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.

Hazenado

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

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

“There’s a new brewery opening, you wanna go?”

For me, that is like a kid hearing “Hey, they are giving out free candy, you want some?”

I am always up for visiting a new brewery as I can’t wait to experience the vibe. Steady Hand has been gypsy brewing for a couple of years, so hearing they were going to get their own space was pretty exciting. The fact they chose one of the fastest growing areas of Atlanta shows that they truly want to make an impact on the ATL brewery scene, and the opening day crowd definitely showed them the love.

The new brewery is located off Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard on Atlanta’s up and coming westside, just across the street from Top Golf (beer and ball striking…sounds good to me!). The space that Kevin & Brian Sullivan found works perfectly, with large open spaces and a bar that rivals almost any taproom. There is also plenty of outdoor space and I can see this place being perfect for corporate rentals or social events. During the opening they had a fun tribute band playing (Skyballs) and the crowd was soaking up the atmosphere. Speaking of the crowd, they managed to keep a diverse group of attendees happy with activities both inside and out. There were families there with young children, twenty somethings looking for a fun afternoon and ‘older’ folks (hey, I almost qualify) just taking it all in.

Wait…I got so engrossed in the vibe I haven’t talked about the beer! They had eleven brews on the board, with truly something for everyone. From the 5.3% Some Recklessness Pale Ale to the 9% Nitro Irish Coffee Stout, they truly covered the range of flavor profiles with a couple of fun surprises along the way. Talking to several of the attendees the Sweet Potato Farmhouse Ale was a definite winner and the Tangerine variant of their Flower Business DIPA might have been the show stopper. I personally thought the Future Mind Porter was the champion for my taste buds, but as always…results may vary with yours. 😊

 

Beer Thoughts:

Some Recklessness Pale Ale – Easy drinker. Great porch peer and would pair nicely with the cornhole offered at Steady Hand.

Searching for Gold Farmhouse Ale – Smooth. Great beer for spring for sure.

Sweet Potato Farmhouse Ale – Okay, this was surprising. Didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, and my wife loved it. Winner Winner.

Flower Business DIPA – Great DIPA with a very sly 9% that sneaks up on you

Tangerine Flower Business – Yum. Yum. Yum. If this wasn’t 9%, I could drink a case of it.

Paradise Waits IPA – Not my favorite of theirs, but the hopheads seemed to love it.

Future Mind Porter – I gave this one the gold medal for the day. Rich, roasty and everything a porter should be. ON my next visit I will be looking for it!

I had a few minutes to chat with Steady Hand co-founder Kevin Sullivan about what they have created, and you could tell he was very proud of both the beer and the setting. He said they wanted to create a place that everyone could enjoy themselves and keep making good beer. They are operating a 30-barrel system with plenty of room for expansion, and he hope that they can just “keep this going and continue to expand”.

With what I saw and tasted, it’s apparent that Steady Hand has landed with quite the impact on the Georgia craft brewing scene and I’m looking forward to my next visit and I’ll be dragging Mike along too.

(photo creds go to my wife Tracey!)

Russ Webb by Russ Webb

Quoting Russ on this one … everyone sing along: “It’s the most wonderful time … for a beer!”

Holiday season – winter – cold weather. They all bring some of my favorite times of the year. I love cold weather – College football bowl season (40 games in 24 days!) – and of course, the perfect time to drink dark, heavy beers. Yes, I’ll drink porters and stouts all year, unlike some other people. But everyone should agree that now is the time to enjoy the dark and heavy stuff. So, bring out your BA quads, Russian Imperial Stouts, and all of the heavy stuff. ‘Tis the season!

Today, we focus on one style of beer that really only appears in the colder months. The Winter Warmer. Some call it a Christmas beer, but the style is really a winter warmer. These beers fit my profile perfectly … super malty, very little hop bitterness, and some even drop in some holiday-esque spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. The consistent theme throughout beers in this style is that they’re not all that consistent. There is a great deal of variety across this spectrum, and the exploration is what makes it great! It just screams sitting next to the tree with the fireplace glowing. Yeah, watching Elf, Scrooged, or Christmas Vacation at the same time would help, too.

I thought I’d share with you a list of the best Christmas/ holiday/ winter warmer beers I’ve ever had. Yes, there are tons of options out there that may be better … but these are the best ones I’ve personally tried. What are your favorites?

