December 31, 2012

The Most Influential Beer Bloggers of 2012 (Part 1)

With the new year less than a day away, I want to take a moment to recognize six beer bloggers who have influenced me and my writing over the past year. Whether you are a beer blogger, industrial professional, or casual beer drinker, these are people worth paying attention to in 2013.

Each person on the list has a uniquely interesting background, but these writers have a lot in common as well. All are self-starters and completely dedicated to sharing their passion for craft beer. And each person on the list has taken their beer blogging success to a higher level, either by writing for a major publication, working with a professional brewery, or launching their own entrepreneurial endeavor.

This list will be broken up into two parts, the second of which will be released tomorrow. Without further delay and in no order of preference, these are the Local Beer Blog's Most Influential Beer Bloggers of 2012:

December 22, 2012

Asheville, NC: Wicked Weed Brewing Preview

Wicked Weed in Asheville, NC
Photo: Wicked Weed Brewing
"Community" was the word of the day when I visited Wicked Weed Brewing last week. Scheduled to open December 28th at 5pm, Wicked Weed is expected to make a big splash in Asheville with a number of adventurous beer styles, including a range of Belgian ales, sour beers, saisons, West Coast-style IPAs, and barrel-aged beers, all to be complemented with "enlightened pub fare." Having won the People’s Choice award at this summer’s Brewgrass festival, the Asheville community is sure to give Wicked Weed an enthusiastic welcome on opening day.

The brewing team at Wicked Weed includes brothers Walt and Luke Dickinson and their good friend Eric Leypoldt. Both Luke and Eric bring experience from Dogfish Head, but all three got their start in homebrewing. Walt began homebrewing in California in 2000, and his brother Luke caught the bug soon afterwards. Like many others in their profession, what started as a hobby turned into a dream, and now they're neck deep in it.

December 18, 2012

Southern Appalachian Brewery & Dupont State Forest

Triple Falls, Dupont State Forest
Despite rainy weather for most of the weekend, my girlfriend and I managed to avoid it on Saturday as we explored a bit of Western North Carolina with our new four-legged companion. We ventured first to Dupont State Forest, about 50 minutes south of Asheville and 15-20 from Brevard. The plan: do some hiking, see some waterfalls, then check out Southern Appalachian Brewery in nearby Hendersonville.

Dupont State Forest

After a nice drive through rural North Carolina, passing farms and horses and sheep along the way, we entered Dupont State Forest and parked at the Hooker Falls parking area.

I'm no Bill Bryson, but I do enjoy a walk in the woods from time to time. Even though this was mid-December and only the evergreen foliage remained, the beauty of the area was stunning. On a 2-3 hour hike along well-maintained trails, we saw multiple waterfalls, including Triple Falls and High Falls.

December 16, 2012

Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher: Now an Interactive eBook

Tasting Beer, the comprehensive beer guide by Randy Mosher, is now available as an interactive eBook for iPad, iPhone, and reading on the web.

Redesigned by San Francisco start-up Inking, this new version includes sharp, interactive graphics, instant access to glossary definitions, and the ability to interact with friends on social media. The Inkling platform makes it easy to navigate the chapters and to take notes on the content.

Today only, you can purchase the entire book for just $1.99 through the Apple iTunes Store. After that, it goes up to the regular price of $12.99, which is still pretty reasonable. You will also be able to purchase individual chapters for $1.99, however Chapter 4 is free for you to try out.

December 12, 2012

Brevard, NC: Oskar Blues Opens in North Carolina

Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard, NC
Photo credit:
The first of the "Big Three" breweries coming to Western North Carolina is officially open. Based in Longmont, Colorado, Oskar Blues' second brewery is located in Brevard, NC, just about 30 minutes from downtown Asheville. Famous for their canned craft beers like Dale's Pale Ale, Mama's Little Yella Pils, and Old Chub Scotch Ale, Oskar Blues decided to expand to the area for the water, the outdoor living, and Western North Carolina's borderline-obsessive beer culture.

December 8, 2012

Burlington, VT: Magic Hat's Winterland Variety Pack

"A performance in every bottle."
Christmas came early for this beer writer. Arrived on my doorstep a week or so ago was a sampler of three beers from Magic Hat Brewing Company's Winterland Variety Pack. It may not be "local" for many readers (unless you live in Vermont), but the company widely known for their #9 "Not Quite Pale Ale" has some new seasonals out that might be worth a try. Plus, readers from Costa Rica may be interested in what the new Florida Ice and Farm/Cervecería Costa Rica subsidiary has to offer.

November 27, 2012

3 Gift Ideas to Support #GivingTuesday

In case you haven't heard, today is the first ever Giving Tuesday. After Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is an effort to balance all that commercial activity with some good-hearted philanthropy. The craft beer community is known for their good hearts, with many participating in the Movember cause for men's health issues.

But that doesn't mean you can't still enjoy a good brew. To jumpstart your charitable giving this season, here are three holiday gift ideas that also support good causes:

November 20, 2012

Chapel Hill, NC: Homebrew for Hunger 2012

At the second annual Homebrew for Hunger festival, nearly 50 homebrewers and nine craft breweries teamed up to raise money and canned food for those in need.

The event, 
held at the West End Public in downtown Chapel Hill, raised over $8,500 through ticket sales and raffles to support PORCH, a volunteer organization providing hunger relief to families in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area. 

The event was expanded from one session last year to two this year in order to accomodate more tasters and to raise more money. Still, the event completely sold out in advance. 

