Thursday, December 29, 2011

A few randoms...

Still not much going on in town... the good beer bars in town are still picking up some new brews though, so check them out.

I certainly hope you have a HOPPY New Year! (get it?)

Let's see... what's new... caught back up with Golden Horn again and you should see my interview with them pop up sometime after the new year. I'm glad, too, because I'm in need of a nice article that's not just news.

I had a couple of random occurrences as of late that relate to this blog, so... here goes.

The first happened at the Publix in the Lake Ella Plaza. Brew day was upon me so I stopped by there in the morning to get some water and bags of ice. The cashier kindly inquired "what I was having" and I explained that I was going to be brewing. Here comes the weird part. He asked me if it was for the brewing that was going to be going on around 6th Avenue. I told him no and kindly left, but it really got me thinking.

1) How does he know about that? Is he into beer? Random.
2) Did he think I was going on a commercial venture with 10 gallons of water and two bags of ice?

Oh well, I suppose I just have to let it go, but it was pretty random.

Also, I stopped by Homebrew Den later for an ingredient I forgot and... and... you're not going to believe this. I SHIT YOU NOT - they told me what beer they think is up next for Momo's:


A red ale. Well, it could be worse, I suppose. I asked when it would be ready and of course they had no idea! [:31] (okay, nobody's going to get that 31 thing).

Well if any of you ever hit up Momo's and they have a new beer on tap - please let me know!

So that's all for now folks!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Beery Christmas!

In lieu of any upcoming events, enjoy this generic image I found using a Google image search!

Happy Holidays, everyone!

I hope you enjoy lots of good beers for whatever you may be celebrating in the next few days and weeks!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

New Beer at Momo's

Man, this town ceases to exist during Winter break... no special beer events for us geeks.

Luckily, Momo's came out with a new beer.

I found out because they put out a press release, a television commercial, sent me an e-mail, posted it on Facebook, and wrote a nice article for their news page.

Just kidding.

They didn't do anything - as always.

I did get this hilarious e-mail from Darren (darn1207 on RateBeer):

From: Darren
To: Daniel
Saturday, December 17, 2011 9:15 PM

Subject: I'm winning yo.


(click for larger image)

For those of you out of the loop, myself and Kevin (PorterPounder) are the Mack Daddies of Tallahassee when it comes to rating brewpub beers. We've rated every one... until now. And you know what, Darren? Mark (Aurelius) rated it right after you, so GET OFF YOUR HIGH HORSE! WINKING EMOTICON!

I'll get it soon enough. In the meantime, let's talk Momo's.

They've gone out on a limb here, folks. A cream ale. Ironically, all of the college kids are out of town... what's the deal? This is the best local beer idea since Cerveza Lima. In the meantime, I'll buy this for the same price as two pints of Momo's version:

Just kidding... a little.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cask at Ferm tonight!

Tonight Fermentation will be tapping a cask of Swamp Head Big Nose when they open at 5pm. From their blog:

"We’ll be tapping a cask of Swamphead Big Nose IPA today at 5pm. This beer has been oaked and dry-hopped and should be pretty tasty. Limited quantity (you know…one cask worth), plus it’s local which is a plus (see what I did there?)."

Sadly I can't make it - but get there if you can!

The blog says they still have some of the haus bier left as well - get it while you can!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Proof's Brewing Equipment Arrives!

Today on Facebook, the GM posted a couple of pictures of Proof's brewing equipment being delivered!

No word on precisely when things will get going, but it should be early next year. Get excited!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

New Brew at Momo's

Momo's has tapped their Blackjack Stout, which I am currently enjoying. Not too shabby!

Friday, December 2, 2011


I was lucky enough to be featured in my wife's craft blog wearing one of her famous infinity scarves! Check it out! I post this not only as a plea for orders ($15 - $20 apiece, depending on fabric), but because it is a funny picture and my role is relatable to this blog, after all!


Click here for the whole article! It's awesome!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Beer People are Good People

Though I already knew it before, this blog has made me realize something once again.

Beer people are good people.

Granted I gave fair warning, but I have said some pretty negative things on this blog. Luckily for me, this has turned into positive things. This is why I love beer people.

Let's talk Golden Horn Brewing Company for a minute. Since my original post about them, their beers have gotten better and better and I have gotten to know one of the brewers more and more. Now, I'm not going to say we're best pals and we go skipping down Beer Avenue on a weekly basis... but we're friendly. He tells me about the upcoming beers online and in person and we're even working on setting up an interview with the brew team for my blog... and possibly even a GHBC/TBC collaborative brew... now that's crazy.

Let's recap. Step one: Write long, boring blog entry about a botched release and a couple of... uninspired brews. Step two: Strike up a conversation with a brewer. Step three: Interview and a collab brew?

Only beer people could make that jump.

Fast forward several months to my "State of the Union" post. Towards the end I mention Pensacola Brewing Company and how their beers are awful and the brewers are, to quote myself, "giant d-bags." Luckily for me, a co-worker went to Pensacola Bay's Facebook page, told them about my blog, and asked what the word was on their potential move to Tallahassee. Wait a minute. Luckily? Drawing their attention to my blog entry that calls their beers "awful" and calls their employees "giant d-bags?"

Yes, luckily.

I got a very kind e-mail from one of their owner/brewers asking if we had ever met and if I had ever been to Pensacola because he'd love to meet me and try to sway my opinion. A few emails later and I discovered this particular owner/brewer has never been to Tallahassee for a beer function and he personally invited me to come visit the brewery and sample beers with him next time I'm in Pensacola.

See... luckily! You have just got to love beer people. It's how we roll.

Beer people are good people. Don't forget it!

By the way, Pensacola Bay responded on their Facebook page that the move to Tallahassee probably wouldn't happen.

I could go on with many experiences involving RateBeer, traveling, trading, festivals, releases, relatives, negative stereotypes, and more, but I'll save those for another time.

Until then...

(also, do yourself a favor and watch this)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Upcoming Events

Well gang, the Thanksgiving holiday is over. I hope you went deep into a food coma and awoke early on Friday to knock over a toddler and grab the last giant TV on sale... time well spent, for sure!

Since the break is over, events are popping back up here and there. On Wednesday, November 30th, Proof will kill the end of the month in style with a nice Sweetwater event. They will be tapping the newest Dank Tank release - Fresh Sticky Nugs - as well as the last dank tank - Ghoulash. I have to say Ghoulash (black IPA) was pretty tasty, and I'm excited for Fresh Sticky Nugs. It's a dry-hopped double red ale. For the entire goofy story - click here. As is Proof style, there will also be a glassware giveaway.

Speaking of Fresh Sticky Nugs... how on earth does Sweetwater get away with their beer names? I'm thinking they must have an insider approving their labels. For your pleasure, here are some of their more interesting beer names:

Big Ol' Belgian Blue Balls
Border Hopper
The Creeper
Donkey Punch!
Dubbel Ds
Happy Ending
Jack Ass
Motor Boat
Tripel Lindy
Wet Dream

Some of these are a bit more coded than others, so you may have to do some Googling to figure them out. I'll get you started with an old poster they apparently used when they released Happy Ending:

Anyway... Proof is also having a Dogfish Head happy hour from 5-7pm on Friday, December 2nd featuring tappings of Faithfull, Burton Baton, Immort Ale, Chicory Stout, "and a few more surprises." I'm told they may have another keg of 120 Minute, which always goes fast.

On December 7th, at 5pm when they open, Fermentation Lounge will be serving a haus "Twigs and Berries" cider. I can't remember what they put into it to make it, but proceeds that night go to benefit one of the male bartenders who had a biking accident and needs help with his medical bills... I'll let you put those pieces together... no pun intended. For you RateBeer folk, sadly we won't get to rate this one, as RateBeer does not allowed flavored ciders. Balderdash!

