Beer Backstory

Posted in Beer Backstory, Coming Soon, Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada Solar Storm

Sierra Nevada Solar StormSierra Nevada Solar Storm.  

Availability: Draft only, as of 4/19/12

5.8% ABV 

Posted in Beer Backstory, Guinness

St Paddy’s Spotlight – Guinness

It’s St. Patrick’s Day! In honor of this alcoholic holiday, I thought I would feature what is probably the most well known beer on a day like this – Guinness.  Craft or no craft, this is one beer that’s hard to ignore.

Guinness was started by Arthur Guinness in 1759, in Dublin, Ireland.  Fun fact- the St. James’s Gate Brewery is actually under a 9,000 year lease at £45 per year.  By 1838, St Jame’s Gate was the largest brewery in Ireland, and almost 100 years later in 1914, the largest in the world.  In 2010, it has lost the title of largest brewery, but St Jame’s still lays claim to the largest stout brewer on the planet.  Guinness Brewery is large not only in volume but also in size.  At various times in its history, it’s owned almost 70 acres of land, buildings that housed employees, and streets.  Guinness has even produced its own power at one point.

The Irish Dry Stout that we have come to know, is based on English Style Porters that originated in 18th Century England.  Roasted barley gives it the toasted flavor. The creamy mouthfeel comes from nitrogen, which is infused into the beer under much higher pressures than regular beers, and separated out at the pour.  Guinness is made with water, barley, hops, and yeast.  Something that you might not know is that this stout is also treated with Isinglass finings, a substance that is obtained from dried bladders of fish.  It is used to clarify the beer.  (Removing the suspended materials.) Lots of craft beers these days are unpasterized, unfiltered, and even bottle conditioned, Guinness however, is pasteurized and filtered  Ever opened a can or bottle of Guinness and heard a hissing bubbling noise?  That’s the nitrogen “widget” blowing the gas through the beer, fluffing it up, creating the creamy head.

There is a lot of history surrounding Guinness and St. Jame’s Gate Brewery.  I could go on for another page, but hey – it’s St. Paddy’s Day.  Drink up!


Guinness is  4.2% ABV, and just turned 250 years old!

Posted in Beer Backstory, Seasonal Return, Unibroue

Hot or Cold – Unibroue’s Quelque Chose

Here is a brew that challenges your accepted notion of beer.  For most, beer is served cold in a glass or even out of the bottle.  Acceptable for most beers all things considered.  Just pouring Unibroue’s Quelque Chose into a glass is just one of the options for this beer.  Quelque Chose travels to Atlanta from Chambly, Quebec and was first brewed in 1996.   The name translates literally into “Something” perhaps because this beer really IS something.  It’s versatile, and can be served as a normal chilled pour, hot (160 F) or over ice as an aperitif (short drink served as an appetizer.)

Quelque Chose is officially classified as a fruit/vegetable beer and uses a top fermenting ale yeast.  Lots of wild dark cherries are added to this beer.  They are soaked in a slightly bitter beer base prior to being blended into the final batch. Roasted dark malts round out Quelque to give you a roastly, sweet and sour cherry experience.  However, this beer is a fun one to experiment with.  The flavors you note will change with each way you drink it. So be sure to try it out and see how the favors change.  (On ice, cold pour, hot.)  To heat I suggest a saucepan.  You get more aroma as your warm it.  Quelque Chose was developed as a warm drink for cold winters.

Quelque Chose is back for its limited engagement in 750 ml corked bottles, around $10 dollars a piece.  Highly doubtful that this beer will find its way to tap handles, but if it does trust me I’ll let you know.

8% ABV

Posted in Beer Backstory, New Releases

Negra Modelo Hits U.S. Taps

Grupo Modelo, founded in 1925, is the largest beer producer in Mexico, and as of 2008 was the 6 largest worldwide.  Grupo Modelo owns 7 breweries throughout Mexico.  You have seen  Grupo’s brands — Corona, Victoria, Pacifico, Negra Modelo, Modelo especial, Modelo Light, Estrella, and Leon.  For the first time in the US, Negra Modelo and Modelo especial will be hitting tap handles.

Negra Modelo was first introduced in 1926 solely on draft in Mexico. Brewed by Austrian immigrants, Negra is a Munich Dunkel Lager at 5.4 % ABV.  Dunkel lagers originated in Bavaria, and are brewed with a generous portion of Munich malts.  They are light brown or ruby in color, and are easy drinking without being overwhelming.  You’ve seen Negra Modelo in short bottles with gold labels.

Modelo especial was first introduced in bottles in 1925.  This lager is stylistically classified with other popular lagers, such as Budweiser, Coors, and Red Stripe.  As of the end of 2008, Modelo especial was the #3 imported beer in the US.

As of today,  both these beers will be available on draft.  Cesar Martinez Guzman, brewmaster of Grupo Modelo  was on hand last night at Taco Mac’s “The Fred” all the way from Mexico to celebrate the launch.  Negra Modelo, and Modelo especial will be available year round from now on.  Just in time for Cinco de Mayo…

Posted in Beer Backstory, New Releases

Shiner 101 Arrives

Shiner fans get excited.  Hitting Atlanta shelves today is Shiner 101.  This offering by Spoetzl Brewing – Shiner, Texas is a traditional Czech-style pilsner.

