Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hardly A Warm Reception

I went home to Michigan for Christmas. It was my first time back there in the winter in a few years, and man
was it memorable. Did you hear about the massive ice storm that wiped out power for 470,000 people in the upper Midwest last week? Count my mom as one of those people. No power or heat from Saturday, 12/21 around midnight until the morning of Thursday, 12/26, the day after Christmas. How cold was it in her house? The olive oil in the cupboard was frozen. The water in the toilets was frozen solid. Everything was frozen. Luckily she has a sister in the area, and she had plenty of room for us to stay. Believe it or not we were actually lucky. The power was not supposed to come back on for another few days. She was expecting to be out of power and heat for just over a week.

Basically what happened it that is rained, and as it got colder, the rain froze. Then the next day it rained again, and again it froze. Then it snowed. The trees could not handle the weight of the ice, branches cracked and fell, knocking down power lines across huge swaths of multiple states. The tops of trees looked like they had been snapped off by a giant, and large limbs were strewn everywhere. Pretty nasty stuff. Repair crews worked sixteen hour days and came from as far away as North Carolina to help in the effort to get people's homes lit and heated. So basically not your normal Christmas holiday, but one I will not soon forget, and one that certainly makes you thankful for the things that you so often take for granted, like lights that come on and a heater that heats the house.

Prior to that I did enjoy an exciting game at FedEx field on December 22nd. This is my third Cowboys/Redskins game in a row in that stadium, and all three have come down to the wire. There was an overtime game in 2011, a game-ending interception in 2012, and this year a fourth down from the ten touchdown pass to put the game away with one minute left on the clock. Win or lose, I got my money's worth each time I have been there.

Now I am back in Baltimore, getting ready for a New Year's Eve dinner party. I sure did enjoy the holiday in my younger days, but now it doesn't mean a whole lot to me. A relaxing day off tomorrow is something I am looking forward to far more that getting crazy at midnight tonight. But you do what makes you happy. Don't let me slow you down. Just remember, if you're feeling hungover tomorrow, just drink a lot of water. Stay away from the aspirin and ibuprofen. Those are processed by the liver, and seriously, don't you think your liver could use a rest? Drink a lot of water, take a nap, drink more water, and somewhere along the way take a hot shower. You'll survive, and you'll probably do it all again before too long.
Lots of Cowboys fans in there that day.

That's all I have for now. Have a great 2014 everyone. Talk to you then.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Roar? Please, God, Anything But That

So long story short, Heavy Seas got asked to be the sole provider of craft beer for the two-day holiday party at the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C. Now in case you don't know how important the IMF is, the director is listed here as the 7th most powerful woman in the world. And there I was, at her holiday party for 1800 people in the nation's capital on Friday night. There were 1800 more people coming the following night. Pretty cool. I don't know the last time you threw a party for 3600 people, but the last time I did was never.
Even at the IMF, eye patches are a big hit.

This was no ordinary holiday party. No ugly sweaters, no eggnog, no cookies (as far as I could tell). Just people from all over the world, people who manage the economies of entire countries, in all kinds of dressy clothes of their nations of origin. The food was top-notch, there were three floors of party surrounding a central atrium, two different stages with live bands, and yep, you guessed it...karaoke. You can class up a joint all you want, but I guess you just can't have a proper office Christmas party without a damn karaoke machine. And let me tell you something, if you think Katy Perry sings like shit (and she does), wait until you hear a bunch of half-drunk economists get their hands on her material. Oh god, please make it stop. The tone-deaf caterwauling still haunts me in my sleep.

On the bright side, it was amazing to see how many people in that group were huge fans of Heavy Seas. One girl from some country in Asia, who weighed maybe 80 pounds, seemed to love Loose Cannon more than life itself. And she proved her point by having WAY too many, and eventually needing to be cared for by a slightly more sober friend. Ah, those wild and wacky IMF people. Even more encouraging than the number of fans we had in the room was the number of people who had never had Heavy Seas before, but became fans almost instantly. Based on the other beers they had to choose from--huge European imports and the usual domestic suspects--we were the only interesting beers in the building. People from all walks of life were enjoying fresh, locally made beer, and having a personal discovery right then and there. Good times.

My journey into the city prior to the event was difficult to say the least. D.C. is an unforgiving city to people who are driving around lost on a Friday afternoon. I'm sorry, but the one street I absolutely needed to find was closed for construction at the exact point I needed to be. A few wrong turns and some one-way streets later, well, it was a mess. But that's why you leave early when you don't know where you're going. Parking? Don't get me started. Once I finally found the deck I was supposed to be in I had already spent $10.00 on the street and had to move my car twice. And when the evening was all over at 1:30 am, do you think the door to the parking deck on the street was unlocked? Of course not. Do you think that the driving entrance to the deck was on the absolute opposite end of the building, and that it required walking all the way around that building which occupies an entire city block? Precisely. But that is just where the fun begins. Once I found the entrance and walked down to the elevator, do you think it worked? No, of course it didn't work. Now here is where you need to pay attention. When I opened the door to the stairwell, I immediately found another door just inches from the first one. That was the first clue that trouble was ahead. The first door opened towards me, but the second one opened away from me. OK, I thought, that's messed up, but just one floor down is my car, and let's just get this over with and go. Down one flight of stairs, and the door...was locked. Yes, dear readers, the door into the parking deck where my car sat was locked. So back upstairs to where I started, and I'll just walk down the ramp to my car. If you guessed that the door on that level was also locked, and that I was now trapped in the stairwell, you guessed right. Oh yes, creeping up on 2:00 am, trapped in a stairwell, and I had to urinate. Now you may recall that I originally walked down to the elevator that did not work, in order to find the doors that open oddly and lock behind you. So there was a street level above the top of where I appeared to be trapped. By walking up another flight of stairs to that level, a door opened into a guard station area, where a security guard was sitting, laughing, having watched this all transpire on his camera monitor. Glad that someone was enjoying this. When I got to my hotel it was 2:30 am, and I had to be up early to get back to Baltimore. I was too tired to be angry any longer, and a long, weird day was finally over.

I guess that's my story for now. On a high note, it looks like the colony of crows outside my windows that was trying to drive me insane has finally moved on to torture someone else. That was smart, because I was about to get serious about some avian extermination. I had a plan, and they would not have won. Turns out I had a very determined neighbor with an impressively loud air horn. This guy was up at 5:00 am blasting these birds with the air horn as soon as they started raising hell each morning. Apparently they love to make an incredible racket on their own, but when people return the favor, they can't deal with it. I was going to point a strobe light at their tree and hit 'em with a water hose at the same time. They don't like to wet I guess, or have light directed at them. For what are essentially flying rats, they sure are picky.

One last thing before I go. I am going to my third consecutive Cowboys/Redskins game in D.C. this Sunday. Typically this game has a little more meaning for at least one of the teams, but not this time. Either way, I will get to spend some time with a friend from Atlanta, which is the first time for that since I moved a month ago. I have a big beer trip planned for February as well. This year it is Munch, Vienna, Prague and Pilsen, so stay tuned for details and photos from that. Have a great holiday season folks. I will be in Michigan most of next week, so you may not hear from me for a while. Stay warm everyone. Bye.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Got Wood, Mon?

My new ride.
Sounds like a lot of people are wondering how the Night Of 100 Elvises went last Friday. I will tell you right now, that is one unique event. Wow. I saw just about everything you could imagine singing Elvis songs. Just to name a few: Lady E (that's right, a female Elvis), punk Elvis, belly dancers (some with more belly than dance) with Elvis, Santa Claus with Elvis, and no less than a half-dozen Elvises in their late 50's with jumpsuits unzipped down to their beer guts. In a word: awesome. A hunk, a hunk of burnin' awesome. Free beer. That's right. The Lithuanian Hall buys a ton of Heavy Seas beer and gives it away. You want wine, liquor or bad beer? Costs money. Want great local craft beer? Free! How about a shot of some home made Lithuanian honey/spice/grain alcohol called "viryta"? Only three bucks, so pace yourself. You can do what you want, but don't barf on my blue suede shoes.

