One of the Best Weekends EVER! @ThirstyOrange Extravaganza and Brewery Visits @SleepyOwlBrew

April 14, 2014

I don’t even know how to start this post. My mind is still processing the pure amount of concentrated fun I had this weekend in Johnson City. I’m talking of course about The Thirsty Orange Brew Extravaganza. I drove up on Friday morning with a goal of visiting some breweries, going to the site of the event, getting settled into my hotel and covering the beer dinner. I was able to get just that accomplished. My first stop of the trip took me to Damascus, VA, home of the Virginia Creeper Trail. About 4 or 5 years ago, I took a vacation to camp and ride the trail with my son. We had a great time and I kept thinking how Damascus would really benefit by having a nano-brewery. Not only does the Creeper trail go through, but so does the Appalachian trail. Well fast forward a few years and now there is a small brewery appropriately called “The Damascus Brewery“. I met the owner Adam on my last beer trip to All Ale To The Queen Craft Beer Carnival in Charlotte, NC. We shared a table together and he poured his delicious Bazinga Black IPA. I really enjoyed talking to him and I knew I would have to go check out his set up. We spoke on the phone a few times to plan it out and I headed up there Friday morning. Adam is a family man, and had previous engagement with his kids, so he arranged to have his number 2, co-brewer and all around cool dude Jeremy open the place up just to give me a tour.

When I arrived he immediately started showing me around. I recognized some fermenters that were manufactured by my friend Carl at Bubba’s Barrels. Every piece of equipment had a story behind it. After looking around, it was time for some sampling. I sat at the bar and listened to the tale behind everyone of their brews. Each beer I tried was great. I wanted to bring some home to share, so after a while I picked a growlette of Sweet Beaver, an apricot heffeweizen. After awhile I realized it had to get on the road and I didn’t want to take up too much of Jeremy’s time. I said my goodbye and am going to have to go do the Creeper Trail again this Summer so I can spend much more time there and enjoy full sized pours.

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Yes!

My next stop was to go see my friend and all around great guy, Brian Connatser at Sleepy Owl Brewery in Kingsport, TN. I arrived to a familiar location. Sleepy Owl is in the old rail road depot where Kingsport Oktoberfest is held. The brewery occupies the space that we used as a staging area the last couple of years. Brian has a 1 barrel Blichmann system with electric heating. Unfortunately, he did not have any beers to pour as he is still waiting for his final TTB number before he can fire up the system. When he does, you better believe I’ll be taking him up on his offer to come brew a collaboration. We talked for awhile and he gave me great advice and a whole lot of hope. He built his whole brewery by hand and with a budget I could see myself doing. After a little bit, I had to head on. I wish Brian and Sleepy Owl nothing but great success. I have a feeling they will be growing at an outstanding pace.

The next place to go was the Millennium Center on ETSU’s campus to find Aaron and get situated. I quickly found him running around attending to all the last minute details like always. He asked if I could go to The Battery where the beer dinner was being held and make sure they had all the parts for the jockey boxes they needed for the night. After doing so, I headed over to Earth Fare to buy the ingredients for the next day’s infusion. After that, I had barely enough time to go to the hotel, shower and change to get ready for the dinner. I arrived early enough to make sure we got the beer hooked up to pour and enjoy a few pints myself. As familiar and new faces started arriving I had time to meet the new Highland festival rep, Mark. We hit it off right away, and I joked with about how he had taken my dream job. Next Josie and Jeff from Urban Orchard arrived. I had a blast with them last time, and it was good to see them as well. Adam from Damascus Brewery was on scene and I made sure to thank him for having Jeremy show me around. I got a text from my buddy Adam Reinke asking if I could save seats for him and the crazy M.A.L.T. guys he was bringing.

After enjoying several beers and mingling with my friends (Shout out to Jay, his wife, Brian Connatser and Smap of UBC) it was time to start the dinner. We all got seated and the first course came out. You can see what we had for each pairing by following the twitter post from that event. Course 1, 2, 3, and 4 hot linked for your convenience. After dinner it was time for a little partying. Reinke and his crew were staying at the Double Tree where I was at and, while some of the others like Jeff and Josie from Urban Orchard were at the the Carnegie hotel right at the festival site. We had so much fun together at All Ale to The Queen we wanted to find another “Grassy Knoll” to hang out. Instead we got a cement patio outside the hotel. Cementy knoll just doesn’t have the same ring to it. I stashed my car back at my hotel and along with Adam and crew, we shared a cab back to Carnegie. After a few beers, it dawned on me that I was supposed to “Run For The Booty” in the morning and should make my way back to my hotel. While waiting for a cab, I saw one of my friends being dropped off out front. Their ride just happened to be going back to Double Tree so it worked out perfectly for me. So I called it a night and rested up for the next day.

