Atlanta has somehow become a craft beer mecca with some of the greatest beer bars in the world. This is a tribute to the beers and the bars.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Young Augustine's

Sorry for the lack of activity.  I was hit by the flu for two weeks.  We did manage to make it out to Young Augustine's (327 Memorial Dr.) twice though, which is the reincarnation of The Standard in Grant Park (same ownership, just a change in direction).  The interior, the menu, and most importantly the beer list got major overhauls.  It's nice dark wood inside with cozy booths, big communal bar seating, and the old bar from The Standard.  There also seems to be a lot more outside seating, though I only made it the The Standard once so it's possible that was already there.  To respect the better food and beer it's also now thankfully non-smoking.

If you've been to Steinbeck's the food menu will look familiar, which is a good thing, as Steinbeck's has some of the best bar food in Atlanta.  Andy Gonzales is chef at both places.  There's almost nothing in the way of vegetarian options right now though, so Leslie and I haven't eaten there yet.  We're hoping that will change as the menu continues to develop.

What you really want to know about is the beer, and they don't disappoint.  The opening week list included Sweetwater 420, Left Hand Milk Stout, Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor, Sierra Nevada Glissade, Highland Oatmeal Porter, Dog Fish Head 60, Guinness, Oskar Blues Pils, Ayinger Brau Weisse, Rogue Amber, Ommegang Rare Vos, Terrapin Rye, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Sweetwater BSP Quad, Stone Pale Ale, Victory Storm King, Terrapin IBA, Bells 2 Hearted, New Belgium Ranger, Founders Dirty Bastard, St. Bernardus, Hebrew RIPA, and Duvel Green.  Yesterday they had switched a few out and had Delirium Tremens, Founders Porter, Great Divide Hercules, and a few others.  Basically, this is a list trying to compete with The Brick Store and The Porter.  We'll see if they end up getting some of the extremely rare offerings that set those places apart, but it's a great start.

We love the place.  We've already been here twice as many times as we made it to The Standard.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bar snacks

It's rare to go out for beer without there being at least a little food involved.  I've eaten far more of my share of The Porter's browned butter and powdered vinegar popcorn and the Brick Store's hummus than I care to admit, but recently found what I think is now my favorite Atlanta bar snack: fried brussels and cauliflower with rice and nuoc chom (a Vietnamese fish sauce based sauce) at Steinbeck's.  Cheap ($4.50), filling, delicious, and probably quite a bit healthier than your standard fried potato bar snack.  It's not always available but it's there pretty regularly as a special.  This has no resemblance to the overcooked, mushy brussel sprouts you may have grown up being forced to eat.  Went down well with a Corsendonk.  As an aside, any bar owner who says that they don't have enough taps to have anything interesting on tap should look to Steinbeck's 8-10 taps.  That's how you do it.

What are your favorite bar snacks?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Picks for the week

My pick for the week is Wii Rock Band.  If you feel like going out though there's an interesting one at the Brick Store right now, De Regenboog T’Smisje Guido, a rare sweet and sour beer that's supposed to be good.  I'm sure it will be gone before I have a chance to go, so I would love to hear anybody's thoughts on it.

On Tuesday The Porter is tapping Duvel Green and giving away some Duvel glasses to people who show up early enough.

And on Saturday Black Joe Lewis is at The Earl.  Is there good beer there?  We'll see.

Update: Stopped by the Brisckstore yesterday and they had some interesting stuff, including the Guido I thought I would miss out on.  It's a lot like a tripel, but interestingly sweet from honey and slightly sour.

They had also just tapped Haandbryggeriet Dark Force, a Norwegian Imperial Stout made with wheat.  This is one of the best breweries in the world and as far as I know (and the guy at the Brick Store agreed) this is probably the first keg of Haandbryggerietin Georgia.  I hope for many more.  This one was extremely smooth, almost like a strong stout mixed with chocolate milk.  They also had a keg of New Belgium Fall Wild that was about to be tapped so I didn't get to try it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Belgians on Tap at The Porter

St. Bernardus Abt 12 is probably the most commonly sighted Trappist beer on tap in Atlanta, but despite its popularity we never see any of the other St. Bernardus brews.  That changes today with the arrival of St. Bernardus Prior 8 at The Porter.  I got to have this on tap in New York at The Burp Castle a few months ago and it is delicious.  It's a dubbel and it's lighter and fruitier than the 12.

Duvel Green was released in the Northeast about a year ago, but next Tuesday The Porter will be tapping what I'm pretty sure is the first keg available in Georgia.  Standard Duvel is never available on tap in the US (Duvel doesn't trust consistency of the last fermentation in the keg).  Duvel undergoes three fermentations but the Duvel Green only goes through one.  Originally it was going to be the same beer as standard Duvel, just stopped after the primary fermentation (this is sold in Europe as 'kleine' Duvel).  There were problems with this though, so they use the same ingredients but use a little less of the fermentables (malt and/or candi sugar) to end up with a lower abv beer.  By all accounts I've read this is a great beer, but lighter and with less complexity than the standard Duvel.

