What’s Brewing: Catawba Brewing Soulshine Kolsch

Just as summer BBQs are shifting into high gear across the country, like-minded companies, Mountain Khakis and Catawba Brewing have joined forces to create the limited-edition Soulshine Kölsch.

With the official launch in late June, the co-branded Soulshine Kölsch marks a special collaboration between the apparel and beer brands, both of whom have locations in North Carolina and embrace the lifestyle of mountain towns like Jackson Hole, Wyoming: the hometown of Mountain Khakis.

In addition to sharing great taste, the two brands are committed to quality product, celebrate outdoor adventure and are committed to protecting lands and waterways. In line with both companies’ conservation stewardship, a portion of all Soulshine Kölsch sales will benefit the Catawba Lands Conservancy.

“Our companies came together with such great synergy! Mountain Khakis does things authentically. Catawba Brewing does things authentically…it was a natural partnership,” said Mary Mayo, Creative Director of Catawba Brewing Co. “We share pride in this delicious summer beer and that Catawba Lands Conservancy will benefit from our efforts.”

Soulshine Kolsch: Slight bodied, mellow flavor. Low malt profile. Medium carbonation, with a very mild flavor.  Finishes dry and has some floral notes. A true session beer for the summer months.

For more information go to: Catawba Brewing

What’s Brewing: Alpine Beer Company

Alpine Beer Company began with Patrick and Valerie McIlhenney. While visiting friends in Northern California, the McIlhenney’s fell in love with the idea of opening a brewpub. Not right away but someday.

Pat discovered you could legally make your own beer. He was all over that and started homebrewing for fun. Homebrewing quickly turned into recipe development. Pat submitted his homebrews to competitions around San Diego County. He followed the feedback from judges and repeated the submission process until a high placing medal was awarded. Pat was hooked.

A local homebrew supply store hired Pat to work part-time. He eventually ended up teaching advanced homebrewing classes in the back of the store. The University of California at Davis offered extension classes in Brewing, Microbiology and Sanitation which Pat attended instead of taking a vacation from his firefighting day job.

Next, Pat insinuated himself on Skip and Ted, his friends who just opened AleSmith Brewing. Pat volunteered at the fledgling brewery, cleaning and helping out wherever needed. After a few years of working at AleSmith, Pat asked Skip if he could contract AleSmith to make some Alpine Beer Company beer. Before year’s end, “McIlhenney’s Irish Red” was released as the first-ever Alpine beer. Soon after that, Pure Hoppiness made its debut. Over the next two years, Pat and Val worked toward their next goal – opening their very own brewery.

The first beer Pat brewed in Alpine was an American Wheat Ale called Willy, named after Val’s brother who helped them build the brewery. The next beers Pat introduced were Mandarin Nectar, Alpine Ale, and Captain Stout. Shawn, the son of Pat and Val, began his brewing career in earnest. Shawn flexed his creative muscle and brewed Bad Boy for the first time. Alpine made their first venture into barrel aged sours with Ichabod and earned a Gold medal at the World Beer Cup. Shawn officially took on the role of “Head Brewer” and is focused on making magic in the brewhouse.

The brewery finally got some much-needed room to expand. The garage behind the brewery was converted into more fermentation and bottling space. Pat bought four double-batch fermenters from, of all places, Green Flash. Capacity was tripled to 1,500 barrels a year. Brewing at capacity was immediate. Pat and Val opened a tiny, 36 seat diner-style pub in the same building as the brewery, but at the opposite end and call it, “The Pub”. The pub focuses on a barbecue menu and Alpine’s delicious beer. On most days, you can find Pat and Val hanging out at the restaurant’s bar, chatting with their neighbors over a beer.

Green Flash Brewing who now owns Alpine sent us a nice selection of brews for review:

Duet: Pine forward hop flavor with undertones of citrus. Fairly rich, almost a DIPA in character. Medium body. Good carbonation. A little stone fruit can be picked out as well. The malt is heavy enough to balance out the beer but doesn’t overpower the subtle flavors that can be found. Earthy as well. Tasty beer.

Hoppy Birthday: Thick white head. Velvet mouthfeel. Bitter, and has herbal qualities. Notes of tangerine and a lot of pine throughout the tasting. A bit of tropical fruit notes can also be found. Medium carbonation and a lighter body than what you would expect from the flavor. Absolutely delicious! A 9/10.

