Day 4 of my #beercation to #AvlBeerWeek @BeerCityFest !

June 2, 2012

Ok today recap of yesterdays adventures at Asheville Beer Week will be short. I don’t have time to sit around all day and wait for my hotel’s slow internet to upload. I have to pack up the enormous amount of brewery swag and glasses, and all the beer I bought. I am checking out of Downtown Inn and Suites and Into The Hotel Indigo, a fancy hotel stay I was given as a birthday present (thanks Mom Linda!)

So yesterday started out as the previous. I made my own coffee I brought and ate in the hotel’s dining area. I lounged around afterwards and wrestled with getting the website updated. I was able to clean myself up and head down to an ESB brewing workshop at Fifth Season Garden Supply. I already know how to brew an ESB, but I didn’t have anything else planned and figured it would be good to hang out with people interested in homebrewing. The garden shop also doubles as a homebrew supply store and is right behind Green Man’s brewery. Honestly, that was my main reason for going, because the workshop promised a tour of Green Man afterwards. Since I love Green Man’s ESB, I figured maybe the workshop was using their recipe and I would get to know how to replicate it. Well, they did a more basic recipe, but I did get to meet and hang out with some pretty cool people, a few who are already extract brewers. The workshop was very basic. When it ended, we did go to Green Man for a quick tour. I did get a run down of the hop, grain and yeast bill of Green Man’s ESB, but not amounts. I am touring them again tomorrow, so maybe I can get more specifics.

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A basic homebrewing workshop at Fifth Season Garden Company

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Sign up at the Green Man tasting room

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Fermentation Tanks at Green Man

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A few looking out from the Brewing area of Green Man

Well after a pint of Green Man’s Session fest Scottish Stout, I headed for the next event. On the way I stopped and got a tofu Spring wrap from on of Asheville’s Many food trucks. It was amazing. If you see this truck on the streets of Asheville, get food from them, you won’t be disappointed.

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The next Beer Week event I went to was the Mystery Brewing release party at Bruisin’ Ales. Eric Lars Myers is a writer a former homebrewer and the current head brewer, owner and CEO of Mystery Brewing Company of Hillsborough, NC. He brought along copies of his book, North Carolina Craft Beer and Breweries. He also brought along for of his brews to sample. I spoke with him about brewing, got him to sign a copy of his book for me and had a great time at Bruisin’ Ales. I hung out for awhile before heading to the next event.

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One of Mystery Brewing’s selections.

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The 1st Mystery Brewing beer I sampled. Very light and refreshing. Eric brews good beer.

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For another angle of this picture, see Bruisin’ Ales’ twitter feed @bruisinales

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Mystery Brewing has great descriptions and unique beer names

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Eric of Mystery Brewing, Myself and Julie from Bruisin’ Ales. Probably my favorite picture taken of me at Asheville Beer Week so far.

   Well, I went off to the next event. Barley’s was having what they called “Sexual Lychee Night” which consisted of them tapping a keg or New Belgium’s Tart Lychee and Foothills Brewing Company’s Sexual Chocolate. I already have had Tart Lychee several times, seeing how we have it on tap at Suttree’s. I have only had Sexual Chocolate once, from a bottle. I had never had it before on Draft. I got there and spoke with the bar tender and he advised me that they were waiting on the brewery reps to get there before they tapped the keg. I had another beer while I waited. By that time a twitter/ untappd friend of mine, Jeff Haws arrived in town. He met me at Barley’s. I was able to get a pour of the ultra rare Foothills beer and replenished my tank with a slice of Pizza, before heading back to Thirsty Monk.

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Foothills Brewing Company’s ultra rare and highly sought after beer, Sexual Chocolate.

