Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Brewfest Tallahassee, local updates

Just a few quick reminders...

Tonight is Golden Horn/Fermentation Lounge's next release of their haus biers - a coffee porter and a Belgian tripel with honey. I should be there around 6:30p to give them a try, assuming there's any left.

Thursday night (8pm) is the Stella Chalice giveaway at Proof.

Proof has released a little more information about their Victory event on Wednesday, September 7th. There will be a few things on tap, including the Braumeister Pils, which is apparently a bit limited in town. No word yet on which hop it is, but I'll update when I find out. In addition they'll have $3 pints of Prima Pils to compare side-by-side.

Not sure why I didn't mention this before, but if you're interested, Brewfest Tallahassee is on Saturday, October 8th. My first year in town the VIP section was sponsored by LL/Proof and was pretty sweet. Last year (and again this year), the VIP section was sponsored by ABC, and I hear it was pretty lame. I will not be purchasing a ticket, VIP or regular, but I may end up working a table there if my work goes (we had a cask last year). For more info on the fest, head here.

Until next time, cheers to fresh Tallahassee beer!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Coffee and Honey and Beers, OH MY!

This Wednesday, August 31st, Fermentation Lounge/Golden Horn Brewing will be releasing two more brews. As announced on their blog, they are promising a coffee porter and a Belgian tripel with honey. Having just had the Left Hand Beer Week Sauce coffee porter at Proof, I'm excited to see how Golden Horn's will stack up. From Ferm's blog:

Coffee Porter - A dark, malty English porter with an abundance of dark roasted malts. Near the end of the fermentation process, freshly roasted beans from Grassroots Coffee are added to this robust brew.
Tripel Honey - A Belgian tripel with 12 pounds of locally produced gallberry honey added during different phases of the brew process.

They open at 5pm on Wednesday, but I work until 7pm.

I am trying to get someone to come in early for me, but the earliest I'll be able to get there is around 6:30p, I'd say. If you're around, say hello!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cicerone Certification Program

I recently took it upon myself to begin the Cicerone Certification Program. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, you can read more here. Basically, it's supposed to be the equivalent of the wine sommelier program... but for beer! It's somewhat service oriented as well. You have to know a ton about beer (they use the BJCP style guidelines) as well as information about draft systems, blood alcohol levels, etc. There are three levels, each has a test, and each level costs money, unfortunately. The three levels are:

Certified Beer Server
Certified Cicerone
Master Cicerone

I recently took, and passed, the first level - Certified Beer Server. According to the database on their website, I am now one of only 3 people in Tallahassee to have this designation. The test was pretty easy for a person like me. The worst part was shelling out $69 to pass the test. Oh well.

I know what you're thinking, and yes, I would like to become a Certified Cicerone as well. The problem is that it costs $345 dollars and you have to do an on-site test with judges... and there are none in Florida. In fact, the closest test is in North Carolina... ten hours away. There are some in the Midwest, though, so possibly in the near future I'll visit family and hit an exam elsewhere.

Wondering why I'm not setting my sites on Master? Well, for one, apparently it's extremely difficult. According to their website, only 3 people have ever passed. Also, it costs $595 and the test only happens once a year. For now, fuck that!

Local Updates

First, let's update you thirsty locals.

Some of you found out (the hard way) that Fermentation Lounge didn't end up getting their cask of Chipotlai on Tuesday. They say on their Facebook that it has arrived and they will tap it on Sunday, August 28th. They didn't say what time, but usually they tap the casks when they open, which is 5pm 4PM on Sunday. Unfortunately I work on Sunday... but I may try to get out there for it. UPDATE: I will be there at 4pm.

Also, they are having their Terrapin event with a cask of Hop Karma on Friday (August 26th - today) with a glassware giveaway.

Proof has announced a couple of events in the last couple of days. On Wednesday THURSDAY, September 1st at 8pm they are doing a Stella Artois chalice giveaway. My advice to the beer nerds in town: skip it. It will definitely be bro-tastic.

However, on Wednesday, September 8th at 8pm they are doing a Victory event with a cask of Storm King. This is one of the boldest casks they've had in awhile, and if I can make it, I will be there for sure. There will also be a few other Victory beers on tap and a glassware giveaway.

UPDATE: I just found out that the Victory Storm King cask WILL NOT be happening. The cask that was offered is apparently very old and was turned down. There will be some sort of special "German" event instead, details TBA.

