Browsing articles tagged with " beer festivals"
Mar 18, 2015
Freddie Kitson

Three Raleigh friends have found that beer makes good communities

David Meeker picked the wrong route.

For the last minute, he’s sat still in his 2006 Honda Accord, except for his head, which he turns to scan four lanes of traffic on Raleigh’s busy, curving Western Boulevard. Meeker starts to ease forward twice only to stop, look again and find that someone else is approaching from the other side.

At last, he sighs and asks for advice: “Les,” he says, glancing into his rearview mirror, “how do you get from the new Trophy to the old Trophy?”

The original Trophy Brewing Company, where Meeker is headed, sits on West Morgan Street. Head brewer Les Stewart runs the cramped nanobrewery, which cannot spit out beer fast enough to meet the mounting demand. Trophy’s second location, a 28,700-square-foot facility that will open two miles away on Maywood Avenue late this year, will increase Trophy’s production of 618 barrels to 4,000 a year.

Meeker, its 31-year-old co-owner, is overseeing the construction on this project, four times the size of anything he’s ever pursued. A real estate agent, developer and property manager, he learned the trade while helping his father, former Raleigh mayor and downtown revitalizer Charles Meeker, renovate homes in the Boylan Heights neighborhood, where he was raised. He’s learned most everything else on the job.

(Disclosure: David Meeker is the nephew of Richard Meeker, who co-owns the INDY. Richard Meeker had no input or advance notice of this article.)

“There are huge companies putting money into Raleigh, but it’s still at a size where young people can have this huge impact. I feel like downtown can continue to grow, like I have a career here for 30 years,” Meeker says. “There is a lot of energy that we can not just benefit from but be a part of.”

During the last five years, in fact, Meeker, his business partners Chris Powers and Woody Lockwood, and a group of managers, employees and confidants he terms “the team” have been an essential part of that energy. Together, they have become the city’s leading crew of young, local developers, a trio of self-starters that no one seems eager to criticize—a rarity in their contentious field. They seem not only interested in their profit margins but also in the communities they help build, the goods-and-services gaps they help fill and the spaces they help revitalize.

All of their enterprises have bloomed in underdeveloped or deserted parts of town. Unlike the incoming glut of high-rise condominiums and apartments that consume most any open lot or vacant building, the team pursues projects and locations because they’re responding to a perceived community need.

“These were never places that you just happened upon. Making them destinations is part of creating energy downtown,” explains Ashley Christensen. The chef leases the space that houses three of her restaurants—Chuck’s, Beasley’s and Fox Liquor Bar—from Meeker. “It’s having a place that leads people across streets they haven’t been down before. That can energize a whole block.”

The upcoming Trophy expansion is only the latest in a string of businesses the partnership has opened following the unexpected success of their first downtown Raleigh venture, the Busy Bee Cafe. When Meeker talks about the larger Trophy—or any of his projects—he explains not why or how it’s going to make money but why and how it’s going to integrate with its community.

The Busy Bee added vitality to a downtown row that was largely empty. The first Trophy turned a small strip mall that had long underserved the cheap apartments across the street into a reliable hangout. And the dual, inviting storefronts of State of Beer and Runologie brighten a dim, dull and forgotten section of Hillsborough Street.

The three men chose Trophy’s new sprawling spot, in part, for pragmatic reasons; Powers, for instance, lives nearby should something go wrong. And Stewart is excited to be so close to the Farmers Market—not because of the business it may generate but because of the produce he could buy. He already picks up peaches for a saison there, and he hopes to do more business with his new neighbors. Farmers who can use the brewery’s overload of spent grain—the leftovers from the brewing process—to feed livestock won’t need to drive far to collect it.

But their reasons soon jump to the romantic, even visionary: Between the city’s recent acquisition of the neighboring Dorothea Dix Campus, a planned development of more than 50 modern homes just across the street and the energy of N.C. State’s nearby Centennial expansion, Meeker sees this section as a potential outgrowth of the city’s still-developing center.

Meeker worries about the gentrification inherent in such moves—that is, buy a piece of property in a cheap section of the city, upgrade it and in effect force out those who were already there. Half of the original Trophy, for instance, is in the former space of a busy bail bonds office that was looking to relocate; Meeker simply let the company out of its lease. He has encouraged the remaining businesses to make changes more consistent with the nanobrewery next door—for the convenience store to transition from malt liquor to craft beer and for the laundromat to open on Sunday. They’ve yet to listen, and he’s OK with that: It’s each owners’ prerogative, not his.

“What is our role as a landlord?” he says. “Those are hard conversations to have. You have to handle them with care, but also realize that there is a business behind it. At some point, we have to pay the mortgage.”

Jeff Leiter doesn’t think that will be a problem with the second Trophy. Since 2010, Leister and his wife, Carrie Knowles, have lived across the street in Caraleigh Mills, a 19th-century textile mill converted into condominiums. The president of the homeowners association, Leister knows the value that a business like Trophy might bring the area.

