February 28, 2014

The Latest From Stone's Throw Brewing

Well I haven't posted anything here in a while it seems and there are several reasons for this, like being out of town and in the final weeks of training for the Little Rock Marathon. I'll do better... starting now! A big brewery announcement hopefully coming Monday finally and also next week a sit-down with the head brewer and brains of Little Rock's own Flyway Brewing, Matt Foster. Stay tuned!

But for now, I stopped by our very own Stone's Throw Brewing yesterday to try their newest release, Atomic Catsicle Pale Ale. Here's a bit more from their website:

"The winner of the Big Red Ball Homebrew pro-am contest, this is a tribute beer to one of the greatest kickball teams that ever was or will be [but never won a championship-ed.]. An aromatically complex, multi-layered, smooth drinking ale that is perfect for sipping on while you’re pitching a big red ball or just spectating. Loads of Galaxy hops give this magnificent beer a floral aroma. The taste is caramel and sweet with a flowery finish that makes this the quintessential pale ale." 

 I liked this beer when I tried at the Big Red Ball and I like their version of it was well. A very nice, flavorful and well-balanced pale ale that I'll be having much more of before it's gone, and you should too.

But that's not all the happenings there this weekend! Oh no, not by a longshot. 2 beers will be coming on today, their popular Amer Belge Belgian IPA and a new beer, Amadeus Vienna Lager, will both be joining the tap wall. Straight off their website, here's a bit more on these 2:

Amadeus Vienna Lager 

Born in Salzburg, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart spent most of his professional career in Vienna. Similarly, the original amber lager was born in Austria but is most famous for its life in Mexico via immigrants in the 1800s. A healthy dose of Vienna malt gives Amadeus a soft, elegant complexity, and Noble hops provide just enough bitterness for balance. Amadeus is refreshingly perfect for a float down the Danube or a climb up Colima alike.

Amer Belge Belgian IPA 

It's Belgian. It's American. It's Amer Belge. Translated to "bitter Belgian," this is our solution to making a great beer better! Based on our Bernoulli Pale ale, but aggressively hopped 7 times with American hops, this beer is sure to please. It's malty, its Belgian funky, its hoppy. Everything hangs in a delicate balance to delight your senses. Amer Belge is perhaps our brewmaster's favorite child.

They've also got a very cool thing going on Saturday. They'll be open Saturday 12-9 and you can raise a pint for a good cause from 12-4 as they will host a benefit for the family of pilot & police officer Jake Harrell. Very cool. $3 of every pint sold will be donated directly to the Brayden P. Harrell Scholarship Fund. Just awesome. I'll be in non-beer mode the day before the marathon but I'm going to try to stop by myself and buy a few to hand out.

And lastly, maybe you want to know more about this mysterious Atomic Catsicle? Well, this 1-hour documentary "See Ya Sunday" immerses you in the vastly popular, and often madcap world of Little Rock's kickball subculture and just might enlighten you a bit:

February 6, 2014

Interview: Rebel Kettle Brewing

After a solid showing at several beer events around central Arkansas recently, aspiring brewery Rebel Kettle Brewing is starting to create a bit of buzz (pun intended). I get asked a lot about the status of them so I thought I'd sit down with the guys and throw some questions at them about the current and future state of their brew and brewery. Run by 2 friends in the Little Rock area, Tommy McGhee and John Lee, their motto is "Rebel at heart, Rebel in hand."

Here's a bit more from their Facebook page to get you acquainted:

"Rebel Kettle Brewing is an aspiring brewery that holds true to an underground, rebellious style. We are currently not a licensed brewery and do not sell or distribute. We brew on a half-barrel system and share the spoils with family and friends. Our goal is to brew bold, bad-ass beers that defy style guidelines. We stand in rebellion against the idea that all beer must fit within a category. Rebel Kettle Brewing vows to break down the barriers of beer stereotypes and push the boundaries of craft brewing. We are proud supporters of the craft beer revolution and urge people to try something different. Support the revolution, JOIN THE REBELLION!"

Arkansas Beer Scene (ABS): So what made you guys want to open a brewery in the first place?

John Lee: Tommy and I work together and we've been talking about opening a brewery for about 5 or 6 years. Initially it was "let's do like a brewpub" but we realized we don't know anything about the restaurant business. We know beer. This is what we do. So we decided we could take what we know and open a small brewery and bring our craft to Little Rock.

Tommy McGhee: John is actually the one that got me involved in actual craft beer. We went to a lot of festivals and things together, we started home brewing together (although John had been home brewing for years himself) and we just always talked about how doing a brewery would be great. So we basically just one day finally said "let's do it." We just decided why not try it?

ABS: How long ago was that?

John: That was last March (2013). When we first starting talking about it, 5 years ago, there weren't that many breweries in Arkansas. Now that's changed. Hopefully we can get there too.

ABS: To go a little further on that, with all the new breweries in the area, do you really feel there's room for more?

John: Absolutely. There's room for a lot more. The one thing we actually looked forward to was helping create a beer community here in Little Rock and all of Arkansas as well. We're still pretty small as far as breweries per capita here in the state. We want to help make Little Rock and Arkansas a beer destination. We love what Fayetteville is doing with the Ale Trail and would love to see something like that here in Little Rock. Right now we're up to 6 or 7 breweries in the area and we'd love to be a part of that. Each one of these breweries is putting their stamp on their style and beer in general and we want to bring what we like to do to that, which may be a little different. But everybody is bringing something a little different.

ABS: So you don't feel like you're competing as much as just "let's all do this together" sort of thing?

John: It is a family thing. Everybody we've talked to in the beer community here has been really supportive. We've needed a lot of help getting started and it seems like everybody bands together. We've meet some really great people.

ABS: So I love the original old-school artwork. What's the deal with it and who came up with it?

Tommy: I came up with the artwork when we started coming up with this whole idea of a brewery. Pretty much the first thing we did was try to come up with a name and logo and we kicked around lots of different names and John came up with this big list and one that he really liked was Rebel Kettle. I thought it was great too and stood for our general style in music and beer.

I went home and kicked it around and my wife Belle is big into the 40s pin-up stuff and she was saying we should do something rockabilly-ish and one of my favorite bands is actually Social Distortion so it kind of kicked it off for me, sort of a skeleton with a pompadour holding a beer glass with a leather jacket. I sketched it up and sent it to John and he thought it was awesome so we tweaked it a bit from there. Actually the first picture I sent is it. It just fit.

ABS: So does the guy have a name?

Tommy: We came up with Johnny Two-Pints.

ABS: That's awesome. Alright, now a few quick questions for you guys. First, what craft beer was your "gateway" to craft brews, or introduction?

John: Sam Adams Boston Lager, circa 1992.

Tommy: I'll go with Sierra Nevada Celebration.

ABS: What are some of your current favorite breweries?

John: If I had to pick a few.... Sierra Nevada, Cigar City, I'm really liking Jester King and probably my favorite is Crooked Stave.

Tommy: I agree with Sierra Nevada and Cigar City, I love Funky Budha, I like Firestone Walker.

ABS: OK, what are just some of you favorite styles you most like to drink, overall, I know a lot depends on the season.

John: I gravitate towards drinkability. I love saisons, they can be high alcohol beers and still be very drinkable. I love pilsners... I like maltier stuff as well, swartzbiers are great beers, they kind of give you the best of both worlds. The same goes for IPAs, you don't want a heavy IPA, you want something you can drink. That's what it comes down to for me.

Tommy: Some of my favorites are more on the maltier side... browns, porters, stouts. I pretty much go for the darker side.

ABS: OK, now just a few of your favorite current beers, just off the top of your head.

Tommy: At Christmas I had a lot of the 1809 Berliner Weisse, I'm just getting into sours. Also Jester King's Boxer's Revenge, another sour. And Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA.

John: The one recently I can't put down is Crooked Stave Hop Savant, 100 percent brett beer. It's put me in a whole new state of where I want to take Rebel Kettle, changed my perception of beer. It's something new, for me.

ABS: Last question, so what exactly is happening with you guys now? Where does the business stand, when can we expect beer?

John: Right now we're working our business plan, trying to get settled financially. We're looking for a location, hopefully to have one by mid-year.

ABS: Are you talking about a brewing location or like a brewpub sort of thing?

John: Just a small brewery, with a taproom. Initially starting with a pilot system, then the timeline is within 6 months being able to open. We've heard generally it's 6-8 months. Hopefully by the end of the year we'd be looking at opening.

ABS: Do you have a specific area you're looking at?

John: We're gravitating towards North Little Rock, considering where we live. We're certainly not opposed to downtown Little Rock either. We'll open small, hopefully have about 8 taps. Maybe running a session IPA, a cream stout, Dirtbag Brown, maybe another IPA.

Tommy: We want to have a few "always there beers" but we also want to be ever-changing and never settle. We want to be a brewery for beer drinkers, to try things.

John: The goal is a new beer every week. We want staples, but the ultimate goal is variety. Give people something new and different.

ABS: Thanks for your time guys and good luck on your goals!

Follow Rebel Kettle on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RebelKettle

New Brew: Vino's Sweet P Honey Rye Porter

It looks like Josiah, head brewer at Vino's Brew Pub, is at it again. Their latest brew is called "Sweet P" and it's a honey rye porter and should be tapped today.

Here's more specs for you:

Malts: 37% honey malt, 9% rye
IBU: 26
ABV: 6.5%

He says "This is all about malt complexity. Chocolate, honey and spicy rye malt flavors behind a clean, Northern Brewer hop profile."

Here's your link on Untappd: https://untappd.com/b/vino-s-brew-pub-sweet-p/581118

If you missed my profile on their Pulaski Pilsner you can catch-up right here.

February 4, 2014

Behind the Beer: Frost Line Rye

Summit Brewing Company's launch week in Arkansas continues and from all the feedback I've heard, people are loving their brews (me included, as I've tried the Saga IPA, Horizon Red IPA and
Summit Extra Pale Ale). Another welcome addition to state's growing craft beer scene I'd say for sure.

Here's a bit more info on their Frost Line Rye, which will be available at Big Orange Midtown on Friday as part of their Summit tap takeover. I'm honestly not sure if it's available anywhere else before then, but you can get it there for sure.

Frost Line Rye 
"Brewed to help fight off the deep freeze."

Hidden in the cold ground in the dark of winter, lie little seeds of hope. So, to help hasten the spring thaw, we give you an ale bursting with the spicy goodness of malted rye and floral, citrusy hops. An in-between-seasons seasonal, if you will. Summit's head brewer Damian McConn introduces us to the Summit's newest "fifth season" seasonal beer: Frost Line Rye. Enjoy this robust and spicy ale to help break winter's long-lasting grip.

For more on Frost Line Rye: http://www.summitbrewing.com/brews/frost-line-rye

February 3, 2014

Core Brewing Gets Hard Core

In case you've never seen this, I always get a laugh at "Take Pride" written and performed by Terminal Gravity. With Jesse Core, Daniel Vargas, Jonas Dunnaway, Eddie Mekelburg, and Chris Eiler. It's funnier of course if you've drank about a 6-pack of Core beer, so try that.