Mea Culpa

I meant to write this up a couple days ago, but I keep forgetting because I will be 31 in July, which means my brain resembles a single, sparking wire dangling in the center of a dank, empty warehouse.

Last Thursday, whilst enjoying some frosty cold ones around a large table at M&T, Bob Townsend TOTALLY CALLED ME OUT on this blog entry. Go read the third paragraph and the first two comments … I’ll wait.

I am usually very good about reconciling my digital reach with my real life (as evidenced here, a mere 40 posts after the one linked above), so it’s never surprising when Google leads people to this site like a yelping Border Collie.

Having re-read what I wrote (almost three years ago, BOB!), I don’t really disagree with anything I said. In fact, the blog post itself was enthusiastic and supportive. It was only when fufats took umbrage with Townsend’s proclamations, and I subsequently agreed with fufats that the tone turned snide (THANKS A LOT, BILL!). I still agree with the post, and I agree with the spirit of the comments, but I regret that the conversation was had in a tone that came across as highly critical of Bob in what is essentially a public forum, but offered Bob no chance to respond unless he were somehow able to find the whole thing on his own. Which he eventually did.

Would I personally describe Atlanta as a mecca for the best beers in the world? Eh, it depends on what you consider to be the best beers in the world. Regardless, craft brew enthusiasts in the ATL are fast running out of things to complain about. Atlanta may not be Portland or Seattle, or even Boston or Denver, but there is no shortage of perfectly great beer here.

I think it’s fairly safe to say, when I wrote that post, I never thought I would ever actually meet and / or hang out with Bob. Now having met and chatted with him several times at various beer events, I can say Bob is super and I feel bad. Sorry, Bob.

Next Beer Tasting

Due to some schedule adjusting, I will be filling in for Bob Townsend at next Thursday’s Muss and Turner’s beer tasting. You will be sampling (and I will be yammering about) 6 beers new to the Atlanta market. The list isn’t final, but I can tell you there will be beer(s) from Utah (pronounced UTAH!!!) that is/are the opposite of suck.

Date: Thursday, 5/22, in the year of our lord, 2k8
Time: 6:30ish – 8:00ish
Cost: $15.00 (includes a 10% discount on dinner if you stay and eat)

There are a limited number of seats and they tend to fill up quick [pats self on back], so call 770-434-1114 or email reservations@mussandturners.com to get your name on the list.

Athens beer quickie

Since spending a week in Portland eating and drinking like an experimental hyperthyroid mouse, followed immediately by a big meal and show at the Fox, followed immediately by NOT EATING WINGS (with beers) at The Local didn’t seem to be enough … I decided to putter on over to Athens on Saturday for the grand opening of Terrapin’s new brewery. (The fact that Terrapin has been selling their beers since 2002 but, thanks to the wicked awesome legislative environment in Georgia, weren’t able to open their brewery until 2008 is a whole other foamy rant.) While Terrapin was the main thrust that propelled me to Athens, there were a few other items on my do it list. I wanted to see Mark and Dana who got married while we were in Portland. I wanted to See Rob and Mo because it had been too great a while since that had happened. And I wanted to check out Trappeze, a new beer bar that has all the nerds abuzz.

The brewery opening met my expectations almost precisely. (Unfortunately, so did my camera battery, so pics are light.) Terrapin’s facility is impressive. They put Sweetwater’s old brewing equipment (formerly at Zuma Brewing) into a 45,000 square foot warehouse on the North side of town. The crowd (I heard preliminary estimates of ~2,000 attendees) was enthusiastic but well-mannered, especially considering how long the lines for beer were. The lines were so long, in fact, that had I not had a hook up of sorts, I would have bailed much earlier. Put your eyeballs on these pictures:

Le front door:

Le side door:

Hippies getting noodley:

I didn’t take any pictures of the inside of the brewery likely because I am made almost entirely of idiot and fail. Moving right along then.

