Mark this down as an awesome idea.

October 3rd is the day of the World Beer Festival in Durham, NC. If you’re local to Durham and you’re not going, you’re silly. It is, for real and true, one of the best beer festivals that I have been to. Great variety, good representation from local breweries, great food, good live music, and the wonderful added bonus of a brilliant location. This year (as with many years before excepting last year) it is in the historic Durham Athletic Park, where the Durham Bulls used to play? Ever seen Bull Durham? Yeah. There. Awesome.

This year, there’s even more awesome. Fullsteam Brewery — heard of them? You may have, even though they’re not actually open yet. Sean and Chris have been making waves in craft beer (not like one of those pools, no) because they’re so damn chalk full of good ideas. If you haven’t heard of them, you will. I guarantee it. (In fact, you just have, haven’t you?)

Anyway!

The under-construction Fullsteam Brewery is right around the corner from the Durham Athletic Park. East about a block. Easy walking distance, and they’re capitalizing on that by holding – on the same day as the World Beer Festival, in between the afternoon and evening sessions – a Backyard Brewfest.

Homebrew only.

It could be awesome or it could be terrifying. It might be both, considering they don’t have bathrooms built into their space, yet. (Let’s hope someone borrows a port-a-john and brings it by!)

There are still spots available for homebrewers, and many free “tickets” still available for the event itself. RSVP here for either.

Is it a little tight on the timing? Sure is, but I’m brewing this weekend to have something ready in time. No problemo. I’ll see you there with a couple of kegs of homebrew. If you’re in Durham for the World Beer Fest – or even if you’re NOT going to the WBF but you’re still in the area? Come on by and say hi.

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Categories: beer festival, homebrew, RDU
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 17 Sep 2009 @ 02 10 PM

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 08 Jul 2009 @ 2:27 PM 

Local issue today, friends. I think this can probably apply to most places if it has to, but my focus today is the great state of North Carolina.

Dear North Carolina Legislators and Gov. Bev Perdue,

Please stop. There’s been a lot of talk about how to fix the state budget. In fact, we’re a week overdue on a budget, anyway, so this seems like a pressing issue. People keep talking about what to tax to fix this budget shortfall. I’d prefer that the answer be “not beer.” I think I’d also like to say, “Don’t furlough me again.” but really? This is about beer.

I know. Sin Taxes are popular and easy: Tax the things that Portion A of the population fervently believes is bad for Portion B of the population. In doing so, not only will you make money on people who are not Portion A, but it will act as a deterrent for Portion B to buy those evil products. Portion A loves it, and they’re very vocal and often have money, which kind of makes me wonder why we aren’t taxing them.

Just a couple of things:

1) If you’re only taxing a portion of the population, it’s not a very effective tax in terms of income.
2) If you’re using tax as a deterrent on consumption, you’re not planning on making any money in the long run, as the less people buy the evil products, the less money you will make.

Sin Tax seems silly. I’d much rather see a Fat Tax. We know that our health care system is in financial crisis. We know that there’s an obesity epidemic. We know that obesity is a predictor in heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and early mortality across the board. We know what makes people fat (sugar and (amazingly) fat), so tax that if you want a tax deterrent. I’ve mentioned before that I think that a tax on products containing High Fructose Corn Syrup would be much smarter than a tax on beer, and I still do. But I’m not here to argue that.

No, I’m going to assume, that despite the wonderful efforts of the good people behind Stop the NC Beer Tax (dot com) that you’re going to throw your better judgment to the wind and raise taxes on beer and wine. So instead, I’m going to tell you how to do it.

Consider for a moment that a city in your fair state was recently voted co-Beer City, USA in a poll run by President of the Brewers Association. Consider that, as of this summer, there are ~40 craft breweries either in operation or in the middle of starting up. These are all small businesses contributing to your local economy. They’re creating jobs in communities across the state. Consider that a rise in beer tax will hurt these small businesses – especially the startups – the most.

But hey.. you’re going to tax beer. Portion A must be satisfied. Please consider the following two-part plan:

1) Increase tax per barrel of beer manufactured inside the state of North Carolina by any brewery manufacturing over 15,000 barrels of beer annually (ie – Regional Breweries and larger). Leave the small business out of it.

2) Increase tax per case of any beer imported to the state of North Carolina by any brewery manufacturing over 15,000 barrels of beer annually. Leave your neighbors’ small business out of it, too.

Fact is this: Something like 99% of the beer consumed inside the state of North Carolina is manufactured by a regional brewery or larger – a significant portion of that beer is imported IN to the state of North Carolina. Those breweries are making money in states Other Than Yours – especially the macrobreweries – but most of the small breweries in the state aren’t. They’re distributing locally, often by-hand, in their own communities. They’re getting the tax pinch on every purchase of their product, not just the ones that happen in-state. So how are these small breweries going to deal with the fact that they have a significantly higher cost of operation and, if the Sin Tax works, poorer sales? Will they lay off workers? Will they close doors altogether? In Beer City, USA?

