What's a FABTS?

The FABTS is a club of homebrewers, beer aficionados, and anyone with an appreciation for the quality and diversity of great beer! As such, we are dedicated to the responsible enjoyment of beer as a alcohol containing quality food product, made to be shared with other people and other foods. The club was founded in 1996 by Lyle C. Brown, National Beer Judge.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

5th Annual Blue & Gray Octoberfest

On Saturday September 29th, Blue and Gray Brewing Company of Fredericksburg, VA held their 5th annual Octoberfest. And while the Bowman Center in Fredericksburg can't match the atmosphere of "die Wiesn" in Munich, it was a great gathering.

The historical background: the first Oktoberfest was held in the year 1810 in honor of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The festivities began on October 12, 1810 and ended on October 17th with a horse race.

In the following years, the celebrations were repeated and, later, the festival was prolonged and moved forward into September. By moving the festivities up, it allowed for better weather conditions. Because the September nights were warmer, the visitors were able to enjoy the gardens outside the tents and the stroll over “die Wiesen” or the fields much longer without feeling chilly. Historically, the last Oktoberfest weekend was in October and this tradition continues into present times.
The Blue and Gray Octoberfest started the first year I moved to the region, 2002. Some of the mainstays have been at the festival since the beginning. Beer, Brats and Bavarian music. The beers this year were all of the normal Fredericksburg Brewing Company line of beers, Fred Red, Falmouth American Pale Ale, the Classic Lager and Stonewall Stout. I sampled the American Pale Ale. The hop character hits you right away with this beer. I think it's a little overpowering. The Fred Red has a malty sweetness and little hop flavor. I talked with some of the brewers there and they say that they make a 50/50, Half Falmouth, half Fred Red to balance out the flavor.

They had a little bit of the Hefeweizen left but that was tapped out in the first half hour. The other two specialty beers were a Baron von Steuben Oktoberfest lager and a Temporary Insanity Imperial Stout. The Oktoberfest was brewed back in February and has been lagering since then. It has a dark amber color and caramel malty flavor. As it warmed up I noticed hints of chestnuts. The beer drinks as smooth as milk with the bitterness hitting your tongue at the end. A very good Fest.

The Temporary Insanity Imperial Stout poured an opaque black with a tan head. The beer was medium-bodied and its mouth feel was a little thin for the style. But the beer had a great taste of coffee and bittersweet chocolate. Due to its 11% ABV you felt every swallow of beer on its way to the stomach. Very nice.

The entertainment provided was what you expect at Oktoberfest. German band "The Low N Brows" provided enough polka and waltzes for the crowd to get into the groove and played the "Ein Prosit" German drinking song enough to get the author thoroughly buzzed in the few hours we were there. The Spotsylvania Sheriff's K-9 Department also put on a demonstration of their tracking abilities. I knew I had had enough when I started heckling a cop. Cut me off!

The crowd at the festival was very jovial and was still having a good time when I left. Congratulations to the Blue and Gray Brewing Company for putting on a great Oktoberfest.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

BMWs and Craft Brewing

Every labor day BMW hosts a homecoming for the Z3 and Z4 cars that were built in their plant in Greenville / Spartanburg, SC. The 2007 BMW Homecoming was BMW's 11th year of doing this and the first year Angela and I went. There were over 600 Z3's and Z4's at the reunion. On Saturday morning they take a panoramic picture of all of them in from of the very plant where they were created. It was an awesome experience.

During the weekend we had a chance to visit the local brewpub, The Blue Ridge Brewing Company. Prior to 1995, in South Carolina you could not legally open a brew pub. Then, Bob Hiller lobbied the state and won. In 1995, the Blue Ridge Brewing Company officially opened its doors for business. All of their beers are brewed on site by brewmaster Jay Simpson.

The Blue Ridge Brewing company is located in Downtown Greenville. We found downtown Greenville to be very nice, very clean, and appealing. Tree-lined streets and a river running through downtown with a waterfall. The Blue Ridge Brewing Company fits in very well; a nice atmosphere inside with outside sidewalk seating in summer.

Angela and I enjoyed the outside weather and settled in to sample a few beers. I started with their Colonel Paris Pale Ale and Angela had their Kurli Blonde Ale. You got to love a Pale Ale with a great Cascade nose. As this was a warm day, the Pale Ale went down too fast. The Kurli Blonde was an American-style wheat beer. Another one that was easily drinkable on a warm day.
For a snack Angela and I had the Southwestern Quesadilla. It was loaded with Smoked Chicken, Black Beans, Roasted Peppers, Cilantro, Onions, Artichoke Hearts, and Cheese. To wash it down I had their Double Ball and Chain High Gravity IPA. From their menu it states that this beer is overflowing with Chinook, Cascade, Amarillo and Centennial hops. At 110 IBU and 10% abv, it was a perfect match to the spicy quesadilla.
After we finished the quesadilla I had room for one more. I decided to try their Rye Patch Pale Ale. There was definite rye character in the nose, but a different mixture of hops were used as compared to the Colonel Paris Pale Ale. This beer finished a little more dry than that 0ne as well. This was their new seasonal that they had just tapped less than a week earlier. We just missed out on their Hurricane Hefe Weizen.
The other beers they had on tap were the Rainbow Trout ESB and their Total Eclipse Stout. I wasn't expecting much but was pleaseantly surprised with the quality of the beers at Blue Ridge Brewing Company. They also offer us these rules to live by.

- James

Rules to Live By:

  • In all things, practice moderation. Except with regard to beer, ale, and whiskey.
  • Be kind to animals, children, the elderly, and anyone or anything else that can fetch you a pint.
  • If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Better yet, trade the damn lemons for some barley and yeast and brew yourself some ale.
  • Silence is golden, but ale is goldener.
  • Patience is a virtue. Remember this when letting the pint settle.
  • The truth shall set you free. This does not apply when the question is "How many pints have you had?"
  • Never use profanity. Except when the^%$#@&! damn pub has closed.
  • Never leave a pint undrained; It gives the glass low self-esteem.
  • Always choose your words carefully, especially if you're slurring.