Alas, all good things must come to an end.

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We had planned on going to Cheeky Monk for “Breakfast with The Bruery” on Saturday morning, but when we got to the restaurant, the wait was at least an hour and we were starving. So we headed next door to Pete’s Steak House, a traditional small diner with about 10 tables and the only two workers were the cook and the waitress. Although we didn’t get our Belgian beer breakfast, the breakfast we had at Pete’s was excellent and it reminded us of good ‘ole Southern cooking. The service was equally as good which always makes for a more pleasant experience.

After establishing a good base layer of food, it was time for the AHA Members Only session. Day 3 of GABF is split into two sessions and since Nick and Kenneth are AHA members, we chose it over the general night session. However, the only difference I noticed from the previous nights was that we received glass tasters instead of plastic. In any case, still an excellent time.

Even if you think you have visited all the breweries at the fest, you are probably wrong. We spent this session walking around saying, “Oh! How did we miss this one?!” And one of those we had missed was Stone Brewing. We can get a lot of Stone beer at home, but some of their specialty beers we cannot. For example, the Ruination IPA Grapefruit SLAM Edition — freaking fantastic and like a grapefruit punch to the face. I’m always impressed when brewers can accurately nail a flavor/taste. The next notable IPA I had came from Mustang Brewing. It’s notable because when I wrote this post back in May, I never thought I’d be able to try it. Yup, the Hanson Brothers collaboration brew, MMMhops, was served at the fest. I found out later while talking to a brewery rep that Taylor Hanson was there Friday night pouring the beer and I missed it. As a Hanson fan from way back, I was quite upset. Regardless, the beer was delicious.

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mmmhops

Future [unnamed] brewery co-founders/owners

Future [unnamed] brewery co-founders/owners

us gabf

As our session came to an end, none of us wanted to leave. We eventually trudged out, but the day wasn’t over for us just yet. There were three breweries on our list to visit and the night (well, late afternoon) was still young! First on our list was River North Brewery for their “Empty the Cellar” party when all their barrel-aged and limited brews were on tap. We ended up ordering an eight beer flight and I can’t even remember which was my favorite. We also met up with Kenneth’s friend, Tony, and his girlfriend, Amy, who drove down from Fort Collins, before continuing on our brewery crawl.

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Up next was Great Divide. I kept it simple and got the Titan IPA — tasty and bitter with that excellent hop aroma just like I like ’em — and Nick got the Hibernation Ale, a delicious roasty English-style Ole Ale. We had just planned on staying for a few beers, but we ended up getting a tour from one of the brewers which ended up being more like trivia for him with the questions Nick and Kenneth were asking him. He joked that they should give the tours. Great Divide is much larger than the breweries I’ve toured at home, so it was fun seeing a large scale system. And by large, I mean large… 80bbl, to be exact.

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Hibernation Ale and Titan IPA

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Kenneth, Bryan (Great Divide Brewer), and Nick

Our last stop was Crooked Stave, which is housed in this awesome space called, The Source. Long story short, The Source is an old foundry turned marketplace that includes the brewery, a few restaurants, a butcher, and an artisan grocer, among other things. Each section is divided by large, slatted, rising steel doors that label what each area is and it’s all very modern while still retaining the industrial feel of the original structure. And the beers at Crooked Stave were outstanding. They specialize in sour and wild ales, which again, are uncommon in Memphis, so it was definitely a nice change.

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St. Bretta Blood Oranges and Hop Savant Dry Hopped with Galaxy

Going back to my original statement, the two words I would use to describe America’s largest beer festival are definitely amazing and overwhelming. Many thanks to Ghost River, Boscos, and Bluff City Brewers for awarding Nick this awesome opportunity, one which I certainly wasn’t going to pass up the chance to tag along. Unfortunately, we didn’t bring back any beer with us for the simple fact that we didn’t want to deal with checked luggage; we did, however, walk away with a bunch of free swag and we purchased a few shirts along the way, too.

gabf swag

Until next time, GABF — at which point, we should already be living in Denver :)

During the week of GABF, restaurants and breweries around the city of Denver host other events outside of the festival. We definitely wanted to hit up some of these so prior to our trip, Nick, Kenneth, and I had a Google hangout to put together a tentative itinerary. And surprisingly, we managed to make it to most of the events we had scheduled.

