Tag: Tuesday’s On Tap

Travel Brew

(Long stories are called that for a reason, so grab a drink and sit for a while)

So The Mr is in Minnesota this week and Memphis the next. More miles and even more bars and brews. Some less memorable, some more so, and then every now and then you hit the beer jackpot!

Last October found this traveling techie in Louisville, KY, for a trade show. On the last day, I went hunting for a beer unavailable in Charlotte — the Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA. The Mrs had this lovely libation on tap in Virginia, where the drink regulations are less draconian (the 120 is often between 18 and 24%) and she came home singing its praises.

Armed with my trusty iPhone, I dialed numbers blindly from the Dogfish Head website while tearing down our booth. And what luck, someone had my beer just a few miles away! Since I was driving back home, a little detour wouldn’t hurt anyone. I’d be in and out in minutes, then on the road for a long drive home.

I had some trouble locating Sergio’s World of Beer, which is ironic for a world of beer, but after I followed the GPS directions, there was only one bar and a shop next door with Brazilian soccer flags in the window and a general unwelcoming appearance.

I walk into the bar, finding Pabst on tap — not “hipster” Pabst but rather the sturdy array of American adjunct lagers familiar to a rugged crew of working men. I ask if they have Dogfish Head, and you could almost hear the needle scratch. The kindly barmaid suggested that I inquire next door.

I walk to the front and see no opening.
I walk to the back and see this:

Back door entrance to Sergio's World of Beer

Well, daylight’s wasting, and a wise man once said that “no mother’s son or daughter ever got anywhere by being timid” … So the Mr went a knocking.

A busy stockman opened the door and welcomed me in. I asked for the 120, as I’ve got an 8 hour drive ahead and the sun is starting to sag in the afternoon sky. Instead, he beckons me to a beer cave of mythic proportion — and the non-chilled stock area is even larger.

Behold, this is no mere stockboy, but Sergio himself, and Sergio’s is no mere distributer but instead, he has over 1400 different beers for sale! (Yes, two zeros after the fourteen)

He tempts me with rare and collectible bottles, but I cling to my four pack of the 120, both for security and because if I let go, I’ll be able to reach my wallet and spend the mortgage payment.

Resolute as I am, he beckons to the front bar. “Do you like sour beers?”
Well, I’m just getting into them … I’ve tried the Rodenbach …

“Well then, you can’t leave without trying this — I have the only keg on this side of the world.” Hook, line, and sinker … How can a beer guy resist?

Tap pull for special sour beer(Note: this beer is “Good Dog”  — hee hee)Bon Chien 2004

He directs me to an empty seat next to a older gentleman, the sort of distinguished regular that elevates discussion even if only by the asking. He’s brought beer magazines and printouts, and he’s presiding over a trio of bottles each new and foreign to this beer guy.

The beer bard fills me in on the Sergio backstory, as well as pointing out where the establishment has been listed in The Great American Ale Trail.

We talk for almost an hour, and my sour becomes more complex as it warms. I think now that I could unroll my sleeping bag in the corner … and have my mail forwarded … Except that I have to drive 8 hours home, oh yeah, I should stop drinking before I lose the will to leave 🙂

So with a audible sigh, I push away from the bar, and drag my mixed six out to the rental and point its nose home.

Here’s my loot, all from Dogfish Head: 4 120 minute IPA’s, 1 World Wide Stout, 1 Burton Baton, oh my
Beers from Sergio's

When I got home (the next day), the Mrs and I popped a 120 and slowly savored each sip. The rest went I to my “cellar”, as I call the area under the guest bed. We pulled out another two brews for celebrating New Years.

And recently, after returning from Mississippi, land of past and future, where my father was in and out of the ICU, having scared me more than a little, it seemed fitting to pour a pint in his honor. (He is recovering nicely, gentle reader, and in time will be back to raising a glass of his own) Some rites of passage are distinct points in time and some are progressions along a spectrum. When you find yourself reaching out to help a parent, instead of reaching out for help yourself … Well, after a long drive home with plenty of time to reflect, it was time to raid the cellar.

The Mrs and I chose a Dogfishhead Burton Baton and a World Wide Stout.
Were they luscious beers, where each sip makes you want to curl up in the glass? … Yes. Did I wish that I had bought out Sergio’s stock? Of course!

Many travel brews are forgettable, like a few local IPA’s that I’ve tried tonight. But some watering holes turn into wells worth returning to, and every now and then, you bring something home worth sharing.


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3.2 in the rearview

For this week’s “Tuesdays on Tap” post (a tradition we plan to be more consistent with this time around), I’d like to tell you about some interesting Mississippi brews.

