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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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.