beer is awesome
Subscribe Twitter

Tennessee’s Boscos, Yazoo win medals at Great American Beer Festival in Denver

October 14, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Competition, Craft beer, Events, Memphis

Boscos' Adam Hargrove at GABF

Adam Hargrove, head brewer at Boscos Squared in Memphis, pours beer at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Boscos won silver for its Isle of Skye Scottish Ale.

DENVER — Two Tennessee brewing companies took home medals Saturday at the Great American Beer Festival, the world’s largest commercial beer competition.

Memphis-based Boscos Brewing Co. won silver in the Scottish-Style Ale category for its Isle of Skye Scottish Ale. It was the first win at GABF for the Isle of Skye and brought Boscos’ total GABF medal count to 11, going back to the year 2000.

With a medal draped around his neck, Boscos founding partner Chuck Skypeck was beaming Saturday evening at the Boscos GABF booth, talking beer and answering questions about the Isle of Skye.”It’s always nice to win medals,” he said.

Boscos enters the competition as a “brewpub group” that allows it promote the win across all its breweries, from Little Rock to Memphis to Nashville. The winning beer was brewed in Nashville.

Meanwhile, Nashville’s Yazoo Brewing Co. won a bronze medal for the Yazoo Hefeweizen, which was entered into the South German-Style Hefeweizen category. The medal was Yazoo’s third overall at GABF and second for the Hefeweizen, which won gold in 2004.

We are always proud of our Hefeweizen, from its use of only authentic German wheat malt and a true German yeast, to our use of the traditional form of bottle-conditioning using only high-krausen wort (where a portion of hefeweizen made the night before is added just before bottling, undergoing a secondary fermentation in the bottle),” Linus Hall, Yazoo’s brewmaster and owner, wrote Saturday on the Yazoo blog. “We always love when German tourists in Nashville give a suspicious glance when we recommend our hefe – only to say ‘it’s guut!’ when they drink it!  But it’s especially nice to win a medal for it, at the equivalent of the Oscars for brewers.”

The Great American Beer Festival competition awarded 254 medals Saturday to some of the best commercial breweries in the country. Award-winning brewers received gold, silver and bronze medals in 84 beer categories covering 134 different beer styles. Winners were chosen from 4,338 entries from 666 breweries, hailing from 48 states, Washington, D.C. and Guam.

Check out all the winners here.

Yazoo guys at GABF

Justin and Ryan from Yazoo Brewing Company, seen on the big screen at the GABF awards ceremony, pick up their medals from Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewers Association.

Memphis’ Ghost River, Boscos to have bigger presence at Great American Beer Festival

October 10, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Events, Homebrew, Memphis, Travelin'

Ghost River BrewingYou’ll be able to find Memphis beer in a lot more places at this year’s Great American Beer Festival, taking place this week in Denver.

Memphis’ Ghost River Brewing, which is entering four beers in this year’s competition, will have a booth on the festival floor. (Find it in the Southeast section, booth F12.)

In addition to its regular booth, Ghost River is participating in the Farm to Table Pavilion, a special area off the main hall where attendees can taste how well craft beer pairs with food. Ghost River’s beers will be featured with food from Vin48, a restaurant in Avon, Col.

There’s a new Brewpub Pavilion at this year’s festival, and Boscos Brewing Company will have a booth in the special area. The pavilion will feature 24 breweries representing all regions of the country, and it will be set up to recreate the brewpub atmosphere that craft beer enthusiasts enjoy. Boscos, with brewpubs in Memphis, Little Rock, Nashville and Franklin, has entered 10 beers into the competition.

Boscos logoFinally, both Boscos and Ghost River have entries in the Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am competition.

Ghost River’s entry with Memphis homebrewer Mike Erskine (yep, that’s me!), the “Red Hop Ale,” will be poured during the Thursday evening session in the Pro-Am competition booth.

Boscos’ entry with Nashville homebrewer John Malone, the “McFearless,” will be poured Friday evening. Malone is president of the Music City Brewers.

On another note, Chuck Skypeck of Boscos and Ghost River will be serving as a judge at the festival for a 15th straight year, and he’ll also be participating in the You Be The Judge promotion on Saturday at 1 p.m. The event allows attendees to judge a beer along with GABF judges in a directed tasting.

In 2011, Boscos Hefeweizen took gold in the category of German-style Wheat Ale. It was the fourth win for the Hefeweizen at GABF. Ghost River took the silver medal in the Irish-style Red Ale category for the Ghost River Copperhead Red.

Memphis made, Denver bound: Brewing the Red Hop Ale at Boscos

September 10, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Competition, Craft beer, Memphis

It’s every homebrewer’s dream: leaving the garage and getting to brew your beer at a real brewery.

Last month, I was lucky enough to do just that.