Truck Trail: Mellow brew with caramel malt flavor. Indistinct hop flavors. Soft mouthfeel. Decent pale ale, but the hop flavor disappears quickly, leaving the malt.

Willy: Light bodied. Tastes a little like a corn-based beer. Thin flavor, but with some light floral aroma.

Windows Up: Bitterness that slowly recedes. Thick malt that creeps in. Medium body. Grassy aroma, with a resin quality. Slight citrus throughout the beer. An easy-going brew, but at 7% abv that can be dangerously delicious.

For more information go to: Alpine Beer Co.


What’s Brewing: Green Flash Brewing

Green Flash is an award-winning craft brewery founded in 2002. Today, Brewmaster Erik Jensen leads brewing operations with unconventional ingredients and an obsession over every detail of the brewing process.  Based in San Diego, Green Flash remains independently owned and operated and produces an eclectic lineup of specialty craft beer. It runs a full-scale brewery and tasting room in San Diego and has recently opened a brewhouse and eatery in Lincoln, Nebraska.

As Green Flash’s first full-scale restaurant, the new location will serve fresh Green Flash and Alpine beer, as well as a full menu of dishes highlighting fresh and seasonal ingredients, including various vegetarian options.  The new brewery will be used to experiment and innovate, providing Lincoln with exclusive Green Flash offerings.  The restaurant currently has 25 employees running the restaurant and brewery operations. The Green Flash Brewhouse & Eatery is the company’s fourth location in the U.S.

Green Flash sent us an excellent selection of their beers for review.

GFB: Bright blonde ale with a light straw color. Very easy to drink, with a nice flavor. Tastes toasted, with a good clean finish.

Passion Fruit Kicker: Very aromatic with fruit notes throughout the entire experience. Starts off very fruity with the wheat coming in later, and finally finishing again with a strong fruit flavor. Sweet, but not sugary. Wheat flavor is nice, and although the fruit flavor is unique, it’s a bit too strong and easily overpowers the brew. Very similar to a fruit tea. Akin to hibiscus flavored beers.

Remix IPA: Very smooth, almost creamy texture. Pleasant hop profile. Bitter, but not overpowering. Citrusy and a bit floral. Very easy to drink. Lasting bitterness muted by a little sweetness from the malt. Notes of grapefruit. Malt has a caramel quality.

Sea to Sea Lager: Crisp, bright flavor. Notes of biscuit. Well carbonated.

Soul style: Deliciously tropical, with a near perfect balance of malt to give the fruit character a hand in competing with the bitter hops. Highly aromatic, and hoppy, this beer is a go-to for summertime brews.

West Coast IPA: Strong, very bitter, heavier body with a very resin forward hop profile. Fading bitterness on the back palate. Very similar to a grassy or herbal character, or strong bitter grapefruit peel. While having an intense flavor, the beer is smooth and not harsh. Classic example of a resiny Double IPA.

Review by Kieran Jerome Matthew

For more information go to: Green Flash Brew


GSN Alert: July 14th – National Grand Marnier Day

J.Labanda-2It feels as if Grand Marnier has been around for at least a few centuries.  But, this quintessential spirit only dates back to 1880.  The recipe was created by Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle who worked at a fruit liqueur distillery owned by his wife’s grandfather.  He sourced Citrus Bagaradia oranges grown in the West Indies, which are still used in the production today.  The Cognac base is made from the Ugni Blanc grape grown in the Cognac region of France.  Sugar syrup is added, and then everything is aged in oak casks and filtered before bottling.

Here are a few classic cocktails for you to try that call for Grand Marnier:

Leap Year
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1 dash lemon juice
Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Satan’s Whiskers
3/4 ounce gin
3/4 ounce dry vermouth
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce orange juice
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1 dash orange bitters
Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

GSN Review: Booker’s Batch 2018-02 “Backyard BBQ”

The first Booker’s Batch release of 2018, Booker’s “Backyard BBQ” is named in tribute to Booker Noe and his love for hosting good, old-fashioned cookouts for friends, family, neighbors and distillery employees in his own backyard in Bardstown, KY. Booker always made sure his “Bourbon-ques” were complete with plenty of good bourbon and enough of his sizzling flambéed pork chops to go around. A cookout by Booker wasn’t complete without them! Today, Fred Noe and his son, Freddie, carry on this tradition and host their own “Bourbon-ques” — with bourbon and flambéed pork chops, of course — throughout the summer for all to enjoy. Like all of Booker’s batches, Booker’s “Backyard BBQ” was selected by Fred Noe, bottled uncut at its natural proof and age of 6 years, 2 months and 10 days.

