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Guest post | Blake Marcum: Giving thanks for pumpkin beer in the 901

November 24, 2014 By: mike Category: Craft beer, Distribution, Memphis

The following is a guest post from Memphis craft beer drinker and pumpkin beer connoisseur Blake Marcum.

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As Memphians huddle beside the propane heaters, enjoying the last few moments of patio time in fall before the dark cold winter casts it gloom and frost into our hearts and we find ourselves amid the dizzying display of winter beer, we can all take comfort in knowing that pumpkin beer can still be found on the store shelves in the 901.

Blake Marcum

Blake Marcum

The popularity of pumpkin beers has grown at an astronomical rate in America. What is more surprising is the enjoyment of this wonderful liquid is shared among the craft beer and macro beer crowd alike.

The greatest of all achievements of pumpkin beer may be how equally received it is by both men and women.

New pumpkin styles have also arrived, with pumpkin porters, imperial stouts, saisons and even IPAs as brewers continue their journey to tempt us with their creations. While not all of those can be found in the Mid-South, there are several that you can still bring to the Thanksgiving table to make that family time a lot more enjoyable (tolerable). We wanted to share our top list of pumpkin beers in the 901 that you should still be looking for.

Most beer rating systems are based on appearance, aroma, mouth feel, flavor and just an overall impression of the beer. With pumpkin beer we have to add a different dynamic as the beers have an unusual flavor pattern, which for this list we’ll call the Pumpkind Scale, a rating of what kind of pumpkin flavor the beer has. Some are like drinking pumpkin pie with the high spice load and some have a more gourd-like taste truer to the actual pumpkin. Which is better is up to you to decide.

Blackstone’s Pumpkin Ale:

Blackstone’s Pumpkin Ale

1.Blackstone Brewing Co.’s Pumpkin Ale: Our Nashville neighbor’s co-founder Kent Taylor told me that he did not even want to make this beer. He got talked into it and the popularity has skyrocketed in the state. I buy eight cases of this beer to enjoy and to share. It’s like drinking pumpkin pie that is not overwhelming after you’ve had a few.
Pumpkind Scale: Pumpkin pie, heavy spice

2. Schlafly Beer’s Pumpkin Ale: At 8% ABV, this pumpkin not only possesses incredible flavor, but also carries an alcohol level that will have you feeling extremely cozy by the fire.
Pumpkind Scale: Pumpkin pie, heavy spice

3. New Belgium Brewing’s Pumpkick: Our good friends at New Belgium proved that just because they are the 3rd largest independent brewery in the country, didn’t mean that they couldn’t learn a few new tricks. The 2013 Pumpkick had only a faint hint of gourd in it and almost no recognizable spice. While some liked it, I hated its innocence and lack of complexity that New Belgium brings to so many other styles. I decided to try the 2014 and was blown away by the spice load and complexity of flavors in it. They added cranberries and a touch of lemongrass to the recipe, because they’re New Belgium and well… why not? A very enjoyable beer.
Pumpkind Scale: Pumpkin pie, medium spice

4. The Traveler Beer Company’s Jack-O Traveler: Traveler really impressed me with this one, considering it is so far outside of its normal shandy lineup. Drinking this beer is like enjoying your grandma’s pumpkin pie, but your crazy uncle got a hold of it first and added some alcohol.
Pumpkind Scale: Pumpkin pie, heavy spice

Pumpkin beer haul

Pumpkin beer haul

5. Shipyard Brewing Co.’s Pumpkinhead: This is a great pumpkin for those who want some pumpkin, but not with the overwhelming nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon load that accompanies so many others. Pumpkin fans from both sides of the spice scale can enjoy this one, but those who want pumpkin pie will only get a faint taste of what they truly want.
Pumpkind Scale: Pumpkin gourd, low spice

6. (TIE) Blue Moon Brewing Co.’s Harvest Pumpkin Ale and Shock Top’s Pumpkin Wheat: Both of these are enjoyable pumpkin offerings that you could drink daily, but don’t possess the strong distinction that the others on the list do.
Pumpkind Scale: Pumpkin pie, medium spice

7. Magic Hat Brewing Company’s Wilhelm Scream: I couldn’t believe Magic Hat attempted a pumpkin beer when I first saw this. I also couldn’t believe I actually enjoyed a Magic Hat beer after I tasted it. This one tasted like the Magic Hat team just threw whatever ingredients in that were supposed to make a pumpkin beer, but somehow it worked out. I look forward to how it turns out next year.
Pumpkind Scale: Pumpkin pie, heavy spice

8. Redhook Ale Brewery’s Out of Your Gourd Pumpkin Porter: The one dark pumpkin you can find in the 901 is a nice porter with low deep hanging pumpkin flavors that are quite enjoyable for the dark beer drinkers out there.
Pumpkind Scale: Pumpkin gourd, low spice, porter

9. O’Fallon Brewery’s Pumpkin Beer: This beer blew me away in 2013, but changed the recipe to lower the spice load in 2014. It is still a very enjoyable pumpkin, but I hope the 2015 version will need a fork to enjoy.
Pumpkind Scale: Pumpkin pie, medium spice

