Mike Pennington

Author: Mike Pennington

Mike Pennington, normal, 40-ish, father of three, living the suburban dream north of Atlanta.  

As my friend Daniel put it … it pays to go to beer festivals. Back in the spring, we wrote about going to the Roswell Beer Festival. While there, other than having an otherworldly great time, we also met some fantastic people, in particular the gang from Pontoon Brewing. We hit it off, and they invited Russ and me back to Pontoon for a ‘tasting panel’ a few days later. We didn’t really know what to expect, but we were in. Here’s the short version … breweries will sometimes invite friends from other breweries, growler shop owners, industry experts, and beer media (that’s us!) to a special private tasting of some select beers. It’s usually to get honest feedback on the beer, either what to do differently on a pilot batch of beer; or what to consider for future versions of beer that will soon be out in the wild. Bonus … they had a chef come in and create food pairings for each of the four beers. Rock star status achieved.

Fast forward to this week, they had me back again. THIS time, we were tasting three beers that will be released this week and one pilot batch that is just in testing mode right now. It’s a seasonal that will hopefully come out later this year. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to try several beers before they’re even released. So, here ya go. A quick review of the three beers to be released this week and then the one that will hopefully emerge later in the year.

L-R … Belgian Tripel, Hazenado, Snozz Crumble, Fluffier Otter.
Chicken/gouda skewers, chocolate puff pastry, bacon-wrapped pork w/ cherry coulis, meatballs

Belgian Tripel

I’ve really become a sucker for a good tripel recently, and this one didn’t disappoint. It was a little boozy (9.5% really came through) and slightly syrupy to me, but the flavor was on point. I am certain that there will be some tweaks before this becomes available later this year. Really, really, really can’t wait.


It’s a Double IPA (DIPA) brewed with lactose and vanilla. The lactose, as expected, brought a creamy smoothness to it. Combined with a beautiful nose of pineapple (at least that’s what I got), this is a total home run. The flavor was an intoxicating mixture of milkshake and mild bitterness, very nicely counterbalanced with the sweet citrus from the hops. Yeah, I’ll be back later this week to have this one again.

Snozz Crumble

Pontoon has had a lot of success with a line of tart-creamy Berliner Weisse beers called, “Snozzberries Taste Like Snozzberries.” (Mad kudos on the reference there.) They took one of them for a ride with the Snozz Crumble, adding a pastry/cinnamon flavor to it. This had a very crisp mouthfeel, and was slightly more sour than I typically like. It has an absolutely stunning color to it and will be sure to be a hit with the sour drinkers out there.

Fluffier Otter

Again, Pontoon has resurrected a former favorite and transformed it into something new. The original, Fluffy Otter, is an oatmeal creme stout and is my favorite Pontoon beer ever. Basically, it’s a S’more in stout form. Now … add peanut butter. Fluffier Otter is an old school fluffernutter sandwich in a 9% abv stout. I almost didn’t want to drink it because it just smelled SO GOOD.


Again, Hazenado, Snozz Crumble, and Fluffier Otter will all be available this week! One is being released each of the next three days … check their site to see which one is dropping when. And then GO!

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

Borrowing again from my favorite comedian, Brian Regan …

Ladies and gentlemen, from the flight deck. Somebody put our engine in upside down, and there’s only one tool in our galaxy that can fix this … and it’s in Madagascar. Apologies for the delay.

But we’ve all been there. Sitting in the airport when you get the announcement or phone notification that your flight has been delayed 1, 2, 6 hours. What to do? If you’re like me, you’re faced with several options. I usually decide to be less unhealthy and use the ‘opportunity’ to get some Fitbit steps in. That usually lasts no more than 30 minutes as I grow weary of dodging people either walking at a zombie pace staring at their phones with zombie face or the people late for flights doing the OJ Simpson thing through the airport. (This OJ thing, not the other one.) I could peruse the shops in the airport and buy something that I don’t need at 8 times the price I could get it at home. But I want to do most is to saddle up at a watering hole and have a good local beer.  I don’t mean some sports bar that only serves mass-produced national stuff through questionable keg lines. I want to find somewhere that serves a good pint of local beer.

