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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Beer Town: Creature Comforts Opens in Athens

In late April, when Athens’ Creature Comforts Brewing Co. opened its doors to the public for the first time, it was the culmination of years of dreaming and doing for brewer David Stein.

Adam Beauchamp and David Stein at Creature Comforts (Jamie Dervere)

Adam Beauchamp and David Stein at Creature Comforts (Jamie Dervere)

Stein, who is a University of Georgia grad, developed the Creature Comforts brand as an Atlanta home brewer, giving away samples to friends and building a following while working at Brick Store Pub and Ale Yeah.

Later, Stein became better known as the brewer at Twain’s brew pub in Decatur, where he experimented with many of the recipes destined for the year-round lineup at Creature Comforts.

Right now, the brewery, which took over the landmark Snow Tire Co. building on West Hancock Avenue, has three beers on offer in its tasting room. Tropicalia is a balanced American IPA familiar from the Twain’s days. Reclaimed Rye is an amber ale brewed with rye and aged on French oak. Athena Berliner Weisse is a refreshing …

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Kulers Uncorked: Argentine Malbec

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2011 Bramare by Viña Cobos, Valle de Uco Appellation,  Malbec, Argentina

2011 Bramare by Viña Cobos, Valle de Uco Appellation, Malbec, Argentina

  • $45
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Aromas of sweet, ripe blackberry and cassis with perfume-like notes of vanilla. It offers full-bodied flavors of dark, ripe berries, cola nut, root beer, mocha and milk chocolate.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,” is how Charles Dickens started his Tale of Two Cities, but he might have been referring to two modern-day grapes.

Australian shirazes and Argentine malbecs have occupied similar places in the American wine psyche. Both have enjoyed their seasons of Light, but only one has seen its season of Darkness, so far.

Australian wine exports to the U.S. are predicted to continue their slide this from $464 million to $448 million, according to an Australian trade publication. And while shiraz growers continue to plant shiraz vines, much of the wine produced flows into the bulk wine …

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Beer Town: Brooklyn’s Steve Hindy on “The Craft Beer Revolution”

craft-beer-revolution

In his new book, “The Craft Beer Revolution: How a Band of Microbrewers Is Transforming the World’s Favorite Drink” (Palgrave Macmillan, $25), Steve Hindy chronicles nearly 50 years of American craft brewing history, from Fritz Maytag buying Anchor Brewing in 1965 to the current boom of innovative new breweries.

Hindy is a good man for the job for many reasons. As a former Associated Press Middle East correspondent, he knows how to get the facts and tell a good story — and he tells it warts and all. As the president and chairman of Brooklyn Brewery, which he co-founded in 1988, he’s been both a craft beer eyewitness and a major player. And, nowadays, his membership on the boards of directors of the Beer Institute and the Brewers Association gives him what he modestly calls a “unique perspective as an insider.”

Q: For some people, I think this book might come as a bit of a shock. You really get into some of the controversy and bickering that was and still is part …

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Kulers Uncorked: Miner Viognier

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2012 Miner Family Winery, Simpson Vineyard, Viognier, California

2012 Miner Family Winery, Simpson Vineyard, Viognier, California

  • $24
  • Two Thumbs Up
  • Inviting aromas of honeysuckle, white peach and a subtle smokiness. It offers flavors of fresh apricots, tangerines, white pepper, raw almonds, mango, pineapple and something akin to toasted coconut.

Listen up professional wine geeks, there’s a new app out there called Tasteavore. You scan a special UPC code of a wine you are tasting at a trade show and it catalogs your notes along with facts about the winery, its personalities and the winemaking process. You receive a tidy, little e-mail a couple days later with the info. I love it! It beats the heck out of juggling a show guide, notebook and a tasting glass.

I just got my notes back from the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction, which rolled through Atlantic Station in March. I tasted 11 pinot noirs, 10 cabernet sauvignons, one cabernet franc, one malbec and one viognier. The pinot noirs make sense, as I’m in the market for a …

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Craft Brewers Guild promoting Georgia-grown beer

Guild-logo-finaldates

Some 2,000 people gathered March 22 at Red Brick Brewing on Atlanta’s Westside for the inaugural Georgia Craft Beer Fest.

At a time when beer festivals have become commonplace, and craft beer is present everywhere from fine dining restaurants to gas stations and growler shops, it wasn’t obvious that there was anything out of the ordinary going on.

But the sunny early spring afternoon was historic because it marked the first Georgia-only beer event, bringing together 26 breweries and brew pubs, including widely distributed and well-known brands such as Sweetwater from Atlanta and Terrapin from Athens, and fledgling companies such as Reformation from Woodstock and Omaha from Omaha, Ga.

“It was the first time we had Georgia breweries stand together like that,” said John Pinkerton, the brewmaster and co-owner of the Moon River Brewpub in Savannah and president of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, which put on the festival. “There’s never been a festival where it was …

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Wine Kulers: Grgich Hills

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2011 Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay, Napa Valley, Calif.

2011 Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay, Napa Valley, Calif.

  • $42
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Complex aromas of ripe peach, mango, hazelnut and raw almond. Lots of tropical fruit flavors and a touch of ripe pear with a chalky mineral quality.

Chardonnay ain’t what it used to be. Today, among other styles, we have the big, buttery California version that makes many wine lovers go “Ahhh!” Back in 1975, there was basically one model, one standard for excellence—the chardonnays from Burgundy, France. The following year, the status quo got a big kick in the backside.

To celebrate the United States Bicentennial, a tasting was set up in Paris that pitted six California chards against four acclaimed Burgundies. To everyone’s disbelief, especially the French judges, an American winery won. This historic event came to be known as the Judgment of Paris and it lit a fire under the fledgling California wine industry.

And who changed the face of chardonnay that day? Who made …

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A non-interview with Goose Island brewmaster Brett Porter

Brett Porter at Goose Island

Brett Porter at Goose Island

Brett Porter may have one of the most enviable and difficult jobs in the craft beer world.

Porter came to Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Co. as head brewer in May 2010 and was promoted to brewmaster in 2011. But in what some in Chicago termed “the honk heard round the world,” Anheuser-Busch InBev acquired Goose Island that same year.

And that transaction set up a battle between beer geeks, who declared the small craft brewery dead to them because of its corporate ties, and others, who pledged allegiance to the maker of sour and wood-aged delights like Sophie and Bourbon County Stout, no matter the source.

Atlanta has only been Goose Island territory since late 2012. Recently, after metro area AB InBev distributors brought in all sorts GI goodies for “Migration Week,” including stuff like Bourbon County Rare aged in 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle barrels, I interviewed Porter.

Our phone conversation, which was recorded my me and monitored by a …

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Kulers Uncorked: The Somm

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

Maybe it’s the word that strikes an uneasiness in the minds of those sitting around the table. Sommelier. It’s a mouthful. Saw-muh-LYAY. I occasionally mangle it and I am one. Ooo-la-la, perhaps it’s the Frenchiness of the word. Heck, there’s even a movie about the lives of sommeliers and the producers saw fit to only use the first four letters—Somm.

Whatever the reason, wine lovers of all stripes tense up when I arrive at the table and utter the fateful words: “Will you be enjoying wine with your meal tonight?”

"“You can't force yourself on the guest. Sometimes they do need the help, but don't want it," says Jacob Gragg, sommelier at Sea Island, Ga., Resort, won the 2014 TopNewSomm in the Southeast competition.

"“You can't force yourself on the guest. Sometimes they do need the help, but don't want it," says Jacob Gragg, sommelier at Sea Island, Ga., Resort. Gragg recently won the 2014 TopNewSomm in the Southeast competition.

The situation has not reached crisis level. In fact, the majority of my wine patrons spell relief: s-o-m-m-e-l-i-e-r. They are either content for me to make their selections for the evening or they look forward to …

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Zen and the Art of the Variety Pack

SierraIPA2014

“We’re in such a hurry most of the time we never get much chance to talk. The result is a kind of endless day-to-day shallowness, a monotony that leaves a person wondering years later where all the time went and sorry that it’s all gone.” — Robert M. Pirsig, “Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance.”

Recently, I was invited to give a talk about beer at the Friday Forum of the Atlanta Soto Zen Center. As the program put it, “Samples of the brewer’s art will be provided.”

For those who don’t know much about Zen, it might seem rather odd that beer drinking would be welcomed in a quiet place dedicated to meditation.

But my good friend, who is a Soto Zen priest and an ASZC community member, assured me that the abbot, Zenkai Taiun Michael Elliston, and the other members were really looking forward to learning more about beer, and trying some, too.

Still, what kind of beer should I bring, I wondered. Thinking back to my early explorations of Zen, mainly …

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Kulers Uncorked: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2012 Kim Crawford, SP Spitfire, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

2012 Kim Crawford, SP Spitfire, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

  • $25
  • Two Thumbs Up
  • Intense aromas of tart citrus, especially grapefruit, ripe peach and just-cut grass. Lots of tropical and citrus fruit flavors, but with a strong line of balancing acidity. It has a particularly long finish that suggests pineapple, candied ginger, lime zest and white pepper.

New Zealand sauvignon blancs have taken it on the chin in recent years, or so it would seem. Once the tart, fruity darling of the Anything But Chardonnay crowd, these days I find many folks turn up their noses at the mere mention of New Zealand’s iconic wine.

Of course, others swear by kiwi sauvignon blancs. Wine sales from New Zealand, especially sauvignon blancs, continue their 30-year spiral upward. New Zealand’s winemaking association reports a 22 percent increase from 2009 to 2013 amounting to $1.2 billion in export sales. Over the past 10 years, vineyard acreage has just about …

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