“There’s a high density of opportunities to buy fish in this neighborhood,” says Leister, referring to the fish markets that sit at either end of the street and a nearby seafood restaurant. “But Trophy will encourage the momentum toward more amenities and what goes along with a residential area. I have not talked with anyone at Caraleigh Mills who is not happy with the investment those guys are making here—and for good reason.”

Meeker, Powers and Lockwood, then, have discovered the power of beer as a neighborhood maker.

“If the businesses do well, and you don’t take out a lot of money from it, you use the profit to do another project. And that’s what’s happening,” Meeker says. “The Busy Bee still does fine, but having two places is better than one, so we have Trophy. Then we have the third, State of Beer, so we can open the fourth. That ball is starting to roll.”

It’s nearly 9 o’clock on a Sunday night, and every few minutes, Woody Lockwood takes another sip from a paper cup of coffee. In half an hour, every employee of the Busy Bee Cafe will show up for the company’s quarterly, late-night deep cleaning. Hopefully, says Lockwood, they’ll finish early enough so that he and Powers have time to start a tab next door at the dive bar Slim’s and buy everyone a few rounds.

Powers and Lockwood are accustomed to these hours: When the Busy Bee opened in 2009, they both lived nearby, so working almost-around-the-clock seemed somehow convenient. The place began as a combination coffee shop, bar and restaurant; someone was in the building for about 22 hours each day.

“We didn’t count the hours, because it was, ‘You go home and take a nap, because when you get up, you’re coming back to close this place. When you get back, I’ll take a nap and open the place in the morning,’” remembers Lockwood. “We knew there could be an end to that, but we didn’t know when.”

Powers and Lockwood met and became friends in 2001, when they worked at a string of bars and restaurants in the city’s Glenwood South district. They rose through the ranks quickly and soon started talking about a space of their own. They would wander the then-vacant downtown, peering through the cracks of boarded windows and daydreaming about a bar they could start.

Around the same time, Meeker returned from college in Houston, where he’d gone in part to escape the shadow and stigma of being the mayor’s son. He took a job handling permits and leases with Greg Hatem’s Empire Properties, the company that owned The Raleigh Times and was busy becoming the magpie of vacant city properties. On the side, Meeker renovated four houses in east Raleigh and sold them, slowly building a plan to start his own development business.

He’d taken careful notes from Hatem, the Empire Properties founder and downtown Raleigh development kingpin. Hatem not only owns millions of dollars in real estate but several restaurants, like The Raleigh Times and Sitti, that occupy many of his properties. Those stem from partnerships with select chefs and, in the case of Sitti, the Lebanese restaurant Neomonde. Meeker saw that model—use profits from one endeavor to fund the next one, ad infinitum—as the steady way to build his own smaller empire.

“If you’re a young, hopeful developer, like I wanted to be, but you have no source of income, how do you do the second project? You do one, and you have a business paying rent. But you make $500 a month. How do you survive?” he says. “I had to be involved in the business to make the numbers work. It’s the only way to grow. “

But Meeker made an essential, early adjustment to that strategy after he met Lockwood and Powers, who had taken a bartending job at The Raleigh Times to learn about opening a business downtown: He buys only the property they can use together, as a team. And rather than seeking out new partners, he builds businesses only with them. (He is Christensen’s landlord, not a business partner.)

“When we meet with David, he’s not so overwhelmed by the stuff we are overwhelmed with—someone didn’t enjoy their meal, we have to run payroll, a server quit,” Lockwood explains. “He’s able to look at the bigger picture and keep us moving forward; our progress would have been slower without that.”

For instance, Meeker and his wife, Kimberlie, have each run at least 20 marathons. Even before they married in 2013, they discussed turning that hobby into a job by opening a running store. When they finally found the right space in the perfect location, the building was twice the size they needed. David pitched Powers and Lockwood on the idea of opening a bottle shop, which they’d never considered. Eight months later, Runologie and State of Beer—a sandwich-and-bottle shop with a bar—both welcomed their first customers. Side by side on a neglected portion of Hillsborough Street, they share storage spaces, a street front and parking.

“Without them taking that space, Runologie wouldn’t have happened. We couldn’t have handled the rent,” says Kimberlie, a residential real estate agent whose marathon time is three minutes shy of qualifying for the U.S. Olympic trials. “They were willing to take half.”

That cooperative approach has driven every expansion. Powers and Lockwood never intended to own a brewery—or any second location, for that matter—until they discovered that it could help fulfill their interests as bar owners. Traveling between beer festivals, they noticed that several styles weren’t yet available in North Carolina. They approached breweries and asked for something specific, under the condition they would buy the whole batch. And to obtain beer that had been aged in a liquor barrel, they would buy or bargain for discarded barrels, stuff them into a car and drive them to breweries as far away as Florida.

