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Sold-out 5th annual Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest showcases best beers from South

October 13, 2014 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Events, Homebrew, Memphis

Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest

The best beers in the South were on tap at the 5th annual Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest on Saturday.

The sold-out craft beer festival, which is a fundraising event for the Cooper-Young Community Association, showcases breweries within a day’s drive from Memphis, plus beer from Memphis-area homebrewers.

Rain had threatened the festival, but it stayed pretty dry, and the festival might have been the best yet. I felt the beers were particularly strong this year, featuring an impressive variety of styles, and the vibe was as laid-back as ever.

My goal this year was to sample beers from breweries that were largely unfamiliar to me. I had some really great beers  – so picking my favorites was tough – but here’s my Top 5 beers from the festival :

1. “Bourbon Barrel Cocoa Porter,” Country Boy Brewing, Lexington KY — This decadent beer was my favorite of Country Boy’s strong slate of offerings, delivering a rich cocoa flavor with a bourbon finish.

2. “Peanut Butter AstroNut Brown,” Rocket Republic Brewing Company, Madison, AL — People looked at me with raised eyebrows when I suggested they try the “peanut butter beer” from Rocket Republic, but I think a lot of folks were won over by this American Brown Ale. The peanut butter was surprisingly subtle, adding just enough sweetness to make this a beer a winner.

3. “Breakfast Stout,” Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs, Memphis, TN — Brewed by homebrewer Adam Steele, the recipe is essentially the “Brewing Classic Styles” oatmeal stout, using a Randall to infuse the beer with Ugly Mug coffee beans. Adam also cold-steeped the roasted grains, pasteurized them at 180 degrees for 10 minutes and added directly to the fermenter. The result was a delicious coffee stout.

4. “Brother Joseph’s Belgian Dubbel,” Straight to Ale, Huntsville, AL — At 8% ABV, this was a surprising smooth abbey-stye ale with enough flavor that I could still taste the rich malt and fruit character after sampling beers for 3.5 hours.

5. “Masked Bandit India Pale Ale,” Piney River Brewing Co., Bucyrus, MO — There were plenty of hoppy beers on tap at the festival, but I particularly liked this well-balanced black rye IPA., hopped with Amarillo, Citra and Centennial.

What were the best beers you tried? Leave a comment below.

Here are some more photos from the event:

Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest - crowdThe festival drew nearly 1,000 people and sold out in record time.

Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest - YazooNashville’s Yazoo Brewing Company is always a festival favorite. Yazoo’s Ivan Chester (not pictured) brought some special brews for the occasion.

Cooper-Young Regional BeerfestMemphis Made Brewing’s Andy Ashby poured beers at the festival that he helped found five years ago.

Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest - Bluff City BrewersBeers from the Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs and Memphis Brewers Association — Memphis’ two homebrew clubs — were popular as always!

Memphis’ Wiseacre Brewing to release Holy Candy in bottles

October 10, 2014 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Memphis

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Holy Candy, a Belgian Dubbel brewed with figs, is the latest special beer to be bottled by Memphis’ Wiseacre Brewing Co.

Tall bottles of Holy Candy, 6.2 ABV, will be available in the Wiseacre taproom this weekend and available in stores soon.

New beer update: Tennessee Brew Works continues Memphis rollout

October 08, 2014 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Distribution, Events, Memphis

Tennessee Brew Works taps

Nashville’s Tennessee Brew Works is continuing its launch into the Memphis market.

Tonight, there’s a “Meet the Brewer” event at the Young Avenue Deli. Head brewer/co-founder Garr Schwartz be there talking beer and sharing swag from 7 to 9 p.m.

Saturday, the brewery will make its Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest debut.

Tennessee Brew Works, which recently celebrated its first anniversary, is expanding into Memphis through distribution partner A.S. Barboro. All five year-round, or “headliner” beers, will be available in Memphis at various times, including the Southern WitExtra EasyCutaway IPABasil Ryeman and Country Roots.

Tennessee Brew Works held a tasting last week at Cash Saver’s Madison Growler & Bottle Shop, and I stopped by to meet co-founder Christian Spears and try out the brews.

All the beers I tried were really solid, but my favorites were Country Roots — the best sweet potato stout I’ve ever tasted — and Basil Ryeman — a smooth farmhouse ale brewed with Thai basil. The Cutaway IPA is also excellent.

Look for these beers on tap around Memphis soon and, of course, at Saturday’s sold-out Cooper Young beerfest, if you’re lucky enough to have a ticket.

TN at GABF: Wiseacre, Yazoo, McHale’s win medals at 2014 Great American Beer Festival

October 04, 2014 By: mike Category: Breweries, Competition, Craft beer, Events, Memphis

Three Tennessee craft breweries — Memphis’ Wiseacre Brewing Company, Nashville’s Yazoo Brewing Company  and Chattanooga’s McHale’s Brewhouse — won medals today at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

Wiseacre Tiny BombThe festival, in its 28th year, is the largest commercial beer competition in the world. A total of 234 different breweries won either gold, silver or bronze medals in 90 beer categories covering 145 different beer styles.

Wiseacre won a bronze medal for its Tiny Bomb in the German-Style Pilsener category (75 entries). This was Wiseacre’s first year to compete at GABF.

Brothers Davin and Kellan Bartosch opened Wiseacre on Broad Avenue in 2013. Tiny Bomb, available on draft and in cans in the Memphis area, is one of the brewery’s two year-round beers, along with Ananda IPA.

“It’s great to be recognized for something that you have worked so hard on for so long, especially by my peers, the greatest beer judges in the world. Pilsner is among the most difficult styles of beer to produce and we are glad to be honored in this way. I almost cried,” brewmaster Davin Bartosch said in a press release.

Added Kellan Bartosch: “With Firestone and Russian River being the other medalist in the category as two of the most highly acclaimed breweries in the country, it says a lot about the internal admiration for Pilsner among brewers. Craft beer drinkers often stick to mega hoppy IPAs or big stouts, but external appreciation for tasty lower ABV beers is on the rise and Tiny Bomb made here in Memphis can now be considered a leader of the pack on a national scale.”

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Bronze medal for Tiny Bomb #gabf

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Meanwhile, Yazoo captured the bronze medal in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer category (65 entries) for its Cherry Deux Rouges, part of the Nashville brewery’s Embrace the Funk series. The medal is Yazoo’s fourth overall, having won twice for its Hefeweizen and once for Sue.

The final Tennessee winner was Chattanooga’s McHale’s Brewhouse, which won a gold medal for its Scottish Pride beer in the Scottish-Style Ale category (51 entries). It’s the first GABF win for McHale’s Brewhouse.

A huge congrats to all the Tennessee winners!