The pilsner is a pale lager that origniated in Pilsen, Bohemia – now modern day Czech Republic.  Pilsners use pale malts and noble hops (low aroma, more for bittering) typically Saaz or Hallertau.  This pilsner by Shiner is brewed with just 4 ingredients – water, barley, yeast and hops.   The same way it evolved.

Ingredient Profile –

Hops – Saaz hops from Czech Republic

Malts – Bohemian Barley

ABV – 4.6%

22 IBU’s (International Bittering Units.  Low number = Low Bitter)

Available now – 12 oz/6 pks & Draft

Sightings Updated ASAP

Posted in Beer Backstory, Bell's Brewing, Casks

Beer Spotlight – De Proef/Bell’s Collaboration – “Van Twee”

In 1996, highly regarded brewing professor and engineer Dirk Naudts created De Proef Brouwerij near Gent, Belgium.  Dirk Naudts is considered one of the leading brew masters in Belgium.  De Proef (or “The Prof — Dirk’s nickname)  is a highly scientific brewery that melds traditional brewing methods with modern equipment technologies.  Versatility is a keyword when describing De Proef as each beer is made in a 9 Barrel brewhouse, which allows each beer to be specially crafted and unique.

Dirk’s brewing reputation spawned the collaboration project between De Proef and American brewers.  Bell’s Brewing was the most recent participant in the collaboration.  John Mallet of Bell’s visit De Proef, and together they brewed Van Twee or “From Two” in Flemish.   Van Twee was first a dark brew, resembling a Porter, but also had traits of a Belgian Dubbel.

The finishing touch to Van Twee came from Bell’s home state of Michigan.  Cherry juice squeezed from sour Michigan cherries were added to give Twee a dark, fruity character.   Finally, sugar from Michigan sugar beets were used for bottle conditioning.  (Sugar in bottle conditioning aids in bottle carbonation, but doesn’t contribute much to ABV over time.)

Other interesting notes about Van Twee —

Brettanomyces was used in primary fermentation.   It adds to the Belgian flair.  Van Twee is the 3rd in the SBS imports collaboration series.    Twee will shelf well.  Good one for now, and probably better later.

7.5% ABV

750 ml — Corked & Caged Bottles

Average Price  14.00 — Hop City, Tower, Greens

More on SBS Imports —

UPDATE! A rare cask of Van Twee will be tapping at Taco Mac Metropolis @ 6 pm 1/19/10  with Brewer/Founder Larry Bell.

UPDATE 2/15/10 – Van Twee will be available  at Cypress Street Pint & Plate 2/16, 7pm

Posted in Beer Backstory, Lagunitas

Lagunitas- Undercover Investigation Undercover Shut-down Ale (The story)

Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale

Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale

If you walk into a bar and drink a new beer, and leave with just the knowledge of the taste — I guess that’s acceptable. However if you want my honest opinion — there is a lot that goes into that glass that you may never know about. It has enjoyment to each sip. I don’t want to sound biased, but when you grab a can of a “factory beer” there’s not a whole lot to tell. Its mass produced, sold in bulk, and stays the same. Every time. I’d like to think these few paragraphs help make you a better beer drinker. You will look for something new next time, and know why you want it.

There are a few bars/restaurants in Atlanta that add new selections weekly. For most, it’s another beer. But as I said before, there is a story behind each glass, and it needs to be told. So let this post be the first of a series that gives you the background to new additions to the selection in Atlanta.

Recently, Brickstore Pub and some Taco Mac locations added Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale. Funny name right? Well, it’s not just a witty name to try to get you to buy. A few years ago Lagunitas Brewery used to have party every week featuring their beers, a band or two, and food. From the sounds of it, a quite good party. Well, the state of California brought out the beverage control board to investigate these parties over the course of 8 weeks. Rumor has it the “undercover officers” enjoyed the party as much as the others in attendance.

In the end, the California Alcohol Control Board (ABC) sited Lagunitas Brewery for running a “Disorderly House,” an antiquated post prohibition law to crack down on bars being the front for prostitution /drug rings. I have also found reports that an individual was caught smoking marijuana on the premises. (He brought it from the outside according to reports.) So, on St. Patrick’s Day 2005, ABC came through with its threats. Under California law, the brewery could have been seized but received a 30 day shutdown order (later reduced to 20 days.) Apparently Lagunitas was going to be shutting down temporarily to installing new equipment, so it really didn’t affect operations.

Undercover Shutdown is a strong ale, coming in at 9.0% ABV. It has a taste of a double IPA, but it honestly it doesn’t have the strong taste you expect. It’s a little hoppy, but not to an extreme that an average beer drinker would be turned off from. Shutdown Ale pours light brown/gold, and is slightly bitter at first. It has a mild hop flavor with a hint of grapefruit at the end. I have seen quite a few people try it, and the response has been quite positive.

So here is a little background on Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-down Ale. Sometimes the story gives you a better appreciation for what you’re drinking. And maybe, just maybe — try something new.