Moon Wine & Spirits

Do you love craft beer AND wine? Do you live or work near Brentwood? If so, I recommend you check out Moon Wine & Spirits located 6910 Moores Lane in Brentwood, TN. Manager Sean McKay has knowledge about beer and wine- which is something you don't find very often. He is a regular attendee at many beer tastings. When he returned from his trip to France, he brought some rare French brewed (Belgian style) beer to share with the group. Swing on by and tell him Smitty sent you.

Terrapin Hop Harvest Festival in Athens, GA

Sorry folks, I won't be able to make this one. I am resting my liver and my kids have soccer. Sorry for the late notice, but this would be a fun trip for those looking for something to do tomorrow.

Terrapin Beer Co is hosting a celebration of “everything hoppy” with their 1st annual “Hop Harvest Festival” this weekend Saturday September 25th   from 4:30 - 7:30pm.

The featured beer of the night will be the first ever pouring of Terrapin’s new fresh hop (or “wet –hop”) limited-release beer “So Fresh & So Green Green”. This very special beer is brewed with Amarillo hops cones flown in overnight from the Yakima Valley in Washington earlier this month. Brian “Spike” Buckowski, co - founder & brew master at the brewery, plans to make this beer annually so Saturday will be the beginning of a Terrapin tradition!

Terrapin will also serve 6 casks of ale each dry hopped with a different variety of hops. These casks will offer people a unique tasting opportunity to identify the distinguishing characteristics of different hop varietals. These unique casks will be tapped at 5:30.

Other plans for the festivities include!
  • Special guests John Isenhour from Hop Union and Patrick LaZell from Country Malt Group/Canada Malting Company to explain the unique role hops play in the brewing process and to educate visitors about the history and biology of these bittering beauties.
·         Farm 255 will have their mobile Farm Cart on hand with locally grown farm to table goodies for sale.
·         Live music by the Welfare Liners local Athens Bluegrass favorites.  
·         Hopzilla, Big Hoppy Monster, Hopsecutioner, Hop Karma and more of your favorite hoppy beers from Terrapin!

Terrapin Beer Co. Brewery is located at 265 Newton Bridge Road in Athens, GA. If you can’t make it to the festival Tours of the brewery are offered every Wednesday through Saturday from 5:30pm – 7:30pm. The tours are an excellent opportunity to taste Terrapin's full line of award winning beers and see the brewing process firsthand.

Great American Beer Festival- Day Three

After a good night of rest, my friend and I were dropped off in front of the convention center about 90 minutes prior to the AHA members Saturday session. Since I had time to kill standing in line, I carefully planned out my route to try the beers I missed on Thursday's session.

Once inside, I wasted no time following my route. I took a short break to watch the award ceremony for the Smoked beer category, because I was confident that the local Yazoo SUE would take a medal. Sure enough, I was right and they won a silver! Congrats to Linus and crew! Let's not forget Blackstone Brewery, who also received a Silver medal for the St Charles Porter.

There were so many excellent beers that I don't think I can mention them all, but I can give you the highlights. New Glarus is always a staple for fruit beers, but Rocky Mountain Brewery was a pleasant new discovery. Da Yoopers (cherry), Tathonha Blueberry Ale, and Eat A Peach were excellent fruit dessert beers. The Tahonha tasted like liquid blueberry pie!

Some respected beer aficionado friend recommended Bellingham based Chuckanut Brewery. I sampled the Helles and the Pilsener, and they were outstanding. These folks know how to make a good lager, and I don't say that very often.

For Imperial Stouts, Goose Island Coffee Bourbon County Stout did not disappoint. It had a thick and oily mouthfeel with intense flavors of vanilla, dark chocolate, bourbon, and mild coffee. I think my favorite in that category was the Fifty Fifty Imperial Stout, brewed in Truckee, CA. It was perfectly balanced and had a more sessionable mouthfeel- just the way I like it. It sort of reminded me of North Coast Old Rasputin.

My favorite hoppy beer of the session goes to Bear Republic Ryevalry, which ended up getting a medal. The oddity goes to Short's Spruce Pilsener. Think of a hoppy pilsener with tons of spruce needles, or what I referred to as "Christmas tree in a glass."

Before the session ended, I had to swing over to the Russian River booth to get my fix of Pliny The Elder and Supplication. We then decided to leave early to beat the crowds at Falling Rock Taphouse. Once there, we were happy to get full servings of beer. We chose Russian River RedemptionPliny the Elder, and Oskar Blues Barrel Aged Old Chub with Cherries. It was also a great place to socialize with members of the craft beer industry. I had a nice chat with an Avery Brewing rep and discussed distribution in Nashville. Brewers and staff from 21st Amendment and Inland Empire joined our table for beers and fun conversation. We skipped out on the Dr Bill tasting in the basement, because we had "palate fatigue" and our designated driver was en route.

 I had a great trip. I thank my awesome wife for holding down the fort and my good friend Shannon for providing a place to crash. I met many new beer aficionados and tried several outstanding beers. Anyone who is a lover of craft beer owes it to themselves to make a trip to this Festival. You won't regret it.



Great American Beer Festival- Day Two

Ok. I did not attend the festival on Friday. I took the time to explore by following two fellow beer geeks on a brewery crawl. My first stop was Avery Brewing Company in Boulder. At 11 am, the place was packed with only one person pouring beer! I took a brief tour of the brewery and when it was over, they had more help. I tried the Jim's Pilsener, Jerry's Roggenbier, Brett IPA, and Missionary Man.

The next stop was Liquormax in Loveland. I was expecting a larger selection of beer based what the locals told me. However, I was extremely excited to pick up three beers from one of my favorite breweries- Russian River. My haul was rather small- Russian River Consecration, Russian River Supplication, Russian River Temptation, Alaskan Barleywine, and Goose Island Sophie.

From there headed to Fort Collins and stopped for a late lunch at Big City Burrito. Then it was off to New Belgium Brewing Company. They really laid out the welcome mat with free samples (they were not really keeping track of the 3 beer limit), gourmet finger food and desserts, and guest beers from Elysian. They have a very impressive facility and I highly recommend a visit. I did not do a tour because it was full. The standout beer on my flight was the Tart Lychee Sour Ale.

Once we finished up at New Belgium (I could have stayed longer), we stopped in at Odell Brewing Company, which was only a few minutes away. The tap room staff was prepared for the large crowds had a very efficient and organized system for pouring beers and sampler trays. The standout for me was the British-esque Cutthroat Porter. The odd beers were the Curry Wheat and a double Marzen with Brett.

My friends left Odell to head to the festival and I decided to make one more stop at the The Tasty Weasel, which is the Oskar Blues tasting room in Longmont. I had a 10 ounce serving of the Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy, which was excellent. This place has a lot of character and is definitely worth a visit.

From there I headed back to my friend's house in Erie. We enjoyed a white chicken pizza and opened the Goose Island Sophie and Russian River Temptation amongst friends and neighbors. A full day indeed!


Great American Beer Festival- Day One

Lucky for me, my flight was not delayed and I arrived in Denver on time.... to hit rush hour. By the time I reached the convention center, the members only entrance line must have been two blocks long! I will give credit to the event organizers, they really know how to move a line quickly. I was inside sampling beers within 20 minutes of the doors opening.

For this session, I tried to stay away from the stronger beers since I had to drive later that night. As far as IPAs, the standouts for me were Russian River Hopfather and Fat Heads Headhunter IPA. I also sought specialty beers and styles that I have never tried, such as the refreshing German style Gose from Portsmouth Brewing.

I finally sampled Triumph Brewing Jewish Rye after missing it several times at the brewpub, and it was outstanding. I don't know what brewing techniques were used to create it, but it tastes like a liquid artisan rye bread. Shorts Brewing was pouring their experimental brew Key Lime Pie, which was made with marshmallow, graham cracker, and lime. To be honest, it fell very short of matching the description.

Several outstanding coffee stouts were being poured. My favorites were Hopping Frog Cafe BORIS, Kuhnhenn Creme Brulee Java Stout, and Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout.

