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Archive for January, 2011

Beer Town: A Love letter to Georgia craft brewers

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s chief dining critic, John Kessler, recently wrote “An open letter to Atlanta chefs,” prompting an avalanche of lively discussions that spilled over to local and national blogs and websites.

Kessler’s provocative commentary asked chefs to consider 10 requests that could “make Atlanta a better place to chow down.”

Among the requests: “please work on your execution”; “show some wit”; “work toward the new fusion”; “make one thing really well”; “surprise us.”

I’m happy to report, there’s no need to write anything but a love letter to Georgia’s craft brewers.

They’re already doing all those things and more — making award-winning beers with plenty of wit, trying new stylistic fusions, producing signature best-sellers, and coming up with surprising one-off creations.

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And compared with the competition in other dynamic beer regions, they’re doing it backwards, in high heels, while hog-tied by government …

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Georgia Wines Beat California

In a controlled blind tasting, Yonah Mountain Vineyards pitted its chardonnay against Kistler Vineyard’s Dutton Ranch Chardonnay. It also put its Genesis (a merlot-cabernet sauvignon-based blend) against Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon and Ghost Horse Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, one of those $750 cult wines. Yonah shut out California’s best in all contests.

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Chateau de Parenchere

Like Australia, Bordeaux makes a whole lot of wine and most of it is pretty inexpensive, even in this day of the diminishing value of the dollar. Château Greysac has always been a favorite of mine. It typically goes for about $15. Château Bel Air, Haut-Médoc, is also another reliable, under-$15 fave.

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Beer Pick: Terrapin Hoptaneous Combustion

Terrapin Hoptaneous Combustion

Terrapin Beer Co., Athens

$9.99/ 22-ounce bottle; also available on draft at select beer bars.
Hoptaneus Combustion
Profile: Hoptaneous Combustion is the final release in Terrapin’s Georgia Theater Sessions, a series of four limited-edition beers aimed at helping rebuild the historic Athens music venue that was gutted by fire in 2009.

This time, brewer Brian “Spike” Buckowski presents a playful take on the tragedy with a smoked double IPA. The hybrid style is different, to say the least. But the addition of Weyermann smoked malt creates some exciting aroma and flavor fractals with a blend of Warrior, Nugget, Centennial and Simcoe hops adding bright citrus and spicy notes to this strong (9.3 percent alcohol by volume), sticky brew.

Pair with: Spicy barbecue, Mexican mole, tacos al pastor or pasta with Amatriciana sauce would make good matches for big, bright, smoky Hoptaneous Combustion.

By Bob Townsend, AJC Drink

Bob Townsend is editor of Southern Brew News, a …

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Beer Town: Port and Lost Abbey brewer sets sights on Georgia

“Somebody cue the Ray Charles music because we’ve got Georgia on our minds,” Tomme Arthur, the director of brewery operations for the Lost Abbey and Port Brewing, recently posted on his blog.

“More specifically, we’ve got our beer in Georgia on our minds,” Arthur went on. “That’s right, boys and girls, as of January 1, 2011 the Peach State will officially become the 8th state in which our beers are distributed!”

Outside the craft beer community, Lost Abbey and Port aren’t exactly well-known names. But among beer aficionados, Arthur’s beers, which are produced in a small brewery in suburban San Diego, are revered, sought out and sometimes collected like boutique wines.

Beyond California, Lost Abbey and Port can only be found in Arizona, Colorado, Washington state,  Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia.
tomme-arthur
Last week, Arthur planned to be in Georgia for a series of events to celebrate the arrival of his beers here, but the snowstorm kept him in San Diego. When I …

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Cupcake Wines

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By Gil Kulers

Great Wine Is A Piece of (Cup) Cake

If you’ve been in the supermarket’s wine aisle in the past year or so, you are probably familiar with the current “it” wine—Cupcake.

You got a wine need? The folks who bring you Cupcake have a bottle for you. You want a chard? Covered. Cabernet sauvignon? Naturally. Merlot? Of course. Riesling? They’ve got two, one from Germany and one from Washington. Argentinean malbec? Italian Pinot grigio? Australian shiraz? Yes, yes and yes. They even have three different sparkling wines.

Cupcake Vineyards make a lot of wine and most of it is remarkably good.

