Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Winter Warmer: Re-scheduled with Weather Cooperating This Time

Despite being delayed couple weeks, Asheville's Winter Warmer, the first big craft beer event of the year, came off fabulously with several new beers and breweries for me to learn about (and Tap in).  Maybe a couple breweries shy of last year's total, the crowd was the same: smiling and enjoying their samples.
With my notes close at hand and a ton of photos, let's see if I can do the event justice.

One of the new breweries for me was the event's featured guest brewery, Troegs Independent from Hershey, PA. Four beers were offered, but my first taste of their Nugget Nectar was enough to satisfy my curiosity; I'm gonna like their beers. NN is an Imperial Amber with 93 IBUs (almost a Red IPA) and an abv of 7.5%. Big on flavor and hop aroma, very satisfying to this hophead, thanks to the "excessive dry-hopping" with Nugget hops. I could have remained there, sampling the rest of the afternoon but duty called. My thanks to Corey Faithful, their NC sales rep for the generous pours and cluing me in on Troegs history and NC distribution plans.

Another new brewery for me as Lazy Hiker, from Franklin, NC.

I grabbed their Slack Pack IPA, (6.0% abv, 55 ibu) right away and it was full of deliciousness as well as intense hop aromas. I was told that was from a blend of hops, not a specific one. Very drinkable and, again, I wanted to linger but forced myself to move on. I did return later to try their Trail Mate Golden, a light, crisp ale with European hops. Perfect summertime sipper. That left three more to try but time would not allow it. You'll have to visit the brewery yourself and see if I'm right.

I enjoyed talking to brewer Buddy Everhart, of Aviator Brewing Co., in Fuquay Varina (that's how it's spelled!) NC. Opted for the Devil's Tramping Ground Tripel, a big 9.2% abv but without noticeable alcohol presence.
Made with Saaz and Hallertau hops, definite Belgian characteristics are present, pilsner malts make this very drinkable.

Not new to me but offering one of my favorite flavors in an ale, Birdsong from Charlotte, NC, had a jalapeño pale on tap, so of course I hung out there for awhile. Not a lot of heat but plenty of pepper flavor. I  consider this a prime example of a summer refresher. Not bad in winter, either.

Ashville Brewing was also there with their Fire Escape, a fiery jalapeño infused IPA which I always have anytime I'm in Asheville.

After those adventures, I decided to just walk around the floor and play tourist for awhile, camera at the ready. Some representative scenes:

I'll add some captions shortly, but all this beer gazing has made me thirsty!! 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Asheville's Winter Warmer Finally Happens

Postponed due to the severe weather alerts, the 2016 Winter Warmer went off without any further delays under sunny skies.

Editing and sorting and writing and, well, that's the picture at the moment here at HFB World Headquarters, reliving the tasting extravaganza that was the Winter Warmer yesterday in Asheville. Don't touch that dial, you don't want to miss any of the exciting details!!!


Friday, February 5, 2016

Beer Drinkin' and Snackin' During the Super Bowl

"What! Not another beer list," you protest.

Well, yes, but this one has some credibility, in that it comes from Gwen Condon, director of production and quality assurance at Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey in San Marcos, Calif., along with Julia Herz, co-author of an important beer tasting guide. Port, located just north of San Diego, produces some very desirable beers, in a variety of styles. Look them up.

Anyway, one of their recommendations for pairing with guacamole is a hoppy American Pale Ale, which, by fortuitous timing, is a beer just added to the tap menu at Upstate Craft Beer Co., one that I helped (in a small way) Brewmaster Chris Hardin bring to fruition.

Here's the list, you'll have to find your own guac!



Interstellar Pale Ale Now On Tap

Remember back to Jan 10? I assisted Chris Hardin at Upstate Craft Beer Co. with the brewing of their Interstellar Pale Ale? Well, it has now been added to the on-tap menu so I'm on my way today to taste the result. Chris says it's tasty, which I would expect since it was dry-hopped with Galaxy and Polaris hops. Anxious to try it since it was my first effort as brewer's assistant. Get down there!!


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Brewing, Bottle Share and Anniversary - Life in Greenville's Craft Beer Community

After getting the wort into the fermenters yesterday at Upstate Craft Beer Co., headed over to Birds Fly South Ale Project's new location to join in on a bottle-share and fundraiser. After tasting several rare and astounding beers and hearing Shawn discuss his plans for the facility, forced myself to move on. In this case to Brewery 85's Second Anniversary party. What a crowd! Lots of fans of Will and Jeremy's beers there. Dogs and kiddies in equal numbers too. Good music, good beer and what promised to be a fantastic sunset, even tho Will yelled "last call" at 5 pm. Great day for me and an equally great day for Greenville's craft beer community.

More photos and details coming soon!!

