Friday, January 30, 2009

What A Great Week, And It's Only Friday!

Monday's cask was outstanding. If it was too short of a notice for you and you did not make, I am really sorry. That's all I am going to say. No reason to live in the past. Tuesday's beer dinner was great as well. We sold it out and then some, and Paul from the brewery was as entertaining and gregarious as promised. Wednesday's 3-year Barley Wine vertical was well attended, and Paul was enthusiastic about meeting and greeting our guests for that event too. Suwanee still has some of each of those vintage dated drafts. My favorite was the '08 personally. Thank you to everyone who made the first half of the week very beer-tastic.

So yesterday was a little anti-climactic comparatively, as you can imagine. Tonight I am attending a reception for the brewers participating in tomorrow's Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting being held at Atlanta Brewing Co. (they make Red Brick beers). Last year there were 20-some casks, and the entries are judged, and awards handed out. This year there is more beer, and the crowd is teetering around 300. If you did not know about this, don't feel bad. It sells out every year based on nothing more than word of mouth. I did not even know about last year's ACAT until 2 days before it happened. This one is way over-sold, and I am already feeling claustrophobic-24 hours in advance.

Sort of a slow week for new beer placements though. Super Bowl Sunday is demanding a lot of attention from our managers right now. But, let's take a look anyway:

  • Breckenridge's 471 ESB is at Johns Creek and Perimeter. Not the 471 IPA, this high-strength ESB is my favorite beer they make. The Pandora's Bock is at Perimeter and Suwanee also.
  • If you are looking for a beer that you won't see at Taco Mac everyday, check out G Mall and East-West for Fuller's London Pride. It is a nice break if you are getting hopped-out, but still want fresh ale flavor. G Mall also has Scheneider Edel-Weiss. It is delicious, and organic I believe. They have Weihenstephen Dunkle-Weiss, too, if you really need to get your German beer thing going. I think the Wiehen. Dunkle is the best example of the style out there. The Polish beer Zyweic (pronounce "jiv-ic") is in Duluth, along with Gaffel Kolsch and Tommyknocker Rye Porter. All of those are relatively under-represented in most stores. So is the Sam Adams Boston Ale they have. No, not Boston Lager, every store has that.
  • Old Milton is pouring Sierra Nevada Bigfoot and ESB. Look for more stores to start picking up Sierra's Imperial Smoked Porter next week. I had one at Metropolis the other day, and it was great. Peachtree City has one now as well.
  • More Avery kegs! Find Fifteen at Johns Creek, Metropolis and Duluth, plus The Czar at Duluth.
  • If you have not tried a bottle of the collaborative holiday beer from Stone/Jolly Pumpkin/Nogone, get down to Newnan. This beer is very rare and complex. It is going to be gone soon, and probably for a long, long time.
  • If you are at Windward, make sure that you have a Stone Pale Ale. This brewery does not get enough credit for their basic beers, because of their fame for extreme beers. If you are into the extreme beers, they have Ruination as well, also from Stone.

February's beer of the month is Rogue Chocolate Stout. Prove the doubters wrong, and make this a great BOTM. Dark beer needs love too, and lots of it.

The schedule for Sierra's Hop Secret 393 will be worked on next week so, stay tuned. For those of you who do not know, this is the beer that I helped make and write the recipe for at the brewery in Chico last November. The reviews from the brewery range from "Awesome" to "F-ing mind boggling!" It got an A in its only Beer Advocate review. One of the other establishments that participated, The Bistro in Hayward, CA, went through 2 kegs in 7 hours, and it is a tiny place. I will send out a complete schedule of where and when we will tap these very soon. I will be at each tapping, with Sierra people, who are just now coming back from their annual meeting at the brewery. Expect the week after next (Feb. 9-15) to be the target week.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Last Call Reminder!

Tonight is that crazy cask at Metropolis I mentioned last week. It is Terrapin IBA with Woodford Reserve-soaked oak chips added to it. I am leaving the office in about 15 minutes to get there. We usually finish these things in a few hours, so sooner than later is advised.

Wednesday is the Duck Rabbit vertical at Suwanee. If you don't know what I am talking about, read a few old posts. I am reminding everyone about this so frequently because I do not forsee having this opportunity again anytime soon. If you miss it, you really missed the boat.

Also, plan on tasting Smuttynose Brewing Co. beers in GA for the first time on draft in February. We will have 4 kinds of beer from this highly acclaimed brewery at both Metropolis and Old Milton Pkwy on the same day. Those will be the only metro-ATL places to taste these beers. Stay tuned. I hope to see some of you out this week. Later.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Super Beer Monday

No, I don't mean Super Bowl Sunday. We are going to be pouring a firkin of Terrapin India-style Brown Ale at Metropolis this Monday. Not excited by that? Well, this firkin has been matured with oak chips that have been soaked in Woodford Reserve Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey.