In no particular order:
Samichlaus Helles – only brewed one day per year and then aged for 10 months. This one was a great find a few years back. I need to find it again!

Trader Joe’s Vintage (2018 is really good)

Sweetwater Festive – be careful. This one packs a surprising wallop and can sneak up on you.

Anchor Christmas – it’s my annual quest to find this one. Slightly different recipe each year, and I can’t wait to find it and try it.

Deschutes Jubelale – maybe the gold standard for the American winter warmer

Full Sail Wassail – here we go a-wassailing!

Cinnamon Cocoa Drafty Kilt – this maybe doesn’t fit the style exactly, but a Scotch ale with cinnamon and cocoa seems to fit this list really nicely.

St Bernardus Christmas Ale – potentially the best I’ve ever had. So fantastically terrific. It’s their Abt 12 (quadrupel) with winter spices added – weighs in at 10%.

Samuel Smith Winter Welcome Ale. Just had this for the first time this week. Exceptional!

Breckenridge Holidale (Whiskey Barrel Aged) – this was a 2017 beer. I haven’t seen it since. I hope it comes back?

Great Lakes Christmas Ale – honey gives this one a little extra sweetness.

21st Amendment Fireside Chat – very nicely balanced.

Southern Tier 2XMAS – I need to find this again. This was an awesome one.

And that’s a wrap. (See what I did there?) Tell us – what are your favorites? And which of the above have you had?

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

Do you like or dislike a brewery based on what someone else says? How much of your opinion of a brewery or beer is based on reputation versus actual experience?

This question arose from a recent discussion I saw where a few people were actually angry that others liked a certain brewery. “How dare you like the brewery that I hate? You must be new to this craft beer scene.” This is a slightly different discussion than our recent post on beershaming, but it’s at least in a similar category. It should be okay for people to have differing opinions on a brewery, but I feel that those opinions should be based on more than just one data point.

This is a bit more than just thinking “beer good = brewery good”, and vice-versa. Among others, here are some of the factors that should be considered when forming an all-encompassing opinion on the quality of a brewery.

The beer. Yes, the beer is central to this discussion and always will be. But there’s more to it than just the beer found on the shelf in the grocery store…
Even more beer.  A brewery may have 3, 4, 10 standard year-round beers available, with many of those available in stores. But don’t forget the special seasonal-beers and one-off releases. Many people will tell you that these special beers show the true creativity and artistry from resident brewmasters.
And even more beer. Brewery-only beers. I think this could be the #1 way to determine the quality of brewery. Straight from the tap … SO MANY CHOICES. As an example, Gate City Brewery near me has about 3-4 beers that are canned and distributed. And they have 18 beers on tap at the brewery. I like the beers that they package. I love going into the brewery to see what new creations they have for me.
The vibe. We’ve talked about this a lot in the past. I won’t re-hash the discussion.
Customer service. Can you talk to the staff? If there are issues, how were they resolved? Some breweries pride themselves on this point – some couldn’t care less. It’s all up to what you’re looking for.

… or have a gravel backyard. They can be equally amazing.

What I would like you to consider is that there is a lot more to this discussion than trying one beer and then panning an entire brewery. Or maybe you had a friend who reported a bad visit to a brewery. Does that mean that you would have the same experience? By the way, this also works in reverse. Just because someone likes a beer or brewery doesn’t mean that you necessarily should. All tastes are different. What one person calls a pine tree, another calls a deliciously hoppy triple IPA. A thick sugarbomb to one person is a phenomenal dessert beer to another.

“I had one of their beers a few months back and didn’t like it” should NOT equal, “that brewery is crap. No one likes their stuff.” Pay ‘em a visit and try a flight. You might be surprised. BUT, if you still don’t like it, it doesn’t mean it’s bad beer … it’s just not for YOU.

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

 

‘Tis the season … to start freaking out about what to buy for family and friends this holiday season. Black Friday and the ridiculous mobs of people, usually only those born without any sense of manners or decorum, descend on WalMart, Target, and basically anything else that isn’t tied down in order to find THE ‘it’ gift of the season. Eschewing sleep in the hopes of saving 2% on the latest techno-gadget … that will be forgotten by February.

