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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.

Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest, Oktoberfest Squared set for rainy Saturday

October 09, 2014 By: mike Category: Craft beer, Events, Memphis

Saturday’s double feature of Memphis beer events — Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest and Oktoberfest Squared — is looking like a wet one, and we’re not just talking suds here.

There’s a 60 percent chance for storms on Saturday, according to the latest weather reports, and festival organizers are planning for rain.

“For the first time, there is rain forecast for the CY Beerfest this Saturday. This is a rain-or-shine event since we have brewers from around the region in town, and they have to leave Sunday to get back to making the fresh beer you love,” according to a post Wednesday on the Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest Facebook page. “We are getting bigger tents than we originally planned so that there will be more cover in case it rains. Please look at the forecast before you head out and bring your raincoat/umbrella if it looks like rain.”

Earlier, there was this humorous tweet:

The Cooper-Young event, which is sold out, goes from 1 to 5 p.m. and will be held at 795 S. Cooper.

Oktoberfest SquaredMeanwhile, just down the road, there will be another festive beer gathering, and it’s free to attend.

Overton Square is hosting Oktoberfest Squared in the Tower Courtyard from noon to 10 p.m.

Samuel Adams Oktoberfest will be flowing, and there will be a stein-hoisting competition at  7:30 p.m., with a chance to win a trip to Boston and a VIP tour of the Sam Adams brewery.

The music line-up features Deering & Down, 2 Mule Plow, Bluff City Backsliders, Dueling Pianos from Beale Street, and the traditional Oompah band, Sauerkraut Six.

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.