Beery roundup

I haven’t rambled semi-coherently about everyone’s favorite foamy adult beverage in a while, so …

- Tickets for the 3rd Annual Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting have been on sale for a while now. “But Tony, it’s barely July and the tasting doesn’t happen until January!” Listen here, the first two instances of this event sold out faster than a Death Cab show at a Starbucks, so when November rolls around and you start getting your mouth all ready for some real ale, and OOPS! there aren’t any tickets left … well …

- Now that the wild success of HB 645 has had two years to become part of the local culture, the craft brewing community is beginning to grumble about other regressive laws that prevent Georgia from cultivating the kind of vibrant brewing community of which it is truly capable. Recently, several local breweries were issued citations and fined by the Georgia Department of Revenue for listing names of specific bars, restaurants, and liquor stores that carry their products either on their websites or by other means. They were told this practice amounts to giving away free goods and services (advertising), which is illegal under the current three-tier distribution system, a system designed to protect the business interests of all three tiers (producer, distributor, retailer), but which really only protects the middle tier. No more emails that say, “Free Pint Glass night at bar X on X/X/XX,” or, “Come to restaurant X for a 5-course meal where the chef has paired each course with a beer from us.” If a customer calls a brewery and asks where that brewery’s products can be purchased (because you can’t purchase it directly from the brewery, you stinking lush) the employee of the brewery is prohibited from telling the customer the specific name of an establishment. They have to say something like, “our products should be available at most retailers in, uh, downtown Georgia.”

I’m not sure which breweries if any have decided to fight, but recent legal precedent appears to be on their side. A member of a local beer listserv posted a link to an April 26, 2005 Georgia Supreme court decision in FOLSOM et al. v. CITY OF JASPER et al. 279 Ga. 260. The Rodeo Cafe was cited for purchasing two newspaper ads, one containing the volatile word ‘champagne,’ and one containing the ghastly offensive phrase ‘Miller Lite.’ One of the many money shots from the 12-page decision:

The City argues that restricting the availability of information regarding alcohol sales will reduce the prevalence of both underage drinking as well as fortuitous drinking by adults. But the City cites absolutely no evidence in support of its assertions, and reliance on “‘speculation [and] conjecture’ . . . is an unacceptable means of demonstrating that a restriction on commercial speech directly advances the State’s asserted interest.” Id. at 507 (citing Edenfield v. Fane, 507 U. S. 761, 770 14 (113 SC 1792, 123 LE2d 543) (1993))

Taking the statewide legislative picture into account, I’m not sure mounting a defense based on free speech or commercial speech is the best strategy for small breweries vs. The Department of Revenue, but it will be interesting to see how this plays out. In addition to decisions like the one above, Costco recently won a victory (21-page PDF) in their case against the Washington State Liquor Control Board, about which, I’ve written before. Washington has a similar medieval distribution system as Georgia. Costco essentially said, “Wait wait wait. We buy more wine than all of you distributors put together, yet we have to go through you distributor middle-men and pay your crap-ass markups rather than go directly to the producer. Bollocks. Poopycock. Bullpucky. we’ll see you in court.” And the Western District of Washington U.S. District Court basically said, “Not even the 21st amendment can protect your ‘Steele Act’ from our ‘Sherman Act’,” and a bunch of other stuff. Washington will be given the chance to appeal, presumably to a Circuit Court of Appeals (?), but this seems like one of those that has the mettle to make it all the way to John G Roberts and crew.

What I’m trying to say is that things are afoot with liquor legislation, and it remains an exciting time to be a craft beer enthusiast.

Beer is/and sex

Amber tagged me (sort of) to respond to an article published in Augusta’s newsweekly regarding a correlation between beer choice and sexual profile among men. I started to write a comment on her site, and it quickly spun out of control. So, here is my comment masquerading as an entry on my blog. The original article is nothing short of very terrible. It appears below in Bold / Italics with my corrections / interpretations mixed-in throughout. Let me know if I managed not to step on your toes with any of this because I’m pretty sure I stomped them all good.

BudweiserWhether you drink light or regular, you’re a man’s man. You like to think you enjoy being in control and taking charge, but we all know you love it when your lady climbs on top!

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Two sentence rant: Is it me, or does Technorati have the slowest, shittiest servers on the internet? Seriously, you could get better site performance watching one9ine on a 28k dialup connection.