We buy gifts to show we care. For those of us with beer-lovers in our lives, it can become increasingly difficult to find something that they will not only appreciate but that they will actually use and enjoy. So, here we are again with a list of the top beer-themed gifts for the holiday season. If there are 12 days of Christmas, why not list the top 12 gift ideas?

1. Beer of the Month Club (price varies)

With apologies to Cousin Eddie, THIS is truly the gift that keeps giving the whole year. There are several options out there, but we prefer the folks at Belgian Style Ales. For the bargain price of just $516, the recipient will enjoy a monthly shipment of Belgium’s finest for a full year (shorter subscriptions available as well). Hint: I really want this. If you want to support your local beer blogger – this is an awesome way!

2. Shower Beer Holder ($12.97)

Shower time … relaxation time. What could make it better than having some delicious beer with you to further the relaxation? The problem comes when finding a place to rest the beer while you’re in there. The folks at Shakoolie have you covered, with lots of styles and sayings.

3. State Map Bottle Cap Holder ($25-75)

You’ve got an endless sea of bottle caps that you’d like to display with pride. Rather than putting them in a box, why not use them as decoration for the mancave or home bar? Sizes, materials, etc can vary.

4. Fizzics ($90/ $150)

Yes, please. These guys went on Shary Tank and wowed everyone there. This system turns a can/ bottle/ crowler/ growler into beer more like it’s straight from the tap. I’m not going to get all science-y but they use sound waves to ‘inject’ the beer with bubbles that they say bring out the true flavor of the beer, mimicking what you’d taste straight from the wall at the brewery. And yes, there are brewers out there giving it a thumbs up. Me want.

5. Underground Beer Storage ($100)

Imagine if you will that we’re nearing the end of the Zombie Apocalypse. And now that you’re safe from becoming dinner for the undead, you’d like to pop open a vold one. Luckily, you had stored some of your favorites underground and now have easy access to delicious beer that has remained aat a nice cellar-ish temperature because it’s been protected by Mother Earth. Thank you, Biersafe.

6. Beer Soap ($5.00)

Continuing the theme of beer-in-shower … Because, who doesn’t want to have that IPA smell on them all day? Our friends at Dogfish Head have created a soap using their 60-Minute IPA.

7. Printable Beer Labels ($15)

A company called Neato has produced a template for you to print your beer labels at home. Homebrewing and need labels? Check. Or maybe you want to fool your friends who only drink Ultra and slap an Ultra label on a bottle of Russian Imperial Stout. (If you do this, please video the hilarity and post it on the BGB Facebook page.)

8. Plinko Bottle Cap Opener ($76.50)

Bob Barker says the Price is Right for this one. There are a lot of varieties of this concept out there. We particularly like this one from BlankCanvasByBrandon because of the chalkboard at the bottom … you can get very creative with what happens in each slot.

9. Sofa Drink Holder (25.00)

I’m sitting on the couch, with a cold beer. There isn’t a table or ledge nearby. What on earth am I to do on the off times I need to set my beer down? Enter CouchCoaster. It’s a very simplistic yet engenius little device that turns any armrest into a drink holder. Well played, CouchCoaster.

10. Goodnight Brew book ($13.42)

Because why not get the kiddos involved, right? Karla Oceanak penned this parody of Goodnight Moon, and it is certain to send you off to sleep with pleasant thoughts of porters and dubbels and IPAs.

11. Pico Brew ($399.00)

This thing is for real. Brew your own beer at home with a very modern and user-friendly process. This countertop system allows you to purchase ‘PicoPaks’ – pods of ingredients – in order to be able to create certain beers or styles. It’s clean, it’s simple, and it creates some pretty fantastic beer without all of the mess and hassle. It’s not foolproof, but it’s absolutely the simplest way to brew at home.

12. BabyGotBeer Beertasting Party (and Swag!) ($25/person)

Reserve your BGB tasting party today and score some sweet car/fridge swag! (Or I can sell you one of these bad boys for the bargain price of $4.)

 

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington
The Dingle Peninsula. Not a draught beer anywhere

The brewery. Why go and visit a brewery? Why did beer enthusiasts in Georgia work tirelessly to pass legislation allowing us to buy beer from a brewery last year? (Other than the fact that prohibition ended a century ago … it was time to be slightly less archaic.) I love having a beer at home – while grilling, watching the game, hanging with friends, enjoying breakfast – there is absolutely plenty of reason to visit your local package store and stock up the beer fridge at home. But what is it that creates that moth-to-the-flame attraction of visiting the local brewery? I’ll attempt to paint the picture for you …

The brewery is the US equivalent of the pub atmosphere in the UK.