Gia, skip the next sentence. Trappeze is the tits. Their beer list is what I imagine a beer list would be like if I lived in a world where all beer lists are awesome. They don’t have quite the volume of, say, a Taco Mac, but there’s really no comparison. Taco Mac’s menu is chock full of a bunch of crap people with working tongues wouldn’t touch, and the average number of Taco Mac employees at each store who actually know what they have in stock is 0.75. Trappeze doesn’t have quite as many exotics as The Brickstore, but, lets be honest, who does? Trappeze has a nice, large list with enough depth to keep enthusiasts like myself busy, but without trying to go over the top. I am a big fan. Also, their 30 or so taps are listed on a large chalkboard that can be A) seen from anywhere in the bar including the sidewalk out front and B) easily updated when taps are switched on-the-fly. The Publick House in Boston has the same setup and it works flawlessly. Dear Taco Mac get with the fucking program already thanks Tony. Trappeze’s website can be found here, but there’s not much there. That would probably explain why a Google search of ‘trappeze athens‘ returns them 10th in line. Your eyeballs, look with them:

You have to be 11 feet tall to get the beer from those tap handles:

Behold, the latest in beer bar wireless communication, the chalkboard:

Mark and I, unsettled:

After behaving VERY WELL and not screaming, spitting, or peeing on or at anything that didn’t deserve it, I crashed at Mark’s new pad out on the East side. Mark just bought American Classic Tattoo on Baxter. You should all go there and let him draw on you. On Sunday, Mark cooked frickin’ crab cakes benedict with creamed spinach. It was OUTRAGEOUSLY good, and I didn’t even have to have sex with him.

In conclusion, excellent weekend. If you get the chance:

- Go to one of Terrapin’s many available brewery tours.
- Go to Trappeze
- Go to American Classic Tattoo and get something like a butterfly on your hip or a barbed wire armband.
- Sleep at Mark’s house and eat whatever he makes for breakfast.

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

YESTERDAY: First day back in the saddle after a little spring break week in Portland. Thought I avoided any discernible jet-lag, but now there are forehead grease stains on my monitor. Interesting. Our trip to Stumptown was fairly typical. We ate and drank like there was perpetually an electric chair on the horizon. We got to spend at least a couple quality hours with damn near everyone we wanted to, and I made plans to see the folks I missed when I’m back out for work in a few weeks. It rained. It was sunny. It was cold. And warm (ish). Got to visit some great beer haunts including but not limited to Walkingman, Full Sail, Double Mountain, and Hopworks. We were reminded (not that it takes much) how much we love Portland and the Pacific Northwest as well as how difficult it would be to move back there despite how much we might want to. Oh well. I’ll continue to visit whenever I can. Last night, we went to see Avenue Q at the Fox. It was uproariously funny.

TODAY: This should be it’s own blog entry, but maybe I’ll keep it shorter this way. Why the hell hasn’t Atlanta been included in Google Maps Street View yet? Google announced yesterday that they added 13 more cities to the Street View list bringing the grand total of available cities to 48. Now, I’m not like someone from Boston or New York who will argue my city’s superiority simply because I’m too proud and / or insecure to admit otherwise. And I am well aware that Atlanta proper is only 34th largest city in the U.S. My problem is with the fact that the Atlanta metro area is the 9th largest Metropolitan Area in the U.S. You’ll notice the other glaring omission is the DC / Baltimore area. Yes, they should be giving Google the WTF eyes as well. I could understand if the problem was that Atlanta covers too much square mileage and the Street View photography was too large a project. But Dallas and Houston, both sprawling monstrosities, have Street View. And sprawl aside, it’s hard to view the fact that Albuquerque, Anchorage, Austin, Cleveland, Fairbanks, Little Rock, Madison, Nashville, Rockford, Richmond, Spokane, St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Yosemite freaking National Park all got the creepy surveillance treatment before Atlanta as anything other than intentional. Google is not allowed to use our airport until this shit is fixed.

TOMORROW: A little light housework and then the Terrapin Grand Opening fiesta in Athens. I’m going to drink beer!!

On the state of delicious adult beverages

Here are some random tidbits pertaining to the drink:

  • Last night’s tasting at M&T was super duper. I got my nerd on about barley of the malted variety, and the nice, paying customers did an excellent job of pretending to listen. For those of you who weren’t there, you now know less about beer than you could. I hope you’re happy. Initially, I was going to do hops next week and then North vs. South the week after, but in a profound moment of “Oh right, of course,” it was decided that week 3 will cover the topic of yeast. This decision was prompted by several excellent questions from attendees where I found myself answering, “No, that flavor comes from the yeast.” Really, it was like someone wrote DUH on a brick and threw it at my forehead. So, the schedule:

    -2/28: What’s the deal with malt?
    -3/6: What’s the deal with hops?
    -3/13: What’s the deal with yeast?

