Bitchin' Brews Beer, from a woman's point of view

10Mar/11Off

Triangle Brewing’s Habanero Pale Ale

Every Thursday night is a special glass night over at Rockfish Seafood Grill. My friend Jordan and I host the TriBeer Meetup for beer enthusiasts in Durham (and Raleigh, Cary, Chapel Hill & beyond...we won't turn anyone away from the party!) Not only are we drinking a local, limited edition beer that I've never had before, but we're having a glass swap to go with the fun! We've all collected some interesting glassware over the last few months, so now's the time to change it out for the glasses you really wanted. It's like Dirty Santa but not at Christmas. And nothing's wrapped. And it's not dirty. Oh well, it's just going to be a great time.

Triangle Brewing Logo

Pics to come.

Triangle Habanero Pale Ale

Triangle Brewing Company, Durham, NC
4.5% ABV

This spiced up Pale Ale is straight out of Durham! All of the peppers are locally grown in Farmer Needham’s Pepper Patch. This ale is light in body with an extremely enjoyable balance between the sweetness and heat of the peppers while still remaining a flavorful beer. This beer goes great with food and was the Bronze Medal Winner at the 2010 Carolina Championship of Beer.

This is a very exciting beer that promises to heat you up on a cold winter day.This Pale Ale come with an enjoyable citrus and peppery flavor that follows with hint of warmth on the pallet. This is not in your face heat, but just what the Doctor ordered!!!

A nice smoky hop aroma with subtle habanero pepper, but also hints of some other spices. The heat of the habanero was just enough to enjoy, creeping in as you swallowed the drink, giving you a pleasant warming sensation. If you like spicy food then there is a good chance you will enjoy this beer.

Pairs well with: fried seafood. Order up some Calamari or Hush Puppies while they’re half price (until 7pm)! A little more hungry? Get the fish & chips for a tasty combination.

7Mar/11Off

How the Bull City Burger & Brewery failed in its Golden Bull marketing campaign

Over the last month or so the Bull City Burger & Brewery (opening March 2011 in Downtown Durham) has been playing a fun game with its soon-to-be patrons. Across the Bull City the Brewery has hidden 5 "golden bulls" and has provided clues about the location of those bulls to the players at random times throughout the hunt. I, like many other players, have been hunting furiously for them as soon as I heard about it. I, like many other players, have not found one yet.

Note: I was inches from one of them at one point. I spent an entire evening at an event hunting for this bull when it turns out I showed up 8 minutes too late in the first place before the owner gave up and went home. I'm still a little miffed about missing that one.

Bull City brewery in Durham NC logo

BCBB Logo

But, the excitement of finding a Golden Bull (and potentially singing the Golden Ticket song) is not what I want to write about. I want to explain why and how the Bull City Brewery - a place I'm truly excited is opening - missed a golden opportunity to market this event by under-utilizing their social media presence.

According to a Herald Sun article the Brewery is spending close to $3,000 total for the price of this promotional event. With a little pre-planning, the word-of-mouth marketing could have been expanded to online and potentially more news outlets - for free. Since late February the Brewery has posted clues mainly on their website and directed potential Bull Hunters back to their website for the clues and rules. Never once was a clue revealed or shared on a social site, thus causing all of their followers to click to the website, then click to the details page. That's two clicks too far.

This website-centric mentality totally leaves out the Brewery's Facebook and Twitter presence. The main use of social media outlets is to create conversation with fans and followers. The Bull City Burger & Brewery simply adds updates and people like or comment with abandon. There's no cohesion to any of these updates, no sense of togetherness. With some basic social media know-how the Brewery could have included their online fans to their social pages and utilized those to keep people intrigued in the brand. Perhaps the Brewery could have given their social fans an extra clue or reward for being there for them way before they even opened this month.

Thought: What if BCBB had used YouTube to share video clues instead of all these pieces of paper taped to storefronts?!