Morning arrived and I woke up slightly hungover. No big deal, I did my best run hungover, so I just drank coffee and water and headed back to the site. I arrived and parked. while waiting for the run to start, I unpacked a few things from the car to set up my booth. I waited around for what seemed like a really long time until the run go underway. I wasn’t going for speed and knew it was a color run, so I left my iPhone and headphones in the car. I started off the near the front of the pack and stayed there the whole time. I expected to get passed by many other runners, but only a few did. Along the route there weren’t any markers, so I had no idea how far I had to go. There were a few color stations where they threw died cornstarch on us, and a few sand pits set up where we dug for plastic coins. They gave out prizes based on who got the most. I came to run, not dig in sand, so I didn’t focus on that. I did finish strong near the front, but had no idea what my time was, but I felt great. After getting back to the site, I had a few pictures snapped and then headed back to my room to clean up and get ready for the day’s big festivities.

After cleaning up, it was set up time. My friends Jess Hurd and Rob Brantner both had family in the area they could stay with and agreed to help me out by volunteering for the day. I met them both on site. Rob was my merchandise, booth volunteer.  Jess is a recent graduate of South College’s brewing Science program, so I thought this would make her overly qualified to help me run the festival’s mobile infusion unit. After getting the booth set up, we had to make sure we had everything for the randal. We got it from the organizers and I realized that it wasn’t as cleaned out as I thought from the last festival. It took awhile and some borrowed beer line cleaner and Star-San to get it ready. We were able to get it up and running at Highland’s booth right as the early bird ticket holders were let in at 1pm. We had a strict schedule for the infusions. We decided to do 5 infusions. Each table would get 45 minutes, with 15 minutes between each one to unpack, clean and repack for the next booth. Once up and running, we would take turns running things while the other one of us grabbed a beer and socialized. I seen many of my tri-cities friends and every time I turned around I was getting a hug, handshake or a pat on the back from someone I hadn’t seen in awhile. After (more then) a few beers, it started to feel like rock star status. We were all into full on party mode, but I had to self regulate my consumption because of my duties. We hit our groove and the infusions ran like clockwork. Here’s what we did:

Highland Brewing Company Thunder Struck Porter with mint, cinnamon and Cocao nibs from 1:15-2

Goose Island Beer Co. Endless IPA with strawberry and cutie oranges from 2:15-3

New Belgium Brewing Snapshot with watermelon and hops from 3:15-4

Starr Hill Brewing Company Dark Star Stout with coconut and cocao nibs from 4:15- 5

And our last infusion of the day was Urban Orchard’s Sweet English Cider with Plums and Peaches from 5 until they ran out. The festival ended at 7 and I wanted to make sure we would have time to enjoy it before it was over. I walked around and made plans for the after party with friends. Most brewers and volunteers know we can’t get overly inebriated at the fest because we still have to pack up and make way to our respective hotels, clean up and grab some food before the real party begins for us. There was an official after party at a place called Holy Taco and a bar tab set up just for us. So after sobering up, breaking down and packing up, I hit my hotel for a shower, and some fresh clothes. Once again outside the lobby I met with friends of ours such as John from Lookout Brewing in Black Mountain, NC and his crew. Adam, Mark and Erich from the infamous Mike Hawke homebrew tent were there as well. We shared cabs to get back downtown and Holy Taco. As soon  as I walked in the door I was bombarded by friends. I felt very loved and had some good buddies tell me they had waited a whole year to smoke with me, so we went to the parking lot for a little smoke session that didn’t last long. After about 4 minutes and 20 seconds, we were walking back into the bar. My Bearden Beer Market running buddy D.J. Loope was there as well as the Chisholm Tavern crew. So was Stephanie of Superfly Fabulous events, the organizers of Thirsty Orange. She told me there were tables set up for us out back. I walked back there to find the MALT guys, The Lookout Brew crew, my Urban Orchard peeps, Rob and some new friends I made that day. The beer and music was flowing and I was feeling good. Regulate by Warren G. was bumping on the sound system, prompting Josie of Urban Orchard and myself to dance to it. I sat the next table over most of the time getting to know my new friends Maggie and TJ who work at Mellow Mushroom with my friends Andrew, Andrew and Flipper. We drank more and I remember buying us a round a margaritas and drinking mine and most of a few other peoples as well. I decided we need more pictures and someone took this funny series below as TJ kept pinching my nipples. It was too funny to not turn into an animated gif.

Stop!

Stop!

As the party progressed the decision was made to head back to the “Cementy Knoll” at The Carnegie. Luckily instead of a cab, TJ and Maggie had a friend, Victoria that drove us there. We bumped loud electronica music (except for when that cop was following us) on the way there. We arrived to find the rest of our crew already in place and at the point I was drinking anything anyone handed me, as you’ll see by the pictures. At some point I went into the downstairs by the patio and grabbed some nice big comfy upholstered chairs and dragged them outside. Adam Reinke commented that we were going to get kicked out of the hotel we weren’t even staying at.

