A Great Weekend for #KnoxBeer

October 25, 2011

The liver is evil and must be punished. Saw this on a shirt the other day, and it (almost) sums up my weekend. I don’t think I’ll make this post really long. The Knox Beer Snobs have posted a great review of all the Knoxville Beer events this weekend, so I’ll refer you to them. I will tell you that I had a great and memorable weekend.

Every year the Homebrew Club does a lot of the beer related grunt work and preparation for Brewers Jam. My weekend pretty much kicked off on Thursday night. The homebrew club does what we call  “Pretzel Jam” where we drink beer and make pretzel necklaces to sell at the event. I had a ride, so I was able to partake in the “leftover” entries from the TN Valley Fair’s Homebrew competition.

Friday I worked a short half day and then headed down to World’s Fair Park to help load the cold truck. The brewers show up, unload the kegs from their vehicles and we move the kegs to cold storage. It was mostly sitting around drinking beer with the occasional heavy lifting. I took a break from that for a few hours and headed over to the grand opening of Marble City Brewing Company’s tasting room, The Quarry. Knoxville really came out to show support for the hometown brewery. The place was packed! The owners even had authentic deep dish pizza flown in for the event. After a few beers, a slice of pizza and some great conversation with fellow craft beer enthusiast, I headed back to World’s Fair Park.  When that was over, it was time for the brewer’s reception in a top secret location. Most of the brewers both local and out of area were treated to beer, cigars, food, and a live bluegrass jam. There was even free jars of locally produced salsa, courtesy of Big S Farms. Pretty much every one of my beer friends were there. I remember looking around at the crowd and thinking if a bomb went off in that room, there wouldn’t be anyone left in the Knoxville craft beer scene. That reception went on long into the night. I left around 11 pm since I was hosting out of town guests and we all had to be up early to work the morning shift.

Saturday morning I made coffee and my guest (fellow homebrewers Shanezilla and Pam) and I headed out. We stopped by Just Ripe on Union Avenue in downtown for a quick breakfast. Then it was on to Brewers’ Jam. There was a whole heck of a lot of work to do before the gates opened at 1pm. We had to deliver the kegs to the brewers, along with Ice. There was also our booth to set up and a few other details to attend to. About 30 minutes or so before kick off, we were pretty much done. This is my favorite time of of the Knoxville Brewer Jam. All the brewers are set up, and everyone has a chance to socialize and try one another’s beers before it gets hectic. Before they opened the gates, we had our customary speech given by Knoxville Police Department, as seen in the following video:

Then the fun begins. It is amazing to see a wave of people pour in when they open the gates. The lines were as far as the eye could see. My 1st keg of Butternut Squash Ale was on tap, and I happily doled out samples to thirsty drinkers. It made me feel like I really know what I’m doing as a beer brewer when people would tell me how much they enjoyed it. I even had some of the most critical members of the homebrew club come back for seconds and thirds. Whenever my 1st keg blew out, I let someone else take a turn pouring while I happily went in search of other tasty beverages to imbide. I saw many of my fellow Knox Craft beer friends and walked around drinking and enjoying their company. Later on in the afternoon, I came back and put on my second keg of Butternut Squash Ale and poured that as well. Near the end of the event, I went and filled several growlers of beer to take home for later. I ran into Mike from Asheville Brewing Company who gave me a really cool Moog filtered Ale shirt.

Well, I went and caught the rest of Cutthroat Shamrock’s show at the end. The jam closed down, the beer stopped flowing, and I started packing out. I finally got my vehicle packed with everything I brought, along with a cooler full of growlers, bottles of beer, merchandise and other stuff I scored at the Jam. I walked over to my office where I spent a few hours drinking water and listening to the Vols football game on the radio. I ended the night eating pizza and thinking how I am already looking forward to next year’s Brewers Jam.

Enjoy the pictures below, click to make big.

Cheers,

Ratchet


Ich hatte so eine tolle Zeit in Asheville Oktoberfest!