During my most recent flying-home-experience, I found myself with 6 (yes, six) hours in the airport, trying to get home from DC. (Note: I do not recommend drinking for 6 hours before flying home. For about 37 reasons.) But the delay made me think. I did the Google-thing to find the best places to get local beer in airports, but I could not find a good list. There were lists per city, or the top 7-9-10 places to get a drink. But there wasn’t a single good list.


So, here is my first stab (no, not another OJ reference) at a good list. PLEASE comment below with your suggestions.

ATL – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  • Sweetwater Draft House (Terminal B)
  • Chicken + Beer (Near gate D5)
BHM – Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport

Birmingham Brewhouse (Concourse A)

BNA – Nashville International Airport
  • Yazoo Brewing Company (Gate C23)
  • Fat Bottom Brewing Company (Gate C14)
  • Tennessee Brew Works (Terminal A/B food court)
BOS – Boston Logan International Airport
  • Harpoon Tap Room (Terminal A)
  • Boston Beer Works (Terminal C)
BTV – Burlington International Airport

The Skinny Pancake (past security – both concourses)

BWI – Baltimore/ Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
  • DuClaw Brewing (Main Terminal near B)
  • Flying Dog Tap House (A/B food court)
BZN – Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport

Copper Horse (main level between escalators)

CLE – Cleveland Hopkins International Airport

Great Lakes (Gate C14)

Bar Symon (Concourse C)

CLT – Charlotte Douglas International Airport
  • Carolina Beer Co (Concourse D/ Gate D7)
  • NoDa Brewing (Concourse A)
  • Captain Jack’s Tavern (Between gates E3 & E4)
DEN – Denver International Airport
  • New Belgium Brewing (Near Gates B32 & B80)
  • Boulder Beer Tap House (Jeppeson Terminal)
  • Root Down (C Gates/ Center core)
DTW – Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport

Shed Bar (Gates A2 & A38)

EWR – Newark Liberty International Airport

Caps Beer Garden (Gate C120)

GRR – Gerald R Ford International Airport (Grand Rapids)

Bell’s Brewery (Grand Hall near food court)

GSP – Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport
  • RJ Rockers Flight Room (Concourse B)
  • Thomas Creek Grill (Concourse A)
IAD – Dulles International Airport (Washington, DC)

DC Chophouse & Brewery (between ticket counters 2&3)

IND – Indianapolis International Airport

317 Tap Room (Civic Plaza)

LAX – Los Angeles International Airport
  • Rock & Brews (Terminal 1)
  • The Parlor (Terminal 3)
  • Point the Way Cafe (Terminal 6)
LGA – New York LaGuardia Airport

Biergarten (Terminal C)

MCO – Orlando International Airport

Cask and Larder (Gates 100-129)

MKE – Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport

Leinenkugel Leinie Lodge (Concourse D)

MSP – Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport
  • Stone Arch Craft Lab (Terminal 1)
  • Lolo American Kitchen & Craft Bar Terminal 1)
ORD – Chicago O’Hare International Airport

Publican Tavern near K Gate

PDX – Portland (OR) International Airport
  • Hopworks Urban Brewery (Concourse E)
  • Country Cat (Concourse D/E)
  • Deschutes Brewery (Concourse D)
  • Laurelwood Public House & Brewery (Concourse A)
PHX – Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
  • Four Peaks Brewing (Terminal 4)
  • O.H.S.O. Brewery & Distillery (Terminal 2)
PWM – Portland (ME) International Jetport

Shipyard Brewing (Gate 5)

SAN – San Diego International Airport

Stone Brewing Co (Terminal 2)

SAV – Savannah Hilton Head International Airport

Southbound Brewing Co (Pre-Security)

SFO – San Francisco International Airport

Anchor Brewing (Terminal 3, near gate 70)

STL – St Louis Lambert International Airport
  • Schlafly Beer Bar & Grill (Terminal 1, Concourse C)
  • Three Kings Public House (Terminal 2)
TPA – Tampa International Airport

Cigar City (Airside C)


Cheers! Here’s hoping you’re delayed in one of these airports soon. Wait … that didn’t come out right. You know what I mean.