You may remember that when we traveled to Mississippi recently we decided to bring along provisions since our previous experience had been that good craft beer was pretty scarce down there.  I have to tell you that we were pleased to discover not one, but two Mississippi breweries with offerings we really enjoyed.

Truth be told, our provisions were gone in about two three days.  Hey…we shared.  It wasn’t all us.  We don’t drink that much.  So, as we still had 9 more days to go in the Magnolia State, we had to go in search of replenishments.  While in Jackson, we found Lazy Magnolia’s Southern Pecan and Timber Beast at the local Kroger.  We had hopes of getting our hands on their Jefferson Stout (a sweet potato cream stout) and Southern Hops’pitality (a traditional IPA) as well, but couldn’t seem to locate those.

The Southern Pecan is a lightly hopped caramelly nut brown ale that, according to Lazy Magnolia’s website is the first beer in the world brewed with pecans.  While in MS, I had it bottled at my in-laws house and on draught at three different locations.  Both delicious, but the draught was obviously my favorite.  It became my go-to Mississippi brew.




The Timber Beast is an Imperial Rye IPA which is the first in Lazy Magnolia’s “Back Porch Series.”  The name of this series sounds special and interesting, but I have yet to find a definition of what all it actually entails.    If I ever get down to the brewery in Kiln, MS I’ll have to ask.  Whatever it is, it got this brew a Beer Advocate rating of 90 (exceptional) and at 9% it was actually illegal to brew, own or distribute in Mississippi until last summer.  Being an Imperial Rye IPA, this one was more The Mr’s style…or so you’d think.  But more on that later!

While out and about in the Brandon area one evening we decided to pop into the local Mellow Mushroom as we were jonesing for a draught and we knew the Mellow Mushroom would have a good selection.  We were pleased to find that a new Mississippi brewery, Lucky Town Brewing Co (from Gluckstadt, MS) had a selection tapped there – their Ballistic Blonde.




It’s a Belgian Style Blonde Ale that clocks in around 5.1% with notes of banana and spice.  It was very refreshing, the kind of beer you want to drink outside on a warm summer evening.  Since February in Mississippi ranges in temps from 40-73 degrees (I was drinking it on a 68 degree February day), you are pretty much good to drink it year round down there.  Lucky Town is apparently a newly opened brewery (so much so that it doesn’t appear to have an open tap room yet) and currently only has two offerings – the Ballistic Blonde and the Flare Incident Oatmeal Stout. (Lucky Town folks, if you read this and I’m wrong, please correct me.  We’d sure love to visit the next time we are down that way.)

Later that week we made the pilgrimage north to God’s country – Oxford, MS.  (Aw, I miss it…)  While in OxVegas, we were pleased to have more opportunities to enjoy these local brews.  I mentioned that I washed down my City Grocery Shrimp and Grits with a Timber Beast.




I’ve stated time and time again that The Mr is the IPA fan in the family.  But, I knew from my Beer and Cheese pairing class at NoDa last October that I can really enjoy an IPA with the right smoky gouda.  I have the recipe for City Grocery’s Shrimp and Grits and, while it doesn’t include gouda, I knew that it included parmesan and extra-sharp white cheddar cheeses and had enough of a smokey quality that I would more than enjoy a hoppy Timber Beast with it.  I was right.  The bite of the Timber Beast beautifully balanced the spice and smoke of the Shrimp and Grits for me.  It was a perfect pairing.

A couple days later I discovered that Oxford’s new-to-me-Cajun-dive, Irie on the Square, had Lucky Town’s Flare Incident tapped.  My research told me that this was an oatmeal stout, which I knew would be right up my alley.  The Mr offered to go start us a tab while I got a table and caught up with old friends.  When I asked him to get me a Flare Incident, I assumed that it wouldn’t be necessary to specify that I only wanted a pint.  I was wrong.  This is what I was brought…




If you haven’t inferred from context, let me clarify.  The vat-o-beer on the right is what he brought me.  Sadly, this was our third stop of the evening, so I didn’t have the capacity for 32 extra ounces of beer. (What was he thinking?!?)  I barely made a dent in this maple syrup laced baby.  But, what I did drink, I very much enjoyed.  I’m looking forward to encountering this Incident again…albeit it in a somewhat smaller delivery vehicle.