Other than that, don't forget New Leaf does a sampling of 4-5 beers every Saturday around 4:30pm. No news from Momo's or Mike's Stone Baked Pizza yet, but I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

CCB Cask at Ferm

Fermentation Lounge announced via their blog that they will have a cask of Chipotle Jai Alai at opening on Tuesday, which is 5pm. For you folks looking for it on ratebeer, it is already listed as "Chipotlai" which cracks me up. Luckily I don't work until 10pm that night, so I'll see you there!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Great Taste of the Midwest

First, for you Tally locals, don't forget that New Leaf Market does a tasting every Saturday at about 4:30pm where they sample a handful of beers. I'll probably stop by to check it out as I have the day off and it gives me an excuse to hit that side of town for new beer finds.

Also, Proof announced a last minute event tomorrow at 5pm:

Tomorrow during Happy Hour we'll have the Owner and Brewer of Swamp Head Brewery in the bar for a FSU themed glassware giveaway! Hang with the Owner and Brewer and get a sweet glass when you buy a pint!"

Anyway, I was recently lucky enough to spend the weekend in and around Madison, Wisconsin for the Great Taste of the Midwest. I'll spare you the entire history, but I will say it is a highly sought-after, gi-normous beer festival and supposedly the second longest running beer festival in North America. Yikes.

Getting tickets alone is intense, and they sold approximately 6,000 this year. If you want tickets, you have to try hard, and apparently a lot of people do. Six local stores and breweries get a handful of tickets to sell, and lines start early. I got my ticket because my brother in-law stood in line for 16 hours, OVERNIGHT, to get his 2 tickets. If you don't have that kind of time to kill, you can enter the lottery system. To even be considered for the lottery you must send a self-addressed stamped envelope ON a certain date. Note I didn't say BY a certain date - ON. And yes, tons of people don't get tickets.

So anyway, I booked a SkyMiles flight, packed my suitcase full of beer to share in Madison, and flew out on Friday afternoon, arriving around 9pm. Next time I will definitely fly in on Thursday, as I missed out on a lot of pre-party events on Friday.

Yes, you read that correctly. As if the festival isn't enough, most breweries show up the day before and just about every bar in Madison hosts brewery parties, and they tap some ridiculous beers... some bars even have parties and events starting on Wednesday, if not earlier.

Well, arriving that late on Friday didn't help me a whole lot. I will say that the first beer I had on tap was Three Floyds Vanilla Bean Barrel Aged Dark Lord... currently number 13 on, and a beer I had never had before. I was pretty excited, but a bit underwhelmed (rating), mainly because it was just too sweet... and overhyped. After that brew we explored a couple of other bars with no results, so we hit up a hotel to visit with some ratebeer folks, which was definitely the highlight of the night.

If you remember my post about the top beers in the world, then you remember that I LOVE, and this festival further justifies that love. I basically walked into a room of complete strangers (I had never met any of these particular RBians), was instantly accepted, and was handed tons of beer, including rare brews, one-offs, and other crazy things (okay, it probably helped that I showed up with a load of CCB beers). I won't get into too much detail about the beers, but some highlights were definitely Cigar City Penultimate Push along with Bell's Batch 6000 & 7000. I love ratebeer!

Anyway, after some sleep, we met up with another friend and went to the fest. We got in line about 2 hours early (gotta get in fast) and sat around hydrating and discussing our plan. The festival is so giant that as an experienced beer seeker, you can't go in without a plan. I had already typed up every beer I wanted to try, all the release times for special beers, and locations of important booths, which I quickly transferred to my map when I got my program. I was pretty stoked, I'm not gonna lie.

Upon entry we headed straight to the real ale tent, which was filled with delicious casks of beers from all over the Midwest. I grabbed a sample of a tasty Kuhnhenn brew and we left the tent in search of bigger and better things. Don't get me wrong, I love all the goofy cask beers, or even just regular ones, but there were some heavy hitting beers at this fest and I didn't want to miss them. Some of the breweries didn't post their release times in the program, so we had to cruise, obtain information, and write shit down.

We wandered a bit trying a few randoms on our way to the Barley John's tent, dying to find out the release time for their infamous The Dark Knight (Returns). This bourbon barrel aged impy stout is known to go for upwards of $80 a growler, so snagging a sample would at least cover my $50 ticket right? (side note: I played a $50 Dixieland gig right before I flew out... at a funeral). Walking up to their booth, we were sad to see that they had no release board up... shit... so we walk up to the booth, with nobody impeding our way whatsoever... and it's already on tap! ZING! This beauty delivered, in my opinion. Delish.

Anyway, the rest of the event was pretty awesome as well. We got some tasty pizza and line hopped for the big releases while trying random beers in between. After awhile we perfected waiting in line and sending someone off to get beers for us while we waited. I tried a ton of beers, and it'd take forever for me to describe them all. Honestly, I could have probably tried a ton more beers, but I did spend a fair amount of time in lines for the big hitters. I was pleasantly surprised to see a new beer from a brewery from my home area in IL - Blue Cat Black Zemon, a black saison with crystallized ginger. It wasn't bad.

Highlights of the day mostly included various barrel aged stouts and rarities. I got to try Bell's Wild One, Three Floyds Conquistador De Muerte Porto, Great Lakes Barrel-Aged Blackout, Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Plead the 5th, Three Floyds Bourbon Barrel Dark Lord, Cigar City Hopped Up Johnnie (shared, once again, by an awesome RBian), and a ton more.

Of special note are a few beers in particular, be them new, rare, special, or whatever.

The first beer I got to try that really stands out is Goose Island Bourbon County Neapolitan Stout. If you know me, you know that I love BCS, and that it was one of my first ever favorite brews. Well this is that same beer aged with strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla. Holy crap, it was very unique and quite good. You can read my whole rating here, but suffice to say it really reminded me of ice cream. Crazy.

Also of special note is the last special release brew I waited in line for at the event. Goose Island advertised that at the end of the event they would have a "Brewer's Choice" release, and everyone was pretty excited. It turned out to be a beer that has been deemed "Goose Island/Evil Twin Bourbon County Stout Soft Dookie Blueberry Blend." Quite a mouthful, as was the beer. The man pouring the beer told me it was a collaboration blend of BCS and Soft Dookie aged in Elijah Craig barrels with blueberries. Holy crap. It was dang tasty, too, and I'm super glad to have tried it (rating).

For those of you still with me (it can't be too many by now), there is one final beer that was my favorite of the day, and the one I was most excited for, oddly enough. This beauty that I waited all day for was Bell's Black Note, otherwise known as the original ratebeer moniker: Bell's Bourbon Barrel Double Cream/Expedition Stout. It is currently number 6 in the ratebeer top 50 (oddly enough, the highest rated beer of the day I had was BB Dark Lord at number 3, but I didn't care for it that much). I knew the release was at 5pm, so I went to the Bell's special release tent at around 4:15 while my friends waited in line for BB Plead the 5th (don't worry, they brought me some). When I hit the tent, I was told the Oracle line was still forming for the 4:30 release and I had to wait... so I got in line for Oracle, got some by around 4:35, and then just kinda lingered by the front of the line. Soon enough, people started walking up and asking for Black Note, so I just told them I had started the line, which started forming quickly. My buddies showed back up, and lo and behold - FIRST IN LINE FOR BLACK NOTE, BABY! I quickly texted a couple RB buddies and snuck their glasses in behind my back to get us plenty of fills. This beer is awesome. You can see my full rating here, but what made it stand out to me was the perfect balance of BA character with robust imperial stout characteristics. What an awesome beer.

Phew. All in all, I have to say that the festival was AWESOME and I'm going to give it 100% to go again next year, assuming someone can get me a ticket. I highly recommend the festival to anyone anywhere in the country. Make the trip up and you won't be disappointed... I promise.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Terrapin Tap Takeover at Proof

First, I have to mention that I'm in the photo currently front and center on Fermentation Lounge's blog post about their beer release and ninja bartenders (wtf?). I don't have a full post about it, but needless to say in the photo I'm typing up a rating on about how the watermelon beer was barely enjoyable because it smelled like balloons and burnt rubber.

Anyway, this is just a quick post to mention an upcoming event in Tallahassee. If you're under 50, then you've already heard. As posted on their Facebook event, Proof is having a "Terrapin Tap Takeover," including a cask and a glassware giveaway on Wednesday, August 24th at 8pm.

According to the event page, they will have the founder and President of Terrapin Brewing Company, John Cochran, as well as a special cask ale and "10+ rare and limited release Terrapin brews on tap."

I will offer a few opinions here, of course. First of all, be well aware that this is their first big event in awhile, it's right when school (FSU) is getting started up, and it's their first glassware giveaway in awhile. Get there early, as it will be packed. Guaranteed.

Also, if you're a beer nerd, you'll probably be happy with the special cask (no word on what it is yet, but I'll update when I find out), but the 10+ "special brews" probably aren't anything we haven't seen before, unless there happens to be a random anniversary beer, new side project, or something of that sort.

