Valhalla's Firkin

The world of beer through my eyes.

About Me

Location:Winston Salem, North Carolina, United States

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

After the WBF and more beer news.....

So its been a while, that doesn't mean I care any less does it? In fact, just the opposite. So let's get right to it....

Most Awards Ever for North Carolina at Great American Beer Festival!

Any you heard it hear first! Actually, if you did you're a bit behind. See our good friend (Also President, and Co-founder of Pop The Cap) sent out a press release on October 5th exclaiming just that fact. Five metals come home to the Old North State in the form of three golds, a silver, and a bronze.

Gold medals were awarded to Ham’s Restaurant and Brewhouse in Greenville for its Sunfest Lager, Carolina Brewery in Chapel Hill for its India Pale Ale, and Foothills Brewing in Winston-Salem for its Baltic Porter. Natty Greene’s Brewing Company received silver in the English-Style Brown Ale beer-style category for its Old Town Brown, and The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery received bronze for its Milk Stout.

Foothills wins gold and claims the first national award for a NC beer above 6%!

Not only is this the most bling from the GABF for NC in one year, but another good friend of ours, Jamie Bartholomaus, at Foothills Brewery won a Gold metal for his Baltic Porter in the Pro-Am competition. In which, Jamie worked with a Wiston Salem homebrewer Tom Noland, as part of the GABF's new Pro-Am competition in which a Professional and Ameteur brewer work together to produce a beer. Jamie took Tom's recipe and tweaked it, then brewed it at Foothills Brewing with Tom's help. What do you get, a kick ass Baltic Porter, and the first North Carolina beer over 6% ABV to receive a national award for beer excellence. Congratulations Jamie!

Side note: Sean has made some awesome new t-shirts for PTC v2.0 in support of NC breweries and brewpubs. I bought one at WBF, do you have yours? If not contact Sean to see how you can get one, or twelve.

Is the King looking at a coup?

Some sources are saying that a leveraged buyout of A-B is in the works by wanta Warren Buffet and hedge fund guru, Eddie Lambert at $56 a share. What do I think? While a buyout wouldn't affect me or my drinking habbits, (as I try to support the little guys, or even just the not colossally huge) I think this may just be a ploy/rumor to drive up A-B's stock prices in the midsts of its market share losses as the craft beer segment continues to see growth.

What's up in NC

Well let's see. Besides what seems like a record number of beer dinners lately, and possibly the best World Beer Fest I've ever been too (best layout, crowd, food, atmosphere, beers, and breweries IMHO. But I will give you that the weather could have been a little drier.) More and more NC breweries producing Seasonals. Many expanding and looking to grow. Others looking for new brewers. As you may know both Natty Greene's and Red Oak are looking for new brewers. Highland is continuing work on the new brewery at a frantic pace. More beer dinners, festivals, and community events as the year gets closer to the end.

REI invading NC?

It may seem that way with REI locations now in Cary, Raleigh, Durham, and the newest location now open in Pineville. But wait, there's more. In the brand The Shops at Friendly Center, on October 20th, REI will open a brand new Greensboro location.

That's great, but what the hell does that have to do with beer? Well usually very little. However, in the case of REI and the opening of their Pineville location REI contacted Highland to be on hand and share our beer with their Grand Opening Community Reception, and they have asked Highland to again be present for the Opening Reception for the Greensboro location. Now the offical opening of the store is October 20th and the Grand Opening Community Reception will be sometime before that. Just wanted to share one more way that NC's Craft Beer is making its way into places that it would not have been before.


Friday, September 22, 2006

IG Release Limit Set!

I just got off the phone with the brewery and it's official. It's in the bottles and the limit is set at 6 1L bottles per person. Want more than that? Tell your friends you'll buy their share and let them have one bottle for standing in line with you. That won't work; find a homeless guy and tell him you'll pay him $20 to stand in line and get another share.

Oh, and a little birdy told me there would be a 5 Gal keg of the IG at Brewgrass! Nobody is allowed to tap it until the festival starts. So if I were you I'd find the Highland booth and head there first! Cause 5 gallons ain't gonna last long.

Hope to see many of you up in Asheville this weekend for the fest and the IG Release!


