Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cruisin’ For A Brewsin’: Operation Ithaca, New York

I am in my birthplace and I am pumped!

I just drove into the city where I was born and revisited to attend Cornell University after a ten-year hiatus. As expected, all my childhood bros and family are ready to welcome me with open arms! 
And on the beer tip, I have fellow New York native Southern Tier Brewing Company based right up the street a bit (okay, four hours but…) doing an event with me on Friday from 5 to 7 at the hottest beer bar in Ithaca co-owned by—get this—my teammates in little league when I lived here, Jed Ashton and Elliot Martin! It’s called Northstar and I am psyched! The flyer for it is above and it's logo is to the left. Come through if you are in town!
Of course, I need to hit up Ithaca Beer Co. on Saturday, and then its reminisce lane (G.I.A.C.) including Big Red Country… Let’s do it! 
I am taking a gang of pictures and listing the best spots to eat and sip (Bandwagon) when you come here, so be ready.
I love you Ithaca!


Check out this Belgian Beer Tasting Dinner at Loews Atlanta Hotel

This is just one of the fantastic Belgian beers featured on September 18th at 6:30 p.m. 

What's up!

Plain and simple, I am a lover of beer dinners, whether it's hosting them, covering them, or indulging as a guest. Want proof? Look at all of these past postings for starters! 
Anyway, here's another one that features some of the famous liquid excellence direct from Belgium. Pairings like the all-new Deliria (brewed for and by women) poured alongside Curried Mussel Soup and a Lobster Turnover by the culinary genius and Master Chef Olivier Gaupin representing eleven Restaurant inside the world-class Loews Atlanta Hotel has me sold! 
Here is the entire menu boasting seven different dishes all for $60. Call and make reservations at 404.745.5745. See you there!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New Atlanta beer company Second Self is ready to pour!

Co-Owners and Brewers Chris Doyle (with the game face)
 and Jason Santamaria cold chillin' at their burgeoning empire.
Below is an exclusive interview and invitation to try their new Summer Saison collaboration with Twain’s!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Another brewery opening up in Atlanta, right? 
Unfortunately, that is an occasional reaction I hear from cynics who think the new brewery bubble is about to burst in Georgia’s capital. Well I personally embrace the boom because hell, it’s new beer, and ultimately, only time will tell. In the meantime, I would put money on Second Self Beer Company to solidify their ground in the ATL beer scene because, simply put, co-owners Jason Santamaria and Chris Doyle know what the hell they are doing! Since founding their venture in 2010, I was looking forward to tasting what these cats had, well, brewing. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait until the officially open sometime in October.
Last summer, I got invited to Jason’s pad (left) with my biz partner Mike Moore to try a few of his brews including the delicious Thai Wheat and Red Hop Rye straight from the taps he had built in his loft's pantry. Immediately, I knew Second Self was legit! It’s been a year since then, and once I got the call to check out their 10,000-square foot headquarters in its building stage on Atlanta’s west side, I took some photos, chopped it up with Jason and Chris, and became even more excited for them! But damn, I wanted to taste some beer!
Well in order to quench some of the thirst of ATL’s beer enthusiasts like yours truly, Second Self is pouring their first collaboration with Decatur’s beloved Twain’s Brewpub & Billiards—a limited edition Summer Saison—at 7 p.m. tonight [211 E. Trinity Place, Decatur, Ga., 30030]. Self describes this Saison as a “fruit-forward beer containing citrus notes, dried out by the citrus and balanced with the light aftertaste of basil. The collaborative effort involves yeast from Decatur’s Three Taverns Brewery and was brewed at Twain’s.” Nice! (The pouring will happen at Twain's by the way.)
To give you an idea of what Second Self is about, I got a chance to pick Jason’s brain a little bit. Please read below and learn how he and Chris plan on having their beers stand out locally, why they chose Atlanta’s west side to set up shop, and what hatin’ Georgia law they wish would kick rocks.

