What a great weekend to be a beer drinker in North Carolina. We get a double-whammy of the World Beer Festival and, in the interval between sessions, Fullsteam’s Backyard Beer Festival just a block away.

In one small (and very chic) city, we have the opportunity to get some of the best craft beer and some of the best homebrew around.

Holy awesome.

My plan in all of this goes like this: Myself (and a group of wonderful friends) will be attending the afternoon (12-4) session of the World Beer Festival, then we will be trucking over to Fullsteam where I’ll be pouring some of my homebrew at the Backyard Beer Festival.

If you’re around at either event, stop me and say hi. I’ll be wearing my bestest Top Fermented T-Shirt.

If you’re not around either event, I’m trying something a little new. Using the magical power of Posterous and my Android I will be recording short audio and video notes as I go and posting them (along with photos) live from both events. All of that stuff will dump onto Twitter automatically, as the day goes and I’ll wrap it all up with highlights here on the blog.

So join me online and off for a great weekend of beer, and witness, firsthand, my descent into rambling drunkenness. It should, at the very least, be entertaining and who knows? There might even be a nugget or two of good beer information in there.

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Categories: appreciation, beer festival, media, RDU
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 29 Sep 2009 @ 01 03 PM

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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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 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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