November 16, 2012

Asheville, NC: New Belgium Tasting and Cold Mountain Release Party

It was a special night in Asheville, with a New Belgium tasting event and the release of Highland Brewing Company's highly anticipated Cold Mountain Winter Ale.

New Belgium Tasting at Bruisin’ Ales

New Belgium Asheville - Bruisin' Ales
Bruisin' Ales ("A High-Gravity World of Brews") is a bottle shop on 66 Broadway St., right in downtown Asheville. It's not a huge shop, but nonetheless they are very well stocked. They have great selection of imports (Schneiderwiesse etc.), plus the likes of Dogfish Head, Evil Twin, and a respectable number of regional beers as well. It was a busy night, with a good turnout of beer drinkers looking forward to New Belgium's forthcoming Asheville brewery.

November 5, 2012

Asheville, NC: A Weekend of Craft Beer, Community, and Good Causes

One month into being an official Asheville resident, I've had the pleasure of attending a handful of craft beer events in the new town. It's fantastic to be in a place where craft beer is mainstream. More than that though, this is a town where the beer business is aggressively involved in the community. More often than not, these events are tied to good causes of one kind or another. What better reason to go out for a beer?

Here's a brief recap of a couple events from the weekend:

Wee Bit Louder Fest

The first annual Wee Bit Louder Fest was held this past Saturday afternoon at Highland Brewing Company. Highland took fan suggestions for naming the festival, the "plugged-in" counterpart to Highland's Appalachian Breakdown Festival held in the summer.

The event started outdoors, taking advantage of Highland's new outdoor stage and the warm fall afternoon.

We started out by going into the Highland tasting room to sample the famed Sierra Nevada Beer Camp brews. In anticipation of their new Asheville location, Sierra Nevada invited 14 Western North Carolina breweries out to Chico for Beer Camp. They divided to the breweries into groups and brewed two commemorative ales:

October 29, 2012

What in the World is Beer Can Chicken?

Photo: Beer Can Chicken Blog
We've got a fun post on the Local Beer Blog today. Eric Moore runs the Beer Can Chicken Blog, but if you're like me, you've probably never heard of beer can chicken. So what the hell is it? Basically, you stuff a chicken with a can of beer and throw it on the grill. Here's Eric to explain...


The first two questions people usually ask about beer can chicken are:

1. "Why would you want to do that?"
2. "How does it work?"

But for the readers of this particular blog, I’m betting there is a third question lurking in the back of your minds…namely, what if we want to rock this recipe using some tasty local brew? You know, a beer that actually tastes like something?! The answers will be revealed readers…along with some tips for how you can use a bottled micro-brew for your chicken, if your favorite small-batch, local beer is not available in cans.

Let’s start with the first question: "For the love of God, why would you do that to a chicken?"

October 25, 2012

GABF Recap: Part 2

The remainder of the Great American Beer Festival and the long weekend in Denver was a blast. A little hazy, a little rough on the body, but packed with good food, good times, and great beer. (Read Part 1 here.)


The Kitchen's Portobello Sandwich with a
Denver Beer Co. Summer Ale.
After some much needed sleep and lots of water, Friday began with another trek up the Cherry Creek Trail towards downtown. I stopped in for lunch at the Kitchen, located on the corner of 16th and Wazee St. in LoDo.

Anticipating that some veggies might help soak up the beer ahead, I opted for the Portobello Sandwich. Locally-baked ciabatta with sautéed red onions, gouda cheese, house-made hummus, and greens -- the sandwich was fantastic! The mushrooms, onions, and greens were all regionally sourced and organic. The sandwich was accompanied by house fries (from organic Idaho potatoes) and homemade ketchup. (Homemade ketchup? Gotta try that!) Some Denver Beer Company Summer Ale washed it down. Awesome.

Heading to the festival a little early, I walked around the convention center for a bit sans crowd and snapped some photos.

October 18, 2012

GABF Recap: Part 1

Last week, I went to the Great American Beer Festival as a representative of the North Carolina Brewers Guild. I didn't drink as much as a lot of people at GABF, but I had my fill and had an awesome time in Denver, probably one of the best beer and food cities in the US. Here's the highlight reel from my long weekend:


Arriving Wednesday afternoon, I went straight to Great Divide Brewing Company in downtown Denver on Arapahoe and 22nd Street. The place was slammed with GABF pre-gamers and a disproportionate number of bearded men. I got an Oak-Aged Yeti, a big, robust Imperial Stout, which at 9.5% kept me good and warm.

Next stop, I went with my cousin and his roommate over to the Walnut Room for pizza and a Fat Tire, the classic amber ale from Colorado's own New Belgium Brewing Company. It was nice to get away from the GABF hot zone for a bit to see part of the "real" Denver, which turned out to be a theme that carried on through the weekend and made for a unique experience.

After dinner, I played it safe and got some much needed rest for the days ahead.

October 8, 2012

Gracias Panama, Hello Asheville

It's time to announce a big transition for me and the Local Beer Blog. Over the past few weeks, I've departed Panama and moved back to the US. Until further notice, the Local Beer Blog will be based out of BeerCity USA: Asheville, NC! Makes sense, right?

September 12, 2012

First Panama Homebrew Meeting - Thursday Sept. 13

Panama will have its first meeting of homebrewers and cerveceros caseros Thursday, September 13th at 9pm, at La Rana Dorada in Casco Viejo.

