International IPA Day has just been declared as August 4th. By whom, you ask? Apparently by The Beer Wench (the second most influential beer person on Twitter) and Karl Strauss. According to the EventBrite website (where you can get your free ticket to this location-less event) International IPA Day is being held as "a grassroots movement created to unite the voices of craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers, and brewers worldwide, using social media as the common arena for connecting the conversation together."
Now personally, every day has the possibility to be IPA Day. I love the hoppy, less malty, sometimes higher-alcohol beers. I don't see the reason for there to be an official day dedicated to the enjoyment of one of my favorite styles of beer. However, I also don't see a reason why I have to have an official day to celebrate my Mom or Dad or even why I should only be celebrated on my birthday. Every day should be a day about me :) I'm sure there's some sort of marketing/greeting card conspiracy that will arise regarding International IPA Day. I can see the cards at Target now:
Roses are red
Violets are blue
IPAs are the best damn beer in the world so go ahead and buy me a pint already!
(I never said I was a greeting card writer)
Good luck to America and lets hope for a great turnout for International IPA Day. We already lost to Sweden in the World Cup, best we can do is drink up our losses at IPA Day.
By the way, how does one go about making an "official" holiday anyway?
I'd also like to note that while I will celebrate International IPA Day on August 4th, I'll also celebrate any other day I please too. I think the overall message of the celebration put on by the Beer Wench & Karl Strauss is to unite beer drinkers in doing what they love; drinking beer. I'm pretty sure that if you show up to a party on August 4th carrying a bottle of Terrapin Double Feature or Left Hand's Fade to Black Baltic Porter, no one's gonna turn you away. So, to all the haters, c'mon, just grab a pint of what you like and celebrate your love of craft beer with your friends!
So I know, it's been like a month since I last updated this site. What's happened since then? Let's see - there was LA, The Bruery 3rd Anniversary Party, meeting New Brew Thursday and watching them make the "Cigar & Beer Pairing" episode, visiting the Dogfish Brewpub in Rehoboth, my cousin's wedding, Bonnaroo and their excellent attempt at giving us craft beer, and a lot of randomness in between. I have no idea where to even start with you all! I guess I should just begin at the beguine.
Finding Craft Beer in LA.
About this time last month I went to LA to visit the
infamous Tatiana and drink some excellent West Coast craft beer samples. I tried to run into Chris of the SoCal Beer Company to taste their wares, but that didn't happen until late in the game and I'm sad to say I can't remember the taste of their beer very well. However, spending time with Tatiana and browsing all of the craft beer world that is in LA was well worth every over-priced penny I paid American Airlines. Tatiana is studying for her Cicerone exam and is surely to be one helluva an official beer geek. Trust me, I made her pair beer to all sorts of things including cupcakes! She introduced me to the ever-spectacular beer drinkers that are New Brew Thursday (oh yeah, I'm a Level 4 Badge holder) and Dr. Bill who works at many places but most importantly at Stone Brewing over in Escondido. I wish I had some extra time so that I could have visited Stone, but I'll take my VIP pass to The Bruery over an extra trip any day.
Again - super big shoutout to Dan over at Out of the Park Pizza for letting me tag along. If you're in Anaheim check them out. Not only do they have great beer on tap but they make some awesome subs & pizza and there's this really cool "VIP" room where you can kind of separate yourselves from the rest of those kids. Oh, yeah, and they have Skeeball too.
I did get the chance to bring back some excellent "yeast samples" including Speakeasy's Double Daddy, Goose Island's Matilda, Moylan's Kilt Lifter, Karl Strauss's Tower IPA, and Great Divide's 17th Anniversary Wood Aged DIPA. I wish I could have won that bottle of The Bruery's Black Tuesday but I think I'm going to have to live off the memory of my sample from their party. I've never been to such an organized beer festival before, I think the World Beer Festival here could learn a lesson or two from the way the West Coasters do things. While they limit the number of samples you can have (with these really cool tabs on your wristband) it really is still more than enough sampling for one person to not need to be carried out of the festival. With perhaps half the number of breweries to taste than the World Beer Festival in Raleigh, I still was well-enough inebriated and satisfied with my sampling abilities. The Bruery raffled off a few items, one of them being a first-run bottle of Black Tuesday which is just impossible to find anywhere at any regular time throughout the year. Let me try to explain the wonderfulness of this beer - take the chocolatey flavor of a Foothill's Sexual Chocolate Stout, the fullness of a Fullsteam Hogwash, and smoothness of Les Trois Mousquetaires and blend properly and age for a year. That, my friends, is as close as you'll get to tasting a Black Tuesday (unless you get out West and find it). It was one of the most perfect stouts I've ever had. I wish you could have been there.
