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An Atlanta twist on the White IPA style and story

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IPA is big stuff and getting bigger.

For many years it’s been the top category at the Great American Beer Festival. Last year, Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada even teamed with the German glassware maker Spiegelau to create a special IPA glass they claim enhances the experience of the hops that distinguish the style.

Of course, American craft brewers have made the most of bright, citrusy, aromatic American hops with experimental styles like Black and Belgian IPA that have become more and more popular.

Now another new style dubbed White IPA has emerged as a favorite. Essentially a hybrid of Belgian wit and American IPA, it mixes unmalted wheat and spices from the Belgian side and barley malt and hop character from the American side.

Oregon’s Deschutes and Missouri’s Boulevard are the brewers often credited with creating the prototype with a 2010 collaboration called Conflux No. 2. Since then, a host of White IPAs have hit the market, including separate versions from …

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Kulers Uncorked: Frank Family

2010 Frank Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Calif.

2010 Frank Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Calif.

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

  • $55
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Intense aromas of dark berry fruit, overripe plums, dry tobacco and dark chocolate. A big wine with intense, dark fruit flavors, it maintains a balance with bright acidity, solid tannins and spicy notes of leather, cigar box and dark chocolate.

Rich Frank sees a lot of parallels between making movies and making wine. “They both take about a year to make,” the former head of Disney Studios says with a chuckle. “And you must lay out a lot of money at the beginning.”

Frank knows quite a lot about getting successful films and wines to market. In addition to being one of the most powerful players in Hollywood in the 1980s and 1990s, for the past two decades he has owned and operated Frank Family Vineyards, located in the bucolic, anything-but-Hollywood setting of Napa Valley.

Before he started making wine, Frank escaped the pressure and pretense of Los Angeles by …

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San Diego’s Ballast Point hits Atlanta

Ballast Point may be best known for its highly regarded Sculpin IPA, currently rated a perfect 100 at ratebeer.com and 98 at beeradvocate.com. But there’s much more to the story. The San Diego company, which opened its production brewery in 1996 and its craft distillery in 2008, now makes over 40 styles of beer and seven different spirits.

Toward the end of 2013, most of Ballast Point’s core beers and spirits became available in Georgia for the first time, with Sculpin, Big Eye IPA, Pale Ale, Calico Amber and Wahoo White making a splash at bars and package stores around Atlanta and Athens. Fugu Vodka, Three Sheets Rum and Old Grove Gin are showing up in some places now, too.

Yuseff Cherney, who has the distinction of being Ballast Point’s co-founder, chief operating officer, head brewer and head distiller, recalled the company’s humble beginnings in co-founder Jack White’s Home Brew Mart, a shop that’s still an important part of San Diego’s booming craft beer …

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Kulers Uncorked: Russian River Pinots

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2010 Inman Family Wines, Olivet Grange Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Russian River, Calif.

2010 Inman Family Wines, Olivet Grange Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Russian River, Calif.

  • $68
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Intense aromas of red berries, rose petals and candied ginger. Equally intense flavors of red berries and tart black cherries and persistent notes of cola and cinnamon on its long finish.

The first thing Kathleen Inman would like you to know about her wines is that they are not from Russia (a common comment she hears in her travels). Inman Family Wines produce wines from pinot noir, pinot gris and chardonnay grapes grown in the Russian River Valley, located squarely in the heart of California’s Sonoma County.

The second thing the effervescent, former corporate headhunter would like you to know is that her Russian River pinot noirs—which in many quarters is shorthand for rich, jammy, alcoholic wines—are not what you might expect.

“They don’t need to be,” Inman says regarding the rich, slightly sweet, full-bodied pinot noirs that the Russian River has become …

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Remembering Ryan Hidinger with Second Helping India Pale Ale

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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 thegivingkitchen.org.

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 …

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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 …

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Where To Find Sweetwater Second Helping

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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:

Abbatoir
Argosy
Aria
Atkins Park
Bacchanalia
Bad Dog Taqueria
Bantam Pub
Barcelona
Big Tex Cantina
Bocca Lupo
Bone Lick BBQ
Bookhouse Pub
Brewhouse Cafe
Brickstore Pub
Bucket Shop Cafe
Cakes & Ale
Canoe
Cardamom Hill
Common Quarter
Cypress Street Pint & Plate
Dantanna’s
DBA Barbecue
Double Zero
Eleanor’s
Empire State South
Fado
Floataway Cafe
Fox Bros.
Genki Noodles
H&F
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
McCray’s
Meehan’s
Mellow …

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Beer Town: Craft Beer’s Roots in Homebrew

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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 …

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The Year in Beer 2013

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It was another great year for craft beer. In June, the Brewers Association reported that there were 2,483 craft breweries in the U.S., the greatest number since the 1870s, and an additional 1,605 were in the works.

But as 2013 came to a close, there were signs that sales were slowing a bit, and several financial stories warned that the craft beer building boom could be headed for a bust.

Here’s a look back on what had beer lovers buzzing in 2013 and a look forward to 2014:

Craft vs. Crafty — In late 2012, the Brewers Association wrote an editorial that attacked international giants Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller for being “crafty” with the marketing of beers such as Shock Top and Blue Moon. The “craft vs. crafty” fight raged on throughout 2013, with beer geeks wondering about favorites such as Goose Island, now owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, and questioning whether the Brewers Association’s definition of craft brewing should include its biggest craft brewer, …

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