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For the Love of NC Beer

Posted by on Feb 15, 2015

One of my favorite things about this industry, especially locally, is when breweries get together and work on projects. This exact thing just happened Sunday, February 15th, at Deep River Brewing Company, when representatives from more than a dozen NC breweries met to brew a collaboration beer for the Bull City Food and Beer Experience coming up next month. “There’s about 14 or 15 North Carolina breweries represented here this morning,” said Paul Auclair, owner of Deep River Brewing Company. “It’s nice when we can all get together to work on something where everyone gets along; we’re all friends here today.”  When asked if every brewery had some kind of input, Auclair grinned and said each of them did. But, if you ask me, and pretty much everyone else hanging out drinking beer around the brewery, this was more of a time to get together and enjoy a relaxed brew day, rather than sitting around a table, recording ideas and information on a white board. Two guys who weren’t so fortunate to just hang out were Deep Rivers’ two brewers: Ben Evans and Donovan Matthews. The entire time I was there, those guys were measuring, weighing, adding, subtracting, pressing buttons, spraying, cleaning, etc. When asked why it seemed they were the only ones doing any of the work, Evans laughed and told me that it was good for him because he needed to burn off those donuts he ate earlier in the morning. More about the beer… This year’s collaboration will be a Coffee Brown Ale. “This one will measure about 5.3%,” Auclair said. “We didn’t use any milk sugar, but it is made with a lot of love. That’s for sure!” Auclair told me that brown ale was brewed this morning, and the coffee will be added after fermentation. “The coffee will come from Raleigh Coffee Company. Joe up there in Raleigh always takes good care of us.” The beer is to be released in March at the Bull City Food and Beer Experience at the DPAC in Durham. As one might expect, when you get a bunch of brewers around, beer is sure to follow. Nearly everyone involved brought something of his own or something a little (or a lot) more rare, such as the Maple Bacon Porter from Funky Buddha. Beyond the beer, there was also plenty of food. Appropriately, chopped pork was the main feature...

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Bull City Ciderworks, y’All!

Posted by on Feb 12, 2015

Did you know we have a pretty fantastic cidery right here in the Triangle? Seriously! It’s awesome! And it’s right here in Durham! We just held our most recent Taste the Triangle event at Bull City Ciderworks and if you weren’t there, you missed a fantastic evening of imbibing, eating, and educating. Ordinarily, we go to a different brewery on the second Wednesday of every month. This month, we decided to divert from the standard plan and check out Bull City Ciderworks, instead of the standard “brewery of the month”. Those who attended seemed to be glad we did! Instead of learning about boil times and hop varietals, we were educated on orchards and fermentation of pressed apple juice. More than 50 people ascended on Bull City’s compound Wednesday evening. As they arrived, everyone paid $10, grabbed their first pint, and chatted while we waited for the tour to begin. As the last folks arrived around 6:45, announcements were made and the tour began.   Our tour guide, Ryan, showed us around the place. He told us about Bull City Ciderworks’ beginnings, how no bank wanted anything to do with them. And he told us all about the cider-making process. Ryan explained to us how all the apples used in Bull City’s ciders are pressed and sent here to Durham to be fermented and turned into that delightfully dangerous nectar we all enjoyed. While we all sipped our pints, folks listened and asked questions. We learned the differences between cider-making and beer-brewing (i.e. there’s no boil when you make cider. Unlike beer, cider is pressed, not boiled, before the yeast is pitched). We learned that Bull City is poised to be one of the first tenants at the Rocky Mount Brew Mill, but they still plan to be a mainstay in Durham. In addition to the awesome ciders, our friends from American Meltdown added some awesome food to the party! They were serving up several mouth-watering sandwiches and their Brussels Sprouts. Good lord, their Brussels Sprouts! I made quick work of their Dirty South, mainly because I’m a sucker for anything with Pimento Cheese. In a word, it was “heavenly”. I don’t know how else to explain it. It was freaking amazing! If you’re ever out anywhere and you see the orange truck that smells like you hope Heaven will, do yourself a favor and order something from there!...

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We Got Lost in the Woods!

Posted by on Feb 11, 2015

If you ever have the opportunity to go to a New Belgium event, here’s a pro-tip: GO! I can promise you that you won’t regret it. These guys do it right! We made it out to the Lost in the Woods event at Busy Bee last Saturday, where New Belgium released their latest versions of La Folie and Transatlantique Kriek. And, from the moment we arrived, until our departure, Lost in the Woods was top-notch!   The event was held at The Hive, upstairs, above the main restaurant. As ticket holders arrived, they received three tokens to be used at the bar. Each token was good for one 8 oz pour of one of the sours. The idea was to be able to taste all three, which I did. At least once. Because my wife loves me so much didn’t finish some of hers. Wait, there were three? There were only two advertised. Yeah, so our local New Belgium folks pulled some strings and added to the list of awesome with an additional keg of NBB Loves Leopold, which uses the same base beer (Oscar) as La Folie, but it’s treated a little differently. You can read all about it here if you want to get really nerdy about it (says the guy providing the links…). Otherwise, just know that it’s aged in Blackberry Whiskey barrels from Leopold Distillery. And that it’s awesome. At the very least, remember it’s awesome! Back to the other two featured beers, La Folie and Transatlantique Kriek were as wonderful as expected. Yes, they’re both sours. Yes, they’re both delicious. But, they’re completely different beers. In comparison (and, mind you, this was after a Leopold and a La Folie), the Kriek was notably sweeter on the finish. Once I adjust my palate to the sours, anything less sour usually ends up tasting a little sweet. But it was outstanding nonetheless. In addition to the great sours, The Hive bartenders were also pouring the new Slow Ride Session IPA and Snapshot Wheat (no tokens necessary). Since Slow Ride is one of my latest obsessions beers I appreciate, I lost count had a few of them, which was what it took for the wife to convince me to step into the Lost in the Woods photo booth.  Throughout the evening, servers were meandering through the crowd with appetizers like Salmon and Tuna Tar-Tar. There was a great Bluegrass/Americana...

