Last Minute #Christmas Gifts for the #Knoxville #BeerGeek

December 18, 2013

Christmas is next week and I know some of you are struggling to find the perfect gift for the beer geek in your life. Unless you want to pay a fortune for shipping, it’s too late to order gifts online. I thought while I sat here filling out applications and emailing resumes, I’d take a few moments to put together a list of beercentric gifts available here in Knoxville.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen our small craft beer community grow exponentially. You can find a decent selection of quality suds almost everywhere now. So let’s start with the most basic and easy thing to acquire: gift cards.

Yes giving a gift card can feel like the easy way out, but believe me, your recipient will appreciate it. Not sure what to buy? Can’t remember if they like IPAs or stouts more? Give them the gift of choice. Pretty much everyone offers gift cards now. As far as retail beer shopping, you can’t go wrong with Bearden Beer Market. They carry a wide variety of brews, shirts and other gifts. They also offer growler fills.  On cold nights they have a couple of fire pits going in the beer garden, so feel free to bring your own marshmallows.

Another popular choice is The Casual Pint. With 2 locations and more opening in 2014, they also have a great selection of beer and merchandise. Unique to CP is the create your own mix-a-six pack from the selection in the cooler. Not many other places offer this.

If you are on the North side of town, check out Vic’s. Killer selection, knowledgeable staff and you can get your high grav’s right next door. Ask for Louie and tell them Ratchet sent you.

For the best selection in Maryville, check out The Market. Growlers  are available as well.

As far as high gravity beers go, you can’t go wrong with either McScrooge’s or my favorite, Downtown Wine and Spirits. Both offer gift cards and a world class selection of big beers. Right now Downtown Wine still has some rarities available from their cellar sale. If I were you, I’d grab a couple of the 2007 JW Lee barrel aged beers before they’re all gone. I also heard they just got in the 2013 Brookyln Black-Ops.

When it comes to craft beer bars, Suttree’s is a sure shot. A gift card here will go along way. They always make sure to have the best draft beer selection in Knoxville.

One of the longest running craft beer bars in Knoxville, Barley’s is also know for their killer selection and awesome food menu selection. Take someone here for dinner and they’ll really get into the holiday spirit.

Want to give something brewed locally? Downtown Grill and Brewery offers gift cards. Great food, super friendly and knowledgeable bar staff and a fine selection of English style ales. Growlers and kegs available. You can get a 5 gallon keg for $50 (plus deposit). Think about how well this would go over at your Christmas party.

Speaking of locally brewed and Christmas parties, you can’t forget about Saw Works. Knoxville’s favorite microbrewery has a tasting room called The Mill. There you can buy a growler, a shirt or some glassware. It’s also available for private parties and they have an upcoming Holiday Bash this Friday at 7 pm. I wish I could make it, but I’ll be in Hot Springs that night.

Maryville’s upcoming Bluetick Brewery has just got a bunch of merchandise in, just in time for Christmas. Every purchase helps them get that much closer to opening their doors to the public.

Is there a home brewer in your life? Knoxville has 2 great homebrew shops. Allen Biermakens on Martin Mill in South Knoxville or Fermentation Station on Kingston Pike in West Knoxville. Both have a great selection of supplies and equipment for those who brew their own.

You know what would make a great stocking stuffer? Tickets to the Tennessee Winter Beer Festival in Townsend, TN. It takes place on February 8th. You can buy tickets online now or at the Market In Maryville.

Looking for rare beer? There’s a local guy selling a few from his cellar. Check his list here. If you buy something it helps his broke ass buy Christmas presents for his kid.

Well that’s the Knoxville Beer Geek Christmas list. I hope this helps you procrastinators with some ideas. Before I sign off, I want to let you know about tomorrow’s (Thursday night’s) infusion event at Suttree’s. I’ll be taking the ever so popular seasonal from Terrapin, Wake-N-Bake, and infusing it with fresh mint, cocao nibs and mini-candy canes for a festive treat. I’ll be starting around 7 pm, and I am hoping to see everyone.

Y’all have a great and Beery Christmas and try to not let the Krampus get you. I’ll try to post again before the new year.

Cheers,

Ratchet


A Pleasure to Give Asheville’s MALT #Homebrew Club a #KnoxBeer Tour @Reinkster @SawWorksBrewing @Suttrees @SmokyMtnBrewery

July 29, 2013

A while back my friend and legendary Asheville homebrewer, Adam Reinke, approached me about guiding a tour of Ashevillians through the Knoxville Beer Scene. I didn’t have to think twice about it. Over the last couple of months, we coordinated our plans and set the itinerary.  The trip was put together by Asheville’s homebrew club, MALT (Mountain Ale and Lager Tasters) . They chartered a bus to bring them over the mountains and back.

