Beer Review: Wild Heaven – Ode to Mercy

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Even though I recently talked about local craft brewers Wild Heaven, I felt it necessary to give my first review of them since I recently purchased a four-pack of both their Invocation as well as their Ode to Mercy earlier this week. This review is about their Ode to Mercy Imperial Brown Ale.

I first had Ode to Mercy when dining in Midtown at Einstein’s on Juniper Street and was blown away at all of the different flavors exhuming from this glass of beer. The taste of the deep roasted malts, the coffee, and even the oak gave my taste buds something to scream about. For a brown ale, Ode to Mercy is definitely at the top of my list. Obviously, Ode to Mercy is not something you want to indulge in over the span of a few hours downing a few of them; it’s a bit too heavy for that. However, pairing this imperial brown ale with a nicely cooked meal (Wild Heaven suggests food like BBQ Chicken or Prime Rib) makes for the perfect combination.

As stated, Ode to Mercy is brewed with roasted malts (some being citrus), coffee and smoked oak and leaves a smooth and rather creamy finish with every sip. The ABV is at 8.2% and has an IBU of 40, perfect for a good brown ale. Overall, Ode to Mercy gets a solid 5 stars from me. Until I find another brown ale that matches up to the complexity of this craft brew, Ode to Mercy will rein supreme.

You can find Wild Heaven Craft Beers at several Atlanta bars and pubs and you can even find them for purchase in approximately 100 beverage and package stores around the metro Atlanta area.

Have you tried Ode to Mercy before? Give the Atlanta Beer Snob your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

Are Weekends Overrated? Monday Night Brewing Thinks So…

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…and they may be on to something.

This craft brewing story is in my opinion one of those you tell like they do those NFL Films; you know, with the suspenseful music, slow-motion highlights and Jon Facenda’s voice telling the story (that’s right, I did my homework).

Eye Patch Ale from Monday Night BrewingMonday Night Brewing started between a small group of friends who decided to try making their own craft beer on Monday nights. What started out as a way to get to know each other better (the creators were in a Bible study group together) ended up becoming a passion and a goal to create a craft brew that they can not only be proud of but would be sell-worthy on the beer market.

Monday Night Brewing’s motto, “Weekends Are Overrated,” rings so true in my heart. Not just because I’m some hard-working man who lives to work, but because I don’t feel that enjoying a beer or two for dinner should be held to just two nights a week. I mean, that’s pretty ridiculous if you ask me, especially if you consider yourself a lover of beer in the first place.

The guys of Monday Night Brewing have worked quite diligently on their craft brews, and they just started selling their product to several local pubs in the downtown area. They have several types of brews they are still working on, but they have two front-runners they’ve decided to release to the general public.

The first craft brew is the Eye Patch Ale, Monday Night’s take on the American IPA. It includes three great types of hops, including Simcoe and Columbus hops, as well as hints of sweet caramel and citrus flowers and has an ABV of 6.2%. Monday Night’s second craft brew is known as their Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale. These you don’t see a lot of on the “on tap” menu, so it’s quite a pleasant treat. This particular ale is full-bodied but not too overpowering (sounds like my kind of ale!), and includes oak-smoked malt, Columbus and Willamete hops and has an ABV of 7.2%.

Wanting to know where you can try these two awesome craft beers from Monday Night Brewing? The availability is growing, including bars and pubs like The Midway Pub, The Vortex in Midtown and the Diesel Filling Station.

Have you tried either of the Monday Night Brews? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment! And if you’ve spotted Monday Night brews at other pubs and bars, be sure to let the Atlanta Beer Snob know!

Beer Review: “Palm Speciale” Belgian Pale Ale

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I may have already stated it previously, but I am definitely a fan of a good Belgian Ale. Sure, there are several other great types of brew out there, but for some reason the crispness and smooth finishes of most Belgian Ales always seems seems to draw my attention.

