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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Archive for May, 2012

Beer Town: Southern Beer delights at Atlanta Food & Wine Fest

Though you might not guess it from the name, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival has turned out to be an important gathering for Southern craft brewers.

Oscar Wong, John Cochran, Leslie Henderson, John Pinkerton, Freddy Bensch

Oscar Wong, John Cochran, Leslie Henderson, John Pinkerton, Freddy Bensch

Building on the learning experiences of the 2011 inaugural festival, 2012 again proved that craft beer has a place at the Southern table, alongside barbecue, bourbon and other regional delights.

One of the best examples of that serendipity could be found at the afternoon tasting tents, where people were visibly giddy to spy a row of Southern craft brewers pouring beer directly across from a row of Southern chefs serving fried chicken.

The crowded walkway between the tables was a very happy place, with sipping and munching and perfect impromptu pairings like Sweetwater’s hoppy-citrus IPA and Cardamom Hill’s South India-style spicy fried chicken. And there was a convivial buzz as brewers and chefs traded samples back and forth.

On Friday afternoon, I had …

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Kulers Uncorked: Jacob Gragg Advanced Somm

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

Jacob Gragg of Aria is Atlanta's newest Advanced Sommelier.

Jacob Gragg of Aria is Atlanta's newest Advanced Sommelier.

While some have said that I got my Certified Wine Educator credential in a gumball machine, truly, it was the culmination of just about two years of intensive study and practice. The Society of Wine Educators’ CWE exam is an all-day affair that includes two tasting components, an exacting multiple-choice test and an anxiety-producing essay question. Fewer than 12 percent of the applicants pass the first time.

I am proud of my achievement, but I have to say this: The CWE credential means nothing…at least when you measure it against the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced Sommelier credential. Without going into mind-numbing detail, their test is five days long and conducted by some of the world’s smartest, detail-oriented wine professionals. This is a difficult exam; I am humbled by those qualified enough to attempt it, let alone pass it.

Atlanta’s ranks of Advanced Sommeliers grew by one in …

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Beer Town: Rocking the Civil War at Burnt Hickory Brewery

Burnt Hickory is a different kind of brewery.

Scott HedeenSure, president/brew master Scott Hedeen is making beer the old-fashioned way — with water, malt, hops and yeast. But Hedeen is creating high-gravity ales on such a small scale, with so much punk attitude, that it’s sometimes difficult to separate the method from the madness.

One afternoon at the brewery, which is hidden away in a small industrial park in Kennesaw, Hedeen attempted to explain the wild DIY mystique of the Burnt Hickory brand to a woman from Cobb Travel & Tourism.

“It’s all free and it’s all hype on a certain level,” Hedeen said. “But now I’m sort of trying to go to a motif that’s a Civil War, spaghetti western, biker-type thing.”

“I like that,” the women said, clearly confused but amused.

On one wall of the tiny tasting room, surrealistic portraits of Civil War figures by the designer of Burnt Hickory’s labels, Nashville artist Mr. Hooper, depict scenes from the Battle of Kennesaw …

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Kulers Uncorked: Volver Tempranillo

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2009 Volver Tempranillo, La Mancha, Spain

2009 Volver Tempranillo, La Mancha, Spain

  • $18
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Rich aromas of black cherry, plums, black licorice and pipe tobacco. It offers lots of fresh, dark berry fruit with pleasant notes dark-brewed coffee and eucalyptus. It has firm but not formidable tannins.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the tough kid on the wine playground. It has thick skin, which gives its razorblade-like tannins. When it gets around to ripening on the vine—after all, it’s too cool rush into harvest—cabernet sauvignon can have eye-popping alcohol levels, making it hot on the palate. Its brooding, dark, smoky flavors only burnishes its James Dean image.

And, hey, there’s nothing wrong with loving this rouge grape with a heart of gold. Tens of millions of wine lovers seek out cabernets and not much else. Go to any wine shop and you’ll see a worldwide wine industry catering to cabernet lovers. To be honest, whether it is in a blend or straight-up, I probably drink more cabernet …

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