Friday, May 25, 2012

Drink Local! Really, Really Local

Are you ready for the world premier of the brand new Burnt Hickory Brewing Co.? This is a REALLY small brewery in Acworth, GA, making some interesting and unusual beers. They want to keep the beer as close to the Acworth area as possible, partly because that is where they call home, and partly because they make a really small amount of beer in every batch. So this is definitely going to be a get-it-while-you-can situation for a while. But on Tuesday, our Kennesaw store will be the debut point for five of these beers. The brewery people will be on hand to talk about who they are and what they are all about. This is a unique bunch, so if you love great, locally made beer and some of the quirky folks who make them, you will want to come out on Tuesday night. We will be starting everything up at 6:30 pm, so you don't need to ditch out on work early, unless you were looking for a reason to do that anyway. I have listed the beers that will be available below. They are all 11oz. pours, and they are not cheap. They are all in the $7.00 to $9.00 range. These are hand-made, small batch beers, so affordability is not exactly part of that equation. Just thought you should know what you are getting yourself into here.

So have a great Memorial Day holiday, and take it easy on Monday. You will want to be fresh on Tuesday for this world premier. Now here are the beers:

  • Ezekiel's Wheel, a 6.5% ABV Pale Ale. Lots of citrus-y hops.
  • The Fighting Bishop, a 9% ABV Belgian-Style Trippel made with green peppercorns.
  • Big Shanty Graham Cracker Stout, a 9% ABV Oatmeal Stout with cinnamon and graham cracker.
  • Cannon Dragger IPA, a 8% ABV highly-hopped IPA with Simcoe, Amarillo, Columbus, and Chinook hops.
  • The Didjits Blood Orange IPA, a 7% ABV IPA made with Citra hops and oranges.

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Picture May Be Worth 1,000 Words, But...

Good beer is in that thing with the Coors Light sign on top. Look left!
Let me finish that title, in the words--and I am going to paraphrase here--of some recent text messages, e-mails and phone calls I have received. Oh, what the heck, let's take it from the top. "A picture may be worth a thousand words, but that doesn't mean shit when I want a good beer." You see, at Turner Field, there is a beer stand I guess--personally, I haven't seen it--that has a Taco Mac sign above it, and a picture (a pretty lifelike one I guess) of a Taco Mac draft wall. Apparently people have been waiting in that line expecting to see the usual array of beers they see at Taco Mac when they get to the counter. But what they find out is that it is just the same beers that you can find all over the stadium.

So, who has time to sit down and learn all about massive venue concessionaires and the deals and contracts involved in selling products to thousands of captive individuals? No? You don't have time for that? I know, it is boring. And I am sorry. I am sorry that people have been misled, and ultimately let down, that there is not a full-on, living and breathing, 100 tap Taco Mac smack in the middle of Turner Field. But can I let you in on a little secret? I have nothing to do with that kind of stuff. I deal in intoxicating liquids, and the people who make them, sell them and drink them. Taco Mac took over the old Cartoon Network area near the entrance, and we turned it into a place for kids to play around and get all crazy like kids do. The only ones happier about that than the kids are the parents, who can get a little peace and quiet while their kids trample all over each other. It's fun. But folks, the economic realities of stadium concessions--a lot like an airport--are not going anywhere any time soon. And please don't think that I am making light of people getting bent out of shape because they thought a picture of tap handles was real. You see a Taco Mac sign, you see taps, you think great beer is the next logical step. I get that. But please...please realize that we only have some sort of marketing partnership with the Atlanta Braves that allows us to use their logo, and to place our logos inside the park. That's it. We aren't selling anything in there. If you want to better understand that relationship, ask someone who has something to do with it. I am not that important. I do not sit in on meetings with the management of professional sports teams and tell them what kinds of beer to pour in their stadiums. I am flattered that anyone thinks that I have that kind of pull, but I do not. I deal in intoxicating liquids, the men and women who make and sell them, and the wonderful people like you who buy and enjoy them. But wait, there is light at the end of the tunnel! Read on....

From now until June sometime, there is a special beer kiosk right by the Taco Mac Family Zone that is selling SweetWater, Terrapin, Abita, Red Brick, Sierra Nevada, Samuel Adams and more. How? I don't know! All I know is that our employees are volunteering to work there, and all of the profits AND TIPS are going to benefit Camp Twin Lakes, which helps out some seriously sick kids. Why am I telling you this? Because clearly people want better beer at The Ted, and I am just trying to help you find it. More information on this quizzical situation can be found by asking someone who has a clue. I, unfortunately, do not have one. Not about this. I am just the messenger. But I get it. You see Taco Mac people selling beer, and you think it is Taco Mac selling beer. Makes sense to me too. If I understood how these types of things work, I would be in marketing. But I don't, and I am not.