Today I met an interesting guy who is an expert on wood. He managed to take his degree in whatever they call a degree in wood, and put it to use with breweries. His claim to fame is that he introduced Dogfish Head to the palo santo wood, which is used to create one incredible beer. This guy was at Heavy Seas today to discuss the upcoming Plank Three release that will coming in 2014. The style of the beer is still being determined, but it sounds like it will be of Belgian origin. The wood will be...Jamaican allspice. Didn't see that one coming, did ya? Stay tuned for more details, and be sure to grab it fast when it comes out. I doubt it will be around for long.

Hopefully everyone is getting close to being done with their Christmas shopping. I managed to get just about there this weekend, with just a few loose ends to tie up this week. I won't have Saturday to shop though, not that I looked forward to that mess. I am doing an event at the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C. on Friday night. That's right, even the people who control the economy of the entire planet need to let their hair down for a holiday party. And they requested local beer. That was mighty thoughtful of them, and we certainly appreciate it. I guess I am going to need to tuck my shirt in for this one. Taking one for the team.

You will probably hear from me next week. Should be a pretty quiet week, at least until Friday the 21st. That is the day of our employee holiday party here at the brewery, and the day that a friend from Atlanta is coming to visit. Sunday the 22nd is my annual Cowboys at Redskins game (year 3), which, in case the NFL is listening, can be moved to October please. As much as I love sitting outside in the winter for three hours, which is not very much at all, I would be just fine doing it in the fall. Pretty please.

Have a great week everyone. Happy holidays. Be jolly like these guys.
Thirty minuted later there was about 50 of them.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

You Had Me At Elvis

This was a real conversation I had last week:
"Hey Fred, what are you doing next Friday?"
"I got a table at this fundraiser if you want to go. It's called 'Night Of 100 Elvises'. You interested?"
"You had me at 'Elvis'. I didn't even really need the other 99. I would have said yes to just one Elvis."

So tomorrow night I am going to the Lithuanian Hall for what looks like a rip-roaring good time. I don't have time to explain the whole thing to you, but here is the web site: http://www.nightof100elvises.com/. Let's just say that it is a whole lot of Elvis, a whole lot of free Heavy Seas beer, and fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches for dessert. Now I have never seen an Elvis impersonator live. On TV? Sure. Posing for pictures with tourists in Vegas? Yeah. But multiple Elvis impersonators on multiple stages on different floors all at one--and no songs are duplicated--well, this I have to see. I don't know what we're raising money for, and I don't really care*. This is going to be a trip. Apparently this thing has been a home-run here in Baltimore for twenty years, and I can't wait to check it out.

In other, non-Elvis-related news, today is the 80th anniversary of the actual repeal of Prohibition. And we have Utah to thank for it. That's right, by being the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, Utah provided the final state needed to provide the two-thirds majority to pass the amendment. Pretty cool info. Didn't think you'd learn anything today did you? Did you know that Mississippi chose to maintain Prohibition until 1966. We already had people going into outer space and coming back alive, but you could not get a legal drink in Mississippi. Crazy.

So be sure to raise a toast to Utah today at 5:32 pm EST, wherever you are. And then raise one to every brave soul who lived in Mississippi from 1933 to 1966. What were they thinking? Pack up and move people! Maybe that's why there is so much poverty in that state. Anyone with the means to do it packed up and split so they could get a cold beer without breaking the law.

And while you're doing all of this toasting, raise one to the 1.78 million people that are employed in the brewing industry in this country alone. I'll drink to that. Have a great weekend everyone.

PS-- Fun Fact: Maryland was the only state to not pass a law enacting Prohibition. Once the federal law was enacted, there was nothing they could do about it though.

*The money goes to Johns Hopkins Children's Center, and I do care about that.  

Monday, December 2, 2013

And We're Back!

That's right kids, I did not forget about you. Last we spoke I was in a hotel room north of Richmond, VA,
waiting to get an early start the next day to meet the movers at my new place in Baltimore. That was just over two weeks ago. Everything went well with the move: I lost a ceramic something-or-other, plus two glasses. Not beer glasses though. Hell no. I took better care packing of those. They take such good care of me, it was only fair to return the favor. All of my framed artwork was intact, nothing was lost...I mean seriously, I gotta give those mover guys credit. I wholeheartedly recommend using Allied if you ever have a long move to make. Pay the extra money for the peace of mind. Trust me on this one.    

So...sorry that I have been out of communication lately. I have only been starting a new job after relocating 700 miles to a town I have only seen twice before. Then just setting up utilities, unpacking, finding my way around, getting lost, having my car towed, doing battle with a colony of crows that use my car for a toilet, having a plumbing disaster...so, you know, nothing much. Did I mention that I started a new job? Well that's going great, as if there were any doubts. When your new boss invites you over to his house to grill steaks after your first day because, "You probably haven't had a home cooked meal in a while," you know you're in good hands. Quality people for sure. Go buy some Heavy Seas beer and feel good about it. Don't do it for me, do it for yourself, and walk around all damn day proud of yourself for supporting a great operation. And if you insist on doing it for me, well OK, whatever makes you happy.

But actually, these beers might be hard to find from time to time. A new bottling line is being installed now, and a new brew system arrives in the spring. The supply vs. demand deficit should be under control soon...ish. In the meantime, I am trying not to drink too much beer, putting a bigger dent in the supply. I said I am trying. I didn't say I was succeeding.

Winter is fast approaching, and since I know that most of you reading this are the southeast and think that you are going to die if the temperature gets below 40 degrees, I just want to assure you that I am fine. The Mid-Atlantic is not like Siberia. It will hit 50 today. I did go out and buy an ice scraper/snow brush for my car yesterday though. Gotta be prepared. Damn thing was $16.99, so it better snow at least a few times this year.

One thing is for sure, December weather does not slow down beer events up here. There are things going on all over the area, so many that I have to skip some really killer ones that overlap. Next week I will be doing an event at the IMF in Washington D.C. Yep, yours truly will be rubbing elbows with the power brokers of the International Monetary Fund. Sounds like a wild and crazy bunch of reckless drunks, doesn't it? Not sure if I can run with that crowd of party animals. Yule Tide is out (and might even be gone by now), and this is an Imperial Red Ale brewed with ginger and aged in Jamaican rum barrels. Yes, it is as good as it sounds. Winter Storm was always a favorite of mine, but I must say, having it from a beer engine, fresh from the brewery, does not suck. Not even a tiny bit. Plan a trip to Baltimore next fall and find out for yourself.

Next up is the Mid-Atlantic Holiday Beer Tasting in Baltimore, followed by the annual Holiday Beer Tasting at RFD in D.C. Astute readers may remember RFD from wintertime posts in 2012 and 2011, where late-night D.C. Chinatown food was also discussed. Not sure if I can make both of these events or not, but damn it, I am going to try. My annual Cowboys at Redskins game is coming up December 22nd, so that will take me right into Christmas on my usual frenetic tempo.

