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

Archive for March, 2014

A non-interview with Goose Island brewmaster Brett Porter

Brett Porter at Goose Island

Brett Porter at Goose Island

Brett Porter may have one of the most enviable and difficult jobs in the craft beer world.

Porter came to Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Co. as head brewer in May 2010 and was promoted to brewmaster in 2011. But in what some in Chicago termed “the honk heard round the world,” Anheuser-Busch InBev acquired Goose Island that same year.

And that transaction set up a battle between beer geeks, who declared the small craft brewery dead to them because of its corporate ties, and others, who pledged allegiance to the maker of sour and wood-aged delights like Sophie and Bourbon County Stout, no matter the source.

Atlanta has only been Goose Island territory since late 2012. Recently, after metro area AB InBev distributors brought in all sorts GI goodies for “Migration Week,” including stuff like Bourbon County Rare aged in 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle barrels, I interviewed Porter.

Our phone conversation, which was recorded my me and monitored by a publicist …

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Kulers Uncorked: The Somm

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

Maybe it’s the word that strikes an uneasiness in the minds of those sitting around the table. Sommelier. It’s a mouthful. Saw-muh-LYAY. I occasionally mangle it and I am one. Ooo-la-la, perhaps it’s the Frenchiness of the word. Heck, there’s even a movie about the lives of sommeliers and the producers saw fit to only use the first four letters—Somm.

Whatever the reason, wine lovers of all stripes tense up when I arrive at the table and utter the fateful words: “Will you be enjoying wine with your meal tonight?”

"“You can't force yourself on the guest. Sometimes they do need the help, but don't want it," says Jacob Gragg, sommelier at Sea Island, Ga., Resort, won the 2014 TopNewSomm in the Southeast competition.

"“You can't force yourself on the guest. Sometimes they do need the help, but don't want it," says Jacob Gragg, sommelier at Sea Island, Ga., Resort. Gragg recently won the 2014 TopNewSomm in the Southeast competition.

The situation has not reached crisis level. In fact, the majority of my wine patrons spell relief: s-o-m-m-e-l-i-e-r. They are either content for me to make their selections for the evening or they look forward to engaging in a friendly …

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Zen and the Art of the Variety Pack

SierraIPA2014

“We’re in such a hurry most of the time we never get much chance to talk. The result is a kind of endless day-to-day shallowness, a monotony that leaves a person wondering years later where all the time went and sorry that it’s all gone.” — Robert M. Pirsig, “Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance.”

Recently, I was invited to give a talk about beer at the Friday Forum of the Atlanta Soto Zen Center. As the program put it, “Samples of the brewer’s art will be provided.”

For those who don’t know much about Zen, it might seem rather odd that beer drinking would be welcomed in a quiet place dedicated to meditation.

But my good friend, who is a Soto Zen priest and an ASZC community member, assured me that the abbot, Zenkai Taiun Michael Elliston, and the other members were really looking forward to learning more about beer, and trying some, too.

Still, what kind of beer should I bring, I wondered. Thinking back to my early explorations of Zen, mainly rooted in popular books …

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Kulers Uncorked: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2012 Kim Crawford, SP Spitfire, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

2012 Kim Crawford, SP Spitfire, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

  • $25
  • Two Thumbs Up
  • Intense aromas of tart citrus, especially grapefruit, ripe peach and just-cut grass. Lots of tropical and citrus fruit flavors, but with a strong line of balancing acidity. It has a particularly long finish that suggests pineapple, candied ginger, lime zest and white pepper.

New Zealand sauvignon blancs have taken it on the chin in recent years, or so it would seem. Once the tart, fruity darling of the Anything But Chardonnay crowd, these days I find many folks turn up their noses at the mere mention of New Zealand’s iconic wine.

Of course, others swear by kiwi sauvignon blancs. Wine sales from New Zealand, especially sauvignon blancs, continue their 30-year spiral upward. New Zealand’s winemaking association reports a 22 percent increase from 2009 to 2013 amounting to $1.2 billion in export sales. Over the past 10 years, vineyard acreage has just about doubled.

So, …

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