Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Family Continues To Grow

No, not my family. There aren't very many women out there that can put up with me long enough of even think about that. I am talking about the Taco Mac family. Our new store in Canton, GA is ready to open tomorrow at 4 pm. The beer selection is looking great, with a few new surprises on tap to generate a buzz (yes, pun intended).

  • There is a beer engine there, and you can get a fresh, hand-drawn, cask-conditioned Victory Hop Devil. This engine is a little different than the one at Metropolis. This one has a "cask breather" system, which basically adds gas to keep the beer fresh without pushing or carbonating the beer in any way. Instead of the normal draft system PSI, it only use 2-3 PSI, and only when beer is drawn out is the gas allowed to enter. This enables us to keep the cask longer than the 1 day shelf we prefer at Metropolis. Neither is better or worse than the other, just different. Metropolis is pouring a Red Brick Peachtree Pale cask on Friday! Try Canton's tomorrow or Thursday, then hit Metropolis Friday and give me your thoughts on the comparison.

  • If you have never had St. Feuillien beers from Belgium before, you need to get with the program! We will have their Brune and Tripel on tap tomorrow for the first time at any Taco Mac. This is one of those breweries that has been hovering around my radar for a while, and once I got my hands on them, I am furious with myself for not diving in a lot sooner. Watch for their Noel this winter too. Mmmmmm.

  • Two new Weyerbacher drafts debut at Canton tomorrow as well. The Winter and Fireside are on tap, with their dangerous Quad in the cooler to cellar for a while.

  • Dark beer drinkers get ready. Duck Rabbit Baltic Porter, Rogue Imperial Porter and Mogul (both from the Locker Stock series of small batch kegs), and the re-release of Red Hook Double Black Stout (made with coffee) will be on hand.

  • Need some crazy new credits on your Passport list? Ever had Coney Island Human Blockhead or Harpoon Celtic Ale on draft. I didn't think so. Not impressed? That's cool. How about Harviestoun Old Engine Oil or Left Hand Twin Sisters Double IPA? Am I getting anywhere yet. Anyone? Bueller?

  • Some older, lesser know favorites will be on tap as well. Weihenstephen Dunkle Weiss, Breckenridge 471 ESB (a Fred favorite) and Ommegang Rare Vos are also in the building and ready to flow.

I hope that some of you can make it out there for the opening some time this week. As always, please plan your trasportation accordingly. We like to provide our regulars with excellent libations and a friendly atmosphere, and we prefer that our customers stay as far from harm and/or incarceration as possible.

The Hop Secret 393 Tour '09 is half over! Decatur killed the keg in 1 hr. 38 min., 4 minutes under Perimeter's time last week. Keep your head up Perimeter people, you poured a keg in 1:42 on a Wednesday. Decatur needed a Friday night to edge you out. This week we have to wait until 8 pm to tap the 393 at Lindbergh tonight. The beer dinner is sold out, so we have to save this beer until its appearance in the 3rd course. Too risky to start pouring it at 5 and be out before the beer dinner guests get any. For those of you that could not get out early enough to try this beer yet, here is your chance. The accompanying slide show will be upstairs on the mezzanine, and Sierra folks will be around to discuss the beer until I am through with the beer dinner. So come in around 8, grab a Hop Secret, mosey upstairs and someone will be waiting for you.

If you are a fan of the HS 393, and know folks in the Coweta or Fayette County areas, then get on the horn and get the word out! The Tour rolls through our Newnan store this Friday. Or, if you live in that area, we would love to see a strong showing for this event. We really want to keep showing the love to those stores down south, but as you know, love is a two way street. Let's get together and kill this keg of awesome beer in less than Decatur's time and show those folks who's boss. I will be there with the Sierra guys and the media show, so clear your calendar, call in sick, take the dog the kennel, and get ready, because we're headed your way Friday.

The only other notable event right now is the Allagash dinner next Tuesday. There is one spot available through Pay Pal right now. I am holding a few spots extra just in case, so if you had your heart set on going and can't pay through the web site, let me know. I might be able to release these spots in a pinch. Brew master Rob Tod from Allagash will be there to answer any questions that you may have about brettanomyces, lacto bacillus, barrel aging, or crazy Belgian-inspired brewing in general. Keep your eyes peeled for April's beer dinner: Fred & Matt's European Vacation! We will feature 2 German beers, 1 Belgian, 1 wacky Italian beer, and 1 from Sri Lanka (yes, I know that Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean, thank you). I would be surprised if many of you have seen any of these beers, since only 1 is available in GA. The other 4 I had only heard about until last month.

The Hop Secret 393 wraps up with the last 2 kegs at Kennesaw on Monday, and Crabapple on Wednesday 3/11. Have a great week, and I will see you all somewhere along the way. Thanks for all of the great feedback on this blog over the last few weeks as well!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"On The Road Again...."

The Spring Beer Tour '09 keeps rollin' along. It was great to see a lot of familiar faces last week, and to meet a good amount of new fans of these beer events. So far, I have not met one of you yet that is not a pleasant, enthusiastic beer lover, who is happy to be out with other like-minded folks, enjoying something new and sharing a laugh.

