Saturday, October 31, 2009

New Haunts On Halloween

Happy Halloween readers! I am still alive, just busy with a new project these days. Since my last post we have had two beer dinners, with another one on the way. Last Monday was the Terrapin/Left Hand collaboration dinner. The beers were outstanding, with the menacing- sounding Terrapin Hopsecutioner making its debut outside of the brewery. It was great, and this new year-round beer should be hitting stores this week. We also saved a keg of their collaboration beer with Left Hand, Depth Charge It is the espresso milk stout that was around a month or so ago. It was tasty when it was fresh, but it really benefited from the time it got to mellow out. Great beer to go with a gourmet peanut butter cup with espresso ice cream to finish the meal.

The November dinner on the 10th in Duluth is with Merchant du Vin. If you don't know who MDV is, let me explain. They are an importer that carries some of the best European beers in the world. We are going to start with a relatively unknown Czech Pilsner called Zatec (crisp and delicious), then Lindemans Pomme (tart-apple lambic), followed by Ayinger Weizen-Bock, Samuel Smith's Yorkshire Stingo and Ayinger Celebrator dopplebock for dessert (pretty proud of that combo). The Stingo is a very rare strong ale from Samuel Smith's, aged in oak for a year. The state of GA received only 75 cases of 12 bottles about 4 months ago. We have been sitting on two of those cases in anticipation of this dinner. Go to http://www.tacomac.com/ to view the food that we are paring with these beers. It is going to be awesome.

For the record, this will be the last beer dinner in this format. We are going to be changing the program around in 2010, and they will be moving around to more locations. If you live in or around Duluth, we will not be there every other month anymore. You may want to jump on this one.

The "new haunt" that I referred to in the title is the new store that we are opening at The Prado. It is set to open on Wednesday, and the run-up to a new store opening is a busy time in my world. The beer selection is a matter of personal pride, so I have been pretty much living at the new place. I just want to warn everyone that is not a Brewniversity member that they really want to sign up now, and get to work on their lists. We have some special surprises at the new store for members above a certain level. I cannot divulge all of the details now. I have said too much already........

My only real adventure to speak of lately was last weekend on the 24th. I took a leisurely drive up I-85 towards Gainesville on a beautiful fall day. I was listening to a recording of a special concert I was at in San Francisco on 8-08-08. My friend Brittany was getting married in Dahlonega, and everything was going pretty darn alright so far. For those of you following my whereabouts, yes, this is a different wedding than the Terrapin guy's two weeks ago. You will recall my advice from that wedding, that it is always a good idea to have some beer on hand, because you just never know. And when have you complained that you had "too much beer"? So once I get to my hotel in Cleveland, GA, the lobby of the Days Inn smelled like a kitchen in Calcutta. Indian folks in Hall county? You are just as surprised as I was. Dinner time at 3 pm on Saturday? OK, whatever floats your boat.

So I check in, kind of hungry for some curry now, and called my friend who was also attending the wedding. He was about 30 minutes away, and we were going to take a cab together to the wedding. The group I would be with that night tends to drink a lot, and we were not interested to see the insides of any jails in that region. So, naturally I told my friend to take his time, and I would grab a beer somewhere. Anybody know where this story is going yet? I walked up the street a few blocks, no bars. No taverns, pubs, dives or saloons. Oh well, I'll just go over to this store and grab a six pack I thought. Go back to my room and watch a little football. Hmm....this store doesn't appear to sell any beer? That's odd. So I ask the guy behind the counter, "Hey man, where can I buy a little beer around here?"
He says to me, like I should know this already, "Umm...Helen I guess."
"But that's like another town."
"You in a dry county man!"

So it's true. Those places do exist. And people actually live there! Unbelievable. I failed to take my own advice, to have some beer on hand just in case, because I never factored this potentiality into the equation. Why is there not a liquor store on the border of that county with a huge sign that says, "Dude! You are not going to be able to buy any beer in this county if you don't stop here!"? And then a sign right after that saying, "Yes, I am serious. Dry county ahead!" Maybe that should be an app for those i-Phones. Dry country alert. You hear me Apple? Make it happen. Future customer over here!

The wedding was at a beautiful farm-type setting way down a country road and a mile up a winding dirt road into the mountains. Horses frolicking behind the bride and groom, live violinists, fall foliage on the mountains......not bad. Not bad at all. Congratulations Brittany and Vince (she is a blog reader). We had 420 and Yuengling on tap. Not sure if any booleggers or moonshiners were involved.

The picture above is from Left Hand when I was there in September. This is a smoker smoking malt for their Smoke Jumper Porter. Talk about hand crafted beer. I have been in a lot of breweries, and I don't recall seeing anyone smoke their own malt. I've smelled people smoking something at a brewery or two, but I don't think it was malt!
Have a great week everyone.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Got Much Luv For The Hooptie

Hooptie
1. An old piece of crap car.

