New post coming soon, until then read this by @KnoxBeerSnobs:

June 17, 2013

Knoxville Craft Beer Week as written by the Knox Beer Snobs. 

Also if you are not a member of the Knox Beer Crew, this is a good time to come join us and see what we are all about. Here is a copy of the email announcing our next tasting.

Hello Everyone.  Hope you are all doing well & getting excited about Knoxville Beer Week! We are looking forward to our June tasting and just wanted to send out the final details regarding the event. 

This event will take place on Sunday, June 23rd, starting at 3pm at Sunspot’s new location, 2200 Cumberland Avenue. We are going to meet on the upstairs patio. This is a non-style specific tasting, so bring what you will.
Since this is taking place during KNOXVILLE CRAFT BEER WEEK, and is listed as an OFFICIAL EVENT, we want to make sure to do it up right! Please spread the word and invite your friends. However, we want to make sure everyone knows what the KNOX BEER CREW is all about. We are Knoxville’s premier group of craft beer lovers. We search high and low to find and share unique beers and our monthly tastings. Attendees are expected to bring beer to share. It is HIGHLY encouraged that you try to bring something that is not available here in Knoxville at our local stores so that everyone can experience something new. We are encouraging people to let their friends know about this and invite anyone they would like to come. Let’s share our love of craft beer!
Come hungry as the Sunspot has a killer menu! We want to show our $upport to this fine establishment that is so graciously allowing us use of the space. They also have one of the best draft beer selections at both the upstairs and downstairs bar. The new limited edition KNOXVILLE CRAFT BEER WEEK Glasses will be available for purchase. $10 gets you the glass, a full pour of your choice and the satisfaction of knowing that a portion of the proceeds goes towards the TN Craft Brewer’s Guild, a group dedicated to getting some of this state’s stupid beer laws changed.
Since it is KCBW, we want to do something a little different for this tasting. How many of us have extra beer and brewery related glassware, stickers, shirts, coasters and other swag we’ve accumulated? Bring your extras and let’s have a swap meet! This goes for bottles of hard to find beer too! When someone ask you where you got that rare bottle or those cool glasses, you can proudly say “I traded for it!”
 
The last thing we want to mention is that this event will be held outside, rain or shine. Either way, it’s sure to be hot! We are putting out a call to bring pop-up canopies, camping chairs and maybe a fold up table or 2. If you can contribute, pleaselet us know. We appreciate your help on this.
 
Hope to see everyone there! 
 
One last note: IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON ATTENDING, PLEASE REPLY TO THIS EMAIL!!! THE BAR WILL NEED A HEAD COUNT IN ORDER TO PREPARE. THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

 

I know this wasn’t a real post, but I felt I have gone to long without an update. I’m working on a new post on my trials and tribulations of getting my nano-brewery off the ground. Be on the lookout for it in the next couple of days.
Until then, this is what I have fermenting at “The Brewery on High
20 Gallons Russian Imperial Stout
20 Gallons of Anglophile Jerry’s ESB
5 Gallons Orbital IPA
5 Gallons Smokin’ Hops IPA
Kegs:
Rauchbier
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Stout
Skulf IPA
ABCC IPA
Skulf IPA dry hopped with Belma
Maibock
Apricot Honey Lager
Honey Lager
Honey Agave Strawberry lager.
Which of these will I be serving at Knox Brew Fest on the 29th? You’ll just have to buy a ticket and see.
Cheers,
Ratchet

Recap of Monday, day 1 of our #AVLBeerWeek beercation

May 28, 2013

We planned to leave Knoxville at 12:30, but as most vacations go, we got a slightly late start and left Knoxville at 2:30. We made great time and it worked out that we arrived in Ashvegas a little bit after 4. That turned out to be alright, because that was the time that the ABA Hoppy Saison release party at Greenman kicked off. We skipped checking in to the hotel. The nice desk clerk laughed at me on the phone when I called to tell her we’d be checking in late, around 7 pm. I guess that’s not “late” in the hotel biz, I just didn’t want our room given away because we got considered a no-show. Yeah, I know I can be neurotic sometimes.

We drove straight to Dirty Jack’s, the Greenman tasting room. As soon as we parked and walked in, we were greeted by several of our Asheville beer friends. Right by the bar was Adam and Missy Reinke ordering their pours of ABA Hoppy Saison. We grabbed a table with them and were soon joined by Gary Glancy, another ABW guest blogger. Committee member Caroline Forsman was in attendance as well as Asheville Brewing Company’s Doug Riley and Mike Rangel. I also had a chance to meet and touch base with Asheville Ale Trail’s  Hilton Swing. It’s likely that I’ll be writing an exclusive report for his website, so be on the look out for it later this week.

As we sat at Dirty Jack’s enjoying the conversation and beer, I noticed on twitter that the only guest blogger I hadn’t yet met was in the house. I did not know what Sarah Spooner looked like, because on her twitter profile, half her face is covered. Katie made it her mission to determine which of the females at the bar she was, based on eyebrows. She struck out the first time and was convinced she finally knew who she was. She told me to go ask. After looking foolish the first time, I told her I wasn’t going to do it. She made a bet with me (don’t ask), that if I asked her if she was Sarah, and she was wrong, that I’d win the bet. Challenge accepted. Well K was right, and I got to meet and chat with my fellow guest blogger. I also need to make good on my bet (I haven’t forgotten darlin’).

I also spoke with Billy Pyatt of Catawba Brewing Company at length. This was the second time we’ve met, the first being at GABF in Denver last year. Catawba is opening an Asheville location and we spoke about the plans, the history of Catawba and what it takes to be a professional brewer. He also graciously extended an invitation to take Katie and me on an exclusive tour of their Morganton location. This is something we absolutely can not pass up, and we plan on working out the details with him today.

Greenman’s head brewer and local beer legend John Stuart was there as well. I know who John is, having seen him around, but I’ve never spoke or officially met him before. I introduced myself and tried not to sound like a gushing fanboy as I told him that his rare batch releases are my absolute favorite beers. I explained how I’ve had every one of the limited edition 750 ml bottles, going out of my way when necessary to procure them. He was very personable and we talked about his brewery, beer week and his decision to send his beers to Knoxville (thanks Tupelo Honey!)