The rest of the party started becoming a blur and my off switch flipped. It was time to head back to the hotel. I did an irish goodbye and had the front desk call me a cab. The next morning I woke early with a hangover, packed my car and headed home.

What an incredible time. I am hoping to get back up to tri-cities real soon to visit and also brew with Jimie, Jay and Brian. I am also hoping that some of my friends from up there will come visit me. I’d love to show them around Knoxville and Maryville for a weekend. Maybe a few of them will join me next month for Asheville Beer Week?

Coming up next is both CurtisFest and Hops for Hope. Curtis Fest is less then 2 weeks, on Saturday April 26th. Some friends and I are already scoping out the site to see where we want to set up camp. I’m really excited about this because besides my tweeting duties, I have no other responsibilities. I’ll get to actually relax and drink copious amounts with some of my favorite people. Hops for Hope is May 2nd at the Lily Barn in Townsend. I am volunteering for this one. To know more about it, read this excellent post by Knox Beer Snobs. we currently have tickets for sale for both events at the Market in Maryville, so feel free to come by and pick them up from myself of dAveBV. Also a note to our Brew Mob crew. We are cementing plans for our Oskar Blues Cans Film Fest entry video shoot. When we announce when we are filming, we’ll need you to show up in your Brew Mob gear for the final shot. You’ll be comped with beer for your participation and we will have some Oskar Blues cans to share. You can find out when this is going to happen on our Facebook and Twitter feed.

This is all for now, there’s another big announcement coming soon. I’m hoping to post about it before CurtisFest. Thanks for reading this, enjoy the pictures below.

May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you’re going, and the insight to know when you’re going too far.

     — Irish toast

Cheers,

-R@TcheT-







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Ginger powers Activate. Me with my Bearden Beer Market Running buddy, D.J.

Ginger powers Activate. Me with my Bearden Beer Market Running buddy, D.J.

That crazy brewer man is scaring me. Drake from wolfhills

That crazy brewer man is scaring me. Drake from Wolf Hills

Wizards serving up their sauce.

Wizards serving up their sauce.

These guys know how to party. Willy D from Starr Hill, Mark from Highland and myself

These guys know how to party. Willy D from Starr Hill, Mark from Highland and myself

This could possibly be the best idea for a brewers tent, like, ever!

This could possibly be the best idea for a brewers tent, like, ever!

Adam looking all serious

Adam looking all serious

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Me and Jimie. It's like Compton and long Beach together, now you know you're in trouble!

Me and Jimie. It’s like Compton and Long Beach together, now you know you’re in trouble!

Ain't nuthin' but a G thang bay-bay

Ain’t nuthin’ but a G thang bay-bay

Steve Dedman. Another homebrewer brew-styar. He always wins awards.

Steve Dedman. Another homebrewer brew-styar. He always wins awards.

Only the finest malt beverages were consumed at the Cementy Knoll after party

Only the finest malt beverages were consumed at the Cementy Knoll after party

Have a blast with my new friends TJ and Maggie at the after party

Have a blast with my new friends TJ and Maggie at the after party

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The Start Of A New Year Is A Great Time to Change Things Up.

February 5, 2014

After a month long hiatus, I’m back. I wanted to begin the new year off by changing, challenging and improving myself. So I began by breaking off a relationship that I found myself not wanting to be in anymore. Then I made myself go a full month without looking at or posting on social media. Because that just wasn’t enough, I made myself go a month without drinking any alcohol. To this end, I took January “off” to get my head straight and focus on my goals for 2014. I hardly went out, didn’t really hang with my friends and made diet and lifestyle changes. In this process of staying offline and not drinking, I learned a lot about myself. I realized that I don’t need to constantly check twitter, facebook and untappd to see what everyone is up to. I don’t need to post my every thought or every little detail of my existence. Taking time away also helped me realize who my true friends were as opposed to those in name only.
The not drinking part was little harder, especially the first couple of weeks. I have amassed a pretty decent collection of craft beer and a nicely stocked liquor cabinet. Every time I open the fridge, I see bottles. During this month, when I did go out, it was mostly to the Downtown Grill and Brewery. I’d go to get out of the house, eat something, use the internet and talk with my bartender buddies. They are use to seeing me coming, taking my mug down and filling it for me before I even get to the bar. This happened several times during January. I would thank them, explain what I was doing and drink water instead. I’ve also been working at The Market in Maryville’s Beer Den, surrounded by beer. I could have poured myself a pint at anytime. People were constantly bringing in bottles to share, but I stuck to my plan. That’s why when I did have my first beer in a month, Woodruff’s IPA at the Brewery during the Super Bowl, it meant so much. Before this self-challenge, I was drinking everyday. Some days I’d just have a beer at the end of the day. More often than not, it was several beers. It had just become part of my routine. I was also spending too much money on alcohol. Last year when I had a job that paid decently, I spent a majority of my disposable income on ordering rare craft beer online. I was always trying to keep up on the latest releases, arrange trades, and make trips to brewery only releases. Most of the people I had surrounded myself with were the same way. When I took the month of January to not drink, it started out without a purpose, just one of those “let’s see if I can do it” things. By the end of the month I had many realizations. In retrospect, the money I spent last year chasing down rare beers could have been put to use on things that would have better improved my quality of life and my health. I don’t write this to make myself out to be some self-righteous teetotaler who has “seen the light”, or to make any of my friends question their lifestyle choices. Honestly, I would have been perfectly happy carrying on like I was, had I not took on this challenge. So what does this mean now? Am I NOT going to bottle releases, NOT buy rare beer online or do trades anymore? Of course I will be. I LIKE those things. However, in 2014 I’m not going to do it as much. I don’t want to spend the energy worrying that I’m missing out on same rare once in a lifetime beer, or blow most of a paycheck ordering online when there is so much more to the world. I don’t feel the need to drink everyday, and when I do, I want to respect it more. I want it to be special.