Features include: a plume of blue oil-soaked smoke coming from the exhaust - general odor of beer vomit and french fries - a Kraco stereo with a 10 year old Nirvana cassette stuck in the player - flat white, flat blue and Bondo red in color.

Warning! For historical accuracy, some quotes in this post are R rated! I apologize to the vocabulary-sensitive readers out there, but these are actual quotes from real situations.
The above definition comes from www.urbandictionary.com, which if you have never spent (wasted) any time reading explanations of terms you may have never heard of, or heard but never understood, check it out. Hilarity guaranteed. My recent experience with a hooptie is as follows:
The weekend of October 10th I was in Athens for the wedding of my friend Dustin from Terrapin. The wedding was at a really cool farm out in the country, and the couple were wed under a gigantic ancient oak tree. The ceremony was out of the ordinary in many ways (the officiant was the owner of the expansive 5 Points Bottle Shop in Athens, fresh form receiving an on-line minister title from some alleged "church" in California, for example), which set the tone for things to come.
Since the reception was being held at the brewery, with special beers galore, I dropped my car off at the hotel (picked up a 6-pack on the way), and got a list of local cabs from the front desk. Now I wasn't about to call the first cabbie on the list. They're probably the busiest and will take the longest, right? Plus, everyone calls the first one. Maybe these guys on the bottom need some business. I'm always looking to help the underdogs of the world. So I call the number next to "Mark - taxi" at the bottom of the list.
"Hello?" No mention of this being a professional taxi company.
"Yes, I need a taxi to the Holiday Inn downtown Athens."
"Uhhh, I'm not working yet."
"Oh, OK. When do you start?"
"Well, not for like 45 minutes, maybe an hour." It must be nice to write your own schedule. This guy was a real go-getter.
"Alright, thanks. Bye"
Grunt.
So that was such a great experience, I called the next to last number on the list. With a name like "Much Luv" how could I go wrong? Ring, ring, ring.....
"Hello, Much Luv!" By the sound of the woman's voice, apparently there is a ghetto in Athens. Who knew?
"Yes, I need a cab to the Holiday Inn downtown." Long pause.
"Uh, yeah, I'm gonna need like 10-15 minute to get a hold of the driver." That is not a misprint. This woman didn't say "10-15 minutes". I guess plurals are obsolete now.
"OK. So about how long?"
"I'd say about 20 minute baby. Whas yo name?" Great. Now I am going to be late for the reception. Good thing I stopped for that 6-pack. That's a lesson for you folks out there. You never know how long something is going to take, so you better have some beer on hand just in case. When have you ever said, "Oh my god. We have too much beer!" Never. You may be thinking, "Why doesn't he just call another cab company?" Well, I already had the ball rolling with these people, and I assumed it would have taken just as long with someone else. Plus it was Saturday, so there was football on TV. About 15 minutes later I get a call:
"Hello?"
A man's voice this time, "Yeah, dis Greg? Dis Much Luv."
"No, this is Fred." Long pause.
"Well OK Fred, where you goin'?"
"I need to get over to Terrapin."
"The beer makin' place?"
"Yep, that's it."
"OK man. We be dere in about 20 minute. If you goin' by yourself, I gotta charge you 'bout twenty dollar." Well now I am going to be late, so I am not in a postion to haggle. I need this guy to get moving, and fast. So, fine, twenty bucks for a ten dollar cab ride. I told him my room number, hung up the phone and opened up another beer. Georgia was getting manhandled by Tennessee. About fifteen minutes later I get another call.
"Yo' man, we down front. I can't get the god-damned limo in the driveway, so we just park on the street. When you come out the front do', just look to the right." Like I could miss a limosine in front of a hotel. Thanks, Much Luv. Thanks for the help. Well, twenty bucks for a limo ride isn't bad. I guess I'll arrive in style.
So as I head out the door, I get a call from my friend Bob. He is working, and he is having some sort of crisis with a keg acting up or something. I am trying to help him, but as I get closer to the limo, I sort of stop paying attention to the conversation. The limo, which appears to be being driven by a wino of some sort, is from the early 80's. There is rust around the window trim and door handles, a mirror was missing from the passenger side, the wheel wells were dented, the widow tint was peeling terribly. Thirty feet of dilapidated hooptie, tires needed air, wino driving, needing badly to be put out of its misery. This thing was a piece of shit. I walk around to the entrance, still on the phone with Bob, and when I opened the door, all I could say was, "Bob, I gotta call you back....or something," and hung up immediately. The interior of this car was filthy. The carpet had dirty, oily streaks covering 80% of it. The seats were ripped. Where a TV monitor used to be recessed into the console there was a huge smashed out hole. Now a 17-inch home TV set was somehow wedged in there and wired up. Here is this guy sitting in the limo smiling up at me, white tank top, fake diamond ear rings, and not wearing any shoes. He is acting like this situation is normal.
"Whas up, Fred? I'm Much Luv" he says as I get in and sit next to him. His woman is at the other end of the limo, ten feet away at least. She was wearing a black tank top and dirty pink sweat pants. There was a Bravo movie on the TV. How do they get cable? Not only does she not have any use for plurals when she talks, she seems to have no use for a bra either. Anyway, that's not important to the story. Much Luv gives me the bro' handshake. You know, where your elbow is at a 45 degree angle and your thumb is facing back at you. And then you do the little mini-hug. Yeah, we did that. And damn did Much Luv have much BO. Much stank if you ask me. So I say, "What's goin' on man?"
"Oh, you know. We just doin' what we do baby. Tryin' to make a dollar." OK, so now I am pretty sure he is a drug dealer. Who rides around in a dirty-ass, busted up limo with a bra-less girlfriend, BO just kickin', no shoes, watching Bravo? What is the focus of your evening, when this is considered "doin' what we do"? So then he yells--this is my favorite part--at the top of his lungs to the scraggly-haired wino behind the steering wheel, "Go left up at the light, Doc!" As we pull up to the light, the driver is still in the right lane. Uh oh."God dammit, Doc! You make a lef' here. I done told you (....incoherent mumbling to himself....). Now someone is gonna come and take that lane like.......oh shit! Here come someone now. You dumb mutha fucker!" That was a real conversation. I had not gone a block from my hotel yet.
The wino, Doc, does not seem bothered by Much Luv's manner or tone. He calmly says, "I was gonna make a left from this lane 'cause the car's so long."
"Well OK then. Just don't miss this light. This man got somewhere to be!" I think he was referring to me. My guess is that he refers to himself in the third person. He would have said, "Much Luv got somewhere to be!" if he had somewhere to be. From there on out we just made small talk, he yelled directions to Doc, and I watched that Bravo movie until we got to Terrapin. Longest fifteen minutes of my life.
As it turned out, I was not late after all. In fact, there was a large number of people getting out of their cars as we rounded the last curve towards the brewery. Some of them looked at the white limo slowly approaching in the distance, and got out their cameras. They must have figured that this was the bride and groom, I guess. But as we got closer, and Doc methodically wheeled the enormous car into the parking lot, I could see the peoples' expressions quickly go from excitement to pure bewilderment. In short, they were totally puzzled. Eventually they looked away out of pity, I guess. I mean, who goes anywhere in a car like that? Then I get out. My friend Steve's wife, Melissa, was standing there She was one of the few people who didn't avert their eyes. She said, and I quote, "What the fuck is that?"
"That was Much Luv, and I need a beer. And a shower. Can I get a beer in a shower?"
The reception was great, of course. There were probably 8 Terrapin beers, a keg for Stone, Lagunitas, Left Hand and Bell's each. There was a special cask, cellared bottled beers, etc. Spike broke out some special things from his personal stash....you get the picture. It was, surprisingly, rather low-key though. Maybe I left too early, but everybody enjoyed themselves in a responsible manner. Odd for many people in that group to say the least, but it was a wedding, and nobody wants to be a bad memory for the happy couple on their wedding day.

Yesterday was the Decatur beer festival. Great turnout as usual, and the beers were outstanding. Atlanta Brewing Co. really wowed everyone with a cask of their porter blended with their Belgian-style Winter, both aged in Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels. The weather was a little chilly, but that did not stop anyone from having a good time. I took a picture for you in case you were not there. These folks do taxes for a living. Awesome people. I want my accountant to appreciate my beer expenditures, don't you? Thanks for reading, and the next time you are in Athens, call Much Luv. The memories are worth twice what I paid for the ride.

The Duvel/Ommegang/Chouffe/Maredsous dinner in Duluth on Tuesday actually has some open seats. I am confused as to why one of the best beer line-ups we have ever featured is lacking in attendance. Duvel glassware and pouring techniques will be available for take-home as well. November and December dinners are still in the planning stage. Have a great week folks!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot! A big shout out to Rich! He is a reader from Atlanta who I just bumped into at Manuel's Tavern on Friday. If you see me out and about, say hello please. I am not hard to find. Just sniff out the good beer, and I am not far away.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Butt Jokes. Who Knew?

Thank you everyone for the feedback on last week's post. I guess farts are funny. Who knew? Apparently adults are still amused by flatulence, stories about flatulence, even the mere utterance of the word "flatulence", etc. In "Galapagos" by Kurt Vonnegut, the futuristic world is inhabited only by a species of highly advanced dolphin-like creatures. Their only similarity to humans as we know them, is that they still laugh when someone farts. Kurt Vonnegut was one of the brightest and most thought-provoking minds of the modern era, and even he had to give props to the humor of farting. If you have not ever read his "Slaughterhouse Five", you need to get yourself a copy. It isn't about killing animals for food. It's about war, and is one of the most monumental works of fiction in the pantheon of human creativity. A poignant message to humanity then, now, and forever. No farting in that book, though.

So, moving on.....Tonight there is a cask of Terrapin BIG Hoppy Monster at Metropolis. I am headed that way once I am through here. Saturday there is the 1st Annual West GA Beer Festival. Click on this link for more info: http://www.westgabeerfestival.com/. This is going to be a great event, with all of the proceeds benefiting Camp Twin Lakes, which is Taco Mac's main charitable cause every year. Beer people (that means you) have a superb history of supporting good causes while having fun. Doing good (i.e. drinking beer) never felt so good. Unfortunately I will not be able to be there. There is a wedding in Athens that I need to attend. Who? The guy in the viking helmet from April's posts. He's the sales and marketing genius from Terrapin. Reception is at the brewery, and the super-secret stash is getting broken wide open for this bash. Nope, not gonna suck.

Next Saturday is the Decatur Beer Fest. I have been known to make an appearance there, and intend to do so this year for sure. If anyone is having a hard time finding beer events these days, they are blind. In fact, next year I am thinking of sponsoring the 1st Annual Atlanta Beer Fest For The Blind, just to make sure that every man, woman and inner child in metro Atlanta has a beer fest just for them. But seriously, this town has gone beer crazy lately, and who doesn't like to get out and mingle with other like-minded people, drink beer and enjoy the sunshine?

My second trip to Denver in two weeks was great. I brought back a good amount of beer in my checked bag. The problem was that it was in the same bag as my computer, so I was especially nervous that if there was any breakage, my computer would be soaked in beer. Yeah, this is a work computer, so I would have to explain that. "I, um, have no idea why beer is dripping out of it. Total mystery. I mean, it was fine when I went to bed, and I woke up and it's like someone just poured beer all over it. ALL over it, and inside of it. Crazy. Hmmpff." So as I waited for the conveyor to start sending the bags crashing onto the roundabout thing, I was especially concerned. I was actually thinking about how I would in fact explain why I needed a new computer when I got to work the next day. "Holy shit! I got robbed. Guy just ran up on me and stole my computer. Didn't even get a look at him. Total pro. Wow. Thank god no one was hurt though, you know. I mean, that's what's important, right? Everything else, computers, it's just stuff. So, yeah. I'm gonna need a new one I guess." And all of a sudden, my bag was the very first one off the conveyor! Show of hands of who has ever had that happen. Uh-huh, that's what I thought. Bag was totally dry, all beers in tact, why did I even doubt myself? Like I don't cram beer in my luggage every time I fly somewhere cool. Some of that beer will accompany me to Metropolis tonight.

I'm really not in the mood to discuss how the Cowboys played on Sunday. It was a beautiful day to be at Invesco/Mile High, and the fans were almost as great as the seats I had. However, I can still smell Tony Romo's performance. He stunk worse than the GABF on Saturday night. He stunk worse than New Orleans in the summer. Oh yeah, that bad, because New Orleans reeks. Hey, Dallas Cowboys, you need to score more than 10 points to win on the road. Pathetic.

OK, so that's it for now. Cask tonight, wedding in Athens tomorrow, back to work on Monday. Enjoy the weekend people. And if Dallas loses to KC on Sunday, I'm going to need a deal on a new TV, because a beer bottle is going through the one in my living room.

Photo 1 is pretty obviously the start of the game last week. Photo 2 is of the casks and "foeders" at New Belgium. They are pronounced "food-ers", and are giant wooden wine fermenters from France. New Belg. ferments different beers in them, and blend them sometimes to create different sour ales, etc. They have a permanent spigot on the side, about 1/3 of the way from the floor. We got to pull samples from Foeder #13. It was the one that one a big award at GABF. Extra special tasty for real. Great people at that brewery that honestly love their work. More pictures to follow. You can probably tell that this Google blog thing is not treating me right regarding photos. It seems to have a mind of its own.

Dear Mr./Ms. Computer Engineer-

Here in the real world, where not everyone is some egg-headed genius, it would be totally awesome if you stopped making the machines do what you think we want them to do. You can go back to making the machines do what we tell them to do instead, and that would be great. Thanks.

Sincerely-

Every Other Person Besides Yourself.



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.