Another great evening at Taco Mac. This time the fun was at the Perimeter Mall location, a very vibrant spot. Paul Philippon, Brewmaster extraordinaire was there, hand delivering a Cask of Cherry Porter. Stellar, again.
Who knew that way out on the coast of North Carolina someone would continually develop and brew some of the best beer on God's Green Earth. However it happened, I am very pleased that it did.
Thanks go out to Fred Crudder of Taco Mac. His relationships and love of the nectar continue to bring us all a little closer to beer nirvana. NOTE: if you have not gone to a beer dinner at Taco Mac, you are not smarter than the average bear. Expect to be blown away by the food and beer pairings. Get online, get a ticket and get in to taco Mac.
That's all I have to say. Well, not really. Molly and Nick put together an evening of delicious food paired with one of Georgia's newest brewery arrivals, Bell's Brewery. Hailing from the tiny town of Galesburg Michigan, Bell's produces some of the best craft beer in these United States.
Fennel Soup Bell's Oberon * First of the Season Heirloom Tomatoes, tomato mousse, gelee, garden basil Bell's Oberon * Beef Tender, wrapped in lardo, hickory smoked, Nick's garden pickled vidalia onions, potato salad Bell's Amber Ale * Local Georgia Strawberries, black pepper ice cream, angel food cake, candied grapefruit zest Bell's Pale Ale *
The cold Fennel soup was a lovely introduction to warm weather dining and the Oberon's crisp feel and slight wheat taste was a nice complement and palate opener. Since it was not on the menu it was also a nice surprise.
I grow heirloom tomatoes, I roast tomatoes for salsa, I stew tomatoes for sauce but rarely do I just sit down and eat tomatoes. The 'first toms of the season' proved that a slice or two of plain ole tomato is a good thing. Juicy, plump and floating on an amazingly light but flavorful pond of gelee, the season's first fruit cut the cream of the Fennel Soup and sent us down a new path that, once again, the cirtus fringe of Oberon was a PEFECTLY paired to guide. Topped with a dolop of Tomato Mousse that had the most delicate infused essence of tomato, this was an IRON CHEF winner for the secret ingredient of tomato if there ever was one. This paring spoke volumes of session drinking and eating, all summer long. I do not know how I missed the photo op here.
Beef, it's what's for beer dinners. Praise be to Nick for cooking the entre'e to perfection. Did I say perfection? Yes. I did. No need to ask how I wanted my temp, just bring it to SPOT ON! Wrapped in a web of pork and resting on a bed of potato salad, garden fresh pickled vidalia onions and paired with Bell's malty and somewhat toasty grain Amber Ale, this was actually all the beer dinner I needed. I should have let Tryon eat half of my serving since he stands a full 5" taller than me. But I didn't.
Let them eat, Caaakkke. Anyone that knows me knows that I like cake. The person that produces Angel food cake that looks like my grandmother Violet's biscuits and tastes just as good as they look is my new BFF. Period. Put it in a monkey dish with fresh local strawberries, black pepper ice cream, candied grapefruit zest, pair it with Bell's Pale Ale and you can marry right into the family. I believe you get the gist of how much I liked this over the top dessert.
That about does it for our first Porter Beer Dinner but not the last. I suggest that you stay tuned in and check their site for the next paired event. Don't forget about Monday nights at The Porter for the best beer deals in Atlanta.
After 23 weeks of email abuse, I finally was able to get the most interesting man in the world to come to Atlanta and party with me. His knowledge of beer, women's beach volleyball, molded plastics and the 467 uses of a coconut continue to astound me.
We have been on the beer road here in Atlanta for 63 non-stop hours now, without sleep I think. Brutal. Here's what we have seen & drank:
A quick stop by Hop Cityallowed us to stock up on some Hitachino , Terrapin and Duckrabbit. All brands that The Man has been anxious to try.
Jumping next door afforded us a semi-private tour of the new 5 Season Brewery - Westside. Brewmaster Crawford Moran does not have the first batches turned out yet but we can't wait to come back and sample some products produced in the state of the art, copper-pot dreamland residing under the restaurant.
We took a turn and headed to Decatur to meet the Brewmaster from Stone Brewery. Steve Wagner was in town for a tour de force himself, dropping in on various beer spots around Atlanta with regional rep Scott Sheridan. Naturally, a long slow visit at the Brickstore Pub was a must, tapping some Vertical Epic & Sublimely Self-righteous for the attending crowd.
Thursday night's pinnacle came at the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper fundraiser at Park Tavern. Sweetwater provided all the complimentary grog and the Tavern did the food, ensuring a great time for everyone that showed up to help keep the Hooch afloat. The Man was impressed with both beer and babes, what a player.
