Hughes' Views & News

Jittery Joe’s and Terrapin: Two of my favorites

Posted in Beer and brewing by tahughesnc on March 28, 2010

Recently I had the chance to visit two of my favorite small businesses:  Jittery Joe’s coffee and Terrapin Beer Co., both in Athens, Ga.

Picture of Charlie at Jittery Joe's

Charlie Mustard, roasting coffee at Jittery Joe's

I’ve been a fan of Jittery Joe’s since I first heard of them in 2004. They sponsor a pro cycling team, and one of their riders, a Colombian named Cesar Grajales, attacked Lance Armstrong on the climb up Brasstown Bald to win that day’s stage in the Tour de Georgia.

At the time, I thought two things:  (1) who is this Grajales fellow and how come I never heard of him before? and (2) Jittery Joe’s — that’s gotta be the coolest name for a coffee store in all of human history.

My exposure to Terrapin Beer came more recently. After trying — and being disappointed in — several small beer samples at an Atlanta pub last fall, I ordered a bottle of Terrapin’s Big Hoppy Monster.  I so loved this brew that I immediately took out my iPhone and tweeted, “Terrapin Big Hoppy Monster is the real deal, baby!”

A week or two after that, I had a chance to sample the Terrapin/Left Hand Depth Charge, which is made with Jittery Joe’s espresso. A match made in heaven! It was, without a doubt, the best stout I had ever tried. Since then I have sought out and tried every Terrapin beer that I could find in the area where I live.

So, on Monday, March 22, I got to visit both Jittery Joe’s and Terrapin. I volunteered to interview the brew master at Terrapin for a new Web site called Know Your Brewer. And, since I was going to be in Athens, I figured I should go visit Jittery Joe’s as well.

The guys at Jittery Joe’s could not have been nicer or more accommodating to me. They roast their coffee in an unheated, un-air conditioned metal shack on the edge of downtown Athens, down the hill from the center of town. They let me take lots of pictures, ask lots of questions, and sample their Terrapin Wake and Bake blend (which is used in Terrapin’s Wake and Bake Stout). And there are bikes absolutely everywhere in there. I loved it!

Photo of Spike Buckowski

Spike Buckowski pours a glass of Terrapin Capt'n Krunkles.

I had a similar experience over at Terrapin, later the same day. Terrapin’s founder and brew master, Brian “Spike” Buckowski, took about an hour out of his busy day to show me around the brewery and talk with me about his company and its brews. He sent me off that day with a six of Hopsecutioner and two 22-oz bottles of Capt’n Krunkles, a black IPA which is No. 10 from Terrapin’s Side Project Series.

All in all, it was a very good day! Watch for my interview with Spike to be published on Know Your Brewer, in two installments, during the week of April 12th,  ahead of the company’s 8th anniversary celebration on April 17th.

April 14 update:  The first installment was published on Monday (April 12), and you can read that here.

Update on To Views & News, Add Brews

Posted in Beer and brewing by tahughesnc on February 18, 2010

Here’s a quick and dirty update on my first home brewing project.

I have now consumed two bottles of my first batch of home brew, and I have to say I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. A picture of the first bottle I opened is shown here.

First Bottle of home brew

My very first bottle of home-brewed beer!

For this batch I simply used a Brewer’s Best ingredient kit for imperial pale ale, with one modification. My friend Keith Houck, who has been home brewing for more than 20 years, recommended that I add some dry leaf hops during the final week of fermentation. So, I added a half ounce of Cascade hops. The result is a brew that has a very sharp taste of hops.

Is it anywhere near as good as the best beers I have ever tasted? No, it is not. Is it better than many of the beers you will find in most grocery stores? Yes, it is. So, for my very first effort at home brewing, I’m pretty pleased.

For my next batch of home brew, I’m planning to ditch the ingredient kit altogether and brew from scratch. Just need to decide what style to make and find a good recipe.

Suggestions, anyone?

To Views & News, Add Brews

Posted in Beer and brewing by tahughesnc on January 30, 2010

For many years now, I have been a big fan of craft beer.

By “craft beer,” I am referring to the beers produced by breweries such as Dogfish Head, Founders, Terrapin, and many others of similar ilk, including several fine craft breweries right here in North Carolina: Full SteamBig Boss, Lone Rider, Triangle Brewing Co., Foothills, etc.

Beginning to brew photo

Heating the water for my first batch of home-brewed beer.

I have also been wanting to try my hand at home brewing my own beer for quite a while, and finally took the plunge a few weeks ago. I bought a Brewer’s Best deluxe equipment kit from Fifth Season in Carrboro and an ingredient kit for an imperial pale ale. I went back to Fifth Season a few days later to buy a 20-quart brewing kettle. Then, on a rainy Sunday that weekend, I started brewing my first batch.

As a first timer, I found the process to be a bit intimidating, especially since I was going through the process without anyone to guide me. But I managed to make my way through it and took a few pictures to document the experience.

At this point my beer is still fermenting. I kept it for 5 days in a primary plastic fermenter, and then transferred it to a glass carboy. It’s been in the carboy for 1 week and I plan to keep it in there for another week before I proceed to bottling.

Transferring to carboy photo

My home brew in glass carboy.

A couple of nights ago I took a hydrometer reading.  The first time I took a reading, before starting fermentation, I got 1.060. The second reading was 1.020, which was a sign that everything was headed in the right direction. I also took a sip of the beer, mostly out of curiosity. Although the beer was still a long way from finished at that point, the taste was not too bad.

I’ll post an update here after I have bottled the beer and have had a chance to taste the final product.