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

You know there are those moments that forever change your life. You remember where you were, who you were with, maybe even what you were wearing. For today’s post, I’m talking about one of those moments. I can’t give you the exact date … mostly because I suck at remembering things like that. I can, however, tell you where I was and who I was speaking with.

Several years ago, I found myself at an airport watering hole in Washington, DC. As is my norm, I found myself in conversation with my bar-neighbor about beer and breweries. There was a beer on tap from Dogfish Head out of Deleware (actually two, 60 and 90-minute IPAs) that had him trying to decide. I started discussing with him the differences before he settled on the 60. He loved it and moved onto the 90 … and yes, I couldn’t let him drink alone. I had the same order.

His love of the two beers led to the inevitable, “I wish I could get this at home.” What happened next changed both of us. I told him about the FishFinder on Dogfish Head’s website. If you don’t already know, the FishFinder lets you choose any of the DFH beers, a ZIP code and radius, and whether you want to find it in a restaurant/ bar or in a store. In short: “I live in 30303 and want to find all package stores with 25 miles of me that carry World Wide Stout.”

In short, his mind was blown that this level of info was available on their website. And my mind was blown that sharing information and knowledge about beer and breweries could be so impactful. I’ve made it a mission ever since to be free to share opinions about the beer-iverse with anyone near me who will listen. Annoying? Potentially. But you might be surprised how often this creates connections.

A  lot of breweries have similar features on their sites now. Does your favorite brewery?

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

New beer styles seem to emerge (or re-emerge) almost every week. Once you think you decided that you like an IPA, along comes the New England-style IPA (NEIPA), Double IPA (DIPA), West Coast IPA, Brut IPA … the list goes on and on. What are the differences? If I like this, will I like that? That conversation could be a post of its own.

What Are Hops?

For this post, we’re going to talk about one of beer’s four main ingredients … hops. Hops are those magical little cone-shaped plants that impart flavor, aroma, and some preservative qualities to beer. Hops can bring bitterness, sweetness, citrus flavors … it all depends on which hop or combination of hops the brewer chooses to use. Although there are only about 80 different types of hop plants, with cross-breeding and experimentation, the number of hops that can actually be used is difficult to pin down. This list from morebeer.com explains a bit about many of them, as well as the flavors they typically impart.

But there’s more to it than just adding hops to the brewing process. You may hear terms like DDH (double-dry hopped), dry hopping, wet hopping, dried hops, wet hops, fresh hops. What does it all mean? And what do these processes do to a beer?


Simply put, dry-hopping is the process of dumping some hops into the beer within a few days of the bottling process. Brewers may arm-wrestle on when it’s best to do this: (one school of thought is to do so 2 weeks before bottling, allowing the flavors to meld. The other thought is to add dry-hop about 3-5 days before bottling, which brings the maximum aroma to the finished product.) Regardless, dry-hopping does not add to the bitterness of a beer. It simply extracts aroma and some hop flavor to the beer, without affecting the bitterness. Hops added early in the brewing process break down – that’s what brings the bitter to the party. Back to dry-hopping … this process releases aroma and hop flavor, but it doesn’t break the hop down, releasing the plant’s oils and resulting bitterness into the beer. If you’re reading between the lines here – yes, you’re correct. Hop flavor does not necessarily equate to bitterness. If you’ve ever smelled a beer and thought, “that smells like grapefruit,” it’s likely that you’re smelling a hop varietal that brings that aroma … not grapefruit added to the beer.

What is DDH, or Double Dry-Hopping?

The DDH-style beers (double dry-hopped) is basically the same thing, but with an additional round of dry-hopping.