There's no telling when I'll get the chance to get back to California, but I'm telling you now, what great beers you all have out there! I just wish we could start getting them on the East Coast! But oh right, you all don't know the joy of Fullsteam, Foothills, Terrapin, or Duck Rabbit, do you? Ok, we're even now.
I do love a good beer festival. Then again I love it when I get the opportunity to taste new beer. I mean, if you've been drinking long enough in any one particular geographical location, it gets tough to find new breweries to try. Then again I really do love me some NC beer. Well, thank goodness the World Beer Festival Raleigh is coming up this weekend so I can get my fix of NC beer and beyond!
If you're headed to the World Beer Festival in Raleigh, I have a few tips for you.
World Beer Festival Tip List
- UPDATE: Bring your ID. I can't believe I forgot this when I originally wrote up these tips, but you need to prove you're 21 before you can enter the festival.
- Bring cash. There will be food vendors and parking fees. You'll want cash.
- Bring a pen or pencil to take notes about the beer you're drinking. The World Beer Festival programs are really excellent ways to take short notes about the beer your sampling. There's nothing worse than tasting a FANTASTIC beer and not remembering the name or which brewery poured it. Trust me, it's a terrible feeling.
- Wear comfortable shoes, but make sure you're okay if they get dirty. People are drinking and sometimes spilling beer. Your shoes may get dirty.
- The pretzel necklace is your friend. If you plan on doing a lot of tasting, get some string and loop on a bunch of pretzels. Put more on than you think are necessary.
- When you hear the loud crash of beer bottles being recycled - cheer! I don't really know why, but we do. It's more fun after you've had more samples.
- Don't feel the need to try EVERY beer. It really isn't a competition to see who can taste the most. Skip the breweries you don't particularly like or need to be reminded of what they pour. Go to the ones that spark your interest.
- Read the program! Not just because there's an essay in it by moi but because there are these awesome smaller classes where you can learn about beer. These classes are a great way to go a little more in depth about styles, history, and culture of beer.
- Drink water. Do I need to explain?
If you're the afternoon session -
- Show up early. Parking can be a bear in downtown Raleigh, so show up early, have lunch at one of the many fabulous bars/restaurants in the area and then get in line. Alternatively, walk.
- Wear sunscreen. It's supposed to be 70 degrees and sunny tomorrow afternoon. You'll be drinking (and most likely not hydrating enough) so wear sunscreen.
If you're in the evening session -
- Parking is harder since you've got to time it just right to miss the afternoon people and early enough to get a good spot in line.
- Prepare for warm weather to become slightly chilly. There's a chance of rain, but I don't think it'll be an issue for us at the festival.
Remember that the World Beer Festival's mission is to educate the public in beer appreciation and beer quality, and to build the local beer community. Keep that in mind and get the most out of this upcoming festival with beer and community.
I've been asked to write an essay about Raleigh beer. The idea of Raleigh beer sort of intimidates me. I've never actually stopped to consider how many bars you all actually have - including restaurants with five or more taps, out-and-out bars, and brewpubs.
But, you see, I usually write Raleigh off cause I live in Durham, and let's face it, we have good beer here. And I'm not about to drive to Raleigh just to drink the same craft beers that I can have here in my favorite town of Durham, NC. However, now that I've been asked to write an essay, I can't simply stay within my well-known borders.
I must experience the Raleigh craft beer scene.
What bar do I go to first? What brewery do I HAVE to visit (other than Big Boss - love ya!)? Does Holly Springs count as Raleigh? What about Cary? Which bar has the best beer selection? Which bar has the best atmosphere? The answer is easy, go consult IndyWeek.com.
What timing! The "Best Of" Awards end next month!
Anyway, Twitter friends, Facebook friends, my real life friends...where do I go in Raleigh to drink, buy, and enjoy good craft beer? If you share your ideas with me, I'll test them out and make up a Raleigh Social Bar Crawl. When I've got all the suggestions in we can have a post-World Beer Festival meet-up along the Social Bar Crawl and talk about all the good beers we got to try. Sound good?
Oh, I need your suggestions by tomorrow night.
This the map based on the suggestions given. Don't go crazy, I'll have a new post for this later. I think off the bat, this is just wishful thinking :)
This coming Thursday (3/3/11) at Rockfish Seafood Grill will be a special glass night featuring Durham's own Fullsteam Brewery! The El Toro Cream Ale is part of the Working Man's series, which are beers that are designed to be drunk after work with friends. So, grab your colleagues and meet up with us over at Rockfish at Southpoint for some good beer and good conversation! (Oh, and some pretty good food too!)