I’m in the market for some new jeans and I would like some input / feedback. I’ve talked about my denim ethic before, and I wrote a magazine article about it way back in 2001. Maddox has also made his opinion on the subject known.

Here’s the thing, it’s been two years since I bought my last pair of jeans and the time has come to introduce a new pair to my ass area. The pair I bought in April of ought four have weathered expertly, but I want to explore all available options before I rush out and get another pair from Sears. Here are my criteria:

- They must not have artificial bleach marks. People who wear jeans with those fucking “whiskers” bleached into the front are the reason 9/11 happened.
- They must not be stressed / damaged / worn / frayed or wrecked in any way. Shortening the life of a garnment and subsequently raising the price of said garnment is the reason AIDS happened.
- They will be priced appropriately. I am not afraid to pay $100 for a pair of jeans, but I better get $100 worth of jeans (i.e. they will give me the sweetest looking ass in the western hemisphere for no less than 6 years of daily wear. Read: it’s not likely I will ever spend $100 on jeans.)

So outside of Dickies and Levi’s, are there any other options that meet my demands? I’m starting to think it’s not likely. I’m considering ordering a pair of these, sight unseen. Why is it so difficult to find a reasonably priced pair of jeans that haven’t been pre-ruined to satisfy some assinine fashion trend? Am I really 28 going on 70?

Last night, we broke into one of the bottles of the New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red gifted to me recently. It pours a murky red color. Either Gia or Robert said it looks like someone mixed beer with NyQuil. The aroma is all candy cherries. Had I been blindfolded, I would have shouted, “RED STARBURSTS!” Since I was not blindfolded, I was able to be more descriptive. “This smells exactly like red starbursts.” The top boasted a loose, busy head, reminiscient of, but slightly tighter than champagne. Since I had red starbursts on the brain, you would think the flavor would almost certainly shatter my expectations. Not so much. This is a very sweet, cherry-flavored beer, with a sharp, tart upswing at the end. Upon another sip, I noticed that it also starts very tart, then it mellows and sweetens, then it finishes tart right at the end. Almost like the taking the first big drop on a roller coaster, then flattening out for a second, then making another big drop, then it’s over. In subsequent sips, I searched my tongue for the malt bill, but I couldn’t find anything but cherries.

This is a fantstic beer, but I’m a little surprised it’s on Beeradvocate’s list of top 50 beers of all time.

Round upper

All of this business travel makes for great blogging material. The problem is, all of this business travel leaves me with very little time for things like, well, you know.

Last week found me in lovely Harrisburg, Pennsylvakia, a mere 40 miles from Lancaster, where Mr. Michael Dougois laid his head for a couple years. Before I get too far into the story, does everyone remember that little dust-up at the ATL airport last Wednesday? Guess where I was when it went down … I’ll tell you … sitting on a plane waiting to leave. And we were so close, too. So close. The doors were closed and armed, flight attendants had completed that little dance they do with the finger pointing and the plastic tubing, and all electronics were firmly in the off position. The captain came over the loud speaker and let us down as gently as possible, but it is hard to put words to that sinking feeling of helplessness you get in a situation like that. To make matters not better, the crew was extremely quick to hand out bottles of water and headsets, indicating our departure would be sometime much later than right now, and they started some Jennifer Anniston movie, which really made people angry. Fast forward sixty sweaty, teeth-grinding minutes — the captain suddenly came on again and said, “Flight attendents, we’ve been cleared, let’s go!” People literally ran back to their seats and secured their seatbelts with deadly force causing a deafening symphony of clicks that perfectly captured the furious zeal radiating from every person on the plane. And just like that, the whole thing was over. I arrived in DC two hours late, but all I missed was beltway rush hour, and my only appointment was with a Marriott pillow, so it was really no big deal. The whole thing could have been much, MUCH worse.

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Put your tongue on it

Last night, the Geester and I joined DoubleYew and a patio full of whopping beer dorks for the bi-monthly tasting at The Wild Wing in Marietta. This time around was Bocks and new-to-market beers.

Symphony #4 by J.S. Bock:

Also, you can click here (110KB) to see a PDF of the “tasting sheet” as proof that I will never pass a BJCP exam. And neither will Gia.


Photo: Getty Images

I am not what one would call a college basketball fan. Or a fan of basketball in general for that matter. I’ve just never had anything invested in it. I’ve never filled out a bracket, I never attended a game at UGA while I was there, and, when routinely offered $100-per-seat tickets to the Hawks, I usually respond, “Is there anyone famous on the other team? Is parking included?” I don’t dislike basketball, it’s just … meh. I do like watching college hoops with Brian, however, because he is a rabid fan and highly prone to involuntary whoops and screams throughout the game. Last night, Brian and I met at Summits to watch the Memphis-Bradley game. Brian’s a huge Memphis fan, and the guy who sits next to me at work went to Bradley, so I figured I should probably watch. That game ended up being fairly boring, but the LSU-Duke showdown on the adjacent screen was positively glorious. I don’t have specific beef with Duke, other than a hearty affinity for seeing giants tumble. Also, their fans are total dweebs. They’re actually a lot like Tech fans, except less Asian and more North Cackalacky than Atlanta.

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Feelin' it

Or, not feeling it, rather. I haven’t had anything blog-worthy to talk about lately, hence all of the not blogging going on around here. I work, I go to the gym, I hang out on the weekends, I procrastinate. That’s about it. And there hasn’t really been an outpouring of concern over my lackluster output, unless, I suppose, you count my loving wife. “I see you didn’t update your website again today. I hate you.” But, I also refuse to blog about not having anything to blog about. So, we’re finished here.

Last night, Brian Shaft Head and I went to an Emory grad student mixer at the Atlanta Brewing Company brewery. I know … NERDS!! And we were right across the highway from Tech, too. Gerogia Tech makes me chuckle. You could tell just by looking that everyone at the mixer was either super smart, super rich, or both. And the “talent,” as it were, was all but non-existant. The hottest person there was a guy with a mohawk, and he worked for ABC. No, I was not really all that surprised. Heh.

I feel bad that last night was the first time I have ever been to ABC. Atlanta, a city of almost 5 million people, has but 6 breweries, and two of them are Gordon Biersch and Rock Bottom, which don’t count. So you’d think a mega-super-ultra beer freak like myself would have plenty of history with all of them. But even though I can walk to ABC from work, I had neer made the trip before, which is a shame because the brewrey is actually quite nice. And discovering the brewery’s pleasant atmosphere now is bittersweet as I understand all the businesses on Williams Street are being evicted and demolished for highway contruction. Balls.

One of the reasons I hadn’t visited ABC yet is that, traditionally, their beers haven’t been among my favorites. The Red Brick Ale just kind of lays there like a blow-up doll, and the Peachtree Pale Ale has a weird roasted flavor that always leaves me looking at the bottle, asking it, “Why do you do that?” Since the 6% law passed in 2004, ABC has done some significant recipe re-tooling, and things are coming around nicely. They expanded the malt bill on Red Brick and allowed the ABV to stretch up to 6.5%. And the winter lager they were pouring at last November’s Craft Beer Challenge was positively bitchin’. I had a couple glasses of their hefeweizen last night and found it to be quite tasty. And at only 4.1% ABV, you can drink 300 of them and still win a unicycle race. (A note about hefeweizens: this slice of lemon / orange business needs to stop. Why would you completely smash the delicate malt and wheat flavors with all that citric acid? If you put salad in your beer around me and I don’t say anything, understand at least that I’m laughing at you on the inside.)

Tomorrow, Ben, Paul2K, and I are heading into the woods to get our camp on. I will try not to hit Paul2k’s bare flesh with a red hot tin can again, but I’m not promising anything.

Picture Catchup 3: Something to which to aspire

Last Sunday, I acquired a special keg of beer. I had received word a few days earlier from one of the local beer geeks that he had “too much” Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine. He purchased a 1/2bbl (15.5 gallons) of Bigfoot, but his kegerator is setup to hold 1/6bbl kegs (5 gallons). Another local beer maniac and I brought 5 gallon kegs over and the wealth was shared so to speak.

This is not Bigfoot:

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Picture catchup

I have a bunch of outdated pictures and a bunch of stories about me drinking beer to post, so sit down and shutup.

Two Saturdays ago, I decided to address the two kegs that DoubleYew gave me back in December. See, a few years ago, DoubleYew quit homebrewing. I give him a lot of shit about it, but he gave me the only acceptable reason I could possibly think of: He couldn’t brew enough to keep up with his drinking. Fair enough. He gifted me two very nice 5-gallon Cornelius kegs for my endeavors. Looky:

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