Southern Brew News June/July 2010 : Page 1

June/July 2010 Vol. 6 No. 3 Story & Photos By Owen Ogletree ith cask-conditioned ales making regular appearances at a growing number of pubs, brewery tours and festivals from Alabama to North Carolina, this inter- esting process and tradition now forms the hottest new beer trend in the Southeast. Unfortunately, many people responsible for brewing, distributing and serving cask ales sometimes lack the complete knowledge and experience needed to provide the very best pint to the customer. Cask-conditioning comes from the English tradition of placing young, unfil- tered beer with yeast, a touch of residual sugar and clarifying finings into sealed metal or wooden casks. Typical casks hold 10.8 gallons of beer and are known as “firkins.” Inside the bunged firkin, yeast consumes remaining sugars, producing soft carbonation and subtle, appealing fermenta- tion notes before settling into the belly of the cask as sediment. English pub owners, well versed in the care and serving of cask ales, place their fir- kins in a horizontal “stillage” position in the pub’s cool cellar immediately upon deliv- ery. From this point, the casks remain still - never moved or jostled until empty. After a few days of allowing the beer to clarify and form a sediment, the publican hammers a porous, wooden peg (spile) into the cask’s top bung to vent any excess carbonation. A tap is later hammered through another bung See Cask p.3 Tasting Notes ....................... 6 Homebrew News ................. 8 Style Section ........................9 Beer Wench's Kitchen ........ 10 Dr. Brewski ........................ 11 State by State News Tennessee ........16 Alabama/Mississippi ....17 Georgia ..........18 The Carolinas .......20 Florida ...........22 An Oasis By Steve Dollar When I was in college in Tallahassee, one of the local indie-rock anthems (before indie-rock really even existed) was “Beer Town,” by a trio called Persian Gulf. I can’t say I recall a single lyric. The main refrain could have been a snarling, “And I don’t want to live in your BEER TOWN!” or it could have been an emphatic, “And I just want to go down to BEER TOWN!” or … something. Probably, had I not consumed so much beer in those tender years, I’d remember better. But I’m pretty sure it was inspired by the all-night Tennessee Street emporium known as Beer Town — the chief competitor for Mike’s Beer Barn (which is still in business). This was long before the era of laptops and cell phones, so the notion of craft brew- ing was kind of obscure: the stuff weird monks did. Hell, Miller hadn’t even come up with Genuine Draft yet, the atrocity of “Lite” brews was a recent innovation, and Pabst Blue Ribbon was appreciated because it was cheap — not hip. Here in the Deep Bartender Trevor Bond in Beer Town South, beer meant Budweiser longnecks frosted down to near freezing. Heineken or St. Pauli Girl if you felt like splurging. Having freshly repatriated to my home- town after 27 years away, I was jumping for joy when I happened onto The Fermentation Lounge. Nothing ever really changes in the Capitol City. Florida State University may have mushroomed, and Bobby Bowden finally retired at gunpoint, but there’s still not a lot to do here. The one cool cocktail bar is the same cool cocktail bar. And the massive student population seems to have almost no influence in shaping inspired entrepreneurship. If anything, things are going backward. The one happening record store, Vinyl Fever, closed this year after decades of tastemaking. And my favorite fried chicken shack, Shingles, vanished a couple of years ago. So the presence of a true temple to craft-brewed manna came as a revelation: a godsend. The Fermentation Lounge occupies a mixed-use cluster of condos and businesses See Fermentation p.4 The

Clarifications

WIth cask-conditioned ales making regular appearances at a growing number of pubs, brewery tours and festivals from Alabama to North Carolina, this interesting process and tradition now forms the hottest new beer trend in the Southeast. Unfortunately, many people responsible for brewing, distributing and serving cask ales sometimes lack the complete knowledge and experience needed to provide the very best pint to the customer.

Cask-conditioning comes from the English tradition of placing young, unfiltered beer with yeast, a touch of residual sugar and clarifying finings into sealedMetal or wooden casks. Typical casks hold

10. 8 gallons of beer and are known as “firkins.” Inside the bunged firkin, yeast consumes remaining sugars, producing soft carbonation and subtle, appealing fermentation notes before settling into the belly of the cask as sediment.

English pub owners, well versed in the care and serving of cask ales, place their firkins in a horizontal “stillage” position in the pub’s cool cellar immediately upon delivery.

From this point, the casks remain still

- never moved or jostled until empty. After a few days of allowing the beer to clarify and form a sediment, the publican hammers a porous, wooden peg (spile) into the cask’s top bung to vent any excess carbonation. A tap is later hammered through another bungOn the front of the cask, with the ale being served by hand pump.

Back in the U.S.A.

Most pubs in the United States lack cellars and equipment to condition and serve cask ale in the traditional English way.

Here, most casks are placed on their sides and vented in the beer cooler, then carried gently (in horizontal position) to a stillage cradle on the bar, and a simple gravity tap serves up the beer.

Cask ale must include a secondary fermentation with live yeast cells and a conditioning period inside the cask, so putting filtered, carbonated beer into a cask doesn’t constitute cask ale. All cask alesShould have sediment. Watch carefully at a pub’s cask ale tapping — if a cask is rolled out or carried in a vertical position, then put in horizontal stillage position, immediately tapped and poured clear, it is probably not real cask ale. If cask ale were handled in this manner, it would pour very cloudy and murky. A slight haze is considered acceptable in U.S. cask versions, but murky, muddy or chunky cask beer should be avoided.

Murky cask ale is no fun. This is an indication that the beer might contain too much residual sugar, still be fermenting actively and hasn’t been given time for yeast to settle and the beer to clarify. It’s also possible that the cask was up-righted or agitated before serving. Infection from bacteria and/orWild yeasts could also be the issue, but taste and aroma will usually give this away.

Read the full article at http://sbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Clarifications/412038/39927/article.html.

An Oasis in Beer Town

Steve Dollar

When I was in college in Tallahassee, one of the local indie-rock anthems (before indie-rock really even existed) was “Beer Town,” by a trio called Persian Gulf. I can’t say I recall a single lyric. The main refrain could have been a snarling, “And I don’t want to live in your BEER TOWN!” or it could have been an emphatic, “And I just want to go down to BEER TOWN!” or … something. Probably, had I not consumed so much beer in those tender years, I’d remember better. But I’m pretty sure it was inspired by the all-night Tennessee Street emporium known as Beer Town — the chief competitor for Mike’s Beer Barn (which is still in business).

This was long before the era of laptops and cell phones, so the notion of craft brewing was kind of obscure: the stuff weird monks did. Hell, Miller hadn’t even come up with Genuine Draft yet, the atrocity of “Lite” brews was a recent innovation, and Pabst Blue Ribbon was appreciated because it was cheap — not hip. Here in the DeepSouth, beer meant Budweiser longnecks frosted down to near freezing. Heineken or St. Pauli Girl if you felt like splurging.

Having freshly repatriated to my hometown after 27 years away, I was jumping for joy when I happened onto The Fermentation Lounge. Nothing ever really changes in the Capitol City. Florida State University may have mushroomed, and Bobby Bowden finally retired at gunpoint, but there’s still not a lot to do here. The one cool cocktail bar is the same cool cocktail bar. And the massive student population seems to have almost no influence in shaping inspired entrepreneurship. If anything, things are going backward. The one happening record store, Vinyl Fever, closed this year after decades of tastemaking. And my favorite fried chicken shack, Shingles, vanished a couple of years ago. So the presence of a true temple to craft-brewed manna came as a revelation: a godsend.

The Fermentation Lounge occupies a mixed-use cluster of condos and businessesIn the budding All Saints arts district, just south of the civic center and adjacent to Railroad Square, eternal stomping grounds of student artists, rock bands and food cooppers.

The Amtrak line rumbles in earshot, but the abundant leafiness and general nondevelopment of much of the surrounding property really does make the place seem like a lush outpost.

