Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Isn't It What It Is, Or Is It What It Isn't?

Wow. I can't believe that I got back from Europe a week ago already. Where have I been since then? Well, I had to dig myself out of the hole that comes from being gone for 10 days first, then I flew to Jacksonville for a concert. I know, WTF? I had a few bucks laying around that I didn't spend on Christmas, and there happened to be a show down there that I really wanted to see. Plus there is an awesome beer bar there called Kickbacks. I met the owner when we all went to Montreal last June for a beer event. Kickbacks has 84 beers on tap and a hundred or so more in the bottle. The food is excellent too. If you are ever in Jacksonville and you want a good beer, that is your place. Order the Monte Cristo sandwich, and prepare to have your world rocked. Strangely enough, I ran into somebody I knew from Atlanta while I was there. Like I said, if you are in Jacksonville and you like good beer, you need to go to Kickbacks. Apparently I am not the only one from around here that knows that.

The trip to Europe was incredible. As you may remember from previous trips, it is going to take me a little while to get the pictures all organized into a slide show, etc. I did get some video too, so hopefully I can get that whole thing figured out and let you see some of that footage. I think the best videos are from inside the tasting room at Ayinger and from the brewery tour at Schneider.

Speaking of video, I also got some good footage at the Guinness Perfect Pour on Monday. This event, for those of your whose address includes "Under A Rock", is held annually at TM Lindbergh. Bartenders from across the city compete to see who can pour the most perfect pint of Guinness. The judges are Guinness big wigs from Ireland and the U.S. The judging criteria are pretty specific, but I am not going to go into that detail now. If you really cared about that kind of stuff, you were there Monday and saw it all go down anyway. We get to host the thing for a few reasons, but one big one is that Lindbergh has two levels, so attendees can watch from the ground level, or from the balcony. We even installed a closed-circuit TV thing so people could watch on the flat-screens. It was a blast. Lots of bar & restaurant people, lots and lots of beer, a Car Bomb or two here and there, you know....Last year our own Megan Martin won, but she got knocked out in the first round this year. The winner this year is a guy named Buggs who was pouring for Tap. The fact that he also works at TM Perimeter went unmentioned however....until now. But hey, no one's really keeping score.

Last night (Tuesday) we had a sold-out Fuller's Beer Dinner in Cumming. See? I have been busy, people, not blowing you off on purpose. If I knew the person that scheduled all of these crazy events that I need to attend, wait...that's me. Anyway, the only things better than the quantity of the turnout were the quality of the people, the deliciousness of the food and the tasty beers. Who knows? We may see another beer dinner up there this year after all.

Now that you have patiently read about what has already happened, let's talk about what is coming up. Friday is the release of the newest SweetWater Dank Tank beer at Deckard's American Tavern. If you want to taste the Mean Joe Bean (a coffee-infused Imperial Porter that tastes great!), you can get one after 6:30 pm this Friday. Some limited glasses will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you are one of those people that is late all the time, don't get your heart set on one. And furthermore, if you are one of those people who is late all the time, do you have any idea how much your friends hate it? That is if you have any friends left. Most of the people that you don't seem to talk to anymore for some reason were actually just sick and tired of waiting around for you all the time. They found other friends who aren't so selfish and self-centered that other's people time has absolutely no value to them compared to their own. You know how to ruin what would have been a good time? Be late. Miss the start of the game. Get a crappy spot in an already crappy line. Miss the previews before a movie. Make people wait on you so that by the time you get there they regret inviting you in the first place because they knew all along that you would pull some kind of shit like this, and right before you finally arrived they were talking about just leaving without you because you are such a tool anyway. But now you come waltzing in with some bullshit excuse that you just made up because no one wants to hear the truth: "You know guys, I am just a disorganized and inconsiderate person when you think about it. But now I am going to say I am sorry, so you are supposed to forgive me". You can't really get away with saying that, so you just say, "Oh my god, what is up with the traffic today?" That is how you ruin a good time.

PS- If you are running late, please try to be more honest about how far away you actually are. Have you ever heard someone says, "Dude, I am sorry, but what is up with the traffic today? It really sucks. I will be there in like 10 minutes."? Translation: You aren't going anywhere for at least 25 minutes.

So, yeah, the Mean Joe Bean thing is Friday. If you want a glass, try to be on time. And by the way, we live in a big city called Atlanta, maybe you've heard of it? The traffic is going to suck on Friday. We already know that, so don't bring it up. There are plenty of places without traffic problems. They are called "towns" and there are very rarely any stellar beers being released there. So to quote what every person I know, every person they know, and virtually every person in the country says every 45 seconds: "It is what it is". So sick of that. What isn't what it is? There's a rock. It is what it is. There's a person who eats out of a trash can and sleeps under a bridge in a cardboard box. It is what it is. Of course it is what it is. What else is going to be? How does saying that make it any better? Here's an apathetic jack-ass that can't think of anything more profound to say about a situation, person, or object except to state that it is, as anyone can plainly see, what it is. Hey, pal, I am not impressed by your ability to state the obvious. And just by saying, "It is what it is" and implying that there is nothing you can do about it doesn't absolve you of having an opinion or emotion. Divisive partisan politics are destroying America, but "it is what it is". So we just accept that? Somehow people's brains have eroded to the point that anything difficult or complex is excused by saying, in essence, "I am just too god-damned lazy to think or do anything about that. It is what it is."

If you are near the TM Suwanee on Friday, they are tapping a cask of Peak Organic Spring Simcoe. Unfortunately I am double booked so I will not be able to be there, but don't let that stop you.

Saturday is the SweetWater Brew Your Cask Off event at--you guessed it!--SweetWater Brewing Co., also in Atlanta. This is the thing where 80 bar, restaurant, home brewing, media, beer industry people got to make their own special SweetWater casks. See in January we got to look at a list of possible ingredients (like a hundred or so), plus the characteristics of 6 base beers, and select the items that we wanted to put into our casks. Then in February we went to the brewery and, one team at a time, prepped and added our stuff to the casks (under the supervision of a SweetWater brewer) and the brewery filled them with the base beer we chose. Three weeks later, the beer is ready to drink. So if you bought a ticket already, or if there are still any available, you can join me while we sample 80 different cask beers. They have the street in front of the brewery closed off, live bands, all of that kind of thing. We have 4 teams entered, and last year one of our groups took 3rd place. We are planning on improving on that this year. My team made a porter with sweet potatoes, pecans, cinnamon and nutmeg, plus a good dose of low Alpha hops to balance it out. Hopefully it turns out as good as it sounds.

I have something for you on Wednesday the 9th, but I will come back to that in a minute. First let's talk about Thursday the 10th. The Fred Bar is busting out some major Mikkeller stuff from the cellar. On tap will be: I Hard Core You (a collaboration w/ Brew Dog from Scotland), Ris a la M'ale, Single Hop IPA--East Kent Goldings, and It's Alive! In the bottle will be: Black Tie, Draft Bear, Green Gold, Red & White, and Not Just Another Wit. Now listen folks: These beers are expensive. You have been warned.

So back to the 9th. We are doing a Salute To Samuel Smith's at 10 stores; 5 stores on the 9th and 5 stores on the 11th. The whole idea is to remind everyone that Samuel Smiths has been making "craft beer" in a small, artisan brewery in England for a long, long time. I have been there (see slide show), and it is the real deal. In fact, in 1989 I was working at a beer distributor while I was in college. People in the U.S. had never even heard the term "craft beer", and there merely a handful of people who knew that a "microbrewery" actually existed. How do I know? I lived in Kalamazoo, Michigan where Bell's had been in business for 4 years, and most people in that same city had no idea what a microbrewery was. Go ahead and look at the date of origin for just about every American craft brewery. How many were open pre-1988? Go ahead, keep looking. This may take a little while. But there was Samuel Smith's, showing the world what a Pale Ale, a Porter, even an Oatmeal Stout tasted like. And great versions of them on top of that; recipes that are still considered world-class. Yes, the American craft beer scene is getting all of the attention right now. But ask some of those brewers about when and where they fell in love with a Samuel Smith's beer, I bet they will have a story for you. I can tell you exactly when and where, at 18 years old, a Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter made drinking good beer a lifestyle choice that I, obviously, have held onto ever since. In fact, without that catalyst, where would I be, career-wise, right now? My degree is in English and Philosophy for god's sake. What in the hell is that going to do for anyone? Thank you, Sam Smith's Taddy Porter. I am in the beer business now, and not trying to teach illegal immigrants and gangsters how to diagram a sentence.

So the thing goes like this: You order the limited-time-offer (only 24 per store) Salute To Smith's and you are going to get a Sam Smith's India Ale first. Once you finish that, you are going to get a Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout and a FREE T-SHIRT! The whole thing is going to cost you exactly the cost of the two beers ($15.00 plus tax & tip), AND it will show up as a new credit on your Brewniversity list. It will be listed as "Salute To Sam Smith's" as a bottled beer. Pretty cool, huh? These two beers are their flagship brands and they want to remind everyone, like I said earlier, that "craft" beer was being made way before most of us got on the bandwagon. Time to give props to the old-school brewers people. Here is the only drawback: Until you guys can either A.) All become the same size person, or B.) Assist me in becoming clairvoyant, t-shirt sizes are going to be limited to what is in stock when you arrive. Please state your case when you arrive and the store will do the best to get you what you need. Most shirts will be L & XL, but again, there are only 24 of them per store. If you get there and there are only 3 left and none of them are your size, don't purchase the offer. There is no amount of wishing, hoping, complaining or practicing Voo-Doo that will make another size appear. The program starts at 5:00 pm on the specified nights, and here is where you will find it:

  • Wednesday, March 9th: Crabapple, Cumming, Mall of GA, Metropolis, Perimeter
  • Friday, March 11th:  Canton, Dallas Hwy, Decatur, Ellard, Newnan
I hope that you folks make this a big success. I am excited to be able to offer a free t-shirt and a new credit to our customers for doing nothing more that drinking two incredible beers. Enjoy.

The last thing I have for you today is the date for the Foothills Sexual Chocolate cask that we are tapping in Charlotte as part of Charlotte Beer Week. If you have been looking for an excuse to get to that store, or are just a freak for the Foothills Sexual Chocolate, join me on Tuesday, March 15th at Taco Mac South Park. Should be pretty ridiculous. 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.