Archives for posts with tag: homebrewing

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!

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!

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!]

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Tulips at University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Memphis, Tennessee

Bring May flowers… flowers I hope to plant, at some point or another, after Nick and I move into our house at the end of the month! After searching daily for a house that fit all of our requirements, we finally found a nice one to rent and we’re very excited to start this next stage of our relationship. I won’t get all sappy on here, but with the direction our relationship is going, we decided this is the next logical step :) It’s going to be a great house for entertaining family and friends and it’s plenty spacious for all of our needs, especially storing (and expanding) Nick’s homebrewing equipment. He’s already planning on getting a 14 cubic foot chest freezer to make a new keezer, and then using the current seven cubic foot keezer solely for fermenting. And I’ve already been on Pinterest planning DIY projects and taking note of quick and simple organization tips that I never would have thought of before. What did we ever do before that website existed?

And now for the beer news update:

  • The Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013 passed the Senate and House Finance Committees today and it will come to a full floor vote within the week — great news!
  • It’s good to see there are some legislators in Alabama with some sense! A new bill to legalize homebrewing in Alabama passed through the House today on a 58-33 vote. Mississippi homebrewers got good news last month, so let’s hope the same for their neighbors. However, after reading some of the comments from AL representatives today (and judging from a previous debate on this same topic), Alabama may still be a good while away from legalizing homebrewing…

Well, off to start sorting, organizing, packing, etc. — cheers!

MemphisGPO Avatar_BWI cannot express how happy I am with last night’s turnout! About 20 wonderful ladies made their way to Young Avenue Deli to kick off our chapter, and we enjoyed some delicious beer and discussed the goals for our chapter for the coming year. I had been promoting MemphisGPO a lot via Twitter and it was very nice to finally meet some of my Twitter friends! Even though these social media sites have been around since I was in college, I still find it amazing the connections that can be made through them. There are so many fantastic Memphis women who enjoy quality beer and want to expand their knowledge and palate and I’m just so so excited that they’re all as excited as I am about this endeavor!

It’s looking to be a busy year for MemphisGPO, as we discussed lots of great event ideas and I’m hoping to bring them all to fruition. Some of the events we discussed: beer pairing dinner at Bosco’s, tour of Ghost River Brewing, participating in 5ks as a team (gotta get our fitness on to counteract the beer drinkin’!), chapter yard sale, clothing swap, a road trip to Nashville to meet up with NashvilleGPO, and the list goes on! We also discussed tapping into our philanthropic side by helping with causes like Pints for Prostates and Beer for Boobs, and local NPOs, among other things. And with homebrewing being such a big part of my life now, I’m going to try to incorporate some educational homebrewing events into the mix — especially after meeting a fellow Bluff City Brewer girlfriend!

Ideally, I’d like to have at least one MemphisGPO-specific event each month, and depending on the beer happenings going on around town, we can always plan a chapter outing to some of those, too. And since we’re all working women, i also want to have various happy hour meetups throughout the month to just catch up with one another and forget the working woes of the day/week ;)

And in other beer news:

raise your pintsIt was a HUGE day for Mississippi homebrewers! This morning, Governor Bryant signed Senate Bill #2183 and in doing so, made Mississippi the 49th state to legalize homebrewing (effective July1)! woohoo! I know the folks over at Raise Your Pints will be celebrating tonight! Things are always done a little slower here in the South, but it’s refreshing to see Mississippi get with the times. Now if only that pesky state to its East could get its act together, then every homebrewer in the country could legally enjoy his/her pastime.

And in Tennessee beer news, Senate Bill #0422 continues to make its way up the totem pole as the Senate State and Local/House Local Committees approved the Beer Tax Reform Act. Representative Cameron Sexton said of today’s events,

Today was an important step towards reforming a tax that is working against Tennessee. The subject may be beer, but this is about ultimately creating jobs and growing business.

Next up, the Finance, Ways & Means Committees.

