Sunday, April 26, 2009

Beer Is Exploding In GA! No, It Really Is Exploding.

April is winding down, and May is looking pretty stacked right now. First of all, a recap of last week:
  • The cask at Metropolis turned out to be aged with white wine and oak, not red wine. Either way, I really liked it, and it was definitely a new experience for everyone. The combo of oak and wheat tasted like coconut kind of.
  • Guinness 250 was released on Friday to all Atlanta stores on Friday. It is a non-nitro stout made to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the signing of the lease on the brewery. If your local Taco Mac is out currently, don't freak out. We brought in a limited amount to get this beer launched over the weekend, and trucks are coming out all week to resupply us.
  • The stores each received 1 case (12 bottles) of Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale. This is a black IPA (huh?) that is getting rave reviews. If you can't get one before they are gone, you have 1 option: be at Duluth on the 13th of May. We have 1 keg of it for our beer dinner there, and once that course of the beer dinner is through, we will release that to everyone in the bar. The same is true of a cask of Stone Smoked Porter with chipotles in the cask. Expect those both to be available to you after 8 pm-ish if you are not attending the dinner (it is sold out).
Here are some things to look for in the next couple of days and weeks:
  • Monday, May 4th be in Roswell for Ellard's Cellareds! Our Ellard Village store is breaking out kegs of He'Brew Jewbelation 12, Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, Allagash Black and North Coast Old Stock from 2008. They are also breaking out some 12 oz. bottles of Stone Russian Imperial Stout from '08 as well. These beers were all purchased in early to mid-last year, and should be tasty. These are also some rare credits for Passport Club members. Once these beers are gone, good luck finding them again. Incidentally, I just had an '07 bottle of Old Stock, and it was awesome. I will be at the store on the 4th, so come join me for some high-gravity cellared beer. It doesn't get much better than that really.
  • Look for Asheville, NC's French Broad Brewing Co.'s beers across Taco Mac land. The brewery just started shipping 2 draft beers up here, with more to follow. These people are really cool, and they make some really good beer. Their Wee Heavy-er and Rye Hopper are available now. The brewery is named for a river, so if "broad" means something to you other than "substantially wide", grow up.
  • On Monday, May 11th, you will be able to find New Belgium's beers in Atlanta. Their Fat Tire, Mothership Wit and 1554 Black Lager will be available in 22oz. bottles only for a month or so before draft arrives. Don't yell at me! That's the way they roll-out.
  • Before you get too excited about New Belgium, you need to get pumped up for Terrapin 30 Strong! It releases to all GA stores on Friday, May 8th. This is the beer that caused such a stir at the Terrapin party 4/11. There is 20% less of this beer than Ron Burgundy, so it will be gone in a hurry. Please be careful. This beer can compromise your better judgement, and that does not hold up in court.
  • Also expect to see the two new Widmer beers, Drop Top Amber Ale and Drifter Pale Ale showing up around town. They are getting off the ground this week.
  • Ft. Collins Brewing Co. has 4 kegs of a double bock (9+%), aged for a year, then put into Stranahan's Whiskey barrels for 2 months. For more on Stranahan's Whiskey (and its connection to Dale's Pale Ale) use the internet. Or, just ask me about it when I see you. If you like bourbon, or American whiskey in general, Stranahan's is top-notch stuff. This beer should be killer. You can find it soon at: Old Milton, Newnan, Metropolis and East-West. It is called Ft. Collins Barrel-Licked Bock. Call the store for more details as to when they are getting tapped.
  • Perimeter is getting into the cellared mood with a keg of 2008 Duck Rabbit Barley Wine, and Suwanee is in on the action with a Victory Storm King for 2008.
  • Speaking of Victory, look for Victory Wild Devil. It is their Hop Devil IPA with a wild, Belgian yeast. Some stores will have The Hop Devil on draft, as well as on beer engine and the Wild Devil. You can taste the differences between keg, cask and Brettanomyces influences.
  • It looks like our firkin for Metropolis this week exploded at the warehouse. There may be another one, so once I contact the bomb squad, maybe we will have a different one. Not sure right now. I will be in Birmingham, AL Wednesday night for a concert anyway. Try to get out to Ellard next Monday 5/4. That is the hot ticket right now.
Thanks folks. I hope everyone had a great and restful weekend, and is ready to drink some beer this week. New stuff is coming into Atlanta relentlessly right now. When will it plateau? That is up to you, the consumers, to support the brands you want to keep. New stuff is great, but don't forget about the old favorites out there. Without you, they might have to pack up and go back home. One day we will all be wondering what happened to old such-and-such beer that we loved, when the reason is right there our mirrors. Also, some of these folks believed in Atlanta (and you) before it was a slam-dunk business decision. That has to mean something, right?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wino Wednesday!

