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Lucky Town Brewing Co. to open brewery in Jackson, Miss., in November

September 23, 2014 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Travelin'

Mississippi’s Lucky Town Brewing Company, which helped raise startup funds in 2012 via Kickstarter, will open the doors to its new microbrewery in November.

The brewery today announced its grand opening on Nov. 7, as well as plans to release two beers in cans. Here’s more from Lucky Town:

Lucky Town BrewingFor Immediate Release: Jackson’s First Microbrewery Since Prohibition Set to Open

(Jackson, MS) – Lucky Town Brewing, a locally owned and operated craft microbrewery, will open its doors to their new brewing facility in Jackson, Mississippi in November for a weekend-long grand opening celebration.

On Friday, November 7, Lucky Town Brewing will provide brewery tours and tastings starting at 4:00pm with the last tour being offered at 7:00pm. Sip on your choice of Lucky Town beer while enjoying local live music, and try pairing your favorite beer with food available for purchase on-site by local food trucks, including Lurny D’s and Tito’s Tacos. The celebration, beer, food and music will continue on Saturday, November 8 from 11:00am – 3:00pm.

“Our intent has always been to strengthen the Jackson and Mississippi food & drink community by providing a locally brewed product,” said Chip Jones, co-founder of Lucky Town Brewing. “Cities all over the country have been fortunate to have direct access to local, artisanal beer, and we believe that Jackson deserves a brewery to call its own. We are thrilled to help bolster the thriving local restaurant and bar scene, and Lucky Town is committed to offering incredible beer for all of Mississippi’s craft-friendly establishments.”

The new brewing system will allow Lucky Town Brewing to add new styles to the lineup, and they will continue to provide their three year-round draft beers – a Belgian style blonde ale named Ballistic Blonde, an English style mild ale named Lucky Town Pub Ale, and an oatmeal stout named Flare Incident. Ballistic Blonde and Pub Ale will also be available in cans at your local groceries, convenience stores and other retailers beginning in November.

“We’ve been anxious to release canned Lucky Town beer for quite some time now, and after months of design and production we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Jones. “Our two best sellers, Ballistic Blonde and Pub Ale, will be the first beers released in cans, but we intend to offer several other beers in cans in 2015 – and yes, that does mean we will be offering brand new beers soon.”

Ballistic Blonde

Following the grand opening weekend, Lucky Town Brewing will offer brewery tours and tastings on Fridays 4:00 – 7:00pm and Saturdays 1:00 – 4:00pm, with the 2nd Saturday of each month including live music and food vendors on site. “In order to enhance the desired community aspect, we’re hosting a monthly event we call Sippin’ Saturday, where we will invite all the locals and visitors to join us for food, music, and of course great local beer,” said Angela Blackburn, Events Director of Lucky Town Brewing. “We will be teaming up with local chefs and musicians to spotlight all the great talent that Jackson and Mississippi has to offer.”

Tours will begin at the top of each hour, and $10 will get you admission to the tour, a complimentary tasting glass, and six beer samples. Lucky Town Brewing merchandise will also be available for purchase in the tasting room.

More information about Lucky Town Brewing can be found at www.luckytownbrewing.com. Learn more on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Pub Ale

A beer abroad: Charlie Patrick’s European ‘drinkation’ through beer country

December 24, 2013 By: mike Category: Breweries, Travelin'

This is a guest blog post from Memphis homebrewer, craft beer enthusiast and beer traveler Charlie Patrick.

To help you get through the doldrums of winter, we bring you a tale of better, livelier times.

This summer, we went on a trip to the wine country of France, spending most of our time in the Burgundy and Champagne regions. Although we intended to, of course, try some wine, we also took a few days to try the beers of Belgium, many of which are world-renowned. There was also time to take in some of the beers of France, and during a rather uneventful layover, time to take in a little bit of Canada’s beers via Montreal.

Let’s first mention that Brussels, Belgium, is a pretty unique place. Many different cultures and languages are well represented. There are many sites to see, including the Manneken Pis (the “Peeing Boy” fountain), and also your typical tourist traps.

