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

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

FOOTBALL season is finally back! The long, nasty annual drought of nothing but baseball is finally done, and we get to return to the world’s greatest sports season … football! And, as a Facebook friend of mine recently put it, we now get to start referring to each other as tailgaters instead of alcoholics.

And that brings us to today’s post. As we begin stocking up on beer for our favorite tailgate, the question becomes, “What should I get?” Instead of stocking up on cases of Costco Kirkland’s Signature Light Beer (because it’s cheap and super light), can’t we spend a little bit more and still get something with nice flavor, but that isn’t too heavy? I mean, I love a quad, stout, or amber before just about any other style. But the thought of an all-day Dragon’s Milk binge in 90+ degree Atlanta heat is NOT a pleasant one. Tailgating in the south, especially early in the season, requires a little more work. So, without further preamble, what are some beers we can find in Georgia that will both taste fantastic, but will allow us to enjoy them throughout the day?

This is NOT meant to be a comprehensive list. This list is supposed to include beers that are …
1. Lower in ABV
2. Findable (not picking something that’s only available in crowlers in Indiana)
3. Not ‘heavy’, so you can have more than 2 and not feel like you have to waddle into the game.

In no particular order (with ABV)…

  • Burnt Hickory (Kennesaw) The Revival Lager (5%)
  • Wild Leap (LaGrange) Local Gold Blonde Ale (5.4%)
  • Service (Savannah)
    • Rally Point Pilsner (4.6%)
    • Ground Pounder Pale Ale (4.6%)
  • Creature Comforts (Athens)
    • Bibo Pilsner (5.5%)
    • Automatic Pale Ale (5.2%)
  • Reformation (Woodstock) Haddy Witbier (4.8%)
  • Pontoon (Sandy Springs) Hazy River India Pale Lager (5.5%)
  • Red Hare (Marietta) Long Day Lager (4.98%)
  • Grumpy Old Men (Blue Ridge) Moon Over Blue Ridge Pale Wheat Ale (5.7%)
  • Gate City (Roswell) 20 Grand Cream Ale (4.7%)
  • Jailhouse (Hampton) Federale Mexican-style Lager (4.95%)
  • Jekyll (Alpharetta) American Lager (4.6%)
  • Cherry Street (Cumming) Hammered Monkey Hefeweizen (5.5%)
  • Macon  (Macon) Love Cherry Beer (5%)
  • Left Nut (Gainesville) Lappland Blonde Ale (4.5%)
  • Red Brick (Atlanta) Hibiscuwit Witbier (5%)
  • Orpheus (Atlanta) Serpent Bite Sour (6%)
  • Wild Heaven (Avondale Estates) White Blackbird Saison (6%)
  • Monday Night (Atlanta) I’m On a Boat (4.8%)

What am I missing? What’s your go-to tailgating beer? Oh, and did you notice? These breweries are from all over the state! It’s a great time to be alive!!

Happy tailgating everyone! And may the hops be ever in your favor.

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington
Fully stolen from the Pontoon website

A few years back, I began a series of posts on a Beer of the Week. I had originally set out to highlight whatever was in the fridge at the moment, sometimes as a means to discuss a particular style. I had a beer on Saturday and felt like it was the right one to get me back into the BotW space. I can’t promise that this will be a weekly feature, but I can promise to try to do something like this more often.

Have you ever had someone build something up in your mind? They experience a place or a food or – a beer – and incessantly describe every nuance and detail until you finally cave and run with joy and glee to share their blissful experience. More often than not, their descriptions, coupled with your own anticipation, create an image that cannot possibly be upheld when you finally take the plunge and embrace it firsthand.

For me – it was San Francisco. My parents had been and came home (bringing me a lousy t-shirt) and could not stop talking about how amazing and beautiful it was. A year and 7 billion stories later, the whole fam loaded up and headed to frigid San Fran in July. Long story short, it was not what I hoped it would be. As I quickly learned, San Francisco is indeed a wonderful place to visit … when you’re in your 30s or later. Taking a 100-hour drive (or so it felt) down the coast to a winery when you’re 10 years old is not on the bucket list. I had created some impossible Narnia-esque image of SFO that reality could not possibly match.  But what does this have to do with beer?