To understand wet-hopping, we must first understand the hop harvesting process. Most hops are kiln-dried almost as soon as they’re picked. From there, they’re formed into little pellets that are then shipped to brewers, ready to be added to the process. Some harvested hops are dried and left in the full cone form (not pelletized, while some others remain ‘wet.’) Wet hops are harvested and are ready to be added to the brewing process. And that’s the tricky part. Freshly-harvested hops have a very short shelf life and need to be used with 24-ish hours of being harvested. Since almost all US hops come from the Pacific Northwest, most true wet hop beers are going to come from the left coast. Since these aren’t pelletized, their flavors are less concentrated and therefore do not bring the same level of flavor or bitterness as the kiln-dried cousins. The main benefit is the addition of earthy, almost grassy, flavors to the beer.

Also, Fresh-Hopping is basically the same thing as Wet-Hopping, but these hops are kiln-dried in full cone form. This is a compromise between the longer shelf life of kiln-dried pelletized hops and the less concentrated earthy flavors of wet hops.


Does this help? Well, for now, hopefully. I’m sure that a new IPA varietal will come along tomorrow, making us write an update to this post. For now … happy drinking!

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

Since the dawn of man, we have exhibited a bizarre and innate desire to compare and contrast. It’s not enough to be good … is it better or worse than something else? Here some things I have heard debated …

  • What’s the most important invention of all time? Fire, paper, or the internet?
  • Who would win a one-on-one basketball game? Michael Jordan or Wilt Chamberlain?
  • What’s the most disappointing movie sequel of all-time? Actually, there’s no debate here – it’s Caddyshack 2.

Along with debates like these, you’ve also likely run across lists of “The Best ____” in each state, city, region, etc. Just like the comparison game, these lists are incredibly subjective and prone to massive leaps of faith and logic in order to come to a nice, tidy conclusion. More often than not, they’re just there for the click-bait and actually hope that you’ll hate what they shared. Because if you’re angry, you share and comment … and they get more hits.

Knowing this, I’m still here to discuss a list that I found particularly egregious in their flawed logic. This particular list used only fact-based criteria in order to create the content, which is certainly laudable. But there are two steps to create a fact-based list that actually carries some credibility: 1) stick to the numbers, and 2) use numbers that actually matter and prove the point. Groupon ignored the latter. In a recently published article, Groupon set out to list the “Best State for Beer Lovers.” Intrigued by the title, I dove in. My first stop was at the metrics used to create the list. After all – “best state for beer” can be a very subjective discussion, and I couldn’t imagine how they’d come to their conclusions. Thankfully, they shared the three main data points:


Groupon proudly shares that their quality ranking is based on “each state’s top 5-rated beer scores on BeerAdvocate.com.” Wait, are they serious? Top five? Meaning 5? ONLY 5?? Ummmm, based on that theory … if one brewery churned out the 5 greatest beers in the world, and literally every other beer in the state was complete garbage, this state would be ranked as having the highest quality. That’s a bold strategy, Cotton.


I’m going to paste this one directly. Because you can’t make this stuff up.
“The overall affordability ranking considered both the cost of a 12oz. Miller Lite in bars and the cost of a 24-pack of Miller Lite or Bud Light in stores (Total Wine and Walmart, specifically).”  I’m sorry, but what? You’re going to base the results of a study on the best states for BEER LOVERS on the average price of MILLER LITE??? Checking the calendar …. confirmed. This is not April 1st. They’re actually serious.


Groupon went straight into patting-themselves-on-the-back mode here. They looked for the number of beer-related Groupons offered per 1,000 residents. This could only barely, tangentially be related to beer-related enthusiasm. I’m stretching to give them a sliver of credit on this one. And it’s a massive, massive stretch. How about average line length at bottle releases?


To say this list was patently laughable is a gross understatement. But at least we now know that Michigan is a great place to go for cheap Miller Lite and Nevada churns out Groupons like crazy. I’ll sleep better tonight. If you’d like a less ridiculous list than Groupon’s version, try this one from Beer Connoisseur. I particularly appreciate their disclaimer at the bottom:

Building a list ranking the 50 states of brewing is incredibly hard. There’s no way to effectively quantify or qualify a state’s beer scene. With more than 7,000 breweries in the U.S., there’s plenty of quality beer in each state as well as exceptionally gifted brewers perfecting their craft.

