fix the beer taxRaise your pint glasses, steins, and snifters in a toast to the success of TN’s Fix the Beer Tax campaign! On Monday the bill passed the state senate, and on Wednesday it passed the state house. Both were almost unanimous votes. The bill still has to be signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam, but with such widespread support and virtually no opposition whatsoever, he will sign it. TN is now on its way to becoming much friendlier to the craft brewing industry, and no longer will breweries be penalized for making a better quality product. Thank you to all my friends and readers who supported this campaign! Read the full article from the horse’s mouth at the official Fix the Beer Tax website.

 

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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!

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.

I haven’t posted anything about beer on here in a while. If you know me or have read this blog for a while, you know that I’m a homebrewer. I also love to evangelize craft beer as much as possible, because the typical American palate for beer is pitifully narrow and ignorant of all the amazing styles the world has to offer. The mass-produced, cheap style known to most Americans is known as “American adjunct lager.” The style uses a lot of corn and rice to cut down on the amount of barley used, and very minimal hopping. (Budweiser, Miller Lite, Coors Light, etc…) It’s way too fizzy, watered down and bland for anyone who’s been introduced to the world of craft beer to enjoy. Once you taste REAL beer, you’ll never go back. So my message is this: go forth and find craft beer. It’s everywhere, even in convenience stores. It’s WELL worth the money. Here’s a quick, well-illustrated video that gives you a rundown of the history of brewing in America.

Nashville has some newcomers worth taking note of: Anchor Thieves. Their debut album Prerequisite is available for free download at bandcamp. They are tagged with “alternative indie minimalist lo-fi rock pop” and I’d say that’s a decent approximation.

You probably could care less about this, but I made a mash tun out of a cooler last weekend, and this weekend I will be brewing my first all-grain batch of beer. Let’s hope everything works out.

Now, here’s what I think you should be doing this weekend:

FRIDAY:

Deerhoof, Ben Butler, Mousepad, Nervous Cop *update* Ben Butler & Mousepad, R. Stevie Moore @ Mercy Lounge. 9pm. Why this is a 4-band bill is beyond me. When you have a well-established touring band headlining, there’s really no need to have more than 2 openers, IMO. Turns out Nervous Cop didn’t play, Ben Butler & Mousepad are 1 band, and R. Stevie Moore opened, which was a pleasant surprise!

Cheer Up Charlie Daniels, Buffalo Clover, and Young Hines @ the 5 Spot. 9pm $5

SATURDAY:

Dr. Dog, Head & The Heart, Buried Beds @ The Cannery. 9pm $18 adv/$20 DOS.

Tokyo Police Club, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin @ Exit/In. 9pm $15.

Twin Tigers, Diarrhea Planet, Kingston Springs, Weakness @ The End. 10pm $5

Have a great weekend!