This week is a little different. Get out a pen and pencil, a road map, and get ready.
  • Monday we have the Guinness Perfect Pour contest at Lindbergh. A field of 44 bartenders from around metro Atlanta compete in a bracket format to see who can pour the perfect pint of Guinness draft. What constitutes a "perfect pint"? Come see for yourself as judges-including the Guinness brew master himself, fresh from Dublin-scrutinize the cascading pints one at a time. We have 5 bartenders entered, so come cheer on your favorite so we can win the prize in our own building. Cameras record all of the action on our TVs, so there is not a bad seat in the house.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday are the Smuttynose draft releases at Metropolis and Old Milton, respectively. We will be serving Old Brown Dog, IPA, Porter and Schmutzig Hopfen-Weiss at 5 pm for the first time in this region. Kevin Love, who has been with the brewery since the beginning, will be at each location, as will I (of course). The Schmutzig is a small batch offering, so don't expect to see that again anytime soon.
  • Friday the SN Hop Secret 393 makes its lone appearance of the week at Decatur. Just when I was truly falling in love with this beer, it starts getting taken away! Such are the lessons of life and love. If you missed this beer last week, this is your chance to get in on keg 4 of 8. Time, my friends, is running out. The beer is great, the slide show and movie are cool, the Sierra guys are super, and I am there in a terrific mood. What more, really, do you need?
  • FYI: The Sierra beer dinner is full. Sorry. But, March 3rd our dinner in Duluth, with the legendary Allagash brewery, has available seats. Their brew master will be present, which is a treat in itself. The menu is going up on line today, or I can send you one if you like.

That is the quick update for now. Thanks for coming out if you did, sorry for you if you could not, and "See you soon" if you are prepped for this week. March is not looking quite as full with events, so remember: Snoozers are always losers. This month is just really jammed with fun stuff, but eventually I am going to have to go back to my desk. Once I get there, I will immediately start planning some new events for us, so that I can be, "On The Road Again........"

Sunday, February 8, 2009

"Hello, Liver? It's me, Fred. Listen, we need to talk."

I just want to apologize in advance to my liver for what I am about to put it through. As far as livers go, this one has been a champ, and I think it deserves to be thanked and appreciated for the hard it work it has put in so far. "I need you, little buddy! The next few weeks are going to be fun for me, but you my friend, may be putting in some overtime." I think it is only fair to warn those of whom you know are certain to be in harm's way.

All joking aside, I want to keep everyone updated on upcoming events, because these will not likely be repeated, if ever, for a long time. If you have people in your life who would appreciate these types of things, please let them know. I hate to hear from folks out there that they heard about these things too late. Reach out to your fellow beer lovers. If they truly love beer, then beer needs to know about it.

  • Monday (probably today unless you are reading blogs on Sunday) is the first tapping of the Sierra Nevada Hop Secret 393. If you do not know about this beer, please read previous posts, or just show up at Windward Pkwy Taco Mac anytime after 5 pm. I will be there with the Sierra guys, a video slide show, short movie and complete brewer's notes on this rare beer that I helped write the recipe for and make. Don't forget, nobody outside of CA has tasted this beer yet, and it was made with an experimental hop never before used. The reviews from CA are incredible. Only 35 kegs were made, and 8 are in GA. The rest are in CA, if there is any left. Want to hear the whole story, with visuals? See you Monday.

  • The second and 3rd tappings of this beer will be on Wednesday 2/11 at Perimeter and Friday 2/13 at East-West. If Friday the 13th scares you, imagine how a few beers will take the edge off of seeing a hockey-masked, plaid shirt-wearing axe murderer. If we get enough people in the bar, we should be safe. I will be at both of these events, along with the Sierra guys and the travelling media show.

  • Next week Hop Secret is taking a hiatus, except for an appearance on Friday 2/20 in Decatur. "Why, Fred? Why?" you must be exclaiming. Because Monday the 16th is the Guinness Perfect Pour Contest at Lindbergh Center. On Tuesday 2/17 we have 4 drafts from Smuttynose Brewing Co. in New Hampshire (not ME, thanks readers!) releasing for the first time in GA at Metropolis. Feeling shut out up north? The same 4 varieties of Smuttynose will be pouring the following day at Old Milton Pkwy on Wednesday 2/18. I will be at each of these, along with Kevin Love. Kevin is the nat'l sales manager from the brewery, and has been there from the beginning. The 4 beers are (drum roll maestro....): IPA, Robust Porter, Old Brown Dog and Small Batch #5 Schmutzig Hopfen-Weiss. Yes, that was a mouthful. So, 3 of their year-round flagship beers, and one rarity. There are only 2 of each of these kegs in GA, so if you want to try them, I will not even give you one guess as to where to find them. I just told you. Are you writing all of this down?

  • We resume the HS 393 juggernaut at Lindbergh on 2/24. This beer is featured as the 3rd beer in our 5 course beer dinner that night. So, the beer will not be available until 8 pm unfortunately. However, after 8, the Sierra guys will start working their way out of the dinner and onto the mezzanine to accompany the slide show, etc. I will be back and forth between the two. Remember, the visual accompaniment will only be upstairs on the 24th.

