Beer festivals are a wonderful invention…

How can you go wrong with a beer festival?

I mean, it’s truly a brilliant idea to start with. You take about 5000-7000 people, pack them into a park area roughly the size of a city block, then give them unlimited free beer for a few hours. Taster glasses, of course, because we’re not here to get drunk but to try new and different brews.

So I went to the Raleigh Beer festival this weekend, and tried, oh, about 70-ish of the beers that were available. Lots of local brews, which I was happy with. I did not know North Carolina had so many microbreweries, but there were freakin’ dozens of them represented there.

The entire crew at the Raleigh Beer Festival

Met some new people, had dozens of people compliment me on my choice of t-shirt (good choice dad!), and had a lot of quality brews.

Notably good was the beer from Top of the Hill in Chapel Hill, NC. Their Blueberry Wheat was excellent, and I quite liked the Old Well White too. The Leaderboard Lager was quite good as well, albeit a very plain and simple beer. Something you could drink a lot of, a quality lager. I sampled most of their beers, and those really stood out to me.

The Foothills brewery from Winston-Salem was excellent as well. I worked my way through their entire lineup that was there, and it was very good all around. The Pilot Mountain Pale Ale was extremely good for a simple brew, and their IPAs were awesome as well. The Hoppyum was quite hoppy in particular, but the double IPA that they had was extreme in this respect. I like IPA’s, but after a few of them I feel like I’ve been chewing on grass for a while, so I appreciated their Pale Ale a bit more. Also, I’d been to the Dogfish Head booth a number of times already, and their 90 minute IPA had already done a number on me there.

Mimosas The next day we got mimosas.

The girls (and Rob) got theirs with pomegranate juice. I needed my OJ fix a bit too much for that sort of thing.

Also, note to self, cherries have hard pits in them that are not tasty to crunch.

Anyway, good time all around. Would have been perfect if Northwest had not screwed me over on the flight home to the tune of 3.5 hours worth of delay, but still I had a good time. Rob and Mandy’s place is awesome, and I hope to go back sometime soon. If only to visit Top of the Hill and try all the rest of the excellent beers that I missed out on this trip. Plus, gotta try that pool out. :)

Just my luck…

Right when I decide to leave town for a few days, the state decides to screw me.

Tennessee is having a sales tax holiday from April 25th through April 27th. I guess they do this for school supplies and clothing and such, but that would not stop me from taking advantage… except that I’m going to be in Raleigh, NC for the World Beer Festival that weekend.

Oh well, I guess a weekend of quality beer drinking is way better than getting a new wardrobe on the cheap.

Anybody else reading this going to the festival? Or any other beer festivals? Leave a comment, let me know.

Off for Xmas!

Shopping for Xmas is exhausting. Getting the presents, wrapping them, mailing them, it’s such a pain in the ass that I now understand why I never really tried to do it before. It’s much easier to simply not expect any presents and not give any presents. I mean, seriously, I can shop for myself. And most of the presents I’ve gotten in the past have been somewhat useless crap. At least my parents figured me out a while back and now tend to get me beer and/or beer-related accessories.

Still, I tried. Got the parents something, got something for my nephew, even mailed a few things off to some friends. Now all I have left to do is to wrap one present, stick it in the car, and drive to the parents house. So, I’m out for Xmas today. Have to spend some drinking quality time with Mom and Dad. What else are the holidays for?

However, I will be back in time for Trivia night at the Saucer on Xmas day, so I’ll see everybody then!

Minor highlights of the life of Otto…

Let’s see, haven’t posted here in a while… what to say…

Lorelle invited me to make some guest posts this month on her blog. I wrote a short little technical ditty about how to integrate Microformats and WordPress Themes. If you’re into WordPress, or CMS’s in general, it’s worth a look. Since I use this site as a sort of test bed, I might also mention that it’s currently showing nine, count ’em, nine different microformats. And a few other things that aren’t microformats as well.

Went to the Art on Tap beer festival this last weekend. Had a hell of a good time, but was rather disappointed in the food selection. Also, it was one of the only beer festivals I’ve ever seen where all the beer was poured out of bottles. The exception was the homebrews poured by The Bluff City Brewers, which were all really good. I recall getting back to the Saucer, I don’t quite recall going home. So clearly, I had a good time. Paul posted some shots of the fest, some of which include yours truly.

The Rapscallions won at Trivia tonight, amazingly enough. Pete has clearly been making the questions harder, as we only scored 79 out of a possible 160-something. Still, that was enough for a tie, and we won the tie-breaker. $50 in the pot for the next party!

I received an invitation to the wedding of Chris, a friend of mine currently living in Atlanta. I kinda wonder about it, the wedding reception is at a beach resort in Alabama, but it’s in November. Anybody know what the weather is like at Gulf Shores in November?

Along with the invite, I received a summons from Zach for the Bachelor Party in October. Unfortunately, I’m told that it’s the same day as the Great Decatur Beer Tasting Festival. That’s just poor planning, man. Although, a beer tasting in the afternoon, followed by a Bachelor Party all evening… I’m not sure I’m capable of that anymore. I’m not as young as I used to be. Still, it’s doable, and damnit, I think I’m going to have to try. And then this weekend, I have the Cooper-Young festival to cope with. Along with a keg party a block away from the festivities.

Oh yeah, and Raiford’s is reopening, with Raiford back at the turntables. Now that I live about 2 blocks away from that point, I can see many 40’s in my future.

So, the fall is looking busy.

My God, it's full of Beer…

This may be the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.

All-In-One Brewing Device

It’s an all-in-one brewing machine made by a photographer at Popular Science. He spent about $4300 making it, but it brews, chills, ferments, and pours, all in the same device. Apparently, a little manual intervention is required, in the form of swapping CO2 hoses around to move the brew along through the machine from time to time. But the brew itself is never exposed to air, thus eliminating the risk of contamination.

They also have a slideshow of how the device actually works on PopSci’s website.

And, of course, a YouTube video of him demonstrating it. :)

Virtual Bartender

Paul found a thing called MyFountain on somebody’s website. It’s basically an automated bartender.

Now, I’ve seen these before, but mostly as do-it-yourself type projects. The basic idea is that you get a bunch of liqour and beer and such, hook it up to a bunch of pumps and tubes, and hook those to a computer to portion each one out properly. Simple enough. The trick, of course, is programming the computer properly. Running pumps and such is no big deal.

This MyFountain thing takes it to a whole other level. The cheap version (which is still $2500 or so) is a basic bartender. It can go online to get new recipes and such, and it knows what you have in the fridge so it can tell you what you’re capable of making. The advanced version is basically geared towards managing an entire bar, in that it networks with multiple units, can estimate drinking patterns and call headquarters to schedule deliveries of more beverages automatically, etc, etc. Very clever indeed.

Still, I think it would be a fun project to build my own unit. I’ll need a mini fridge or freezer of some design to hold the beverages, but I’ll have to be willing to cut holes in the thing for the necessary tubes to pass through. So if anybody knows of a fridge/freezer design suitable for such a project, capable of holding, say, 6-10 bottles of liquor and possibly 1 or 2 mini kegs, let me know.