After a few more half pours, we decided to check into our room and unpack. We checked the ABW event schedule to plan our next move. We saw that Barley’s was having a French Broad flight night with free glassware. We headed that way. Since it was 2 hours after the official start, all the free glassware was gone. This wasn’t completely unexpected. We both got a half pour of beer. I had Foothills Brewing’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout and Katie Khaleesi had Foothill’s Jade IPA. We looked at our plans. As we sat there, we thought, well maybe we could go across the street to Wicked Weed for another half pour, then hit up Thirsty Monk for the Rogue XS event. Katie had to go shopping for a bathing suit so she could lay out by the pool at the hotel (we are on vacation, after all). I noticed that where we were going was right next to Carolina Cinemas.

I had visited Carolina Cinemas on a previous trip to Asheville. I knew that they had a decent local draft beer selection. Since we we’re going to be out that way anyway, why not catch a movie? We skipped Wicked Weed and Thirsty Monk and headed over to see the Hangover Part III. I wanted to bring attention to this theater for other beer tourist such as myself who want another option for beer and entertainment. We arrived and approached the counter. “Is the manager around?” I asked. No, he just left, but I am the assistant. I explained who I was and that I was in town writing for the Asheville Beer Week website and wanted to ask him some questions about Carolina Cinemas and their beer selection. He gave me the manager’s card and told me to give him a call. I called up Greg and introduced myself. I asked if it was alright to speak with him and get some information about their operation. He was happy to talk to me. I asked about the beer selection, the decision process on behind what to carry and how they get the beer that they serve. He told me that they focus on local craft brews. Pretty much what they carry comes straight from the breweries themselves, with the exception of Catawba which comes through a distributor. I also asked if they get special limited releases. He told me that they do get some of the popular seasonals such as Highland’s highly sought after Cold Mountain. At the end of the conversation, he generously offered to comp our tickets for the showing. It was very much appreciated. We purchased a Shiva IPA for myself and K had Pisgah’s Nitro Stout. We walked into the theater and had the whole place to ourselves. Of course, this being a Monday night after a long holiday weekend, it wasn’t completely unexpected. A few more couples trickled in before the movie started. I’m a beer blogger and not a movie critic, but I will say that The Hangover III wasn’t all that great. It had a very flimsy premiese, rehashed jokes and none of the originality of part one. That being said, by all means see it and decide for yourself.

So if you are looking for something else to do while in town, don’t hesitate to hit up Carolina Cinemas. First run movies, great service, incredible beer at a very fair price of $5 a pint… you really can’t go wrong. We will definitely be back!

After the movie we hit up Wally World (yeah, I know, they suck) to get a few things. Sunblock, bathing suit etc. Well my darlin’ Khaleesi is kind of a candy addict. For months now she has been obsessing on “the great Skittles controversy“. Apparently Skittles have changed their green from lime to green apple (gasp!), making the original flavor a highly sought after collectible. Bags and boxes going for ridiculous amounts of money on eBay. She believes they have a shelf life of several years. She has also apparently been monitoring Skittles sales online and struggling with purchasing one of the last of the original 1 pound bags. Well at Wally World, we made a quick trip down the candy aisle. Low and behold, digging through the bags and boxes of Skittles, she hit pay dirt! Two big bags of original Skittles buried underneath the new ones. I thought she was going to cry. I’ve never seen a grown woman so happy to find candy. She looked through the 4 ounce boxes and found more with the original lime! Thirty dollars worth of candy later and we were on our way back to the hotel. It was around 12:30 at this time and we thought we’d go to The Monk for one last night cap. They were closed however, so we went back to rest up for today.

Next on the agenda is hitting up Bruisin’ Ales for some bottle shopping. At 4 pm, Asheville Brewing Company’s Perfect Day IPA is going on tap. Today’s big event is the Belgians at the Ballpark starting at 6pm. Nine innings, nine brewerys, food and 27 beers. Phew! Tickets are still available, and I’m sure this event will be epic! Depending on how things go, we may hit up a few other bars and breweries as well. Tune in tomorrow for recap of todays beer based adventures.

One more thing I’d like to mention. Not only are we here to drink great beer and hang out with our current friends, but to make new ones as well. If you read this blog and spot me out and about, please introduce yourself and say hi. If you do, I will hook you up with a little souvenir or something.

Well it’s off to Bruisin’ Ales. Make sure to follow the Asheville Beer Week Twitter feed as well as the hashtag #AVLBeerWeek. Follow along with me on my twitter feed and my untappd check ins as well.

Enjoy the pictures below. Click to enlarge.

Until tomorrow…

Cheers,

-Ratchet


Surprise beerday birthday trip from @JuneBugBatticus to Asheville #AvlBeer @WickedWeedBeer @AVLBeerWeek @ChocolateLounge

May 7, 2013

By Asheville Beer Week guest blogger Ratchet, Ratchetbrews.com

This past weekend I celebrated my birthday. Honestly, I didn’t make plans and figured I would just go have a drink at one of my favorite local bars here in Knoxville, maybe catch a movie and generally be low key about it. The older I get, the less important celebrating my birthday is to me. I mean, who wants to grow old? If I wasn’t for my amzing drop dead gorgeous girlfriend, I probably would just stayed at home, cleaned my house and organized my beer cellar. BOR-RING! Luckily I have DO have an amazing, drop dead gorgeous, craft beer loving, travel companion of a girlfriend. Staying at home and not celebrating wasn’t an option. She told me that I only turn (insert random number here) once and she was determined to help me make the most of it and drink some beer! She gave me a great birthday gift by booking us a short get away to our favorite BEER CITY, Asheville.

Beer City USA, 90 minutes that way!

Beer City USA, 90 minutes that way!

The plan was to leave Saturday after seeing some friends at the kick off of Knoxville’s Market Square Farmer’s Market. For various reasons, we didn’t leave town until after lunch. That was totally fine with me since I was able to have nachos and a White Mule pale ale at The Downtown Grill and Brewery before hitting the road.