The reason that finding these great local craft beers in Mississippi is so amazing is that, until last July, it was illegal to sell or possess beer that contained more than 5% alcohol.  From our experience, though, you were lucky if you could even locate any beers that weighed in over 3.2%, much less find a 5%-er.  That also meant that Lazy Magnolia (the only Mississippi brewery that existed until recently) couldn’t even make higher gravity beers to distribute in other states.    Thanks to the hard work of grass roots organizations like Raise Your Pints Mississippi the governor signed the craft beer bill into law on April 9, 2012 making “brews that are up to 8 percent alcohol by weight, or 10 percent by volume” legal in Mississippi as of July 1, 2012.  This was our first trip back since the law changed and, boy, did it make going home that much better.

(Side note – the grass roots efforts are now working on initiatives to legalize home brewing the  Magnolia State.)

So, Mississippi, let’s raise you pints!  Here’s to keeping those 3.2’s in the rearview mirror!



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Tiny, she ain’t

And before you go trying to get me into trouble … I was referring to a beer!
Big bottle, big color, big taste.

You may recall Tiny as the beer that our friendly brewer Chad from the NoDa Brewery shared with us, while we were sampling at the Common Market beer tasting.

Weyerbacher describes this as:
“a Belgian inspired Imperial Stout weighing in at 11.8%.
You’ll find big chocolate and roasted notes, balanced with the Belgian flavors from the Abbey yeast strain.”

I found that this was quite a hit.

We bought a bottle, as we found the small sample couldn’t satisfy.

WineGirl couldn’t wait for me to start with my notebook, but I was able to collect a few of her thoughts:
“I don’t know if it goes with the pesto, but damn that’s good!”
“Probably one of the best beers I’ve ever had”
That’s high praise from a practiced drinker (not the pesto part, silly), and I was eager to dig in.

And now for the requisite review:

Serving: 22oz bottle and tulip-shaped glass
Appearance: Black like cola with a mocha-colored head
Smell: Cocoa, smoke
Taste: Cocoa, Cola (not coca-cola), and molasses; alcohol bite on the finish.
Mouthfeel: Velvety. Full but not chewy. The carbonation is just right.

We both really liked this beer, in spite of the pesto, and the taste coupled with the professional recommendation earn this our highest rating.

Go grab a bottle of Tiny, but you better use both hands!
5 of 5 Kegs

Beer Guy

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Mr. & Mrs. Beer Snob

BG and I couldn’t decide who could best tell you guys about our time at the Wasatch Brew Pub in Park City, so we are BOTH going to tell you about it.  This will be the inaugural post for a (hopefully) regular segment called, appropriately, “He Said/She Said” in which we give you both his perspective and mine on a particular event, place, food or beverage.  It’s not that complicated an idea so, we trust no further explanation is needed. 🙂

After wandering around Main Street Park City for a few hours we grew thirsty.  Since BG is never one to pass up a local brew we, of course, wandered right on into the Wasatch Brew Pub to do a little tasting and quench our thirsts.

We were excited.  After all, we had tasted the Wasatch Devatstator at No Name Saloon and really enjoyed it.  At first glance, there was lots Wasatch goodness to try.

She Said: I’m sorry to say, that’s pretty much where the excitement ended and the disappointment began.  Disappointment #1 – The brewery didn’t sell a flight or sampler.  What brewery doesn’t sell a sampler… You know, so you can sample everything, then order more of the ones you really like.  Hmm, I think I just answered my own question…

Disappointment #2 – The beer on the draft pulls didn’t match all the beer listed on the tasting menu.

We’re foodies.  We like tasting notes.

Round 1: Him – Wasatch Hoptoberfest, Her – Nitro Cream Ale

He Said: Meh … Not hoppy. I’m sure there’s more to say, but when one advertises one’s brew as a “Hoptoberfest” … well, one best be bringing the hops.

She Said: I wanted the Nitro Bobsled Brown Ale listed on the tasting menu.  Not available.  So, I got the Nitro Cream Ale.

Blah!  Not much going on there except a lot o’foamy head.   Loved the Devastator from earlier today, so I’m optimistic about my next round.

Round 2: Him – Wasatch White Label (bottled), Her – Apricot Hefeweizen

He Said: A Belgian ale. (She Interrupts: ‘Cause my man loves him a Belgian!) It’s cloudy, with a pale straw color. There’s honey and spice on the nose with good flavor and a nutmeg finish, but the carbonation is overpowering.

I’ll give it 3 of 5 kegs.

She Said: BG had me take this pic to prove that “no fruit was injured in the drinking of my beer.”

He Said: What?!? Drink it like the brewer made it! Beer for me, hold the fruit.

She Said: Um…but we’re actually at the brewery and that’s how they served it… Whatevs! On to my apricot hef… Wonder if the Brew Master intended for there to be a lot of apricot in there? 🙂

Well, that’s apricotty…and flat. Smells like shampoo, though!  (He Interrupts: “Let me taste that.”)

