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Archive for January, 2013

Beer Town: Beyond water, malt, hops, yeast

At a recent preview tour of the new Monday Night brewery on Atlanta’s Westside, our guide asked whether anyone could name the four basic building blocks of beer. Of course, a whole bunch of hands shot up, and at least one person shouted out the tried-and-true answer: water, malt, hops, yeast.

lagunitasucks:labelNowadays, though, those ingredients are just the bare essentials. In the Belgian tradition, many beers are dosed with candy sugar and flavored with fruit and spices. Or in American extreme fashion, they’re jacked up with chocolate and/or coffee, or inebriated in wine or whiskey barrels.

Casks, once the vessel of English mild session ales, have become a delivery system for all sorts of wild flavors.

Some of the winners at the 2012 Sweetwater Brew Your Cask Off competition were named “Nuttin Butter,” “The Chubby Chocolate Bunny” and “The Elvis Peanut Butter and Banana Porter.” And at the most recent Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting, Sweetwater made “Sad Ending,” an Imperial Stout with Hostess …

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Beer Town: Monday Night Brewing opens

The “Wall of Ties” — a towering neon-lit display tacked with layers of old neckties — is maybe the most conspicuous of the many playful design elements in the new Monday Night Brewing tasting room on Atlanta’s Westside.

Monday Night tap handles

Monday Night tap handles

But there are tie-shaped tap handles and tie-shaped door handles, too. And even the shiny stainless steel fermentation tanks out in the brewery are hung with giant ties.

Like their motto, “Weekends Are Overrated,” ties are proud emblems for the three Monday Night partners, Jonathan Baker, Jeff Heck and Joel Iverson, who met in a weekly Bible study, and decided to open a craft brewery together while concocting homebrew recipes in Heck’s garage.

“We started as white collar guys, and when we’d come home on a Monday, we’d loosen our ties and brew beer,” said Baker, who has the title, Marketing Guy and Master of Mind Control.

“Monday is traditionally a much maligned day of the week but for us it became a day to look forward to and a time to …

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Kulers Uncorked: Sineann Red Table Wine

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2011 Sineann Red Table Wine, Oregon

2011 Sineann Red Table Wine, Oregon

  • $20
  • Two Thumbs Up
  • Pleasant floral aromas with bright red berry fruit and red apple skin. It has sweet-tart, bright flavors of raspberries, cranberries and a subtle briary, menthol note.

Winemaking is tough.

Great wines are the result of blood, sweat, tears and plenty of trial and error. Every once in a while, in the midst of their toil, a winemaker has a bone thrown his or her way. That was the case with Peter Rosback, the well-regarded Oregon winemaker, and the “discovery” of his Red Table Wine.

Rosback’s winery, Sineann, is best known for its pinot noirs, but in recent years, Rosback has dabbled with cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, zinfandel and merlot from Columbia Valley. He also travels to New Zealand to produce sauvignon blanc and pinot noir from the South Island’s exciting Central Otago region.

Sineann makes about 20 wines in any given vintage with a preponderance of red varieties. Sineann is well recognized …

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Beer Town: Homebrew to pro brew

Every fall, American Homebrew Association members team up with breweries from around the country to create homebrew recipes and enter them in the Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am Competition in Denver.

 Bob Southard won Taco Mac’s Southern Brewer’s Challenge

Bob Southard won Taco Mac’s Southern Brewer’s Challenge

Around the same time, the winners of the Samuel Adams Longshot American Homebrew Contest are announced and soon after, the winning beers are brewed, bottled and made available nationally in the Samuel Adams Longshot variety six-pack.

Here in Atlanta, contests and collaborations between homebrewers and brewpubs are becoming more common, too, including a string of one-off guest brews at Five Seasons, Twain’s Homebrew Challenge and the recent Max Lager’s Challenge.

This month, Taco Mac locations around Atlanta are featuring Red Brick Cherry Chocolate Porter on draft. The beer was brewed by Atlanta’s Red Brick Brewing Co. using a recipe from Woodstock homebrewer Bob Southard, who won Taco Mac’s inaugural 2012 Southern …

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Kulers Uncorked: Pierre Damoy Clos Tamisot

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2009 Pierre Damoy, Clos Tamisot, Gevrey-Chambertin

2009 Pierre Damoy, Clos Tamisot, Gevrey-Chambertin

  • $75
  • The Golden Thumb Award
  • Deep, rich aromas of perfume-like lilacs, lavender with perfectly ripe red and dark berry fruit. Pleasing flavors of red raspberry, black cherry, blackberry with pinpoint acidity. It also had a mineral, slate-like tension with notes of dry mushroom and cocoa powder.

I’ve lived in the South for 23 years this week and (bless my heart!) have never really understood many phrases used by my adopted region. In the latter half of 2012, I came to appreciate one term, or at least I think so. I do believe I’ve had “the vapors.”

According to Wikipedia and several snarky, know-it-all websites, having the vapors is an antebellum expression for being overcome by emotion or ever-so-slightly stimulated by someone or something.

Yep, I’ve had the vapors alright.

What caused me to get all hot and bothered? Recognizing that you’re reading this in a wine column, you may have guessed it was a particular …

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Beer Town: Real or faux craft beer?

In the waning days of 2012, a battle that’s been simmering for a long time boiled over into what could become a full scale war.

On one side, the Goliaths of multinational beer sales, AB InBev and SABMiller. On the other side, the Davids of American craft brewing and their trade organization, the Colorado-based Brewers Association.blue-moon

The backstory is the growth and strength of craft beer.

While still a tiny percentage of overall beer sales, the dollar sales for craft brewers were up again in 2012, while brands like Michelob and Miller Genuine Draft made the Wall Street Journal’s 2012 list of “Beers Americans No Longer Drink.”

The rise of American craft breweries, which include the likes of Boston Beer Co., Sierra Nevada, New Belgium and, closer to home, Sweetwater, is an incredible success story. And the Brewers Association and its president, homebrew guru Charlie Papazian, have done an amazing job telling that story.

But now the BA is telling another story, too, crying foul on …

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