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Southern Brewing
By Bobby Bush


Catawba Valley Brewing
212 South Green
Morganton, NC 28655
(No phone yet)

Heinzelmannchen Brewery
545 Mill St.
P.O. Box 2075
Sylva, NC 28779

Browning’s Brewery
401 East Main St.
Louisville, KY 40202

Titan Brewing (micro)
2157 Viscount Row
Orlando, FL 32809

Big Bear Brewing
1800 N. University Dr.
Coral Springs, FL 33065


Delayed a day due to freezing rain that crippled the South, the first Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting welcomed a 200-strong crowd nonetheless. A benefit for Relay for Life, the tasting also served as competition among 13 locally produced brews. First place went to contract brewer Terrapin Beer Company for Wake-N-Bake on Wood, an oatmeal imperial stout. Brewer Spike Buckowski’s not-so-secret ingredient is Costa Rican coffee roasted in Atlanta by J. Martinez. For the cask version, Buckowski added French vanilla oak chips.

Second and third place awards went to a pair of siblings. Buckhead Colorado Steakhouse in Alpharetta, Ga., grabbed the red ribbon for an imperial pale ale called Emperor Penguin. The Stockbridge, Ga., Buckhead brewpub followed with honors for Panther Pale Ale, a hoppy American pale ale.

Mark’s Maple Mild, from Atlanta Brewing, was recognized as the “unofficial Honorable Mention” ale by the judges. The medium-bodied ale was conditioned on a bed of bourbon- and maple syrup–infused maple wood chips. Other participating breweries included host Sweetwater, Athens, Ga.; brewpub Copper Creek; Dahlonega Brewing (Georgia); Five Seasons; Max Lager’s American Grill & Brewery; Mellow Mushroom (a multi-tap bar with a mini-micro brewhouse in downtown Athens); Park Tavern; Rock Bottom; and Zuma Brewing. Organizer Owen Ogletree, who also runs the Classic City Brew Fest (see below), has already announced the next Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting.

Scott Pyatt is moving his microbrewery. Operating in a cramped basement in a dry county since inception, Catawba Valley Brewing will soon have spacious quarters in downtown Morganton, N.C. With a great location in the culturally active town, 20-foot ceilings and over 7,000 square feet on one floor, Pyatt hopes to rent part of the facility for use as a restaurant or perhaps a for-rent banquet hall. Excited to be doing “something artsy and fun,” Pyatt is looking forward to becoming part of the downtown social scene. Catawba Valley Buffalo Nickel Ale, Indian Head Red, Brown Bear Ale, Firewater IPA and Honest Injun Stout should benefit from the relocation.

Secluded in the mountains of North Carolina about 50 miles west of Asheville, Dieter Kuhn has been quietly brewing beer since April 2004. Though the German-born, Siebel-trained brewer takes his job seriously — Kuhn still works a regular nursing shift — he more and more frequently fires the brew-kettle of his Heinzelmannchen Brewery to keep local customers happy. Selling fancy German growlers to-go out the front door and having kegs delivered to restaurants in the populated terrain surrounding the town of Sylva, the “fresh-beer” fanatic is, by necessity, an all-ale brewer. Taking its name from the folklore of South Germany’s Black Forest, brought to life by tales of gnomelike creatures, the microbrewery offers wares such as Gopher, an American pilsner-style ale; Ancient Days Honey Blonde; Middleworld Brown, in the malty U.K. style; and the supple Black Forest Stout. More info on “Your Hometown Brewery” can be found at yourgnometownbrewery.com.

With brewer Eileen Martin’s departure from Browning’s Brewery in late January, Assistant Brewer Bill Dinkins took over as head brewer. A homebrewer while living in Texas and Colorado, Dinkins began his professional brewing career with the three-year-old Louisville, Ky., brewpub, coming on board with Martin when the establishment opened. Somewhat shocked by her sudden departure, the unassisted brewer says “business is crazy now” and will only get wilder when the baseball season gears up (Browning’s is located adjacent to the Louisville Sluggers’ stadium). The Sluggers “sold a ton of season tickets.” Renewed brewpub ownership involvement and a new general manager have encouraged Dinkins to keep the beer flowing with more seasonal selections, including a Belgian dubbel and a Rye Ale on tap now, and, of course, plenty of lighter lagers for the baseball fans.

