The Beer Connoisseur Club

BCClubLogoIt’s about time someone recognized the need for a club of beer aficionados.  The folks at The Beer Connoisseur® have been in the beer scene for about five years now – publishing a great magazine, keeping us up-to-date on the industry, and telling us of beer events around the country.

Their latest venture – The Beer Connoisseur® Club, is an extension of that passion for beer in that they want to, in their words, “…become the world’s most common place where people meet, share, learn, and organize around beer!”  It will be a national club, complete with membership cards and magazine subscriptions.

Membership is only $35 per year and the membership benefits, should you choose to take advantage (and you should), can save you more than the membership fee in discounts on brewery apparel, dining, homebrew equipment, event tickets, other club memberships, beer tours, and more.  There will be members-only events and brewery tours, and even a concierge service you can employ as a member when you travel to arrange for VIP treatment at some of the club’s global partners!

The Beer Connoisseur® Global Network of Partners includes Allagash Brewing Company (ME), Red Brick Brewing Co (GA), Breckenridge Brewery (CO), Asheville Brewery Tours, and many others.

So why not?

Right now the club is trying to raise the initial funds to cover “…the fulfillment of the member’s magazine issues and membership cards, and to support the club staff and start-up costs for live events around the country.”  There currently is a Kickstarter project to do just that, and you can help by backing the project.  Here’s what you can get by

Pledging $1 or more:

They’ll raise a glass to you and nod their heads as a “Thank You!”

Pledging $35 or more (Founding Member):

You’ll become a founding member and receive a one-year membership in The Beer Connoisseur Club, 12 months of FULL ACCESS to the new BeerConnoisseur.com, including Beer School!  You’ll get special recognition in the Fall 2015 edition of the magazine – your name will be printed (you can opt out of this)!

Pledging $60 or more (Founding Connoisseur):

Same as the $35 level, but doubled!  Two years of membership and magazine subscriptions, plus the founding member perks!

$100 or more (Founding Sponsor):

Five-year magazine subscription and membership!

$315 (Group Level):

Ten one-year magazine subscriptions and Website access, membership cards for everyone, and lots of street cred for giving the gift of membership to at least nine people!

Right now (June 24, 2015), there are 166 backers who have pledged a total of $10,594 toward the goal of $35,000.  So c’mon – let’s see more card-carrying card carriers!

Read more about the club and the Kickstarter project here.

TK’s Beer & Wine, Now With Growlers!

My Beer Friends,

TK’s Beer & Wine in Tifton, Georgia, has been a virtual oasis for local beer enthusiasts for almost two years now.  Troy (the owner) runs the store with a few employees and has done a fantastic job advocating for his customers and doing his best to have good craft beer available.IMG_7043

Adding to this awesomeness, I am proud to announce that Troy has expanded the store to include twenty taps from which he can fill your quart or half-gallon growler.  Yes, you read that correctly: 20 taps.  For growlersIn TiftonIt’s true.

A little about growlers: the word growler dates back to the 1800s when customers of the local tavern would buy beer to-go and take it home in a covered pail.  As they walked home with the pail they’d inevitably shake it, causing the CO2 to escape (like shaking a bottle of soda).  The lid would gurgle as the gas forced it open a bit, sometimes sounding like a growl.  Growlers today are typically 32-, 64-, or 128-ounce containers, commonly made of glass and used to package draught beer at a brewer or retailer for consumption at home.  Georgia state law has only allowed growlers for a couple of years now, and only from retail establishments.

Our local availability of take-home draught craft beer has many benefits.  For starters, TK’s is the only retailer refilling growlers within a 90-mile radius.  Second, not all small craft breweries have a packaging line (read: bottles and cans) limiting their availability only to restaurants and bars who can serve beer on tap.  Before Georgia allowed growlers, there were many craft beers you could only find on tap and you couldn’t take it home.  Now you can.

There are some seasonal and other limited-quantity beers that even the larger craft breweries don’t put in bottles or cans – they release it only in kegs.  With the ability to get a quantity of draught beer to take home, we can experience so much more of what the craft beer industry has to offer.

And since draught beer packaged this way is in larger quantities, the product moves faster – this equates to fresher beer, which is closer to what the brewer wants you to experience.  Bottles and cans can sit on the shelf for months, which is not always a good thing.  Draught beer will move faster and be replaced by other fresh beer much sooner.