UPDATE: Robert of GH was kind enough to pass along the cider info to me on Facebook:

"Dec 7 (Wednesday) is the Festical for Trevor and we are serving a Twig and Berries cider. Twig and Berries is a dry cider with cranberries and cinnamon sticks added in the secondary. I cooked down 4 lbs of cranberries with cane sugar, agave syrup, and three different types of cinnamon sticks. Once the pectin was broke down in the cranberries, I chilled the mixture and added it to the cider."

He was also kind enough to pass along the next GH Haus Bier release information, which will be at 5pm on Monday, December 5th.

"Dec 5 (Monday) we are releasing Date Brown (20g), a dark English style brown ale with dates added during secondary fermentation, and Spiced Persimmon Ale (10g), an Amber ale with locally grown persimmons and a fresh ground spice mixture. We roasted the persimmons on my grill, so there is a slight bit of smokiness present."

As always, these sound unique and tasty! Because of school, I don't know for sure that I can make the Festical (hah!), but I should be able to make the Haus Bier release on the 5th if anyone wants to stop in and say hello!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! Beer Pairings!

Well, due to Thanksgiving break in a college town, just about every beer bar is on hiatus as far as beer events are concerned... Momo's might put out a beer this Sunday, since they didn't last weekend, but as always... who knows?

So instead, I thought I'd offer up some beer pairings for your Thanksgiving holiday. I have to admit, I'm not really awesome at pairing beer with food, because I always tend to drink something new and/or drink what I like... so I just don't worry about it. So, I've browsed a few sites, pulled some information, and put it all together here for you. I've also made sure that every beer I suggest is available in Tallahassee so if you want to give them a try... you can! I've divided my recommendations into categories to make your life a little bit easier.

Are you having non-beer guests?

Many websites recommend Sam Adams, and I can't say I disagree. Most non-nerds will think they're really cool and drinking something special if you throw a Boston Lager in front of them. They'll swoon back to that special Wednesday night a few weeks back at Applebee's with their co-workers when they scrolled past a Busch Light for a pint of Sam Adams. For something a little more adventurous, throw other entry-level craft breweries at them like Sierra Nevada, Dogfish Head, and Stone. They probably loved their commercials and TV shows.

Many websites also recommend ambers and brown ales. If you want to push your guests a little bit, go for Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale. Approachable, but perhaps a little more robust than other browns, you can make your guests stretch their palates a bit. Plus, since our local breweries don't distribute, that's about as close as you can get to drinking local since they're from Tampa.

Beer nerds or brave guests?

Well, Tallahassee may not be a crazy utopia of beer, but you have some options, and here are some tasty suggestions divided by food.

In general: Generically speaking, a lot of sites seem to recommend farmhouse beers, saisons, etc. Apparently the herbal, earthy, and sometimes slightly spicy quality of these brews make them a perfect match for turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and many other Thanksgiving dishes. Right now Dupont's Avec les Bons Voeux is in town, and it's one hell of a saison. If you want to support 'Merica (fuck yeah!), go with North Coast Le Merle.

For plain ol' turkey, most sites go for ambers and brown ales. This is a bit of a simple style, but I think one of the best go-to ambers is Bell's Amber, which I know is available in town. I say go for it, as you'll enjoy it, and you can probably push some off on your guests as well!

If you want to explore a bit, or if you're tossing some cranberry sauce on or around your turkey, go for Rodenbach Grand Cru. This tasty Flemish red has all the tartness you need to complement that weird slice of reddish goo. Another benefit is the wood, acid, and vinegar you can find in this brew, which is sure to please the winos in the group.

Not a turkey fan? Going with ham? Most sites seem to recommend bigger brews that have a touch of sweetness to supplement the salty sweetness of this pink God. Go with a doppelbock like Ayinger Celebrator or a weizenbock like Schneider Aventinus - both top of the line brews in their style and easily obtainable in Tallahassee.

If you want to match your brew with your sides, the aforementioned farmhouse brews work well. You can also go for something malty, a little sweet, and unoffensive for some added flavor that won't overpower your favorite sides. Brooklyn Winter is a decent Scottish Ale that is pleasantly unoffensive, and Anchor Porter is a somewhat lighter, sweeter porter that will give you nice touches of chocolate and coffee without killing the flavors in your sides.

If you're like me, you've just been waiting for dessert. Don't get me wrong - I freakin' love all the food - but deep down I've got a sweet tooth like a mammoth. The beer you drink can depend a bit on your dessert, but in general sweeter, maltier beers work here as well. I like to toast the season with a nice winter warmer, and Sam Smith's Winter Warmer is decent enough and available in town. Beware some winter brews, though, as they're often unclear on what they are. If you're not sure - look it up on RateBeer or Google the brew and find out what's in it. For instance, if you don't want to drink a beer with mace, you may want to stay away from Sweetwater Festive. The spice may kill delicate desserts, but may also complement something like pumpkin pie.

Love pecan pie? Do you shudder in ecstasy thinking about that crunchy, crispy, roasted bite of pecans on top of the diabetic-coma inducing layer of gooey sweetness? Give Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan a shot. Not only will the nuttiness pair well with the sweet, syrupy pie, you'll also be supporting a brewery from a state that is struggling when it comes to craft beer - Mississippi. Don't even get me started on that crazy state. Similar malty, nutty brown ales will get the job done, too, but I know this gem is available locally!

Love hops?

Sadly, most sites say that uber-hoppy brews like IPAs and double IPAs can really kill some of the food you're enjoying. Instead, you may want to go with a nice English IPA to get your hop kick out of the way. The hops will be a bit more earthy (matches the food better), as well as simply subdued more than most American versions. Sam Smith's India Ale comes to mind as a locally available standard version. Not convinced? Go with Bell's Two Hearted. This is one of my all-time favorite brews, and it happens to be single hopped with Centennial hops. This type of hop is a bit more sweet and floral than some super bitter American hops, which complements the solid malt backing of this brew... plus... it's just an awesome beer.

That leads me to my next point. Do you disagree with these pairings and suggestions? It's not like my blog to admit this, but... AWESOME! It makes me want to reiterate my favorite advice:


Seriously though, please do comment with other suggestions you may have, as I'm all ears, and people may like to try your suggestions!

Enjoy the holiday weekend, drink plenty of brews, and as always...


Thursday, November 17, 2011

State of the Beer Union Address - Tallahassee

Times... they are a-changin'.

2011 has most definitely been an interesting year for the beer scene in Tallahassee. Two new breweries are open, operational, and pumping out brews. Several new breweries are on the horizon, and rumors point to even more in the future. More and more people are embracing craft beer, homebrewing, and locally made brews. Tallahassee might not be the next Portland, but I have to say - things are looking up.

I'd like to begin with a re-cap of the breweries that are operational today. The first brewery to release beers was Golden Horn Brewing Company housed inside Fermentation Lounge. The last operating brewery in Tallahassee was Buckhead, which closed in 2003... wow. No fresh beer in Tallahassee for 8 years... Needless to say, everyone was thrilled when Fermentation Lounge opened their doors that first Wednesday to serve Golden Horn beers, and I was no different.

As you may remember me posting, they got off to a bit of a rocky start. I had plenty to say about how things were going... I have to say now, though, that Golden Horn has really started stepping it up. I still hate getting served 10oz pours in wine glasses for 4-5 dollars, but the beers have been getting better and better. Just yesterday I was lucky to hit their most recent release and try a tasty chocolate oatmeal imperial stout and a chipotle ale. These were hands down two of my favorite brews that they've made, and I've had a good time over the past few months getting to know the brewing team. They seem to be good people doing the best with what they have available to them. However, I do still wish the prices weren't so high, and I just can't wrap my mind around why they would ever open a brewpub that only brews 10 and 20 gallon batches. Regardless, they were the first to open up in town, and we're all very glad they're around. Even if they just keep making 10 gallon batches of weird brews, I'll still be there every time.

