High Gravity Arrivals Just In Time For The New Year's Eve

I apologize for being late in reporting this. Tennessee only received nine cases of Brooklyn Black Ops, and Nashville got five of them. I stopped by Midtown Wine and Spirits today and they still had a few left. You have to ask for it, or they may reserve one if you call (I wouldn't wait too much longer).  Red Dog out in Franklin is sold out, and Moon Wine & Spirits did not get an allotment from the distributor (which is silly, but I guess that's normal with these limited releases ). This is an Imperial Stout that is aged in Bourbon barrels, with Champagne yeast added later for carbonation. The result is a great Imperial Stout with some nice complex barrel traits, and a softer body and dry texture. The price is steep at $21.99 per bottle, but if you split it between 3 or 4 people, it's definitely worth it. Enjoy it as an after dinner sipper or pair with a dessert, like chocolate cake or vanilla bean ice cream.

For Terrapin fans, this year's batch of  Wake N Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout is here in 4 paks. I enjoy this beer fresh, but it will age for 1-2 years. They have also released the Side Project 13 Big Daddy Vlady's Imperial Stout, available in bombers for under 8 dollars. I will be trying this one tomorrow night at tasting, so check back under "comments" and I will give you my thoughts.

Harpoon is making an appearance on the high gravity side with Leviathan. The brewer classifies this as a Imperial IPA, but at 10% and a maltier backbone, I like to think of this as an American Strong Ale. Either way, it's worth checking out. Expect to pay around $12 per 4 pak.

That's it for now, until next year.

"If it's not craft, it's crap"

New Brews Just In Time For The Holidays

 Midtown Wine & Spirits just sent me this email. I have not tried the Left Hand, but the Stone Cali Belgique is excellent when fresh:

Left Hand Wake Up Dead Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout
left hand
From Left Hand: Just like the Bolsheviks of the early 1900s, our barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout doesn't happen overnight. Patience is required. Wake Up Dead hibernates in our cellars for over 12 months before being blended to woody perfection. Hints of raisins, cherry, licorice and toffee, followed by earthy, herbal hop notes that rise up, joining you in your fight for a better life. Don't be afraid of the dark. All power to the stouts!

$9.99 / 22 oz
  Stone Cali-Belgique IPA

stone-cali-belgiqueFrom Stone: When reading the name "Stone Cali-Belgique IPA", "Cali" hints that it is a California-style IPA, and this brew has an undeniable Belgian influence, indicated by the word "Belgique" (which is how Belgium's French-speaking population says the word "Belgian." The Dutch-speaking Belgians say "Belgie").

We carefully selected a Belgian yeast strain that illuminates a fascinating new aspect of the beer that is otherwise quite simply Stone IPA. The result is both completely new and different, while still being recognizable as a Stone brew -- and Stone IPA in particular. Think of it as an otherwise identical twin to Stone IPA that was raised in a Belgian Culture. Literally.

$6.99 / 22oz

Flying Saucer New Year's Eve

Here is the press release on Flying Saucer's New Years Eve Party:

Flying Saucer Draught Emporium will host its annual New Year’s Eve Party on Friday, Dec. 31 at its location at 111 10th Ave. South, Suite 310, with live music by Peter Moon.
One of the most anticipated bashes of the year, Flying Saucer’s New Year’s Eve party will feature live music from Peter Moon beginning at 9 p.m., a champagne toast at midnight and free party favors.
“The best and most memorable way to ring in the New Year is at Flying Saucer,” said Brandi Allen, general manager of Flying Saucer. “Renowned ukulele player and guitarist Peter Moon is sure to draw a large crowd, so with the event featuring his musical blend and our ambiance, we expect a great turnout. And, with a $12 cover, our party is just as reasonable as it is a must-attend event!”
Admission is $12, and the event is sure to reach capacity. Early arrival is suggested.
The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium was founded in 1995 in Fort Worth, Texas. Offering a wide variety of imported and domestic quality craft beers, as well as a full pub menu, The Flying Saucer family has now expanded to 14 locations in Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Missouri.
            For more information, please call (615) 259-3039 or visit

Terrapin Beer Tasting Tomorrow

Beer tasting with Spike from Terrapin Beer Co.
Saturday, December 18th, Cool Springs Whole Foods
1st tasting 3-4:30 p.m.2nd tasting 4:30-6 p.m. | Details
Join us as we welcome Spike Buckowski, founder and brew master of one of our regional favorite breweries and try some of his fabulous Terrapin beers, including the new seasonal MooHoo Chocolate Stout made using Nashville’s own Olive & Sinclair chocolate. You must register for this class at customer service or by calling 778-1910 to receive your confirmation number.