Palm Speciale GlassIt was the exact same scenario when I stumbled across one of the best imported rarities when it comes to Belgian Ales. I was in Athens one night to see an Avett Brothers performance with a friend and we decided beforehand to grab some dinner and a drink at the Trappeze Pub, one of the town’s most popular spots for craft brews and rare imports.

After skimming the menu, my friend stated that several people have recommended an ale known as Palm Speciale, though he had never tried it himself. I decided to go with his suggestion and was more than pleasantly surprised.

Palm Speciale, when poured, is served in a snifter glass, one that has a larger bottom and tapers towards the top and is great for capturing the aroma of stronger ales such as the one I was indulging in. It has an ABV of 5.40% and is considered more of a Belgian Pale Ale, which is more of a copper color than amber and leaves a nice foam head when poured correctly. There is hint of dried fruits like orange and is one of the smoothest-finishing pale ales on the market in my opinion.

Palm Speciale is somewhat of a rarity to find in the Atlanta market, but is slowly starting to creep up in several bars around the area. It was recently introduced as a “Beer of the Month” at Taco Mac back in April 2011 and if you live in the Midtown Atlanta area, you can actually find a six-pack of it at the local Publix Supermarket and probably even Hop City, but you might want to call and ask beforehand.

Overall, I would give Palm Speciale a solid 4 out of 5. I’ve experienced the ale both on tap and in a bottle and I will say that on tap it is tremendously better than just in the bottle. Sipping it from the snifter glass truly makes this particular ale shine in all its glory. That’s why it only gets a 4 and not a better score.

If you’ve tried Palm Speciale, let me know what you thought about it by leaving a comment or where you can find Palm Speciale in the metro Atlanta area.

“Serving Your Neighbor,” The Wild Heaven Way

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When it comes to Atlanta breweries, sure, ones like Sweetwater are probably the first ones you tend to think of, mostly because of their rather wide distribution. But what about those local breweries that are quickly climbing up the ranks here in the Atlanta beer scene?

One brewery in particular has taken craft brewing to a whole new level, at least in metro Atlanta currently. I’m talking about none other than Wild Heaven Craft Beers, who make their home in the Decatur area but are quickly spreading into several neighboring counties in north Georgia. Perhaps now that gives even more meaning to their mantra, “Serve Your Neighbor;” sure, enjoying a good craft beer by yourself can be satisfying enough, but sharing that experience with your closest friends is even more satisfying.

Currently, Wild Heaven offers two awesome craft beers. Their first, cleverly titled Invocation, is a Belgian-style Golden Ale consisting of Belgian aromatic malts and hints of dried fruit paired with Noble and West Coast hops to give it a smooth but semi-dry finish, similar to that of other more widely distributed Belgian Ales like Shock Top, but a whole lot better. Wild Heaven’s second craft brew, Ode to Mercy, in my humble opinion is their creme’ de la creme’ (no pun intended), the brew that will take them quite far in the world of craft brewery. It is a perfect blend of deeply roasted malts, coffee and oak that gives the beer-lover a smooth and creamy finish that isn’t too overpowering. The Beer Advocate gave both very high regards, with Invocation currently having an A- and Ode to Mercy having a solid B+.

Recently, Wild Heaven has partnered with Georgia Crown to assist in increasing their distribution, and it has worked exponentially. In just four days, Wild Heaven Craft Beers (both Invocation and Ode to Mercy) became available at 93 individual beverage stores as of May 2011, and the numbers are assuredly climbing. Living in the Gwinnett County area, I was more than elated with the fact that several surrounding package stores now carry Wild Heaven.

Local film company Whitestone Motion Pictures recently shot a quick documentary about the founders of Wild Heaven and why they decided to get into the craft-brewing game. You can check it out below:

Wild Heaven Craft Beer: Mini Doc from Whitestone Motion Pictures on Vimeo.

If you haven’t checked out either of the Wild Heaven craft brews, do yourself a favor and grab a pint of one as soon as you can. Oh, and be sure to have one for your neighbor as well….

