The Art of Beer Pt XIII – Beer-cializing (Macro vs Micro)

If you have waded thus far through my occasional epistles about the Art of Beer, then you have probably noticed my disdain… (Just looked up the synonyms for disdain and they are: scorn; contempt; derision; condescension; disparagement; etc. so yeah I think disdain is the nicest way to say it)… for the Macro Beer Companies and their strategy for trying to control the phenomenon called Craft Beer. And… No…. I am not going to discuss the “Craft” vs “Independent” label for these beers in this missive. That has been done enough on other blogs and this one as well. Besides if you are reading this then you know exactly what I am talking about. If you don’t then go back and read the Art of Beer Parts 1 – 12.

About 20 years ago, craft brewing began growing, from the hobby of homebrewing into entrepreneurs founding successful growing businesses. Then about ten years ago, that growth exploded into the phenomenon we have today. In 1979 there were only 89 breweries in existence in the US and they were owned by a handful of companies. In 2018 there were 7,450 breweries, the majority (almost 99%) of them classified by the Brewer’s Association as Craft Breweries. And their market share has increased from less than 1% to 13.6% in 2018. That translates into $27.6 Billion dollars or 20% of the available beer money out there.

Seeing those numbers (more money than the economy of some nations) you can perhaps understand why the Macro Brewers are resorting to dirty tactics to get their lost market share back. However, though we may understand it, that doesn’t mean we have to agree with them. This is America, the home of capitalism and entrepreneurship! (Not “America” the lame ass label change that Budweiser did to capitalize on election year fever.) But then the biggest Macro Brewer isn’t even an American Company anymore.

The sell-out of Anheuser-Busch to International Beverages several years ago created the largest monster the world has seen in the beer community. Now called AB-InBev, this global conglomerate has steam-rolled its way into the top spot and is using every trick in the book to keep their title. From trying to create their craft beer division and create their own new beers (which they are failing miserably at) to the outright buyout of several former founding fathers of Craft Brewing, to trying to control both the hops and barley markets and drive up operating costs of smaller brewers; to the ridiculous commercials trying to poke fun at beer drinkers they don’t understand and trying to capture the Game of Thrones fan base with a Superbowl ad, they have literally tried every tactic available to them short of tying craft beer drinkers to the railroads tracks and running them over with a wagon pulled by Clydesdales (I was originally going to say the Coors Light Express… but that’s a different global conglomerate).

But I want to be clear here. My disdain isn’t for the beer they produce. It is for their business methodology. That is also why I no longer buy beers from Lagunitas, Ballast Point, Wicked Weed, Funky Buddha and others, as all of them have sold out to either AB-InBev, Molson-Coors or Constellation. And while they have all made excellent craft beers prior to that and perhaps still do, I will not support that strategy by buying their product and enriching the Macro-brewers’ coffers. But that is my choice, everyone is certainly free to make their own.

But, as I mentioned above, we craft beer lovers are only about a fifth of the market out there. This can create a bit of schism when interacting socially (or what some of us call “Beer-cializing”) with the non-craft beer drinkers. My own social networking is an excellent example of this conundrum.

The friends I generally beer-cialize with on a regular basis are all craft beer drinkers so when we meet out it will usually be at an establishment that either carries or specializes in craft beer. Socially this is not a problem for us, and we all have an enjoyable evening.

But then I also have co-workers and relatives I will occasionally socialize with who not only do not get the craft beer mystique, but they also have a preference for one or the other of the top light beers in the country. That can be beer-cially awkward.

It the old days before Craft was booming, you were basically arguing over one American Light Lager or another. If you went to someone’s house you usually drank whatever beer they decided to stock or if you were thoughtful, you brought some with you. In the end though it was all pretty much the same as far as taste went, it was more than likely that any loyalty one had to one brand over the other was more due to the better advertising than it was over actual taste (though I have to admit that the only Anheuser-Busch product I have ever liked was Michelob, not Michelob Light or Michelob Ultra, just regular old Michelob, I just couldn’t ever get used to the taste of the rest).

Now, if you are an avid craft beer fan, the chances that you are holding some of the afore mentioned Macro light lagers in your fridge are slim to none. Refrigerator real estate is precious. Crowding out vital foods or your favorite craft product for something you a very unlikely to drink is something most of us just aren’t going to do. And because craft is considerably more expensive that macro beer, the likelihood that you will leave some leftover product sitting in a relative’s fridge isn’t realistic. Besides even before craft had its boom, whenever I left beers that I brought to someone’s house, those were usually the beers to be consumed first. Buying cheap beer has never been my style.

Does this justify the second refrigerator in the garage? Probably not, but I can certainly find more justification for the additional fridge. To be honest I have two additional ones in the garage, one for cold beer storage and the other for fermentation.

But now let’s touch on party invites. Do you bring your own or rely on a host you may or may not know to have enough decent beer on hand and of a good quality? And if you do bring your own do you risk insulting their beer tastes? Should you bring just enough for yourself and the host or do you need to bring more so that others can share in the glory that is Craft? Should you bring only canned or bottled or do you bring a growler? What is the proper etiquette here?

Let’s discuss some basic beer logic first.

  1. Craft beer is usually a bit stronger than Macro beer. Most macros run from 3-5% ABV (Alcohol by Volume). Most Craft beer runs at 5% or higher, some as high as the teens. A 12-pack of a good IPA has about as much alcohol (if not more) as a 24-pack of Macro light beer so you won’t be consuming as much craft beer and you won’t getting pitchers of it to share one after the other.
  2. Macro beers are generally lagers, so the flavors are relatively the same, though the quality may vary. Craft beer drinkers have a much more varied choice list to choose from and not every style is for everyone. From the bittersweet Pale Ales, to the roasted coffee and malty feel of a Breakfast Stout; from the bread and banana scented Wheat Beers to boozy Strong or Scotch Ales; or from the tangy sour Farmhouse Ales to the smooth and effervescent Belgian Tripels each style has its own flavor profile and not everyone can enjoy all of them. It really does take a sophisticated palette to enjoy them all. If you’re going to an invite where you don’t know the other participants, then you may want to opt to bring a good craft lager or pilsner. Then it won’t be a shock to anyone else’s system or you don’t have to drink the Macro junk.
  3. Red Plastic cups are for beer pong and Macro lagers, not craft beer. Hell, even the pint glasses that a lot of bars serve beer in aren’t proper glass ware for beer. Good beer, even a good lager, should be served in a proper glass. It should have a curved bowl or tulip shape to properly release the notes and effervescence of the beer and help to create a good head on the beer. Therefore, bringing a $30 bottle of a special release Tripel or Quad to a BBQ isn’t a great idea if you don’t also bring the appropriate glassware to serve it in.

