Southern Brew News December 2013/January 2014 : Page 1

By Nora McGunnigle ILLUSTRATION BY HANS GRANHEIM F By Owen Ogletree A massive throng of brewers packs into a vast audi--torium at Denver's Colorado Convention Center on the morning of Saturday, October 12 for the 2013 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) award ceremony. ( Beer B artisans who are nor-mally jovial and relaxed m seem se strangely tense and anx-ious. io This is a critical day. Brian "Spike" Buckowski, Terrapin's co-Bu owner and brewmaster, sits in ow the audience as the awards are announced. With each passing anno category, his hopes for a coveted GABF medal shrink, but his edgy focus never waivers from the stage. Announcing the winners, GABF judge coordinator Chris Swersey arrives at the category of German-Style Altbier. Spike holds his breath for Terrapin's Tree Hugger -a recipe inspired by the delicious range of alts he tasted on a recent trip to Dusseldorf. When Tree Hugger takes the gold medal, Spike experiences a rush of adrenaline and heads toward the stage to claim his prize from Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewers Association. Applause fills the auditorium, along with cheers of support from fellow brewers. See Pay Dirt p. 4 or the past four years, it has been a holiday tradition for me and my husband to go to celebrated New Orleans chef John Besh’s flagship Restaurant August for Reveillon Dinner on Christmas Eve. “Reveillon” (or “awak-ening” in French) in New Orleans is the traditional Catholic meal eaten at home after Mass on Christmas Eve, cooked in the Creole style using local ingredients. The term has taken on new life since the 1980s when non-profit event organizers French Quarter Festivals, Inc. (FQFI) coordinated with area restaurants to create multiple-course prix fixe meals throughout the city during the entire month of December. Locals and tourists alike enjoy different chefs’ takes on some of the classic Creole food most often served during the holidays. During my first three Reveillon meals at August, I rolled my eyes at the bottled beer list that had obviously been thrown together as an afterthought for cheapskates that didn’t want to partake of their admittedly magnificent wine list. Last year, however, I decided to take advantage of August’s generous no-corkage fee for bottles to bring several bottles of special beer that I’d been aging for the right The delicate herbs and spices of Dieu de Ciel's occasion to enjoy with our "Blanche du Paradis" beer pairs beautifully with food. PHOTOS BY NORA MCGUNNIGLE Calendar ...................................... 2 Tasting Notes ................................ 6 Alpha King Challenge Thai’d Up ... 6 Dr. Brewski .................................. 7 Homebrew News ............................ 8 The Style Section .......................... 10 Map & Directories .....................12-15 See Bon Bieres p.3 INSIDE State by State News Louisiana .......................................... 11 Georgia ............................................ 16 Tennessee ......................................... 18 Alabama/Mississippi .......................... 19 The Carolinas ................................... 20 Florida ............................................. 22 Terrapin's co-owner and brewer Brian Buckowski accepts a coveted GABF gold medal for Tree Hugger from Brewers Association President Charlie Papazian. PHOTO © 2013 JASON E. KAPLAN

Brewers Hit Gabf Pay Dirt

Owen Ogletree

A massive throng of brewers packs into a vast auditorium at Denver's Colorado Convention Center on the morning of Saturday, October 12 for the 2013 Great American Beer Festival ( GABF) award ceremony.Beer artisans who are normally jovial and relaxed seem strangely tense and anxious.This is a critical day.

Brian "Spike" Buckowski, Terrapin's coowner and brewmaster, sits in the audience as the awards are announced. With each passing category, his hopes for a coveted GABF medal shrink, but his edgy focus never waivers from the stage.

Announcing the winners, GABF judge coordinator Chris Swersey arrives at the category of German-Style Altbier. Spike holds his breath for Terrapin's Tree Hugger - a recipe inspired by the delicious range of alts he tasted on a recent trip to Dusseldorf.When Tree Hugger takes the gold medal, Spike experiences a rush of adrenaline and heads toward the stage to claim his prize from Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewers Association. Applause fills the auditorium, along with cheers of support from fellow brewers.