Former Hops brewer Matt Glass has been working full-time since October to bring Titan Brewing to life. A new 30-barrel custom-built brewhouse is the centerpiece of his Orlando, Fla., microbrewery. First out of the blocks will be kegged-only Alva Triple Bock, named to honor Glass's “namesake, a fourth-generation brewer who passed away in 1968, the year I was born,” and Knuckle Dragger XX Oatmeal Stout, a “beer-geek beer.”

Big Bear Brewing was recently recognized as a Regional Champion in the U.S. Beer Tasting Championship for Paw Print IPA. According to Brewmaster Matthew Cox, the Coral Springs, Fla., brewpub has “a whole slew of medals,” including a 2002 GABF gold in the Belgian-Style Abbey Ale competition.

The 275-seat, seven-year-old Big Bear facility was designed and constructed for use as a restaurant and brewery. Cox, who brewed 500 barrels last year, keeps eight beers on tap. Typical for touristy Florida, his Polar Light is the most popular beer with patrons; however, Cox takes pride in Hibernation Pale Ale, boasting that “people drive up from Miami just for the IPA.”

New to the somewhat deprived Southern beer drinkers: South Carolinians should look for Munster, Germany’s Pinkus Organic Ur Pils and Organic Hefe Weizen. And from the Pacific Northwest, check shelves and back-bars for recent arrivals from BridgePort Brewing. The 21-year-old Portland micro is now selling its classic brews — including BridgePort ESB, IPA and Black Strap Stout — in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and 14 other states.

Gordon Biersch closed its Memphis brewpub but has a new one planned for the Washington, D.C., area.

The drawn-out bankruptcy of Avado Brands, the Madison, Ga., parent of the Hops brewpub chain, has closed 20 of its locations, leaving only 37 (of what was at one time close to 60) stores open. On the auction blocks are 12 facilities in Florida, three in South Carolina, two in Colorado and one each in North Carolina, Minnesota, Georgia and Virginia. In 2001, Hops was the No. 2 brewpub chain in terms of beer sold.

On April 2, the 10th annual Red, White, and Brew, a beer- and wine-tasting extravaganza, will hold court at Atlanta’s Lenox Square. Beers from more than 30 breweries, along with a few bottles of wine and live music, will grace the always-sold-out event, a fund-raiser for Atlanta's High Museum of Art. For details, see theredwhiteandbrew.com.

The following weekend greets the third Hickory Hops, a festival that I help organize. Sponsored by the Hickory, N.C., Downtown Development Association and Olde Hickory Brewery, last year’s fest entertained over 1,200 people. Beer from about 30 breweries, plenty of food from local restaurants and three live bands are on tap for this six-hour outdoor festival. Tickets available at hickoryhops.com.

April 16 will see the 10th Classic City Brew Fest in downtown Athens, Ga. Limited to 2,500 festers, the fest will offer over 200 beers — including local and regional strong beers — accompanied by German bar music and the Sangerkreis dancers. Co-sponsor Terrapin Brewing will introduce its newest creation, a double-strength Imperial Rye Pale Ale (“potent, malty and outrageously hoppy”) at the indoor Classic Center event. As the celebration continues of the July 2004 success of Georgians for World Class Beer, other high-gravity beers on hand will include sipping samples from Ommegang, Oskar Blues, Rogue, Sierra Nevada, Copper Creek, Brooklyn, Five Seasons, Max Lager’s, Moon River, Spaten and Chimay.

The fourth Border Beer Bust breaks out on April 29. Some 4,000 people attended last year’s Augusta, Ga., fest. Over 200 beers will be poured at Riverwalk Bulkhead, near the banks of the Savannah River. The borderbeerbust.com site will be up soon.

Town Point Park in Norfolk, Va., hosts the fourth Virginia Beer Festival on May 14. Rain or shine, there will be a bevy of beers from international and domestic breweries topped off by delectable foods and live entertainment. Tables for eight (which include a souvenir pitcher full of beer) can be reserved in advance (only) at 757-282-2822. See virginiaartsfest.com/funoutdoors.html.

On tap in Massanutten, Va., for May 28 is Valley Fest — Shenandoah Valley Beer and Wine Festival, sponsored by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce. Watch massresort.com/2003/events/schedule.asp for more information.

Bobby Bush is just a good ol’ Southern boy who loves his beer rich and tasty and despises all things NASCAR. Comments and sarcasm are welcome at bobbywbush@charter.net.


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