Market Street Brewpub, housed inside Momo's Pizza (Market Street location - get it?), was the second brewpub in town to start serving fresh, locally made beer. They boast a 3-barrel system (at least - I think they may have a 7-barrel fermenter or tank), which means they have beers on all the time and for longer periods of time than Golden Horn. They also have a much different philosophy - putting out classic styles that are drinkable. I could barely believe my eyes (and mouth!) the first time I sat in a Tallahassee brewpub drinking a locally made IPA. Wow, now that's a feeling. I've since had every beer they've released, and I continue to bask in the glory that is sipping on a fresh pale ale while devouring a slice of pizza the size of a small aircraft.

If I had to make a complaint or two, and I do, I have to say I'm annoyed by their marketing... or should I say lack of marketing. They never say anything when they tap a new beer. So far I've gathered that it always happens on a Sunday, but the timing so far has been erratic. Every time I've learned about a beer on tap, it has been because a friend or co-worker sends me a text, or I simply call them and ask. Also, though I enjoy them thoroughly, I have yet to be blown away by one of their brews. They are classic, drinkable, and go well with pizza, but I'm a beer nerd. I want them to put out an IPA that is dripping with so much hop character I sink away into a blissful hop coma until drool froths from my mouth and someone has to slap me back into reality. Until then, though, I will remain happy to go every couple of Sundays to enjoy a fresh, classic brew with 10,000 calories of pizza.

"I wanna know who's gonna pay for this - I spilt beer all over it when that car smashed into me."

So what does the future hold for Tallahassee beer?

Well... a lot of things, I hope. We know for sure that Proof is going to be opening a brewery downstairs, probably early next year, which will be awesome. Other than that... we mainly have rumors. Mike's Stone Baked Pizza was supposedly going to start brewing, but it's taken longer than expected, and my sources tell me it's probably not going to happen. There are also rumors of a couple of other homebrewers in town joining forces with local business owners to open brewpubs in or around the Midtown area, but nothing is 100% yet, of course.

Other than that, there are also rumors flying that Pensacola Bay will be either starting another location in Tallahassee or possibly moving here completely. I, for one, would be completely happy without them. Every single beer I've had by them has been awful, and though I don't have personal experience, many sources tell me the brewers are... shall we say... giant d-bags. I'd be completely okay with them not moving into town, though I hate to turn away fresh local beer. If you've ever had their brews or talked to them - you know what I'm talking about.

"But we have never measured progress by these yardsticks alone. We measure progress by the success of our people. By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children.

That's the project the American people want us to work on. Together."


Sunday, November 13, 2011

This week!

Proof will be having a Hoegaarden glassware giveaway on Wednesday, 11/16 at 8pm. Oddly enough this is one glass that I don't have, so I might just come out for this one.

UPDATE: Proof will also be having a Southern Tier glassware giveaway on Friday.

I have confirmed that there will be a Golden Horn release this Wednesday, 11/16/11 at Fermentation Lounge when they open at 5pm. They will be releasing a Chocolate Oatmeal Stout (YUM) and a Chipotle Ale (we'll see...). I will definitely be there at some point!


Saturday, November 12, 2011

New Momo's Beer?

Unconfirmed of course, as is the Momo's way, but a friend passed on to me last night that he was told Momo's would be tapping a Pale Ale "sometime this weekend." If they follow tradition, it will be tapped Sunday evening. We shall see!

UPDATE: The Blue Chair Pale Ale went on tap Sunday!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Utopias at Fermentation Lounge

This Saturday (11/12) at 4pm Fermentation Lounge will be opening one bottle of Sam Adams Utopias. It will be $17 for a one ounce pour. If you haven't had this brew before, I strongly advise you give it a shot. I think Proof also has some of last year's release left which you can still buy there as well, if you're looking for a comparison.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Exclusive Interview with Stephen from Phat Hound Brewing

I was extremely lucky to be invited into Stephen Albanese's house this Saturday afternoon to sample his beers and interview him for the blog. For those of you that don't know Stephen, he is a local homebrewer that is on the brink of taking his brewing to the next level, with the help of his friendly basset hound Buddy. He currently works for Mike's Stone Baked Pizza and may be brewing a bit there, but also has plans to move back to his hometown and open his own brewpub and pizzeria in the future. When this happens, I hope to be one of the first people there enjoying his brews!

He shared several awesome brews with me including standards like a double IPA, as well as his real passion - some experimental brews such as a rum and oak aged Belgian pale ale, a vanilla porter, a black IPA, and even a smoked stout with Scotch in it! All of the beers were quite tasty, probably some of the best I've had in town, and my favorite was the vanilla porter. I have a feeling that once Stephen gets his business going he will have no trouble pleasing thirsty drinkers!

What will the name of your brewing company be?
I like Phat Hound Brewing Company. I had it as Bastard Hound Brewing Company, but I don’t want to have bastard in the name.

Where are you hoping this brewery will be located?
I ultimately want to open up an organic pizzeria/brewpub in my hometown of Delray Beach, FL. I don’t want it to just be a brewery – I want it to be an organic, wood-fire pizzeria and brewpub with all of my stuff on tap. That would be my goal in the next three or four months to try to open that up.

Why an organic pizzeria?
In my hometown people really care about what they eat and they don’t want to be just drinking anything or just eating anything. It’s kind of a wealthier community. More or less the organic part will be a label on the front door, but mostly it’s a wood-fire pizzeria.

I didn’t know you were planning on leaving Tallahassee, but since you’re still planning on opening a pizza place, that means I don’t have to change these questions.
Yeah, I definitely want to do a restaurant. I’ve been in the pizza industry since I was 16 years old. I started as a dishwasher in a pizza restaurant and then started making pizzas. I’ve worked at a few places and now I work at Mike’s, so I have over six years of pizza experience… and over two years of brewing experience.

Where did the name of your brewing company come from?
*Points at his dog, a large basset hound, who has been sitting wonderfully beside me for some time* - My dog.

What made you decide to go commercial with your brewing or why do you want to open a restaurant?
I was really brewing a lot – it’s a passion of mine. I definitely don’t want to go into what I studied in college, which is corporate management. I’d much rather go out and open a brewery and stuff like that. I’m still very young, so I have a lot to learn as well.

Could that major potentially help you run your business, though?
Definitely. Not to say management like managing people, but definitely the financial aspects of the business, which is what I really learned in school. I learned all of my management through management experience – managing restaurants and stuff like that.

What is your vision for the brewpub, or what do you want to happen in the next couple of years?
I would like to open up as a wood-fire pizzeria and get it going for a year or two and then hopefully expand to a warehouse where I can start distributing my beer. Besides the restaurant, I’d ultimately like to see every grocery store carrying my beer.

So you’re hoping for distribution throughout Florida and maybe even more in the future?
-Absolutely. I’ve also been accepted into the Siebel Institute, so that’s also something I may end up doing in the next couple of years… go get my brewmaster’s degree.

So do you think you’ll take it?
I really want to take it. It’s booked through 2012, so the first time I could take it would be 2013, so I’m going to have about 2 years of down time at least.

If you end up starting your own successful restaurant and brewpub without doing that, would you still do it or do you think you’ll just keep plugging along?
I think it’s something I might do later on just so I can have the title.