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Politics, Policing, Progress (yeah right!), and IG Release

Imperial Gaelic release confirmed for Sept 24, 2006!

And we got the label! Thanks to a little research by BA nriech and the BATF we have the label. And damn it looks fine!

That's right folks. I just got off the phone with the brewery and all the permits have been approved and passed. The Imperial Gaelic will be sold on Sunday, September 24, 2006, at the new brewery only, starting at 12:00 PM. Keep checking here and Highland's website for updates on quanity limits and final price. (Limit will probably be 1/2 to 1 case {12 1L bottles} at around $10 per bottle) I haven't seen the label, but it is supposed to be embossed with the signatures of all the brewery employees in gold foil with a red label. I can't wait!

Couple Vows to Get Beer Flowing Again in 'Dixie'

Wow, shit still fucked up in N'awlins after Katrina. You mean Bush hasn't made sure that there as actually been real progress? And that the insurance companies are actually paying out claims? And the looting has been stopped? I find that hard to believe...(for those that can't read between the lines or don't know me, that was pure sarcasm laced with a little venom.)

Well at least Joe Bruno and his wife and his wife at Dixie Brewing are doing what they can to get the brewery back up and running again.

In a June article by NPR, Peter Breslow interviews the couple and tours the brewery to see the devestation that still has yet to be fixed. Why the delay?

  • Well let's see, little to no help from the Federal Government
  • Inept, corrupt, and/or completely overwhelmed and underfunded State and Local Government
  • No Tax revenue from all the off-shore oil production in the Gulf miles from the LA coast
  • Insurance companies denying any and all claims they can
  • Lack of police control (see reasons above)
  • Constant looting
  • Carpet Baggers
  • The list goes on.....

While I'm not the biggest Dixie fan, it was a medium sized, Regional Brewery that produced about 50,000 barrels of beer a year. Blacked Voodoo wasn't bad. And it's a family owned and run business. Oh, and a New Orleans landmark and part of the history there that has yet to be helped or healed.

They are supposed to be back up and brewing by October 2007, yes folks that's a year and a half from now. Here's to the Bruno's getting their brewery back up and running!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The IG Nears....

....the Imperial Gaelic that is...word on the street is that the release date will be the Sunday after Brewgrass festival in Asheville. So Sunday, September 24th. Why no offical date? Well they are still waiting on permit approval for on-premise sales. And I think we all know how fast the government works, I mean New Orleans is completely cleaned up right?

Anyway, I for one can't wait to see the new brewery and get a hold of this much hyped beer.

Oh yeah, apparently there is a great green spot at the new brewery for camping and people will be allowed to camp out there on Saturday night after the festival to be in line for the IG release on Sunday. Hmm.....I wonder were they get ideas like these?

And it looks like the tentative price will be around the same as the retail price of Cold Mountain. Or probably about $10 per bottle with a one (1) case limit per customer. I know I'm going to get a case. (Which will be 12 1L bottles)

and a Beer Dinner at Ganache to boot!

Along with the everything else that is going on with Highland there is a beer dinner tomorrow, Thursday, August 10, at Ganache in Greensboro. The cost is $30 per person and the Head Chef will be paring Black Mocha Stout, Gaelic Ale, Tasgall Ale, Oatmeal Porter, and St. Terese's Pale Ale with their great food and wonderful desserts. Contact Ganache for more information.

Magic Hat comes to the Piedmont Triad!

Once again, thanks to all the hard work that Pop The Cap and all the volunteers did, we have another fine craft brewery in NC and coming to the Triad. (One a side note, Sean that is a kick ass new PTC website!)

Seems the Burlington, Vermont based brewer signed a distribution deal with I.H. Caffey. WTF you say? No shit. Yes, I.H. Caffey, which according to their website is, "the largest Miller / Coors / Pabst distributor in North Carolina and one of the 'Top 25' Miller Distributors nationwide." Oh yeah, they also distribute suck other "fine" products such as Smirnof Ice, Heine-ina-can, Foster's (Australian for Crap!), Pabst "I'm going to milk an 1890's county fair" Blue Ribbon "for all its worth", Icehouse (Guarenteed hangover in a bottle/can), and Yeungling (which give me horrid gas).

I can only imagine that the guys at Magic Hat picked a distributor with no other craft breweries in their portfolio so they knew they would not have competition. However, in my opinion, that is a flawed choice because there is a good chance that none of their reps no dick about craft beer. But hey I've been wrong before. All I can say is welcome to the neighboro!

Magic hat will be having a kickoff party at none other than our good friend Chris Barnes and Winston Salem's own 6th and Vine next Thursday, August 17th. Contact 6th and Vine for more details.

Largest Brittish Brewer worries about margins cause stock to fall...

I gotta say, "Who gives a shit?" Try making some real British ales again and maybe your stock won't be falling because of a margin reduction during the World Cup. A time with nearly all of the World's productivity goes into the toilet faster than you would if you drank the water in Mexico while eating 5 bean burritos. But hey, don't worry about good ol' S&N, I mean they have control of Foster's in Europe. You know Foster's, the crap they don't drink in Australia; the land of very few good beers, they think this is crap. Hmm....I wonder if we're on to something here?

Greenland Brewhouse makes ale from ice cap

Greenland’s first independent microbrewery — Greenland Brewhouse — held its official launch this week at the Tivoli amusement park in downtown Copenhagen, Denmark.

And the Inuit microbrewery in the village of Narsaq has just released the first 17,200 gallons of a dark and a pale ale made by using water from Greenlands Icecap. The water is estimated to be 2000 years old, and from what I understand about as pure as you can possibly get. The level of micron particles is so low it almost does not register on any equipment.

If I thought the President could actually read or kept up with any news I might be concerned by this writer's closing paragraph. "I'm as concerned about global warming as everyone else but I'm pretty sure the brewery won'trun out of waterr anytime soon. Greenland's ice cap is up to 11,000 feet thick." Ok, I will agree with that, but lets not let the President hear this, as he apparently already doesn't believe that Global Warming exists.

When the brewery reaches full capacity, Greenland Brewhouse expects to produce up to 400,000 litres of beer per year, which, in a strange, but not all that surprising socalist twist for the time being, will be shipped from Greenland to Germany for bottling.

Why you ask? Well it seems that Greenlanders won’t be able to buy the beer in Greenland right now because the company Nuuk Imeq currently holds the monopoly for all beverage sales and bottling in Greenland. This means Greenland Brewhouse won’t be able to sell its product until the rules governing beverage sales and bottling are changed. ( somebody who has some experience in changing alcohol laws...GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!)

Until then the beer will be sold in Denmark, other European countries and possibly the United States. The beer’s alcohol content is 5.5 per cent, and in Denmark will sell for about 37 Danish kroner ($7) for a half-litre bottle, about the same price as other similarly sized beers from microbreweries in Denmark.
“I hope by the beginning of the new year that we’ll be able to sell in Greenland,” Hand said. You gotta feel for this guy. The first mircobrewery in Greenland and they can't even sell in Greenland? That would piss me off! Can anybody say bootleg!

Japanese Brewmaster puts knowledge from Stone to good use.

So not only does Stone brew amazing beers and blatantly call the producers of assembly line, tasteless, fizzy, yellow beers to to the table; but they also share that knowledge for the betterment of us all.

It appears that Japanese Brewmaster Toshi Ishii learned how to produce real ales from none other than Stone Brewing Co. From there he took that knowledge back home to Japan where he began teaching other Japanese brewers how to produce real ale.

"We didn't have any breweries in Japan that could make cask ales," Ishii said. He also hopes that "Japan will become a nation of real ale drinkers."

Since coming back and brewing real ale at his Yo-Ho Brewery in 2002, there are now 15 breweries in Japan that can make real ale, along with 250 micro-breweries in Japan.

Ishii has unleashed his finest real ales on the discerning drinkers at the Great British Beer Festival, the first time that cask-conditioned Japanese beer has been available in the UK.

Ishii brought over a barrel each of Yona Yona ("Every Night" in Japanese) Ale and Tokyo Black Ale to the five-day London festival, which boasts the biggest range of beer of any in the world, and one this now thirsty blogger hopes to go to soon and repeatedly.

Where can I find Real Ale in here

Well that can be a little tricky. See cask or real ale is still some what of a novelty here in the States. But there are some places doing it and some doing it very well.

WARNING!Be careful and choose wisely. Just because you see a handpump doesn't mean it is true cask or real ale. There are some very large UK Brewers that are notorious for taking regular, CO2 presurized kegs, bleeding them (letting all the gas out), and then serving them via hamd pump as cask ales. COUGH, cough, cough...Fuller's, cough, Young's...cough...
But please don't let that discourage you. If you try one and it tastes sour or rancid, it has either set to long or was never a real ale to begin with. Tell management of your displeasure and try it again else where.

Now that we've set that warning, back to where to find it. Second rule of beer. Drink Local. If you can that is. This is not always possible for everybody. Hell until two years ago, drinking local meant either Red Oak (or Butter Oak as I call them) or drinking a beer produced in NC but not within 100 miles of my house. If you can't drink local then try regional and expand from there.

Shortest route to cask ale, start at your local brewpub. Which for me is Foothills Brewing Co. You see I simply asked Jamie when he was going to start serving cask ale enough until he said either shutup or fill the damn things yourself! (I am taking great liberties here as Jamie is so fricken nice I don't think he'd tell me to shutup even joking around, unlike some a-holes we know.) Foothills now taps a cask ale every Friday night at 6PM. They are usually kicked before 8PM.

See if you read previous posts, cask ales are served in firkins, which are only about 10 gallons, because once tapped they have to be consumed in 2-3 days MAX. Since only air pressure and gravity is used to serve the beer, and O2 oxidizes and ruins beer it must be consumed fresh. (Normal keg beer is sealed and uses CO2 which is heavier than air, which is why once tapped can last months in the keg. In the lines is a different story.)

Also try Natty Greene's in Greensboro and again your local brewpub.

If you are in the NYC area than you need to look no further than this man, Alex Hall, AKA The Gotham Imbiber! You see this UK ex-Patriot maybe the biggest reason that you can now find cask ale all over Manhattan, Brooklyn, and even some in the Bronx and maybe Queens. He's got the list of all the NYC places with cask. He's also got some lists and recommendation if you were to jump the pond and tour England.

Want cask ale in your home. Easy, start homebrewing or get your local brewpub to fill a firkin. You can find cask ale supplies all over the internet, include eBay; but if you want a trusted, reliable source I would recommend here, UK BREWING SUPPLIES, LTD.

Currently I'm working on Opie to have real ale at Finnegan's Wake, but we'll see if that can happen.

I think that more than does it for now. Cheers!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday, August 4, 2006

So what had happended was.....well I can't think of any one good excuse, but it's been a while since my last entry so here it goes.

Casks a success at Foothills!

Thankfully not only was tapping the cask much easier than expected, but I didn't cause any spillage. The cask was drained very quickly and Jamie will be tapping another firkin in a matter of hours. As long as the firkins are drained, Jamie will keep filling and tapping them. Look for another firkin of Hoppyum IPA tonight, with maybe another next week, then a different firkin every week following. The picture of me tapping the cask sucks. Which just means, as Jamie told me, don't hand Tim (the assistant brewer at Foothills) your phone and expect him to be able to take a picture with it, or even answer it for that matter.

Lenny Bruce still managing to brew up trouble

Seems the Shmaltz Brewing Co. that brought us He'Brew and other kosher and "Jewish" beers has produced a beer commemorating the late Jewish comedian Lenny Bruce on the 40th anniversary of his death called "Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A."

I love how the article reads; "Cowan is not observant but said in a telephone interview he takes religion seriously and keeps his products kosher.

'I’m not making fun of Judaism. I’m having fun with Jewish culture and tradition,' he said."

Not "observant" huh? Routinely you have to point things out to him and he rarely notices the little things. Just kidding, but seriously was the writer short on word space? Make it reads like he doesn't notice things, as opposed to the fact he is not observant in his faith.

Anyway, I would love to try it, hope it makes it to NYC, and think it is great to tribute and raise a glass to a pioneer and groundbreaking artist like Mr. Bruce.

Here's to starting off the night with a Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. and ending it with a Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter. (Dedicated in memory to the late, great Hunter S. Thompson)

Stay tuned for more to come real soon!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Monday, July 24, 2006

Going Back to Work?

According to a AP release, It looks like the employees at the soon to be former Latrobe Brewing Company plant in Latrobe, PA, will accept the a contract with City Brewing Company of LaCrosse, WI. (Strange La connection going on here) City Brewing is negotiating to buy the brewery which employs over 120 workers. See the fate of the brewery was in question after one industry leader and beer whore InBev sold the Rolling Rock brand to another industry leader and beer whore Anheuser-Busch back in May for $82 million. A-B quickly announced that it would move all Rolling Rock production to its Newark facility. And really who doesn't want to go to Newark?

Latrobe, and the State of Pennsylvania, feared that the fairly modern facility would be closed and all of the workers would loose their jobs. So the fact that City Brewing is purchasing the facility is welcome news to many peoples ears. Even though City will likely make only contract, alco-pops like Mike's Hard lemonade and other craptastic beverages, it will keep the brewery open and at least 120 workers in Latrobe employed. Which in a small town like Latrobe is huge. And at least City Beverage is not a huge corporation looking to squash the little guys like those above.

And hey I may note really like Rolling Rock, but at least I knew I was supporting a smaller company and a small town when I would drink it. Now, there's no way in hell I would touch a bottle of Rolling Rock.

Oh and this shit is great: "We are going to retain as much of the history and tradition and heritage of this brand," said Andy Goeler, vice president of Anheuser-Busch's import, craft and specialty group. So according to Andy, shit canning 120+ workers, moving a product from its historic place of production, abandoning a fully functioning brewery, and basically telling a small town "we couldn't care less about you or citizen" is preserving history and tradition. I for one hope that the citizens of Latrobe and the rest of PA join me in raising a finely crafted local/regional beer and telling A-B to "Go Fuck Yourself."

Utah Struggles to Combat Its Dull Image

Well no shit Sherlock. If it wasn't for the fact that the skiing was some of the best on this planet would anybody other than Mormons go to this state? In yet another AP release, Utah is struggling to fight its tightass, ultra conservative, multiple wife, commune image. What are top complaints the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau get? Seems that there's not much nightlife and it's difficult to get a drink. Well no shit. That's what happens when you have not only ultra repressive alcohol laws, but you also tax the shit out of everything higher than near beer. (Which is beer at 3.2% ABV, normal mass produced fizzy yellow beers are 4.2% ABV).

Seems Salt Lake City is the worst city to try to find a drink in. See city law prohibits more than two bars from operating on the same city block face. And in downtown SLC, the average city block is 660 feet long. That boys and girls is 300 feet longer than a football field.

Oh and lets not forget the fact that in order to go into a "bar" you have to be a member or a guest of a member, which includes ID, paperwork, and a fee. Well shit, why not just go ahead and tattoo the words "I am Drunk and a Sinner" while you're at it and shove a tracking device up my ass so the Mormon Church can monitor my whereabouts at all times? Oh yeah, As I mentioned above, Utah also taxes all "full-strength beer" at a much higher rate.

Some people still don't get it. It seems that Councilman Dave Buhler, does not see a problem in Salt Lake City.

"Compared to everywhere else in Utah," he said, "we certainly have a lot more going on in our downtown."

Well not shit assclown, because there's nothing going on in UTAH! That's the whole point of the fricken arguement. Just because you don't suck as much as nearly everywhere else in your state, doesn't mean you still don't suck ass!

All I can say is good luck to Mayor Rocky Anderson, who is trying to change SLC and wants the regulations changed and/or lifted. Go get'em Rocky.

So not only is Westmalle better than Miller, but it weights more too!

According to an article by Santa Monica News, it "seems that an empty bottle of Miller weighs less than seven ounces, while a bottle of Westmalle Belgian beer tips the scale at almost twice that." Which is by far not the point of the article, but I thought it was interesting that those that make quality beer, use quality products to protect them.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Friday, July 21st, 2006

Coast Guard was brewing up a storm.

Sorry but the pun couldn't be avoided. Seems the some enterprising individuals at the Coast Guard academy decided to save money by brewing their own beer for social functions. Finally somebody in the Government trying to SAVE money!

The article reports, "...that beer was called "The Admiral Amber Ale" and the audit found that the school spent about $1,000 to make 532 bottles of beer." Um...$1.88 per beer for homebrew is a little on the pricey side. I think somebody was either squirling away some of the product or a lot of that $1,000 went to buy the equipment. I guess you would need more than the basic homebrew equipment to crank out 532 beers.

So 532 beers at 12 oz. per beer is 6384 oz. 6384 oz is 49.875 gallons. So roughly fifty gallons which could be 10 5 gallon batches on a basic setup; 5 10 gallon batches on a typical all grain setup, or they went out and purchased a larger system. But if you've got a bunch of Cadets around, I guess brewing in shifts is a definite option. I think if they would have had more batches under their belt, they could probably get that down to 50¢ or 60¢ a bottle. Maybe less, if they have larger equipment and they buy ingredients in bulk.

Get a load of this chippie, "Coast Guard Spokeswoman Angela McArdle said an audit released Wednesday by a U.S. Senate panel that oversees the Homeland Security Department highlighted a purchase that was technically legal but did not represent a prudent use of funds.

"There is no more beer brewing going on at the Coast Guard Academy," she said."

Why the hell not. It's better to have them purchase beer at an inflated rate, than having them make their own and save some money? Not to mention they are learning a valuable skill and potential craft.

The article goes on to state that; "'Absent the purported cost savings and the dubious need for the government to brew its own alcohol, the purchase of the kit and the beer brewing activity itself fall short of prudent use of taxpayer dollars,' the audit found.

McArdle said about $800 of the questioned spending came from a Coast Guard foundation and was not government money"

Ok, so only $200 of it was government money. The other was from the Coast Guard foundation and they were trying to save money. Sounds like a pretty f'n good idea to me. But that's probably why I'm not in a government job.

Eat, drink and go WILD

Now this is a competition I would like to watch. Forget American Idol, Big Brothers, Nathan's Hot Dog eating competition, and try this one on for size. New Zealand’s Monteith’s Beer and Wild Food Challenge is an annual event where restuarants and bars from all over New Zealand compete in four basic categories; Best Service, Best Spirit, Best Individual Beer and Food Match, and OVERALL WINNER.

The Monteith’s Beer and Wild Food Challenge allows diners to experience wild cuisine, expertly matched with a craft brew at their local restaurant, café or bar. The event promises to "providing diners with a uniquely Kiwi wild food experience." (Side note, Kiwi is a term for New Zealand and New Zealanders. Many of the Kiwi's come to America to work harvest at small vineyards since their growing season is opposite ours. What with NZ being on the other side of the world and all.)

Oh...I just read a slightly disappointing, but competition leveling rule:
  • Participants can either enter in the formal or informal category (formal entries must produce an entrée and main to be presented in a formal dining environment).

  • The dish then needs to be matched to one of the Monteith’s family of six ‘Classic’ craft brews, including, Original Ale, Radler, Golden, Black, Celtic and Pilsner.

  • Wild food can come from the sea, rivers or lake, the sky or the countryside.

  • Each dish must comprise of the best available wild food, defined as non-farm-raised produce reared under normal health and safety regulations.

  • The winning restaurant from each region stands to win a prize package valued at $8000. Then in addition to this, the over all national winner will receive a prize package valued at $15000.
It would be great if the contestants could choose any beer and/or style to pair with their entrees, but it is the brewery that is putting on the competition, so I understand the choice.

Now it's time for a brewery around here to do the same. Hint, hint, hint

SouthEnd Brewery In Downtown Raleigh Shut Down Last Week

And another one bites the dust. As yet another Brewpub goes down in ashes, it seems that all is not lost as it appears that a new Brewpub may rise like a Phoenix from the ashes. SouthEnd Brewery manager is quoted saying that they, "sold their brewing equipment, furniture, fixtures, and all of their other equipment in Raleigh to a new owner who will evidently take over the lease." And while the manager would give his name or specific the new owner, he did say that the new owner owns other restaurants in the Raleigh area. So heres to a new Brewpub going in.

Family is up from Louisianna, so no reviews this week.