Monday, December 29, 2008

Live Blogging: We're Fogged In

I say, uh, I say... I'm finally tasting and reviewing the Old Foghorn by Anchor. Sitting here with the wife and the baby playing on the floor. We had been holding off on buying this one until the winter time. It's about 45 deg F outside, and so why not Barley Vino it up.

Beer Log: Right damn now

State: Just eaten my IPA Spaghetti and had an IPA, watching Real Housewives of Atlanta with the Misses

I'm telling you, you have got to watch some of the shows your wife watches. Just like with children, you want to know what messages she's getting from her entertainment. So I have logged a few hours over the years watching Top Model and Housewives of Atlanta. If nothing else, Housewives of ATL all sports at least a D cup, and because they are milfs/cougars, they all show it proudly. The wife's also a fan of those morbid weekly crime thriller shows, like Cold Case, Dexter, CSI, and Bones. Someone's always getting offed in those things. I prefer my violence to be a little more fantastical, not the sh*t I just read in the newspaper the week before. Anyway, I've think I've let this Vino warm up enough.

Pouring this in my Hennessy Snifter. And I don't even drink Henn that much.

hardly any head, harsh malt nose almost mediciny. Good cloudy dark orangeish brown color. Not as harsh on the malt flavor as the nose would suggest. It has smooth velvety mouthfeel with a little tingle from the carbonation. The hops are present but not biting. There is something missing again, like the their 2008 Christmas beer. But instead of the flavor not coming together, there beer disappears about 5/6ths of the way back on the tongue. High 3 Star on the normal beers but there are other barleywines I'd rather try. Once I get this beer cooler temperature control set up, I'm going to have to age a few of these.

Live Blogging: St. Arnold's Winter Stout

Beer Log: Right now

State: Getting ready to read up for the PE Exam, a little thirsty.

St. Arnold's Winter Stout

Deep brown color with a strong 2 finger tan head. Nose is chocolate and maybe some sugar sweetness just barely in there. Nice full body malt hitting the tongue, very smooth with low carbonation. Almost imperial-like with it's malty sweetness, but not quite. An excellent stout with a chocolate and toffee flavor hiding amongst the hard maltiness. The hops are pretty much non-existent, but that's fine. 4 Stars. Probably the highest I've given a non-Divine Reserve St. Arnold's beer. As it warms I can get more of the chocolate, and the aftertaste is more chocolatey as well. Well Done by SA.


Still fired up with the UFC 92 card. All the guys I wanted to win won. On to the beer.

Beer Log: Yesterday
State: Eating spicy Asian shrimp

Old Jubilation
Bout time I had something from Avery in the house. This has a mahogany color with a creamy offwhite head. It smells like plum, brown sugar, raisins, some caramel and a touch of alcohol. Sinuses have been clearing up. It just tastes just awesome. Good malt and cinnamon on the palette. Low hops and medium body with a low carbonation. I can taste a touch of alcohol and maybe some metal in there, but whatever. 4 Stars.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Back at Home: Christmas Beer Me

Man it feels good to be back at the house. The baby has learned all kinds of new tricks, so cute. After some hanging out with friends, I'm able to try to try the new beers.

Beer log: Right now
State: Chillin with the wife, watching Real Housewives of Atlanta

Abita Christmas

Velvet brown color, white a slight tan head. Smells like a great cinnamon brown sugar cookie. Fantastic. Taste, not so much. On its own, it has a light breadiness and not much on the maltiness.Some cinnamon in there and a smattering of bitterness about. With the turkey, it is much better, some malt and stronger cinnamon cookie presence. Low 3 Star though, unless you are eating it with a saltier food.

Redhook Winterhook

Ruby brown color, with a rather strong offwhite head. Balanced nose with a caramel malt and piney hop scent. This head ain't going nowhere. Decent hops and late bread on the flavor. A little watery maybe 3/4 of the way back on the palette, and the AT has medium hop citrus bite. Low 3 Star.

Not a bad start, but I've got some Avery and a few others. We're going to try and squeeze in a trip to Gingerman to run through the Anchors Christmas beers going back to 2005. Stay Tuned.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

End of the Year Beer Awards

Who's Going home with the BROTHA AWARD!

No not me exactly, but the beer awards for the end of the year. It is almost exactly one year since I did my first written beer review and consequent first blog post of DuClaw's at Arundel Mills Mall in Maryland. I've learned a great deal about beer styles, the intricacies, what's new, what's hot, and what's just f'n crazy (hello Magic Hat). Thanks for all of you who have followed me around on this blog. Lord knows I have not posted regularly like a lot of other bloggers, but it's like that sometimes. I find this to be very enjoyable and will keep doing it until blogging gets out of vogue and we just read the information directly out of peoples' minds.

