Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Brookhaven Beer Fest - Brookhavent - Atlanta Georgia

You can find the Brookhaven Beer Fest in Brookhaven Park, right in the heart of the new city of Brookhaven north of Atlanta but still inside the perimeter and part of the Atlanta Metropolitan area. This annual event has run for the past 8 years starting in 2000 (prior to 2017 it was held in a different location) - I first attended in 2016 and volunteered to pour for the event organizers in 2018. My review will reflect both years. The park is only a few blocks from the Brookhaven MARTA station - I would recommend taking the train, especially with alcohol involved.

The event is organized by Spiral Entertainment, which also does Oysterfest in February and Luckyfest in June (St Paddy's Day) at the Park Tavern. The Brookhaven Beer Fest is held in June. I found the organization as a volunteer to be fairly well done - these are nice people trying to create fun adult events with a variety of food, drink and entertainment. For 2018 the event had 150 beers from nearly 50 vendors (this number is mixed between beer, wine and food providers - there was also a Vendor Expo that showcased items that don't fit into the food/drink category). There's also music and a food truck or two.

When I attended in 2016 the crowd was quite thick and a bit rowdy - it was extremely hot and I probably drank too much. For 2018 the scheduling was a bit different with the hours a bit later in the day but still extremely hot - the park setting is also much more spacious so you aren't stepping all over people. As a volunteer I worked the first shift for Left Nut Brewing up in Suwanee - we had four different beers (all in cans) available for a good mix of styles: The Lappland Blonde (Blonde Ale), American Obsession (Pale Ale), The Bridge to Nowhere (IPA and the Mighty Banyan (DIPA) - all are quite good.

 At the end of my volunteer shift I was allowed to wonder the remainder of the event with a sample cup (this is a perk of volunteering) - I enjoyed Green Man, Southern, Southern Tier, Wild Leap, Catawba, Gate City, Southbound, Cedar Creek, Session, and Blue Point - basically the end where I was working - that's when the beer started to run out. I think the event was a bit under-provided when it comes to beer as there was still a couple of hours worth of event schedule left. In 2016 I tasted about three times as much beer (I basically was incapacitated before I could finish trying everything). For drinking events I recommend that you only do about an inch of beer (or less) and taste what looks interesting before committing to any more - you get pretty messed up before you realize it and then start forgetting what you had.

In all the crowd was better managed than when I attended in 2016 but I don't believe there were as many beer vendors - it troubles me that it started running out so early. If you're thinking about going make sure you get there early or you may not have the greatest variety available to you (this is a good general-rule for all beer festivals but this one in particular). I hope to attend as a volunteer again in 2019 as I had a great time - always good to meet the distributors and staff that are on hand from each of the regional breweries.

(also posted to Yelp)

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Bluetarp and High Card Brewing - Decatur Altanta Georgia

I'm writing this as I've been meaning to for a while - Bluetarp Brewing is moving to a different location and I wanted to relate my experience at its current.

You can find Bluetarp Brewing at 731 E College Ave, Decatur, GA 30030. I've always thought this are as more part of Avondale Estates but it seems it's actually at the border of Avondale and Decatur. You'll pull down a short road that feeds long industrial/commercial style buildings - Bluetarp is on the left with parking to the right facing and down the street.

Bluetarp Brewing is part of a triangle made up of Three Taverns, Bluetarp and Wild Heaven - I've managed to do a short brewery walk between the three on a couple of occasions but usually visit each brewery solo, unless there's a bottle release. On this most recent occasion I attended the BA Deep Helm release down the street so stopped into Bluetarp and visited with them, along with High Card Brewing who are currently contracting with Bluetarp to brew their delicious White Queen Blonde Imperial Stout (and others) and share one end of the counter where you can pickup their current draft and a few varieties in cans.