    $15 bucks for 6 tasters and a bunch of knowledge. 10% off dinner if you decide to stick around and eat. Reserve yourself: 770-434-1114 or reservations@mussandturners.com.

  • Discovered deep in yesterday’s AJC, our intrepid state assembly appears to be sneaking through some sort of bill that would open up the world of direct wine sales considerably. How dare they!! Don’t they want to capitalize on all of the potential rah-rah-good vibes that would go along with a bill like this? The House’s bill page can be found here. I’ve read through the full text a couple times, but my powdered wig is at the cleaners and without it, my ability to decipher this crap is … uh … sub-maximal. There appears to be something about Georgia “farm” wineries being able to sell their goods more freely as well as citizens being able to buy directly from wineries more freely. It also appears to allow wineries to sell “distilled spirits, malted beverages, and wine” directly from their “tasting rooms.” So, wineries can open bars on their property.

    Naturally, I’m glad to see malted beverages even mentioned, but why no mention of retail / wholesale / distribution rights for breweries or distilleries? Is the general assembly simply willing to ignore the metric tons of tax revenue that would be generated through allowing Sweetwater, Atlanta Brewing, and Terrapin to engage in a little self-distribution of their own? I will never cease to be baffled at the legislature’s inherent need to draft legislation that differs wildly from one type of alcohol to another. If I can order wine from out-of-state wineries, can I also order beer, which usually has a lower %ABV?

    I know there are several lawyers who read this blather. One of you get in there and decipher HB393 for the rest of us.

  • Our friends over in Alabama appear to be slightly closer to taking a step out of the dark ages. This Tuesday, 3/4/08, their House of Representatives will vote on HB196, which will raise the alcohol limit in beer similar to Georgia’s own HB645 back in 2004, which I may or may not have written a few words about. I don’t have the full text of the Alabama bill. In a rather crude metaphor for Alabama’s place in society (from a technological standpoint, at least), in order to view the full text of their bills, you have to download some bloated Internet Explorer plugin (called ALISON) that requires Acrobat and is likely just a big ActiveX suckstorm. That’s heads up webmastering, Alabama. You know, they have the internet on computers now.

    So here’s hoping their state legislature takes a step in the right direction. I can’t help but wonder, though, whether the neoprohibitionists will seize this opportunity to continue to head in the same direction as Iran. I can’t emphasize enough how much life has improved since the passing of HB645 in Georgia. If I lived in Alabama, I would be pursuing this one ravenously.

    Heh. If I lived in Alabama.

    Good one.

  • Moons over whatevah

    It’s looking like today might be a little bit slower than it has been in a long while, so why don’t I crank out a tedious update of what has been going on over the past moon or so? HUH?! WHY DON’T I?!?!

    Let’s see … the trial Gia was working on, which gained intensity throughout 2006, and reached fully-sustained freakout pitch sometime in October, wrapped up a couple weeks earlier than anticipated, which was awesome. (You can read about it here.) As a result, she has spent most of February rejoining the community of mankind and learning what it’s like to feel human again. Now, instead of running on pure adrenaline, almost no sleep, and the threat of hundreds of millions of dollars being awarded to the wrong team, she gets to deal with me again, which means conversations like, “Look, just because your’re home all the time now … I don’t see why I have to stop peeing in the shower. The cats think it’s very funny.” It’s good to have her back.

    We’re taking a long overdue vacation next week. We realized recently that the only true vacation Gia and I have ever taken together, by oursleves, has been our honeymoon, which was like 37 years ago. This we shall remedy.

    Beer continues to play a very prominent role in my life and I’m very happy about that (except for the persistent spare bike tire I can’t seem to shake from its perch around my halter-top sector. In an attempt to make my beer nerditude legitimately recognized by a national organization, I’m planning on taking the BJCP exam in May. This involves a three hour class / study session / excuse to nerd out about beer every Sunday between the end of January and May 20th (excluding the Superbowl, Easter, Mother’s Day, and last Sunday because the course administrator was planning ahead of time to be hungover that afternoon). As part of this course of study, I was a judge at the Peach State Brew Off last weekend (and for a little while the weekend before). I was one of the, if not the greenest judges there, but the organizers paired me with some very experienced folks, so it worked out well and I absorbed a metric shit-ton of valuable information. Thankfully, there were only a couple of these:

    “I cannot taste any significant technical flaws in this specimen.”

