewed a beer this weekend. I took my recipe for my Cascadian Dark Ale (or Dark IPA if you prefer) and tinkered with it to include these hops. The last couple of times I’ve brewed, I’ve had help from several good friends. It’s great to have people lend a hand (especially with the clean up) on brew days. However, this time I wanted to get back to my roots and brew alone. It’s almost meditative for me to do that every once in awhile. So I didn’t tell anybody, got my ingredients together, started a monster yeast starter a couple days before, went to the spring and got water, spent my Sunday brewing and now I have 10 gallons happily bubbling away. My next brew day I will include my friends. Next Sunday I plan on brewing a Belma based pale all. I’m going to call it the KBC 505 which is reference to an inside joke with the guys I went to GABF with.

6 ounces of Belma hops from HopsDirect.com

My friends and co-owners of Suttree’s High Gravity Tavern, Matt and Ann, went on beercation last week to the west coast where they traveled and visited breweries. I got several text from Matt when he was at Russian River Brewing Company. He sent me the pictures below:

Russian River’s Tap board

A case of Russian River’s Bling Pig and a case of Pliny the Elder

Well last night at ol’ Sut’s we had a private employee and friends party with some goodies they sent back. There was a case of both Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig. I brought a few bottles of rare stuff to share as well along with a 2.5 gallon keg of my Oktoberfest. It’s was a great time and lots of good beer was drank. I took a few pictures as well as a short video clip. Thanks Ann and Matt for throwing this party and for the Pliny shirt you brought back for me. Y’all are awesome!

Pliny the Elder, one of the highest rated IPAs ever.

Matt iceing down the beer

More bottles and a mini keg of homebrew

Mmmmmmm, Beer!

Blind Pig anyone?

Well there’s a few things coming up soon in Knoxville. This Thursday there is a bus leaving from Bearden Beer Market going to Highland Brewery for the release of Highland’s Cold Mountain Winter Ale. I’m not sure if there are any spots left. It’s $30 per seat for a trip to Asheville. More details are here and in the image below. I am going, it sounds like too much fun to pass up. I’ll try to post about it afterwards.

Owly Images

Also coming up this Saturday is the Brooklyn Brewery Hurricane Sandy relief fund raiser. This charity event, co-sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery and Eagle Distributing will be going on all day Saturday at both Casual Pint locations, Bearden Beer Market, Vic’s Beer Garden, both Brixx Pizza locations, Central Flats and Taps, and Suttree’s. So go drink beer, it’s for charity.

One more thing of note. Next First Friday, December 7th at 7pm I will be pouring FREE samples of my winter seasonal. Previously called Spicy Cocoa Stout, now called I’m Warming You, it’s a 7.3% abv imperial chocolate milk stout brewed with Tennessee cherry chili and jalepeno peppers. This will take place at Jackson Avenue Market in the JFG building in the Old City. Mark it on your calendar now and let’s pack that place.

Seriously, y’all come out for this one. Please?

Cheers,

Ratchet


Online brewing equipment shopping, upgrades and keg procurement

October 25, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers,

Ratchet


#KNOXBEERCREW #GABF Beercation Day 3 Saturday Recap

October 13, 2012

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

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

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

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Herb Crusted Cheese Dippers at Freshcraft FTW!

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

Big Bear at the convention center

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

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

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We’re going in!

Going in! Woooo!

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I love being a member of The Brewers Association!

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

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

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Myself and Erich Chilling like villians

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The Stone Brewing Company Booth

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

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

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One of my favorite things at GABF is the bag pipes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The back volunteer and brewer area

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

Outside at Falling Rock

Inside at Falling Rock

Avery’s Rumpking and 512’s Wild Bear

Outside at Falling Rock

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

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

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

The Star Bar

Inside at The Star Bar

Tap list at The Star Bar

The back bar at the Star Bar

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

Myself with twitter celebrity, Ashley Routson aka @TheBeerWench

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

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

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

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

Cheers,

Ratchet


#KnoxBeerCrew #GABF beercation day 2 recap

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

Denver!

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

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2 of my favorite things, Hops and Pie

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

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

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

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

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The list at Crooked Stave.

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Big Magic strike a pose in front of a massive barrel

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Barrel room at Crooked Stave

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Matt and Jason chilling.

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

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Yes!!

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The entrance & outside fermenters

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The tap list at Great Divide.

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

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

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One of the grain augers attached to the silos

Inside brewing equipment at Great Divide

The bottling area at Great Divide

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

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

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

The Bar at Freshcraft

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside walking into Euclid Hall

The upstairs bar at Euclid Hall

The Road to GABF poster at Euclid Hall

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

The member entrance line

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giant banner

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

Random guy pouring beer photo

Great slogan that I can get behind

shut up and take my money

“We want you to leave here broke”

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

Remember you can follow along on twitter and untappd.

-Ratchet


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

October 8, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What happiness looks like

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers,

Ratchet

A glass full of Sunsphere