There is a “chocolate museum” and a “beer museum,” but, in all honesty, I might recommend you skip the beer museum and head straight to the bars. One area we would recommend you check out is the area known as “Delirium Village.” As the name suggests, the village is associated with Brouwerij Huyghe, known primarily for its flagship offering, Delirium Tremens. The village is a series of bars and cafes, all somewhat stand-alone facilities that are also interconnected.

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We spent some time at the Delirium Tap House, which is dedicated to carrying not only the “Delirium family” of beers but also features guest taps. During our time there various beers were featured on tap and we were able to sample quite a bit.

First off, we had the Delirium Red (or Delirium Rouge, depending on your nation of origin). It was a slightly tart, fruity entry, smelling of “Smarties” candy. The mouthfeel was medium, tasting significantly of cherries and lingering on the palate just enough with some strawberry hints. It was a “Flanders Light,” if you will, with a good balance of sweet and sour.

Next up was the Bersalis Tripel by Brouwerij Oud Beersel, which was a sort of sweetish tripel both with regard to the nose and the taste, although it lacked some of the spicy and drying character you might expect in a tripel. On the other hand, there was La Rulles Blonde by Brasserie Artisanale de Rulles. This beer was extremely phenolic on the nose and in its taste. There was not much fruit at all, and it had a drying finish.

While on the subject of this brewery, let us discuss La Grande 10. This Belgian Strong Pale Ale had an interesting spicy and phenolic yeast character on the nose, which carried over into the taste with some sweetness and fruity notes. A little hot alcohol, however, detracted from an otherwise satisfying beer.

Somewhat similar was the Dominus Vobiscum Saison of Microbrasserie Charlevoix, a beer from a guest brewery from “out of state,” specifically Quebec, Canada. This one compares well to La Grande 10 with its similar yeast character, but it was less fruity and sweet. Indeed, it tasted darker than it was (the beer had a darker orange sort of hue) with big phenols and some smoky, grilled notes. It was an interesting, complex beer that clocked in at about 10% alcohol by volume, although many online sources suggest a lower alcohol content. Of course, a trip to the Delirium Tap House would not be complete without having the piece de resistance.

Delirium Tremens was available and had, as is typical, a nice aroma with fruity undertones. It was incredibly smooth, particularly “in person” with some extra sweetness and honey notes.

While sampling Delirium products, we also had to consider the Delirium Guillotine Bitter. It had a nice fruity, yet “soapy” nose and was drier and less fruity than other Delirium entries in taste. The phenolics of the yeast were well balanced with the malt character.

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After aperitifs, it was imperative that dinner be had!

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In this respect, we wondered upon Chez Leon, which is off the main square in Brussels near the Brussels Town Hall and the aforementioned Peeing Boy fountain. If you ever go there, order mussels, beer, and nothing else.

They had a “house” beer called Le Leon, or Biere Leon, to be exact. Made by Heineken, this Belgian pale came off more like a light blonde ale.

There was also Heineken’s Maes Pils, which is basically a Bud/PBR-type German/Belgian Pilsner with very little funk, spice, or other character in general. I must admit it was not a favorite of anyone at our table. However, the restaurant, like several places in Belgium and France, offered further (and better) libations by this specific brewery that you might find surprisingly good.

Specifically, we tried the Grimbergen Brune, which was a nice, malty brown ale with some light Belgian “funk;” it was easy drinking, yet satisfying. Of similar quality was the Brugs, a really nice witbier that was light and refreshing while being rightly spiced and maintaining a good balance.

Of course, it wasn’t my plan to just spend time in Brussels. There were plans to seek out some of the great beers of the world, specifically, the Trappist kind. With some careful planning and mapping skills, we were able to make our way to three different Trappist breweries in Southern Belgium on our way to France.

First, we stopped off in the humble town of Rochefort to seek out the wares of Abbey Nortre-Dame de Saint-Remy, one of the few Trappist breweries that actually lacks a café or other “official” place to sample their beers.

Note potential traveler: the Hotel Malle Place Bar, which is stated to be an “unofficial” home for the abbey’s beers and reliable place information about brewery, no longer exists. Let me just say, basically, no one in this very small (and very French town) actually knew where the abbey was located. In fact, most people the city were more interested in a grand prix that we happened upon.

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At the very least, however, we were determined to have some beers in the heart of the town. Ultimately, we were able to achieve this modest goal, finding several bars serving the beers.

We started off with the Rochefort 6, of course, the most like a “normal” beer of the series. In person, there is, of course, the caramel and chocolate nose you expect, but the taste is a little more distinct. Sure, there is the Tootsie Roll aspect to the flavor, but there is also a slightly crisp hop character, and a drying finish.

Next, there was the Rochefort 8, the Jan Brady of this abbey’s beers. It was sweeter than Rochefort 6 but with less hop character. Nonetheless, there remained good balance between malt and hops.

Finally, there was the Rochefort 12, the showpiece of the series and the best of the bunch. This one smelled of cherries, and it had some earthy notes. It had rich caramel malt character with hops only providing some light, necessary bitterness. There was an evident warming sensation, but it was not overly heavy.

Of course, I’ll have you know we ultimately located the grounds of the abbey. In the near silence, it would have been great to enjoy a brew!

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Our next stop along the road was Brasserie d’Orval. We couldn’t help but feel welcome immediately.

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This place was actually quite the site to visit. Beyond just the beer, there is a museum on-site within the ruins of the original abbey. Of course, you’ll get a bit of beer education along the way.

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Additionally, they make cheese that is available commercially and at their café. Of course, I had to visit the café and have a plain, old Orval. It had clean malt character and the larger hop character that was expected, and these characteristics were on further display in the fresh beer. There was the additional characteristic funk, of course.

I also tried the Orval “Veili” from their menu, which is described as Orval cellared for at least one year. Mine had been sitting since February of 2012. The beer was more yeasty and malty, almost like a more “traditional” abbey ale. In all honesty, the beer seemed to lose some of its more vibrant, distinct characteristics.

Last but not least, not in any way, was the Petit Orval or patersbier. This monks’ table beer, which was served from a keg, was less than 5% ABV and it smelled almost American in hop character. There was also an even more distinct hoppy taste than the original Orval. Basically, it came off as Belgian Pale Ale but with “traditional” hop character. Quite frankly, this would probably do well in the United States, but alas…

Beer Abroad-9

Our final stop of the Trappist tour was the Abbaye Notre Dame de Scourmont, or, the home of Chimay. After visiting the grounds, which were, quite frankly, the most beautiful, we made our way to the café where I helped myself to a rather generous sampling of the fine “house” beers.

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I would note that Chimay’s café has a complete menu as opposed to the more limited offerings of Orval. Also, the most exciting part of my beer sampler was the Chimay Doree, which is Chimay’s patersbier. It’s unique because it is their only offering that is all malt. It is also spiced with coriander and curacao. It was a really good beer, at least as good as the Chimay Rouge or “Premiere,” i.e., “Chimay Red,” although I would note that this entry was also different fresh from the source. It had a bigger malt character with more caramel, and it even looked a little “red” in the sun.

The “Chimay White” a/k/a Chimay Blanche or “Cinq Cents” was excellent. It was a little hoppier than I expected “in person” and a little spicier. Of course, I must say I also particularly enjoyed the bottle service.

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Of course, I could not leave out “Chimay Blue,” which is more appropriately, of course, Chimay “Grande Reserve.” The beer honestly had a greater natural spice character with bigger fig and prune-type notes.

If you are ever in the neighborhood, I would suggest you stop by and maybe even stay the night as they do have an inn. Of course, don’t forget to bring the kids.

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Because we could not make it to all of the great breweries of Belgium in person, I made it a point to seek out a bottle shop. At de Bier Tempel in Brussels, I was able to find a few things to bring back with me.

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From this fine establishment, I was able to procure a few beers from Brouwerij der Sint-Benedictusabdij de Achelse Kluis or, more simply put, Achel. First, there was the Achel 8 Blonde. This beer had a really pronounced phenolic character and some antiseptic notes on the nose. However, there was a distinctly sweet malt taste with a drying finish. Always present was great Belgian yeast throughout. I also procured a bottle of the Achel 8 Bruin. This beer had really impressive layered hop, malt, and yeast character in both the aroma and flavor. It was similar to the Blonde, but better.

I also may have had another stowaway or two that made their way back to the States. Alas, that may be another story (or two) for another day… also, we eventually had to make our way to France.

Crossing the border, we found that the French and we Americans may have more in common then we realize. Look! A trailer park:
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Not to worry, my “drinkation” continued in the land of wine and cheese. Some of the beers we imbibed were not necessarily the best, but at least they were interesting. We sampled the Pelforth Brune, which is actually, once again, made by our good friends at Heineken. It was styled as a brown ale “with the richness of double malt.” There was not much aroma to speak of. It was a quite sweet brown ale with a somewhat substantive alcohol content (6.5%ABV). In all fairness, it seemed it was built for a higher alcohol content and not much else.

A bit better was the Valmy Blonde made by Brasserie d’Orgemont, which I understand originates from the Champagne-Ardennes area. It styles itself a biere de garde, and it had light phenols in the nose and in the flavor, mixing with malty sweetness. All in all, it was light, but flavorful.

We also had the opportunity to try what was a semi-local beer while traveling around France. We found a cool little English pub (no joke) in the heart of Beaune, France, called Pickwick’s that served, amongst other things, Biere De Bourgogne made by Thomas Becket. It was a slightly hoppy and sweet-smelling beer that was also sweetish in taste with some almost Belgian-esque, funky notes. However, it was still on the lighter side. While there I also got to have a Murphy’s Irish Stout and celebrate our nation’s independence with a shot of Jack Daniel’s and Johnny Cash playing in the bar.

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While in France, we also had the opportunity to partake of what is essentially their version of a summer shandy, or panache as it’s known there. Basically, although there are different variations on the theme, the panache we had consisted of Ginger Ale and Kronenbourg 1664. In case you are not familiar with Kronenbourg 1664, it is basically a Budweiser-esque beer brewed by the same folks that make Carlsberg. It’s very popular in France and readily available in the States, as well.

On a similar note, while overseas, we also had to try a Heineken while we could get it a little closer to the source. The rumors of Heineken being better over there are not untrue. A tall boy was purchased while waiting in line for the Eiffel Tower. All that needs to be said is there was more malt and less skunk!

On a related but more adventurous front, we revisited Grimbergen a few times while in France, including having the Grimbergen Cuvee Blanche. This very nice entry (again by Heineken) was smooth, somewhat sweetish, but very well balanced.

Quite frankly, after our limited time in Belgium and France, I was exhausted. However, I still felt like I closed out the trip on a high note, including a Kronenbourg 1664 out of the VENDING MACHINE in my hotel’s lobby that went nicely with my … wait for it … Royale with Cheese. Thank you, Vincent Vega.

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I suppose I might as well mention that I had a layover in Canada on my way back to the U-S-of-A, but that’s quite frankly another story for another day. Having said that, maybe we’ll just skip that one. Let’s just say that Canadians are great people, but I do not think there will be many people making efforts to travel there for the sake of beer alone.

At the end of the trip, I can truly say I gained not only a greater appreciation for the beers of our overseas brethren (and, of course, the larger world around us), but I also in some way gained a greater appreciation for the beer I enjoy at home.

Nowhere over there did I find the variety of beers readily available to us here in the States, and, sometimes, I think we take that for granted. Sure, our beer is not always world-class, but we certainly have our own beer world here that’s worthy of exploration.

