Monday, October 24, 2011

Cask Your Vote!

Here is a quick run-down on some upcoming events. Some of these are new. Maybe not "some", but one is definitely new. So pay attention. It's going to be a busy week or two coming up:
  1. Two events are scheduled for Wednesday. At the Taco Mac near Windward Pkwy., we are tapping the second cask of Wells Bombadier. The one we got into on Sunday at Metropolis was great. The beer is typically pretty mild, but the cask presentation allowed a lot of the flavors to come through more fully. Everyone loved it. You should too. Plus, down at The Fred Bar the same evening, you can taste the New Belgium Kick and/or New Belgium Clutch. I gave you folks links to read about those beers last week. If you didn't use them, well, trust me on this one, these beers are special. You want to be there.
  2. On Saturday at 5:00 pm at our location on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Rd., we will be tapping the last cask of Wells Bombadier. We have a customer who will be getting his 1000th beer on his Brewniversity list. I think he's going to be happy with number 1000. Plus I think there's a football game of some sort on that day....
  3. Halloween is next Monday. Don't be afraid of the dark beer! Come to Taco Mac Metropolis for a cask of Left Hand Fade To Black 3 (Chili Porter). If I have said it once, I have said it a dozen times: Left Hand makes great dark beer. Don't miss this one, because I know that it is the only one Taco Mac has. Plus it's Monday. Take the edge off after work, because Mondays usually suck anyway.
  4. Tuesday, Novemeber 1st, be the first kid on the block to try a Left Hand/Heavy Seas Collaboration called Free Spirit. We are tapping it at Crabapple Taco Mac (Crossville Rd., Roswell) at 6:30 pm. The beer is a saison style made with sunflower seeds and elderflower. This beer was made to commemorate the life of someone very close to each brewery, who unfortunately died unexpectedly way, way too early. She grew up very near that location Taco Mac, so it makes perfect sense. Her family still lives nearby. But don't worry, it won't be a gloomy event. There's beer involved, so spirits will be in fine shape. Lots of brewery folks will be around too, if you're into that kind of thing.
  5.  And just when you thought that you couldn't stand any more awesome beer events during the week, there is a special cask at Perimeter Taco Mac on Wednesday the 2nd. Just in time to trasition from fall into winter, a cask of Heavy Seas Winter Storm has arrived. This is one of my favorite seasonal beers, and I have never had it from a cask before. Very excited to try it.
  6. Don't forget about The Fred Bar's two-year anniversary on Saturday the 5th. Lots of special beers. Good times, bad craziness, cool people. Like I needed to tell you that.
  7. What? You want MORE beer events? I got 'em, I just don't have time to talk about 'em right now.
Have a great week everyone. Get out there and drink some beer. Say "hi" if you see me. If I look at you like you are a crazy person, then it's not me. Or maybe it is me, and you just happen to be a crazy person, so looking at you that way is natural. But I suppose you'd be used to that by now. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"You Dropped A Bomb On Me"

"I love beer, beer loves me, we're a happy fam-i-ly"
I hope that everyone is rested up from last week's festivities. If you missed the beer festival in Decatur last weekend, here is a picture from above the crowd.  That's right, I can fly. Well, not so much as fly, but hover. It's not a big deal really. I don't really like to brag about it.

If you missed it this year, it sure was a beatiful fall day to get outside and drink tons of delicious craft beer. I know it looks crowded from the photo, but it was very manageable, and the people were all cooperative. Some of these breweries brought special casks, and they tapped them at different intervals. Talk about cooperation. No one brewery wanted to upstage anyone else, and the effect to the attendees was terrific. You knew that every 30 to 45 minutes something special was getting busted out, and if you knew the right people, you knew where you needed to be. The beer selection across the board was very solid. I guess that's why this thing sells out so fast every year.

Enough about the past. Here, friends, is the future:
  1. Tomorrow at The Fred Bar, we have seven different Great Divide beers (not the regular stuff, special ones--duh!) to choose from. They open at 5:00 pm if you're curious. Don't be scared. The place may be a little hard to find, but you'll be glad you took the time once you locate it. 
  2. Sunday the Falcons take on the Detriot Lions at 1:00 pm in Detroit. Both teams are sure to be throwing a bomb or two, so Taco Mac Metropolis is tapping a cask of Well's Bombadier at 12:30pm to set the mood. This is an English brown ale that has never appeared in a cask-conditioned format--at least in this region--before. You can be the first kid on the block to have one if you show up on time. It might go quick.
  3. Next Wednesday the 26th at The Fred they are tapping New Belgium Kick and New Belgium Clutch. You can read about these beers by clicking here and here. These beers are very unique, and if you don't take this opportunity to drink them, then I guess you...uh...don't love beer. And after all beer has done for you....Geez.
  4. If you missed the Well's Bombadier at Metropolis on Sunday, you can catch it again at the Windward Parkway store next Wednesday the 26th. They are going to tap it at 6:30 pm, unless a thirsty crowd develops early.
  5. Don't be scared to go out on Halloween! Metropolis has a cask of Left Hand Fade To Black 3 (a high-grav chili porter that is super tasty). This thing is rare, especially on a Monday night. Dress up like a beer lover and get to midtown on Halloween, if you know what's good for you.
  6. Then on Wednesday, November 2nd we are going to get into a cask of Heavy Seas Winter Storm at Taco Mac Perimeter. This is one of my favorite seasonal beers of the year, and Heavy Seas does cask beers as good as anyone. In fact, later in November I am going up there (Baltimore) to make a custom cask, which will then make its way down here for a special event of some sort. Stay tuned for those details.
  7. The last thing on this list is a big one: The Fred Bar's two-year anniversary is Saturday, November 5th. All of the pertinemt info will follow in the next few weeks. I just want you to save the date at this point. Pull out the electronic device that runs your life and put that date in it now. Or  else you'll be sooor-rrry!
That's your event update for now. I will be at most/many of these, in case that matters to you. I am not that interesting though, compared to the beer. So if you don't see me, it's not a big deal. Plus, there will be a lot more beer for everyone else if I'm not around. Until we do this all over again, have a good end-of-week and weekend.

PS-For our younger readers, "You Dropped A Bomb On Me" is a classic--if dated--song by The Gap Band that sort of bridges the end of funk with the beginning of disco. At least that's how I see it. I'm no musicologist or anything, but somewhere between James Brown and the Bee-Gees, "You Dropped A Bomb On Me" landed. For better or worse.
They Sang: "You Dropped A Bomb On Me"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

No Rest For The Beer-y

As promised, here is the rest of the Atlanta Beer Week events at Taco Mac. Last week I gave you everything up through Wednesday. So here is the end of the week:

  • Decatur Taco Mac has some Heavy Seas specialties lined up for Thursday night. They are: Plank One (this is the barley wine aged on Poplar wood--very unique), Great Pumpkin, Greater Pumpkin (that is Great Pumpkin aged in bourbon barrels), and the Hop Haaarvest 2011. That is not a typo. You have to say Haaarvest like a pirate. Serioulsy. Get with the program. The brewery has a pirate theme. Do you live in a cave or something*?
  •  
    This castle is on top of a mountain in Germany
    
  • Thursday also has a serious line-up of Sierra Nevada beers at The Fred Bar. They have some beers from the Beer Camp Series (Double IPA, Juniper Black, and Pitch A Tent--all very rare, the last one is a DIPA with lavender), Life And Limb, Estate Harvest and Northern Hemisphere Harvest. I had the Estate (made with all SN-grown hops and malts) in Denver. Awesome. In attendance will be Terrence Sullivan from the brewery. He is the Assistant Brew Master and Field Educator. So get out into the field and get educated. Terrance's appearance is a real treat. I have met him a few times myself. You can get in The Fred after 6:00 pm. The SN guys are having a meeting down there from 5:00 to 6:00. Sorry.
  • On Friday at Lindbergh Taco Mac, we have some more Heavy Seas specialties. They have the Great Pumpkin, and the Greater Pumpkin and the Hop Haaarvest, but also a keg of the Greater Pumpkin from 2010. We aged a keg that was bourbon aged, for that extra-mellow pumpkin/whiskey drinking experience you've always wanted. There is also some Heavy Seas Marzon and Peg Leg Stout. That stout is being discontinued temporarily while they get caught up on some other brews. Better get out and try one while you can. Kevin from the brewery will be there too. He's a super-cool dude. You should know him. And ladies...he's single!
  • Decatur is going to tap a Terrapin Wake And Bake cask at 6:00 pm on Friday as well. This beer was kegged specially for this event, so it is truly a sneak peek at this year's batch of Terrapin's Imperial Coffee Oatmeal Stout.
  •  
    Ayinger brewery. Now I can die a happy man.
    