This will be an opportunity for homebrewers in Panama City to meet each other and begin to discuss the challenges facing homebrewers in Panama:

  • Where do we find equipment?
  • How can we purchase ingredients?
  • What about brewing in this tropical climate?
Homebrewers and anyone interested in the craft of beer-making is welcome to attend the event. Please RSVP via the Facebook event page.

September 6, 2012

4 September Beer Festivals to Enjoy this Fall

Fall is a great time for beer festivals. (Then again, when is it not a great time for beer festivals?)

The original 1811 Oktoberfest in Munich celebrated the marriage of Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Bavaria, but it also coincided with the harvest of the grain crop. What better way to ring in a new season of brewing by finishing off the previous spring's batch? While Munich's Oktoberfest has strict standards for the beers that can be served, these festivals below allow the modern beer-lover a wide variety styles to explore:

September 4, 2012

Panama Homebrew #2: Riverbend Summer Ale

On my most recent trip to Asheville, NC, I was lucky enough to secure 12 pounds of 6-Row Pale Ale Malt from the artisanal maltsters at Riverbend Malt House. The bag of malt accompanied me throughout the rest of my trip -- to Nashville, Atlanta, and on up to Norfolk (by way of a Chicago layover). It was in my luggage for the flight down to Ft. Lauderdale, where I'd pick up my connection back to Panama. It was a little nerve-wracking going through customs with malt, hops, and various brewing chemicals in my suitcase, but luckily I made it through without a hassle.

August 21, 2012

How to Make Your Own Ginger Beer

Ginger Libation, a Panama hat, and an iron
bottle opener from BMW Ironworks.
At my family reunion this past June, my cousin Ben, a blacksmith, showed up with a couple bottles of Green River Ambrosia's Ginger Libation. It rocked my palate and sparked my curiosity. At a potent 8.5% ABV, the Libation will kick your ass if you're not careful.

I was intrigued by the list of ingredients: pineapple juice, lemon juice, lime juice, ginger, cane sugar. Hey, these are all easy to find in Panama. Why not give it a shot?

August 17, 2012

Nashville Gets a New Brewery

Today marks the grand opening of Fat Bottom Brewing, Nashville's newest craft brewery and the first to open on the East side of the Cumberland River.

Look for the Ginger American Wheat Ale, Ruby Red American Ale, and Black Betty India Black Ale at Fat Bottom's Grand Opening tonight starting at 4pm.

Serving "Bolder, Sexier Beer," the Fat Bottom Taproom is located at 900 Main Street in East Nashville. Regular taproom hours start August 21st:

Tuesday-Friday 4pm-10pm
Saturday 2pm-10pm

Get more info from Beer Makes Three and i speak nashville.

Congrats to Ben Bredesen and his team on their new venture!

If you live in Tennessee, be sure to swing by and check out Fat Bottom!

August 14, 2012

Craft Beer in Cans: 9 to Try Today

You may have noticed an increase in the number of canned craft beers on the market lately. The benefits of canning are numerous:
  • Cans reduce the amount of light that can hit the beer, potentially "skunking" those delicious hop compounds
  • Cans weigh less than glass, reducing cost transportation costs
  • Cans are more recycled than glass and plastic
  • Cans go where glass can't, poolside, on a hike, or to a music festival for example
Some may question whether canned beer tastes the same as it's bottled counterpart, but I know for a fact that there are some very good canned beers out there.

Here are nine craft beers in the can to look out for:

August 9, 2012

Nashville, TN: Flying Saucer Presents BeerFeast 2012

Tickets are on sale today for BeerFeast 2012, taking place September 22 at the Flying Saucer in Nashville.

Obsidian PR announces:
Flying Saucer will host its third annual beer festival, BeerFeast 2012, on Saturday, Sept. 22 from 1 to 6 p.m. in front of the Flying Saucer location in downtown Nashville at 111 Tenth Ave. South. BeerFeast 2012 will feature an unlimited beer tasting session highlighting more than 40 breweries and 60 beers carefully selected by Flying Saucer’s own resident beer guru, Keith Schlabs, and Nashville Flying Saucer general manager, Brandi Allen. 
 “This event allows us to showcase a large selection of rare and unique brews for Nashville craft brew lovers to enjoy,” Allen said. “With more than 60 different craft beers on hand for this event, we are more than doubling the amount of beers we have had at festivals in previous years, and it will be a great opportunity to sample and experience some really fantastic brews.”
Among the hard-to-find brews being served at this year's festival are Ommegang's Belgian Strong Ale Art of Darkness (98 points on RateBeer), Rogue's Dad's Little Helper Black IPA (90 points), and Left Hand's Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout. Plus, be on the lookout for a number of local Nashville beers.

Visit to take advantage of the early-bird discount or pick up your tickets at the Saucer.

For more information about the event or to purchase tickets, please call 615-259-3039 or visit

August 8, 2012

Craft Beer Research Needs Your Help!

Alejandro Lovera, an MBA candidate at the University of Westminster in the UK, has requested our help with his dissertation. He wants to know: are you influenced by social or ethical factors when buying beer? Are you more likely to purchase a product because it's locally-made, organic, or produced using sustainable practices?

The survey (available in English and Spanishtakes just a few minutes and is totally anonymous, plus it presents some interesting questions about buying behavior. 

Thanks for your help with this project! We'll post results at the end of the study.

What do you think the results will show?

