Friday, October 25, 2013

Thomas Creek Cask Night; Another Surprise Brew

Last Tuesday of the month means another adventure in cask brewing over at Thomas Creek and this month's was no exception. Stopped by to sample and take a few photos.

Checking in for wrist bands.

Beer of the Month

Getting my sampler to try.
Expansion is moving fast now, after all the rain delays.

Fermenters will occupy this spot in another month.

Jojo Taterhead Revival played some toe-tapping music for the beer-tapping. (Is that a pun?)
More info for the band: https://www.facebook.com/jojotaterheadrevival?directed_target_id=0


Cheers!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Charlotte Beer Discoveries


What started out as a trip to find some art supplies for Kay turned out to be quite a day for new beer adventures. Charlotte, NC, has a rapidly growing craft brewing scene and we only made a small dent in the process of discovering it.

First stop was World of Beer. Got us really excited till we learned it didn't open until 5 pm. Bummer. Another time, for sure.


After a Greek lunch accompanied with a Triple C Urban Hop Project IPA, we headed up to the "hot and trendy area"  called NODA. At first we found this, another "closed til 3pm" beer establishment:

Decided then to walk around the neighborhood (36th Street & North Davidson) to see what might be open.




Saw some stairs leading up to Revolution Ale House, and, eureka!, beer paradise:


 We chose an IPA tasting flight of NC beers we'd never tried before. Left to right we have:

Birdsong Higher Ground; 6.5%   Charlotte
Natty Green Freedom; 6.5%     Greensboro
NoDa Hop Drop n' Roll; 7.2%   Charlotte
Oskar Blues Devian Dale; 8%   Brevard

We also added a Olde Hickory Death by Hops (no pic); 7%  Hickory

All were excellent representations of the style, lots of hop aromas surrounding us and making all of them very dry and with varying degrees of bitterness in the finish. Each one a winner but we chose the NoDa Hop Drop n' Roll as our favorite; it was a hop onslaught for the senses, creamy, big body, slight caramel malt but mostly just hop gangbusters. Will try to visit the brewery, which is about 12 blocks down the street.

Time for a bit more exploring of the neighborhood, then down the road.

Running short of time so just made a very quick stop at NoDa Brewing. Will go back soon to do some more tasting and interviewing those folks who made that fabulous Hop Drop n' Roll:




Notice that their CoCoLoCo porter was a Silver Medal winner at GABF (2012)




That's it! End of the day except for the drive back to Greenville. Two breweries in the neighborhood that we didn't get to... I'm already looking forward to the next time!!

Cheers!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Heads Up - Big Greenville Event Heading Our Way

Making plans for November yet? Besides the turkey, I mean.

I am, I've got November 16 on my calendar. That's the date of the first-ever Greenville Craft Beer Festival, presented by Liberty Tap Room.


This is gonna be fun, one, cause it's in the ballpark with lots of room to mingle, plus Greenville's Craft Beer scene will be well represented. And even if the weather doesn't exactly cooperate, there is plenty of covered space there so inclement weather will not impede my imbibing (for research purposes, of course).
See ya there!


Cheers!

Details here: 

http://rhizomeproductions.com/craft-events/greenville-craft-beer-festival-november-16-2013-2/

Recent Events Recap

So much happening in the beer community here that if one is not careful, one falls behind on updating this blog.
Most recently, stopped at the Lexington Avenue Brewery in Asheville after a visit to the big Craft Show. Time was short so just ordered a tasting flight.


Good size samples, left to right: 

Imperial Rye is a big bodied, creamy version with dry spicy finish. IPA had strong hop presence, nicely buttered finish. Pumpkin Porter good body but a tad too spicy for my taste. Well made beers tho, all of them. I want to return when I have more time. 
Their kitchen blew a great opportunity to knock my socks off with their Truffled Frites. Good idea, bad execution. Shoestring potatoes, good seasoning, but not cooked (deep fried) at the proper temperature, so they were limp. I should connect them with the South Park Cafe in San Francisco which does them perfectly.

Earlier in the week, participated in the InnoVision Forum, here in Greenville, where the subject of the day was the local Craft Brewing and Distilling scene. These forums are valuable opportunities to instruct influential members of the community about local activities and I could see from the response that many were very impressed with the presentations by Brewery 85, Thomas Creek, Moon Shine Distillery and SouthYeast Labs. Managed to snap a few pics before heading out to the beer and brat sampling. My kind of meeting!!


Tom Davis, Thomas Creek Brewing, explained their expansion plans.

