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

September 17, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers,

Ratchet


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


Some of my #homebrew recipes.

May 21, 2012

I have previously written about how I come up with my own recipes for homebrew. Since I wrote that post in September of 2011, every batch since than has been of my own formulation. Some have turned out better then others. Whenever I’ve made a mistake, (be it the incorrect fermentation temperature, the wrong malt, hops or yeast.) I always treat it as a learning experience. It’s the constant evolution of a brewer. I want to learn to be the best brewer I can be. This is one of the reasons I haven’t brewed a kit or clone beer for awhile. I want the beer to be 100% my creation. I’m not saying I make the best beer or that I won’t ever use a recipe that isn’t my own.

I recently won an award for a beer I designed. The Tennessee Valley Homebrewers competition- the Homebruin cup, was held on May 12th. The judging took place at Calhouns on Kingston Pike near Pellissippi Parkway. The stakes for this competition were high, with best of show being brewed by Smoky Mountain Brewery for it’s affiliated restaurants. The Brewmaster, Marty Velas sponsored this contest in order to find a beer to enter in the Great American Brew Fest’s Pro-Am competition in Denver.  To enter, you had to be both a member of the TN Valley Homebrews and the American Homebrewers Association. When I first learned of the contest, my mind went to work. I started thinking of a beer to brew that would go good with Smoky Mountain’s bar-b-que heavy menu. I decided to brew a Rauchbier. I have mentioned this several times in previous posts.

For this competition, homebrews were divided into 4 main catagories for ease of judging. My Rauchbier was in the “other beers” catagory. I ended up with a bronze medal for my efforts. All the homebrews I have brewed and entered over the years, and I finally placed in a contest. I am very happy with this, and hope I can continue to brew better beers and win more awards.

So this post is supposed to be about recipes. I’ll be honest, when it comes to my recipes, I haven’t been keeping very good notes. I used to hand write every recipe and add them into a notebook I had. Eventually I started typing them and saving a word file on the computer. Currently I use an iPhone app called iBrewmaster. I find it is a very reliable app, and it automatically calculates and estimates original and final gravity. I will admit, I have been leaning a little bit too hard on this app to keep track of things. I need to at least get back to saving as a word file as well. That being said, I will list of few of my recent recipes below. If you have any suggested changes, or if you brew these yourself,  I’d love to hear from you. Add a comment and let me know. All my recipes are for a 10 gallon batch, so adjust up or down accordingly for your brew size.

Rauchig Berg Rauchbier (Rauchig Berg is German for “Smoky Mountain”)

Original gravity 1.052 Final Gravity 1.007 Abv 5.9%

12 pounds Weyermann Smoked Malt (bamberg style beechwood smoked)

1 pound light Munich malt

2 pounds 12 ounces of Weyermann Melanoidin malt

1 pound Weyermann Carabohemian malt

2 pounds Weyermann Vienna Malt

1 pound Weyermann Caramunich 1

12 ounces Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsner malt

3 & 1/2 ounces of Hallertauer hop pellets (2 ounces 60 minutes, 1 & 1/2 ounce last 30 minutes)

1 ounce Tettnang Hop pellets (added last 5 minutes)

2 XL “smack packs” of Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager Yeast* (see note)

1 tsp yeast nutrient added last 15 minutes of boil.

1 Whirlfloc tablet added last 5 minutes of boil

Mash grains with 7 gallons of water heated so when you strike the grains it stays between 150-154 degrees for 60 minutes. Sparge with 8 gallons of 168 degree water for 30-45 minutes.

60 minute boil following the hopping schedule above.

Rapidly cool wort to 50 degrees and aerate. I used a small oxygen tanks and a diffusion stone to aerate. Lager yeast is difficult to get going, and could use the oxygen boost.

* Note about lager yeast. On this recipe I made a 3000ml starter. I basically brewed a mini batch of this beer on my stove top, using grain bags for the mash. I did not want to have any chance of the starter affecting the flavor of this beer. I pitched 1 package of yeast to 1000ml of the starter in a erlenmeyer flask and put on a stir plate inside of my lagering fridge at 50 degrees. The rest of the starter I canned in pint jars. Over the next couple of days I stepped the starter up to 3000 ml by adding in 1 or 2 jars of wort. When I brewed, I cooled the wort down and pitched the yeast starter, and the fresh smack pack at the same temperature of the wort to avoid yeast shock. I then fermented this beer at 50 degrees (see my post about my chest freezer/ lagering fridge dying during this fermentation).