There are a lot of successful brewers out there that never did any official studying.
Yeah, I just feel like I’m still really young, so I still have time. A year of brewing school would be nothing for a 23 year old, but if a 40 year old took a year off it might be harder.

If you did take a year off to go study, how would you run your brewpub? Hire someone else?

We seem to have two types of philosophies in this town [Tallahassee], since there are currently two breweries open, one of which is weird and crazy and always wanting to make something different, and the other which is, in my opinion, completely brewing for the masses. So what would you say is your philosophy for brewing, given your personal philosophy and/or your philosophy for the market you’re going into?
I always want to have unique things on draft that are experimental, like my vanilla porter or the rum oak beer you’re drinking - something that I don’t necessarily know if it would turn out good or if it would turn out bad, but I still like experimenting with it. But then again I also want to have a few beers that the masses will be able to drink. You know, if my girlfriend walks into my restaurant she might not want to drink a rum oak Belgian beer; she’d probably want a hefeweizen or a wheat beer, something lighter. I want to have things like that for the masses but also the other stuff.

So when you say beer for the masses, you mean things like hefeweizens, wheat beers, and stuff like that?
Hefes, pale ales, and stuff that is lighter and drinkable, as opposed to the coconut porter you’re making or a coffee stout, stuff like that.

But at the same time you don’t mean anything super lame like a pale lager or anything like that?
No no no no, definitely good stuff like hefeweizen and a good IPA.

What sets you apart from the other brewpubs already open or about to open in town?
I would say my young personality and my motivated, innovative spirit. I also have a nice system, I built it, and I use it to make awesome beers.

Are you planning on keeping beer geeks happy, everybody else happy, or some combination of both?
Definitely going to try to keep the beer geeks happy. I want people that love craft beer to walk into my restaurant. I’m not really trying to convince the Bud Light drinkers to completely switch to craft beer. I want to please people that are passionate about craft beer and really like it.

I of course like that answer as a beer person, but as a business owner, how is that going to work?
That’s why I wanna have a couple of beers like a hefeweizen, but there’s also the restaurant aspect that will make money, not just the brewery.

Once your place is open, do you think you’ll plan any events such as special releases, meet the brewer, brewing classes, or anything of that sort?
Definitely. I have already thought about doing brewing classes for beginners. I’m sure there are plenty of new or extract brewers out there that want to make the jump up to all grain. I can show them in two or three hours that it’s not as hard as they think and they can make great beers. I’d love to offer classes like that at the brewery. I’d also like to have a lot of events. I don’t necessarily want to have a release party for every beer; I just want to put it on tap and have people enjoy it. Some small breweries make a huge deal about every release but the small batches get drank so quickly and every time I stop in the breweries for a beer there’s nothing there. What’s the point of going to a brewery if I can’t ever drink their beer unless I go on the busiest nights? Other breweries you can walk into at any time of the day and enjoy a fresh brewed beer. That’s what I want to do.

How are you going to let the public know when your beers go on tap? What’s your marketing plan, if anything, and how will social media play into that?
I think I will do something like have a certain day where beers are always released, like every Monday or Tuesday, or something like that. Try to get the nerdy beer lovers in to enjoy the beers. I will definitely use Facebook, but I don’t think I’ll be doing a lot of advertising or anything. Maybe I’ll get a plane and drop flyers from the sky. *laughs*

How does pizza play into your plan? Are you planning on matching certain styles of beer with pizza or is it a coincidence or a convenience thing that you wanted to do anyway?
I want to use my beer in the ingredients, like beer dough, using the beer or spent grains. I might be able to have a bakery of some sort even. I definitely want to incorporate beer into the ingredients. People could get beer-sauteed onions on their pizza. I want to have a really personal pizzeria/brewery, not a generic pizzeria where they all use the same ingredients. I don’t want to have a round pie, I want to have a square pie that looks natural and I want it to go along with say an awesome IPA.

With this quick revolution that’s happening in Tallahassee, with two new brewers going already, plus several others on the horizon, what do you think about the future of craft beer in Tallahassee?
I think it’s very, very good. I think Tallahassee is an awesome place to start a brewery right now. I don’t even feel threatened by all of the other breweries – they bring a lot more awareness and demand for the craft market. If more people go into say Momo’s and try their beers, like that beer, and want to try something else, they might drive over to Mike’s and try my beer. I love the revolution. I feel like I’ve even been a part of it. I’ve persuaded lots of people to go and buy extract homebrewing kits in town.

Do you think Tallahassee will have a place on the map someday, as far as craft beer goes?
I think Florida is way behind the whole craft brewing tradition by 5 or 10 years.

What do you think about them catching up or where do you think we’ll be in the future?
We’re getting there. In the next 5 years I’m sure there will be 5 or 6 new breweries opening in town. Not only do we have a few already, but we have others coming.

What do you think about Cigar City helping the revolution of craft beer in Florida?
I love Cigar City. I think they’re really opening the light to other brewers as to what can be done. Before Cigar City I didn’t realize I could brew like… avocado beer. I mean they’ve only been open for about 2 years and they already have a couple of hundred different recipes. Even if it is just one IPA treated 20 different ways, they’re definitely not afraid to be unique and it’s definitely paying off for them.

How do you feel about doing things like cask beers with weird treatments and stuff like that to keep beer nerds happy?
I definitely want to get a cask. I’ve actually been looking at casks right now for my homebrewing setup.

What are your favorite styles of beer to drink?
My favorite is definitely Belgian beer. I always have one or two Belgian style beers on tap. Just last week we finished my Meyer lemon Belgian wit, which was fantastic. Other than that I like wheat beers and I always like a good IPA. When it’s cold I like stouts. I always brew a stout in the winter.

What do you like to brew?
I’ve brewed hefeweizens the most… other than that, probably saisons or IPAs.

That’s all of the questions I have – anything else you want to say?
Just that brewing is an awesome hobby. It’s awesome that you’re going to do a blog about me. I appreciate the recognition.

No problem, Stephen, and thanks again for the interview!


Friday, November 4, 2011

Fermentation Lounge News!

So I was just reading over Ferm's latest blog post and they dropped some news that is definitely worth noting!

First, they announced that this Sunday at 7pm they will be releasing their new haus made braggot, made with honey from Sweet Grass Dairy. In addition, you can get a cheese sampler to pair with the braggot that includes various Sweet Grass cheeses as well as the honey that was used in the braggot! I work until 7pm that day, but I will be there afterwards if anybody wants to say hello!

They also mentioned that the Fermentation Market will be moving in next door to the Lounge. I can't say I hit the Market that frequently, but that is good news for them and thirsty customers alike!

Keep your eyes peeled next week for an interview with a new brewer in town that will hopefully soon be opening yet another brewery in town!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Local Updates

Not much new going on these days, but here are a few quick updates and reminders. Also, I've been asked by a local up and coming brewer to come over, do an interview, and sample some brews. Once that happens I will post it on the blog! If any other current or future brewers would like a spot on the blog - feel free to contact me!

Tomorrow is Proof's big Stone event. They will have 2 casks, including a vanilla aged smoked porter and dry-hopped Oaked Arrogant Bastard. There will also be a glassware giveaway and any beers purchased from the Arrogant Bastard lineup helps towards the "Most Arrogant Bar in the US" competition.

The week after (November 9th) is Proof's Dogfish Head event. There will be a glassware giveaway as well as kegs of 120 Minute, Bitches Brew, Namaste, My Antonia, Olde School, Pangea, Hellhound, 60 Minute, 90 Minute, and Midas Touch. I'm not Dogfish's #1 fan, but that's a tasty lineup. They are also boasting bottles of "Dogfish Head Foundation," but I have no idea what that is. If anyone has any idea, do let me know! UPDATE: I assume they're talking about Dogfish Head's new Pearl Jam beer, dubbed "Faithfull," and it was just a mix up of names.