IMG_7036TK’s has some breweries’ year-round offerings (e.g. Brooklyn Lager, Sam Adams Boston Lager), and limited seasonals from well-known and upcoming brewers (Dogfish Head Punkin, Founders Rubæus).  Check out TK’s Facebook page for updates on what they have available, or call them!  Prices vary based on quantity. Currently they can fill your 32-ounce and 64-ounce growlers, or you can buy one of theirs for $7.99 (plus the price of the beer).  Re-fill anytime!

Whatever you do, go check it out if you’re in the area or just passing through.  TK’s also has a decent walk-in cooler with a wide variety of craft beers available.  Go take a look!

Review: 2014 Dogfish Head Punkin’ Ale

Dogfish-Head-Punkin-Ale-labelI’m surprised that I never posted a review of Dogfish Head Punkin’ Ale over the last few years.  This year was special – a local retailer added growlers to their offerings and I got to have Punkin’ from the tap!

The half-gallon went pretty quickly, but I did take some notes.  I have said in the past that I didn’t want to do quantitative reviews, but if I don’t keep to some kind of standard I’ll never be able to keep up with what I’ve experienced.  I have decided to use the Beer Judge Certification Program‘s beer scoresheet to take my notes and give ratings.  This will also allow you to bench my scores against other ratings, though others may be on a different scale.  BJCP scores are 0 to 50.

Aroma

Sweet alcohol, cinnamon & nutmeg.  To my olfactory, this was a lot like last year.  Appropriate for this style.  (9/12)

Appearance

It pours clear in a deep amber color.  The keg it came from was perfectly carbonated.  It has a foamy yet crisp head that lingers.  (3/3)

2014-punkin-in-globe

Flavor

Hoppy up front, followed by sticky sweetness with an only slightly-floral bitterness in the alcoholic finish.  The next breath is of alcohol and spices. (16/20)

Mouthfeel

Positive.  The palate is well-compensated as it comes in to balance.  Warm in the throat.  The low carbonation makes it very smooth.  (5/5)

Overall Impression

After drinking for a few minutes, it begins to warm up (and so do I).  More spices surface and everything comes into play.  The alcoholic finish, while a bit strong at first, subsides and becomes quite enjoyable.  If I could change anything about this beer, it would be the quantity of spices present – its festivity gets a bit overwhelming in the same way that a strong scented candle does in a small room. (9/10)

Score

The tally is 42 out of 50 (Excellent).

With that said, I want to make sure no one reads this review as a desire to change what Dogfish Head does.  There’s absolutely no way I’d tell any brewery to do anything differently – from my I love Craft Beer perspective, it’s perfect.  I wouldn’t believe for a second that a batch of Punkin’ that reached consumers wasn’t what Dogfish Head wanted to serve, so I know that this beer is exactly what they wanted me to have.  Besides – Dogfish Head makes “Off-centered ales for off-centered people.”  It would only be an odd beer if it were a perfect example of a particular style.

In the end, I highly recommend Punkin’ to those adventurous enough to tackle this year’s craft Pumpkin beers – it’s worth the time.

Inaugural Lansing Microbrew & Music Festival Coming Up April 18-19

microbrewandmusic

Lansing, MI – Craft brew, music and culinary lovers will gather at Adado

Riverfront Park in downtown Lansing for the inaugural Lansing Microbrew & Music Festival scheduled for Friday and Saturday, April 18 and 19.

The festival will feature 50+ carefully selected Michigan, national and international craft breweries, 250+ craft beers, ciders, meads and wines as well as more than 100 musicians, marching bands, Homebrewer’s Challenge, food and brew pairings, rare and sour beer tours, and local food vendors.

Rockville, Maryland, band O.A.R. and reggae and hip hop musicians Dirty Heads will headline the Lansing Microbrew & Music Festival, festival producers announced today. Dirty Heads will play on Friday, April 18, and O.A.R. will perform on Saturday, April 19.

To celebrate the eleventh Microbrew and Music Festival, the popular regional event will tour to Lansing to host the event on the banks of the scenic Grand River. VIP and GA tickets include five 8oz. pours and custom tasting glass and feature 50+ carefully selected Michigan, national, and international craft breweries, rare beers including a unique festival edition, representatives and brewers from each brewery, 250+ flavors of beers, wines, ciders and meads, live musical acts, including headliners O.A.R. and Dirty Heads, marching bands, a silent disco DJ dance tent, and local food vendors. Festivities are scheduled to take place from 5-11 p.m. daily. In addition, VIP ticket buyers will gain early admittance and have access to entertaining lawn games, a heated VIP area, private restrooms, a dining area, hydration station, and custom food and beer pairings.