Time for me to go now though. Duty calls. I will tell you more about the battle with the crows around here (I will not glorify them by calling them ravens). It does not appear to be ending very soon. Let's just say that I now understand why Edgar Allan Poe (a Baltimorean from back in the day) went berserk on drugs and alcohol. No doubt because of these flying pests with an endless supply of poop. No kidding. Endless. These animals need medial attention or something. I can deal with the squawking and cawing, just leave my damn car alone. Thanks to the internet, I learned that an effective way to get rid of crows is with a scarecrow. Thanks, Google. I didn't need a computer to tell me how farmers have been deterring crows for the last 300 years. I was looking for something a little edgier than a fake person in my yard. Pretty sure the city birds are a little more crafty than their country cousins. Either way, I will find the key to victory. Until then, have a great week.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fare Thee Well...Fare The Well, I Love You More Than Words Can Tell

It has been a while building, but that did not make the last few days--Friday in particular--any less difficult. I have been going through a series of long good-byes for the last two weeks, which were a ton of fun, but they could not prevent the deep feelings that naturally arise when you leave somewhere you have been for a long time. I said good-bye to Atlanta, where I have lived for thirteen years, early this morning with a suitcase and a few house plants in my car. I gave everything I own to three strangers with a semi-truck on Tuesday. They are allegedly meeting me in Baltimore tomorrow morning and giving it all back. If you have never had movers take your stuff a long way away, that's what it feels like. Everything you own and hold dear gets given to a group of men you have never met, most of whose English is...marginal. Maybe. But hey, they say they are going to be at my new place at the crack of dawn, so we'll see how much of my shit they broke over the last four days, and then start unpacking. I start my new job on Monday, about which I am inexplicably excited. The new challenges that are already coming to me via e-mail and phone are making this move look the great idea I always knew it was. He shoots, he scores! Feels good.

But now I am enjoying being able to sit in a chair and watch TV and use a computer. Since those strangers left with all my stuff, I have been living in an empty place while they worked their way up to Baltimore. Toothbrush, air mattress, a few changes of clothes, and my Brita. Soap and shampoo were there as well. A towel. You get the picture. Since around noon on Tuesday, that is all I had. That explains the long good-byes, because seriously, I had nothing to sit on, nothing to watch, listen to, or read. I managed to see a matinee of Bad Grandpa though. I am not going to tell you to go out and see this movie, because I don't know you. I, personally, laughed until tears ran down my face on multiple occasions. So did the rest of the audience. Jackass movies are OK in my book. A lot of time to spend for a short amount of material if you ask me. But this movie was pretty damn funny the whole way through. They needed to put some calmer parts in there so the audience could stop laughing and breath for a minute. No kidding. Please remember this important point: It's raunchy. If you can't laugh at raunchy humor, stay home. You will...disapprove...to put it mildly.

I do not like to be in a car for long periods of time (defined by anything more that about four hours). So today's drive was going to be a challenge for me patience-wise. To get from Atlanta to Baltimore it takes about ten and a half hours. Problem is, if you don't time your drive correctly, you might just wind up in metropolitan Washington D.C. traffic, which makes Atlanta traffic look like a cream puff. Since I didn't need to be in Baltimore until Saturday morning, I found a hotel in a quiet town about two hours away. So I am in Ashland, VA, within striking distance from my destination, after a nine hour drive that included a few stops. I told you, I don't like to be in the car for a long, long time. Coffee, gas, bathroom, El Carbonero.

El Carbonero? Oh, yes. By 11:45 a.m. I was pulling into the El Salvadorean place called El Carbonero in Graham. NC, and you can read a few things about it here. Folks--first of all, if you know where Graham, NC is, then you must either live in "the triangle" or have family there; secondly, if you knew there was El Salvadorean food there, then you obviously live in that town. And you are most likely Hispanic. By using an on-line map service from Atlanta (it was Google, duh), I was able to determine where I would be en route to the east coast by lunch time. Thanks to Yelp! (and I realize the drawbacks inherent there), I was able to locate El Carbonero and its consistent five-star rating, inside this small town near the Virginia/North Carolina border. The on-line directions? Spot on. Timely? I was ten minutes late, but I had stopped three times already. I could have easily been a few minutes early.

Exterior? Could use some work, which may indicate some serious grub. If you think the best food comes from the prettiest places, then you make too much money, and probably wish you were still cool. Interior? About what the exterior indicates: no frills, but kick-ass food. And when there is a  sign that says "Cash Only", you probably just hit gold. Like I did. Chuletas Fritas apparently means "fried pork chops" or, in my vernacular, "Can I kiss the woman who made me this food?". Occasionally while I was eating, an older woman in shorts and a t-shirt cam out of the back. She was wearing a hairnet, which tipped me off that she cooked. I hoped. The servers spoke English to me, but being the only gringo in the place, they spoke Spanish to everyone else. After you eat you get a hand-written check. Then you get up and go pay at the counter. The cook lady with the shorts and hairnet is taking payments. Cash only. That, boys and girls, is what you call teamwork, El Salvador style. I will leave you with two last things on this story. One: Get the pork chops at El Carbonero; Two: Find out what that chicken soup is that all of the Hispanic customers are eating. Looked pretty outrageous, and all of the non-Gringo had a huge bowl of it.
Excuse me? $8.95? I guess that seems fair.

That is about all I have for you for now. I am enjoying a Devil's Backbone Eight-Point IPA, which is made not far from here, up in the Shenandoah Mountains . Great to see regional IPA for sale at area grocery stores in a semi-rural area. Also great to see local shoppers snatching up the six-packs of those same local beers. I was looking at the whole beer cooler for more than a few minutes, and saw one guy grab a case of light beer, while six or more people bought local or other quality beer. I sure hope that you are all following the same patterns. Buy local and drink local. What's good for your local brewer is good for your local economy. Are you part of the solution? Don't be part of the problem.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New Horizons, New Adventures

After a long and illustrious career with Taco Mac, I will be changing course for a new direction. You can still
follow my adventures here at Fred's Beer Page if you like, and I hope that you do. They will mainly be concerning the goings-on at Heavy Seas Brewing Co., which is where I am setting sail for post-haste. I have to sell a condo first, so if you know anyone looking for a really cool, modern two-bedroom on a quiet street in a great part of town, contact Marilou Young at Virtual Properties. I actually already have an offer, but you can offer me more if you want!

I am extremely excited about the new career and the relocation. I spent eleven years in one place in Michigan where I worked for a brewery, followed by thirteen wonderful years here in Atlanta working for Taco Mac. It was time for a new adventure, and there was no question that beer would have to be heavily involved. The people and the brews at Heavy Seas have always been some of my favorites, and I am lucky to have landed there with them. As the brewery and pub operations at Heavy Seas progress there will be a ton of new challenges to overcome, and lots of exciting solutions to find in order to do so.

I truly appreciate you taking the time to read my blog over the years, and the nice things that many of you have said about reading it when we saw each other socially. Unfortunately the next few weeks will be spent packing and moving, so there won't be too much excitement there. Once I get my feet on the ground in Baltimore, I will be sure to update you on my situation. Until then, over and out!

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Sound like someone's in the middle of a losing battle with the bottle. But no, that is just what's on tap for the next
few days: Great American Beer Festival, Denver Rare Beer Tasting, and then probably being pretty wiped out when I get home on Saturday. As I mentioned, there are tons of special, smaller events in, around and after the main goings on in Denver this week for beer lovers. Tonight is the Left Hand Brewing 20th Anniversary party, billed as "20 Years and 20 Beers". They are bringing back a bunch of specialty beers they have not brewed in a while, plus busting out some new and wild concoctions. Wish me luck.

As if resting was ever on the agenda for more that a minute or two these days, we are going to jump right into the Decatur re-opening to the public on Tuesday. The building looks great, and anyone who was ever in the old one will barely recognize the place. More than just a face lift, this was a total overhaul. The draft selection looks great, of course, and they have a special cask for Tuesday night. A few of the employees went over to Red Brick during the closure of Taco Mac and helped make a cask of Vanilla Gorilla blended with two types of chili peppers and a dose of cinnamon. They are also going to be tapping a different cask from a local brewery each night after that (except Thursday, that is pint night). They are all listed as, for example, "Red Brick Decatur RO Cask", or "Three Taverns Decatur RO Cask". The "RO" stands for "re-open", so each of these is a completely unique Brewniversity credit that will never appear again. In addition to Red Brick and Three Taverns, they will have one from Terrapin, Blue Tarp, Monday Night and JailHouse. You will need to be there to find out what kind of beer is actually in them.