The brewer for Golden Horn/Fermentation Lounge told me awhile back that they are a week behind their original schedule, so their next haus bier release should happen on or around November 16th. The original schedule says they were planning a chocolate oatmeal imperial stout (yum!) and a date brown ale (gross). We'll see what pops up, though!

Well that's about it for now. Check back soon for that interview!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Huge News from Proof

In a recent e-mail, Proof dropped a couple of big bombs on the beer community, but let's get a few smaller updates over with first.

UPDATE: A co-worker told me Momo's threw a new beer on tap, and a call verifies so. It's a light, golden honey ale and the girl on the phone told me it's called "Honey Bear Ale." Cute. Now start telling us when you PUT YOUR BEERS ON TAP!

Fermentation Lounge is having the next haus bier release with Golden Horn Brewing Company this Wednesday, the 26th at 5pm. They are releasing a Spiced Pumpkin Beer and a Pale Peach Ale (peach pale ale). Normally I'd post the descriptions, but we have more important news to get to (no offense, Ferm dudes). Instead, check out their blog.

Proof is celebrating their 3rd birthday that same Wednesday with a Sweetwater event at 8pm. They will be tapping the new Dank Tank - Ghoulash, an imperial black IPA. There will also be a glassware giveaway as always.

The biggest news, however, comes in Proof's latest subscription email:

"We are in the process of expanding by adding:
A new bar and bar area!
A Biergarten!
22 more taps for a total of 50!
Dedicated beer engines for Cask Ale!
A BREWERY - with full scale brewing operations commencing soon!"


Let's read that again. 22 more taps? 50 total taps? Casks?! A BREWERY?!

Obviously, I knew about this a long time ago, but I have been keeping my mouth shut until the news was officially announced. Since that information is a bit scant, allow me to fill in a bit. Proof is currently in the process of turning their basement into another bar. This bar will have 22 more taps (making the total 50 with the current 28 upstairs), bottles, and liquor, but no macros (sorry, brosefs). Additionally, I believe some new bartenders and beer loving bartenders will be working down there (ie: myself, hopefully). So hopefully within the next couple of months (I'm not sure of the open dates), you will be able to come enjoy a beer served by yours truly! Additionally, you could take that beer outside and enjoy it in the biergarten. Crazy!


Yep. I'm not sure exactly when this will be implemented, but I'm pretty excited. Proof has some good people in mind to help out with this, and again, I'm hoping one of them is yours truly. Who knows, someday you may be able to come to Proof and enjoy a beer served by me that I helped make! Yikes!

Well all of this is definitely good news, and I'm certainly excited!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Stone Event at Proof

Finally some beer events are happening in Tallahassee! We've been in a bit of a slump...

Momo's tapped their new IPA on Sunday, eventually dubbing it "Sunburst IPA." It's not bad, but it's nothing special. I was hoping for a bigger hop kick, but I'm sure it goes down easy for the masses... which is good for their business, I'm sure. You can see my rating, and a few others, here.

Proof announced their next big event, which is centered around Stone Brewing Company. There aren't a ton of details, but they're promising two casks, 2011 Double Bastard, and a glassware giveaway. I think that may be one random Wednesday that I don't have orchestra rehearsal, so depending on what the casks are, you may just see me there!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Momo's IPA

Word of mouth tells me that Market Street's (Momo's) IPA was tapped today. The words came from the mouth of an employee of the Tennessee Street location that supposedly talked to the owner. Their website doesn't say anything about it, but what else is new. I just made a quick call and verified that the brew is in fact on tap.

I have to say it again... why are they being so weird and secretive about this? The guy that told me the above information told me the owner plans to always tap these on Sundays, probably about 2 weeks apart depending on the beer that is made. I have no idea why they don't tell anyone or announce it!

In other news, Proof is having a Blue Point glassware giveaway on Wednesday, October 19th at 8pm. I'm told the pint glasses are blue, which is pretty cool. Also of interest to the tickers is that they will be tapping Blue Point's Oatmeal Stout, which hasn't been in this town before to my knowledge. Woot.

UPDATE: Ferm's beer releases are a week behind from their original schedule, so the next two will come out on Wednesday the 26th. I may have been harsh at first, but they've definitely stepped it up as of late. Up next is a spiced pumpkin beer and a peach pale ale. Not super excited about either (I'm definitely over pumpkin beers, and I don't like peaches) but I'll be there nonetheless!


Monday, October 10, 2011

Boring Fall

Well... I was hoping to do a local updates post, as I haven't been as dedicated to this blog lately due to school, but there's really nothing to update.

Brewfest Tallahassee is over, the latest Fermentation Lounge Haus Bier release is over, and Momo's has tapped their first beers... shoot.

I was at the Homebrew Den recently (they're the brewers at Momo's), asked about their new IPA (that's what I was told they're brewing next), and was given the now stereotypical response of "I dunno - a couple of weeks maybe?" I still have no idea why they're keeping all their beers a secret. It's weird.

Fermentation Lounge has a few events going on these days, but nothing that caters to beer nerds. If you're into weird movies, hipster music, or BS Oktoberfest events, then I'll let you read their blog to see what you want to hit up. Their original release schedule for their haus biers says they will be doing the next one on October 19th with a pumpkin beer and some sort of IPA. At the time they were contemplating peach, but they haven't updated since.

No word from Mike's Stone Baked Pizza or the other venture in town on 6th Avenue, but I'll certainly update when I get any information. I've sent out a few texts and Facebook messages to see if there is any news.

I've narrowed down a logo for some t-shirts and will be making some soon. If you want one, do let me know by commenting on here, contacting me on Facebook, email, or whatever. They will be simple iron-ons and I will only charge you what it costs me (probably like 5 dollars). Make sure to tell me your size.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

BA Hunahpu's

Recently I was lucky to head down to Tampa with a couple of co-workers to hit up the BA Hunahpu's release. For those of you out there that don't know what that stands for, it means "barrel-aged," though "bad ass" would be equally appropriate. Needless to say, I was pretty excited. They were releasing four treatments of their famous Hunahpu's Imperial Stout: Whiskey, Rum, Bourbon, and Virgin Oak. I had already had the bourbon version at the first ever Hunahpu's release, but it's definitely a foggy memory of a long day.

The event was a lot of fun combined with a small bit of insanity. The bar opens at 11am and the release was set for 1pm. We got there at about 10:15 and there were about 40-50 people in line waiting to get into the bar. The funny thing about that is that there were no lines for the release. Nothing was announced until just before 1pm. All of those people were simply waiting to get in.

Once inside, we got a shit-ton of things on tap. The members in my group went to the bar separately throughout the day and we tried just about everything that went on tap before the release (we left soon after, only to come back later that night). The highlight of that time was definitely the Tiramisu Sweet Stout (rating). This was essentially a sweet vanilla and coconut bomb, and I could have drank gallons of it.

The best part about the event was meeting up with and talking to old and new RateBeer buddies. I got to catch up with a few people from the Tampa and Orlando crews as well as meet some other RBians from all over the place. We even managed to make a couple of friends that happen to live in Tallahassee. Sweet. It was also nice hanging out with some people from work that I don't hang out with much outside of work. On top of that, the owner and the brewer from Fermentation Lounge were both there, so we chatted them up a bit as well.

Well eventually the release went down and it was pretty nuts. People had started packing their side brewery room by noon. A man got up with a megaphone and told us where each line would be and then they started handing out tickets. From what I've read online, apparently it was pretty nuts, but my crew ended up with plenty. We hooked up a couple trades in person to help out some RB buddies and then went on our merry way. We ended up with 2 of each treatment and 3 of each Big Sound treatment. We also landed a bunch of growlers from trades I had set up, and we bought some bottles from a local store. Here is a pic of everything we had... our estimate was that we had at least around $400 of Cigar City Beer, let alone the others beers in the picture.

