Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hallelujah, let's have a beer!

Reformation Brewery calls the congregation to Woodstock.

Is this what people mean when they say they're going to church? If so, I might have to start up a weekly conversation with the sacred text, and I could really start doing more with my Sundays.

I'm talking about beer, of course. And Reformation Brewery, tentatively scheduled for their official launch sometime this summer, not only embiggens the happy undercurrents of community and togetherness that drinking good beer usually inspires, but broadcasts it as the primary reason for what they do.

It's a refreshing and somewhat obvious extension of what the culture of craft beer seems to really be about, especially when (as it seems is the overarching lineage behind both existing and emerging craft breweries and brewpubs around the country) they climb to the pulpit on the heels of home brew.

I spent the evening with the people of Reformation Brewery last night in Woodstock, and in addition to getting a sample of their beer I also got a nice taste of the good vibes surrounding what they have in the works.

The evening was staged as an introduction, elegantly lacking in self-conciousness. Popcorn and paper bags on the tables. Pretzels atop a possibly porter infused cupcake (or so it seemed to my palate). Wishful tasting perhaps? Rocking chairs in the misty porch light and a couple of kids tossing around a football in the parking lot.

I suppose that's what happens when the beer hits close to home. It tells a story that inspires us, after our day's labour, to inhabit a shared space. To commune over our common glass, one that lessens our habitual uneasiness and interrupts our routine isolation.

It's a compelling narrative when told by just about anyone, but especially appealing when told by people who take it to heart, which by all accounts (or at least mine) seems to beat genuinely in the chest of the good people at Reformation Brewery.

If you ask me, we could use more of this communal, conversational space, more of this common ground.

Good things to come for us both, I'm sure. Looking forward to the summer.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hannah brews a beer at Red Brick

Let me begin by saying, Wednesday evening ended in an anticlimactic (but totally necessary) trip through the Del Taco drive thru.

In addition to enjoying a very tasty milk stout on tap (February is stout month, obviously. Yum.) I got to stick my nose in a little Mosaic when I visited Red Brick Wednesday night. A new, small batch brew was in the works. Hannah, super smarty who does accounting and social media for Red Brick, and the only woman I've seen who gets paid to hang around the place, was hard at work learning to brew a cream ale with some pretty special hops: Mosaic and Moteuka.

She plans to add strawberries in during secondary fermentation to give it some sweetness. With an estimated ABV of somewhere around 6.5% (I think I remembered that right) it will likely be a somewhat deceptively pale knockout of a beer. In other words, plan ahead. Attendance at the next brew off will likely require a late night drive thru of sorts.

Mosaic is a pretty tasty smelling hop variety with an aroma that broadcasts its family relation to Simcoe (a smell I am fondly familiar with by now). Terrapin is working on a beer that uses Mosaic, and after meeting said hop in person, Terrapin's side project is now on my must have list. It's purportedly scheduled for release sometime this year (March, please).

It should also be said that Hannah had some help from one of Red Brick's brewers, Steve Anderson, winner of the employee brew off I attended last year. You may remember him from this bit of creative genius. Steve is a man who really knows his stuff, and among other things, makes some pretty stellar collaboration brews with The Burnt Hickory as part of Anderson Bros. Brewing. From what I saw, he is also a very patient, very thorough brewing instructor.

Did I mention that it's stout month? Did I mention the stout they had on tap was amazing? Mildly sweet with a creamy mouth feel and a roasted coffee nuttiness. I had at least one glass. At least.

Although it's a bit of a hike from my neck of the woods, it's definitely worth the trip to Red Brick. If you haven't been, the place has a cozy, somewhat familial feel, from their tasting space, to the hands-on approach they take with their beer, to the people that they pay to run the place. It's good vibes. I'm only taking applications from good vibes these days. Also, they're pretty tolerant of my ubiquitous picture taking (another plus).

I'm definitely making up for last month by attending three beer related happenings this week. One more to go, and then a scheduled day of rest. And by day of rest, I mean another brew day on the home front (or so I hear).

Looking forward to trying that beer, Hannah.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Covert Hops at Monday Night Brewing

So last night I hit two birds with one home brew. This is entirely different from getting stoned with two brews and one home bird, but also fun.