As funny as I think getting a bunch of winos together for a mid-week party might be, this is not what I am referring to in the title of this post. Homelessness and alcohol addiction are not funny. The word "wino" is hilarious, but winos themselves are kind of scary and sad. I mean, have you ever tasted Wild Irish Rose? If that is your beverage of choice, sir, you have hit rock bottom.

No, seriously, Wednesday's cask at Metropolis is a Terrapin Sun Ray Wheat aged with red wine and oak. I have had a few beers like this before, and they are great. In case you have not had a chance to taste some of Terrapin's cask beers (see photo above right of the cask tent from the 4/11 party at the brewery-4 top choice rarities), they do a dynamite job. We tap firkins at 5 pm. What else is really going on this Wednesday anyway? Hawks Playoff Game 2 you say? Luckily Metropolis has a TV or two so that we can watch the game while we drink cask beer. If you can't make it, I understand. I mean, it sucks for you, and that I understand. Terrapin people will be there for questions and general levity. The "Viking Guy" I am not sure about. Can you pick out his dad in the ensuing photos?

Please read below for YOUR WEEKLY BEER REPORT!:
  • Run, don't walk, to Johns Creek or Woodstock for a small keg of DFH Midas Touch. I don't have enough time to tell you everything about this beer. It's rare, it wacky, and you want one. Think beer archaeology.

  • Kennesaw is anticipating warmer weather with Anchor Summer, Lindemann's Peche (new to ATL) and Sierra Summer. Metro and Perimeter have the Sierra Summer as well. Hate light summer beers? Then you have not tried Sierra's.

  • Speaking of warm, if you are in any of the 15 stores pouring Ommegang Rouge (French for red, not "rogue"), try to let this complex beer warm up a little. In fact, while you are Googling the Midas Touch, look up Flemish sour ales. When these beers are cold, the nuances of fruit and oak are masked. Give it a few minutes to get up to at least 45 degrees.

  • Not been levitated yet? Everyone is going crazy for the Stone Levitation. It is an amber ale with a great flavor. People always expect Stone to blow your taste buds apart, and are surprised at how pleasantly drinkable Levitation is. So get over to Suwanee and get lifted (bonus point for anyone who knows the origin of the song lyric: "It's hard being black and gifted. Sometimes you wanna throw it all down and get lifted!" Hint: Not a real song. This is from a movie made by and starring one of the most genius and controversial comics in the last 20 years.).

  • Thank god there is new representation in GA for Brooklyn Brewing Co. As promised, here come some much anticipated specialties. First up is Brooklyn Blast. It is an IPA of some sort, high-gravity, and available at P-Rim and Newnan so far. Please tell me how good it is if you taste it before me. Hey Newnan! I will be there on Thursday! Hope I'm not too late.

  • Lastly, as always, there are so many other things going in at all of our stores, I can't list them all here. BUT! Every store is receiving 1 case (12 large 220z. bottles) of Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale this week. This is a black IPA. Never heard of that style? Me either. Get one, unless you hate awesome new beer experiences. This weekend will also see the introduction of the Guinness 250. This is a non-nitro stout brewed to commemorate the 250th ann'y of the signing of the lease on St. James Gate (confused? Keep on Googling). How's it taste? I don't know that either! Aaarrgghh! Looks like I am going to have to drink a lot of beer this week. Anyone else getting deja-vu?
PS- Here are my comments on the photos:
  • It all started innocently enough at Trapeze (above right).
  • The brewery party was great. Look at the beautiful day we had (below 1) and the cool company. On the right is Jason from Crabby. He was on the legendary CA trip last year.
  • Lookin' good, Fred! (below 2, but 24/7 really.)
  • See the Terrapin brew house? Lots of room to grow, thankfully. Huge horizons.
  • Late night back at Trapeze was tasty (see empty glasses on the table)! And then it ended, abruptly for some. Remember: When the game is on the line, leave everything on the field.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Burgundy?