Backyard BBQ (128.8 proof)
Visual: Dark amber.
Nose: Rich, deep and evocative with a sharp oak char tang. To me, there is a warm ,summery essence that is somehow captured in the bottle.
Taste: A dry and tannic start leads into a sweeter caramel flavor that again moves on to a broader and slightly spicy finish. Baking spice, slight vanilla, hefty oak, and a body that resonates with southern charm.
Finish: Long. A sip or two will do you every ten minutes or so. This is a bourbon to linger over.
Overall: If there was ever a bourbon designed to go with grilled meats, this one is it. Just make sure you water it down a bit, we don’t want you too relaxed and letting the ribs burn. 😉
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Booker’s Bourbon

GSN Alert: July 10th – National Piña Colada Day

other-caribe-pina-coladaPiña Colada translates to “strained pineapple”, but of course there’s more to it than that.  In fact, the cream of coconut is key to achieving the perfect balance of tropical flavors.  Coco López which was invented in 1948 in Puerto Rico by Don Ramon Lopez Irizarry.  The canned coconut product soon found its way around the country’s bars and by 1954 it was used at the Caribe Hilton Hotel’s Beachcomber Bar in San Juan.  One of the hotel’s bartenders, Ramón ‘Monchito’ Marrero Pérez (pictured at left), it generally the person credited with inventing the classic silver-age cocktail. Twenty-four years later, the Puerto Rican government recognized the Piña Colada as the national drink.

Here’s the original recipe as specified by Ramón Pérez.

“Pour 3 ounces of coconut cream, 6 ounces of pineapple juice and 112 ounces of white rum into a blender or shaker with crushed ice, and blend or shake very well until smooth. Pour into chilled glass, garnish with pineapple wedge and/or a maraschino cherry.”

The Caribe Hilton Hotel still serves the original, but also offers a molecular mixology version which contains coconut oil infused white rum, clarified pineapple juice, house made pineapple syrup and coconut water, served with a coconut ice pop.

Now I’m thirsty.  ¡Salud!

What’s Brewing: Einstök Beer

Einstök means “unique” and Ölgerd means “brewery” in Icelandic. Einstök Ölgerð is located just 60 miles south of the Arctic circle in the fishing port of Akureyri, Iceland. There, the water flows from rain and prehistoric glaciers down the Hlíðarfjall Mountain and through ancient lava fields, delivering the perfect foundation for brewing craft ales. They are not a brewery that strives to come out with a new style every week. It takes them nine to twelve months to release new styles,

Icelandic White Ale: Very mild and smooth. Low carbonation and refreshing. Aroma has a slight hint of lemon in it. The orange peel and coriander come through a little stronger than the more widely known and mass produced white ales. This is a good thing. If you want an excellent white ale, look no further than Iceland.

Icelandic Arctic Pale Ale: Hoppy with a good malt backbone. Low carbonation, but a nice white head. The body is similar to a cream ale. The initial hop flavors come off as strong, but surprisingly they simmer down after a few seconds. While not a rich beer, there is certainly a lot of flavor and it all balances out with the smooth texture and clean taste. After a few sips, it’s an easy beer to settle into, and would be a great “go to” year round.

Icelandic Toasted Porter: Incredibly dark color. Virtually opaque, held up to a bright light, you can see a dark red-brown. Head is a light brown. Very creamy and smooth. Bitterness is balanced with the heavy malts, but not a terribly sweet beer as many porters can be. Incredibly rich, smooth and easy to drink. Primary flavors are of toffee and a bit of coffee. Slight charred flavor.

Icelandic Wee Heavy: Dark brown color. Very sweet. Highly malt forward. No “booziness” which can be prevalent in many wee heavy ales. A rich character which is easily drinkable and smooth. Light head. A pleasant taste of herbal spices. Hint of smoke flavor.

Review by Kieran Jerome Matthew

For more information go to: Einstök Beer