Pontoon Brewing in Sandy Springs has had quite the successful first several months in their new location. They’re putting out some very solid beers, especially their special releases. One such release, Combustible Pineapple, was hyped to me so severely and continually that it caused a conundrum. Is there any way it can live up to the hype? Or will it be another drive down the PCH in the eyes of a pre-teen? I finally decided to try it out on Saturday. I only wish I could get my hands on more of it. Delicious … refreshing … smooth. It’s truly remarkable. It’s a hazy New England-style IPA, with tons of pineapple aroma. The curveball is from an emerging trend in beer – adding lactose. This adds a creaminess such that brewers have begun calling these beers “Milkshake-style.”

Yes – it held up to the hype. Please do yourselves a favor and watch out for Pontoon. They’re doing some amazing things, and I know more is to come. But this brings a new conundrum … when do I have my second and final can? I don’t want to wait, but I don’t want to be out either. I’ll do the smart thing and not wait. (Pro tip: don’t sit on your IPAs too long. They’re built to be enjoyed sooner rather than later.”)

Any beers you’d like us to review for future posts?

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington
Welcome back, former-guest-contributor-but-now-official-BGB-team-member Russ Webb for another post on his beer-ventures. You remember Russ from giving us insight into Tasting Beer’s Holy Grail, Wesvleteren XII, not long ago. 

Scotland. The home of golf and whisky (please note, no ‘e’ in whisky…it’s a thing with them)

Flight: Innis & Gunn style

I’m lucky to have lived in Scotland in the past, and because my wife is from there we go home to visit regularly. When I tell people we are going, or have just returned, the questions I get inevitably revolve around golf, scotch and castles. Rarely does someone ask about the beer scene there and that’s a shame because it’s exceptional and getting better. As recently as 15 years ago there were just a handful of Scottish brewers, but now there are more than 100 and that number is growing all of the time. Here’s a ‘taste’ of my recent travels:

Innis & Gunn – Yum is the first word that comes to mind. People in the states know Innis & Gunn’s oak and rum aged ales, but their Beer Kitchens in Scotland have so much more to offer. From full flavored red ales to complex barrel aged stouts, Innis & Gunn is evolving rapidly into one of the best brewers in the world.

6 degrees of separation … from me

6° North – This little brewery in northern Scotland likes the Belgian styles, and they do it well. Their  name comes from the fact they are 6° north of Belgium, but their styles are right there. I enjoyed each of their selections, but the Tripel was especially good. If you’re headed across the pond, be sure they are on your agenda.


BREWDOG

BREWDOG –  Lots of people have tried BREWDOG because of their unique business model. Not only are they crowd sourced, but their popularity spread like wildfire and their beers match the hype. Most of their offerings lean to the hoppy side of the beer spectrum, but their stouts are stellar, including the 16.5% Tokyo Intergalactic Stout which is one of my top 5 beers ever. Brewdog is now brewing in the US, but their Scottish base is something they at proud of and I think they will continue to expand their offerings.

Belhaven

Belhaven – Belhaven has been brewing forever…no seriously, since 1719, but they have been branching out from their traditional styles recently and their beer lineup is fantastic. From special craft brews to occasion beers, Belhaven is taking nearly 300 years of brewing experience and making it better every day. 

Are there more? Oh yes, plenty. If you get a chance to visit the magical country of Scotland (their national animal is a unicorn), be sure to check out the outstanding beer scene…I promise you won’t be disappointed.

I’m cheating on you today.  I’m in Italy drinking … red wine! Perish the thought. I thought this a great opportunity to welcome in a guest blogger … someone who knows and loves beer as much as, if not more than, me. Please put your hands together and welcome him to the stage … @RussWebbGA!

Recently my pal BabyGotBeer did a blog about his Beer Bucket List, and I think all serious beer lovers have a list of brews that we aspire to get a chance to sample. My list is pretty long and ranges from once brewed Sam Adams Millennium to Heady Topper from The Alchemist. BGB’s perfect six pack contained some pretty amazing selections, and as fate would have it I recently had the opportunity to have the first one on his list, Westvleteren XII.

Considered by many to be the very best beer in the world, and holding a perfect score from Beer Advocate, the monks at the Abbey of St. Sixtus have been brewing Westvleteren since 1838 and making the elusive W 12 since 1940. The current production is 60,000 cases per year…the same that it has been since 1946. The beer is only sold at the Abbey and only to those with an appointment. Thankfully I have a friend who is a fellow beer enthusiast who made just such an appointment on his trip to Belgium, and brought home a few to savor and share with beer geeks like me.