"Winning in a traditional German category is a big deal to me because pulling off that style is pretty difficult," says Buckowski."It's always a great feeling to place at the GABF, and with all the new breweries and beers, the competition is tougher than ever."

The Brewers Association's 2013 GABF represented the largest group of U.S. beers ever assembled - with 138 beer styles across 84 categories, pouring more than 48,000 gallons. Seen as the nation's "Super Bowl of Beer," this year's GABF competition gathered 201 beer experts from 11 countries to evaluate 4,809 entries from 745 breweries. Judges convened in small panels over two and a half days and, without knowing brand names, tasted beers in each specified style category to identify three that best represent each style. The competition awarded 252 medals - with nine going to brewers in the Southeast.

Atlanta's SweetWater Brewing captured a gold with LowRYEder - a hoppy IPA enhanced with a shot of 25% rye malt in the grain bill. "What a great honor it is to bring home another distinguished piece of GABF hardware, as these medals represent the best brews throughout the nation," said SweetWater co-founder and "Big Kahuna"

Freddy Bensch.In 1996, St. Charles Porter from Blackstone Brewery in Nashville won its first GABF award, and a silver in 2013 makes eight total medals for this exceptional dark ale. Kent Taylor, brewery co-founder, sees GABF as a humbling experience."To be numbered with all the great beers that compete is awesome. GABF provides third party validation that we are making good beer."

Josh Brewer of Mother Earth in North Carolina explains that winning came as somewhat of a shock. "When we were called as a winner, I thought I might not have heard it right, and I probably swore a little. Europeans have been brewing a lot longer than we have, so to win a bronze in the Bohemian-style Pilsner category is huge for me."

Jon Connolly, Director of Brewing Operations for the Carolina Brewery in Pittsboro, North Carolina feels that the GABF competition levels the playing field for all American breweries and brewpubs. He notes, "It's always nice to get compliments about our beer from friends and regulars, but what's different about GABF recognition is that it's a blind competition based solely on the quality of the beer - it's not about how big your brewery is, how fancy your label is or what town or state your brewery is in."

At times, some brewers see the judges' comments as a bit disheartening and critical, but Connolly accepts the feedback as a valuable resource for improvement. "We love getting honest feedback from the GABF judges each year," he says. "Our Oatmeal Porter consistently made it to the final round for the past few years but always came up a little short. Each year we took the judges' comments and tweaked the beer.This year our efforts were rewarded with a bronze medal."

Louisiana's Abita Brewing brought home its very first GABF medal this year for its highly drinkable, yet high-gravity, Andygator strong lager. "Winning the silver medal in the Bock style makes me incredibly proud of the work we do," notes Abita's Keith Pumilia.

Winning a GABF medal always formed a paramount goal for Luke Dickinson of Asheville's Wicked Weed Brewing, and reaching this objective dur during the first year of brewery operations was truly remarkable. What's so special about the gold medal brew? "Serenity is an American Brett beer," Dickinson explains.

"We focused on creating a beer that highlighted the wonderfully complex aromatic qualities of Brettanomyces yeast that imparts a slight barnyard character layered with tropical fruit aromas."

Steven Lyerly, brewmaster/owner of Olde Hickory in North Carolina, beams with pride at receiving silver for his Irish Walker English-style barleywine. "Any and all awards for our beers are awesome, but one from the GABF is especially so," he states. "I'm exceptionally proud of Irish Walker because the picture on the label is of my grandfather George Malcom McCulloch.His CB handle was Irish Walker, and this amazing beer is a tribute to him."

The 100 GABF Pro-Am entries this year were based on award-winning homebrew recipes from American Homebrewers Association (AHA) members who replicated their beer at participating craft breweries.With help from Cigar City's talented brewer Wayne Wambles, homebrewer Jeff Gladish pulled off the first place Pro-Am title for Poblano Wit - a peppery, citrusy version of the classic Belgian style.

Along with the nine breweries in the Southeast winning GABF medals this year, there are many more who returned home seemingly empty-handed. John Roberts, head brewer for Max Lager's in Atlanta, set up an outstanding booth in the GABF brewpub pavilion but did not score a medal.He shares, "I feel my beers stand up to the standards of the GABF, so that's why I want to be there. As a southern brewer, I also think it's important to represent our growing segment of the national craft beer market."