This beer fermented for a month. After fermentation, I cold crashed it to 36 degrees then filtered and kegged it. I lagered it at 34 degrees for a month. This is the most technical beer I have ever brewed, and I love it. I still have a keg and a half left. It is incredibly delicious. Nice and balanced with subtle smooth and in now way overpowering smokiness. I know someone who swears they hate smoked beers and that they all taste like liquid smoke and are nasty. I gave them a glass of this. They tried it, looked perplexed and exclaimed that it was good. They asked what it was and could not believe my answer. So, yes I love this beer. Honestly, I will work this one back into my brewing schedule as soon as I can.

Taurus Maibock

After successfully brewing my Rauchbier, I got on a German lager kick. I bought a smaller chest freezer that can fit exactly 2 carboys to use just for fermenting lagers.I came up with a simple recipe for a Maibock, after reading a dozen or so different ones. This is the last batch I brewed before I moved. I brewed it the Friday before the Thirsty Orange Festival and moved the lagering fridge and the batch into the basement of my new place as soon as the cool down was done and the yeast pitched. The movement of the drive helped aerate it. This batch is kegged and is being carbonated and lagered. I tried it when I kegged it, and it was great.

Original Gravity 1.062 Final Gravity 1.020 abv 5.5%

20 pounds Pale Ale Malt

6 pounds Munich.

4 ounces of Mt. Hood hop pellets. (2 ounces at 60 minutes, 1 at 30 minutes and 1 at 5 minutes left in the boil.)

Wyeast 2487 Hella Bock Yeast Stepped up starter as decribed in the Rauchbier recipe, pitched 3000 ml. Fermented at 50 degrees for a month. I had some this weekend, and it was incredible smooth after only a week of Lagering.

Toasted Hemp Seed Pale Ale

This was a recent batch that is still fermenting. I made this last year and learned a valuable lesson. DON’T TOAST HEMP SEEDS IN YOUR OVEN!! I did that last year and it smoked up my place so bad that I couldn’t see across the room. I couldn’t breathe right for a month. This year I toasted the hemp seeds in a cask iron skillet on a camp stove outside. It made all the difference.

20 lbs.  2-row pale malt

2 lb. Munich malt

2 oz. black patent malt

3 lbs. toasted hemp seeds

1 & 1/2 ounce Cascade hops (90 mins)

1 & 1/2 ounce Cascade hops (45 mins)

1 oz. Cascade hops (10 mins)

1 & 1/2 oz.  Cascade hops  (0 mins)

1 Whirfloc Tablet

3000 ml starter of Wyeast Rogue Pacman Yeast

Mash grains with 9 gallons of water heated so when you strike the grains it stays between 150-154 degrees for 60 minutes. Sparge with 8 gallons of 168 degree water for 30-45 minutes. 90 minute boil following hopping schedule as above. I used a combination of whole leaf and pellet hops. Currently fermenting at 70 degrees.

Last year this batch was a hit. It’s a basic Cascade pale ale, but with a slight nuttiness from the toasted hemp seeds. I can’t wait to see how this years batch turns out.

Wheat Beer

Original Gravity 1.052

I came up with this basic wheat beer recipe recently. I just brewed it this weekend. I ferment in 6 gallon carboys. With this batch I used 2 different wheat strains to make 2 different beers. One carboy I used Bavarian Wheat yeast to make a hefewezien. The other half I am fermenting with an American yeast strain. When the American yeast batch is done, I plan on adding blackberry extract at kegging time to make my yearly batch of what I can “Blackberry Bomber”. A few hours after this batch was in the carboys, I was worried because I did not see any activity. However, when I checked them in the morning, they had blown off the airlocks and were foaming out the sides. Here’s my recipe. Suggestioned changes are welcomed.

10 lbs pale ale malt

4 lbs torrified wheat

2 lbs floor roasted bohemian wheat

2 lbs Wyermann light wheat

2 pounds red wheat

2 lbs rice hulls

2 oz Cascade hops (60 minutes)

2 oz Willamette hops (5 minutes)

5 gallons fermented with Wyeast American Wheat Yeast

5 gallons with Wyeast Bavarian Wheat Yeast

Mash grains with 7 gallons of water heated so when you strike the grains it stays between 150-154 degrees for 60 minutes. Sparge with 8 gallons of 168 degree water for 45 -60 minutes. It’s important to use rice hulls in a brew like this because of the filter effect. Wheat tends to gum up your mashtun if you’re not careful. Stuck sparges are no fun and can ruin a brew day.

60 minute boil following the hopping schedule above

Stop and Smell the Hops IPA

Original Gravity 1.070 Final Gravity 1.011 ABV 7.99%

This is a big imperial sweet malty hoppy beer. It came out to 8% abv.

17 pounds of Pale Ale malt

9 pounds Munich Malt

1 pound Crystal Malt 60L

2 pounds of Vienna Malt

1 ounce Zythos hops  at 60 minutes

1 ounce Simcoe hops at 60 minutes

1 ounce Cascade hops at 60 minutes

1 ounce Magnum hops at 60 minutes

1 ounce Zythos hops  at 5 minutes

Dry hop with:

1 ounce Cascade hops

1 ounce Zythos hops

1 ounce Simcoe hops

2 ounces Crystal hops

1 Whirfloc Tablet

3000 ml starter of Wyeast Rogue Packman Yeast

Mash grains with 9 gallons of water heated so when you strike the grains it stays between 150-154 degrees for 60 minutes. Sparge with 8 gallons of 168 degree water for 30-45 minutes. I fermented this batch low, at around 64 degrees. I was told that the sweetness is caused by it being under attenuated from the low fermentation temperature. That may be true, but everyone I have let try this loves it and has been asking for more.

I plan on posting recipes in the future. I might even edit this one at a later time to include more. I’ve been out of stout, so I need to brew a batch again soon. I have a couple of imperial stout recipes, but I want to brew a basic irish stout. However, I can’t really bring myself to brew something that’s alcohol content is below 5%. Because of this, I will have to play around a little bit with my grain bill. I don’t currently have any beer pouring through the stout faucet on my kegerator. This is the main reason I want to brew this style. It is Mulberry season around here, and I am thinking of harvesting a couple pounds of berries. If I do, I will juice them and make half of the batch a mulberry stout. If I do, I’m sure it will turn out to be good.

A couple more things I wanted to mention before I finish this post. This Wednesday I will be working my 1st shift as a bartender at Suttree’s High Gravity Tavern on Gay Street. I’ll be behind the bar from 5-10pm. This is our soft opening this week before we announce to the rest of the world that we are open for business. This gives us a chance to get to know the sales computer system, and work out all the other little bugs before we are always busy. So if you want, come buy a beer and check us out starting on that day.

This Thursday at The Casual Pint, 6pm will see the debut of SAW WORKS BREWING (formerly Marble City). They will be pouring thier new Pale Ale brewed by Dave Ohmer. Dave made the step from assistant brewer at Woodruff to head brewer at the recently renamed and reformatted Saw Works. If you haven’t heard about this yet, check out this excellent post by the Knox Beer Snobs.

Well this is all for now. A week from this Wednesday I will be in Asheville for the last 5 days of the first Asheville Beer Week. There are a lot of really cool tastings and events planned, so make sure to check out the website and facebook page. My plan is to start each day out by posting a recap of the previous day and night’s activities that I attend. I might even live update a time or 2. So look forward to 5 days of blog updates in a row. I know I am.

Cheers,

Ratchet


Another uninspired blog posting from yours truly.

May 15, 2012

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated this. It’s a combination of reasons. Mostly it was moving, followed by unpacking and settling in. I’ve been too busy to write. I’ve been too busy to go out much, or even drink beer. Life gets hectic sometimes. Much has happened in Knoxville in the last month since I’ve updated this site. Marble City hired a new brewer and changed it’s name to Saw Works Brewing. Suttree’s is closer to opening then ever and the Casual Pint is building a new site downtown. All this is already well known in the craft beer scene here in town, so there is no need for me to rehash it, just follow the links if you didn’t already know about any of these.

So I’ll just tell you what I’ve been up to with my brewing. Like I said, I moved closer to downtown. With this move I gained a whole basement to keep my beer, brewing supplies, kegerators and other stuff in. I was given another fridge to use how I see fit. I brewed a maibock right before I moved, and recently kegged it. Last weekend I brewed my toasted hemp seed pale ale in my new place. The next chance I get, I plan on brewing a wheat beer. I am hoping to brew a stout after that. With Suttree’s opening soon, my weekends are about to be full. Luckily I still have my planned Asheville Beer Week Vacation coming up at the end of this month.

It’s little over a month until Knoxville Brewfest. I am supposed to have a booth out there, but now I’m worried I will not have enough beer to bring. I know I’ll have a keg of my Rauchbier, my Maibock, Hemp seed ale, and hopefully some wheat beer. I wish I could have more, but the move really put a damper on my brewing. There just doesn’t seem like enough hours in a day to get everything accomplished.

Well that’s what’s been going on. I still don’t feel like my writing is inspired. I had to force myself to get this done. With everything going on, I feel a little burnt out. I am hoping this will pass.

Until next time,

Ratchet


Belated report on the TN Winter Beer Fest and more

February 9, 2012

Hey readers, I figured I’d update the ol’ blog and let you know how the TN Winter Beer Festival went. It was (insert positive exclamative adjective here)! I had a really good time.  As you know, the festival took place at the Laurel Valley County Club in Townsend. It was held in the clubhouse which is 2 stories. Upstairs had Depot Street and Smoky Mountain Brewery pouring their tasty concoctions. Downstairs had Woodruff and Marble City side by side. I wore my Woodruff shirt to the event and I’m glad I did. By the time it occured to me that I should ask for a volunteer t-shirt, they were out of my size. I knew most of the other volunteers, but since the event was limited to 180 tickets, by the end of the night, it felt like everyone knew everyone. Since I wore my Woodruff shirt and am a good friend and supporter of the brewery, I helped pour beer for them all night. The photographer for the Daily Times took a great picture of me doing just that, that you can see here.

As ticket holders came in the door, they were given a t-shirt, a pint glass and a poker chip. Each brewery had a large beer mug in front of their taps. People were instructed to vote for thier favorite beer or brewery by placing the poker chip in the mug. There was some stiff competition. Since I was representing Woodruff, and consider the Downtown Grill & Brewery my home away from home, I really wanted Dave to take home the “Best of Beers” trophy. As I was pouring beer I noticed 2 things. There were the tried and true beer connoisseurs who absolutely loved the seasonal, high gravity Captain’s Winter Ale. There were also more then a few people who weren’t necessarly beer drinkers, but came out to support the event. This crowd absolutely loved the Downtown Blonde, which also happened to be the lightest beer being poured. The combination of votes from craft and light beer drinkers turned out to be the winning combination for Woodruff. Dave took home the coveted trophy!

Dave Ohmer of Woodruff Brewing Company wins the Best Of Beers Award

 I do want to thank Dave for generously offering me the extra bed available in the cabin that he and some others were staying at  nearby. He offered it so I could drink and not have to worry about sobering up to drive home to Knoxville. I was going to take him up on the offer, but around 7 pm, my kidneys started to ache. By 7:30 I knew I was done sampling beers and had switched over to water. By the time the event ended at 9,  I was stone cold sober. I helped clean up, said my goodbyes & drove home to the comfort of my own bed.

I am vrey much looking forward to next year’s TN Winter Beer Fest. Make sure to check out Don’s post about the festival at Knox Beer Snobs.

One more thing before I end this really short post. April 14th is the Thirsty Orange Beer Festival in Johnson City TN. Check out this great post about it on Tattood Brew’s website. I am heavily involved in helping to organize this festival. I think my big claim to fame is that I came up with, and wrote the rules for the Iron Brewer competition. As we get closer, I’ll write a proper post about it. As for my next post, I’m thinking about doing a step-by step tutorial on the kegerator I’m building.

Until then,

Ratchet


We know you like beer, but why do you hate children?

January 25, 2012

Most of the people I know in the Knoxville Craft beer community are real fine outstanding folks. As a whole, they support a wide variety of causes, and donate their time and energy to many charities. I image most of them think of themselves as progressive. It just makes me wonder, why do they hate kids?

Whoa, whoa there Ratchet…What the hell are you talking about?

You know what I’m talking about. If they don’t hate children, then why haven’t they bought their tickets yet to the Tennessee Winter Beer Festival?

Wait…, What? What does that have to do with kids? I’m confused.

Well then, let me fill you in. The Tennessee Winter Beer Festival is about more then great craft beer, amazing food and camaraderie in the shadows of the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s also about helping kids. Specifically abused and neglected kids.

How so?