August 7, 2012

Videos: The World of the Pink Elephant

On the blog today, a series of mini-documentaries from Delirium Brewery out of Belgium. They make the famous Delirium Troemens, a Belgian strong ale at 8.5%, labeled with the iconic pink elephant. Perhaps you've tried it.

The videos highlight urban culture, providing commentary on some of the ways we cope with the all-too-often oppressive urban environment. One of the big trade-offs of living in a city is the exposure we get to artists and creative types.

Sure, the videos are pretty blatant marketing, but at least it's cool marketing. I'll take these 2-minute videos over the mindless crap thrust upon us by the big guys any day.

August 4, 2012

In Chicago for Lollapalooza? Try These 7 Local Beers

Photo: Brett Gustafson

So you're in Chi-town for Lollapalooza Music Festival and wondering if there are any local craft beers worth a try. You're in luck  Chicago is a great craft beer city with plenty to choose from. Just don’t try to carry them into the festival – no outside food or drink. You've been warned... 

August 2, 2012

It's IPA Day: 5 Favorites from the Local Beer Blog

Fuller's IPA, in the English style.
Today is International IPA Day, a celebration of what is probably America's most popular style of craft beer, the India Pale Ale.

But the style was not invented in the US. I'll quickly relate its origins:

IPAs emerged way back when, during the height of the British Empire. To satiate her troops abroad, Britain would ship beer to its colonies, most notably India. Utilizing the natural antimicrobial properties of the hop flower, the ale was aggressively hopped with as much as four or five pounds of hops per barrel so that it may survive the long voyage. The style gained popularity in the mid-1800s, then faded away until fairly recently.

August 1, 2012

5 Craft Beer Festivals to Attend This August

It's the first day of August and Fall is in sight! Don't let the summer go by without attending at least one beer festival!

Beer festivals are a great way to get outdoors, spend some quality time with friends, and enjoy some cold microbrews. Here are just a handful of beer festivals happening this August so you can start thinking about where you might soak up some suds this summer:

July 31, 2012

Great American Beer Festival: Pre-Sale Starts Today!

Today marks the beginning of the Member Pre-Sale for the Great American Beer Festival, taking place this October 11-13, in Denver, Colorado.

Members (as of July 27) of the American Homebrewers Association and the Brewers Association may buy tickets starting today at Have your 9-digit member number handy.

Tickets for the general public start August 2nd at 10am MDT.

Tickets include entry to the festival, a festival program, a commemorative tasting cup, and unlimited one-ounce samples from a selection of over 2,000 beers from more than 500 breweries.

Get 'em quick! The 2011 Festival sold out in just 10 days!

Going? Stay up-to-date with the GABF on Twitter and Facebook.

July 23, 2012

Book Review: Eat the City

a book about local food producers in New York City
A Tale of the Fishers, Foragers, Butchers, Farmers, Poultry Minders, Sugar Refiners, Cane Cutters, Beekeepers, Winemakers, and Brewers Who Built New York
Book by: Robin Shulman
Review by: David Ackley

“Food is culture. Food is an art the economy will sustain.” - Tom Mylan, butcher, from Eat the City

Today’s fascination with craft beer is very much part of a larger local food movement. In addition to enthusiasm for local breweries, there is also great interest in locally-produced, artisanal products of all kinds, from wine, cheese, and honey, to vegetables, bourbon, and beef. But who are those people on the other side of the table at the farmer’s market? Who are the people tending urban gardens and working behind the bar at the local brewery?

July 13, 2012

Decatur, GA: Girls Night Out at Brick Store Pub

Today's feature is a guest post by my partner-in-crime, Cristina Hall. She is a marketing consultant and holistic health coach-in-training. She writes about health, cooking, and wellness on her blog, La Solutionista.


As a native of Atlanta, there are a lot of things that I miss about the city while I am away – buying fresh Georgia peaches from a local farmer, shopping at Trader Joe’s, The Wright Gourmet’s Signature Mustard Sauce, drinking SweetWater 420 on draught at Dagwood’s (my all-time favorite pizza place), and of course, my wonderful girlfriends. At the recommendation of a friend who used to work there, I recently visited the Brick Store Pub with three girlfriends for drinks and dinner. Now, I will also miss the amazing beer selection and atmosphere at this relaxed but lively restaurant in Decatur, GA.

Skimming their website beforehand, I was excited to learn that the pub was celebrating its 15th Anniversary with a week-long celebration. That evening they were featuring sour beers, a style recently introduced to me by a friend in Charleston.

July 9, 2012

Richmond, VA: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery has been on the Local Beer Blog radar for some time. They first caught my attention when I heard about the new brewery opening in Richmond, VA. I was then intrigued by the news that they were making a community-hopped IPA. When I read that Hardywood won a Bronze Medal at the World Beer Cup, it was clear that this was a place I needed to visit. I recently had the pleasure of meeting the co-founders at their production brewery in Richmond, VA to discuss their journey into the craft beer business and their various locally-flavored ales.

July 3, 2012

Nashville, TN: Jackalope Brewing Company

Think the beer business is just for boys?

Not quite.

The CEO of New Belgium? Kim Jordan. The founder of Stoudt's? Carol Stoudt. And now, Bailey Spaulding and Robyn Virball are co-founders of Nashville's Jackalope Brewing Company.

What, you've never seen a Jackalope? Lepus temperamentalus is a rare species of deer-rabbit, from the same family as the Treintaycinco three-headed goat. But enough taxonomy, I digress...

