Saturday, December 26, 2009

“Fundamentals are a crutch for the talentless.”

Well hopefully everyone had a merry holiday season so far. I know I did. It all started with the cask of Terrapin "The Dark Side" at The Fred on Tuesday. Good quantity and quality of attendees as usual. I meant to include a photo from the event, but all of my pictures turned out like crap. Sorry, I tried. We had a virgin cask-tapper that did an outstanding job, as well as having a pretty sweet 'stache. Nice work all around.


On Wednesday I received something unexpected and exciting from my employer: airfare to England. I am going with some beer writers, retailers and Terrapin people in February. We have a jam-packed week of brewery tours (Samuel Smith's, Fuller's, and some little ones), a cask beer fest, and lots of pub activity. I assume there will be a historical marker or two along the way as well, but I dig history quite a bit, so I look for ward to that. It may not be the most beautiful weather in February, but the places we are getting access to are worth a little chill and drizzle. Plus, if there are two thing I hate when I travel, one is being hot, and two is other tourists. You can have peak season and all of the crowds and long lines and screaming children. No thank you. So my southern California beer trip is getting postponed until March. I am very much looking forward to 2010 already, as you can imagine.


But it certainly has been a relaxing weekend so far. I now know why so many people have been talking about this HBO show "Eastbound And Down". I watched the first 6 episodes on DVD over the last few days. Absolutely hilarious. Now listen, before I hear from any angry readers, I want to warn you that unless you like foul language (a lot), and also enjoy jokes about sex, drugs, retarded people, and rednecks, you will not like this show. If it were a movie, it would be rated R. It contains more F words than many people would deem appropriate. But if Kenny Powers is not one of the funniest characters on TV in the last 10 years, I don't know who is. The show stars Randy McBride (who plays Red in Pineapple Express, another classic comedy), and is produced by Will Farrell. You may have heard of him. He also appears in some of the episodes.

Now you may be saying to yourself, "Duh, everybody watches that show." Well, I don't have HBO. Comcast is the biggest bunch of greedy bloodsuckers on the planet, and I already give them $120 a month for digital cable and internet. I refuse to give them any more of my money, and if I could dump them for satellite TV I would in a heartbeat. This company has a monopoly on cable TV service in this area, and they have the inflated prices and terrible service to prove it. Oh, and Comcast just bought NBC? That's right. Hey, if your regional cable company--not even a nation-wide corporation--has enough money to buy one of the three biggest networks in the country, chances are that they are ripping people off pretty badly. I mean, if their profits are such that purchasing NBC is remotely possible, do you think they are taking advantage of the fact that other than satellite, which is not available to everyone, they have no competition? Yeah, I think so. It is so unfair that the government has to be complicit on some level. There are strict anti-trust laws in this country, but for some reason cable TV is immune to them. I mean, I guess you do have a choice. You can take it, or you can leave it. Eventually you will get sick of watching the four channels that you'll get through your antenna and pay them their money. They know that, and they are laughing all the way to the bank. Evil crooks committing crime in broad daylight, with absolutely no shame or morals.


OK, deep breath.....need to let go of the anger....the bad cable people will rot in hell.....horrible pain.....endless torture.....ahhh, that's better.

OK, put Jan. 13th and 19th on your calendars. You should already have the 19th down for a special Bell's event at Metropolis. We will have a cask of Cherry Stout, Hop Slam on draft, and many other great Bell's beers on hand. In fact, (new development!) there is a beer that Bell's made in Belgium in collaboration with De Proef. We will have a keg of that, too. Very rare. The 13th we will tapping a firkin of Heavy Seas Loose Cannon IPA at our Crabapple store. This beer is great any way you can get it, but the hops really shine when it is served from a cask. If you have never had it this way before, you really need to ASAP. If you have had it this way, then you probably won't miss this opportunity, and are writing it down right now.

That's all for now. Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend. I am leaving Tuesday to visit family in the DC area, so I will see you in the new year. Bye.




















Saturday, December 19, 2009

"Long You Live And High You Fly...."

I am not sure if Terrapin's slightly eccentric brewer, Spike, was channeling Pink Floyd or Star Wars when he came up with the newest side project "The Dark Side". I am guessing a little of both. The beer is a Belgian-style stout, which basically means that it is a big, strong, dry stout with some Belgian yeast element that takes the flavor in a new direction. This style of beer is not all that common (think Allagash Black, with Terrapin personality). The beer is arriving in stores now. Many of you may have already tried it.