Tonight, The Ron Burgundy goes down forever. The beer, released 30 days before the 420 Fest in Candler Park, is available at 1 store only: Decatur. The 420 Fest starts tomorrow. How awesome is this timing? Pretty much storybook timing on this one. It almost seems like it was orchestrated to end this way, doesn't it? Truth is, we planed on doing a "Kill Ron" get together at Ellard Village and try to drain a full keg in 1 night. That turned out to be more difficult to arrange than I thought. So, we just let it follow its own course. And how did that work out? The store closest to the 420 Fest has the last keg of Ron on the eve of the fest. The natural forces of the universe lined everything up perfectly. That is some Zen beer karma going on there.

So, if you feel like saying good-bye to Ron Burgundy, meet me in Decatur tonight. If the feeling strikes me (i.e. slight to moderate inebriation), I might just model the damn Snuggie myself. Who knows, maybe I will win it. There is not much of this beer left (about 3/4 keg), so if you get out there before I do, maybe you will be the proud owner of a blanket, with sleeves, and a Sweetwater logo.
Brewery personnel are going to try to swing by as well.

If you are perplexed by the photo, that is not Ron Burgundy. That is Chaz from Wedding Crashers, an equally classic Will Ferrell character that threatens to steal the movie with a bit part at the end of the film. "Mom! The Meatloaf!"

If you want to ponder more Eastern mysticism, there is a Hari Krishna house on Ponce, not far from the store. Bring your robe (hopefully one like Chaz is sporting, the Krishnas will give you the orange one), and all of your earthly possessions and money. You won't need those anymore, but strangely, they do. Never could figure out how that works.

Note: The connection between the photo and the text is flimsy, I know that. Sorry, I'm a little pinched for time right now. I will try harder next time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

When You Wake Up, Don't Blame The Viking

Don't miss the Metropolis 1-year anniversary tonight. Donald is opening up the cellar and letting some real gems out. I am leaving the office early to be there at 5. Work, work, work.

I hope everybody thoroughly enjoyed their weekend. If you were not where I was, I just want you to know that I had enough fun for the both of us. If you were there, you know what a spectacular day we all had at the Terrapin anniversary party in Athens. The weather was gorgeous, the crowd was just the right size (over 1000 people), and the quality of the company in attendance was incomparable. Did I mention the beer? Oh there must have been 20-24 taps spread out among 4 serving stations located throughout the brewery and adjacent grounds. Live bands were playing, frisbees were being thrown, and that bean bag tossing game was going on. They call it "corn-hole" for some reason, but you are not going to catch me telling anyone that my friends and I went to Athens overnight and played corn-hole. That implies Burt Reynolds with real hair, crazy rednecks, banjos and Ned Beatty squealing like a pig. None of that happened. But back to the beer. All of the usual Terrapin suspects were being served and tasting great, and the cask tent was serving firkins of an oaked Rye Pale, the new 90 Shelling, an oaked Monk's Revenge and an oaked IBA. They were all delicious. Get ready for the 90 Shelling when it gets released, it is another home run for the Side Project series.

Somewhere along the way, the guy in the viking helmet gave us a tour of the brewery. I don't know if anyone could really hear him over the steel drum band playing inside the plant, but we know how a brewery works. He was funnier than his hat, which could not have been easy. The big news is that after the tour we got to taste the Terrapin 30 Strong, which is their anniversary beer for Taco Mac. There are not enough superlatives in the English language to adequately describe how good this beer is. Thank you, Spike. Thank you, Terrapin Beer Co.