Once that week is complete, it's Atlanta Beer Week. Taco Mac has events planned each day, and some at multiple stores. I will have a complete list for you next week. I have told you for weeks now to clear your calendars, so if you have things booked during ABW and miss these beer events, don't come crying to me. I tried. You didn't listen.  

That is all I have time for today kids. The airport is calling. I am outta here. Have a great weekend.

PS-- There are only about 15 spots left for the Innis & Gunn event at The Fred Bar on Wednesday the 23rd. Just scroll down a few blog posts to see all of the relevant details. It is rare chance to meet the owner, founder and brew master, in town from Scotland for an appearance. Don't miss out. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Do You Drink Local? Read On...

Sorry that I have been quiet this week. The re-opening of the Decatur store has been taking up a fair amount of my time these days, especially since next week is going to really fly by. Great American Beer Festival in Denver starts on Thursday, so I will be back to Denver again (I was just there Sept. 19th-23rd), this time to drink beer. No other responsibilities. The festival itself is fun enough, but there are other events around town during the late morning, afternoon, and pretty much all night. Most notable is the Denver Rare Beer Tasting on Friday afternoon, and a Left Hand 20th Anniversary party Thursday night. The DRBT is just after the annual Sierra Nevada Kill The Keg event at Falling Rock Tap House, where each year they try to tweak their draft system and kill a keg of a special Sierra Nevada beer (Estate Homegrown maybe?) in a shorter time than the year before. If you want to get a decent spot at Falling Rock, you need to be there by 10:00. That would be 10:00 in the morning. And so it begins...

But on another more local note, here is an artist's rendering of the exterior of our remodeled Decatur location. It is scheduled to re-open on Tuesday, October 15th. The inside is totally tricked out with all kinds of beer related architectural detail. Trust me, you'll want to get down there sooner than later to check it out. More on that later, including some actual real photos. I could not get in there to take pictures yesterday because they were laying the flooring. Guess I should have called first.

Before I hit the road for the weekend, I wanted to relay a story for all of you beer drinkers out there who like to seek out some of the exciting beers from across the country. It goes like this:

  • A few weeks ago I bought a six-pack of a locally made pale ale at a BP station. Not exactly a hot spot for craft beer, Chamblee. It tasted so good and fresh, I checked the date on the bottle. I don't normally do that, but it was so remarkably tasty that I was compelled by uncontrollable forces to look for the date. This beer had left the brewery just three weeks before I bought it. That means it got packaged and dated, delivered to a local distributor, warehoused there behind older inventory, then loaded on a truck and delivered to a BP station, purchased and consumed in under 21 days. Not impressed? You don't know a lot about the beer business then. You won't get fresher beer unless you get it from the brewery or make it yourself.
  • Last week I bought a four pack of a super sexy, highly desirable beer from a very renown craft brewery that is a long way from this market. The beer's flavor was very good, but it had sediment in the bottle where there should have been none. Hmmm...that's odd. Check the freshness dating, and yep, it was bottled in June. June of 2012. So this beer that I bought at a reputable retailer of quality beer was 15 months old. The sediment was particulate matter (the non-water elements of the beer) coming out of the liquid due to age, and possibly being poorly handled along the way from the brewery to my local store. Why, then, did it taste OK? Well, it was hopped pretty much out of this world, so that bitterness can cover up a lot. In addition, this is a beer I do not drink more than a few times a year. Why? Well, I think I just told you why. Maybe the next time I am closer to the source I will buy it again, but for the price I paid for it, I sure wish it was a great deal more fresh.
So I just wanted to relate that experience in case it matters to you. Sometimes you don't need to send your dollars across the country when you want a nice, fresh, hoppy beer. Maybe what you are looking for is brewed right around here somewhere, and your money can go back into your community. Have a great weekend everyone.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Big, BIG Beer Event Announcement!

To kick off the October Beer Of The Month with SweetWater, we have cooked up a very special event that will take place on Tuesday, October 1st in Peachtree City. Why is it in Peachtree City? Because those folks down there are overdue for something big, and it was the idea of one of the managers there. So why should you be interested in this event if you don't live on the south side? Here's why: SweetWater opened up their beer stash for us and filled two firkins on top of that. Plus, it is a fundraiser for Camp Twin Lakes in preparation for their annual Spin For Kids bike ride. Here is the line-up:
  • Low RYEder cask (rare)
  • Brown IPA cask (a blend of GA Brown and IPA--first time ever!)
  • Festive '12 bottles (first time)
  • Happy Ending '12 draft  (first time)
  • The Gimp (special Peachtree City Tap Takeover credit--one time only!)
  • Sweet 16 (special Peachtree City Tap Takeover credit--one time only!))
  • Special credit for a pint of Low RYEDer listed as "SweetWater Take Over PTC" (one time only!)
  • The usual suspects: 420, IPA, Blue, Motorboat, etc.
Not enough for you? How about a raffle with all kinds of kick-ass prizes. Like what? Man, you ask a lot of questions. Like this kind of stuff: Two tickets to an upcoming beer dinner in PTC, a pair of tickets to "Crank It Up" (a SweetWater event), a giant 420 road sign, a SweetWater jacket, a Julio Jones signed football, a Spin For Kids jersey, and a free Spin For Kids registration.  Raffle tickets are $5.00 and you get a Brewniversity credit when you purchase one. You can also get five tickets for $20.00 and save $5.00.

Still not impressed? What if I told you that SweetWater Brew Master Nick Nock and other brewery notables will be on site too? I'll be there of course, but I think you pretty much could have figured out that on your own. Hope to see you there!

PS-- Anyone want to guess what time it starts? Let's just say that if you show up at 4:25 pm it will have already started. But we will go for a few hours, so just stop in when you can. Raffles will be at 5:00, 6:00 and 7:00 pm.

On another note, I survived the trip to Colorado and the goings-on at Red Rocks. Here is where my seats were every night. Not too shabby. And the beer was good too!

Pretty much as soon as I got back from Colorado I headed to Charlotte for business. Today was the groundbreaking for the new Olde Mecklenburg Brewing Co. site. Those guys are great, and they make terrific, authentic German-style beers, which I love. Tomorrow is the big Charlotte Oktoberfest, and then, hopefully...some much needed rest. My birthday is right around the corner, but you still have a few more shopping days left. I like foamy, hoppy liquids, preferably in a refrigerated format. Other than that, I am not too picky. 

Have a great weekend everyone. Hope to see you on Tuesday. Bye!  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Moa Better Brews

You know you want it.
OK, if anyone gets that reference in the title of this blog, please let me know. No fair Googling. You either know it or you don't.

But if you want beer events, I got 'em. Here is the line-up for next week and beyond:

  • Tuesday, September 24th at The Fred Bar you can be the first folks in Taco Mac Land to taste two beers from New Zealand. Oooh...that's exotic. I know. The toilets swirl the other way down there when you flush them. That must be interesting for about one second. But from what I have heard, it is a beautiful country with a rapidly growing, high-quality craft beer scene. Moa is one of the heavy hitters of that scene, and we will be tapping Moa Imperial Stout and Moa St. Joseph's Triple when we open at 5:00 pm. There will be plenty, so no need to road rage over there if you work or live across town. We will have a guy from the brewery--a real life, honest-to-goodness Kiwi--there to answer questions and be cooler than everyone else because he has an accent and says things like, "Brilliant".
  • Same night in Woodstock you can taste a cask of Burnt Hickory Thrilla in The 'Nilla, which is their Big Shanty stout with vanilla beans, coffee and cinnamon. Wow, that sounds good. Scott, the brew master behind those wacky Burnt Hickory creations, will be there to meet and greet with you. He is an interesting dude that you will not forget right away.
  • Who loves SweetWater? You do! Well then you need to be in Peachtree City on Tuesday, October 1st as we kick off the SweetWater Beer Of The Month with a huge draft selection, fund-raising raffle, and the general craziness that you get when you take a bunch of fun-loving people and you fill them full of great beer. The brewery let us raid their cellar for some past Dank Tanks, Happy Ending, Festive and the like.There will be lots of special, one-day-only credits for those Dank Tanks (3), vintage dates for the Happy Ending ('12) and Festive ('12 bottles), and even a special credit for the event just for drinking a Low RYEder. During the month of October Taco Mac and SweetWater are helping each other raise money for Camp Twin Lakes. We rounded up a ton of stuff to raffle off throughout the evening, so we really hope you come out and help make this first-ever event a huge success. Notable people from the brewery will be there to show their support as well. Like who? Um, just the brew master, Mr. Nick Nock. Like that. 

So there you have it. That is the September wrap-up, plus one. Don't forget about the Atlanta Beer Week events I have been telling you about. We are working hard at Taco Mac HQ to make this year's ABW the best ever. But it's time for me to check out kids. I need to pack for a trip to Colorado that starts tomorrow night. Be back on Monday. If you need me, I will be at a place called Red Rocks Amphitheater outside and above Denver. Go find your bucket list, put Red Rocks on it, and thank me later. Bye!

And then people show up an play loud music on stage.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Atlanta Beer Week Reminder

Well I survived my trip to the mountains of northern Virginia for a music festival. It felt good once I got back to civilization, but I'm not going to lie; four days with no cell phone service was kind of nice. The first day you feel helpless, but after that it's quite liberating. About the only thing I missed was being able to use the internet at a moment's notice to settle disputes, check scores, and answer the questions that come up in everyday conversation. I have never been the most avid camper, but I must say that the fresh air and rustic surroundings treated me quite well. Thankfully there were showers there, or I would be telling you a drastically different story.

I prepped you last week for Atlanta Beer Week by telling you to clear your calendars. I hope you were paying attention. As the entire slew of events come into better focus, I will give you all of the details. But what follows is a primer.

Right now we are looking at doing a Boulevard Trailblazer night at four stores on Monday, October 21st. It will consist of some special beers, special Brewniversity credits, and some information about the history of the brewery. Go look in your fridge and tell me if the beer in there is a from a brewery founded in the 80's. Many of you out there were born in the 80's. Boulevard was helping to create the American craft brewery movement. I'll tell you the exact stores when it gets a little closer. On Tuesday the 22nd we are going to feature a selection of never-seen-around-here-before beers from Boulder Beer. This will also take place at four different stores, and probably one not too far from you. (We are not calling these a "tap take-over" because we have too many taps to accomplish that, and that term is getting a little tired anyway.)

Now I will tell you about Wednesday, October 23rd, and then I am going to stop. The rest of the week is still getting finalized, and your attention span...well, it leaves a little bit to be desired sometimes. I'm sorry if that hurts your feelings, but it hurts my feelings when someone tells me--in the same sentence--that they read my blog "all the time", but did not know about certain special events. There is only one way that adds up: Reads blog + doesn't know about events = short attention span. So did you already forget about the Wednesday ABW event I was going to tell you about? Stay with me people! This is important. We have a guy named Dougal Sharp coming to The Fred Bar. He is the founder, owner and brew master of Innis & Gunn in Scotland. If you are unfamiliar with this brewery, click here. Dougal is going to give us a visual and oral history of Innis & Gunn, highlighting some of the beauty of Scotland and Edinburgh along the way. During that time, you will get to enjoy a glass of Innis & Gunn Original. Once that part is over, Dougal will walk you through a tasting flight of his Rum Barrel, Canadian Cherrywood Barrel, Scottish Porter, and Oloroso Sherry Barrel. That last one is new, and I had a sample bottle of it a few weeks ago that was superb. The event is designed to cater more to the beer drinker in need of a little education. If you are Joe Super-Beer-Nerd, then maybe this isn't for you. But if you love beer and would like an expert to explain the nuances of complex beer flavors, then sign up today. The cost is only $25.00, and if you are familiar with these beers, then you will instantly understand the value of this event. Click here to reserve your spots now. There will only be 50 people admitted to this event. Hope to see you there.

Have a great weekend everyone. Bye.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hooray For September!

Why is September so great? Well, it seems pretty obvious on the surface, but let's break it down for those of you who recently came out of a coma, or have finally found the right blend of meds to stop the voices in your head:
  • September begins with a long Labor Day weekend. 
  • Football starts. Finally.
  • Fall beers arrive. 
  • Baseball becomes increasingly more meaningful each day.
  • The temperature in the south becomes tolerable. (Yes, this year was an exception. So in the case of this year, September is great because the sun finally came out.)
  • More fall beers arrive.
  • And just when you thought September could not get any better, it wraps up on my birthday.
So as you can tell, I love September, and have for as long as I can remember. What's your favorite month, and why? No, don't tell me. I can't hear you. That is just a little conversation starter for you the next time you find yourself with really boring people, or maybe just in a weird awkward lull in an otherwise stimulating conversation. Another one you can try is, "What five living people would you currently want to meet?". You can learn a lot about someone when they tell you who they really want to meet, and why. Try it some time. Make your own list first or you will look like an idiot when it's your turn and you got nothin'.

Another thing you can try is Sierra Nevada Flipside Red IPA at The Fred Bar on Tuesday. It will eventually make it to other locations, but we are going to get together Tuesday and try this new seasonal beer for the first time. The brewery folks say that they have struck gold with this one, so I am doubly excited to taste it. Considering that both of my Beer Camp beers at Sierra Nevada were red IPA's, you might deduce that I am fond of that style. And there is no better brewery at making hoppy beers than Sierra Nevada. That is not an opinion, it is a fact. Look it up.

Other than that, you might want to make your way to the Dallas Hwy location on Friday the 13th. We have an individual getting his 2000th beer on his Brewniversity list, and we have a special cask for the occasion. This is an O'Dempsey's Big Red cask, and we made a special Brewniversity credit for this one. If you have not met Mr. Mighty Fine yet, I suggest you drop by to do so. He is a colorful character, as are most people who have had 2000 different beers. We will tap it around 6:00 pm.

Last thing I have for you for today is a "Save The Dates". Atlanta Beer Week is October 19th-26th, and we have been hard at work at the Taco Mac HQ planning events all over Taco Mac Land for the week. I will have a full calendar for you once everything is finalized, but for now, just clear your calendar. All of it. And start looking around for you best 80's get-up. Don't ask questions. Just be prepared to go all-out 80's-style on October 25th to close out ABW.

I gotta run. I am taking a long weekend in the mountains of northern Virginia. I guess some brewery up there is sponsoring some outdoor music festival, and they need me there to drink beer with them. Talk to you next week, and maybe even in person if you come out for the Flipside launch. Bye.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Road Trip!

This year's Southern Home Brewer's Challenge winners!

Last week's big news about the Southern Home Brewer's Challenge winner overshadowed the details of a recent and very successful trip to Asheville, NC. In what way what is so successful? We were just trying to have some fun and get a few of our hard working managers out of town to visit a few breweries. If you are not familiar with what is happening beer-wise in Asheville, let me just say that you need to get clued in, because it is a whole lot of fun up there. Here is what we did:

We left Atlanta pretty early in the morning, around 7:30 am. I like to get an early start. You can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning. That is just pure logic; don't try to argue with it. The drive is roughly 3.5 hours, but somehow we made it in closer to 3 hours. I am only telling you that to encourage you to make the trip, not to drive 80 mph the whole way. But if that's how you roll, then roll on player. I recommend you take the route that takes you up I-985, as opposed to taking I-85 way up into South Carolina. The 985 route is way more scenic, and I have gone both ways. Neither is quicker by any substantial amount of time to make one preferable over the other.
Entrance to the Tasty Weasel

When we arrived in Asheville it was not late enough to check in,but who cares? The local Oskar Blues guy met us at the hotel and took the wheel of the van. My responsibilities were essentially over at that point. He drove us about 30 minutes away to Brevard where their new brewery is located. It wasn't much to look at from the outside, but I assume that will change over time. The insides were what you would expect them to look like. Tanks. Hoses. Forklifts. Guys with beards. The usual. Upstairs is what is called the Tasty Weasel, which is basically the tasting room, and that is where the fun is. It is worth the trip just to taste the freshest Dale's, G'Knight and all the others, made right there in the building. Wow. We got to try a new beer called, "The Deuce". It's a brown ale, and a damn good one at that. I think the way to order one is you say to the bartender, "Yes, I'll take a Deuce."

After we were done at OB, we loaded everyone back in the van back towards Asheville. Funny how it was a much more lively and talkative bunch compared to the same group pre-beer drinking. Once back in Asheville we headed out on foot from our hotel. Asheville is a very walk-able town if you get a hotel downtown. I highly recommend that. We were trying to get to the Green Man brewery for a tour, but somehow we got sidetracked into Barley's Taproom for a quick beer or two. Good stop. Once we got back on the street, we were just a few short blocks from Green Man...and it started to pour rain. Good thing that the Wicked Weed brew pub was across the street. That place was awesome, and I had actually never been there before. Don't miss this place, and be sure to check out the downstairs and the patio. Very cool spot with great beer. We waited out the rain there, and then headed to Green Man. The owner of Green Man is one of my favorite people in the NC beer world. He showed us around his operation, which is growing rapidly, and made sure we had full beers the whole time. The beers were great, and we could have stayed there a long time, but we needed to eat something. Next stop: Asheville Pizza and Brewing. We had...you guessed it...pizza and beer. Actually we ordered pretty much the entire menu, and it was all good. After that we bounced in and out of several Asheville beer spots and local watering holes. We particularly enjoyed the Yacht Club, but we were enjoying just about everything by then. Luckily it was all downhill to the hotel, so when it was time to shut it down for the night, we just had to follow the road in a comfortable direction.
Just some of the taps downstairs at Wicked Weed.
So there you go. A fun-filled day enjoying only a slice of the beer scene in that town. Easily could have made two days out of it. That is all I have for you right now. Enjoy your Labor Day weekend, and look for some event announcements on the other side of the holiday. We are gearing up for fall and have some fun new ideas coming your way. Talk to you soon.
Great stop on a great day.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Candy Gram For Mongo...

Part of the SHBC tasting panel, hard at work.

The results of the 2013 Southern Home Brewer's Challenge are in. Well, they were in Monday night, so
maybe you already know this if you follow me on Twitter. But we sampled a lot of beers on Monday, coming across some really strong efforts. Sure there were a few duds in the bunch, but overall, a high quality sampling of local home brews. We picked the best one from each category, and then picked our favorite from that grouping. So I will list later the top brews from each category, but first let's announce the overall winner, whose beer will be made by Red Hare and be featured as part of the Taco Mac Beer Of The Month program in January. Brewed by Jeff and Sharon Wilson, and is called Mongo Strong Brown Ale. Hopefully confetti is falling from the ceiling in their house right now and the local marching band is in their front yard, cheerleaders doing flips and all that. I didn't arrange that, but wouldn't that be cool? I'll have to work on that for next year. The beer was extremely interesting in that is was very rich and flavorful, but not sweet like you would expect from the words, "strong" and "brown" when referring to beer. Nice work.

And now, the best of the rest:

  • Wheat and Wit beers: WIPA Snappa Hoppy Wheat by Brent Cater and Chris McDaniel
  • Flavored Wheat beers: The Bavarian Peach by Jeremy Bowlby
  • Amber and Brown Ales: Origin Amber Ale by Jeremy Bowlby
  • Pale Ale and IPA: Session IPA by John McDonald and Thomas Balkcom
  • Porter and Stout: Pullman Porter by Daniel Coats
  • Miscellaneous beers: Man's Best Friend by Stephen Upchurch
What else is going on? A lot, as usual. Tonight you can drop by Taco Mac Metropolis around 7:00 pm to meet the brewers from Six Point out of New York. They are in town and are dropping by to have a few beers and press the flesh. Nice guys. You should pay them a visit.

Have you heard about this contest? Voting just started on Saturday, so please click on the link (below), select Taco Mac and blow it up. You can vote as many times as you want. If we win, there will be a ridiculously rare and cool opportunity for something special to happen at Taco Mac. Here is the communication we received:

Welcome and Congratulations for being nominated as one of the Freshest Beer Bars in the US.  On July 8th, DRAFT Magazine put out the call to our readers to nominate bars that they thought were most deserving of hosting a Founders Day Celebration with DRAFT Magazine and Pilsner Urquell to celebrate their 100th anniversary.  We received over 2000 nominations and now we have narrowed it down to the final 25 for the fans to decide who will have this opportunity.  

Voting for the Freshest Bar begins at 12:01 am EST Saturday August 3rd and will end at 11:59pm EST August 31st, 2013.  The bar receiving the most votes will have the opportunity to host the Founders Day celebration on or around November 8th.  The Founders Day Celebration will include the following with a collaborative effort from DRAFT and Pilsner Urquell working directly with the winning bar to coordinate programming: 
  • 170 Liter Wooden Barrel of Unpastuerized Pilsner Urquell flown directly from the brewery in Plsen Czech Republic 
  • Attendance by Vaclav, the brewmaster for Pilsner Urquell in Plsen
  • Attendance by DRAFT Magazine Founder Erika Rietz
  • Tapping of the Keg Ceremony and Pouring Competition
  • Shirts, Hats, Mugs, and other assets relating to Founders Day
Here is the link you need to help bring this bad-ass event to a Taco Mac near you:

If you are reading this and have not already voted at least twice, just be aware that I am extremely pissed off at you right now. No excuses. Don't even talk to me until you have voted ten times. Have your kids vote. Have your dog vote. Cast a vote for the dog you had you when you were growing up. Cast a vote if you never had a dog growing up, but really, really wanted one but your parents just wouldn't listen and you never forgave them for that, but you held in those emotions for a long, long time, until now. Let it out. Let it all out by voting for Taco Mac. The dog you never had would have wanted it that way, if he had existed, which he didn't, but why open up old wounds?

You folks have a great week and weekend. I am off to Charlotte tomorrow. Talk to you next week.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

You Pick A Place To Go, And Just Keep Truckin' On

And we're back. Sorry for the delay, but I was gone for most of last week. My friend had one of those
Where the magic happens.
milestone birthdays that makes you want to do something special. We had a good trip exploring some new places. I strongly recommend that you just pick a place you've never been, use the old Google for some recommendations, make some hotel reservations and just go. Was Knoxville, TN a city that was overflowing with sites and attractions? No. Not even close. But did we find some incredible soul food? Check. How good was it? Next to the urns for sweet and unsweet tea, there was an urn of red Kool-Aid. That, my friends, is when you know you are in a real soul food restaurant. I did not take a picture unfortunately, because I thought that might offend someone who took the time to make the Kool-Aid and put it out there for the customers. Or the customers who drink the Kool-Aid. I was just passing through. No reason to piss everyone off and get shot in the process. But if you ever find yourself in Knoxville, and you want fried chicken, collard greens, black-eyed peas and cornbread, call me. I'll tell you where you need to go.
Blast off!

We found some nice places to drink beer in Knoxville as well. Right downtown they have a little square with a few nice bars. Around the corner are some spots with good beer selections, plus a brew pub across the street. All completely walk-able. We had fun. Drank a ton of Straight To Ale Monkeynaut draft. Good stuff. Thumbs up, Knoxville.

But the whole focus of the trip was not fried chicken, college bars and IPAs from Alabama. Our destination was in Versailles, KY. You pronounce every letter in Versailles up there. Think, "ver-sailz". Not that Frenchy pronunciation. You might as well just walk in there carrying a carpet bag if you are going to say, "ver-sigh". In the rolling hills of Versailles you will find the Woodford Reserve Distillery. Maybe some of you have already found it. Beautiful place, full of history, and producer of the finest bourbon money can buy. They gave us a great tour, lunch on the porch, and a nice tasting to follow. You don't need all of the details, but Mother Earth really smiled on us that day, because it was 82 degrees with big white puffy clouds in the sky. It was July 30th. In the south. And it wasn't hot and nasty. It was downright pleasant. I highly recommend that you take some time to make your way up there for a visit.

We stayed in Lexington that night, and again had a blast in a totally foreign town. We found an Irish pub with a Mexican bartender named Mike. So we were off to a good start right there. We drank some West 6th IPA, which if you follow beer news lately you would have heard of it quite a bit. Big hubbub over trademark laws with Magic Hat and their # 9 logo. In case you missed it, many people were crying about the little guy getting muscled over by the big guy. And as you can see from this image, it is a clear-cut case of the big guy being right. I am all for sticking up for the little guy, but damn. C'mon man. West 6th, you don't have a leg to stand on here.
The one on the right please.
The IPA was damned good too, brewed right there in Lexinton, and was really fresh. Glad we stopped in to see Mike (if that is your real name...) and tried to drink him out of all his hometown IPA. But we had to leave, because something was pulling us towards Al's. Maybe it was the disappointing dive bar in Knoxville (Jimmy's--don't bother), or maybe it was destiny. But whatever it was, it was a good thing. You can't define a good dive bar by any strict set of criteria. It is a combination of things working in concert that make a dive bar one of life's special places. One thing they absolutely have to be is unique. Any bar that tries to be a dive is just a hunk of crap (see "Jimmy's" above). A true dive bar just is, in the same way that a cool person is just a cool person. A person that tries to be cool isn't remotely cool. They are typically referred to in terms that more often than not rhyme with mouche mag. Al's, you're special, and we had a lot of fun inside of you, dirty as you were. Don't change, not one bit.
You're dirty and you know it. 

One last point of interest happened when we were getting in the car to leave the next morning. Our hotel was adjacent to Rupp Arena, which is where the University of Kentucky plays basketball. They produced the NBA's first round draft pick this year, a guy named Anthony Davis. He must have been visiting his alma mater, or maybe working out there before the NBA season starts, because there he was, getting in his Audi at 8:00 am, right in front of us. How can I be sure it was him? Well, first of all he is kind of unique looking, and when my friend said, "Hey, Anthony! What's up?" he turned and waved. Did I mention that he is somewhat unique looking?

Why have two eyebrows when one does the trick?
If you saw a 6' 10" guy that looks like that, about 100 feet from where he played college basketball until four months ago, you would not have to be a detective to realize who it was. But for a guy who just inked a multi-million dollar deal at the age of twenty, he seemed like a pretty alright dude. I hope he has a great career, so that every time I see him play I can tell this story, even to people that have heard it before. Especially to people who have heard it before. Just to annoy them.

OK folks, that is all I have for now. I am off to Asheville with a group of Taco Mac managers on Friday. We are going to pay a visit to the new Oskar Blues Blues brewery in Brevard, plus hit two or three more breweries in Asheville later in the day. Should be a good trip. Talk to you next week.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Good Problem To Have

How's everybody doing this week? Hopefully dry, as it appears that the monsoons have passed, and now it
is just three to five brief showers per day. I for one have been ecstatic about the rain. Why? Because it is almost August and we have barely hit 90 degrees maybe once or twice. I don't like hot weather. Smart asses would say, "Well then why do you live in the south?" I would reply. "Because I have a good job idiot, why do you think?" But I love it in Atlanta, and I don't plan on going anywhere. I deal with the heat and I deal with the crappy traffic. People up north deal with the cold, and probably the crappy traffic too. It's just two sides of the same coin. If there was a place where the weather was perfect all of the time, that place would most definitely suck. There would be too many people there enjoying the mild temperatures and sunny days. And no jobs. Plus, what would we do if we didn't have something to complain about? Sure, a place like San Diego pokes holes in my theory. The weather in San Diego is beautiful all the time, and so are the people. The beer? Unbelievable. I am sure that there are some drawbacks to living there. One being that you would eventually feel inferior to all of the beautiful, successful people. Then you would probably develop a drinking or drug problem to deal with your insecurities. I also think there are a lot of bums there. I mean, if you have to live outside, there's not many better places than San Diego. Maybe all of the bums are the people whose sense of inferiority to the beautiful people made them alcohol and drug addicts. So in essence the beautiful people have ruined their own surroundings due to their beauty and perfection. Serves you right for having such good genetics. Hope you're happy.

So other than celebrating a tolerable start to the seven months of summer, here are some other things worth getting pumped about:

  1. Mall of GA is opening up their cellar, starting tonight with North Coast Olde Stock 2011. Tomorrow they will bust out Weyerbacher Heresy 2012, then SweetWater Festive 2012 on Thursday. Friday is Unibroue La Terrible 2011, followed by Brooklyn Monster 2011 on Saturday and both Red Brick Smoked Vanilla Gorilla 2012 and Lost Years 2012 on Sunday. Nice way to end the month up there in Buford.
  2. On Tuesday the 30th, Metropolis will be tapping a firkin of JailHouse Misdemeanor with cocoa and ancho chiles. We are calling it JailHouse Metrodemeanor. Stop by around 6:00 pm to try this one-time-only brew. 
  3. This event has been postponed. Stay tuned for the new date. Wednesday, July 31st, the Taco Mac at Windward Pkwy and Hwy 9 will be tapping a cask of Heavy Seas RipTide White IPA at 6:00 pm. That is the first one of those I have heard of in this area. I have a previous engagement unfortunately, or else I would be there for sure. Tell me how good it is when I see you next time. 
I gotta run people. I need to update the app with these events and get back to work. You might not hear from me next week. I am going to visit the Woodford Reserve distillery in Kentucky again. This time I am taking a friend there for a major milestone birthday. Watch for some Instagram photos at "beer_fred_tmac" from what should be quite an adventure. Before we get to Kentucky we are going to spend the night in a city none of us have ever been, just to see what kind of mischief we can uncover. Should be fun.

Now I need to decide what to do with one of two bottles of Deschutes Black Butte XXIV. I brought two of these bombers back from Oregon in my luggage a year ago. I was in Bend the day it was released (which was not planned, I am just that good--true story) and had a few drafts of it. The bottle says "Best After 07/23/13". So does that mean I drink it today? Technically it is not after 07/23/13 until tomorrow, but I have been waiting exactly 364 days to drink one of these guys. Can I wait one more day? Only the voices in my head know. We will see what they have to say when I am standing in front of the fridge tonight. I have a hunch I am going to like what they have to say.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

You Think Adult Alcoholics Are Difficult....

Did anybody see this article in Creative Loafing recently? If you did, then you should be really excited to
hear about this new brewery that will be launching their beer this Friday at Taco Mac in Decatur and at The Fred Bar. You might also have noticed how The Fred Bar is mentioned (even though the capitalization is sloppy) as being a key element in the formation of this brewery. Pretty cool. So drop into either one of those locations to taste their Night In Brussels (a Belgian-y American IPA) and Single Intent (Belgian-style Single/Blonde) on Friday and welcome Three Taverns to the local beer scene. I am going to try to get by one of those places depending on how my day shapes up on Friday. But read that CL article and get a load of the pedigree this brewer brings to the table. Impressive.

Do you like to drink beer, but it just isn't making you fatter fast enough? Problem solved: beer ice cream. Yes, that's right, your prayers have been answered. Many Taco Mac locations will have beer ice cream in four flavors coming very soon. They are: Brown Ale Chip, Honey IPA, Malted Chocolate Stout and Peach Lambic. Vanilla Bock will be coming eventually, once we see how these first four perform. These products are strictly adult only. It is illegal for us to sell them to anyone under the age of 21, because they are roughly 2-3% ABV. They are made with real beer. No matter how much a kid whines about wanting this ice cream, they can not have it. Think about it like this: If your kid gets his hands on this stuff, suddenly all other ice cream will not longer be acceptable. Your kid will now only want cold, creamy deliciousness...that also gets him drunk. And he is going to want it all the time. Vegetables? Hell no. He wants to get drunk on ice cream. Mac & Cheese. Maybe, as long as it gets him kind of drunk. Did you want an obese alcoholic child? Because that's what you'd get. Adults, however, will love the fact that they can end their meal with a yummy dessert while still tasting beer, and...wait for it...get an additional Brewniversity credit for the ice cream! Who's screamin' for ice cream now? It's you, isn't it? That's what I thought. Expect the product to arrive next week, and I will provide a complete store list at that time.

The last thing I have for you is a possible invite to a tequila tasting/educational class next Thursday night from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at The Fred Bar. A very notable expert from Herradura will be in town from Mexico. He will be walking us through the awesome world of tequila production, including some great historical info, a video presentation, and a tasting of four tequilas. You will get a bottle of Mexican beer to wash it all down with as well. This event is only $20.00, and there are just a few openings left. If you are interested in coming, e-mail this address: brewniversity@tacomac.com, and be sure to put "Tequila" in the subject line. I will forward you the RSVP requirements, and you can sign up through that. As of this minute there are only ten spots left. Please don't sign up if you kind of thinking that maybe you want to attend. That would keep other truly interested people from being able to get in, and would therefore qualify you as a jerk. So be cool, because as well all know, karma is a bitch. Have a great rest of the week everyone. Bye. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

C'Mon Get App-y!

Run, don't walk, to your smart phone. Trample innocent bystanders if necessary. Download the Taco Mac
Brewniversity app! It's ready, it's free, and it is really cool. Yes, even if you are not in the Apple cult and you use an Android phone, you too can have the app.

What does it do? Well, a lot, but the main feature is that it helps you find beers faster than looking at a menu. Take me for instance, at Metropolis last night. I searched for beers at that location, sorted by brewery, and in seconds I saw every Sierra Nevada beer they had on tap and in bottles. The Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale was delicious. I had two. If I had asked the app to find me only beers from that same brewery that I have not yet had on my Brewniversity list, it would have told me that there were none. But if I changed the search criteria to search by style and not by brewery, it would have come up with several. If I had asked it to search simply by beers that I have not had that were available at that location, no style or brewery criteria at all, it would have found a bunch.

But that's not all. You can find all of our special beer events, add them to your calendar, tweet about them, or do that Facebook. You can read about different beer styles, find Taco Mac locations, see images and info on beers that you are interested in...OK, I am going to stop listing everything that it does. Download it and start playing around. It's a phone app; it isn't complicated. If you don't have a smart phone yet, then I immediately know three things about you. One: You are part of 40% of the U.S. population that doesn't have a smart phone. No shame in that. I was a little late to the party too. Two: You have been considering getting one, if only to shut everyone else up that won't stop talking about their damn phone. Three: Sometime in the near future you are going to be in a Taco Mac, you are going to see and hear people happily using the app, and want to slap them silly. Because when they are not looking at, or talking on it, they are talking about their phone. I feel you there. But I also know that deep inside you wish you were navigating the Taco Mac beer selection electronically, effortlessly gliding from one outstanding beer to the next. So if you are one of those people in the 40% of the population, I have one small piece of advice for you: T-Mobile has a pretty aggressive deal going on right now for smart phones. I know because I just got my dad one for his birthday last week. Yeah, he's 68 and he has one of the baddest ass phones you can get. What are you working with over there, a flip phone? Nice. But seriously, you want the app, no matter what kind of phone you have. Do what you need to do to get it.

One more very interesting thing about the app--and then I will shut up about it, but this is important--is where it pulls the inventory data from now. Our old web-based system pulled the data from the buttons each store has in their computer to ring up your beers. Based on the vast amount of beers we carry, sometimes there are extra buttons in the computer for one reason or another, and that made the data inaccurate. Now the app is pulling the data from the current beer menu in the store. Big improvement, right? But wait...there's more. It filters the data through the store's daily insert, the thing that says, "Just In" and "Gone". It picks up the beers that are just in, and drops out the ones that are gone. Brilliant! Now the only inaccuracies would be a beer that runs out literally that day. Hooray, and I expect to see the kind of unbridled craziness in the streets that usually accompanies a Super Bowl win or V-E Day. Beer Drinkers Gone Wild Volume 1. All the hairy, sweaty beer bellies you can handle. Only $19.95. Act now.

And if all of that was not an adequate enticement, you can view this video to see the handsome model we paid a ton of money to record a little bit of footage about the new app. I don't know what it is about that guy, but he is one sexy man. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

This Is The End

Sticky hops make sticky foam.

Well, it is not really the "end" end, but we are coming close to the conclusion of our SweetWater cask run.  In fact, if you weren't in Buford on Saturday, you missed the last chance to taste the IPA with oranges, grains of paradise and four different types of additional hops. It was great. (And I will probably go see that movie, This Is The End this weekend. Reports are that it is hilarious.) Here are the remainder of the dates:
  • Wed. 7/3 Cumming-- IPA with grapefruit, apricots, orange & rosemary.
  • Fri. 7/5 Windward 5:30 pm-- Brown Ale with cardamom, cocoa & orange peel.  LAST CHANCE to try this beer!  
  • Fri. 7/5 Old Milton 7:00 pm-- Porter with chicory, vanilla & cocoa.
  • Sat. 7/6 Crabapple 4:00 pm-- Imperial Stout with mint, lactose & cocoa.  LAST CHANCE to try this beer!
  • Sat. 7/6 Woodstock-- Porter with chicory, vanilla & cocoa.  LAST CHANCE to try this beer!
  • Wed. 7/10 Suwanee-- IPA with grapefruit, apricots, orange & rosemary. LAST CHANCE to try this beer!

Notice where I tipped you off to the final appearances of each flavor. If you miss these chances, like you did with the IPA last Saturday, it will be like missing one of the last chances to ever see a dodo bird, then kill it and eat it. Don't be like the guy after the last guy to ever eat a dodo bird.

The location in East Roswell has a cask of LoneRider Peacemaker Pale Ale getting tapped on Saturday as well. Observant readers may notice that now we have three different casks getting tapped on Highway 92 on the same day. Total distance if you wanted to hit all three? Seventeen and a half miles. Same road. I can't really make this much easier for you than that. 

Next week Metropolis kicks off their Tuesday cask series for July. Here is the line-up:
  • Abita English Mild on July 9th.
  • Duck Rabbit Brown Ale on July 16th.
  • Abita Naughty Crumpet on July 23rd.
  • JailHouse somethin' or other on July 30th. The guys at JailHouse are whipping up something special for us, we just don't know what it is yet.
If you were too lazy, or just didn't care, to find out what "monumental" show I went to last week that was worth driving back and forth from Charlotte twice in one week, it was Dave Chappelle. Let me tell you something; if you missed it (he sold out 5 or 6 shows in Atlanta), I am glad my name is not you. That guy was as funny as he has ever been, and seeing him put me in a good mood for days.

That is all I have for you for now. Have a great holiday. Be sure to try to blow something up, because what's more American than blowing shit up? Getting drunk and blowing shit up, that's what! I made that one easy for you. Bye.

PS-- I got to try the new Terrapin RecreationAle (like "recreational") at our annual charity golf tournament. One of my new favorites. Go get some now. Thank me later.

Fore! Or five. This beer is great.