Our first stop on Friday was Osteria Marco, a trendy Italian restaurant in Larimer Square, that had partnered with Mountain Sun Brewery for a tap takeover. Unfortunately, a couple of the beers  we wanted to have had already kicked and they were waiting on the brewery to deliver more kegs. I ended up having the Vagabond IPA, a tasty American-style IPA, and the guys had the Saison de la Strega, an interesting black saison brewed with basil. Although the beer was good, the food at Osteria Marco is what really blew us away — the menu starts with their house made and imported formaggi and salumi, so you know it’s going to be good! We ended up ordering calamari, a chef’s assortment of cheeses, and a prosciutto pizza topped with arugula, to split among the three of us. It was all molto delizioso, but the calamari was probably the best I’ve ever had — not too fried, topped with greens, and a pepper vinaigrette that gave it just the right amount of spicy.

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Larimer Square

Our next stop was Colorado’s first brewpub, Wynkoop Brewing. Since we had already eaten, we popped in for a couple drinks before heading to our next destination. I was eager to try their Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, but unfortunately, it was tapped out. So instead, I ordered samplers of their Colorojo Imperial Red Ale, Patty’s Chile Beer, and Mile HIPA. After having my first chile beer last summer, I’ll almost always try it if one’s on the menu. It smelled more peppery than it actually tasted, but it was good.

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My three beer flight

The Anderson Valley Rare Tapping at Falling Rock Taphouse was next on the itinerary and I can see why so many people love that place — with 200+ beers on tap and in bottles, who wouldn’t? Beer list aside, the atmosphere was just great. There’s a nice, large outside patio and when you walk inside, you’re greeted with walls lined with nothing but beer bottles and tap handles. Rare beers consumed here were the Chardonnay barrel-aged Rosy Barl Sour Ale with raspberries and the Horse Tongue Wheat, a Belgian wheat aged in white wine barrels.

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Taps on taps on taps

"99 bottles of beer on the wall..."

“99 bottles of beer on the wall…”

After our day of bar/restaurant hopping, it was finally time for the second night of GABF. Once again, Nick entered early while Kenneth and I shuffled in with the rest of the herd. Even though we had just been there the night before, the shock and awe was still there. We took a more leisurely approach to this night, but this was also the night that Nick’s “Extracurricular Hoptivity” was being served so that was the first section we visited. Even though this version wasn’t the same (read: different hops and not dry-hopped) as the original recipe , it was still exciting to see it being served at the country’s largest beer fest and Nick’s name in the festival program.

"Extracurricular Hoptivity" ; Fal Allen and Kenneth

“Extracurricular Hoptivity” ; Fal Allen and Kenneth

The second highlight of the night came when we visited the Anderson Valley booth. The week before GABF, Kenneth attended Elysian Brewing’s 9th Annual Great Pumpkin Beer Festival where he was able to meet Dick Cantwell, Elysian head brewer and co-author of Barley Wine: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes. Kenneth had the book with him for just that occasion and he was able to get Dick’s signature. Why am I telling you all this? Well, Anderson Valley’s brewmaster, Fal Allen, is the co-author of Barley Wine and Kenneth brought the book with him again in hopes of seeing Fal and getting him to sign the book also. And what do you know! Fal was at his booth and Kenneth was able to have a nice a chat with him and get his signature and a picture with him.

Day 3 is coming tomorrow — cheers!

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Two words to describe America’s largest beer festival: amazing and overwhelming.

Where do I even begin?

As you know, Nick won the local pro-am competition through Ghost River/Boscos and that is what took us to Denver last week to experience the awesomeness that is the Great American Beer Festival. Nick’s best friend and brewing buddy from college, Kenneth, was able to fly in from Seattle for the fest, so after meeting up with him at the airport Thursday morning, we immediately hopped on a bus to the first brewery on our list.

After navigating Denver’s public transit and Google maps, we finally made it to Copper Kettle. They were having a barrel-aged tap takeover and Nick had read about their award-winning Mexican Chocolate Stout, so we definitely couldn’t pass them up. It’s a smaller brewery/taproom, but they certainly weren’t lacking on beer variety. The bartender was also very friendly and super knowledgeable. The guys choose the tap takeover flight which included a Cabernet Sauvignon Saison, Port Barrel Belgian Dark Strong, Bourbon Barrel Breakfast Stout, Bourbon Barrel Double IPA, and Bourbon Barrel Barleywine. I opted for a traditional flight which included their Mexican Chocolate Stout, Black IPA, Tha Hoppa, Czech Pilsner, and Bavarian Helles. All were delicious, but my favorites were by far the Bourbon Barrel Breakfast Stout and the Mexican Chocolate Stout.

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Copper Kettle Barrel-Aged Flight

Kenneth & Nick

Kenneth and Nick

We checked into the hotel after Copper Kettle, freshened up, then headed to the Denver Convention Center for the first night of GABF. Nick was issued a brewer’s pass and was able to enter the fest early through his special entrance, so Kenneth and I were left to wait in line with the rest of the minions ;) Although the line wrapped all around the building, once the doors opened it was a steady moving line and we were in the building, wristband on, and tasting cup in hand within 15 minutes.

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Ghost River Brewery Rep ; 2013 GABF Tasting Cup

At this point, I’m pretty sure we hallucinated. Picture this:  about 25 different sections, with each section containing at least 100 beers. Overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe how we felt and any game plan we had come up with about what beers we wanted to try was immediately thrown out the window. Instead, we went section-to-section on one side of an aisle and then repeated on the next side. Also, kudos to anyone who was able to keep track of their tastings with the GABF app — between reading beer descriptions, chatting with brewery reps, taking pictures, and of course, drinking, there was no way that was happening. I remember all the breweries I visited and since the beer list is divided up by brewery, I can pretty much figure out what I did or did not have. With that being said, I vividly remember sampling beers at Trinity Brewing because their sour beers were excellent and sours are few and far between in Memphis. Another excellent I tried this night was ‘the dissident,’ a nice tart brown, from Deschutes Brewery.

Deschutes Brewery tap handles

Deschutes Brewery tap handles

Look at all that sweet lacing!

Look at all that sweet lacing!

We were also able to track down John Palmer, well-known homebrewer and author of brewing books like How to BrewBrewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew, and most recently, Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers. Considering the guys eagerly awaited their pre-ordered copy of Water earlier this month, I’d say they were pretty excited to meet him. Fortunately, we caught him during some down time and he was able to chat with us for a little bit.

Kenneth, John Palmer, and Nick

Kenneth, John Palmer, and Nick

Stay tuned for GABF, Part 2 tomorrow — cheers!

MGPO-MSNSTuesday night was the second meeting for Memphis Girls’ Pint Out and it was even more successful than the first! There was a larger turnout – many familiar faces – but it was the first time for more than half of the ladies in attendance!

At our kickoff event, we discussed getting together with other organizations and helping with various causes, and I’m happy to announce that our organization in the spotlight is our very own Mid-South Spay & Neuter Servics (MSNS). MSNS is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing pet overpopulation and high euthanasia rates in Memphis and surrounding areas. They offer affordable spay and neuter surgeries, as well as vaccinations and micro-chipping.