Here is probably the most important rule, part of which I have said before. It’s your tastes that drives what you should drink. Drink what you want to. And let the other guy or gal drink what they want to. You can always offer them a sample of what you bring but don’t force it n them. And don’t let them make you feel bad about turning down what they offer, just be gracious and toast each other with whatever your mutual selections are.

Happy Beer-cializing!

Papabear

The Art of Beer Pt XII – Big Alcohol, Small Glass

Coppertail Cryptid 12% ABV

If you’re new to the craft beer scene then you may have noticed that some of the selections out there are served in smaller glasses than others. No this isn’t the bar owner trying to rip you off. If you still have any senses when this happens or any taste buds or nasal senses at all then you should have detected a boozier atmosphere with this draft.

Untitled Art, New England Double IPA, 8% ABV

Once beers start getting past the 8% ABV (alcohol by volume) content level then it’s incumbent upon the bar server to make sure you’re not consuming too much alcohol so industry wide it is usually served in a 10 oz. glass instead of a pint. And if the ABV really climbs up there it may only come in a 5 oz taster.

In the American beer scene for years the alcohol level in beers has been between 3-5%. And that depends on where you live and whether or not the beer in questions is a Light beer or a regular beer, though I don’t know if anyone still has any regular beers as the lights have dominated the Macro market.

You will also usually notice that these higher ABV beers will come in a snifter or goblet. There are a couple of reasons for that. One, the snifter or goblet both have a sense of elegance to them that the standard pint glass doesn’t have. But then let’s be honest the pint glass really has no elegance. Pretty much every other beer glass out there has a sense of style and elegance to it. But the pint glass just looks conical and stackable… two adjectives which aptly describe both the look and function of these glasses.

Blackadder Brewing Survival of the Brettest, Belgian Tripel, 10.5% ABV

The curved bottom of the more elegant snifter or goblet, however, has another purpose all together. As the liquid is poured into the glass, the eddies and swirling motions created help to create the head of the beer and release aromatics so the drinker can enjoy not just the taste but the scent as well.

Big Top Brewing Okefenokee Backwater Imperial Stout, 10.6% ABV

This is necessary because a lot of higher alcohol beers have flavors and aromas than can be masked by the alcohol. They are much more complex than their lower ABV brethren. The same is true of wines and brandies as well. That is why their respective glasses have that distinctive bowl shape to them.

First Magnitude Brewing, Prairie Sunset, New England IPA, 6.3% ABV

That same shape can also be applied to the lower ABV beers and help to release hidden flavors in them. But very few bars serve those in a non-conical glass as they fall into the same ABV category as Macro lights, and in the average beer bar owners mind that doesn’t warrant a special glass.

Now while you may be disappointed with the smaller glass at the bar, remember that the bar owners are looking out for you. Cutting back on the stronger drinks helps you to manage your control for the evening. It also doesn’t hurt that they can use that reason to stretch out their inventory. Some disreputable bars water down their whiskey bottles to stretch out their inventory and improve profits. At least craft beer bars aren’t doing that.

Stone Xocoveza, Imperial Milk Stout, 8.1% ABV

But then the craft beer drinker with a trained pallet and nose would pick up on that in a heartbeat. If you can’t do that then you need to work on your skills a bit.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?… Practice, practice, practice.

Enjoy!

Papabear

Craft Beer Life

How’s that for a title with a double entendre? Am I talking about the shelf life of any craft beer or am I referring to the lifestyle of a Craft Beer Afficiando?

My response is… Can’t we do both?!

Let’s discuss the former first and get it out of the way. If you don’t know what Pasteurization is the go here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasteurization .

If you are familiar with Pasteurization then you may or may not know that most bottled and canned beers, at least those brewed by the big Macro Beer companies, go through a pasteurization process. This is done so that the beers can sit on a shelf in a stores somewhere longer than they normally could without the process, and can shipped over greater distances. Beers stored in kegs are intended to be consumed faster and therefore are not pasteurized.

Most craft brewers do not pasteurize their beers as the equipment needed to do so is expensive, though some of the larger ones do. For a list of some of those who don’t go here: https://clubalthea.com/2015/05/22/non-pasteurized-beers-have-more-health-benefits/

Another reason that a lot of craft brewers do not pasteurize is that many of their beers in bottles are bottle conditioned. The beers go through a secondary fermentation process in the bottle. Pasteurization would kill that process. Also, craft brewers don’t make a lot of excess beer and their market share is more local and smaller. Their product is consumed faster so the need for pasteurization is not as great as it is for Macro brewers whose product can sit on a store shelf for much longer periods of time.

Non-pasteurized beer will also retain a lot more healthy pro-biotics and nutrients that Mr. Pasteur’s process will kill off. So be an informed supper of suds and choose the beer that best fits your needs.
Which leads me to the second part of this epistle… the Craft Beer Life… as in lifestyle.

Just for clarity’s sake this is not a reference to the Facebook page of the same name. Which from what I can tell has had no activity on it in a couple of years. This means are you living a lifestyle that revolves around Craft Beer? Is it just a passing fancy for you or is Craft Beer your go to beverage of choice? Do you shun Macro Manufactured beers whenever you see them?

Example: I recently visited San Antonio, Texas, for a work-related conference. The first night included a reception where you could mingle with others and network. The beverages beings served were soft drinks, wines and beers. The beers being offered were Bud Light, Miller Light, Coors Light, Corona Light, Michelob Ultra and Shiner Bock. If you are living the Craft Beer Life then really the only beer there was Shiner Bock. Coincidently, a little later one of the beverage bars brought out a locally brewed IPA which I switched to after the Shiner.

So how do you know if you are living the Craft Beer Life? Maybe if you answer “Yes” to any of the following questions you are:

1. Do the employees at the local craft beer establishments know your name?
2. Do you attend more than one Craft Beer Festival in any given year?
3. Do you plan vacations or weekend trips around craft breweries or craft beer bars?
4. Do you have an App on your phone for tracking your beers?
5. Do you buy or get free craft beer swag on-line, at bars, breweries or craft beer festivals?
6. Do you work at a Craft Brewery?
7. Do you subscribe to any Craft Beer related magazine (ex. – Craft Beer & Brewing)?
8. Do you own multiple styles of beer glasses so that you can drink any beer in it’s proper serving container to get the best taste profile from it?
9. Does your social life revolve around local brewery events (i.e. – Fund raisers, trivia games, food pairings, etc.)
10. Can you tell the difference between a Pilsner, a Pale Ale and a Lager just by taste?
11. Do you brew your own craft beer?
12. When someone uses the words Brettanomyces, Wort, Spurge, or Barrel-Aged do your ears perk up?
13. Do you and your friends swap craft beers that you pick up on trips?
14. Do you write a blog based on Craft Beer?