Jackalope Brewing Company is situated in downtown Nashville near the intersection of 8th and Division Street. It's just down the road from the Yazoo Taproom and All Seasons homebrew supply shop, and across the street from my favorite beer, wine, and liquor warehouse, Frugal MacDoogal.

We visited the Jackalope Taproom on a Saturday, where a small, but growing crowd of day drinkers was beginning to accumulate. The two DJs spinning tunes in the side room were a nice touch -- this is Music City, after all.

June 30, 2012

Nashville, TN: Craft Beer Bars and Brewpubs in Music City

Next stop after Asheville: Nashville!

Often times when you talk about Asheville people think you say "Nashville" and vice-versa. But where Asheville is Beer City USA, Nashville is undeniably Music City USA. It's an important distinction when comparing the two cities on the craft beer spectrum, but still, Nashville has plenty to offer the craft beer lover, and the options are quickly increasing. It just helps to know where to look.

When I lived in Nashville, Yazoo Brewing was about the only spot on the map. It's still the big contender in Music City, and I definitely recommend stopping by their taproom. Their Imperial Smoked Porter, a beer named Sue, is a must-try.

For this visit, however, I wanted to highlight a few spots around town that might carry Yazoo as well as some other local and regional beers.

June 21, 2012

Asheville, NC: Riverbend Malt House

As reported by the New York Times just last week, small-scale, artisanal malting facilities have started to pop up around the United States. A direct off-shoot of the craft beer explosion of recent years, these malt houses are capitalizing on a surging interest in locally-produced ingredients.

Passing through Asheville, NC, I met up with Brent Manning and Brian Simpson of Riverbend Malt Housea young company producing hand-made, artisan malts from locally-grown barley, rye, and wheat since 2010. Not only does Riverbend work with local farmers to source their grains, they are using traditional floor-malting techniques to resurrect a craft hundreds of years old. Brian and Brent are dedicated to creating a sustainable business and to using organic and non-GMO ingredients as much as possible.

Riverbend Malt House is well-situated in Asheville, with some 15 breweries and brewpubs in the area and more on the way. Add to that the fact that Asheville has either shared or won outright the title of Beer City USA for the past four years. It's the city with the most breweries in the U.S. per capita and the future home of three big-time operations from the West Coast. Being a craft beer locavore, I was interested to see how Brent and Brian had come into this line of work and excited to learn about a day in the life of a maltster.

June 19, 2012

Charleston, SC: Closed for Business

After depositing our spoils from CBX, Cristina and I strolled up King Street to see what other Charleston beers we could find at Closed for Business.  Featured as one of Draft Magazine's Best Beer Bars of 2012, this pub has 42 taps, including select craft beer from across the country and many of the local drafts.  All the beers are available in 10 oz., 16 oz., or 1-Liter servings, and you can also fill up a growler to take home.  Food-wise, Closed for Business prides itself on buying local, sourcing from producers such as Ashley Bakery, Bell Honey, Fresh Pickleworks, Mepkin Abbey, and a number of local farms.

We walked in and started with some Crispy Green Beans (with homemade ranch), a Holy City Weak Sauce Stout, and a Coast HopArt IPA.  The beers were both good, but those green beans were killer...

June 14, 2012

The Charleston Beer Exchange

The Charleston Beer Exchange ought to be a certified craft beer Mecca -- any beer fan passing through the area MUST make a stop here. From the top regional brews to the most obscure beers from around the world, CBX has just about every kind of craft beer you can think of, and then some. They've got hundreds of bottles and cans, more or less arranged by region, plus nine taps at the growler station that change on a regular basis. Stay up to date with what's on tap here.

June 13, 2012

Charleston, SC: Westbrook Brewing Co.

The first stop in Charleston -- literally, the very first stop -- was Westbrook Brewing Company. We were on our way to a dinner, but since I happen to be half-Westbrook myself (mother's side), we just had to visit.

June 11, 2012

Alpharetta, GA: 5 Seasons Restaurant & Brewery

I've been hitting the road pretty hard lately; now it's time to get caught up. This is post #100! Here goes!


For my first brewpub adventure of this state-side road trip, I decided to check out 5 Seasons Restaurant and Brewery. There are three locations in the greater Atlanta area: Westside, Sandy Springs, and Alpharetta. My girlfriend and I went to the Alpharetta location for their weekly Cask Ale tapping (every Thursday at 5:55pm), but also because of the 5 Seasons philosophy that focuses on buying local ingredients and using what's in season:

"At the 5 Seasons we source much of our produce and meats from local and sustainable farms when they are in their peak of flavor.  That is what we call the '5th Season.'  From these wonderful ingredients we prepare a plethora of specials every day."

June 7, 2012

Back in the USA!

USA Craft Beer Map from
After about four months of living in Panama, I am back in the USA for a month to visit friends and family.  I intend to take advantage of this time back in the Southeast to check out some cities both new and familiar, to visit as many breweries and brewpubs as I can, and of course enjoy some great beer and food.

