Thursday, September 23, 2010

Decatur in the Muggy Mist

After leaving the beautiful city of Atlanta, we pushed hard through bugs and rain to get to New Orleans. Spent the night in an Alabama truck stop where I slept in the front of a Uhaul truck. Sounds like a sad country song doesn't it? I had the windows rolled down and I managed to stuff enough luggage between the two bucket seats to lay cross wise and actually attempt resting however the humidity made it rather tough, I felt like I was drowning half the night. Despite all that I turned Pandora on to some Norah Jones (I found that appropriate for a sleepy night combined with hum of the bugs and the truckers with their luxurious AC on). I lay there and sank into dreams of HBO vampires, Alton Browns Feasting on Asphalt and Tony Bourdain. Just when things were getting good I was waken by the WOMP WOMP WOMP MEOW of High Rankin's Meow Meow Dub-step at the crack of dawn as my rowdy companions were already to tackle the day ahead. We picked up and  headed towards New Orleans...

...Mississippi was a total blur... 

sorry to any readers from that part of the country but between strange laws in GA and Alabama's regulations on ABV percentages I wanted to make it to the Big Easy to get my drink on before I was any more disappointed.

We made it there around 9am and parked off the french quarter, which happened to be right by the St. Louis Cemeteries 1&2 for those of you who don't know I am absolutely enchanted by quirky, off centered, and elegant dark things so naturally a cemetery photo shoot was in order before getting food.

We walked around window shopping at the little voodoo shops and antique stores trying to see as much as we could before it got too stormy out. I got beignets and chicory coffee at Cafe Du Monde, listened to street performers, looked at art and the boats floating down the wide river. It was very obvious, even to me a California girl easily discomforted by the heat and humidity, why they called it the big easy. I wanted to grab a mint julep and sit on a porch swing and contemplate the blades of grass in the side walk... there was just something about it, something that made me want to stop chasing the voodoo down and lay back with Bitches Brew-both sweet horn and bottle. Eventually, the lackadaisicalll haziness ipermeateddd by the grumbling of out tummies and since my iPhone had died and to my dismay Dixie Brewing Company was still an offside brew (and Abita was out of the way for my stubborn travelers) we stopped at what appeared to be a hole in the wall, little did I know it was some of the best food in the vicinity.

Who dat, or GTFO, is the motto for Coop's Place. If you're not a nice person you will be kicked to the curb and I believe them when they say this! For $12.95 I enjoyed everything that I was hoping the south to contain, a cup of their fabulous Seafood Gumbo, amazing shrimp creole, red beans and rice, the best fried chicken I've ever had and an opulent rabbit and sausage Jambalaya good enough to make you want to slap your momma! I am not much of a rice eater, however this paired with my tasty Abita Turbo Dog was the perfect combination. The table went completely silent while savagely worshiping our platters of southern goodness. The atmosphere at Coop's Place is very casual and apparently you can purchase everything from alligator meat to coon sausage there! It's small and cozy and simply perfect, I can't wait to go there again. I stuffed myself silly and couldn't finish my beer- I know shame on me but I did it on purpose! I asked for a to go cup and finished my Turbo Dog while strolling down Decatur. If you guys plan on going to visit please note that due to gambling rules the restaurant is 21 and over and I don't know how strict they are about this, but just thought I'd let you know.

After an amazing lunch, we strolled about some more and drove to St.Roch's to take more cemetery photos. St. Roch's is unique because of there unique shrine that has molds of people's body parts and prosthesis. It was very neat.

After an all too short stay in New Orleans we packed up and headed for Texas and drove for two god forsaken days through that state. I didn't find civilization until New Mexico which was where we stopped at another brewery that I will cover in my next blog. I feel that this is a good place for me to mention my PSA. When the zombie apocalypse strikes- STAY THE HELL OUT OF TEXAS!!!! I can't tell you how many cemeteries we passed on these little two lane country roads but there was one about every 5-10 miles or so. Yeah... not a good place to be when the T-virus takes hold. On that note I bid you all adieu and I know this wasn't much beer focused however I really wanted to share with you my experience in the south. I hope you all enjoyed it!


Coop's Place on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 3, 2010

Atlanta, Georgia- Beer Law Injustice and Bar Tender Freedom Fighters

This has been one hell of a summer and I send my sincerest apologies to any readers out there who have wondered where the heck I've been. In short I have been taking a little time off of beer, those carbs and calories add up like WHOAH and can sneak up on an unsuspecting female in her 20's. Anyways the wheel in the sky keeps on turning and my best friend who is in the military just had a beautiful baby boy! With the news I decided I was going to fly to Georgia and spend a few days with her and the little baby creature then catch a ride with some friends headed home after their service in the USMC.

I would like to start off saying that I am VERY glad to live in California. Aside from the fact that the south feels like you're walking through an Armageddon war field complete with the flooding, fire and locusts the laws about alcohol are twisted. My first and only true brewery stop was in Atlanta Georgia where I discovered the craziness of the land.

Our little caravan pulls into SweetWater Brewery- all excited that I'm going to taste some beer for the first time in weeks if not months. We find a place to park our massive uhaul trailers and run up the stairs like children arriving at FAO Schwartz on their birthday only to see that the bar looks totally empty and the chairs are all stacked up.It's the middle of the week they have to be open. I walk in and I ask the girl at the front desk if I can get a sampler of their beer. They told me that they can't sell beer on Tuesday “as per Georgia State Law”- WHAT? ITS TUESDAY! What the frack is wrong with Tuesday's? She explains to me that there are rules for the days that a brewery can sell beer at the brewery. So I take a moment to absorb this injustice then brighten up and ask her if they have a brewpub in the city- “As per Georgia State Law a brewery is not allowed to have their own pub.” OUTRAGE!!!!!

