So much has happened since Kingsport Oktoberfest. Originally I thought I’d try to post everything that happened in the last month or 2, but after 2 days of writing this, I I decided to keep it mainly about my Bourboncation.
September 21st and 22nd I hit the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky. Specifically I headed to Loretto, KY for Maker’s Mark. I’ve been a member of the Maker’s Mark Ambassador program since 2005. They put my name on a barrel and sent me periodic updates on where the barrel was in the warehouse and how it was coming along. They also send me cool gifts from time to time. I have been wanting to visit the distillery forever. Finally I got a letter in the mail with a golden ticket telling me that my barrel was done aging and bottles were available for purchase between March and the end of September. So I planned a quick trip. The idea was to drive up for the day, visit the Maker’s Mark Distillery and either drive back or find a hotel for the evening. I got a late start on Saturday and arrived at Maker’s Mark just in time for one of the last tours of the day. It was a pretty drive, but I had moments of worry on the way that we weren’t in the right place. It’s in the middle of nowhere. Nothing but back country roads and horse farms in that part of Kentucky.
At the Maker’s Mark sign with my Golden Ticket.
The distillery grounds are absolutely beautiful. The distillery itself has a long and rich history. I walked the ground listening to the stories told by the tour guide. When it comes to Bourbon, Maker’s Mark has always been one of my favorite brands and while there I learned why it’s so smooth. The grain bill is massively different from most bourbons where instead of rye, they use red wheat. This takes away the the astringency that rye produces. They also still mash and distill using traditional methods.
The tour is fun and informative and I highly recommend going when you get a chance. Everyone’s favorite part is when they let you sample some bourbon. The tour ends at the gift shop where they sell bottles and all kinds of great souvenirs. Since I am an ambassador, I got to hand dip 2 bottles from my barrel into Maker’s Mark trademark red wax. They even printed custom labels for my bottles. I am excited that I bought 4 long charred oak barrel staves that they used to condition my favorite brand, Maker’s 46. These still smell like bourbon. I plan on sanitizing them and using them to flavor the next big batch of imperial stout that we brew. Here are some pictures and videos from Maker’s Mark. Click on the circles to enlarge.
I still need to get a frame for this
She was super nice and even hooked us up after the tour with a taste of the un-aged white dog.
The distilled “white dog” before it is put in the barrels
I wish this WOULD happen.
They had pictures of their advertisements on the wall of the bottling room. This one was my favorite. I would have loved to see this in real life.
They gave us a free taste of a Maker’s Mark chocolate. Of course after trying on, we had to buy some.
As I was speaking with the various employees and other people I met on the tour, a question that I was frequently asked was “Are you in town for the Bourbon Festival?” Apparently I came on the right weekend because right up the road in Bardstown, KY was the yearly Bourbon Fest. I just knew that I had to go check this out. I left Maker’s Mark and drove the half hour up. Arriving and finding a great free parking spot, I walked around. This was definitely a family friendly event. The free part had many booths set up and temporary gift shops from many of Kentucky’s distilleries. There was a classic car show and typical street fair food. For $3 you could buy a pin which gave you access to the adult’s only bourbon drinking area. To get drinks you had to purchase tickets. They were pricey, which I thought would limit me to how many drinks I’d imbibe. Was I wrong about that! I immediately made friends with a couple of guys working the bourbon flight booth by going and getting beer for them. They hooked me up repeatedly with free booze. After a few really good mixed drinks which I don’t recall the name of, I met a couple from Knoxville. I met Spencer and Meggers when they walked by and I noticed Spencer’s UT shirt. I simply said “Go Vols!” and the next thing I know, I’m hanging out with them talking about Knoxville, football and getting drunk. Spencer kept purchasing rounds which I gladly accepted. After awhile of pacing myself, it was time to go. At that point in the fest, it had become a drunken shit show and I really wanted to get to the hotel. I thanked Spencer and Meggers and walked to the car and headed out to find my hotel room.
Oh yeah, nothing like some bourbon sampling
My buddies that hooked me up
Bourbon flight time!
I wish I knew what that drink was he kept making us. It was creamy boozy deliciousness.
The Music Stage at Bourbonfest 2013
More like Nowhereville, amiright?
My favorite bourbon tender
The next morning I woke up and headed out. I wanted to go visit Four Roses Distillery since it wasn’t too far away. I arrived just in time for the last tour of the day. I sat and watched a presentation about the distillery before the tour group walked the grounds. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of this brand but still had an enjoyable time. The best part is that at the end, I got to try several of their sub-brands. Here’s some pictures from the distillery.
After the tour It was time for the long drive back to Knoxville. Unfortunately due to timing and the fact that the distilleries are spread out all over the state, I didn’t get a chance to visit any others. I really wanted to go to Buffalo Trace which distills some award winning brands such as Elmer T. Lee, Pappy Van Winkle and a personal favorite, Eagle Rare. I do plan on visiting in the future.
Being that Lexington was on the way home, and I didn’t want to trip to be over, I thought I’d stop a few places. I drove over to Liquor Barn. I had heard that they had a great selection of craft beers. They did have some goodies there, but I didn’t buy much. I did take home a Mexican craft beer IPA, but after trying it, it tasted like it had been on the shelf for too long. The next spot I hit was the world famous Beer Trappe. This place is known for the great selection and was voted one of the top 100 beer bars in the country. It’s somewhere I had wanted to visit for a long time. I ordered a flight of beer to sip on while I checked out the great bottle selection. I found a few treats that I had been wanting to try, and added them to my cart. After picking out beer, I settled back up to the bar to talk to the owner and some locals about their beer scene. I asked which local breweries that they’d recommend. I only had time to visit one, so I settled on Country Boy, just a short drive away.
Liquor barn had a massive selection of booze
The Beer Trappe
Inside The Beer Trappe
Draft list at The Beer Trappe
I knew I couldn’t stay long at Country Boy. I was tired from all the drinking and traveling over the weekend and wanted to get home. I stayed long enough to enjoy a flight of 4 samples. I like the atmosphere at Country Boy and look forward to going back when I have more time. I also regret that I didn’t have time to check out West Sixth Brewing while in town.
Draft List at County Boy brewing
Bar inside County Boy Brewing
I finally arrived back in Knoxville around dark. I was tired but happy to have had a great trip. I really look forward to hitting the places I missed up in Kentucky. Maybe another Bourboncation is called for in the spring.
This is all for now. I have a lot more to write about and will start working on my next update right away. After all, I still have Kingsport Oktoberfest, Knoxville Brewer’s Jam, a side trip to Asheville, an update on the brewery, an update about our seasonal homebrews, Louis K’s Blues and Bar-B-Que hootenany, and much more to tell y’all about. So check back and until then drink well my friends.
So here I am sitting at my desk at work, waiting for 4 pm so I can go start my weekend. The weekend of Brewers Jam is more exciting to me then any other holiday. Christmas always seems like a let down, New Years is meh and I don’t want to celebrate my birthday anymore because getting old kinda sucks. But BREWERS JAM is the day I wait for and anticipate every year. This year’s event is going to be especially fun for yours truly.
Last night the homebrew club I am a member of met for our annual “pretzel jam” where we get together to make pretzel necklaces to sell at Brewers Jam. This year’s Pretzel Jam was right down the block from my house. I walked there so I could imbibe and not worry about getting a ride home. It was a very short walk. At our yearly Pretzel Jam, we hang out, drink homebrew, eat pizza and pick up our shirts and passes for Saturday. We stand around and share information and tell stories of our homebrewing. Our membership has different levels of experience from the just starting out with extract, brew-in-a-bucket beers to the “I’ve been doing it for 30 years” to multiple award winners and all the way to the truly obsessed OMG I gotta start a brew pub members like myself.
Tonight is going to be incredibly fun, and I will be all over the place. I am going to try to duck out of work early if I can, and head over to World’s Fair Park to help load the cold truck. It’s the drop off point for the brewers when they come into town. My work will consist of sitting around, sipping some brewski’s and waiting for brewers to arrive. When they do, I’ll get off my ass and with help from many of the other club members, move kegs from the brewer’s vehicles to the truck. Then I’ll sit back down and shoot the breeze and sip more beer. It’s a hard duty, but someone has to do it. About 5:45 I’ll head home to grab a few things and then I’m heading to Adam & Shellie Palmer’s wedding reception at SawWorks. Adam is the owner of SawWorks and a good friend. They got married in a private ceremony in Providencials in the Turk and Caicos Islands. The reception tonight is small informal gathering for friends and family. I am bringing a couple of bottles of my homemade mead for the newly weds to enjoy. I can’t stay long, because I have 2 other parties to attend this evening.
Hopefully y’all know and aware of another downtown beer blogger and my good friend, the Knoxville Beer Dinosaur, Sacchromyces Rex. Ol’ Saccy is throwing a pre-Brewers Jam beer party in his building on Gay Street. I see Saccy all the time when I am downtown. When he first approached me months ago about throwing a party, I was all about it. When he finally picked a date, it turned out to be perfect. I agreed to bring some of my homebrew. I actually kegged up 3 gallons of a special rum barrel edition of my Butternut Squash Ale for the party. At the same time I’ll be drinking with my Dino friend, the Brewer’s reception is taking place pretty much across the street. Dinner is at 8, so it looks like I’ll be doing a lot of walking back and forth so I can attend both parties.
I know that I’ll want to, but can’t, stay out all night. I have to be at the World’s Fair Park Saturday morning bright and early to help set up. Once the gates open, I will be pouring beer at the homebrewer’s tent. I have 2 kegs of mine, an Oktoberfest and my famous Butternut Squash Ale. I don’t know when they will be tapped, but when they are, I’ll tweet it. These are only 5 gallon kegs, and they tend to get drained within 15 minutes. The afternoon I am responsibility free and will be able to cut loose and have some fun. This is what I am most excited about. Drinking good beer, hanging with friends. Hell I might even be inebriated enough to get my groove on to some music from the fine bands playing. After the Jam ends, who knows where I’ll end up? I know there is an after party at Market Square and I would be down for seeing friends at The Casual Pint, Suttree’s and going to my new favorite speakeasy, the Peter Kern Library. Like I said, who knows?
I can’t wait to see my friends and meet some new ones. If you recognize me, or read my blog, say hi. Let’s raise a toast, throw back a few cold ones together and celebrate this greatest Knoxville holiday.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about my favorite season, fall. I love the cooler weather, the shorter days, the changing leaves and football. Fall is also Oktoberfest, pumpkin ales and fresh hop IPAs. These are seasonal beers and the subject of this post.
When it comes to beer, what does “seasonal” really mean? For some people it means the time of year that beer is available on the market. Do you expect to see a wet hop IPA in the spring? What about pumpkin ale in May? I would avoid both of these then. For me, a “seasonal” beer can mean a beer brewed to be drank at a certain time of year, but it can also mean a beer brewed with specialty ingredients that were harvested and added in when the beer was brewed. With that being said, let’s talk about pumpkin beer.
A few years back, I was really big on pumpkin ales. I remember waiting in the lines at Brewers’ Jam for a taste of Catawba’s King Don’s Pumpkin or Cottonwood Pumpkin Ale. When I got back into brewing after a few years absence, I decided to brew one myself. I researched recipes, found one online based on Thomas Jefferson’s pumpkin ale, made some rather significant changes and went about gathering my ingredients. It was near the end of summer. My garden was bountiful. I went to the Market Square Farmer’s Market in search of pumpkin and couldn’t find any. I asked around and spoke to many farmers who informed me that the pumpkins were still a month out before they’d be ripe. Huh. Well this enthusiasm to brew this style lead me to my end of summer seasonal, my butternut squash Ale. I had plenty of ripe squash in my garden. After more research, I changed my recipe and brewed my now famous beer. You know what? I like it better than any pumpkin ale. I can’t imagine going a year without brewing it. Using freshly harvested squash is the only way to go. I guess I could can some squash and use it in next year’s batch, but that wouldn’t feel right to me. I want that freshness.
Which leads me back to this year’s pumpkin ales. They started showing up on the shelves in July. Beers showing up this far ahead of the time they are traditionally enjoyed is referred to as Seasonal Creep. There is no way that pumpkin is anything but canned. Pumpkin is a late harvest fruit, which is why it’s a big thing around Halloween. Pouring beers at The Casual Pint, I have tried a few. I found that I didn’t really like them. It seems like I’ve lost my taste for this style. I have noticed at least one of them has a slight metallic taste. I completely believe this is because of the pumpkin being in a can for a year. Plus I don’t even want to taste something pumpkiny when it still hot as hell outside. Pumpkin flavor is for the fall, period.
The other big fall seasonal beer is traditionally brewed in March. This type of beer is called Marzen which in German translates to “March Beer”. You might know it as Oktoberfest. We have many of these hitting the market right now. This style was traditionally brewed in March and stored or “lagered” until September. This famous beer style originated in Munich Germany where THE Oktoberfest celebration takes place. For a pretty good reviews of Oktoberfest lagers, I recommend checking out The Knox Beer Snob’s post from last year. My favorite (at least on draft) Oktoberfest bier would be Spaten from Munich. “Lass Dir raten, trinke Spaten.”
In the next months or so, we will start seeing “Winter Warmers” hit the market. I’ll save discussion of these for a later post.
Can I mention how excited I am about this weekend? Why is that? IT’S KINGSPORT OKTOBERFEST!!!! I have so much to do this week to get ready for it, that it’s almost overwhelming. I’m going up Friday night before. I am going to try to live post the whole weekend, from the Friday night pre-party to Saturday’s biergarden and Beer University classes to my Sunday day trip to Asheville. Should be a whole lot of fun.
Did you get your Brewer’s Jam tickets yet? Stop waiting and go to The Casual Pint and buy them now. It’s going to sell out. There are only a few dozen left in all of Knoxville. There won’t be any available at the gate.
One more thing for those of you asking. The next infusion night at Suttree’s is on Thursday September 27th. Once again we I will be using shredded coconut and cocao nibs as the ingredients. The beer being infused is Atwater’s Vanilla Java Porter. This is a really popular beer that hasn’t been around in a couple of months. This is going to be tasty and I hope to see y’all there.
So I want to hear from you. Add a comment at the bottom of this post and I’ll mail you some beer stickers from my stash.
I can’t believe it’s been over 3 weeks since my last post. In my defense, we all know how busy and hectic the holiday season can be. I didn’t start this post with any particular idea of what to write about. I guess I’ll start by telling my readers about my pre-Christmas vacation to Asheville, NC. Yes I know I end up writing quite a bit about my love for good ol’ Beer City USA. Everyone knows I go there as often as my finances allow. However, It wasn’t myself that picked this destination for this particular trip. For some background, I typically go on 2 mini-vacations every year. One right before Christmas and one right before the school year starts. For this Christmas vacation I gave the choice to my 7 year old son, Orion. He picked Asheville (that’s my boy!) When asked why he wanted to go there, he specifically mentioned Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company. He has been many times to their funky little place on Merrimon Avenue. It’s a restaurant that has 2 big sections in the back. One section is an arcade and game room, and the other section is a movie theater. He loves both. Being the Christmas season, they were playing the movie Elf starring Will Ferrell, which just happens to be a family favorite of ours. It’s also the 1st movie Orion ever saw in a real movie theather, back when Regal Riveria in downtown Knoxville first opened. Anyway He picked there because he loves their food and loves to play games. I love their beer, so it was a winning situation all the way around. I booked a room at Downtown Inn & Suites for 2 nights. I love that hotel and in my opinion, it’s the only place in Asheville to stay. From the top floor mountain side, you can honestly see the buildings that 3 of Beer City’s breweries are in. So the day we got there, we checked into our room, then went to Asheville Brewing. We ordered lunch and Orion played games while I drank a few of their delicious beers. I also picked up a case of Shiva IPA in cans to go. The movie started and since I wasn’t driving, I had a few more. I bought a Shiva IPA shirt as a Christmas present to his mom. After the movie was over, we headed to Bruisin Ales on Broadway. This was my Christmas present to myself. I could (and sometimes do), spend hours there looking at beers, reading labels, trying whatever they have on tap and talking with the owners, staff and other beer geeks. I picked out myself a pretty hefty assortments of beverages, and spent a 3rd of my meager savings there. After that we drove out to Earth Fare to get some grocieries and more beer. Sometimes bigger bottles of local beer is on sale there, so I ended up getting a few more bottles. By that time we were all pretty beat, so we went back to the hotel. After a little bit of tv watching, I decided to venture out to the little gas station/ convienance store/ bum hangout called Hot Spot to buy some bottled water. This was literally within site of the hotel. I was hoping to pick up a gallon of water there since I forgot, but they didn’t have it. I ended up paying way to much for a liter of water. I found it disturbing that I could have got a 2 liter of some crappy high fructose corn syrup soda for half of what I paid for my water, if I actually drank that crap. On the walk back to the hotel, I smelled beer wort cooking in the night air. Beer City USA indeed! I dropped the water off at the room, and went across the street for a beer at Jack of The Woods Pub. I had a Green Man ESB that was cask conditioned. I love the atmosphere of this little pub. I sat at the bar nursing my beer and listening to a bluegrass jam. I was pretty tired by then, so after my 1 beer, I went back to the hotel and fell asleep. The next day was even more fun. The plan was to go Christmas shopping for each other in Downtown Asheville. Orion’s mom and I agreed we would each take Orion for half the day so the other person could go shopping for him. After breakfast I headed out solo looking for presents. I couldn’t really find much in Downtown that a 7 year old toy gun obsessed kid would like, so I got in the car and drove to Toys R Us where I was able to pick him up some cool stuff. When I got back, he was still not done shopping for me, so I headed over to Bruisin’ Ales to pick up a few more beers. It happened to be the 5th anniversary of their opening, and the place was packed. The beer was flowing and stuff was flying off the shelves. I got the call that Orion was ready for me to take him shopping. I met him at the hotel where we ate some snacks before going back out. I also needed a little energy, so I poured myself a Terrapin Brewing Company Wake N Bake Coffee Oatmeal stout into an innocent looking to go coffee cup to take with me. So here I am, walking around shops in Downtown Asheville with a cup of what looks and smells like coffee but is really beer. I thought it was great at the time. When we were done shopping, Orion was exhausted from spending all day walking around town. I was able to finally convince him to walk with me to Green Man Brewery, about 1/2 mile away from the hotel. I went and had a few beers and played darts and met a couple from Chicago who had just moved to Asheville and were staying at the same hotel we were. I’m glad I was able to go, because the Green Man brewery is one of my favorites in Asheville. The tasting room is small and cosy, the brewing equiptment is right there, and the place smells great because of the cooking wort. They brew my favorite ESB. The walk back was tough for the kid. We had plans to meet for dinner at Laughing Seed Cafe. By that time Orion was pretty tired and grumpy an there wasn’t anything he liked on the menu. Ultimately, we went down stairs to Jack of the Woods where they had one of Orion’s favorite dishes, Fish & chips. We all stuffed ourselves and his mom and I had some more tasty Green Man ESB. After dinner we went back to the hotel and had us a little Christmas party where we unwrapped the presents we bought for each other. It was really fun and we all gotten some special and thoughtful gifts. We rested a little and then ventured back out to a free Christmas Party at a local gallery a block over. The gallery is called Za Pow! It is a really cool place with many different artist on display. At the party they had free ice cream, a dj, and most importantly, free beer provided by French Broad Brewing Company. I had 2 cups of Wee Heavy-er. Orion and his mom when back to the room, and I went to have a few more beers around town. I walked over to Lexington Avenue Brewery and had a glass of their unimpressive chocolate stout. I love chocolate stouts, but this one was very weak. It tasted like it was made with chocolate extract, and was very thin. So I headed back to hotel and stopped at The Thirsty Monk for one more beer. When I was ordering from the bar, I noticed they had a special deal. For $20 I could get a copy of The Craft of Stone Brewing Company Book and a big bottle of Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale. For $10 more, I could get a signed copy. I ordered the $20 bundle and the bartender went to the office to go get it. She came back and told me that they were out of big bottles of Arrogant Bastard Ale, but could offer me a smaller bottle, the book and a pour of Arrogant Bastard at the upstairs bar, or I could make a counter offer. I offered how about the small bottle of Arrogant Bastard and a signed copy of the book. She went to go check with the manager and came back, offer accepted. I took my book and my glass of Blanche de Chambly on to the front patio and started reading. I have since read the entire book, and have to tell you, it’s pretty darn good. It gives a great insight in to the minds of Stone Brewing Company’s founders and has great food and beer brewing recipes. I’m glad I got it for myself. The next day was Christmas eve. We ate breakfast and packed up the car. The plan was to wait until noon and go to Arcade Asheville to play some more video games. For whatever reason, they weren’t open, so we went back to Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company. I handed Orion a handful of quarters and his mom and I sat down at the front bar. They had Shiva IPA on a nitrogen tap. Having this style of beer on nitrogen is pretty unique. We were talking to the bartender about it. I looked over and thought I saw someone I knew standing sideways. Is that Mike I asked? The bartender said yes as I started walking over towards him. He turned and saw me and gave me a hug. See, Mike is the owner of Asheville Brewing Company. I have seen him and hung out with him over the years at the Knoxville Brewer’s Jam. We always hit it off and he knows I’m a huge fan of his brewery. I always give him homebrew and whenever I see him later on, he tells me how much he likes my beers. I happen to bring some of my brews with me, in case I ran into someone I knew. I went out to the car and grabbed the bottles and gave them to him. He gave me a Ninja Porter hoodie. He knows this is my favorite porter in the world. We talked and hung out for a little bit and he had to go make a delivery to another one of his locations. I am so glad it worked out and I saw him before I left town. It was the perfect ending to my vacation.
So there is my story. I know it’s probably long, rambling and boring, but I had to post something.
Now on to New Years. Tonight is New Year’s Eve. I plan on making an appearance at the Downtown Grill and Brewery (of course). Every year for Christmas I bring bottles of homebrew beer or mead to the bar staff there. They take good care of me year round, and it’s my way of returning the favor. I did this before and after my Asheville trip, but I still have a few people I missed. I also won some passes to Knoxville’s First night celebration, so tonight I plan on walking around, maybe checking out a band or 2 before coming home to usher in the new year with a new beer.
Speaking of new year, time to make some resolutions. Besides the basic ones I’m making such as losing weight, eating healthier and exercising more, I have some beer specific ones. In 2012 I pledge to brew more beer then I did in 2011. I will post on my website at least twice a month. I will continue to upgrade my brewing equipment and practices. I will study harder and pass my BJCP test. I will try new beers.
As part of my never ending obsession to become the best possible beer brewer I can be, I’ve taken the next step. In the past I have always bought a fresh package of yeast whenever I planned on brewing. Yeast is expensive as far a beer ingredients go. I can get a good powdered yeast such as Safale US-05 or 04 for $3.99 a package at the local hombrew shop. Since it is never good to under pitch the amount needed, I end up buy 3 or 4 packs. The other type of yeast I use is liquid yeast from Wyeast. These are really expensive, around $8 for a “smack pack“. My local homebrew supply shop only keeps three different strains in stock, so when I want a different one, I have to factor in the cost of a cold pack and shipping as well. I usually pitch 2 or 3 packs for my 10 gallon batches. Like I said, can be a bit pricey. My other option for yeast is great, I can always ask the brewmaster, Jennifer for some yeast from Marble City Brewing Company. She dumps more yeast in 1 batch then most homebrewers use in a year. It’s a great strain (California Ale Yeast), however working out the timing to meet her at the brewery can be tricky. So I’ve added another peice of equipment to my collection.
For a long time, I’ve wanted an Erlenmeyer Flask and a stir plate. Every once in awhile, I pull up my wish list at Rebel Brewer.com and daydream about various ingredients and equipment I want (yes, I know I’m a dork). With the stir plate and flask, I would think how nice it would be to make a large yeast starter so I would only need 1 package of yeast. I knew I’d need the largest started kit they offer, since I brew more then the average 5 gallons at once. Well, my mom recently asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I sent her a link to the Rebel Brewer page. The next thing I know, a box from them shows up on my door step. I have the best mom ever! Not only did she get me this, but she also got me a membership to the American Homebrewer Association. That is something I have wanted for as long as I’ve been brewing! Now that I have my flask and stir plate, I went ahead and ordered 1 package of Rogue’sPacman yeast strain. I will brew with it, and when I move the beer to the secondary, I will harvest and store the yeast. This part is new to me. It’s something I have never done before, and I’m a little bit nervous about it. I found a ton of information online and plan on using this webpage as my guide. I would like nothing more then to build up a great yeast library, and never have to buy it again.
So yes, I plan on making a batch again this weekend. I haven’t brewed for about a month. That last post where I said I was going to brew this weekend? It didn’t happen. I figured I had more beer then places to store it, I should drink down my stash a little bit first. A few weekend bon-fire parties later and I have space again. I plan on making another Cocoa Stout because my last batch (the one with peppers) is freakin’ amazing.
Alright topic switch. Here is what I currently have on tap and bottled at my house,with my tasting notes.
Butternut Squash Ale. This is the 1st batch I made this year, when I was still getting use to my equipment. It is more thick, heavier, spicier and alcoholic then my next 2 batches. I like this the least. My friends who try it says it’s awesome, but I consider this my “learning batch” and I don’t feel like it lives up to my standards. I’ll be glad when this keg is empty. My subsequent batches of this beer however, are incredibly good and have earned me props from some of the most grizzled, cynical and critical beer snob members of the homebrew club.
Cream Soda. Yes I know it’s not a beer, but I included it because I do have it on tap in the fridge. My kid made this. It’s good, he is proud of his creation, and I’m proud of him. He is going to be one hell of a brewer when he grows up.
Woodruff’s New World Porter.NOT a homebrew. The Brewers filled up one of my 5 gallon kegs for me for $40. At that price, how could I NOT have this on tap? When I got my infuser, I ran this thorugh shaved coconut and raw cocao nibs. It was just like drinking an almond joy. Because it was so good, we drank around half the keg over Thanksgiving weekend. I plan on keeping one of Woodruff’s tasty creations in my fridge at all times. When this is empty, I’ll get their IPA next.
It All Went Black, Cascadian Dark Ale. This is the beer I ran a contest to name in my last post. Mark Baggett, one of our local #KnoxBeer tweeps named it. I still got to get him is six pack (Holla Mark!). I like this beer. It does taste more chocolatey then I expected, but then again, I did use 2 pounds of pale chocolate malt in the recipe. I do like it however. Nice and hoppy, very drinkable. If I make this again, I will dial back on the chocolate malts. Homebrewing is nothing if it ain’t a learning experience.
Spicy Cocoa Stout. Saved the best for last. This beer is great! It’s better then great! It’s freakin’ fantastic! This is definitely one of the best beers I have ever brewed. On tap it’s nice and smooth, big cocoa taste at first, then you get the spicy pepper heat on the finish. Pepper and chocolate are perfectly balanced. It warms me up when I drink it, just as I intended with this recipe. This will be my winter seasonal from now on.
Bottle conditioned beers:
Spicy Cocoa Stout, Butternut Squash Ale and Cascadian Dark. The Butternut Squash ale I save to give out for Christmas presents.
Alright, I still want to hear from you if you read my blog. Leave a post below. Maybe we can meet up sometime and you can sample one of my brews.
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.
Adam and Jonathon, owners of Marble City Brewing Company
Don of Knox Beer Snobs
Matt, owner of Jackson Avenue Market
I made this!
Mike, co-owner of Asheville Brewing Company
Jen (of Marble City Brewery) and Rob and Don of Knox Beer Snobs
Chris Harris- homebrewer of Secret City Brewery
Chris, one of the bartenders at Downtown Grill & Brewery
my 1st beer at the Jam, Marble Brewery (of NM) IPA
Early morning set up at Brewers Jam
Brewer reception on Friday night
Another shot of the Quarry Grand Opening
Grand Opening of Marble City Brewing Company’s Tap room, The Quarry.