Ale: With all the new Georgia breweries popping up, how would you say yours will stand out?
Jason Santamaria: We approach beer with a fresh and new perspective. We look at each recipe as a concept and flavor profile, not a beer. These concepts are from inspirations we draw from various sources: travel, food, our past, and Atlanta. Every beer we design, we want it to be both flavorful, yet balanced and something that will go well with food. We also want to partner with local businesses to make the Atlanta food, beer and travel scene an even better place than it already is. 

Word! With all these flavors and experimentation, were there any breweries that inspired you to make this leap?
We both draw inspiration from breweries all over the board. Some include Dogfish Head, Stone, Cigar City, Dupont, De Struise [Brouwers], and Samuel Smith. I lived in San Diego six years ago and was heavily inspired by the beers there. I’m talking about AleSmith, Port, and Russian River to name some for sure.

Those are some gangster inspirations! Discuss the reason you chose the Westside area to set up shop.
We wanted to be in the city of Atlanta because it's where we live and where we love. We lucked out on this location being right in “beer alley.” We have great neighbors including Red Brick and Monday Night. They’ll let us come over and borrow up a cup of grain when needed.

Ha! I like that. Instead of sugar. I dig it. What beers can we expect first?
Let me list them for your readers.

Break it down bro!
Okay, first up is the Thai Wheat, a spicy American wheat beer that is as exotic as the country that inspired it. This beer uses both fresh lemongrass and ginger to give it a refreshing aroma and taste, taking drinkers on a trip across the globe. The beer is kept dry, letting the spices stand out on their own, making it a unique experience. This flavorful wheat ale is great for an escape into the Second Self.

You know I love my beer dinners. What are you pairing the Thai Wheat with?
Man, I would say fish, chicken, pork loin, grilled vegetables, sushi, and Asian cuisine for sure.

Nice! I am now drooling. Next?
Next is the Red Hop Rye. Upon first smell of this beer, consumers notice an abundance of hoppy citrus aromas. On the first sip, the spicy rye mixed with hops balanced by a malty backbone from American caramel and honey malts is noticeable; these give the Red Hop Rye its dark red color. We think this is a great example of an American hybrid of beer—a true Red Rye IPA. Red Hop Rye is perfect while relaxing after work or with a dish as bold and flavorful as this beer. Pairings for this include barbecue, steak, burgers, brats, cheddar cheese, and spicy foods.

Damn! Keep going!
Now we have The LIPA [pronounced “lahy-puh”], which serves as proof that a robust and aromatic IPA doesn’t need to be a high gravity IPA. By using a unique blend of hops, The LIPA is a smooth IPA that remains light in body that can be consumed all day, making this hoppy summer seasonal great for any occasion.

You are flowing.
Ha! Okay, with the Saison, there is no messing around here. This is a traditional saison, using only the finest, fresh American ingredients. Second Self brewers took their time making this limited release beer and the beer can speak for itself. It is everything a saison should be—delicate, dry and flavorful with notes of citrus and pepper. Just like a proper saison, it is good for any occasion, and just about every meal.

I can’t wait to try that one! Okay, lastly, with all of these hatin’ restrictions out here, which bill do you hope passes so that Second Self can truly get their swerve on?
We would love to be able to sell beer directly to the customer. If someone walks in and wants a beer, we would like to be able to offer them a pint or to take beer home in a growler. All the States around us offer one or both of those. We plan on having some fun beers at the tasting room and it would be great to be able to sell those one-offs, too. It helps us as a company to pay for more equipment, create more jobs, and it helps the customer because they get to try things they might not normally find.
As you can see, I can’t wait for October! Make sure you show Second Self some love when they start pouring brews direct from their brewery. But for now, try and hit up Twain’s and get their Saison collaboration while supply lasts! Here is what Jason said in an email describing their brew:
Chase, Brad, Chris, and I got together and after several rounds of liquid inspiration we decided we should make a beer together, a citrus basil session saison. We all assembled at Twain's to brew it, borrowed some yeast from their neighbor Three Taverns, and the result is what we call Summer Saison. It is a saison made with citrus peel, grapefruit juice, and basil. It's light, balanced, and most importantly, pretty darn tasty. We've been sampling it to make sure it is of proper quality and decided that tonight we should unveil it to the public before it's all gone. The whole Second Self crew will be there with Chase and Brad to commemorate this collaboration. Hope you see you at Twain's tonight at 7!"