I had to stop back and drop off my book and a few things at the hotel first. When I got to the Thirsty Monk, they were at capacity and couldn’t let anyone else in. Downtown Asheville was packed and I could see from all the untappd check ins that many people arrived into town for Asheville Beer Week &  Beer City Festival. They did allow me on the front porch and I sent Jeff in to get me a beer. I was eventually able to go in, but at that point I already had a comfy bench seat out front where I spent the rest of the night slowly sipping my beers. Jeff eventually headed back to his hotel. As I set that, I met the brewer for Mother Earth Brewing company while he waited for them to let more people in. We talked for a minute and then Aaron from Brewer’s Summitt arrived to hang out and drop off some promotional material. We headed downstairs, where I ran into Greg from Nantahala Brewing Company. It seems like every brewer in town for today’s Beer City Fest made their way to the Monk at some point yesterday. It was getting late so Aaron gave me a ride back to the hotel. I have a ton of Brewer’s Summit posters and other promotional material I need to distribute, so if anyone would be willing to give me a hand, it would be very much appreciated. 

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@JeffHaws at The Thirsty Monk.

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Super Rare Sierra Nevada Beer that was brewed for Brian Grossman’s wedding. “Love at First Bike”.

Well I am going to now start getting ready for today’s Beer City festival. I need to pack this hotel room, and get some food. I should also hit up a grocery store to stock up on provisions like sun block, water and snacks to help me make it through. Once again, if you read this and use twitter, I’m on there as @RatchetBrews . I also wanted to give a big shout out to whoever is doing the @AvlBeerWeek twitter feed for all the retweets. See y’all at the festival. #AvlBeerWeek continues…


Infusion Night at @TheCasualPint and a report about our last #KnoxBeerCrew meeting

March 26, 2012

Appreciation of craft beer is growing at an incredible rate. It seems like every week a new brewery pops up on the otherside of the mountains in NC (where the laws make it easier then here in TN). It also seems that every week I learn about a new beer festival as well. Just today I found out about Asheville Brews Cruise’s new “The Best Firkin Beer Festival” taking place April 28th. So many festivals, so little time. I understand that beer festivals taking place almost every weekend is just a part of craft beer becoming so popular.  As I think about it though, even if had unlimited money and zero responsibility I would still pick and choose which beer fest I go to. If I went to one every weekend, I’m sure I’d find myself getting burnt out. A “festival fatigue” if you will.

Because of the amount of festivals taking place, it really takes something different and special to pique my interest. The upcoming Thirsty Orange Brew Extravaganza is one of those. This inaugural festival has been in the planning for over a year. It’s brought to you by the same crew that puts on the Kingsport Oktoberfest. I’m in constant communication with the main organizer, Aaron Carson, who gives me updates. Everytime a new brewery is added and everytime a special cask conditioned ale is made for this festival, I get a call from Aaron. I can hear the excitement in his voice as he lays out the new details. Him and his crew have worked really hard to bring a one of a kind experience to the often overlooked Johnson City, TN.  There is a lot more I could say about this festival, but honestly my man Don of the Knox Beer Snobs has already said it better than I could at his post here.

That being said, here is a list of festivals that I plan on attending this year, with a quick note about each.

Thirsty Orange April 14th, Johnson City.  I’ll be serving my Orange Ginger Pale Ale, A Chocolate Ale, my Hop Boom! IPA and a homemade cream soda. The Orange Ginger Pale Ale will be infused with shredded fresh ginger, mandarin orange slices and whole leaf Citra hops.

Beer City Festival, June 2nd in Downtown Asheville. The wrap up to Asheville’s first annual beer week. I’m actually planning on staying in Asheville for the last 4 days of beer week. There are many events planned and even a smartphone app being developed. Tickets are almost sold out, so if you plan on going, you better get one quick.

Knoxville Brew Fest, Saturday June 23rd at Southern Railway Terminal in Knoxville. I’ll be serving here as well. I plan on having a wild flower wheat beer, a stout on nitro, a Maibock and my Rauchbier. I should have my merchandise for sale as well.

Kingsport Oktoberfest, September 21st and 22nd, the streets in front of the Chamber of Commerce, Kingsport, TN. Last year’s event is still one of my favorites. This year it’s going to be bigger and better. I plan on serving my beer at this event, same as I did last year.