Some time in early January I'm going to give out a few "Best of" awards. Well, I ain't sending a damn thing to anybody, maybe an email. But I will have it written on here. The "Best of" categories will probably be a little bit different than what you're used to. Rather than just running down best style and best brewpub, I'm going to throw in a few of my own. Examples will include (in no particular order):

Best Brewpub - Obvious
Best Beer - Obvious
Best Brewery - Obvious

Best Wow Beer - Beer that on the first sip you will say "wow" to yourself
Best Beer to have with a Cigar - smoke sum'tin
Best Adjunct Ingredient - what violations of the Purity Law were the best this year
Best Tailgating Beer - damn Texans, nobody tailgated this year
Best Swill Beer - Who has the best of Miller/Bud/etc
Best Beer with Spicy food
Best Texas/Louisiana Brewpubs, Beers, Beer Bars and Brewery
Best Beer to give a woman - what would the sistahs like
Best Gateway Beer - Beer that gets you into craft beer
Best Mexican Beer - Obvious
Best Workhorse Beer - Best of beers that are usually all over the place
Best Style New to me - What style did I not know about last year that was the best
Most Jacked up Beer Name - I'll have the poontang pale...
Most harsh beer - makes you tear up

And the Brewpubs

Brewpub with best Selections
Brewpub in the Most Picturesque Setting - Oh yeah
Best Food from a Brewpub - I'll take the thai style lamb
Most memorable experience at a Brewpub

Beer Bars (gotta love 'em)
Best Beer Bar
Best Beer Bar Food
Most Knowledgeable Staff
Best Beer selection
Best Membership club

If you can think of anymore, feel free to let me know. I'll be adding more categories probably once I get some alcohol in my system tomorrow. Of course all of these will be limited to brewpubs I've actually been to or beers I've actually had. Don't bust me on the MB saying there's a Chocolate and Lead Paint beer in Brownsville I should have put on the list. But I am open to suggestions of places we should try to go. Right now we are locking up our plans to go to Oktoberfest for a hot minute, then off to Belgium for about 8-9 days in early October.

Other trips include a run up to DC to see our boy Barack Hussein get inaugurated, and we'll probably spend most of that time in Baltimore. We'll be likely heading to New Orleans some time after I knock out the PE Licensing exam in April (hopefully NOLA will be open) and back to Atlanta for my family reunion. And I can't forget San Antonio for New Years and the opening of the Freetail Brewpub. Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Beering in Atlanta: Wrap Up

I've got some down time, so let me go ahead and do the wrap up.

The last time I spent significant time roaming the streets of downtown Atlanta was at least 3-4 years, as all my other trips are VERY quick turnarounds. It seems as if downtown, midtown, and Buckhead have undergone a truly remarkable transformation. They must have forgone your basic city planner and went straight to an urban painter to redesign the area. From the Underground up to Buckhead, it was simply immaculate. There was nothing going on in town, no special events, but there was not so much as a stray newspaper on the ground. Atlanta is probably more fit for the Olympics now than they were in 1996. The fact that it was chilly added a nice touch to it, to be honest. The beer selection is fantastic along with the brewpubbing. Let's get to the beer rankings.

This trip was all about the brewpubs, and Atlanta has about 5-6 of them. It worked out great for the area, and it seems like many of the brewers have common roots. The top three:

3. Rock Bottom

The setting is pretty damn nice, and does very well, considering my worry about chains. An excellent part of Buckhead's party/bar scene. Make sure you try their Pale Ale

2. Max's Lager

Got to love the service, hell they let me chat with the brewer. The beer was pretty good and probably the hoppiest local beers you'll find at the brewpubs. The food is great and it worked out great for hosting business colleauges (or my mentees in this case). That Grand Cru was something else.

1. 5 Seasons

Of course it's 5 Seasons up near the perimeter on Roswell. I was too cheap to pay the 50 cents to get there on GA 400, so I took Peachtree the entire way. It was certainly worth the wait and is a STRONG candidate to be the best brewpub I've ever visited. Up and down the menu you can't really go wrong with food or beer. Rather eclectic collection of food, and certainly a beer to match. I wish I could take a crane and plop this down in the Galleria in Houston. It would make SERIOUS money. Atlanta's money ain't got nothing on Oil Money.

I bought a lot of beers from the store and will hold off on giving my top three beers of Atlanta (that I've tried.)

For those that are keeping up, I did not include Gordon Beirsch, as I visited them the last time. Although they would probably barely make #3 on this list. Nothing lost on Park Tavern, which is probably the most picturesque place to enjoy a craft beer.

I look forward to visiting Atlanta again in the near future and seeing what's new in the beer world, and getting more beers on my Taco Mac list. I've got 9 so far. Awesome awesome experience.

Welcome To Atlanta - Jermaine Dupri feat. Ludacris

Beering in Atlanta: The Airport

F7cking Atlanta! That's what I always say when I go there. I was so beered up I couldn't even make it to my last brewpub on the list (in Decatur), so I moved my flight up for a king's ransom and went home. I felt pretty violated as Continental just took me to the CLEANERS for daring to move that flight. I did manage to smuggle 16 beers back to Houston, none of which I've had yet. I swear these airlines may as well put a branch sticking up in every seat. If you follow the rules, you'll be just barely okay. If you dare bring anything more than yourself at the exact same flight, you're screwed. It was not long ago that you basically bought Continental flights for what amounted to the whole day, and you just showed up to the airport and got on an available flight. Moving on.