  • To fully emphasize the "ATL" in Atlanta Beer Week, Taco Mac at The Prado is featuring beers from all eight Georgia-based breweries. If you are unfamiliar with some of the newer or smaller local breweries, well, get with the program. If you spend money on locally brewed beer in locally owned bars and restaurants, your hard-earned dollars go directly to supporting businesses in your area. As if beer didn't make you feel good enough on its own, now you're stimulating the local economy. Prado will have such specialties as: the new Jail House Witness Protection (a black ale), SweetWater Goulash (new Dank Tank release), Red Brick Smoked Vanilla Gorilla (delicious), Wild Heaven Eschaton Quad (also delicious) and Terrapin Oaked Big Hoppy Monster (monsterous of flavor). O'Dempsey's, Red Hare and Monday Night Brewing will all be represented with some of their flagship brands as well. To my knowledge, this night, along with tonight's all-GA Harvest Beer Dinner at Deckard's, are the only events to feature regional breweries exclusively and extensively.
That concludes our coverage of ABW. Satuday is the big beer fest in Decatur, so we aren't doing anything that day. Plus, everyone is watching football, so beer events on Saturdays in the fall are not a big hit for us. The last thing I have for you is tomorrow's Dogfish Head Ancient Ales beer dinner. There are four seats left if anyone is interested. Can't believe that any sane beer lover would miss this, but oh well. Your loss.

* If this tough economy has forced you to live in a cave, I apologize for the insult. If you choose to live in a cave, tent, lean-to, shanty or ramshackle hut of some sort, more power to you. It's your life. Do what you want with it.
  PS--I finally located where in my computer this crappy Kodak software sent my pictures from Germany. I will sent out a few as time and space allows. Enjoy.


Oktoberfest Chicken and beers at Hofbrau Haus, Munich


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

This Good Life Is Killing Me


Road into Red Rocks, and part of ramp on left
 OK, so maybe that title is a bit of an exaggeration, but check this out:
  • Two days at GABF, including the Denver Rare Beer Tasting. (Wow.) Followed immediately by...
  • Two days of concerts at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater up in the mountains outside of Denver. Followed by...
  • A flight back to the ATL, where I un-packed and re-packed in the same evening in order to drive to Charlotte in the morning. I am here to prep the new store for opening on Thursday. I just prep the beer though. It got a serious pep talk today, and it is ready to give its life for you, the customer.
  • Not too bad so far, right? I mean, I got to sleep at home once in eight days. I'll just drive home early Friday morning after the new store opening party. (Translation: Mega-ouch.)
  • I better rest up on Saturday, because I am going to the Falcons/Packers game on Sunday night. Let's hope they play better against Green Bay this year than they did in last year's playoff game. That was brutal, in case you have not managed to completely erase that part of your memory by now. So not much sleep that night...
  • Red Rocks filling up fast....
  • And our Atlanta Beer Week events get into full gear on Monday. We actually have events on Saturday and Sunday too, but you won't see me at those. Either way, I am coming off a rough week into another rough week followed by a super-rough week. A complete run-down of ABW events will follow.
First of all, I am not crying about my schedule. I mean, it's not like I haven't been training my whole life for this. All I am saying is that if you see me out and I look tired, you'll know why. People my age are not supposed to be tearing it up like this for weeks on end. But like I've said before, I am a professional. And as a wise writer once said, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." Things got pretty crazy there for a while in my younger days, and here I am now, getting paid to drink beer. So by "professional", I don't mean that I am any better than anyone else. Tennis pros aren't better people than people who play tennis for fun. They just get paid to do it. I'm not better than anybody else (in particular*), I just got lucky that I found a way to get paid for what used to be a destructive lifestyle. The first person to hire me into this business probably should not have done that, but I am glad he did. Thanks Frank, wherever you are.

So the BIG Atlanta Beer Week events are the two beer dinners. Let me elaborate:
  1. Tuesday the 11th at Deckard's is the First Annual Georgia Harvest Beer Dinner. Chef Matt has put together an amazing seven-course menu with locally sourced ingredients. I paired a beer from seven different local breweries with each course. There are still a few seats left, so if you want to get in, click here.
  2. 
    Night settles, and a beach ball in the air
    
  3. The following day at our Lindbergh Center store there is a very special beer dinner featuring Dogfish Head's Ancient Ales. If you are unfamiliar with the Ancient Ales series, click here. These are the beers that Dogfish Head recreated from remnants of drinking vessels from archaeological digs around the world. The youngest recipe is from Finland from 900 years ago. The oldest is 5000 years old from Turkey, and the series has stops in China and Honduras along the way. Nick from the brewery will be there to teach you all about the different beers, and Chef Peter has made a terrific menu with influences from some of the unexpected ingredients in these beers. You can view the menu and/or buy seats by clicking here. This event will also feature a very rare Dogfish Head draft beer featured only once before in Atlanta. All of these beers were sent down here specifically for this event. You don't want to miss it. There are still a few spots remaining.
That's enough about the big events. From here on out, we're going to move pretty quickly. Take a deep breath and...here we go:
  1. Saturday the 8th Decatur TM is tapping a dry-hopped Duck Rabbit Porter cask at 5:00 pm
  2. Saturday the 9th Decatur TM is tapping a fresh cask-conditioned keg (not a firkin**) of Lagunitas Maximus IPA.
  3. Monday the 10th Kennesaw TM is tapping their Wild Heaven Eschaton Quad. More stores are likely to follow, but we only got enough of these kegs for four locations. Stay tuned for more details as they arise. This beer is really unique in that is was made with all malt, not any of the Belgian candi sugar that is so well know for that style. And it is goooood. If the keg of the new Jail House Witness Protection shows up in time, they will be tapping that too.
  4. Monday the 10th Decatur TM has the following kegs of beer from Stillwater Artisinal Ales, a relative newcomer to the GA market. This is one of those really esoteric breweries that pushes the envelope in every way (Translation: Delicious, but not cheap!). The brands are: Stateside Saison, Autumnal Ale, and Cellar Door.
  5. Tuesday the 11th at The Fred Bar you can get some of these great new Left Hand releases: Beer Week Sauce is a coffee Porter that was described by a Left Hand employee as, "One of the best beers we've ever made"; Fade to Black 3 is a high-gravity chili Porter; and Biere de Garde is an up-and-coming style. If you are not familiar with the style, it's time to get acquainted with it. Expect an Amber Ale with a hint of Belgian-y-ness in there. A person from the brewery will be there in the evening around 8:00 pm. You should meet him. He is awesome. We will start getting into the special beers around 7:00 pm.
  6. Also on the 11th, you can get the same three Left Hand beers at Decatur TM. In addition, they will have some Terrapin/Left Hand collaboration Pea-otch. (Say it like you are referring to a woman you do not like at all. But that word starts with a "b" and rhymes with "itch". Commonly enuncited with emphasis on the first syllable, and further empahsized by elongating the first vowel sound into "eee-yatch". OK, it's "beee-yotch" for anyone out there who needs me to just come right out and say it. You happy now? I probably offended someone. Good job.) They will also be tapping a Terrapin Oaked Big Hoppy Monster and a So Fresh And So Green, Green. Can you feel the Terrapin/Left Hand love in the room?
  7. Next on Wednesday the 12th at Decatur TM there are more wild and wacky beers for you. Heard of Mikkeller? If not, then you are missing out on probably the most avante-garde brewer of the 21st Century. This guy (in Denmark) made just about everyone in the world go, "What the f--k is this guy doing?" And now there a bundle of copy-cats and wannabes. Taste the original freak gypsy brewer's Black Hole Imperial Stout Aged In Cognac Barrels, or the Single Hop Series--Challenger, or the Jackie Brown. The same night at the same store there will be kegs of Emilesse Espresso Stout from one of Belgium's newest "rock-star" breweries, and a keg of Dieu du Ciel Corne du Diable. No clue what that last one is? Check an old blog post from my trip to Montreal last summer. Canadian beer, despite what many people think, isn't just for funneling anymore.
That is as far as I can get right now. Tomorrow I will give you the deets on the rest of the week. (If you don't know what "deets" are, ask the nearest bee-yotch.) But before I go, I need to break down the whole week of tappings at our Suwanee store. They have a different Terrapin beer each day, some of them are unusual, so check this out:
  • Monday: Practice your urban slang in Gwinnett drinking some Pea-otch! This beer will be gone quick, and Midnight Project beers (the ones made with Left Hand folks) never get re-made.
  • Tuesday: Oaked Big Hoppy Monster. Terrorize your taste buds, if you can handle it....
  • Wednesday: PumpkinFest! A fall classic, but in very short supply this year (the brewery is busy, busy, busy these days).
  • Thursday: Moo-Hoo from 2010. Where did that come from? Yes, Brewniversity credit seekers, this is a new credit. Expect the sweetness to have died down a bit. Also, expect no one else in town to have a vintage dated Moo-Hoo, at least to my knowledge.
  • Friday: Hoptaneous Combustion. This release came and went so fast, it was on fire. Get it? These guys in Suwanee got a keg. Wow.
  • 
    The stage is in front of a rock
    
  • Saturday: A fresh keg of everyone's favorite, Hopsecutioner IPA. Great job saying "I love you" to local beer, Suwanne folks. Enjoy.
So like I said, that is the list for now. We have some big things planned for Thursday and Friday the 13th and 14th, so don't think that we are done. I apologize that we do not have events all over the metro area. Right now we need to focus energy on less, but bigger events. More is not always better. If you live in Fayette, Coweta or Cherokee counties, we have something big coming both of your ways in March. Much love to all of you in Taco Mac Land. Have a great week, and come say "hi" if you are in Charlotte tomorrow for the new store opening.

* Some people are better than others. I am better than criminals, philanderers, and most other people driving on the road at the same time as me, etc. I am not better than teachers, nurses, volunteers at shelters and elderly care centers. No, those people got me beat.
**Cask-conditioned beer can be served from a firkin, which can quickly compromise the flavor of the beer as it oxidizes. It can also be served from a regular keg, treated specially and served specially, to get the same flavor effect without the spoilage issue. Camps are divided between purists and "others". Both sides have valid arguments. However, I see a death-match between them brewing on the horizon. I see a horrific slap fight between about four to five people, where someone eventually gets bee-yotch slapped into next week, and then cries. Because really people, it's beer. Try to be professional.

PS--I swear that I took a bunch of pictures at GABF, but I can't seem to locate them in my camera right now. These are just from Red Rocks, which is a natural stone aphitheater that was made into a medium-sized concert venue in Colorado. High desert, sedimentary rocks of red limestone (maybe; hey, I'm not a geologist), a stage, and beer vendors and... how did a concert happen way up here? The first pic is the road into the mountains. Look at the ramp on the right that takes you up, up, up into the mountain and into the arena. The next pic is of the left wall of the place, with concert-goers filling in the bleacher-like seats. The third pic is that same rock at night. Another giant rock bordered the other side of the venue, but those pictures came out poorly based on where the sun was setting. The final picture is a daytime shot of the stage in front of a smaller, but still really large, red rock.

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.