We arrived to a rainy Asheville. After checking in to the hotel we always stay at, Downtown Inn and Suites, it was time for some bottle shopping! The first (and my favorite) bottle shop we stopped at was Bruisin’ Ales.  As soon as I knew we were going to Asheville, I reworked my budget so I could buy rarities not available at home to replenish my cellar. Shopping at Bruisin’ is great. Not only is it owned by 2 of the coolest people in Beer City, Julie and Jason Atallah, but they also have great selections to try with their sip and shop. You also never know who you are going to run into there. As was the case when this time when I ran into local emcee/street poet/ artist by the name of Chachillie. We spoke for a little while and he ran an idea for a music video by me. He also kicked a freestyle rhyme out on the sidewalk in front of the store. I saw Julie on her way out and got a birthday hug. After going over our options Katie and I made our purchases and decided to head up the road to our next stop, Appalachian Vintner.

App Vintner as it’s known also boast an amazing selection of beer, wine and other libations. Located in the outskirts of what’s considered the Biltmore Village area, they have a bar with an expanded tap selection. They go out of their way to have rare and tasty beers on tap. I purchased a half pour of a 2011 vintage Uinta Labyrinth.  My primary loyalty will always be to Bruisin‘ but the great thing about having multiple bottle shops in town is that there is always something different. Some shops sell out of certain brands and varieties sooner than others. Katie and I spent even more money and I was able to pick up a few things to share with my friends. I also got a gift for my buddy Richard Groves so he can have something special for his 1000th Untappd check in.

Well with 2 bottles shops down, we thought that we might as well hit one more just to see what else we could find. Hops and Vines is a homebrew store with a limited bottle selection. Since it’s primarily known as a place to buy brewing supplies, they sometimes have a few rare craft beer bottles that are sold out elsewhere else. I picked up a 6 year vertical of Sierra Nevada’s BigFoot Barley wine at a decent price and 1 or 2 other things. At this point it was getting late and we still hadn’t hit any breweries. It was time to go a few blocks up the road to Altamont Brewing Company.

Altamont Brewing on a rainy day in May.

Altamont Brewing on a rainy day in May.

Katie enjoying beer at Altamont

Katie enjoying beer at Altamont

The last time Katie and I visited Altamont they had just started brewing. At that time they only had their porter on draft. This time around they’ve been at it for a while and had a great variety. Since we were brewery hopping and planned on hitting as many places as possible, we only stayed for one drink. I had the Hopped Red and Katie had the Amber. Both were delicious and well crafted. We drank our beer while listening to live music and soaking up the local vibe. I really like the neighborhood bar feel of Altamont and will make sure to always fit it into our itinerary.

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Drinking and winking at Altamont Brewing Company.

The next stop of the evening was another must visit when in Asheville, Wedge Brewing Company. Everyone knows I love Wedge’s beers, location and complimentary peanuts. We found a table inside by the bar looking towards the fermenters. We drank half pours of the Hellesbock, Derailed Hemp Seed Ale, Witbier and a Saison of theirs that I hadn’t had before. By the time I ate a whole bowl of free peanuts, I realized a little too late how hungry I was and how I hadn’t eaten since lunch. It was time to leave and head for dinner (and another round of drinks) at Wicked Weed.

We arrived at Wicked Weed through the pouring rain. It was a Saturday night, so we knew to expect a wait for a table. We checked in with the hostess and got a pager to tell us when our seats would be ready. Down the stairs we headed to  grab a drink. As I walked towards the Downstairs bar I heard “Hey Ratchet!” I turned around and who did I see but Wicked Weed’s head brewer Luke! We spoke for a while and he talked about the brewery’s success, the sour and barrel programs and introduced me to his brother Walt who is in charge of those. All this time I was sipping on their Genesis Blonde Sour. After some great conversation with the Dickinson brothersKatie and I headed upstairs to have a meal. By this time my stomach wasn’t doing so great. All the beer I had drank throughout the day combined with Wedge’s peanuts was not a good combination. I ordered fries and a beer and could not finish them. This was my fault for not eating anything substantial since earlier in the day. I know better but in the excitement of everything, I had just plain forgot. I alternated between watching my darling nom on one of Wicked Weed‘s epic burgers and going outside to walk off my discomfort in the rain.

After leaving Wicked Weed it was time for a nightcap at Thirsty Monk. I still wasn’t feeling up to putting anything else in my belly, so I just went and sat with Katie at the downstairs bar as she sipped a few tasty Belgian style ales.

The next morning the weather was still rainy and chilly. It was Cinco De Mayo which Katie is big on, (must be ’cause she’s originally from Texas) so she insisted on tracking down some great Mexican food. First things first, we had to get coffee. Much like I am with beer, I am a coffee connoisseur. I usually only drink fair trade organically grown coffee fertilized with crystalized free range unicorn tears and hand roasted by Norwegian elf spirits. I would rather have a headache from not getting my morning cup-a-joe than drink hotel coffee. Over the years I have had coffee from many places all within a walking radius of the hotel. I’ve been searching for that perfect cup. I finally found it. From now on it’s only French Broad Chocolate Lounge‘s Counter Culture French press coffee for my morning fix. They also have the best selection of pastries, cakes, liquid truffels and other tasty treats to go with it. I got my french press light roast and Katie opted for the Oaxaca Hot Chocolate. I saw they had Highland Mocha Stout cake and couldn’t pass up getting a slice.

Oaxaca and Highland Mocha Stout cake at French Broad Chocolte

Oaxaca and Highland Mocha Stout cake at French Broad Chocolate

After coffee and my decadent snack, it was time to get a solid meal. Looking up Mexican fare on our phones, Katie found Limones. It seemed like exactly what she was looking for, so we headed over. I’m really glad we went. The service, decor and food was all top-notch. I didn’t need a big meal having had cake previously. I knew I wanted a cervesa so I could earn my Cinco De Mayo badge on Untapped. I chose Bohemia after looking up reviews for it online. It’s was a very decent Czech style pilsner brewed in Mexico. It was light, refreshing and paired great with my scrambled eggs and home fries. We ate and ended up boxing plenty of food for later.

The day was getting on and I had things to do back at home in Knoxville. My friend Vanessa was up from Florida visiting my son and his mom, and I didn’t want to miss her before she left. After a quick stop at Earth Fare to look for more beer, Katie and I hopped back on the interstate for the drive home. Our trip to Asheville this time was short but sweet. We are already looking forward to our week-long vacation for Asheville Beer Week. There are so many events during that time that we’re still trying to decide which ones to go to.  We already have tickets to a few things such as the Asheville Rare and Wild Beer Tasting and Beer City fest.

Thanks for reading about my Asheville birthday trip. I highly encourage everyone reading this to get your friends to go online and VOTE. Let them use your tablet, your smart phone, you sister’s mac, your weird brother’s Linux, the library computer or that 56k modem your grandma is still has hooked up to go vote for Asheville to retain the yearly title of  Beer City USA. The polls are private this year but Grand Rapids is being very vocal in the comments. Let’s help Asheville win the bragging rights for the 5th year in a row. Once again, Click here to vote.

Enjoy my photos below. Click on them to enlarge.

Until next time, Cheers,

Ratchet
Until next time, Cheers,

Ratchet


A great time and perfect weather at the 2nd annual http://ThirstyOrange.com beer festival

April 16, 2013

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Last weekend was the Thirsty Orange beer festival in Johnson City, TN.  This was the second annual edition, and festival organizers Aaron & Stephanie Carson and Das Krew did an absolute fantastic job of putting together this one. The weather was perfect, the beer was flowing and everything ran smoothly. From the early morning set up, to dropping off entries for the homebrew competition, to early admission VIP entrance, to the main part of the festival all the way to packing everything up, was all without a hitch. This is the 4th festival they have put on in the tri-cities area. They have learned from past festivals and had the logistics locked down for this one. I can’t say it enough how great and put together it was.

 I arrived Friday evening to spend some time meeting with Aaron and Stephanie to work out the details for running the infusers the next day. I always try to get to a beer festival in another city a day before to check out the area and most importantly to not have to make a long drive 1st thing in the morning. After meeting with Aaron and Stephanie, I ran to the store to get infuser ingredients and ended up eating at a crappy Mexican restaurant (seriously I LOVE Mexican food, but this one was awful).

Saturday morning I was up early for the festival. Set up time started at 8:30. I had to set up the booth, get the beer flowing, fill bottles for the homebrew competition and so on. It took quite awhile to get everything done. Luckily I was all set up by the time early admission VIPs started trickling in. From there I stayed busy. So busy in fact that I didn’t really take a lot of pictures (my bad). I was busy but it wasn’t a hectic, frantic type of busy but a happy and sociable one. I got to talk, hang out and drink with many of our pro-brewer buddies such as Studio Brew and CalfKiller. My tent was set up in the home brewer section of the festival right next to my good friend Jimie Barnett and Triple B Brewing.  Jimie and I always have a great time at these festivals and I want to give him and Jay a big shout out. A really big thanks goes out to Jimie’s nephew and my new Johnson City friend, Steven for making my day nice and bright.

Knoxville was well represented by other fellow home brewers such as Legit Brewing, UBC, Friendship Brewing and Tennessee Valley Homebrewers. Other homebrew clubs such as MALT from Asheville, Tri-Cities Beer Alliance and Electric Avenue from outside Nashville were well represented and had exceptional beers.  The camaraderie among home brewers is a beautiful thing.

One of my favorite parts of these types of events that I set up at, is the feedback I get from people attending and trying my brews. A beer I may not think is my best may end up being the one that everyone loves the most. A perfect example this time around was my Chocolate Covered Cherry Nitro Stout. I like this beer but it’s not my favorite, and next time I brew it, I’ll make a slight recipe adjustment. However, people were going nuts over this beer! It was the 1st keg of mine to blow out and people were disappointed when it was gone. I actually won an award on this one. Gerard of the website Road Trips For Beer was a celebrity judge and he picked this one as his favorite of the festival.  To say I am honored is an understatement. To have a guy who’s job is to pretty much travel the country and taste beer say he liked this one the most out of 100 something homebrews? THAT makes me feel like I DO actually know what I’m doing.

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I was lucky enough to have a lot of help at my booth this year in the form of my buddy Flipper who has been my right hand man at the last 3 Tri-cities beer fests. I got him all set up with the festival’s infusers and he did a terrific job of keeping them going on a schedule. Also my assistant brewer, Todd and his wife Lauren drove up from Knoxville and helped hold things down and pour beer. With this much help, we were able to rotate in and out of the booth and walk around socializing and trying different brews. The only one missing from our crew was Richard, but he was representing for us at the Blue Ridge Wine & Food Festival.

Well I went through all my home brew, drank some fantastic beer, hung out with friends new and old. The festival eventually came to a close and I packed up and headed out to eat. I found a great little place called Jack’s City Grill to eat at.  After refueling, I headed back to the hotel and had an impromptu craft beer party in the lobby with Gerard. The Wolf Hill crew stopped by and hung out followed by Friendship Brewing and Aaron and Stephanie. We drank a four pack of Brevard NC brewed Deviant Dales graciously given to me by Austin, a plant employee. Gerard shared a big bottle of Boulevard’s Double Wide IPA and Friendship Brewing had a growler of their IPA.

After a long active and incredibly fun day, it was time to retire to my room and pass out. I can’t wait until next year’s Thirsty Orange. Make sure to mark your calendar for Das Krew’s next event, Kingsport Oktoberfest on September 28th. You know I’ll be there. Enjoy the photos and videos below.

Cheers,

Ratchet

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Click on pictures to enlarge and for captions.


Day off of work? It’s a GOOD FRIDAY to #homebrew (live blog)

March 29, 2013

Good Friday morning blog readers. I am lucky enough to have the day off work because it’s a holiday or something. I’m not entirely sure, but I think it has something to do with the Easter Bunny going into cave to prepare the eggs and stuff to deliver on Easter. Anyway I’ve known since Tuesday that I’d have this day off. My 1st thoughts? Brew some more beer! So that’s what I’m doing today. Just a simple 10 gallon batch of an American IPA. I am brewing solo today. I love my friends and assistant brewers but sometimes I got to go back to my roots and brew alone. It’s a Zen type of thing. Just me, the mash tun, the brew pot, my backyard and my stereo cranked up to eleventy.

Today’s recipe is simple enough. I am brewing with ingredients I already have on hand. Here’s what I threw together:

ABCC (Amarillo, Belma, Columbus & Cascade) IPA – 10 Gallon Batch

Estimated OG 1.074 Estimated FG 1.018 Estimated ABV 7.34% Estimated IBUs: 53.30

20 pounds 2 row brewers malt

5 pounds Vienna Malt

5 pounds Light Munich

2 pounds light crisp malt

1 pound Carahell

1 ounce Amarillo Pellets at beginning of boil (60 minutes)

3 ounces of Columbus leaf at 30 minutes left in boil

3 ounces of Cascade leaf at flame out

3 ounces of Belma leaf after 30 minutes of whirlpool

3 ounces of Amarillo pellets dry hopped after 3 days of fermentation.

Safale US-05 4000 ml starter.

60 minute boil, 45 minute whirlpool, cool down and pitch yeast at 65 degrees.

So I am up early and am going to live blog and video the whole brew day, or as much as I can. Like I said, I’m brewing solo. All the cleaning is on me. I hope I can take care of everything and still update this blog on my temperamental WordPress iPhone app. My goal is to get done as early as possible. I want to get cleaned up, maybe hit the YMCA for a quick session on the torture bot 10000 and be ready to pick up my son to take him to the Regal Riviera to see the new G.I. Joe movie at 4. Can I do it? Follow along and find out. Tweets, comments and text of encouragement are most welcome.

7:25 am. I’m so glad I set everything up yesterday after work. I just started the strike water in my bathrobe. Wiping the sleep out of my eyes, making coffee and brushing my teeth are next on the agenda.

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My “small batch” brew pot, a 20 gallon Blichmann

8:05 am: That was quick. I just mashed in. Now to periodically keep an eye on the temperature while the starches convert to sugars.

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8:45 am: A little over 15 minutes left mashing. Getting my sparge water heated up. Being productive & sanitizing carboys, hoses, etc.
9:20 am: Almost ready to sparge.

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9:26 am: Spaaaaarrrrrge!

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9:53 am: Well I’m done with the sparge. Unfortunately, I need to make a quick run to my LHBS, Allen Biermakens, because I’m out of hop bags. I realized this last night, but had to wait until 10 am for him to open. There’s a whole lot of leaf hops going into this & I can’t just throw them in the brew pot. I might as well stop by the store & get more propane just in case.
10:54 am: I’m back from my errands. I left the burner on low when I was gone. Just cranked it up and it’s almost to boil.

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10:56 am: Did I say almost? It’s at a full rolling boil. Adding in the 1st addition of hops.

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1st hop addition, Amarillo

11:30 am: 30 minutes left in the boil. I just threw some Columbus Hops in there.

11:45 am: I ran out of propane with 15 minutes left in the boil. I’m glad I picked up a spare. Also, it has started sprinkling, so I’m glad I’m brewing inside today.
11:56 am: 5 minutes left in the boil. Time to add the Whirfloc & the yeast nutrients.
12:10 pm: Started the whirlpool, added more hops. In 15 minutes, I’ll add some more. Time to go on a cleaning rampage.

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12:35 pm: I just added the last addition of hops to the whirlpool. 15 minutes until I start the cool down. Time to get the chiller hooked up. Still tons of stuff to clean. Hoping to be done by 2.

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1 pm: Pitched the yeast and cooling down wort.

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Always make a massive yeast starter, your homebrew will be happier for it.

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Yeast starter in the carboys awaiting chilled wort.

1:08 pm: just like that, the cool down is done! Thank goodness for cold ground water. Now to my least favorite part: clean up.

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1:40 pm: Still cleaning. I’m starting to think I won’t be done by 2, but that’s alright. Just took my original gravity reading. It’s at 1.064.
Stuff still to do: clean mash tun, brew pot, put everything back where it goes, vacuum seal the hops, rinse the hop bags, relax & have a homebrew.

2:34 pm: Final done cleaning & the ABCC IPA is happily fermenting. I’m going to eat something, hit the Y for a quick torture bot session & then go see a movie. Thanks for tuning into my solo brew day. I hope you were entertained.

I’m going to head out to Suttree’s this evening for a few beers if anyone wants to join me. I’ll be bringing a sample of my Smoking Hops ale to share.

Cheers,

Ratchet


Live Blogging today: Road trip to @Nantahalabrew bottle release. #AVLBeer

March 23, 2013

TrailMagicFBsized13Road Trip! Today Richard, his wife Sandy, and myself are hitting the road. We are leaving this morning to go to Bryson City, NC for Nantahala Brewing Company‘s Trail Magic #4 bottle release! It’s no secret that Greg at Nantahala brews some of the finest beer in the area. The last time I went for the bottle release, I drove up on Friday and spent the night in Bryson City. Well, Richard had planned on going Saturday and offered to drive. I agreed to go with him on Saturday and save the money on the hotel. Of course this frees up more money to buy beer!

So I will be live blogging in real time the fun of our trip there and back. Any funny things said, beer drank, videos taken will all be uploaded from my iPhone. Subsequently, this is will also be my first guest post for the newly launched Asheville Beer Week website.

9:26 am: My ride just arrived. We’re taking I-40 to 74 from Knoxville to Bryson City. I usually take the scenic route through 441, but that’s not a possibility since the landslide.
10:18 am: You know that really curvy part on I-40 in the Smokies? It makes it really hard to type on an iPhone. On the plus side, I’m now officially in North Carolina. Woot!
11:50 am: Here at Nantahala Brewing Company & hanging out. 10 minutes until the bottles go on sale. Hanging with Richard, Todd and head brewer Greg.

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Todd, Richard with head brew greg (in orange) in the background.

Brew Mob Video! Click to see my interview with head brewer Greg.

12 pm. Go time! 4th in line waiting my turn.

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Bottles on sale

12:25 I got my bottles and am enjoying the company of friends at the bar.

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My lovely selection of bottles: Trail Magic #1, 3, 4 and Chocolate Cherry Stout.

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I got bottle numbers 25 through 28 of Trail Magic #4, Russian Imperial Stout aged in Maker’s Mark Barrels.


1 pm: Just explained the concept of vertical tastings to really cool Natahala beertender Harrison (as pictured below).

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Everyone at Nantahala Brewing Company is super cool. Harrison is no exception.

2:17 pm: Well after a few rounds of sample size beers, a tour if the brewery and a look at the barrel room courtesy of Greg, we’re back on the road. Next stop, Sylva, NC.

2:35 pm. Heading towards world famous, yet semi-secret craft beer store, PJ’s BP gas station in Sylva, NC

2:55 pm. Oh. My. Goddess! This is the BEST gas station beer selection EVER!

Click here for a Brew Mob exclusive video of P. J.’s.

After P.J.’s, it was time for a quick visit to Dieter and Heinzelmannchen Brewery.


4:45 pm: What a day! After Sylva we headed in to Asheville for a quick stop by Bruisin’ Ales.


5:30 pm: What a great day of beer based adventuring! I tried many great beers, saw some good friends, and purchased a great selection of craft beer. We are currently heading home to Knoxville. I meant to be back sooner since I’m providing a tap box and CO2 set up for a friend’s surprise birthday party tonight. I want to sincerely thank Richard for driving today. I was great seeing all my NC friends and I look forward to my next trip across the mountains.
Thanks for everyone reading along online. I’d love to here from you in the comment section below.
Cheers!
-Ratchet


Great Impromptu St. Patrick’s Day Brewing Party w/ Friends @RichardGroves @ZMachine85 @DeafGoat

March 17, 2013

Originally this post was going to be another live blogging of brew day. I actually started it that way, but brew day was incredibly busy and fun as you’ll read below. There is no way I could have blogged everything in real time. Instead, this post is my recollection of  what could possibly be the best weekend I’ve had in months. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. I started off Friday evening by heading to my 4 favorite watering holes downtown. Of course I’m talking about Downtown Grill and Brewery, Suttree’s, The Casual Pint and The Peter Kern Library. I wanted to be out enjoying the weather and the company of friends after a long work week.

On the Megatouch Machine at the upstairs bar, Downtown Grill and Brewery

On the Megatouch Machine at the upstairs bar, Downtown Grill and Brewery

I spent the 1st half of Saturday doing, chores, cleaning my house while enjoying the spring  breeze blowing through my open windows and screen doors. Later I spent some time with my son, then headed downtown to see Cutthroat Shamrock play a free show at Market Square. I planned on getting a lil’ swilly, so I left the car at home and walked the less then a mile from my house to downtown (never drink and drive y’all- it’s a horrible idea). I pre-gamed with a beer at home, some blackberry moonshine (thanks Nijoli!) mixed with coca-cola and ice in a to go cup for the walk. Once downtown I stopped by The Casual Pint where I met with a few friends. I slowly sipped on a beer until it was time for Cutthroat to take the stage. Once the band started, I realized I was sobering up and should do something about it. I didn’t want to pay $2 for a wrist band to buy $5 crappy beers on the square, so I walked over to Downtown Wine and Spirits and grabbed a bottle of Bourbon. I was able to sneak it in my pocket, went to Subway and bought a large coke. Mixed it up and took my cup to the front of the stage where I met up with more friends. I got to say, I love this band.  Now I don’t like to talk about it on my blog, but my close friends know my personal life. Let’s just say it was a rough week. As the bourbon worked it’s magic I cut loose. Dancing to Cutthroat Shamrock’s celtic/punk/bluegrass/ piratey tunes was absolutely cathartic. I was in motion for the whole time. I shared my drink and others did the same. Flask were passed about, beers were shared, complete strangers danced with arms around each other. The show came to an end around 10:30 but I was so amped there’s no way I wanted to go home. I knew Suttree’s was packed, so I headed back over to see my friends at The Casual Pint. There was only 2 people working and they were super busy. Nena was worried about underage people coming in, or people stealing beer off the shelves. I offered to play doorman for a while for a couple of beers. I sat at the door and checked IDs. People I knew walked past and stopped to talk. I remember more beer being shared, a snort or 2 of someone’s homemade white lightning and a  few swigs of wine. 11:30 and I knew it was time to walk home. I had planned on going to The Casual Pint’s Bearden location the next morning for their kegs and eggs event before brewing beer. It was a long, rough walk home with many stops to rest on the way. I got home, past out, woke up in the middle of the night, drank some vitamin water and took some ibuprofen. 7:30 am alarm Sunday morning and I got up, made coffee and headed to breakfast.

Well I enjoyed my omelet with Richard and his wife Sandy, and headed home to start brewing. I had success cultivating Heady Topper‘s yeast strain, Conan, from a couple of cans I saved for just that. I took my direction from this wonderful blog past and was able to step up to a 4500 ml starter between Wednesday and Saturday. Honestly, I was very worried it wouldn’t work. I made the starter on Wednesday, pitched the yeast dregs from the cans into the flask on the stir plate and waited. Two days went by with no activity. I thought my experiment was a failure and was already planning to use my old standby, Safale US-05. However by Saturday morning the starter was rapidly fermenting. YES! This yeast strain was a big part of the batch of beer I planned, and I knew it wouldn’t be the same without it.

Sunday my friends Jerry and Millie were the 1st to arrive. Jerry was very helpful when it came to getting everything set up. Usually I start brewing at the crack of dawn, and starting at 10 am instead is a lot later than usual. Having an extra set of hands, along with Millie documenting everything, was awesome. Next to arrive was assistant brewer Richard, followed by Todd. Millie ran to Earth Fare and picked up an incredible variety of sushi.

Once we got going, I started texting friends to come over. Beer and buddies on a perfect spring like day, what could be better? My friend Chris is hosting a group of law students from Kansas who are interning for his environmental law center on their spring break. I told him he was more than welcome to bring them over to learn to brew beer and enjoy a few. I was expecting maybe 3 or 4 people, and the next thing I know, there is a dozen or so people gathering in my basement brewery. Awesome! The more the merrier! The spring breakers were absolutely thrilled to lend a hand and learn about the brewing process.  Terri and Aimee from the Knox Beer Crew came over. More and more friends arrived.  At one point there were 24 people there laughing, talking, drinking, and dancing to good Irish/celtic punk  like Flogging Molly, The Pogues, The Tossers, Cutthroat Shamrock and Dropkick Murphys on my Pandora feed. This was a proper St. Patrick’s day party! The beer was really flowing and I was on top of the world! We drank down my stash and I can honestly say I now have room for food in my upstairs refrigerator again.