The way to turn the corner on this economic downturn begins and ends with the small business. Don’t hurt them more just because Sin Tax is easy. Help them, and reap the benefits. Maybe take yourself out for a good local beer to celebrate a good deed done for the day, and then ask yourself:

Why are we taxing beer in the first place? Sin Tax is cheap and misguided. There are a million better ways to save money and generate revenue that don’t actively hurt small businesses in our state while at the same time, allowing us all to continue to treat ourselves to a an occasional affordable luxury.

Cheers,
Erik L. Myers,
Self-Righteous Beer Evangelist

If you’re inside North Carolina, please take the time to go Stop the Beer Tax.

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Categories: distribution, industry, RDU, taxation
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 08 Jul 2009 @ 02 31 PM

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 08 May 2009 @ 9:39 AM 

Lemme tell you a story.

Every restaurant, bar, and brewpub knows the importance of good waitstaff and bartenders, but I’d like to underscore this with personal experience: my personal story as a consumer and NOT as an enormous beer geek with a huge ego.

I currently get paid by UNC Chapel Hill. Every Friday that I can, I like to take myself out to lunch. Since it’s closest to campus my usual stop was the Top of the Hill. Great burger, decent brewpub (even if they all share a similar character that I can’t, for the life of me, pin down), and a revolving door of stunningly beautiful waitstaff who can’t be bothered to tell me the time of day. I don’t know why. I’m unobtrusive, I tip really well, and sometimes I want to talk about the beer. How bad is that? (I should note: The assistant brewmaster recognizes me on sight, says hi, and talks beer with me – even did at the CBC. It always makes me smile. Great guy.)

After a while, I got a little irritated with waiting for the waitstaff at TotH and decided that, long lunches be damned, I was going to head down to the Carolina Brewery. Mind you, this requires me to go get my car, go find a place to park at the brewery, have lunch, then drive back and walk in from my parking garage. I cannot, in any way, eat my lunch in under an hour there. In order to do this, I have to come into work early or leave late… at least in theory.

I still go back to TotH occasionally, but not often. Why? Because the Carolina Brewery makes me feel loved.

Of course, there’s still a revolving door of waitstaff and bartenders. After all, it’s a college town. You can’t keep people around for that long. Since the 2nd or 3rd week that I’ve been going there, when I walk in the door I am generally greeted with, “Erik! What’s up?” (The exceptions are when there’s somebody new behind the bar.)

Why on earth would I want to go anywhere else?

On Tuesday night, I was out at a different bar enjoying a few lovely Belgian beers when I ran into my normal Friday lunch bartender. He was watching a show across the street at the Cat’s Cradle, and had come over to the bar I was in for a drink. He was wearing a Carolina Brewery Flagship IPA t-shirt. “Hey! Erik!” He introduced me to his lady friend, we shot the shit. He asked me if I knew what the pint night at Tyler’s Taproom was that night and then gestured to his t-shirt with pride. “See you Friday!” he said as he left the bar.

Brewpubs, take note: This guy is a model representative for his brewpub. They couldn’t ask for a better employee, and it should be rewarded. Happy, friendly, interested in his customers and proud and knowledgeable of the beer that they serve. It makes me a loyal (and frequent) customer.

Hell, I can’t wait to go to lunch today.

What about you? What makes a great bartender/waitstaff in your estimation? Where are they?

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 01 May 2009 @ 10:02 AM 

I am not, by nature, a beer reviewer.

In heaven, there is no beer.

In heaven, there is no beer.


Don’t get me wrong: I love beer. But I also love words. I have a difficult time with how most beers are described to people – I think they’re done in terms that are really inaccessible to the average layman drinker. (“Hoppy,” for instance, might be the worst adjective ever for a beer, in my mind. Hoppy, eh? You think? Because otherwise they’ve made gruit? Good work.) On the other hand, I’m not sure I can do any better – thus my reluctance to review beers.

However! I’ve had four beers over the last 7 days that aren’t very widely accessible, and they really need mention. Here they are, in chronological order.

La Muerta, Freetail Brewing: I was lucky enough to snag a bottle of this from Scott Metzger of Freetail at the end of the Craft Brewers Conference. I was visiting good beer-loving friends that weekend and as part of my host gift to them, we shared the bottle. The important thing here is that Freetail doesn’t bottle. It’s a brewpub in San Antonio. You could see where the indent on the cap from the emily capper. Awesome. Inside? Big lush imperial stout. Lots of great coffee and smoky notes – like lots of black patent rushing across your palate. Hops were balanced really well to not overwhelm nor be overwhelmed by roasty toasty goodness. You can only get this stuff in San Antonio, TX. If you’re near by go support your local brewpub. They make some quality material.

