Monthly Archives: April 2015

Growler Taste Test Review No. 2: AMB Long Leaf IPA

Appalachian Mountain Brewery Long Leaf IPA

Growler 3 days old

20150429_151221Appalachian Mountain Brewery is a brewery that takes seriously its role as a member of the North Carolina High Country community.  Here is a link to all of its community and philanthropic ventures.

Now, being great in the community would not matter if the beer was not good.  They are in business to brew beer after all.

The Long Leaf IPA is one of their flagship beers (along with Honey Badger Blonde and Black Gold Porter).  The Long Leaf weighs in at 7.1% ABV and pours a nice light amber color.  It is clear and has a nice fluffy off-white head.  It looks beautiful in the glass.

It gives off a wonderful American hop nose with lots of fruity citrus and pine aromas.  Underneath you also get a slight honey and caramel bready malt aroma.

It has a medium feel in the mouth and leaves a nice dry taste on the finish. Being an American IPA it has a nice full hoppy taste leaning towards pine, grass, and citrus.  The important part of this is that it is a well-balanced beer where the alcohol does not intrude on the hop taste.  You get a nice touch of sweetness (instead of alcohol) from the malt that, again, keeps the beer balanced.

This is a really good beer that is exactly what an American IPA should taste like.  It is very hop forward with all the hallmarks of American hops, but it is balanced with a nice malt sweetness that isn’t all alcohol.  Too many brewers think to make an American IPA you just need to throw in a bunch of hops and create a malt bill that balances it out but not with sweetness but just alcohol.

You should really give this beer a try.  It could be the next big one from North Carolina.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 4/30/15

Today we are light on the beer law news (thank goodness).  Just a few cool things peruse during the day.

Growler Taste Test No. 1: Catawba Brewing Le Sexxxy Saison

Catawba Brewing Le Sexxxy Saison

Growler 1 day old 20150427_170212

First things first, what is a saison?  Saisons originated in the Wallonia region of Belgium.  At that time farmers would brew the beer during the slow part of the year (late fall to the start of spring) for their farm hands to drink during the growing season.  Saisons are usually a refreshing beer that trends from light in color to dark and very fruity to dry and tart.  The saison is the slightly hoppy Belgian cousin to the French biere de garde which has a similar yet distinct profile.

Catawba Brewing’s Le Sexxxy is on the light end of the saison color range.  It pours with a clear and nice golden/light amber color.  It produces an off-white head that dissipates into a nice Belgian Lace as you drink.  It also has a nice carbonation that stays on the tongue.

Saison’s tend to be a little hoppier then their French cousins, however Le Sexxxy has very little hop aroma.  That is made up for with a lot of fruity (bananas, orange, and a little pineapple) aromas along with a peppery aroma from the yeast.  There is also a touch of bread in their somewhere.  All that makes for a very appealing aroma.

Now for the taste, the first thing you get from this is a nice fruitiness. I taste bananas and citrus (orange, tangerine, lemon) on the front end and a soft breadiness on the back end with a bit of that pepper.  It finishes with a nice dry tartness. On the tongue that dry nature combined with a light body a little taste of alcohol and nice carbonation gives the beer a nice finish.

That fruitiness, tartness, and dry finish that makes it rather refreshing and a good early summer beer.  The exact kind of beer a farm hand on a Belgian farm after picking whatever it is they grew on Belgian farms.  It is a little tart and peppery for my tastes in a saison, but it is still a good beer and worth finding throughout the summer.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 4/29/15

Some days you have to digging for the news and some days it just comes at you in waves.  These are the five best of a bounty of news articles.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 4/28/15

No theme today, just a few good reads

Coming up this evening will be the first Growler Tasting and Review.  Stay tuned.

The Beer Counselor Is In: Don’t Be A Jerk Edition

Don’t Be a Jerk Man Sitting At Bar Picasso

This is a reminder as much to myself as to any other bartender or server at a craft beer establishment.  When someone comes in and asks for a light American lager (I’m trying to remember to be nice.) don’t get snotty or be a jerk.  Just say, “We don’t carry that, but I have a couple of beers similar to that on tap that you might want to try.”  Usually, if you do that you can get them to taste a couple of things and they may like one of them and have a pint.  You might get a new regular customer.  However, if you follow your first instinct and dismiss their request with a sneer you will definitely not get a new customer and you will probably get someone bad mouthing you to their friends.

Now, to customers.  Don’t walk into a place that calls itself a craft beer bar and say, “Give me a Your Favorite Non-Craft beer” and then act offended when you are told they don’t have Your Favorite Non-Craft Beer.  The correct response to finding out there is no Your Favorite Non-Craft Beer isn’t then to say, “Just give me a beer.”  First, if the bartender or server is in a bad mood you will probably get something decidedly unlike what you asked for.  You may get some ruby colored dank double IPA that tastes like a big wet bag of freshly cut grass.  Second (assuming the server was nice about informing you), you are just being jerk because you are embarrassed.  That is a bad look.  If you are told, “We don’t have that” ask for samples of something similar (if not immediately offered).  Easier still, just say, “That’s my usual beer.  Can I have something similar to that?”

While I agree sometimes we craft beer geeks can be a little insufferable, I also think non-craft beer drinkers need to come in with an open mind and a willingness to try something different.

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Flights Are Your Friend Beer-Flight

Along the same lines, if you order a flight ask for recommendations and just try things you think may interest you. Flights allows you to try different beers for a more then reasonable price.  They are a pain free way of walking on the wild side.  Don’t do pretastes of what you want in your flight.  Just pick.  It should be fun and an adventure.  Take a chance.  If you don’t like one of your beers, you’ve probably wasted $1 and 30 seconds of your time.  There is no right answer to your tastes. Your bartender is not going to judge you if you don’t like something.  Now, if you get a flight and hate all the beer on it, then maybe you will judged, but not usually.

My least favorite question from new customers is, “What is your most popular beer?”  For us it is hard to say because we rotate our taps.  Our most popular beer may have just kicked 20 minutes ago and we have something new up right now.  I get that question for two reasons I believe.  The first is people think popular means good.  We really do believe in the wisdom of crowds a little too much.  The second is people have been taught that there is a right answer to every question including subjective questions like taste.  It is better just to tell your server what you like and get recommendations.

I’ve learned that choice scares people.  Even just the choice of what beer to drink freezes customers.  They come into Craft the first time and see all 36 taps and can’t make a decision.  A little advice: Unless you are already blind drunk when you get there, we will serve you more than one beer.  Pick something you think you might like for your first pint then get something different for your second.  Also, ask your server for recommendations if you really are stuck.  Trust me, they’ll sale you beer, that’s why they are there.

Sincerely, The Beer Counselor

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 4/27/15

Welcome to the business edition of the Five Articles

“Every time I call it a game, you call it a business. And every time I call it a business, you call it a game.” – North Dallas Forty

I think of that quote whenever I think of the things we love and how they inevitably get mired in business issues.  Most people get involved in sports, art, and brewing because they love some aspect of it, not solely to make money.  With that, here are today’s links.  A bevy of business and law articles.

The next two articles show you this isn’t just a growing issue and priority in North Carolina.  I posted a link yesterday about the three year fight to make the Florida growlers laws sensible.  Here are two more articles showing how the fight is going elsewhere.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 4/26/15

I love when local newspapers and television stations cover new popular things like craft beer. There is always the explaining of things in the most obvious way possible.  Here are today’s links:

Happy Sunday

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 4/25/15

This the strife addition of the 5 articles.  I think articles like the first two are going to come out more and more as craft beer continues to grow.

Here are two reviews you should read:

This is just for fun.

  • Beer soap. I don’t have to say anything else.  It is one of my favorite things used to make something I need and use every day.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 4/24/15

This is posting late and will be rather abbreviated.  Tomorrow’s version should post in the morning.

We start with the legislation

  • Another article about North Carolina HB 625. This is a little clearer as to what beer drinkers and craft brewers would gain if and when the legislation is passed.  Apparently this could get delayed in committee pushing it until the next legislative session in 2016.  If you can’t beat it, delay it.
  • Speaking of legislative battles, it seems craft beer lovers in Florida have finally won the right to purchase 64 ounce growlers.  This article lays out the 3 year battle and its weird twists and turns.  How a bill becomes a law isn’t as simple as School House Rock told us.

Craft beer is the ultimate small business in the United States.  Here are two articles that highlight that.

  • This is a familiar story to anyone who has followed craft beer. Two friends drawn together by their love of craft beer, begin home brewing and then slowly decide, “Hey, lets sell this stuff to people.”  I love it.
  • This is the internet era version of the same story. Take Kickstarter and it is the same familiar service.
  • Here is the article that tells me I was born too early. If I was in college now, I would take classes that teach me about beer.  Of course, I did get taught a lot about beer in college.  Just not in classroom.  More like on Frat Court, in smoky dorm rooms, and most importantly, in the suite bathroom seeing my own stomach lining.