– Brian Allen
The level of buzz is starting to rise for the Free The Hops' Beer Tasting in Huntsville. This will be the first tasting in Huntsville for the organization.
It is a great opportunity to try beers NOT available within Alabama due to the prohibition era laws. The laws in Alabama define beer as follows:
BEER, or MALT OR BREWED BEVERAGES. Any beer, lager beer, ale, porter, malt or brewed beverage, or similar fermented malt liquor containing one-half of one percent or more of alcohol by volume and not in excess of five percent alcohol by weight and six percent by volume, by whatever name the same may be called.
Free The Hops wants to change this law to allow speciality beers in this state. Many speciality beer are over 6% in alcohol by volume and we want to raise that limit to 14.9%.
You to can join the cause at Free The Hops. If you join, you will get to help bring great beer to Alabamians and you can join us at our tastings.
Finally, we are having beer tasting in Huntsville. About every other month, the Free The Hops organization has a beer tasting for its members.
The idea is to bring a friend to find out about the organization and bring a beer that you can't get in Alabama due to the laws.
Karen and I had a great time at the festival. The night before, I ran into the Foothills Brewing guys as they arrived at the Marriott. They were surprised to see me in Knoxville. They are great guys and they have a great set of beers.
Things got going slowly the morning of the festival. Karen’s back was killing her more than normal, but she ran through her exercises and I helped where I could. (I get to bend her to put things back where they go.)
We headed out for lunch and we settled at the Downtown Grill & Brewery. Karen had the pecan crusted trout and I had the Quesadilla. The food was great and we had a long talk the general manager about the brewery, the beer festival, and where to get good beer in Knoxville. I wish I could remember his name, but thanks for good advice on the where to get good beer.
Karen and I headed off to the Leaf & Ale to pick some beer for trip back to Huntsville. We found a great selection including many beers that would be available at the festival.
We arrived back the Marriot and waited for the transportation to the festival. Our driver, KA, was late, but we all did arrive at the festival in due time. We learned that everyone had ‘Will-Call” tickets which meant we had a line, but there was no line for purchasing tickets at the gate. Maybe next year, we can arrange for the tickets to be at the hotel.
After walking through the gate, we ran into Brian from the New Knoxville Brewing Company. He accused us of stalking him from beer festival to beer festival. (Could be?)
Alltech’s Lexington Brewing Company had great beer called Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale which is aged in spent bourbon casks. Here you can see Karen waiting as it is being poured. It gave the ale a mellow bourbon’s oaky over tone.
We enjoyed Rogue Ales‘ Hazelnut Brown Nectar way too much.
Foothills Brewery‘s Oktoberfest was super. It is one of the best Oktoberfest that I have had this season.
The Tennessee Valley Homebrewer’s Association had a great selection of well made brews. We had a stout and kolsch which were both very good.
The first two musical acts were okay, but they were a little too garage band or college fraternity party for me. The next two acts, Scott Miller & The Commonwealth preceded by Mic Harrison and The High Score, were good. I enjoyed Scott Miller’s clean vocal stylings. You can checkout Scott Miller & The Commonwealth on iTunes.
Karen and I had a great time at the festival. The festival was moved to the river front which greatly improved the festival. In past years, the festival was held in a black asphalt parking lot which was unbelievable hot. This year the festival added another type of ticket called the VIP Pass. The VIP pass provided free food and beer. Holders of the VIP pass were also provide access to the brewers areas. The number of brewers ended up being 24 with many being new or reopened breweries.
The New Knoxville Brewing Company pictured here was our first beers to try. Karen had their Hefeweizen while I had the Pale Ale. We eventually tried all of them and especially enjoyed the English Brown Ale. The next morning as we were packing our car, Brian and rest of the crew from the New Knoxville Brewing Company stopped to talk and gave us two six packs. Great!
The Foot-Hills Brewing Co. was another great group of guys. They cut us a break on the price of their shirts after they heard I collected them. The shirt each featured a different beer and color. Some of the guys where wearing the shirt in the booth on the left in this picture.
The Brewers area was great. Big River Grille & Brewing catered the area with ribs, hamburgers, Jalapeño Spinach Cheese Dip with Chips, and draft beer of course. You can see by my picture it was great food.
Some of high lights of the beers are Sweetwater’s Blue, Asheville Brewing Company’s Houdini ESP, Carolina Beer & Beverage’s Pumpkin Ale, Foot-Hills Brewing Company’s Total Eclipse Stout, New Knoxville Brewing Company’s English Brown Ale, and A1A Ale Work’s Orange Blossom Honey Ale. These beers were some of the best at the festival.
Some of low points in the beers are Zuma Brewing Company’s Cancun Lager and New Knoxville Brewing Company’s Hefeweizen.
Karen and I have started the day with a bike ride in search of breakfast. We found “The Tin Roof Bistro” which serves breakfast from 7 AM to 2 PM. And, it has a balcony with a view of the Tennessee River and Walnut Street Bridge. Karen ate her favorite breakfast of grits, but she went up a notch and added a bowl of fruit. I had the waffles with mint butter.
Now with carbo-loading done, we headed back to the festival area to check on setup progress. We talked with Mary Kilbride who we were told is in charge. Mary gave us the low down and we were able to pass along some of our ideas for how to improve the festival. This year the festival has a VIP section which provides free food and beer along with special seating over the river.
Karen and I arrived for the Southern Brewers Festival early on Friday after spending way to many hours at Unclaimed Baggage located in Scottsboro, Alabama. (We now have another digital camera and more.) We decided to ride around town and enjoy the scenery including a ride by the festival area. This year the festival is at the Tennessee River edge.
We ended up at Big River Grille & Brewing eating the Classic Combo which has great. The Classic Combo is made up of Jalapeño Spinach Cheese Dip with Chips, Buffalo Wings, and Chicken Springs Rolls. Karen had the Sweat Magnolia Brown Ale and I had the seasonal Summer Wheat. The brown ale won the 1998 Gold at the Great American Beer Festival. She describe the brown as not too nutty, but balanced with chocolate tones in the finish. The beer’s head was nice, but quickly dissipated. The beer had a medium body and little aromatic. The wheat beer has lightly fruity with a good mouth feel. The beer was rich for a wheat, but it was still very balanced. Its taste was very similar to Pyramid Brewing’s Hefeweizen Beers, which is one of best hefeweizen.
Later for dinner, we headed to Mellow Mushroom for pizza and beer. Karen and I love pizza and Mellow Mushroom is one of the best around. They are also known for having a large beer selection and this location was no exception. We had a nice variety with Spaten Munich, Whittekerke, Falls City, and Monty Python’s Holy Grail Ale.
Only 10 days to go!
We want to take our bikes this year to the beer festival. Well, Karen's trailer hitch has arrived for her new car. It will be installed this weekend. Chattanooga is a beautiful area and riding our bikes will allow us to take in more of the city.
One place that I love to stop by is the Pickle Barrel. It is a cool shaped building and has great sandwiches and pickles, too. At night, they have bands. You can dine on the roof, but mid-day roof dining can be hot and muggy.
Karen and I back from the last trip and setting our sights on the next which will be the Southern Brewers Festival.
It is schedules for September 10th, 2005.