During my month long sabbatical, friends would reach out to check on me. Apparently there were rumors going around that I was depressed and that’s why I was self-isolating. Nothing could be further from the truth. The whole time I was happy and in a really good place. Other than work, I pretty much had time to read, meditate and yes, I even solo brewed a batch of Imperial Stout on the down low.

During my alone time, I reevaluated my goals of opening a nano-brewery. This unrealistic dream of mine took up a lot of my time and energy. I found myself thinking about it to the point where it became stressful for me. In the last 2 years I’ve made no measurable progress towards this goal. Honestly, I’m not in a financial position to accomplish this. I am very independent and don’t like the idea of taking on investors who would possibly have power over my dreams. By giving up this idea, it frees me to pursue other things, and is a huge burden lifted from me. For now, I’m quite happy brewing an occasional batch of beer at home.

The other change I made is my name. My nickname was Ratchet since sometime around 1993. This is way before it was slang for anything else. I started to hate how I’ve been known for the last 21 years had morphed into a term of derision in society and popular culture. It became enough for me to abandon my long term nickname to go back to using my real name. I thought since I’m not trying to go pro anymore, I would give up the name “Ratchet Brews” for this blog and change it to Jason Knows Beer, which I like to think I do. For me this fits more into what my website is about. Because of the name change, you might notice some glitches in older post on this blog. Some pictures might be missing and such. To me, it’s not really that big a deal. I might fix it, I might not. For now, going forward is more important to me then what happened in the past.

So is there going to be content change on my blog in 2014? Not really. I’ll still write the really inane, irreverent post that I always have. You can expect more stories about my traveling adventures. Also the same live updates from beer festivals, brew days, etc. I do want to branch out more into beer education and to that end, I plan on studying and going for Cicerone certification. I want to write some articles on specific beer styles such as origins, recipes, and the like. I’ll continue to write because it’s become too much of an outlet for me to give it up. I’ll probably throw in some non-beer tidbits every once in awhile because I do plan on being more active in running, hiking, urban exploring and eating right. At the same time I don’t plan on being as active in the Knoxville “Beer Scene”.

With all that said, I do have some travel plans in the following weeks and months. This Saturday is the Tennessee Winter Beer Festival In Townsend from 3 to 9 pm. This is an ultra small event at the The Laurel Valley Country Club. Some of the breweries present this year will be Turtle Anarchy, Saw Works, Studio Brew, Calf Killer and Smoky Mountain. If you haven’t got tickets yet, you’re pretty much screwed since it’s sold out. I’ll be there and might live post similar to last year.

Saturday February 15th I’m driving up to Lexington to attend Craft Writing: Beer, The Digital, and Craft Culture at the University of KY. This is a one day symposium at the University of Kentucky showcasing writing in craft beer. Speaking will be such well know beer writers as Stan HieronymusRoger Baylor, Mitch Steele, and Jeremy Cowan. The keynote address is by Garrett Oliver. I am hoping to learn from the best. If anyone is interested in pitching in for gas, you are welcome to ride up and back with me. I just plan on going for the day and driving home after.

Saturday March 22nd is All Ale to the Queen in Charlotte, NC. This is the ending event of Charlotte Beer Week. I’ll be there for the weekend running the festival Organizer’ s brand new Dogfish Head Randall. I have 2 nights booked at a hotel, so if anyone wants to go, hit me up.

April 11th and 12th is The Thirsty Orange Beer Extravaganza in Johnson City. It starts off with a small beer dinner on Friday Night at The Battery Restaurant.  The new site of this year’s event is at ETSU’s Millenium Center. There will be better (& free) parking, more room, more events and way, way more beer. I will be there as well, and may or may not set up a booth serving my homebrew. I’ll know closer to time.

Well, thanks for reading. I’ll post again soon. Hope everyone has a great 2014. I know mine has been amazing so far.

Cheers,

Jason


Kingsport Oktoberfest this SATURDAY @KPTOktoberfest (my 100th post)

September 25, 2013

If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet to the Biggest Tricities festival of the year, then I guess you’re not going. If you are planning on it, and haven’t bought tickets, you need to get on it. Chances are they are going to sell out soon. This is probably my favorite festival of the Year. It takes over a 6 block area of downtown Kingsport and a majority of it is free. In fact, the only cost is to get into the bier garden.  I could go on and on about it, but everything that needs to be said has been said. Check out these links:

My Blog about 2012’s event.

My Blog about 2011’s event.

Knox Beer Snob’s write up about it.

Ashvegas.com article about it.

Times News Article.

News Channel 11 Story.

Out N’ About magazine article.

Facebook page.

@KPTOktoberfest twitter feed.

You get the point. I’ll be there along with Richard and Todd pouring our delicious homebrew. We are bringing Celiatrix Gluten-Free IPA, Comrade Soze Russian Imperial Stout, Ma Hefe Heffeweizen, Hop-BOOM! IPA, Blackberry Bomber, and Butternut Squash Ale. We are also bringing merchandise to sell, so pick up a shirt or something to help us pay for more beer making ingredients.

Also, if you want to go for the day and not spend the night, contact me. I know of at least one person going for the day that plans on driving back to Knoxville that night. Y’all could carpool and share gas. If you want to spend the night, you better hurry, most of the hotels are booked.

Well this is all for now. If I get a chance, I’ll write about last weekend’s bourboncation, if not I’ll be sure to tell you how Oktoberfest went. Hope to see you there and also don’t forget that the Brooklyn Brewery Tap Takeover is happening at Suttree’s tonight at 6. 17 taps with some super rare beers and brewmaster reserves that will probably never be available in this area again. If you see me there, buy me a beer? I’m broke as hell, but I can pay you back in homebrew.

Cheers,

Ratchet


Live from @KnoxBrewFest, The Last Official Event of @KnoxBeer Week #KCBW

June 29, 2013

Hey y’all, Live posting for 2013 Knox Brew Fest here that Southern Railway Terminal. Going to post until my iPhone battery dies. I’ll be too busy to write, so the plan is to upload as many picture and videos as possible. I really want to focus on the attendees, so come by the Ratchet Brews booth and get your picture taken. Come back and see yourself on here.

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Myself, Todd and Richard at our booth

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Myself, Todd and Richard at our booth

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Hops

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The booth right after we set up

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Glassware for sale

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Shirts for sale

Gates are open for VIP. 4 pm for general admission. Come on by!

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Khaleesie and Todd

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The guys at the UBC booth were frying up bacon.

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Todd pouring that good ol’ Ratchet Brews

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Shirts

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Highland

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The infamous Aaron Russell.

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So glad to see wicked Weed here!

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Hoppyum? Yes please!

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My British friends

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AllianceBrewingCo.com

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Adam Ingle of Alliance Brewery. I can’t wait for these guys to get up and running.

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Alliance cask ESB is delicious!

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Thanks for the support!

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Neil from Yazoo

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Jason Smith of Knox Beer Crew @NGD69

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Old Style!

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Katie, myself and my buddy David Chisholm. My beer was his 500th Untappd Check in. So honored!

Katie, myself and my buddy David Chisholm. My beer was his 500th Untappd Check in. So honored!

Congrats to David Chisholm on earning his Untappd Legendary Badge by drinking my Apricot Honey Lager!

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Gingers unite!

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Every time you purchase a Ratchet Brews shirt, a brewer gets his… Mash paddle?

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Local social media guru, Kelly Absner

I met many of my blog and twitter followers in real life for the first time. I want to give a shout out to Jonathan Harris (@DrSkwurl), Landon Moore (@LanDub17) and everyone who stopped by the booth to say hi. Thanks everyone for the support, the encouraging words, the feedback and for purchasing merchandise. If we met, you tried our beer or your picture is on here, please leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!

Once again this year I ended the festival in decent shape. I just didn’t have time too drink much, being that I was so incredibly busy. I’d like to thank Richard, Todd and Katie for all their hard work and help with everything. After we packed up, we headed to Downtown Grill and Brewery for dinner. Our friends Aaron and Stephanie Carson from Kingsport Oktoberfest and Thirsty Orange joined us. We wanted to hang out longer, but it was a really long day and we were exhausted.

So that’s it for now. I still have some other post that I’m working on and hope to publish soon. Until then, check out the new twitter account @KnoxWaterWeek. I mean, after all, you need water to make beer. Since we had a whole Knoxville Craft Beer Week full of drinking, it’s time to give that liver a rest.

Cheers y’all,

Ratchet


It’s Been a Success! Knoxville Craft Beer Week, only 2 days left.

