Tuesday, August 30, 2016

King McAlpin DIPA Returns to Taps Everywhere!

Well, maybe not everywhere, but certainly in the Upstate, WNC vicinity.

This is the second release of this particular beer in Highland Brewing's Warrior Series. It was one of the first brews Brewmaster Hollie Stephenson originated in her new position and Highland's first Double IPA. And I can say from considerable experience, it's a hop head's delight and beautifully crafted. The 10% abv is obviously a factor to be considered when drinking this big ale, but it certainly isn't evident in the taste and finish. It won't be around too much longer, each of the Warrior series is available only for one quarter of the year, since there are four releases annually. Get it while you can.

The release party featured Hollie doing a very rare tour, highlighting some of the pilot system where each recipe is tested before being committed to brewing. The tour ended with the group enjoying several pitchers of said King McAlpin. Molly McQuillian was the generous pourer.

Some pics of the event:


New Belgium Asheville Now Open For Tours

Got a sneak preview last week (h/t Susanne Hackett) of what the New Belgium tours will cover. Starting Sept 2, the free tours must be booked on line at their website NewBelgium.com/AshevilleBrewery.

Following Susanne's introduction of Bryan Simpson, PR Director and Alex Dwoinen, Brewing Manager, we set off across the bridge that spans the stream between the Brewery and the Liquid Center.

Later, we were joined by Tyler Foos, Liquid Center Manager, who gave us more details about the tour's content. It's a very impressive facility which is not only environmentally friendly but also reflects the local history of the site which has been a stock yard, a circus fairground and even an auto salvage yard. All of which is referenced in a brilliant use of the  letters from the Carolina Livestock Market original sign, now covered with photos. Look closely for an unusually frightening clown.

Not my plan to give away too much of the tour's info but here are some photos that give a general overview.

Bryan Simpson, PR Director, welcomes the group.

Susanne Hackett, New Belgium Communications Specialist, fills us in on what to expect.

Off we go!

Water reclamation and holding tanks. Keeps the hot liquor hot.

Lauter tun.

Alex Dwoinen, Brewing Manager, in the brew house, describes the wort's path around the room.


These are the original sign letters which now have historic photos attached.

Tyler Foos, Liquid Center Manager, offers background on the Bruges, Belgium beertje story.

Yeast house behind Alex.

Good day for bottling Fat Tire it would seem.

Some day, tubers on the river will be able to haul out and have a beer or three.

The Liquid Center where so much liquid is consumed!

Oh, and I should mention the slide. Used to quickly descend to a lower floor, I have been assured that tour particpants will be able to avail themselves of its speed!


Monday, August 29, 2016

Wandering Wisconsin's Craft Beer Landscape

I finally was able to a make a pilgrimage of sort this month to one of Wisconsin's (and only in WI) best known breweries, New Glarus. Some exciting developments were happening, following a major building expansion last year, this time involving cans. NG's long-time signature beer, Spotted Cow is now available in cans, along with one of my favorite Pale Ales, Moon Man. They are also well known for their Belgian Red made with Wisconsin Cherries; slightly tart, mellowed from oak but highly carbonated and tasty intense sour cherry flavor. Naturally, I had to bring some back with me to share.

New Glarus' story is a very interesting one and there is a video on their website that tells of Deb and Dan Carey's journey to become an available only-in-Wisconsin brewery and the success that brought. I recommend watching it.

So, if you want to impress your friends (and make new ones) never return from a visit there without lots of beer to share. That's the only way they can try it without journeying to WI themselves.

Some pix that I hope you will find educational and entertaining:

New Glarus is a Swiss town at heart.

Beautiful downtown New Glarus

This in a small tavern in the town of New Glarus. My SC beer-loving friends are speechless.

 Of course, there were too many beers and breweries available to visit them all. An example is Lake Louie, seen on the tap handles. Two were available at this pub, both Warped Speed, a Scotch Ale and Kiss the Lips IPA. I had them both since it was a $3 pint day. I regret to say that I did not get Totally Naked that day; had that waiting in a fridge back at Mother-in-law's house.

Another Brewery that I wanted to try for the first time was Lakefront in Milwaukee. Something of a misnomer since it's actually on the Milwaukee river, but nothing misleading about the quality of their beers (and food, more bout that later). And I am not alone in that assessment cause Vice-Presidential candidate Tim Kaine was just finishing up a campaign appearance there as we arrived. We were there for a tour ($10 fee but comes with lots of beer)which was nearly cancelled due to Secret Service concerns. The hour long tour was equal parts stand up comedy routine and brewery history. Very funny tour guide and handled a rather large crowd quite well.
It being Friday, we stayed for the Fish Fry dinner and the live polka music that accompanied it. The fried cod was some of the best I've ever had and I have no comment on the music, tho lots of folks were out dancing. Had a beer flight to pair with the food and all were appropriate for the meal. Both the Howard Helles Lager and the Hop Jockey DIPA were stand outs and led to ordering more, in pints this time.

Just missed Tim.

Beers available that day.

Tour guide David explaining the tour rules; mostly drink lots of beer.

And the band played on. We had to leave, prepare for next day's beer adventures which included a boat ride on Madison's Lake Mendota and a stop by the UW Student Union Building for ice cream, tho beer was also available, in pitchers even!!

Heading back toward Madison from New Glarus we came upon this brewery in Verona, Hop Haus Brewing. Fortunate for us we did because, one, it gave me new Untappd opportunities and, two, introduced me to some more very good beer.  Our tasting flight of five included three IPAs: Magic Dragon, a Double IPA, 8.2% ABV, 90 IBU; Super Big Time IPA, 6.6%, 70 IBU which showcased Wisconsin Hops; and El Andy IPA, 6.6%, 70 IBU, with lots of El Dorado hop additions. I especially liked the Allegedly Albino with Nelson Sauvin hops, a New Zealand variety that is named after Sauvignon Blanc grapes. All the beers we tasted were well made so owners Phil Hoechst and wife Sara obviously know what they're doing.
Phil Hoechst
owner and brewmaster Phil Hoechst
owner and brewmaster Phil Hoechst
owner and brewmaster Phil Hoechst

Beertender Tim Groers provided us with both beer and info about the breweries' history, all while serving other customers as well. 

After stopping to resupply the pantry, so to speak, we returned to headquarters to rest, drink a couple more of WI's best and prepare for another busy day tomorrow.

Phil Hoechst