Will McCameron, Brewery 85, had a short walk from his brewery to this meeting's location.

David (l) and Even of SouthYeast Labs  describing their sage flavored Saison with proprietary yeast.

Generously provided by our host, InnoVision, Flying Dog Snake Bite IPA was a good choice.

Will told the crowd how his Munich influences will play out in his new brewery.

Moon Shine samples, tiny ones, were a very pleasant surprise to me and many others.
What else happened? Oh, yes, made my inaugural trip to Clemson ( or very nearby) for a tap takeover by Anderson Valley Brewing, of Boonville, CA, at the amazing Wall of Beer store.

Bahl Hornin as a local! He's the AVBC mascot.


Half of the line up. The other ten are on the other side to the left.


Todd Hamrick, AVBC Area Sales Mgr., helped out by being able to describe every beer!

Growlers are the principal medium for sale here. Bottles also available.
Pouring small samplers kept Gianna Lawler busy. Here she's pouring that Wild Turkey Oatmeal Stout. Yum!
Two similar looking samples, quite different in taste. Oatmeal stouts but the one on the right was aged in Wild Turkey Bourbon barrels. Yowza, what flavor!!

The band, Willy Nilly, played remarkably well coordinated bluegrass during the event.
Fun event, enjoyed my first visit to Wall of Beer and I'm sure I'll return!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Frog Level Brewing Putting New Meaning Into The Word Hop.

(No frogs were harmed in the brewing process, at least while I was visiting today.)

Discovered Frog Level Brewing in Waynesville, NC today. Had their Salamander Slam IPA... pale color, but big on flavor, thanks to the Simcoe hops. Their Catcher in the Rye amber was also very tasty with a rye kick in the finish and great texture across the palate. 

Didn't get a photo but will try to get back there soon.

http://www.froglevelbrewing.com/

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pumpkins vs Octoberfests - Which Beer To Drink?

You have probably noticed, as I have, that the shelves/menu boards of your favorite beer purveyors are crowded with the Pumpkins and Octoberfest offerings of many craft breweries. So many beers, so many questions: which is best, how are they different, is the bartender ignoring me?
So, I decided to put them to the test to find out all I could, so the logical place was none other than the Growler Station where Certified Cicerone Server "Big" Jon Richards holds fort and dispenses mucho beer-related info.
In response to my question asking about the differences, this was his response:

video


OK, so now I have a context, so next, it's tasting time.  Lining up my samples I have:



Left to right:

Weyerbaucher Imperial Pumpkin, 8% ABV
  Dogfish Head Punkin, 7% ABV
    Harpoon October Fest, 5% ABV
      Thomas Creek Octoberfest Lager, 6.5% ABV

Notice that the color seems pretty consistent across the samples, consistent with the malt focus of these styles. In an October Fest beer, the use of Vienna malts is classic, which gives it the gold to amber color. The pumpkins on the left both show a tanner head than the Octobers, probably from the use of real pumpkins in the wort.



My tasting notes:


The Weyerbaucher was very spicy, with a bit of alcohol warmth in the finish, and plenty of traditional pumpkin spices noticeable, especially a touch of clove. very full bodied.

The Dogfish Head was the closest of them all to being a regular beer, not overly spiced, good body and balanced sweetness. Very drinkable at any time.

The Harpoon October was a good representation of the style. In the Marzen style, very malty from the use of Munich, Chocolate and Pale malts. Full bodied with a finish that is both soft and malty with a gentle bitterness. I'd drink this one again.

Thomas Creek Octoberfest was very restrained in the spiciness, but with very noticeable caramel flavors and a creamy, full bodied mouth feel. Well balanced and the moderate ABV would make more than one possible, I think.


Overall, I liked them all, with the Dogfish Punkin (named after a pumpkin throwing contsest in Delaware) being my favorite for drinking. Like Big Jon says, "it tastes like a beer, not a pie!"

Well said.
Cheers!