Now that I have your attention, let me fill you in on what I expect this beer to taste like. The dry oakiness will play very nicely with the intrinsic bitterness in this beer. The vanilla and caramel notes of the bourbon will accentuate the dark malts of the brown ale, and round out the contrasting flavors of sweet and bitter. The alcohol from the Woodford will provide a pleasant, lasting warmth in your chest. That is my hunch. Can't wait to see if I am right or wrong.

Passport Club members will be able to get a very unique and unusual credit, so if you like to have some bragging rights over your friends and drinking buddies, this is a great chance. I will be there as close to 5 pm as possible. If you ask nicely, Donald might let you tap the firkin.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Here Is Your Weekly Beer Report

The Stone collaborative triple at Metropolis was as exceptional as predicted. It was great to see a lot of new and familiar faces out and about. The beer was more true-to-style than I had expected though. My expectations were that it was going to be a little more wacky, based on other Stone and Mikkeller beers that I have had. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed more than one, but I expected my taste buds to be assaulted instead of caressed.

Just a reminder for anyone who wants to meet the president and brew master of Duck Rabbit: He will be at our beer dinner in Duluth on Tuesday, and at Suwanee for a vertical tasting of 3 years of his barley wine. It will be a great opportunity to learn about beer cellaring, and anything really. The guy has a bachelor's degree in economics from Cornell and a master's in philosophy from the University of Michigan. If he can't explain the mess that the economy is in, maybe he can convince us that none of it really matters after all.

Here is your weekly beer report:

  • Is it just me, or does Atlanta really dig some Breckenridge beers? The Pandora's Bock has been going in almost everywhere, most recently at Cumming (along with Vanilla Porter), Mall of GA, Duluth, and East-West Connector. Check out Newnan for fresh kegs of Vanilla Porter and Oatmeal Stout.
  • Fordham is a brewery relatively new to the area. Their Copperhead Ale is at Duluth and East-West. The Spring Buck is going in at Old Milton and Perimeter. It is styled after a Belgian blonde ale. Later this year look for their Queen Anne's Kolsch.

  • Avery has some really wild beers in their seasonal portfolio. The Fifteen is available at Old Milton right now, and The Czar and The Kaiser are in at Metropolis and Woodstock. East-West is pouring Avery Karma right now as well. It has saffron in it.

  • Who is in the mood for dark beer? OK, you can put your hands down now. Lindbergh is putting Oskar Blues Ten-Fiddy on tap. It is a pretty intense imperial stout, so you better be ready for a lot of flavor when you order one. I have faith in you. Johns Creek and Metropolis have Wolaver's Oatmeal Stout from Vermont. East-West has Butte Creek Organic Porter, which is an excellent version of the style, and it's earth-friendly!

  • Can't wait for spring? Schneider Edel-Weisse is available at Decatur and Perimeter. It is awesome. Duluth is pouring Erdinger right now, which is another super Bavarian hefe.

  • You can get your Belgian beer fix at Metropolis with Delirium Tremens and Allagash Black. Perimeter has Delirium Nocturnum and Houblon Chouffe. G Mall has Allagash Fluxus and La Chouffe going right now.

  • If you are looking for something hard to find, grab a Lagunitas Hop Stoopid while you are at G Mall for one of the beers mentioned above. Ellard Village has a keg of Left Hand Rye Bock. This beer is very uncommon, and really tasty. Perimeter has Weyerbacher Double Simcoe, Duck Rabbit Baltic Porter, and Lagunitas Brown Shugga'. All 3 are great choices.

I hope this gives you some choices for your weekend beer drinking. Once again, it was great to meet some of you folks in person, and I will try to keep the fun events coming as much as time allows. Thanks for reading, and I will be back in touch soon.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Am On My Way!

This is your last call regarding the super special keg of beer getting tapped at Metropolis tonight. It is a Belgian-style Triple made collaboratively by Stone, Alesmith and Mikkeller. Only 2 in GA, 1 at Taco Mac. I doubt that this 15.5 gal. keg lives to see tomorrow. What are you waiting for? I am leaving the office in 3....2....1.....

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Who Doesn't Like Special Events, Really?

Thought you were going to get a quiet, mellow, post-Christmas month? Thought that the beer world was going to go into hibernation? Wrong! If you try to say no to beer, you will find out that beer just does not listen. Just quit trying already. Beer just wants to love you.

