Saturday, November 15, 2008

Headin' Up To A-Town/Next Week's Cask!

I took Friday and Saturday this week to visit Asheville, NC for the first time. This college town, nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, is full of small breweries. It took Bob (Ellard Village's GM) and I just 3 1/2 hours to get here from Atlanta yesterday, and we arrived at Highland Brewing Co. around lunch time. We got to see them finishing the hand-bottling of their Cold Mountain 1 liter swing-top bottles. Watch your store shelves for these rarities. Highland president and all-around great guy, Oscar Wong, told us he is seriously considering not doing this special package again in the future. Then he pulled a pitcher of Cold Mountain off of the packaging line for us to try. Can you say "fresh beer"? It was great, and all lips were sealed about some of the top-secret herbs and spices in this year's batch. If you ever get a chance to be in Asheville, don't miss a chance to visit these people. We missed the peak fall colors by about 3 weeks, but the scenery here is still beautiful.

After Highland, the head brewer from Asheville Brewing Co. picked us up and took us to his downtown location. They also have a location closer to campus that houses a movie theater. The beers, ranging from Golden Ale to Porter (the Stout was out of stock yesterday), were all really good. Doug (the brewer) was a great guy, and we got to see his small copper-coated brew sytem out back. The ESB was our favorite, and the Red-Light IPA was worth another trip as well. This was also another batch of really friendly people. Good vibes abound in Asheville.

We were able to walk about 4 blocks to the converted garage that houses the Green Man Brewing Co. and thier pub. A very rustic bar and beer garden show where the emphasis lies with these folks: true English-style ales, no pretensions. The Pale Ale was tasty, there was a beer engine serving cask-conditioned Porter, and 4-5 other taps of Green Man ales. The brewery was exposed beside the bar. No glassed-in display here. The brewer was separated from the patrons by a rope and a sign asking for "Employees Only" beyond the rope. We were treated to a lengthy discussion on yeast propagation and history while getting a sneak peak at a "new" release: Green Man 2007 Russian Imperial Stout, aged 11 months at this point. Brewer John Stuart was a very knowledgeable and hospitable guy. Unfortunately he had to rush off for another appointment, which was not hosting Comedy Central's The Daily Show. That's John Stewart.

After Green Man, we checked out some of the many bars around the Patton Ave./Commerce St. corner. Local beers are everywhere. Scheduling conflicts are going to keep us from going to Pisgah Brewing, which is about 30 minutes outside of town. However, their beers were available at Jack O' The Wood and Yacht Club, just to name a few. The Thirsty Monk has 2 levels: American craft beers upstairs and Belgians downstairs. One visit was not enough, and we are going back tonight. Also tonight we are going to Barley's, which specializes in NC beers, and is rumored to have 20-25 local beers on tap at any given time. I will scope it out for you.

We are going to visit French Broad Brewing and Wedge Brewing today. There are apparently 2 more breweries opening soon/just opened, and we are going to try to find out where these are located. This brewing community is very close-knit, and they are happy to share information about each other. The evening is going to include the stops mentioned above, plus a sit-down with local Belgian beer expert Chris Dotson. The other highlight of today will a stop at Bruisin' Ales, the legendary beer store downtown here. We are going early, in order to prevent spending a small fortune on exotic beers after we've had a few. Tomorrow we head home to rest. This is hard work, people!

Here are some new beers that are getting tapped right now at Atlanta area Taco Mac stores:

  • Breckenridge Christmas is going in at Windward, Newnan & Lindbergh.
  • Corsendonk Christmas has arrived at Lindbergh & Suwanee.
  • Look for Tommy Knocker Rye Porter at Windward and East-West Connector. The Cocoa Porter is available at Perimeter as well.
  • Getting cold? Warm up with Great Divide Hibernation Ale at Decatur or Johns Creek, a Left Hand Snowbound Spiced Ale at Ellard Village, Peachtree City or Metropolis.
  • Hop heads, start your engines! Burn rubber to Perimeter for Great Divide Titan IPA, to Ellard for the Great Divide Fresh Hop, or Windward for Left hand Warrior IPA.
  • One of my all-time favorites, Lagunitas Imperial Red, can be found at Lindbergh and Ellard.
  • RJ Rockers Patriot Pale Ale is arriving at Peachtree City, and their First Snow Ale is about to be tapped at East-West.
  • Suwanee has one of the last Terrapin Oak-Aged Hoppy Monsters going in now.
  • Many more stores are getting their Anchor Christmas this week.
  • Woodstock has the He'Brew Jewbelation 12 right now. They also have 450 bottled beers, so if you need some unusual passport credits, you can defiantely find something there.
  • Lastly, if you have never had a Schneider Aventinus, get over to Winward. You can thank me now or thank me later. This beer is incredible. Manager Jason Everett is very passionate and knowledgeable about beer, so if your there, definately ask for him.