Availability: 
Seasonal
A full-bodied brown ale with smooth hints of pumpkin and brown sugar. We brew our Punkin Ale with pumpkin meat, brown sugar and spices. As the season cools, this is the perfect beer to warm up with.
Punkin Ale is named after the seriously off-centered southern Delaware extravaganza Punkin Chunkin (check out some of these Discovery Channel videos of Punkin Chunkin, you gotta see it to believe it!)
- See more at: http://www.dogfish.com/brews-spirits/the-brews/seasonal-brews/punkin-ale.htm#sthash.nzno8987.dpuf
Harpoon Octoberfest is a malty tribute to fall, balanced by a gentle hop bitterness.  In keeping with tradition, it is a Marzen-style beer, brewed with abundant quantities of Munich, Chocolate, and Pale malts. Those malts provide a solid, full body and create the beer’s deep color.  It is a rich, flavorful beer. - See more at: http://www.harpoonbrewery.com/beer/13/Octoberfest#sthash.ltQb16jM.dpuf
A full-bodied brown ale with smooth hints of pumpkin and brown sugar. We brew our Punkin Ale with pumpkin meat, brown sugar and spices. As the season cools, this is the perfect beer to warm up with. - See more at: http://www.dogfish.com/brews-spirits/the-brews/seasonal-brews/punkin-ale.htm#sthash.nzno8987.dpuf
A full-bodied brown ale with smooth hints of pumpkin and brown sugar. We brew our Punkin Ale with pumpkin meat, brown sugar and spices. As the season cools, this is the perfect beer to warm up with.
Punkin Ale is named after the seriously off-centered southern Delaware extravaganza Punkin Chunkin (check out some of these Discovery Channel videos of Punkin Chunkin, you gotta see it to believe it!).
- See more at: http://www.dogfish.com/brews-spirits/the-brews/seasonal-brews/punkin-ale.htm#sthash.nzno8987.dpuf
Availability: 
Seasonal
A full-bodied brown ale with smooth hints of pumpkin and brown sugar. We brew our Punkin Ale with pumpkin meat, brown sugar and spices. As the season cools, this is the perfect beer to warm up with.
Punkin Ale is named after the seriously off-centered southern Delaware extravaganza Punkin Chunkin (check out some of these Discovery Channel videos of Punkin Chunkin, you gotta see it to believe it!)
- See more at: http://www.dogfish.com/brews-spirits/the-brews/seasonal-brews/punkin-ale.htm#sthash.nzno8987.dpuf

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Asheville, NC: Beer Opportunities Abound!

I've been visiting Asheville, NC, for several years now; it was here at Barley's Taproom and Pizzeria that I had my first Dogfish Head IPA, the 60 minute version. Life changing event!

Well, now that I am a neighbor (just down the road about 55 miles) I've been spending some time getting to better know the town and its expanding craft beer scene. No shortage of venues, as this web page shows. And, as I have just learned, no shortage of ways to visit them.

Take the Amazing Pubcycle, for instance. I first encountered it on Biltmore Ave this past Sunday after I visited Wicked Weed again (more about that later).



Mostly pedal-powered (there is an electric motor assist) this "bike" allows 10 pedalers (and 3 layabouts on a bench) to get from brewery to brewery in the downtown area without parking hassles or having to ask for directions and to work off a few calories in the process.

A group leader pours for fellow adventurers. Employees can't serve or sell; it's a BYOB situation.

This group had just left Wicked Weed when I found them. They were having fun, eager to get to the next stop.


I'll have more to say about this "pub on wheels" after I have personally participated, probably in the next week or so.


Meanwhile, back at Wicked Weed, for my second visit and with Kay participating, this was our tasting lineup:

From bottom left, clockwise we have:

°Wicked Fest beer, a medium bodied lager, with a strong malt presence. Refreshing and drinkable! ABV 6.2%

°Heresy Brown ale, with a nutty, toasty flavor, medium body, finishes a little drier than you might expect from the style. Again, drinkable! ABV 4.6%

°Pumpkanne ale; yet another in this popular seasonal lineup, I actually liked this one a lot. Well balanced with enough hops to counter the typical pumpkin pie spices, which were subdued and light in the finish. ABV 5.2%

°Freak Double IPA; a treat for hopheads like me, lots of West Coast varieties keep the citrus and dank aromas and flavors very forward. Our favorite of the group. ABV 8%.

°Dirty Weeds; a black IPA with lots of Summit, Columbus and El Dorado hops. This ale was made with the collaboration of ACDC's bass player, Cliff Williams, so you know this one is big. ABV 6.8% of hoppiness.

°Poperinge is a Belgian IPA named after a small town in Belgium, known for its hops. Very drinkable and drier in the finish than most Belgians, very little clove in the finish. I'm not a big fan of Belgians yet, but I could see myself drinking this one often. ABV 7.2%

All photos by Marv Parker




So, that's one brewery down, many more to go. I'll keep adding more in the upcoming days as I get the time to pay them a visit.These are the ones on my list.


And of course, there are plenty of events here in Greenville to cover, so I'll be a busy (but hoppy) boy in the near future. Stay tuned!!

Cheers.