Brewed in Japan: A visit to the Tohoku Craft Beer Festival in Akita

July 25, 2013 By: mike Category: Craft beer, Events, Travelin'

My friend Jonathan Lovin, a former Memphian who lives with his wife and kids in Akita, Japan, wrote this guest post about his visit last month to the Tohoku Craft Beer Festival.

walk

As I walk out the door, I see the tail end of the bus heading away. There’s no way I’ll make it to the bus stop on time. It’s Sunday and the buses only run about once every hour today. If this were a larger city like Tokyo or even Sendai, I’d have no problem catching another one in a few minutes. But this Akita, home to roughly 300,000, and it’s quite spread out compared to most cities here. This prefecture is actually noted as being the most rural area in Japan.

We get something like 250 overcast days a year. But today the weather is unusually warm and clear for our cloudy city. So I decide to walk to the venue, which is close to the bus station in the “center” of the city. Hey, it’s a good excuse to listen to an album a good friend gave me, The Head and the Heart, which has really grown on me. Just under an hour later (and long enough to listen to the whole album and have caught the next bus), I arrive.

 Northern Tohoku Micro-brew Beer Festival

Welcome to the Tohoku Craft Beer Festival Festival. There are tents creating three sides of a square with tables located in the middle. Luckily the tables are covered, because the sun is beating down. I grab a Weizen from Lake Tazawako Brewery, cordon off a few seats at a table and jump on my iPhone to post on Facebook. I boast that I made it before any of my friends and tempt them with a photo of my first brew of the day. The Dutch-style Weizen is quite refreshing and absolutely delicious. Of course after an hour-long walk…

I see a character straight out of The Hobbit, long hair, awesome beard, elvish-made heat reducing leather hat… No wait, it’s just my friend Kelly. After getting settled, we use our bags as markers and go for a beer. I get the Berry Blend and Kelly gets the Dunkel from Kohan no Mori Brewery (Forest near the lake). We get back to the table and some older women have practically thrown our bags into a bin to gain our seats. This is a very common occurrence here. For some reason grandmas in Japan are like bikers or something; they break in line, steal seats and generally show little respect for the rules they demand everyone else rigorously obey. After a quick fist fight in which we won, but just barely, we reclaim our seats.* Luckily, it’s not to the death because women here live forever. I just hope they don’t come back with their friends.

Kelly obviously made the wiser choice. My (blue)Berry Blend tastes like fruit juice while his Dunkel has a malty kick with a slight hop afterburn. Good thing this is only my second beer. It’s fruity enough to cause adverse reactions. At this point I get permission to post to Kelly’s beer blog, Beverages Abroad. His blog has many interesting facts, mostly about Asian beers, but he’s moving to California soon and I seriously doubt he’ll stop writing about beer (much less drinking it).

Japan-Iwate Kura

Our friend Misa shows up, but she’s not drinking. We need more beer and she wants food, so it’s time for another walk. We decide someone needs to stay with the seats. Misa and I get pork on a stick, french fries (which are called fried potatoes here), an IPA and a Red Ale from Iwate Kura Brewery. The Red Ale is better. Now Dave, Tom and his expecting wife Mizuho show up. We have gained a posse. Just let those old ladies come back now.

I decide to get adventurous and try the Oyster Stout from Iwate Kura. Since this beer seems a little strange, I only get the small cup, which is ¥300. The larger sizes are going for about ¥500. The size basically reflects the price, with the small at about 300ml and the medium at about 500ml. The Oyster Stout is bitter with a fishy aftertaste.

I need another beer. This time it’s another Red Ale. I also try the Peach Ale, Extra Pilsner and the Pilsner from Fukushima. Tom’s Peach Ale has just a hint of fruitiness and is overall very light and refreshing. The Extra Pilsner is probably my favorite. Everyone jokes about the beers being from the same place as the nuclear power plant disaster but, honestly, I don’t even taste a hint of Cesium.**

Fukushima

Next, from a brewery in Miyagi, Kelly and I share a sampler including Champagne Beer, Pineapple Beer, Grape Beer and Rice Beer. I do love a good champagne beer, and it’s a little better than the rice beer (though rice beer is quite refreshing). After that, I have a dark lager from Oirase Brewery. Honestly, the Dark Lager is just too heavy, especially for a hot day like today.