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That’s What She Said… About Aviator in 12 Oaks

Posted by on Dec 15, 2014

On a Thursday evening in November, 919 Beer hosted the first 12 Oaks Beer Night. About 70 residents came out to the clubhouse for some Aviator beer and stories told by the owner, Mark Doble. He brought four beers with him, shared the history of how Aviator Brewing Company began, and gave some information on each of the beers as they were handed out. Mark told us he grew up all over the world and lived in Europe while in the military, where he was able to taste some world-class beers straight from the source. While he lived in Florida, he took flying lessons. Over time, flying and beer became two of his passions. Fast-forward a number of years: Mark now had a plane he built out of a kit, a hangar he got a steal of a deal on, and a layoff from his job at IBM, thanks to a dwindling economy. It was then Mark did what any rational person would do: he applied for multiple credit cards and used them to finance a brewery. Mark’s version of this was quite funny and insightful. I acknowledge this version is neither. We began the night with an old favorite: Wide Open Red, which has an ABV of 6.1%, and is a little hoppy at 41 IBUs. Aviator’s description calls it “A somewhat classic Irish Red Ale. This ale is feisty and a bit hoppy. There is a malty sweetness and a somewhat dry finish. Traditional East Kent Goldings with a nice touch of Cascade and a dash of roasted barley give this ale a great taste. Plenty of crystal malt with some roasted barley.” This American Red, formerly known as Hot Rod Red, was the first craft beer Wayne and I ever tried and liked. It was Wayne’s favorite. When I say his favorite, I mean if the restaurant/bar didn’t have it on tap, we didn’t go there! The next offering was Devil’s Tramping Ground. This 9.2% Belgian Tripel sneaks up on you with a deceiving taste and delicate texture. It’s named after the famous Devil’s Tramping Ground in Harpers Crossroads, NC, and both are quite similar in that you’re gone before you know it! Seriously, this beautiful golden ale is fruity and spicy with a sweet finish.Wicked good! Once, at the Tap House, we witnessed a rather large fellow lying face down by the railroad tracks after consuming...

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Kelly’s Haw River Recap

Posted by on Nov 17, 2014

Our latest Taste the Triangle event was last Wednesday at Haw River Farmhouse Ales. Kelly Holt took a few notes and was kind enough to share her thoughts with everyone… The Place The trip to Saxapahaw from Holly Springs was a little longer than our typical jaunts, but well worth it. It reminds us that back roads still exist and good things are worth going the extra mile for. Haw River Farmhouse Ales is no exception. Ben Woodward and Dawnya Bohager’s extra mile was a four-year journey from great idea to fully-licensed brewery and tap room. Upon arrival in this quaint township of Graham, you see the Haw River, a cotton mill repurposed, loft apartments and a small crowd of people who adore and support their town.  Set your GPS to 1713 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Rd, Saxapahaw, NC 27340. Haw River’s taproom is usually closed on Wednesdays, but they were kind enough to open their doors to let the 919 Beer followers in for a pint of deliciousness, tour/Q&A, and a beautiful HRFA stemmed glass. What a deal for $10, eh? My favorite brewery tours are those where the personality of the brewers/owners is revealed through the stories that make the brewery and beer what it is. 919 Beer followers include many home brewers, professional brewers and brewery owners, as well as the “I just like to drink beautiful beer” people. I’m the latter. And to me, part of what makes the beer interesting is the story behind it. HRFA has a great story. Listen to the 919 Beer Podcast to hear them tell it.   The Beer Haw River Farmhouse Ales’ current tasting room hours are 4-8 pm Thursday and Friday and 2-8 pm Saturday and Sunday. There you’ll have to choose which to drink first (which will be difficult, as you’ll want to try them all first). I chose St. Benedict’s Breakfast Dubbel. It was a great choice! Here’s their description, as I cannot say it better: “Brewed with organic flaked oats, dark chocolate and locally-roasted Sumatran and Ethiopian Harar coffee beans from Morrisville, NC’s Muddy Dog Roasting Company, our Trappist-style “Breakfast” Dubbel is a smooth, silky, eye-opening take on a classic style, with floral aromatics of deep-roasted coffee, spiced fig and rich, creamy cocoa”. I will add that its stout-like character was quite memorable. This could’ve been my first dubbel (not sure), but definitely not my last. My second...

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