So I drag myself to the bars in Atlanta airport and the waitress is about two less Wafflehouse visits per week away from being SMOKING! She takes forever to get me a drink I actually don't think I had before.

Beer Log 12/12/08
Sweetwater 420
Oh the Sweetwater basic workhorse beer. The one that's available everywhere. Atlanta's Shiner Bock, Carolina Blonde, Yuengling Lager. Tinged straw color and rater clear with a thin wimpy offwhite head. Smells like light malt. It's mouthfeel is very creamy and smooth and I get a slight lingering hop aftertaste. A nice light breadiness elucidates in the middle of the palette on the next slug with a touch of caramel malt. Reminds me of a light Budweiser American Ale. Low 3 Stars.

The waitress brings me my check before I even get started on the chicken sandwich, so I guess they don't need anymore of my money.

The bar across the hall knows how to treat a man. You order the 16 ouncer and you get a shot of whatever you want.

Phillips Amber (with Jack Daniels shot)
Amber color and white to offwhite head (if there is such a color). No smell. Some English muffin thing going down and a light hop bitter bite, which I suspect is Centennial. This beer is REALLY REALLY cold. It doesn't do much alternating with a Jack on ice. 2 Stars for the Clipper City amber.

I ordered another shot of jack with a Sam Adams Boston Lager. Could barely taste either but enjoyed the conversation with the other guys at the bar. Finally, my Atlanta trip was complete.

Beering in Atlanta: Return of the Mac

You guessed it, I am back at Taco Mac, this time with a guy from the training course and some of his crew. I regailed them with stories of the cougars the first time I came here, and actually ordered the beers for everybody. There was one sistuh at the table and I got her the Lindmen Frambroise, and she loved it of course. One of the dudes claimed he like Blue Moon, so I ordered him an Allagash Dubbel to step up your Belgian game. He loved it and ordered two more.

I decided to try the ultra hot hotwings again, but decided to stay down in the Pale Ales rather than go to IPAs. Last time I was here I joined the Passport Club, which I guess is the equivalent of the Flying Saucer UFO Club. That marks four spots (3 bars and 1 movie theater) whose beer club I am a part. I can just imagine my having a slew of mugs in the trunk of my car for a specific bar that I can fill up for a discount. Maybe I should put together a suitcase.

Anyway, today I'm still mourning the bad day in the Don Taylor Sports Association. My three NFL teams all LOST yesterday: the Browns just plain blew it, the Texans got jacked up, and the Panthers had a chance and lost in overtime. I sure could use a drink, but I won't be home until Thursday. Oh well. What happened at the Mac.

Beer Log 12/11/08; after I left Max's Lager
State: partying it up, lots of laughs, eating haberno hot wings

RJ Rockers Patriot Pale
I am the American Don, so why not the Patriot stuff. Dark straw with a strong white fluffy head (everybody in the crew is staring at me like I'm crazy as I'm writing in my book). Citrus hops smell and apricot. My adjunct flavor of the year: Apricot. The taste is toasty with a slight hoppiness. Kinda citrusy and pretty icky. Maybe there is a subtle apricot in there, but it could be just the scent messing with my tongue. It does a lot better as I keep drinking it but is no match for the hot wings. It just tastes more bready and toasty. 3 Stars.

I knew I should have gone with IPAs.

Boulder Hazed and Infused
Going to Colorado for this one. Straw color with an uber big white head. Light citrus and pine hops on the nose. The beer feels rather creamy on the first sip and sour with a biting hop. Did not write down a rating, probably just got distracted. Then again, I had three beers at Max's and I was feeling it a touch by then. I could have just been hazed and infused...I got a million of em... don't forget to tip your waitress.

I think I sampled a couple beers other folks got before we broke out. From there, me and one of the guys took to the streets to find a good cigar bar. We found one in Highland Village that is part snazzy cigar bar, and part Chicago Bears club. Now THAT's a business plan. It is noteworthy that with my Montecristo that I think was loosely packed, the Hoegaarden I had with it went very well. For the end of year awards, I am thinking of which beer will get the Best Beer with a Cigar award. I was thinking an Imperial beer would do the trick, but the Hoegaarden went well with this lighter cigar. Nice night overall.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Beering in Atlanta: Max Lager's

I'm still out here on the water, trying to get that oil and will be flying back in on Christmas Day. Offshore guys typically do not get holidays, but as an engineer I usually could work it to get the holidays off. I probably had a chance 4 weeks ago to set it up to go in on Monday, but I plan on going to Obama's Inauguration, and I want to carry over the vacation for that trip. It's really not so bad being out here for holidays, you just celebrate the holiday either before or after with the family when you are home. Plus the cooking crew breaks out the lobster tails and whatnot. The thing that makes it hard is that everyone keeps asking me "why are you working up to Christmas Day?" That doesn't make it any better. I'm here b/c that's the schedule. Funny thing is the guy wanted to send me in early and said he had me down on the Monday flight though I thought they had me on the Thursday flight. I kinda let myself get excited, and even told my boss back in Houston that I'll be coming in early. Turns out the helicopter guy hadn't read the manifest correctly and I was in fact scheduled to go in on Thursday, and the Monday flight is full. I should have ordered a drug test.

