Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Upstate Craft Beer Co. Catching On With Locals

Made a return visit to Upstate this afternoon, just time enough for a quick tasting flight. Their beer of the day, Hop N Wild Sour IPA, of course, with Green Man IPA and Sierra Nevada's Wild Hopped Mexicanus IPA. Quite a range of flavors, sour to cannabis dank, but that's where the fun of discovery comes in. Place was busy again, I think Chris and Jack have created exactly the sort of hangout they were hoping for. Now to start brewing my own!!

Cheers and many more nights to come!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Upstate Craft Beer Co. Softly Opens

Just back from a very rewarding visit to Upstate Craft Beer Co. where they are quietly open before the big opening on December 26 (put that on your calendar as a must not miss!). Had their charcuterie; intensely flavored selection of cheeses and sausages, which I paired with Birds Fly South's Saison to start, then added a New Belgium Hop Stout. Interesting how each beer seemed to bring out different flavors in the food, especially the peach-ginger-pepper jam.
While munching and sipping away, Co-owner Jack McDonald was being interviewed for Channel 7 TV, while fellow owner/brewmaster Chris Hardin was busily brewing away on a Dunkelweisse. Good times were had by all. They are opening each day ('cept the 25th) at 10am so lunch is calling you. I'll certainly be back, one cause it's in my neighborhood, but also cause it's gonna be a favorite spot to hang out and play dominos.

Catch the action here:


 Cheers to their newly opened nano-brewery!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Bottling Birds Fly South's Brand New Eyes

Gathering my notes and photos from this past weekend which was filled with beer-related activities. One, the Loose Reed interview you know about. Another event I found really interesting and educational was watching Shawn and crew bottling Birds Fly South's first ever bottling of Brand New Eyes, a Farmhouse Ale brewed with Motueka hops. At 5.5% abv, this saison is almost a session beer, which befits the style. You can get more detailed info on this brew at their website, bfsbeer.com.
Shawn Johnson, owner/brewmaster, continues his brewing relationship with Thomas Creek Brewing, where the bottling took place, until next year when his newly leased facility will take shape. He gave me a heads up about a bottle share and BFS beer drinking opportunity that will happen early next year, perhaps mid-January, as a fund raiser and an only opportunity for the public to see the space before actual construction begins. Watch THIS space for further details as they become available.

Catch the action below:

That's the process, a table-top operation in this instance. Haven't opened the bottle Shawn gave me yet, but I'll post tasting notes when I do.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Visit With Tracy @Loose Reed Nano-Brewing

As promised, here's what I learned after a conversation/photo shoot with Tracy of Loose Reed.

Although this will be the first time he's worked in a brewery (his own) it's the culmination of over 10 years of home brewing. Add that to the years that his parents were home-brewing and one can understand why he says he's been involved with beer brewing most of his life.
Moving on from his very first brewing experience, a hoppy brown ale from a 21st birthday present kit, which he describes as "ok" but it quickly led him to try more sophisticated recipes, even moving on from extracts to all grains. 

 I was able to sample one of his creations, Grapefruit Napoleon Complex, a berliner weisse with grapefruit added, at this year's Greenville Craft Beer Festival at Fluor Field. I enjoyed it so much, I went back for samples three times! His Gingah the Ninja Pale (with ginger) was already gone before I could taste it but I'm certain I would have liked it. Obviously, many folks did.

What's in store for his new location (the former Growler Station)? 
His plans include a 2 bbl brew house with 4 bbl fermenters and serving tanks, a larger seating area, a new bar, outdoor patio and very fresh beers from the tanks.
I asked him about his initial beer choices for brewing. He told me that the "beers will be mostly English and German ales with experimental variations." Sounds good to me. He also assured me (an unabashed hop head) that an American IPA will certainly be included in the mix. I'll drink to that!

Looking at the "hot side" brew house location.

Cooler space will not be an issue.
Good space for sipping in the sun. Probably a concrete patio is in the future.

I'm anticipating that by mid-Summer (maybe sooner) I'll have the pleasant problem of deciding which neighborhood nano-brewery to I want to try; Loose Reed or Upstate Craft Beer, which is just up the street on Augusta.
 I know, the life of a beer-blogger can be tough, filled with decisions and writing deadlines(ha!).... but it's important work and someone has to do it!!!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

An Art and Beer Filled Asheville Saturday

Yesterday's adventure in Asheville was as expected, a fun and beer filled day.

Met artist Nat Dickinson who merged the two beautifully, offering his own homemade beer to sip while admiring his artwork. Tried his Pale Ale, very impressed with the flavor and hop/malt balance. Not a beginner's beer by any means. His gallery is located inside the Riverside Studios building.

While driving down Riverside, caught a view of New Belgium's new as-yet not open facility. Quick photo shoot, of a view not often seen.

Next, off to Riverview Station where nearly 60 artists work, just down Lyman from the central River Arts District. 

In among all of the appealing art works on display, I found a lady painting with beer! Another timely marriage. Her name is Nadine Charlsen, who works in watercolor (and dark beer), and she was busily adding to her inventory but gladly stopped to pose for a pic. I complemented her on her choice of stouts and offered to take any leftovers off her hands.
See her work at 310art.com.

Went back up the road for a sorely needed pint at Wedge Brewing, which was very busy with a crowd that seemed more beer oriented than art. Watched a real train go by while sipping an Iron Rail IPA and snacking on peanuts. Was there ever a better way to end a day?

But end it we did out Pour in West Asheville where we got our hi-tech bracelets and began
sampling from the myriad of taps available. Fantastic way to sample new brews, paying by the ounce. 

With 30 taps or so, one can spend a lot of time there (and money too if you're not careful). Highlight (of many) for me was that both Prairie Christmas Bomb and Yeti Imperial Stout were in the lineup! 

Met our good friends Jason and Mairr Uhrinek there who had earlier joined the celebrationsat Wicked Weed and Twin Leaf. Great spot for hanging out with friends, great city for craft beer lovers and another memorable day entered into the blog.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday Profile: Upstate Craft Beer Company

It's Friday, so let's do a profile, an about-to-open brewery in this case. Upstate Craft Beer Co. to be exact. Seems like just yesterday, Jack McDonald and Chris Hardin were putting up the first sign (actually it was October) on their new facility. Construction since has been on schedule, lots of boxes have been opened and permits and licenses obtained.

So, the big opening? Jack tells me that December 26 (a Saturday) is the day to let the crowds in. I'm not sure when the BIY (brew it yourself) component will be in operation, but I can tell you I plan to be among the first to use Chris' recipes and brew a keg for myself. (Still working on a beer name, stay tuned).

My first impression upon entering the bright orange door was that, despite some continuing construction, the place is stunning with the shiny steel and warm wood greeting you. The pictures tell the story so I have posted a lot of them.
With the addition of Loose Reed down the street on Augusta, craft beer lovers will soon have a happening new neighborhood in which to indulge their (and my) passion.

Action central: kitchen pass-thru, taps and cooler.

A brewery on wheels!

Part of the retail section, malts and grain bins.

I expect the seats will all be taken in the near future.

Jack on the "hot side" of things. Two of the brewing carts will be in use.

Best of luck to Jack and Chris and welcome to Upstate Craft Beer Company to the Greenville beer drinking/making world.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Donut Dilemma!

New dilemma: Which donut from The Donut Experiment should I pair first with my Ballast Point Victory At Sea Russian Imperial Stout?

(Thanks to Terri Klaeser for putting this selection together).

I'll let you know which one paired best.