I will not be there because I am enjoying the craft beer scene in Chicago. Cheers


Beer Review- New Belgium Vrienden

The latest New Belgium offering from the Lips Of Faith Series is a collaboration with Allagash Brewing Co, an excellent artisan brewery out of Portland, Maine. I wasted no time picking up a bottle once it hit the Nashville shelves.

New Belgium Vrienden (Lips of Faith Series)
New Belgium Brewing Co. & Allagash Brewing Co.      

ABV: 8.5% 

Smitty's Review: Sampled at 50 degrees. Pours copper amber with a one finger, fluffy ivory head that dissipates to a retentive ring. The aroma is a wonderful blend of cherry, potpourri, brett esters, and flower petals. Medium bodied with a soft carbonation and somewhat creamy texture. Initial flavor of grainy pale Belgian malts that quickly transitions to a moderate tartness, with notes of culinary herbs and sour fruits. Finish is very acidic and somewhat dry, with a lingering acidity and dirtiness on the palate.

This is a solid beer with a tamed use of wild yeast strains. I would say that this is more of an "intermediate level" beer for venturing into sour beers. I will admit that my expectations were very high, since Allagash was involved. Did they meet them? Not quite, but I still enjoyed it. This one is not as complex or cohesive as La Folie or Tart Lychee, which are my favorite New Belgium sours.

Rating*: 8.25 out of 10

Recommended Food Pairing: Shellfish, Salmon, Goat Cheese, White Stilton cheese

Good. $8.99 per 22oz is a respectable price for a wild beer

Beer Audience: Not for the pedestrian palate. Leave this for Sour Heads and those venturing into sours

Where To Buy:  Wine and Spirit stores with a craft beer selection

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

New High Gravity Arrivals- December

There are a few interesting beers showing up just in time for the Holiday. One that I have been waiting for is Sam Adams Infinium ($19.99 per bottle):

Boston Beer founder Jim Koch describes this long-awaited beer as a deep golden, bubbly ale with a fruity aroma and contains 10.3 percent alcohol, more than twice that in a Sam Adams Boston Lager.

He goes on to say, "The flavor idiom would be sort of in between a champagne, a dessert wine, and maybe a Sam Adams Noble Pils. You get some of the body and mouthfeel of a beer, some of the hop character of a beer, but it's very dry and acidic without being thin. And then it has some of the fruitiness -- pear, apple, peach, apricot notes -- of a dessert wine."

 Starr Hill The Gift Winterbock Lager is their first high gravity offering ($10.99 per 4 pak) and is described as follows:

A German-style Hellerbock with a few twists, The Gift is Starr Hill's holiday offering. The beautiful golden color only hints at the fire inside. Made with two-row and Munich malts and balanced with German noble hops, The Gift is the perfect accompaniment to any holiday event or festivity.

Also look for two new arrivals from New Belgium, Frambozen Raspberry Brown Ale (6 packs) and Lips of Faith Vrienden Ale (22 oz with Brettnoyces for you sour heads).

I am off to my nearest Wine and Spirits store. Cheers!


Using Wine Gadgets For Beer- Part 1

Vacu-Vin Wine Saver
I hate bombers. "Bombers" are those 22 ounce bottles that many breweries use to bottle their special release and high gravity beers. Why? Because they usually contain too much beer for one sitting. For example- Stone Russian Imperial Stout. It is a great seasonal that we can purchase here in Nashville, but only in bombers. A bomber packs around 600 calories and 10.8% abv. Too many of those and I will end up looking like pre Subway diet Jarrod.

If you can relate to that predicament, The Vacu-Vin Wine Saver is neat solution. Although it's designed for wine, it does a respectful job with beer.  The device pulls a good amount (but not all) of the oxygen out of the bottle. The beer stays carbonated for at least 24 hours, with just a very slight amount of oxidation (but not enough to distract from the overall flavor profile). To get the maximum effect, I recommend you follow these guidelines:

  • Use with high gravity beers that have a bold malt base, like barleywines and imperial stouts, as the stronger flavors help mask the oxidation. Oxidation will be more evident in beers with pale malt base, so I recommend just finishing the bottle in those cases.
  • Leave the bottle at least half full. Otherwise there is too much head space resulting in less carbonation and  more oxidation.
  • Drink within 24 hours. Beyond that, the beer will taste oxidized and stale.
  • Avoid using the Vacu-Vin on those rare or prized beers. Drink those under prime conditions to get the full experience.
Now I can enjoy a nice barleywine or an imperial stout as a night cap, and save the other half for the following night. I am finally able to casually drink down my beer cellar, and I owe it all to the Vacu-Vin. Stay tuned for part two, where I unveil another cool wine gadget. I'll give you a hint- it solves another problem associated with bombers.


"If it's not craft, it's crap"

Blackstone's New Facility Under Construction

They hope to be up and running in March. I can't wait!


"If it's not craft, it's crap!"