Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Brookhaven Beer Fest - Brookhaven - 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)