“We were killing ourselves doing that, putting in so much work just to get the beer back. We realized we should just start saving and do this ourselves,” says Powers. Busy Bee had just begun to turn a profit, so they began to fantasize about locations and prospective beer names. “We went to David and said, ‘We want to grow.’”

Four years later, they’ve only started to get there. Standing in what he optimistically calls Trophy’s “barrel room,” head brewer Les Stewart points to four barrels of aging beer, wedged behind mountains of folded and unfolded white pizza boxes and mounds of plastic bags that hold clean kitchen rags. The space is a glorified closet. Stewart scans the mess, laughs nervously and explains that, in the bigger brewery, they’ll have an entire section customized for aging beer.

And the main room, where the beer is made, is so crowded that a photo of Stewart’s family, appended to an electrical box with a magnet, is the only personal relic in sight. They’ve added two beer fermenters inside and a tall, sparkling silo outside, freeing up floor space that once held bags of grain.

“We’ve used every square inch,” Stewart says. “Now, it’s time to meet the demand.”

All this focus on community might sound like the rhetorical work of a plotting politician, especially coming from a mayor’s son. Unless someone else initiates it, though, Meeker doesn’t talk about his father’s work. He didn’t mention it to Kimberlie until they’d known each other for months.

When he does discuss politics, he reveals a certain level of disdain for the bureaucratic process, like the long battles his father had over parking spaces in order to make significant city decisions. Meeker despises that sort of hands-off approach. He is a natural project manager, someone who prints out agendas before weekly meetings, speaks about construction timelines with scrutiny and specificity, and asks for advice early in any process.

Paired with Powers and Lockwood, that approach continues to pay off. Six years after opening, The Busy Bee is now one of downtown’s landmark restaurants and, according to Draft Magazine, one of the 100 best beer bars in America. On sticky, sweaty summer nights, the line for its upstairs dance-club counterpart, The Hive, stretches beyond neighboring businesses.

Trophy, located in a long, thin brick building that overlooks train tracks and North Carolina’s Central Prison, has become known for its unorthodox pizzas and craft beers. On any balmy weekend night, it’s nearly impossible to find a seat indoors or outdoors. The same fate seems likely for State of Beer.

And with space for a taproom, restaurant, offices, gardens, special events and a brewery powered by a custom $450,000 system that the team drove to Wisconsin to design with a team of veteran welders, the new Trophy will at last allow the brand to move beyond making beer sold onsite and toward national distribution.

“None of our houses cost that much. Why didn’t we just go buy two houses?” Meeker says, laughing. “For the four of us—Les, Chris, Woody and me—to be purchasing something like that is just crazy. Hopefully, it will all pay off.”

The ultimate vision for the new Trophy is ambitious: a 100-barrel brewing system, more than 30 times bigger than what they now run in the original location. Stewart admits this may be hyperbole. Meeker says it might be a decade away.

“What I do is really simple, no expertise: Keep the ball moving every day,” he says. “Never have weeks where nothing happens.”

Meeker will need to learn the quickest route from one Trophy to the next.

This article appeared in print with the headline “Second empire.” Correction: The president of Caraleigh Mills’ homeowners association is named Jeff Leiter.

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Mar 16, 2015
Freddie Kitson

FirkFest Brings Weird Cask Ales to OC…Again

firkfest.jpgPhoto by Brian FeinzimerPour away!
Drinking cask beer is different than drinking any other craft beer. Instead of the conventional brewing process, which typically ends in filtration, carbon dioxide treatment and kegs, casking gets very specific and very spontaneous very quickly.

Cask beer–a British-born style–undergoes a second fermentation in the vessel from which it is served, and during this process, brewers add additional ingredients to create a beer neither they nor their customers have ever tasted. Things get weird with cask beer, so it’s no wonder why Greg Nagel of OC Beer Blog decided to put together an entire festival dedicated to these romantic one-offs.

After noticing the hype around cask beer releases at past beer festivals, Nagel decided the style merited its own day of celebration. This year marks the second installment of the festival–named after “firkin,” an 8-gallon vessel used for cask beers. The festivities will take place next Saturday, March 21 from noon to 4 p.m. at Farmers Park in Anaheim and will host over 50 dif-ferent cask beers from 30 SoCal breweries.

“It’s my chance to showcase Orange County as OC Beer Blog,” says Nagel.

Orange County beer has grown dramatically in the last two years. We’ve witnessed the opening of breweries like Bottle Logic Brewing, Beach City Brewery, and Barley Forge Brewing Co., with only signs of growth for the future. By bringing Firkfest to Orange County, Nagel intro-duced a taste of tradition.

Although English tradition of brewing cask beer or “real ale” calls for brewing milds, bitters, browns and British pale ales, SoCal brewers take their inventiveness to new heights with during Firkfest.

Traditionally, real ales top off at around 3 to 5 percent ABV, but here on the west coast, our beer culture tends to call for higher ABVs and crazier formulas for these one-off sensations.

This year’s Firkfest line up includes brews like Barley Forge’s Chocolate Milk Stout with cher-ries and cocoa nibs, a vegan-friendly Denver Jackhammer DIPA with Chinook flowers from Beachwood BBQ Brewery, and Good Beer Company’s Hi-Tea Bravo wheat beer with cran-berry, hibiscus, pomegranate, tropical fruit and Brettanomyces bacteria.

But while most brewers relish the opportunity to play around with funky flavors, MacLeod Ale Brewing Co. and OC’s very own Noble Ale Works aim to pay homage to the traditional British-style cask ales. While MacLeod serves all traditional UK-style cask beer all the time from their young brewery in Van Nuys, Noble Ale Works almost never brews anything to style, except for this.

“We love British beer,” says Noble Brewmaster Evan Price, “so Greg putting on this Firkfest thing is really exciting because it raises awareness on different stuff that’s out there but more im-portantly a fun way to experience beer.”

While Price is better known for inventing the “golden milk stout” and other such shenanigans, his year, the Noble team is brewing up an honest-to-goodness British Pale Ale specifically for Firkfest.

“It’s one of the few times I actually want to make something traditional,” says Price. “For the most part, I throw tradition to the wind and I don’t really care about it that much. I’d rather cre-ate something new, but the overall drinking experience of these beers [in England] was so unique from what I’ve been able to have here, that I want to be able to duplicate that so more people can experience it.”

This change of heart did not come randomly. Price took traveled to England in the summer of 2014, where he grew to appreciate the traditional flavors of British-style real ales.

“[Last year], we weren’t taking these English beers seriously because we hadn’t gone to Eng-land,” Price says. “All we can think about now was how much we were bastardizing these beers and not really doing them the proper justice.”

Both Price and his head brewer Brad Kominek were able to partially fund their trip to England on a scholarship from Inspire Artistic Minds, a charitable organization whose purpose is to help fund educational experiences and opportunity scholarships to those in the food and beverage in-dustry. Coincidentally, all ticket sale proceeds from Firkfest go directly to the Inspire Artistic Minds.

“Twenty thousand dollars in profit all goes to the [organization],” says Nagel. “I make nothing, by design.”

This year’s ticket sales have already tripled compared to last year’s inaugural festival, so be sure to grab your ticket before the event sells out.

Follow Stick a Fork In It on Twitter @ocweeklyfood or on Facebook! And don’t forget to download our free Best Of App here!

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Mar 16, 2015
Freddie Kitson

When it comes to wine, Woodson has it covered

On the football field Charles Woodson won the Heisman Trophy in college and put together a Hall of Fame-worthy resume during his professional career; off the field the former Packers defensive back is building credibility in the world of wine.

Teamed with wine industry experts Rick Ruiz and Gustavo A. Gonzalez, TwentyFour vineyard is located in the northern region of Napa Valley.

They’ve already grabbed the attention of Wine Spectator magazine. The winery’s 2009 cabernet sauvignon earned a 90 rating and the 2010 cabernet sauvignon received a 93 and a spot in the magazine’s top 100 list.

Woodson will make two stops in Wisconsin this week: one at Cover 2 Sports Bar and Lounge, in downtown Green Bay and the other at a wine dinner in Kohler. His wines will be front and center for both occasions.

Fans purchasing a bottle of TwentyFour wine at the discounted price of $121 (it normally retails for $150) can have their photo taken with Woodson and have him sign one piece sports memorabilia. A limited supply of wine is available for the event, but fans can order ahead of time by calling (920) 883-0452.

The party begins 7 p.m. Wednesday at Cover 2, 201 N. Washington St., Green Bay, next to Polito’s Pizza. Door prizes and a chance to bid on Woodson memorabilia are also part of the festivities.

If you’re wondering why Woodson is part of the grand opening, it’s because his brother Jonathan Patton owns the sports bar.

“There’s more behind the name behind the name Cover 2,” said Patton. “All three of us (brothers) wore the number two on our college jerseys and all of use liked to play defense.”

Patton says he’s excited to see Woodson’s reaction to Cover 2, which he describes as a higher end sports bar with nine TVs, an upscale menu, a state of the art jukebox and of course TwentyFour wines.

In fact one of the martinis, the Cover 2, incorporates Woodson’s sauvignon blanc as an ingredient. Signature shots include a Cover 2 kamikaze and a Cover 2 Lannister. Patton says they also have a Cover 2 beer from Miller Brewing.

On Thursday night, Woodson will be in Kohler for a dinner pairing TwentyFour wines and a 30 minute question and answer session. The dinner will be held 7 to 9 p.m. in the The Grand Hall of the Great Lakes at The American Club Resort, 419 Highland Drive, Kohler.

Stations with food and wine pairings for the evening are: Peruvian shrimp and scallop ceviche and fried sweet potato with 2013 sauvignon blanc; steamed pork belly bun and soy-anise barbecue, carrot slaw with 2010 cabernet sauvignon; carved espresso-rubbed strip loin and smoked onion jus, vanilla roasted turnips with 2009 cabernet sauvignon; blackberry glazed grilled lamb chops and brown butter potato purée with 2008 cabernet sauvignon. A dessert station and artisanal cheeses round out the dining options.