Great American Beer Festival, October 11-13th, Denver Colorado. This is the Grand daddy of all of the American Beer Festivals. 3 days, 450+ breweries. I’m saving now for this. The only drawback is that I’ll miss the Asheville Oktoberfest which is scheduled on the same Saturday this year.

Knoxville Brewer’s Jam, October 6th at World’s Fair Park. Knoxville’s first and premier beer festival. I always serve beer at this event as part of the Tennessee Valley Homebrewers club. There is an idea kicking around to team up with a few other Knox Beer Crew homebrewers and getting our own tent this year. We’ll have to see. Either way I’ll have some tasty beers to share.

These are all the beer events I plan on attending as of now, but it’s subject to change.

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Report on the Knox Beer Crew meeting last weekend.

Thanks to Jason and Beverley Anderson for hosting the tasting at their house. We had many new members show up and there was a great selection of beers shared. I brought a 2012 bottle of Sexual Chocolate that I traded for. We also got to try Brooklyn Black OpsFounders Curmudgeans Better Half 2012,  Dogfish Sah’tea, Mikkeller 1000 IBU, Avery Samael’s Oak-Aged Ale, Nantahala Trail Magic Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, Southern Tier  2X Stout, Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout, Ommegang Adoration Ale, Great Divide 17th Anniversary, Founders Imperial Stout, Cigar City Cubano-Style Espresso Brown Ale and a giant 3 liter bottle of Stone 10th Anniversary Ale opened as seen in the below video:

Also some really cool pictures as well (click to make big).

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Well I took my ABC course and should have my card soon. This means I’ll legally be able to pour high gravity beer at events. This is something that Johnson City’s attorney is requiring in order to serve beer at the Thirsty Orange. If you are going to work in a restaurant or bar in TN serving alcohol, this is required by the state. I learned quite a bit in that class including how sophisticated fake ids are now.

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Large corporate macrobrew has long been known for it’s rampant sexism.  Because of this, women haven’t always been treated equally in the beer industry when it comes to pay and respect. Thankfully this is changing. Craft beer is for everyone (of age), and there is a new group in town of kick ass women who want to spread knowledge, love and understanding of craft beer. They are the Barley’s Angels and they their first meeting coming up soon. For more information about how you can join and/or support this righteous group of sisters, and what they are about, check out Knox Hop’nings.

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One last thing as a reminder. This Wednesday I’m teaming up with The Casual Pint for our first beer infusion night. We’ll be running Woodruff’s Porter through my infuser packed with cocoa nibs and shredded coconut. If this event goes well, we plan on doing an infusion once a month. Please come out and support. I hope to see you all there.

More next week,

Ratchet


So much fun! Live blogging of my #homebrew day again today

October 27, 2011

I had such a great response to my live blogging of my last brew day, that I thought I’d do it again. I took the day off work. It’s been a slow work week and I am caught up. Thought I’d brew a batch of American Style Dark India Ale aka Dark IPA aka Cascadian Ale. It’s a style I’ve been wanting to brew for awhile. I’ve had many homebrewer’s interpretations of it recently, along with a few commercial examples. I really like it. I formulated this recipe and ordered my hops last week. Of course, after I weighed out my grains and ground them I revisited my worn copy of Brew Your Own magazine that has an article about this style of beer. It’s seems like my recipe has more chocolate malt then others do. So it might turn out to be a “chocolate IPA”, but pale chocolate malt isn’t as roasty as normal chocolate malt. Either way, I’m sure it will be good. I will let you know when I eventually get to drink it. Here’s my recipe for 10 gallons:

20 lbs Pale Ale Malt
1 lb, 6 ounces of Vienna Malt
2 lbs pale chocolate
1 lb midnight wheat
1 lb dark crystal 80
1 lb flaked oats
2 Whirfloc tablets (last 5 minutes)

4 oz Amarillo Hops (2 oz 60 minutes, 1 oz 30 minutes, 1 oz 5 minutes)
4 oz Centennial hops (2 oz 60 minutes, 1 oz 30 minutes, 1 oz 5 minutes)
2 oz Crystal hops (1 oz 45 minutes, 1 oz 5 minutes)

Safale US-05 American Ale Yeast

Mash w/ 9 gallons of water (hold at 152-154 for 60 minutes)

Sparge with 8 gallons of water at 168 degrees
Boil and follow hop schedule

Yesterday I went and filled my water jugs at Love’s Creek Spring. I also set everything up on my porch so I could get the water going as soon as I woke up. My whole plan is to get done as soon as possible so I can take my son to “Scare in the Square” this evening.

5:40 am: Woke up before my alarm. I should get out of bed & get going.
6:00 am: Started water going, hoping to mash in by 7.
6:10 am: Coffee!
6:54 am: Mashed in. Hit my temperature with no issues.
7:00 am: Started Sparge water going. It’s on low since I have an hour to get it to 168 degrees.
7:08 am: Making breakfast.
7:28 am: Just stirred the mash, 30 minutes left to go until Sparge.
7:34 I’m now measuring my hops. This is my first true all whole hops brew.

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7:58 am: Starting my Vorluaf
8:23 am: Sparging
9:03 am: finished Sparging, waiting to achieve boil. Only 20 more degrees to go.
9:10 am: it’s at boil! Adding 1st hop addition
9:25 am: added next hop addition
9:40 am: yet another hop addition. Also working on cleaning out my mash run and sanitizing my carboys & cool down equipment.
10:05 am: last 5 minutes of the boil & last hop addition. Also adding Whirfloc tablets
10:10 am: boil is done. Turned off propane. Took out mesh bags full of hops & let then drain in a strainer. Going to start my whirlpool in a few minutes.
10:20 am: started my whirlpool. Going to do this for 20 minutes so all the trub goes to the center of the brew pot.
10:40 am: on to the cool down. It’s a lot easier to do on a cold rainy day.

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11:02 am: cool down done & carboys are full!
11:24 am: starting gravity of the wort is 1.062. Tasty very hoppy, but it balances with maltyness & a hint of chocolate malt. No roast character which is good & within the style for this type of beer. Of course the flavor will change with fermentation. I’ve pitched the yeast & am awaiting the magic of fermentation. It’ll be awhile until I post again, there is a lot of clean up to do.
11:54 am: not even close to being done with brew day clean up, but must take a break. Hard work.
1:00 pm: Guess what? Still not done with clean up. I’m tired.


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

 

Quick update before the weekend.

October 5, 2011

Hey y’all. I figured I post something to keep the ol’ blog alive and to let you know about some beer related events that have happened or are happening soon. Last night I went to Woodruff’s third cask night at the Downtown Grill and Brewery. Brewer Dave Ohmer dry hopped 15 gallons of their White Mule Pale Ale and naturally carbonated it for 3 weeks. Poured with an authentic hand pumped beer engine, the brew was smooth, creamy and very hoppy. There weren’t as many people in attendance as the 1st cask night, but it was good to see my friends the Knox Beer Snobs in the house. I also got to kick it with a few of homebrew club members as well as some other great folks. I’m greatful for the Brewery’s cask night and hope that it continues to florish. 

Speaking of breweries, Marble City Brewing Company’s tap room, The Quarry, is open. They are open Wednesday through Friday from 4-8 pm, Saturday 2 to 8. If you find yourself out and about in Knoxville, I suggest you check it out. I went on opening day. It’s a nicely redone room, very comfortable.  It’s a small scene there and everyone knows almost everyone. I met a few new friends that night including a fellow homebrewer. I also went and hung out a little bit with Brewmaster Jen who has a wealth of brewing knowledge. It seems like everytime I have a beercentric conversation with her, I learn something new.  The Quarry is having it’s “official” grand opening on Friday October 21 from 4-9 pm. I have volunteered to work the brewer’s keg check in at World’s Fair Park for the Knoxville Brewers Jam that night, but I might have to push that back a bit so I can at least make an appearance.

OH, and speaking of Brewer’s Jam, LAST CHANCE TO BUY TICKETS. I hear that there are less than 100 left and they expect it to sell out by Friday evening. Get them now, or miss out entirely.