A few days later we got together with members from the Tallahassee crew and drank them all. We did all four treatments in a row, starting with the Virgin Oak. It was even better out of the growler than I remembered in on tap at the release. The rest were all quite good, but the hands down favorite was the bourbon treatment. The aroma alone on that beer was enough to win it for me. Heaven. It's also the only bottle we have left as we traded all of our other extras. I have a feeling it'll get traded sometime in the future, though... unless we get thirsty one night. Cheers!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Momo's Beer on Tap!

Today Momo's Pizza on Market Street randomly announced some things on their blog in a somewhat confusing manner... First they said that they were getting really close and we should stand by for more news (aside from the picture of their brewing equipment, they didn't even say what they were talking about). Later they announced they would be tapping their beers TONIGHT.

Marketing genius, I tell ya.

Seriously, though, why have they been keeping this so mysterious and weird? Is it so hard to pick a release date, even if it's a week in advance, and let us know? Are they "keeping it real" by having their Sunday regulars get first dibs?

Well I was busy tonight, but I was able to get over there around 8:45p, which worried me because they close at 9p. Despite the evil glares upon my entry, I was allowed to purchase the two beers (hey, someone has to rate these before Kevin). They had two beers - "Inaugural Amber" and "Big Papa's Porter." In short, they're pretty decent beers, though both seemed a bit light and catered to the masses - especially the porter. Deeeefinitely could be worse, though.

Anyway, I mainly just wanted to post this to let people know - go out and get it!

Cheers to MORE fresh Tallahassee beer!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Adventures in Homebrewing

Ah, another day, another boring class. That means it's time for a blog entry. Contenance Angloise? Eh, I'll take a beer.

Before we get started, a bit for the locals.

-Don't forget the weekly tasting at New Leaf on Saturday
-Fermentation's original release schedule says they're releasing a new Golden Horn beer on October 1st, but they haven't said anything else about it as of yet
-Momo's didn't release any beer this weekend, and myself and all sources were basically told, "I don't know. A couple/few weeks."

Now, let's talk homebrewing.

I've thought about writing about my adventures in homebrewing for awhile now, but I don't really know what to say... and I still really don't, so I'll ramble a bit and hopefully figure something out.

I suppose I should mention how I got started... that part's easy - my older brother, Calvin (pictured). He is completely responsible for beginning my interest in beer in general, let alone homebrewing. He's been doing it for years, and when I once asked him why people drink beer (I used to hate beer, but I just didn't know what was out there), he said something to me along the lines of, "It's not that you don't like beer - it's that you haven't had the right beer." The rest is history.

Before I got started, and I'm not 100% sure on these facts, I'm sure I brewed with my brother a bit, and possibly a few other people, and then started getting into commercial beer. My wife (girlfriend at the time) actually made the leap into homebrewing for me (a trend we'll see again later) by getting me a Mr. Beer kit for Christmas one year. After making their horrible first recipe, I immediately sought my brother's advice and started making my own recipes with his help. Unlike the Mr. Beer kits suggest, I started boiling, adding specialty grains, adding extra hops, using real adjuncts (fruit, etc.) instead of extracts, pitching liquid yeast, and so on.

Eventually I grew out of the kit and my roommate and I at UNI got a bunch of equipment and went to town, brewing quite a bit. I jumped into full 5-gallon extract brewing, bought a bigger pot, and started experimenting. My first full 5-gallon batch was a coffee Russian imperial stout, part of which I set aside and aged on Jack Daniels-soaked toasted oak chips. Go big or go home, I guess. This started to be my trend... I never really brewed anything normal, and my roommate at the time didn't help that fact. I started brewing fruit beers, coconut porters, and we both brewed a ton of weird ciders - many of which turned out... less than awesome. We even brewed a blueberry mead in honor of a famous visiting euphonium player. My roommate found a clone recipe for one of his favorite witbiers and we sent it to Calvin's hometown competition - the Drunk Monk Challenge - and didn't tell him. Him and his wife were both surprised when our names got called for a 3rd place ribbon in that category. To this day it's the only competition I've ever entered, for no specific reason, honestly. I also got involved with a homebrew club in town, CRAZE, and had a good time getting to know some of those guys, though at the time I was not nearly as experienced as they were.

For awhile, this kept going. I brewed a lot of extract 5-gallon batches over the next couple of years, even a coconut porter and a raspberry wheat for table favors at my wedding. I brewed with lots of different people as well - relatives, friends, fellow local homebrewers, etc. As always happens with homebrewers, I eventually felt the need for more control over my recipes and wanted to go all grain... but never wanted to purchase the equipment. My wife again made the leap for me by purchasing me an all grain ingredient kit for my birthday this summer... so I had to get the equipment right? Several hundred dollars later and I was happily pumping out my first all grain batch - an extremely hoppy IPA. I currently have a cooler type 3-tier system complete with a 10-gallon hot liquor tank, 10-gallon mash tun with a false bottom, and my old 8 gallon mega pot. I've since made two batches and already have several ideas for my next batches - with thanks to my wife, friends, and others.

The setup

The first IPA I made (pictured) turned out awesome. I would venture to say it is one of the best, if not the best, beer I have made to date. When I first tasted it I posted on Facebook something about how it tasted like pine dipped in caramelized grapefruit, or something like that. The hop character is very tasty, and I'm pretty proud of the beer. So far the people I've shared it with seem to enjoy it as well, but who knows. After that I wanted to try my hands at a more sessionable beer, and I took inspiration from a hoppy wheat beer of my brother's I had tasted recently. I took his recipe, altered it a bit, and produced what is a light, but tasty and slightly hoppy, wheat beer that is just under 5% and goes down like heaven on a hot day. Coupled with its sweet, hoppy aroma from loads of Centennial dry-hopping (pictured below), it's pretty dang good. Honestly, both of these brews had an ulterior motive for their production, but I won't get into that now. So far those are the only 2 all grain batches I've made, but as soon as I get a free day from work and school, more will be coming.

Dry-hopping the wheat

So what's next? Well, there is a coconut porter recipe I've made several times (though never all-grain), and I have a pretty awesome idea for it... imperial coconut porter! On top of that, I found out recently that I can get Palm Ridge Reserve Whiskey barrels through a distributor where I work... whiskey barrel aged imperial coconut porter! Yes, you read that right. If I can pull that off... this beer could be awesome. What's great about Palm Ridge Reserve is that it's local, high-quality, and the barrels are 5-gallons! It's like they're begging homebrewers to use them! Will do.

Palm Ridge barrels

Well, that's all for now, folks. Feel free to comment on here or email me with questions or anything you may have to say! This weekend I will be attending the Barrel-aged Hunahpu's release at Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, so you can expect a post about that next week.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Local Updates

Well, folks, can you tell that school has started? I can.

In fact, I'm literally typing this blog in class. 12th century counterpoint? Eh, I'll take a beer.

In the near future I intend to write up a post about my adventures in homebrewing, both past and upcoming, but for now, a few local updates.

Momo's still hasn't updated anything on their website, but a co-worker told me he saw wort pumping last time he ate there. If anyone has any more information, feel free to comment on here. I know a couple of you get out that way more than I do.

I've also been checking Mike's Stone Baked Pizza's Facebook page and haven't seen anything at all about brewing. I'll probably shoot the brewer a text sometime soon.

For the tickers out there, I'm told that Tomahawk has Yuengling Oktoberfest on tap, oddly enough.