June 28, 2013

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Every day of this week has been a beer version of choose your own adventure. With so many great events each night, and only 1 of me, it was hard to pick what to attend. I started off #KCBW in what I consider “My neighborhood”, Downtown. Both Suttree’s and The Casual Pint had special cask to kick things off. The Casual Pint took it 1 step further and had Union Avenue closed down for a block party featuring bands playing and vittles from the Hoof Food truck. I visited Suttree’s first where I enjoyed a beer with a few friends before heading over to The Casual Pint. I didn’t stay out for very long. I actually went to bed super early so I could get up super early the next day.

One of the tap list boards at Suttree's

One of the tap list boards at Suttree’s

Sunday was brewday. I was up at 4:30 to prepare. The plan was to brew a batch of wheat beer and be completely finished with clean up and everything in time for the Knox Beer Crew meeting at Sunspot. Thanks to help from my good friends and assistant brewers, Todd and Richard, we did just that. My buddy Dalton, who has been missing in action showed up and lent a hand for awhile.  Friends Joy and Willie stopped by to lend support as well. We finished brewing in record time, and I was able to take a short 45 minute nap before heading out to Sunspot for our monthly tasting.

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The Knox Beer Crew Monthly tasting was an official Knoxville Craft Beer Week event, so we wanted to make sure it was done right. The usual suspects we there and we did it up bigtime. We met on the upstairs patio of Sunspot’s new location. A couple of us brought pop-up canopies to shade us from the hot summer sun. At this tasting we also did a swap meet, where some of us brought shirts, stickers, bottles and glassware to trade. I got a few things I have been wanting to try for awhile. I also got a couple of rarities. We had a few new members join us, and we had a great time. Everyone brought their A game to this tasting, by busting our rarities from the cellar and hard to find beers from all over. My buddy Jason Smith had just returned from a beercation in Vermont and brought my favorite DIPA, Heady Topper to share. Richard Groves brought a bottle of Rogue’s Voodoo Donut Chocolate Banana Peanut butter beer. I can’t even stand the smell of the last beer in this series, the Maple Bacon beer. The new one was only slightly better, but many people passed and those who did only took a tiny sip. There ended up being a 3/4th full bottle sitting there, getting warm. The next thing I know, I was being dared to chug it for a can of Heady Topper. I love Heady, but that was too much. I negotiated for 2 cans of Heady in exchange for this stunt. Jason Smith agreed, and the next thing I know I’m holding my breath and downing this nasty concoction straight from the big pink bottle. I did it and here are the videos proving it. Thanks to Matt Crowell and Animal for providing these.

The tasting ended and I packed up and got some water to go and hit the nearby greenway to walk a few miles, sweat and sober up before I drove home.

Knoxville Craft Beer Week Calendar

Knoxville Craft Beer Week Calendar

Monday was something we all looked forward to. The much sought after Foothills Sexual Chocolate and several other rare Foothills high gravity beers made their debut at Sunspot.

Foothills High Gravity Tap Takeover at Sunspot.

Foothills High Gravity Tap Takeover at Sunspot.

The local distributer had to move heaven and earth for the permits to go through in time to make this event happen. I headed there after work and met with more of the Knox Beer Crew. I love Sexual Chocolate and have had many opportunities to drink it. That is why my 1st beer was the Gruffmeister Maibock. While I was hanging out with my friends, I got a call from Cara at The Casual Pint. They were having an infusion night at the downtown location, and were having a hard time getting everything set up. They needed my help. I finished my beer, said my goodbyes and headed downtown.

Sexual Chocolate, Foothill's highly sought after seasonal.

Sexual Chocolate, Foothill’s highly sought after seasonal.

I arrived at The Casual Pint where they were having an infusion night with a new brand in town, Blue Pants Brewery. They were still struggling with getting the Dogfish Head style infuser working. After tinkering with it and bumping up the gas pressure significantly, I was able to get it flowing. The beer being infused was the Spare Pair Pale Ale  with Simcoe hops. I sat and talked with Blue Pants TN sales rep, Kimmie. She told me about the brewery and their line up. I look forward to trying more beers from them. I left The Casual Pint and headed over to Suttree’s. It was the Monday night, and Sut’s has started to do a bluegrass jam every Monday. This was also bartender Stanton’s birthday party, and there was a free keg of Dark Horse Brewing Company’s Thirsty Trout Porter. I had a drink and said happy birthday to Stanton, and hung out a little bit before calling it a night.

Tuesday there was a few things going on, but a friend of mine so graciously traded me a ticket to Dave Chappelle’s show at the Tennessee Theater. I just had a quick drink at Suttree’s before heading over to the show. Dave is a comic genius and the funniest person of this generation, but his show was marred by hecklers and other dumbasses who didn’t know how to behave. It was so bad, that many news outlets reported on it the next day. See Knoxville, this is why we can’t have nice things. Heed the signs next time, dumbasses.

Signs posted all over the TN theater. Too bad they were ignored.

Signs posted all over the TN theater. Too bad they were ignored.