What, you may be asking yourself, is Fred babbling about? Let me break it down for you.
  • On January 27th we have our monthly beer dinner. This month the featured brewery is Duck Rabbit, and the brew master will be present to answer any of your questions (like, "What is up with the name of your brewery?" which is an interesting story by the way). There are only a few spots left, so if you are unaware of the best bargain in Atlanta, maybe you should sign up. Seriously, we are very proud of these events, and $50 for 5 courses and 5 beers, gratuity included, is a steal. You can see the menu on the Taco Mac web site. January we are at Duluth, and February we move to Lindbergh. I host these events, so if you have any questions for me, well, there I am.

  • The following day we head over to our Suwanee store for a vertical tasting of 3 years of Duck Rabbit Barley Wine. Ever wondered how some beer ages and matures well, but have not had the patience to get the rewards? We took care of that for you. Paul, the brew master, will be there to explain everything you ever wanted to know about beer cellaring, barley wines, ducks, rabbits, all of that. The '07, '08 and '09 DR BWs will be available in a one-day-only 6 oz. size for $2.50, so you can try all of them without getting completely hammered. I will be there around 5 pm. These beers were made in the late winter, so the '09 is actually from '08, but is only 2 months old at this point, so we don't want to imply that our youngest vintage is a year old if it isn't. Make sense? Also, the 6 oz. size will be a new credit for Passport Club members who may have had these vintages already. Remember, after the 28th, you can still get the beers, and each one will be a separate credit becuase they are dated, but the 6 oz. credits will go away.

  • Before all of this Duck Rabbit mayhem breaks out, there is an extremely rare keg of beer being tapped at Metropolis on Wednesday the 21st. Stone Brewing Co. has made a collaborative beer with Alesmith and Mikkeller. It is a Belgian-style triple, and I can't wait to try it. Only 2 kegs are coming to Atlanta, and it they will probably not live to see the following day. Alesmith is a highly regarded SoCal brewery that wins awards everywhere it goes. Mikkeller is a crazy Dutch guy that does not own a brewery. He goes to some of the world's most esoteric breweries and makes these way-out collaborations. Everything is extreme and pushes the limits of sanity. I would look into this if I were you. I will be there around 5 pm as well. I'll be the guy with the really awesome beer in his hand.

  • Small amounts of kegs of Terrapin's Side Project (#4 or 5) are hitting the stores now. Almost every store is getting one. It is called Dos Cocoas, and it is a porter made with 2 kinds of cocoa. Get it before it is gone. That means you. Now. Go. (Please call your local store to see when they are going to have room for it, because this beer sort of came out of nowhere and now is ready to drink. I would hate for you to make a trip for this one purpose and be let down.)

  • This Friday the stores on the west side of 400, excluding Cherokee, Fayette and Coweta counties will have Yuengling Amber Lager on draft. Yes, I am serious. The rest of metro ATL will have the beer on Monday or Tuesday. Why is this? One distributor has it now and is ready to sell, and that is basically how the territories are divided. It's complicated.

Now, if that is not enough to keep you busy until February, keep reading.

  • Some brand new beers going in are Breckenridge Pandora's Bock (Johns Creek, Cumming, Old Milton Pkwy, Kennesaw, and Decatur). Just in is Highland Black Mountain Bitter, which is very limited. Look for one at Kennesaw, Decatur, and Crabapple. Kennesaw is the only store pouring Vermont's Wolaver's Oatmeal Stout. They also have Avery "The Czar" (so does PT City) and "The Kaiser". Many more stores will be picking up these very unusual Avery beers soon. Suwanee is in the mood with Avery Ale To The Chief this week. Whether you voted for the guy or not, this beer is worth hailing.

  • Still can't get the Belgians out of your mind? Houblon Chouffe just keeps on blowing minds everywhere it goes. Suwanee, Old Milton and Kennesaw are the most recent to get on board. Johns Creek is rockin' Blanche de Bruxelles, N. Coast Pranqster, 3 Philosphers and Ommegang Witte. I guess we know what that manager likes to drink. Go, Jem. The selection up north is looking sharp right now.

  • Some items that you don't see everyday are Brooklyn Brown (at Suwanee and Decatur), DFH Raison d' Etre (Lindbergh) and Great Divide Titan (Suwanee).