By this time Martin, Yuki and Go have shown up, as well. They are good people. Go makes music and seems to know everybody. Yuki is an inventor and has been developing a hydro-electric battery. He tells me it’s finished, shows me some pictures and says he’s simply waiting for the patent. Good luck, Yuki! Yuki is also well-known at the local brewery, Aqula (among other places). I ask him for some help with an interview I want to do with a local brewmaster, and he agrees wholeheartedly.

Now it’s time for the Aqula sampler. I get all four on tap. The Sakura Wheat is quite bitter. Next, the American Pale Ale is citrusy and sour. One of the special beers is the Akita Beauty Beer (Akita is renowned for its beautiful women, no joke). I pass it around to get opinions from as many people as possible. “It’s not sweet.” “It has a malty backbone.” “It’s light but not watery.” Tom says it’s like experiencing an existential drift. Ok, now to do the same for the other special brew, the American Amber Ale. I hear that it’s smooth, woodsy, moldy and reddish sweet. I also hear it’s malty, has a grapefruit kick and it’s an all-around happy beer. Yay! America.

Aqula sampler

I get a Caramel beer from Kohan no Mori right before Yuki and I catch the local brewmaster. Time for the interview. My first question is about the local brewing community, but he gets standoff-ish almost immediately. I’m thinking I must be slurring or something. So I ask him if there are any contests for local homebrewers and he says, “no,” and they are not in contact with him nor would he want them to be. So I tell him that these contests are very popular in the states, and it’s like a renaissance of sorts nowadays. He seems fully aware of this, so I ask why isn’t there any support here. Then he explains, “It’s illegal.” Now I get it. The laws have changed here enough for small companies to try their hand at brewing. However, for personal consumption, it’s still illegal. It seems there may be an underground movement but most likely homebrewing will stay this way as people here tend to avoid battling the status quo.

I explain that I wasn’t trying to frame him and that I honestly didn’t know that. He seems to lighten up and even start to smile a bit. People are putting the chairs and tables up now. I decide to help since the group that put this whole thing on, Aqula, has been so helpful for my story. We get all the chairs and tables put up and my friends start to go their separate ways. My friend Ben G. has been here for a little over an hour and seems to want another beer. So Yuki, Ben, my good buddy Martin (who has twins on the way!) and I head to Aqula for one more round. It’s like a 10-minute walk so I buy an Akita Komachi (rice beer) for the walk. This rice beer is brilliant!

*No old women were actually hurt in the making of this article.
**Several foreigners and hundreds (if not thousands) of Japanese most likely had their DNA mutated during the course of making this article.

Guy from Narugo

Golden visit: Touring Coors, the world’s largest single-site brewery

June 13, 2013 By: mike Category: Breweries, Travelin'

The Coors Brewing Company facility in Golden, Co., is the world’s largest single-site brewery.

The brewery, situated at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, produces 1.5 million gallons of beer per day. No, it’s not craft, but it’s certainly an impressive operation and worth touring if you’re ever in the Denver area.

Here are some photos from my recent visit to the Coors brewery. Be sure to check out the video of the packaging line at the end.

Coors - breweryGerman immigrants Adolph Coors and Jacob Schueler founded the brewery in Golden in 1873.

Coors - Historic copper kettleThis historic copper brew kettle greets visitors to the Coors brewery.

Coors - brandsCoors boasts of over 20 different brands of beer in North America.

Coors - hopsA bucket full of hops always smells nice.

Coors - mash tuns The brewhouse at Golden is monstrous.

Coors - Lion logoThe Golden facility is home to about 2,000 employees.

Coors - canning lineA view of the packaging line at the Coors brewery.

Coors - tasting roomDown these stairs you’ll find the tasting room, the most popular stop on the tour.