Microbrew & Music Festival will be working in conjunction with the Greater Lansing Food Bank and Xero Waste Events to bring you a wonderful event. 100% of proceeds from alcohol sales will benefit both of these non-profits. GLFB provides emergency food to individuals and families in need in Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Shiawassee, Clare, Isabella and Gratiot counties. Food is distributed through an extensive network of food pantries and community kitchens located throughout the region. The Food Bank annually serves tens of thousands of people, many of them seniors and children. Our recipients also include the “working poor,” those individuals who are employed but don’t earn enough to meet housing, health, transportation and food needs. Xero Waste Events, is a Michigan non-profit organization providing comprehensive recycling services and educating communities on sustainable event practices. With the help of XWE, the 2013 Traverse City Summer Microbrew & Music Festival helped raise over $20,000 for Traverse City non-profit CherryT Ball which directly supports local food banks and Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center. We are proud to partner with Xero Waste, as they also contribute an annual portion of its revenues to local charities.

Sam Porter, founder of the Microbrew & Music Festival, anticipates the festival will provide a burst of energy to the central Michigan region. “We’re excited to launch our eleventh festival as the first annual Lansing Microbrew and Music Festival. We have welcomed over 50,000 ticket buyers to ten [Traverse City] Microbrew and Music festivals over the past five years to experience the craft brew culture and great music of Michigan. Our goal is to have another sold-out festival and help drive thousands of residents and visitors into area businesses, bars and restaurants during an otherwise slower week in April,” he says. Porter adds that after-parties at downtown establishments will further connect festival attendees with the retailers.

The Microbrew & Music Festival at Adado Riverfront Park will take place under a 4,000 capacity mobile tent – the first of its kind in the US. It will house the main stage and provide cover and protection from the elements, if needed. Previous patrons have compared this spectacular structure’s appearance to the Sydney Opera House. Visit Tent Venue’s Facebook page for more information.

The Microbrew & Music Festival educates, celebrates, and inspires community collaboration through the joy of craft brew and great music while raising funds for non-profits.

Tickets and festival details are available at www.microbrewandmusic.com/lansing-tickets. Festival announcements, giveaways, and other information can be found at www.facebook.com/microbrewandmusic. Attendees are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets in advance, as the festival has sold out in past years.

Ticket buyers must be 21 years old.
More Information: http://microbrewandmusic.com/
Contact: Sam Porter, CEO: (231) 499-4968 / sam@microbrewandmusic.com
Katrina Jenkins, Brew Director: (904) 537-0336 / katrina@microbrewandmusic.com

 

Beer. From Georgia.

GAHopsIt’s a wonderful time in Georgia.  We have an explosive growth rate for beer brewers in the state and there doesn’t seem to be any slowing down.  In celebration, I’m going to do my best to go the entire month of March drinking beers exclusively from breweries in the state of Georgia.  So far I’m off to a good start, having gone to the Secret Stash Bash in Atlanta where several local breweries showed up.

The Georgia Craft Beer Fest is March 22 (the FIRST ANNUAL, by the way) and there are already 25 breweries committed to showing up.  To tell the truth, I couldn’t name 25 of them. I think that may be dangerously close to 100% participation.  Last time I looked, the Brewers Association counted 63 breweries in Georgia, and over half of them were breweries in planning.  Enough said.

However, off the top of my head here are the Georgia breweries I’m aware of:

That’s 16.  I’m ashamed of myself that I may be forgetting 9 of my own state’s breweries. Of course, there’s no brewery around my part of the state.  If there were one to start, I’d be the one to start it.  There are many decisions to make…

I, subject to allotted time, will be updating this list with Georgia Craft Breweries as I come across them.  I hope to see all of them at the Georgia Craft Beer Fest in a few weeks.

Updates:

If you know of a brewery in Georgia I haven’t mentioned here yet, please let me know!  You can find me on Twitter or just put one in the comments!

Ben on Beer Episode 13 – Indio Is a No Go

In this episode, we taste test a beer that was sent to Ben. It was Indio. Sorry to say, it didn’t meet our standards and we had to drink something else to get a good taste out of our mouths!  Please note we wrapped up this run of the Ben on Beer show with this 13th episode.  We want to thank Continue reading

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Ben on Beer Episode 10 – Cocoa Mole and Beta Blockers

In this episode, Ben seems to have shown up having sampled some already, and we talk about random things as we discover and rediscover New Belgium’s Cocoa Mole, a chili beer.  Join us as the show continues to rattle on unscripted and unstructured.  It’s more fun this way!