My wife and I are already ready for me to get back home on Christmas afternoon, and she has been racking up the Christmas/Winter Beer for me. Selections such as Widmer Brrr and Winterhook, as well as a St. Arnolds Winter Stout await me in Houston. Not to mention the Sam Adams Chocolate Bock and Abita Christmas. That woman knows how to treat her man.

But I still have some Atlanta posts to go, so here we go...
Beer Log: December 11, 2008

Max Lager's
I'm taking a couple of Georgia Tech students to dinner and I wanted to try this brewpub nestled right on Peachtree street, in a picturesque part of downtown Atlanta. It was only 0.8 miles from my hotel, but I drove anyway. I should have just enjoyed the walk, as it took me 20 minutes to find parking. The brewpub had some of its vessels right up front, with a old style log cabin kind of decor. Nice little bar up front with an upstairs that houses the fermenters and more seating. The students have not arrived yet, so I belly up to the bar for their first beer.

Not too creative with the names. Dark mahogany with an off white head. The nose is full of citrusy hops and caramel malt, rather piney as well. The head is very strong and I kinda have to wait it out. The taste is not too exciting, but it is rather hoppy with a slight malt. In fact the hops are pretty damn good and the beer has a strong lace sticking on the glass. I'll give it a 3 Stars. It is nice to have a hoppy beer in Atlanta.

The students have arrived and I take my beer to the table. We forgo the appetizers as they are all weary about spending my money, isn't that cute. In a few years, they'll be ordering bottles of wine on my dime. Next beer...

This one had a belgian wheat ale smell. There are some hops in there, but it's kind of plain. 2 Stars. I actually crossed out IPA and wrote in Abbey, as I thought this was their belgian, but they assured me it was their IPA. Could be something with the beer lines or whatever, but it seemed like the belgian to me. As I continued drinking it, I got more of the hop character.

I did not write much text on the review as I'm supposed to be talking to the students, not sampling beer.

After some conversation about Tech life, work life, and whatnot, the owner or GM of the place comes by to ask how we are doing. The steak I had was excellent. I asked him about that IPA and if they used a belgian yeast. He reveals to me that he is not the brewer, but the brewer was upstairs. A few minutes later, the brewer (a man they call J.R.) comes down and we talk beer and yeast for a little bit. As cool as this is, I'm trying to cut it a little short as I'm sure the students were thinking "WTF". He said he used a California Ale Yeast on that IPA. Oh well.

We get back to chatting it up with the students (the guy ordered a miller lite and the girl ordered a hard lemonade, how sweet). I go ahead and get a chalice of Max's Abbey Ale to finish out the night.

Abbey Ale
Good wheat and banana smell and taste. Cloudy with a white head. EXCELLENT on the flavor, carbo, and drinkability. Certainly a 4 Star. After downing about half of this brew, the waitress tells me that it is actually a Grand Cru. Fantastic, I'm going to drunk in front of the kids. I explain to them that this type of belgian is very good yet high in alcohol. It wasn't killer on the ABV, and I was fine.

We hung around for quite a while longer talking engineering, their hopes and dreams, as well as mine. A very good experience for Max's. I did not get all their beers, but I had a great experience, and the food was great. Come to think of it, I don't think any of the stuff I had was a lager, yet they call the place Max's Lager. Go figure.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Beering in Atlanta: 5 Seasons

Finally making it up to the 5 Seasons in northern Atlanta, right near the perimeter. They say this is the best brewpub in the ATL, but we shall find out. I thought I would be beering solo, but I have a co-worker and his lady friend from his days in high and college.

5 Seasons was not all that packed when I showed up a 6:00ish. It was nestled away in yet another one of those uber-high class shopping/restaurant/bar areas. Very nice soft decor with a massive projector with ESPN on. I belly up to the bar and strike up some convo with a guy rocking a Thrashers Jersey. I'm a Carolina Hurricanes man myself, so it was good hockey talk, though I don't really keep up until playoffs. I count 5 taps directly in front of me with another 4 on another side of the bar. I figure let's just get a 12 ouncer to get us started while we wait.

Beer Log: December 9, 2008
State: Waiting on the folks to show up, not eating right now
Chug Monkey Cream Ale
Got it in a pint glass on draft. Straw colored and very clear with a white creamy head. My nose doth detect the caramel notes of what I think is munich malt. The first draught I notice medium carbonation and a moderate amount of bread. There is an icky hop flavor late in the taste but dammit it works out very well. If there was a lighter beer I need to have in the house, this would be it, hands down. High 3 Star.

I'm actually a little fired up for this brewpub.

I knock back the monkey (that didn't come out right) and decide to go for a sampler of the other beers on tap, and then round out the night with the Belgians.