Oh Saturday, how I look forward to thee. I plan on getting up bright and early to head to Asheville for their small but fun Oktoberfest celebration downtown. Six great Asheville breweries, games, the music of  Stratton Mountain Boys, the food, the dirndls, a hotel within stumbling distance and a planned trip afterwards to The Wedge Brewery? OH HELL YES!!!! This is one of the events I planned to go to since last year. The hotel was booked months ago and I made sure to get my ticket way before any chance the event would sell out. I’ll make sure to take plenty of pictures and video and write up a nice long post afterwards. I’m still traveling solo, so if anyone wants to go, give me a shout. 

Well I’m kicking myself for not going to the homebrew shop yesterday. I meant to get a new bottling bucket so I could sanitize it with the bottles for my last 10 gallons of my Butternut Squash ale that I plan on bottling tomorrow. Wednesday is the only day that Harry closes shop, so I guess I’ll use my old worn out bottling bucket that needed to be replaced along time ago. I still need to work on my next recipe for chocolate pepper stout. Must order ingredients next week. I have to get at least one more brew day in this month.

Ok, well, I’ll be tweeting live from Oktoberfest this weekend, so for drunken hilarity, check back and read the twitter side bar on this page. Should be entertaining….

Until then,

Cheers,

Ratchet

GO TO THIS!!!

Come drink in the streets of Asheville, Beer City USA

 

Kingsport Oktoberfest- a retrospective.

September 26, 2011

What a weekend! I’m finally back in Knoxville, relaxing at my friend’s work & using the wifi. I’m also drinking my growler of Highland Brewing Company’s Clawhammer Oktoberfest. I brought all my empty growlers to Kingsport with the grand idea that I would fill them with tasty beers from all over. However, the reality is that I was so busy working my booth, I didn’t have time to get my growlers filled. I barely had time to eat or visit with other brewers. I was able to come back with only 2 growlers. The other one has Heinzelmännchen’s  Root Beer for my son.

Alright, here’s how  the whole weekend went down. Friday I got off work early. My bosses was kind enough to lend me her pickup truck that has a camper top for me to be able to haul my kegs along with the Woodruff Brewing Company’s kegs, ice tub, c02 and tap box. I not only had my homebrew, but I was officially representing Woodruff as well. After I loaded my stuff, I went down to the loading dock behind Downtown Grill and Brewery and met with Dave (one of the brewers) and loaded up a half barrell of Alt and a half barrell of Kolsch. A half barrell is is standard size keg for those of you not down with brewer lingo. Dave very professionally tied the kegs down with a ratchet strap. He did a much better job than my laughablle half assed attempts with bungie cords. Then again, he’s a pro who knows what he’s doing because part of his job is delivering kegs.  After everything was secured, I headed up north towards Kingsport. Roughly 2 hours later I was there. I checked in to my dirty but cheap Motel 8 and then headed down to the site.  I unloaded the kegs and equipment and made sure the beer was iced down. Then I went back to the hotel to unwind for a bit. I visited a local gas station/ convenience store for snacks, chilled a bit then headed back down to the site for a little brewer only pre-party. I saw some old friends, ate some food, listened to some bluegrass and met some really cool people.

I really enjoyed meeting and speaking with Dieter Kuhn and Sheryl Rudd of Heinzelmännchen Brewery out of Sylvia, North Carolina. They’re we incredibly nice and generous, having donated a keg of their “Chocolate Covered Gnome” to the pre-party. Chocolate Covered Gnome is a strong 8% abv porter made with cocoa powder. I was blown away by how delicious it was, and had to know everything I could about how it was brewed. I spoke with Sheryl first and asked her why they used cocoa powder instead of cocoa nibs. I really wanted to know “how did they keep the cocoa powder from settling out during the fermenting process?” She introduced me to her husband Dieter and we spoke about beer and his secret for getting the chocolate flavor in it. I learned much, but I am sworn to secrecy. I could tell you how he does it, but then I’d have to kill you (I can’t do that, I need every reader I can get!) I can tell you that I now know not to use cocoa nibs in my beer. It turns out that the cocoa butter fats turn rancid within a couple of weeks. This explains why I thought the chocolate imperial stout I made early this year was infected. It was just the fats going rancid and not an infection at all. Thanks for the advice Sheryl and Dieter. Visiting your brewery just made the top of my must do list.