Fermentation Lounge announced via their Facebook that they will be tapping a beer from a brewery they've never had before on Friday or Saturday... for free. Nuts. I asked on their FB what it will be - my guess being Thomas Creek since that started showing up in town, but they also mentioned getting a keg of Liefman's Oud Bruin, so it may be that, but I don't know if they've had Liefman's before.

UPDATE: They responded on their Facebook "Intuition." I can only assume they mean Intuition Ale Works from Jacksonville, which I've never had. Sweet.

They've also started beer education, dubbed "Beer 101," on their blog. They're very brief, somewhat generic, and seemingly random as well, but it's nice that they're doing it nonetheless.

As for other events, don't forget about the Gordon Biersch event at Proof on the 21st and the upcoming Golden Horn releases at Ferm in October.


Sunday, September 4, 2011


It's about time for another personal article, but first, a local update.

Proof announced that on Wednesday, September 21st they will be having an event with a Gordon Biersch Uber Barrel. It's hard to find very much information about exactly what that is, but apparently it's a big wooden keg that is gravity served. I can't find any information as of yet if the barrel is actually wooden or just a keg/cask inside of a wooden barrel, which would be my guess.

The beer people that I've told about this event always respond with something like "Does it have to be Gordon Biersch beer?" Sadly, yes it does, but I think it's still pretty cool. I have rehearsal on Wednesday nights and probably won't be able to attend any more of Proof's events, sadly, so I won't be seeing you there for this one. The first 30 people get to keep their Uberbier mugs, by the way.

Now let's get on with the topic at hand. I promise it to be long, dry, and quite boring.

As I've mentioned many times on this blog, I less-than-three quite a bit. Quite a bit. It's an awesome site. Whenever I mention this fact, I inevitably get asked this type of question: "Well, what about Beer Advocate?" or "Why not Beer Advocate?"

Well, the answer isn't that simple, I suppose, but I have my reasons. One reason is that several years back, ratebeer was the site I was told about... so I joined. In my younger days, I simply heard about ratebeer first and stuck with it. Where I'm from in IL/IA, most people used and talked about ratebeer (RB). It wasn't until I moved to Tallahassee that I was struck by the Beer Advocate (BA) phenomenon so hard.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with BA. I still use it to look at ratings occasionally, browse the forums, look up places, look at beer style information, and more. I used to use the trade forums as well, but I can't anymore (more on that later). I appreciate what the site does, and I don't want to bring down anybody that is supporting craft beer, but once again, look at the title of this blog. It's time to finally flesh out why I don't really like BA. Most likely, I will soon be banned from the site (yes, they do that). I'll break it down into three parts: what I hate about BA, what I love about RB, and a de-bunking of the "positives" of BA.

First, there are some technical aspects of BA that I can't stand. The first and foremost is that the site is TOO DAMN SLOW. Doing one beer search will prove this point, and many others that are related. I just did a search for "Russian River Pliny the Elder" on both sites. On RB the result list was... instant. I couldn't count. On BA, I waited a solid 3-5 seconds for it to come up. Now this may not always happen, but in my experience, the site is just too slow.

Speaking of searching for beers, BA's search function is awful. RB allows you to search partial words, which means it is waayyyyy easier to find beers that are hard to spell, foreign, or whatever. I just did a search on both sites for "Russ Plin." On RB, the first beer in the results is Russian River Pliny the Elder. On BA, I LITERALLY waited 10 seconds for the results list to come up, and there was nothing. Unge.

I also just hate BA's layout. It's so difficult to find anything in all their little sidebars and boxes. Granted I don't use the site as much as RB, but I still have a hard time finding what I'm looking for when I try to browse the forums. In fact, I've given up and bookmarked the forums that I ever want to read.

Now let's move on to some less technical computer-y aspects. Going back to my Pliny search brings up one of the most annoying and most talked-about cons of BA. Their database just isn't very well maintained, and the results lists are often confusing and mislabeled. One of the most commonly noted problems is shown with the Pliny search. On RB, the results list clearly says "Russian River Pliny the Elder," where as BA simply says "Pliny the Elder" and Russian River is listed below the beer. I know what you're thinking... "So what?" Well it matters for a couple of reasons. For one, I'll try a search for "Blackout Stout," because I happen to know several breweries have a beer by that name. On RB, the list comes up very clean with the brewer listed first. It's easy to scan alphabetically and find what specific beer I want. On BA, it comes up in a giant clusterfuck of beer names, breweries, and retired beers that are marked in front of the name, making it even worse. Jeebus. I can hardly even make sense of the list.

This search coincidentally brings up another point about their database and beer lists. Sometimes the brewery IS listed in front of the beer name... why can't they pick one? In this case, Great Lakes Blackout Stout is listed like that, whereas Indian Wells Blackout Stout isn't. Speaking of, the Indian Wells beer is listed as retired, despite the fact that I had the beer just a couple of nights ago. WTF?!

For some reason, many of these complaints seem interrelated. A huge problem with the site is that there apparently aren't enough admins (people with the power to change and maintain items on the site) to monitor these problems. Forum posts often explode with 800 instant replies of complete nonsense (okay, RB is bad about this too, but admins clean it up), the beer database is confusing, beers aren't listed in a consistent manner, and so much more. There simply needs to be more admins or SOMEONE taking care of these things, as there's no way the "Bros" can keep up with such things.

Speaking of the Bros, I don't give a flying fuck what they have to say about a beer. This is a ridiculous feature. If I want to see their ratings, I'll click their username. /end angry rant.

Keeping it related, I also hate their rating system. A letter grade for a beer means absolutely nothing to me. Oh it got a C+? What's wrong, did it not study very hard for its Beer-Getting-Made degree at Beer State University? Did it have potential and just not apply itself? Does an A+ beer have book smarts but no common sense? I mean where does it end?!

One of the most annoying and most talked-about complaints is that you have to join BA to look at anything. You can get around this by Googling beers, but otherwise you have to join to look at just about anything on the site outside of the front page, which is very frustrating if you work at a liquor store or bar and want to look something up for someone. To top it off, once you join, you still have to deal with ads. The same is true for RB, but you can pay to be a premium member (more later) and it all goes away.

To make it worse, BA has these "Beer Karma" points. For the longest time they meant absolutely nothing beyond a false sense of satisfaction when you contributed to the site. Recently they changed the rules so that you have to have a certain amount of karma points to post in the trading forums. Since I don't rate or post on the site very often, I don't have enough points and thus can no longer use this part of the site. To make it worse, nobody has any idea how the karma points work, and the Bros seem to award people randomly.

Okay, enough about BA, let's move on and be positive for a bit. Most of what I love about RB is summed up on their stats page handily for me.

One of the best things about RB is the user base. RB has more users, more ratings, and more international users by far. This means that each beer has more input and a more varied input, giving it a more rounded score (in percentile format - not some letter grade). The top 13 raters (by count) on RB are not American. Of the top 100 raters (by count), only 33 are from America - almost exactly a third. I, for one, don't care what every tom-dick-and-todd in the Northeastern US thinks about Kate the Great. I care what the rest of America and the rest of the world thinks.

Another awesome positive of RB is the polar opposite of BA - the site has plenty of admins and is extremely well maintained. They hands down have the most comprehensive beer database in the world, everything is listed consistently, and admins watch carefully what place and beer ratings go up, what new beers get entered, etc. to make sure everything stays in as tip-top shape as possible. I was once at a bar in IL that told me Two Brothers brewed a hefeweizen for them. I entered the beer, rated it, and got a message from an admin asking if it really was a new beer. I told him I wasn't sure as I was going on what the bartender told me. The admin emailed the Two Brothers brewer and asked if it was in fact a new beer. Turns out it wasn't and the bar was wrong. These are the things I love about RB. That beer was left as an "alias" in the database, and now any RB person that visits that bar will know it's the same beer when they look it up. That's dedication, folks.