Atlanta's Wrecking Bar brewpub also entered several exceptional beers that didn't earn awards this time. Wrecking Bar brewer/ owner Bob Sandage explains, "I think the judging comments for Wrecking Bar and other small brewpubs show the challenges of keeping beer fresh in the bottle without the systems that packaging breweries employ. That said, the excitement of serving your beer to thousands of people on the GABF floor is always unbeatable!"

Read the full article at http://sbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Brewers+Hit+Gabf+Pay+Dirt/1581032/187318/article.html.

Laissez Les Bon Bieres Rouler

Nora McGunnigle

For the past four years, it has been a holiday tradition for me and my husband to go to celebrated New Orleans chef John Besh’s flagship Restaurant August for Reveillon Dinner on Christmas Eve. “Reveillon” (or “awakening” in French) in New Orleans is the traditional Catholic meal eaten at home after Mass on Christmas Eve, cooked in the creole style using local ingredients. The term has taken on new life since the 1980s when non-profit event organizers French Quarter Festivals, Inc. (FQFI) coordinated with area restaurants to create multiplecourse prix fixe meals throughout the city during the entire month of December.Locals and tourists alike enjoy different chefs’ takes on some of the classic Creole food most often served during the holidays.

During my first three Reveillon meals at August, I rolled my eyes at the bottled beer list that had obviously been thrown together as an afterthought for cheapskates that didn’t want to partake of their admittedly magnificent wine list. Last year, however, I decided to take advantage of August’s generous no-corkage fee for bottles to bring several bottles of special beer that I’d been aging for the right occasion to enjoy with our meal. I studied the menu listed on the FQFI website, made my selections, brought them to dinner… and got to the restaurant to find they’d revamped their entire beer list. And it was pretty impressive.

When August’s general manager Robert Wailes began his tenure in 2012, he realized that the beer list needed some tweaking. Although he’s more versed in wine and cocktails, his sister-in-law is Leslie Henderson, co-founder, co-owner, and brewmaster at Mississippi’s Lazy Magnolia and his brother-in-law is Gar Hatcher, head brewer at Bayou Teche Brewing in Arnaudville, Louisiana. And while he certainly looks to both of these regional breweries for selections (especially since both are starting to expand their offerings into more high-end styles), he has consulted with New Orleans beer gurus Dan Stein of Stein’s Deli and Polly Watts of the Avenue Pub for other food-friendly beer, like Saison Dupont, Dieu de Ciel’s Blanche du Paradis, and Stillwater’s Cellar Door.

Other New Orleans fine food restaurants have embraced the concept of pairing beer with food, frequently joining forces with local breweries for special dinners. Recent and future events include a NOLA Brewing dinner at Emeril’s Delmonico, Bayou Teche Brewing at Ste. Marie, Saint Arnold Brewing at Domenica, and Tin Roof at Restaurant R’Evolution.

Emeril’s Delmonico chef de cuisine Anthony Scanio says that working with beer and food pairings has expanded his horizons and palate. “The beer dinners let us do things that we don’t get to do every day, which helps us grow.” Since Delmonico is focused on telling the story of New Orleans cuisine, he feels that using beer to help tell that story works to showcase the flavors of South Louisiana flavors and ingredients.This was their second collaboration with NOLA Brewing and they also hosted a beer cocktail “Spirited Dinner” in 2012 for the city’s annual cocktail convention, Tales of the Cocktail.

NOLA Restaurant in the French Quarter, another of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants, will be showcasing local beer as an ingredient in two of its Reveillon courses. Abita Brewing’s AmberAle will be a part of the preparation of the traditional Reveillon appetizer Daube Glacé (a cold meat hors d'oeuvre, traditionally molded and sliced to eat atop crackers or bread) as well as a braising liquid in another Creole holiday dish of braised greens, which will be served with boudin-stuffed quail. “Beer builds another great layer of flavor when you’re cooking,” says Josh Laskay, NOLA’s chef de cuisine.“For our slow-cooked greens, it’s a delicious marriage of beer and stock both used to accentuate the flavor of the collard greens.In our Daube Glacé, we brown a nice cut of beef or pork shoulder and cook it down with the beer or wine—sometimes both—until it falls off the bone. I tend to turn to a local beer when I’m cooking.”

