Monday, January 26, 2015

Some New Breweries I Found at the Winter Warmer

Time to sit back and reflect upon all the new beers I am now acquainted with, thanks to Asheville's Winter Warmer beer fest.

I made a point of visiting only those breweries that were new to me (well, mostly) since that is the best reason to participate in such events. So, below a list, in no particular order, they were all good, of ones that I visited (and remembered to take a pic).  Several were from out of state and making their debut entrance to this well-regarded festival.

One of the most anticipated was Great Lakes Brewing from Cleveland. 
Luke Purcell, Brewer, in a rare quiet moment as the line grows.
They were pouring four of their beers, including their very well known Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (7.5% abv) and a special Barrel-Aged Blackout Stout (10% abv). The Porter was easily one of the best I've ever had. Light to medium body, zesty carbonation and a very satisfying roasted malt finish. Well balanced hops keep it very dry.

Eager beer lovers anxious to try Great Lakes.

A very important reason that Great Lakes was so popular is that it's not distributed here, tho they are working on a Charlotte presence in the very near future. So, for the moment, heading out to Cleveland is your best bet of getting some. 

"Chief" Northcutt has a smile as bright as the cans!

Out-of-state brewery, Big Storm Brewing from Odessa, FL, made a colorful display of their cans-only beers. They poured their Arcus IPA (6.9% abv, 81 IBUs) and Wavemaker Amber (5.8% abv, 38 IBUs), both of which were good examples of their respective styles. Maybe they are responsible for all the sunny weather that suddenly appeared in time for the festival.

Christopher Lipscomb, whom I forgot to ask about the brewery's name.
Not out-of-state but equally welcome was The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery from Farmville, NC.
They had two new brews for me on tap, the Milk Stout, (5.7% abv) and their Porter, (5.7% abv). They only produce dark beers and these two were shining examples. I gave the porter the edge, mostly because of the flavor and feel of the finish.

Tara Goulet made sure each sample came with a smile.

Coming all the way from Charlotte (joke) to contribute to the fun was Bird Song Brewing, pouring two of their Winter Releases, Honey Pie Double IPA, (8.9% abv, 80 IBUs) and The Pride Belgian Abbey, (9.3% abv, 35 IBUs). Both live up the the Festival's Winter Warmer theme.

Meghan Burt and her assistant insured all had "big" fun at the event.
Continuing with the "Big" theme, Big Boss Brewing Co. from Raleigh, NC, also brought in a winter coffee stout, Aces & Ates. Also pouring (at least while I was there, some of those kegs go fast) was their Night Knight Black IPA, (6.7% abv), which they call a hybrid blend with American Dark and Cascadian Black styles. They all went together very well, it's a full-bodied IPA, nicely balanced and drinkable.

Those were the new breweries on my list that I got a chance to spend some time with. Of course, I couldn't get to some others; crowds, time and my own need for occasional liquid reenforcement just took up a huge chunk of time. Did manage to get a few photos, so if you ever visit the breweries, let them know you saw them here and that I will try to visit this year. Thanks.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Asheville Winter Warmer Lives Up To Its Name

Some sights from the Winter Warmer in Asheville today, where I tasted (and met people from) offerings from new breweries for me and in some cases, new to the festival. Details later but here are some pics.... btw, the event is still going on intil 7 pm.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Appreciate That Can of Beer!

 Tomorrow is Beer Can Appreciation Day (I'm sure you've got your celebrations all planned) so in a timely manner, I suggest you read this story about can in a beer. I learned a lot.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

HIghland Brewing Gets New Brewmaster

I find this to be very interesting: New Headbrewer for Highland Brewing in Asheville is from Stone Brewing in San Diego county. Knowing Stone's reputation for hoppy extremes, it'll be fun to watch for changes in Highland's recipes. More info here:

Monday, January 19, 2015

My Five Favorites From Barley's Beer Fest

Reflecting on yesterday's Biggest Little Beer Fest at Barley's Greenville, I thought I'd try to sum up my impressions and list the beers that made the strongest impression on me ( a very difficult task in any such undertaking). Not calling these "best" only that they were memorable and made me glad I tried them.

First up, a Gose from Creature Comforts: Cucumber Lime Tritonia.

 This was a total surprise, a cucumber lime flavored brew that was refreshing, sort of tart with a well balanced finish, no one flavor overpowered the others. At 4.2% abv, this would be the perfect summer brew. Good palate cleanser as well. Very memorable.
Their Tropicalia IPA was good too, passion fruit and citrus hoppy flavored, very drinkable IPA.

Next, a much bigger beer from Anderson Valley Brewing, their Huge Arker , a Russian Imperial Stout aged for a year in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels. At 13.5% abv, this was one of the strongest beers at the Fest, the only one stronger was the Dog Fish Head Olde School Barley Wine at 15%. As you might expect, very smooth, flavors well balanced, alcohol hidden. Big sipper.

Todd, aka Steinber Chucklehead, offers a small glass of a huge beer!

Golden colored cream ale.
A big change of pace was the Left Hand Brewing's JalapeƱo Cream Ale. I like the roasted pepper flavor which was immediate on the palate although the honey malts seemed to keep the heat at bay. More malt in the finish, less pepper, very light hop presence.Very drinkable and conforting at 6.2% abv.

Heading back into high gravity country, I came across the Evil Twin table where Molotov Simcoe was on tap. This is a triple IPA at a whopping 13% abv. Very intense hoppiness (surprise!) with the expected dry finish, but balanced enough that the beer is very drinkable, tho caution is required. I liked it a lot, being the hophead I am. It also showcased the Simcoe hop quality, adding citrusy notes in the nose and finish. I've gotten to be a big fan of this hop.

Despite having no idea what the name meant, I tried the Terrapin Phlux Capacitor, 2012 version, another high gravity Strong Ale. Very smooth, deceptive, well-balanced brew with no alcohol heat. Glad I had the chance to try it.

And thanks to Jennifer Davis, Marketing Rep for Terrapin, for cluing me in on Terrapin's brews.  That's the Phlux she's holding in the pic.

So that comprises the five beers that stood out, tho everything one I tried was a winner. Fun time was had by all (see photo below) and my only regret is that the event only happens once a year. And I plan on being there!!


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Barleys Biggest Little Brew Fest in Photos

Back from Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria (Greenville) Biggest Little Brew Fest... too bad this happens only once a year. I had a blast, drank some unique brews and talked to some amazingly friendly and knowledgeable people. Thanks and congrats to Drew and Josh for doing it again