By creating a conversation and encouraging people to work together perhaps to find the Golden Bulls, the Brewery could have solidified their social pages as places to get exclusive information, content about the brewery and/or the contest, and meet other people who are also die hard Scavenger Hunters. I'm not going to follow you if there's nothing in it for me. It's not always giving stuff away, simply interacting with fans in social media creates a loyalty that's better than a free burger.

There are plenty of people on Twitter griping and complaining about how they can't find a Golden Bull around town. There's even a hashtag for it! (Again, not used or started by the Brewery) The clues are mind-boggling hard to figure out. I've tried to reach out to Bull City Burger & Brewery on Twitter to see if they could help me with a few of the meanings behind the clues. Not only has there been no response from them, but it also gives me a feeling that they're not going to be very responsive on Twitter once they're open. There are many case studies - from Zappos to Dell - that show how important it is to engage with your customers and help them solve their issues via Twitter. Off the bat, the Bull City Burger & Brewery has lost a crucial opportunity to engage with their fans. Since this promotion started the Brewery hasn't interacted with a single person on Twitter. (Prior to the promotion there's only 1 @reply in their Twitter feed that I can find.) What's the point of me continuing to follow them when they're basically spam to me now?

People have been talking about this promotion for sure. I've mentioned it to several of my in real life friends and we've spent a few hours total discussing potential hiding locations. I'm sure my friends will talk to their friends, but I'm just trying to point out that there could have been so much more! Of the 495 current Twitter followers many are influential food, beer, news, and Durham bloggers. Had the Bull City Burger & Brewery interacted with those followers at all there could have been a great number of back links, articles, and perhaps even TV coverage of the hunt created at no cost to the brewery. Word of mouth coverage is great, but setting your website up as the place to get a burger or beer in Downtown Durham is even better.

And what happens when the promotion is over? If the Bull City Burger & Brewery takes down that one page about contest rules and regulations, or changes its URL, they're potentially pulling down the most powerful page on their website. This page most likely (I don't have access to numbers) is the most visited page on their website for the last month. If they take this page down (which contains VERY little keyword information) they'll be removing their best page from the SERPs which is currently dominated by OnlyBurger.

The lesson to take away from all of this is that cross-channel marketing is not an option anymore, it's mandatory. Don't limit any campaign to one path, look at the whole picture and plan accordingly.

Now, for one of my favorite scenes from Willy Wonka - the Math Class.

Final note: I just discovered while writing this article that they have a blog. Why isn't that updating to Twitter or Facebook?

Apple iTunes

1Mar/11Off

More about Fullsteam’s El Toro Cream Ale

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!)logo for Fullsteam El Toro Cream Ale

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)

KegWorks.com (Dot Com Holdings of Buffalo, Inc)

21Feb/11Off

What is a Sputnik and where can I get one?

Sputnik Beer Bottle

Sputnik is also a vodka flavored beer

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!!

Cheaptickets Cruise Sale March 2011 - Exp. 3-31-11 (size 468 X 60)

8Jan/11Off

The best peanut butter sandwich I’ve had in awhile.

food sandwich peanut butter banana bacon wheat

Best PBBB I ever had!

The other day I went to Parker & Otis near Brightleaf Square for brunch. Parker & Otis is a Durham restaurant and gourmet food store. Plus, they always have a really fun candy section featuring old school candy like Bottle Caps and new school candy like War Heads. You can buy milk, cookware, and lunch all in the same place - what could be better?

Every week Parker & Otis changes out a handful of sandwiches for something special and this week apparently they had my new favorite peanut butter sandwich - the peanut butter, banana, bacon & honey; grilled on wheat bread. They may have gone overboard slightly with the amount of peanut butter (creamy, not crunchy) on my sandwich, but I'm telling you this is the best thing I've eaten in a long time. It's a perfect hangover food. And now I can't wait to go to Graceland sometime and have a friend peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Thankfully Parker & Otis has a great beer selection to go with the good food. While I'm not sure if you can buy beer & wine in their grocery section and then drink it in their restaurant, this would be a great place to stop for picnic supplies. You can get a sandwich made to order and pick up some nice desserts and drinks (even those of the non-alcoholic variety). Parker & Otis has immediately matched, if not surpassed for me, Whole Foods in Durham as the go to place for sandwiches to go and beverages. Whole Foods definitely doesn't have the variety of craft beer that Parker & Otis does like Mother Earth, Terrapin, Highland, Harpoon, Allagash, and New Belgium.

up close beer bottles

Up close wth beer

restaurant sign parker and otis durham nc

Parker & Otis

beer bottles in grocery store durham nc

Beer selection

24Dec/10Off

Where to get a good pint of beer in Durham – Tyler’s Taproom

Tyler's is by far one of my favorite places to drink beer. In fact, I adore it so much, I wrote an entire article for the Examiner about it. (blatant begging: please read the article, it's how I support the beer drinking)

But behind my love of Tyler's Taproom is my love of the beer at Tyler's. 60ish taps that range from $3-$7 and some fantastic appetizers like nachos and pickle chips. If you don't know what a pickle chip is, well, you've never been to Tylers and you've never been to the South.

beer taps bartender craft beer

Tyler's Taproom Bar

If you're in Durham or if you're coming to visit me, Tyler's should be a mandatory stop on the beer tour. The employees all know about the beer they serve, there's pool and on nice days, there's a wonderful outdoor seating area. I think overall there are nine television sets (including the two outside) and all are set to some sporting event or another.

There's a private room for private events, or you can rent the space in their Speakeasy too. For New Year's they're having a special party with a sampling of not-their-regular-fare as well as beer and wine pairings to go with each. It's all you can eat & drink, so really, you can't go wrong with that. Check out their website for more information about the New Year's party. RSVP recommended.

People tend to complain that Tyler's food isn't good. And you know what I say to that? They're wrong. It's bar food. It's not super fancy and it doesn't make you feel out of place. The food goes really well with the beer and if you like garlic, you'll be in heaven. My favorites are the nachos with veggie chili (best in Durham I think) and their pickle chips. Also, if you really don't want to eat and you're just there for the beer, make sure to check in on Foursquare - you'll get some free garlic fries to go with your beer.

Also, today made my day! Shout-out to David Williams! I ran into him at Tyler's and we got to discussing the beer and Fullsteam. It's just awesome the great people you'll meet when you drink good beer.

11Nov/10Off

More than women and beer bloggers.

Here's my version of the recap of the first annual Beer Bloggers Conference in Boulder, CO. I know it's a little late, but this is the first day I could sit down with a beer and write, and really, who blogs without drinking?

lauren polinsky, candace l, sebbie of rogue beerThe conference took place over November 5-8, 2010; 2.5 of the most beautiful days I think Boulder may have ever seen. They certainly were some gorgeous, sunshiney, beer-drinky days to me. The kickoff on Friday by Zephyr tours Allan Wright led immediately to some non-stop beer drinking and writing. Appearances by Ray Decker, the general manager of The Kitchen, Greg Koch of Stone Brewing and Jay Brooks from the Brookston Beer Bulletin certainly were appealing and interesting, but I guess there was nothing that generated more discussion than the Women in Craft Beer session. Is the beer industry sexist? Do women need to be marketed to differently than men? Should we be bothered when we're referred to women? Ladies? Girls? Wenches? Sweeties? Honeys?

Honestly, I don't care.

Sure, marketing to men and women is different. Companies have spent thousands (maybe millions) of dollars studying the difference between marketing to the sexes. Take Unilever - Axe and Dove are marketed completely differently (and effectively) but they're owned by the same company. Do men want to feel good about themselves when they shower? Sure. Do women want men falling over them after they lotion up? Probably. But would that marketing style make you buy the product? Judging by the fact that Unilever chose to not market those products that way, probably not.