I walk outside to stomp around in the parking lot for a couple minutes and try to figure out a way to reword my questions into resulting beer. I walk back inside and ask her if there are any “pubs in town not affiliated with the brewery that I might be able to get some SweetWater beer at?” She looks at me shakes her head and refers me to a place called Taco Mac. So we set off towards down town Atlanta to find a Taco Mac.

I didn't realize when I walked into this super large sports lounge that I was about to meet the East Coasts answer to the West Coasts Yard House. Taco Mac meets and raises the bar for tap rooms. With 140 beers on draught and 223 beers in the bottle there was almost every thing I've tried plus mini-micros from all up and down the east coast. Sweaty (as per usual on this trip) and very very worried that the people at Taco Mac are going to tell me “bugger off you alchy” for wanting beer on a Tuesday afternoon (heaven forbid) I sit at the bar and explain my situation to the bartender and finish it with “Am I allowed to get beer here?” Anthony, probably the raddest barkeep I have ever met, laughs and says of COURSE you can get beer here and loads me up with a flight of SweetWater beers.

They didn't have all of the beers but they did have the majority of them:

Sch'Wheat(4.7%) was in my opinion more bitter than most wheat beers (like the taste of a lemon rind with a hint of banana). It was very very bubbly out of the tap. I felt that it was nothing special.

The BLUE(4.8%) is a blueberry beer with an intoxicating strong smell of blueberries, however I feel that it's bark was worse than it's bite because I found it overly sugary and yet somehow lacking in the blueberry flavor department. Compared to Abita's Purple Haze or other more popular blueberry beers I found it relatively bland. I will say though that on a ridiculously hot day it felt good!

420 Extra Pale Ale(5.4%) was flavorful with a quick clean piney finish. My favorite part of the beer was the aftertaste, it was lightly fruity and fresh. I would definitely have this beer again, especially since I don't drink EPA's very often!

Georgia Brown(5.1%) had a very thin espresso tone to it and slightly sour. I liked it. It was definitely a session beer, it had everything I love in a brown ale just slightly muted.

The IPA(5.9%) was good, I liked it almost as much as Dank Tank(9%)- it had a fair amount bready/citrusy malt flavors, but my only complaint was that I felt it was too passive and felt more like a Pale Ale than an IPA. However before I get booed off the stage for saying that I'd like to mention that between the three of us Dank Tank was the best. It had the wonderful fruity Belgian yeast flavor but with the robustness of an IPA.

Talking to the barmaster he realizes we haven't heard or seen half the beers that were on tap mostly being from the East Coast, so he sets us up with important landmark beers of the east. He served up a small flight of the Terrapin Brewery's finest of which Terrapin Gama Ray (10%) was my favorite. It had a tasty appley/fruity/clove/nutmeg flavor all resting on a strong hop and malt mantle of awesome. This was quite a big beer for such a little glass. I would like to add this to my wishlist of things to find in the near future (don't shoot the messenger but I've been hard pressed to find any of these beers since I've been home).

Anthony also set me up with some Southern Tier beers from New York. Southern Tier Iniquity (9%) A Black Ale or an Imperial IPA as it was described to me, is a black oil from the devils harvest. It wasn't as hoppy as I had expected for an IIPA however it had a tasty caramel nut flavor to it. It also had a slight aftertaste of apricots which I enjoyed very much. Again- it's a fairly big beer but Southern Tier apparently likes BIG because their Mokah(11%) and Crème Brulee Stout(10%) packed a serious punch as well. The Mokah hits just like a shot of espresso, if Starbucks brewed beer this would be it. It was somehow blacker than black with a light but bitter carmel flavor hidden in the brew. There was some chocolate and a light boozy finish.

The Southern Tier Crème Brulee Stout almost made me cry. I know many of you out there are chocolate fans, and that's awesome, Im a bit of chocolate snob and normally don't eat it unless I know it's going to be dark and sexy. With this in consideration, Im even more of a vanilla snob. I looove vanilla and what better way to get your vanilla than in a crème brulee or a frozen custard of somesort? Well now there's a Crème Brulee Stout which they call an Imperial Milk Stout. If you can picture the queen of cows being fed nothing but Old Rasputin and Vanilla Beans- milked and served cool, this is what your crystal goblets would be filled with! It was blacker than the black or the Mohak with a nice film of a typical stout's head and you could smell the burnt caramel and vanilla from across the bar. I was looking for a spoon to crack the head with it smelled so authentic. It was buttery, milky, vanilla-y, with flavors of burnt coffee and caramel dancing on your tongue. This is truly one of my favorite beers and definitely a dessert beer. I want some now.... again, I haven't been able to find it and this hurts my soul.

After the darling bartender shattered my beer drinking heart and turned my flavor world upside down he recommended we stop at a divish bar with a good selection up the street called the Vortex. Beer aside this place had a very fun and hip atmosphere and the most amazing fried cheddar balls I had ever tasted! We had a Laughing Skull Amber by Red Brick Brewing Co, in Atlanta. This was a nice palate cleanser- crisp, sweet and bready! After a nice little snack there, we jumped back into our vehicles and pulled forward- New Orleans Or Bust!