He Said: Once again, a cloudy straw color. Strong apricot smell. Strong apricot taste…strong apricot everything. Everything, but not enough carbonation. I’ll give it 3 out of 5 kegs, but I won’t drink two at a sitting.

She Said: Smells like shampoo, kinda tastes like it too.

Round 3: Snack Time – Macaroni and Aged White Cheddar Cheese

We got a little peckish admist all our tasting.  So we decided to split some Mac and Cheese.  After seeing this on the menu, how could be pass it up?

As good as it looked on the menu, it looked even better when it arrived.

He said: nothing. He was too busy shovelling the hot delicious goodness into his beer hole.

She said: Oooohh…dig that cheesy goodness!  If there’s macaroni in there, it’s filler.  That’s the best thing we’ve had since we got here.  Maybe they’ve missed their calling.  Maybe they should change focus from a brewery to a mac-n-cheesery!

Round 4: Him – Jalapeno Cream Ale, Her – Winterfest Seasonal

He said: And now, gentle reader, it’s time to explain the title for this post. WineGirl and I were sitting at the bar, next to a pair of other couples. The fairer of the couple to our left cried out as she tasted her Jalapeno Cream Ale. She said it was like a spicy Bud Light, and recommended it to WineGirl. “Hmm,” sniffed WG dismissively, “I’m kind of a beer snob.” I suspect that WineGirl would have been more pleased with the Bud Light.

Upon visual inspection, this hot little beer was clear and golden with a 1/4″ head.

Jalapeño scent on the nose and with the first tast of foam. Whoa! Tastes of jalapeño. And the aftertaste … you guessed it – jalapeño! This would be a kick ass beer for Tex-Mex food, but on the whole feels a bit like a gimmick beer.

I look into the future, and decide that this is my first brew that actually requires Prilosec!

She said: I’m not a jalapeño fan, but he’s ranting and raving enough that I have to at least try a sip…

Man, who thought THAT was a good idea?  Bad!! Very, very bad!! Why would you ever drink anything that tastes remotely like jalapeño?  And I totally disagree.  It would NOT be a “kick ass beer for Tex Mex food.”   The Rogue Chipotle Ale was perfect for that.  That was a nice amber ale with a slight smokey, chipotle finish.  This was like somebody put a jalapeño in a juicer and added some carbonated water.  There’s been so little flavor in pretty much everything else we’ve tasted today.  Why did they decide to blow their wad on the jalapeño? So very, very, VERY bad…

I need to go brush my teeth and eat a Tums.  Oh, but I guess I should tell you about the Winterfest Seasonal.

Frankly, I can’t tell you what it tastes like because my tastebuds were sacrificed in the tasting of the Jalapeño Cream Ale.  Looks pretty in the glass, although it’s a little light and yellow for my taste.  I’m more of an amber kind of girl.  Here’s what the marketing fliers had to say about it:

Greatest beer on Earth?  That’s over egging the pudding a bit, don’t you think?

Wasatch Overall

He said: The beer here smells good but it lacks the advertised taste. Not bad, but it gets you excited and then leaves you a bit disappointed.

In like kind, every time a truly epic song would come on the radio in the bar, the staff would change it to some less daring channel, in one instance changing from Enter Sandman to a forgettable tune by Steely Dan. (A note to the reader, BeerGuy prefers the older Metallica catalog, but the black album is good, too)

Silver lining — very good service from Susan, and the macaroni and cheese was so good that they should name the place “Wasatch Mac’n’Cheese”

She said: Generally nice and friendly atmosphere in a great location.  I’ve got to agree with BG, though.  The beer generally smells really good (except for the Jalapeno Cream Ale – yuck!), but doesn’t really follow through with the same flavor.  They should narrow their focus and stick with what works – The Devastator and Mac-n-Cheese.

Even if I didn’t love the beer, this was certainly much more fun than my near-death experience on the slopes!

Cheers, y’all!

Wine Girl

Beer Guy

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So, as WineGirl mentioned, we were in Atlanta last weekend, where she did a Very Good Thing. Of course, her exertions left her famished, so thanks to OpenTable, we found a delightful restaurant — literally right around the corner.

And when I tell you that the name of the place is TAP, the following should come as no surprise. The beer menu was longer than the food menu. Draft beer, bottled beer, and Reserve Beer (Oh My!)

Continue reading

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Olde Mecklenberg Brewery

So the Beer Guy’s not doing so well with the posts …. Those of you who are my friends on FB are probably already used to that.