Wednesday after work I headed over to The Casual Pint’s Bearden location for Highland Brewery’s bingo night. Highland founder Oscar Wong was there along with my friend and sales rep, Kitty. I sat and sipped on a dry hopped, cask conditioned Gaelic Ale. The place was packed and they ran out of bingo cards. Luckily I got one and played several rounds. It was fun, even though I didn’t win.

Bingo Night at The Casual Pint. Kitty from Highland and Nathan, owner of TCP

Bingo Night at The Casual Pint. Kitty from Highland and Nathan, owner of TCP

Thursday after work I went on a bike ride with my son downtown. We road around and stopped in really quick for some ice water at Suttree’s. Next door at Downtown Wine and Spirits, there was a free Victory and Southern Tier tasting. I tried several things while talking with several of my beer scene friends. We didn’t stay long. We rode around some more and ended up joining the patriotic bike parade through downtown. Afterwards I dropped him back off at his house. I left there and headed straight to Sunspot for barrel night. Many of my Brew Mob and Knox Beer Crew friends were there as well. There was more rare and tasty beers on tap upstairs. I tried several that I have been wanting for awhile. Here’s a Brew Mob video from last night.

A video of Don from Knox Beer Snobs from last night.

Tonight I’ll be infusing New Belgium’s Heavenly Feijoa with fruit at Suttree’s. This starts at 6, and I’m hoping to see you out. If I have time, I might stop by BBM later in the evening to see a few brewery friends.

Tomorrow is Knox Brew Fest at The Southern Railway Terminal. I will have a booth and be pouring my Chocolate Covered Strawberry Stout, Apricot Honey Lager, Maibock, Rauchbier and an IPA infused with hops. I will also have merchandise for sale, so bring extra money. I am looking forward to seeing everyone. I will be live picture and video blogging all day at the event, so come by the booth and you might end up on this blog.

This is all for now, I hope you are having a great week.

Cheers,

Ratchet 


New post coming soon, until then read this by @KnoxBeerSnobs:

June 17, 2013

Knoxville Craft Beer Week as written by the Knox Beer Snobs. 

Also if you are not a member of the Knox Beer Crew, this is a good time to come join us and see what we are all about. Here is a copy of the email announcing our next tasting.

Hello Everyone.  Hope you are all doing well & getting excited about Knoxville Beer Week! We are looking forward to our June tasting and just wanted to send out the final details regarding the event. 

This event will take place on Sunday, June 23rd, starting at 3pm at Sunspot’s new location, 2200 Cumberland Avenue. We are going to meet on the upstairs patio. This is a non-style specific tasting, so bring what you will.
Since this is taking place during KNOXVILLE CRAFT BEER WEEK, and is listed as an OFFICIAL EVENT, we want to make sure to do it up right! Please spread the word and invite your friends. However, we want to make sure everyone knows what the KNOX BEER CREW is all about. We are Knoxville’s premier group of craft beer lovers. We search high and low to find and share unique beers and our monthly tastings. Attendees are expected to bring beer to share. It is HIGHLY encouraged that you try to bring something that is not available here in Knoxville at our local stores so that everyone can experience something new. We are encouraging people to let their friends know about this and invite anyone they would like to come. Let’s share our love of craft beer!
Come hungry as the Sunspot has a killer menu! We want to show our $upport to this fine establishment that is so graciously allowing us use of the space. They also have one of the best draft beer selections at both the upstairs and downstairs bar. The new limited edition KNOXVILLE CRAFT BEER WEEK Glasses will be available for purchase. $10 gets you the glass, a full pour of your choice and the satisfaction of knowing that a portion of the proceeds goes towards the TN Craft Brewer’s Guild, a group dedicated to getting some of this state’s stupid beer laws changed.
Since it is KCBW, we want to do something a little different for this tasting. How many of us have extra beer and brewery related glassware, stickers, shirts, coasters and other swag we’ve accumulated? Bring your extras and let’s have a swap meet! This goes for bottles of hard to find beer too! When someone ask you where you got that rare bottle or those cool glasses, you can proudly say “I traded for it!”
 
The last thing we want to mention is that this event will be held outside, rain or shine. Either way, it’s sure to be hot! We are putting out a call to bring pop-up canopies, camping chairs and maybe a fold up table or 2. If you can contribute, pleaselet us know. We appreciate your help on this.
 
Hope to see everyone there! 
 
