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ENBFThis year’s East Nashville Beer Festival was a complete success! I headed over with Lauren and a few bandmates and friends on Saturday ready to be amazed, and amazed I was! This festival has become one of my favorite days of the year, and Saturday did not disappoint. Lauren has a full review of everything over at Old Red Boots, but here are my top picks, with more personal insight:

Top 5 beers at ENBF 2013:

1. Kentucky Ale: Bourbon Barrel Ale
This is consistently my favorite bourbon barrel aged beer. You get a nice woody, oaky bourbon flavor up front, then a subtle hop character comes through, finishing with a lingering bourbon sweetness. It’s a symphony of all the right flavors.

2. Starr Hill: Psychokilter
Easily one of the best Scotch ales I’ve had. This beer is all about the malt- as it should be- but isn’t overly sweet. Robust and somewhat earthy. Color me impressed!

3. Calfkiller: Classic Spider
Calfkiller has burst onto the TN brewing scene in the past few years with a vengeance. All of their beers are fermented with the same Belgian yeast blend, which gives it a distinctive fruity note that says “this is Calfkiller!” Classic Spider was a special blend of their Brown Recluse and a stout, aged in a bourbon (or maybe it was whiskey?) barrel. I’m not sure if this will become a regularly produced beer, but I wouldn’t mind if it did!

4. Rivertown: Roebling Porter
This is a vanilla & espresso infused imperial porter, and it might as well be liquid dessert. It’s chocolatey, sweet, warming and simply delicious. It’s one of their flagships, too! Sadly, Rivertown doesn’t distribute to TNUpdate: turns out Rivertown DOES distribute to TN- you can get them at Craft Brewed!

5. Yazoo: Hop Project #70 Dry-hopped with Stella hops
Yazoo is known for their creative Hop Project series, in which they use the same malt bill, but different varieties of hops at different boiling schedules for each batch. #70 is the latest batch and (from what I was told at the tap) for this cask they dry-hopped it with a unique Australian hop variety called Stella. As I understand it this was a special cask that Yazoo made for the ENBF, but Hop Project #70 used Stella hops during the boil as well, and is available in retail stores now. 

Honorable Mentions:

Deschutes: Black Butte Porter and Northwest Pale Ale
Deschutes is an Oregon brewery that sadly hasn’t made it to TN yet, so I was unfamiliar even with these two flagship beers. The Black Butte Porter has a slightly nutty character that you’d expect in a nut brown ale, but yet it’s a porter! The Northwest Pale Ale stuck out to me because they backed away from the assertive hop bitterness that most APA’s are known for, and went for a well-balanced pale ale with a nice hoppy aroma.

Left Hand: Smokejumper Imperial Porter
Reactions to this beer amongst my peers were mixed. For me it was a fine smokey, bacon-y porter. I’ve not met a smoked beer that I didn’t like and this was no exception. Some in my group thought it reminded them too much of a campfire, while others wanted more bacon flavor. 

Straight To Ale: Hellfire Quadrupel and Monkeynaut IPA dry-hopped with Citra
This Huntsville brewery produces some fine beers. Their Belgian-style quadrupel, called Hellfire, was warming, earthy, and robust. They also had a special cask of their Monkeynaut IPA that was dry-hopped with Citra hops. The tropical fuity aroma was simply blissful!

French Broad: 13 Rebels ESB
One of my favorite styles of beer is a classic English ESB, or Extra-Special Bitter. I was familiar with French Broad but hadn’t tried their ESB. 13 Rebels was an enjoyable and worthy example of the style. Well-balanced and very session-able, as an ESB should be. 

Least Favorite Beer:

New Belgium’s surprise quadrupel.
I unfortunately didn’t take note of exactly what this beer was aged in or what was supposed to be special about it. It was a quad that had (I think) been aged in some sort of wood barrels. What I do remember though, is that is was too blatantly alcoholic up front. There are 10, 11, even 12% ABV beers that still manage to not allow the boozy alcoholic flavor to overrun the character of the beer. This one though, just screamed “BOOZE” at my palate. That being said, New Belgium is one of the finest, and also largest craft breweries in the nation. Everything about them pretty much rules. 

Happy drinking and I’ll see you next year at ENBF IV!

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It’s Craft Beer Week!

March 20, 2013

Nashville-Craft-Beer-Week-2013

This week is Nashville Craft Beer week! I was too busy to post about this earlier in the week, but better late than never. As you should well know, it culminates in the long sold-out East Nashville Beer Festival this Saturday, but there are also lots of good tastings, tap takeovers, and beer dinners happening all week long. The full calendar of Craft Beer Week events is over at Rhizome Productions, so check it out and find what sounds interesting. I was at Craft Brewed last night for the Straight To Ale tasting and Brooklyn Surprise cask ale tasting. There are several tastings tonight, tomorrow, and thursday so go taste some good beer. And if you don’t have a ticket to the ENBF, check out Craigslist. I believe there are some for sale there. Good luck, and happy Craft Beer Week!