But, women in craft beer isn't what I wanted to talk about (unless we're talking about me). I want to discuss two of the best things I experienced at the Beer Bloggers Conference. The "Night of Many Bottles" and Beer "Speed-Dating." I tried out so many beers that I had never heard of and probably will never get another chance to check out. Other than the great sessions about beer and food pairing and SEO, these two sessions stand out as something that I think should have been on my bucket list.

lots of beer bottles on iceThe Night of Many Bottles - every registrant was encouraged to bring a six pack of beer that is unique to their hometown. A six-pack may have been too much, maybe next year we encourage one or two 22's instead. There were beers from Alaska to England to Florida to Nevada. Avery kicked in a massive selection and one particular beer was available for a live, online tasting. BeerTapTV.com received one of the 12 "End of History" beers from Brewdog over in Scotland. Near the end of the night they went live online and discussed & tasted the beer. Then once they were done, a select lucky few, received a small taste too. As far as beer goes, I don't think it was great. As far as a tasty adult beverage is concerned, I thought it was pretty remarkable. However, more importantly than the taste of the beer is that it comes in a dead squirrel. The bloggers had more fun playing with the squirrel than drinking it. See the #bbc10 Flickr group for more of what I mean.

me drinking end of history beerBeer "Speed Dating" - on Saturday 12 breweries shared 12 (technically 13, thank you New Planet!) to a room of giddy bloggers. While brewery spokespeople talked up the beer and passed out educational material, we drank. And we typed furiously. And we drank some more. And we typed. The room was louder than a bar on a Friday night and we were all having a great time! I had beers that I couldn't even imagine - tasty gluten-free beer? - and beers that I'd had only once before and loved - thanks again Great Divide! By the end of the speed drinking session we all continued to discuss and take photos and share thoughts on the day. All I heard was how fantastic this conference had been.

I have never met a greater group of people, even if we all didn't get along the whole time. And I would be down to drink with anyone at the conference again. Stop by Durham, NC some time and I'll take you out for a drink.

20Oct/10Off

Taste your beer Meetup group at Rockfish restaurant in Durham

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.

The outside of Rockfish Seafood Grill

Rockfish Seafood Grill

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)

11Oct/10Off

What Really Happened at World Beer Festival Durham 2010

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!

drunk people at beer fest

Charles & the Beer Guy

two girls drunk at beer fest durham nc

Catrina & I at #WBFD10

hot girl drinking cold beer at beer festival

Me sampling the Legends Beer

15Sep/10Off

Music lineup announced for World Beer Festival – Durham

Do you love beer? Can't make it to the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado? Well, then you should head to the World Beer Festival in Durham! On October 9, 2010 there will be over 150 breweries bringing their best beers to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park! Plus there's food vendors and live music, a special VIP area and free stuff from other vendors. If you haven't booked your tickets yet, do so now! They're sure to sell out soon!

The music lineup for the afternoon session:

Big Daddy Love - a unique and natural blend of jam, grass, roots, and rock to the emerging North Carolina music scene.

Children of the Horn - a varietal group that combines influences from soul jazz, rhythm and blues, and world music.

The Voodoo Flute - in the VIP area you'll get intricate rhythms and melodies mixed with BeBop, Fusion and Latin Jazz.

The music lineup for the evening session:

Brushfire Stankgrass - The Asheville group was recently voted into The Mountain Xpress’ best of WNC for the second year running, tying with The Steep Canyon Rangers & Steve Martin in the bluegrass/oldtime category.

Big Something - an ever-evolving, groove-based modern rock band from Burlington, NC. This group brings electronic embellishments and an alternative feel, Funk, Soul and Rock n Roll to their music.

Paul Bomar - in the VIP area in the evening you'll get a jazz guitarist, composer, and guitar instructor from Clayton, North Carolina.

For more information about craft beer events in Durham (and reviews about craft beer) check out my articles at the Examiner.com!

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