Over the last few weeks, I met with Stephanie Bennett, Executive Director of MSNS, to discuss potential MemGPO-MSNS events and we’ve got a great one in the works for the fall. MSNS will be teaming up with the Memphis Hash House Harriers for a “minithon” benefiting MSNS, and MemGPO and Bluff City Brewers are teaming up to help sponsor. The “minithon” will consist of a 2.62 mile run which will be celebrated with mini medals and beer at the finish line. It’s going to be a fun, family and pet-friendly environment (21+ to drink, of course) and I’m looking forward to getting a MemGPO team together for our first “fun run.”

MemGPO will also be working with MSNS to put on some “pup patio parties” where people can bring their dogs and pay-what-they-can to hang out and enjoy some tasty beer and food. Also, with three new breweries opening in Memphis, we’re hoping to work with one or all to bring exposure to the brewery and both organizations.

There are plenty of events in the works for the coming months, so stay tuned — cheers!

Hanson, the blonde band of brothers who brought us “MMMBop” in the late-90s, have ventured into the brewing business.

Wondering why I hadn’t heard about this before, I did some Googling and found this Washington Post article from 2011. However, the reason this news is gaining momentum now can be attributed to yesterday’s release of Hangover 3, as this BeerPulse article details.

In any case, their signature beer is an IPA and it is appropriately named, ‘Mmmhops.’ I have this strange fascination with “punny” beer names, specifically IPAs, and this just tickled my fancy.

As the article suggests, the brothers are serious craft beer enthusiasts and it’s always neat to hear about celebrities’ activities outside of what they’re known for. Now the question remains: is it any good? And if so, when and where will it be available to the general public?

I mentioned in an earlier post that Nick entered two beers for this year’s Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am Competition. Well, today he was declared the winner of our local competition and I couldn’t be happier/more excited for him! You can read about the details of his win over at local beer blog, FuzzyBrew, as well as read the details of last year’s winner’s experience.

This is the first time Nick’s won something for his homebrew, so needless to say, he’s very excited about what’s to come. I’m equally as excited for him and I will be there at Boscos to document the big brew day which will be quite a change from our little backyard brew sessions. I also can’t wait to see ‘Extracurricular Hoptivity‘ on the Boscos menu and order it from the bar! And lastly, I’m looking forward to accompanying Nick to the GABF in October — especially since we didn’t think we’d make it to that festival until we moved that way!

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Hops for our DFH 90 Minute clone
January 2013

So, this article popped up today and to summarize, the author (a self-proclaimed lover of hops) makes the point that hoppy beers and the craft beer industry’s infatuation with them is hurting the industry rather than helping it — noting that, the different hops can’t even be tasted after a certain extent. The author also notes that “there is some truth in the stereotype that craft beer is hoppy.” Well, that’s one opinion.

Disclaimer: I also love IPAs, so I might be a little biased.

I understand why the aforementioned stereotype exists, but that doesn’t mean there’s any truth behind it. If craft beer drinkers only introduce non-craft beer drinkers to these kind of beers and the non-drinkers don’t enjoy them, then sure, they might be left with a bitter taste in their mouth (literally and figuratively) about craft beer overall. However, I think that people with this mentality that all craft beer is hoppy are actively trying to taste hops in every beer they try — even if the beer they are trying isn’t known for its hops.

Now granted, it is an acquired taste and if you try to introduce a skeptic to the craft beer scene with an imperial IPA, you (and they) are gonna have a bad time. But there are so many different types of beers and breweries are constantly coming out with new collaborations, unique recipes, etc. that it’s rather old and tired to continue to stereotype craft beer as hoppy beer. As the author mentions, hops give brewers an “easy creative outlet.” But hops aren’t the only thing one can get creative with. From a homebrewing perspective, just this year Nick has used blood oranges and dried chamomile in two different wheat beers. And last fall, we brewed a pumpkin ale and a mint chocolate stout.

So, the question, “Are hoppy beers alienating non-craft beer drinkers?” In my opinion, no. I think people let hoppy beers alienate them. For example, my mum is an occasional beer drinker, but she has always insisted that she absolutely does not like that “hop flavor.” While I was visiting her and my dad this past Christmas, I bought a six-pack of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and while I was pouring a glass, she asked if she could have one. I didn’t tell her anything about the beer knowing that she might dismiss it due to the hops but, ironically enough, she thoroughly enjoyed it!