Y’all. I’m slackin’ this week. I fail at blogging. So sue me. I should have mentioned on Monday or even over the weekend that this week is craft beer week in Nashville, and it all leads up to the 2nd annual East Nashville Beer Festival in East Park on Saturday. I went last year and got soused on some amazing beer, and I’m VERY much looking forward to it this year, mostly because I now live a couple blocks from the location and can casually stroll down to it with my girlfriend. They’ve expanded everything this year, and I’m very excited about some of the specialty brews- rare/limited run beers from well-known names that you’ll probably never see anywhere other than at beer festivals such as this. The festival tickets sold out in only 2 hours when they went onsale Feb. 10th, but I’ll be you can find some on craigslist if you try really hard.

While the ENBF is the main event, there have been other fun things going on around town this week as part of Nashville craft beer week. I stopped by the Brooklyn Brewery tasting session at Woodland Wine Merchant yesterday and had their Local #1, Local #2, East India Pale Ale, and Monster Ale Barleywine. All fantastic in their own way. Tonight from 5-7 they’ll be having a Green Flash free tasting session, and Friday New Belgium will be in the store for some free tasting. There are other tastings and events going on elsewhere, so check the schedule for today and tomorrow’s festivities.

I must also take this opportunity to mention how pleased I am that we have several new local breweries popping up here in Nashville. TN’s laws are literally some the WORST in the nation for small-scale craft breweries, but it’s very encouraging to see the huge success of Yazoo and the emerging breweries such as Fat Bottom, Black Abbey, Broacast, Nashvillion, Jackalope, and Jubilee. (All of which will have beers at the ENBF.) Bosco’s and Blackstone will be there as well, but they are in a class of their own in my head- they are restaurants with breweries inside them. Their beers are a force to be reckoned with, however small-scale they may be! And Blackstone has just recently expanded their brewing to a separate facility and are bottling/distributing regionally now. I highly recommend their Chaser Pale- a Kolsch-style ale which is very light and refreshing. You don’t see Kolsch as a flagship beer from many craftbrewers, so I applaud them for doing it!

Ok, off my beer soapbox. Hopefully you have tix to this awesome event- if not, get some to the much bigger Music City Brewer’s fest in July.

If you haven’t heard about The Daily Beast’s preposterous proclamation that Nashville is the nation’s most sober city, then you must be utterly disconnected from the internet, as it’s gotten a lot of local blog/media coverage. So much that Yelp, along with the Nashville Scene and many local alcohol-serving establishments have teamed up to dispel such a hideous myth. (BTW, I highly recommend their iPhone/Android app if you’re the type to “check-in” to local hotspots.) There are tons of bars with tons of drink specials all week long, but the main event called “Band of Boozers” is tonight, starting at the Yazoo taproom. Show up at Yazoo at 5pm, drink some of the finest local suds around, then join the 1/2 mile march (gotta burn off those beer calories!) to Mercy Lounge for even more drink deals and entertainment from BETA and the Neon Panthers, plus DJ sets by my pal Vitalic Noise and Wild Cub. I, along with Yelp and everyone actually involved with this, encourage passionate but responsible drinking. Let’s prove these Daily Beasts wrong! If you need more encrouragement, just watch this expert commercial filmed and produced by my pal Seth Graves:

Attention bands everywhere: the Next Big Nashville deadline for entry was extended until this coming Friday. It was originally today, but last Friday they announced the extension. So get over to American Songspace and apply if you haven’t. It’s only ten bucks!

Those Darlins just keep making bigger and bigger news stories. This time they got a mention on CNN and the New York Times! Check out CNN.com and watch the video clip. They talk about Hannah Montana first, then mention the Darlins at about 2:50 into the clip. Then check out the NYT review here. They also got written up on Brooklyn Vegan for the 368th time….

Tonight is Nashville Cream’s 70’s cover night at Mercy Lounge. It’s like an 8 off 8th in that there’s 8 bands and they play about 3 songs each, but all bands are doing covers of songs from the 70’s. It’s totally free and 21+. It’ll be a blast so come on down.

Oddee posted a blog about 10 very strange bars. My favorite is the bar made of ice. Pretty awesome.

From the science world…

The launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour was scrubbed AGAIN yesterday due to storms in the vicinity of the launch area. They’re going to retry the launch at 6:51pm EDT tonight, but the forecast is still pretty iffy. Basically any afternoon/early evening launch time during the summer months is a shot in the dark because storms pop every afternoon in Florida due to the interaction between the hot/humid air over the land and the cooler seabreeze coming in off the ocean. Basically they’ll just have to get lucky.

In other NASA news, a really cool interactive flash application is up on their website. It’s a panoramic view made of images taken during the Apollo 11 moon landing (except for the image of the Eagle lander, which is obviously CG). You can scroll around from several different viewpoints. In case you didn’t know, this year is the 40th Anniversary of the moon landing.

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