Packed house at Gate City

My mom and I disagree. Now, I’ll admit that neither of us is wrong, but we disagree. Several years ago, we took a family trip to Ireland and Scotland. For a beer nerd, that’s the trip of a lifetime … sitting in the local pub, getting to know your new best friend at the seat next to you. That’s what I envision as the highlight of the trip. My mom prefers to get away from people and noise and enjoy the admittedly stunning scenery. These are two very different vacations. (And was actually able to enjoy both sides of it while there.)

But, sitting in a warm, packed pub, listening to local musicians, sipping on a pint, hearing stories from the locals … drinking in the local culture. To me, that’s the allure. But here is the point of this post … The brewery is the US equivalent of the pub atmosphere in the UK.

But why? What is it that draws us in?

Flights at Variant

  • The Vibe. We’ve talked about that in several posts (and more to follow.) It’s the warm, vibrant atmosphere that creates such a positive energy for everyone there. Hard to describe, it’s just something you feel. I think it was Martin Mull who first said, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” I would say that writing about that feeling in a brewery is like dancing about architecture.
  • You never know who you’ll sit next to. It could be someone who wants a place to read. Or maybe you sit next to a guy who works for another brewery and wants to share some of his beer with you. Or what about that time when I’m enjoying a flight at Variant with my bros and bump into a pack of guys who work at Wild Leap? (Bonus when it’s their CEO and he recognizes the blog logo on my shirt and compliments my review of their newest release!!)
  • Learning from the brewers. I love saddling up at the counter and speaking with the staff about their beer. Almost without exception, people working at breweries enjoy talking about beer. This must be the nerd in me, but I love those conversations!
  • Next level awesome vibe at Appalachian Mountain
  • And maybe the most important part … the variety of beer. Yes, you can stroll into a brewery and taste the same beer that’s in cans in your local package store. And it’s even better because it’s fresh and from the tap. That’s all well and good, but I absolutely love trying the other stuff. The one-offs, seasonals, special releases, etc. A brewery may package or distribute 3-4 flavors of beer. But they may have 15-20 on the wall at any one time. It’s a great opportunity to explore new flavors.
So, what does it for you? Why do YOU love going to a brewery?
Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

I’m smarter than I look. I know … it’s not a difficult task, but it’s true nonetheless. How do I know that I am? Let me tell you a story. I recently was planning a trip out of town for a work conference. It would be about a 5-6 hour drive to get there, and I had to be there at 10:30 in the morning. Naturally, I decided to go up the night before to maintain some level of sanity and to avoid dozing off on the windy mountain roads. In checking my trusty map (aka, Google) I saw that the most direct route from home to conference would send me through, wait for it, Asheville, NC. I’m going to allow you to put 2 and 2 together to find the happy conclusion on this little story.

My planning, plotting, and scheming led to a relatively impromptu and far-too-brief visit to Asheville … basically the Beer Mecca of the Southeast. I knew I wanted to visit the Sierra Nevada facility (fantastic visit) and then 2-3 other breweries downtown. In some of my Facebook beer snob groups, I have heard many people praising certain breweries in the downtown area., and I have a few of my own as well.  In the interest of time, I narrowed it down to two: Burial and Green Man.  I was about halfway to Green Man, when I spotted the logo of another highly recommended brewery on my way! It was an image of a bee buzzing around a hop … representing Bhramari Brewing Company. Super pumped, I stopped in, and I could not be any happier about making that decision!

Rock on, rock star

The dude at the bar was super fun … equal parts laid-back and very excited to talk about their beer. It’s EXACTLY what everyone should be when working at a brewery. He chatted when it was time to chat, talked beer when he could tell I wanted to, left people alone when they just wanted a quiet pint. Dude was on point. Also, he’s pretty awesome with a photobomb  —–>
I ordered a flight, and generally liked everything, especially two of them. ONE of those two is the subject of this review. All the Boys is a series of Milkshake IPAs from Bhramari. The first was released in August 2017 and was brewed with Mango and Lychee. The second one came out in February of this year, featuring guava and graham crackers. 😳 This THIRD version had only been available for a few days when I got there: All the Boys Volume 3 is brewed with passionfruit and dragonfruit. This beer is PINK. And I don’t mean, it looks like a standard, regular beer with some light pink undertones. It’s straight Kool-aid pink. But do NOT let that throw you off. This is a legit IPA, weighing in at 7% abv.