Become a Fan of Wild Heaven on Facebook.

Follow Wild Heaven on Twitter.

Beer Review: Tommyknocker Maple Nut Brown Ale

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Tommyknocker's Maple Nut Brown AleI had first heard of Tommyknocker when I attended the 2011 Suwanee Beerfest back in July, and of the ones I tried I was quite impressed with. However, it was actually when I was in Jackson, MS visiting family when I tried this particular ale from the Tommyknocker brewery, and I was more than impressed by it.

Tommyknocker’s Maple Nut Brown Ale may make some beer drinkers cringe, because the thought of adding something as sweet as maple syrup could prove to be a bit too much, but not in this case. The sweetness is not overpowering at all and actually adds a more crisp and smooth finish to it.

The Tommyknocker Maple Nut Brown Ale is brewed with six different malts, including a chocolate malt which mixes well with the slight addition of maple syrup to the brew. Tommyknocker is brewed out of Idaho Springs, CO and can be found in a few bars around the Atlanta area, but not necessarily for purchase. You may have to do your homework if you want to find this ale in your local beverage superstore.

Overall, I would give the Tommyknocker Maple Nut Brown Ale a 4.5 out of 5. For a darker ale, its bitterness is on the lower end and the faint hint of sweetness makes it one you’ll be glad you decided to order.

Trappeze Pub and Hotel Indigo Team Up for the Athens Craft Beer Festival

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Athens Craft Beer Festival logoThe city of Atlanta is known to have its fair share of beer festivals throughout the year. Ones like the Dunwoody Beer Festival and the East Atlanta Beer Festival tend to shine above the rest; but have you ever ventured outside the perimeter of downtown Atlanta to see what other beer festivals might be going on?

Athens is already a well-known center for “all things beer,” mostly from the combination of being home to Terrapin Beer Company and being a college town, so it’s no surprise that the city is getting ready to hold a two-day beer festival completely devoted to craft brews.

That’s right, the Athens Craft Beer Festival will be taking place in Athens right in the heart of Octoberfest, October 8th and 9th, and is being hosted by none other than the popular Trappeze Pub and Hotel Indigo. Unlike other beer festivals you’d see in the downtown Atlanta area, this one honors only those that are considered true craft beers; no macro beers, no massive distributors will be included on the list for this festival. Approximately 100 craft beers from all over the region will have their moment to shine at this particular festival.

As of now, the craft beers of choice have not been divulged, but you can rest assured that the selections will be some of the best, especially if you have a local pub like Trappeze grabbing the reins on this festival. Be sure to check back to their site often as more information will be released when the dates draw nearer.

How much are tickets going for? Currently, VIP tickets are $68 and $48 for general admission (this includes a convenience fee of course). As of now, it looks like Sunday is the only day that is available to purchase tickets, which means be sure to get your tickets as soon as possible if you plan on attending!

So what craft brews do you hope show their faces at the Athens Craft Brew Festival this October? Allagash? Wild Heaven? Dogfish Head? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Sam Adams’ Octoberfest Makes Its Triumphant Return!

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There aren’t a whole lot of widely distributed domestic beer companies that have been able to maintain a craft-like presence with most beer-drinkers. For me, the main one that comes to mind is Samuel Adams.

Samuel Adams is well-known for how many different types of brew they create, particularly when it comes to their seasonal ales. And of course with summer nearing its end and the fall season beginning to rear its head, it also means the highly-anticipated return of Samuel Adams’ Octoberfest seasonal ale.

Sam Adams Octoberfest bottle and draft glass

Note the rich amber color of Sam Adams' Octoberfest. A perfect combo for this time of year!

If you haven’t gotten around to trying Octoberfest yet, do yourself a favor and head to the nearest grocery or package store and pick up a six-pack or two.  Even though their other ales are quite popular, there’s something about Octoberfest that has most craft-brew fans salivating at the mouth whenever they hear it’s back on the shelves.