What? That didn't make sense to you?

Last night I made my maiden voyage to Monday Night Brewing and met up with the good people of Covert Hops, an uber friendly home brew club that sponsors the Peach State Brew Off, a home brew competition happing next month. (Hi, Nate!)

Aside from being kind of a big deal 'round these parts, the upcoming AHA sanctioned Peach State Brew Off is some serious competition (they reached their maximum of 450 entries earlier this month) and the sole source of fundraising for the group.

They're looking for some dope swag and beer-related loveliness to raffle off at the competition if you're interested in that sort of thing. Which, you are, of course.

Here's their address and a sweet little letter explaining what you get in return. Surprise Jeff with something nice, won't you? Rumor has it that a lovely box from Dogfish Head arrived at their door recently. I don't know where I got that information, actually. Maybe I made that part up. But wouldn't it be awesome?

And now, a whole bunch of pictures. You're welcome.
Click to see the full album.

Oh and P.S., if you're a home brewer in Atlanta and want to hang with some knowledgeable, laid back, generous beer folk who won't thumb their nose at your extract brew (and will give you excellent tips on improving) then meet up with the friendly peeps of Covert Hops. They meet monthly on the third Tuesday of each month. Send the Director an email if you want to connect: director[at]coverthops[dot]com or follow them on Twitter @Covert_Hops_ATL.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ladies who love beer {new feature}

Are you a lady who loves beer? Do you know someone who is?

Hey, Brewtiful is looking for women home brewers (and their accomplices), female beer aficionados and connoisseurs, ladies working in the beer biz who know their stuff, broads who love their local beer haunts and the brew they serve, and ladies who bake, cook, or otherwise experiment with beer to share their stuff in a guest post or short feature on hey, brewtiful.

Why? Because I'm a lady, and although I can see a female presence in growing numbers all around me, it feels like women are under represented in mainstream beer culture. I see women hefting growlers home in vacant car seats, sharing home brew hijinks over samples of beer, drinking more discriminatingly, and otherwise owning the beer culture for themselves. And I want these women to be more visible, to know more about what makes them tick, and what ticks them off. I want to know what you're drinking. What the beer culture is like where you are. What got you interested in brewing, in beer, etc.

Are you game? To get in on the already evolving lineup of women, email me at heybrewtiful[at]gmail[dot]com with your perspective on and involvement in beer, brewing, etc., your favorite beer(s) of the moment, and what you see, or would like to see more or less of in the beer culture around you.

Trying to contain my excitement.
No, really. For real.



Friday, February 15, 2013

I love beer {bread}

Besides making for some tasty chicken feed, providing generous amendments to the compost pile, and mulching the unseen corners of your yard, spent grains (a somewhat unwieldy byproduct of brewing) can also be repurposed into some kick-ass bread.

If you're not a home brewer (or haven't yet made the leap to using grain) there are likely breweries in your vicinity who would be willing to giveaway or sell their spent grains for a pittance.

Step one: procure ingredients.

I tend to use a recipe more as a suggestion than a rule, so while you can exactly follow the recipe linked below (and get very tasty results) I've adapted it to suit my tastes and usually work from memory with approximate measurements. I like to throw in about a cup of spent grains, about a third of a cup of good olive oil, and a tablespoon of course salt in the food processor and pulse them together before adding the water, yeast, and flour to the bucket we use (and reuse) for our dough. I also use about a half a cup less flour than the recipe calls for, depending on the type of flour (about a cup less for whole grain flours like rye and whole wheat).

I've been into bread making for some time now (about six years) and have shifted my process from a more traditional approach to one that involves throwing shit in a bucket and forgetting it for a while. I do sort of miss the kneading from time to time, but if you're interested in a no-knead approach, you should check out this method, which is now the foundation for almost every loaf I bake.

Half the dough + a handful of grain (inside and out).

Preheat the oven (to about 450 degrees) with an empty metal pan on the bottom rack and an unglazed ceramic tile in the middle (the latter of which you can pick up at the hardware store). These two things, plus the cup of water you throw in the hot pan really make a difference in the final quality of the bread and are both called for in the method I use

Rest, lightly covered, for at least 30 minutes.
When your bucket is empty, you can remix it right away, scraping any leftover dough into the new mix, which gives the final loaf even more tasty character. Although it doesn't usually sit around that long, the dough can be kept in the fridge for about a week, and takes on nice sourdough characteristics the longer it sits.

