Craft Beer in the Scenic City

After Atlantis visited the 18th annual Southern Brewer’s Fest last August, it was hard to believe that Chattanooga’s love for beer could be topped. But as we walked around the first annual Chattanooga Craft Beer Festival (CCBF), hosted by the Tennessee Pavilion, we realized the Scenic City had outdone itself once again.

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This event blew the Southern Brew Fest out of the water. The atmosphere alone was right up our alley considering that for over a year now we’ve been selling brewing supplies, making our own homebrew, and growing a personal enthusiasm for craft beer. Put on by Rhizome Productions, the CCBF was quite possibly the best thing ever for a lover of craft beer.

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Instead of setting up a booth and promoting our store, we chose to mingle and sample with other brew-heads, talking about our own love of beer and answering questions about making beer at home. The best thing about this festival, besides the fact that there were over thirty vendors offering two to four types of beer, was the overwhelming attendance and support of local brewers.

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One third of the beer makers present were native to Tennessee, while half of those were based right here in the Choo Choo City. Chattanooga’s own Barley Mob brew club, Moccasin Bend, Chattanooga Brewing Co., McHale’s, Terminal, and Big River all made an appearance to represent the true spirit of craft beer we share here in Chatt-town.

The new festival brought great innovations to the benefit of enthusiasts by setting up a one time fee and supplying free drinking water. The cost of your ticket would give you entrance to the event, a sample glass, and endless refills to try every single last one of the beers offered. That’s right, if you could manage to drink two gallons of beer in a matter four hours then you would be more than welcome to sample over sixty different kinds of beer. Unfortunately, we could only put down about ten types, but it was fun nonetheless.

Meeting fellow brewers, talking to the pros, and trying more kinds of beer than ever before made the CCBF a most enjoyable experience. We look forward to the Second Annual Craft Beer Festival and hope that next year there will be even more good beers to choose from. Thanks to Rhizome Productions and all our hometown brewers for making the CCBF such a fun and friendly event!

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Bake Your Ale Off: Beer Bread

Beer Bread with Chevre and Radish

Beer Bread with Chevre and Radish

I’ll admit it, I’m afraid of bread. And no, I’m not a no-carb fanatic who only eats tacos made with lettuce leaves and pizza made with cauliflower (yes, that’s a thing). I love to eat bread; it’s the making of the bread that scares me. Baking in general tends to not be my thing. It just seems so…severe. Measurements and timing must be exact or everything is ruined!!! Ugh, no thanks. Chill out, baking, let’s relax and have some fun!

Enter beer bread. Yes, you read that right. BEER. BREAD. Two of the greatest things on the planet, together, creating an even greater thing. This bread is so easy to make; even I have the patience for it. There’s no yeast involved, no kneading or waiting for the precious baby dough to rise. You just mix together a few ingredients, throw ’em in the oven, wait 40 minutes or so, and then you have glorious, glorious beer bread.

Sift, pour, mix, done.

Sift, pour, mix, done.

The type of beer you use will affect a few things with this bread. One, the flavor. I typically make this with a light, easy-drinker without too many overpowering flavors, like Miller High Life or Yuengling Lager. The bread comes out with a subtle beer flavor, but it mostly just tastes like bread. Awesome bread. If you want a more distinctively flavored beer bread, you can use a more distinctively flavored beer, like a Guinness or maybe a spiced beer around the holidays. Do you homebrew? Well now you can drink and eat your yeasty creations. Just keep in mind that the heavier the beer, the longer the baking time will be. For this loaf, I used Bell’s Oberon, a wheat ale, and it lent such a nice, bright, almost citrusy flavor to the bread. So great for Spring with some chevre and sliced radishes from the farmers’ market.

Beer Bread

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • 4 Tablespoons organic cane sugar
  • One 12 oz can or bottle of beer (any beer)
  • 3 tablespoons organic butter
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Sift well with fork, or sift through a fine mesh sieve. Pour in beer, stir until a stiff batter is formed, but don’t over mix (best to just use your hands). Scrape dough into prepared loaf pan.
  3. Melt butter and brush/pour across top of dough. This is optional, but it really adds to the savory crunch of the crust.
  4. Bake for about 40 or so minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Bake time will vary with beer type.

Feel free to experiment with different types of beer. This bread is also very receptive to add-ins, like herbs, garlic, and cheese. Throw in about a tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary, and your house will soon smell like…the best thing ever. The final product is great for toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, homemade croutons…the list goes on. So crack open a few cold ones and get baking.

From Dr. Steve Brule, “Wine was Invented by the Romans”

Here in Atlanta, we’re huge Adult Swim fans! Not only are the programs hilarious, but the Cartoon Network studio is right around the corner from our Atlanta store.

In this clip from Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Dr. Steve Brule, Channel 5 news correspondent to the show, checks in to tell us about several different types of wine. Things get out of control when Dr. Brule, played by John C. Reilley, gets inebriated on the air after drinking a bit too much Sweet Berry Wine.

This video is sure to draw a laugh out of even the most serious wine brewer!

A Hops How To: Varieties of Hops for Beer Brewing

Hop Cones on Vine

Hop Cones Growing on the Bine

Hops or Humulus is a group of flowering plants in the Cannabacea family, which incidentally includes the genus Cannabis (hemp) and Celtis (Hackberries).  The hops plant produces male and female flowers on separate plants, which means they are dioecious.  The female flowers, or cones, are used for several culinary purposes but most notably they are used in the brewing of beer .

The hops plant is usually referred to as a vine, but in actuality it is a bine because it uses stiff hairs on its rigid stem instead of tendrils to climb.  It is a perennial plant, re-growing annually from an underground rhizome.  The hops bine can grow over 20 inches in a single week and climb to heights of over 50 feet, spiraling clockwise as it climbs.  If you are a gardener you will be happy to know growing hops is fairly easy and rewarding.

Young Hops Bine Climbing Support

Young Hops Bine Climbing Support

The hop cones impart a spicy floral aroma and a bitter flavor when used in beer brewing.  Beer bitterness is expressed as IBUs or International Bitterness Units; a measure of the intensity of the bitterness in a given beer.  As a point of reference here are some common beer styles and their IBU range.   Alpha acids are the precursors to beer bitterness.  The hops used to add bitterness to a beer are added during the boil so the heat from the boiling wort has time break down the acid.

Another way to use hops in brewing is dry hopping; the process of adding hops to the primary fermenter, the maturation tank, or the casked beer to increase the aroma and hoppy character of the finished beer.  Not all hops are the same, and aside from when and where you add them, there are many different varieties of hops to choose from.  The type of hops chosen can impart more than a subtle difference to the flavor and aroma of your home brew beer, so choose your palette wisely.

Atlantis Visits 18th Annual Southern Brewers’ Festival

Chattanooga, Tennessee is often thought of as having spectacular views, endless outdoor activities, and a growing number of hip, progressive people. What is not so well known about the scenic city is its long lost love of fermentation. That’s right, BEER

This little town has managed to brew up an Annual Southern Brewers Festival proving time and again just how serious it is about finely crafted fermented beverages. This year’s local line up inlcuded The Terminal Brewhouse, McHale’s Brew Pub, Moccasin Bend Brewing Company, Big River Grill, Chattanooga Brewing Company, and special guests The Barley Mob.

There’s not much that compliments an ice cold locally crafted beer like super awesome music on an open-air stage in front of the River City skyline.

Walking around the festival grounds I saw the most convincing Brett Michaels look alike ever.  And who could forget this cool fellow dressed up like the Beer Drinker’s Mascot. He looks prepared with that hard hat…
Safety First!

After recently making the acquaintance of one particular Mobster, I had my heart set on finding the Barley Mob booth and trying their Honey Peach Ale. This curiously delicious concoction, as I’m told, is not your average Pale Ale, nor is it a Mead or Wine, and yet it seems to have the best qualities of all three. The drinkability of a craft ale, the sweetness of a honey mead and the potency of a fine wine.  I should have known when the description stated “ABV (Alcohol By Volume) uncalculated ” that I was dealing with a whole different breed of beverage. Thank you Mr. Beecher!

Some brewers took in excess of ten kegs to return home with less than two. I think it  goes without saying, the festival was a hit! Tasty brews, good music, and all the sunshine one could ask for.  I can’t wait for next year’s celebration of brewing. I can only imagine what sorts of new recipes our local crafts people cook up next. Until then, why not give beer brewing a try? Happy brewing!

Spices for Beer Brewing: A Personal Touch for Your Brewing Passion

With the explosive popularity of cooking shows on television we are becoming a country of foodies.  There is a never before seen demand for gourmet food, and also gourmet beers.  Chefs both professional and amateur are searching for ways to make the perfect food and beer combinations.  There are infinite books and recipes for the home brewer to follow, which produce the perfect beer to compliment every dish.  Like any artisan though, as we become more proficient at our craft, we want to add our own personal touch not just follow a recipe.  A fantastic way to do this is by using spices and herbs to flavor your brew.  Sam Adams® has embraced this idea with great success having seasonal, holiday, & flavored beers in their repertoire.

For centuries master brewers have searched for unique and novel flavors and seasonings to add to their signature brews.  Beyond hops, barley (or wheat), yeast and water they have scoured the natural world searching for that je ne sais quoi or perfect something to complete and compliment the flavor palate of their brew.

Full-bodied dark holiday beers are often spiced with chilies, fruits, herbs, and even chocolate.  Belgians have a history of using black pepper, coriander, grains of paradise and orange peel in their famous wheat beers.  Colonial Americans developed fall beers with the rich aromas and flavors of apples and pumpkin pie.

You probably have a vast group flavor options sitting in your spice rack, but before you brew cayenne and cinnamon into your next beer try to imagine the flavors working together.  A great way to experiment is to add a small amount of the spices you are thinking of working into a tea of sorts using an already finished beer.  This should at least give you an idea if they will work together.

Remember one last thing; fresh whole herbs and spices work much better than dried stale or powdered ones.  So consider growing a beer garden, and have the cream of the crop to choose from!  Here is a great list of spices to flavor beer with.  Enjoy!

Water Quality and Beer Breewing: Can Your Water Ruin Your Brew?

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Water makes up seventy percent of the Earth’s surface, sixty-five percent of your body, and about 90% of the beer you brew. Did you know that the water you use to brew your beer has a huge impact on the quality and type of beer you produce?

Historically a correlation was observed between the liquor composition of an area and the type of beer that the region could best brew. The Pale Ales of Burton-on-Trent and Edinburgh, Porters of London, Stouts of Dublin and Lagers of Pilsen are classic examples.   Read more about water quality and brewing.