The space is what I would call your typical warehouse location with a small door leading into the taproom - you order beer along the end back-wall (there's a long bar). If they're busy they may be checking your ID near the entrance - to the left is some casual seating. There's a pretty good patio out front where you can do your usual patio-things - this is also a pet friendly establishment (seems most breweries are). Bluetarp is really setup for the purchase and enjoyment of beer so it's a bit no frills. Pricing is fairly typical for craft breweries and they're good about providing half-pours in lieu of flights - this is one of the oldest Atlanta breweries so they go back to the ticket-and-glass system before the brewery-direct-to-consumer laws changed a couple of years ago.

The people behind the bar are very nice and attentive - you queue up until you get your beers and they'll let you start a tab if that's your preference. Of the beer I like the following from Bluetarp (these are my short reviews from Untapped):

* Blue Moon Pale Wheat Ale - 4/5 Interesting beer, mostly due to the beautiful blood red color. Otherwise fairly slammable with a dry finish.

* Juicin' IPA - 4/5 Juicy and Hoppy IPA with a pretty decent amount of citrus and a fairly dry finish.

* Last Place Stout - 4.25/5 Nice Imperial stout, fairly boozy, great coffee, chocolate and malt nose. Good mouthfeel and lacing.

* All I Want for My Birthday is a Big Booty Baltic Porter - 4.25/5 Delicious almost oily porter with great nutty/malty profile.

* Go Funk Yourself Farmhouse IPA - 4.25/5 Tart, hoppy and fat - might be too tart for most IPA fans and maybe too hoppy for sour fans. I liked it quite a bit.

* Hawking Radiation Imperial IPA - 4/5 Very solid DIPA, citrus notes, hoppy nose and finish, fairly juicy they dry.

And these from High Card:

* NE Lowball IPA - 4/5 New England IPA with some haziness, tropical notes and most of the hops on the backend - very low bitterness.

* White Queen Blonde Stout - 4/4 This is a delicious blonde imperial stout with nice mouthfeel and a complex flavor profile.

* Wild Pirate Queen - BA White Queen - 4.25/5 Take the most excellent Pirate Queen and add slight tartness and rum BA notes - it’s a beautiful combo with great mouthfeel.

Bluetarp and High Card will be moving to Tucker, right behind Local 7 on the Tucker Square, sometime in 2019. Looking forward to them moving closer to my home.

(also posted to Yelp)

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Korean Kkakdugi - Cubed Radish Kimchi - Recipe

With the success of my first attempt at making Mom's kimchi, I decided to try for one of my favorites - a  classic Kkakdugi 깍두기 or cubed Korean Radish Kimchi. I had previously looked around online and found a recipe and tried it straight up from the recipe - unfortunately I didn't save the link so I'm not exactly sure who was the source.

A few things to note - you can use this same recipe for any number of types of radish or daikon, even turnips. Also, you can eat this pretty much right away but in my opinion it tastes much better after fermentation (but then again, doesn't everything?). If you decide to use Korean radishes - look for those that are still a bit green at the top but white at the bottom - those that are too green won't be very sweet and those that are all white have been picked late so much of the starch has converted - also they should be firm and not have any indication of softness, rot or blemish. The rest of the ingredients are pretty basic - I used the remaining gochugaru (red pepper flakes) I had purchased to make napa cabbage kimchi - it was getting old so it's getting pretty dark - you want to find it bright red. Finally, when I make this again I won't use the same fish sauce or use less - this was Korean style and super pungent as it continues to ferment as it sits in the bottle. The initial hit from the jar is overpowering, of course as you eat it you don't notice it much.