To be honest, the first two could apply and you may still not be living the Craft Beer Life… you may be just a college kid or an alcoholic. And number six is not a prerequisite. But to be honest if you are working at a craft beer brewery and your not living the craft beer life then what the hell are you doing there??!!

Just an FYI – Except for number six I answered yes to all of them. But I do have plans to cross that one off the list someday.


Papabear

Gainesville Craft Beer Week 2019 – Local Craft Beer Sites to Visit While You’re Here

For all of you out-of-towners who may not have been to Gainesville before, the following is a listing of Gainesville locations for Craft Beer. I will break it down by breweries, craft beer businesses with food, and craft beer bars. FYI – The order that I am listing them in is not indicative of any preference. Besides as with all things craft… your taste vary.

Breweries

If you’ve never been to Gainesville before then you’re in for a treat. While we may not have a lot of breweries, the ones we do have been bringing home medals from state and national events for a few years. So while the quantity of breweries may be low the quality is way above the normal.

Swamp Head Brewing – This is the Big Daddy in this town. They were the first production brewery in Gainesville and have brought home both national and state medals for their ales.  Located of off south 34th Street this place is the largest brewer in Gainesville. They started as as the only large scale brewer which was an innovation in Gainesville. Then they kinda of tapered off on the innovation until the last year or so. Now they are putting out really good experimental styles. As well as their flagship ales.

First Magnitude Brewing – Two local couples started this brewery with the idea that the springs in north central Florida were of the First Magnitude in quality water. They carried that idea of quality into their recipes for beer.  They have also been bringing home medals at both the state and national levels for a few years.  Where Swamp Head started out as hop heavy  and varied on that, First Mag came at it from the style of the beer they were making and focused on making it the best of that style that they could.

Blackadder Brewing – Unlike the first two listed, Blackadder is not a production brewery, they don’t do canning and only bottle limited releases. Their primary business is as a microbrewery/pub. But they do that very well. The pub has been modeled after some olde style English pubs, certainly an influence from Chris and Cissy’s adventures to beer breweries and pubs in Europe. They brew they own ales, usually having 8 on tap and many of them in a Belgian or German beer style, and also feature over twenty other taps of guest beers which are always from a very good quality brewer.

Cypress & Grove – The newest homegrown brewery in Gainesville has actually moved into an old abandoned ice house where large blocks of ice were shipped to back before refrigeration came into being. They started out slow with a half dozen flagship brews, of which I thought their Porter stood out. They have since had some very good examples added to their line-up.

All of these are great examples of homegrown craft beer. Warning: none of them have kitchens for food preparation but there is almost always a food truck or two on sight.

Big Top Brewing – This company started in Sarasota and have now expanded to Pensacola and right here in downtown Gainesville. When they first opened they were limited to the beers brewed at their Sarasota location and shipped to them but they have recently gotten all the papers approved for brewing to commence in Gainesville. So some of the beers at the local location will only be available there. This brewery also serves food. And their are unique spin on some old bar food classics are worth sampling.

Non-Brewery Craft Beer Bars

I will break this out by those who do and do not serve food. And I will also only include those that I have been to as I can’t honestly recommend a place I haven’t visited on my own. And while there a quite a few restaurants in Gainesville that have some of our local breweries on at least one or two taps, I will focus more on those that have multiple taps of CRAFT beer. So for all of you Bud Light/Miller Light/Coors Light drinkers… You’re on your own.

Serving Food

The Top – It isn’t the name that puts them at the top of the list (pun intended) that is purely coincidental. They are one of the oldest existing businesses in Gainesville that have a really great selection of Craft Beer and they have some of the best food menu items available. Not to mention the uniquely Floridian décor and the great service this place is one I always enjoy visiting.

Public & General – A little hidden gem in the northeast part of Gainesville, and probably the closest to the Hoggetown Beerfest location, is a little pub called Public & General. I like to frequent this place at least once a week for lunch but I also occasionally make an early evening visit there. While the among of taps is not as vast as some others the ones they have on tap contain really good beers. And they have a great bottle selection to choose from as wellas some great wines. The menu is limited but the selections on it are great and flavorful.

Crafty Bastards – This establishment is only a few years old but features a great selection of craft beers both on tap and in bottles. Their food selection is pretty good and you will find some original recipes from the area. They rotate the tap selections frequently and I can honestly say I haven’t had a food dish there yet I haven’t liked though I haven’t had them all.

Curia on the Drag – This little Curious collection of unique bric-a-brac, coffee shop, diner, and craft beer is something that needs to be seen. Especially if you like kitschy décor and flavors. I haven’t been there in a while but I keep hearing goods things and think I need to go back soon.

World of Beer Gainesville – They have a wide selection of craft beers though I do see some influences from the ABInBev distributor. The last time I went it didn’t seem like the tap rotation was that frequent. But it has been a while since I have been there. The food selection is fairly good and it’s the only place in town (that I know of) where I can get Schnitzel. It isn’t the greatest Schnitzel I have ever had but it will do until I can perfect my own recipe or find someone better.

The next three are local Pizza places I have included because not only do they carry craft beers on their taps they also have great food menus.

Satchel’s Pizza – A fire wiped Satchel’s out for a brief period a couple years ago, but they have come back better than ever. They served fresh made pizzas with Satchel’s own tomato sauce which I love because it has just a slight hint of spice in it. I also am a big fan of their house salad. If you get  the chance try both. I can also recommend the Calzone and they have a great wine selection as well. Oops!!… I almost forgot to mention the back part of Satchel’s – Lightning Salvage where you can find many paraphernalia that will remind you of your childhood. And they have local talent playing on the back bandstand. Satchel’s is the only place I have ever been  where the dessert menu is brought out to you on a ViewMaster 3D viewer for you to choose from. If you have to ask what a ViewMaster is then you can move along now. Great section of craft beer featuring Florida beers, but be forewarned that the draft beer selection inside the restaurant and in the Lightning Salvage area are sometimes different.

Big Lou’s NY Style Pizzeria – The name says it all, NY style pizza with a classic marinara sauce and your choice of toppings. They also have other Italian dishes, excellent salads and garlic rolls. Great wings and sandwiches and a centrally located venue in downtown. One of my favorite places if I am working downtown at lunch time. And at night they carry a good selection of beer both on tap and in bottles.

V Pizza – Another option for downtown they have stone fired pizza as well as a good salad selection and great wings, but they also have a lot of other selections on the menu which I haven’t tried yet. Nice crispy crust and a good selectin for toppings for both their pizzas and calzones.

Now I will includes some other really good restaurants that also serve craft beer.

Dragonfly Sushi – So you should guess that this is a Sushi place and they have some really great food. They also have a decent craft beer selection but more importantly they have a wide variety of Sakes, which in my mind is a craft product that deserves much more attention. This place definitely deserves a visit if your in a Sushi frame of mind.