"But Fred, what kind of beer is it, Fred? I am dying to know!"
A strong ale.
"Not giving me much to go on here...."
It has 30 different ingredients. It's hard to describe.
"Aaarrrggghh. I need something tangible to satisfy my curiosity!"
I guess you had to be there.
"You're really starting to piss me off here, Fred."
Listen. I had a transcendental experience on Saturday. I no longer feel the need to define everything according to what society wants it to be. Don't put the beer in a cage man. Just let the beer be itself. Accept it for what it is, and fit into its world. Don't make it fit into your world. No joke, this stuff is 9%. You mess with it, and, well, you might fall 6 feet off a fence and go face first into the sidewalk. That didn't happen to me, but let's just say I was there when it happened to someone else. All that Zen BS comes to an abrupt halt when blood starts squirting out of someone's face. But, when you wake up in the morning covered in scabs and band-aids, don't blame the viking who was pouring your beer. He didn't put you on top of that fence.

All kidding aside, we had a great time, albeit with one bloody mishap. It had more to do with open-toed shoes, and less to do with strong ales. The Terrapin 30 was the talk of the day, and all of the local beer freaks who got in on the sneak tasting were blown away. This beer launches Friday, May 8th. We have less of it than we did of the Ron Burgundy so don't mess around and miss it. When you do get your hands on some, for god's sake be careful, and don't wear sandals!

I hope you enjoy the photos. Once my buddy sends me his (these are from brewery personnel), I will see if any of those are interesting. If you ever see the viking guy, that is Dustin, and he is charge of sales and marketing for Terrapin. Great guy and a good friend. They really hooked it up on Saturday, and we will be talking about it for a long time. The next time these guys invite the world to their place, you need to get up there.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tax Day Party?

Tax time got you down? Uncle Sam making you "mad"? Feel like "bitching" about it? Well then do we have something for you. That's right people, April 15th is a cause for celebration. Not because Uncle Sam has all of your money, but because we have a birthday to celebrate. The Metropolis store will be 1 year old on April 16th (so we are a day early, sue me). This was about to go by without much fanfare until an unusual and rare keg of beer surfaced, and the timing took care of itself. I know what you are thinking, "Shut up and tell me what the beer is already. And how on Earth is Crazy Cat Lady from the Simpson's at all relevant in this case?" Patience.

People ask me all the time, "What is your favorite beer?" In most the cases the answer is, "The one I am drinking right now." Or, "The one that you're buying." Those are classic responses that get a polite chuckle at best. But, when pressed, I will divulge that if I was stranded on desert island with only 1 kind of beer for the rest of my life, it would probably have to come from the De Dolle brewery in Belgium. These beers are rare, yes, and when you can find them, not cheap. I can't recall ever seeing their beer on tap. Not in Atlanta, or Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, or any of the other places I have ever been. That doesn't mean they don't exist, just that they don't come around very often. So, there are about 55 little glasses of De Dolle Dulle Teve in the keg parked at Metropolis right now. We are going to get into it at 5 pm on Wednesday, April 15th. I don't know what you need to do to get there, and frankly, if you can't make it, there will be more for me. However, I would not be able to enjoy this beer at all from sheer guilt if I did not share this info with my loyal readers.

De Dolle Brouwers means "The Mad Brewers", and they make incredible, exotic beers. That's it. They don't make a beer that is isn't eclectic. They're "crazy". Dulle Teve means "mad bitch". So, the crazy brewers have a beer named after some crazy (you can fill in the blank here folks).... So, if you want to come down Wednesday, try the Dulle Teve on draft (I already said it was expensive, OK?), have a few of the other great beers available, babble nonsense, hurl mangy cats at people, stay home! If you want to skip the last two and just drink beer with cool people, come on down to midtown on Tax Day (boooh!) for a Dulle Teve (yeah!).

Also, if you are interested not only in the Dominion Millennium, but would also like to meet Scott Hamil from the brewery, you need to be at the Mall of GA store this Friday. Scott is a great guy, and I am sure that you have some questions for him, as Dominion has a new direction for the Atlanta market (and I like it). Please be prepared to arrive at 5 pm or later for this event. The store will not open until 5 this Friday due to extenuating circumstances (somebody was hurling cats, that's all I can say). Also, the beer engine is pumping fresh Victory Hop Devil right now. Too good for words. If you are digging the cask beers, I just want to tell you 1 thing: I have some things up my sleeve that will make you very happy....

I am going to Athens (Georgia, not Greece) on Saturday for the big Terrapin party and staying the night. Sunday will be a normal day off with household duties. You might not hear from me this weekend, so, here is your mid-weekly beer report:
  • Does all this talk of beer have you floating on air? Well they coast on down to Crabby, Duluth, Lindbergh, Johns Creek, Kennesaw, G Mall, Metropolis or Perimeter for Stone Levitation Ale.
  • Want to get glued to your chair? PTC has the only keg of Lion Stout from Sri Lanka. This is a new Fred Favorite. If you think you might like dark beer, this one is not for you. If you wish dark beer could get darker than it already is, Lion is for you.
  • More heavy stout? Ok, Weyerbacher 13 is at Cumming, Kennesaw and Perimeter. Careful, this one pack a punch.
  • The Terrapin Monk's Revenge is out at some stores already, but just going in at Crabapple and Suwanee.
  • Kennesaw is putting in Left Hand Oak-Aged Imperial Stout. I just drank an '07 when I got a new TV for football season last August. I considered that combo a religious experience. Thanks, Terry B.! They are also offering the organic Schneider Edel-Weiss. It's from Schneider, so it is awesome.
  • Ellard has a few notable things going on right now. First of all, if Roswellians have not experienced Coney Island Human Blockhead, now is their chance. In addition, the Oskar Blues Mama's Li'l Yella Pils is making an appearance. Plus, The Ron Burgundy is on its last legs there. If the keg makes it through the weekend, I will be surprised. Go on and get you a Snuggie already.
There is so much more going out there (Crabapple just brought in a ton of new beers!), that I don't have time to mention all of it. Just be aware that beer drinking in Atlanta in April has never, and I mean NEVER been better. Get out there and enjoy it before someone decides to slap another tax on it.

Note: No cats were harmed in the posting of this blog, nor are any cats harmed by Crazy Cat Lady
who is, like her cats, a cartoon. I in no way advocate the hurling of any live animals. And touching dead ones, whether you plan on hurling them or not, is just gross.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I Like Eggs, Just Not That Much.

While talking on the phone to my mom today, I was reminded that this coming Sunday is Easter. I remember the excitement as a child of hunting around grandma's yard for colored eggs, the fake plastic grass nestling foil-wrapped chocolates in pastel baskets, huge glazed hams with all the fixings. Pretty standard Easter memories. We used to love it. Springtime up north, I'm sorry lifelong southerners, is just a lot more important than it is down here. When you have been getting snowed on mercilessly for the last 4 months, spring is a big deal.
The thought occurred to me, as I was looking over the stockpile of hearty fall and winter seasonal beers in my fridge, that all of the best holidays are for kids. Why do they get to have all of the fun? They don't work for a living, go to war, sit in traffic, have tragic love affairs, or even have to know the horror that is Phil Collins. They don't really do anything but have fun. And don't get me started on school. Like that is even hard anymore. Have you talked to a teenager lately? I hope you know a lot about video games, because that is about the extent of their vocabulary right now. It is about time for the adults to stand up for themselves, and say, "Kids, you're going to bed early tonight. Mommy and daddy are gonna pop the tops on a few cold ones. What do you mean only 6:30? Back in my day we went to bed at 5:30, and our pillows were made of logs! Now go upstairs! And remember, mommy put a monster under your beds that eats little children's feet when they touch the floor. Night night."
I propose that adults have a Beer-ster in the spring. Seasonal beers getting boring? Get the gang over to your house and hide a bunch of wacky strong ales, some double IPAs, coffee stouts, whatever you have. Hey, even mix in a few bad beers. It would be like when you got the mottled-looking, half grey/half poop-colored egg the slow kid from down the street dyed. "Oh crap! I got a Blatz." Imagine the unbridled excitement of adults rummaging through the shrubbery, pulling out aged barley wines, or corked 750s of Belgian ale. If you want to wear gaudy pastel outfits, hey, it's your party. Frankly, I would not recommend it. I would wear something that will hide the stains of whatever beer you will eventually spill on yourself and/or others. Preparation really is everything.
As far as cuisine for Beer-ster goes, I am OK with the ham, personally. I currently have no issues with the traditional Easter meal. You are free to do whatever you want. Like I said, it's your party. Order Thai food for all I care. Start your own brand new tradition. I mean, I like eggs, but not that much. I'm not crawling around in bushes for 'em anymore, I don't care what color you make them.
A hide-and-seek the beer party? That sounds more like it. Besides, spring is an amorous seasonal for many species. How are eggs going to put anybody in the mood? The scientific evidence linking beer to the reproductive habits of humans is well documented. I mean, everybody has heard of beer goggles, right?

Here are some notable beer-related issues. This is kind of like Beer-ster, but I am going to tell you where they all are. No shrubbery. There are also not any hams currently being prepared at this time, at least not that I am aware of.
  • Mon.-Wed. 8 stores are releasing the RJ Rockers Son Of A Peach. Come get a sneak peek at this new seasonal 4-6 weeks before its mass roll-out. Canton (I will be there), Woodstock and Newnan go Monday; Metropolis, Lindbergh (me again) and East-West are on Tuesday, and Johns Creek (me, plus they have tons of new items coming in right now) and Duluth go Wednesday. Come out and meet someone from or associated with the brewery.
  • Dominion's Millennium Barley Wine is coming to Woodstock, G Mall, Duluth, Canton and Old Milton this week. Scott from Dominion will be at G Mall on Friday if you would like to ask him any questions. He is a great guy, and is local as well. This beer is only available 1 time a year, and tastes great. Feel free to call other stores receiving this beer to see if Scott will be near you. He is setting that calendar up as we speak.
  • Two little kegs of Brooklyn Intensified Coffee Stout just arrived. I sent them to Newnan and Suwanee. I hope to be serving them by Tuesday, but am not 100% sure. Call before you make a special trip please. The beer is not in the buildings yet, so Tuesday may be a little premature to get everything installed, cleaned, etc. We have a renewed relationship with Brooklyn, so look for more specialties to come in the future (Brooklyn Blast is next).
  • Put Monday 5/11 on your calendar. I will tell you this, and only this: You will need safe transportation to and from our original store in Virginia-Highlands on that day. The mystery event begins at 5 pm, so tell your boss you have a doctor's appointment at 3, because traffic after 4:30 around there gets crappy. Trust me, I live 5-6 blocks away. No, you can't stay with me that night, sorry. If you miss this, it is your own fault. I gave you 5 weeks' notice. (Hint: If you have been following this blog for a while, you probably already know what it is. However, the first tastings of this beer are just now being reported, and they are exemplary.)
  • Terrapin's newest Side Project, Monk's Revenge is in at Johns Creek, Woodstock, V-High, Windward, Cumming, Canton and Metropolis. Hurry, this is a small batch.
  • Smuttynose Hanami is at Duluth, Crabby, Kennesaw, and Perimeter (lots of stuff going in here, too!). Kennesaw is getting the Smuttynose Mai Bock soon. Let's get out there and wipe out these seasonals. The faster we do that, the more esoteric beers they will keep coming.
  • The Fordham Spring Buck (also represented by Scott from Dominion) is going in at Dallas Hwy, Metropolis, Kennesaw and East-West. This is a Belgian-style blonde, done extremely well here in the states. Check it out. (Psst! It is really affordable too!)
  • Lindbergh has the He'Brew Barrel-Aged Messiah Bold coming in. Good stuff. They also may have a keg of Dogfish Head Black & Blue. Call before you head in there for that. If they get it, expect it be gone in a day or so.
That, beer fans, is the short & skinny report for now. There is a ton more activity out there in Taco Mac land as usual. Too much to mention in one sitting. Thanks for coming out for the cask of Highland last Wednesday. The beer was great, and there were a lot of friendly people as expected. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you for the RJR beer this week. Also, pending upcoming reports, we may have a "Kill Ron" event at Ellard or Decatur. We will get the heavy-hitters together (you are included) and see just how long it takes to drink a keg of beer. I will keep you posted.