Monday, January 25, 2016

IPA Collaboration Day with Upstate Craft Beer Company

End of the brew day! Nothing like the sense of satisfaction one gets from brewing your own beer, or our beer in this case, since this is a collaboration with Upstate Craft Beer Co. and Chris Hardin. Tired after all the milling, mashing, boiling, hop additions (4 of them) and final cleaning up. Totally worth it. Beer availability will be announced next month, special occasion et al. Keeping the details for later but a hop teaser: 78 IBUs. Some action shots:


Monday, January 18, 2016

Barley's 2016 Biggest Little Beer Fest Wrap-up

Well, Barley's Fifth Annual beer fest is now history, joining the ranks of the other four fun times. I think I'll take this opportunity to reflect back on how I experienced the event, talk about the new beers I tried and the new friends I made. Thanks to Drew Moren for his assistance.

Barley's is a great venue, thanks to 3 levels, including The Trappe Door where all the
Belgians hang out. Plus for VIP ticket holders, there is the library room where very special beers are on tap, and you are surrounded by aging rare bottles which can be ordered off their reserve menu.

So, on to the Fest offerings. My usual policy for beer fests is to try beers that I've not previously had (or heard of, even better!) so as is the case here, many brewery names you'd recognize aren't mentioned because I gave priority to the new ones. Here goes:

Creature Comforts Brewing is in Athens, GA., so far I've not been able to visit them but I was able to sample their Tropicalia IPA, their only offering. At 6.5% abv and 65 ibu's it's got a refreshing citrus nose and palette, plenty of hops to tame the sugars and well balanced finish. Quickly became one of my faves. Now, I really need to visit the brewery.

Manlandia 2.0 Brewing, home brewed by Jason, offered up their Mosaic version of the H.I.P.A. which I also enjoyed; very citrusy and solid palette balance. Could easily become a favorite, tho hard to find.

Cismontane Brewing poured their Marea Roja, a sour Flemish Red which was barrel aged. Not overly sour, reddish color, light body. Easy sipper, I'd say.

Holy City has two very limited release beers and it would have been a shame to miss out tasting them so that's why I go to events like this. First was their Kate the Great, a Belgian tripel aged in red wine barrels. If you've had their That's What She Said then you've had the base beer for this one, without the barrel aging. Btw, the beer is named after Kate Brown, the Brewmaster Chris' wife. Brewed originally for their wedding. At 8.8% abv, it's a bit stronger than usually found in that style. Very drinkable.
Their other beer was the Bourbon B/A Collision Stout, an Imperial Stout. Big at 8.5% abv, this winter seasonal will definitely warm whatever is chilling you!

 A brand new brewery for me was DuClaw Brewing, from Maryland. I tried their Hop Continuum #3 Imperial IPA which with 75 ibu, it was my style preference. Another big one, 8.9% abv, is light in color but heavy on hop flavor. I meant to go back for more but ran out of time. HIghly recommended.

I've long been a fan (and many years a neighbor) of Lagunitas Brewing, in Petaluma, CA. They had one of their OneHitter Series, Bitter Oaks available, one that I've not had before. Being a fan of oatmeal adjuncts in general, this one did not disappoint. Described as "This big boozy blonde was brewed with a boatload of oats," on their website, I liked the tartness, very dense head as you might expect. Lagunitas typically doesn't list IBUs but the abv is 10.5%, so you know it's a big hop bomb. Recommended as well.

 A very familiar name, New Belgium (about to open in Asheville, NC) came up with a new favorite of mine, their Citradelic Tangerine IPA. Ok, I know, lots and lots of variations of IPAs these days, but this had citrus in the nose (orange and tangerine) citrus in the body and refreshingly citrusy in the finish, almost like a palette cleanser. The website calls it, "a mystical marriage of Citra hops and tangerine peel..." I called it yummy!!! More!

Winding up my list of favorites (every beer there was a well made, wonderful beer but I could only choose so many) are the offerings from one of my favorite South East Coast breweries, Westbrook from Mt. Pleasant, SC. First up of the two, a bourbon barrel aged version of their Weisse Weisse Baby Berliner Weisse, Whiskey Sour. Lots of wheat as the name reveals, but the sour bourbon flavors elevate this to special status. Only 4% abv, so if I had the time I could drink this one all day long.

Their other beer was equally captivating, a Margarita Gose. Aged in tequila barrels with lots of lime additions, this made me want margaritaville to get here soon! Definitely a summer sipper. Very tart, perhaps a little saltiness but a welcome addition. This may be a limited release but should you see if offered this year, go for it!!

So far, I've not even mentioned the Trappe Door where the Belgians to to play. If you want to see what was available, Barley's website has the list. I had a De Troch Lambic Kriek filled with cherry flavor but enough sour to keep it from being cloying. I also tasted a Petrus Aged Pale by De Brabandere, aged in oak, a very effervescent yet sour pale ale. I owe it to all those Belgian brewers to learn more about their traditional recipes and appreciate them more as well. We are fortunate here in Greenville to have a Belgian-centric pub, with good food as well.

Big festival, lots of choices for craft beer lovers and full of opportunities to learn more. For example, a guy named Mike Smith, here with two friends in the photo, told me to be sure and visit  The Black Cloister brewery if I'm ever in Toledo, Ohio. It could happen!

All in all, a fun festival and I'm already looking forward to next year's fun. And speaking of having fun, here are some more photos of folks doing just that:

So, the first festival of the year is past, now time to look to Asheville and this weekend's Winter Warmer. So many beers, so little time!!!


Tarver says, "see ya next year."