Posts Tagged ‘ terrapin ’

Savannah Craft Brew Fest – Part 2 of 3 – The Grand Tasting

Savannah Craft Brew FestBack to Savannah we go!

It’s difficult to recap an entire weekend long festival and do it justice in one single post. Hopefully you had a chance to read Part 1, but if you have not, I suggest you link back to the post here before continuing forward!

Upon waking up on Saturday morning, I realized and finally understood how hot Georgia could get. It was the beginning of September at 9AM in the morning and the temperature already reached 90 degrees. And it was crazy humid!

But absolutely nothing was going to stop us from today’s activity: the Craft Brew Grand Tasting!

Savannah River FerryBecause all of the weekend’s events occurred on the Hutchinson Island, we jumped on the free ferry to take us on a quick 20 minute boat ride across the Savannah River. The short ride over gave us the opportunity to scope out the river front as well as the grounds for the Craft Beer Fest from the middle of the water.

What a great opportunity for a few pictures! The views were truly spectacular. In addition to the aforementioned sights, we also had breathtaking views of the Talmadge Memorial Bridge and another chance to snap a few pictures of enormous cargo ships which are a regular sight on the river.

Festival Grounds on Hutchinson IslandWhen we arrived on Hutchinson Island, we walked around the grounds to orient ourselves with the layout of the festival. A pretty straight forward format allowed us to easily get acclimated prior to our first event at 11AM: a discussion with John Pinkerton, one of the owners and brewers at Moon River Brewery (see Part 1 of our experience at the brewery).

John Pinkerton Guest SpeakerThe hour long discussion with Pinkerton touched on various topics including Moon River History, Georgia beer politics, and how to taste new beer. Furthermore, John spent a substantial amount of time on questions from home brewers discussing beer gravity, yeast selection, and the importance of line sterilization. Being new to the concepts of brewing, it was an entertaining and very informative session.

After listening to John speak, it was time for the main event, the Grand Tasting!

As I mentioned before, the outside festival had a standard beer festival layout with a number of tents each housing six breweries of the total 48 present (click here for a list of participating brewers).

Sampling Glasses Ready for Pick-upThe random order (or what seemed to be random) of the breweries helped patrons “explore” and find new breweries they might have not tried before. For those with a previous knowledge of which beers they wanted to sample, a beautiful color printed guide showed the location of each brewery in relation to the festival grounds.

The Grand Tasting in Full SwingThe vibe at the Grand Tasting was extremely relaxed as people shuffled between breweries trying new products. A large number of breweries that I’ve had the opportunity to try before made the Fest seem more homely and local. Our friends from Weyerbacher represented the northeast very well with a sampling of Double Simcoe, Merry Monks and Blithering Idiot.

Being that it is one of my favorite breweries, I spent extra time at the Terrapin tent trying out their highly hop infused products like Big Hoppy Monster and Hopsecutioner. I even scored a sweet Terrapin t-shirt showcasing the Terrapin Hopsecutioner turtle on the back and words “Killer IPA” on the front!

We tried a substantial amount of new beers, and as with most craft beer festivals, I decided on a few that stood out to me:

  • Thomas Creek: Conduplico Immundus Monachus – A Belgian Strong Dark Ale weighing in at 10% ABV with dark fruit and roasty characteristics (I went back for a few samples of this one!)
  • Uinta: Cockeyed Cooper – Keeping in with the strong and heavy, this 11.1% Barleywine had amazing bourbon hints and was very creamy!
  • Cigar City: Cubano Espresso (Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale) – A downgrade in terms of strength, this was an extremely fun and tantalizing brown ale clocking in at 5.5% ABV. A ton of coffee flavor mixed with a light feel made this one susceptible to quickly running out!

In addition to plenty of beer to sample during the five hour long Grand Tasting, there were a number of “Beer Talks” including “The History of Women in Brewing”, a discussion with Jodi and Eddie Stoudt of Stoudt’s Brewing Company and your favorite Twitter bug, Gerad Walen (@RoadTrips4Beer), chatting about “Road Trips for Beer Made Easier”.

Anchor Brewing TentThere was plenty of delicious beer festival food like soft pretzels, french fries and chicken sandwiches. At one point, Amy from @SavCraftBrew started a tweet contest asking the first person with a pretzel necklace to tweet a picture to win some sweet swag.

Unfortunately, we did not bring a pretzel necklace – but that wasn’t going to stop us. Being the innovative and creative people that we are, we improvised. Our winning entry consisted of a long soft pretzel bought at the vendor stand attached to plastic beads we found at the Abita tent! Creativity = A+!

Grand Tasting EventOverall, the Grand Tasting was a fantastic American Craft Beer festival that showcased 48 different breweries from different parts of the country. Being that the northeast has limited distribution of southern breweries, I was extremely happy to sample the likes of RJ Rockers, Duck Rabbit and the three “winners” I noted above.

Fearing a backlash of ferry demand towards the end of the festival, we hightailed away from the plethora of beer about an hour early to find ourselves on a practically empty ferry heading back to our hotel. What a fun filled and successful craft beer day!

Come back tomorrow for Part 3: the International Craft Brew Tasting or keep scrolling or click for Part 1 if you haven’t read it!

Recent Pick-Ups from Roge and Blue Point Breweries

Rogue Brown Nectar and RastafaRye Ale

Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar and RastafaRye Ale - Recent Additions!

Another trip to the store, another two new bombers picked up!

This week I had the opportunity to grab two beers that I’ve been seeing on store shelves for some time.

The Hazelnut Brown Nectar comes from Rogue (@RogueAles) in Ashland, Oregon and the RastafaRye Ale from Blue Point Brewing Company (@BluePointBrewer) in Long Island, NY.

The two selections fall in line with some of my recent craft selections and sampling preferences. As you probably gauged from my previous blog posts, I’ve been on a crazy stout kick enjoying products like North Coast’s Old Rassputin (check out this blog post).

To expand my palette more, I’ve decided to move a bit more left of the beer spectrum and try out a few brown ales. While in Savannah, GA a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to try the Brown Ale by Red Brick Brewing Company (@RedBrickBrewing) in Atlanta, GA. The beer surprised me as I’ve never been a huge fan of brown ales.

Usually, I find brown ales malty and difficult to stomach – but Red Brick was different. Though boasting big malt flavor, the spices and sweetness balanced this craft beer out making it very easy to drink.

In addition to partaking in brown ale sampling, I love to sample beer with “different” and distinctive flavors. Although not always unique to the brewing process, for me hazelnut fits into that category.

Being a huge pistachio enthusiast – I’m still waiting for a solid pistachio stout (hoping that Peter from @SimplyBeer sees this post!) – until then Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar will have to do. Hoping it’s a great selection!

Despite my kick for dark and heavy beers, I did want to move even further away from my Rogue selection. Rye Ales and Rye IPAs, pale ales and IPAs brewed with a partial substitution of barely with rye, were introduced to me when I first had the Rye Squared Imperial Pale Ale by Terrapin Beer Company (@TerrapinBeerCo) from Anthens, GA (a fantastically fruity and hoppy pale ale with a taste of “something” else, hint: rye).

The RastafaRye Ale is 7.5% deep-copper rye ale that, according to the Blue Point website, contains just the right amount of rye to offset the floral and bitter characteristics of the hops. Also noted on the website is:

The Blue Point Brewing Company donates a portion of all RastafaRye Ale sales to They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO) a Taj Weekes charity foundation that helps orphaned and underprivileged children in the Caribbean and around the world: www.theyoftencryoutreach.org.

I’m not sure why, perhaps it was his overwhelming passion for rye ales in the past month, but I seem to frequently attribute the style to a fellow New Jersey Craft Beer reporter, Os (@NJBeerNerd). Typically, I pick up a Rye Ale and think “Would Os like this?”.

Again, I’m not sure why I seem to think of him – but I’m going to save this one to share with Os. Hoping he likes it.

So there you have it! Two different sides of the spectrum and both craft beers look very promising. Looking forward to sampling these recent pickups!

How different was your most recent craft beer pickup?

New Friends, New Beer, New Experiences – My First Bottle Share

BottlelineOne of the many benefits of my day job (which I cannot be more thankful for) is the ability to travel to many different places throughout the US.

Because I’m typically located in the same distant place for a number of weeks, I am lucky to have enough time to explore various local craft breweries and offerings.

During a recent trip to upstate New York, I stumbled upon two breweries at a local beer store whose beer simply interested me – so naturally I bought a few bombers.

Hop Warrior and Dragonslayer

The Selection: Hop Warrior and Dragonslayer!

Hop Warrior (Imperial IPA, 8%) from Rooster Fish Brewing (website) in Watkins Glen, NY and Dragonslayer (Imperial Stout, 9.5%) from Middle Ages Brewing Company (@MiddleAgesBeer) in Syracuse, NY quickly found their way into my collection.

Score! Couldn’t wait to try these beers out.

Fast forward a few days and I find myself being invited to my first ever Bottle Share. For those unfamiliar with the term bottle share – it’s essentially a gathering of craft heads with the intent of sampling a number of different beers.

Each invited guests brings 2 to 3 different bottles for eager beer fanatics to try. Figuring that not a lot of people would have been exposed to small breweries from upstate New York, I graciously accepted the invite and lugged my two new bombers to the event.

I was the newcomer and was familiar with only two other people – that didn’t matter. Everyone was incredibly nice, polite and welcoming. The guests introduced themselves, asked questions and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say.

As we went through bottle after bottle of delicious craft beer from all over the country, I found myself relating the event to a craft beer festival except with beer not easily found at brewery tents.

The home run brew for me that night was the Reunion Ale ’08 brewed by Bison Brewing Company (@BisonBrew) from Berkeley, California. The Reunion Ale is brewed yearly as a memory to Virginia MacLean who passed away from Multiple Myeloma in 2007. Read more about Virginia’s story here.

Annually, different breweries participate in brewing the ale and there are frequent collaborations (check out this years Shmaltz and Terrapin Reunion Ale ’11 here).

The 2008 version was an organic red rye ale brewed with caraway seeds. Three years of aging did this little gem a huge favor by truly bring out the flavor. Fantastic brew.

Bottle Selections

Various Selections from My First Bottle Share

Other notable craft beers included products from Mikkeller (@MikkellerBeer), Schlafly (@Schlafly), Bell’s (@BellsBrewery), Founders (@FoundersBrewing) and the Sierra Nevada / Dogfish collaboration Life & Limb 2.

When it was my time to share, I found myself a bit apprehensive. I think I now know what home brewers go through when their beer is being judged at competitions – and I didn’t even brew the beer I brought!

I poured samples of Hop Warrior to the guests and eagerly awaited their response. Because no one had tried the beer before (including me), I was very curious about what they thought.

It was a success! Although not an extraordinary brew, the overall response was positive and I was happy to introduce the brewery to the event’s guests.

Unfortunately, not the same could be said about Dragonslayer. The craft beer had a rather unique taste akin to candy and plastic. Everyone was polite and thanked me, but I didn’t see too many folks grab the bottle for another sample. Lesson learned! You win some, you loose some.

Towards the end of the night, I even had the opportunity to try the elusive and hard to acquire Samuel Adam’s Utopias, a 27% American Strong Ale. Although I am extremely appreciative of the complexity of brewing such a beer and the guests willing to share it, I found it a bit overbearing. This is certainly a beer enjoyed very seldom in small sipping quantities.

Overall, my first bottle was a complete success and made me eager for more I’m already thinking about hosting my own bottle share with old and new friends alike.

What was the experience like at your last bottle share?

It’s still summer in Belmar, right? Beer on the Pier Event!

I know that it’s September already and although summer officially ends the day after this post is published, wouldn’t it be nice to come back for a fun filled Saturday in Belmar, NJ?

Well, here is your chance!

In the past month, I’ve gotten involved with a great group of guys and gals at newjerseycraftbeer.com. This group of devoted craft heads aims to spread the knowledge about the craft beer community throughout the state of New Jersey.

Beer on the Pier

Beer on the Pier - Belmar Marina, Sept 24th!

Our devoted leader, Mike K (@NJCraftBeer), recently requested the support of NJCB reporters to help talk and pour beer at the second annual Beer on the Pier event in Belmar – and, like with most craft beer related things, it was very difficult to say no.

I will be engaging on a long journey from Jersey City to the Belmar Marina to participate in the event as a proud representative of NJCB. I am very excited for the opportunity as it will be the first time that I will be volunteering at a craft beer related event.

Click here to read more about the event including the VERY long list of breweries that will be present including the likes of Weyerbacher (Easton, PA), Sixpoint (Brooklyn, NY), Oskar Blues (Boulder, CO) and Terrapin (Athens, GA).

Listed on the ballot are also a couple of local NJ breweries including River Horse (Lambertville) and Cricket Hill (Fairfield).

Don’t you think this is a great way to spend a Saturday? Hope to see you there!

Do you plan on making it out to the Beer on the Pier event?