On Friday night we also had a half barrell of Highland Brewing Company’s Clawhammer Oktoberfest on tap. That was when I was able to fill my growler that I am currently enjoying. I love Highland’s brews. I remember back in the day when we couldn’t get them her in Knoxville, I’d take orders from friends and make a drive to Asheville just to stock up. Anyway, I filled my growler and stopped drinking for the couple of hours it took me to sober up enough to drive the short 1 & 1/2 mile to the hotel. I didn’t really sleep well due to a combination of an uncomfortable bed and hotel situation.

Saturday morning I was up bright and early. I ate the free continental breakfast at the hotel and headed to set up my booth. I had to get kegs tapped, the tap box and carbonation levels just right, the Woodruff banner hung and everything else (merch, tools, etc) in place. The event opened early at 11 am for VIPs. Homebrews poured during that time were collected to be judged and everyone had a ballot where they could vote on their favorites. My Butternut Squash Ale was a hit with many people coming back for seconds, thirds and even fourths! I came up with a new thing to tell people about it. I’d ask if they liked pumpkin ales. If they said yes, I’d tell them it was the same beer different squash. The 11am to 1 pm when it was just VIPs was great, the lines weren’t to big and luckily I had a couple of lovely volunteers to help me pour beer. At 1 pm they opened the gates to the general public and things got hectic. I was trying to pour beer while hooking up an infuser while trying to get food while trying to find beer to drink that wasn’t at my tent. Phew! I really could have used more help. During this portion of the festival, I felt like I was completely overworked. There were a couple of moments when I felt like just walking away and letting people serve themselves. I was able to get a few volunteers, and a little bit of a break. During that time I went and hung out with Don from Knox Beer Snobs, Jennifer and Adam of Marble City Brewery. I also made sure to get beer from Underground Brewing Company, the homebrewers of Legit Brew. I made sure to go say hi to the legendary Oscar Wong of Highland Brewing. I also met Jon of Tattood Brew (who is now on our links section). I had really hoped to spend time at the Beer University part of Oktoberfest. There were some great classes that I had wanted to attend, but it just didn’t work out that way. Hopefully I’ll have a little more help and will be able to next time.

Speaking of beer university, I ended up doing a quick talk about beer infusions. I had set up the infuser at the booth running Woodruff’s Kolsh which is named Downtown Blonde, through fresh cut strawberries. It was a hit and we call it “Strawberry Blonde”. For the Beer University, the idea was that we’d have a keg set up and then we were going to run it through fresh hops and let people taste the difference. That did not happen. Instead I had to wing it. I was a little buzzed at that point. A friend of mine video recorded it for me as seen below.

When the festival was officially over, the biergarden part stayed open for the volunteers to enjoy beer  as a reward for all their work. We poured as much as we could, sold the rest of the Downtown Grill & Brewery glasses. I ended up trading a glass to a guy for the shirt off his back just because I could, and my drunk ass thought it was funny.

At the end of it all I made sure everything was packed up in the truck. I then walked a block over to Stir Fry Cafe  to hang out with some people I had met during the festival. I ate some really good spicy tuna rools and drank water to sober up for the drive back to the hotel.

My overall impression that this was a really great inaugural event. This is Aaaron and crew’s first time putting on a beer festival like this. There were a few rookie mistakes made, but that is to be expected. Those minor issues were addressed and will not happen next time. Speaking of next time, check out Thirsty Orange Brew Extravaganza. This is is still in the planning stages, but believe me, you will not want to miss this in the spring.

Enjoy my pictures below, leave a comment about Oktoberfest. I will try to post again soon, but now my focus in on the upcoming Asheville Oktoberfest taking place on Saturday October 8th.

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