Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Memphis Beer Beat: Out and About

Posted By on Wed, Sep 28, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Over the last week or so there’s been more than a few great beer events in and around Memphis (check out the fuzzybrew blog for just about all of the regional brew news).

Last weekend, Harrah’s Tunica hosted the inaugural Double-Down Beer-Rita Festival — a new addition to the 2011 Smokin’ Aces BBQ Championship.

At the Beer-Rita Festival just as it opened.
  • At the Beer-Rita Festival tent just as it opened.

The beer fest was held over two sessions and featured 101 regional, craft, and macro beers including our own Ghost River, Mississippi’s Lazy Magnolia, Schlafly, Rogue, and Anchor along with imports like Samuel Smith, Spaten, and Smitwicks, among others.

While attendance for the mid-day session seemed low, Regional PR Manager for Harrah’s, Patrick Collins, said that it was popular enough to continue in the foreseeable future. Which is great news— especially for Mississippi with, from what I can tell, has only a few beer festivals to its name.

Most of the attendees I met under the beer tent were largely unfamiliar with craft beer, and after some initial hesitancy to try anything other than the big three ( Anheiser-Busch, Coors, and Miller) and their faux-craft brands (Blue Moon, Leinenkugel, etc.), they seemed all too willing to recommend the line-ups from microbreweries like Red
Brick or Abita.

And that’s what’s so wonderful about beer festivals— it’s a way of evening the playing field, taking what’s normally off most people’s radars and placing it front and center. With every beer available at essentially the same price, there’s no real incentive to stick to the same-old, same-old. If you don’t like a beer, just move on to the next one, and if you do...well, that’s even better: you’ve got a foothold to the world of quality beer.

Also, I’ve got to hand it to Ghost River: of every brewery represented at the Double-Down beer fest, they were the only ones to make the trip to Tunica to answer questions and talk shop, speaking volumes to their passion for great beer.

All in all, an event worth checking out when it rolls around again next year.


Closer to home, the Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs put on a homebrewing demonstration at the Cooper Young Farmers Market on Saturday (9/24) led by member Clark Ortkiese.

This was the second demonstration in the educational series called “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Homebrewing (But Were Afraid to Ask).”

The series, said Ortkiese, is designed to show just how easy brewing your own great tasting beer can be.

The next installment has yet to be scheduled, so if you’re interested, keep an eye out for updates here, fuzzybrew, or the Bluff City Brewers website.

After Ortkiese packed up his gear, we headed across the street to Young Avenue Deli, where we were joined by Jeff Lowder, another homebrewer and member of Bluff City, to talk over a pint.

Unfortunately, my phone decided to delete the recording of the conversation, and I’d rather not misrepresent or misquote Ortkiese and Lowder, so we’ll save the details on the Brewers for a later date.

Until then, I will say that they were both were great guys, more than keen to talk about beer, and knowledgeable to boot. I mentioned that I had some problems with my last batch of homebrew (a Belgian-style dubbel that turned cloyingly sweet), and they diagnosed the problem in no time.

For those interested in learning more about brewing or beer in general, the guys and gals at Bluff City should be your one-stop-shop for everything you’ll ever need to know.

They meet every third Thursday at the Central BBQ on Summer. Check ‘em out.

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