The takeaway? Read all of these lists online with a salt lick-sized grain of salt. Except for the ones BabyGotBeer creates. Those are completely legit.

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

I recently attended a conference that took me to a town that I knew; but I’ll admit that I knew nothing about their beer scene. Checking in advance, I found two breweries (almost next door to each other) and so I knew I had to go do some field research. Augusta, Georgia is known for two things: the Masters and … okay, it’s known for one main thing. Yes, the world descends on Augusta for a week each year to witness “a tradition unlike any other.” I’ve been several times before and will tell you that it is complete magic. However, I will tell you that these brewery visits made me realize that there is plenty to enjoy in Augusta during the other 51 weeks of the year.

Firs on the list was Savannah River Brewing, named after the river that forms Georgia’s eastern border right outside Augusta. The tasting room was large and inviting, although relatively quiet on a midweek afternoon. I saddled up and ordered a flight (plus another extra taste) consisting of No Jacket Required Pilsner, Phinizy Swamp Thing Berliner Weisse, Dynamite Brown, You Know Nothing John Stout (Nitro), and the extra taste of Westobou Amber. The pilsner was good, not great. Phinizy was slightly more tart than I would like, but delicious. Dynamite Brown was very good, but not anything that made me wanna do any break-dancing. John Stour on Nitro was tremendous: the flavors were deep and rich, but the nitro mellowed everything out, making it a really nice experience. But then the amber … oh, the amber. Westobou was the original name of the Savannah River, and this beer pays homage to its roots. The amber is a beautiful combination of maltiness and bitterness that you might expect in this style. And yes – I bought a 6-pack to take home.

I dragged myself away from SRB to drive the 2.5 minutes to Riverwatch. Whereas SRB had a beautiful space to enjoy a beer indoors; Riverwatch had almost nothing inside, but a fantastic deck for outdoor enjoyment. I ordered a flight (plus one additional taste, because that’s what I do). Now, when I order a flight, I try to list the beers in an order that makes the most sense. The bartender dude told me I had it all wrong, and re-arranged the order. And he was on point. My beers were the Route 104 Pale, 3 Under Par Tripel, Wild Irish Rose BA Sour Red, Godfather of Stout, and the Lazy Paddler IPA. I’m going to sum up this visit somewhat more succinctly … I don’t care about any of the other four beers I had … the tripel is the best I’ve ever had. And I’ve had lots. Yes, the other 4 were good (especially the IPA), but that tripel … Sweet Moses, that tripel. It was rich, smooth, heavy – a spectacular flavor profile and a warmth from the richness of the ingredients. It was truly a remarkable experience. Well done, Riverwatch. Well done.

The point of today’s post is … don’t concern yourself with the quantity of breweries in a general area. As long as the quality is there, you’re golden! And yeah, go hit these two in Augusta – you won’t be sorry.




Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

Frequent visitors to BGB will certainly know that we don’t always celebrate beer from our industry’s massive brewing conglomerates. But we also know and understand that we need to give credit where credit is due. Bud Light (and Ab-InBev) received a lot of publicity for their “No Corn Syrup Added” campaign first unveiled during the Super Bowl. On the other hand, the nation’s corn farmers fired back with a salvo of criticism directed at the brewing giant.

Today, AB-InBev announced their version of an olive branch. We received an advance 6-pack of a clever new beer … Bud Light Corn. It’s a compromise of sorts, while attempting to appease the corn lobby by making a corn-based beer, ABIB is sticking to their guns and somehow brewing this beer without adding corn syrup. A crazy feat of brewing ingenuity! And now for the beer review …

The taste is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. It’s a delicious and intoxicating combination of flavors. Think creamed corn mixed with a flavorless bubbly yellow liquid. Crazy levels of sweetness from the corn, mixed with … basically no flavor from the beer … combines to really send a shock to the system. And weighing in a 2.3% ABV with zero IBUs, it’s really crushable. You can drink these all day long and not feel a thing! And, in an interesting subplot, corn carries a massive amount of carbs. Take THAT, all you Mic Ultra-loving freaks!