Did I mention that it was PINK?

Milkshake IPAs, if you’re not familiar with the concept, are IPAs brewed with lactose. That lactose brings a very smooth texture, reduces a bunch of the bitterness, and gives the beer a slightly thicker mouthfeel. Describing a beer using the word ‘milkshake’ can be disconcerting for some, but I implore you to give it a whirl – it’s worth it. All the Boys 3 has a nice sweet nose, with slight hints of hoppiness – definitely fruit-forward. The taste is almost surreal. Yes, the fruit comes through immediately; but it’s married so nicely with the bitterness from the hops. Some beers have flavors that come in different stages. But this one had such a great consistent flavor throughout the sip. Sweet, balanced with slight bitterness (IBU is only at 30) and consistency throughout … all finishing with a slightly dry taste. This beer is dangerous.

The vibe in this place was awesome. The food looked outstanding. The staff was exactly what I wanted. The beer was all VERY good and in many cases, different from what you’ll find elsewhere. This place is a must if you’re in Asheville. Yes … I still love Sierra and Green Man and Burial and Wedge. But Bhramari has moved to the top of my “must-see” list for anyone going to Asheville.

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

One of my favorite songs from my favorite band (U2) is called “Every Breaking Wave.” I’m sure that there are numerous interpretations as to the true meaning of the lyrics, but I take it to mean that people should stop running to the next big thing/ next big idea as soon as it surfaces. It seems as though each day brings a new “best idea ever” and minions run to it as quickly as they can. As the song states, each breaking wave means that there will be more.

I give that preamble to say that I’m not usually prone to run after every breaking beer wave. The greatest beer in the history of mankind is being released every single day. And people scurry like crazy to wait in line for hours because they HAVE to have it. One on hand, I get it. The FOMO mentality drives people to do crazy things in order to experience that beer. And I have felt those pangs of remorse as I know I missing a special barrel-aged release of one of my favorites. But I also can understand the general public’s perception that we’re all lunatics. Someone finds the new ‘it’ beer, and legions of people crash every local package store to find any hidden morsel.

And today, I’m writing a review on one of those beers. 😳

Wild Leap is a relatively new brewery in LaGrange, GA.  Just 13 months old, they are already creating some breaking wave beers! In June of this year, they released a limited run of a Double IPA called Alpha Abstraction. Reviews were off the charts and people began chasing the wave to find AA wherever they could. Brewed with a combination of Loral and Citra hops, it tiptoed the line between bitter and citrus-y sweet; and for many, it found a great balance. Fast-forward to August, and Wild Leap released Alpha Abstraction Vol. 2 … with an altered hop profile (Galaxy replaced Loral). Again, the juicy/hazy IPA-loving public went nuts.

And now, it’s time for … you guessed it … Volume 3. For this go-round, Wild Leap features Mosaic hops, which bring different aromas and flavors into play. This one has much more of a tropical feel … think mangos and grapefruit. It’s a beautiful beer, and it has very, very powerful and pronounced notes on the nose. It’s a fantastic attack on the senses, and then it leads into … bliss. The mouthfeel is tremendous: it’s somehow smooth and somewhat tingly at the same time. Tingly may not be a word, but you get what I mean. You can taste those Mosaic hops, but not in an “I just drank a pine tree” bitter sort of way. (That’s what dry-hopping does kids; it brings the aroma and flavor out of the hops without introducing too much bitterness.) The tropical fruit sweetness, mixed with slight bitterness from the hops … it’s exceptionally well done. As my Untappd review says, this may be the best IPA I’ve ever had.

I’m warning you. This beer is dangerous. All of the Alpha Abstraction beers have weighed in at 8% alcohol but only 35 IBUs, insanely low for a Double IPA. Maybe I need to start chasing more of those breaking waves!

Bonus points. The quote on the side of the can could NOT be more perfect for this blog!

Comment below with the beers you want us to review next!

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington