Great Time at @AllAleQueen #Craftbeer Carnival #CltBeer #NCBeer #beerfest

March 24, 2014

I consider myself blessed for the life I have. Not only am I one of the resident beer geeks at The Market in Maryville but I also get to go work beer festivals through SuperFly Fabulous Events. You might haven’t  heard of this company, but you know of their work. Kingsport Oktoberfest, Thirsty Orange, All Ale To The Queen, Beer City Bus Tours and Brewer’s Summit. The team that put on these events are great people and I’m proud to be their friend. At these festivals I’ve done everything from represent a brewery (Woodruff), to pouring my homebrew, promoting the events through social media, to the most recent, running the mobile infusers. The best part about doing all this is having another chance to hang out before, during and after the events.

This weekend brought me to Charlotte, NC for the All Ale to the Queen Craft Beer Carnival. I’ve been planning on this event for months now, and I almost didn’t make it. My life has changed so much in a short amount of time. Being unemployed for awhile, moving to Maryville and working a low paying (but fulfilling) job has had it challenges. The finances starting looking grim for a 4 hour drive. When I estimated the gas money needed to go, it didn’t look like I could pull it off. Luckily a few friends saw my post on my personal social media and came to my rescue by buying some rare beers I’ve been cellaring. I was hoping to rope one or 2 of my remaining friends to go with me, but despite some last minute bribery, It ended up being a solo trip.

So I loaded up the car and left Friday Morning for Charlotte. The drive was uneventful. My GPS said it would take 4 and 1/2 hours but I made it to the venue in 4 with no problems. I checked in and was handed one of the festivals jockey boxes and asked if I could get it re-lined. Since I was also now in possession of the company’s brand new top of the line randall and needed to get parts, it wasn’t a problem. I put everything in my car and googled the nearest homebrew supply store. I found my way to Beer and Wine Hobbies International. The staff there was great and helped me reline the box and get all the parts I needed to set up the Randall. As I sat there with them talking about beer the clock was ticking. I had to still find my way to where the beer dinner was starting at 6. I had time for one quick brewery stop. I asked where I should go and Triple C Brewing was the answer given. Luckily it wasn’t too far away. I paid for the parts (company credit card, woot!) and headed there. As I drove up, I noticed how packed the place was. This was definitely a popular brewery, with lots of people and dogs enjoying the great weather. It happened to be one of the last days of Charlotte Beer Week and Triple C released a milk stout brewed with Vanilla Beans and Kahlua soaked oak chips that they called “The Dude Imbibes“. I got a full pour of that and a flight of four other beers as well. I was very impressed with the quality of the brews I tried. As I sat there drinking my beers, I had a conversation with a local about the Charlotte Craft Beer Scene. I could have stayed the rest of my trip at Triple C, but it was time to head to the beer dinner. I made sure to buy myself a wax capped big bottle of their Smoked Imperial Amber as a souvenir. Hopefully I won’t have to sell this one off to fund a future beer trip.

I arrived at Harry’s Grille and Tavern for the beer dinner. As I walked in and looked around the room, I recognized half the people there. I struck up a conversation with Aaron who introduced me to April Smith. She was running the social media for this festival. We grabbed one of the few remaining tables. My friend and all around good guy, Adam Reinke had texted me to say he was coming to the dinner. I saved him a couple of seats. He arrived with the infamous Mike with him. The course and beers started coming, and each one was incredible. Check out the All Ale To The Queen Twitter post about each course. Here’s one, two, three, four and five.

As the dinner came to an end, many were wondering what was next on the agenda? The word spread quickly through the brewers and other in town that we would take over the lawn in front of the hotel. There were already lawn chairs there. Somehow we started calling this “the grassy knoll”. I don’t know who came up with it, but that’s what we all referred to it as the rest of the weekend. Once back to the hotel we started to hang out there. Beers were flowing and a great time was had. I had a little (a lot) too much to drink. Like, bad behavior drunk ( I apologize to the person most of this was directed towards, but in my defense I HATE being stalked). Luckily I caught myself and stopped. I went to my room to sleep it off.

I woke up the next morning hung over and slightly hating myself. I felt a deep seated need for punishment. What else could I do but run it out? I got dressed in my running clothes, set my Nike app for a 5k and hit downtown Charlotte. The 1st mile hurt. My head was pounding, my mouth was dry and my liver hurt like hell. As I made my half way point, I started feeling better. By the end of my run I felt great. My app chimed in to tell me the 5k was over. To my astonishment I had beat my previous record by 3 and a half minutes!

Back at the hotel I drank coffee, showered and then headed out to the festival site. There was work to do. I set up my merchandise table, pieced together the randall and lent a hand where needed. When the doors opened, I knew I would need a volunteer and they hooked me up. I was introduced to Joy who was just that. I’ve done many fest and had many volunteers and she was the best so far. She is a home brewer and eager to learn all she could about beer. Together we were able to stay on schedule and came up with a great system for moving the randall around, cleaning it and setting it up. Her shift technically ended at 3:30 but she stayed, helping me all the way until the 8 pm ending time. This went above and beyond what was expected of her. Thanks homegirl!

There was so much going on at this festival and I was so busy I only caught about a fraction. When I was able to lift my head from what I was doing, the view was spectacular. This was mainly due to the incredibly hot aerial acrobats at the middle of the room and the always eye pleasing Charlotte Beer Girls.  There were also freak show acts that I missed but friends told me about later. Like a guy who ate a light bulb. My questions is, how’d he figure out that was something he was good at? What inspired him to eat the first one? I also missed the homebrewer contest and didn’t get to try everyone’s beer. Congrats to the winners though, maybe one day I’ll brew again and will enter another competition. For now, I’m honestly happy to NOT be brewing.

The one thing I was able to focus on, like I said, was the randalizing of beer. Awhile back I was talking to Aaron and told him we needed better randalls and system for mobile infusing. He asked my recommendation and I told him to buy the top of the line system from Dogfish head. He did so and it was worth every penny! We broke this new system in at Catawba’s booth with the brewery’s founder, Billy, as Seen in the video below:

The next infusion we did was at Abita’s booth with their Strawberry Lager going through French Broad Cocao nibs and shells and fresh strawberries. This was a hit. It was so good that the rep had to fill a growler to bring back to the brewers in New Orleans. So if you see Abita come out with a chocolate strawberry beer in the future, just know where it originated. People where clamoring for this beer and the line grew really long once the word spread. We were only scheduled to be at their booth for an hour, but if we would have taken it away when that early, I’m pretty sure we would have caused a riot. I was fine with staying there, especially since the Goose Island booth was right new to me and the reps kept sneaking me sips of Bourbon County Stout and Backyard Rye on the down low (thanks ladies!).

We were finally able to unhook the randall and head over to Rj Rockers where we ran the always popular Son of A Peach through, you guessed it, peaches. Since we didn’t have enough peaches due to my clumsily spilling half of them, we added some plums as well. It was a great combination. My volunteer, Joy had pointed out that there was a small group of girls following the infuser around. Sure enough they were first in line for the Rj Rockers. As I sat there talking with them, they asked to take pictures. Since my main weakness is pretty girls, I couldn’t resist. Of course, I couldn’t resist inviting them to the after party as well, but no such luck.

My Randall groupies.

Me and my Randall groupies.

The last infusion of the day was with Starr Hill. I tried to infuse their Cryptical Imperial Stout with Cocao Nibs and Shredded coconut. We ran into our first clogging issues of the day and were only able to get a few pours out of it. This was near the end of the fest, so I decided it would be alright to break it down, give it a good cleaning and call it a day.

The festival came to an end and I made sure to pack up and secure the randal and jockey box. As the attendees left it was back to being the festival people. Grassy Knoll takeover was the post festival party plans. By this time I was completely sober. I always stop drinking about and hour or 2 before a festival like this is over so I can drive. As I loaded up my car I noticed my buddy Jim Cope carring a big plastic bag and looking faded. My friend Trevor and his girlfriend walked over and as we talked and I mentioned the party, they asked if they could ride with me. We piled into my car and were talking and laughing our asses off on the way to the hotel.

Trevor Sharp gears up for the Jim Cope homeless impersonation challenge. We all were laughing so hard it hurt.

Trevor Sharp gears up for the Jim Cope homeless impersonation challenge. We all were laughing so hard it hurt.

When we arrived, the party was already in effect. Adam Reinke had ordered pizzas, beer was flowing and Urban Orchard brought out a keg of cider to share. I ran back to the room to grab one of my growlers and when I came back, the group was little more subdued. Where’s the keg? Well it seems like we were all having such a great time that the police came and told the group that we couldn’t be so obvious and have kegs out. The lawn was actually part of Johnson and Wales University. I found this hilarious because the same weekend a bunch of rowdy craft beer drinking drunks took over the hotel, the other people staying there were parents and potential students checking out the college. I could see the shocked look on the face of families are they walked passed us. I would not be a bit surprised if more then a few parents told their kids that there was no way they’d allow them to attend there after seeing us.

So instead of kegs, we just kept taking turns filling up growlers with Urban Orchard Cider and Studio Brew’s Mosaic Sunset from the kegs stashed in the cars a few feet away. I want to give a big shout out to my new friend, Jeff Anderson from Urban Orchard. It was great partying with you brother, and I look forward to hanging out again in a few weeks at TO.

Well I knew I had a 4 hour drive and a shift at the Beer Den the next day, so I had to call it a night. It pained me to be responsible and walk away from a great party with people I love and admire. Good thing I get to do it all over again soon. I hope everyone enjoys the pictures and if we met, I’d love to hear from you.

Charlotte you were great. I’ll be back in November for Attack of The Big Beers, so you have 8 months to prepare for my arrival. I’ll be counting the days my friends.

Cheers!

-Jason aka Ratchet


Beer Running! @BeardenBeerMrkt @CentralFlatsTap @YazooLeah

February 17, 2014

Hey y’all, figured it was time to write again. Since my last post, I’ve been picking up more and more hours working at The Market in Maryville’s Beer Den while I wait for my new full time job to start next month. I absolutely love everything about being part of the team at The Market and if they could afford me, would be more then happy to be there full time. Alas, they are a struggling mom and pop store and can only justify so much in employee wages, which I completely understand and sympathize with.

In the meantime I really enjoy getting paid to do something I love and am good at, sell beer. We have 8 constantly rotating taps. Pints are always only $3, we do growler fills and you can get a flight of all 8 beers for only $8. Not to mention the bottle selection is incredible. I love when people ask for suggestions or want to know more about a particular style of beer. I also love getting to know the regulars.

Since my last post, many of these regulars, my friends and my readers have asked me the same thing. “Are you really giving up on the idea of opening a nano-brewery?” This is something I thought long and hard about before I came to my decision. Like I said in my last post, I found myself spending to much thought energy on it, and stressing out. I think about it in these terms. The idea of opening a brewery is like a seed. I put that seed in the ground and my thoughts were like watering the seed. Well if you are constantly watering a seed, eventually you are going to drown it and it won’t grow. My decision was one to step back, stop watering it, and let nature take it’s course. For now I have other personal goals and things I want to accomplish. Maybe after I get a firm grip on those things, I’ll be in a better position revisit this idea and have some tools at my disposal to make another effort. In the mean time, we changed the name of our home brewery from Ratchet Brews to We Know Beer. When I say “we” it’s because the home brewing is about more than just me, it’s a team effort. Richard and Todd have become a big part of this, and deserve credit and recognition. This will be our official name when we represent at festivals. Not “We Know Beer brewery” or “We Know Beer brewing company“, simply We Know Beer. This new name encompasses everything we want to be about. It’s more then just about brewing beer, it’s also about education and appreciation, along with other things. We are having our logo developed and hope to debut it along with a mission statement and new merchandise in time for Thirsty Orange in April.

Until then I really need to do an inventory of ingredients and schedule a brew day. It’s kind of hard right now because I am in this inbetween place of working on the weekends while waiting to start my fulltime job. Once I am settled into a regular routine, we’ll be back to brewing on a regular basis. When this happens I’ll let you know.

There’s a few other things I want to write about before I end this post. When I made my goals for this year, getting back in shape was right there at the top of the list. Luckily there is a great beer running community. I love to run and several years back I would do so everyday. Then things happened and I slowly fell out. I started eating a lot. I was in a stressful and unhealthy relationship. Eating, drinking, staying up late and constantly arguing took it’s toll. I gained a bunch of weight. I became depressed. I finally arrived at the point when I said ENOUGH! I’m not doing this anymore. Since then, I haven’t been happier. I eat very sparingly now, mostly a juice diet. I still drink but not everyday and not as much. This balances nicely with my diet. I take yoga classes, weight train and started running again. I’ve was able to transition off of toxic and potentionally long term damaging anti-depressants simply by changing how I react and think about things. When I feel negative thoughts creeping in, I smile and think about all I do have and how blessed I am. I laugh more and I do my best to avoid stressful people and situations. Helping with all this, like I said, is the beer running community. Being around and getting to know other positive, health minded craft beer drinkers has made a world of difference. Monday evenings are now one of my favorite nights of the week because of the fun run at Bearden Beer Market. It’s a great challenge and keeps me working. I have an end of summer goal to be able to do the run at a 9 minute mile pace, including the big killer hill near the end. I’m also going to start the Thursday evening run that takes place at Central Flats and Taps.

Last Saturday morning I joined the Yazoo Barely a 4k run at Central Flats and Taps. Getting up early to start at 8am with 100 or more other people in the cold was exhilarating. I ended up running my personal best time so far. The run ended back at the bar where a round of Yazoo Fall Lager was waiting for us with a complimentary breakfast. We hung out and enjoyed the company of friends while watching the USA vs Russia Olympic Hockey game on tv. There are some great pictures on Central Flats and Tap’s facebook page of the run. I want to thank @YazooLeah for herding the cats to put this together. Yazoo is having a pub crawl through the Old City on her birthday, March 3rd. You know I’ll be there for this one.

This is all for now. It’s been so long since I’ve been at any beer related event that I’m really looking forward to my trip to All Ale to The Queen festival in Charlotte, NC on March 21st and 22nd. So far I’m still traveling solo, so if anyone wants to split gas and help me work the infusers at the festival, let me know.

Cheers,

Jason


A (Way) Late Post About @KPTOktoberfest #craftbeer #beercation

November 7, 2013

There’s been a few events and little beer trips in the last couple of months that I haven’t had time to write about yet. Instead of taking responsibility for being lazy, my excuses for lack of posting is my work schedule, being a father and playing too much Angry Birds. My writing has suffered as a result. So with that being said, It’s time to start playing catch up on my posting in the next week or so.  I’m going to start with my recollection of Kingsport Oktoberfest.

One of my favorite yearly events, this Tri-cities celebration gets bigger and better each year. I headed up a day early to get settled in and hang out with my friends at the brewer’s reception the night before. I got a late start and ended up getting to my hotel room around dusk. After unpacking, I headed over to the festival site to unload the kegs and to visit and drink beer with my friends at the brewers reception. I arrived and saw some of my good tri-cities comrades such as Jimie Barnett and Jay Davis. We immediately launched into a discussion of yeast, brewing times and gravity readings. I realized that I was beer geeking out so hard with other brew-nerds that I hadn’t even poured myself a drink. I got myself out of the conversation by pointing out I was sober and need to fix that. I poured a brew from the tap on the side of the cold truck and walked around to greet our other friends. Dave and Nikki Ohmer from Saw Works were there, along with several of my Tennessee Valley Homebrewers Club buddies. It was great to see my good friends and awesome brewery owners, Erich and Pam Allen from Studio Brew. I had enjoyed giving Erich hell the previous week on social media (mostly using the Kingsport Oktoberfest’s twitter and facebook accounts) for brewing a Butternut Squash Ale (my signature fall seasonal). It was all in good fun though, and it turns our brews are completely different recipes. After socializing, having a few drinks and heading over to Stir Fry Cafe for dinner, I headed back to the hotel. Knowing it would be an early morning, I needed to rest up.

The next morning bright and early I headed down to the site. Before I set up, we needed some breakfast and wake up juice. There was a new coffee shop right by Stir Fry Cafe with an incredible selection. The staff was super friendly and I wish I remembered the name of this place. Unfortunately my google-fu is failing me right now.

After I was sufficiently fed and caffeinated, it was time to set up the booth. I had brought four kegs of homebrew and plenty of merchandise to sell. Richard and Todd drove up from Knoxville that morning and met me at the site.

Todd and Richard at the Ratchet Brews booth.

Todd and Richard at the Ratchet Brews booth.

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Once everything was set up and the beer was flowing, it was time to walk around, see friends and drink beer before the gates opened. The moments before ticket holders come in to a festival is always a magic time for brewers. Most of us are set up and are able to socialize and try each other’s brews in the calm before the storm.

Our buddy, Dave from Saw Works Brewing Company

Our buddy, Dave from Saw Works Brewing Company

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Some of our favorite craft beer people, Pam and Erich Allen of Studio Brew!

Some of our favorite craft beer people, Pam and Erich Allen of Studio Brew!

The gates opened for the early VIPs. Spending the extra money for early admission is worth it as far as I’m concerned. The vibe is much more relaxed, there are no lines, and you get one on one time with the brewers to talk about what’s in your glass. The people who spring for the VIPs tickets are a much more beer savvy crowd and aren’t there just to get drunk. They truly enjoy conversing about beer. I met some great people, and am truly blessed that a couple told me they learned about Kingsport Oktoberfest and came because they read about it here. It was so great meeting and talking with everyone!

As the day progressed, we took turns working the booth and walking around enjoying the festival. There was a camera crew from the game show network on site and they guy from Cash Cab was the host of a new show. They specifically came to film the TN Idiotarod Race.  I walked over to see the beginning.

The day progress, we poured all our beer and got a lot of great feedback. Eventually the festival came to an end. We had an awesome day but it was time to pack up. I found myself tired but mostly sober. We packed everything up. Todd took off for the long drive home while Richard stayed in town at the same hotel as I did.  I went back to our room to refresh and change into clean clothes.

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Anyone for some Cottonwood Pumpkin ale infused with pumpkin pie slices?

Bad Santa

Bad Santa

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Hi-Wire Brewing Company, one of Asheville’s newest breweries.

It's the Great Pumpkin Ale, Charlie Brown!

It’s the Great Pumpkin Ale, Charlie Brown!

Two of the hardest Ganstas you'll ever meet!

Two of the hardest Gangstas you’ll ever meet being photo bombed.

After I rested up, I grabbed a few bottles of homebrew and hopped in Richard‘s car to go back downtown. We met our friends at Stir Fry Cafe for a post festival dinner. We arrived to a large table with Erich and Pam Allen from Studio Brew, Chris and Sandy Hunt from Moccasin Bend Brewing, Dave and Nikki Ohmer from Saw Works and several others. We ordered food, drank beer, share homebrew and enjoyed each other’s company. As the night wore on, people started heading back to their hotel rooms. We weren’t quite yet ready to call it a night and asked our server what some other decent craft beer bars in town were. We ended up going to a spot called Biggie’s for one last drink.

The next morning I met with Pam and Erich at an Asian buffet restaurant for brunch. I ate my fill and followed them home where in  an attached building Studio Brew is located. Erich showed me around the brewery and told me about his trails and tribulations to get licensed. I really need to plan a day to go up there and brew with him.

I could have stayed there all day with Erich and Pam but I needed to get over to Asheville before heading home. I had ordered some beer from Bruisin’ Ales and had to pick it up. I hurried to make it there by 6pm, when I thought they closed. Arriving at 5:50, we found that I had the Sunday hours wrong. They are open noon to 4 on Sundays, not 6 like I had thought. Realizing my mistake, there was only one thing to do. I headed over to Wicked Weed for a quite bite and flight. Once again, while enjoying  food and beer, I ran into Luke, who had just returned from a trip to Colorado. He told me about some big plans they had, and another collaboration they did with New Belgium. I do want to congratulate them for beating both Russian River and Crooked Stave for the Gold Medal in the American Brett Beer category at this year’s Great American Beer Festival. This is an amazing accomplishment for a brewery that has only been in existence for less than a year!

Well I drove home to Knoxville and this beer trip came to an end. I have had a few more adventures since this trip, and I plan on writing about them soon. I have another post I am going to publish on Saturday, so make sure you check back then. I’ll tweet the link and add it on the Facebook page.

Cheers,

Ratchet

PS January 2014: I don’t like to make a big deal out of my relationship status, but since this post, Katie and I have parted ways. As I tend to do, I removed and will continue to remove all references to her off of this blog. I’m not depressed over this, and am actually in a good place. I am the one who made the decision for reasons I won’t go in to. No drama, nothing bad, just different life paths. Katie is a really special girl, who deserves happiness. I wish her nothing but the best. That’s all I’m going to say on the matter.


Live Blogging! #CraftBeer Run to Georgia. Visiting Burnt Hickory @BHB_brews, @BrickStorePub and More!

August 17, 2013

Hey y’all. It’s time for another edition of beer travel with Ratchet. Today’s trip is to Burnt Hickory Brewery in Kennesaw, GA. This trip came about when my good friends and fellow Knox Beer Crew members Terry and Aimee invited me along for the ride. Being that drinking craft beer and checking out new breweries are my favorite things, I couldn’t resist! It just happened to work out that I got a nice bonus at work the day before, so I can do some bottle shopping as well. Terry told me all about this brewery. They are a nano, brewing on a 2 barrel system. Apparently they only offer tours once a month on a Saturday from noon until 5pm. The tour cost $10 and you get a glass and five four ounce samples. You can buy more samples if you please. They really try to make this a big event with music, food and brewery exclusives every hour. I’m really looking forward to checking them out, trying their beers and learning more about the nano-brewery business.

I’ll be providing a play by play of the day’s trip. So far the plan is to spend the day at Burnt Hickory and possibly drive down to Decatur to check out the world famous Brick Store Pub and also do some bottle shopping. So check back periodically for updates and live vicariously through us!

11:20 am. We are in Kennesaw. Currently eating lunch at Big Pie in the Sky Pizzeria. This place was featured on the tv show, Man vs. Food. Starting the drinking day by splitting a bottle of Terrapin’s Golden Ale. This is Georgia exclusive, only available for purchase in the peach state.

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11:39 am: At Burnt Hickory. Just bought my glass and tickets. Getting ready for my first pour.

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Burnt Hickory from the parking lot. You’d never know it was there.

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My tasting glass and tickets

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12:30 pm: It’s rainy outside but it’s nice inside. A lot of good people & beers. Taking my time and on my second beer, 9353, a Belgian Peach IPA. Very good!

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Draft list at Burnt Hickory

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My friends Aimee and Terry

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A view inside

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Yes I get excited by grains

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The Millennium Falcon, Burnt Hickory’s 1 barrel Blichmann Brewhouse, essentially this is what I have without the fancy brew stand.

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Climate controlled fermentation room

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Only a brewery geek & aspiring nano-brewer like myself would say “Look at the ventalation sysytem, I better get a picture of that.”

1:05 pm: Just did the tour & tried a rare taste of Noggin Knocker Imperial Egg Nog Milk Stout. Wow!

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The Burnt Hickory’s personal beer cellar and stash. Talk about seeing beer geeks drool!

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Dark Lord anyone?

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These guys have a serious stash

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More of Burnt Hickory’s stash

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Stuff that they’ve bottled in the past

1:09 pm: Drinking a kick ass Mojito IPA.

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My Mojito IPA at the tasting room. Big lines at this point.

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They are using Corny kegs just like I do!

1:40 pm. I absolutely LOVE this brewery! I’m learning so much! Just got some amazing advice from head brewer, Will.

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2:30 pm: I tried to upload video but phone keeps dieing. Meeting great people, drinking amazing beer. Lines are long at this point & I’m a little bit buzzed. Here’s a pic of my new friends John, Bob & Mary:

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I met so many friendly people like my new friends, John, Bob and Mary.

Here’s another video of the tour:

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3:30 pm: Me Ratchet. Me drunk. Lucky me no drive. Me now talk like caveman. Me hungry. What me just drinked be on untappd.

6 pm: Ok, ok I sobered up & came to outta cave man mode. We left Burnt Hickory & headed to ATL. We just stopped at Greene’s liquor store where I bought some rarities. We are now heading to Brick Store Pub where our friends have a table for us.

What I picked up at Green's

What I picked up at Green’s

6:15 pm: At Brick Store. I just ordered Straffe Hendrick Quad.

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Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel is very good!

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Knoxville friends from Left to right: George, Sammi, Aimee, Terry and Ratchet.

7:37 pm: I had to take a break and eat something. Didn’t finish my delicious beer. We walked over to Twain’s Brew pub. I just ordered a flight, even though I don’t think I can drink it all. We are going to The Porter Beer Bar next.

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Twain’s

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Sign at Twain’s

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Twain’s house beer list

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I had a flight.

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9:45 pm: Walked around Little 5 Points. Bought clothes at Rag-O-Rama. Had one last beer at The Porter Bar. Drank WestBrook’s One Claw. We are now in the car heading back to Knoxville. I’d like to thank Terry and Aimee again for taking me on this trip. My phone wouldn’t cooperate on loading all the videos and pictures. I’ll try again soon.

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The door to the Porter Beer Bar

Beer list at Porter Beer Bar

Beer list at Porter Beer Bar

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Bar at Porter

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The sign outside where we were allowed to drink our beer on the sidewalk in Little 5 Points. There were cops standing everywhere and they just didn’t care. This is in major contrast to Knoxville.

Thanks for following along. Just a few more things I’d like to let y’all know about. This Thursday, August 22nd I’ll be infusing Flat 12 bierwork’s Cucumber Kolsch with lemons, cilantro and basil at Suttree’s starting at 6. This is going to be good, trust me. I hope y’all can make it out. Also this Saturday is the Knox Beer Crew tasting, taking place at Vic’s. More info on the calendar at KnoxBeerCrew.com

Until next time….
Cheers,
Ratchet


Local #Craftbeer Brewery Spotlight: Saturday’s Visit to @CalfkillerBeer

August 7, 2013

Last Saturday I finally got around to doing something I have wanted to do for a very long time. Drive to Sparta Tennessee and visit my friends Dave and Don Sergio at their incredibly awesome brewery, CalfKiller.

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Calfkiller Brewing Company is a 20 minute drive from Crossville, or approximately and hour and forty minutes from Knoxville. It’s named after the nearby Calfkiller River that runs through Sparta. I originally drove right past it. It’s out in the middle of the country and It looks just like a house and a workshop, which in all reality it is. Don, his wife Kelly and their children all reside on the property.

A few from the parking area. The house is on the left of the driveway and the brewery on the right.

A few from the parking area. The house is on the left of the driveway and the brewery on the right.

I pulled into the driveway and was greeted by Kelly, who was outside painting a table. Introductions were made and she pointed me towards the door of the brewery. I walked in and was immediately greeted by the guys.  “Good to see you, glad you could make it.” was followed almost immediately by “Let’s have some beer.”

Tasting the goodness at Calfkiller

Tasting the goodness at Calfkiller

You can’t buy beer at Calfkiller due to state and local laws, but that doesn’t keep it from pouring. The brothers are very generous with their samples. I tried several different beers and with each, they spoke enthusiastically about the style and recipe formulation of each one. These guys truly have a love of craft beer. The conversation got around to sours and they asked if I wanted to try something. I said sure. They told me this story of a keg of Sam Adam’s Boston Lager that was several years old and and spent time in many people’s garages. By the time someone had brought it to them, it was funky. They cooled it down and hooked it up so they could bottle the contents. They have no idea what happened to sour the keg, but I got to say as far as infected beers go, this was a pretty good sour! The guys were full of stories like this, such as a friend of theirs who had found a keg of Abita Turbodog that had spent a few years in the ocean, having ended up there from Hurricane Katrina. Looking around the brewery, there were many empty bottles of various beers that I can only assume were from parties and bottle shares. I even spotted a couple of empty bottles of my Brew Mob friend Andy “Big Hop” Atkinson’s home brews.

Empty Homeb rew bottles from Big Hop Brews

Empty Home brew bottles from Big Hop Brews

A few minutes before 2pm, other people started trickling in. They do official tours every Saturday by appointment. A FedEx truck also arrived with a fresh shipment of hops.

At 2 o’clock, the tasting room was full and it was time for the official tour. They started out by making sure everyone had a full tasting glass. Dave spoke about the brewery’s beginning, and the trials and tribulations of growing and building their brewery from the ground up. Eventually we moved into the brew house area. Calfkiller brews on a 7 barrel system they had cobbled together from various equipment.  I put together the video below from the tour, but the quality isn’t that great. My phone kept overheating and the battery kept dying, so not much was recorded.

The whole time they gave the tour, they made sure to keep the samples flowing. I progressively asked for smaller and smaller samples since I knew I’d have to drive in a bit. Like all good things the tour came to an end. Many people who had made the drive asked if they could buy growler fills. The brothers had to politely decline, explaining that due to the laws, they could not sell beer on premises. They did however, let people know which of their local accounts in the area could sell. They were happy to give directions to these local bars.

They can’t sell beer there, but that does stop visitors from being able to buy some really cool Calfkiller merchandise such as shirts, glassware and hats. So when you go check them out (and I highly encourage you to do so),  make sure to bring extra cash to pick something up and support these small batch brewers.

I really want to thank Dave and Don for everything. I was so glad to check out this little gem of a brewery and would be more than happy to go back, repeatedly. In the meantime, make sure to follow them on facebook and twitter. They also are present at many local beer festivals, such as the upcoming Kingsport Oktoberfest.

Enjoy the pictures below, click on them to enlarge.

Cheers,

Ratchet


@wbir Story About Beercations Feature Yours Truly. Shout outs to #AVLBeer @Nantahalabrew @WickedWeed and @SawWorksBrewing

August 2, 2013

A big hello and welcome to all the new readers who found out about this blog from WBIR Channel 10′s Live at 5 at 4 story by Emily Stroud. It was a pleasure meeting with Emily and the camera guy to talk about my beer obsession. I would also like to thank Knox Urban Guy of the award winning Inside of Knoxville blog for putting me in touch with Emily. (Yes Jerry, I haven’t forgot about you giving Alan my phone number to pass along when I excitedly mistyped it in an email to Emily.)

So here is the video below. Just in case it’s not working, here is a direct link to WBIR’s video.

I also want to mention that Embrace the Funk is having a Sour Beer Tasting this Saturday at Bearden Beer Market from 1 to 3 pm. This is going to be quite the event. It features five of Brandon Jones’ creations in collaboration with Yazoo’s Embrace the Funk series. There will also be other sour, lambic and wild ale offerings from breweries around the world. They are even going to tap the keg of 2012 New Belgium La Folie that they’ve been hiding in the cooler. There will only be 100 spots guaranteed for Knoxville’s first sour tasting event, so be sure to come by BBM to reserve your spot today! Tickets are $20 and include a Yazoo sampling glass.

I will not be there however. I planned on visiting Sparta, TN’s own Calfkiller Brewery during that time. I’ve known Don and Dave Sergio and crew for over a year now, and have been looking forward to seeing their operation. I plan on taking lots of pictures and video, so check back Monday for a new post. Until then, if you are new to this site, feel free to read back through the archives or leave a comment.

Cheers,

Ratchet


Live from @KnoxBrewFest, The Last Official Event of @KnoxBeer Week #KCBW

June 29, 2013

Hey y’all, Live posting for 2013 Knox Brew Fest here that Southern Railway Terminal. Going to post until my iPhone battery dies. I’ll be too busy to write, so the plan is to upload as many picture and videos as possible. I really want to focus on the attendees, so come by the Ratchet Brews booth and get your picture taken. Come back and see yourself on here.

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Myself, Todd and Richard at our booth

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Myself, Todd and Richard at our booth

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Hops

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The booth right after we set up

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Glassware for sale

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Shirts for sale

Gates are open for VIP. 4 pm for general admission. Come on by!

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Khaleesie and Todd

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The guys at the UBC booth were frying up bacon.

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Todd pouring that good ol’ Ratchet Brews

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Shirts

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Highland

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The infamous Aaron Russell.

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So glad to see wicked Weed here!

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Hoppyum? Yes please!

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My British friends

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AllianceBrewingCo.com

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Adam Ingle of Alliance Brewery. I can’t wait for these guys to get up and running.

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Alliance cask ESB is delicious!

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Thanks for the support!

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Neil from Yazoo

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Jason Smith of Knox Beer Crew @NGD69

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Old Style!

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Katie, myself and my buddy David Chisholm. My beer was his 500th Untappd Check in. So honored!

Katie, myself and my buddy David Chisholm. My beer was his 500th Untappd Check in. So honored!

Congrats to David Chisholm on earning his Untappd Legendary Badge by drinking my Apricot Honey Lager!

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Gingers unite!

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Every time you purchase a Ratchet Brews shirt, a brewer gets his… Mash paddle?

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Local social media guru, Kelly Absner

I met many of my blog and twitter followers in real life for the first time. I want to give a shout out to Jonathan Harris (@DrSkwurl), Landon Moore (@LanDub17) and everyone who stopped by the booth to say hi. Thanks everyone for the support, the encouraging words, the feedback and for purchasing merchandise. If we met, you tried our beer or your picture is on here, please leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!

Once again this year I ended the festival in decent shape. I just didn’t have time too drink much, being that I was so incredibly busy. I’d like to thank Richard, Todd and Katie for all their hard work and help with everything. After we packed up, we headed to Downtown Grill and Brewery for dinner. Our friends Aaron and Stephanie Carson from Kingsport Oktoberfest and Thirsty Orange joined us. We wanted to hang out longer, but it was a really long day and we were exhausted.

So that’s it for now. I still have some other post that I’m working on and hope to publish soon. Until then, check out the new twitter account @KnoxWaterWeek. I mean, after all, you need water to make beer. Since we had a whole Knoxville Craft Beer Week full of drinking, it’s time to give that liver a rest.

Cheers y’all,

Ratchet


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


Infusion video, @KTPOktoberfest round up and a lazy Sunday enjoying #AVLBeer.

September 23, 2012

Well by the end of yesterday’s Oktoberfest celebration in Kingsport, I was beat. I packed the CR-V and walked over to Stir Fry Cafe where I had dinner with the owners and brewers of both Moccasin Bend Brewing Company and Studio Brew. I love the comaderie that brewers have, and I always gain some insight and learn a lot about the industry that I some day plan on joining. I ate and then shortly made my way back to my hotel to finish uploading pictures before I passed out. What a great event and once again a big thank you a shout out to Aaron Carson and Das Krew for organizing this and inviting me to participate. A special thanks once again got to Lindsey, Flipper and Richard who were an immense help to me. Because of their assistance I was able to have a very enjoyable time.

Today I woke up, and wrestled with my slowly dieing computer and slow ass hotel wifi to convert the video Richard took on my iPhone of my infusion workshop. It went well. It was way better and easier that last year’s infuserless fiasco. So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, here it is:

So today I figured I’d go spend a few hours relaxing in Asheville, updating this site and sipping on brews. I made the drive and Richard followed. We planned on meeting up for lunch with fellow Knox Beer Crew member Matt Crowell, but got here and found out that he bailed. After driving past a few closed breweries, I come to the realization that nothing happens (beer wise anyway) in Asheville until noon. When Asheville Brewing Company on Coxe ave opened, we came right in. I have tried the newest beer to their line up, Coconut Booty, a porter with, you guessed it, coconut. I also dropped off several bottles of my Butternut Squash Ale for Mike Rangle, the owner and a friend of mine.

I am going to go to Bruisin Ales where I intend to pick up a few things for myself and friends back home. Some breweries I wanted to visit are closed today (Craggie) and other places open late. I plan on being back to Knoxville in time to have dinner with my son, so I can’t stay in town long or drink too much. Maybe I’ll just visit Thirsty Monk for 1 beer then some water before heading back home. I really like Asheville, and wish I could stay longer then a few hours. I guess that’s why I am planning a Christmas vacation here again this year.

Well this is all for now. Thanks to everyone I met this weekend. I hope our paths cross again. Until then,

Cheers,

Ratchet
Update 3pm. I was on I-240 just left Bruisin Ales when I decided that I wasn’t ready to leave. I turned around and was the 1st customer in the door at The Thirsty Monk when it opened at 3. I got a half pour of Catawba’s Arlo’s PB & J brown ale. It’s amazing and the story… Well, make sure you hug your kids.

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Live blogging from @KPTOktoberfest http://kingsportoktoberfest.com/

September 22, 2012

It’s Saturday morning and I am at the Oktoberfest site in Downtown Kingsport, getting ready to set up my booth. I got to in to town late yesterday afternoon. I spent the night before and most of the day on Friday getting everything ready and packing my old trusty CR-V. There is a lot that goes into setting up and pouring homebrew at a festival. One of the things I did was to bake minature butternut squash pies and mini cupcake sized pies. I am going to try to infuse my Butternut Squash Ale with mini-pie slices. I honestly don’t think it’s going to add anything to this beer, I am doing it mostly for presentation. I wanted to do something memorable. Something that people will talk about. Worse case senario is that it turns into a big gloopy mess and clogs up my lines. If so, I’ll just bypass the infuser. I made several pans of the mini-pies for people to eat. I think it will be a nice treat for the V.I.P.s who paid for early admission. I used the butternut squash that was left over from brewing the last batch. It cooked really well in the beer wort, and it has some bitterness because the whole leaf hops were cooked with it in the mesh bag. For anyone who is interested, here’s the recipe:

Step one, brew Butternut Squash Ale.

Step two, remove the squash and hops from mesh bag, freeze until the day before you intend to make pie. Then thaw it.

Step three. Follow this recipe using the butternut squash and hops mixture. I made a simple graham cracker crust using directions on the graham cracker crumb box.

Step 4. Profit.

Ok, We’ll see how it goes. For now, I got to set up everything. Before I do that I just want to give a shout out to everyone that I hung out with at the “Growl at The Moon” Friday night pre-party. It was great chilling out with Jimie Barnett of Barnette’s Best Brew who I happen to be set up next to today. When ever Jimie and I hang out, things get rowdy. It’s like Snoop Dogg said ” Compton and Long Beach together, now you know you’re in trouble.” I also want to go give a big shout out to Matt (who is featured in my Brewer’s Summit video) for providing some incredibly strong and tasty libations. Also it’s always a pleasure to see and hang out with Erick from Studio Brew . A big hug for Kitty and Erica from Highland Brewing who are staying at the same hotel as me. We hung out and had drinks at Stir Fry cafe last night and then shared a cab last night and back to the site this morning.

Well I have a whole bunch of work to do today. I will try to post as much as I can, but if it gets too busy I’ll at least post pictures up. Stay tuned.

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The Ratchet Brews Super Store

All set up and ready to pour. Richard is here and I have Flipper and Lindsey from Johnson City helping me out. Since I am set up, I think I’m going to wander about & check out what else is here.

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Wife and husband Lindsey and Flipper were an enormous help all day! Thanks y’all, you rock!

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Who had the best barrel aged beer at Kingsport Oktoberfest? This guy, Erick from Studio Brew.

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Society of Fermentation. I had their curry stout and it was great. It won an award.

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My kegs.

Had a little near panic moment when I realized that my iPhone battery was almost dead. Luckily I brought this along:

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This little device has saved the day on more then one occassion.

The bier garden is open and the beer is flowing.
Knox Beer Snob Don is here with his festival buddy. They have a master blaster thing going on.

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Don and the Next generation of beer snob.

Photo booth!

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so fun!

I was wondering why it wasn’t busy. Then I found out that so far it was only VIPs, here comes the rush!

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Here they come!

Well Kingsport Oktoberfest is in full swing. The best part of beer festivals are the people that you meet. Fellow homebrewers are my favorite. Like the crew of Music City Brewers.

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Music City Brewers representative.

It’s almost time for my infusion workshop.

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Only beer I have left is my Rauchbier and a keg of Terrapin’s Rye Pale Ale that we’re infusing with cascade and centennial hops.

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My beer ran out fast

Look! It’s Adam Palmer from Saw Works Brewing Company!

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Jimie Barnett from Triple B Brewing with a hop garnished Hopijauna IPA

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Jimie’s neck must be hurting for the weight of all the medals that he won for his great beer.

So many pictures, so little time, sobriety & patience to post. Here’s a picture of me with my friends from Highland Brewing.

Kitty, Ratchet, Erica, Oscar, Eliza

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Lens flare and some random guy on the end.

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Good times!

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My friend Steve of Friendship Brewing couldn’t make it, so I poured his Misty Melon watermelon kolsch for him. It won an award

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Those wild and crazy guys from legit brew were set up next to me. Good people with good beer.

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What do you do with a slice of Butternut Squash pie that has been in an infuser all day, and is beer soaked? You eat it, duh.

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Went to Stir Fry cafe after packing up the booth. Had dinner and a beer with Moccassin Bend brewery and Studio Brew. The place was packed and people were dancing on the sidewalk.

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Erick of Studio Brew being a goof ball.

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