On a side note, stadiums and airports are a lot like prisons, except that the people at stadiums and airports have money, and hopefully fewer felonies. (I went to a Raiders game in Oakland recently, and that theory about felonies was strongly tested, let me tell you). You, the attendee, or "inmate", have two choices in dining and drinking at the venue. You can, A.) Take it, or B.) Leave it. In fact, one might call it a "monopoly", and one would be right. Ever wonder why they charge so much for everything? It's because they can. One thing that I am personally very passionate about is good beer in stadiums. Go to the Oakland Coliseum. You can find Sierra Nevada on tap, as well as Lagunitas. No kidding. Mile High? No problem finding Fat Tire on tap there. Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego? Crap. That's all. Yes, in the center of Beer Mecca USA, the stadium's beer selection can be summed up in one word: Yellow. Fed Ex Field (Redskins)? Yellow. The times are changing, but they are changing slowly. Sure the Boston Garden has Sam Adams, and they should. But then you see the exact opposite in other cities. So what are you going to do? Stop going to concerts and sporting events? No. Stop hoping that one day there will be a real Taco Mac at Turner Field? No. Give up on getting world-class draft beer in the airport? Oh, god no. Keep hoping and keep dreaming. That's what I do. Just stop sending me nasty text messages and e-mails because reality failed--yet again!--to make those dreams come true. Thank you. Now go get a good beer at that kiosk, because Camp Twin Lakes is a great cause, and you deserve a great beer when you watch the game. Have a great weekend.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Calling All Home Brewers!

OK folks, as promised, the submission form for the Southern Brewer's Challenge is now available. Where? Well, just look up and to your right on this page. If you click on that, it is pretty self-explanatory. That being said, I just want to mention one more time the importance of following the specified drop-off places, dates, and times. If you miss one of those, do not...I repeat, do NOT...just drop your beers off at any random Taco Mac and expect them to get into the judging. During the specified dates and times at the specified location, there will be someone from the contest administration there to receive your samples and get them safely where they need to be. If you miss the date and time at a particular store, just pick another one from the list in the submission form. I will publish that list again when it gets close to July, which is when submissions will be received.

The plan as of right now is to whittle the field down to a group of runners-up. How many people in that group will depend on how many total entries we get. Nobody knows what to expect at this point. But that group will get invited to a special event where the winner will be announced. We will drink a lot of beer before, during and after the announcement. That is a promise. So even if you don't win, just getting close will be fun too.

If you have any questions about this contest, please send them to . They will get routed to the proper individuals from there. Thanks everyone. Now get out there and make some home brew!

Friday, May 11, 2012

"San Diego Is Spanish For...."

Patio drinking at the Craft Brewer's Conference did not suck.
OK, you guys may not believe this, but I do not have any beer events to tell you about right now. No, I'm not kidding. Doesn't mean that some stuff won't pop up in a hurry. In fact, you can pretty much count on that happening. But after being gone at that brewer's conference in San Diego most of last week, I walked right back into three beer events in three days Monday through Wednesday. So if you missed them, sorry. I warned you that I might be out of communication for a while. It's been a hectic week. 

But right now I have a firkin on the way from Jail House that will go to Peachtree City at a date TBD. It is called Cell Mate, and it is blend of their Mug Shot IPA and Breakout Stout. Sounds delicious. There is also a cask of Heavy Seas Plank Two out there somewhere, so stay tuned for that. En route from the brewery is a cask of He'Brew Hop Manna that should be here in a few days. It is bound for our Canton store.

I don't have much time for special events though, because I go back out of town in the middle of June. I have to go to Kentucky to pick out a barrel of Woodford Reserve bourbon. It is going to get bottled and labeled just for Taco Mac. Basically, in case you don't know, bourbon ages differently in each barrel depending on where it sits in the barrel room, based mostly on temperature fluctuations and other atmospheric influences. When it is time to bottle, the distillers taste barrels and blend them together to get the flavor of the finished product they are looking for. We, on the other hand, are going to get to taste a bunch of them and decide which flavor profile we like the best. Once the stuff is all bottled and labeled, it will get shipped here to be sold at our locations. Pretty awesome if you are a bourbon drinker. If you aren't one yet, this might be a good time to figure out what you've been missing. We will definitely be doing some educational events around this stuff when it arrives. September is Bourbon Heritage Month (as decreed by Congress--pretty cool!), so I am betting it will be around then. 

That is all for now folks. I hope you have a great weekend, and I will be back in touch when I have more details, maybe a funny story, the usual stuff. Until then, take care.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I Gotta Go, But First....

Hey everyone, I have a quick couple of thing for you, and then I need to pack my bags. I am leaving in the morning for San Diego and the annual Craft Brewer's Conference. Should be a lot of fun. I mean work. Grueling work. But check these things out. I recommend that you read it all, because at the end there is something pretty damn cool.

  1. Tomorrow night you can drink some delicious Troubadour beers at The Fred and meet the brewery's founder and brew master. His name if Stephaan, and he is from Belgium. I just me him today, and he is very interesting and knowledgeable. You should go out and try to meet him. Great guy who makes outstanding beers. There will be three bottles and one draft for you to drink. 
  2. Secondly, I want you to know that there are only eight spots left in next week's German beer dinner. If you were thinking of going, you should probably get your tickets now. People have a hard time thinking about events in a particular month until that month actually starts. Trust me, I plan a lot of events, I should know. So today is May 1st, and a decent amount of you are going go, "Oh yeah, I did want to go to that beer dinner in May", over the next few days. I would react sooner than later if I were you.
  3. The cask of Red Hare that our Chancellor, Joe E., helped make is getting tapped at the Johns Creek store on Saturday (Cinco de Mayo). Go check out his special creation and let me know how it is. I will be on a plane back from California until 7:30 pm, so I can't make it.
  4. On Monday the 7th at the Perimeter and Kennesaw stores you can be the first kid on the block to try Mother Earth beers. This is a great NC brewery that is just arriving in Atlanta. The owners and brew master will be making their rounds and visiting with our customers after they finish up a meeting. Plan on those guys being around at like 6:30 or 7:00 pm. There should be four drafts featured if everything ends up the way it is planned. I will be at the Perimeter store personally.
  5. On Wednesday the 9th you can taste the awesome Terrapin Tree Hugger in a firkin at the Decatur store at 7:00 pm. I don't like this beer...I LOVE it. Reminds me of being in Dusseldorf drinking fresh Uerige Altbier, fresh from the cask. Come join me on this little trip down memory lane. 
The last thing I have for you is this bombshell:

Attention Home Brewers! It is time to get prepared for the Southern Brewer’s Challenge! In honor of National Home Brewing Month, please read the following announcement. This is your chance to enter a pro-am competition to have your recipe made by a commercial brewery, and sold at restaurants across the southeast. Here is how it works:

Taco Mac and Red Brick Brewing Co. have partnered up to help make one lucky home brewer’s dream come true. We will be receiving submissions throughout the month of July at specific Atlanta-area Taco Mac locations. Dates and locations will be listed below. Our judging panels, made up of representatives from Taco Mac and Red Brick, along with other Atlanta-area beer luminaries, will judge the submissions throughout the month of August. Once the winner has been announced, the brewery will take some time to fine tune the recipe to their brew system’s specifications. Once a final recipe is reached, the beer will go into production. The release date will be targeted for the very first opportunity in January, 2013.

Once the beer is available for sale at all area Taco Mac locations, the brewery will go back to work on another batch. This next batch will be bottled for a targeted launch in the spring of 2013. In fact, the release of the bottles (to be sold at area off-premise retail stores) will coincide with the announcement of the 2013 Southern Brewer’s Challenge. If this program is as successful as we expect, we will continue to do this every year.

The submissions will be at the following locations on the specified dates:

  • Monday, July 2nd at Taco Mac in Cumming and Peachtree City
  • Monday, July 9th at Taco Mac in Kennesaw and Buford
  • Monday, July 16th at Taco Mac at Prado and Metropolis
  • Monday, July 23rd at Taco Mac in Duluth and Crabapple
  • Monday, July 30th at Taco Mac at Windward Pkwy and Decatur

When planning out what you are going to submit, here are some things to think about:

  • No more than two styles per brewer.
  • The winning beer needs to be produced in a large quantity, so choose ingredients that are readily available.
  • Red Brick brews mostly ales, and in the interest of not tying up their equipment with a lengthy lagering process, ale styles would be preferred.

All submissions must have an accompanying info sheet, which will be provided at a later date. In addition, all submissions must be in the form of two bottles of twelve ounces each. No big bottles, no growlers, etc. Lastly, the submissions need to be received at the stores specified, on the dates specified, and between 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm. There will be someone on site to receive the samples during those times, which will prevent loss, breakage, or anything else that would prevent samples from getting to the tasting panel in tact. If you miss the submission date, you must choose a different location to drop off your beer. If you leave it at a location before or after the submission date and time, it will not get into the judging process. Please refer to for future details. This should be enough to get you excited and help you get started. May the best brew win!