    “You mean except for the overt oxidation and rampant Pediococcus infection?”

    “Right, of course, except for that stuff … duh.”

    So as not to violate any of the judging anonimity guidelines, I will say that my skillz ended up being affirmed by the best of show results. Sweet. This little foray out of my garage and into the local brewing community has also rekindled my desire to start brewing my own again. The last beer I made was great. It’s been too long.

    In other local beer news:

    - Summits in Sandy Springs closed up shop several weeks ago, an event about which I have mixed feelings. Summits did a lot of things right, and I spent a lot of money there because they were the closest beer bar to my abode. but the experience there was often a frustrating one for various reasons. Word on the street is that it is re-opening next week (3/4) as Charlie Mopps Pub and will feature the same 104 taps and Eleventy Billion bottles they’ve always had but with more focus on being a proper beer bar (a la Brickstore) and not just a smokey sports hangout with a poorly managed wall of beer in the background. Here’s hoping.

    - Last week, beers from DogFish Head became available in Georgia via Savannah Distributing. DFH makes some grandma-slapping good beers. This is one instance where Georgia’s high-alcohol beer law comes back to haunt. On 7/1/2004, the ABV limit was raied from 6% to 14%. I would guess this includes 98% of beers currently available on the market. Unfortunately, DFH makes a handful of beers that shatter the 14% threshold, so none for us. I’m not, however, going to cry over 4 or 5 beers. Georgia has coma a long way since ’04. If you see beers from DFH, buy them and pour them in your face.

    - Muss & Turners continues to be the greatest restaurant on the face of the Earth. They do everything right, ESPECIALLY beer. Gia and I have racked up an OBSCENE amount of money on our M&T rewards card. But don’t get any funny ideas, you know, like possibly going there yourself for food and / or drink. It’s already far too crowded. I mean, this is to be expected of an establishment that is the best one of its kind on the planet, but I’m warning you. If I see you there, I’ll probably recommend something tasty from the menu and I might even buy you a delicious adult beverage, but I will be totally bitter and insincere about it. On the inside.

    What else … oh, I turn 30 this summer, so I imagine I’ll start pondering / freaking the fuck out here any minute. The Duke turns 60 in April and we’ve planned a pretty cool little trip to commemorate our chronological milestones. In June we’re flying up to Boston to catch a Red Sox game (Giants) and then jetting over to NYC the next day to catch a Yanks game (Mets). Yes, we already have tickets.

    That’s about it. I go to the gym three tmes a week, and it feels awesome. I’ve been reading books this year. I’m about to finish my third one of the year, which is a HUGE deal considering it’s only February. I want to build a new back deck this spring / summer. The inside of Tall Brown needs painting. I’ve been drumming more recently, and have started sniffing around a new kit, possibly. I switched from using mayonnaise in tuna fish to using extra virgin olive oil and I think it’s much better.

    The end.

    Hey. How's it going?

    Holy crap. Has another month skated by sans blog entries? I’m sure you’re all totally torqued about it. Shut up.

    I heart lists.

    - My travel schedule for work has let up from what it was in June and July, but I still get around a good bit. Since we last spoke, I spent a couple of enjoyable days in Boston. I got a great walking tour from a local and we had beers and lobster rolls right next to Fenway during a BoSox game. News flash: Boston fans might be more annoying than Yankees fans. I mean, shut up already. As soon as you broke your “curse” in 2004, people stopped caring. Your self-flagellation when the slightest things goes wrong is obnoxious, and your new found sense of entitlement is inexcusable. Stuff some baked beans in it. In fact, the whole AL East can fall into the Atlantic for all I care. IN FACT, BASEBALL CAN FALL INTO THE ATLANTIC FOR ALL I CARE. As of last night, football season is upon us, so you fancy, bat-swinging, steroid-chugging, seed-suckers need to WRAP. IT. UP.

    - With the help of a gift certificate my folks gave me for my birthday, I got a new wheelie suitcase (this one, for those interested), so I look extra badass and I have all new places to put all my crap whilst away from home. I’m glad the opportunity to buy a new bag didn’t arise until after some significant travel, because it completely enhanced the buying process. It gave me plenty of time to look around and see what other travellers were dragging around. I went with the TravelPro for several reasons:

    1. The Duke has used TravelPros for most of his career.
    2. They’re relatively economical (Travelpro < $200 - Tumi > $500)because
    3. Based on my observations / creepy staring, I’d say 97% of flight crews drag TravelPros.

    I never realized how lonely business travel can be until I dove in with both feet, and I realized quickly that your roll-aboard is your one and only friend on the road. You look out for each other. It keeps your stuff safe from the elements, and you make sure it doesn’t get smashed to bits by some TSA missing link. In fact, I’d say the parallels between Tom Hanks / Wilson J. Volleyball and Business Traveller / Wheelie K. Box O’Clothes are quite numberous. Anyway, I heartily recommend the TravelPro Crew5.

    - We also got a new vacuum cleaner for Tall Brown. After reading how owning one of those fancy Dysons will change your life, we went out … wait for it … and bought a Hoover. The WindTunnel II to be exact. Two things led to this decision: the WindTunnel was the highest rated in Consumer Reports, and I read a few too many reviews that they Dyson was A) more fashion than function, and B) really fragile. Like, one lady said she knocked hers over and the body cracked. I know that’s just internet heresay, but if I spent $400 on what is essentially a power tool and it broke from falling over, I might be forced to eat it out of sheer rage.

    As might be expected, having the new vacuum is both great and horrifying for the same reason and that reason is the damn thing works so well. Seriously, you guys. Gross. Knowing now the kind of filth we’ve been wallowing in for the past three years, my relationship with the Whirlwind is, how you say, bittersweet.

    Let’s see. What else …

    - I’ve been smoking meat like a mad man. Two batches of ribs at the beginning of the month, and then last weekend I did two Boston Butts. Two people told me it was the best pork they’ve ever had in their lives. We may be onto something here. There’s some pictures on the right.

    - I also blew the dust off the brewery last weekend. I hadn’t brewed since January, a fact for which I am very much ashamed. I did Brown Ale for the impending fall weather. I also made up a recipe for the first time, which could prove to be awesome or … not awesome. (For the nerds I mashed 10lbs of Maris Otter and a half pound each of Chocolate Malt, Carafa II, Caramel Wheat, and Crystal 40L. 60 minute boil. Half ounce of Chinook at 60, half ounce of Amarillo at 15, and half ounce of Amarillo at flame out. WL0051 California V yeast.)

    As part of my spiral of discouragement, I tried to put the beer we brewed in January out of my mind. Problem was, I put it out of my mind before it was finished. As of Saturday, it had been sitting in a secondary fermenter, with dry hops, since January. I was ready to dump it and get on with my life, but I decided to taste it just to make sure. Turns out, it tastes waaaaaaaay better than I remember, so I kegged it on the spot and will begin enjoying it this weekend while I do everything in my power to overdose on football.

    And speaking of this weekend … I think I’m going to start mine a little early. Ta.

    Slain

    Rogue Half-a-weizen
    Rogue Juniper Pale
    Bridgeport Blue Heron
    New Belgium Skinny Dip
    Bridgeport IPA
    Mirror Pond Pale
    Lagunitas IPA
    Alberta Pale
    Broken Halo IPA
    Nectar Ales IPA
    Goose Island IPA
    Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA
    Fish Tales Organic IPA
    Speakeasy Big Daddy DIPA
    Hop Rod Rye
    Deschutes Twilight Summer

    Lushish

    We’re in Portland.

    The victims so far:

    Barefoot Brown – Walking Man
    Homo Erectus – Walking Man
    Kitchen Sink #2 ESB – The Mash Tun
    Portside IPA – The Mash Tun
    Terminal Gravity IPA – Terminal Gravity
    Supris – Bridgeport
    Black Butte Porter – Deschutes
    Summer Ale – Firestation 5 / Portland Brewing / Pyramid

    And only 8 days to go …