Tickets are $158.50 including tax and service fee. Call (855) 444-2838 or visit americanclubresort.com for more information or to order tickets.

Bull Falls expands east

Observant craft beer drinkers from Green Bay through the Fox Valley and over to Sheboygan may have noticed 16 ounce cans of beer from Bull Falls Brewery in beer coolers around their hometowns.

The Wausau-based brewery is making its first push outside central Wisconsin, offering three ales in each market. Choices include the flagship Five Star Ale, an amber ale; Hop Worthy IPA, featuring cascade hop grown in Wisconsin; and Midnight Star, a German-style schwarzbier. Bock Lager, which comes as advertised, is available in select locations, including Oshkosh.

Moving east instead of into Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison markets with its distribution seemed the next logical step to owner Mike Zamzow.

“For us it’s a question of approach and marketing. We want to dig deep and not dig shallow,” said Zamzow. “In Wausau, we’ve been very successful in town with support from local bars and restaurants.”

It didn’t hurt that Bull Falls has gotten positive feedback at beer festivals in these markets. Bull Falls has received inquiries both from social media and old-fashioned face-to-face meetings wanting to know when they would be available in outside central Wisconsin.

“Our beers are brewed true, we’re more traditional,” said Zamzow. “We’re not doing experimental beers.”

That doesn’t mean that the beers are typical. Midnight star is surprisingly light and clean, drinking more like a lager than an ale.

Zamzow says Five Star draws its inspiration from Old Speckled Hen. Again the beer isn’t overpowering and offers a crisp, clean finish.

Find out more about Bull Falls at bullfallsbrewery.com and on Facebook and look for their brews at all the usual suspects when it comes to stocking Wisconsin craft beer.

Real Irish folk don’t eat corned beef

A co-worker asked me if I planned to do a story about corned beef and cabbage for today’s Taste page since the printed publication date falls on March 17.

Truthfully, I hadn’t really considered it. I don’t like corned beef — at least I assumed I didn’t like it. Truth is, I don’t think I’ve ever had corned beef. I suppose it’s possible I tried it once and it was such an awful experience that my brain has blocked it from my conscious mind. Though I find that not very likely, as I clearly remember the one time I tried liver.

Before plunging into this dish, I decided to do a little research.

Turns out by not eating corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day (or any day for that matter) I’m more Irish than American. Also, my non-participation in parades and drinking green beer align me more closely with the Emerald Isle than the Land Of The Free — at least if an article found at history.com is to be believed. (If you’re suspect of that article, The Smithsonian has their own version.)

While corned beef does have its roots in Ireland, it became a St. Patrick’s Day staple in the United States. However, there’s little evidence that this uniquely American tradition has caught on with Irish folk.

I’m not saying that we should cast off the corned beef and cabbage tradition in the United States. Just think of it as a celebration of Irish-American life and the struggles of early Irish immigrants who were the targets of discrimination, rather than Ireland itself.

As far as the green beer goes, drink it if you must, but you’ll be more Irish if you just say no.

Daniel Higgins, dphiggin@gannett.com, Twitter and Instagram @pgdanhiggins

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Mar 15, 2015
Freddie Kitson

Development of Virginia&aposs craft beer industry captured in documentary

Craft beer breweries in Virginia are popping up more quickly than daffodils in the early spring.

There are now a lot more than one hundred breweries in the state, says Michael Claar, manager of the Hair of the DoG Bottle Shop in Williamsburg.

quotThe number of breweries has grown more quickly than the beer industry share,quot he says. And there is lots of room for growth. quotCraft beers nevertheless make up only 2 percent of total beer sales in Virginia.quot

The development of the state’s beer industry is the topic of quotFrom Grain to Growler,quot a documentary that will be screened Friday at the Kimball Theatre in Williamsburg. A panel discussion with neighborhood brewery owners and brewmasters will stick to.

quotWe both definitely like beer and we saw that a movement was developing,quot says Megan Ann Troy, who co-developed the documentary with her partner, Aaron Stanley. quotWe felt the wave was just about to hit and we wanted to be in the forefront of this.quot

Claar says the craft beer sector exploded right after the state legislature passed Senate Bill 604 in 2012.

quotThe bill gave breweries the exact same alternatives as wineries to serve alcohol on the premises,quot he said. quotBreweries are now a viable company choice. Before you could not quit at a single to get a drink or get a growler to take house.quot A growler is a container used to carry beer.

Troy and Stanley financed their film with a grant from the Virginia Film Workplace and a Kickstarter campaign that raised $five,000 in only eight days. The visited 20 breweries, 3 beer festivals, two bottle shops and two hop yards. Considering that the documentary premiered in August 2014, 20 new breweries have opened, says Troy.