In lieu of a proper mea culpa, I’ll just tell you a story instead. Perhaps one about beer. Maybe with a few pictures thrown in …

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A week in Beer

The more patient readers will note that, a few weeks back, I announced the new weekly series Beer 101. True to form as a “back to schooler”, I promptly wrote up none of my homework, but drank beer instead 🙂

Seriously, I have been reading my textbooks, and during the last 7 days I’ve tried every new beer that someone would leave within arms reach.

So here is the barley retrospective:

Tuesday night, after a flight to Cincinnati for work, my bearded cohort and I stopped at the local Claddagh Irish Pub for drinks and dinner. First a Strongbow hard cider (always on the lookout for a cider to replace Scrumpy Jacks), and after the fruity fermentation failed to satisfy, I moved on to Smithwicks. This Irish red ale was so good, it even made up for the barman’s surprisingly foul sense of humor (of which, gentle reader, I shall spare thee). I’ll have to find a local source for Smithwicks and continue my education. (Note: the iPhone photo doesn’t do it justice)

Smithwicks in Cincinnati

Then, a few days of work to earn my wage, and we were awaiting sister and new brother (whom we’ll call G and P), from the land of Elvis. Flights were delayed, so we went straight from the airport to our favorite new sushi place — Cyros Sushi, just north of SouthPark Mall. Cyros deserves its very own post, and since WineGirl referred to their Avante Garde Roll as “a bit of heaven in the mouth, that melts into deliciousness”, I’ll let her take up that task.

For drinking at Cyros, I started with another new-to-me brew, Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier. No, my lips can’t pronounce the name, but they drink the beer just the same. Weihenstephan Brewery, which claims to be the world’s oldest operating brewery (licensed since 1040), started in the Benedictine Abbey of the same name in Bavaria. As the multilingual reader can already tell, it’s named for Saint Stephen. I found it to be quite tasty, and as I must have bought the last half-litre in the bar, this filtered wheat beer will require additional study. I then joined P in quaffing Kirin Ichiban, a solid if conventional sushi sauce.

For a tasty dessert at home, WineGirl had made brownies with goat cheese. Oddly delicious, but again, I’ll defer to her for the write up. Alas, our dessert needed a dessert beer, so I reached into the refrigerated recesses and pulled out a winner. P & G, WG & me … we first split a Chocolate Stout from the Fort Collins Brewery. This brew was a 2010 U.S. Open Beer Championship Gold Medal Winner, and also quite a match for the choco-cheese brownies.

Next, in keeping with the dessert flavor category, I popped a Thomas Creek Stillwater Vanilla Cream Ale. Yum! But now what? hmm … the natives are getting restless, especially with 4oz pours, so out comes a Blackthorn Cider … and New Belgium’s 1554 Enlightened Black Ale … finishing with New Belgium’s Mothership Wit.

And that was all just Friday night. Saturday, we visited the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, which will be written up in a future post, along with Frank the terror of the Brew Tour. We traded pints of the Mecklenburger lager and OMB Copper, and I can’t wait for their upcoming Mecktoberfest on October 2nd. Come support your local brewery!

I picked up a few more offerings to pair with WineGirl’s Korean Short Ribs for Saturday night: Shiner’s Smokehaus and Bad Penny Brown Ale from Big Boss Brewing Company of Raleigh, NC. The Smokehaus is brewed with mesquite-smoked malt, which was brought out even more by the barbecue ribs.

Sunday saw us at Big Daddy’s for lunch with fresh brews, and as P & G flew from CLT, I retired for the evening with Blowing Rock’s High Country Ale.

Here’s a line-up of this weekend’s brews:
Beer Gallery

After this brief “survey course”, I’ll be taking these one at a time to sample and report.

Beer Guy

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Back to School — or Beer 101

So for years, I’ve fancied myself as an experienced beer drinker. Not a connoisseur, perhaps, but at least well seasoned. It appears that I need a refresher course on this most noble of refreshments.

For my birthday, Wine Girl bought me (among other items) two books on beer: The Naked Pint and Tasting Beer. (The Naked Pint is written by a duo who’s other writings can be found at the blog Beer for Chicks)

I’ve taken several sips from The Naked Pint, and I’m finding it to have the right balance of facts and fun, with plenty of recommendations of new beers to try. And so, try I shall. Armed with my new books and blogs like BeerAdvocate.com, I will be starting a new series called Tuesdays on Tap, wherein I shall pour my new-found knowledge into the beer blog. And for any helpful readers, I will try all suggestions.

So, grab a mug and pull a pint from the tap.

Beer Guy

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