El Toro Cream Ale -
Cream ales are top fermented, then cold conditioned beers that are closely related to American lagers. The cold conditioning reduces most of the fruity flavors from the ale giving it a crisper, cleaner taste. The El Toro Cream Ale is a 4.8% ABV cream style ale that pairs really well with delicate foods. Like Kolsch and Blondes, the Cream Ale light, crisp, and well-balanced. The Fullsteam El Toro is made with barley, hops, yeast, water and...North Carolina grown corn grits. The corn is what sets this craft beer apart from many others. The added corn makes the El Toro a little bit lighter than many other American Cream Ales.
Thursday night should give us some beautiful weather, possibly making the patio open at Rockfish. Grab some half-priced appetizers (until 7pm) like their steamed shrimp, calamari, or the new crab cakes and join us for a beer or two. All draft beers are $2 on Thursday and you can get the 20 oz Fullsteam glass for only an extra $1 to keep. (limit 1 glass per person)
You probably are more familiar with a sputnik than you think. Granted, I didn't know until I Googled it, but a sputnik is a device that infuses a flavor into a liquid. Basically, when you make tea with a tea ball, that's a sputnik. You can even buy shmancy ones from Etsy. And when it comes to craft beer infusions, a sputnik does the same basic function, but just in a slightly different way.
When beer gets infused by sputnik, it all happens at the pour. When you infuse tea, the hot water warms the leaves in the tea and releases their flavors into your drink. The tea ball keeps the leaves inside so you don't get them all in your cup. Beer, like vodka, can be infused with flavors in multiple ways. The sputnik way puts the flavor into the beer at the time of the pour. It's like a fresh glass of flavored beer every time! The sputnik attaches to the tap and the beer is pulled through, blending the flavors.
If you're looking to try a sputnik infused beer, check out Rockfish tomorrow night for a special tasting of the Aviator Brewing company's Devil's Tramping Ground Belgian Ale infused with fresh hops and pineapple. The resulting taste should be a very lambic tasting beer. The action starts at 6pm and goes until they sell out. So show up early and watch the beer get infused!
More about Devil's Tramping Ground Belgian Ale from Aviator's website:
9.2% alc/vol. 21 IBU A hearty Tripel Belgian ale. This Tripel ale will grow hair in places you don't want. Our Tripel is a golden colored ale that has a fruity spicy flavor that finishes a bit sweet. The Devil's Tripel is light tasting from the addition of candy sugar. We add just the right amount of hops to balance out the sweetness.
Note: I have a book of scary, AND TRUE!, ghost stories called The Devil's Tramping Ground. I might bring it tomorrow to the beer tasting for ambient effect. Or, who's in for a craft beer camping trip!? Campfire, s'mores, beer...and ghost stories!!
They really aren't clear about the fact that this isn't just a wine and food festival, there's a lot of good beer at EPCOT for the 15th Annual Wine & Food festival. Notably there's a kiosk of random craft beer near the entrance to the World Showcase (on the bridge that connects Future Land to the World Showcase) and then in Germany there's two delicious beers available to taste.
If you don't know, and well, I didn't, the Wine & Food Festival is a huge event for EPCOT that runs during the months of October & November. There's at least 20 different countries represented with a tasting of their "national cuisine" and a sampling of some of their best wines. For instance, the American kiosk had bison chili and the German kiosk had some fantastic looking apple strudel with authentic Werther's caramel sauce. There's plenty of other countries represented like Ireland, Canada, Argentina and Japan. The food isn't really that expensive and you get just enough to whet your tastebuds. It's definitely a fun way to experience EPCOT and I'm certainly glad I got to show up for it this year.
On top of the delicious food, there's good beer. Budweiser gets some representation from America (as well as EVERY Sam Adams beer I could think of) but I think it's more fascinating that the Germany kiosk got some beer that's only available in Germany and at this event in EPCOT. Unfortunately it was sold out, but I got a delicious Radeberger Pilsner instead that just made my day. It's light and bubbly, and just hoppy enough to remind me that I was drinking a good, authentic beer, rather than the watered down Budweiser in a plastic bottle. The Radeberger is a golden blond pilsner that had a bit of a fruity smell to it. The malts and earth flavors are noticeable, but not overwhelming. And seriously, if I had an entire bottle, I could have drunk that quicker than most beers. German pilsners are just some drinkable beers.
If you haven't ever been to the Wine & Food Festival at EPCOT, I really recommend it. It doesn't cost any extra than the price of getting into the park and the cost of the food you want to try. "Drinking around the world" has never been so fun!
Note: Also, there's a series of concerts that go on during the Food & Wine Festival. Make sure to consult the Disney website when you plan your trip so that you can take advantage of the most they're offering. Who knows, you might get to see an awesome band like Starship!
Every month, the Taste Your Beer Meetup group gets together to taste some new, seasonal types of beer. One of the organizers, Erik Myers, has been running this group since March. Originally, they met up at Tylers Taproom, but I have a feeling that the baseball season quickly put an end to that. So, thank you Michael Hayek, General Manager of the Rockfish Seafood Grill at Southpoint, for letting the group move over to his restaurant and keep on tasting delicious craft beers.