That’s all I’ve got for today — cheers!

It’s a been a beer-related week and there’s more to come this weekend!

irish

Flying Saucer St. Patrick’s Day Glass 2013
Cordova, Tennessee

Nick and I went to the Flying Saucer on Wednesday for the St. Patrick’s Day-themed glass night, and if you’re a fan of spicy and/or chocolatey beers, you need to try the Green Flash Serrano Double Stout. If you’ve ever had New Belgium’s Cocoa Molé, this is the next best thing. When you first try the Serrano Double Stout, it tastes like a traditional double stout — a very roasted, full bodied beer. You don’t taste any peppery flavor upon initial tasting, but as you continue to drink it, the spiciness of the Serrano peppers kicks in while still maintaining the sweet and bitter flavors. By the end of the glass, my tastebuds were in a frenzy and my mouth was left with a heated, tingling feeling (nothing too overpowering though). I definitely recommend it for stout-lovers and those wanting to branch out on the craft beer tree.

Thursday night we went to the Brew Movement Against Multiple Sclerosis with a few of our friends and a good time was had by all. What’s better than drinking good beer with your fellow beer lovers, all while supporting a great cause? Both Memphis homebrew clubs had tables set up, as well the guys over at FuzzyBrew, and I think I spent most of my time at these three tables. What can I say, I like supporting the homebrewers :) Nick and I also made our way to the Bosco’s table a number of times for their American Stout and Red Ale — two of our favorites!

Today, Nick will be bottling his beers for the National Homebrew Competition and for his beer trade with his good friend, Kenneth. I got Nick the Blichmann Beer Gun for Christmas and this will be his first time using it since he had to get the appropriate connections for his set up. This trade has been planned for a while and it’s finally coming to fruition! Nick is sending: an oatmeal stout, a mint chocolate stout, a breakfast stout, two 90 minute IPAs, and two saisons. And Kenneth is sending: two coffee ambers, two habanero honey IPAs, a 120 minute IPA, a wild ale, and a “baby” oatmeal stout. These two started brewing years ago while down at Mississippi State, and I’m excited to try more of Kenneth’s delicious brews!

And later tonight, we’ll be going to a St. Patrick’s Day party at a fellow homebrewer’s house and tomorrow, we’ll head to Bosco’s for some Irish Stout! Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! Be safe out there — cheers!

Exhibit A:ribs

Exhibit B:steak

Note: I have nothing against vegetarians. I like veggies. But I also like meat. 

We took a hiatus from brewing this past weekend and instead, enjoyed our second favorite weekend activity: cooking out. After waking up early on Saturday and attempting to make a mushroom and bell pepper omelet (which ended up being scrambled eggs), we went to Costco to get some meat. We lucked out and got the last package of spare ribs [Exhibit A], then headed over to Shannon and Allyson’s house. Since Nick bought his smoker last year and Shannon got his as a wedding gift, the boys have become quite the BBQ pitmasters in their own right. Eventually Adam and Sarah came over, and while we waited for the ribs to cook, the six of us sat down for a nice game of Cards Against Humanity. If you’re unfamiliar with this game, all you need to know is that it’s like Apples to Apples, just a lot more “politically incorrect.” I really can’t describe the fun that is CAH… you’ll just have to play for yourself and find out!

On Sunday, we decided to use my Folk’s Folly gift certificate (thanks to the Memphis Flyer Tuesday Trivia question!) and rather than dining at the restaurant, we went to the Prime Cut Shoppe and got two 16 oz New York strip steaks to grill at home. I had been craving some bacon wrapped asparagus, so I consulted Pinterest and found this quick and easy Martha Stewart recipe. Nick also made some garlic and parsley compound butter for the steaks and we had ourselves a five-star dinner [Exhibit B] — so delicious!

But, we’ll be back in the brewing groove this weekend because Nick’s got 10 gallons of IPA to brew for the upcoming Memphis Brewfest — his first beer in a local beerfest! Cheers!