At final year’s Virginia Beer Festival in Norfolk, the pair met Geoff Logan, brewmaster of Alewerks Brewing Co. in Williamsburg.

quotIt’s a neat film that puts some concentrate on the burgeoning craft beer industry in Virginia,quot says Logan. The development quothas been quite swift and definitely fascinating for us.quot

The producers have had fantastic success obtaining the word out about their documentary at regional screenings and panel discussions.

quotThings are really starting to pick up,quot says Troy. quotVirginia is performing genuinely huge points. It was a excellent story on its personal, and we just filmed it.quot

Want to go?

quotFrom Grain to Growlerquot documentary on the Virginia craft beer industry

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 20

Exactly where: Kimball Theatre, Merchants Square, Williamsburg

Tickets: $10, accessible at the Kimball or on the internet at dogstreetpub.com..

Added information: A panel discussion will adhere to the movie. Panel members will include things like: Aaron Stanley, film director, Take A Penny Productions Geoff Logan, Alewerks Brewing Co., Kevin O’Connor, O’Connor Brewing Co. Porter Hardy, Smartmouth Brewing Co. Sean-Thomas Pumphrey, Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery Devon Kistler, Huguenot Hops Michael Claar, moderator.

Photos online

Go to dailypress.com/meals for a photo gallery of America’s favored beers.

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

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Mar 14, 2015
Freddie Kitson

Cigar City Beer Festival goes much more smoothly than last year

The crown jewel of local independent beer festivals, Cigar City’s Hunaphu Day, returned Saturday, despite last year’s debacles.

Cigar City Brewing made big changes this year to avoid repear problems, Head Brew Wayne Wambles tells ABC Action News.

In 2014 there were apparently hundreds of people who accidentally bought counterfeit tickets, which led to intense overcrowding, beer shortages, and angry chanting.

Wambles says they changed the ticketing company, increased prices, reduced the number of tickets sold, and most importantly, decided not to sell bottles, which was apparently something that led to fighting and even some injuries.

“I got this scar here last year,” Adam Williams tells ABC Action News pointing to his hand. “By Noon it was insane, 9000 people, couldn’t move, couldn’t get any beer. It was terrible.”

This year though was much better.

“Everyone is having a good time, the lines for the beer were short, yeah had a great time this year a lot better than last year definitely,” said Williams.

The festival features over 60 breweries across the country and over 200 different beers.

And everyone who buys a ticket leaves with four bottles of the special Hunahpu stout beer, named for a Mayan man.

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Mar 14, 2015
Freddie Kitson

Funky Buddha: One of the world’s best breweries a short drive away – The News

Unknown to many, right outside of Fort Lauderdale sits one of the world’s best breweries — Funky Buddha.

Known for its unusual and culinary inspired beers, the brewery has been ranked as high as 27th in the world by Ratebeer.com. Started in 2010 in Boca Raton, the brewery opened a new and larger location just outside of Fort Lauderdale in June of 2013.

Here in Southwest Florida, several of its beers can be found at local establishments, especially its flagship beers, Floridian and Hop Gun. In fact, Funky Buddha beers can now be found at 1,200-1,300 bars and restaurants in Florida from the Keys to Orlando. Bottled versions of these flagship beers may be found locally and distribution will increase on the west coast of Florida later this month.

For those not familiar with these beers, Hop Gun is a tropical style IPA with hops that impart flavors of pineapple, grapefruit and guava. Floridian is a Hefeweizen with those traditional flavors of bananas and cloves, but also with citrus influences including lemon and orange. As with many of the beers at Funky Buddha, they both embody a Florida style with tastes of tropical fruits.

These beers are great representatives of this brewery; however, if you want to try some of the really innovative and creative beers, you have to make the hour and a half drive to the brewery in Oakland Park. On a recent tour, tour master Adrian Morales noted how their inventive brews, like Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, really made a name for this brewery.

Nothing short of breakfast in a bottle, this porter became a sensation with beer connoisseurs trading it around the world. Morales says that when Funky Buddha representatives traveled to beer festivals, they were surrounded by people chanting “bacon.” This beer is currently ranked as the number four porter in the world by Ratebeer.com and the release is a much anticipated brewery event each year.

This visit to Funky Buddha did not disappoint. The tap room featured 14 of its beers on tap, including More Moro, a blood orange IPA, which is a personal favorite with an orange nose and strong orange taste up front that fades into the traditional hop flavors of an IPA.

The OP Porter is named after the brewery’s location in Oakland Park and is a great example of a milk porter. There is a creamy mouth feel and coffee flavors that are reminiscent of a latte, but there is also a definite chocolate finish to this beer. The Key Lime Berliner is another fruit-inspired creation that is a wheat style beer with sweet lime flavors and just a hint of sour.

Small Axe is a double IPA with great hoppy flavor yet a great balance of bitter and sweet. Dread Pirate Roberts is a solid imperial stout but with hints of raspberry, coconut and vanilla. For those who love an IPA but want to try something different, the Pineapple Hop Gun adds great fruity flavors to the hop mix.

Tours are offered daily at the brewery and include a pint glass and samples along the way. Tour guides are very knowledgeable about the Funky Buddha’s history, beer, and the beer-making process. More information about taking a tour and seasonal or new releases, as well as brewery events, can also be found through the website funkybuddhabrewery.com.

The brewery itself is stylishly appointed and tasteful. Staff is friendly and willing to help you find a beer that matches your style. Guest taps are often featured from other local and craft breweries. The tap room can be crowded on a Friday or Saturday night but the atmosphere still remains friendly. Food trucks are almost always available in the evenings and the schedule is also on the website.

With Draft Magazine naming Funky Buddha a brewery to watch in 2014 and with the brewery located only an hour and a half away, there really is no reason not to take a daytrip to visit. Also keep an eye out at local restaurants and bars for Funky Buddha products. House of Brewz at Fort Myers Beach and Gulf Coast Town Center are two local restaurants that carry many of the Funky Buddha seasonals and limited releases.

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Mar 14, 2015
Freddie Kitson

Growth of Virginia’s craft beer industry captured in documentary

Craft beer breweries in Virginia are popping up faster than daffodils in the early spring.

There are now more than 100 breweries in the state, says Michael Claar, manager of the Hair of the DoG Bottle Shop in Williamsburg.

“The number of breweries has grown faster than the beer market share,” he says. And there’s plenty of room for growth. “Craft beers still make up only 2 percent of total beer sales in Virginia.”

Craft beer film plays the Kimball this month

The growth of the state’s beer industry is the subject of “From Grain to Growler,” a documentary that will be screened Friday at the Kimball Theatre in Williamsburg. A panel discussion with local brewery owners and brewmasters will follow.

“We both really like beer and we saw that a movement was developing,” says Megan Ann Troy, who co-produced the documentary with her partner, Aaron Stanley. “We felt the wave was just about to hit and we wanted to be in the forefront of this.”

Claar says the craft beer industry exploded after the state legislature passed Senate Bill 604 in 2012.

“The bill gave breweries the same options as wineries to serve alcohol on the premises,” he said. “Breweries are now a viable business option. Before you couldn’t stop at one to get a drink or get a growler to take home.” A growler is a container used to carry beer.

Troy and Stanley financed their film with a grant from the Virginia Film Office and a Kickstarter campaign that raised $5,000 in only eight days. The visited 20 breweries, three beer festivals, two bottle shops and two hop yards. Since the documentary premiered in August 2014, 20 new breweries have opened, says Troy.

At last year’s Virginia Beer Festival in Norfolk, the pair met Geoff Logan, brewmaster of Alewerks Brewing Co. in Williamsburg.

“It’s a neat film that puts some focus on the burgeoning craft beer industry in Virginia,” says Logan. The growth “has been pretty quick and definitely exciting for us.”

The producers have had good success getting the word out about their documentary at regional screenings and panel discussions.

“Things are really starting to pick up,” says Troy. “Virginia is doing really big things. It was a great story on its own, and we just filmed it.”

Want to go?

“From Grain to Growler” documentary on the Virginia craft beer industry

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 20

Where: Kimball Theatre, Merchants Square, Williamsburg

Tickets: $10, available at the Kimball or online at dogstreetpub.com..

Additional information: A panel discussion will follow the movie. Panel members will include: Aaron Stanley, film director, Take A Penny Productions; Geoff Logan, Alewerks Brewing Co., Kevin O’Connor, O’Connor Brewing Co.; Porter Hardy, Smartmouth Brewing Co.; Sean-Thomas Pumphrey, Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery; Devon Kistler, Huguenot Hops; Michael Claar, moderator.

Photos online

Go to dailypress.com/food for a photo gallery of America’s favorite beers.

Copyright © 2015, Daily Press

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Mar 13, 2015
Freddie Kitson

Three tips for a successful beer festival experience

Jesse Hachat knows his way around a beer festival.

The propietor of Exhibit A(le) growler store in Lawrenceville has been attending craft beer festivals for years and feels they provide the opportunity for discovering new, rare brews and expanding your beer palate.

Here are a few tips from Hachat to help beer connoisseurs get the most out of their festival experience, in Suwanee or otherwise:

• Plan Ahead — Hachat believes it’s always a good idea to plan out which breweries you want to visit and in what order. That way you can be sure to sample all the beers you’re interested in and avoid missing a brewery in the hustle and bustle of the festival.

• Drink water — Hachat advises taking breaks to have a drink of water because it’s important to stay hydrated, especially if it’s a hot day. He also recommends stringing a bunch of pretzels onto a necklace because munching on pretzels in between tastings will help reset your palate.

• Be open-minded — According to Hatchat, a craft beer festival is the perfect environment for expanding your horizons because you can sample brews your curious about without committing to drink a whole pint.