The first thing you notice is the bottle, which has no label and has information imprinted on it and made into the bottle. After reading more about this beer I was waiting for a special occasion to try it, and finally decided that any day that I drank it would indeed be a special occasion!

Pouring the beer into a chalice, it was a beautiful reddish brown with a slight head. It smells of toffee and fruit, but the taste is pure malt with slight hints of sweetness. At 10.2% I never expected it to be as smooth as it was, but this is a VERY drinkable beer and it took great restraint to take time and enjoy every drop. My friend who gave me this jewel has told me that it ages beautifully and the taste will change the longer the beer is allowed to develop.

Is this the world’s best beer? I am a huge fan of Chimay (Blue, if you’re shopping for me) and it has
been my favorite beer for a long time. I will tell you that the W 12 is a perfect beer…that’s right…perfect. The only downside to it is that is pretty much unattainable to most of us, so I consider myself very lucky to have been able to have one and get to enjoy it. If I am ever in the vicinity of Vleteren, Belgium (or maybe even an adjoining country)…I think a visit to the Westvleteren Brewery to meet the brilliant monks of St. Sixtus will be in the cards. Yes, it IS that good.

Russ Webb by Russ Webb

I’d heard of it; I knew a lot of people who had had it and loved it.  But I was on the outside looking in … until a chance work trip to Cleveland.

I’m speaking of Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold.  I’ll back up a bit.  You just never know where a good beer conversation or a good beer recommendation will come from.  I was in Cleveland for a conference that our group was running and we were meeting with the staff at the brand spankin’ new Westin in Cleveland.  (If you need a place to stay in Cleveland, highly recommended.)  When they got to the point where the bar selections were discussed, I asked about local beers, hoping they’d have Great Lakes available.  And oh yes they did.  So, not only did they offer to have at each reception, one of them ran into the kitchen and brought three of then out to show what they had, the aforementioned Dortmunder, Burning River Pale Ale (absolutely love the self-deprecating humor behind this name), and the Commodore Perry IPA.  Since they had the foresight to open the bottles before bringing them out, I felt it would be rude for me not to sample. Oh boy.

The Dortmunder, as evidenced by the graphic to the right, is stellar. It’s got a slightly sweet taste, very HIGHLY recommended.

Not sure what happened in 2009

balanced, virtually no bitterness.  It’s really, really good.  I don’t know what else to say.  It’s not heavy, so you can have a few of them without ruining your meal.  Highly,

Oh, and did I mention that the staff at the Westin is awesome.  I got back to my room and had a dozen Dortmunder’s on ice waiting for me.  I reiterate, oh boy.

There are a dozen beers on Great Lakes’ “year-round” beer list.  One down, eleven to go.

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

No, wait.  It’s not what you think.  This week’s post is all about travel.  But no, I promise it’s still not what you’re thinking.

One of the great joys of traveling, in my opinion, is the ability to experience local/regional beers that just don’t distribute back home.  There are some that will have enough success that they grow to the point of being able to offer their delicious elixirs to a larger footprint.  Coors used to just be a western US offering; Fat Tire used to be the #1 reason to travel to Colorado; or Samuel Adams in Boston, Sweetwater in Atlanta … you get the picture.

I was recently at a conference at the fabulous Wigwam Resort outside Phoenix.  At our evening reception, I fully expected the open bar to serve the standard fare: Corona, Michelob Ultra, etc.  But I was in for a treat.  I will almost always gravitate to the local beer when I travel, unless I already know it to be funky or have a very specific craving for something else.  So, I saddled up (which means that I walked over) to the bar and ordered a Four Peaks Kilt Lifter.  If nothing else, I give them high marks for a fun beer name.

If you’re not familiar with Scottish Ales, you should be.  This is a newer flavor profile for beer, adding a sweet malty flavor, and a bit of smokiness.  I will not name names, but I have had a few that have overwhelming “hints” of these flavors, making the product almost undrinkable.  But this one was different.  The sweetness was just at the right level to make you stop and think about it.  There was a slight hint of smokiness, but not so much that it took over the beer.  It was a fantastic balance of a strong ale; sweetness, maltiness and a little bit of smoke.  For the record, the second and third ones were even better.

I don’t know much about Four Peaks’ thoughts on distribution in the future.  However, I will say that if you are in the southwest US anytime soon – look for Four Peaks Kilt Lifter.  And they have a buncha other stuff too …a Peach Ale an oatmeal stout, a Kolsch called Sunbru.  I’d definitely give these a try if I could find them.

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington