#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


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