This coming Tuesday at The Fred we will be pouring this beer, along with Terrapin's Wake N' Bake (it is about cookies, what is the deal with all of the snickering?) and Hopsecutioner. Not impressed? OK, how about if we also have a cask of The Dark Side aged on cherry wood? If that didn't wake you up, what if I told you that Spike and the crew from the brewery would be there, and that they would arrive in a Darth Vader shaped hot air balloon? Would you be impressed then? Really, because that's not going to happen. Sorry. Spike and the gang will be there, but I think they are driving. The hot air balloon in the photo belongs to people who love Star Wars a little too much. Oh, it's cool. No argument there. But how much do you think that thing cost? I was 6 years old when the first movie came out. Let's just say that it had a profound impact on me, and every child in America for that matter. For my younger readers, this was before VCRs were available to the general public. For my really young readers, a VCR is how you watched movies before DVD players and On-Demand. So not being able to see this movie again after seeing it for the first time left us with one option: Go see it again in the theater. Ever seen a movie so good you went back to the theater to see it again? Sure, we've all done that. How about 8 times? That is how many times I saw Star Wars in the movie theater, and I still remember that over 30 years later. Eight times was nothing though. Some kids went and saw it 15 to 20 times. Their parents had more money, or maybe loved them more, than mine. Just kidding Mom & Dad! You were great. I am definitely not scarred by being way behind every other kid who got to see Star Wars more often than me. I'm over that. I didn't even mind getting teased about only having like 8 gimpy, half busted Star Wars men. I mean, sure, most kids had like 50, but you were right Mom & Dad, I had "plenty". I didn't need that Millennium Falcon either. Or the X-Wing Fighter. Just "cheap plastic" like Dad said. Who needs it? Not me. Incidentally, I went over to an old high-school friend's house about 15 years ago. I had not seen him in a long time, like 5 years. He was married, had kids, etc. But in his den he had a glass display case with all of these mint-condition Star Wars toys displayed like museum pieces. He had the figures and the aircraft and all of the accessories and everything. All his, that he somehow kept in this shape since he was a kid. A true visionary. I'm sure his wife was "enthused".

Anyway, I am not one of those people who is way too into Star Wars. I mean I was, but I am an adult now. I have other things that I am geeky about. Like beer. Head down to the Fred on Tuesday (6-8 pm) and find out just what Spike was thinking when he came up with this brew. If anyone shows up in a Star Wars outfit (you know who you are!) that represents The Dark Side (i.e. none of the good guys), you definitely will get to tap the cask. I am officially stating that Star Wars garb trumps wacky facial hair (see two posts ago if you don't know what I am talking about) for cask tapper Tuesday. In lieu of no evil Star Wars personages, we will go with the 'staches.

Have a good weekend. Thanks for coming out Wednesday. Good turnout for the NB Lips Of Faith beers by the way. See you Tuesday. If not Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Correction!

Whenever I try to add things to this blog while actually working, as opposed to being at home, I tend to make mistakes. For example: I misspelled "Adrian" recently in a post extolling the virtues of the first Rocky movie. I have also been having a difficult time keeping all of my special events straight. I posted yesterday that we have a Terrapin event on Wednesday the 22nd. Interesting fact here is that the 22nd is a Tuesday, and that is the day of the Dark Side cask aged on cherry wood. No clue what I will doing on Wednesday, but that definitely is not the 22nd. I got it now.

There is still a beer happening today, which IS in fact a Wednesday. So get it together and head out tonight. I will be at The Fred with some glassware and some delicious New Belgium specialties.

Anyway, I made the corrections, so if you read those posts, they are accurate. I apologize to all of the avid Red Bull fans out there I may have angered with the recent post. I am not disparaging your beverage of choice, just the inability for most people to appreciate Jagermeister without it. Hey, maybe it's me. I love lima beans. Not everyone else's favorite. I get that.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We Want You! (To Tap That Cask!)