Adam Reinke (in Green), his wife Missy and some Asheville friends

Adam Reinke (in Green), his wife Missy and some Asheville friends

Everyone knows that Knoxville has just a fraction of the breweries and craft beer bars that Asheville does.  At the time we originally planned, Knoxville only had 3 operating breweries. Black Horse Pub had not yet opened, so was not included on the tour. The bus arrived at Saw Works Brewing Company at 10:30 am. Co-owner Jonathon Borsodi and head brewer Dave Ohmer had graciously agreed to open early to accommodate the group. Everyone settled in for flights and samples of beer before going behind the scenes where Dave talked about brewing for Saw Works and answered questions. (click on pictures below to enlarge).

After we were done at Saw Works, we headed over to Gay Street to check out Downtown Grill and Brewery, home of Woodruff Brewing Company.  This place has long been my home away from home. Whenever I have friends visiting from outside the area, I always bring them here. The IPA has been a go to of mine, and years ago this was the only spot to get decent craft beer in all of downtown. There we ate lunch, sampled beer and spoke with assistant brewer, Tommy. (Once again, click on the pictures below to enlarge)

After everyone finished up at Downtown Grill and Brewery, we walked across the street to Knoxville’s best Craft Beer Bar, Suttree’s High Gravity Tavern. When planning this trip, I definitely wanted to show off where us Knoxvillians go for the best draft selection. Sure other places might have more taps, but when it comes to the rarities, Ol’ Sut’s is usually the only place that has them. The group walked in and settled up to the bar. A few people went next store for bottling shopping at Downtown Wine and Spirits. Matt, Stanton and Anne were bartending that day and were happy to pour samples and talk about the selection. We sat around drinking, talking beer, making dirty jokes and coming up with hilarious yet inappropriate names for cider. When we gave everyone the 15 minute warning to get back on the bus, Stanton graciously grabbed a bottle of Rivertown Lambic out of the cooler and poured a sample for everyone. it was very much appreciated.

Before heading to the bus, I took a few of the group over to The Casual Pint on Union Avenue for some last minute bottle shopping. I bought a few selections myself before getting back on board. The Next stop was Smoky Mountain Brewery in Turkey Creek.

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This was the last stop of the days tour. They knew we were coming and had an area all ready for us. We sat down and ordered food and beer while waiting for Brewmaster Marty Velas to arrive and guide us through. I tried several of their beers that I haven’t had before and found them all to be top notch. Marty arrived and we split the group in half to take turns touring the brew house. Marty very graciously poured beer for the guest and talked about the brewing process and the history of Smoky Mountain Brewery.

Well like all good things, the tour came to an end. Much beer was consumed and many people picked up beer they were unable to get back home. We loaded back into the bus and headed back on the interstate. The bus dropped me off back town and I said my goodbyes. It was a great time and I really appreciate all the beer and food bought for me by the group. I made some new friends and look forward to meeting them for beers in Asheville next time I visit. Anytime anyone wants to come visit Knoxville, I will be more than happy to show you around. Maybe I should actually Start a Knoxville Beer Tour. Then again, how’d would I find the time?

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Enjoy the video from the day below. It’s really bad quality because I used a stupid app to do it. When I was recording I had no idea it was doing a split screen or weird color thing. I should have just recorded with the regular camera app, but I’ll know better for next time.

I also want to let everyone know that on Thursday I will be on WBIR’s Live at 5 at 4 talking about craft beer and beercations. This is August 1st which is also IPA Day. I am hoping someone will record the video for me so I can post it here.

Until next time, drink one for me.

-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


Some of my #homebrew recipes.

May 21, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

Original gravity 1.052 Final Gravity 1.007 Abv 5.9%

12 pounds Weyermann Smoked Malt (bamberg style beechwood smoked)

1 pound light Munich malt

2 pounds 12 ounces of Weyermann Melanoidin malt

1 pound Weyermann Carabohemian malt

2 pounds Weyermann Vienna Malt

1 pound Weyermann Caramunich 1

12 ounces Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsner malt

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

1 ounce Tettnang Hop pellets (added last 5 minutes)

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

1 tsp yeast nutrient added last 15 minutes of boil.

1 Whirlfloc tablet added last 5 minutes of boil

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

60 minute boil following the hopping schedule above.

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

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

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

Taurus Maibock

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

Original Gravity 1.062 Final Gravity 1.020 abv 5.5%

20 pounds Pale Ale Malt

6 pounds Munich.

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

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

Toasted Hemp Seed Pale Ale

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

20 lbs.  2-row pale malt

2 lb. Munich malt

2 oz. black patent malt

3 lbs. toasted hemp seeds

1 & 1/2 ounce Cascade hops (90 mins)

1 & 1/2 ounce Cascade hops (45 mins)

1 oz. Cascade hops (10 mins)

1 & 1/2 oz.  Cascade hops  (0 mins)

1 Whirfloc Tablet

3000 ml starter of Wyeast Rogue Pacman Yeast

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

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

Wheat Beer

Original Gravity 1.052

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

10 lbs pale ale malt

4 lbs torrified wheat

2 lbs floor roasted bohemian wheat

2 lbs Wyermann light wheat

2 pounds red wheat

2 lbs rice hulls

2 oz Cascade hops (60 minutes)