Here’s to you Ab-InBev. Kudos for heeding the call of the masses, creating a beer that appeases your detractors while still holding true to your roots – providing America with a flavorless liquid masquerading as beer.

Stay tuned as we preview some more new releases in the coming weeks, as AB-InBev and Miller Coors try to reach new audiences:

  • Miller HighER Life. Now made with real Cannabis Oil!
  • Mic Ultra Peach Mango Salsa. Muy caliente!
  • Coors Light Buffalo-Blue Cheese. Maybe it will finally have some flavor …



And oh by the way. If you haven’t figured it out already, Happy April Fools Day!

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

So, you’re off to the big beer fest or heading out with friends for a night on the town. You’re not in college anymore: knocking back a dozen light beers, 3 tequila shots, 4 slices of midnight pizza – and then expecting to recover quickly the next day … it’s just not gonna happen. We’ve grown slightly older and have hopefully learned from some of those past benders (some of us needed more ‘lessons’ than others.) Now we know that it’s important to pre-game if we’re going to imbibe later in the day. There is a delicate balance in play here: don’t eat enough or have the wrong foods, and we could be face down in the dumpster two-hours into the festival. Eat too much, and we feel like we’re waddling into the event and too packed full to consider anything other than Pepto-Bismol. Here’s a quick crash course on foods to include, foods to avoid, and portion sizes … all designed to maximize the fun of the day.

BabyGotBeer is off to cover the 2019 Roswell Beer Festival on Saturday. There are nearly 500 beers there. No, we won’t try them all, but we need to plan the morning and afternoon properly so that we can fully take advantage.

What to Eat

The key here is to put enough of the right type of food into your system so that you don’t feel gross and jacked full, but also to have food that is digested more slowly. If you knock back a plate of something greasy, it’ll disappear too quickly, and you’ve defeated the purpose. Here are some foods you should consider incorporating into the pre-game meal:

  • Healthy fats/ proteins. These take a long time to digest will slow the process of alcohol absorption. Think avocado, salmon, grilled chicken etc.
  • Something high in potassium. You lose potassium when you pee, so things like baked potatoes and milk are a good way to counterbalance that loss. I wonder if a milk stout has the same effect?
  • Fruits and veggies. They’re loaded with water, so it’s a good way to start the hydration process before you even start.
  • Water. Duh … early and often.
  • Pasta. We all know about carb-loading. Pasta is a good way to go. Maintains your glycogen levels and keeps you full longer.
  • Cereal. Yes – knock back some Honey Nut Cheerios. High in fiber, it digests slowly and provides a nice pause button on alcohol into the bloodstream.
  • Eggs. they carry the protein mentioned before but also contain amino acids that help to break down the alcohol faster.


Portion Sizes

Take it easy. If you have a massive plate of pasta with a 12-ounce piece of salmon on top, yes you followed the rules above quite nicely. But now you’re so full that the thought of a sip of stout makes you think you’re either Violet the Blueberry in Willy Wonka or that huge, fat guy in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. You’re going to explode! So, let’s throttle back on portion sizes here. Again, we’re looking for a healthy balance of the right foods and the right portion sizes. Protein … size of your fist. NO MORE THAN THAT. You’re not at a Brazilian steak house … no meat sweats today. Just enough to have a nice fill.

And if you need snacks during the day, nuts, olives … small & light snacks are the only way to go!


What to Avoid

  • Sugar. Alcohol is sugar. Adding more sugary components will really mess with blood sugar levels.
  • Fried foods. Good fats good. Bad fats bad. Your stomach has enough issue digesting fast food. And they usually are loaded with salt, which leads to massive dehydration.
  • Side Salad. There’s just no substance to it. It won’t slow down alcohol absorption at all, and it isn’t substantial enough to do any good. But it sure is healthy!
  • Tomatoes/ spicy foods. You’re already attacking your stomach – don’t make it worse with acidic foods that will only worsen that assault.
  • Caffeine. Caffeine jacks you up and can make you think that you can handle more when you really can’t. Add an alcohol crash onto a caffeine crash … you’re done.
  • Salt. It can make you feel bloated, which sucks enough. But psychologically, it also makes you less likely to drink the water you need. Dehydration is the enemy.

Plan ahead, boys and girls, you (and pretty much everyone you encounter later that day) will thank you.

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

The bottle share. A gathering of folks who enjoy trying new beers and more importantly, enjoying them in the company of friends, new and old. It has the potential to be a fantastic evening – a chance to experiment with and experience beers and styles you wouldn’t normally try. It’s one of my favorite exbeeriences out there, but it also has some potential pitfalls or issues. Below is a list of what to know, what to do, and what to avoid. We even have some bonus tips for the host(s).

What to Know

  • How much beer do I bring?
    In general, you want to bring enough for everyone to have a taste, certainly not enough for everyone to have a full pour. This event isn’t about drinking tons of beer and getting hammered – it’s about trying many different styles and beers. Rule of thumb – find out the expected number of guests and try to have enough for everyone to have 2-3 ounces.
  • What beer should I bring?
    First, find out from the host if there is a theme. In my experience, there almost always will not be a theme. In that case, your host should set the expectations on the level of beer to bring. Some shares are for whales – those eternally sought-after and extremely rare & expensive beers. You can’t roll into a whale share with your year-round flagship from the brewery down the street. Sure, you can still stay and play, but most people will be thinking, “Thanks for the Sierra Nevada … now enjoy some of the Pliny the Younger I brought.” I recommend bringing something fun and different – don’t just grab a sixer of the first thing you see on the shelf. Maybe this is an opportunity to get a growler from the local brewery – a seasonal or a first-time release that most people probably haven’t had yet. You don’t have to sell a major organ to attend, but no one wants your fridge turds* either.
    * Fridge turd. The ‘just okay’ beer that’s been sitting in the back of your fridge for who-knows-how-long.
  • Should I eat before I go?
    Basically, yes. You’re going to taste a wide variety of beers. Doing so on an empty stomach could cause … problems. It’s a good idea to have a nice meal before you go (unless your host explicitly tells you that dinner will be provided.) On the other hand, you don’t want to power through the meat sweats at the all-you-can-eat and waddle in either. You’ll probably have some thick and heavy stuff coming your way during the share – you will not enjoy it if you’re stuffed to the rafters when you arrive.

What to Do

  • Bring enough beer for everyone to enjoy. If you only have one bottle of that crazy-amazing beer you want to share and there will be 10 people attending, leave it at home. There is no way to really share such a small amount with that number of people. If you can’t bring enough for everyone to have a good taste, leave it at home and enjoy it at another time.
  • Try. Be open-minded. Maybe you’re not into Double IPAs, but the person who brought this one probably spent time (and certainly money) to bring this particular beer. Give it a real and honest, open-minded try. It’s only a few ounces anyway, right?
  • Know your limitations. We’re big boys and big girls now. We know when we’ve had enough. There is nothing wrong with taking a break or just tapping out for good. No harm in that at all. That leads into …
  • Water. Water is your friend here. You don’t need to saddle up with the garden hose, but an ounce or three between each beer will go a long way. And it’ll help cleanse the palate for the next beer, too.
  • Ask if someone wants your pour. If you don’t like a beer, that’s absolutely fine. But don’t pour it down the drain or force it into your own stomach. Maybe someone loved it and would like an additional sip. Offer it up if it’s not for you.

What NOT to Do

  • Do not show up late and try to catch up.
  • Drive. C’mon people. In the age of Uber/Lyft, there is absolutely NO reason to get behind the wheel. None. Zero. Zip. Nada.
  • Show up with extra friends. The host is planning this thing, and people are planning how much beer to bring. “Cousin Eddie made a surprise visit to the house, so I thought I’d let him tag along.” No. If you have someone you’d like to bring, ask the host first.
  • Open someone else’s beer. Unless they ask you to, wait for them to open what they brought. It’s just good etiquette.
  • Bash someone else’s beer. Again – they put thought into this and are excited to share it. If it’s not for you, that’s fine. If they ask you your opinions on it, it’s fine to say that it wasn’t for you. But don’t be an ass about it.
  • Get offended if someone else doesn’t like your favorite beer. Just like the previous line, we all have different tastes and preferences. That’s the best part about these shares!
  • Crack open another bomber when the evening is done. We all know when it’s closing time. People are calling their rides and you pop open a Russian Imperial Stout. Just … no. It’s okay to leave it as a gift for the host or put it back in your cooler for another day.

Notes for the Host(s)

  • Give some guidance on the evening in advance of the share.
    • Is there a theme? All Belgians, all IPAs, etc. Most shares do not have a theme.
    • Give an idea of the rarity-level of the beers being brought. (In other words, if you know you have several people bringing whales, it’s best to set that expectation before people arrive.)
    • Will you provide any food or snacks? More on this below.
    • Set very clear times. It’s up to the guests to get there on time, as noted above. However, it’s best to let people know in advance that this will not turn into a crazy all-nighter with people crashing on your couch.
  • Snacks. At the very least, have some pretzels, peanuts, crackers, etc on hand. You can order pizza too, but you have to have something for people to nosh on.
  • Doesn’t hurt to have a cooler and ice on hand.
  • Provide water. Again, this isn’t a scene from Animal House. Alternating between beer and water is essential to maintaining sanity … and not feeling zombie-like the next day.
  • Provide plastic cups or glassware. I can go either way on this one. Yes, plastic is easy and cheap, but not always ideal for serving beer. Glass is certainly better, but unless you want to roll out 100 glasses, people will continually be rinsing their glasses out or pouring an IPA on the remnants of an amber. To me, a boatload of plastic cups is the best way to go. If you do go with plastic, make sure they’re clear – you want people to see the color of the beer.
  • Consider a dry-erase board. You can list the beers you have in order, so people don’t have to spend all night searching through Untappd.

    Not a bad night!
  • Consider the sequence … the order you have certain styles. You’re not going to start with a barleywine and then follow it up with a pilsner and then a Double IPA. General rule of 👍🏼, lighter –> darker/ heavier.
  • The Kill-Shot. It’s the giant reveal at the end of the night. You line up all the cans-bottles-growlers that you had for the night and take one big final photo of the vanquished. Some would say it’s the most important part of the share!

What tips would you offer?

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

Spring is approaching, and that means a few things: March Madness is right around the corner, and beer festivals should soon get into full swig. (See what I did there? Swig instead of swing?)

Last year, we talked about strategies to use when approaching a beer festival: what to do when there are so many choices. That still sits as one of the most viewed posts we’ve ever had. And then we did a follow-up piece on how it went. It was as much a review of the Roswell Beer Fest as it was a retrospective on the planning we had done the week before.

And now the Roswell Beer Fest (March 23) is almost here, and it’s time to revisit those strategies. (Word on the streets is that they’re looking at having over 400 unique beers this year!) This time, it’s an anticipation of what might be there. I have a good feel for the lay of the land (and love how they break up the areas based on style, rather than by brewery.) I’d like your feedback this time. There have been so many new breweries and new beers released into the wild in the last year – both locally and around the world.

What is the ‘it’ beer we need to be looking for?

If you were to name the top new breweries and top new beers (anywhere – doesn’t have to be local), what would you name? Obviously, we know all about Wild Leap and Variant and Pontoon, etc. They’re killing it, and everyone knows it. I’m talking about the breweries and brewpubs … the specific beers that are outstanding that not many people know of yet. What are the top 3 “must-have” beers and breweries for a beer fest today? Read between the lines here, you could potentially have a say in what beers are being offered! When else have you had that opportunity?

Share this post in your beer snob circles … comment below with those beers that should be at the top of my list for the event. You can always email as well. Thank you in advance – and also let us know if you’ll be at #RBF2019.

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington