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Beer Town: Limited edition beers are fun stuff

Seasonal beers have been a part of brewing science and tradition for centuries. Think Christmas ale or May bock.

But to say one-off and specialty series products are the big thing in craft brewing right now would be a crazy understatement, as craft breweries release new and never-to-be-seen-again beers at a dizzying rate.

Terrapin Beer Co.

Terrapin Beer Co.

In Georgia, Athens’ Terrapin was an early instigator of the specialty beer game, starting with the Monster Beer Tour, featuring hefty seasonals such as Big Hoppy Monster. The Side Project series, begun in 2008, recently reached Volume 14 with Tomfoolery Black Saison.

Last year, Terrapin produced four beers in its Georgia Theatre Sessions series, plus the most recent Midnight Project collaboration with Left Hand Brewing and the annual Reunion beer for cancer research.

Owner/brewer Brian “Spike” Buckowski said 2010 was grueling but exciting, with Terrapin putting out some 20 specialty beers in addition to its regular year-round portfolio.

“It keeps everybody interested and it keeps your brand in focus,” Buckowski said. “With so many craft beers in the market now, you really need to put out something every couple of months to stay in the limelight.”

Terrapin’s Monster Beer spring seasonal, Monk’s Revenge Belgian-style double IPA, is coming soon, followed by Side Project 15, Indiana Krunkles wheat IPA, and Terrapin Twilight, a German kolsch-style in honor of the annual Athens bike race.

Sweetwater Brewing Co.

Sweetwater Brewing Co.

Atlanta’s Sweetwater has won the hearts of beer geeks with its experimental Dank Tank series. The most recent example is Mean Joe Bean, an imperial porter brewed with chocolate malt and coffee beans from Java Vino.

“According to the numbers, seasonal beer is what’s on fire,” said Sweetwater’s Steve Farace. “And limited edition beer is an extension of that. But this is fun stuff, especially for the brewers, and a lot of people are jumping on board.”

Last month, Atlanta’s Red Brick unveiled its new Brick Mason series with a limited edition 16th anniversary imperial brown ale aged in bourbon casks. Later this year, look for a Brick Mason double IPA.

Georgia’s newest and smallest craft brewery, Jailhouse in Hampton is set to release Midnight Special black ale, the first of its new Solitary Confinement series. It will be followed by Incarceration Belgian golden strong ale in July and Hop Riot double IPA later in 2011.

Owner/brewer Glenn Golden said limited edition beers are particularly challenging given Jailhouse’s tiny brewing and bottling capacity. But like other craft brewers, Golden believes the extra effort is worth it.

“Craft beer drinkers are looking for the newest and most interesting thing,” Golden said. “The idea of sharing a new and different beer is part of the camaraderie of craft beer. Experimenting with these beers is like being a home brewer again and that’s just a lot of fun.”

- by Bob Townsend, AJC Drink blog

8 comments Add your comment

Hindu Elvis Pimp

March 18th, 2011
12:10 pm

Hey Bob……Can you educate Kessler on good beer? He never touches on it in his restaurant reviews. The last one he gave a great review, but never broached the weak beer list a fine restaurant should have. Explain to him the nearly endless possibilities of pairing food with all the different beers.

Thanks.

Bob

March 20th, 2011
12:11 pm

Hindu Elvis Pimp: Nice name, dude.

I know John knows and loves good beer. I just don’t think it’s a priority for him, given the limited space he has for reviews. You should bring it up on the Food & More blog.

Cheers,

Bob

kp

March 21st, 2011
1:14 pm

Where are the spirits in “Drink: A beer, wine and spirits blog”?

Hindu Elvis Pimp

March 22nd, 2011
9:50 am

I have brought it up on his blog. To be fair, I do enjoy his blog and reviews, however as a beer geek, I feel it is part of OUR responsibility to further our quest for great beer wherever we go. Brickstore and Leons should not be the only locations in my part of town that serves good food and great beer. I figure between my incessant blog posts and your relationship with Mr Kessler, we can bring this to the forefront.

Cheers

P.S. I got the name when I spotted an Indian at a mall dressed like a pimp with the Elvis sunglasses on……Hindu Elvis Pimp.

Jill

March 22nd, 2011
9:51 am

Look forward to trying these limited beers at taco mac !

Jill

March 22nd, 2011
10:00 am

Enter your comments here

pretzelnecklace

March 22nd, 2011
2:21 pm

Fun!FunFun!!! Lucky for us with ADD!

btownsend

March 24th, 2011
10:02 am

I agree KP. We need more spirits.Noted!