Paul’s Day Off, Duck Rabbit Brewery: This is a limited release from Duck Rabbit – on tap only around North Carolina. If you’re in the RDU area it is your duty to find this beer before it disappears. Here’s a quote from the brewery’s press release:

Earlier this year owner and brewmaster Paul Philippon gave himself a much needed day off. The other brewers at Duck-Rabbit took this lull in supervision to brew a special batch of beer to celebrate the day. When Paul returned he was greeted with Paul’s Day Off fermenting away in the tank. Paul’s Day Off is a Farmville style black ale. This beer is unfiltered, unpasteurized, and unsupervised. The beer is brewed with a variety of 7 different malts and a large dose of American hops. After fermentation the beer took a vacation in 23 year old pappy van winkle barrels before going back into the tanks for a final dry hopping of Nugget, Simcoe, Amarillo, and Chinook hops. The beer weighs in at around 9% and displays a big aroma of citrus, pine, vanilla, oak, and bourbon. The flavor shows layers of depth with hops, malt, and barrel character all melding together . The beer will be available draft only in North Carolina. We hope you enjoy Paul’s Day Off as much as we did, because who knows when or if Paul will ever take another one.

No joke. It is magical beer. The complexity of this brew is astounding. You’ve got big rounded malt flavors, coffee, chocolate, bourbon, smoke, vanilla, a fantastic big floral character from the hops. It’s a full journey inside your mouth. It also doesn’t feel a bit of its 9% ABV. It’s a drinker, to be sure. If you can, find some of this before it’s all gone.

From Plow to Pint

From Plow to Pint


Sweet Potato Beer, Fullsteam I got a chance to try out Fullsteam’s Sweet Potato beer at a “Tweetup” last night. It’s not what I think you’d expect from a sweet potato beer, and for that it’s better. You think sweet potato pie, or sweet potato casserole or something, you’re thinking sweet, marshmallows, allspice and all that crap, right? Not in this beer. No spices. It’s sweet potato. I asked brewmaster Chris Davis about it and he said, “I’m not sure how many fermentables I’m getting out of them [the sweet potatoes], but it [the beer] is getting most of the color, a good deal of the body, and a whole lot of aroma from them.” It’s a really fantastic beer – caramelly and earthy at the same time. It’ll be a real treat when they open doors and this is finally available commercially. I should also note that they’re “Rocket Science IPA” was damn, damn tasty.

LoneRider Shotgun Betty LoneRider was also at the “Tweetup” – another local startup available in an increasing number of venues around the triangle. Shotgun Betty is their flagship, a Hefeweizen. It’s always a real pleasure to get a good clean wheat beer – this one was very crisp and very refreshing, despite big banana and clove notes. I usually find big estery wheats to be a little cloying, but this was very clean. It’d be a great drinker on a hot summer afternoon.

I really wanted to speak to DeadEye Jack – their porter – which I sampled, as well. But I’m under the impression that it had a coffee addition this time around that isn’t usual. It was incredibly tasty, but I’d hate to give a wrong impression about their beer, especially as I appeared to get both their Twitter feed and the name of their product wrong when I was Tweeting about it yesterday. Good heavens, how embarrassing. Beer giveth and beer taketh away.

Unfortunately, 99% of the internet won’t be able to find these – at least not today. But the time is coming. With any luck, all of these guys will fare well with the craft beer market and you’ll have your day of being able to find one, or many, of these excellent brews. If you’re local to any of them, it’d be a crime not to track some down. Do it!

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Categories: beer review, RDU
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 01 May 2009 @ 10 53 AM

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 28 Mar 2009 @ 8:13 AM 

In preparation for this year’s American Craft Beer Week (May 11 – May 17) American Homebrewer’s Association and Brewer’s Association High Poo-bah and general beer ambassador Charlie Papazian has opened up a poll: Vote for your Favorite Beer City. Polls are open ’til May 7 and the winner will be announced in time for Craft Beer Week.


View Larger Map

It’s a good set of cities, mostly. I can’t help but feel like who ever put this list together for Charlie just pulled a list of the locations of 30 popular breweries in the US. I’m a little surprised (but happy) to see so much on the East Coast, and even more surprised to nothing in Texas. In fact, looking at that map there’s a pretty sad furrow down the middle of the country. Somebody should get on that.

Some cities are at a distinct disadvantage. There’s a vast difference between San Francisco/Oakland/Bay Area and, say, Boulder, CO which is just a few miles outside of its competitor, Denver, CO. No doubt, there are a ton of breweries in each of those, but sheer population alone puts the Bay Area up by, oh, 6 million people. Consider, too, that Fort Collins and Colorado Springs are also listed.

Kansas City (Kansas Cities?) gets especially screwed by being listed in both states – they don’t count as a greater metropolitan area? Albuquerque and Santa Fe are getting listed together and they’re 60 miles apart.

Charlie says that if any particular city gets more than 50 votes in the “Other” category he’ll put it on the list as an official choice. So do you see your city on there? If not, rally the troops and get your vote in.

I’m glad to see Asheville, NC, but, I’d love to see Raleigh/Durham, NC on that list. I think you’d be hard pressed to find an area in the country that’s going through a comparable beer culture explosion. It’s pretty fantastic.

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Categories: appreciation, RDU
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 28 Mar 2009 @ 09 36 AM

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