Side note, when I first heard about Rockfish, I really thought, "That place over at the mall? They have good beer?" And Mike really managed to convince me to at least try it out. I think he told me about the $3 for 18oz beer specials on Tuesday. All of their draught beers are on sale, so how could I pass that up? They keep 5 draughts, mainly locals including LoneRider and Fullsteam, and all of their draughts are only $3 for these huge schooners of beer! Plus, their food is rocking. Try the Ahi Tuna Nachos appetizer. You won't be disappointed...unless you don't like seafood.
Back to the beer. This month the Taste Your Beer group had some delicious...cider? Yeah, I'm not a huge fan, except if you count the days I lived in England, but I thought this would be a great chance to expand my horizons, plus get a little more of that delicious Rockfish food. We tasted 6 different ciders, each one completely different than the next. Everything from the super sweet to the dry and light to the overly spiced was well represented.
In order, we tasted:
- Woodchuck Hard Cider - Sweet, light, not fizzy, very much like apple juice with an earthy/musty aftertaste
- Hornsby's Amber Cider - Smells like Motts, taste sour/bitter like Granny Smith.
- McRitchie Hard Cider - Dry, not too sweet, little fizz. Like a sparkling cider without the sparkling.
- Magners Irish Cider - Almost no smell, but wood comes thru. Not a lot apple taste, but heavy on spice. No fizz.
- Scrumpy's - Apple cider smell. Unfiltered, hazy. I can feel the sugar on my teeth. Not fizzy, taste sweet & good.
- Aspalls Hard Cider - Possibly over alcohol tasting due to sugar content of Scrumpy's. Could be better if served very cold.
By far, my favorite was the North Carolina organic cider - McRitchie's. It was light and very much like sparking wine. It didn't have the heavy spiced aftertaste or pungent mouthfeel - it was just refreshing. Now, don't get me wrong - I couldn't have had an entire glass of any of them - but I really did enjoy the McRitchie's the best.
For some more photos of the evening, check out my Flickr account.
To learn more about the Taste Your Beer Meetup - check out meetup.com (Next month I think they're going to taste Harvest Ales)
So, it's taking me two days to catch up to life and recover from what was one of the most awesome World Beer Festivals in Durham. The weather was perfect (so perfect that we started drinking a few hours earlier than the festival started) and then spent the afternoon in the sun drinking and dancing to music.
There were over 100 breweries with over 300 beers. While some of my more favorite beers weren't represented this year, there was plenty of new, craft breweries to try.
- Overall, Legend Brewery out of Virginia had to be my overall favorite. They make a fantastic Brown Ale and Porter, but all of their samples were delicious.
- Original Sin not only has a sexy, pinup girl as their logo - they also have a delicious cider.
- It was convenient that all of the commercial breweries were lumped together in one tent...much easier to avoid that way.
- Sticker winner had to be Heavy Seas - eye patches and tattoos!
But I thoroughly enjoyed all of the stickers and beer labels provided by the brewers. I think that's the point of Beer Fest some years - how much can you drink and how many stickers can you get?
Some highlights from Beer Fest are here, but if you want more, make sure to check out my Flickr page or do some searching on your own!
For the last few months I've been helping to organize a little conference called ConvergeSouth at NC A&T University in Greensboro. ConvergeSouth is one of the best southeast blogger/social marketing/techy/geek conferences. It has headliners like Brent D. Payne and Craig Newmark. It has North Carolina politicos like US Congressman Brad Miller and NC Senator Don Vaughn. And oh yeah, this year it's got Sean Wilson from Fullsteam talking about the Future of the 'Net (along with a great panel of people).
When the ConvergeSouth committee got together to discuss what small businesses proved social marketing could build their brand I literally shouted out "FULLSTEAM!" I do not joke with you about this. I was a little embarrassed. But, if you love Fullsteam like I love Fullsteam, you want to know what they did to earn the die-hard online fans. Every event I've attended at Fullsteam has been mobbed and, if you didn't already know, Sean was one of those guys that Popped the Cap in North Carolina to raise our ABV to 15%.
Tickets for ConvergeSouth start at $10! This is great for students or those of you who are trying to build your new business online. You don't have extra cash to spare, so use it wisely. Meet some awesome people who are fanatics about online marketing and get the connections you need to succeed.
How could you pass this up?! $10 can get you to see all the speakers + a Saturday Luncheon with the politicos. AND you can go to dinner with Sean (and Michael VanDervort and Will Carroll) at Bin33 in Greensboro. And a little birdy told me that there might be some Fullsteam beer at the Saturday night BBQ...one ticket gets you a conference & beer. Do the math, it just adds up to ConvergeSouth.