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.

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.