Hopgasm IPA
Sounds interesting and a little bit sexual. White head sitting on top of an orange beer. Very . There is a strong citrus and flower hop thing going on with the scent. I wrote in my book "OMG". Excellent balance, but not as strong as hoppy as the smell suggests, probably a good thing in Atlanta. In fact its almost pale ale ish. The quick finish is very nice. The more I sip it the more that citrus is coming out along with a slight hoppy aftertaste, along with a hint of pine. 3 Stars.

Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale
Whoever is naming these beers probably needs to watched by the sex offender database. Chocolate and RUM smell coming off of this one. There is a good maltiness with something akin to scotch actually. It's a very very smooth in its mahogony shell with the white head. Not too strong on the hops but there is some roast in there. High 3 Star.

Blackbird Porter
Strong chocolate smell in this ebony colored beer. Tan head. There si a strong chocolate and coffee taste. IT's a little dry as well but comes off with a great finish. Certainly 4 Stars, especially considering the beer I just had before it. The more I drink it the more I get what I think is citrus. It's not that much caramel malt but with a subtle hop presence to round it out.

Loving it!!

The crew has shown up now and we moved to a table. I've already got some sort of a lamb appertizer, perfect for belgians.

Flanders Golden Ale
Orange and cloudy. Banana and that sour smell of a belgian, I miss it so. It tastes of banana and fruit. It's super smooth with low carbonation. It tastes even better when it's a little warmer. It reminds me of a leffe, but smoother. 4 Stars once again.

At this point, I wrote down the head brewers name: Kevin McNerny. Turns out these guys at 5 Seasons have their roots in Sweetwater beer also of Atlanta. This one is fast becoming my most favorite brewpub PERIOD. And I still have a full glass of a tripel and a sampler of Barleywine to go.

West Mall Tripel
Not to be confused with Westmalle. STraw and cloudy. Smells like a port wine or a liquor, AWESOME. Sweet and shockingly a little empty at first. The more I drink it I see that it is nice and full bodied with a touch of brown sugar. I now change my note from "empty" to a very quick finish. Oh hell yeah. 4 Stars.

For those of you keeping score at home, I wasn't really tipsy, as all but that Tripel and the Monkey were full glasses. So don't go thinking I'm just gone off the booze and giving out the most 4 Star beers I've ever given for a brewpub.

Barley Wine
The guy got me a sampler of this apple cider looking beer. It's offwhite head gives a scent that is sweet like apples, yet subtle. It kind of has that Fall beer smell with that maltiness. The maltiness is there but then bitterness take over the palette. The alcohol is a little much. Medium-full bodied and rather fruity. It's a little dry. His girl finds it "yucky". Me, 3 Stars.

All in all I have to go on and say that this is the best beer I've had a brewpub since I started the beer blog last year. The decor, the place was packed within an hour of my showing up. Very eclectic food, and just an array of excellent beers any one of which I would like to have on tap at the house. I find that brewpubs are better at some things than others, and I see these guys steered clear of the lagers. Fine by me. If I come back to Atlanta, there is no question where I'll be beering every chance I get. Fantastic job 5 Seasons. Look forward to trying some more in the future.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Live Blogging: Holiday Porter

We interrupt this lovefest with Atlanta to review a beer that has been sitting in our kegerator for some time.

Sam Adams Holiday Porter
"Shouldn't that be Christmas Porter Mr. Adams?" I'm sitting here watching the Heisman and the baby is doing well, so why not crack open a Christmas beer before I head out for offshore tomorrow. Pours deep mahogany with a seriously thick tan head that is taking its sweet time going down. My nose doth detect honey, chocolate, light coffee, and cinnamon. There could be a citrus/piney hops note in there as well. The head is so thick and has such consistency that I have watched the entire Heisman trophy trailer. Wow, taste is surprisingly not all that. I get a medium bodied porter with that is a touch too hopped up. It's not IPA, but that citrus and biting hop is not what we were looking for. It's rather citrusy with moderate carbonation. Oh lord, all the Heisman guys listen to Kenny Chesney. This beer does not work for me. I think I'm tasting some chocolate powder as opposed to chocolate or roasted malt. The lighter body is nice, but it's a low 3 Star. Rather disappointing for me.

Beering in Atlanta: Park Tavern

Next night
Beer Log: Tuesday December 9, 2008

State: Eating some hummus as well as a Buffalo Burger.

Sobering up just fine from the night at Taco Mac, I convinced a couple of guys in my training course to come beering with me, and I figured now is as good a time as any to hit Piedmont Park and Park Tavern.

Piedmont Park is Atlanta's interpretation of the downtown area inner city park. The real estate cost is SERIOUS in this area of town b/c you are within spitting distance of midtown and the business districts, yet you have this nice open park at your front door with a skyline around you. Nestled in one corner of the park is the appropriately named Park Tavern restaurant, which also happens to be a brewpub.

On a Tuesday night it's pretty quiet and we made our way down the winding walkway to the dimly lit restaurant. It was still pretty cold out there, so we sat inside, though the view of the skyscrapers at night is fantastic. Although this is a strong candidate for most picturesque brewpub I've been to in 2008, I don't know about the beer.

Park Trail Ale
We start out small with a 12 oz of their basic ale. Cloudy and orange with a thin white head. It's rather interesting on the nose as I get light caramel malt, some vegetalness (like a lager), and citrus hops. The taste is light citrus with a leaning on orange flavor. There is moderate bitter hops and a bread feeling. The hops remind me of what the "Craft Beer Radio" guys would call "cat pea". Not that I've ever tasted cat pea, but I think I know what they were getting at. It's a little icky and harsh, but not in a good way. High 2 star.

Not trying to get too creative on the names I see. Amber orange color with your basic white head. It has some malt on the nose. There is a strong harsh hops like an IPA with some apricot thrown in there. Nice surprise. I think we have some Cascade hops in there with that late rush in the back of the palette. The apricot is there but I think it just doesn't stand a chance with those hops. 3 Stars. It's kinda strong for the buffalo burger.

The burger was pretty well done, perfect medium style like I like it. Not as juicy as I like, but then again, it is bison.

The waitress said something about this beer being their Oktoberfest that they re-dubbed a "festive beer". Whatever works. Kinda of a dark amber color. I get that sour, veggy, and malt smell on there. It took me a while after a few sips, but I wrote down "chlorine". The head is offwhite. The first few sips I get an astringent and sourish flavor. It reminds me of the Rahr and Son's Oktoberfest, as it was also rather sour. After we kept drinking, the sourness wore off and I starting get those caramel malts and light hops. Not something I would recommend to friends trying to find the best beer in 'lanta. 1-2 Stars.

At least the park looks nice

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Beering in Atlanta: Taco Mac

Back at the Mac here in the ATL. I got a few of my friends from undergrad and grad school together to enjoy some brews with the Brotha. No better place to hang out and watch the Panthers game than Taco Mac. The place we not too packed, and the waitress knew her beer. Only problem is, I ordered the tacos. How is it that the tacos at TACO Mac suck so much? Their paraphanelia and whatnot suggest that they are all about Buffalo Wings, but why did the tacos have to taste like Taco Bell? I wouldn't be surprised if the girl took my order, walked out the back door, ran by the drive through at Taco Bell, and brought it back on my plate. Damn shame.
Anyway, the restaurant and bar has lots of open space, conducive for large groups. You have to love what has to be 2 dozen big screen HD TVs. They even have about 5 TVs facing the window, so I guess the folks walking by on Peachtree St can check the score of the Thrashers game. There are no bad angles for watching any game. The menu is pretty simple barfood and features its buffalo wings. Unlike other wing joints, these wings don't come in 30 different sauces. There are just 5 levels of HOT. Last time I got the sauce called "Death" and had to chug down some IPAs just to keep up. But with my tacos this time I decided to make a run on their local and winter beers. On to the beer...

Red Brick Ale
Started out with this one on the full 16 oz from the Atlanta Brewing Company. It has a nice amber color but not much of a head. The smell and taste is malty and toasty, with a nice hop balance. This one goes down great as an ale and has a nice touch of syrup and medium bread. Nothing to knock you out of your seat and I imagine that is by design. 3 Stars.

My homegirl from grad school showed up first, and I ordered her a Sweetwater Blue. Got myself a couple of sips as well.

Straw colored with a low white head. It has nice not too powerful blueberry nose. The taste is basically a light blueberry and makes for a very drinkable blonde ale. Just plain nice fruit beer. I can see the Sweetwater boys did not go overboard with the blueberry like others have done with other blond fruit beers. 3 Stars.

At this point more of the crew is showing up and it is time to revive the Winter/Christmas beer tastings. I'll go outside the state for the first one...

Can certainly appreciate the spelling. Amber colored with a smell of sugar, malt and alcohol. The taste reminds me of saaz hops (that piney citrus hop) with some malt. This one is very smooth and I can tell that even in a 2 oz sampler. I gets high on ya love. High 3 Star.

Sweetwater Festive
Back to the local boys with this sampler of their winter beer. Dark brown and opaque. Roast and toffee smell. This thing has a high brown sugar thing going on at first. Then it hit me, this tastes like Absinthe. Someone break out the Anne Rice novels and Italian style New Orleans paste. The malt is strong in this one and I will rate it a high 3 star for now. I got another bottle of this one that I will smuggle into Texas, so I may have to review it again.

What's the good word? To Hell with Georgia! Of course that's the University (sic) of Georgia to be precise. But they do have a good brewery in Athens, GA, and this is their winter seasonal. Ruby color. Very nice look. Smells of moderate hops and strong malt. The taste is also a moderately hopped caramelly beverage, with a residual MALT on the aftertaste. I like the way they put this one together in that the malt is the aftertaste. It should do really well in Georgia, where it seems I cannot find a truly hoppy beer. But this is an excellent winter beer interpretation with the hops they added, I'm thinking Centennial. Maybe it's because I have nightmares of the unnatural ass whoopin I got at grad school in Georgia Tech every time I visit Atlanta, but I'm giving 4 Stars for the Dawgs.

At this point in the night my notebook notes were getting pretty scratchy and all the women started looking really good. This Lefthander Wowed me with the cinnamon and nutmeg. I actually wrote down in my book "Ho Ho Ho Motherf8cker". Malty beverage. Oh yeah, the color is black with a white head. Did not get a rating written down. Certainly a wow beer as this hits you hard with the sweet spice flavor, even after I had all those winter beers already.

I can certainly say I've got some strong candidates for top winter and Christmas beers out of this trip to the ATL. Kind of surprising as I figured the warm weather beers (wheat beers and ambers) would be their better ones. I've got reviews for Park Tavern and Five Seasons coming up. The night at Taco Mac was excellent as usual, and I may slide by there again as I joined their beer passport club. I officially had 6 beers, the samplers count, so all I need are 7 more and I get a T-shirt or something. I think I ordered the shirt size as "extra medium". As long as they don't try to push anymore tacos on me it should be straight.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

If Stuck in a Hip Hop Bar and Need a Good Beer

I'm still here in Atlanta trying to figure it all out. One thing you'll notice is in the ATL is that there are probably a hundred different hip hop clubs one could go to in a night in this city, and maybe 20 of them will be PACKED! And that's EVERY NIGHT. Most towns, there's one place on one night, one place on another night. Here's every one-off concert, new liquor, and Lil' Jon night is always going.

So my good friend who lives here knows that I'm more of a lounge guy, where we can sit down, drink, and here each other talk. Maybe a small dance floor. And of course the places we went to we couldn't find a seat, the bar is 3 layers thick of people all ordering watered down Hendog, and the music is too loud to hear yourself think.

Regardless, I think life is too short to drink bad beer, and I already know that I'm not going to find much of a selection there. And I REFUSE to pay the ridiculous prices they are pushing at us for hard liquor. So what to do.

First off: Avoid the Taps.
As Lew Bryson pontificated on, not many blackfolk are into beer like that... yet. So whatever is on tap has probably BEEN on tap forever. I know I ordered a Shiner Bock and a Sam Adams on tap at a nice jazz bar in Houston and I swear it tasted like I was licking the outside of the keg. That stuff can get way past its shelf life. Just say no to taps, even if it's craft beer. In fact, don't touch the tap unless the club has at least 20% non-black people, then you know you're at least getting some turnover on that draft beer.

Second: Get Bottle Only
The other thing about these bars is that watering down is the norm. You pretty much have to be in VIP to get the potent stuff. That goes for beer on tap. Must be a cultural thing.

Third: Guiness Baby
That's right. About the only non-megaswill beer I would get on a bottle is Guiness. And it actually tastes better in my opinion out of the bottle. Heineken is always available, but we all know how those green bottles let in light, and thus oxidation and funk. And again, you don't know how long that Heiney has been sitting in that fridge. Guiness comes in a black bottle, so it works out great with longevity. Not to mention that it will make you look a touch more sophisticated to the ladies if you're drinking the big G than Bud. Go figure.

Fourth: Deep South Clubs
One thing about your more country hip hop clubs in the deep south is that they will let you bring in your own drinks. That also includes some strip clubs. Obviously you need to do a little planning so you can pick up the Sierra Nevada at the grocery store. In most places in the South you cannot buy alcohol after midnight at a store, some lingering Bible Belt laws. But for some reasons gas stations are okay, but who the hell wants to be stuck with a bunch of tallboys of Bud Dry. At least make it PBR.

So there you have, how to at least enjoy some beer at a Hip Hop Club. Now get out there and the hip hoppery. Welcome to Atlanta Shawtay!!!

Beering in Atlanta: If you SMELL...What the Rock...Is Brewin

Here in Hotlanta where the weather is 35 deg F. Feel good to be back in my stomping ground, but actually with a few dollars to my name. The city is looking great these days, very clean, very classy. They're really upped the ante with Midtown and Downtown. I got one of the boys from FAMU living in town and we decide to get some food and brews. Atlanta has about 5 brewpubs I want to try, and first stop is

Beer Log: December 7, 2008

State: Happy to be in Atlanta, eating a steak

Buckhead is this swanky big money area of Atlanta just north of downtown. It used to be a slew of cool bars and hangouts, but after the "hood" started hanging out in Buckhead, they decided to condo up. There are still a lot of good places to go, and Rock Bottom is one of them. The decor is very nice with some Christmas theme, and there are a few Steelers fans in full regalia acting a fool watching the tube. The waitress seems to know her beer, and we go ahead and order a flight of all their beers.

Hooch Pilsner

First one is clear with a straw color with a white thin head. It's got a nice bread background with medium body. Very light hops that taste like Saaz. There is a slight malt there as well. Low 3 Stars.

Pinstripe Pale Ale

Getting into the hoppy stuff now. It smells of flowery hops and light caramel. It tastes like your basic English Pale Ale although she claimed it was an American Pale Ale. There's a moderate amount of hops, likely cascade, and it goes down great with it's low carbonation. 3 Stars.


Looking forward to this. Slgith malt smell with a strong hop presence, but not killer I'd expect of an IPA. It has that dark amber color. Low 3 Stars as the flavors did not mesh well for me.

Sweet Magnolia

No smell and it is dark brown and opaque. It has a nice roasted and choco malt flavor, but I'm getting a lot of butter. It's biscuity and buttery to me. Low 3 Stars. Sad as this one is their signature beer. I think they actually cook with this one.

Iron Horse Stout

Sounds like it should be pretty hard core. It smells of roasty smoke malts. It has a nice brown head with a black color. It's okay on the flavor, but not much there but some roast and malt. It's not budweiser, but it's still a 2 Star for me. That butter is hitting me once again.

Winter Seasonal

Finally the seasonal. It tastes like the last one, just a little better and a little more hoppy. I didn't write down a rating.

I think it's obvious the top three beers were the

3. Hooch Pilsner

2. IPA

1. Pinstripe Pale Ale

They do a pretty good job with the drinkable lighter beers but something is off in my opinion with the dark beers. It could be that I was just having an offnight. I'll give them another shot next time I happen upon one of their chains.

Monday, December 8, 2008

In Atlanta

Don't worry I'm still blogging and beering. Currenlty I'm in Atlanta about to go back to Taco Mac with a few friends from Georgia Tech. They are STILL there. I got a Masters, got married, bought a house, had a baby, started up 2 businesses, and brewed 4 homebrews in the time it's taking them to get their PhDs. Oh well.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Wine Brotha???

I'm selling out. No not that, or even that.

The company I work for has trimmed the budget on the big holiday parties, or Christmas parties if you're Bill O'reilly. It looks like every team is on its own, and our team did a lunch wine tasting at a great local french restaurant, Le Mistral. We had the ballroom to ourselves, got as much wine as we wanted, great food, and were NOT ALLOWED to go back to work since we would had been drinking. In fact, we were not even allowed back in the building.

There was a somalier from France as well. He would give these little powerpoint presentations on each wine we had, where it was from, and some of the history behind it. Even though I'm a beer man, I figured why not take a shot at some reviews. Don't worry, this won't be a habit.

Cue the music...

We started out with some lovely finger appertizers which consisted of a lovely Smoked Salmon Frillo Dough with lemon chives and creme fraiche. This appertizer was accompanied by a lovely little belgian endive leave topped with blue cheese mousse and carmalized pecans. The wine of choice:

Vouvray: Domaine De Vaugondy 2005 Demic-Sec, Style is Chemin Blanc

The the gentlemen from the Loire Valley in France get us started with a very sweet and drinkable white wine. As good as my palette is, mine eyes simply see white wine that is tinged is clear with tinged yellow color. Although I used to consider myself a redman, I'm really enjoying the nice chill of this white wine. If I were to compare it to these neanderthal beer drinkers, I would hazard a guess that they stopped the fermentation to allow some of the sugars to up the sweetness factor.

Not to be outdown, they brought the quail breast rolled with bacon and plum, marinated in a nice port wine. I (peeled of the bacon), and enjoyed their

Chablis: Domaine de Long-Depaquit, Style is Chardonnay of 2006

Out of burgundy this one smells and tastes rather tangy and citrusy. There is a sourness in the middle of the palette. A stark chance from the Chemin, and not as tasty. A great match with the quail, but it does remind of a Saisson.

Onward to a nice salad de mistral, which sported the Mistral Blueberry balsamic dressing and pine nuts.

Oh the Pinot, lovely.

Pinot Noir: Albert Bichot 2005

One of my favorite wines, but I typically order it with a hearty steak, but a salad? This one smells like those red wines we know and love. The mouthfeel is dry and hearty, with some fruitiness. I'm getting something that makes me think of blood without the metal. A very thick wine that has plenty of legs on the glass. This one goes down very rapidly.

For the entree I wanted the sea bass filet, but they brought out the red wine anyway, which I did not get in a review.

Not bad. I never really tried to pick out flavors in wine and found many of the same techniques in beering translate to wine. I understand that unlike beer, wine is supposed to served a certain way from certain areas with certain foods. Beer on the otherhand, is meant to be experimented with.

Let's get a beer review before it's all said an done.

State: Chillin, playing with the baby, watching the SEC game

Beer Log: December 6, 2008

Arrogant Basted Ale OAKED
Oh I have been looking forward to this one. If you've been keeping score at home, I am back into hops. The layoff in fall (link) has done me some good. I now feel like I can enjoy those beers again. From the bottle to the wine glass. oh mahagony and malty. it's prolly 45 deg right now. almost ginger snaps sweet smell. It does the trick. Rather sweet and malty, but the hops are not there to balance it out. Reminds me of an imperial stout. Medium body and low carbo. Leaves hints of choco and twizzlers on your tongue, and maybe some grittiness. It's about 4PM right now, and maybe it's the day the time, or whatever, but I'm putting this as a low 3 Star. Lots of flavors and things going on there, and the hops are coming on stronger as it warms, but it is missing something. Perhaps some aging, but the flavors are not working for me.

10 minutes later, whoa is that banana and some sourness? not bad man.