  1. Peel 4 pounds of Korean radish (or daikon).
  2. Rinse in cold water and pat dry.
  3. Cut it into ¾ to 1 inch cubes. Put into a large bowl.
  4. Add 2 tbs salt, 2 tbs sugar, and mix well.
  5. *tip: If you like your kkakdugi sweeter, add 1 or more extra tbs of sugar.
  6. Set aside for 30 minutes.
  7. Drain the juice from the radish into a small bowl.
  8. Add 2 tbs minced garlic (about 5-6 cloves garlic), 1 ts minced ginger, 4 stalks of chopped green onions, ¼ cup fish sauce, 2/3 cup hot pepper flakes, and ⅓ cup of the juice from the radish.
  9. *tip: The amount of hot pepper flakes you use depends on your taste; use ¼ cup hot pepper flakes for a mild version. For a vegetarian version, replace fish sauce with soy sauce.
  10. Mix it up well until the seasonings coat the radish cubes evenly, and the radish looks juicy.
  11. Put the kkakdugi into a glass jar and press down on the top of it to remove any air from between the radish cubes.
  12. You can eat it right away, and then store it in the refrigerator. Or you can let it ferment by keeping it outside of the refrigerator for a few days. When it starts fermenting, little bubbles may appear on top of the kkakdugi and it’ll smell strong & sour. Then put it in the refrigerator.

You can peel the Korean radish using the edge of a knife perpendicular to the surface - sort of scrape off the rough edges - this is a traditional method, or you can use a peeler.

I used left-over turbanado sugar from making cabbage kimchi previously. It worked fine.

Notice the gloves - I use nitrile gloves  that I pick up at Harbor Freight when they're on sale - it'll save your hands from stinking like the food and also you from accidentally rubbing an eye.

After you mix everything up you can eat right away but I prefer letting it ferment - the pungency works great with steamed rice and a bit of BBQ meat. I like mine hot but you way want to tone things down a bit - as you can tell two radishes make about half a gallon - I think this could have been stretched easily to 3 radishes.

I originally made this back in August and have about half of it left - I don't think my wife likes the fishy smell so she's not eating it - just an FYI. I hope to finish it up and try a new batch of napa cabbage kimchi for the start of 2019.

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

-- John

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Siamese Basil Thai - Norcross - Atlanta Georgia

You can find Siamese Basil Thai at 6034 S Norcross Tucker Rd, Norcross, GA 30093 - this is on the eastern side of Norcross Tucker Rd as it spans between Pleasantdale Rd and Jimmy Carter Blvd. It lies on the northern end of a small shopping center - there's parking out front and to the side but know that it can be a bit limited. I'm not sure how this became part of Norcross - it must be on the very edge of the city boundary.

This is one of two Thai restaurants in the area that is quite well known, having occupied this location for many years - the other is Thai Restaurant of Norcross across the street and further south about a block, which I've heard is one of the oldest Thai restaurants in Atlanta. We usually eat at Thai Restaurant of Norcross (regulars, eating there since the late 90's) but decided to change things up a bit as it has been many, many years since we hit Siamese Basil Thai. This neighborhood is a bit sketch at night, with many pedestrians (some of them quite buzzed) wandering around and crossing the streets in dark clothing - think Buford Highway from 20 years ago in towards Northeast Plaza. There are many small shops and restaurants feeding into many nearby apartment buildings - it's that type of vibe. It's also only a few miles from my neighborhood so I've explored these areas a bit.

The interior of Siamese Basil is a mix of attempted elegance and restaurant function - maybe a bit dated in today's trendy industrial restaurant modern notion. There are chest high walls crenelated to provide views to booths and tables on a checkerboard-tiled floor. Menus are multiple pages with some attempt at color photography for a few representative dishes. Prices range from $4 apps to $15 signature dishes with most in the $10-11 range for your basics.

 Since I had been a while we started with shrimp basil rolls with a classic peanut sauce - I thought these were good and a bit unusual to see in a Thai restaurant, being more of a Vietnamese dish. We went from there to a spicy basil chicken, a veg fried rice and a chicken pad thai. I thought all were good and slightly different compared to Thai Restaurant of Norcross - I'd certainly come here again if that option was limited.

Service was very good with the guy at the front very personable as was the attending server. I've since eaten here for lunch with a separate menu that was quite reasonable and included Sushi and Japanese Bento.

(also posted to Yelp)
Siamese Basil Thai Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato