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!

Props to Boston Beer Company

I checked in on Untappd a few weeks ago to Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale.  I was disappointed in the taste and spoke of it being “…Sour. Astringent. Warm. Disappointing.”  It also went flat pretty quickly, so I tried to update my Untappd check-in with this information.  Seeing that I couldn’t, I took to Twitter and posted an update on my experience.  Sam Adams replied, leading me to a consumer complaint page (stay with me – I have a point).

I filled out the complaint page with my opinion of the beer (it seemed like they were in a hurry to get it to the market) and replied to Sam Adams that I had logged the incident.  “No worries,” I thought.  I was just letting them know, you know?

I got an e-mail the following day from some outsourced customer service company saying

I see from the details that you provided that we do not need any addition information to proceed with our tracking and investigation of your issue. I appreciate the cooperation and effort to provide the facts that we need and I have moved forward with a refund for the Samuel Adams HarvestPumpkin Ale that you purchased.

We are a small company, so please allow 2-3 weeks for a refund check to arrive…

I was taken aback at what I’d read – the company was going to simply reimburse me for a beer.  One beer from a 12-pack seasonal collection.  Also, they were not answering my question; I wrote back:

I understand that things like this happen.  I wasn’t expecting a refund though. I’d like to know what the brewmasters think about what I said, and whether they agree that the beer wasn’t supposed to taste that way. Is this a quality control issue or was the beer intended to be just what it was?

 

As a true believer in American Craft Beer and a connoisseur, I just want to know what happened. Refunding my money isn’t, in my opinion, a solution.
Thanks,
Ben Rehberg
Ben on Beer
I got absolutely no reply.  Today I received a check in the mail with a letter from Jim Koch:
It’s not every day you get a letter personally signed by the founder of this country’s largest craft brewery.  The check (for $10) also had an original signature.  The letter explains how there are sometimes mishandling incidents that occur and other variables outside of their control that can spoil the taste of the beer.  I understand that, and now it makes sense that the Hazel Brown Ale (from the same 12-pack) didn’t taste right either.  perhaps if I find another sampler at a different retailer I’ll give it another go.
In the mean time, I’d like to mention that this kind of personal contact would not occur with any larger beer company.  Try complaining to Anheuser-Busch about something – I guarantee you won’t get a check and a letter from the CEO.
This is what I love about craft beer – it’s made by people.  People you can actually get to know.  I have become less and less a fan of Samuel Adams over the years because of their far reach and obvious propensity to flood the market, but this experience has reeled me back in to liking the company a whole lot more.  Cheers to Jim Koch and the Boston Beer Company.

Beer Wars

I know I’m late to the game, but I just recently had the opportunity to watch Beer Wars, a documentary on how craft brewing is having such a hard time against the big three. One thing I learned watching the film was that I should do a blind taste test myself to determine the difference among Coors, Budweiser, and Miller. The folks in the documentary were 100% confused about what they were drinking, and I figure I need to have that little experience on my belt to explain to the public how shitty the corn/rice beer is.

Craft brewers produce something that is admittedly for a select market, but that doesn’t mean everyone else should go and piss off. We’re connoisseurs, not snobs. However, it’s becoming more and more difficult to find a variety of beers where I live. When I go to a package store, I find it annoying that I don’t see much that I haven’t already had. My location severely limits my selection of craft beer and that bothers me most of the time.

The fact that mainstream media has a stronghold in the Southeast doesn’t help my case at all. Quite a few people believe what they hear other people say in front of them in the checkout line at Wal-Mart, and the major cable news stations are gospel. So when it comes to deciding on beer, that 64-calorie bullshit seems cool on the commercial…

If anyone had the chance and the desire to learn about the history of beer, they would certainly and quickly find out that until the 1800’s in the United States, beer wasn’t so light on color and taste. It was dark at times, murky, nutritious, and necessary for survival. The push to sell more and beat the competition led to the unfortunate majority of beer we have on the market today.

Still, the United States has the most diverse beer market in the world. With a reported 1,938 craft breweries in this country operating in 2011 (including brewpubs), we have a nearly endless selection across this land. I share my favorites with my readers all the time, and I get new favorites every month. I just discovered the Clown Shoes series of beers by Mercury Brewing Company, and the Muffin Top – a “Belgian Style Tripel India Pale Ale” – is exactly what it says. To me, anyway.

Back to my point, which is really just a call-t0-action: Learn about beer. The history, how it’s made, and the immeasurable variety of it that we have to choose from. Vote with your dollar. Craft beer is good for the economy, and I’m not going to elaborate on that point. To know your beer is to enjoy it. If you have any questions or need some pointers on where to begin your craft beer journey, just ask me.

Oh, and one last thing (I’m going to make this a point at the end of every podcast): enjoy your craft beer responsibly.

Cheers!

New Belgium possibly coming to Asheville NC

New Belgium Brewing Company has announced that they are looking for a location to place a second brewing facility on the East Coast. Rumor has it (so far) that the choices are now between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Asheville, North Carolina. At this time of writing I believe I have read another rumor that a site deemed a great possibility for a brewery is under contract in Asheville, but mum’s the word.

I’ve never been to Asheville, North Carolina or to Philadelphia. I have, however been to Fort Collins, Colorado, the birthplace of New Belgium Brewing. I’ve researched Asheville in the past as a potential place to live and I liked what I saw during my review. A small town in the mountainous region of North Carolina is much more like Fort Collins than Philadelphia is. Asheville has about 83,000 people and at least seven breweries show up on a Google Maps search. That tells me that in addition to being a college town, beer has a great presence and probably drives a lot of the culture there.

I like the state of North Carolina and their support for beer culture. Their laws seem to make it pretty easy to found a brewery and begin distributing. There are more breweries in Asheville than there are in the state of Georgia. My state could learn a thing or two from North Carolina. Anyway, New Belgium and I have a good history together since I discovered Fat Tire in Colorado. The relationship was even further solidified when, after I moved to Georgia, they began distributing here just a few years ago. That being said, any facility they build on the east side of the country should be as close to me as possible. Asheville is so much closer than Philly is – I may could even help build it for a day if they have some sort of community effort!

So there it is: no good reason for New Belgium to choose Asheville other than my own selfishness. Philadelphia just doesn’t fit for the company culture. I’d like to make it a point to visit the new place either way; it will just be easier to visit more often than if it were in Pennsylvania. Congrats to New Belgium, though – it’s exciting to think my favorite brewery is enjoying this much success!

I’ll be sure to update this post as I hear things, whether they’re confirmed or not. I’m on my way to NC next month and quite possibly could make it to the Asheville area. Until I hear something, though…

Cheers!

 

Update: New Belgium made an official announcement on April 5, 2012 regarding the new East coast facility, and it will be in Asheville! It’s seven hours from my house in Georgia and will be an awesome road trip in the coming years. Ground breaking is expected to be sometime in early 2013, with production beginning in 2015. This says a lot for Asheville’s economy and beer culture, and I would only be more excited about it if they were coming to my hometown. I’m glad New Belgium took my advice – I heard that Philly brushed them off.