As the winner of  2012 Boscos/Bluff City Brewers Pro-Am competition, a qualifier for the Great American Beer Festival Pro Am in Denver, I brewed my Red Hop Ale on the professional system at Boscos Squared in Memphis.

The Red Hop Ale, an American Amber/Red Ale, was inspired by Green Flash Brewing’s Hop Head Red. I tried it in California a couple years ago and it left me wanting to brew a hoppy, red beer.

Working under the tutelage of Boscos founding partner Chuck Sypeck and head brewer Adam Hargrove, we adapted my 5-gallon recipe, scaling it up to brew on the 7-barrel system at the brewpub.

On brew day, fellow FuzzyBrew blogger and homebrewing buddy Grant Smith was able to join me. Adam was gracious enough to let us do most of the work while showing us how to operate a system that was far more complex than our homebrewing set-ups.

It was undoubtedly one of the biggest thrills of my life, and Grant and I took plenty of photos, from start to finish.


Boscos - grainThe Red Hop Ale recipe called for 540 pounds of grain: 450 pounds of pale ale malt, 40 pounds of Caramel 40, 40 pounds of carapils malt and 10 pounds of roasted barley.

Boscos - mashtunA view of the spotless mashtun from above, before adding in the grains.

Boscos - Mike pours grain into mashtunHere’s me adding in a 50-pound bag of grain. The process of brewing at a brewpub is similar to homebrewing, except for the scale. Instead of a spoon for stirring, we used an oar.

Boscos - Grant and Adam workingGrant (left) and Adam at work on a narrow ladder. The brewery at Boscos is tiny, and three people is probably the most that can work in it at any one time.

Boscos - Mike stirring the mashHere’s a shot of me, taken from the restaurant looking into the brewery, as I stir the mash. Brewing is not easy work! My shoulders were sore the next day.

Boscos - spargeDuring the sparge, the wort was drained from the mash and the grains were rinsed with hot water.

Boscos - Beer moves into kettleA first look at the red ale as it’s moved into the boil kettle. The roasted barley gave the beer its nice color.

Bocos - brew kettleSteam rises from the kettle as it fills up with wort.

Boscos - hopsThe Red Hop Ale was brewed with Columbus, Centennial and Cascade hops.

Boscos - Adam looks at recipeAdam documented every step and measurement throughout the brew day.

Boscos - weighing hopsUnlike homebrewing, where hop additions often measure less than an ounce, at a brewpub you may add a pound or more at a time.

Boscos - Mike is ready to add hopsReady to add the first hops into the kettle. The smell was glorious.

Boscos - Mike adds hopsHere I’m adding 50 grams of gypsum, which helps bring out the hops.

Boscos - spent grainsAfter the mash, it was time to clean out the mashtun.

Boscos - Grant shovels spent grainsGrant shovels the spent grains from the mash tun. We filled up three trash cans to the very top.

Boscos - fermentersA view of three of the fermenters at Boscos.

Boscos - Grant turns on the pumpYou can see how cramped the brewery is in this photo. Here, Grant operates a pump.

Boscos - fermenterRed Hop Ale is about to go into this shiny fermenter.

Boscos - Grant sanitizes the fermenterGrant meticulously sprays sanitizer on the fermenter.

Boscos-Mike adds yeastAction shot! Here I’m pitching the yeast. After that, we quickly sealed up the tank and we were done.

Boscos - brew kettle trubInside the kettle, the bottom was caked with hop residue after the beer was moved to the fermenter. I got to spray it out as the clean-up started.

Boscos- Clean upAnother shot of the brewery as Adam cleans up.

Boscos - Adam in the brew kettleTo get the kettle REALLY clean, Adam jumped in and scrubbed it out, capping off an incredibly fun day.


The Red Hop Ale is now on sale for a limited time. And as part of a special charitable fundraising effort, Boscos will donate $1 for every pint of Red Hop Ale sold to the Mid-South Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, so grab a pint soon.

Thanks to Boscos and the Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs, I’ll be traveling to Denver in October for the Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am competition. The Red Hop Ale will be competing against other beers from teams of homebrewers and craft beer professionals from across the country.

Thanks again to Chuck and Adam for this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Sampling the Red Hop Ale

Watch ‘Mississippi Brews’ – a documentary about the craft beer movement in the Magnolia State

May 29, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Government

When you have 18 minutes to spare, be sure to watch “Mississippi Brews,” a great short documentary about the efforts of Raise Your Pints in the Magnolia State.

It features interviews with Raise Your Pints’ Butch Bailey, Ghost River Brewing’s Chuck Skypeck, Lazy Magnolia’s Leslie Henderson and Keg and Barrel’s John Neal.

It was produced by the University of Mississippi Media and Documentary Projects, a division of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and affiliated with the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.