I’m glad you asked. It’s because 100% of the proceeds from this festival go directly to New Hope Blount County Children’s Advocacy Center. The Children’s Advocacy Center is a child-friendly, safe place for child victims of sexual and physical abuse. Children, along with their non-offending family members, receive necessary services at the Center for return to optimal functioning. The Center is designed to be the “child’s office,” where multiple agencies and professionals convene to coordinate and deliver services in one place so the child only tells their story one time.

Many times when people plan on attending a beer festival, they focus primarily (of course) on the beer, and not where the $ from the fest is going. I wanted people to know. As a father, I take the health and well being of children to heart. As someone who works in a law firm, I hear heart breaking stories of abuse all the time. This is your chance to make a difference while having a good time.

I have talked to people in the Knoxville community about this fest. I know $45 may seem like a lot for a festival with only 4 participating breweries. However, I have heard this from people who have no problem shelling out $30 and up for 1 uber-limited bottle of beer. When you think about it, what is being offered for the price is well worth it. First you are getting unlimited beer from Marble City Brewing Company, Woodruff Brewing Company, Smoky Mountain Brewery and Jonesboro based Depot Street Brewery. Woodruff even brewed up a special batch of beer for this event. In addition to the brews, Miss Lilly’s Cafe (who host the monthly Townsend beer club dinners) is providing some amazing food. Seriously, you could very well spend that much on dinner for you & your sweetie at their restaurant. For your money you also get a shirt and a pint glass. This festival is really small. Only 180 tickets are being sold. Think of this less then a festival, and more of a private beer dinner with you and your close friends. Since the event is so intimate, you’ll be able to talk with and learn whatever you would like from the actual brewers themselves. For even more information, check out the festival’s website, this article from the New Sentinel, and this article from The Daily Times as well.

People who attend are going to be talking about this event for a long time. I encourage everyone who reads this to go get a ticket soon. After all, you don’t hate children, do you?

See you there,

Ratchet


Rejoice! There’s a new winter #KnoxBeer in town! @WoodruffBrewing

January 4, 2012

Anyone who reads my blog knows what a huge fan I am of the beer Woodruff Brewing Company produces. Since the Downtown Grill and Brewery has been opened, it has been my go to place to get a locally produced craft beer. Woodruff’s beers are tried and true English and German style ales. They have a core line up of seven different beers (Pale Ale, Alt, Kolsch/Blonde, IPA, Porter, Nut Brown and Stout, repectively) that are incredibly solid, tasty and well liked by locals. Other then a very limited run of Pilsner back around 7 years ago, this line up has not changed. Until now that is. Today, January 4th, 2012 Woodruff released thier newest recipe. It’s a Winter Warmer called Captain’s Winter Ale. The name is a reference to Captain Woodruff, for whom the building that houses the brewery (& the brewery itself)  is named.
I spoke with brewer Dave Ohmer about this beer. He tells me that only one batch of this was brewed. It’s an extremely limited edition beer. When it’s gone, it’s gone. I asked him after all these years, what made them decide to brew a seasonal?  He told me there were many factors, but said that it is primarly inspired by the Tennessee Winter Beer Festival that is taking place in Townsend on February 4th of this year. They wanted to brew something special for it. The timing was right and they were able to fit it in to their brewing schedule. I asked if this is something we can expect in the future, specifically are they going to start doing seasonal beers. The impression I got from him is that it’s not very likely. The reason is that Woodruff only has so much brewing capacity. Their beers tend to turn over rather quickly, and the brewing schedule doesn’t normally allow for more then what they already have. Not to say to rule this out completely, because you never know.
So what type of beer is it? Dave tells me it’s Woodruff’s take on an English Old Ale or a Winter Warmer. Also known as an English Strong Ale, these types of beers were typically made during the Winter months and were the precusors to Porters.

So how is it? It’s delicious! It’s a high gravity dark beer that isn’t as thick as a stout. I pick up hints of chocolate, vanilla  and roastyness in the smell. When I drink it, the mouth feel is great with a nice carbonation. My taste buds pick up on coffee, hints of roasted chocolate and alcohol warmth. The malt and hops are balanced nicely.  All in all, I really like this beer. Like I said, they didn’t make very much so I highly suggest going immediately to the brewery to try this before it’s gone. Dave tells me there won’t be any kegs of this. Growler fills are not available either. Hell, it’s not even available in pints. They are only offering 7 ounce pours and when this runs out, that’s it. When it does I’ll switch back to drinking my usual IPA, but until then, warm me up with Captain’s Winter Ale.