No, really. Wait.

I'm sort of over the moon about this bread. You can flatten out the dough and roll the grains up inside if you want less intense flavor from the grains and more "bread" flavor. Mixing it directly into the dough mixture is also very good, but much more beer-y tasting.

Seriously, if you've never made you're own bread, this is the recipe to try. It's definitely worth the relatively small amount of trouble. My debt to all equally enthusiastic and inebriated bread eaters is now paid in full. Let me know if you try it out and if you enjoy your efforts.



P.S. If you've encountered my beer bread at any of the recent tastings I've attended, please note my bread making efforts tend to take a nose dive in warmer weather, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Much love,

Friday, February 1, 2013

Oh, February. Hi!

I must have been having fun, because January sure flew right by me. Maybe it was all that drinking I did time I spent at the gym. Yeah. I bet that was it. In lieu of the usual breakdown of beer-related awesomeness on the interwebs, I'll tell you what I've been up to instead.

Sadly, I was hiding in a dark hole waiting out migraines and tornados on Wednesday (No, really.) and missed the release of Red Brick's The Lost Years, the fifth in line of their Brick Mason series. From all reports, it is a tasty, tasty brew. While I was holed up with my headache and a pantsless toddler in our leaky basement (goodbye diapers), I tinkered with a little design mockup based on their description of this most recent tastiness. Somehow between ice picks to the brain and lollipop bribes (that probably only makes sense if you have children, and migraines) I managed to put together a pic of their empty Jim Beam barrels I took when I visited earlier last month with some pretty sweet looking font selections. Nerd yourself out, I always say, when faced with dire circumstances. It helps pass the time.

click image to view information source

Nice, right? Now if only I could enact my plan of actually drinking this fine beer, the universe would return to its normal rotations. Probably.

At the hest of my good friend Will, I drove down to Red Brick earlier in the month to photograph the goings on of a limited release brew in the works with Moondog Growlers. I snagged some neat pics of the bottling process, some old Jim Beam barrels (which you can see pictured above), and captured some of the hijinks of the brewing process, some of which were transformed into the following:

click image to see the full comic

I also attended a very packed, very tasty tour and tasting at The Burnt Hickory Brewery, a little place in Kennesaw that is about to get a whole lot bigger. Check out that line, yo. (Hey, and watch out for that first step, Scotty. I hear it's a doozy).

Will's friend (and welder) Andrew Print Hudson was also there. He invited me to come and see his shop in Smyrna where he gets to wear goggles and play with fire. His wife Whitney also works in the shop and together they make really rad sparks. Among the other welding mysteries unveiled during my visit to Andrew's workshop, he offered this enlightened and revealing observation: "Brewers have so much stainless it makes me drool." Andrew also claims I have good people skills. Good people, good people skills--naturally.

Do you need metal work? Dance your way over to Andrew and Whitney's shop with some beer and bells on. OK, maybe the bells aren't necessary, but beer should definitely be a requirement. He's responsible for the labor of love that went into Will's sweet brew setup.

"Will weld for beer" definitely needs to make it onto one of Andrew's t-shirts... (Just a prototype. Don't get too excited).

Monday Night Brewing also opened its doors for real this time, another event I sadly missed in January due to sold out tours on their three preview dates. This guy took some pretty rad pics of the inside, in case you also prioritize things like child rearing in favor of purchasing tickets to tour a brewery. Le sigh.

On the horizon for Hey, Brewtiful? Some kick-ass cranberry mead (the unnamed source of which will be revealed upon consumption), a visit to the newly launched Reformation Brewery later this month, and some other unplanned debauchery involving beer drinking at my kitchen table (more than likely).

Are you sufficiently nerded out for one afternoon? Well, then. Until next time... make beer, make merry.


P.S. So to summarize, I had a migraine, did not get hit by a tornado, failed to attend two awesome beer events, took a bunch of pictures, and ate a cupcake. How was your January?


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