Cupcake Vineyards make a lot of wine and most of it is remarkably good.

These types of outfits, which aim to be all wines to all people, are just the kind of wines that critics love to hate. When a winemaker is pumping out millions of cases a year, it’s hard to envision quality, hand-crafted wines, aging silently in oak barrels (the stuff wine critics love to write about). In 2009, Cupcake Vineyards produced 237,754 gallons of chardonnay …

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Beer Pick: Jailhouse Breakout Stout

Jailhouse Breakout Stout

Jailhouse Brewing Co., Hampton.

$5.99/22-ounce bottle at metro beverage stores; also on draft at select beer bars.
_BREAKOUT_STOUT
Profile: One of the most pleasant surprises of 2010, Breakout Stout from tiny Jailhouse Brewing Co. in Hampton is a rich, dark beer made with a blend of caramel and chocolate malts and roasted barley. Notes of cocoa and espresso are enhanced by robust bitterness and fruity aromas and flavors from additions of Chinook and Cascade hops.

Pair with: Jailhouse owner-brewer Glenn Golden suggests pairing Breakout Stout with desserts such as cheesecake or brownies, or with spicy savory dishes such as chili, steak burritos or fajitas.

Bob Townsend is editor of Southern Brew News, a bimonthly beer publication distributed throughout the Southeast. www.brewingnews.com/southernbrew

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Monte Oton

By Gil Kulers

By Gil Kulers

2009 Monte Oton, Campo de Borja, Spain

2009 Monte Oton,Campo de Borja, Spain

• $9

• Two Thumbs Way Up

• Aromas of blueberry, cherry brandy and toasted almonds. Gulpable flavors of black cherry, black licorice, spicy, toasted almonds and a earthy, mocha-cappuccino quality all wrapped in supremely silky texture.

If you’re anything like me, you had a budget for holiday gift giving and you blew right past all the signs that said: STOP! Now, we’re stuck on the railroad crossing of life with January’s credit card statement barreling toward us like an overdue freight train. But we still gotta drink something, right?

Serious debt can be a great motivator to search out bargains. I’ve said for a long time that price is an imprecise instrument for determining wine quality. Sometimes an $8 bottle of wine isn’t good enough to clean off your car battery terminals and other times it can drink just as good as a something three and four times its price.

So what should a frugal wine …

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Beer Town: The year in craft beer 2010

As 2010 was coming to an end, the Brewers Association, which represents America’s small and independent craft breweries, took a look back at some of the year’s biggest beer trends.

You’ll find the article by Julia Herz, the Association’s Craft Beer Program director, at craftbeer.com.

To get an Atlanta perspective, I asked the group of beer geeks who regularly post on the local Beer Talk mailing list at atlantabeer.com to offer their opinions on a few of the highlights.

Here’s a smattering of what this well-informed and sometimes ornery bunch had to say.

Q: Is the rise of canned craft beer a good thing?

“Cans are good. Lighter and smaller to ship and store. Quicker to chill. Easier to recycle. But cans don’t have the presentation of a corked and caged 750-ml bottle or a wax-dipped 22-oz. bomber.”

“It’s a big deal for the breweries, but I don’t think most beer drinkers care. I haven’t met anyone who’s excited or put off by craft in cans. I prefer …

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Jailhouse in Hampton is Georgia’s newest and smallest brewery

Ask a savvy beer enthusiast to name the gift they most wished for but didn’t get this Christmas and they might offer a sly wink and answer, “A brewery.”

Homebrewer Glenn Golden made that wish come true for himself in late 2009 when he opened Jailhouse Brewing Co. in Hampton, joining the ranks of Sweetwater and Red Brick in Atlanta and Terrapin in Athens as the only four production craft breweries operating in Georgia.

The week before Christmas, Golden was crammed into a corner of the brewery, surrounded by a group that had gathered around a narrow entrance way that doubles as a tasting room during weekly Saturday afternoon tours.
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“Everything here needs to do double-duty or be on wheels so it can be moved,” Golden said as he walked through the brewery and pointed out a compact Rube Goldberg-like bottling device.

Golden had it fabricated at a local machine shop and fitted with casters in order to accommodate the brewery’s modest budget and cozy confines. But when …

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