Unfortunately, The Man & I were not able to make it to the Stone Beer Dinner at Taco MacDuluth but from what Ale Sharpton has to say, it was "off the hook", way off. Special brews from the brewery were brought in just for the dinner and everyone was driven right over the Chipolte Porter edge. Not happy about missing this one. (speaking of Mr. Sharpton, check out his radio show, www.apparelism.org and click on Live Cast)
On to the Grange Public House for a change of venue and heritage. The Comer brothers and sisters always make you feel at home in the house. Actually hailing from Ireland, the family brings the "Grange" concept to Decatur and pulls it off in style. A great beer selection, service and menu that leaves you wanting for nothing. The Man would not leave without a second portion of the Guiness Braised Pot-Roast, my personal favorite as well. In fact, enough of a reason to go there in itself.
It gets a little blurry after that but we somehow ended up at Perimeter Mall in time to storm the gates at the Dunwoody Beer Festival. This is not a beer-only event but it is for a great cause and the rain did not keep the supporters away. Plenty o' money was raised for Camp Twin Lakes and plenty o' grog was served doing it. I spent most of the time trying to get The Man away from the Dos Equis tent and around the site to sample some other brands. He obliged me and was partial to several including the under-the-radar presentation from a very old local brewery, not to be named. Enough said.
Saturday night included stops by Top Flor, The Bookhouse, The Porter, Clermont Lounge and El Bar. Again, it gets a little fuzzy after that.
Off with the old and on with the new. Sunday morning and afternoon was pretty much spent sampling holdovers from HotoberFest. My private stash of malty love from the October, consumer-judged beer event is always sure bring a tear to a beer lover's eye. Somehow, we mustered the strength to split a bottle of Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA for breakfast and still keep functioning. Then off to the EARL for Dunch. John Kelly and the gang from Front Porch Session band turned out another afternoon of fine music to match some fine vittles.
Last night we simply stayed at my house, watching BeerFest over and over, making up new drinking games & calling any girls that The Man thought might be currenty dressed in Oktoberfest garb. His connections in Atlanta are slim.
Limping along like two 3-legged dogs living on Ponce, we are currently alternating espresso shots from Jittery Joes in Athens and Duckrabbit Baltic Porter, waiting for tonight's festivities. We are headed back to Brickstore Pub for the Bells Brewery tappings which start at 11:00am and continue into the Monday evening cheese party. Then it's off to P'Cheen in Inman Park where we will wind down the party with some great BBQ and tunes. If you have not made it to North Highland's anchor establishment yet, you suck & you don't know what you're missing.
I'll be dropping The Man off at Hartsfield Airport around 10pm to go back to wherever it is that he goes. I'm sure he can be found at the Sweetwater Draft House in concourse B if you want to buy him a drink or show him your Oktoberfest outfit.
It has been quite the month for Grog in our fair hamlet of the south. Not long ago I couldn't even dream of 'high powered' beers in Atlanta, let alone write about them. Yee-haa!!! Many a party centered around beer and/or the appreciation of it popped up all over town and the gang has tried to hit them all. Let's see.....
4/2/09 Hop City pre-opening party @ 5 Seasons Marietta St. location: what a pleasure to see the 5S Marietta St location featured for the opening of Atlanta's TRUE home to the Craft brew scene, right next door. Hop City is still working out the kinks for the actual opening, but it won't be long. Enjoy a huge selection of 1,000 beers!! (and great wines too) The party featured samples of beers from all over the map, including the "Big Cheeses" from many brands pouring other peoples beer!! Dave Weil of Red Brick pouring with Sandi Lynch of Highland, Old Dominion giving up some Duck-Rabbit and Sweetwater pairing brews with free snacks from 5 Seasons' Gen. Mgr. Jeff Ashton. Proving once again that "Beer friends are ALL friends". No whining about bigger signs or better locations. Just good people, good beer and good times. Best of luck to both openings and our many thanks to them for enduring every kind of setback known within the industry. Cheers!!
4/5/09 Sweetwater Christmas Party: please check the previous blog for details on the fun.
4/11/09 Terrapin Anniversary Party: Unfortunately, I was unable to make it out to Athens for the fun and have not stopped regretting it. Please send in any info if you were there. Love to here about the details. Many years as a "Southern" beer with a secret brewing location made a few wonder why Terrapin didn't brew in Athens. Well they have been doing just that in their shiny new brewery just off the Bulldog trail. Giant brews, a loyal following and plenty of awards have made Terrapin a destination all its own. Check out Spike and John's local brewery whenever in Athens.
4/16/09 Beer Wars: Beer Advocate founder Jason Alstrom helped create this nationwide LIVE Event via movie theatre arrangements. Too Bad Hollywood 24 Theatres couldn't get the sound to work. Otherwise, I could tell you what everyone on the screen was saying. What a beer loving shame in Atlanta, also on hand in the dissappointed crowd were non other than;
Ale Sharpton - J'adore Magazine brew & Travel writer Bob Townsend - AJC beer & food critic and general man about beer here in town Chris Miller - Founder of the soon to be famous Beer Connoisseur Magazine Dave Blanchard - Co founder of Brickstore Pub (no description required) Rob Martin - General Wholesale Beer guru Jordan Fleetwood - Brewmaster at Twain's Pub & Brewery
An evaluation of Craft beers versus the Giants of the industry was the gist of it all. I only saw blind tastings of Miller Lite, Bud Lite and Coors Lite in the first 25 minutes, then got my money back and went outside with the leaders of Atlanta's Covert Hops, homebrew group to enjoy a McSorley's Irish Black in the parking lot. Always be prepared.