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Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils

I finally got a chance to try Oskar Blues’ Mama’s Little Yella Pils Pilsner this week, and it just so happens that it was worth the wait (and the $10 for the six-pack). It pours a golden yellow (closer to hazel, I guess), telling you that there’s real ingredients in there. Like REAL pale malt and a proper amount of hops and love.

I’ve talked about Pilsner before on the show (we had Victory’s Prima Pils), and this is in the same style. Let me rephrase that: this is another Pilsner, but not a whole lot like Prima Pils. It’s more its own style, very far from megabrew quality and still not extremely Americanized with hops. It’s a delicate balance between light maltiness and a crafty-handed hoppiness. It would pair well with just about anything from chips & salsa to cold air, except chocolate.  I think they put it best on the site:

Oskar Blues’ Mama’s Little Yella Pills is an uncompromising, small-batch version of the beer that made Pilsen, Czech Republic famous. Unlike mass market “pilsners” diluted with corn & rice, Mama’s is built with 100% pale malt, German specialty malts, and Saaz hops. While it’s rich with Czeched-out flavor, its gentle hopping (35 IBUs) and low ABV (just 5.3%) make it a luxurious but low-dose (by Oskar Blues standards) refresher.

There’s an air of confidence we get when trying something we’ve never had from a brewery like Oskar Blues. They typically don’t go way outside the definitions of styles we expect to taste and they do what they do so well. They use quality ingredients, give back to the environment and to the community, and provide us with a superior product we can enjoy every day.

Oskar Blues should open their second location on the East coast by the end of 2012, and soon the cans I get might say “Brewed and canned at Oskar Blues Brewery, LLC in Brevard, North Carolina.” I can’t wait.

Monday Night Drafty Kilt

Have you ever wanted to wear a kilt?  I know a certain restaurant chain where the female servers wear kilts too short, but then again those aren’t kilts and they serve a different purpose.  I also saw Samuel Jackson wearing a kilt in a movie but that’s probably irrelevant.  Anyway, I stopped in to Moondog Growlers in Dunwoody, Georgia during my conference over the weekend and had a few tastes of what they had on tap.  Scott was super-nice and made us welcome to stay and enjoy ourselves.

Moondog Growlers Sign

Or until 9:00, at which time he promised to kick us out.  This was completely understandable – it was Saturday night and this was a store, not a bar.  It is a great place and I recommend it to any- and everyone.  The Dunwoody store has 40 taps and is decorated in an excellent fashion.  Never have I seen such fantastic woodwork in an independent retail location.

I tasted some IPAs I’d never had a chance to before, such as Jailhouse Brewing’s Mugshot IPA, Red Brick Brewing’s HopLanta, and Hop Head Red by Green Flash Brewing.  I also had Victory Lager since I had the chance to grab a quick half-pint.  And it was excellent as expected.

Back to the kilt – I wanted to take home something in a growler that I wouldn’t be able to find down south where I live, and I knew a beer from Monday Night would certainly be impossible to find outside of the Atlanta Metro area.  At the time, Moondog Growlers had two of their beers on tap: Fu Manbrew Belgian-Style Witbier and Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale.

I have previously been unaware of exactly what style the Scottish Ale is, but after pouring this one and putting my nose down the glass, I found it: Scotch.

Very alcoholic on the nose, with hints of red wood and a cider-like tingle.  It has a very strong flavor profile that presents itself on the middle of the tongue, with a warm alcoholic finish and little aftertaste.  Scott told me this was a daily drinker, and I believed him.  Not for me, though.  My daily drinker must be a session beer so I can enjoy a few over a few hours; this one kicks my ass at 7.2% ABV.  Still a wonderful reception, to be had again or given as a special gift to someone who enjoys heavy, tasty, malty beers.  I have a few friends, and this might just blow their kilts up.

Style: Scottish Ale/Wee Heavy
Pairs with: Itself and strongly-flavored dishes; chocolate, some cheeses, I expect.
ABV: 7.2%
Availability: Year-round

Find out more at mondaynightbrewing.com

More about Moondog Growlers at moondoggrowlers.com