Well brew day eventually came to an end. With all the people there, cleaning was a breeze. People started taking off a few at a time. The law students wanted to go check out Ijams Nature park while it was still light out. The crowd got smaller and smaller. Eventually I was by myself, exhausted but incredibly happy and a little bit buzzed. I laid back on my couch in my brew basement for a few minutes and enjoyed the silence with a big old grin on my face. I knew I should eat dinner. I didn’t want the weekend to come to a close so I got up and walked back downtown for food. I ordered a half Dan’s pasta at the Brewery and went and visited Suttree’s for a sample size beer while my food cooked. After a few minutes I picked up my order to go and brought it over to The Casual Pint and washed it down with 2 more sample size beers.  As I walked back across the Gay Street bridge while the sun set, I thought about how no matter what’s gone on recently in my life, I am truly blessed. I have good friends, I brew beer people enjoy, I have food, clothing, shelter and a good job. All that and I had one hell of a weekend.

Here’s to many more.

Good Friends, good beer, good times.

-Ratchet

PS. Every brew day should be a party. I plan on brewing again on Sunday, April 21st. If you’d like to come over, send me an email or text me. Also Nantahala Brewing Company’s next Trail Magic bottle release is this Saturday the 23rd at Noon. Richard and I are going if you’d like to join us. We plan on getting there by noon and being back in Knoxville by 4 pm or so.


Great Nano and Homebrew Equipment from a Local Vendor: BubbasBarrels.com

February 18, 2013

I spend an almost ridiculous amount of time online looking up equipment for my planned nano-brewery. I am always clicking links, checking out message boards and generally trying to find the best price (along with cheapest shipping) for what I need and want. This is how I stumbled across Bubba’s Barrels. I was shopping for brew pots when I first came across his website. The prices were almost too good to be true. I clicked the shipping page to get an idea of what that would cost me and to my surprise, they were located right here in Knoxville. I called and spoke with Carl the owner and made plans to come check out the equipment they offered. Bubba’s Barrels is located on Pembroke Avenue, just a few short miles up Broadway. When I went for my first visit, what I noticed was both the quality of his products and his enthusiasm for what he does. All his brew pots are made out of 304 stainless steel food grade shipping barrels. He even makes conical fermenters as well. To be honest, I did not end up purchasing a brew pot from him, but not because anything was wrong with them. I had my heart set on Blichmann and couldn’t talk myself out of it, even though I would have saved several hundred dollars. In retrospect, I regret my decision. Sure Blichmann may look a lot more fancy, but Bubba’s Brew pots are every bit as functional and at a fraction of the cost.

One of Bubba's Conical fermentors

One of Bubba’s Conical fermentors

I recently saw where Carl had added some new equipment to the website. This reminded me that I had meant to get a whirlpool device installed in my brew pot. I called him up and asked when he could do this. He said to come on by and drop it off. He’d have it ready for me in a few hours. While there I spoke with him about my upgrade plans, and how I had just noticed his burner stands for 55 gallon pots. I could use another quality burner and need a good brew stand set up. I also complained about how I saw online that Blichmann uses the same standard Banjo Burner but it only puts out around 78,000 BTUs. He advised me that it’s because the regulator that Blichmann sells with their burners isn’t that powerful. Carl sells really nice, pro-grade regulators and offered to let me try out the last one he had in stock. “Take this for your brew day, If you like it, I’ll sell it to you, if not, bring it back”. I did use it and WOW, I love it. I never knew I could get my strike water and boil up to temperature so fast. I love this regulator and I’m definitely buying it. Here’s a short video I took of the regulator in action:

I did get my whirlpool installed. This consisted of him putting a hole in the top of the brew pot, bending the stainless steel tubing and installing the fittings. It was worth every penny I paid for it. If you have a brew pot and a march pump, you can’t go wrong with this type of installation. See what I’m talking about and check out my video below:

So this is it for my local vendor spotlight. I do plan on buying more equipment from Bubba’s Barrels and I will post pictures here or on twitter of my upgrades. Hopefully I can afford that new brew stand soon.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me Ratchet (at) RatchetBrews.com

Cheers,

Ratchet


LIVE From the Tennessee Winter Beer Festival in Townsend #KnoxBeer

February 9, 2013

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Hello there from the Laurel Valley Country Club in Townsend Tennessee! I will be reporting live all day about all the beer, food, fun and camaraderie at the 2nd annual Tennessee Winter Beer Festival. I will also be posting pictures, LOTS of pictures. So if I met you at the festival, and you happen to see your picture on my website, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

2:10 pm: Still setting up & waiting for Brewers to arrive. Hope everything is ready for when the doors open at 3.

Baskets of rare beer to were one of the many items to bid on for the silent auction.

Baskets of rare beer to were one of the many items to bid on for the silent auction.

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Drinking games

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Calfkiller setting up

3:20 pm: The doors are open and the beer is flowing! Prosit!

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Katie and Richard

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Marty Velas (center) and The Smoky Mountain Brewery crew

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Heidi & Nathan from The Casual Pint

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Shawn Kerr

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Erich From Studio Brew

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Mike from The Market in Maryville & Rob from Knox Beer Snobs

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Volunteers checking people in.

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Calfkiller has amazing beer!

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4:45 pm: I just finished walking around serving jalapeño poppers & talking to many great people. Thanks for the support!

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Todd, El Presidente of The TN Winter Beer Festival Board

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deliciousness!

I helded the Kitchen staff for awhile by serving these incredibly tasty Jalapeno poppers.

I helped the Kitchen staff for awhile by serving these incredibly tasty Jalapeno poppers.

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Attendees enjoyed the beer and weather on the back patio

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Cheers!

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I love the contrast of the shadows and light on this picture, Great time speaking with y’all.

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This gentleman looks like he is having a great time.

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Really cool guys I enjoyed speaking with. Send me an email sometime, let’s get together for a beer or 3.

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I really enjoyed speaking with all the other homebrewers that I met.

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5:50 pm So many good beers & good people. I took a quick break from beer to drink some water & I’m now sipping on Smoky Mountain’s Russian Imperial Stout. Check out my untappd feed to see the tasty beers being consumed.

Bands provided the soundtrack to the fest.

Bands provided the soundtrack to the fest.

6 pm: Saw Works just tapped their much anticipated Bourbon Barrel aged Double Chocolate Porter to much fanfare.

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First pour of Saw Works Bourbon Barrel Aged Double Chocolate Porter

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The Bourbon Barrel Aged Double Chocolate Porter ran out quickly.