Ker’s Winghouse – Located on Archer Rd, this is what some would consider a Hooters clone, though I think the food is better. This location currently runs 15 beer taps and about 8 are holding craft beer, and four of those are local.The craft beer selections are actually pretty good. If you’re looking good wings and sandwiches, a decent beer list and a wait staff dressed to please then this is your place.

Hogan’s Great Sandwiches – If your in the mood for a great sub, then you have to stop at Hogan’s on NW 13th Street. Great deli meats and cheeses and of the best add ons loaded into great bread. This place has the best subs in town, in my opinion and they have a little bar at the back called the Fallout Shelter (the original name of the business was “Hogan’s Heros” which of course was a play on the 60s TV show about WW2 POW commandos – thus the name of the bar) that serves along with some Macro brews and good selection of craft beers.

Miller’s Ale House – I list this one reluctantly because it is a popular spot. But my reluctance is due to the fact that several of their beers they have identified as “Craft” may have started out that way but now they have been bought out by ABInBev. They do have some independents who have bigger brewing power, like Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams, but in my opinion it’s not a craft beer restaurant. However, depending on the dish the food can be pretty good. Your mileage may vary.

Now I will give you a short list of bars that specialize in Craft Beer but do not serve food. However, they are okay with your bringing your own food in if you desire. But then you could just go there for a good drink.

Gainesville House of Beer – If you have been reading this blog at all then you know that I frequent this location a lot. They keep a good rotating tap going and the downtown location for me is really convenient. The staff are very knowledgeable and if you visit frequently they learn what your likes and dislikes are over time. They also have their own line of craft beers brewed at their original location in Dunedin, which is then shipped to Gainesville. They usually have a pretty good showing of Florida beers.

Hop Top – This place is one of those little hidden gems that locals know about but may not get a lot of business if it weren’t for word of mouth. Not a grandiose location but what they do have that is great and keeps getting better is a great selection of craft beers both on tap and bottled and the taps rotate fairly frequently. The staff that I have encountered know the product pretty good nd have been fairly helpful it guiding me to a good tasting craft beer.

There are other restaurants and bars in town but their beer selections are often one or two craft beers and some high end Macro Beers so they can charge more. They will have delicious food and then serve it with ordinary beers. That can be a crime in my book. And the wait staff’s knowledge of these beers is hit and miss. If you’re lucky you get a waitperson that has knowledge of craft beer because they like it themselves. If you find something you like I haven’t mentioned in here then let me know so I can investigate.

A little bit of sad news. If any of you are looking for either Tall Paul’s Brewhouse/Alligator Brewing or Brass Tap, I’m afraid both those businesses have closed. The reasons why have been speculated on but all I will say for certain is that we lost two great resources of craft beer. Hopefully others can fill their place.

One last thing….

Cheers!!

Papabear

A Visit to Twin Peaks, San Antonio TX

While on a recent business related trip to a conference in San Antonio, Texas, I was able to find this little gem on the internet and new I had to give a try. No – as far as I know Twin Peaks does not refer to the TV show, either the original series or the reboot. Instead, from while I can tell, it’s a double entendre (similar to Hooters), which is supported by the outfits the waitresses wear, see the examples of short khaki shorts and lumberjack style short tops.

Where Twin Peaks differs from Hooters and Winghouse and any other contenders out there is in the food offerings and the alcoholic selections. For one, they have their own line of beer selections, which are not bad from my tastings. I had a Dirty Blonde Ale and a Dropdead Redhead, both slightly different from the more common examples but good examples of the style they represented. And while they serve them a little colder than I prefer they still are pretty tasty. They also offer beer selections for the Macro beer consumers so they don’t alienate any customers.

They also have a decent selection of wines (though to be honest I did not sample any) and a wide variety of cocktails. But what really piqued my interest is they listing of whiskeys, They have Bourbons, Ryes, Irish Whiskey, American Whiskey, Rum, Vodkas and Tequilas. And their selections varied in quality and price in every category. I certainly enjoyed the Makers Mark I had after dinner.

Their food selection is a lot more extensive that the other competitors I already mentioned and my Avocado Smash Burger, which was slightly augmented with bacon by a suggestion from my waitress Janna was really delicious, juicy and flavorful. The fries that accompanied were pretty good too, being light and crispy like I like them.

The environment was loud but I’m okay with that and kind of expected as this is also a sports bar.  The décor is focused on lodge style with faux log cabin panels on the indoors, open rafters in the ceiling, rams and deer heads, animal skins and fish on plagues decorating the walls, and antlers for the chandlers.

I like this place, and look forward to the next time I can visit one. The staff were friendly and helpful, the food, beer and alcohol selection is pretty good and varied and the atmosphere for me was great for working on this blog and another.

I will recommend this to anyone who asks and suggest it to friends who travel to San Antonio.

Papabear

The Art of beer Pt. 7 – Proper Glassware and Serving

Let’s talk about glasses ….

No… not those glasses… These glasses!

Half the battle of really getting the flavor out of your beer, no matter the style or brand, is serving it in the proper glass. Using a glass specifically designed for the liquid you are consuming has been a standard for wines, liquors and cocktails for almost a century.

It took the craft beer revolution for Americans to be awakened to the idea of proper glassware for beer. The reason for this, of course, is the inferior flavor of the current (and if I may add, waning) reigning American Light Lagers. That and the co-opting of American bars by the U.S. Beer Distributors.

For many years now, the Big Beer brewers have been pushing the beer logo -emblazoned pint glasses on to bars so that they can get their names out in front of the customers. The problem is that the glass they decided to use is, of course, the least expensive to produce. But it’s not even a proper beer glass. The pint glass (in America often called the “Shaker” and in the UK the “Nonic”) does nothing for any of the beers styles served in it. It often causes the beer to lose flavor and carbonation sooner than it should. The Shaker was originally a bar glass used for mixing cocktails (thus the name “Shaker”) and was repurposed for serving beers by many bars for the cost efficiency as well as the ability it has for easy stacking.

In the ‘70s and prior, most bars would serve beer in mugs, chalices or pilsner style glasses. But thanks to the commercialism of Big Beer and their associated Distributors, we now have an entire generation that is ignorant of proper beer serving techniques.

So, let us review the Do’s and Don’ts, the rules of proper beer serving and the correct glassware for your favorite craft beers. We’ll start with the Don’ts!

  1. Don’t drink it from the can or bottle whenever possible!
    a) Always try to serve in a glass, even if you have to use a plastic Dixie cup. Drinking from the bottle or can doesn’t give you two essential benefits of drinking good beer:
    i. If you don’t pour the beer you don’t create the head of the beer and therefore are missing out on the aromas that enhance a good beer.
    ii. If you don’t pour the beer the carbonation is still trapped in the liquid. This means you are swallowing carbon dioxide, which can lead to indigestion and affect the aftertaste of the beer.
  2. Don’t pour beer into a pitcher!!
    a) Pouring beer into a pitcher starts the process of it losing its effervescence and flavor. So, by the time you reach the bottom of the picture you have stale, flat beer. Then we abuse this poor liquid even further by adding a bag of ice or some other artificial cooling apparatus to it in hopes of keeping it cold. Which in turn adds the condensation of the cooling object into the beer further diluting it. In reality, this should be unnecessary as Good beer not only can stand a little warming but will even release other characteristics as it warms. This leads me to the next topic…
  3. No. No! NO chilled glasses!! Ever!!
    a) How many reasons can I point out why we shouldn’t chill a beer glass? Let’s count shall we…
    i. Chilling any liquid changes the flavor. More bitter and unpleasant notes and flavors become clearer as the liquid begins to warm. This is true of wines, liquors and beers. That is why brandy drinkers will swirl the brandy around in their snifter while letting the bowl rest in their palm. The heat from the hand warms the liquid releasing additional flavors and scents they can enjoy. If you prefer the beer to be just above freezing in order to drink it then you are likely masking unpleasant ingredients. Wouldn’t it be better just to start with a better beer?
    ii. Dipping a glass in water then sticking it in the freezer means you are coating the glass with water. When you pour the beer into the glass you are actually watering it down.
    iii. Chilling the beer not hampers the flavor but the scents of the beer, which in turn affects the overall tasting experience.
    iv. It only delays the inevitable. And if you have to have your beer ice cold then you need to drink it fast in order to avoid drinking it warm.
    v. It’s a trick! Bars and breweries that practice this do so to hide the real flavor of bad beer.
    b) If you read my last article then you read that while in Austin at the hotel bar I asked for a non-chilled glass so I could properly drink a breakfast stout. The look of shock on the bartender’s face was such that you would have thought I asked her to remove her clothes! Another victim of the Big Beer and Beer Distribution campaign against proper beer serving!

That’s enough for the “Don’ts”… Let’s talk about some “Do’s”!

Tucker likes good craft beer too. Don’t worry I know hops are bad for dogs. This is a Hefeweizen and he only licked the empty glass.

  1. Make sure any glass you serve in has been properly cleaned. And when I say clean I also mean properly rinsed. Soap on the glass can be just as detrimental, maybe more so than any previous liquid contaminants. Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to tell how clean a glass may be is to look at how the suds slide down the glass. If you have a fairly even recline in the way they slide down the glass wall then the glass is clean. But if you see suds clinging more so to one area than another, it is likely there is at the least some residue, whether it is soap or something else.
  2. When pouring a beer, whether out of a can, bottle or keg, tilt the glass slightly so the beer pours down the side of the glass until the glass is about half full. Then straighten the glass and let the beer pour into the center. This will begin releasing some carbonation and help to form a good foamy head without it being too big.
  3. And lastly, please select the glass that best fits the beer style you are serving. Below is a list of the some of those glass types and the beer styles that are best served in them. We have already discussed and discredited the pint glass and though it is the most utilized glass style we will not include that in the discussion.

a. Flute – This glass, similar to a champagne glass, helps to show off and retain carbonation but also help to release aromatics which lambics and fruit beers are known for, which is what you would ideally serve it this. You can serve the beer styles listed below:
• American Wild Ale
• Bière de Champagne / Bière Brut
• Bock
• Czech Pilsener
• Dortmunder / Export Lager
• Eisbock
• Euro Strong Lager
• Faro
• Flanders Oud Bruin
• Flanders Red Ale
• German Pilsener
• Gueuze
• Lambic – Fruit
• Lambic – Unblended
• Maibock / Helles Bock
• Munich Dunkel Lager
• Munich Helles Lager
• Schwarzbier
• Vienna Lager
• Weizenbock

b. Goblet or Chalice – This style allows for head retention and allows for big sips. It is intended for beers with a higher ABV.
• Belgian IPA
• Belgian Strong Dark Ale
• Berliner Weisse
• Dubbel
• Quadrupel
• Trippel

c. Mug – This came to live in German to replace the Stein. It featured thick glassware for both durability and assistance in keeping a beer cool. Serve with mostly lagers and other German style beers:
• American Ales
• American Lagers
• German Ales
• German Lagers
• Pilsners

d. Stein – Originally made of glass, clay or wood. During the middle ages they began to feature a lid to help keep pests out of the beer.
• American Ales
• American Lagers
• German Ales
• German Lagers
• Pilsners

e. Pilsner Glass – Intended for use with it’s namesake this glass feature a conical shape with no curvature to the sides. It is intended to showcase the color of the beer and help to retain the head.
• American Pilsner
• Baltic Pilsner
• Czech Pilsner
• German Pilsner
• Light Lagers

f. Snifter – This wide bowl shaped glass allows aromatics and volatiles to be released and like it’s cousin used for brandy will allow the heat from the users hand to warm the beer. This is primarily intended for beers with a higher ABV.
• Barleywine
• Belgian Triples
• Belgian Quads
• Bocks
• Double Bocks
• Imperial Ales
• Imperial Stouts
• Strong Ales
• Scotch Ales (substitute for thistle glass)
• Most beers with over 7% abv.

g. Stange – German meaning “Rod”this cylindrical glass shape is meant for lower capacity and lighter beers.
• Alts
• German Kolsch
• Gose
• Gueuze

h. Tulip – Bowl shaped at the bottom with a mouth that flares out this glass is great for strong aromatic beers with a lot of hops.
• Belgian Ales
• Biere de Garde
• India Pale Ales (IPAs)
• Pale Ales
• Scotch Ale AKA Wee Heavy (substitute for thistle glass)
• Strong Ales

i. Thistle – a Scottish cousin to the tulip is intended for
• Scotch Ale AKA Wee Heavy
• Barleywine

j. Weizen – sometimes confused as a pilsner glass this glass is actually much larger and has a curved shape to the upper glass that helps with head retention. Its a tapered glass with the narrow bottom that helps to trap yeast. It is intended strictly for wheat beer.
• All Wheat Beers
• Dunkelweizen
• Hefeweizen
• Kristalweizen
• Weizenbock
• White Ales
• Belgian Wit (substitution for tumbler)
• Gose
• Pilsner (substitution for pilsner glass or pokal glass)

k. Over-sized Wine Glass – It is a wine glass that is used for serving stronger flavored and higher ABV beers.
• Double IPA
• Barleywine
• Belgian Doubles
• Triples and Quads
• Strong Ales
• Most high gravity (ABV) or big beers

Boots – Called so for their familiar shape, this glass is more of a novelty because air can become trapped in the toe of the boot and when the air pocket releases it can cause a splash on the drinker. Thought to be of German origin and German style beers are typically served in it.

Yard – Another novelty glass, it is thought to have originated in England where stage coach drivers were not allowed to leave the carriage while their passengers patronized a road house. This long glass was invented so that the driver could refresh himself while the patrons were busy inside

And that brings to close the proper etiquette associated with beer glasses…

No! Not those kind of glasses!

Papabear

Happy New Beer 2018!! (A Craft Beer State-of-Union)

Welcome to the unofficial State of the Union of Craft Beer (or Independent Beer or Micro Beer or whatever someone decides to name this movement next)!
I call it unofficial because I am certainly not the President of this beer culture. I’m not even a Congressman or Senator. I am simply an amateur brewer, blogger and beer aficionado. But I love great tasting beer and have done so for 36 years now. Spending 36 years doing anything gives you a little bit of license when it comes to speaking about the subject. So, I am going to give you my observations about this last year and a little bit of what I see happening this coming year. Again, these are my opinions, or better yet, my conclusions as I will list some facts to back them up.

As was predicted last year, the Macro Beer companies (ABInBev, Molson-Coors, Heineken and Constellation Brands) continued their campaign of acquisitioning craft breweries instead of actually developing good beer.

ABInBev placed both Wicked Weed from Asheville, NC, and Breckinridge Brewery of Breckinridge, CO, under their umbrella to join Goose Island, Land Shark and Leffe as well as 13 others that make up their High End Division.

Molson-Coors acquired Terrapin Brewing of Athens, GA, because they didn’t have the ability to match Terrapin’s skills with their 97 other brands.

Constellation Brands, while not a big beer player and specializing more in wine and spirits, decided they needed to acquire California based Ballast Point Brewing to go along with their smaller stable of 9 brands. Then later in the year, they also acquired Funky Buddha Brewing of Boca Raton, FL.

And Heineken International, with its stable of 119 brands had to add one more so they went after and acquired Lagunitas Brewing, also California based.

All of these Craft Brewer’s were excellent examples of companies who excelled at what they were doing but in order to do more they needed investors. Which is where Big Beer came in and gobbled up opportunities. Only time will tell if their accepting the offers from Macro Beer companies will be harmful or beneficial.
In protest of Big Beer purchasing these companies I, along, I am sure, with many other Beer Snobs, have abstained from sampling or purchasing any of these former greats products. Another form of protest appeared in late October, in the form of the TakeCraftBack Campaign (see add below).

This Don Quixote-ish attempt to buy out Macro Beer, while hinting at David versus Goliath proportions was actually done in jest. But I believe it did bring to light the practices that ABInBev and others use daily to keep craft beer from obtaining more of the market. And while thousands of Craft Beer fans (including yours truly) pledged more the $3,000,000 to buy out Big Beer the goal of 213 Billion plus was laughably unobtainable. But everyone knew that going in.

And at the tale end of the year some good news appeared in the form of legislation that would lighten the tax burden of many breweries making it easier for them to purchase each other’s beers and spread across the tap rooms of America.

While this legislation benefits all commercial brewers big and small, Big Beer factors the taxes they were paying into their production costs. Smaller breweries may also do that, but smaller breweries are more likely to take that added available funding and experiment more with making different styles of beers. You’ve already seen that Macro Companies prefer to buy already perfected formulas than to develop new ones.

Federal Excise Tax Overview

2017 saw a slowdown in new Brewery openings. In fact, many industry insiders are predicting that the trend going forward will be Micro Breweries or brew pubs. The brewery market is becoming over-filled with the number of brands and styles to choose from. So local pubs which may brew their own and bring guest taps will be where you see the growth.

2017 also saw more loss of market share by Big Beer to craft beer, wine and whiskeys. A trend which will probably continue this next year despite Big Beers efforts to buy up market share. Of the $107,000,000,000+ in revenue generated by the Beer Industry in America in 2016, about $23,000,000,000 of that was from Craft Beer, an increase of 10% from the previous years.

Which brings us to now and the future, or at least 2018.

I think you will see a reduction of buy-outs by Big Beer. The amount of dollars invested in craft Breweries does not equal the amount lost in market share, though that may vary from company to company.

I do believe there will be an increase in Brew Pubs and Micro-breweries though even that will slow down compared to the last few years.

I would not be surprised to see Big Beers change tactics and begin investing more in the retail end of the Beer industry, opening their own brew pubs in large populated cities where they can lock out their competitors. But that will only work if they can bring a good offering of cuisine to accompany their products. Otherwise it will be money down the drain.

I would also not be surprised to see Big Beer begin head-hunting for brewing talent and begin expanding their capabilities for experimenting with new styles.
It’s for sure that their current modus-operandi is not working.

Whatever happens, I encourage everyone to continue to support their local breweries and try new beers as often as possible.

Papabear

Beercation 2017 – Preparation (Subtitled “Hey Irma… We’re still standing!!”)

I don’t know about the rest of you but the last few months for me have been extremely busy. We in Florida had a rather worrisome lady friend, named Irma, give us one helluva visit in September! She may not have been as dangerous as we thought she was going to be, but she was plenty dangerous enough for me.

Her arrival in the wee early morning hours on September 11th, and her subsequent departure later in the day, left the utility company I work for enough to keep us busy for 8 straight days of 17 hour shifts. By the time it was over we were exhausted, but we had services back up to 100% of our customers in that time frame. A lot of other places in Florida weren’t as fortunate.

This also put a little bit of a time constraint I had on prepping a new RV trailer I purchased the week before, Labor Day weekend. When I got the trailer home I took Tucker and his new little buddy Harley (I was babysitting Rowdy’s dog while she and the Cooler were out of town.) out to see the new toy and they were plenty excited.

Later that day I began making plans for a vacation to Asheville, NC. I booked a KOA camp site, looked up a list of breweries and pubs that I haven’t been to yet and highlighted those that were pet friendly as Tucker is accompanying me, then began an itinerary that included some time at Grandfather Mountain, hiking, and just some relaxing.

Then upon returning to work on the Tuesday after Labor Day we were entered into full blown Storm Prep. Any plans I were working on were forgotten in the milieu that accompanied the approaching doom. You may think I am exaggerating, but at the time Irma was tracking on a course that would bring her right up the middle of the state, the worst possible scenario. The devastation from that trajectory would do so much harm that the recovery could take months.

At work we prepped as best we could, contacting Vendors to get as much material in ahead of time that we could, seeing what was lined up to come in and what was available after Harvey had torn up Texas. I have to give some credit here because the Vendors that we use for supplying our material needs really stepped up and made sure we were a priority for them. After that is was a matter of battening down the hatches and securing the facilities. By the end of business that Friday, except for a couple of last minute deliveries we had set-up for that Saturday and Sunday, we were about as ready as we could be for this storm.
I attended a little pre-storm beer session with my fellow Beer Bacchanalians that early Friday evening and, in between answering phone calls and emails from work on my cell phone, managed to enjoy a couple of last brews before the storm hit.

All of Saturday was spent on phone calls and emails coordinating schedules for after the storm restoration and determining who would be hunkered down at work during the storm. I spent so much time on this that I wasn’t able to get the outside of the house prepped for the storm until late Sunday morning. I was picking up deck chairs and making sure the new RV was secure while it was raining cats and dogs.

Around 10 PM my power blinked out once for about 5 minutes. I took that as a hint that it was fixing to get bad, so when the power came back on I turned everything off and went to bed to await Irma’s imminent arrival. I actually spent the next couple of hours texting back and forth with my sisters who both also live in Florida. Tucker had fits all during the evening as the sounds of the storm made him restless.

Around 1 AM I woke up to the sound of the wind howling like a banshee around the house and through the trees that surround my neighborhood. I began hearing the sound of the house creaking loudly coming from the corner that my bedroom was in. The sound of the wind and the creaking was enough to make me rethink my location so I got up and laid down a couple of sleeping bags in the hallway between my office and the guest room. That was centrally located and probably provided the best protection in case of a tree falling or the roof lifting off. Tucker followed me and while we tried to get some rest we both had little of it that night.

At 430 AM my alarm went off and while I was already awake I knew I need to grab my flashlight and begin getting ready for the early morning storm briefing. At that point Irma had passed over us but we were still experiencing tropical force winds and would until about Noon that day. I checked out the house and saw some damage to the privacy fence but near damage to the main structure so I changed clothes and went in to work.

That alone was a difficult task. Not only were trees and limbs down all over town and well as power out to most of the traffic lights, but the entrance to my neighborhood was under about three feet of water. I know that because when I drove though it, as it came up to the bottom door of my pick-up truck. Some of my neighbors were stuck there with the lower cars they had.

So we all went in at Noon and worked til 10 PM that night. Then went home and came back at 5 AM in the morning and again worked until 10 PM. This routine repeated for the next 6 days.

By Friday morning, all of us had been at this for at this for at least 61 hours, some longer because of the preparations for the storm. As I looked around the room all I saw were tired faces. Tired… but determined.

Sunday morning while we’re dragging ourselves in to try and finish restoration to the last 1.5%  of the community, while most of the folks in the area are already back to their Sunday routines of church, family gatherings and NFL football. That routine is what the last 1.5% wants to get back to… and so do we. But we’re not done yet.

As the day wears on the effect of the fatigue we are feeling becomes very evident when one of my staff members is injured. Luckily, the injury is just a simple contusion,  but it could have been worse and would have been easier to prevent if we weren’t all exhausted. After getting him a medical check out at the Health Center we sent him home with a lesson learned for all of us.

By Sunday night we have all but 380 customers back and we plan to start working on those at first light. That is less than 0.4% of our customers. Well over 60,000 restored within a 7 day period. By Tuesday morning we had restored all customers back to service.

Nothing enhances flavor quite like the deprivation of it. Going home for the first time in daylight that day I was finally able to do a better evaluation of my home and how it survived the storm. I talked to some of my neighbors to see how they fared. And I noticed that someone had cleaned up some of the debris in my yard and piled it for pick-up. The neighbors know I work for the utility company and knew I was at work while they could start making repairs on the damage they went through. Not only did the company I work for pull together to get everyone back up and running, but the community as a whole pulled together to help each other out.

The next weekend I began working on replacing a portion of the privacy fence. I also restarted prepping the RV for a trip I was planning in October. That was the first time I had been able to enjoy a beer since before the storm hit. I don’t know if it was deprivation or just a really good beer but nothing has tasted so good in a long time.

The following Monday the 25th I was joined by Rowdy and the Cooler for a Taps and Tapas dinner at Blackadder Brewing. An excellent 4 course meal accompanied by 5 excellent beers.

The following Saturday brought more rain back into the area but Rowdy and I decided to attend the Bacon and Brew fest in Deland Florida. They had some excellent Bacon available but the beer ran out in less than two hours. As you can see from the picture below we weren’t happy about that.

We did however decide to visit one of the breweries in town, Persimmon Brewing, which had some very good beers. And Rowdy’s Mom joined us and we went to Yola Mac and Grilled Cheese for some food. Excellent food bit the service was only so-so.

I finally finished the section of fence by this last Tuesday night and continued prepping for the vacation to Asheville NC, this Saturday. Tucker and I are both ready for a road trip and I have picked out some pet friendly places in Asheville to visit.

Today I am attending the Gator Homecoming Parade with my fellow Beer Bacchanalians and Gainesville House of Beer. Then I will finish up my preparations from the trip and leave for Ashville in the morning.

Tucker and I will report in on our visitations and provide some much needed information for this blog. It’s been too long without some wordage!

Papabear

My Annual Drink with Dad!! Craft Beer vs Macro!!

Today is my Dad’s 75th birthday. Or it would be if he were still with us. He passed away in ’98 and since then I have taken this day to drink a beer with him.  I don’t know if it’s to make up for all those I didn’t get to drink with him or just my way of remembering him, but wherever I am I hunt down his beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and drink it in his remembrance. Today I picked Gainesville House of Beer for this annual event.

Most of us probably learned about beer from our Dad’s. Even though there are lot more female beer drinkers today than have been (at least in the US) in the last couple hundred years, I would bet even most of them learned about beer from their Dad’s. The same way we learn a lot of things from our fathers, they do, we watch, we repeat.

That’s right son…now shake it a little bit…

I can remember as a kid helping Dad work on the car or some other work around the house and he would take a break and crack open a bottle or snap open a can, then slowly pour back the container and let it roll down  then would stop and tip his head back up and slowly let the beer roll around on his tongue before he swallowed it.  Then I would hear the inevitable, yet interesting “Aaaaaaahhh!”

I may not have known what he was having the first time I heard that sound but I certainly knew he was enjoying it. I catch myself doing the same thing occasionally. It’s that sound you make when you feel that quench being satisfied or the pang being quelled.

I just finished his PBR and am moving on to 3 Daughters Key Lime Cider because in Florida in July light and refreshing is the way to finish on a hot day.  Having said that while it did help cleanse my pallet it was not quite the “Aaaaaahhh!” I was hoping for.

You see there a couple others things I learned from Dad. He wasn’t afraid to try something new.. at least not when it came to beer. After I got back from the Air Force or any time I went up to PA on vacation we made it a point to at least go out to a bar together at least once and have at least one beer. And it was always a draft, never a bottle or can. I learned from him that draft beers usually taste better than packaged, something that usually still holds true today. At least for me. We also tried to find a beer that we hadn’t had before.

More than a few people have asked me if I thought my Dad would have liked Craft Beer or stuck with his go to. I can answer that easily. His go to beer was for sitting around the house on the weekend and doing odd chores like working on the car or helping relatives build something, or having with a family picnic. But whenever he and I went to a bar together we would always have something different. I get the tendency for that from him.

Me with my Nova SS and Dad with his Nash

Rowdy came in and joined me when the cider hit the bar in front of me. She stuck around and we philosphied a bit while supping suds. When I finished the cider I ordered an Old Rasputin Nitro, which I had had before but not as a nitro, which changes the texture of the beer certainly, but the flavor a little bit too.

I like the coffee flavor of Old Rasputin tempered slightly with the hint of chocolate, but when you add the nitro you take what could be to some a heavy feeling beer and add a nice malty feel to it. Now that’s the “Aaaaaaahhhhh!!!’ I was looking for.

So, Dad, I started this out with your go-to Macro beer, but ended up finishing it with a great Craft Beer I think you would have enjoyed trying with me. Order another round at that bar in the sky and give Mom a hug from me. Cheers!!

Papabear

Cypress & Grove Brewing and Indigo’s Homemade Ice Cream – New FLavors in Town!!!

So part of my July 4th weekend was spent doing the usual, grilling food and spending time with friends and family. Part of this involved visiting a couple of new places in Gainesville as well as some of our regular haunts.

On Friday, June 30th, the Maestro and I met up at First Magnitude to begin Supping back some Suds and begin some earnest Philosophying. I started off with their Dunkulla Weizenbock  which was a great example of a good roasty Weizenbock flavor. I also sampled their Kemp’s Ridley Radler and it tasted good but sweeter than I expected. But the highlight for me at First Mag that evening was their New England Style IPA Trop Hop, which had strong citrus and floral notes in the nose but a great IPA flavor with a clean finish, a very refreshing beer.

First Mag Dunkulla

Trop Hop – New England Style IPA

While there, the Maestro and I started up a conversation with two other gents, both Gator Alumni and one was visiting for the first time in many years. We discussed a lot of the changes that had happened around town since he had been here last. Then they eventually told us they had just left another brewery called Cypress & Grove Brewing that had just opened up.

Now I knew there was a new brewery opening, that was originally going to be called Rainstorm Brewing but they had to do a name change for some reason, but I never heard the new name. But when these gents told us where it was located I knew it was the same place. So the Maestro and I wrapped our conversation and decided to head over there and see what offerings they had available.

In the interim, Rowdy and the Cooler had texted us to see if we were still at First Mag so we told them where we were headed and said to meet us there.

Cypress & Grove has only had a soft opening so far and is still undergoing some construction. For instance the AC was not installed yet the night we went and they have a large game area where they will probably have Corn Hole games and other games set-up. But without the AC it was very hot in that section as well.

They had a small list of beers available, but they also had a wine and some of their own seltzer water with flavoring for any young ones. The beers listed included a Blonde, a Pale Ale, an IPA and a Stout. They haven’t come up with any catchy names yet so if you go to look the beers up on Untappd it’s just under the brewery name for now.

I started out with their IPA which had a pretty good flavor and finish. I would definitely order it again. The Maestro said they same about their Pale Ale. My second glass was their Stout which had a traditional Stout flavor and reminded me of a Guinness. I have to be careful when trying Stouts anymore as more and more folks are putting out Chocolate Stouts and Barrel-Aged Stouts and a normal Stout really doesn’t compare to those. But if you like Guinness you will probably like this one.

Cypress & Grove IPA

Cypress & Grove Stout

I asked some folks on the staff and the Grand Opening will be in August sometime. By then I suspect they will have the AC in place. But if you can take the heat I would recommend stopping by and trying some of their fare.

After our second beer there I was hungry and suggested we adjourn to Satchel’s for dinner, which the Maestro, Rowdy and the Cooler all agreed was a good idea.

Our wait at Satchel’s was short and we were shown to a table pretty quickly for a Friday evening. We decided to share a small house salad and do a Democratic large pizza. I call it Democratic because it includes 4 toppings and there were four of us present so we each got to pick a topping and each had a veto power over a topping. Democracy in action on a holiday weekend celebrating our liberty’s….

Sorry, I just felt a lump forming in my throat.

To accompany the pizza I ordered the Big John’s Apricot Wheat from Bold City Brewing. I gotta tell you I love Satchel’s, but that night the pizza, salad and beer combination really hit the spot. I left completely sated.

The second part of this blog story takes place the Monday after this visit on July 3rd. I worked that day and had a cold come back on me over the weekend so plans I had to visit a new Ice Cream shop over the weekend had been delayed. I was originally going to try and bring my sister, her husband and the kids with me, but since I didn’t go out on the weekend and this is kind of on my way home, I decided instead to see if they offered to-go quarts, which they do.

Indigo’s Homemade hasn’t been open a year yet and I actually discovered them through Twitter. But I have to say, when you first walk in the door it’s got a very nostalgic feel to it. The décor is definitely 50’s style with that old soda shop look to it. In the background you hear music from the 50’s/60’s and can see the accompanying videos on a couple of flat screen TVs.

Panoramic shot of Indigo’s Homemade

The ice cream is in large container’s under a glass display where you can easily see them. I don’t remember the exact number but I am guessing they had 24 different flavors of ice cream to choose from. They have a waffle iron on the back counter where they make their own waffle cones. And they have enough homemade syrups and toppings to make any dish served very personally tailored.

I talked with the lady behind the counter while she filled my quarts and found out that the ice cream is made locally by a company in Tampa, but it is fresh made and uses local ingredients, except for the Caramel which comes from Peru and the chocolate in the Dutch Chocolate, which is one of the quarts I ordered. The other two were Vanilla and Strawberry Cheescake. The service was great and the décor was very well done.

The real test though came later that night after dinner. I decided again to play Democracy and give every flavor a chance at impressing me. Unfortunately, it is next to impossible for me to try and have something like ice cream without Tucker catching wind of it, no matter how hard I try. So the entire time I was scooping and sampling he was right there watching.

Now some of you may ask with 24 flavors available why I would order Vanilla. I like Vanilla, particularly good Vanilla. And I have to tell you this is good Vanilla. Really good flavor and the texture is very smooth and that buttery-creamy texture that homemade ice cream should have. It was sweet without having that over-sweet flavor that a lot of store bought ice cream has.

The Strawberry Cheesecake doesn’t just taste like strawberry cheesecake, it has chucks of strawberries and cheesecake in it. And the Dutch Chocolate doesn’t taste like store-bought milk chocolate ice cream, but dark chocolate from the Black Forest Region of Germany. Rich flavor without being sickeningly sweet with a creamy texture. I gotta say I loved all three and am looking forward to another bowl this evening.

I definitely recommend stopping by Indigo’s Homemade. I certainly will again and the next time I want one of their homemade waffle cones.

Just an FYI I couldn’t resist letting Tucker lick the bowl. And he wants more too.

Papabear