However, what I find potentially exciting is that the event image features both Proof and Terrapin, and they say that the glassware giveaway will allow you to keep the "totally sweet Terrapin/PROOF glass." WTF? That could be a very limited and special glass, and I intend to get my hands on at least two... ratebeer trade? Possibly.

That's all for now, but by week's end you can expect a post about the trip I took this weekend to the Great Taste of the Midwest, which did not disappoint. Let's just say that the first beer I tasted off of the plane was Three Floyds Vanilla Bean Barrel Aged Dark Lord, currently #13 on


UPDATE: I hear that the cask will be a Chinook Rye Pale Ale... which I'm guessing means dry hopped.

Also, Fermentation announced that they will be having a similar Terrapin night with glasses and a cask on Friday, August 26th. They also hint that they have a Cigar City cask of Chipotle Jai Alai... sounds odd but interesting.


Via their Facebook page, Fermentation released their tap list for their event next Friday, as opposed to Proof who was going to release it little by little. I can only assume that the tap lists will be similar. From Ferm's page:

"Got the lineup for the Terrapin Tap Takeover on the 26th: Rye, Rye Squared, Golden, Hop Karma, Hopsecutioner, Pumpkinfest, Reunion (chocolate and chiles this year), Monk's Revenge, Tomfoolery, Big Hoppy Monster, and Hoptaneous Combustion."

As I already guessed... it's really nothing that special. The only new beer is the Reunion '11, which also happens to be the only beer on the list I haven't already had - most of which I've had multiple times. I for one will be hitting Proof on Wednesday as that was the original event, and it seems pretty obvious that Ferm is basically just copying. Hopefully Proof will land an extra tap or two of something else delicious. Plus I enjoy having 10+ taps for Terrapin as well as 18 or so other taps available, instead of having no options.

I also got wind that the distributor fucked up and there will be no custom Proof/Terrapin glasses. Balls... I was looking forward to that. I really hate distributors and the three-tier system (note to self: future blog post).

Either way, I'll see you all next Wednesday at Proof, I'm sure... well, except you folks that read this that aren't from Tallahassee.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A news type of blog...

Get it?

Oh wait, I guess I should explain myself.

Due to my upcoming trip to WI next weekend for the Great Taste of the Midwest, I've been keeping my eye on a blog called Madison Beer Review. It's a nifty blog where a guy discusses personal beer issues as well as posts information and news about the local beer scene. It strikes me that this type of venue is glaringly absent in Tallahassee, so I'm going to try my best to fill that void with news, rumors, and plenty of nonsense. This means that I'll probably be posting more often, and sometimes they will be short, sweet entries that highlight beer happenings in the area. For you followers from out of town... I'll still post articles as well, so deal with it.

Brewers/bars/stores/etc. - if you would like to contact me with information, please do so at tallybeercritic (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks!

Without further ado, let's get started, as there is plenty going on these days.

First, Fermentation Lounge has set their next brew release for this coming Wednesday, August 10th. They will be serving a Watermelon Wheat (through an actual watermelon) as well as their famed Amaretto Porter (God help me). They've released a list of potential release dates for the next several months on their blog if you'd like to plan ahead. I will be there on Wednesday to taste the new brews if anyone wants to come chat.

Momo's (the bigger location on Market Street) is making advances in their plans to brew, as is evident from their new website. They've cleverly dubbed the brewery "Market Street Brew Pub." There are some cool pictures of their equipment on the brewery page, but it's hard to tell exactly what size everything is. Talking to one of the brewers (proprietors of the neighboring Homebrew Den) in the past, he told me they were getting a 3-barrel system. I was in the Den today and was informed that they are currently tweaking the equipment and simply awaiting permits and various other paperwork and red tape BS. I love city governments.

In a bit of lesser-known news, a brewer that currently works at Mike's Stone Baked Pizza informed me they are filing for a brewpub license and will be brewing and serving on site within the next couple of months. For those of you that don't know Mike's, it's a new pizza place in town that's pretty tasty. I've only had the pizza, but I've heard the calzones are to die for. They don't currently have a website, but you can follow them on Facebook. I don't know that it's official, but the brewing side of things are potentially going to be called "Fat Hound Brewing" and the brewer intends to have a rotating selection of high-quality, traditional styles (IPAs, hefes, etc.) as opposed to individual releases. I believe most of their brews will be in 20 gallon batches.

Until next time, cheers, as always, to more fresh Tallahassee beer on the horizon!