For more information on Second Self, visit their website and connect with them on Facebook or Twitter.



Monday, September 8, 2014

Terrapin's new Midnight Monk Belgian-style Black IPA is on the way!

The Midnight Monk Belgian-style Black IPA Monster Beer kicks off their fall releases!

Terrapin Beer Co., one of my favorite breweries in Georgia, is really winning a lot of my props (and taste buds) for their willingness to be highly creative and experimental when it comes to crafting numerous varieties every month. Their last beer, the Imperial Pumpkin Pie Porter (right) complete with the melted wax top of the bomber, caused one helluva a sh*tstorm as fellow beer geeks raced to package stores to scoop one up before they sold out just minutes later. Thank goodness I got one, but I have yet to try it. It sounds damn good though!
Anyway, their newest brew out of Athens—the Midnight Monk Belgian-style Black IPA—is direct from Terrapin’s extra potent Monster Beer Tour and serves as the brewery’s boot used to kick in the door for this fall. It should be nuts at a head spinnin' 9.8 percent ABV.
Terrapin says, “For this brew, brewmaster Brian ‘Spike’ Buckowski takes the yeast and malt bill of a traditional Belgian Tripel and hops it up like an American Imperial IPA to create a truly transcendental experience. The addition of dark malts lends a toasty smoothness that beautifully counters the big, complex flavor and aroma of the hops and yeast to produce a deceptively quaffable high-gravity brew.”

This is on the label:
Take off your robe and slip into the night to get one step closer to the Holy Grail of all beers.  Midnight Monk Belgian-style Black IPA will have your senses juggling all the complex flavor and aroma this beer has to offer.

ABV: 9.8%
IBU: 88
OG: 19.8

Malts: 2-row Pale, Pilsner, Munich, Special Aromatic, DH Carafa III, Crystal 24
Hops: Magnum, Columbus, Chinook, Centennial, Amarillo, Cascade (Dry Hop: Amarillo, Simcoe, Cascade)

Midnight Monk is available in 4-packs of 12 oz. bottles and 1/6 BBL kegs throughout Terrapin's distribution network. Look for it on a shelf near you! 



Friday, September 5, 2014

The Porter Beer Bar turns six on Saturday!

Here's a sneak peek of the beer list and special gift for the first 100 folks on Saturday, September 6th at 11 a.m.!

Yep! It was like it was yesterday when the Porter Beer Bar first poured beers from their stellar collection and served up some delectable fare six years ago. Since then, I have done sooooo much with these guys, including…

  • Doing my third official Cruisin’ For A Brewsin’ episode here
  • Fighting for Sunday Sales in Georgia in another Cruisin’ For A Brewsin’ episode here
  • Hosting the first pours of the El Pluorado Golden Ale brew I made at Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp two years ago here
  • Being featured on Atlanta Eats with Steak Shapiro here
  • Plus a gang of other memories along the way. (Picture a teary eye now.)  
I have yet to miss a Porter birthday and tomorrow will continue the streak. If you want to be a part of ATL beer history, you should certainly stop by and raise a toast to one of the institutions responsible for solidifying this great city as one of the nation’s best for sippin'! A gift to Little Five points direct from the beer gods, let’s all celebrate six years of the Porter’s gangster beers and good grub on Saturday, September 6th at 11 a.m. It’s going to be one hell of a birthday!
Here are a few things to look forward to, including their beer list and the pewter cup the Porter is giving away (above) to the first 100 people through the door. See ya then!

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