Cheers,

Ratchet

Captain's Winter Ale


Happy New Beer!

December 31, 2011

I can’t believe it’s  been over 3 weeks since my last post. In my defense, we all know how busy and hectic the holiday season can be.  I didn’t start this post with any particular idea of what to write about. I guess I’ll start by telling my readers about my pre-Christmas vacation to Asheville, NC. Yes I know I end up writing quite a bit about my love for good ol’ Beer City USA. Everyone knows I go there as often as my finances allow. However, It wasn’t myself that picked this destination for this particular trip. For some background, I typically go on 2 mini-vacations every year. One right before Christmas and one right before the school year starts. For this Christmas vacation I gave the choice to my 7 year old son, Orion.  He picked Asheville (that’s my boy!) When asked why he wanted to go there, he specifically mentioned Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company. He has been many times to their funky little place on Merrimon Avenue. It’s a restaurant that has 2 big sections in the back. One section is an arcade and game room, and the other section is a movie theater. He loves both. Being the Christmas season, they were playing the movie Elf starring Will Ferrell, which just happens to be a family favorite of ours. It’s also the 1st movie Orion ever saw in a real movie theather, back when Regal Riveria in downtown Knoxville first opened. Anyway He picked there because he loves their food and loves to play games. I love their beer, so it was a winning situation all the way around. I booked a room at Downtown Inn & Suites for 2 nights. I love that hotel and in my opinion, it’s the only place in Asheville to stay. From the top floor mountain side, you can honestly see the buildings that 3 of Beer City’s breweries are in. So the day we got there, we checked into our room, then went to Asheville Brewing.   We ordered lunch and Orion played games while I drank a few of their delicious beers. I also picked up a case of Shiva IPA in cans to go. The movie started and since I wasn’t driving, I had a few more. I bought a Shiva IPA shirt as a Christmas present to his mom. After the movie was over, we headed to Bruisin Ales on Broadway. This was my Christmas present to myself. I could (and sometimes do), spend hours there looking at beers, reading labels, trying whatever they have on tap and talking with the owners, staff and other beer geeks. I picked out myself a pretty hefty assortments of beverages, and spent a 3rd of my meager savings there. After that we drove out to Earth Fare to get some grocieries and more beer. Sometimes bigger bottles of local beer is on sale there, so I ended up getting a few more bottles. By that time we were all pretty beat, so we went back to the hotel. After a little bit of tv watching, I decided to venture out to the little gas station/ convienance store/ bum hangout called Hot Spot to buy some bottled water. This was literally within site of the hotel. I was hoping to pick up a gallon of water there since I forgot, but they didn’t have it. I ended up paying way to much for a liter of water. I found it disturbing that I could have got a 2 liter of some crappy high fructose corn syrup soda for half of what I paid for my water, if I actually drank that crap. On the walk back to the hotel, I smelled beer wort cooking in the night air. Beer City USA indeed! I dropped the water off at the room, and went across the street for a beer at Jack of The Woods Pub. I had a Green Man ESB that was cask conditioned. I love the atmosphere of this little pub. I sat at the bar nursing my beer and listening to a bluegrass jam. I was pretty tired by then, so after my 1 beer, I went back to the hotel and fell asleep. The next day was even more fun. The plan was to go Christmas shopping for each other in Downtown Asheville. Orion’s mom  and I agreed we would each take Orion for half the day so the other person could go shopping for him. After breakfast I headed out solo looking for presents. I couldn’t really find much in Downtown that a 7 year old toy gun obsessed kid would like, so I got in the car and drove to Toys R Us where I was able to pick him up some cool stuff. When I got back, he was still not done shopping for me, so I headed over to Bruisin’ Ales to pick up a few more beers. It happened to be the 5th anniversary of their opening, and the place was packed. The beer was flowing and stuff was flying off the shelves. I got the call that Orion was ready for me to take him shopping. I met him at the hotel where we ate some snacks before going back out. I also needed a little energy, so I poured myself a Terrapin Brewing Company Wake N Bake Coffee Oatmeal stout into an innocent looking to go coffee cup to take with me. So here I am, walking around shops in Downtown Asheville with a cup of what looks and smells like coffee but is really beer. I thought it was great at the time. When we were done shopping, Orion was exhausted from spending all day walking around town. I was able to finally convince him to walk with me to Green Man Brewery, about 1/2 mile away from the hotel.  I went and had a few beers and played darts and met a couple from Chicago who had just moved to Asheville and were staying at the same hotel we were. I’m glad I was able to go, because the Green Man brewery is one of my favorites in Asheville. The tasting room is small and cosy, the brewing equiptment is right there, and the place smells great because of the cooking wort. They brew my favorite ESB. The walk back was tough for the kid. We had plans to meet for dinner at Laughing Seed Cafe. By that time Orion was pretty tired and grumpy an there wasn’t anything he liked on the menu. Ultimately, we went down stairs to Jack of the Woods where they had one of Orion’s favorite dishes, Fish & chips. We all stuffed ourselves and his mom and I had some more tasty Green Man ESB. After dinner we went back to the hotel and had us a little Christmas party where we unwrapped the presents we bought for each other. It was really fun and we all gotten some special and thoughtful gifts. We rested a little and then ventured back out to a free Christmas Party at a local gallery a block over. The gallery is called Za Pow! It is a really cool place with many different artist on display. At the party they had free ice cream, a dj, and most importantly, free beer provided by French Broad Brewing Company. I had 2 cups of Wee Heavy-er. Orion and his mom when back to the room, and I went to have a few more beers around town. I walked over to Lexington Avenue Brewery and had a glass of their unimpressive chocolate stout. I love chocolate stouts, but this one was very weak. It tasted like it was made with chocolate extract, and was very thin. So I headed back to hotel and stopped at The Thirsty Monk for one more beer. When I was ordering from the bar, I noticed they had a special deal. For $20 I could get a copy of  The Craft of Stone Brewing Company Book and a big bottle of Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale. For $10 more, I could get a signed copy. I ordered the $20 bundle and the bartender went to the office to go get it. She came back and told me that they were out of big bottles of Arrogant Bastard Ale, but could offer me a smaller bottle, the book and a pour of Arrogant Bastard at the upstairs bar, or I could make a counter offer. I offered how about the small bottle of Arrogant Bastard and a signed copy of the book. She went to go check with the manager and came back, offer accepted. I took my book and my glass of Blanche de Chambly on to the front patio and started reading. I have since read the entire book, and have to tell you, it’s pretty darn good. It gives a great insight in to the minds of Stone Brewing Company’s founders and has great food and beer brewing recipes. I’m glad I got it for myself. The next day was Christmas eve. We ate breakfast and packed up the car. The plan was to wait until noon and go to Arcade Asheville to play some more video games. For whatever reason, they weren’t open, so we went back to Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company. I handed Orion a handful of quarters and his mom and I sat down at the front bar. They had Shiva IPA on a nitrogen tap. Having this style of beer on nitrogen is pretty unique. We were talking to the bartender about it. I looked over and thought I saw someone I knew standing sideways. Is that Mike I asked? The bartender said yes as I started walking over towards him. He turned and saw me and gave me a hug. See, Mike is the owner of Asheville Brewing Company. I have seen him and hung out with him over the years at the Knoxville Brewer’s Jam. We always hit it off and he knows I’m a huge fan of his brewery. I always give him homebrew and whenever I see him later on, he tells me how much he likes my beers. I happen to bring some of my brews with me, in case I ran into someone I knew. I went out to the car and grabbed the bottles and gave them to him. He gave me a Ninja Porter hoodie. He knows this is my favorite porter in the world. We talked and hung out for a little bit and he had to go make a delivery to another one of his locations. I am so glad it worked out and I saw him before I left town. It was the perfect ending to my vacation.

So there is my story. I know it’s probably long, rambling and boring, but I had to post something.

Now on to New Years. Tonight is New Year’s Eve. I plan on making an appearance at the Downtown Grill and Brewery (of course). Every year for Christmas I bring bottles of homebrew beer or mead to the bar staff there. They take good care of me year round, and it’s my way of returning the favor. I did this before and after my Asheville trip, but I still have a few people I missed. I also won some passes to Knoxville’s First night celebration, so tonight I plan on walking around, maybe checking out a band or 2 before coming home to usher in the new year with a new beer.

Speaking of new year, time to make some resolutions. Besides the basic ones I’m making such as losing weight, eating healthier and exercising more, I have some beer specific ones. In 2012 I pledge to brew more beer then I did in 2011. I will post on my website at least twice a month. I will continue to upgrade my brewing equipment and practices. I will study harder and pass my BJCP test. I will try new beers.

Happy 2012 y’all.

Cheers,

Ratchet