6:30: Just ate some food upstairs. Loooong line. Calfkiller ran out of most of their beer & is down to their classic Stout.

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Food was provided upstairs

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Calfkiller’s beers went rather fast. Here they are down to their last keg of stout.

7 pm: Andy shares Cigars!

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Andy shared cigars with other attendees. Here his is sharing one with Katie Duncan.

7:30 pm Dirty Pictionary! (I’ll upload video tomorrow)

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Shawn drawing pictures for dirty pictionary.

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Rebecca Tatum hosted the games

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Don of the Knox Beer Snobs hollering something or other during dirty pictionary.

8 pm: The festival has an hour to go until it’s over. Most of the brewers are out of beer. Making plans with brewer friends for afterwards.

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Happy Attendees

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Depot Street

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Chris who organizes Knoxville Brewers Jam grooving to some music.

8:33 pm: Remember y’all, it’s for the kids.

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All the Proceeds went to the New Hope Advocacy Center. http://www.BlountKids.org

9:28 pm: The TN Winter Beer Fest has come to an end. My phone died for awhile, but a lot happened in the last hour. Calfkiller won the People’s choice award. I want to personally congratulate Robin Carbaugh who bid on and won a keg of my homebrew in the silent auction. I look forward to bringing you some tasty beer.

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The bidding sheet for my homebrew

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Calfkiller wins the People’s choice award

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Adam Palmer from Saw Works announcing the winners of the silent auction.

Update, the next morning: Thankfully I took care of myself yesterday by eating, drinking vitamin water & slowly sipping my beer so I’m hangover free. I want to thank everyone involved in putting this wonderfully cozy little festival together. With any luck, I’ll be participating as a pro-brewer pouring my beer for everyone. I’ve been updating this site through an app, but once I get to a computer I’ll upload a few little video snippets & add in links. Once again, if our paths crossed at this festival, I’d love to hear from you. Please post a comment below.

Cheers

Ratchet


Happy MLK Day everyone. I too have a dream.

January 21, 2013

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I’m very serious about the whole starting a nano-brewery thing. I dream about it every night. Some days it’s all I think about. There is so much to learn and figure out. I’m almost done reading the Tennessee Department of Revenue’s Alcoholic Beverages and Beer Tax Guide and have been talking to people to clarify things I don’t understand. I have the Tax and Trade Bureau’s website bookmarked and read it constantly. I still have to register my trademark and I have the US patent office’s website in my favorites. I am always checking the Brewer’s Association website and look forward to the day I can join that organization and announce to the world that I am officially “a brewery in planning“. Next thing I plan on studying is OSHA regulations.

Right now the thing that seems to be holding me back from applying for permits, getting my trademark registered, etc is finding a location to set up. I have a very limited area I am looking at, all within walking distance of downtown.  I don’t need something big, just enough space to build an office, brewing area, cold storage, fermentation room and the actual bar area/ tasting room. I need something affordable, which unfortunately rules out most of downtown. I like the Fourth and Gill area. That neighborhood is needs a small bar. I’ll keep looking. Craigslist, news paper, word of mouth, friends and driving around searching. Once I DO find a spot (and I will) then the fun begins. Negotiating lease terms, making sure it’s zoned right, inspections and construction, the actual raising of funds and the mountains of paperwork. I KNOW it is going to be hard and test the limits of my sanity, but dammit, I am completely dedicated. Once I find a place I plan to go from living in a comfortable house near downtown with a killer view, to basically being a couch surfing & urban camping brewer. This is because I’ll need the money going towards my house to use for the commercial space. If I have to basically live like I’m homeless to see my dream take off, so be it.

Until then, I have updated a few things on my website. I finally put together a bare bones store page to sell the shirts and other stuff that I have for sale at the various beer festivals I attend. It’s a work in progress and I currently only have a fraction of my merchandise on there. I’ll post more as I can.

I also put together a brewery wish list. People are always asking what they can do to help. I have people asking if I need investors. Yes, I do. However I am not going to start actively soliciting donations or raising funds until I have my location on lock down. I put together the wish list mainly for myself, to have the satisfaction of crossing things off the list as I acquire them as a measure of my progress. Also there is part of me that hopes that there are people out there who happen to have spare equipment, knowledge or insight and can help me cross these things off.

On another note, I had a pretty successful brew day on Sunday. I put together a recipe for an IPA. My friends Richard, Dalton and Todd came over and lent a hand in it’s creation. Katie arrived later on with snacks and moral support. I hadn’t thought of a name for this beer and asked for suggestions. Todd suggested calling it Blitz IPA. After a quick check on untappd, we saw that the name was open. Hop Blitz is what we settled on. Here is the recipe for 10 gallons for those who are interested:

24 pounds organic 2 row brewer’s malt.

2 pounds Pilsen malt

1 pound cara-pils

2 pounds Vienna

1 pound wheat

1 pound crystal 60

1 pound corn sugar

2 ounces of East Kent Goldings Hops (Leaf, 6o minutes)

2 ounces of Cascade (leaf, 30 minutes)

2 ounces Columbus (leaf, 15 minutes)

2 ounces of Centennial (pellet, 15 minutes)

2 ounces Belma (leaf, 5 minutes)

2 ounces of Columbus (leaf, at flame out)

2 Whirlfloc tablets at 5 minutes left

Strike grains with 9 gallons of water to to mash at 152 degrees for 60 minutes

Sparge with 9 gallons at 170 degrees

Yeast- 1/2 gallon starter of Safale S-04 Whitbread English strain.

Cool rapidly to 65 degrees and pitch yeast. I split into 3 carboys for fermentation, roughly 11 gallons fermenting away.

Original Gravity 1.074

Estimated final gravity:1.018

Estimated ABV 7.34% Estimated IBUs: 63.5

Hop Blitz happily fermenting away

Hop Blitz happily fermenting away

Richard, Todd and myself sampling some unfermented Hop Blitz after clean up.

Richard, Todd and myself sampling some unfermented Hop Blitz after clean up.

This weekend I’ll be in Asheville for the Winter Warmer beer festival. Expect a post afterwards. If you are going, and we haven’t met, feel free to introduce yourself. For you Knox Beer Crew guys and gals going, what do say we go to Wicked Weed for dinner afterwards?

Until next time…

Cheers,

Ratchet


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