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Archive for January, 2014

Remembering Ryan Hidinger with Second Helping India Pale Ale


On Jan. 9, my friend Ryan Hidinger lost his battle with cancer. He was 36, a great chef and very cool guy who used his final year to inspire and bless others.

Through The Giving Kitchen non-profit and Staplehouse restaurant, Hidinger will live on in a legacy of help and hope for those in Atlanta’s restaurant community facing the kinds of hardships he faced. If you don’t know The Giving Kitchen story, you can find out more at

I first met Ryan when he was chef de cuisine at Muss & Turner’s in Smyrna and we became casual friends over our mutual love of great beer. I got to know Ryan and his wife Jen better when I covered a Staplehouse dinner for an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story about so-called “underground” supper clubs.

After that, Ryan and Jen became regular guests at an annual beer geek bacchanal on my front porch. And in November they were there again, hanging out in the kitchen, sipping a bit of Gulden Draak and laughing with friends as sun …

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Kulers Uncorked: Alcohol In Wine

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

Caine Cuvée, NV 9, Napa Valley

Caine Cuvée, NV 9, Napa Valley

  • $34
  • Plentiful aromas of red berry fruit, black licorice and cola with a pleasant floral quality. Similar characteristics on the palate with notes of cedar, cigar box, cinnamon and clove.

About eight months ago, the rebel in me reacted to a fervent trend in the wine world to lambaste wines that live in the 15-16 percent alcohol range. My stance, then and now, is that you should drink what makes you happy. So I reviewed a great wine that was 15.5 alcohol…just to show ’em!

Since that column ran, I had the great pleasure to dine as a guest of Chris Howell, the longtime general manager and winemaker for Cain Vineyard and Winery. Howell is as much a philosopher as he is a winemaker. This passionate thinker makes a relatively obscure syrah-cabernet blend not of his hands as the center of dinner conversation to illustrate a fine point on winemaking, even though his guest really came to the winery—perched high above the Napa Valley—to …

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Where To Find Sweetwater Second Helping


Sweetwater Second Helping is a limited-release available in 22-oz. bottles and on draft around metro Atlanta. All profits from the beer’s sale will be donated by United Distributors and Sweetwater Brewery directly back to The Giving Kitchen.

Here’s a partial list of bars and restaurants where you can go to try it with friends and offer a toast to Ryan Hidinger and The Giving Kitchen:

Atkins Park
Bad Dog Taqueria
Bantam Pub
Big Tex Cantina
Bocca Lupo
Bone Lick BBQ
Bookhouse Pub
Brewhouse Cafe
Brickstore Pub
Bucket Shop Cafe
Cakes & Ale
Cardamom Hill
Common Quarter
Cypress Street Pint & Plate
DBA Barbecue
Double Zero
Empire State South
Floataway Cafe
Fox Bros.
Genki Noodles
Hand in Hand
Here To Serve Restaurants
Holy Taco
Hudson Grille
Iberian Pig
Jake’s Ice Cream
JCT Kitchen
Kimball House
King + Duke
Kouzina Christos
Leon’s Full Service
Local Three
Mellow Mushroom
Midway …

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Beer Town: Craft Beer’s Roots in Homebrew


Ken Grossman, who owned a home brew shop in Chico, Calif., was among the first generation of craft brewers who started out as home brewers.

As Grossman recounts in his book, “Beyond the Pale: The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.” (Wiley, $24.95), he cobbled together recycled dairy equipment to launch Sierra Nevada in 1980, founding one of the first craft breweries in the U.S. And, of course, his boldly bitter Sierra Nevada Pale Ale helped define the American craft beer revolution.

More than 30 years later, the revolution has grown into a major business. Sierra is the second-biggest craft brewer in the U.S., based on sales volume, and the company is set to open a second brewery early this year in Mills River, N.C., near Asheville.

The pattern of homebrewers becoming professional brewers and opening breweries hasn’t changed much since Grossman’s early days.

In metro Atlanta, new breweries such as Monday Night, Three Taverns, Jekyll and Eventide are all products of the …

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Kulers Uncorked: Dessert Wines

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

Yalumba Museum Reserve, 21-Year Tawny Muscat, South Eastern Australia

Yalumba Museum Reserve, 21-Year Tawny Muscat, South Eastern Australia

  • $19
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Aromas of mincemeat pie with deep, rich flavors of brown sugar, molasses and caramel. It has touch of acidity that keeps it from becoming too heavy. It leaves a pleasant clove-like aftertaste.

For some time, fans of Kulers Uncorked (both of you) have asked if it is possible to get more of me. This is a request I took to heart and one I dedicated myself to the entire month of December.

Here’s my solution: I gained 10 pounds.

There is indeed more of me pounding on this keyboard right now. And while I’d like to blame my dedication to serving readers, my talented neighbors and friends played the greatest role in creating “more” of me with their limitless supply of irresistible candies, cookies and cakes. (Special shout out to Mary Kathryn Hagge, our family’s “Cookie Tante.”)

Seriously, though, I must lose what I’ve gained. Here’s my ingenious diet plan: Until I drop the …

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