  • Our new store in Canton is scheduled to open the following Wednesday 2/25. I always have some tricks up my sleeve for a new store opening (hint: Passport Club members, I am saving new items for Canton. Pass it on!).

  • Feeling shut out down south? No way. Hop Secret is at Newnan on on Friday 2/27. In case you can't tell, we are moving this beer around the metro area (sorry NE ATL, you have a different distributor for Sierra, and we could not break up an 8 keg shipment). If you see us coming near you, it may be your only chance. The remaining HS 393 kegs (2) are going to be tapped at Kennesaw (3/2) and Crabapple (3/11). I will remind you about those as we get closer to March.

  • Sierra and Allagash beer dinners are getting a good deal of action. If you were planning on coming (brew master Rob Tod from Allagash-which is in Maine!-will be at the Duluth dinner in March), you should probably sign up soon.

If that does not sound like a month that calls for an advance apology to your liver, just remember 1 thing: This is what I do for a living. Sprinkle in a brewery tour, a Hawks game (What? They made the playoffs last year.), a concert at Variety Playhouse (guys from Cumming, remember we were going to get a beer in L5P), and dropping by the occasional pub after work, which I have been known to do. Let's just say most Saturdays and Sundays are spent on R & R. Oh, who am I kidding, I'm drinking a beer right now!

Thanks, and I hope to see as many of you as possible this month. If you neglected to write this all down, don't worry, I will try to remind you. But, as you can see, the potential for me to become "forgetful" in the next few weeks is, um, strong.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Secret Is (almost) Out. Oh, & Smuttynose

A very excited hello to all readers. The beer that I assisted in making and writing the recipe for while at a seminar at Sierra Nevada last November is finally here. The local reps from Sierra just returned from their annual sales meeting, and this beer was a big feature of the week. I received many boisterous phone calls from the brewery during last week's beer dinner at Duluth, and the reviews were outstanding. If you have not been following this situation, let me get you up to speed:

  • Representatives of key accounts for Sierra Nevada are invited to the brewery to learn about beer, brewing, Sierra N. history, etc. They are then allowed to help write a recipe for a beer, with the help of SNBC brewers of course, to be brewed the following day.

  • The attendees of what is called "beer camp" then assist in the brew that next day, and when it is ready to drink, most of the kegs go to those accounts who participated. There are a random 2-3 kegs that the brewery keeps for special occasions. The kegs from my beer camp (the third ever) are at 5 places: the brewery's pub (already gone), 2 places in the SF Bay area, 1 place in So. Cal., and Taco Mac.

  • Did I mention that this beer was made with an experimental hop, so new that it was yet to be named? Did you know that this hop, called simply Hop 393, had never been used before? No. But, I did mention that the beer has received such rave reviews, and I have yet to taste it myself! The buzz on this beer is so wild, that the brewery is commited to using the 393's again very soon. I have heard "awesome" and "f*&cking mind-blowing" to describe this beer.

  • The 8 kegs that we have are being tapped at Taco Mac locations around the metro ATL area in February and early March. I apologize to the folks in NE Atlanta. The distribution of such a small amount of kegs had to be handled by 1 distributor, and Gwinnett and Forsyth counties are exempt. Sorry.

  • FIRST KEG IS TAPPED AT 5 P.M. ON MONDAY 2/9 AT WINDWARD PARKWAY! I will be on-site for this, and all of the future tappings of this beer. I will have a video slide show of my experience, a special video surprise, and the local Sierra people with me. I will also have the complete and hand-written brewer's log for this beer, listing everything from grain to glass! The rest of the schedule goes like this (get a pen and paper): 2/11 @ Perimeter, 2/13 @ East-West, 2/20 @ Decatur, 2/24 @ LBC (released at 8 pm, long story), 2/27 @ Newnan, 3/2 @ Kennesaw, and 3/11 @ Crabapple. There are only 110-ish beers/keg, so please do not be late if you are into this kind of thing (and why would you still be reading if you were not into this kind of thing?).

  • The last thing to mention here is that all of the participants of Beer Camp 3 had to take a test at the end of Day 1. The person who scored the highest got to decide what kind of beer we were going to make, and had final veto power on the recipe. I will give you one guess who made GA proud, and trumped the CA guys. They were cool people, but when the stakes were high, I had to shut 'em down. Not bragging, just stating a fact.

Before you get too happy with the 393, remember that Smuttynose Brewing from Maine is launching in GA this month as well. I know, it is awsome here in GA these days. And, you don't even know the inside info I received via phone this morning! No sh*t readers, there is more great releases on the horizon. 2008 was prety awesome, but 2009 is poised to dominate. Do not miss these 4 draft beers from Smuttynose at OMP on 2/18, and Metroplolis on 2/17! Actual flavors will be Brown Ale, IPA, Porter, and a TBD vintage/crazy offering.

Please pass this info on to any and all of your beer-drinking friends. These events are coming and going quickly. Most of the time, beer drinkers like us don't need to be poised on pins and needles, but when the bell tolls...you do not want to be left out, do you?