Naturally, about the first thing I wanted to do was go to the good old American grocery store and survey the beer aisle.  (Insert songs of heavenly angels here.)  The selection!  The variety!  Renowned beers from American breweries coast to coast!  IPAs!  I restrained myself and did a build-your-own six pack of some more or less regional beers:

  • Red Brick Hoplanta (GA) - "Hoppier than a bullfrog with a stubbed toe!"
  • Sweetwater Georgia Brown (GA) - "Smoother than a Bill Clinton apology!"
  • Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale (DE) - "A cross between a Scotch Ale, an India Pale Ale and an American Brown, Indian Brown Ale is well-hopped and malty at the same time (It's magical!)."
  • Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (DE) - "60 Minute IPA is continuously hopped -- more than 60 hop additions over a 60-minute boil."
  • Sweetwater Exodus Porter (GA) - "First brewed on Bob Marley’s birthday, this Legend-ary porter initially delivers distinct irie hop notes which transcend into rich waves of chocolate, creating a multidimensional taste experience!"
  • Abita Jockamo IPA (LA) - "The flavor is bold like the Mardi Gras Indians who march through New Orleans in suits of feathers and beads."

Let this mark the beginning of an excellent state-side adventure!

Beer, glorious beer!

June 6, 2012

Costa Rica: Treintaycinco - La Fábrica Artesanal de Cervezas

cerveceria treintaycinco costa rica
Some people say you must be insane to try to make craft beer in Costa Rica. Well, the guys at Treintaycinco may very well be crazy, but I think they're onto something.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Ignacio Castro Cortinas, one of the founding members of Treintaycinco, a small craft brewery soon to hit the market. Treintaycinco is a trio of Venezuelans made up of Ignacio, his best friend from college, and his brother-in-law. At first they were told they were nuts to try it, that Ticos would never get past drinking Imperial. OK, fine: they're doing it anyways, with attitude and a distinctive local flavor. Their venture is currently located just outside of San Jose in the town of Escazú, where Nathanael Montaño does most of the brewing, and Ignacio and Luis Alfredo "Frito" Araque focus on branding and recipe development.

My first question was, how did they come up with the name Treintaycinco?

May 30, 2012

Colorado Beer Vacation

Beer tourism is one of those trends picking up some steam, a way for non-professional craft beer enthusiasts to get a piece of the action.

Lately, Zephyr Adventures has been on my radar.  They put on the Beer Blogger Conference and also maintain the most comprehensive list of beer bloggers I know.  Zephyr is joining Draft Magazine, New Belgium Brewing, Untappd, and World Class Beer to give away a couple spots on their Colorado Hike, Bike, Beer and Brewpubs Adventure in October, which includes:

  • stops at Walnut Brewery, Boulder Beer Company, Coopersmith's Pub, New Belgium, Estes Park Brewery, Wynkoop Brewery
  • hikes or bike rides every day
  • tix to the Great American Beer Festival
  • all accommodations
  • most meals
  • Did I mention the Great American Beer Festival?!

Now that sound like an awesome trip (yes, this is my own attempt to win a spot and I'll be praying I win), but I want to ask you, readers, what would make an ideal beer vacation for you?  Is it the destination, the beer, the activities?  Or is it the combination of all of the above, creating an unforgettable, once in a lifetime experience?

Ready, set, discuss on Facebook.  And 'Like' the Local Beer Blog if you haven't done so already.  I'd really appreciate it.

Stay tuned for something fresh, but a little crazy from Costa Rica.


May 27, 2012

Panama: La Rana Dorada

The craft beer scene in Panama remains small, but one of the major players right now is without a doubt La Rana Dorada. Run by the same people behind Colombia's hugely successful Bogota Beer Company, "The Golden Frog" has two locations that feature their four "cervezas artesanales con personalidad." That's "craft beer with personality" for all my gringo friends.

May 26, 2012

Panama: Istmo Brew Pub

Last night I visited Panama City's very first craft brewery: Istmo Brew Pub.  Established in 2005, they've got four cervezas de la casa, each named for a province in Panama: Colón, Coclé, Chiriquí, Veraguas.  I'll translate the best I can from the Istmo website:

  • Colón: Golden color with an excellent malt flavor, agreeable aroma, and a big hop flavor; traditional, but with body
  • Coclé: Dark color provided by caramel and black malts; thick body with a light coffee flavor, and balanced bitterness
  • Chiriquí: Deep golden color, refreshing, with a touch of caramel malt and a light smoky flavor
  • Veraguas: Copper in color, with a great body.  Its refined caramel and well-balanced flavor is obtained through a variety of malts and the use of fine hops.

May 19, 2012

Costa Rica: Volcano Brewing Company

[Update: On August 28, 2013, Volcano Brewing Company will close their Arenal location and relocate to Playa Tamarindo.]

One of the big players in Costa Rica's rapidly growing craft beer scene, Volcano Brewing Company offers artisanal beer and spectacular views in a relaxed atmosphere. As part of our trip to the Costa Rica Craft Beer Festival, my girlfriend and I decided to make a beer-cation of it and check it out...

May 16, 2012

The Local Beer Blog Turns 1!

A year ago today, I was sitting in a Nashville coffeeshop and wondering what to do with my life when it hit me: "Hmm, beer writing.  That sounds like a sweet gig.  Wait a minute -- that's something I can do right now."  No resumes, no job applications, just a few minutes on Blogger to set it up.  The Local Beer Blog was born and I began with a review of Yazoo Brewing Company's Dos Perros.

I look back now and see how my writing has developed over the past year.  I think about the places the blog has taken me, and that I've taken the blog.  The beer festivals, the brewery tours, the multitude of mind-blowing meals...

I've reported directly from eight states (plus D.C.) and three countries, though in my nearly 100 posts I've referenced twice as many.  I've written about more beers and beer styles than I'd care to count, but that doesn't make any of them less special.  I am thankful for the occasional guest post that helped me get through those times when I didn't feel like writing.