First let's recap last week....
  1. Bell's Two-Hearted Ale firkin at Old Milton last Wednesday? Killed it in 1 hour, 3 minutes. Great showing by the Alpharetta/Milton area folks. I am scanning the horizon for another cask for that general area in the next month or so. Probably not go back to that exact store, but we have a lot of properties and a lot of customers in that part of town, so we'll find a place that they can all get to comfortably.
  2. The invite-only event at The Fred on Saturday was a huge hit. We were featuring the Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head collaboration beer called Life & Limb. We only had two small kegs of this beer, which was made with hops grown on the Sierra estate grounds in Chico, CA, and maple syrup from (DFH owner) Sam Calagione's family farm. This dark strong ale (10% ABV) was naturally carbonated using birch syrup from Alaska. It was outstanding. The alcohol was hidden by the rich, malty flavors and steady hop background. You could really pick up on the different aspects that each one of these breweries is famous for. Since we were only going to get 100 or so 11 oz. pours from these kegs, we invited all the Brewniversity members over 750 beers. Once they all had a chance to RSVP, I invited some beer lovers from my personal contact list. We packed The Fred with around 75 people, and it was a perfect fit. Once everyone had a chance to have a Life & Limb, we also had a 2008 Sierra Bigfoot, Sierra Brown Saison, Sierra Celebration (I had 2!), DFH Burton Baton, Midas Touch and Chicory Stout ( a perennial Fred Favorite) on draft. A good time was certainly had by all. With most of these beers weighing in around 9% ABV and higher, it was quite an attitude adjustment for a Saturday afternoon. It was raining and crappy outside, but the people in attendance stayed in great spirits quite easily. Thank you to everyone who came, and yes, we will do it again soon.
  3. And for those keeping score, our company holiday party was last Tuesday, and virtually everyone behaved properly. I cannot accurately express how disappointed I was. I mean, really people. I need some material here. Get drunk and act stupid already! These are restaurant people, and if you know restaurant people, then you know two things about them immediately: They work really hard, and typically party harder. There was an enormous bottle of Jagermeister, and if that is not the international symbol for trouble brewing, I don't know what is. That thing was huge. Speaking of Jagermeister, as many of you who know me may have observed, I am fond of it. OK, "fond" may be a bit of an understatement. I have been know to deride people behind their back for obscuring the peculiar deliciousness of Jager with abominations like Red Bull. That's like putting ketchup on a steak people. Ugh. Nasty. Hey, if you don't like the taste of Jager, why do you drink it? You can drop plenty of other bland or fruit-infused liquors into your energy drink and get the same effect without offending people with actual taste. And I don't think you need a doctor to tell you that mixing a depressant with stimulant is a bad idea. You know, if you want to get drunk quickly with no regard for your health, they have a name for that: it is called a bum. See also "hobo", "wino" and the always delicate "street person". Hang out with some of them for a while and see how you like it. Hey, maybe hepatitis is your thing. But, back to the matter at hand......Jager is awesome, but I stopped drinking it two weeks ago. An actual sales person who represents the green bottle in which the devil resides refused to tell me how many calories are in a shot of Jagermeister. Ever wonder what makes it so thick? Hint: It's not the herbs. If you guessed sugar, you're our big winner. So not only will Jager help you get falling-down drunk, arrested and/or butt naked in an inappropriate place, it will give you diabetes. Mmmmm......diabetes. Any way, I switched to Bulleit Bourbon instead. Just in case some of you thought I was getting soft.

Tonight is the big Matt & Fred's All-Star Holiday Extravaganza beer dinner. Tomorrow I will be back at The Fred for the release of the New Belgium Fall Wild Ale and La Folie drafts. It looks like every store should be pouring both of these tomorrow with three exceptions: the Virginia-Highland store will be pouring one tomorrow and the other one when that runs out (their draft system has 24 taps, vs. around 50 or more everywhere else), and it looks like the distributor that handles Newnan and Peachtree City is going to be a week behind. Sorry folks. I just heard about this yesterday. I will be at The Fred with some glassware if anyone wants to stop by. First come, first served. There are only about 50 glasses to go around, so 1 per customer will be the house rules as always.

Next week we will be featuring the new Terrapin Side Project called "The Dark Side". This is a Belgian-style stout that comes in at around 8.5%. The beer may debut at some stores late this week, but we will have a special cask of it aged on cherry wood at The Fred at 6 pm on Tuesday the 22nd. We will also have the regular Dark Side for a taste comparison, plus Spike the brewer from Terrapin and some of his guys will be on hand, etc. However, there is one requirement to get your hands on the secret stash: a 'stache. You must have a moustache, real or fake (you too ladies!) to partake in the cask. No exceptions. Does a goatee count? I will have to check the rule book on that one. You goatee wearers may need to trim the chin for a special beer. We will need someone to physically tap the cask. Show up early, and it could be you. Show up early with an especially unique or unusual 'stache, and you definitely will be able to say to all of the people enjoying this beer, "Yeah, I tapped that." Rick did a good job on the Two Hearted last week. He might have been a little nervous, but who wasn't a little nervous their first time?

Also, for those of you who are particularly organized, you can add Tuesday, 1/19/10 to your calendar. The owner and brew master of Bell's, Larry Bell, will be at our Metropolis store for a meet & greet with folks like you. We will have some special Bell's beers available, plus some surprises from Larry's personal stash. No facial hair will be required for this event.

That's all for now. Hope everyone has a great week. Talk to you soon. Happy holidays, now stop playing that god-awful Christmas music before someone goes totally mental and shoots a bunch of innocent people. Did I say that out loud?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Yo, Adrian!

Here is a quick reminder for you folks about upcoming events:
  1. Wednesday @ our Old Milton Pkwy location we are tapping a firkin of Bell's Two Hearted Ale around 6 pm. As stated last week, we may tap it earlier if anyone is there (most importantly the guy with the special tap we need!). This beer is going to be great, unless classic, well-hopped, cask conditioned American IPA's aren't your thing.
  2. The holiday beer dinner next week is full. I am very sorry to anyone who did not sign up that wanted to come. Get ready for our next dinner in February at Lindbergh on 2/23 though. It will feature an extended reception that will be a multi beer-and-cheese pairing (4 different "stations"), followed by a 3-course meal. The beers will be hand selected by me from a variety of breweries. The educational aspect will be more on beer and cheese pairings that on the beers from one particular brewery. If that bums you out, consider this: the beers will represent the pinnacle of each style that we are pairing with the cheeses and 3 seated courses. Stay tuned for more info as it develops.
  3. Next Wednesday the 16th we are going to be tapping into New Belgium's Fall Wild Ale and La Folie (see previous post regarding "foeders" to see La Folie's wooden fermenters). Some stores with smaller draft systems may choose to pour one at a time, whereas others will pour them both at once. Call your home store for details on what their plans are. Or just show up. I will be at The Fred with Chip from New Belgium. He will have some glassware to give out. I don't know how many he will bring, so don't get bent out of shape if you show up 2 hours late and there aren't any glasses left. I have no control over these things.
  4. Be on the lookout for some special Harpoon kegs coming around. They have a new UFO Unfiltered Pale Ale hitting some stores that is nice, their Winter Warmer is back in ATL after 5 + years' absence, and the 100 Bbl. Ginger Wheat is rolling out this week. There is also a keg of the 100 Bbl. Glacier Wet Hop coming to The Fred soon.
  5. Lastly, get the Metropolis store in your GPS stat! Donald has been sending firkins all over the place to get filled. Starting first of next year he is going to be pouring cask conditioned versions of Left Hand Fade To Black, Wyerbacher Hops Infusion & Dbl. Simcoe (same day, side-by-side) and something from Smuttynose's big beer series. These will all be on Fridays at 6 pm. Exact dates TBD, but these are going to be special. More to follow as well.

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I was out of communication Saturday because I was finishing my Christmas shopping. Oh yes, it feels great to be done by 12/7. Don't hate on me. Then I watched the SEC Championship game like the rest of the southeast. I am sorry, but whose fault is it that Tim Tebow's swan song did not live up to expectations? He was crying because everyone told him that the movie was not going to end that way. The hero always rides off into the sunset a winner right? No, sorry pal. You know why the first Rocky was such a good movie? Rocky loses in the end. It's real. It's not contrived Hollywood schlock. Sure, Rocky II-VII or whatever sucked, but the first one? Oscar winner for Best Picture and Best Director 1976. Look it up. It beat out Taxi Driver, undoubtedly one of the greatest movies and most incredible performances by any actor in any era (if you don't know who, I'm not telling you-you need help). So suck it up Tebow! Welcome to reality, where life kicks you in the crotch sometimes and fairy tales don't come true. You got your ass beat, now go be a millionaire in the NFL. What are you crying about? Rocky didn't cry did he? No, he came back with a sequel, and the Eye Of The god-damned Tiger, didn't he. "Risin' up, straight to the top. Took my time, took my chances....." You knew he wasn't going to lose once you heard his anthem. Either way, I felt bad for the guy (Tebow, not Rocky-he isn't real). He got beat by a superior team who kept him off the field, so I understand his frustration. He had to sit back and watch his dreams erode in front of him, and there was nothing he could do about it. That's rough.

Have a great week, and get out there and drink some beer already!

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.