A Beer Pilgrimage: Asheville, NC


Three shelves of beer — a challenge!

My fridge has never had so much beer in it. I know, I know! It hardly seems possible, especially given that on an average day at least one entire shelf is devoted to beer and the rest of the space is a bachelor-scape of condiments. But having just come home from one of the US’s beer Meccas, Asheville, NC, I have some understandably well-stocked shelves and hardly a square inch for my Dijon.

One flat tire, one broken boot, and a sad, lonely hotel out of the way, I arrived in Asheville just in time to get to Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium. Wicked Weed Brewing is a vacation destination on its own right, or at least for those of us who unashamedly admit to traveling somewhere specifically to get a little fucked up. The Funkatorium is a taproom dedicated solely to sour and barrel-aged beers.

The Funkatorium's back room

The Funkatorium’s back room

I opted for their set flight of two saisons and two sours. And then my biggest regret since not getting a second bloody mary at Casa in Athens that morning: I drank the sours first. I blame it on road weariness. The saisons didn’t taste like much of anything. I’m sure they were lovely, but being a bit of a Sour Puss myself, I was content with the fantastic tastes of Oblivion and Genesis — both just sour enough to playfully pinch your cheeks from the inside, yet robust enough to let you enjoy a full glass. My notes tell me that Oblivion tastes like the shape of Saturn, so there you have it. Continue reading

Fruity Beers: This Ain’t No Love Poem


Fruity Beers over Mansfield, Ohio

I firmly believe that it’s important to challenge your own likes and dislikes, because, once you’ve stuck by them for a while, they become an actual part of you, and not a quirk of your personality. For example, I have allowed my love of beer to define me. Beer has become my “Thing.” I’ve tried to figure out how that happened, but it doesn’t really matter: I am The Girl Who Likes Beer, A Lot.

I am especially vigilant in challenging this Like. I challenge it pretty much every night. But these challenges have split my definition into further subset labels like “Hop Head” and “Sour Puss” (which isn’t actually a label, but it should be), and “Despiser of Fruity Beers.” It’s this last label I decided to challenge recently, employing the help of three poets, which as you might remember, is the only way to have tasting.

I picked up a mixed sixer of beers that were somehow fruit-related several weeks ago. Then, about 10 minutes before we were scheduled to start, I began frantically researching them. From there I created a lineup of beers that I hoped ranged from tamest to most taste bud-withering. Continue reading

Pokemon GOse & Other Pop Culture Curiosities


The Phoenix Brewing Co, home away from home

When, in a small town such as mine, there are people outside in the city square at three in the morning, smiling maniacally and following their smartphones around like divining rods, you become curious. Are they on drugs? Is it a cult? Have the proper authorities been notified? But more importantly: what am I missing out on?

I hate know-it-alls as much as the next person, but mostly because I am always the smartest person in the room. I was sort of disgusted that this cultural phenomena snuck up on me. Similarly, one day I was blissfully naive and innocent of the gose style of beer, and the next, it was a nationwide sensation.

In the last few months, the style has popped up in breweries all over the country in that same inexplicable way that everyone knows, suddenly, to roll their jeans up above the ankle. One day I realized the gose style was everywhere and I didn’t even know how to pronounce it. Gauze? Goose? Nope: GO-zuh. It is a German style wheat beer, originating in the Leipzig area. They are traditionally tart and refreshing, so I think we may be related. Continue reading

Be a Sour Puss: the Argument for Puckering Up

Yup. It's sour. What about it?!

Yup. It’s sour. What about it?!

Pucker up, my friends! Today we look at sour beers, simply because I was recently involved in a conversation that, itself, turned sour. I was engaged in a bitter pissing contest with a total stranger who thought he knew more about beer than I do. We started off on the wrong foot when he suggested to me hangover remedies. (Bitch, please.) Matters escalated as we one-upped each other nastily until he asked with a challenge in his voice, “Well, have you ever had a sour beer?” I answered that I had and I quite liked them and I just tried several at the Jolly Pumpkin in Ann Arbor thank you very much. Then I stopped listening.

Sour beers do live up to their name, and some consider them an acquired taste. I hasten to mention that one needn’t be a sour puss to enjoy this style, in fact it helps if you maintain inner reserves of sweetness; but if you don’t at least try one, I will call you a sour pussy.

Sour beer is an old tradition, begun in Europe back before brewers and consumers were so nitpicky about having unknown variables floating in their brews. The sour flavor comes from the wild yeasts used to ferment the batches as well as live bacteria. Wild yeasts being the unpredictable beasts they are, brewing sour beer can be a challenge, but when it’s done right it’s a delightful mix of untamed tastes and solid chemistry. So good I wouldn’t even waste it by tossing it in that little pucker’s face.  Continue reading

Yazoo Brewery: Teaching Us to Embrace that Tennessee Funk

yazoo hefeweizen

Our regular beer columnist, the incomparable Big Lla, is rambling the country in newly-wedded bliss at the moment, and though I am a poor substitute, I was pleased at the chance to write about Yazoo Brewery, a happy discovery that I made at Bonnaroo last weekend. Yazoo first caught my eye because it was the only Tennessee brewer slated to be in the Brooer’s Fest (Bonnaroo’s collection of yummy microbrew booths), and I always like tasting the local nectar. But my interest was further piqued when my brother-in-law Andrew called Yazoo’s Dos Perros “the most awesomest tastingest beer in Nashville.” Sold.

While sampling the Hefeweizen and Gerst Amber that were on tap at the festival, we caught up with Adam Jones, who, in addition to marketing the fine brews at Yazoo, has eyes so kind that he reminded me of a koala. Here’s more from Adam on hoppy experiments and Yazoo’s efforts to put the sour back into beer:

yazoo hop projectWhat’s your favorite Yazoo brew?
Honestly, the first one that I really fell in love with was the hefeweizen. It has such strong banana notes that it really grabbed me, and then when I started to work with them, I realized there’s no banana in it; it’s all the yeast. That really intrigued me and made me want to learn more.
I’m a big fan on the Hop Project IPA, too. The recipe of the hops changes with each batch. They use a little different combination, a little different hops each time, which gives it a different character and keeps you guessing—something new and fun each time.

Anything new coming up for Yazoo this summer?
We’ve actually just started a sour and wild ale program. It’s a series of beer called “Embrace the Funk.” Sour ales are brewed with a different strand of yeast that you usually want to keep out of your beer. But combined with other things—one of ours has cherries and currants—you get the sour initial taste and end with a malty finish, and it’s a big spectrum of flavor. We’ve got two on tap in the taproom now, and we’re bottling it soon. They’re pretty awesome.