The beer festivals stand out in the memory bank.  Volunteering at the American Craft Beer Festival and Nova BrewFest proved to be well worth my time.  Serving my own homebrew at the Homebrew for Hunger event in North Carolina was a blast and really confirmed that my passion was in the right place.  Most recently, I had the pleasure of attending the first ever craft beer festival in Costa Rica.  Being able to participate in the birth of a movement and having my reviews quoted in the Costa Rica Star...what a thrill.

In November of 2011 I went to Chicago, IL, for "beer school" -- aka the Siebel Institute of Technology -- which really got me thinking about the business of beer.  In January of 2012 I made the big move to Panama, where I tried my hand at organizing and executing my very first beer event, laying down a foundation for more events to come.

The inevitable question that follows this line of thinking is, "Where do we go from here?"

In the coming weeks I have a variety of posts planned on craft beer culture and homebrewing in Costa Rica and Panama.  Next month, I will return the US for several weeks, so keep an eye out for articles from Atlanta, GA, Charleston, SC, Asheville, NC, Nashville, TN, Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, to name a few.  Suggestions are always welcome -- leave a comment if you have anything you'd like to read about.

Lately, I've been working to improve my social media presence.  I've got some fancy social media buttons over there on the left and a new Local Beer Blog page on Facebook.  Get in there and follow, post, like, comment, and, most importantly, share with your friends.

It's hard to tell exactly where the Local Beer Blog will be a year from now, but you can count on many more festivals, tours, reviews, and beer adventures ahead.

Many thanks for reading -- now go have a beer.  Cheers!

May 14, 2012

BeerCity USA 2012: It's a tie!

Voting is closed and the winners have been chosen: Asheville, NC, and Grand Rapids, MI, will share the title of BeerCity USA 2012!

This is Asheville's fourth year in a row winning this distinction; it's the first time for Grand Rapids.  Keep an eye out for some Local Beer Blog reporting from Asheville in mid-June.

Click here for the full report from Charlie Papazian.

To my readers in the US - have an incredible American Craft Beer Week!  Be sure to check to see how your local brewery is celebrating and give them some support!


May 10, 2012

4 Easy Ways to Use Spent Grain

For everyone who celebrated National Homebrew Day on Saturday, this one's for you:

One issue that most brewers have to deal with is spent grains. After mashing your grains with water to draw out the fermentable sugars, what do you do with all that leftover grist? While some breweries are happy to give the grains away to farmers for livestock feed, others are forced to just throw it away.

After my recent brew day, I tried four different ways to reuse that spent grain:

May 7, 2012

Get your vote on: BeerCity USA 2012

The taps at organic Pisgah Brewing, a stone's throw
from Asheville, NC.
In case you haven't already done so, go ahead and get your vote in for the BeerCity USA 2012 poll.  Any beer fan can vote, with a limit of one vote per computer.

Asheville, NC, is the reigning champion and, at the time of writing, has a narrow lead over Grand Rapids, MI.

The fact that this past week's Craft Brewer's Conference and World Beer Cup were held in San Diego, CA, should be considered, though one might also want to check out Food Republic's Craft Beer Power Rankings, which include representation from ten breweries in six different states.

I just made it harder to choose, didn't I?

May 6, 2012

Announced: World Beer Cup 2012 Winners

This just in:

Winners of the 2012 World Beer Cup, a.k.a. "the Olympics of Beer Competition," have just been announced by the Brewers Association.  Brewers around the world are surely celebrating with a Sunday brew!

Special shout outs to some of the breweries from my travels:
  • Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Richmond, VA
    • Category 6: Herb and Spice Beer
      • Bronze Medal: Hardywood Gingerbread Stout
  • Blue Mountain Brewery, Afton, VA
    • Category 17: American-Belgo-Style Ale
      • Silver Medal: Blue Reserve
  • Devils Backbone Brewing Co., Roseland, VA
    • Category 35: Vienna-Style Lager
      • Gold Medal: Vienna Lager
  • Boscos Brewing Co., Memphis, TN
    • Category 52: German-Style Pale Wheat Ale
      • Gold Medal: Boscos Hefeweizen
  • Revolution Brewing, Chicago, IL
    • Category 66: English-Style Summer Ale
      • Gold Medal: Cross of Gold
    • Category 94: American-Style Stout,
      • Gold Medal: Rise American Stout
  • The Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
    • Category 79: British-Style Imperial Stout
      • Bronze Medal: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

It's a big world of beer out there!  Check out the full list of winners here.

May 2, 2012

Awesome Video of the Day

I remember traveling around Germany when I went to Oktoberfest in 2006.  Drinking a .5L Erdinger Weiss-brau in Munich, where they've been making beer for hundreds of years... it's an experience I won't soon forget.

In today's newsletter from Brooklyn's Sixpoint Brewery, founder Shane Welch and brewmaster Jan Matysiak take us for a ride through Bavaria, which some might call the birthplace of beer as we know it -- i.e., beer made with hops.  The video celebrates the release of Apollo, a wheat ale made with a traditional Bavarian yeast and filtered for clarity.  In Deutsch, a kristalweizen.

Crank the video in HD, if you dare...

Anyone up for Oktoberfest 2013?  Hell, how about 2012?