Other local restaurants will also be incorporating beer in their meals as an ingredient. John Folse and Rick Tramonto’s upscale Restaurant R’evolution will be using Abita’s Turbodog dark brown ale in their chocolate cake, which will come after traditional Reveillon offerings like Creole Louisiana Snapping Turtle Soup, Death by Gumbo, Beef Daube, and Coq au Vin.Restaurant August will also include beer in its dessert course, making an ice cream with lambic.

New Orleans’ only independent brewpub, the Crescent City Brewpub, will also be participating in the Reveillon tradition for the second year. Their traditional Creole meal will include seafood andouille gumbo to start, followed by baked oysters and a choice between local redfish, shrimp and grits, or local duck for an entree, and an even more difficult choice between the classic bread pudding with praline sauce and chocolate pecan pie for dessert. Every course will be paired with one of its Germanstyle year round beers: pilsner, weiss, marzen (Red Stallion), and schwartzbier (Black Forest).

The state’s newest brewpub, The Old Rail across Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville, is looking forward to its first Christmas. Head brewer Matthew Horney will be celebrating by debuting their Holiday Porter, brewed with cinnamon, ginger, and mace. They are also ringing in the new year with Dark Territory Russian imperial stout.“This stout was brewed with 11 malts and is very complex,” Horney says. “It will compliment the cooler weather to come.” With neighboring breweries like Abita Beer aging its annual Christmas Ale in Thomas Hardy bourbon barrels and Covington Brewhouse creating its first winter warmer based on a spiced bock recipe, the holiday season won’t lack for local beer to celebrate with.

Brett Monteleone, executive chef at The Old Rail says that he creates special dishes for each of Horney’s seasonal brews.When the Holiday Porter is released, Monteleone plans to offer a butternut squash risotto with 5-spiced shrimp. He also incorporates the beers regularly as ingredients in his dishes, such as helles beer batter, chocolate milk stout BBQ, beer and cheese soup, and the house IPA mustard

In South Louisiana cuisine, there is a huge difference between Creole culture (which is where the Reveillon tradition came from) and Cajun culture celebrated outside the city. Bayou Teche Brewing’s mission is to preserve and celebrate the disappearing Cajun lifestyle, and Karlos Knott, founder and brewmaster, remembers what Christmas was like growing up on the bayou. “The old Cajuns celebrated Christmas quite differently than the way it is celebrated today. They were devoutly Catholic, and the thought of exchanging gifts on the Lord’s birthday was considered sacrilege.”

He continues, “when we were kids, [we] would go to midnight Mass the night before Christmas, and then sleep in on Christmas day. We woke up [to] heaping trays of roasted meat, vegetable casseroles, dirty rice, baked sweet potatoes and more desserts than we could eat in a week. We would eat all afternoon, with the adults drinking glasses of too sweet wine and the kids drinking very sugary yet flat glasses of Zatarain’s root beer.” Gifts would not be exchanged until New Year’s Day.

Bayou Teche brings that same sense of history to its own holiday beer this year, 3113 cherry beer. It’s derived from the Cajun holiday libation called cherry bounce, when local cherry trees were cut down in the early summer for wood to use in the smokehouse, and the fruit would be macerated in whiskey until Christmas Day. Knott says the beer, a black ale aged on tart cherries and mint, will be a very limited release, available only on draft at the brewery’s tap room and very few special accounts.

Louisiana’s history and traditions are deeply held and strongly valued by its citizens, especially its cuisine, both Creole and Cajun. As the holidays approach, the burgeoning craft beer movement here is adding its own traditions to the mix, through integrating with the food culture of the region and creating new beer to toast during festivities and loved ones.

Read the full article at http://sbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Laissez+Les+Bon+Bieres+Rouler/1581061/187318/article.html.

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