Twisted Taco in Suwanee and Tannery Row Ale House in Buford will be offering complimentary shuttle services to and from the event from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Comfort Inn Suites in Suwanee is offering a discounted rate for all ticket holders, as well as complimentary shuttle service to and from the festival.

Uber has also partnered with the festival to offer a free first ride or $20 off to new users who use code SUWBEERFEST at uber.com/go. Once at the event, festival attendees may also take advantage of the “Designated Driver Alternative” booth, a service that drives people home safely in the comfort of their own cars for just a few dollars.

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Mar 12, 2015
Freddie Kitson

Micro-brewery to open in downtown New Bern

Peter Frey has a passion for good craft beer and an entrepreneurial spirit that will give downtown New Bern its first one-barrel brew pub.

Frey, 47, will soon open Brewery99 in a small, white cinder-block building at 417 F Broad St., not far from the intersection of Broad and Hancock streets.

After years of dreaming of owning his own business and learning about distilleries and struggling through all the red tape it takes to make a dream come true, Frey said he hoped to be selling his own micro-brewed ales and lagers in about three weeks.

“I worked, saved and invested,” Frey said. “I picked out a building in New Bern that has never been used for a business.”

Then the struggle began. Frey had to provide the city with a site plan and have a review of it. Nearly every city department had to sign off on the project, from zoning to inspections, plus he needed approvals from the state ABC Board and federal authorities, he said.

“I went through the same process as a company like Wal-Mart has to,” he said. “Everything had to be done by the book. It was overwhelming to me. My dad was a tremendous help with all the paperwork, just keeping track of all the papers.”

Meanwhile, Frey, who also works at Hatteras Yachts in New Bern, had to be the general contractor on Brewery99.

“Something that’s been said to me is I’m the first brewery in New Bern,” Frey said. “I think I’m just the first person that didn’t give up. There were probably others who tried but there is so much stuff you have to do. For a year, there was always something, every day, from inspectors to letters from the state. My dad asked more than once if I still wanted to do this because it went on for a year.”

Now Frey is fermenting his first batches of ale and lager and putting a fresh coat of white paint on the 500-square-foot building that can serve up to 22 people at a time.

Since he also works at Hatteras, Frey said he will start by opening the tap room at Brewery99 from 2-10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and plans to expand the hours of operation as business picks up.

Frey moved to New Bern in 1999 from the west, wanting to follow another passion, his love of sailing and to work on boats. Hatteras was a free education, he said.

“When I lived in the west, I started learning about craft beer and quality beer,” Frey said. “I had a pretty good education and beer palate when I moved here. In 1999 it was extremely difficult to find what I was used to on the West Coast.”

Frey said he met a home brewer who told him he could make better beer than he could buy.

“So I made it a New Year’s resolution to stop buying it and make it,” he said. “I enjoy it. It’s a way of blending the technical side and the artistic and creative side. I used to be a cook in restaurants and bakeries for about 14 years and that helps a lot in what I’m doing now.”

Frey joined the New Bern Home Brewers Club in 2003 and learned more about crafting beer, tasting and judging it. He then began taking his home brew to friend’s birthday parties and weddings, he said.

“It dawned on me this might be a better job than building boats,” he said.

In 2008, Frey got a job at a start-up brewery, Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston, to get more experience in the craft. He stayed for nearly two years and was involved in every aspect of the brewing process. He also attended beer festivals, networking with people in the industry, he said.

To go from home brewing, which typically involves a 5 gallon keg fermenter, to 1,200- gallon tanks in commercial micro-brewing, was a big learning curve, Frey said.

In 2012, he took an Entrepreneurs Course about starting a small business at Craven Community College. In 2013, he started developing and building Brewery99.

“I learned a lot from working at Mother Earth,” he said. “Mother Earth is a 20-barrel brewery that makes two batches a day. They were making 40 times more beer than me and they have the capacity to brew every day. I don’t have that yet.”

Frey said his motivation for opening Brewery99 was the thought of owning his own business and being self-employed.

“I enjoy meeting new people,” he said. “I love beer and love to see people enjoying beer and I don’t know who would not like to be self-employed.”

The number 99 for the brew pub is not a random thought. It’s a number that has followed Frey throughout his life, he said.

“It’s my lucky number,” he said. “When I moved here it was in 1999. I was born September 9, which is 99. It keeps coming up. If you drive from here to Morehead City, almost every billboard has 99 on it, gas stations have 99, the cost of things always has 99, like $9.99, and I thought it was good, free advertising.”

Frey’s father Tim said a lot of people are already expressing an interest and good comments about Brewery99. He said his wife and he are proud of what their son has accomplished.

“He has done a marvelous job working his way through all the regulations from city of New Bern, Craven County, the state ABC regulations, as well as getting a federal brewing permit,” he said. “He followed through and did it all. It was difficult, time consuming and expensive. Now he’s ready to show the city of New Bern what he has done.”

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