Sunday, August 30, 2009

Left My Home In Norfolk, Virginia....

Last week was the end of a big month filled with lots of beer events. Unfortunately the Super-Wacky He'Brew/Coney Island End-Of -Month Keg-O-Rama got pushed back a little while. The truck had to roll from the brewery before the special cask was ready, so we will reschedule that once we get an ETA on that cask. The rest of the pieces are already in place (translation: We have the rest of the beer in house currently). Stay tuned.

The cask of Duck Rabbit Porter with cherries (sour ones from northern Michigan) was tasty last Wednesday. Great turnout, too. Vanessa (above, tapping the cask) set the record for the most bling on a cask tapper thus far. Nice earrings V! If you missed it, it was a who's-who of NC brewing. Paul Phillipon of Duck Rabbit there as expected, and Oscar Wong, owner of Highland Brewing Co. made a surprise appearance. Those are two of the greatest beer people you could meet, in a business full of great people. The Flaming Lips show at Chastain that night was eye-opening, to say the least. Confetti cannons, 5-foot diameter balloons, dancing girls in silver 60's-era Star Trek suits, a giant catfish in a Captain Kangaroo-type suit, white wolves, smoke machine, exploding things. You know, pretty much a normal Wednesday night. Nothing unusual there.....

Get ready for a whole new look on the Taco Mac web site starting Tuesday. New company, new bells & whistles, new format, etc. Preliminary peeks look great. Due to these changes, the September beer dinner has not been posted yet. Why? I promise to NEVER bore you with technical jargon. This is no exception. The only thing worse that reading that kind of crap is writing it. Just trust me, everyone will be happier once this new web company takes over for the morons who used to take our money for screwing up our business. We decided not to give them any more chances to mess anything up going into the stretch. So, if you are interested in signing up for the Cajun/Creole inspired beer dinner featuring Abita beers at Lindbergh on 9/22, you need to contact me. Use the "Beer Dinner" link on the web site, and I will get the e-mail. Once the new company launches our web site Tuesday, we will eventually go back to using the Pay Pal service, but until then, sign-ups go through me. The menu looks great, and I can send you a copy via your e-mail address. We have two planned in October: the first one is with Duvel/Ommegang/Maredsous/Chouffe (all owned by the same company, in case you were confused), and then a collaborative dinner with Terrapin & Left Hand (see last post regarding their collaboration beer-Depth Charge).

Lastly, this is the final time you will hear me say, "Passport Club". On Tuesday we officially announce the new Taco Mac Brewniversity. I offered everyone the newsletter describing the improvements to our current system a few weeks ago. If you are still in the dark, the news goes live with the new web site Tuesday. We are going to do some "Card Swap Parties" in the next few weeks. The first one is Thursday at our Crabapple store. If you are in the area Thursday night, stop in to get your info swapped from the old card to the new card, ask questions about the improvements, or just sign up if you are still not a card holder. We should be there until 7 or 8 pm, I am not really sure. I just go where they tell me to go.

I actually will be in Virginia on Friday, but not in Norfolk. I will be in Fairfax to visit my brother and his family for Labor Day. But the title of this post is a line from a famous song about travelling, and right after Labor Day, the Beer Travel season begins. Not familiar with the Beer Travel Season? That's is when I spend 8 days in northern CA visiting brewery after brewery, some days as many as 3. By the time I get my laundry done and caught up at work, it is GABF time. Five days after that I am back to Colorado for a brewery trip that spans into the beginning of October. That, folks, is what September is like in my world. Add into that my birthday and football season, and you could say that I am partial to this month basically every year. I promise to take lots of pictures with my new camera. Luckily it does not have any problems focusing while I am drinking. The downside to all of this travelling is that I may not have much time for writing here, so once a week will be about all that I can muster. The upside is the material I will have once I cool my heels.

Have a great week everyone. Let me know if you want to take a look at that Abita menu. Once we post it on the new web site, sign-ups will be brisk. Talk to you soon.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I Need A Bunny Suit- Stat!

The Terrapin visit on Saturday was fun. I must say that it was a little uneventful in regards to hilarious antics on behalf of my buddies, but I can't fault them for behaving and not amusing us at their expense. Sometimes the magic happens, sometimes it doesn't. I mean, one lost Blackberry doesn't really convey "wild & crazy". Plus housekeeping found the phone the next day.

We did get to try the newest Terrapin/Left Hand collaboration called Depth Charge. What is Depth Charge? Oh, just an espresso milk stout. Yes, it was as good as it sounds. The coffee taste was a little heavy for some people, but I like my coffee black with twp espresso shots, so I was happy with the beer just the way it was. The coffee came from local roaster Jittery Joe's in Athens. Terrapin is all about keeping it local whenever possible. That is certainly a policy I think we all need to follow as much as possible.

We also got to try a cask of oak-aged Gamma Ray (delicious) and the newest Terrapin Side Project, Pumpkin-Fest. Are pumpkin beers too cinnamon-y and spiced for you usually? Me too. Terrapin cut that taste by blending it with an Oktoberfest recipe. Genius. The result is either a very drinkable, malty pumpkin beer, or a lightly spiced Oktoberfest, your choice. Either way, look for this to come out in early September. If you can find it in a cask like we did, get some of that for sure.

OK, now don't freak out, but I'm going to talk about cocktails for a second. We went to a bar called High Wire that is owned by the people who own Trapeze. But instead of a high-end beer bar, they have a high-end (but not stuffy) cocktail bar. It also has a tasty beer selection, but it's small. We were drinking Bulleit bourbon with Blenheim's spicy ginger ale from South Carolina. These bad boys are addictive. Bulleit is an old-fashioned, family owned Kentucky distillery, and Blenheim's is a beverage I've never even heard of, which is rare. I like ginger ale (Vernor's from Detroit is my favorite, of course), but this stuff is the spicy kind you usually associate with Jamaica. Anyway, it's damn good with bourbon. Just keep your eye on your phone when you're drinking them. I think this may be the culprit to my friend's lost Blackberry.

So, the Terrapin trip was fun. You know that you are off to a good start when the desk clerk hands you a 6-pack of Terrapin Rye Pale Ale when you check in. Ice those down, head out for the evening, and your cold night caps are waiting for you when you get back to the room. Those Terrapin guys are a class act all they way.

If you are wondering when I was going to tell you about this week's Duck Rabbit cask, I hope that you left your calendar open Wednesday. I heard from brew master Paul P. on Friday that the cask will be Duck Rabbit Porter with fresh cherries added to the beer. If you are available Wednesday, we are tapping that cask at 5 pm. I expect it to go quickly. I will be there to enjoy a few before leaving around 7 pm. Flaming Lips are playing at Chastain, so I gotta head over there for that. Should be a wild multi-media kind of a freaky rock-n-roll thing with people dressed up like giant stuffed animals. Outside, in August. This is fun for some people.

If anyone is planning on going to GABF this year and needs a hotel room, please let me know. I got the Westin down to $165/night plus taxes, etc. Usually this is a $250/night hotel, and it is 8 blocks from the convention center. We are not able to use all of the rooms we have, so if you need a room, please take one of these off our hands. I will charge you exactly what we pay, not a dime more. I may have festival passes available as well. I will know more on that tomorrow.

Have a great week out there people. Hope to see you at Perimeter for the Cherry Porter cask. You miss that one, you won't get another chance at it for a long time. Bring some Blenheim's with you too.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

No, Summer's Not Over. The Beer Just Got Better.

Hey folks. Not a ton of stuff to talk about today, but I just wanted to recap a few things from last week and remind you about this week's events.
  • We had our first beer dinner in Newnan on Tuesday with the fabulous beers from Left Hand. The turnout was great in quantity and quality. Those folks always have a good showing. If I had to guess, I think the group was pretty split on their favorite beer between the 400 Lb. Monkey and the Nitro Milk Stout. Keep your eyes peeled for a keg of Coney Island Barrel-Aged Human Blockhead coming your way if Newnan is your home store. There are only two of them, and one should be there next week at the latest.
  • We were also invited to Sweetwater on Friday to be present when the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper received their check from the proceeds we raised for them in June. We were not the only participants in the fundraiser, but Taco Mac alone raised over $25,000. So, if you contributed to that in any way, I watched your money get into the hands of the people it was intended for, and they were very happy. Great job Atlanta.
  • This week is part of your "fall primer". The Falcons had their first pre-season game, Michael Vick is no longer unemployed(if anybody even cares about that anymore), and Oktoberfest beers are just starting to arrive. Remember that Red Brick has keg-conditioned some of these for our stores with beer engines, and we will be serving Red Brick Oktoberfest keller-bier style at those 5 stores. What 5 stores? Metropolis, Mall of GA, Canton, Decatur and Woodstock. This is the inaugural cask for the new beer engine in Woodstock. Also don't forget that Atlanta Brewing Co. personnel will be on had at each location to meet n' greet our customers. I hope that you can add this to your calendars this week, as this is a rare opportunity to taste a darker lager beer served in the old method. I have a thing at Philips Arena until about 6:30, so look for me at Metropolis around 7 pm. Otherwise, plan on these kegs getting tapped at 6:00 pm.
  • Last but not least, if you are still unaware of the changes coming 9/1/09 to the Passport Club, you need to get up to speed. If you do not receive the Taco Mac newsletter e-mail that my co-worker and all-around goofball, Marie, puts out, then please let us know. We are making massive upgrades to the ever popular, yet slightly flawed system. There was a lot of planning and dial tweaking to get this thing right. So many new features will be available to make it more rewarding and interactive for the customers. We are very happy and excited to be releasing this for you current and future members. If you do not get Marie's newsletter, then e-mail us using the "Comments" section of the Taco Mac web site and we will make sure that you start receiving them.
That is all I have for you today. Sorry that it is all work and no play, but I have a 2-day training class Monday & Tuesday that is going to take up 2 full work days, so I am a little short on time tonight. Have a great week, and I will talk to you soon.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Drinking Affects Your, Uh, What Do You Call It?

OK, since everyone's schedules are so damn hectic these days, and let's face it, your memory isn't what it used to be, I am going to try to simplify the August calendar of beer events for you. "How, Fred, how can you simplify a dizzying array of events scattered all over metro Atlanta?" If you guessed the Bobby Brown Word Association Game (cue music), that is, um incredible really. I don't know how you came up with that, since I just thought of it myself. Or did I? Did I already think this up when I was drinking, told you about it, then forgot it myself altogether, only to remember it now as a completely original idea? That is the only logical solution. I gotta be more careful about who I tell my ideas to when I'm drinking. I have some pretty good inventions I'm working on to make my vast fortune. Or do you already know that, too? Hmmm. If you invent the pillow that always stays cold, I swear to god I will buy 4 or 5 of them. Seriously, I am totally willing to share that idea, in hopes that someone out there gets off his or her ass and invents a pillow that stays cold. Who does not love the cool side of the pillow? What if every side of every pillow was like that side of the pillow. I have shared my genius with the world, now somebody get to work. I will buy my own idea! I don't care how ironic that may be. I just want the pillow!! Enough already, let's get back to the Bobby Brown Word Association Game.

If you find yourself in a fog about the next August beer event, just think about what is probably the best part of your day, excluding sex, finding money, watching your boss get electrocuted, or personally throwing a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl: Having your first beer. Here's how it works. You're in quotations, I'm not:

Wanna open a beer?
"Hell yes."
OK, you're gonna open a beer. Use the common vernacular. You're gonna........"
"Crack open a beer?"
Right! Now think of crack....
"Whitney Houston!"
Yes, now stay with me. Houston we have.....
"A problem? Tom Hanks, Apollo 13!"
No, not Tom Hanks. Whitney Houston's has a problem named....
"Bobby Brown?"
Who sings.....
"Humpin' Around"?
Which reminds you of which day of the week?
"Hump day........Wednesday!"

Bingo! And there, friends, is all you need to know about the August special beer event calendar. Bobby Brown. Just think about cracking open a beer, and the rest just falls logically into place. As far as the locations go, well I don't know, write it down or something. I can't do all of the thinking for you.

1.) This Wednesday we have the owner of Uinta Brewing Co. in town from Utah (he's not one of those Utah people). He will be at Metropolis, and we have a keg of his Uinta Wyld on tap. It is a pale ale style made with a Belgian yeast. Tasty and not exactly easy to find. Metropolis has also agreed to release a case of their 2008 Uinta Barley Wine for the event. I will tell you, I had an '07 North Coast Old Stock from my stash last night, and August is just fine for barley wine. I hope you can come by and taste these beers and say hello.

2.) Next Wednesday the 19th is Red Brick Keller Bier-Oktoberfest day. A keller (cellar in German) beer is a term for cask-conditioned German beers, served from their conditioning vessel, a la olden days. German beers as we know them have mostly taken to modern engineering to perfect and stabilize their flavors. Keller beer is old, old-school. Red Brick is taking a test batch of this year's Oktoberfest and cask-conditioning them for a little experiment. We will be serving these casks at: Canton, Decatur, Mall of GA, Metropolis and Woodstock. Savvy readers may notice that Woodstock is a new addition to this list of stores with beer engines. Well, I have it on good authority that they will have one installed by Wednesday. Much rejoicing in Cherokee County I am sure. There will be Red Brick people at each of these locations to chat with you folks about beer, Whitney Houston, cold pillows, whatever you want really. I am not sure which location I will be at yet. That is, um, my prerogative. C'mon, you knew it was coming sooner or later!

3.) Wednesday the 26th we will have the president and brew master from Duck Rabbit Brewing Co. in NC, Paul Phillipon, at our Perimeter store. He will be bringing some special beers with him, possibly including some new things he is working on, and most likely a cask of some sort. If you have never met Paul, he is an extremely pleasant and gregarious person. We did a 3-year vertical tasting of his barley wines in Suwanee this past January. If you missed it, you missed out. I will give you more details on the beers once Paul gets them to me, I promise. Help make Perimeter's 2nd special event ever a success. Sorry, I just forget about that store most of the time.

That is all I have for you right now. If anyone has any information about the Bobby Brown road that overpasses I-85 by the airport, I would love to hear about it. I truly hope that there was some important civic leader named Robert "Bobby" Brown that did some wonderful things for Atlanta in the past. Because if that road is named after that jail-bird, drug-addict freak of an ex-husband of the crack-head diva extraordinaire, that's sad. Imagine the people coming in from the airport from out of town, "Is that really a road named after.....that Bobby Brown? No, it can't be. Not after the time he......and then he got busted with the.........and that crazy-ass TV show with his wife yelling all the time? No way." Yes way. Welcome to Atlanta. Crack is whack.

Have a great week everyone.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

J - E - L - L- Ohhhhh!

Well we made it back from Panama City in one piece. It was nice to relax with some old friends, drink a god-awful amount of beer, and just watch the waves roll in. People say there a lot of rednecks there. I didn't really see any. Sandbillies? Now those I saw. My god, is that what crystal meth does to people? There is this "brand new" field of medicine that apparently has yet to hit the Florida panhandle. It's called dentistry.

No, seriously, we had a great time. There was one bar we hit called Spinnaker's. They have a great concept. In each area of this cavernous bar on the beach, they have different types of music and dancing for different tastes. Great idea, right. No. Picture the hip-hop crowd in one room, the Latino crowd in another, and then the sandbillies in another, all decked out for the weekend. Then crank up the music, get them all drunk, and wait for the magic to happen. You might as well just stay at home, stab yourself and call your own ambulance. Save a lot of money that way.

Luckily there was Schooner's. This beachside bar had much more charm. Open air seating everywhere, ocean views, some guitar strumming guy, the whole package. Apparently they are short on sodas though. If you order a Seven and Seven, you get whiskey. Vodka tonic? All vodka. Can of Budweiser? I swear the bartender was trying to pour liquor into that too. Take is easy, Shawn. Not everybody is trying to come down from an all-week meth bender. Some of us just want to have a drink and look at the water. Good grouper sandwich though. And the She-crab soup? I think my friend wanted to make love to it.

Late night we found a cozy little place called Patches Pub. What a place. I was the youngest guy in the place by 20 years (I turn 39 this year). Those people loved us! We came in around closing time and livened that joint for real. You really get the feeling that no new customers had set foot in Patches for a long, long time. Now if want to do some shots at Patches, they bring out a tray of plastic cups of multi-colored Jello shots. Layer after layer of them, and they are made with wine-based liqueur (Wild Irish Rose?). Allegedly their license is only for beer and wine. I just think old folks like Jello. Nothing wrong with that. Plus they know if they let these grannies and codgers loose on a bunch of hard liquor, they might start making out or something gross like that. Anyway, 4 or 5 Jello shots later (What? They grow on you! I like green.), it was closing time.

So far my one friend (name omitted to protect the guilty) had managed to stay completely upright. This may not seem like a big deal, but the last time we took him out of town, well, see April's posting about a trip to Athens. Somehow in the middle of the night he walked right past the bathroom, made a right and....Woops! There's stairs right there buddy! Wipe out. Luckily there were only about 3 stairs this time, and a recliner broke part of the fall. This drop was only about one tenth the height of the last one, so he's making progress. Next time we go out of town I assume he'll just fall on level ground. Then after that he will bump into chairs, then walls, eventually working his way towards remaining completely upright the whole time.

Anyway, I'm ready for some beer events. How about you? Here is what I have coming up:
  • Tomorrow we have a cask of Left Hand Jackman's Pale Ale to tap at Metropolis. I will be on hand, naturally. My equillibrium-challenged friend will not however. What a great way to end the week: Fresh hand-drawn American ale. Tap time is 6 pm.

  • On Wednesday, August 26th Paul Phillipon will be in town for special appearance. Paul is the brewer and president of Duck Rabbit Brewing Co. in NC. He will be bringing some new beers that he is working on, a cask of something, etc. The details are still getting fleshed out. The event will be in the northern part of the metro area, and I will fill you in as we get closer. Stay tuned.

  • Mall of GA will be getting a cask of Highland Kashmir IPA this month as well. This beer is not common in these parts, especially cask-conditioned. The date is still coming into focus. I'll keep you informed once I know something.

  • Lastly, if anybody is interested in going to Athens this month, Saturday the 22nd would be a good day. That is Terrapin's "Back To School Bash". For those who may have missed it, read an April post about how awesome Terrapin events are. This one should be outstanding. Hot, probably, but worth it. My buddy should be up to just bumping into furniture by then. Leave the first aid kit in the car.

  • We will also be doing a small run of Red Brick Keller beer. Keller is the German word for cellar, and it pretty much refers to old-world taste and serving methods. Expect beer engines to be pouring the Keller-Oktoberfest this month. Sooner that later on these kegs.
Thanks for reading everyone. I hate to run, but I think my Jello is just about to set. "I'm coming Granpa!" He needs his "medicine" before Columbo starts. He likes orange.