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

10. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s Punkin Ale: Most craft beer fans in the 901 will not be pleased to see Dogfish Head down at the bottom of the list, because we’re all so happy to see them back in the Bluff City. The reason the Punkin Ale goes to the bottom is because it’s not a true pumpkin beer. Dogfish describes the beer as “a full-bodied brown ale with smooth hints of pumpkin and brown sugar.” As far as a brown ale with hints of pumpkin goes, it’s enjoyable. As far as a pumpkin beer goes, it has a long way to go and I don’t think Dogfish Head is truly embracing the concept, although their bottle art suggests differently.
Pumpkind Scale: Pumpkin gourd, low spice, brown ale

Either way you prefer to land on the scale, there are still plenty of enjoyable pumpkin beers available for your table. And while no local brewery makes a pumpkin beer currently, I believe it only to be a matter of time before we’re discussing which brewery in Memphis does pumpkin best. So go forth and make those pilgrims jealous with a great pumpkin beer.

Cheers!

Memphis Made Brewing opens taproom in Cooper-Young to public today

November 21, 2014 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Memphis

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Hand-crafted beer from Memphis Made Brewing Co. can be found at more than 100 bars, restaurants and stores in Shelby County. But starting today, you can walk into the brewery, sit down, and enjoy a fresh pint straight from the source.

Memphis Made opens its doors to the public today with the official launch of its new Cooper-Young area taproom at 768 S. Cooper.

With eight beers on tap, Memphis Made will be open on Fridays from 4 to 9 p.m., with food trucks parked outside each night. Memphis Made plans to expand hours and days of operation soon.

For its launch, the taproom will be serving beer starting at noon today. Hot Mess food truck will also be selling burritos in the parking lot near the “I Love Memphis” mural.

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The brewery had a preview event Thursday night for friends and family. The taproom is sparse and industrial, with a dark wood lattice above the bar. It feels like you’re really drinking in a brewery, not a bar, amid the fermentation tanks, kegs and brewing equipment.

Founded by friends and Cooper-Young residents Andy Ashby and Drew Barton, the latter the former head brewer at French Broad Brewery in North Carolina, Memphis Made opened its production brewery last October. Ashby and Barton worked on ramping up production and getting their beers onto local taps before starting on the taproom, but they said they are looking forward to this new chapter for the brewery.

“Both Andy and I are just excited about the direct consumption with the customer, being able to sit down at our place and have a beer. It’s something I’ve really missed from French Broad: getting done with the work day, changing out of my boots … and walking over to the tasting room and having a beer. We’ve been looking forward to making that happen,” Barton said, pictured below.

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Memphis Made will be selling 20-ounce pints for $6 and 10-ounce pints for $3.

“We both really like a good 20-ounce English pint. It’s just always been one of our favorites. … And we’ve always been a fan of just being able to offer a half pint. If you’re sitting at the bar with a friend, and you don’t quite feel like having a full pint, there you go, you can get a half pint easy.”

Meanwhile, 64-ounce and 32-ounce growlers to go will be available, as well.

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A 1,000-square-foot patio facing York is Memphis Made’s new entrance, with a parking lot for customers just across the street.

“I think this is perfect for the neighborhood. It’s going to be very laid back,” Barton said. “I mean you’re drinking beer in a warehouse. It doesn’t get much more easy than that. It’s going to be very casual. It’ll probably be pretty packed in here these first couple of times we’re open, but it will kind of die down and people will be able to just hang out and chill.”

He added: “I’d love to see families in here. We’ve got a young family, and I know it’s tough to get out.”

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Memphis Made has produced more than a dozen beers its first year, from Plaid Attack!!!, a Scottish ale, to Reverberation, a Belgian coffee stout. But the brewery only recently settled on its first year-round beer, Lucid Kolsch.

“We know that it’s a much more approachable beer. And even in the winter time, even if we have the best intentions of making all these great winter beers, there’s some people that want something just like a Kolsch,” Barton said. “It’s a great beer. We love it. We love the style.”

Memphis Made also released a new special IPA this week, Hundo, brewed with Centennial hops, that will remind folks of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale.

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Memphis Made’s converted warehouse space is Memphis’ third brewery taproom, following the recent opening of tasting rooms at Wiseacre Brewing and High Cotton Brewing Co.

For the Memphis beer community, the opening of Memphis Made is just another sign of how far the scene has come in such a short time.

“It’s still very new, but it’s wonderful how much the customers have gravitated towards that,” Barton said.

“We’re all busting at the seems. I can hardly keep up with just draft. We hardly have time to put stuff in bottles right now. … We’d even love to see six packs happen, but we just don’t have the time or capacity to do it now.”

Memphis’ Wiseacre Brewing expands Mid-South distribution, adds brewery tours

November 14, 2014 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Distribution, Memphis

Wiseacre - outside
Press release:

WISEACRE EXPANDS MID-SOUTH DISTRIBUTION, ADDS BREWERY TOURS
Hometown brewery brings Memphis beer to North Mississippi and West Tennessee

Memphis, TN (November 2, 2014) — Memphis-based WISEACRE Brewing Company is sharing the love throughout the Mid-South by introducing its three year-round beers, along with a limited supply of specialty brews, into neighboring markets. Cans and kegs of WISEACRE’s Ananda India Pale Ale, Tarasque Saison, and Tiny Bomb American Pilsner, which was awarded a Bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival in October, will be distributed in North Mississippi (Desoto County, Oxford, Tupelo, Starkville, Clarksdale) via Clark Beverage and in West Tennessee through Jackson, Tennessee-based Central Distributing. Both distributors will also supply these markets with WISEACRE’s seasonal and limited-edition beers as they are produced periodically throughout the year.

“Since Day One, we’ve had a better start to business than we could have ever imagined,” said WISEACRE’s brewmaster Davin Bartosch. “Whether it’s selling kegs to bars, cans at the retail level, or just across the bar in our Broad Avenue Tap Room, everything has exceeded expectations. The support of the Memphis community and the enthusiasm of WISEACRE fans made the expansion of equipment and staff possible earlier this year, and now they are enabling us to send beer into surrounding markets that have a great connection to Memphis already.”

Kellan Bartosch, Davin’s brother and business partner adds, “Memphis has a natural connection to our region from the history of the Delta Blues to the North Mississippi college student. That culture helps WISEACRE connect to the region as well. As we surveyed the beer and food scenes in Memphis’ surrounding communities, there were already a lot of folks who’d come all the way to our Tap Room to buy our beer and who were excited about getting our beer in their communities. It was just a matter of making sure that we could produce enough to supply those markets without jeopardizing our relationship with our loyal fans here at home. Those supporters, along with the unique tie WISEACRE has to the culture in Memphis, will always be the most important thing to us.”

In addition to expanding markets, WISEACRE will finally open up its doors for tours on to the public for weekly tours. Every Saturday at noon, starting on November 15th; the WISEACRE staff will give up to 40 guests a behind-the-scenes look at how WISEACRE brews its award-winning beer. Reservations can be made at wiseacrebrew.com. Additionally, starting November 13th, WISEACRE’s taproom has expanded hours, staying open until 9PM Thursday through Saturday.

WISEACRE opened in August of 2013 after the brothers gained experience working in the brewing industry around the country. Their brewery and taproom are located at 2783 Broad Ave where they made 27 beers in year one ranging from German lagers, to hoppy American styles, complex and boozy Belgian beers, and barrel aging to boot. For more information visit www.wiseacrebrew.com.

Memphis Made Brewing to open taproom Nov. 21

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

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Press release:

Memphis Made Brewing Co. is opening its doors to the public with the official launch of its tap room Friday, Nov. 21.

The Cooper­-Young brewery is hosting a Choose 901 t-­shirt pick­up from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The tap room will stay open until 9 p.m., serving pints inside and growlers to go.

Hot Mess food truck will be providing the food, selling burritos in the brewery parking lot near the “I Love Memphis” mural.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth in our first year, and now we’re excited to get people into the brewery to see where the beer is brewed,” Andy Ashby, who founded Memphis Made Brewing with Drew Barton last October, said. “This tap room will help us to better connect with the community by letting us talk directly with our customers and host events.”

Memphis Made Brewing has hosted a fundraiser for Church Health Center and will be the site of another fundraiser, this one for the Cooper­-Young Community Farmers Market, on Nov. 16.

The brewery has been involved with local events from Gonerfest to Rock N’ Romp and will look for more ways to plug into the community.

Memphis Made Brewing’s new entrance is a 1,000-­square-­foot patio facing York Avenue.

Formerly a loading dock for Keathley Pie Company and Progressive Foods, the covered space is steps away from the future site of Aldo’s Pizza Pies Midtown location.

“We’ve been doing business with Memphis Made for more than a year and we’re looking forward to being their neighbors,” Aldo Dean, the creative force behind the Bardog Tavern, Slider Inn and Aldo’s Pizza Pies said. “We plan to open a bit after them and think it’ll be a great combination for the corner of Cooper and York. Not many things go together as well as pizza and beer.”

Memphis Made Brewing’s tap room will be open 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. each Friday. The tap room’s hours and days of operation will be expanded later.

It will be serving 20 ounce pints, 10 ounce half pints and growlers.

Memphis Made Brewing has produced more than a dozen beers in its first year. It now produces one year round beer, Lucid Kolsch, as well as various seasonal offerings and limited edition beers such as Fireside Ninja, Junt, Plaid Attack!!!, Bent Note IPA and Reverberation, a Belgian coffee stout produced with locally roasted coffee from Reverb Coffee Co.

The brewery is releasing Hundo, an IPA with Centennial hops, this week.

Memphis Made Brewing Co. is a production brewery located at 768 S. Cooper St. in Midtown’s historic Cooper-­Young neighborhood. It currently self­-distributes kegs and bottled beer to nearly 100 bars, restaurants, grocery stores and liquor stores throughout Shelby County.