The rest of what I love about RB was pretty much summed up when I talked about BA, so I won't go over their search functions and all of that again. I do want to give a plug for them, though. If you join RB, I highly suggest you pay to become a premium member. The people that run the website do it for free outside of their normal jobs, and they have to pay for all that server space somehow. The premium membership only costs $13 a year... and I think you can afford $1.08 a month. Going premium also gets rid of ads, allows you to access other forums, and a few other cool stat-related perks. If you want to help them out more, you can also donate.

Alright, enough sunshine and smiles. There are a few people I know that always have some sort of argument for BA, and it's time for me to clear this up as well. Let's debunk the BS that comes with BA.

One of the most frequent arguments I hear is that BA has a better database of places and that the ratings are better. Though it's true that RB members tend to take on a "ticking" philosophy, even for places, I just don't think this argument is true. To make it real for us Tally homies, let's use Tallahassee as our example.

Before I debunk this myth, let's talk about the place area of both sites. First of all, didn't it used to be called "Barfly" or something like that on BA? Man that was annoying. I'm glad they changed it. BA lists every city in Florida alphabetically, which is pretty annoying. RB groups the cities into metropolitan areas but still lists every city. It has a much better look/feel and is way easier to navigate.

Ehem, anyway, let's take a look at Tallahassee on both sites. BA lists 23 locations and RB lists 20. However, several of the places listed on BA don't belong on a craft beer site: 4th Quarter, Inn Between (I don't even know what that is), Mike's Beer Barn, Mockingbird Cafe, Paddy's Campus Beach Bar, and the Engine Room to name a few. In fact, there are no worthwhile places listed on BA that aren't also listed on RB. Also, RB has a few that are blatantly missing from BA - Earth Fare, ABC, and Publix to name a few.

Let's look at the ratings. The top rated place on RB for Tallahassee is Proof, so we'll start there. RB has 19 ratings of Proof with the most recent being from September 2nd, 2011. BA has 6 ratings of Proof with the last rating being from June 12th, 2011.

Now this is one simple example among a literal world of entries, but we are in Tallahassee, and it just so happens to prove my point. One could argue that the "place" section is largely based on user input, so it's not really BA's fault, but regardless, don't go telling me about how awesome the place section is on BA. If they had more active users and more people that cared to rate the places then it wouldn't be a problem.

Now for the big cat, the big gun, the trying, the annoying, the most often cited bullshit, piece-of-crap argument I always hear about BA.

"But the ratings people enter are so much better."

Throw in any of the following - RB is all tickers; I like long, thorough ratings; they don't rate as many macros - or whatever, and you're officially a loser BA fanboy grasping for arguments in your favor. Climb out of your mom's basement and come drink with us.

Now this is a touchy subject. I definitely have nothing against big, long, fancy beer ratings. However, using that as an argument is complete BS for a few reasons. For one, almost anyone that cites this argument references a certain couple of raters that are known for having a lot of reviews on BA. Well guess what, there are people on RB who rate just as thoroughly, and often much more down to earth than the famous BA people. It just so happens that people don't see these RB raters as much because they haven't rated as many beers. When you look at RB's top users, you see a ton of foreign users (see above) who have rated 20,000+ beers in just a few sentences. You can't use that as a basis to slam all of RB. Personally I have a mix of quick, concise ratings and long, thorough ones.

The other issue I have with this argument is that there is really only so much you can say. I don't really care if a user describes the beer as smelling like "fresh picked Tahitian vanilla sliced by a Samurai sword and then heated slowly over pickled cherry wood with one drop of unicorn blood and a scale from the Loch Ness Monster." Guess what - it still just smells like vanilla.

Since this entry is getting very long, let's keep it going. I'm going to break down one of the ratings from one of these famous users by paragraph and tell you what they're really saying. Do keep in mind I have nothing against this person or his ratings. Here goes.

Russian River Pliny the Elder (I have no idea why I chose this for all of my examples, but I'll stick with it)

BA user:
Sun-fired ochre with lemon drop edges. The alabaster crown is a thing of beauty. It's firmly creamy (and eventually vanilla milkshake melty) and is a lace generator of the highest order. The upper third of the glass is almost completely coated with thick, frosting-like lace. It'd be great to see some hop flecks swimming about, but for a 'clean' DIPA look, it's hard to beat.

Appearance - orange. Thick tan head. Great lacing.

BA user:
I had little doubt that the nose would be dripping with hop esters and I'm happy to report that it is. In terms of absolute resinous pungency, it might take a backseat to the Younger, but it's still one of my all-time favorites. It's hard to go wrong with Vinnie at the helm and with a hop bill that consists of some of the best hops in the world: Simcoe, Centennial, Columbus, Chinook and Warrior. Just typing the list gives me goose bumps and makes my mouth water.

Aroma - hoppy, resinous. Self-indulged reference to the brewer and another beer (on another note - the above is a terrible aroma description - why do people like this guy so much?)

BA user:
For some reason (reputation perhaps) I didn't expect to like the Elder as much as I liked the Younger. Not that it's even possible, since I consider the latter to be one of the top handful of DIPAs in all the world; and therefore one of the top handful of beers in all the world. I have to say, though, that it's close. This is an outstanding effort that hits all the right notes in that 'ideal DIPA symphony' that I listen for each time I crack open a bottle and take a drink.

Completely useless BS

BA user:
If anything, the malt:hop balance favors hops more in this beer than it does in the Younger. Since the brewery calls that beer a Triple IPA (I believe it!) that utilizes three times as many hops as their standard IPA, it has to be a relative lack of malt. I'm not one to complain about a beer's hoppiness, but keep in mind that the Elder is more raw and more smack-you-silly bitter than the glorious, nectar-like, hop explosive smoothness of the Younger.

Flavor - more BS about Younger. Bitter.

BA user:
In the right hands, a hop bill as incredible as the one listed above can't help but result in a mind blowingly delicious beer. And that is exactly what has made the journey from Santa Rosa to my mouth. Brilliant, palate-shattering, hopsticky white grapefruit, pineapple and lemon zest fill my mouth and ravage my tongue... and I couldn't be happier. Who cares if the Elder doesn't have the well-mannered elegance of the Younger? True hopheads will rejoice in its 'no holds barred' alpha acidity, much as I'm doing now.

Flavor - grapefruit, pineapple, lemon. More BS about Younger. (Oh finally, we get some actual flavor indicators!)

BA user:
I've been so blown away by the flavor that I haven't yet given a thought to the mouthfeel. No matter, I still have a third of a bottle left. I'd better be quick about it because the 8.0% ABV is beginning to catch up with me in a big hurry. The mouthfeel, while less full, syrupy and sticky than the Younger, is still outstanding. Again, I have to thank "name removed" for an amazing re-bottling effort that is nothing less than perfect.

Mouthfeel - thick. Gettin' drunk. More BS about Younger.

BA user:
Pliny the Elder is an equally hoppy, slightly more bitter, lower in alcohol, lighter bodied (but still full-bodied) version of Pliny the Younger. Both are exceptional beers and both deserve every accolade that is bestowed upon them. More hop alchemy from the ridiculously talented Mr. Cilurzo. Long may he brew!

Direct comparisons to Younger, a beer which almost none of you have had, and you'll probably never have.

/end translation

And there we have it, folks. My mostly full listing of reasons for why I don't really care for BA, etc. From now on, if you ask me, I'm just going to take your beer away from you or direct you to my blog.

What do you think? Feel free to leave comments!