Saturday, April 30, 2011

On the Road - Asheville, NC

A few home brews and ciders to share with friends ready to travel

Hello All,
This weekend to celebrate the marriage of two close friends, I find myself in the very pretty, very touristy, and very beer friendly town of Asheville, NC. So many breweries are here, or very close to here, that I cannot even attempt to get a fraction of the local flavor, but ill do my best to get as much a feel as possible.

At the first function of the wedding festivities, at the reception dinner, the hosts provided a number of wines, soft drinks, and a wonderfully refreshing, organic Pisgah Endless Summer Ale. The beer started out stronger than it ended. From what i can recall, given the number of drinks I had over the night, This ale was light and crisp, minimal hoppyness with a slight fruitiness, and reminded me of a farm style ale whose name escapes me, that I overindulged in at a house warming a couple years ago, for the same couple being honored at this party. The first three where tasty, the 4th and 5th were okay, and by the sixth i needed something not so sweet and acidic (FYI, these were 6oz pours at best, so its not as if I was on a bender).

When the initial party wound down, though, we (being the groom to be and 7 others) hit a small brewpub called Jack of the Wood, or Greenman, depending on who you ask. Located a fair walk from the main strip where we started the evening, its a bit hidden, but quite a treasure, if you like dank, dark holes to sip suds (and I do). I had an ESB that was just okay, being very malt forward, with a light maple taste, and slight bitter backend. However the Cask Aged Pale Ale, that my friend Scott had, was amazing.

One thing that Ashville has over Atlanta, is the option to walk out of bars with growlers, 64oz monsters of beer, for post pub enjoyment. While my wife picked up Greenman's IPA at a supermarket for me, I will have to see if I can find my way back to this brewery to give that pale ale a home in the Dirty Dirty.

 I wish I had more to tell you from the night, but after a quick pint, the night devolved into stock bachelor party depravity of cheap beer, shots, and tits.

Looking to the future, I am already planning a birthday weekend of beer drinking and pub crawling in this upstate hamlet, where things are on the slow end, and really my speed.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Trader Joe’s Mission St Brown Ale

Happy Easter all. It’s nice and warm here in the ATL, My wife and I are cooking our semi traditional Easter carnitas (Spanish for “little meats,” pork shoulder is slow cooked with a little water, salt and OJ, until it is melt in the mouth soft, and very savory) are cooking away for tacos later this evening, and I am in the mood to open the second bomber of the Trader Joe’s Mission St beer, this one a brown ale.

The head is somewhat thin in body, but pours out about two fingers before quickly dying down to a nickel’s thickness. The beer itself is a nice rich brown that is somewhat opaque unless held up to a direct source of light. The lacing exhibited by the beer is decent, being healthy on the sides of the pint glass, but not so much lacing that it would be considered sexy to this beerophile.

The nose smells what I would call a very “beer” smell, being very malt forward with slight suggestion of coffee or chocolate.

The flavor is on the medium side, and very nutty on the back end, with slight coffee like bitterness on the back end of the drink.  The mouth feel is nice, wet and refreshing, that it serves well as a mid afternoon adult beverage, but I feel there is just the right amount of flavor that it would work well accompanying any number of meals.  

A very enjoyable beer for a sunny spring Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Trader Joe’s Mission St. Hefeweizen

Being a home brewer, while always looking for new beer, sometimes I’m also driven what to try by my needs for bottles. Always on the lookout for inexpensive 22 oz bombers, and finding a couple offerings of Trader Joe’s beers for 2 bucks a pop, I picked up the Mission St Brown Ale, and  Hefeweizen.

For no particular reason, I reach for the hefe.

Only a slight head is apparent after a semi-vigorous pour, and what is gained, quickly dissipates to just a slim ring around the edge of my glass. The hue is a warm tangerine, with a cloudy, style appropriate body with minimal visible signs of carbonation.

The nose has a slight orange/generic citrus front, with a malty finish.

Expecting more of a heavy, banana and clove forward experience, I am rewarded with a much more mild flavor, with a nice bitter backend, rounding the initial sip.  The flavor is all hefe, without being overly sweet and overbearingly malty.

The mouth feel is thick and coats my mouth. The mild flavors, combined with a bit of bite and carbonation tingles over my palate, creating an odd, but pleasurable experience.


SweetWater Road Trip

As I see my wife off to prom, to watch over her flock as their shepherd,  I go through the motions of domestic solitude. I eat and prepare a frozen dinner, throw on some hockey and my pajamas, and decide to attack the Sweetwater “Tackle Box,” a sampler of 4 beers, a seasonal, their pale ale, wheat, and IPA offerings, to round out a wonderfully unproductive Saturday.  

I decide to go with the least familiar of the brews from the Atlanta, GA brewery; the “bikini seasonal” Road Trip.

The beverage pours with a fair amount of carbonation, but the white head is a little less than a finger in height. 

The ale itself is very clear, and streams of CO2 bubble vigorously.   

The nose is light, exhibiting a bready signature.

Mouth feel is thin, acidic and dry. A very slight lemon flavor comes through, but is quickly overshadowed by a strong bitterness on the back end, without any other prominent flavors coming through.  This bitterness is odd, for it does not have the same bitterness that say an IPA would exhibit.  Coupled with a lack of any sweetness or any other flavors to round out the acrimony, this beer is a distasteful beverage.

Overall this beer is not a pleasant drinking experience, and is not recommended. Let’s all hope this Road Trip is impeded by a dead end, making this the final season of this seasonal offering.  

Red Brick Brewing Co Tasting/Tour

Of the many things that have influenced my love of Georgia, and Atlanta in particular, is the very strong beer culture which supports 4 or five micro breweries, and a number of restaurants and taverns that serve their own brews.  While I personally think Terrapin, based in Athens, is the state’s best brewery, In Atlanta in particular, Red Brick Brewing Co (formerly the Atlanta Brewing Company) easily out brews the vastly more popular Sweetwater brewing company.  

Multiple times a week Red Brick will offer a “brewery tour” where 8 bucks gets you a pint glass, and 4 tokens for some draft beer (although one can easily finagle an extra serving of tipple or two easily). Usually the wife and I will try to visit the brewery once or twice in the spring and summer and get a bit buzzed.  The only real drawback is the number of frat boys that also attend, usually from GA Tech, that also come for the cheap beer and available cornhole action.
I won’t go into any detailed reviews of their beers on this post, but here are a few impressions of the brews I enjoyed this tour:

Dog Days Ale, their new summer wheat, is wonderful for the style, with only a slight banana tone. Not being the biggest fan of that banana flavor, this was mild enough that it was pleasurable. My opinion aside though, it got high reviews by my wife.

Laughing Skull Ale, and Brown Ales are good, malt forward, brews.

Their Pale ale is clean, refreshing, and slightly bitter on the backend as the style would suggest.

And the Porter, my personal favorite of the night, was full of chocolate and espresso notes, and boasted a healthy 7% ABV.

I think next month I will concentrate on doing formal reviews of their beers, but in the meantime here are some pics from the night.  For more information on their brewery, and tours, you can find them on the web at


Starting with a Dog Days Ale.

wonderful tasty, dark, porter..

...parting is such sweet sorrow, but look at the pretty lacing.

the cycle of life for beer...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Gordon Beirsch’s Maibock

Well, it’s Friday, about Beer – Thirty, and time to pop a top or two.
Had to do some shopping for dinner tonight, and decided to pick up a six of something, where I found Gordon Beirsch’s Maibock.  Only recently seeing this breweries offerings, I am assuming its new to the south east, and decided to give it a go. The 7.3 ABV also helps find its way into my basket.

The nose is light and malty, while the head is a wonderfuly heafty, and exhibits a light tan hue. This bed of head sits atop a clear, amber brew, that is rife with co2 bubbles trekking to the beverages surface.

As pretty a beer to look at though, the flavor leaves much to be desired. Bursting at the seams with notes of caramel and honey, the beverage is cloyingly sweet. It seems more akin to a topping for waffles and pancakes as opposed to a beer.

The mouth feel reinforces this opinion, as it is thick, and sticky, clinging to the mouth, leaving me thirsting for something to cleanse the palate and not another beer.

While the overall quality of the beer seems high, the recipe is just too much in the opposite direction of what I look for in a beer to garnish much interest  for this beverage in the future.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Belgium Brewery’s Mighty Arrow

This weekend my wife and I went to a pot luck hosted by some friends, and while my wife provided a wonderful succotash, and I provided a 12 pack of New Belgium Brewery’s Mighty Arrow.

 Once poured, this pale ale is very clear, and exhibits an orange straw hue. The head is a stark white, and fluffy like a cumulus cloud, floating about a finger’s height above the beverage (although on a more aggressive pour ended up about 4 fingers).   The heads retention is wonderful, and holds up well, so much so that the last sip is, in fact, all head.

The nose is bready, with a nice hop back end.

The flavor is crisp, slightly sweet, and on the back end a great hop flavor without a strong hop bitterness on the initial sip.  This bitterness subsides quickly to become a very well rounded beer, with a malt front end becoming hoppy on the backend.

While it is a very easy session beer with enough bitterness to keep interesting, the mouth feel is a little on the watery side, and makes what is otherwise a very good beer a little less special. A must try, but not a must try again, kind of beer in my opinion.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

If I can brew, so can you.

Just a few pics from my first brewing experience. If you like beer, you should give it a go.

Terrapin’s Golden Ale

Well, thanks to a newly negotiated 4 day work week with Fridays off, and a system issue, I find myself off for the weekend at noon on Thursday and ready to have a beer. My choice is limited to what is already cold, Terrapin’s Golden Ale.

Upon the initial pour, the head is minimal (about half a finger), bright white, and quickly dissipates. . The beer itself has a nice orange, straw color.  Active carbonation makes the beer seem somewhat alive.

The nose is very much like a sweet orange. Not much bitterness to be detected.

The flavor is light on the palate exhibiting a sweet, malty, slight orange flavor, with little more bitterness than most macro lagers, but still very mild. Overall Golden Ale is very drinkable step or two above conventional mass produced lagers that offer a light, refreshing and somewhat crisper flavor in comparison to brown and black ales.

 A great choice for summer and spring day drinking to escape the heat.
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