Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Carb loading before the County Music Marathon


I drink, therefore I run.

That sums up my exercise philosophy right there. A good ten miles on the weekend seems to keep the beer gut in check. I always say I have a six-pack stomach, but it's on the inside where you can't see it.

So my training for this year's half marathon was to run a little on the weekends. Then one month before the half-marathon, I hurt my knee and decided to take some time off. One thing lead to another, and I missed the entire month - no running at all. And then, the night before, my wife calls and says meet her and the kids at our friend's house for some drinks and bbque.

Our friend has come up with what she calls "beer-garitas". Basically a can of frozen limeade, then fill the empty can with tequila, and add three pale ales. They were delicious! I had four, then decided to switch to beer. Well, at ten-thirty we made it home. At four-thirty the next morning, I awoke to a hangover and a steady cold rain on the windows. Man, it was hard to get out of that warm bed and head out to downtown to stand in the cold rain for two hours waiting for the start.

But I made it in under two hours! And felt the best afterwards in five years of running the race. So it just goes to show, beer makes you a better runner!

New batch of Hop Project IPA on tap this weekend

The newest incarnation of our Hop Project IPA, #6, will be on tap this weekend at the taproom only. Why the taproom only? Because, with the price of hops these days, and based on how many we used, I'd have to charge an arm and a leg to sell it anywhere else.

I've got a lot of new readers, who are probably asking, "What the heck is Hop Project"? Well, last year, we began working on developing a kick-ass IPA recipe. We alternated the hops in each batch of IPA we brewed, with the intention of coming up with the best blend we could and then releasing that beer as a year-round Yazoo IPA. And then the hop shortage hit, and we could no longer get enough hops to release the recipe we had come up with. So we kept on brewing an IPA any time we managed to score a couple of boxes here or there of different hops.

For this batch, we used Pilgrim, Millenium, and Simcoe. It's a unique IPA to say the least. I've never had an IPA with as many different hop flavors, and one whose bitterness sneaks up on you. The first sip, you say, "wow, this is well balanced!" Then the bitterness washes over you like a rising tide, with the enamel of your teeth crying "Mercy!" That's actually a pleasant sensation to a hophead like me.

In addition to the new batch of Hop Project IPA, we will have on tap:


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Best time to hit the Nashville Flying Saucer is this week

Because they just ripped out their old cooler, and replaced it with a new one, and most importantly, all new draft lines. If you ever wanted to catch a night when all of the beers on the wall are poured through completely new lines, stop by when this week after they re-open Wednesday night. Draft line cleaning makes a huge difference, and it doesn't get any cleaner than when they are brand spankin new.



Sunday, April 20, 2008

Back from San Diego Craft Brewers Conference

Just flew in from San Diego, and boy are my arms tired...

Man, tough crowd.

My wife Lila and I flew out Thursday, unfortunately missing the opening reception at Stone the night before. It was great to rub elbows with some of the greats in this biz - Jim Koch sat next to me during one of the hop seminars, and brewing "rock stars" were all over place. What's the coolest part is getting to know some of the hop and barley producers - we usually are purchasing through distributors, and never get a chance to meet the people actually growing the stuff. I had a beer or five with Darren Gamache, of VGF farms, who discovered and patented the Amarillo hop variety, which I personally love. Very interesting discussions on hop forward contracts and how he thinks that will be detrimental to the variety and diversity of hops available.

But, after all of the west coast IPAs (I think I know where all the damn hops went to), it's nice to be sitting here typing and drinking a Yazoo Pale. And it's good to be back home in Nashville.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Nashville becoming a craft beer town?

Well, I heard some interesting news this morning. The fight for beer taps around town is going to get even more competitive, but at least we'll be competing with good beer, instead of the macro-crap. Magic Hat Brewery, out of Vermont, has signed a distribution deal with Ajax-Turner, the area Anheuser-Busch distributor. It's really interesting to see the big A-B house signing up craft breweries - they signed up Yeungling and Atlanta Brewing last year, and now Magic Hat. A-B has relaxed some of their restrictions on their distributors, letting them carry beers with higher margins than Bud and Bud Light. We'll see how well they can sell craft beer.

I also heard that New Belgium Brewing out of Colorado, the brewer that makes "Fat Tire", will be in town again to interview with Ajax-Turner and DET Distributing. So far, New Belgium has not distributed across the Mississippi river - you can get it in West Memphis, but not Memphis. I'll be surprised if they really do decide to come into Tennessee before other states like Georgia and North Carolina, that have more established craft beer markets like Atlanta or Charlotte. Our 17% wholesale tax really hurts the profits of the breweries that sell here, especially compared with other Southern states.