Cask Beer at Metropolis!

  • The cask program continues with our new beer engine at the Metropolis store. If you recall the Vanilla Gorilla from a few weeks ago, we are going to have another Red Brick cask this coming Wednesday. Their Peachtree Pale Ale will exhibit more of its true hop flavor when the beer is served cask-conditioned and hand-drawn. If you can be there, we tap the cask at 5 pm. The last one was empty by 6:30, so don't delay if you are interested in this unique beer experience.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Beer Update 11-8-08

Here are some of the new kegs getting tapped around the metro-Atlanta area Taco Mac locations. Remember, some of these are in small quantities and will go fast, so please call the store before heading over there if you really have your heart set on something. Also, if you are heading north on I-75 this holiday season and find yourself in Chattanooga, you will find many beers at our location there that you can't find in Georgia. Also, we are installing 14 new draft lines up there this January. Can you say, "Road Trip!"

Red Brick Porter- This used to be called "Winter" and is a double-chocolate oatmeal porter. It is now going to be available year-round. It is going into Old Milton Pkwy., Crabapple, and Lindbergh Center right now. Many other stores have already had it for a while. There will be a new Red Brick Winter coming soon. Allegedly this will be a Belgian-style ale of some sort.

Left Hand/Terrapin Terra-Rye'Zd- If you have not had this beer yet, get going to Johns Creek or East-West Connector (Austell). We only received 6 of these kegs, and it is a very rare style of beer as well. If you don't know anything about it, read last week's blog post.

'07 & '08 Festive are pouring at Dallas Hwy. in Marietta. The '07 is a small keg, and the word is out, so don't delay.

Terrapin Oak-Aged Big Hoppy Monster- There are limited numbers of these kegs as well, but you can find two of them at Duluth and Metropolis. More are coming. The Duluth store will start selling this beer after our Terrapin beer dinner there on Tuesday. Many stores also have the regular, un-oaked Big Hoppy Monster. Austell is receiving theirs this week.

Beer Dinners- Didn't know that Taco Mac does beer dinners every month? Click on the "Beer Dinners" link at http://www.tacomac.com/. If this is not the best beer experience for the money in Atlanta, someone please tell me.

Other notable keg arrivals are:
  • Crabapple has Allagash Black & Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. Get some!

  • Suwanee is hooking up Left Hand's 400 lb. Monkey and Snowbound Spiced Ale, plus Great Divide Hibernation. Felling festive in Gwinnett apparently.

  • Metropolis has got a GD Hibernation going in as well.

  • Lindbergh is tapping the He'Brew Jewbelation 12 (made with 12 malts, 12 hops and is 12% ABV) & Tommyknocker Cocoa Porter.

  • Ellard Village is where you will find fresh Sierra Nevada Celebration, and Great Divide Fresh Hop IPA. I already hear tires squealing, headed for the Fresh Hop, but slow down. It is going to be another week on that. I just want you to get prepared.

  • Kennesaw has received/will be receiving Highland Cold Mountain, Great Divide Oak-Aged Yeti, Corsendonk Christmas, and Avery Ale To The Chief.

Special Notes:

  • Anchor Christmas kegs have been delayed. I expect them to ship out to every store this week. We are waiting with open taps for its arrival.

  • We will have more Avery Ale To The Chief, probably releasing them around the presidential inauguration in January. No politics, just beer.

  • I have a keg of '06 & '08 Duck Rabbit Barley Wine at our Suwanee store. The '09 comes out in January. The guys at the brewery are looking to see if they have any '07, even if they are bottles, so that we can do a 4 year vertical Barley-Wine tasting this winter. Stay tuned and cross you fingers for that '07.

  • The menu will be ready Monday for our December beer dinner. This event will be different in that not one, but 6 breweries will be represented. We are going to feature 6 winter/holiday beers, plus we will be serving homemade eggnog spiked with Rogue Hazelnut Spiced Rum. Yes, in case you did not know, Rogue makes spirits also. The beers are mostly classics that you are familiar with, and one soon-to-be holiday classic. The date is Tuesday, 12/16, and it is being held at Lindbergh Center.

  • In a few weeks I will be in Chico, CA for Beer Camp 3. Myself and 7 other guests will be learning the process for brewing beer at Sierra Nevada, and then assisting in the brew on their pilot system the following day. I will be sure to get some photos to post. The good news for you is that once the beer is packaged, some of the kegs will be coming straight to a few Taco Mac locations in Georgia. Needless to say, this is like being a kid on Christmas Eve for me.

If anything else comes up unexpectedly, you will read it here first. Thanks for your participation.

From My September Trip-Sierra Brewhouse

From My September Trip-Sierra Brewhouse
This is the top floor of the brewhouse, with buckets of fresh hops about to go into the kettles.