4/17/09 Gordon Biersch Anniversary: I didn't make it over to Gordon's for their party either. Just too much going on!! After 20 years in the pub biz, GB celebrated with special brews, food specials and and a general good time in the Mid-town location. Sometimes overlooked by the craft beer crowd, GB and Rockbottom Breweries have produced some award winning labels over the years. Support small batches and get in sometime!!
4/18/09 420 Fest: Also known as my birthday, April 18th saw the largest crowd to date for the annual gathering of the Sweetwater beer fans' fundraiser for all things Earth Day. Only Sweetwater was on hand and I don't have a problem with that (it was a bit difficult to get a beer but that was probably a good thing) All flavors were on tap including the latest release fromt he Dank Tank, Double IPA featuring easy drinking blast of hops and a satisfying blast of % value. The weather held out for the most part and a great time was had by all I would be willing to say.
4/18/09 Atlanta Dogwood Festival: Proudly Sponsored by Corona, the fest provided a continuation of 79 years of art in the park and an easy drinking Mexican beer kinda weekend. Multiple brewing iterations from south of the border quenched the thirst of tens of thousands Saturday & Sunday, imagining themselves on the shores of Tulum or Playa del Carmen. Ahh Mexico, why doesn't AirTran fly there again?
4/28/09 Taco Mac Magical Mystery Beer Tour: April's installment of the Taco Mac Beer Dinner series, this one in the Lindbergh Station location in Buckhead. Probably 'SOLD OUT' again. These guys really keep doing a great job putting out unique pairings of great beer and great food. If you think you have eaten at Taco Mac, YOU HAVE NOT. Executive Chef Matt Deckard and Fred Crudder (beer guy) turn it up to Eleven every month. Get a ticket and get your Mystery Tour on!!!
Michael Plank - Germany - Heller Weizenbock & Dunkler Weizenbock Brasserie la Binchoise - Belgium - Belgoo Magus Ceylon - Sri Lanka - Lion Stout Armacord - Italy - La Trabachera
That wraps it up but doesn't knock a dent in the keg of beer fun had in Atlanta this month, proving once again that with a little change in the political climate, southern cities can rule the beer appreciation world. Let's hope Alabama takes note one day. Until then, come on over the beer's fine.
It was a bit late in the 'season' but the Sweetwater Christmas Party was a welcome addition to "APRIL, the month of Beer". (more about that in the next blog)
Founded over a decade ago, the Sweetwater brand has stayed true to it's roots from day one, right through to April 5th.
good beer and good times
The party put another nail in the cask that carries that mantra home everyday. The beer gods showered us with just enough of a light mix of sunshine and rain to keep away any wannabee brewery "fans". Otherwise, the event was classic Sweetwater, free music all day, complimentary tastings of beer with a glass purchase and samples of special casks of delicious grog. I stopped in for a few hours and more than few beers with Denise, Tryon and local beer nut Ale Sharpton. Also on hand was Chris Miller, creator of the new beer publication Beer Conniseur Magazine. Check it out http://www.beerconnoisseur.com
Freddy, Steve, Katy, Goot and the gang were all on hand, taking it easy and enjoying the afternoon sipping, talking and meeting other afficianados and beer nuts. I hung out by the casks of The Creaper, hoping someone would tap one and I could enjoy some of the aging necter hidden within.
It didn't happen.
It won't be long though, word is that the first batch from the Dank Tank is being aged in burgundy oak barrels til this fall. At that point, a few kegs will get sent out to various pubs like Brick Store and the rest will be enjoyed by the brewery attending few. We hope to get a keg for HotoberFest tasting competition Ocotber 3rd.
Back to the party. Nick created a cask of Swiss Miss, an espresso and tequila infused version of Happy Ending as I recall. An extremely nice addition to an already satisfying brew. I love a little chocolate note on my stouts. I was too slow to catch the other cask release, couldn't even get someone to slow down long enough to tell me what I missed. Apparently IT ROCKED as well.
Switching gears, it's time to get amped up for the umpteenth annual 420 Fest!!!! ALWAYS a good time. The brewery founded this event as an expansion of the old L5P Pubcrawl I do believe. If you were not around in the old days for this one-nighter then you may not know of the fury that was unleashed on the bars of Little 5 Points back in the 90s (yes, the 90's kids). One night, 5 bars, 5 kegs, one marching band, one tray of munchies and any number of people crazy enough to join in (or get the hell out of the way). Once that reached epic & epidemic proportions, it was time to go official with a festival I guess.
Candler Park this Saturday & Sunday. Come early, stay late, get a Taxi. It is a kid friendly event with plenty of live music, food and info about helping our Mother Earth. If you have never been to 420 Fest and are thinking about going to the Dogwood Festival instead, then go on. If you're thinking about doing something REALLY fun this weekend, then come on down, I have you're spot reserved. Yes, I'm a 420 snob.