At 5:30 on a Saturday afternoon, the concrete front “deck” is already populated with a lively assortment of local characters, sampling light, wheaty summer brews and preparing to watch the Kentucky Derby on streaming video from a laptop.

Inside, it’s surprisingly chill for a weekend. And the crowd is definitely a 40-and-up bunch. As one regular explains it, the demographic skews older while it’s daylight, but as the evening progresses, the patrons get younger and younger. This is like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button recast for the oak-aged aficionado. The owners, a collective of five friends united by a love of good beer and indie culture, have done a lot of things I really like. The décor is based on a mid-century modern theme, with lots of cherry wood, starburst clocks, and groovy furnishings, with an Lshaped bar in front and a lounging area in back, where vintage cartoons and ephemeral short films are projected onto an overhead screen. Back in the kitchen, there’s the muffled echo of Johnny Cash singing “I’ve Been Everywhere.” Appropriately, co-owner Scott Hall tells me, they based the interior on what they thought a 1950s Airstream trailer might look like.

“When we first opened, this was just going to be an experimental lab for us,” says Hall, who shares ownership with his wife, Anne Kinch, Carmin Nedley, and Jeannine Goyon and Dan Wester — the latter couple founders of and for ages the driving forces behind the Tallahassee Film Society.

As Hall explains it, the original plan was to open a two-screen cinema drafthouse showing art films, but no one had any experience running a bar. So in October 2008, the group launched the lounge as a kind of warmup.

“We opened up what we wanted to, and it turned out to be what a lot of people wanted.” Things took off from there, and the lounge now features 12 taps in constant rotation, plus an astutely curated selection of bottled beer and wine — and artisanal cheeses from Sweet Grass Dairy in nearby Thomasville, Ga. It took some time to get noticed by many craft brewers, but gradually they’ve edged into the radar.

“Rarely do we have two kegs of something in a row,” Hall says. “We’re big on one-offs and seasonals.” Some of his favorites have been Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Fritz and Ken collaboration brew, Harpoon 100-Barrel Series Oyster Stout. Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale is a big seller and North Coast’s ass-kicking Old Rasputin is a frequent feature on the nitro tap.

Hall puts in a lot of effort on Facebook and the bar’s website (thefermentationlounge.

Com) to create awareness of new brews, and often sponsors in-house tasting events with breweries — typically regional favorites such as Terrapin and Sweetwater, but the lounge’s notoriety is spreading.

“We heard from Lost Coast in California recently,” he says. “They said they had no idea their stuff had been distributed in Tallahassee.” As the sun sank and night fell, the scene indeed got younger. But the social mix was always cordial, even as the 9% Terrapin Wake ‘n’ Bake Oak-Aged Oatmeal Stout flew out the door, adding to the festive mood on the patio — a magnet for the local cultural elite, from roller derby queens to aspiring politicos, rock musicians and grad students.

Bartender Trevor Bond took a break to do some fire-juggling in the street, which rarely sees much traffic. “It’s always a surprise for anyone trying to cut through,” Hall says.

If anything, I have to salute Hall and his comrades for challenging my own preconceptions about my hometown, cultivated by decades of big-city living. Being asked to shell out $8 for a pint of Brooklyn Lager, while living in Brooklyn no less, was one of the final straws in my decision to quit Gotham last summer. Finding all the craftbrewed esoterica my craven heart desired for half that price - in Tallahassee, no less - made me realize that my assessment of dull, incurious homegrown quaffing tendencies needed to be chucked.

“When we started, we used to have things like Guinness on tap,” Hall says.

“But everyone was drinking the Lost Coast 8-Ball. People would turn down a beer, even if it was pretty good, if they thought they could get it pretty frequently elsewhere.

That was fantastic. I loved hearing that!” Fermentation Lounge, All Saints Street, 850-727-4033.

Read the full article at http://sbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/An+Oasis+in+Beer+Town/412040/39927/article.html.

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