Again, this is just my opinion and you can agree or disagree. So let’s put aside our differences and go have a beer — cheers!

It’s been a hot minute since my last post, but life finally slowed down a bit for me to get back at it! Now where to start…

The first inaugural Memphis Beer Week kicked off on April 21 and Nick and I headed to the Flying Saucer for the Sour Hour event. Memphis doesn’t have a great variety of sour beers, so this was one event we definitely weren’t going to miss. And boy am I glad we didn’t. Not only were given samples for five delicious sours – all varying in age and style – but each beer was paired with a tasty dessert. All the beers were delicious, but my favorite of the night was the 2009 Rodenbach — it was the perfect blend of sour sweet and it paired perfectly with a nice chocolate brownie. My second favorite pairing was the Rufus with the NY cheesecake. Rufus is the collaboration beer from Yazoo and New Belgium and it was brewed exclusively for Memphis Beer Week.

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Sour Hour @ Flying Saucer
April 21, 2013
(bottom left) 2009 Rodenbach; (top left) New Belgium La Folie; (center) Yazoo-NB Rufus; (bottom right) Yazoo Rye Saison; (top right) Wayan Flemish Sour

On April 23, we made our way to Bosco’s for the annual Brewmasters Dinner and once again, it did not disappoint. Aside from the good beer, it’s always nice because the menu offered includes dishes that are not normally served at the restaurant. We also lucked out this night because the cask for the night was Olde Fool, an English Strong Ale and as you can tell from the picture below (it’s in the top left of each), it was definitely a slow drinker for me as it is strong, strong, strong.

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Brewmasters Dinner @ Bosco’s
April 23, 2013

Although we had planned on going to glass night at the Saucer on the 24th, we decided to sit Wednesday night out and instead, go to Young Avenue Deli on the 25th for New Belgium Firkin Night. The firkin this night was their Rampant Imperial IPA and as an IPA gal, this is one at the top of my list of favorite IPAs — those Centennial hops are oh so tasty.

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New Belgium Firkin Night @ Young Avenue Deli
April 25, 2013

And lastly, the 4th annual Memphis Brewfest at AutoZone Park rounded out Memphis Beer Week on Saturday, April 27. Normally, Nick and I would be part of the general festival-goers; however, as I mentioned in an earlier post, Nick brewed an IPA for this fest so we got to be on the other side this year. And I must say, I rather enjoyed being on the “staff” side. Even though we had to get to the park four hours early, that also meant we got to start sampling beers early ;) Our club had twelve different beers on tap and there was never a slow moment at our table! Festival-goers wanted to know where the beer was available to buy and they were bummed when we told them it’s only available at each brewer’s respective home. But once they learned it was homebrew, they wanted to know more about the process, etc. and the guys are always up for sharing the joy of homebrewing with inquiring minds! Also, I’m happy to announce that Nick’s ‘Extracurricular Hoptivity‘ was the first of our club’s kegs to float! It was a nice feeling knowing so many people enjoyed his beer.

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Memphis Brewfest @ AutoZone Park
April 27, 2013
(left to right): sampler mug; pre-fest; our local homebrew club; Nick serving his ‘Extracurricular Hoptivity’ IPA

Once Memphis Beer Week was over, it was time to move into our house! Nick and I took off work the first few days of May and got all of our furniture and belongings moved in with the help of his parents. We had only been in our place for two nights before it was time to head to Nashville for two nights of Widespread Panic! Despite the cold, rain, and mud, those were two of the best shows I’ve ever been to.

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Widespread Panic @ The Woods Amphitheater at Fontanel
Nashville, Tennessee
May 3-4, 2013

And in other beer news:

  • Nick received the judging sheets on the beer he submitted to the AHA National Homebrew Competition and although none of his beers advanced to the second round, he was thrilled to find out that his saison received the highest score of the five he submitted. This was his first time submitting his beers in any competition and there will be plenty of more opportunities to come!
  • Homebrewing is now legal in all 50 states! With the help of organizations like Right to Brew, Free the Hops, and the Alabama Homebrewers Guild, Alabama’s homebrewing bill successfully made its way through the legislature and was signed by Governor Bentley last Thursday. So cheers to that, for sure!

Next up on our plate: our first brew day at the new house, Memphis in May BBQ Fest, and planning MemphisGPO events!

gabfDespite the pouring down rain last night, Nick and I were determined to make it to the monthly Bluff City Brewers meeting. Nick had two beers to enter for the Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am Competition, and I wanted to go for the discussion about making your own wine (yes, this will be happening in the near future!) For those unfamiliar with the Pro-Am Competition, it’s the chance for homebrewers to have their beer brewed at a commercial brewery and have their beer served at the GABF!  The rules for homebrewers in this competition are as follows (as listed on the GABF website):

  1. The homebrewer entrant or entrants must be members of the AHA by the time the brewery registers the entry in the GABF Pro-Am competition (June 27, 2012), as well as when the Pro-Am entry is judged (October 2012). All brewery entrants must be members of the Brewers Association.
  2. Qualifying homebrew competitions may be, but are not required to be American Homebrewers Association (AHA)/Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) sanctioned homebrew competitions held on or after January 1, 2011 and may use AHA/BJCP categories, as defined by the BJCP 2008 Style Guidelines for their entries, excluding those restricted by the competition. See our Events Calendar for a calendar of up-coming AHA/BJCP sanctioned competitions or BJCP to register a competition.
  3. Competitions must be timed to give the brewery adequate time to brew the beer to be ready for entry to the GABF.
  4. The nature of the competition is entirely up to the brewery, they may choose to work with an existing competition or create their own. Breweries may restrict the styles of the competition to styles they can reasonably brew.
  5. AHA membership of all homebrewer entrants will be verified by the AHA. AHA membership must be current at the time the brewery enters the GABF competition, and also at the time of the GABF judging.
  6. The homebrewer brewing their recipe with the professional brewery CANNOT be, or have ever been, an employee of that brewery or on the brewing staff at any brewery.
  7. All entrants, both professional and amateur brewers, must sign a Licensing Agreement prior to the submission of entries to the GABF. The Licensing Agreement limits and protects the way the GABF trademark is used.
  8. No more than one entry per brewery will be accepted in the GABF Pro-Am Competition. Individual AHA members may be associated with no more than one entry submitted into the GABF Pro-Am Competition judging at the GABF.
  9. GABF Pro-Am entries submitted by breweries will compete in a best-of-show style judging, during the regular GABF judging. The GABF Style Guidelines and GABF judge panel will be used for the judging. Entering breweries must provide the appropriate GABF category name and number along with any requested supplemental information for the entry to be judged correctly. Entries that do not include this information will not be accepted.
  10. Judges will determine the top three entries in the GABF Pro-Am Competition, which will be awarded Gold, Silver, and Bronze GABF Pro-Am Competition medals during the GABF awards ceremony, held October 13, 2012. Medals will be issued to both the winning brewery and the winning homebrewer.

The winner from our club will get to brew his beer at Bosco’s with the head brewer, as well as have his beer served at Bsoco’s for a short time — how exciting is that?! Nick has entered his American IPA and breakfast stout, so we will see what our local judge thinks. Fingers crossed, y’all!

[Also, judging for the division of the AHA National Homebrew Competition that Nick entered starts today!]

The White Stripes and The Black Keys should form a band and call it Pianos.

I stumbled upon this quote on reddit and thought I’d share it with y’all since I found it quite humorous. As a fan of both The White Stripes and The Black Keys, I would not be opposed to a collaboration. Happy Friday!

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