October 10, 2011
When I  got back from Asheville I rushed over to my buddy’s work (Comics Exchange) to use the wifi. I wanted to work on this post while everything was still fresh in my mind and my heart was still full of Asheville’s energy. I love Asheville. I freakin’ LOVE it. I haven’t fell so hard for a city since those few summers long ago that I spent tramping around Boulder, CO.   Though as much as I swoon over Asheville, I’m happy and grateful for what I have here in good ol’ Knox-Vegas.

Asheville Oktoberfest was a mostly solo affair for me. I drove up early Saturday, checked in to my room which was literally 1 block away from Wall Street, and got my wrist band. With only 6 local breweries providing approximately 3 beers each, this wasn’t a “tasting”. This was full pour, let’s get drunk and have a blast. Which I did. I used twitter as a quick way to keep tabs on how much I’ve had. After my 5th or 6 full cup, I took a break. Since my hotel was so close, I took 30 minutes to relax in an air conditioned room and drink water. Once recharged, I headed back. Oh and let me say this. Sloppy Joe’s are NOT an appropriate beer street festival food. Please, don’t do this. I knew I had to eat, and should have went with a bratwurst, but I had serious doubts I could fit one of those monster’s in my belly and continue to drink. I got the sloppy joe ’cause it was the only vegetarian choice. Seriously Laughing Seed Cafe, next time veggie brats, or something similar. You’ll sell more food, I promise.

Well, I didn’t really meet any new people at the fest, but luckily I knew some people who were there. My ex-neighbors and friends Brad and Trish and L.C. and Pod. Also Chris and Lindey from the homebrew club. Later on I met up with Aaron and his crew the organizers of the Kingsport Oktoberfest. L.C. and Pod drank fast and crashed early. I spent most of the rest of the festival drinking, wandering and drunkenly dancing to the Stratton Mountain Boys by the stage. The band is great German drinking music, they led the crowd in drunken chants. A friend of mine later remarked on my facebook page in response to a video I posted that German accents cover up slurred speech every time. I found that to be more and more true as Oktoberfest progressed. The fest went from 12-6pm. Around 6:15 I got my last beer. The band was breaking down and most everyone was wandering off. I returned to my room, drink in hand. Crossing the street in front of the hotel, a cop asked me to pour out my full beer. I did so without regret since I was feeling pretty good by then.

My friends stayed in the same hotel as I did, the Downtown Inn and Suites. I went to their room and watched the 1st quarter or so of the Vols game. Knowing that Brusin Ales closed at 9, I walked over there and stocked up on rare beers and stuff you just can’t find in Knoxville. I had a sample of what they had on tap, and talked beer with one of the shop owners for awhile. She hooked me up with a free Asheville Brewing Alliance shirt, which was nice of her. She also gave me a shout on the http://twitter.com/brusinales which was pretty cool. The owners of Brusin Ales are good people, who know their beer. The store is recognized as one of the world’s best bottle shops in several beer magazines. I made my bank account smaller, took my loot and stashed it back in the room. Then I headed to Wedge Brewery which was a short 1 mile walk down the block. I got there real close to closing time, just long enought to have a “Derailed” hemp seed ale. I’ve been wanting to go to The Wedge for awhile. It seems like a great place to spend an afternoon drinking and I look forward to going back again one day.

I ended up the night at Lexington Avenue Brewery. I sat at the bar and ordered one of their amazing local cheese plates and their American Pale Ale. After I ate it became apparent to me that I was done. Like, get-my-ass-back-to-the-hotel-before-I-pass-out done. I payed my tab and shamefully left half of a really great beer behind.

The next day I got up and met with my friends at the hotel’s dining room to enjoy the free breakfast and hang out. I showed them their pictures on the Asheville newspaper’s (the Citizen Times) website. My friend Brad is on the front cover of the physical paper in a crowd shot. It was funny seeing him search for himself like he was playing Where’s Waldo.

Since I’m a complete coffee snob and don’t drink free hotel coffee, I went off in search of a cup of wake up juice. I found it at Wall Street Coffee house. With cup in hand I walked several miles through downtown taking in the sites. This is how I soak up the ambience of a place. I was also on a mission to find a place that was open that had an Oktoberfest poster in the window. I was going to ask for it to bring it back for the wall of my beer room. I didn’t have any luck, but made a mental note to come back after lunch when a printing shop that had one displayed opened. Unfortunately I did forget, so if any Asheville people see this blog, if you send me one, I’ll send you a pint glass in return. I met up with my friends for lunch at Plant, which is a vegan restaurant on Merrimon Avenue. It was a nice brunch, throughly enjoyable even though I’m not vegan. I then proceeded back to Brusin Ales to get a 4 pack of Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale since TN no longer gets Dogfish Head shipments. I also stopped at Earth Fare on my way out of town to get a few Asheville Brewing Company bombers. I got Ninja Porter and Moog Ale. Picked up a few actual brats I plan on cooking next weekend when I brew again.

I have a great time whenever I visit Asheville. I know that for the next few months I’ll be squirreling away money for a return trip. I’m already thinking of the Winter Warmer festival in January. I know for certain that next Oktoberfest, I’ll be there as well. Maybe I’ll have a travel companion for these, or maybe they will once again be solo affairs. Either way, I’m sure to enjoy tasty beers and the great vibe of Beer City USA.

-Cheers,

Ratchet

 

An in depth look at making my fall seasonal: Butternut Squash Ale

September 21, 2011

Hello my 1 or 2 readers. You still checking out my blog? Good, because this time I have a special VIDEO blog for you. I filmed myself every step of the way when it comes to making my delicious Butternut Squash Ale. This is a behind the scenes look at my brew day.

Enjoy

Part 1:

Part 2:

Ingredients for 10 gallons
12 lbs butternut squash (processed weight)
18 pounds pale ale malt
1 lb carapils malt
2 lb Vienna malt
1 lb 75L dark crystal grain
2 lb light Munich malt
2.5 oz williamette whole leaf hops (60 minute boil)

1 .2 oz of williamette whole leaf hops (last 15 minutes)
1 oz saaz hop pellets (last 5 minutes)
2 cup brown sugar
1 lb flaked oatmeal
2/3 lb Ginger root peeled & chunked (1/2 at 6o minutes boil, 1/2 at 15 minutes)
2 Whirlfloc Tablets (last 15 minutes of boil)
2 1/3 tsp nutmeg
4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp crushed coriander seed
1 tsp yeast nutrient
4 packages of Whitbread dry yeast
Directions:
Peel butternut squash & bake it until caramelized on the outside
Mash crushed grains at 152 degrees for 60 minutes in 8 gallons of water (put Flaked oats in a mesh bag)
Sparge with 7 gallons 170 water. Add squash, gypsum, 2.5 oz
of Williamette hops & 1/2 the ginger.  IMPORTANT: Squash and Ginger Must be in fine mesh bags, or clogging will occur.
Bring to a boil for 40 minutes. Add the brown sugar, whirlfloc Tablets, coriander seed, 1 oz of Saaz hops & rest of ginger boil 20 minutes. At 5 minutes add remaining 1 oz of saaz & 1 tsp of yeast nutrient & remaining spices. Cool rapidly to 70 degrees pitch yeast. After a 2 weeks rack to secondary.

On another note, I am SUPER EXCITED about the KINGSPORT OKTOBERFEST this Saturday!!! I’m like a kid on Christmas, I can’t wait! I’ll be in charge of setting up the randal (that’s an infuser, for all those not down with the beer lingo) on to various microbrews around the festival. We’ll be infusing a porter with coca nibs (raw chocolate), a kolsh with fresh strawberrys and other yummy beers with other yummy stuff. If you want to know when and where each infusion will take place, make sure to follow both myself ( @RatchetBrews ) and @KPTOktoberfest  on twitter. We’ll announce each one there. Plus I’m sure the tweets will get more entertaining as the day progresses and more beer is drank.

You are a sucka if you miss this.

You are a sucka if you miss this.

-CHEERS,

Ratchet