  • Last but not least, the long-awaited arrival of Sierra Nevada's Hop Secret 393 is almost upon us. This is the beer that I helped write the recipe for during a seminar at the brewery in Chico, CA. It uses an experimental hop so rare (never before used), it does not even have a name yet. It is called simply Hop 393. If this beer is as good as the brewery says it is, we are in for a treat. However, there are only going to be a dozen kegs, max, so stay tuned. Arrival date is still TBD.

Have a great week everyone. I will be back in touch soon.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Chillin' In Chatanooga

I am in Chattanooga, Tennessee today doing some training at our store there. I will not be able to "See" Rock City, ride the Incline Train, or take in the sights from Lookout Mountain. I will however, be drinking some beers that we do not get in GA. Work, work, work. New Belgium and Ft. Collins Brewing Cos. from Colorado are some notable selections. If I have enough time, maybe we'll see what those Pyramid and Boulevard beers have to say for themselves. Then the GM here and some of his regulars are going to show me around some old pubs and pool halls downtown. Good thing we get a good rate on hotel rooms up here. It is a cool, funky little town with some kitschy tourist attractions, all about 2 hrs from Atlanta. Passport Club members should make the trip just to rack up some credits that they can't find back home. Not to mention, the staff up here is a really pleasant bunch of people. Check it out.

Don't miss the 3 year vertical tasting of Duck Rabbit Barley Wine at Suwanee on 1/28! The brew master will be there to answer questions, and he is a really cool guy. He has a master's degree in Philosophy at the University of Michigan for god's sake. The '07-'09 vintages will be served in the usual 11 oz. size, as well as a special 6 oz. taster for $2.50. The 6 oz. will be a unique Passport Club credit for 1 day only. I will be there around 5 pm. Snoozers are losers!

Here comes the beer report!

  • Ever heard someone speaking Flemish? It sounds like a German person gargling while speaking French. I think I figured out why. Belgian beer is so good, these people are half to completely ripped all the time. Here are some Belgian and Belgian-style beers going in right about now. Avery Collaboration is at Perimeter, Allagash Curieux is at Duluth and Johns Creek, Allagash Grand Cru can be found at Dallas Hwy and Cumming, Lindergh is in the mood with Delirium Nocturum (also at Metropolis), N. Coast Brother Thelonious, and St. Bernardus Abt 12. Mall of GA has Allagash Four and Dogfish Head Raison d' Etre.

  • Strange or unusual offerings what you are looking for? Schneider Aventinus is going in at Duluth. If you have never experienced a dunkle wheat dopple bock, this one invented the style, and is still the best ever. A close approximation, Heavy Seas Hang 10 is at Lindbergh and Peachtree City. N. Coast Old Stock is at Decatur, along with Lagunitas Gnarly Wine for barley wine lovers. Metropolis is serving the 2007 vintage of Duck Rabbit's Barley Wine. Ever had Ayinger Celebrator on tap? if not, our Decatur store can complete you like Mini-Me completes Dr. Evil. Rogue "Glen" is a rare installment of the John's Locker Stock series that Crabapple is pouring. The best beer, in my opinion, that Samuel Adams makes, is the hardest to find. Hit Old Milton Pkwy to find their Boston Ale on tap. No, not Boston Lager. This one is different, and really good.

  • Are you looking for dark beer to console your winter doldrums? Most stores have installed the latest batch of Sweetwater Happy Ending, and Decatur & Metropolis have the 2007 vintage. Wow. Duluth has a Whiskey-Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog. It is awesome. Stone Smoked Porter is new at Woodstock, and is quickly becoming a Fred favorite. Look for Sierra Nevada's Imperial Smoked Porter in a few weeks. I can't wait. Cumming just put on N. Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout poured with nitrogen. It is a great way to experience a huge beer like that with the edges smoothed out.

  • True hop heads are never satisfied. That is well-documented. However, Lagunitas' Imperial Red (at Cumming & G Mall) and Hop Stoopid (Metropolis) should give them something to chew on for a minute. Maybe a Gordon IPA at Johns Creek or Decatur will be just what the doctor ordered. Otherwise, Duluth is the most recent store to install Houblon Chouffe. If you are still unaware of what this beer is like, come taste the beer that created a new style. There are more "Belgian IPA's" coming out, and this is the one they are emulating and paying homage to.

That is it for now. There are many, many other beers getting tapped this week all around Taco Mac land. Too many to mention here today. Get out there and see what I am talking about. Our managers are doing a great job these days brining in new items constantly, and you are doing a great job drinking them. Keep up the good work, and I will talk to you soon. Oh yeah, and Yuengling draft comes out the week of 1/19 for you people who have been on pins and needles for that. All stores will have it as early as we can get deliveries that week. Happy new year everyone!

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.