I did not have much time to venture in to the sour beers. Cascade Apricot Ale, Cascade Bourbonic Plaque, and New Belgium Imperial Berliner Style Weiss were the three standouts. A big disappointment was Sam Adams Kriek. It tasted artificial and was no where near the flavor or complexity of an authentic Kriek. As with Cherry Wheat and Cranberry Lambic, fruit beers are not their forte. I hope to try more sours during Saturday's session.

Today I am off to Fort Collins, Boulder, and Longmont for brewery tours and brewpubs.



Beer Festivals & Other News

The Great American Beer Festival starts tomorrow in Denver. This will be my second year attending, and this year I will be going to the Thursday session and Saturday AHA Members Session. I plan visit some breweries in Boulder and Longmont on Friday. Check my FLICKR photo feed on the right for live pics.

Nashville has a few upcoming beer events. The Tennesse Beer Festival on October 16  will be held at the Two Rivers Mansion on McGavock Pike. Tickets are still available.

On the following weekend, The Flying Saucer will have it's first annual Fall Beer Festival. It runs from Noon to 10 pm, and will have 6 beer tents and food. You will also have the option to purchase a 10 beer tasting card and glass for $20. There is no cover for this event.

J Barleycorn beer store is now selling growlers to go! They have four taps that will rotate. Swing by or give them a call to see what's pouring. That's it for now. I have to finish packing. If any of you locals are heading out to Denver, shoot me an email so we can meet up for a pint!.



New Brews Reviews

I picked up three somewhat new beers to the Nashville market and could not decide which one to review. What the heck! I figured that I would give an abridged review of all three. Without any further delay, here it goes.

Abita SOS- Abita Brewing Company- Covington, LA
This is a special release Pilsener that donates 75 cents per bottle to the Gulf Oil Spill relief effort. What also makes it interesting is that it is a Weizen Pils, which is a Pilsener made with wheat. Pours a straw golden with a slight haze, sudsy white head, and spotty lacing. Lighter side of medium bodied with average carbonation. Nice aroma of pilsner malts, lemon, dough, and herbal European hops. Flavor of pilsner and pale wheat malts, biscuit, and lemon grass countered by a nice spicy bitterness. Semi-dry hoppy finish with a hint of white pepper. A well-crafted beer, and probably one of the best offerings ever released by Abita. A repeat buy for me (and I don't say that very often). Enjoy this with grilled meats, Thai cuisine, BBQ, and cajun food.

                                      Smitty's Rating*: 9 out of 10

New Belgium Belgo IPA- New Belgium Brewing Company- Fort Collins, CO
This is a Belgian style IPA from their Lips of Faith Series, which is an American IPA that uses a Belgian yeast strain.  Pours orange amber with an ivory head. Nice perfume-like aroma of Belgian yeast esters, apricots, and potpourri. Medium bodied with fine carbonation. Flavor of caramel, honey, and a hint of bubblegum with some earthy grapefruit rind bitterness. I think the balance of residual sugars is perfect. Yeasty finish with grassy hops and soap, with a very very slight amount of alcohol. This is a solid example of the style. Enjoy this with beef, pork, chicken, or white fish.

Smitty's Rating*:  8.75 out of 10

Moylans Nor Cal Pale Ale- Moylans Brewery & Restaurant- Novato,CA
Moylans is a great West Coast brewery that is new to Nashville. Everything they produce is excellent. Pours a nice medium orange amber with somewhat creamy ivory head and webby lacing. Aroma of citrusy hops. Medium bodied with average carbonation. Flavor of pale toffee malt with an assertive citrus rind and herbal bitterness. Long dry and grassy bitter finish with clinging hop resin. This one is for the hop heads and guaranteed to sand blast the palate. Perhaps a hair over attenuated for my tastes. This would pair well with pizza, wings, and Thai Cuisine.  

Smitty's Rating*: 8.75 out of 10

* rating system based on aroma (1 pt), appearance (1pt), palate (2 pts) flavor (3pts), comparison to other commercial examples of the style (3pts)

You can find these beers at any fine Wine and Spirits store with a craft beer selection. Now it's time to start packing for the Great American Beer Festival (I have to gloat). Until next time- cheers!