2 oz Willamette hops (5 minutes)

5 gallons fermented with Wyeast American Wheat Yeast

5 gallons with Wyeast Bavarian Wheat Yeast

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

60 minute boil following the hopping schedule above

Stop and Smell the Hops IPA

Original Gravity 1.070 Final Gravity 1.011 ABV 7.99%

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

17 pounds of Pale Ale malt

9 pounds Munich Malt

1 pound Crystal Malt 60L

2 pounds of Vienna Malt

1 ounce Zythos hops  at 60 minutes

1 ounce Simcoe hops at 60 minutes

1 ounce Cascade hops at 60 minutes

1 ounce Magnum hops at 60 minutes

1 ounce Zythos hops  at 5 minutes

Dry hop with:

1 ounce Cascade hops

1 ounce Zythos hops

1 ounce Simcoe hops

2 ounces Crystal hops

1 Whirfloc Tablet

3000 ml starter of Wyeast Rogue Packman Yeast

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers,

Ratchet


Belated report on the TN Winter Beer Fest and more

February 9, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until then,

Ratchet


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

January 4, 2012

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

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

Cheers,

Ratchet

Captain's Winter Ale


The Knoxville #CraftBeer market expands with new store opening tonight & #KnoxBeer Tweet Up

November 18, 2011

When I first moved to Knoxville back in 1998 there wasn’t a whole lot of local stores with a good beer selection. In fact, as far as I remember, there were only 2. The main place that I and all my friends frequented was Sam’s Party Store in the Fort Sander’s neighborhood. They carried four packs of Sammy Smith’s Oatmeal Stout and a great selection of micro brews that we had never heard of.  The only other place with a good selection was way out in West Knoxville at Leaf and Ale. I had only been there a few times when it was also a homebrew supply store. So Sam’s was our place we went to. This was along time before grocery stores had anything but fizzy yellow American lagers or Guinness. This lasted for years. Occasionally myself or one of my friends would make a trip to Asheville where we’d stock up on their wonderful local beer from Highland Brewing Company. The person making the beer run would usually make enough to pay for their gas and beer by marking up the price of 22 ounce bombers by a dollar or 2.  I remember the first time I saw a decent craft beer at Kroger. It was Cottonwood Endo IPA. I fell in love with this beer. For awhile it’s Cascade flavored goodness was all I drank. Then a year or 2 later something else happened. Highland’s beers were suddenly available. Followed closely by beers I had only had while visiting the west coast, such as Sierra Nevada, New Belgium and Flying Dog. Now Craft beer is sold everywhere. Even most gas station convience store have at least 1 decent beer available.
   In the last couple of years the Craft Beer market in Knoxville has exploded. The Bearden Beer Market opened up giving beer geeks a place to not only pick up a six pack or fill a growler, but a spot to enjoy a draft while socializing with other beer lovers. This set the tone for the type of business model to thrive. Vic’s Package Store followed and well as Westland Market and Beer Gallery and also Jackson Avenue Market. Now we have a new place opening up called The Casual Pint. I will admit, part of me is not entirely sure Knoxville can support this many craft beer stores/ bars. I honestly hope I am wrong. I know that the craft beer market will continue to expand, but there’s that little tiny sliver of me that worries this may be a bubble (like the dot.com one) that will eventually burst. Like I said I really hope I’m wrong.
   So far the only parts of town that don’t have this type of business is East Knoxville and where I live, South Knoxville. Vic’s Package Store is in North Knoxville.  Jackson Avenue Market is on the edge of the Old City (where their taps compete with local bars), Bearden Beer Market, Westland Market and Beer Gallery and now The Casual Pint are all in West Knoxville. I would love to have a beer store/ neighborhood bar within walking distance here in SoKno.
   So yeah, I’m going to check out The Casual Pint’s grand opening tonight. I should be there around 7 if you want to meet up. I wish the Casual Pint well and hope they are very successful. I plan on supporting this place but due to it’s location, I don’t see myself becoming a reqular unless the beer there is really cheap. When it comes to drinking out west, Bearden Beer Market and Brixx Pizza West Hills are my favorite spots. Sadly, I haven’t even made it to Westland Market and Beer Gallery. Maybe I’ll make it one day. The Knox Beer Snobs did a great article about it, that makes me want to check them out.

    Another thing I want to mention is that if you’re a beer lover, a twitter user and live in Knoxville, you may of seen use of the #KnoxBeer hash tag. I spread this idea at Brewer’s Jam to The Knox Beer Snobs, Dave at Woodruff and Jonathon at Marble City. From there it spread, and now a small crew of beer lovers have connected over this hash tag. We are having an unofficial “tweet-up” on Saturday 1 pm at The Downtown Grill and Brewery. Come have a pint and talk beer nerd with us. You don’t have to be a twitter user to attend. I’ll check to see if we can use the “brewer’s table” which is the big one by the copper tanks. So unless I post otherwise, let’s plan on meeting there. Hope you can make it.

-Cheers,

Ratchet