Anyway, it's a sure sign that Nashville is becoming viewed as a good town to sell craft beer. When we started our brewery five years ago, it seemed like Sierra Nevada and Flying Dog were the only craft brands available. Most restaurants would only have four taps. Now most new restaurants have a much larger selection of draft and are more and more devoting the space to craft and imports. As a brewer, I'm not looking forward to more and more of the "big craft brewers" like New Belgium and Magic Hat coming into the market. But as a beer lover too, I'm glad for the diversity we're starting to see.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Bottle it for a sunny day...

Well, it's a cool, rainy day here in Nashville. Surely we have made up for the drought last year by now. Let me tell you, the old Marathon building is not the most fun place to be when it rains. We put a new roof over our space when we built it out in 2002, but the rest of the building... let's just say it's weatherproof-challenged.

But we're bottling our Hefeweizen today! Just watching all those bright yellow labels rolling by makes me think of popping off the cap of one in a couple weeks, when hopefully the weather will have improved to the typical sunny April days we usually have here in Nashville.
It also takes a couple of weeks after bottling for the Hefe to reach its prime. Why? Because we follow a traditional German method of adding the carbonation to the beer. The day before we are going to bottle Hefe, we brew a new batch. Then just before bottling, we dose in a portion of the new, unfermented beer into the bottling tank, and then package it. The new, unfermented beer is full of malt sugars and live, young yeast, and it undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle. The carbon dioxide the secondary fermentation creates is trapped in the bottle, boosting the carbonation to the high levels typical of Bavarian hefeweizens, and giving the beer a smooth, creamy texture and mouthfeel. We won a gold medal at the 2004 GABF with this beer in its draft version, but I actually think it's even better in the bottle. For the best flavor, I recommend pouring about half of the bottle into a traditional Hefeweizen glass, swirling the bottle to rouse up the yeast, and then finishing the pour.
And an update on where it can be found - it's been in Kroger grocery stores since January, but Publix just recently added it to their Yazoo selection as well!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Saturday tour pics

See how much fun you could have had this Saturday? We give guided brewery tours every Saturday, starting at 2:30, 3:30, 4:30, 5:30, and 6:30. For not much cash, you get a souvenir pint glass and samples of our beers during the tour.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Someday our name will be in lights!

Nothing beats seeing your logo all lit up in neon. It's been a long strange trip from when my wife jumped out of bed in the middle of night and sketched out our logo on a scrap piece of paper. When she got back to bed, I asked her what was going on, and she mumbled, "I had an idea, we'll look at it in the morning." And there it was when I woke up. Our logo, which I love and think is cool, so keep it to yourself if you don't. And now, after lots of false starts with different neon designers, we found one who could replicate it in neon.
We only had a limited number of these done - heck, they're expensive! If you see one in a bar or restaurant around town, it's a great bet that they have supported us from way back.
We are also selling them at our taproom. It's the ultimate collectors item for anyone who loves Yazoo beer. We only have 25 available, and when they are gone, they're gone. We're selling them for $250 at the taproom, and we will even ship them to you if you can't make it here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

On tap this weekend April 3 - 5th

We will have on tap this weekend:


We're missing the Hop Project IPA series too - if you happen to come across any hops looking for a good home, send them our way! We can't find the hops we need, at any price, right now.

Yazoo drink pretty good, don't it?

If you haven't seen this video yet, of the debate in the Alabama House of Representatives over the bill to allow over 6% abv beer into the state, check it out at http://www.freethehops.org/ or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEFDVc6XCcc. Skip to about the 5:30 minute mark for some of the funniest comments by Rep. Alvin Homes of Birmingham. It's an instant classic! "What's wrong with the beer we got? It drink pretty good, don't it? We got Budweiser... what's the name of some of those other beers? They drink pretty good, don't they?"
To commemorate his immortal words of wisdom, we've come up with this t-shirt design - we're thinking of getting them out in time for the Magic City Brewfest in May.
If you like this t-shirt design, send me an email at linus@yazoobrew.com and we'll get some coming.
UPDATE: Due to the fact that the Gourmet Beer Bill is still hung up in Alabama's Senate, I got some sage advice to nix this idea - don't need anything to antagonize the fine people in Montgomery. Maybe after that passes?