Update: I didn't feel like dedicating a whole new post to Duvel Green so I'm just going to add a quick review here.  Duvel Red (the standard bottled Duvel) isn't one of my favorite beers.  It would be nice in the middle of the summer on a patio, but except for the great spicy yeast I think it's a little boring.  Duvel Green tastes very similar, but with a little less body and complexity.  It tastes good, but there's not really enough going on to keep your attention.  It's relatively sessionable though, so if you want an easy drinking, sessionable Belgian it may be a good choice.

Sour beers, part 3

This time I hit some sour beers from outside of Belgium, including 3 variations of a Flemish style sour and a sour stout.

Haandbryggeriet Haandbakk: This was the real surprise of the bunch.  This is a Norwegian sour.  Beers similar to Flemish Oud Bruins had been brewed in Norway for centuries but had gone out of style and this was the first attempt at a Norwegian sour in over 100 years.  It was aged in used burgundy wine barrels for 18 months before bottling.  This is as good or better than any Flemish sour I've had. Malt is nicely rich, and faintly sweet with hints of bitter cocoa.  There's a dominant acetic acid sour, leather, slight barnyard funk, and faint apple.  This completely dominates your mouth, the acidity burns your throat a little, and there's an extremely long finish.  This and Panil Bariquee Riserva are probably the most complex sours I've had.

Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura: A sour stout?  That may sound odd, but historically there were actually a lot of sour stouts, porters, and other British ales.  Brettanomyces (the funky, wild yeast that is one of the main beer souring agents) is actually Greek for British fungus because of it's use in British beers.  Guinness is 3% sour beer, though it's sourness comes from a lactic acid bacteria. Madrugada Obscura is actually a Belgian style stout.  Flavors are cherry, chocolate, and nice sourness (lactic and a little Brett funk) with a dry ending.  Honestly, this is billed as a Belgian style stout, but I taste more Guinness in this than any Belgian stout I've had, possibly because the Belgian stouts I've had weren't sour.  This is worth trying.

Jolly Pumpkin La Roja: This is a fairly standard oud bruin, though a good example.  I taste a little brown sugar, faint apple and lemon, mild Brett, and not much acetic acid.  Overall this is an easy drinking sour.

New Belgium La Folie: I loved the first few sips of this.  The acidity really catches your attention, there's mild vinegar, and you taste some of the wood that is was aged in.  Les and I split a bottle of this before we went out for Valentine's Day and I actually struggled a little to finish my half.  The acidity starts to become overwhelming.  We commiserated about the fact that when The Porter had this once it went quickly and we didn't get to try it on tap.  After we ate we headed over to The Porter and serendipitously there it was, so we each ordered one.  Again, it started great, but it's so astringent it became hard to drink.  The Porter was serving pints of it, and I really think all anybody would want would be 8 oz, but at least it was pretty cheap.  I like the beer, but I didn't bother finishing mine.  I have mixed feelings about the drinkability.  One reason I like sours is that they have much more dense flavors, so even though they tend to be lower alcohol they are still sipping beers.  I think this one goes a little over the edge though in terms of unpleasant acidity.  It's worth trying, but split it.

One last reminder, The Porter has its Flemish sour class this Wednesday.  I'm going to be playing with a Beatles tribute band at Smith's Olde Bar so I won't be able to make it (my day job is a trumpet player), but if you can you should check it out.  It's $25.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Flemish Red beer class at The Porter

As I said yesterday, I'll update when I figure out what beers will be sampled in class, and here they are.

Duchesse de Bourgogne: I think it's safe to say that this is the most popular Flemish red and it was my first.  It's rich, sour, and sweet (like most Flemish sours available it has some sugar added at the end to make it easier to drink, but I find it a little too sweet).  I've drunk it many times and it got me started on my sour beer quest.

Monk's Cafe: I had this at Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia.  It's brewed for them by a Belgian brewer.  It's a little more muted than Duchesse in virtually every way, but still a good beer.

Bacchus: This is apparently a fairly straight forward Flemish red.  I would imagine that it will be similar to the Monk's Cafe, but we'll see.

Ichethem Grand Cru: Reviews around sound like this one might lean a little more towards sweet.  I don't tend to put much stock into online reviews of sour beers though, as I rarely agree with overall consensus, so who knows.

Andelot Proefbrouwerij Reinaert Flemish Wild Ale: This one isn't actually a Flemish red.  It's a strong Belgian pale brewed with Brett (wild) yeast.  I'm curious if it's going to lean more towards a funky saison like Hennepin or more like the trappist Orval.

Should be fun and hopefully I'll learn some stuff.  It's next Wednesday (Feb 17) at 7:30. It's usually $30.  Make reservations at (404)233-0293.