One last note: IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON ATTENDING, PLEASE REPLY TO THIS EMAIL!!! THE BAR WILL NEED A HEAD COUNT IN ORDER TO PREPARE. THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

 

I know this wasn’t a real post, but I felt I have gone to long without an update. I’m working on a new post on my trials and tribulations of getting my nano-brewery off the ground. Be on the lookout for it in the next couple of days.
Until then, this is what I have fermenting at “The Brewery on High
20 Gallons Russian Imperial Stout
20 Gallons of Anglophile Jerry’s ESB
5 Gallons Orbital IPA
5 Gallons Smokin’ Hops IPA
Kegs:
Rauchbier
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Stout
Skulf IPA
ABCC IPA
Skulf IPA dry hopped with Belma
Maibock
Apricot Honey Lager
Honey Lager
Honey Agave Strawberry lager.
Which of these will I be serving at Knox Brew Fest on the 29th? You’ll just have to buy a ticket and see.
Cheers,
Ratchet

A great time and perfect weather at the 2nd annual http://ThirstyOrange.com beer festival

April 16, 2013

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Last weekend was the Thirsty Orange beer festival in Johnson City, TN.  This was the second annual edition, and festival organizers Aaron & Stephanie Carson and Das Krew did an absolute fantastic job of putting together this one. The weather was perfect, the beer was flowing and everything ran smoothly. From the early morning set up, to dropping off entries for the homebrew competition, to early admission VIP entrance, to the main part of the festival all the way to packing everything up, was all without a hitch. This is the 4th festival they have put on in the tri-cities area. They have learned from past festivals and had the logistics locked down for this one. I can’t say it enough how great and put together it was.

 I arrived Friday evening to spend some time meeting with Aaron and Stephanie to work out the details for running the infusers the next day. I always try to get to a beer festival in another city a day before to check out the area and most importantly to not have to make a long drive 1st thing in the morning. After meeting with Aaron and Stephanie, I ran to the store to get infuser ingredients and ended up eating at a crappy Mexican restaurant (seriously I LOVE Mexican food, but this one was awful).

Saturday morning I was up early for the festival. Set up time started at 8:30. I had to set up the booth, get the beer flowing, fill bottles for the homebrew competition and so on. It took quite awhile to get everything done. Luckily I was all set up by the time early admission VIPs started trickling in. From there I stayed busy. So busy in fact that I didn’t really take a lot of pictures (my bad). I was busy but it wasn’t a hectic, frantic type of busy but a happy and sociable one. I got to talk, hang out and drink with many of our pro-brewer buddies such as Studio Brew and CalfKiller. My tent was set up in the home brewer section of the festival right next to my good friend Jimie Barnett and Triple B Brewing.  Jimie and I always have a great time at these festivals and I want to give him and Jay a big shout out. A really big thanks goes out to Jimie’s nephew and my new Johnson City friend, Steven for making my day nice and bright.

Knoxville was well represented by other fellow home brewers such as Legit Brewing, UBC, Friendship Brewing and Tennessee Valley Homebrewers. Other homebrew clubs such as MALT from Asheville, Tri-Cities Beer Alliance and Electric Avenue from outside Nashville were well represented and had exceptional beers.  The camaraderie among home brewers is a beautiful thing.

One of my favorite parts of these types of events that I set up at, is the feedback I get from people attending and trying my brews. A beer I may not think is my best may end up being the one that everyone loves the most. A perfect example this time around was my Chocolate Covered Cherry Nitro Stout. I like this beer but it’s not my favorite, and next time I brew it, I’ll make a slight recipe adjustment. However, people were going nuts over this beer! It was the 1st keg of mine to blow out and people were disappointed when it was gone. I actually won an award on this one. Gerard of the website Road Trips For Beer was a celebrity judge and he picked this one as his favorite of the festival.  To say I am honored is an understatement. To have a guy who’s job is to pretty much travel the country and taste beer say he liked this one the most out of 100 something homebrews? THAT makes me feel like I DO actually know what I’m doing.

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I was lucky enough to have a lot of help at my booth this year in the form of my buddy Flipper who has been my right hand man at the last 3 Tri-cities beer fests. I got him all set up with the festival’s infusers and he did a terrific job of keeping them going on a schedule. Also my assistant brewer, Todd and his wife Lauren drove up from Knoxville and helped hold things down and pour beer. With this much help, we were able to rotate in and out of the booth and walk around socializing and trying different brews. The only one missing from our crew was Richard, but he was representing for us at the Blue Ridge Wine & Food Festival.

Well I went through all my home brew, drank some fantastic beer, hung out with friends new and old. The festival eventually came to a close and I packed up and headed out to eat. I found a great little place called Jack’s City Grill to eat at.  After refueling, I headed back to the hotel and had an impromptu craft beer party in the lobby with Gerard. The Wolf Hill crew stopped by and hung out followed by Friendship Brewing and Aaron and Stephanie. We drank a four pack of Brevard NC brewed Deviant Dales graciously given to me by Austin, a plant employee. Gerard shared a big bottle of Boulevard’s Double Wide IPA and Friendship Brewing had a growler of their IPA.

After a long active and incredibly fun day, it was time to retire to my room and pass out. I can’t wait until next year’s Thirsty Orange. Make sure to mark your calendar for Das Krew’s next event, Kingsport Oktoberfest on September 28th. You know I’ll be there. Enjoy the photos and videos below.

Cheers,

Ratchet

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Click on pictures to enlarge and for captions.