I Think an Update is Well-Deserved

Dateline: Columbus, Georgia

I’m a brewer.

Since I dropped this thing over a year ago, I’ve begun making beer on a commercial scale. Petite ‘lil ole me, who is the antithesis of the 250 pound, lumberjack-lookin’, manly beard growin’ brewer’s brewer. At the very least, I can say it’s light-years better than my previous position. I feel like it’s the culmination of everything I’ve ever thought about in a career. I’ve often thought it would be cool to have a career where I could make something physical– in my head, I briefly considered a career as a construction worker. I always knew a desk job would be out of the question–I just can’t sit still that long without going into a coma. I’ve loved being in the beer industry, and I knew I wanted to make a career of it, but I was just too big of a dummy to put two and two together.

And I love it. Here’s a list of the things I love about brewing:
Wearing a t-shirt and jeans to work
Getting dirty and finding yeast on me in weird places (like dried to my arm yesterday)
Writing recipes and getting creative with ingredients
Having bosses who let me get creative and experiment
Getting buzzed from my own beer
Blowing people’s stereotypes out the window
The smell of freshly milled grain in the morning
Appreciative comments from guests
Educating people about beer and getting them excited
Being able to work pretty much when ever I want/when the brewery calls for it

Right now I’ve got a couple things in the works, including
A lagering Oktoberfest, perhaps the first lager at The Cannon, newly dubbed ‘ONE-20’
An Imperial Brown Ale that’ll go on tap next Monday
Potentially bringing my beers to Emerald Coast Brew Fest
Potentially bringing my beers to Grovetoberfest
Giving a talk about something to do with being a woman in the beer industry at Savannah Craft Brew Fest

That last one is gonna be a doozy.

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I gotta get back into this

As soon as I’m done with my beer.

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So when does Heather get to be on a tasting panel?

NY Times had an article today in honor of the upcoming 4th where they rated American pale ales. It was a good read, and I’m glad to see articles of this nature in a national paper, aimed towards novice beer drinkers. I think they hit the nail on the head when talking about the style and it’s origins, but the ratings and the beers they picked were all wrong. Flying Dog as number one? Now, granted, I haven’t had a Flying Dog in some years now (by choice) and I’ve heard rumors that they’ve improved their quality a bit, but when I hear the name Flying Dog, it brings up bad memories of frat boys at Stubbie’s giggling while they order a Doggie Style. I was never very impressed with their regular beers, although I have to say that the Gonzo Imperial Porter is a pretty rad beer. (After checking out their website, I found that their 20th anniversary ale will be a Belgian style IPA called Raging Bitch. *shakes head in disapproval*)

My favorite kind of flying dog

Back to my objections with the reviews: only one west coast beer? The west coast created the style–that is, by the way, where all of the precious, precious hops are grown in the US. Yes, Lagunitas (and Oskar Blues, if you want me to count it as west coast) are great breweries. But where’s Stone? Full Sail? Oh well. Maybe these guys needed an article to fill some space and stopped by the nearest liquor store.

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“I see that you roll deep. I too roll deep.”

I’ve been a little slow on updating, but Matt and I had a brewing party a few weeks ago. It was a great party, because, of course, while you make beer, you have to drink it, and of course, the more people you have drinking while you’re making beer, the better it will turn out. On that scale, this beer’s gonna be awesome.

Matt bought the supplies while he was last in Gainesville–it always seems like he buys too much hops, and this time was no exception. It started out as an amber IPA, but I have a feeling it’s gonna be pretty intense because of the metric ass-ton of hops we chucked in there. He’s going with the name “Roll Deep Red.” I was given no say in the choice of name (not that I necessarily think it’s a bad one). However, I suppose maybe he should get the naming rights after he stayed up all night with the wort waiting for the baby to cool down.

Yien and Lisa

Lisa pours the malt extract while Yien develops her stirring muscles

Amy and hops

Amy gets a little too excited about adding the hops.

Matt and Albie

Matt and Albie transfer the wort to the yeast's new home and breeding grounds. The ladies and I learned the physics of syphoning.

Wort chilling

Matt tries everything to get the wort to cool to 75 degrees and stays up until 3 AM doing so. Heather goes to bed.

We did a 90 minute boil with zeus hops added in 30 minute increments and a dry hop with cascade. After bottling last night, we’ve got a yield of about 42 bottles, which should be ready for consumption by America’s (and Matt’s) birthday this weekend. Go USA!

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A Gator in Dawgville

I made an overnight trip to Athens last week (Georgia, not Greece), and I kinda fell in love with the town. It reminded me a lot of Gainesville (Florida, not Georgia), except with a hipper downtown and more funky-freaky people. I found two record stores (2!), a crap load of cutesy-boutiquey stores, a ton of music venues (any one ever heard of the 40 Watt or the Georgia Theatre?) and a mess load of bars that all seemed to carry at least a few craft beers. I’m pretty much set to move there, if only so I could purchase vinyl on a regular basis.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I still hate the Bulldawg nation. And I’m still really annoyed by that whole ‘barking’ thing. I’m a Gator by birth, and I know where my allegiances lie. But dammit, this town was cool.

I made it a point to go to Trappeze while I was there. My Gville people will know what I’m talking about when I say that it had the same vibe as the Top, but without all the kitchsy stuff on the walls, and selling insane amounts of good beer. I started out with the Terrapin bread plate that had bread made from the spent grains from Terrapin rye, and sugar used in Terrapin India Brown Ale. The bread was fantastic. It came with a orange butter, but I totally didn’t need it. As I ate the bread, I actually had a Terrapin Rye, and contemplated deep philosophical thoughts. Another cool thing I appreciated about Trappeze: you could choose between a half-pour and a whole pour. Ordering half-pours of everything certainly helped against that whole being-a-female-and-getting-drunk-faster-because-of-less-body-mass thing. I tried four draft beers total, and I would have crawled out of there had I gotten full pours of everything.

Trappeze had two cask lines- I was fortunate to get a glass of Victory Hop Devil on cask. WooHoo! I’ve enjoyed Hop Devil plenty of times from the bottle, but from the cask, it was ridiculously intense. It was pretty much like drinking an imperial IPA; it was freakin’ fantastic. Apparently, they just recently had Brooklyn Dark Matter on draft, which I missed, and a part of me died inside. (I was fortunate enough to have shared a Black OPS sometime before, and it made my soul laugh and shine.)

After stumblin’ a little out of Trappeze, I caught Morningbell, one of my favorite Gainesville bands playing at the Caledonia Lounge. I just so happened to be in Athens while they were playing through on their east coast tour. It was very nice catching up with some other Gainesville locals, and they played a great show.

I came home from Athens the next day with too much money invested in beer and three records; Bob Marley-Legend, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs-It’s Blitz!, and Lady Gaga-The Fame (for the boyfriend). It was a good trip–now I gotta go back and visit Terrapin.

Next time, I’ll tell you about the six gallons of beer brewing in my kitchen.

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A little weird to say, but I’m proud of Alabama

That strange place just west of the ‘Hooch has always frightened me a bit. Yes, I know I’m being overly dramatic and too stereotypical, but always worried that a trip into Alabama might involve, I don’t know, me having a secondary role in a commercial like this one.

Well, let's see if it actually gets to this point. I mean, no one wears monocles anymore, am I right?

Slowly, that’s all started to change. Some of my friends at work hail from that great state, and although they might be a bit off, they’re fun to hang out with (thanks, Erin, for informing me that fishing is basically just drinking beer in a boat). A few months back, Matt and I made a trip to Auburn and stopped by Gus’s, and it was ACTUALLY COOL. He sold good beer. He was excited about good beer. All of the staff was excited about GOOD BEER. He sold GROWLERS!(!). He sold growlers of REGIONAL BEER! (Side note: we can’t buy growlers in GA. I could buy 100 six-packs of Natty Light if I wanted, but I couldn’t buy 40 oz. of draft beer for shit.) If I remember correctly, Gus had a couple of draft lines, one from a Penn. brewery, and one or two from a new Ala. brewery that was only kegging (and the beer was REALLY GOOD).

Now, I find out that Alabama is hosting a craft beer week. Very exciting. They just recently (like, last year) lifted their ridiculous old laws restricting alcohol content in beer, and they’re already having a state-wide beer week. If I had known a little more in advance, I would have tried to get the Cannon involved, even though it looks like we might be on the wrong side of the ‘Hooch.

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I like my lambics just like I like my men– funky.

The NY Times had a really good story today about Lambics and Sour Beers. In particular, I liked the part about the guy calling up the brewery to tell them that their beer had gone bad, and the part towards the end about how snobby wine makers consider Brettanomyces a scourge on the earth. Good times, good times.

P.S.–Matt and I had the Rogue John John Juniper last night, and it was pretty awesome. Basically, it’s Rogue Juniper aged in spruce gin barrels (I guess Rogue has gotten into distilling too?). It was zingy. It was cool to have had the Rogue Juniper before (I think we had it on draft at Stubbie’s under the Yellow Snow name for like, two years), because the aging really did some cool things to it, like the aforementioned zingy-ness. Now I gotta find the John John Dead Guy.

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