Saturday, June 5, 2010

MCB 2010: News from Session Two

After Friday night, you'd think we might have had our fill of beer for a while. Ohhhh, no. Never enough. We gave Good People's Brussels Stout, Gordo and Hitchhiker another try. The stout, on the second tasting was much more impressive, probably because we'd had a lot less other beer. Hitch and Gordo were no less enjoyable. Fine beers.

We also sampled Boulder's IPA, Back Forty Truck Stop brown and resampled their Bier de Garde. the Boulder was very nice and hoppy, the two from Back Forty were respectable but nothing extraordinary. And apparently that's how Back Forty owner Jason Wilson wants it. We chatted with Jason a bit and he tells us his target market isn't craft beer aficionados. Instead, he's shooting for the bigger, more lucrative beer likers. He wants Back Forty products to be the "gateway beers" that leads casual beer drinkers into the craft beer genre.

But that doesn't mean Back Forty will ignore those of us who seek more specialized beverages. Jason says the plan is to move from contract brewing with Lazy Magnolia to producing their own beer in Gadsden. He says this week they signed a contract on a building in that city's downtown. Once they're producing their own beer (hopefully by August) Jason hopes to produce a few craft brews. We look forward to it.

MCB 2010: Rare beers Part 2

After the Erie Smoked Bender, we skipped the Yazoo Sue. One smoked beer is enough for one night. But we hit all the others...

O'Fallon Hemp Hop Rye: A decent beer, but nothing extraordinary.

Good People Hippie IPA: Ever tried Good People's Snakehandler? This is kinda like that, but with less hops and less alcohol. Continues the tradition of nothing bad out of Good People.

Stevens Point 2012 Black Ale: A mostly unremarkable black ale. We encourage you to try it to see if you like it, but if you're pressed for time, skip it. Let us know in the comments if we should give it a second try.

Tommyknocker Hop Strike Black Rye IPA: This is the beer brewed in honor of Free the Hops. It's notable for its dark color, high hops yet somewhat malty flavor. Well worth trying, and, if you like it, on tap at Highland Package Store (aka HiPS) and Dee's.

Good People Mr. Dynamite and Moylan's Ryan Sullivan's Imperial Stout:  Honestly, we'd had too many beers by this point and they all started to taste the same. Please try these two and tell us if we enjoyed them. They must have been pretty good otherwise they'd definitely stand out.

Lazy Magnolia Gulf Porter: We got a taste of this beer early enough that our taste buds weren't totally blown out. It's not what we expect from a porter. Instead it's on the thin side. Not bad, but at least one patron commented to us that Lazy Magnolia will always be known for their Southern Pecan. Too bad their other offerings are just OK.

Friday, June 4, 2010

MCB 2010: The rare beers Part 1

GP Brussels Stout: Despite the name this beer doesn't have the characteristics of the stout genre. Too thin, really to be a stout. Color is also a little on the thin side.

Erie Smoked Bender: Ugh. Smoked beer. Tastes like we imagine Nerd Approved's bacon beer is like. Not our thing, so we'll leave the definitive judgement to someone who likes this type beer.

Back Forty Bier de Garde: Definitely a Belgian, but not overly so. Light and refeshing, which is welcome in tonight's sticky heat.

Good People el Gordo: This is the beer we were unashamedly excited about. And it lives up to e hype. Though the line was long, and it cost an extra $3, it's worthy it. With an alcohol content pushing the state's legal limit, it's sweet. But the dark, dark brown beer is balanced by the bitter coffee flavors.

MCB 2010: Video walkthrough of the festival

Heading to MCB this weekend? Want to know what to expect? Here's a quick walkthrough showing all the beers available. Sorry about the quality. Hopefully you can still make out what the labels say. And by quick we mean about 6.5 minutes. Feel free to fast forward to your favorite breweries.

In years past, Brewfest attendees could sit, drink and eat beneath the trees near the fountain. This year, it looks like only folks who bought food tickets will have a place to sit. We recommend you bring a chair with you.

Also, if you're not already there standing in line, know that the first line is for beer-only ticket holders. The second line is for food and beer tickets. The third gate is for volunteers. Don't get in the wrong line. We did that one year. Not fun.

MCB10: A chat with Good People's Jason Malone

We caught Jason Malone of Good People for just a few minutes before the first session of 2010 Magic City Brewfest started. Watch the video above to see what he had to say about progress being made on Good People's new brewery as well as the beer they're serving at MCB.

Storms on tap for Magic City Brewfest?

Yup. Sure looks like rain to us. Big black clouds all around Birmingham. How does that affect Brewfest? Well, we we've been to every MCB so far, and rain hasn't stopped one yet.

Two years ago, one session got drenched and patrons had to sit out the really bad stuff beneath the big metal Sloss shed. But the beer never stopped flowing. In fact, once the weather warnings were lifted, the beer fans who stuck it out found much shorter lines and cooler temps.

So pack your raincoats and get down to Sloss. The weather may be bad, but the beer will definitely be good.

If you're still concerned, we've added a weather gadget to the right.

What we're drinking this weekend at Brewfest

At last count, there were 208 beers on the Magic City Brewfest list. Even if we eliminate the ones we've tried, there's no way we'd be able to sample all of them. So here's what the Beermingham staff has planned. First and foremost, we hope to get a sample of all 12 limited edition beers. If you can't get all those, focus on the four from Good People. You will likely never see them again. And definitely pay the $3 to try el Gordo.

Beyond that, here are our recommended seven must-try beers for Brewfest 2010:

1. Ommegang Hennepin - A remarkable saison that seems to appeal even to non-beer lovers.

2. Ommegang Abbey Ale - Great American version of a Belgian dubbel - dark and fruity

3. Avery The Reverend - Nicknamed the "Sinister Minister," we called it a gorgeous beer with "Biblical amounts of alcohol."

4. Dominion Millennium - This is a very big beer with lots of alcohol.

5. Sprecher Black Bavarian - deep but drinkable black lager

6. Lazy Magnolia Reb Ale - Located in the small Mississippi town of Kiln, Lazy Magnolia has produced some really nice beers. Their pale ale is balanced, drinkable and made in the South.

7. Spaten Optimator - A highly notable example of the dopplebock style.

(So why only seven? It's our bed time, and we have a long day ahead of us tomorrow. Plus, we finished off all the Dominion Millennium we have, and that's pretty potent stuff.)

What we're drinking tonight: Magic Hat #9, Avery India Pale Ale, Dominion Millennium

Tonight we continue the mini-tastings of stuff you'll see this weekend at Brewfest...

Magic Hat #9: Strange smell when poured. Has a light, orangish-yellow color and very little head. Taste is, well, earthy might be the best way to describe it. No one taste stands out, but hints of caramel, apricot and bitter hops are noted. A strange beer aptly described by the brewery as, "Not quite pale ale."

Avery India Pale Ale: Smells a bit like a floral detergent. Clear amber color with thin head. The taste is far from floral, though. Quite bitter, but not in a harsh way. Finishes the same way it started. A solid IPA that, despite the aroma, we could certainly drink more of.

Dominion Millennium: Pours a very attractive dark auburn with a healthy, but not thick, head. Big caramel and honey aroma that's backed by the 10.5% alcohol. The taste is more barley wine than ale, with lots of caramel at the beginning and sweet honey at the finish. This is a really big beer, that we highly recommend you try at Brewfest this weekend. Let us know what you think.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Congrats to Beermingham's third giveaway winner!

Our final pair of Magic City Brewfest tickets goes to Ray, who is looking forward to sampling some of Left Hand's 400 Pound Monkey.

Ray also gets a Beermingham cap to keep the sun off his head while he sips the sweet nectar of the beer gods.

Congrats, Ray! We hope you have a great time at the Brewfest.

Giving away stuff is almost as fun as discovering a bonus Dogfish Head in the back of the fridge. Keep checking in and we hope to have a few more things after Brewfest.

What we're drinking tonight: MCB variety pack

We've had these in the Beermingham office fridge for a couple of weeks now but haven't had time to properly review them. So here are a few quick tastings of some of the beers that will be available this weekend at the Magic City Brewfest.

Avery White Rascal: Pours a light yellow with a definite yeasty smell. Small but dense head. Taste is also yeasty, sour, with a bit of citrus. Mouthfeel is on the thin side, not unusual for a wheat. Highly drinkable and refreshing.

Ommegang Three Philosophers: Pours a gorgeous dark red with a very small, white head. The cherries are very evident in the smell, but not so much in the taste. It starts bitter, giving way to the 9.8% alcohol to become a bit sweet, malty, even a little woody and finishes bitter with a hint of the cherries. Label says it is 98% ale and 2% ale with cherries added.

Avery Ellie's Brown: Pours a deep, dark mahogany. Smells of toasted wheat, a hint of coffee. Not much head. On the tongue, the impression of roasted nuts or grains is very evident. Starts out on the sweet side and finishes bitter. A very nice brown ale.

Gordon Biersch Marzen: Light amber color, slight head, smells of caramel, tastes of caramel. That's about it. While not a bad beer, it's nothing extraordinary.

Southern Star Pine Belt Ale: Maybe it's the name that had us thinking of pine, but as soon as we popped the can, our noses had us thinking of that needley conifer. Pine Belt Ale's clear, amber hue reminds us of heart pine. The taste, though, was more, um, pike than pine. Yes pike, as in fish. Bad can? Maybe, but then the whole pack would have to be bad. Not our thing. Maybe it's yours.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

More rare beers scheduled

Good People announced when their limited quantity beers would be available, and now MCB has released the full list. These times are for both Friday and Saturday sessions, and judging from past experience, if you want one of these, you better get in line early. 

7:00 / 3:00 – GP Brussels Stout
7:20 / 3:20 – Erie Smoked Bender
7:40 / 3:40 – Back Forty Bier de Garde
8:00 / 4:00 – GP El Gordo
8:20 / 4:20 – O'Fallon Hemp Hop Rye
8:40 / 4:40 – Yazoo Sue
9:00 / 5:00 – GP Hippie IPA
9:20 / 5:20 – Stevens Point 2012 Black Ale
9:40 / 5:40 – Hop Strike Black Rye IPA
10:00 / 6:00 – GP Mr. Dynamite
10:20 / 6:20 – Ryan Sullivan's Imp Stout
10:40 / 6:40 – Lazy Magnolia Gulf Porter

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

When to get the rare Good People

Want some of the limited quantity Good People at Brewfest? Here's the schedule according to GP's Facebook page...

Brussels Stout (funky/sour Belgian Stout): @ 7 on Fri and 3 on Sat
Hippie IPA (yet another IPA, we like IPAs): @ 9 on Fri and 5 on Sat
Mr. Dynamite (funky/sour Brown Ale): @ 10 on Fri and 6 on Sat

El Gordo (aka Double Fatso) will be available until it runs out for $3 a sample. All the money goes to Free the Hops.

Say hello to Tooties!

Tooties Package Store has been serving draft to go for about a month now, apparently. They have five different beers on tap now, but have five more taps ready to go. We'll be adding Tooties to our tabs ASAP. As of Tuesday afternoon, they had Abita Andygator, LeftHand Monkey, Good People Pale, GP Reserve and GP Mumbai Rye on tap.

They are located just up the road from Dee's on Greensprings Ave. You can contact them at (205) 322-2245.