So what exactly makes Octoberfest so popular? This beer is complete with a rich initial taste, as it is brewed with five different types of malted barley as well as caramel and toffee, and like most amber ales has an extremely smooth finish to it. It may be something about the five varieties of malted barley the brewers over at Sam Adams use, but the moment the beer hits your tongue, it somehow tastes like a crisp autumn evening, making it the perfect seasonal ale for this time of year.

Like most seasonal brews, Sam Adams Octoberfest is only available for a limited time in most grocery and beverage stores. They begin to disappear around the Thanksgiving time period in order to make way for their winter seasonal ale.

Overall, I would give the Sam Adams Octoberfest a solid 4 out of 5. It has a very distinct flavor, but it still gets somewhat lost in the mix that are the many beers with the Samuel Adams name. Other sites like The Beer Advocate give it an admirable B across the board.

If you’ve given Octoberfest a try, be sure to leave a comment and let the Atlanta Beer Snob know just what you think about this special seasonal (and domestic) ale.

Photo courtesy of: idovermani (Flickr)

Beer Review: Sweetwater’s “Road Trip” Pilsner

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For those that live in the Atlanta area, Sweetwater Brewing Company has become quite the staple when discussing a successful local brewing company making it into the big time. The brewery now has a multitude of great beers they offer to their patrons and can be found in practically every bar across the southeast.

Sweetwater Road Trip PilsnerLiving in Atlanta, I have tried a good majority of Sweetwater’s beers thus far. I recently bought a six-pack of their “Road Trip” brew, which is mostly categorized as a Pilsner but has some ale-like elements thrown into the mix as well.

Personally, I am not a HUGE fan of pilsners, but overall Sweetwater’s Road Trip was quite satisfying. It was a bit more grainy than I would have preferred, but it is subtle enough where it makes a good dinner-time brew. But I definitely wouldn’t go overboard with downing a few of these in one sitting or you may feel like your stomach is going to explode.

One thing I did happen to notice was that Road Trip actually tasted slightly better about halfway through the bottle. It is so crisp and rather dry at the beginning that you can only take small swigs; however, once you near the end, the finish is smoother and the grainy aspect of it is not as dominant as the first few sips.

Overall, I would give Sweetwater’s Road Trip Pilsner a 3.5 out of 5. It was pretty darn good for a Pilsner, but still a bit TOO grainy initially for my liking. However, if you are a fan of the more yeast-heavy ales out there, this one definitely stands up to the task. Beer Advocate gives Road Trip a grade of B overall.

What are your thought on Road Trip? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

I’m No Snob….Well, Only When it Comes to Beer

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When most people think of beer, they more or less envision the typical commercial you’d probably see during the first or second quarter of a football game, with a bunch of guys downing some brand of domestic beer like Coors Light or Miller Lite while cheering on their favorite team. But there are a few of us out there that treat beer with the dignity and respect it deserves….

For me, drinking a beer is much more than just getting buzzed and enjoying a football game or two. It’s an approach that is similar to those of wine connoisseurs, where time is taken to analyze the various notes, flavors and other ingredients that go into brewing that perfect beer. It’s funny, every time I hear the phrase, “Hey, you want a beer? I’ve got some Bud Light in the fridge,” I cringe. That or I chuckle under my breath. For me, I have grown past the phase where I drink beer just to get wasted and bloated. It’s about the experience and the need to find that “perfect beer.” Consider me a beer snob, but I am honestly okay with it.

So that is what this blog is mostly about. No, not how much of a snob I am and looking down on people who simply enjoy the taste of the typical domestic light beer, but more about the culture that surrounds the beer community, particularly here in the Atlanta area in which I reside.

So in the coming months, be sure to stay tuned for some great posts about local brews, craft brews, beer festivals and some of the best beers you’ll find around the country.

So enjoy yourself and happy drinking!