May 1, 2012

Recyclebank: Buddhist temple built with beer bottles

I think Heineken should bring back those interlocking brick-shaped bottles.  Check it out at

VA: 5th Annual BrewRidge Music & Craft Beer Festival

In the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of my home state, this weekend is the 5th Annual BrewRidge Music & Craft Beer Festival in Pembroke, VA.  Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at the Mountain Lake Conservancy with five Virginia microbreweries and live bluegrass music.  There's nothing quite like live music and craft beer in a beautiful setting.

Breweries in attendance will be Williamsburg Alewerks (Williamsburg, VA), Jefferson Street Brewery (Lynchburg, VA), The River Company (Radford, VA), Wolf Hills Brewery (Abingdon, VA), and Lost Rhino Brewing Company (Ashburn, VA).

More info on the Mountain Lake Conservancy website.

Buy your tickets here.

Now, if we could just get some bluegrass here in Panama...

April 29, 2012 The Best Brewpub in America

Right now on, you have an opportunity to vote for the best brewpub in America.  I've been to three of the eight still in the running: the Wrecking Bar in Atlanta, Cambridge Brewing Company in Massachusetts, Revolution Brewing in Chicago.

These are some tough choices!

Vote every day through the final round May 8 - 15.

April 28, 2012

WA: Churchkey Can Company

You know it's big when even the celebs are getting on board.

Are you a fan of the HBO show Entourage?  Inc. and Techcrunch report that actor Adrian Grenier is a co-founder of Churchkey Can Company, a brewery start-up out of the Seattle area.  Their "shtick" is nostalgia for something most of us don't remember.  Instead of packaging in standard beer cans, Churchkey throws back to the old-style flat top beer can that you have to open with the pointy end of a can opener.  So that's what it's for...

The Washington Beer Blog tells us more about Churchkey Can Company and its interesting arrangement with the brewery next door.

So far Churchkey is keeping it local.  It can currently be found in these locations in Portland and Seattle.

April 26, 2012

Costa Rica: La Primera Festival Cerveza Artesanal

While craft beer is taking the US by storm, the movement in other parts of the world is just starting to gain momentum. This past Saturday was the first ever Festival Cerveza Artesanal in Costa Rica, organized by the small but growing community of craft breweries, homebrewers, retailers, and enthusiasts in this Latin American country known for its ecotourism and laid back, Pura Vida attitude. (Pura Vida translates to "the good life" or "the pure life" and can be used to say hello, goodbye, or in response to the question "how's it going?")

The festival was held outdoors on the swanky shopping strip Avenida Escazú, in a suburb of San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. The weather was perfect, with a good mix of both Ticos and foreigners arriving for the event right on time.

April 15, 2012

Esquire: Beer and Cheese Pairing Guide

Trying to figure out what to pair with your suds this spring?  Check out this Beer and Cheese Pairing Guide from Esquire Magazine for a few ideas.

We tried the hefeweizen/chevre combo for the Una Noche de Cerveza beer dinner and it was a huge hit.

Hungry yet?  Learn more about beer and cheese pairings on

April 12, 2012

Finally: Homebrewing in Panama!

At long last -- after a good ten weeks of buying, importing, and smuggling equipment and ingredients, I am officially homebrewing in Panama!

This also marks my first exploit into all-grain brewing. Instead of using a combination of malt extract and grains, all-grain brewing obtains fermentable sugars exclusively from malted grains. I used the "Brew in a Bag" (BIAB) method for this first attempt, eliminating the need for a big pieces of equipment: a mash tun. Instead of mashing the grain in one container and boiling the wort with another, the Brew in a Bag method allows you to do everything in one vessel.

First, let me introduce you to a few of my new toys:

Delaware Online: A behind-the-scenes tour of Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton

I've been to the Dogfish Head Alehouse, but I have yet to visit the production brewery in Delaware.  This article by Patricia Talorico really makes me want to check it out:

A behind-the-scenes tour of Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton

About the author:
Patricia Talorico is the deputy features editor of The News Journal. She has written for USA Today and The Washington Post and been a contributor to Bon Appetit. Talorico has twice been nominated for James Beard Foundation Awards for best feature writing.

April 10, 2012

This Weekend in Virginia: New River Brewfest

Festival season is certainly upon us.

Six great breweries from my home state of Virginia will be featured this weekend at the New River Brewfest in Radford, VA.

Saturday, April 14

$20 in advance/$25 at the gate

Participating breweries:

Bull & Bones

The River Company

Lost Rhino

Starr Hill

Legend Brewing Company

April 9, 2012

Announced: First Ever Costa Rican Microbrewery Festival

I'm telling ya, craft beer is becoming a world-wide phenomenon.  The people want it fresh and they want it local.

Costa Rica is just a little ahead of Panama in terms of craft beer, with five or so microbreweries to Panama's three. The festival, which takes place April 21, is sure to be a good time.  Anyone want to spot my airfare?

Click here for the festival website.

UPDATE [May 25, 2012]: Yes, I made it to the festival and it was awesome.  Check out my review of the festival here.

Also, I got quoted in the Costa Rica Star!

April 8, 2012

Panama Brews Part 3: Una Noche de Cerveza

Last week, I teamed up with a couple other expats (Katie Garstin & Blayne Ladner) to present Una Noche de Cerveza. The mission: to jump-start craft beer culture in Panama City with an exclusive beer pairing dinner. Blayne generously opened up the Super Gourmet for the evening while Katie and I put together a menu consisting of four courses and five, 6-ounce beers to accompany each course: